Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 2. Sanctified, and separated from the common sort of people, and obliged to observe abstinence like the Nazarites, as the Hebrew intimates in one word, nazir. All this was done to acquire greater sanctity and perfection. Septuagint, “whoever has made a great vow to be very pure to the Lord,” and intends thus to signalize his zeal for God’s glory. The original term, means also to distinguish oneself by a wonderful thing. There were Nazarites for life, like Samson and St. John the Baptist; and others for a limited time, like St. Paul. Their abstinence from wine, &c., lasted generally for a month, and was to be performed at Jerusalem. Those of the female sex could not bind themselves by vow till they were ten years and a day old, nor boys before they were full 13. (Calmet) — The custom of cutting the hair, in honour of some god, was very common among the pagans; and St. Cyril (de ador. 16,) seems to think that the Hebrews had seen it practised in Egypt, and that Moses judged it expedient to let them do so for the sake of the true God, in order to divert their minds from giving way to superstition. (Calmet) — The Hebrews made vows to abstain from wine for 30 days, and then to offer sacrifices, and to cut their hair, when they were attacked by any dangerous illness. (Josephus, Jewish Wars ii. 15.) St. Paul perhaps made a vow of this nature, in the perils of the sea, Acts xviii. 11. (Spencer, Rit. iii. 6.) Juvenal alludes to this custom, when he observes, that sailors with their heads shaved, delight in safety to recount the dangers to which they have been exposed:
Gaudent ubi vertice raso,
Garrula securi narrare pericula Nautæ. (Sat. ii.)
Ver. 3. Drunk. Hebrew shecar, may signify old or palm wine, Leviticus x. 9. — Drink. Hebrew, “of shecar,” which was a clear wine, with perhaps a mixture of sugar. — Vinegar was a common beverage among the ancients. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xiv. 16; Ruth ii. 14.) The soldiers gave our Saviour some of theirs to drink. The Turks, who are not allowed to drink wine of the grape, make use of various other sorts of made wine. — Grape, or the liquor procured from grapes, with a mixture of water, after they have served already to make wine. This liquor is called secondary wine by the Greeks, (Menochius) being designed for labourers in winter. (Varro 54, and Colum. xii. 40.) Grapes of every description are forbidden to the Nazarites, as they either tend to inebriate, or at least are too luxurious. (Haydock) — God deigns to give those a rule, who voluntarily consecrate themselves to his service. “What do the Nazarites designate, but the life of those who abstain, and are continent?” (St. Gregory, Mor. xxxii. 23.) (Worthington)
Ver. 4. Kernel, or stone. Neither the inside nor the outside must be eaten.
Ver. 5. Grow. At the commencement, and at the end of the Nazariteship, the hair was cut; though perhaps a sort of crown was left at the top of the head, as the 7th verse may be rendered, “the crown of his God,” &c. (Calmet) — The Nazarite is under the same regulations as the high priest, with respect to any corpse, ver. 6. (Maimonides; More, p. 3.; Leviticus xxi. 11.) Both were consecrated to God in the most perfect manner. (Menochius) — When the hair of Samson was cut off, he immediately lost his supernatural strength, Judges xvi.
Ver. 6. Dead. To teach us that those who are consecrated to God, ought to abstain from the works of death. (Haydock)
Ver. 9. Day. That none might escape; (Theodoret, q. 11,) though the Hebrew may imply that the hair was only shaved on the ninth day, when he was to be purified, chap. xix. 12. Then the Nazarite had to begin again, as if he had done nothing, (Calmet) if his vow were only for a time. Those who had taken a vow for life never shaved.
Ver. 11. Sinned. Contracting a legal uncleanness. — That day, and commence his vow. (Menochius)
Ver. 13. He. The priest.
Ver. 18. Fire, on the altar, where the ram has been sacrificed. (Abulensis.) Lyranus thinks it was burnt on the fire, with which the meat was boiled. (Menochius) (Chaldean) (Tirinus) — The Septuagint, Philo, &c., understand it in the former sense; and Theodoret says the consecrated hair was placed upon the victim on the fire. (Calmet)
Ver. 20. Priest, contrary to what was required in other sacrifices. (Jospehus, [Antiquities?] iv. 4. Both the priest and the Nazarite waved the sacrifice towards the four quarters of the world.
