d. Law of the Nazirite (6:1–21)

1  And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying:

2  “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘If a man or woman should vow the special vow 1  of the Nazirite, 2  to become a Nazirite belonging to Yahweh,

3  he must separate himself 3  from wine and strong drink. He must not drink the vinegar from wine or the vinegar from strong drink, any juice of grapes, 4  and he must not eat grapes, either fresh or dried.

4  All the days of his consecration he must not eat anything that is made from the grapevine, from the seeds to the skin. 5 

5  All the days of his vow of consecration no razor must go over his head; he will be holy until the fulfillment of the days which he has separated to Yahweh, thus allowing the locks of the hair of his head to grow long.

6  All the days of his consecration of himself to Yahweh he must not approach a dead body.

7  He must not defile himself for his father or his mother or his sister or his brother when they die because his dedication to God is upon his head.

8  All the days of his consecration he is holy to Yahweh.

9  And if one near him should die suddenly, 6  so that he defiles his consecrated head, he must shave his head on the day of his cleansing; he will shave it on the seventh day.

10  On the eighth day he must bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest at the gate of the tent of meeting.

11  And the priest shall offer one for a purification offering and one for a whole burnt offering. And he will make atonement for him, since he sinned concerning the dead body. 7  And he will sanctify his head on that day,

12  that is, he will consecrate to Yahweh the days of his consecration, and bring a yearling lamb for a reparation offering. But the former days will not count 8  because his consecration was defiled.

13  And this is the regulation 9  for the Nazirite on the day of the fulfillment of his Nazirite vow. He shall bring it to the door of the tent of meeting

14  and shall offer his gift to Yahweh: one perfect yearling lamb for a whole burnt offering and one perfect yearling ewe lamb for a purification offering, one perfect ram for a peace offering,

15  and a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, and wafers spread with oil, along with their meal offering and their drink offerings.

16  And the priest shall offer these before Yahweh and make his purification offering and whole burnt offering.

17  And the ram he shall offer as a sacrifice, a peace offering, to Yahweh together with the basket of unleavened bread. And the priest will make its meal offering and its drink offering.

18  And the Nazirite shall shave his consecrated head at the door of the tent of meeting. And he shall take the hair of his consecrated head and put it on the fire that is under the sacrifice of the peace offering.

19  And the priest shall take the boiled shoulder from the ram, one cake of unleavened bread from the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and put it in the hands of the Nazirite, after he has shaved himself of his consecration, 10 

20  and the priest shall elevate it as a dedication offering before Yahweh. It is a holy portion for the priest together with the breast of dedication (which was elevated) and with the thigh of the offering (which was offered). Afterward the Nazirite may drink wine.

21  This is the regulation for the Nazirite who takes a vow, his offering to Yahweh for his Nazirite vow—besides whatever else he can afford. He must do, in proportion to the vow which he vowed, according to the regulation for his consecration.

A majority of modern critics have attributed Num. 6:1–21 to P or a supplement to P. 11  According to the formulation of the documentary hypothesis in the 19th cent., the P stratum was composed no earlier than 500 B.C., with supplements coming as much as two centuries later. 12  While modern proponents of source analysis have been willing to concede that each “document” is really a stream of tradition containing some ancient material, 13  this concession rarely means that much of a preexilic nature (let alone Mosaic) is credited to P. The postexilic redactor who put the P stream together has so reshaped his material that it might as well be considered late, whatever its roots might be. To confirm this judgment with regard to the present passage one has only to consult many modern commentaries. 14  The assumption is that passages such as Judg. 13:5, 7; 16:17; 1 Sam. 1:11 (LXX); and Amos 2:11–12 are all earlier both in substance and in literary shape than Num. 6:1–21; consequently, the picture of the Nazirite found in these other passages is more ancient than the picture in Num. 6. 15  According to the dominant explanation, the ancient Nazirite was consecrated for life (like Samson and, probably, Samuel). The emphasis in this early period was on the divine call of the Nazirite (again, Samson, as well as the Nazirites of Amos 2). Only later did the Hebrews initiate the Nazirite vow for a specific period or task as reflected here in Num. 6 and continued in such literature as 1 Maccabees, Josephus, and the Mishnah. 16  Gray was confident of this conclusion, and scholars since Gray have evinced much of the same confidence. 17 

Turning to the biblical text itself, however, one is confronted with a different picture. Num. 6 does not institute the office of Nazirite, but only seeks to regulate it in certain (not exhaustive) ways. 18  Num. 6:13–20 regulates the termination of the Nazirite vow. Except for the case of Samson and the possible case of Samuel, the rest of the literature agrees that the Nazirite vow may be terminated. 19  The common assumption that there was “a large class of life-long devotees” in the early period of Israel must be disputed. 20  The texts give us the case of one, possibly two, in the whole expanse of the history of Israel.

