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The Nazirite Vow
by Wayne Blank
The Nazirite vow involved 3 things - no alcohol, including all products of the grape vine, uncut hair for a time, and no contact with the dead:
"And The Lord said to Moses, "Say to the people of Israel, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to The Lord, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar made from wine or strong drink, and shall not drink any juice of grapes or eat grapes, fresh or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins. All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall come upon his head; until the time is completed for which he separates himself to The Lord, he shall be holy; he shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long. All the days that he separates himself to The Lord he shall not go near a dead body. Neither for his father nor for his mother, nor for brother or sister, if they die, shall he make himself unclean; because his separation to God is upon his head. All the days of his separation he is holy to The Lord." (Numbers 6:1-8 RSV)
When the period of the vow ended, the Nazirite then burned his shaven hair and presented a number of offerings to God (Numbers 6:10-21). While Nazirite vows in most cases were quite temporary, usually 30 to 100 days, there were also those who were Nazirites from birth to death e.g. Samson (Judges 13:7) and John The Baptist (Luke 1:15-17)
Nazirite vows were not just a pre-Christian practice. The apostle Paul, a man who wrote much of the New Testament, took a Nazirite vow on occasion (Acts 18:18, 21:22-26) (see also On The Road To Damascus and Paul's First Missionary Journey and Paul's Second Missionary Journey and Paul's Third Missionary Journey).
Fact Finder: After the angel announced to Samson's parents that he would be a Nazirite from birth, how did the angel go back up into the sky?