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Commentary - Year 2 Sabbath 53

Numbers 6:1-21   -   Judges 13:2-5, 1 Samuel 1:7-11   -   Psalm 97 - 98 - 99  -   Luke 1:8-17
 

 

II Adar 11, 5763 / Mar 15, 2003

Adar 25, 5766 / Mar 25, 2006

Adar 25, 5769 / Mar 21, 2009

Adar 23, 5772 / Mar 17, 2012

Adar 23, 5775 / Mar 14, 2015

 

Ki Yafli Lindor / If . . . Make a Special Vow    SCRIPTURES (should be read first)

 

The Nazir (Nazirite)

 

Yeshua was called a Nazarene, because He grew up in Nazareth; He was not called a Nazirite. John the baptizer was called a Nazirite. Therefore it is written, “For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds” – Matthew 11:18-19.

 

If a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to Yahweh . . .

 

This is normally a voluntary status, of dedication to holiness, for a specified period of time (v.5) – a minimum being thirty days. It includes three restrictions: abstaining from all grape products, no cutting of hair, and no dealing with a human corpse.

 

Verse 2 may be translated as a desire to separate oneself, or to do something astounding. One purpose of such a vow is to separate oneself from worldly temptations, and thus relates to the previous paragraph’s concern with occasion for adultery (see previous week’s commentary). Another purpose may be to do something beyond the usual, in serving God.

 

Abstaining from grape products is seen as separation from intoxicating wine, including anything associated with it. The uncut hair is called “the crown of his God” (v.7), being a sign of devotion. Like the high priest (Lev. 21:11), he must maintain purity, not being allowed even to bury a dead parent. If contamination is accidentally or carelessly caused, the period of the vow must be started over when the seven days of purification are ended.

 

A metzora (see Year 2 – commentary #35), after being cleansed from impurity, is accompanied to the priest by another (Lev. 14:2), presumably of higher sanctity. But, the Nazirite, at the conclusion of the period of his vow, must “bring himself” (v.13) to the priest: he is presumably in a heightened state of sanctity.

 

He must bring a sin offering, a peace offering, and a thanksgiving offering. It is taught that the sin offering is required because of the decision to return to temporal pursuits. The peace offering symbolizes the contentment and joy of having been allowed to fulfill a period of devotion, and the loaves are in thanksgiving to God for the same.

 

After this service, the Nazirite’s hair is cut. He is still called a Nazirite (v.20), because he is to retain the spiritual gain from the dedication period.

 

This story was heard on the radio this week: A certain man was having a talk with his daughter’s prospective husband. The father asked: “What is your profession?” The young man responded, “I study the Word.” The father asked: “How do you plan to support my daughter?” The response was, “I will study, and God will provide.” The father asked: “How are you going to buy a ring for my daughter?” The response was, “God will provide the ring.” The father asked: “When children are born, how will you support them?” The young man answered, “I will study, and God will provide.” And so the conversation went. Later, the father was relating the situation to his wife: “He has no job, and he has no plans for one; but the good news is, he thinks I’m God.”

 

The moral of the story is: while living a life that is dedicated to God is very commendable, it is not an excuse to avoid supporting one’s family. One who wishes to live without any care for temporal pursuits, should not engage in marriage and building a family.

 

The Holy Crown of the high priest meant “Nazirship” (Ex 29:6, 39:30, Lev 8:9, 21:12).

 

John the baptizer – a Nazirite

A barren woman named Elizabeth had a husband named Zachariah. While ministering in the Temple, Zachariah was visited by an angel that promised an answer to his prayers, and the son was to be named John. That John was a Nazirite is indicated by Yeshua’s statement that he came “neither eating nor drinking” (Matthew 11:18). His life style also showed dedication to God’s work: he lived in the wilderness, was clothed with camel-hair, ate wild carob and dates, and spent his time preaching (Matthew 3:1-4).

 

Samson – a lifelong Nazirite

A barren woman named Manoah was told by an angel, “You shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5). When Samson failed to honor his dedicated status, consorting with Delilah, it cost him his life.

 

Samuel – a lifelong Nazirite

A barren woman named Hannah vowed to God: “O Yahweh of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thy maidservant and remember me, and not forget Thy maidservant, but wilt give Thy maidservant a son, then I will give him to Yahweh all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head ” (1 Samuel 1:11). “And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of Yahweh” (1b Samuel 3:20). “Now Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life” (1 Samuel 7:15).

 

Psalm 97: for Joseph – a Nazirite (For Triennial reference, this Psalm is concretely tied to the Torah portion.)

This eighth Psalm of Moses was dedicated to Joseph (Artscroll Tanach: Psalms 73-150, pg 1193). Joseph was called a Nazirite: “The blessings of your father have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; may they be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of the one distinguished (Heb. - Nazir) among his brothers” (Genesis 49:26);“And with the choice things of the earth and its fulness, and the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush. Let it come to the head of Joseph, and to the crown of the head of the one distinguished (Heb. - Nazir) among his brothers” (Deuteronomy 33:16).

 

In the literal interpretation, Joshua, a descendant of Joseph, was to lead the conquest of Canaan: “When Yahweh reigns, the land will rejoice” (v.1). “Fire will go before him, and burn up his enemies” (v.3).

 

In the prophetic interpretation, Yeshua will go forth to conquer, fire will go before Him and burn up His enemies, and the earth will rejoice forever. Then everyone will be an eternal Nazarite – all will be dedicated to God.

 

The remainder of the Psalm distinguishes between the righteous and the wicked, promoting dedication to God.

 

Readings:

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who chose us from among all peoples by giving us Your Torah.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."