Amos 2:11–12 says nothing about the Nazirite’s length of service. It merely compares the prophet and the Nazirite and states that God’s people have made both ineffective. That the office of prophet could be temporary is not inconceivable; Amos himself may be a good example of one who was called from another profession. Furthermore, to say that the earlier Nazirite was marked by the call of God and the later by the human vow must mean that, if Samuel was a Nazirite, he belonged to the later period since Hannah made a very human promise to give her hoped-for son to God. Surely a divine call and a human vow are not mutually exclusive in either the ancient or the modern world.

Numbers 6 assumes that the Nazirite vow will normally be taken by a person on his or her own behalf. Although one might reasonably expect this to be the case the majority of the time, Num. 6 by no means legislates that a person must take the vow for her/himself. Both Samson and Samuel are given to God before their births, and Num. 6 does not prohibit such a practice. 21 

It remains to look at the two examples of the so-called permanent Nazirites to see what the texts themselves say. 1 Sam. 1:11 says only that Samuel’s mother gave him to Yahweh for life and that no razor would touch his head. The Hebrew text does not state that Samuel was a Nazirite, although it has been so interpreted by the LXX, the Qumran exegetes, and the Mishnah. 22  The text says only that Samuel was “given” (nāṯan) to Yahweh as long as he lived (ûneṯattîw lYHWH kol–yemê ḥayyāyw). It does not say that no razor would go over his head as long as he lived. Therefore, one would have to demonstrate that everyone “given” to Yahweh must have been a Nazirite, which is not possible. 23  The remainder of Samuel’s story certainly does not mention his being a Nazirite, and he did not keep the vow as regards contact with a corpse when he “hacked Agag in pieces before Yahweh” (1 Sam. 15:33). If Samuel was a Nazirite, his being a Nazirite was lifelong only because the nature of his task was so immense (i.e., the transition from theocracy to monarchy) and his role so complex (i.e, both prophet and judge).

Samson was almost certainly a Nazirite. 24  He was called by God before his birth (Judg. 13:3–7). In the story God forbids Samson’s mother from imbibing wine (forbidden in Num. 6:1–4) and eating unclean food (no parallel in Num. 6). She is furthermore told not to cut his hair because he is to be God’s Nazirite from conception (Judg. 13:5, 7; 16:17). God also tells Samson’s mother her sons’s mission: “and he will begin to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines” (13:5), and, most importantly here, that he will be a Nazirite until the day of his death (‘aḏ-yôm môṯô, 13:7). What do these words mean within the context of the Samson cycle of narratives?

The whole Samson cycle can be seen as the story of the disintegration of a Nazirite who breaks his vow. In the end, the accomplishment of his God-given task (“beginning to save Israel from the hand of the Philistines”) costs him his life. Therefore Samson was a Nazirite for life only because his life ended in the accomplishment of his task. From this point of view, one may understand God’s statement in 13:7 (“until the day of his death”) not as an indication that being a Nazirite was permanent but as a sign of divine foreknowledge of the outcome of the story (which the reader only learns at the end). This kind of double meaning of a prediction is not unique to this passage, but is also found in Judg. 4. 25  By far, later literature (chiefly Mish. Nazir but also 1 Macc. 3:49 and Josephus) reflects more commonly the temporary character of the Nazirite, although the permanent Nazirite is also mentioned. 26 

Therefore, it appears that the norm was for one to take a Nazirite vow for oneself for a specific task. This is seen in both early (Num. 6) and late periods (e.g., Mishnah). In two possible cases (Samson and Samuel) God called people to be Nazirites for longer periods because of the complexity or difficulty of the task involved. It is, of course, possible (some would say likely) that Samson and Samuel were not the only long-term Nazirites. The text of Num. 6 does not forbid this kind of Nazirite. A person who was called for a lifetime would simply not fall under the last section of the regulations of Num. 6 dealing with exit from the Nazirite vow. Thus seeing Num. 6 as an early text does not mitigate the possibility of long-term Nazirites.

