All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)From the kernels even to the husk.—The word which is rendered kenels is supposed by some to denote sour grapes, and by others the kernels of berries. The word zag denotes the shell or husk.Numbers 6:4. All the days of his separation — Some were perpetual Nazarites, being peculiarly devoted to God from the womb, as Samson and John the Baptist. But Moses here speaks of such as made themselves Nazarites only for a time, which might be longer or shorter, as they thought fit to appoint.Hosea 3:1. This interdict figures that separation from the general society of men to which the Nazarite for the time was consecrated.The days were sometimes more, sometimes fewer, as he thought fit to appoint.
from the kernels even to the husk; the Jews (u) are divided about the two words here used, which of them signifies the outermost part of the grape, and which the innermost; Ben Gersom agrees with us, but it matters not much who are in the right, since both are forbidden: by this part of the law, the people of God, who are spiritual Nazarites, are taught to live temperately and soberly, and to abstain from all appearance of sin: it is pretty remarkable what the Jews (w) say, that when the son of David comes, it will be free for a Nazarite to drink wine on sabbath days and festivals, though not on week days; from whence it appears, they seem to be conscious of a change of the ceremonial law in his days.All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. nothing that is produced by the grape-vine] R.V. ‘made of the grape-vine,’ though a literal rendering of the Hebrew, is misleading. The meaning is evidently that of Jdg 13:14 ‘nothing that cometh forth (יצא) from the grape-vine.’ This meaning of עשה ‘to make,’ or ‘produce,’ in the course of nature is found with some frequency; e.g. Genesis 1:11 f., Genesis 41:47, Isaiah 5:2; Isaiah 5:4; Isaiah 5:10.
from the kernels even to the husk] The Heb. idiom ‘from … to …’ frequently represents the English ‘either … or …’ or ‘neither … nor …’ Cf. Genesis 14:23, lit. ‘from a thread to a shoe-latchet’; Genesis 31:24; Genesis 31:29 ‘from good to bad.’
The words rendered ‘kernels’ (ḥarẓannîm) and ‘husk’ (zâg) are not found elsewhere in the O.T. and their meaning is uncertain.
It is not very natural to speak of the kernels (i.e. the stones or pips) and the husk (i.e. the skin) of the grape as produced by the vine. But no better rendering of the words has been proposed. The general sense, however, is clear. The eating of any sort of grape product is prohibited, even the most trifling or unpalatable parts of the produce of the vine.
The custom of abstaining from wine and intoxicants may have arisen in a remote past from a primitive belief that the spirit or numen of the vine entered into a man when he drank (see Frazer, Golden Bough, i. 359 f.); or, as Jeremiah 35:6 f. suggests in the case of the Rechabites, it arose from a desire to conform closely to ancient nomadic habits after the nation as a whole had become an agricultural community (W. R. Smith, Prophets of Israel, 84 f.). Whatever the origin may have been, the Naziriteship had, in prophetic times, a valuable moral significance as a protest against luxury and sensuality. See Driver on Amos 2:11.
Again, the prohibition of wine is distinct from that of all intoxicants1 [Note: On intoxicants other than wine see Hastings’ DB. ii. 33b.] . The former is probably the more primitive. And the form of the regulations found here may very possibly have been the result of the fusion of ancient practices which were at one time unconnected, and not all observed by earlier Nazirites.Verse 4. - From the kernels oven to the husk, or skin. Of grape-skins it is said that cakes were made which were considered a delicacy (Hosea 3:1, mistranslated "flagons of wine"), but this is doubtful. The Septuagint has οῖνον ἀμὸ στεμφόλων ἕως γιγάρτου, "wine of grape-skins (the liquor of grapes mentioned before) even to the kernel." The expression is best understood as including anything and everything, however unlikely to be used, connected with the grape. It is clear that the abstinence of the Nazirite extended beyond what might possibly intoxicate to what was simply pleasant to the taste, like raisins, or refreshing, like charnels. The vine represented, by an easy parable, the tree of carnal delights, which yields to the appetite of men such a variety of satisfactions. So among the Romans the Flamen Dialis might not even touch a vine. Numbers 5:29-31 bring the law of jealousy to a formal close, with the additional remark, that the man who adopted this course with a wife suspected of adultery was free from sin, but the woman would bear her guilt (see Leviticus 5:1), i.e., in case she were guilty, would bear the punishment threatened by God. Nothing is said about what was to be done in case the woman refused to take the oath prescribed, because that would amount to a confession of her guilt, when she would have to be put to death as an adulteress, according to the law in Leviticus 20:10; and not she alone, but the adulterer also. In the law just mentioned the man is placed on an equality with the woman with reference to the sin of adultery; and thus the apparent partiality, that a man could sue his wife for adultery, but not the wife her husband, is removed. But the law before us applied to the woman only, because the man was at liberty to marry more than one wife, or to take concubines to his own wife; so that he only violated the marriage tie, and was guilty of adultery, when he formed an illicit connection with another man's wife. In that case, the man whose marriage had been violated could proceed against his adulterous wife, and in most instances convict the adulterer also, in order that he might receive his punishment too. For a really guilty wife would not have made up her mind so easily to take the required oath of purification, as the curse of God under which she came was no easier to bear than the punishment of death. For this law prescribed no ordeal whose effects were uncertain, like the ordeals of other nations, but a judgment of God, from which the guilty could not escape, because it had been appointed by the living God.
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