Ver. 21. Mind. If he have vowed any thing more, he must perform it. (Haydock)
Ver. 23. Sons. The three forms of benediction for the high priests, have all the same meaning, and they might choose which they pleased. Grotius observes, that they pronounced them aloud standing, with their hands lifted up. The books of Moses are the ritual of the priests.
Ver. 25. Shew. Hebrew, “make his face shine,” joyful and serene, (Calmet) like a light to direct thy steps, Psalm lxvi. 2.
Ver. 26. Turn. With loving mercy, may he comfort and protect thee. (Menochius)
Ver. 27. Invoke. Hebrew, “they shall name my name (Yehovah, in pronouncing blessings) upon the sons of Israel,” which I will ratify. (Haydock) — “They shall place the blessing of my name,” &c., Chaldean. They shall praise my name. (Calmet) — God authorizes us to use a determinate form of blessing, and grants the effect, when his minister pronounces it, (Worthington) if no obstacle be put by the party. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The law of the Nazarites: the form of blessing the people.
1 And the Lord spoke to Moses, *saying:
2 Speak to the children of Israel, and thou shalt say to them: When a man, or woman, shall make a vow to be sanctified, and will consecrate themselves to the Lord:
3 They shall abstain from wine, and from every thing that may make a man drunk. They shall not drink vinegar of wine, or of any other drink, nor any thing that is pressed out of the grape: nor shall they eat grapes either fresh or dried.
4 All the days that they are consecrated to the Lord by vow: they shall eat nothing that cometh of the vineyard, from the raisin even to the kernel.
5 All the time of his separation,* no razor shall pass over his head until the day be fulfilled of his consecration to the Lord. He shall be holy, and shall let the hair of his head grow.
6 All the time of his consecration he shall not go in to any dead,
7 Neither shall he make himself unclean, even for his father, or for his mother, or for his brother, or for his sister, when they die, because the consecration of his God is upon his head.
8 All the days of his separation he shall be holy to the Lord.
9 But if any man die suddenly before him, the head of his consecration shall be defiled: and he shall shave it forthwith on the same day of his purification, and again the seventh day.
10 And on the eighth day he shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons, to the priest in the entry of the covenant of the testimony,
11 And the priest shall offer one for sin, and the other for a holocaust, and shall pray for him, for that he hath sinned by the dead: and he shall sanctify his head that day :
12 And shall consecrate to the Lord the days of his separation, offering a lamb of one year for sin: yet so that the former days be made void, because his sanctification was profaned.
13 This is the law of consecration. When the days which he had determined by vow shall be expired, he shall bring him to the door of the tabernacle of the covenant,
14 And shall offer his oblation to the Lord: one he-lamb of a year old, without blemish, for a holocaust, and one ewe-lamb of a year old, without blemish, for a sin-offering, and one ram, without blemish, for a victim of peace-offering,
15 A basket also of unleavened bread, tempered with oil, and wafers without leaven anointed with oil, and the libations of each:
16 And the priest shall present them before the Lord, and shall offer both the sin-offering and the holocaust.
17 But the ram he shall immolate for a sacrifice of peace-offering to the Lord, offering at the same time the basket of unleavened bread, and the libations that are due by custom.
18 *Then shall the hair of the consecration of the Nazarite, be shaved off before the door of the tabernacle of the covenant: and he shall take his hair, and lay it upon the fire, which is under the sacrifice of the peace-offerings.
19 And shall take the boiled shoulder of the ram, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and he shall deliver them into the hands of the Nazarite, after his head is shaven.
20 And receiving them again from him, he shall elevate them in the sight of the Lord: and they being sanctified shall belong to the priest, as the breast, which was commanded to be separated, and the shoulder. After this the Nazarite may drink wine.
21 This is the law of the Nazarite, when he hath vowed his oblation to the Lord in the time of his consecration, besides those things which his hands shall find, according to that which he had vowed in his mind, so shall he do for the fulfilling of his sanctification.
22 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
23 Say to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the children of Israel, and you shall say to them:
24 *The Lord bless thee, and keep thee.
25 The Lord shew his face to thee, and have mercy on thee.
26 The Lord turn his countenance to thee, and give thee peace.
27 And they shall invoke my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.
1: Year of the World 2514.
5: Judges xiii. 5.
18: Acts xxi. 24.
24: Ecclesiasticus xxxvi. 19.