(Heb. form Nazirite), the name of such Israelites as took on them the vow prescribed in Numbers 6:2-21 . The word denotes generally one who is separated from others and consecrated to God. Although there is no mention of any Nazarite before Samson, yet it is evident that they existed before the time of Moses. The vow of a Nazarite involved these three things, (1) abstinence from wine and strong drink, (2) refraining from cutting the hair off the head during the whole period of the continuance of the vow, and (3) the avoidance of contact with the dead.
When the period of the continuance of the vow came to an end, the Nazarite had to present himself at the door of the sanctuary with (1) a he lamb of the first year for a burnt-offering, (2) a ewe lamb of the first year for a sin-offering, and (3) a ram for a peace-offering. After these sacrifices were offered by the priest, the Nazarite cut off his hair at the door and threw it into the fire under the peace-offering.
For some reason, probably in the midst of his work at Corinth, Paul took on himself the Nazarite vow. This could only be terminated by his going up to Jerusalem to offer up the hair which till then was to be left uncut. But it seems to have been allowable for persons at a distance to cut the hair, which was to be brought up to Jerusalem, where the ceremony was completed. This Paul did at Cenchrea just before setting out on his voyage into Syria ( Acts 18:18 ).
On another occasion ( Acts 21:23-26 ), at the feast of Pentecost, Paul took on himself again the Nazarite vow. "The ceremonies involved took a longer time than Paul had at his disposal, but the law permitted a man to share the vow if he could find companions who had gone through the prescribed ceremonies, and who permitted him to join their company. This permission was commonly granted if the new comer paid all the fees required from the whole company (fee to the Levite for cutting the hair and fees for sacrifices), and finished the vow along with the others. Four Jewish Christians were performing the vow, and would admit Paul to their company, provided he paid their expenses. Paul consented, paid the charges, and when the last seven days of the vow began he went with them to live in the temple, giving the usual notice to the priests that he had joined in regular fashion, was a sharer with the four men, and that his vow would end with theirs. Nazarites retired to the temple during the last period of seven days, because they could be secure there against any accidental defilement" (Lindsay's Acts).
As to the duration of a Nazarite's vow, every one was left at liberty to fix his own time. There is mention made in Scripture of only three who were Nazarites for life, Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist ( Judges 13:4 Judges 13:5 ; 1 Samuel 1:11 ; Luke 1:15 ). In its ordinary form, however, the Nazarite's vow lasted only thirty, and at most one hundred, days. (See RECHABITES .)
This institution was a symbol of a life devoted to God and separated from all sin, a holy life.
one chosen or set apart
more properly Nazirite (one separated ), one of either sex who was bound by a vow of a peculiar kind to be set apart from others for the service of God. The obligation was either for life or for a defined time. There is no notice in the Pentateuch of Nazarites for life; but the regulations for the vow of a Nazarite of days are given. ( Numbers 6:1-21 ) The Nazarite, during-the term of has consecration, was bound to abstain from wine grapes, with every production of the vine and from every kind of intoxicating drink. He was forbidden to cut the hair of his head, or to approach any dead body, even that of his nearest relation. When the period of his vow was fulfilled he was brought to the door of the tabernacle, and was required to offer a he lamb for a burnt offering, a ewe lamb for a sin offering, and a ram for a peace offering, with the usual accompaniments of peace offerings, ( Leviticus 7:12 Leviticus 7:13 ) and of the offering made at the consecration of priests. ( Exodus 29:2 ; Numbers 6:15 ) He brought also a meat offering and a drink offering, which appear to have been presented by themselves as a distinct act of service. ver. ( Numbers 6:17 ) He was to cut off the hair of "the head of his separation "(that is, the hair which had grown during the period of his consecration) at the door of the tabernacle, and to put it into the fire under the sacrifice on the altar. Of the Nazarites for life three are mentioned in the Scriptures --Samson, Samuel and St. John the Baptist. The only one of these actually called a Nazarite is Samson. We do not know whether the vow for life was ever voluntarily taken by the individual. In all the cases mentioned in the sacred history, it was made by the parents before the birth of the Nazarite himself. The consecration of the Nazarite bore a striking resemblance to that of the nigh priest. ( Leviticus 21:10-12 ) The meaning of the Nazarite vow has been regarded in different lights. It may be regarded as an act of self-sacrifice, That it was essentially a sacrifice of the person to the Lord is obviously in accordance with the terms of the law. ( Numbers 6:2 ) As the Nazarite was a witness for the straitness of the law, as distinguished from the freedom of the gospel, his sacrifice of himself was a submission to the letter of the rule. Its outward manifestations were restraints and eccentricities. The man was separated from his brethren that he might be peculiarly devoted to the Lord. This was consistent with the purpose of divine wisdom for the time for which it was ordained.