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Numbers 6:18-21

Context

6:18 “‘Then the Nazirite must shave his consecrated head 1  at the entrance to the tent of meeting and must take the hair from his consecrated head and put it on the fire 2  where the peace offering is burning. 3  6:19 And the priest must take the boiled shoulder of the ram, one cake made without yeast from the basket, and one wafer made without yeast, and put them on the hands of the Nazirite after he has shaved his consecrated head; 4  6:20 then the priest must wave them as a wave offering 5  before the Lord; it is a holy portion for the priest, together with the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the raised offering. 6  After this the Nazirite may drink 7  wine.’

6:21 “This is the law 8  of the Nazirite who vows to the Lord his offering according to his separation, as well as whatever else he can provide. 9  Thus he must fulfill 10  his vow that he makes, according to the law of his separation.”

1 tn Some versions simply interpret this to say that he shaves his hair, for it is the hair that is the sign of the consecration to God. But the text says he shaves his consecrated head. The whole person is obviously consecrated to God – not just the head. But the symbolic act of cutting the hair shows that the vow has been completed (see Acts 21:23-24). The understanding of the importance of the hair in the ancient world has been the subject of considerable study over the years (see R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 436; and J. A. Thompson, “Numbers,” New Bible Commentary: Revised, 177).

2 sn Some commentators see this burning of the hair as an offering (McNeile, Numbers, 35; G. B. Gray, Numbers [ICC], 68). But others probably with more foundation see it as destroying something that has served a purpose, something that if left alone might be venerated (see R. de Vaux, Israel, 436).

3 tn Heb “which is under the peace offering.” The verse does not mean that the hair had to be put under that sacrifice and directly on the fire.

4 tn The line does not include the word “head”; it literally has “after the consecrating of himself his consecrated [head].” The infinitive construct is here functioning in the temporal clause with the suffix as the subject and the object following.

5 sn The ritual of lifting the hands filled with the offering and waving them in the presence of the Lord was designed to symbolize the transfer of the offering to God in the sight of all. This concludes the worshiper’s part; the offering now becomes the property of the priest – his priest’s due (or “raised/heave offering”).

6 sn The “wave offering” may be interpreted as a “special gift” to be transferred to the Lord, and the “heave offering” as a “special contribution” to God – the priest’s due. These two offerings have also inspired a good deal of study.

7 tn The imperfect tense here would then have the nuance of permission. It is not an instruction at this point; rather, the prohibition has been lifted and the person is free to drink wine.

8 tn Actually, “law” here means a whole set of laws, the basic rulings on this topic.

9 tn Heb “whatever else his hand is able to provide.” The imperfect tense has the nuance of potential imperfect – “whatever he can provide.”

10 tn Heb “according to the vow that he vows, so he must do.”



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