What in the world is a Nazarite Vow, you might ask?


Naz”a*rite, n.
A Jew bound by a vow to leave the hair uncut, to abstain from
wine and strong drink, and to practice extraordinary purity

of life and devotion, the obligation being for life, or for a
certain time. The word is also used adjectively.

Additionally, they are prohibited from any contact with a dead body.

The word used for “Nazarite” is based upon the Hebrew verb “rzn”, transliterated as “Nazar”, which means “to dedicate, consecrate, separate”. It is commonly used to indicate that someone is living as a Nazarite.

Further, another form (noun) is the Hebrew “ryzn”, transliterated as “Naziyr” – this form means “consecrated or devoted one” – interestingly, it also means “untrimmed”, as in a vine.

Who were Nazarites, in the Bible?

The first one mentioned in the Bible is the famous Samson, the Judge. His story can be found in Judges 13-16..

Samson was a Nazarite from birth. You can read more about his life, and
his story above – in fact, I’d suggest it. It’s a very interesting
story. He’s the Superman of the Bible – but that never helped him, when
it came to doing the right thing.

The second Biblical Nazarite was Samuel, the first Prophet. He also was
consecrated from birth. He was the last Judge, and crowned Israel’s
first earthly king. He was raised by a priest, and was conceived due to
the prayers of his mother, who promised to give him to God, should she
bear a child. Samuel is also, incidentally, the only person (besides
Jesus, of course) in the Bible to visit the world again after his own

To read about Samuel… read the books 1st Samuel, and 2nd Samuel.

The third Biblical Nazarite was John the Baptist, of whom Jesus said
“Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than
John the Baptist”. High praise indeed, coming from the Son of God! John
was also consecrated from birth. He was born to a priest – and he was
Jesus’ cousin. John was the promised forerunner of the Messiah, who
pointed all toward Him. John baptized Jesus. In short, this was one
awesome guy. A bit odd, though. He wore camel-hair clothes, ate only
locusts and honey, and lived out in the desert! His favorite sermon was
“Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”.

That’s all well and good, but so what?

The Nazarite Vow, like many other things in the Bible, was a
foreshadowing of the decision required to become a New Testament
disciple. Don’t get the connection? Let me explain.

Did you know the Nazarite Vow is explicitly mentioned, and detailed in the book of Numbers?

1. A Nazarite can “eat nothing that is made of the vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk” (v. 4)

2. A Nazarite cannot let a “razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled” (v.5)

3. A Nazarite, during the days of his separation, “shall come at no dead body” (v.6)

Ok? What’s that have to do with anything?

What did Jesus tell his disciples, when He called them to follow Him?
The recurring principle was “sacrifice”. He told every single disciple
to give up their livelihoods, and follow Him! All 12 did. The decision to follow Christ is, at it’s very essence, a vow. Every Biblical vow to God, in order to underscore it’s importance, involves sacrifice.

As Ecclesiastes says:


“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou vowest.”

God takes vows seriously.

The first component of the vow:

Wine, in the Bible, is a symbol of joy – like most things that are
good, to be a child of God requires sacrifice. In this case, the
sacrifice is of joy.

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself” (Luke 9:23)

The second component of the vow:

Long hair on a man indicates shame, in the Bible. Also, imagine, an
entire LIFETIME without a haircut? You’d look very, very unkempt. Very,
very long hair… like, dragging the ground. Imagine how different
someone like that would look. Back in the day, the “older generation”
looked askance at “the hippies”, due to their long hair, and generally
unkempt appearance. Just IMAGINE an entire lifetime of that – and worse!

The third component of the vow:

Separation from death.

Remember, the whole world is dead, in its sin. We were cursed with
death, in repayment for our sins. A Nazarite vows to wholly exempt
himself from every contact with death. It is not their concern.

Remember this?
“Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead” (Matthew 8:22)


The Nazarite vow was yet another way for God to point us toward the
correct way to Himself. The Bible is absolutely chock full of types,
illustrations, examples, and directions – all of which are designed to
point us directly at the face of God. All 3 lifetime Nazarites were
extraordinary people. One was the strongest man who ever lived, a
Judge, and singlehandedly defended his entire nation from another. The
next was a Judge, annointed the first King of Israel, and spoke
directly with God. The third, as we said earlier, was called the
greatest man ever born of a woman. A very impressive record, wouldn’t
you say?

Something to close with, though.

Directly after Jesus’ glowing recommendation of John, he added something we should pay close, close attention to.

“Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.Matthew 11:11.

Catch that? If you are a child of the King, you are already greater
than the most righteous man ever born of a woman. That’s saying
something, when God took two previous prophets of His directly to Heaven, without dying, because they were so righteous. Why are we greater?


Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his
mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the
Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our
Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs
according to the hope of eternal life – Titus 3:5-7

The Nazarite vow is just a big sign, pointing to future discipleship,
and explaining it’s principles. That doesn’t mean, however, that it
isn’t important, or a worthy topic of study. Everything in scripture is
designed to point us toward God. This is no exception.