Rise A Knight

or What Was A Nazirite?

“A defiled Nazirite is an Adam or an Eve who has failed at holy war and thus cannot enter into God’s rest.”

Since I rave on about structure so much (and how wrong it is that we moderns regard it as merely an ornamental option rather than as the label on the tin) the fractalicious* Covenant structure of Numbers 6 should give us some clues as to what the Nazirite vow actually was in the big picture.

Firstly, Numbers 6 is the fifth step in the first cycle of the book of Numbers. This means it is “bridal.” Coming after the “jealous inspection” (Testing) it has to do with judicial maturity, a mustering of the bride, terrible as an army with banners, ready for purification on the Day of Atonement (see The Beauty of Numbers 1-7).

Repeated structure is what ties every part of the Bible to every other part. Since every part has the same shape, all parts speak to and comment on each other. You may not be familiar with some of the allusions below, but trust me, it works like clockwork. I could explain every line, but you can get that from the Bible Matrix books. The structure is a threefold cord of the Creation Week/Tabernacle Furniture, the Annual Feasts, and the pattern of Dominion. Hopefully there are enough notes to get you through it. I do have a detailed commentary on the structure of the Torah (similar to the work on Numbers) planned for next year. I’ll probably have to blog my way through it to trick myself into getting it done!

Anyhow, Bible commentators haggle over hermeneutics but the Bible is a woven cloth. Everything new alludes to everything before. There are no hermeneutical rules. Again. There are no hermeneutical rules. There are living connections and structure is what holds them together. So, our interpretation of the Nazirite vow refers to all previous Scripture, and with the benefit of hindsight, we can also see how it plays out in later Scripture, using this “cross-eyed exegesis” (alignment and comparison of patterns).


TRANSCENDENCE – Creation (Genesis)

And the Lord (Transcendence – Initiation – ARK)
spoke to Moses, (Hierarchy – Delegation – VEIL)
saying, (Ethics 1 – Law Given – BRONZE ALTAR)
“Speak (Ethics 2 – Law Opened – LAMP)
to the [sons] (Ethics 3 – Law Received – GOLDEN ALTAR)
of Israel (Sanctions/Oath – Vindication – MEDIATORS)
and say to them, (Succession – Representation – SHEKINAH)

As in Genesis, the entire event begins with a word from God. As usual, the first stanza is a microcosm of the whole, the first “soundwave” from the mouth of God, to be reiterated in God’s man and then God’s people, with a view to ministry to the nations. In this first pattern, notice that “Israel,” the man of God, appears at Day 6.

HIERARCHY – Priesthood in the Desert (Exodus)

G A R D E N – Adam & Eve – Seed
When a man (Sabbath)
or a woman (Passover)
makes a special vow, (Firstfruits)
the vow of a Nazirite, (Pentecost)
to separate himself to the Lord, (Trumpets)
[from wine and beer (Atonement)
he shall abstain.] (Booths)

The Hierarchy section is threefold and seems to be divided into the three domains corrupted in early Genesis. Even more interesting is the play on the triune nature of fruit as an image of Man, with its seed, its flesh and its glorious “clothing.” (See Seed, Flesh and Skin concerning the “uncircumcised fruit” in Lev. 19).

L A N D – Cain & Abel – Flesh
made from wine
or beer
he shall not drink
nor any juice of grapes
or eat grapes,
fresh or dried.]

Vinegar is made from wine but considered to be a condiment. “Strong drink” is actually beer, hence its place on the Table here, as a grain derivative. Israel used beer for the drink offerings in the wilderness until they reached the vineyards of Canaan. I like the reference to Jew and Gentile at Booths as fresh (moist) and dried. The abstinence of the Nazirite was priestly, a deliberate refusal of “kingly” or kingdom foods.

W O R L D – Sons of God – Skin
[All the days
of his separation
all that is produced
by the grapevine,
from seeds
even to skin
he shall not eat.]

The third level (the Gentile courts) references the entire fruit, which in Noah’s day was a world ripe for judgment. Skin refers to covering for sin. The entire world was covered. Here, the “seeds” are at Trumpets as military sons, and the skin is the covering at Atonement.

