One of the most famous Nazirites in the Bible is the prophet and judge Samuel. Before he was even conceived, his mother Hannah vowed to God that if He granted her prayer for a son, she would “give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head” (1 Sam. 1:11). Her prayer was answered, and she kept her promise, dedicating young Samuel to God’s service at the tabernacle.
As is explained in today’s reading, the Nazirite—the word means “separated one”—vow was one of special dedication or consecration (vv. 1–8). The vow could be for a limited period of time, or for one’s whole life, as in the cases of Samuel, Samson, and John the Baptist. The vow could be taken by either a man or a woman. Its external markers included abstaining from wine, alcoholic beverages, and even grapederived products (cf. Hosea 3:1), as well as not cutting one’s hair. A priest could step away from ministry for a death in the family, but not a Nazirite—God took priority.
To bring the vow to a fitting conclusion, a Nazirite had to make extensive offerings, further indicating that this vow was not something to be entered into lightly (vv. 13–21). They were also required to cut off and burn their long hair. If they accidentally defiled themselves, they were required to purify themselves, offer sacrifices, and start over (vv. 9–12).
This passage concludes with the strategically placed priestly blessing, calling on God to bless and watch over Israel (vv. 22–27). For God’s face to “shine” indicates His gladness or favor. Peace is “shalom,” an all-encompassing wellbeing. This standard blessing affirmed and reminded Israel that they were indeed God’s people!