1–8 These verses define the Nazirite vow. The verb vow (yap̄li’, Hiphil of pl’) is related to the word pele’, “miracle,” “wonder,” which indicates something out of the ordinary. In Lev. 27:2 the same verb is used with the word vow (nēḏer) as a “special vow.”

Several of the regulations governing the Nazirite are related to those concerning the priest or high priest. The priests are forbidden to drink wine while they are serving in the tent of meeting (Lev. 10:9), and the Nazirite is forbidden wine at all times (Num. 6:3). The Nazirite must also not imbibe any strong drink or grape products for the extent of his or her vow (vv. 3–4). The priest may not pollute himself by contact, with corpses, except for immediate family members (Lev. 22:1–3); the high priest and the Nazirite may not come into contact with any corpse, even that of immediate family members (Lev. 22:10–12; Num. 6:6). The major difference between the priest and the Nazirite is that, while only males could become priests, either males or females could become Nazirites. Furthermore, the Nazirite is clearly a layperson. In ancient Israel God called a group of laypeople who would be especially consecrated to him.

The most important positive characteristic of the Nazirite is that she or he is holy (or separated, consecrated) to Yahweh (vv. 5, 8). The word holy carries with it the idea of a special relationship to Yahweh, of being marked out for Yahweh’s service. 27  Three distinctives mark out the Nazirite from the rest of Israelite society; all three mark abstinence (vv. 3–7); and all three are prefaced by the phrase all the days of (kol–yemê). 28 

3–4 The first mark of the Nazirite is complete abstinence from wine, strong drink, and all grape products. These verses give as complete a catalogue of grape products as can be given in short compass. The Nazirite must abstain from wine (yayin) and strong drink (šēḵār). The latter term most probably means any intoxicant made from fruit or grain. The term is usually found in connection with wine (23 of 25 times). 29  The Nazirite must also abstain from the vinegar of wine and strong drink, which was produced when the grapes or other fruit fermented too long. It was also made by pouring water over the squeezed-out fruit and allowing the mixture to ferment. It could be used either as a refreshing drink or as a condiment. 30  Even unfermented juice of grapes (mišraṯ ‘ănāḇîm), or grapes themselves (‘ănāḇîm), either fresh [laḥ] or dried (i.e., raisins, yeḇēš), must be avoided, right down to the most minute parts of the grape (from the seeds to the skin).

It is not possible to recapture the rationale behind the prohibition of grape products. The Nazirites were asked for a higher level of consecration in this matter than the priests. Many scholars have seen this prohibition as a rejection of the evils of sedentary life in Canaan, which was known for its viticulture. Scholars often interpret the prohibition this way because of their assumption that the Nazirite office reflected in Num. 6 is a later, post-conquest phenomenon. 31  But one can as easily see it as God’s preparation of these people to live in a Canaanite culture as a different (i.e., a holy) people. The norm, not only in Canaan but elsewhere, was to drink wine and eat grapes. The Nazirites were marked out as special people, consecrated to Yahweh only; they were not to conform to the norms of everyday life. The same basic reason may lie behind the other two prohibitions.

5 The second prohibition is against cutting or trimming the hair. The hair was a living, growing part of the human person and, as such, represented the life-force of the person very well, since hair will keep growing, for a while, even after death. Nothing external was to disturb the hair, representing as it did the power and life of the dedicated human being, until the accomplishment of the vow. At that time, and only then, the head would be shaved and the hair offered to God by being burnt on the altar (as in v. 18). Therefore, the hair can be seen as the most visible badge of the Nazirite. Not even the priests, and surely no other laypeople, had this special mark of consecration. It is interesting that both the high priest’s diadem and the Nazirite’s hair are called nēzer (lit., “consecration”). Both the diadem and the hair are special marks of the wearer’s consecration to Yahweh. 32  To dedicate one’s hair to the deity was not a uniquely Israelite practice but was common in the Semitic world. 33 

6–7 The third prohibition is not to approach a dead body. A corpse rendered those who came in contact with it unclean, hence unacceptable in Yahweh’s camp, as 5:1–4 described. The ritual for cleansing the ordinary layperson is found in 19:1–22. That the prohibition was absolute is seen both by the reference to the Nazirite’s immediate family and also by the regulation that follows in vv. 9–12, which is designed to cleanse the Nazirite after accidental pollution. The prohibition of casual contact with the dead (even a dead mother or father, v. 7) effectively reduced or eliminated the Nazirite’s participation in mourning for the dead. This is important because of the pagan practice of shaving one’s head in mourning for the dead. Such pagan practice is excluded for Israel in Lev. 19:27 and, more explicitly, in Deut. 14:1, but such mourning practices existed in Israel, as is evident from many OT passages. 34  The temptation to take part in such shaving of the head explains why the text says: he may not defile himself [even for family members] … because his dedication to God is upon his head.