ETHICS – Priestly Law (Leviticus)

All the days (Sabbath – New Creation)
of his vow of separation, (Passover)
no razor shall touch his head. (Firstfruits – Covenant Head)
Until the time is completed (Pentecost – Harvest)
for which he separates himself to the Lord, (Trumpets – Covenant Body)
he shall be holy. (Atonement – Coverings – Mediators)
He shall let the locks of hair of his head grow long. (Booths – Glory – Offspring)

I love how the Nazirite’s hair is the “firstfruits” in this passage. The glory of hair is a godly crop upon the Covenant head. This should also make us think of the crown of thorns upon Jesus’ head, wearing the curse of a Land that did not bring forth the fruit God wanted. (Unless of course we are unable to make such connections because we were taught the Bible by intellectuals — as most pastors are — and not by farmers, who know a thing or two.)

“All the days (Transcendence)
that he separates himself (Hierarchy)
to the Lord (Ethics)
he shall not go near (Oath/Sanctions)
a dead body. (Succession)

Division corresponds to Passover. At this point, in many instances, God turns up and the Man falls face down as if dead. The Nazirite is thus a kind of temporary “firstborn,” symbolically inside the house of God — on the Table — wherever he or she goes.

Not even for his father (Sabbath)
or for his mother, (Passover)
for brother or sister, (Firstruits)
if they die, (Sinaitic Pentecost)
shall he make himself unclean, (Trumpets)
because his separation to God (Atonement)
is on his head. (Booths)

This is the “social” step. In Adam’s pattern it was his marriage to Eve and the promise of children. In the Ten Words, it is the commandment with a promise, concerning living long in the land.

All the days (Ark)
of his separation (Veil)
he is holy to the Lord. (Bronze Altar)
And if any man dies very suddenly beside him  (Table)
and he defiles his consecrated head, (Lampstand – Oil)
then he shall shave his head (Incense – Bridal Glory)
on the day of his cleansing; (Mediators)
on the seventh day he shall shave it. (Shekinah)

Check out the reference to oil and head at the centre. That is the “Pentecost” step – flame on head, a human torch. Again, the last line is a cutting off from glory. The entire point of the Nazirite vow seems to be a refusal to grab the glory of God’s rest.

On the eighth day
he shall bring two turtledoves or two pigeons
to the priest to the entrance of the tent of meeting,
and the priest shall offer one for a sin offering
and the other for a burnt offering,
and make atonement for him,
because he sinned by reason of the dead body.

Just as Trumpets concerns the offering of Israel’s military sons to God, so here the Nazirite brings his or her offering, ready for cleansing.

And he shall consecrate his head that same day (Creation)
and separate himself to the Lord (Division)
for the days of his separation (Ascension – Altar)
and bring a male lamb a year old (Ascension – Table)
for a guilt offering. (Testing)
But the previous period shall be void, (No Incense – Empty)
because his separation was defiled. (No Coverings)

Notice that this cycle of stanzas is not complete, and thus even the final cycle is not complete. A defiled Nazirite is an Adam or an Eve who has failed at holy war and thus cannot enter into God’s rest.

SANCTIONS – Covenant Body (Numbers)

TRANSCENDENCE – The Call to Worship
“And this is the law (Call)
for the Nazirite, (Confession)
when are fulfilled (Ascension)
the days of his separation (Word)
he shall be brought (Offertory)
to the entrance of the tent of meeting, (Communion)
and he shall bring his gift to the Lord, (Doxology)

The Sanctions/Oath section follows the matrix pattern but appears to highlight its “Covenant renewal” strand. Again, this stanza prefigures the structure of this entire section.

HIERARCHY – Confession
one male lamb a year old without blemish for a burnt offering,
and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish as a sin offering,
and one ram without blemish as a peace offering,
and a basket of unleavened bread,
loaves of fine flour mixed with oil,
and unleavened wafers smeared with oil,
and their grain offering
and their drink offerings.

Here it is animals and food that stand in for the holy warrior. Notice that this again refers to Abel and Cain. Cain’s sin was not what he offered, but simply the fact that he pushed in before Abel and made his kingly offering first, a veiled insult to God, a proclamation that nothing really happened in the Garden, that men can rule without any obedience to God. Notice that the offerings with oil come at Pentecost and Trumpets. Oil is the Spirit given after the blood has been shed. Of course, animals and food are a reference to the curse upon Land and womb in Genesis 3.

ETHICS 1 – Ascension
And the priest shall bring them before the Lord
and offer his sin offering
and his burnt [ascension] offering,
and he shall offer the ram
as a sacrifice of peace offering to the Lord,
with the basket of unleavened bread.
The priest shall offer also its grain offering
and its drink offering.

