The Nazirite

Numbers 6:1-27

An individual, male or female, who wishes to take a vow of a Nazirite is forbidden to consume any grape products, to cut his or her hair, or to become ritually impure by exposure to a dead body, even that of a close relative. If he or she accidentally becomes contaminated, he or she must wait seven days, shave their head, and the following day, bring two bird offerings — a sin offering and an elevation offering. He or she must begin their Nazirite period again from that point.


When the abstinence period of the Nazirite ends, he or she must bring several offerings to the Tabernacle: a sheep as an elevation offering, a ewe as a sin offering, and a ram as a peace offering. He or she must also include a basket of unleavened loaves, unleavened wafers, accompanying meal offerings and libations. After the offerings are brought, the Nazirite is permitted to consume grape products again.


The Israel Bible asks the fundamental question: if the actions of the Nazirite are laudable (indeed, the text calls the Nazirite “holy” in verse 8), why must he or she bring a sin offering when the abstinence period is done? The answer brought down is that although it is important to set aside time for personal improvement, the goal is not remove one’s self from society entirely. While the abstinence of the Nazirite vows may strengthen the individual’s relationship with God, it is not inherently a positive trait.


God then sets out the formula for the priests to bless the people. When they recite the blessing, God will grant the people peace. This blessing is still recited in synagogues today, in Israel daily and around the world on holidays. The blessing has three parts, first, for prosperity and safety, then for God’s grace, and finally for peace. The Israel Bible cites the words of the Sages, who said, “God found no vessel to contain His blessings, other than peace.”


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think these specific acts are forbidden to the Nazirite? What is their significance?

Comments ( 12 )

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  • Herman Arentsen

    Seeking haShem in isolation does mean leaving alone the outer world , becoming indifferent towards it and seeing to it that nothing from outside disturbs the inner world. A Nazirite vows to get the status of an unborn child with Torah placed inside.
    So only HaShem can do anything to this status to have a Nazirite comprehend his Creator. Hair and dead (pride and grief) are excluded, so are grapeproducts( to blur one's rational thinking.) To focus at Tora is important for knowing G-ds will. You do it with this focus. it should be done temporarily as we are living with His Commands IN this world to show how men/women of His people are to live.

    • Damian Sco

      Jesus was a Nazarite who came in contact with Lazarus. I do not remember reading about 2 birds regarding Him.

      • Damian Sco

        Jesus was a Nazirite who came in contact with Lazarus. I do not remember reading about 2 birds regarding Him.

  • Doreen Poole

    All of these comments have helped me understand. I did not realize that a woman can take this vow. Shaving her hair is quite a sacrifice for women. Putting that aside the fact that the vow is only for a period of time and one must return to society to interact with the people and fulfill ones purpose for HaShem is most important to me.
    The sin offering is important because one may take pride in their separation and seen as holy by others. I must say I did experience this when on a medical mission to Chile. You feel separated unto HaShem and those around you see you as untouchable or holy…pride may enter, the sin offering not only is for the one who took the vow but to show others that only HaShem is truly Holy and we are not to be isolated from the world.

  • Ken

    Regarding this question: The Israel Bible asks the fundamental question: if the actions of the Nazirite are laudable (indeed, the text calls the Nazirite “holy” in verse 8), why must he or she bring a sin offering when the abstinence period is done?
    If one is truly a Nazir, one appreciates true holiness is not attainable by effort. The Nazir senses his desired holiness falls so short of God and is not much better than a common man. A faithful Nazir always feels compelled to offer a sin offering.

  • Sheila

    Thank you all for your insights relating to the Nazarite vow which have answered my questions. Yes, all of these — wine, a symbol of worldly and social pleasure: hair, relates to the dignity of man: dead body, relates to contamination and defilement —– nothing was to hinder that entire conscreation of heart which could exert a distraction upon his spirit.

  • Orli

    The word Nazarite has a connection to the concept of the untrimmed vine during the Shmitah and Jubilee that are also consecrated to God and totally dedicated to His service. The same word is used in Lev. 25:5, 11 to describe the vine that is “set aside” (Artscroll Tanach) or “untrimmed” (KJV) during this Sabbath rest. So, does that give the Nazirite vow a direct connection to the Sabbath concept?
    Also, the Kohen were told not to drink wine or strong drink while serving in the Tabernacle or Temple but the other Nazirite requirements were not called for. It is curious to me as to why the priests, who were totally dedicated to G-d’s service were not required to leave their hair uncut. (Ezk.44:20, 21) They were required to also stay away from the defilement of death and other forms of uncleanness while serving in G-d’s presence.
    I am also curious about Samson’s vow that gave him super-human strength. There is nothing mentioned in the instructions of a Nazite that would indicate this benefit. Any thoughts on this?

    • Danielle Reisman

      Orli, I had to consult this with my colleague Ahuva as well. Great questions!
      So, Kohanim are appointed by G-d, while Nazirites self-select.
      According to the Talmud, a Kohen must never look sloppy, so the Kohen Gadol must get his hair cut every Friday before the Sabbath, and a regular Kohen must cut his hair every 30 days (because that is how long the nazir goes before cutting his hair).

  • Orli

    Diana, I love your explanations. This gives a much greater understanding of the Nazirite vow and its purposes. Thank you.

    • Danielle Reisman

      Diana, I love the explanation using the dove’s eyes and our focus on HaShem and his laws. The reasoning for the grapes and haircuts/ grooming is correct, but in terms of death, the reason is simple- it is impure. If a Nazzarite is vowing to purely devote himself to God he must always be in a state of purity in order to develop that close connection, and being near a dead body makes someone impure.

  • Diana Brown

    When you take a Nazarite vow, you are to have “dove’s eyes”. The eyes of a dove never move to the left or the right, they stay focused on the center object straight ahead. The one making the vow was to stay focused on HaShem until the purposes for making the vow were completed. Grapes and grape product can alter your consciousness making your focus blurred and your judgment faulty. Cutting one’s hair can lead to pride or focus on self. Being near the dead can give opportunity to make grief, not HaShem your focus. Would that be correct?
    I think the purpose of making this vow is to get HaShem’s Will into this world. Problem is we can be so easily distracted from doing His Will when we make a vow that vows are not encouraged.
    It is a red flag to the Adversary when we make a vow that we mean to get real about living for the Lord. So the Adversary will combat us spiritually to defeat us so we cannot keep the vow. We thank the Lord that He knew this battle was before us so He allowed second chances to keep the vow we made. Vows were to be kept and not negated except under specific conditions. Since HaShem is faithful to keep His Word, He is expecting the same commitment from us when we say we are going to do something.

    • Herman Arentsen

      it 's right that dove eyes do not move to the left or right .They stay focussed on whatever the dove wants to focus. How can that bird see en direct is focus by the motions of its head. It can only focus with one eye at the time….! Most of the birds do the same, it depends on the model of the head and the place of the the eyes in the head. 🙂

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