8 Finally, the key characteristic of the Nazirite is repeated: he is holy to Yahweh. This special status obtains for the length of his or her vow, however long or short that might be (the text is not specific: all the days of his consecration).

9–12 These verses take up the case of accidental pollution by a corpse. No regulations for accidental pollution by wine drinking or by hair cutting were necessary, since these things do not happen accidentally.

9 The accidental nature of this case is seen by the use of the word suddenly. One who is near him (‘ālāyw), perhaps another Nazirite, dies suddenly. The dead body brings uncleanness upon the Nazirite, even though contact with it was accidental. That it is an accidental pollution means that the ritual in Lev. 5:14–16 for accidental trespass of holy things (and people) can be applied. The legislation here also uses the regulations for purification of those who have become unclean by means of physical disorders in Lev. 12–15. The regulation concerning shaving the head on the seventh day (which is the day of purification) parallels the timetable of Lev. 14:2, 9, for the cleansing of the leper. 35 

10 On the eighth day. Again here we have the same timetable for cleansing as in Lev. 14:10. The sacrificial victims for the purification offering and whole burnt offering are either two turtledoves or two young pigeons (etê ṯōrîm ’ô šenê benê yônâ). These birds are found together as sacrificial victims in Lev. 1:14; 5:7, 11; 12:6, 8; 14:22, 30; 15:14, 29. 36  One of these birds is used for a purification offering (ḥaṭṭā’ṯ), which purifies the sanctuary of the uncleanness brought into it by the contaminated Nazirite. The second bird is used by the priest as a whole burnt offering (‘ôlâ), which probably invokes the presence of God. 37  Only after these sacrifices have been offered is the Nazirite free to reconsecrate his or her head (i.e., hair) and take a new Nazirite vow. In fact, this vow and consecration should be seen as part of the reparation offering (’āšām).

The reparation offering of a male yearling lamb is unique. Elsewhere, when a lamb is offered, it is a female (Lev. 5:6), or the age of the male animal is not stated (Lev. 14:21). As mentioned above, the model for the reparation offering here is Lev. 5:14–16, which deals with unwitting trespasses of holy things and holy people. The sacrificial victim itself is different here (presumably because of the different status of the offerer), but the procedure is the same. For unwitting trespass, in addition to the reparation offering itself the offerer must “make restitution for what he has done amiss in the holy thing” (Lev. 5:16, RSV; we’ēṯ ’ăšer ḥāṭā’ min–haqqōḏeš yešallēm). Similarly, the Nazirite must resanctify his or her hair and repledge a new Nazirite vow to make restitution for that holy thing (the Nazirite vow), which has been defiled by contact with the dead. Only then is the Nazirite able to offer the reparation offering with any success. 38  In effect, the Nazirite starts the Nazirite vow all over again. But the former days will not count because the Nazirite became polluted by accidental exposure to a dead body.

13–21 This section deals with the voluntary termination of the Nazirite vow. The regulation (tôrâ, vv. 13, 21) does not necessarily mandate the termination of the vow; hence it is possible to be a lifelong Nazirite. The existence of such a regulation does assume, however, that many, if not most, Nazirite vows were temporary. This was the procedure for the Nazirite’s transition from the state of special consecration to the normal state of the ordinary layperson.