The priest, previously anointed with blood and oil, can ascend before God with the offering, winged as an angel-servant. Note that, as James Jordan points out, burnt offering is a mistranslation. The ascension offering is a reference, always, to Isaac, the priestly firstfruits. It makes sense that this is followed by the offering of a ram. The unleavened bread is in an odd place here, perhaps referring to the purity of the bride. The old history has been cut off and she is now resurrected in purity.

ETHICS 2 – Word
And the Nazirite
at the entrance
of the tent of meeting
shall shave his consecrated head
and shall take the hair
from his consecrated head
and put it on the fire
that is under the sacrifice
of the peace offering.

The centrepoint is the shaving of the head. Notice the “consecrated head” is in the place of both the Golden Table and the Incense Altar, that is, the firstfruits Adam and the Eve. And the theme of this “Pentecostal” stanza (Ethics 2) is fire.

ETHICS 3 – Offertory
And the priest shall take the shoulder of the ram, when it is boiled,
and one unleavened loaf out of the basket and one unleavened wafer,
and shall put them on the hands of the Nazirite,
after he has shaved the hair of his consecration,
and the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the Lord.
They are a holy portion for the priest,
together with the breast that is waved and the thigh that is contributed.
And after that the Nazirite may drink wine.

The presentation of the bride as a chaste virgin means that the holy war is over. The warrior went into the wilderness with the head of Adam and returned with the glorious hair of Eve. Every Nazirite went out a Tabernacle (covered in skin) and came back a glorious bridal Temple. Every Nazirite was thus a forming and a filling, a complete house. Notice that the angels who cast down their crowns in the Revelation are following this rite. They had finished their holy war as ministers of the Old Covenant and were offering the glory of their heads to God in completion of their vows. Their roles would be filled by an ascended “Firstfruits” Church just before the destruction of Jerusalem, the harlot.

SANCTIONS (Covenant Vow)
“This is the law of the Nazirite.
But if he vows an offering to the Lord
above his Nazirite vow,
as he can afford,
in exact accordance
with the vow that he takes,
then he shall do in addition
to the law of the Nazirite.”

Sanctions often concerns the Covenant vow. Once again, step 7 is missing because it involves wine and rest. I love how “in exact accordance” communicates the “eye and tooth” of the Law at the centre. The stanza begins and ends with “the law of the Nazirite.” Notice to use of “above” at Ascension and “as he can afford” at the Firstfruits tithe.

SUCCESSION – The Future (Deuteronomy)

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
“Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying,
Thus you shall bless the people of Israel:
you shall say to them,
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance1 upon you and give you peace.
“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”

So, what was a Nazirite?

The Nazirite vow was a means of extending the guarding role of the priesthood to an Israelite — either male or female — for the purpose of holy war. It was a sort of “priestly knighthood.”

The vow is a miniature of Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness – an emptying and a humbling followed by a filling and a glorification. The “Covenant head” is empty and comes back with “bridal hair.” The grapes of Canaan are refused until the vow is complete and the Land is taken. The idea goes back to the two trees in the Garden: the second tree temporarily forbidden for the sake of the humbling of Adam and the glorification of the Bride. Phil 2:5-11 also follows this pattern of emptying and filling.

Also, notice that no wine is drunk before God between Melchizedek’s blessing of Abraham and the Last Supper (the Greater Melchizedek). The entire period of the Abrahamic Covenant was a priestly humbling, a temporary abstinence from kingly food for the maturation and qualification of humanity for Adamic rule.

The closest thing under the New Covenant is believer’s baptism (which is also for both men and women — the role of the Nazirite was priestly action in the outer courts of the house, that is, the nations). Believers abstain from “kingdom privileges” (food, alcohol, sex) temporarily for the sake of priestly war (1 Corinthians 7:5).


* fractalicious – A holy mixture of something that is tasty with something that can be infinitely zoomed in, like bread and wine that is still fresh after two thousand years, or The Magic Pudding.

IMAGE: From the movie Kingdom of Heaven. The real knights had all deserted the city, so Balian simply knighted some more. “Rise a knight!” The priest wasn’t happy.

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2 Responses to “Rise A Knight”

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Another thought: An Aaronic priest could not drink wine in the presence of God. Thus, one under the Nazirite vow was always in the presence of God.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Another thought: if a Nazirite was always in the presence of God, an Adam or Eve who refused the Tree of Knowledge (symbolized by kingly wine), perhaps this was why Samuel was permitted to sleep before the Ark, in the place of the “bridal” incense altar.