Nazarite

(Heb. form Nazirite), the name of such Israelites as took on
them the vow prescribed in Num. 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 (Judg. 13:4, 5; 1 Sam. 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 T0003080.)

This institution was a symbol of a life devoted to God and
separated from all sin, a holy life.