The order of the sacrifices is different in vv. 14–15 and vv. 16–17. This variance reflects not a conflation of sources, but, as A. F. Rainey saw, two different purposes. The text as a whole fits into the genre of what he called “descriptive-administrative” texts. 39  In his study of Lev. 6–7 (Eng. 6:8–7:38), Rainey pointed out that the texts are framed by tôrâ statements (Lev. 6:2 [Eng. 9]; 7:37), much as the text here is (vv. 13, 21). The order of the sacrifices in this kind of text is not procedural but logical, beginning with the whole burnt offering because it belongs wholly to God (i.e., it is consumed on the altar), and ending with the peace offerings because they are shared by the worshipers. 40 

Inserted into the administrative text is one that gives the procedural order (vv. 16–17), beginning with the purification offering, to deal with impurities that have been brought into the sanctuary and so on. Even these verses do not deal with the precise description of the rituals; rather they preserve the order for administration of the rituals. 41 

These rituals take place at the door of the tent of meeting (peṯaḥ ’ōhel mō‘ēḏ, i.e., in the outer court, v. 13), the same place as those for the unclean Nazirite (v. 10). The difference is that whereas the former rituals climaxed in a reparation offering to compensate for the Nazirite’s defiled hair and vow, the present ritual climaxes in the joy of the so-called peace offering (zeḇaḥ šelāmîm, v. 14). The purification offering (ḥaṭṭā’ṯ) and the whole burnt offering (‘ôlâ) have already been discussed. The regulations for the peace offering are given in Lev. 3:1–17 and 7:11–36. The zeḇaḥ šelāmîm appear to be offered on three occasions: the thank offering (tôḏâ, Lev. 7:12–15), the votive offering (neḏer), and the freewill offering (neḏāḇâ, Lev. 7:16–18).

The meaning of elāmîm, along with the plural formation, are debated. 42  The elāmîm appear to be a subgrouping of the slain offering (zeḇaḥ), all of which are to be eaten. According to Milgrom, the common denominator of all these peace offerings (whether thank, votive, or freewill) was that they were done with rejoicing. 43  Rejoicing is certainly appropriate in the current case. According to Levine, the elāmîm ought to be understood as a “gift of greeting,” related etymologically and perhaps procedurally to the Ugar. šlmm and the Assyr. šulmānu, “gift.” 44  While one might not agree with all of Levine’s historical assumptions and conclusions, his argument about the basic meaning of the term is attractive, and ties in with what others (e.g., Milgrom) have said about the celebrative nature of the peace offerings. 45  The rejoicing Nazirite comes into Yahweh’s present at the conclusion of the vow with a present for God.

15–17 The basket of unleavened bread (sal maṣṣôṯ) is made up of cakes of fine flour (sōleṯ ḥallōṯ) and wafers (reqîqîm; cf. raq, “thin”) covered or spread with oil. Virtually the same description of the offering is given in Lev. 2:4.

The last phrase of v. 15 (their meal offering and their drink offerings) and the last sentence of v. 17 (And the priest will make its meal offering and its drink offering) cause several problems.

First, by their brevity, these words assume that the correct amounts for both these offerings were well known. The detailed legislation for meal and drink offerings to accompany sacrifice is not found until Num. 15. The answer to this problem on a historical level is probably that the correct procedures were well known. Several texts previous to Num. 6 speak of meal and drink offerings, and two of them even give proportions. 46  On a literary level one must not assume that because a text does not speak of something until later it was unknown earlier. Obviously the book of Numbers was edited after the events narrated. If earlier parts of the book assume later parts, it means nothing more than that the parts must be read in the light of the whole. This is surely not unusual for literature in general and religious literature in particular.

The second problem concerns the suffixes of the two nouns. In v. 15 the suffixes are plural, but in v. 17 they are singular. This difference leads the reader to suppose that, in v. 15, the meal and drink offerings are thought of as accompanying all previous sacrifices and are to be thought of as additional to the meal offering. In v. 17 the meal and drink offerings accompany only the peace offering (its meal offering, etc.). The purification offering was usually not accompanied by either a meal or drink offering, 47  so that its linkage with these offerings is problematic.

Because of this problem (and the different suffixes) Gray has suggested that both vv. 15b and 17b are glosses. 48  This may be so, but one would assume that a glossator who put the words “their meal offering and their grain offerings” in v. 15 and “its meal offering and its grain offerings” in v. 17 would have made the suffixes consistent within the compass of two verses. A more likely solution is to remember that we have here a narrative about the ritual, not a detailed prescription for it. To repeat, the purpose of the paragraph is not to give detailed instructions but to give a general impression of what was involved. In this case it is possible that the plural suffixes in v. 15 referred in a general way to the sacrifices to which they were relevant. In v. 17 the topic is only the peace offering, as a careful study of the verse shows. 49 

18 This verse deals with the shaving of the Nazirite’s hair. The ceremony takes place at the door of the tent of meeting. Scholars debate whether this ritual is another offering to God (i.e., the Nazirite offers the special mark of consecration on the altar along with the peace offering), or whether it simply gets rid of something holy, hence dangerous (i.e., it marks a step in the process of desacralization). 50  Since no ceremony is described, it is probable that the latter is the case.

