Nazirite Vow

My reading today was from Numbers 6 and the Nazirite vow (vv 1-21). When I think of the Nazirite vow, I think of Samson (Judges 13) and John the Baptist (Luke 1:15-17) who were Nazirites for life (Samuel was also under the vow in 1 Samuel 1). I also think of Paul being temporarily under the Nazirite vow in Acts (vv 18:18; 21:17-26). I have heard people try to connect Nazirite with Nazarene and in the Hebrew it is very clear that Nazirite is not at all affiliated with the Nazarenes or the place of Nazareth.

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When either a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the LORD…” (Num 6:1-2). “The term Nazirite describes the person who has marked out a specific period for personal separation or consecration, a special time for unusual devotion to God. This text speaks of a restricted period of time for the Nazirite vow, though some persons took the vow for a lifetime” (R. Allen, Numbers REBC, 2012, p. 138).

I have read Numbers 6 NUMEROUS times and NEVER noticed that women were included in making this extraordinary vow to the Lord. “Though issues related to women are often subsumed under the heading of man (=humankind), the context explicitly emphasizes the potential of women entering into this consecration service to Yahweh. Women could not serve as priests in the Israelite cultus, but this manner of service was open to them and could fulfill their desire for holiness and special service to the Lord” (R.D. Cole, Numbers NAC, 2000, p. 121).

What were those under the Nazirite vow separating themselves from? “(1) absolute abstinence from all produce of the vine, (2) total forswearing of trimming of (and likely all caring for) the hair, and (3) utter separation from contamination by any contact with a dead body. Thus three areas of life were regulated for the Nazirite during the period of his vow: diet (ordinary pleasure), appearance (ordinary care), and associations (ordinary obligation). Every Israelite was under regulations in these general areas, but for the Nazirite each of these regulations was heightened” (Allen, pp. 138-139).

Numbers 30:1-16 does give fathers of young women and husbands permission to cancel/oppose a woman’s vow to the Lord. I am fascinated by the Bible resources that I have that do NOT mention that women are included in the Nazirite vow in Numbers 6; to not mention this is dishonest to the text.

This also has me wondering what would it look like for Israelite women to make a Nazirite vow?! Premenstral young women or postmenopausal women would be free to make this vow unless their fathers or husbands opposed it. Women of menstruating age would have to be VERY sensitive to the timing of this vow so as to not conflict with purity rituals, cleanness laws etc.

I need to do more research on this because, I am really curious to learn how often pregnant Israelite women would have made/put themselves under a Nazirite vow to the Lord?! Pregnant women would have months to devote themselves to the Lord without having to deal with their monthly period. Manoah’s wife (Samson’s mom) was put under the Nazirite vow by the angel of the Lord in which she was to be careful to not drink strong drink, to not eat anything unclean and to not eat anything that comes from the vine (see Judges 13:4, 7, 14).

I am so glad the Lord brought this to my attention today! I have often wondered about the vows Jewish women would have made in the Ancient Near East (ANE). While I am glad that women were able to partake in the Nazarite vow, I am SO glad and thankful that women TODAY have even more access to the Triune God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Lord God, thank You that the path to salvation is made clear in Your Word. Thank You Lord that what You began in the Old Testament (Covenant) is now completed in the New! Lord God, thank You and praise You for women! Thank You for the unique giftings and experiences that You have given women to glorify You and serve Your people, leading the lost to Christ. Lord God, thank You and praise You there will be NO sex and gender disputes in Heaven! Lord God, thank You for ALL the godly men in the world who are doing their best to live for You in this darkening world. Lord God, help Your men to lead well. Lord God, may Your people, males and females help each other to make You known in this lost and dying world. Thank You Lord for this reader! Thank You for their grace and patience with me as I share what You have put on my heart. Lord, lead this reader today. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

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Blue Collar Theologian

My name is Mandy Sweigart-Quinn, I live in Lancaster, PA and I am a “Blue Collar Theologian.” I love Jesus! I am passionate about His Word (The Holy Bible)! I come alive when I can encourage others in their walk with Jesus (whether by writing or speaking). As a “Blue Collar Theologian” it is my aim to live/practice/work out my Christian hope with sincerity, authenticity and genuineness. As a “Blue Collar Theologian,” I strive to meet people right where they are (“Incarnational Theology”). I graduated in May 2019 from Capital Seminary and Graduate School with a Master's in Biblical Studies. I am a passionate, excited and enthusiastic person! I love flowers, sports and sunsets. Since January 2, 2018 I have had the privilege of being married to Nathan.

42 thoughts on “Nazirite Vow”

  1. Wow! I had never seen that about women as well. I look forward to your research on this.

    I quickly found this: “A “man or woman” (Num. 6:2) from any tribe could enjoy special sanctity as a Nazirite. Jewish tradition tells us that pious women chose to become Nazirites during the Second Temple period and provides names of some of them, including Queen Helena of Adiabne and Miriam of Tadmor (Palmyra). The fact that royal women wanted to be Nazirites indicates that this status was an honored one.”

    Roy Gane, Leviticus, Numbers, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004), 532–533.


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  2. This is such an interesting study, Mandy! I appreciate learning things I never knew before. It shows how our God has always had a place for us as women. 🙂 Blessings, dear friend!

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  3. I have never noticed women can participate in the Nazirite vow before, yet its there stated in the text of Numbers 6. This vow is one that I feel I definitely need to do a deep dive study of sometime in the future. Thank you for this post. Wow I learned something new, like really new

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    1. Thank you SO much for taking the time to read and ponder this. I really appreciate it! I am so thankful and humbled by how God opens His peoples eyes to His Word. I remember studying what life was like for Jewish and non Jewish women in the Greco-Roman world. What a fascinating comparison!

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      1. I had to do that in my phd NT background class. The second temple time period absolutely fascinates me. I appreciate the ANE and the OT setting for sure. I love how everything builds on itself. Have you seen current reports on Ukraine? Do you have contacts? 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

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  4. I found this very interesting Mandy. I did not pay attention to whether women could or could not take the Nazareth vow. I am eager to see if you learn more through your research. God does have a place for us women. Another thing that I find that I read so much differing opinions on is the role of women at church.
    Blessings sister 💙

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  5. Now that you mentioned it I wonder what kinds of vows Jewish women made as well and whether they took Nazirite vows. Best wishes on finding the information. The Oral Torah (rabbinic teachings) might have something on it.

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  6. Wow!! Learned a few things by reading your post. Never knew women could be part of the Nazirite vow. Such an interesting subject. Looking forward to your further research.
    God bless you Mandy. 🙏❤️

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  7. My day went well; I was blessed with the prayer meeting today praying for the people of Ukraine; I didn’t hear demonizing of Russians, I heard concerns for all parties and also for salvation of souls and also prayer for specific individuals we are praying be able to be safe

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