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Numbers 6:2-3

Context
6:2 “Speak to the Israelites, and tell them, ‘When either a man or a woman 1  takes a special vow, 2  to take a vow 3  as a Nazirite, 4  to separate 5  himself to the Lord, 6:3 he must separate 6  himself from wine and strong drink, he must drink neither vinegar 7  made from wine nor vinegar made from strong drink, nor may he drink any juice 8  of grapes, nor eat fresh grapes or raisins. 9 

1 tn The formula is used here again: “a man or a woman – when he takes.” The vow is open to both men and women.

2 tn The vow is considered special in view of the use of the verb יַפְלִא (yafli’), the Hiphil imperfect of the verb “to be wonderful, extraordinary.”

3 tn The construction uses the infinitive construct followed by the cognate accusative: “to vow a vow.” This intensifies the idea that the vow is being taken carefully.

4 tn The name of the vow is taken from the verb that follows; נָזַר (nazar) means “to consecrate oneself,” and so the Nazirite is a consecrated one. These are folks who would make a decision to take an oath for a time or for a lifetime to be committed to the Lord and show signs of separation from the world. Samuel was to be a Nazirite, as the fragment of the text from Qumran confirms – “he will be a נָזִיר (nazir) forever” (1 Sam 1:22).

5 tn The form of the verb is an Hiphil infinitive construct, forming the wordplay and explanation for the name Nazirite. The Hiphil is here an internal causative, having the meaning of “consecrate oneself” or just “consecrate to the Lord.”

6 tn The operative verb now will be the Hiphil of נָזַר (nazar); the consecration to the Lord meant separation from certain things in the world. The first will be wine and strong drink – barley beer (from Akkadian sikaru, a fermented beer). But the second word may be somewhat wider in its application than beer. The Nazirite, then, was to avoid all intoxicants as a sign of his commitment to the Lord. The restriction may have proved a hardship in the daily diet of the one taking the vow, but it spoke a protest to the corrupt religious and social world that used alcohol to excess.

7 tn The “vinegar” (חֹמֶץ, homets) is some kind of drink preparation that has been allowed to go sour.

8 tn This word occurs only here. It may come from the word “to water, to be moist,” and so refer to juice.

9 tn Heb “dried” (so KJV, ASV, NRSV).



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