19–21 These verses deal with the priest’s portion (as does, e.g., 5:9–10). The breast that was elevated (ḥăzê hattenûp̄â) and the thigh that was offered (šôq hatterûmâ) are part of the priests’ share of the peace offering according to Lev. 7:28–34. Because of the special nature of the Nazirite’s consecration, an added portion is given: the boiled shoulder (hazzerōa‘ bešēlâ), from the same offering. 51  The boiled shoulder is still in the Nazirite’s possession, and to transfer it to God’s ownership the priest puts the shoulder, along with one unleavened cake and one unleavened wafer, into the Nazirite’s hands. These are elevated (hēnîp̄) before Yahweh to consummate the transfer. 52  The shoulder, the breast, the thigh, and the meal offering (minus the memorial portion, Lev. 2:2–3) are holy portions (qōḏeš) for the priest.

Verse 21 is called a Torah subscript, which summarizes the section (using the word tôrâ, “regulation, law, instruction,” also found in v. 13). 53 



 1 BHS and HALAT, p. 876b, suggest that the Hiphil yap̄li’ (“to vow”) should be repointed as a Piel, yep̄allē’, which then could be taken with neḏer to mean “to make a votive offering,” as in Lev. 22:21 and Num. 15:3, 8. NKJV so translates here.

 2 Heb. nāzîr, from nzr, “dedicate, dedication, consecration”; see BDB, p. 634a; HALAT, p. 646.

 3 Heb. yazzîr, Hiphil of nāzar; the reflexive pronoun (himself) is added for a smooth translation. It is also possible to translate it “he will abstain from wine.…”

 4 The term mišrâ is a hapax legomenon from šārâ, “to water, be moist.” Hence it may mean “juice”; see BDB, p. 1056; HALAT, p. 617a.

 5 The meaning of ḥarṣannîm (here translated “seeds”) and zāḡ (“skin”) is uncertain. They are usually taken to refer to a small and insignificant part of the grape. For the first term BDB, p. 359a, and L. J. Coppes, TWOT, I:326, suggest “grape seeds”; HALAT, pp. 342b–343a, “unripe grapes”; RSV and NIV, “seeds”; NEB, “shoots.” For the second, both BDB, p. 260a, and HALAT, p. 253a, offer “skin.”

 6 Heb. bep̄eṯa‘ piṯ’ōm, lit., “in suddenness, suddenly.” For a similar idiom, see Isa. 29:5: wehāyâ lep̄eṯa‘ piṯ’ōm, “and it will happen very suddenly.” See BDB, p. 837a.

 7 See the commentary above on 5:2 for this meaning of nep̄eš. Note that in 6:6 the fuller expression nep̄eš mēṯ occurs; here in v. 11 perhaps the author simply abbreviated the expression.

 8 Heb. wehayyāmîm hāri’šōnîm yippelû, lit., “but the first days will fall.” See BDB, p. 657b s.v. npl, Qal, no. 5.

 9 On tôrâ as “regulation” see Lev. 6:2, 7, 18; 7:1, 7, 11, 37; 11:46; 12:7; 13:59; 14:2, 32, 54, 57; Num. 5:29, 30; 6:21; 15:16, 29; 19:2, 14; 31:21. BDB, p. 436a; HALAT, pp. 1575–76; J. E. Hartley, TWOT, I:403–5, esp. 404a.

 10 I.e., of his hair.

 11 E.g., see S. R. Driver, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament (12th ed.; New York: Scribner’s, 1906), p. 159; O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction, tr. P. Ackroyd (New York: Harper and Row, 1965), p. 189; and G. Fohrer, Introduction to the Old Testament, tr. D. Green (Nashville: Abingdon, 1968), p. 180, to name only three. Of individual commentaries on Numbers, see, e.g., Gray, pp. xxxiii–xxxiv; Noth, pp. 53, 55 (also idem, History of Pentateuchal Traditions, p. 18); and Budd, pp. xviii–xxvi, 39–71. As usual, Budd gives an excellent overview of previous studies.

