Sacred Texts  Bible  Bible Commentary  Index 
Numbers Index
  Previous  Next 

Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, [1834], at

Numbers Chapter 6

Numbers 6:1

num 6:1

The law of the Nazarite is appropriately added to other enactments which concern the sanctity of the holy nation. That sanctity found its highest expression in the Nazarite vow, which was the voluntary adoption for a time of obligations to high and strict modes of self-dedication resembling, and indeed in some particulars exceeding, those under which the priests were placed. The present enactments do not institute a new kind of observance, but only regulate one already familiar to the Israelites Num 6:2.

Num 6:2

A Nazarite - Strictly, Nazirite. This term signifies "separated" i. e., as the words following show, "unto God." It became a technical term at an early date; compare Jdg 13:5, Jdg 13:7; Jdg 16:17.

Num 6:3

Liquor of grapes - i. e. a drink made of grape-skins macerated in water.

Num 6:4

From the kernels even to the husk - A sour drink was made from the stones of unripe grapes; and cakes were also made of the husks Hos 3:1. This interdict figures that separation from the general society of men to which the Nazarite for the time was consecrated.

Num 6:5

Among the Jews the abundance of the hair was considered to betoken physical strength and perfection (compare Sa2 14:25-26), and baldness was regarded as a grave blemish (compare Lev 21:20 note, Lev 13:40 ff; Kg2 2:23; Isa 3:24). Thus, the free growth of the hair on the head of the Nazarite represented the dedication of the man with all his strength and powers to the service of God.

Num 6:7

The consecration of his God - i. e. the unshorn locks: compare Lev 25:5 note, where the vine, left during the Sabbatical year untouched by the hand of man, either for pruning or for vintage, is called simply a "Nazarite."

The third rule of the Nazarite interdicted him from contracting any ceremonial defilement even under circumstances which excused such defilement in others: compare Lev 21:1-3.

Num 6:9-12

Prescriptions to meet the case of a sudden death taking place "by him" (i. e. in his presence). The days of the dedication of the Nazarite had to be recommenced.

Num 6:13

When the days of his separation are fulfilled - Perpetual Nazariteship was probably unknown in the days of Moses; but the examples of Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist, show that it was in later times undertaken for life. Again, Moses does not expressly require that limits should be assigned to the vow; but a rule was afterward imposed that no Nazarite vow should be taken for less than thirty days. To permit the vow to be taken for very short periods would diminish its solemnity and estimation.

Num 6:14, Num 6:15

The sin-offering (compare the marginal references), though named second, was in practice offered first, being intended to expiate involuntary sins committed during the period of separation. The burnt-offering (Lev 1:10 ff) denoted the self-surrender on which alone all acceptableness in the Nazarite before God must rest; the peace-offerings (Lev 3:12 ff) expressed thankfulness to God by whose grace the vow had been fulfilled. The offerings, both ordinary and additional, required on the completion of the Nazarite vow involved considerable expense, and it was regarded as a pious work to provide the poor with the means of making them (compare Act 21:23 ff; 1 Macc. 3:49).

Num 6:18

Shave the head - As the Nazarite had during his vow worn his hair unshorn in honor of God, so when the time was complete it was natural that the hair, the symbol of his vow, should be cut off, and offered to God at the sanctuary. The burning of the hair "in the fire under the sacrifice of the peace offering "represented the eucharistic communion with God obtained by those who realised the ideal which the Nazarite set forth (compare the marginal reference).

Num 6:20

The priest shall wave them - i. e. by placing his hands under those of the Nazarite: compare Lev 7:30.

Num 6:21

Beside that that his hand shall get - The Nazarite, in addition to the offerings prescribed above, was to present free-will offerings according to his possessions or means.

Numbers 6:22

num 6:22

The priestly blessing (compare Ecclus. 36:17) is appointed as a solemn form to be used by the priests exclusively, and in this function their office as it were culminates (compare Lev 9:22 note). God Himself provides a formula, through which from time to time, as His people by obedience place themselves in true and right relationship to Him, the authorised mediators may pronounce and communicate His special blessing to them. It was a Jewish tradition that this blessing was given at the close of the daily sacrifice.

The structure of the blessing is remarkable. It is rhythmical, consists of three distinct parts, and mounts by gradual stages to that peace which forms the last and most consummate gift which God can give His people.

From a Christian point of view, and comparing the counterpart benediction of Co2 13:14, it is impossible not to see shadowed forth the doctrine of the Holy Trinity (compare Isa 6:3; Mat 28:19). And the three several sets of terms correspond fittingly to the office of the Three Persons in Their gracious work for the redemption of man.

Num 6:24

The Lord bless thee, and keep thee - The second clause here, as in the other three verses, defines more closely the general tenor of the preceding one. The singular number, which is observed throughout, indicates that the blessing is conferred on Israel "collectively."

Num 6:25

Make his face shine - This is an enhancement of the preceding benediction. "The face of God" imports not merely God's good will in general, but His active and special regard. With the "face" or "eye of the Lord accordingly is connected alike the judicial visitation of the wicked. Psa 34:16, and His mercies to the righteous Psa 4:6.

Num 6:26

Lift up his countenance upon thee - i. e. especially direct His thought and care toward thee: compare Kg2 9:32, and similar phrases in Gen 43:29; Gen 44:21. Through such loving providence alone could the peace of God in which the blessing closes be given.

Num 6:27

Put my name upon the children of Israel - i. e. pronounce My Sacred Name over them in blessing them. God will give effect to the benediction pronounced by the priests.

Next: Numbers Chapter 7