Numbers 6:12
And he shall consecrate unto the LORD the days of his separation, and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a trespass offering: but the days that were before shall be lost, because his separation was defiled.
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6:1-21 The word Nazarite signifies separation. Some were appointed of God, before their birth, to be Nazarites all their days, as Samson and John the Baptist. But, in general, it was a vow of separation from the world and devotedness to the services of religion, for a limited time, and under certain rules, which any person might make if they pleased. A Nazarite is spoken of as well known; but his obligation is brought to a greater certainty than before. That the fancies of superstitious men might not multiply the restraints endlessly, God gives them rules. They must not drink wine or strong drink, nor eat grapes. Those who separate themselves to God, must not gratify the desires of the body, but keep it under. Let all Christians be very moderate in the use of wine and strong drink; for if the love of these once gets the mastery of a man, he becomes an easy prey to Satan. The Nazarites were to eat nothing that came of the vine; this may teach the utmost care to avoid sin, and all that borders upon it, and leads to it, or may be a temptation to us. They must not cut their hair. They must neither poll their heads, nor shave their beards; this was the mark of Samson being a Nazarite. This signified neglect of the body, and of the ease and ornament of it. Those who separate themselves to God, must keep their consciences pure from dead works, and not touch unclean things. All the days of their separation they must be holy to the Lord. This was the meaning of those outward observances, and without this they were of no account. No penalty or sacrifice was appointed for those who wilfully broke their vow of being Nazarites; they must answer another day for such profane trifling with the Lord their God; but those were to be relieved who did not sin wilfully. There is nothing in Scripture that bears the least resemblance to the religious orders of the church of Rome, except these Nazarites. But mark the difference, or rather how completely opposed! The religious of that church are forbidden to marry; but no such restriction is laid upon the Nazarites. They are commanded to abstain from meats; but the Nazarites might eat any food allowed other Israelites. They are not generally forbidden wine, not even on their fasting days; but the Nazarites might not have wine at any time. Their vow is lasting, even to the end of their lives; the Nazarites' vow was only for a limited time, at their own will; and in certain cases not unless allowed by husbands or parents. Such a thorough difference there is between rules of man's invention and those directed in Scripture, Let us not forget that the Lord Jesus is not only our Surety, but also our example. For his sake we must renounce worldly pleasures, abstain from fleshy lusts, be separate from sinners, make open profession of our faith, moderate natural affections, be spiritually-minded, and devoted to God's service, and desirous to be an example all around us.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.9-12. If any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled the head of his consecration—Cases of sudden death might occur to make him contract pollution; and in such circumstances he was required, after shaving his head, to make the prescribed offerings necessary for the removal of ceremonial defilement (Le 15:13; Nu 19:11). But by the terms of this law an accidental defilement vitiated the whole of his previous observances, and he was required to begin the period of his Nazaritism afresh. But even this full completion did not supersede the necessity of a sin offering at the close. Sin mingles with our best and holiest performances, and the blood of sprinkling is necessary to procure acceptance to us and our services. The days of his separation; as many days as he had before separated or vowed unto God. Lost, i.e. not reckoned or imputed to him. Heb. full, to wit, to the ground, i.e. be void or of none effect.

And he shall consecrate unto the Lord the days of his separation,.... He was to begin his account again, from the time of his shaving his head, and devote as many days to the service of the Lord as what he had vowed before:

and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a trespass offering; we see how much trouble and expense were brought by a single act of pollution, and that involuntary too; how much more need is there of an atoning sacrifice for the sins of men, even for all of them, and for which only the sacrifice of Christ is sufficient?

but the days that were before shall be lost; which were before the pollution, how near soever the time of Nazariteship being at an end was, whether his vow was for thirty days, or a hundred, or a whole year; be it what it will, and the pollution happened on the last of those days, all were lost; he was obliged to begin again, and go through the whole time he at first vowed; and this was the case if he drank the least quantity of wine, or shaved ever so little of the hair of his head, or was any ways polluted by the dead; and this severity, as it may seem, was used to make him cautious that he broke not his vow by any means:

because his separation was defiled; in the case instanced in, by the dead, but it was the same if he broke the law of Nazariteship in any of the other articles of it.

And he shall {f} consecrate unto the LORD the days of his separation, and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a trespass offering: but the {g} days that were before shall be lost, because his separation was defiled.

(f) Beginning at the eighth day, when he is purified.

(g) So that he shall begin his vow anew.