 12 See, e.g., Gray, p. 39.

 13 Gray admits that parts of P (what he calls Px) were possibly written down as early as the 6th or 7th cents. B.C. (p. 39). See J. A. Soggin, Introduction to the Old Testament, tr. J. Bowden, OTL (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1976), pp. 85–96. Or compare the charts in the 2nd and 3rd eds. of B. W. Anderson, Understanding the Old Testament (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966, 1975), pp. 382 and 424 respectively. The 4th ed. (1986) differs in no way at this point. The admission of ancient material in P, however, seldom gets beyond the theoretical stage.

 14 See, e.g., Budd, pp. 69–71; Noth, pp. 53–55; also R. Klein, 1 Samuel, WBC (Waco: Word, 1983), p. 8.

 15 There is no conclusive, universally agreed, way to demonstrate the age of any biblical text, whether early or late. If Num. 6 has received a later redaction (viz., in the post-exilic period) as, e.g., Gray, pp. 56–61 (also “Nazirite,” p. 202), Noth, pp. 53–55, and Budd, pp. 69–71, have argued, it must also be remembered that texts in Joshua, 1 Samuel, and Amos have also received a redaction later than their compositions. See, e.g., M. Noth, The Deuteronomistic History, JSOTSup 15, tr. J. Doull et al. (Sheffield: JSOT, 1981), esp., pp. 27–99. Such later redactions will make it impossible to judge which texts are based on which with any degree of surety.

 16 See 1 Macc. 3:49; Josephus, Ant. 19.6.1; Mish. Nazir.

 17 G. B. Gray, “The Nazirite,” JTS 1 (1899–1900) 202. This opinion has also been offered in more modern sources such as J. C. Rylaarsdam, IDB, II:526; Klein, 1 Samuel, p. 8; as well as both Budd, pp. 73–74, and Noth, pp. 53–55.

 18 The office of Nazirite must therefore (from the point of view of the text) be older than Mosaic times. When and why it was established is unknown.

 19 1 Macc. 3:49; Josephus, Ant. 19.6.1; Mish. Nazir 1:3–7; 3:1–7; etc. Nazir does recognize a permanent Nazirite vow in 1:2, 4–5, but few regulations are given for it.

 20 Gray, “Nazirite,” p. 205.

 21 Although Mish. Nazir 4:6 does forbid a woman to take a vow for her son, Num. 6 contains no such prohibition.

 22 See Klein, I Samuel, p. 8; Mish. Nazir 9:5.

 23 The Levites, e.g., were given to God (Num. 8:16), but that did not make them Nazirites. If the genealogy of 1 Chr. 6:25–28, 33 is generally correct, it means that Samuel was a Levite. The Levites were given to God from age 25 to age 50 (Num. 8:24–25). Samuel was given for life.

 24 Unless one takes nāzîr in 13:5, 7; 16:17 in its generic sense of “consecrated,” which is unlikely since the statement that no razor was to touch his head is also made.

 25 See, e.g., Deborah’s statement to Barak that the Canaanite general Sisera will fall to a woman (Judg. 4:9). This prediction is fulfilled not by Deborah herself but by the treacherous act of Jael (4:17–22).

 26 See Josephus, Ant. 19.6.1.

 27 The literature on the concept of “holiness” in the OT is immense. See, e.g., W. Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, tr. J. Baker, 2 vols., OTL (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961–67), 1:137, 270–80, etc.; T. E. McComiskey, TWOT, II:786–89 (plus bibliography); O. Procksch, TDNT, I:89–97; H. Seebass, NIDNTT, II:224–29.

 28 Three times the term used for the Nazirite vow is changed (perhaps for literary variety): “his consecration” (nizrô, v. 3); “his vow of consecration” (neḏer nizrô, v. 5), and “his consecration to Yahweh” (hizzirô lYHWH, v. 6).

 29 See, e.g., Lev. 10:9; Isa. 5:11; Prov. 20:1. The verb šāḵar means “to be drunk,” e.g., in Gen. 9:21. Cf. BDB, p. 1016; KB, pp. 971–72.

 30 See J. F. Ross, IDB, IV:786.

 31 So Gray, p. 62; Riggans, p. 52; Budd, p. 74. If the prohibition against grape products is to be seen as a rejection of Canaanite life and viticulture, it seems odd that only the Nazirites are forbidden grapes, etc., and not the whole of Israel, who are to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” The figure of speech of wine and vineyards is also used as a standard image for divine blessing in the OT, which is strange if they are to be rejected by those truly consecrated to God. See, e.g., 1 K. 4:25; Amos 9:14; Isa. 36:17; 65:21; Jer. 32:15; Ezek. 28:26; Neh. 9:25. See also Num. 16:14 and Deut. 6:11.

