Friday, August 29, 2014

Fact-Checking the Torah -- Numbers 6:1-9

Your assignment was to read Numbers 6:1-9.

This is the famous nazir vow. 

The Lord spoke to Moshe saying,

Speak to the children of Israel and tell them any man or woman who takes on a vow, the vow of a nazir, to separate themselves to the Lord, shall swear off wine and strong drink, wine that is made with yeast and strong drink that is made with yeast shall not be drunk nor shall any drink made from grapes, and fresh or dried grapes shall not be eaten.

All the days of the nazir vow, anything made from grapes or the vine, whether winter grapes or pulp, shall not be eaten.

All the days of the nazir vow no razor shall come on his head until the days of the nazir vow to the Lord be past, what grows on his head as hair shall be holy.

All the days of the nazir vow to the Lord he shall not come in to a dead person,

whether his father or mother or brother or sister, he shall not render himself tameh for them if they die because the nazir vow to his Gd is upon him.

All the days of the nazir vow he is holy to the Lord.

If anybody die near him by accident and the head of his nazir vow becomes tameh, his head shall be shaved on the day that he becomes tahor -- on the seventh day he shall be shaved.

On the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest to the door of the tent of witness.

This is not a vow to stop somebody from drinking.  You can make a neder performance oath for that.  This vow prohibits all grape products, including use of the vines and leaves.  It also requires the person who made the vow to stay away from dead bodies.

The rabbis later codified specifically that whoever makes a nazir vow has to observe all the conditions.  He or she cannot make the vow and then ask to be allowed to eat grapes while still abstaining from wine. 

The nazir vow says something important about the Jewish legal system which once again shows that it parallels other legal systems. That's for next week.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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