 

Reader 1Amen. 1 Again Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 2 "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to Yahweh, 3 he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes.

Reader 2Amen. 4 'All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from the seeds even to the skin. 5 'All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to Yahweh; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long. 6 'All the days of his separation to Yahweh he shall not go near to a dead person.

Reader 3Amen. 7 'He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head. 8 'All the days of his separation he is holy to Yahweh. 9 'But if a man dies very suddenly beside him and he defiles his dedicated head of hair, then he shall shave his head on the day when he becomes clean; he shall shave it on the seventh day.

Reader 4Amen. 10 'Then on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the doorway of the tent of meeting. 11 'The priest shall offer one for a sin offering and the other for an elevation offering, and make atonement for him concerning his sin because of the dead person. And that same day he shall consecrate his head, 12 and shall dedicate to Yahweh his days as a Nazirite, and shall bring a male lamb a year old for a guilt offering; but the former days will be void because his separation was defiled.

Reader 5Amen. 13 'Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall bring the offering to the doorway of the tent of meeting. 14 'He shall present his offering to Yahweh: one male lamb a year old without defect for an elevation offering and one ewe-lamb a year old without defect for a sin offering and one ram without defect for a peace offering, 15 and a basket of unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil and unleavened wafers spread with oil, along with their grain offering and their drink offering.

Reader 6Amen. 16 'Then the priest shall present them before Yahweh and shall offer his sin offering and his elevation offering. 17 'He shall also offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings to Yahweh, together with the basket of unleavened cakes; the priest shall likewise offer its grain offering and its drink offering. 18 'The Nazirite shall then shave his dedicated head of hair at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and take the dedicated hair of his head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace offerings.

Reader 7Amen. 19 'The priest shall take the ram's shoulder when it has been boiled, and one unleavened cake out of the basket and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them on the hands of the Nazirite after he has shaved his dedicated hair. 20 'Then the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before Yahweh. It is holy for the priest, together with the breast offered by waving and the thigh offered by lifting up; and afterward the Nazirite may drink wine.' 21 "This is the law of the Nazirite who vows his offering to Yahweh according to his separation, in addition to what else he can afford; according to his vow which he takes, so he shall do according to the law of his separation."

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who in giving us Yeshua, the Living Torah, has planted everlasting life in our midst.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."

______________________

 

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who selected good prophets, delighting in their words which were spoken truthfully.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, Who chose the Torah, Your servant Moses, Your people Israel,

and the prophets of truth and righteousness."

 

Judges 13:2-5

Reader 8Amen. 2 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had borne no children. 3 Then the angel of Yahweh appeared to the woman and said to her, "Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. 4 "Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. 5 "For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines."

 

1 Samuel 1:7-11

Reader 9Amen. 7 It happened year after year, as often as she went up to the house of Yahweh, she would provoke her; so she wept and would not eat. 8 Then Elkanah her husband said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?" 9 Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of Yahweh. 10 She, greatly distressed, prayed to Yahweh and wept bitterly. 11 She made a vow and said, "O Yahweh of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to Yahweh all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head."
 

Psalm 97    (To be sung.)

1 Yahweh reigns, let the earth rejoice; Let the many islands be glad. 2 Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. 3 Fire goes before Him And burns up His adversaries round about. 4 His lightnings lit up the world; The earth saw and trembled. 5 The mountains melted like wax at the presence of Yahweh, At the presence of Yahweh of the whole earth. 6 The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples have seen His glory. 7 Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, Who boast themselves of idols; Worship Him, all you gods. 8 Zion heard this and was glad, And the daughters of Judah have rejoiced Because of Your judgments, O Yahweh. 9 For You are Yahweh Most High over all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods. 10 Hate evil, you who love Yahweh, Who preserves the souls of His godly ones; He delivers them from the hand of the wicked. 11 Light is sown like seed for the righteous And gladness for the upright in heart. 12 Be glad in Yahweh, you righteous ones, And give thanks to His holy name.

 

Psalm 98

1 A Psalm. O sing to Yahweh a new song, For He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him. 2 Yahweh has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations. 3 He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. 4 Shout joyfully to Yahweh, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. 5 Sing praises to Yahweh with the lyre, With the lyre and the sound of melody. 6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn Shout joyfully before the King, Yahweh. 7 Let the sea roar and all it contains, The world and those who dwell in it. 8 Let the rivers clap their hands, Let the mountains sing together for joy 9 Before Yahweh, for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness And the peoples with equity.

 

Psalm 99

1 Yahweh reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned above the cherubim, let the earth shake! 2 Yahweh is great in Zion, And He is exalted above all the peoples. 3 Let them praise Your great and awesome name; Holy is He. 4 The strength of the King loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. 5 Exalt Yahweh our God And worship at His footstool; Holy is He. 6 Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called on His name; They called upon Yahweh and He answered them. 7 He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; They kept His testimonies And the statute that He gave them. 8 O Yahweh our God, You answered them; You were a forgiving God to them, And yet an avenger of their evil deeds. 9 Exalt Yahweh our God And worship at His holy hill, For holy is Yahweh our God.

 

Luke 1:8-17

Reader 10Amen. 8 Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. 11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear gripped him. 13 But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. 14 "You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb. 16 "And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 17 "It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Rock of Ages, righteous throughout all generations.

You are the faithful God, promising and then performing, speaking and then fulfilling,

for all Your words are true and righteous.

Faithful are You, Yahweh our God, and faithful are Your words,

for no word of Yours shall remain unfulfilled;

You are a faithful and merciful God and King.

Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, Who are faithful in fulfilling all Your words."

 


© 2006  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)

 

 

 

 

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