 32 For the high priest, see Exod. 29:6; 39:40; Lev. 8:9; for the Nazirite, see Num. 6:9, 18.

 33 See W. Robertson Smith, The Religion of the Semites, rev. ed. (London: Black, 1901), pp. 327–35, 481–85.

 34 See, e.g., Deut. 21:2; Jer. 7:29; Job 1:20.

 35 Compare bayyôm ṭahorāṯô here and in Lev. 14:2; also wehāyâ ḇayyôm haššeḇî‘î yeḡallaḥ (’eṯ–kol–śe‘ārô) ’eṯ-rō’šô in Lev. 14:9 with weḡillaḥ rō’šôbayyôm haššeḇî‘î here.

 36 The name tōr for this group of birds is probably onomatopoeic, like the Latin generic name turtur. See W. S. McCullough, IDB, IV:718–19. The pigeon (or dove, yônâ) is a member of the subfamily columbinae; see W. S. McCullough, IDB, III:810. These same two birds may be substituted by an impoverished leper in Lev. 14:22.

 37 On the ḥaṭṭā’ṯ and the ‘ôlâ, see, e.g., Milgrom, IDBSup, pp. 766–69. On ‘ôlâ as an invocation, see B. Levine, In the Presence of the Lord, SJLA 5 (Leiden: Brill, 1974), pp. 22–27.

 38 On ’āšām, see the commentary above on 5:5–10; see also Milgrom, IDBSup, p. 768; idem, Cult and Conscience. The order of the text in Lev. 5:16 is telling: first, restitution must be made; then, one-fifth penalty must be paid; and finally, the priest “makes atonement” for the offerer. No fine of one-fifth is appropriate in this case. See Milgrom, Cult and Conscience, pp. 66–70.

 39 A. F. Rainey, “The Order of the Sacrifices in Old Testament Ritual Texts,” Bib 51 (1970) 485–98. Rainey built on the work of B. Levine, “The Descriptive Tabernacle Texts of the Pentateuch,” JAOS 85 (1965) 307–18.

 40 Rainey, “Order,” pp. 487–89.

 41 Ibid., pp. 494–98.

 42 See Milgrom, IDBSup, p. 769; Levine, Presence, pp. 3–52.

 43 See Deut. 27:7; Milgrom, IDBSup, p. 770.

 44 Levine, Presence, pp. 8–20.

 45 Milgrom, IDBSup, p. 770.

 46 The texts have to do with the whole burnt offering. Exod. 29:23, 40–41 (the ordination of Aaron; cf. Lev. 8:26), and Lev. 23:13 give amounts for the whole burnt offering at the first fruits. Other passges such as Lev. 23:18, 37 mention the meal and drink offerings; hence they were known. The legislation in Num. 15 codifies in one place that which was probably known and followed earlier.

 47 It is possible that meal and drink offerings accompanied purification offerings in Lev. 14:10–20, the cleansing of a leper (which shows other parallels with the current passage as well). It is more probable, however, that the meal and drink offerings in Lev. 14 were offered only with the whole burnt offering.

 48 See Gray, p. 67; also Noth, p. 56.

 49 E.g., the verb ‘āśâ is repeated three times in vv. 16–17, once for the purification offering and the whole burnt offering, once for the peace offering, and once for the meal and drink offerings. With each occurrence a new point of departure is reached.

 50 For the former, see, e.g., Gray, p. 68. For the latter, see, e.g., Noth, p. 57; Sturdy, p. 53; Noordtzij, pp. 62, 65; cf. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, II:436.

 51 See the commentary above on 5:25. Cf. Milgrom, “šattĕnûpâ,” in Studies in Cultic Theology, pp. 156, 158.

 52 See the following studies by Milgrom: “Wave Offering,” IDBSup, pp. 944–46; “šattĕnûpâ,” pp. 139–58; “Alleged Wave Offering,” in Studies in Cultic Theology, pp. 133–38; “šôq hattĕrûmâ,” in ibid., pp. 159–70; “Akkadian Confirmation of the Meaning of the Term tĕrûmâ,” in ibid., pp. 171–72.

 53 See the commentary above on 5:29–30.