12. he shall separate &c.] He shall separate anew the whole period of the vow upon which he had originally entered.

a guilt-offering] This was the most expensive part of the ritual. Opinions differ as to the exact force attaching to it. But the distinctive feature of the offering in other cases seems to have been that it involved an act of reparation for wrong done (see on Numbers 5:6-8). In the present case it is probably reparation for the delay in the completion of the vow and therefore of the sacrifices which consummated it.

Verse 12. - For a trespass offering. Rather, "for a guilt offering." Hebrew, asham (see Leviticus 5). The asham always implied guilt, even though it might be purely legal, and it was to be offered in this case in acknowledgment of the offence involved in the involuntary breach of vow. In the education of conscience, on anything lower than the "perfect law of liberty," it was only possible to secure thoroughness and consistency at the cost of introducing much that was arbitrary and destined to pass away. Something similar must always be tolerated in the moral education of children. The days that were before shall be lost. Literally, "shall fall." Septuagint, ἅλογοι ἔσονται, "shall not be counted." Numbers 6:12He was then "to bring a yearling sheep as a trespass-offering;" and the days that were before were "to fall," i.e., the days of consecration that had already elapsed were not to be reckoned on account of their having fallen, "because his consecration had become unclean." He was therefore to commence the whole time of his consecration entirely afresh, and to observe it as required by the vow. To this end he was to bring a trespass-offering, as a payment or recompense for being reinstated in the former state of consecration, from which he had fallen through his defilement, but not as compensation "for having prolonged the days of separation through his carelessness with regard to the defilement; that is to say, for having extended the time during which he led a separate, retired, and inactive life, and suspended his duties to his own family and the congregation, thus doing an injury to them, and incurring a debt in relation to them through his neglect" (Knobel). For the time that the Nazarite vow lasted was not a lazy life, involving a withdrawal from the duties of citizenship, by which the congregation might be injured, but was perfectly reconcilable with the performance of all domestic and social duties, the burial of the dead alone excepted; and no harm could result from this, ether to his own relations or the community generally, of sufficient importance to require that the omission should be repaired by a trespass-offering, from which neither his relatives nor the congregation derived any actual advantage. Nor was it a species of fine, for having deprived Jehovah of the time dedicated to Him through the breach of the vow, or for withholding the payment of his vow for so much longer a time (Oehler in Herzog). For the position of a Nazarite was only assumed for a definite period, according to the vow; and after this had been interrupted, it had to be commenced again from the very beginning: so that the time dedicated to God was not shortened in any way by the interruption of the period of dedication, and nothing whatever was withheld from God of what had been vowed to Him, so as to need the presentation of a trespass-offering as a compensation or fine. And there is no more reason for saying that the payment of the vow was withheld, inasmuch as the vow was fulfilled or paid by the punctual observance of the three things of which it was composed; and the sacrifices to be presented after the time of consecration was over, had not in the least the character of a payment, but simply constituted a solemn conclusion, corresponding to the idea of the consecration itself, and were the means by which the Nazarite came out of his state of consecration, without involving the least allusion to satisfaction, or reparation for any wrong that had been done.

The position of the Nazarite, therefore, as Philo, Maimonides, and others clearly saw, was a condition of life consecrated to the Lord, resembling the sanctified relation in which the priests stood to Jehovah, and differing from the priesthood solely in the fact that it involved no official service at the sanctuary, and was not based upon a divine calling and institution, but was undertaken spontaneously for a certain time and through a special vow. The object was simply the realization of the idea of a priestly life, with its purity and freedom from all contamination from everything connected with death and corruption, a self-surrender to God stretching beyond the deepest earthly ties, "a spontaneous appropriation of what was imposed upon the priest by virtue of the calling connected with his descent, namely, the obligation to conduct himself as a person betrothed to God, and therefore to avoid everything that would be opposed to such surrender" (Oehler). In this respect the Nazarite's sanctification of life was a step towards the realization of the priestly character, which had been set before the whole nation as its goal at the time of its first calling (Exodus 19:5); and although it was simply the performance of a vow, and therefore a work of perfect spontaneity, it was also a work of the Spirit of God which dwelt in the congregation of Israel, so that Amos could describe the raising up of Nazarites along with prophets as a special manifestation of divine grace. The offerings, with which the vow was brought to a close after the time of consecration had expired, and the Nazarite was released from his consecration, also corresponded to the character we have described.

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