Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Numbers 6

Numbers vi.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 2. Sanctified, and separated from the common sort of people, and obliged to observe abstinence like the Nazarites, as the Hebrew intimates in one word, nazir. All this was done to acquire greater sanctity and perfection. Septuagint, "whoever has made a great vow to be very pure to the Lord," and intends thus to signalize his zeal for God's glory. The original term, means also to distinguish oneself by a wonderful thing. There were Nazarites for life, like Samson and St. John the Baptist; and others for a limited time, like St. Paul. Their abstinence from wine, &c., lasted generally for a month, and was to be performed at Jerusalem. Those of the female sex could not bind themselves by vow till they were ten years and a day old, nor boys before they were full 13. (Calmet) --- The custom of cutting the hair, in honour of some god, was very common among the pagans; and St. Cyril (de ador. 16,) seems to think that the Hebrews had seen it practised in Egypt, and that Moses judged it expedient to let them do so for the sake of the true God, in order to divert their minds from giving way to superstition. (Calmet) --- The Hebrews made vows to abstain from wine for 30 days, and then to offer sacrifices, and to cut their hair, when they were attacked by any dangerous illness. (Josephus, Jewish Wars ii. 15.) St. Paul perhaps made a vow of this nature, in the perils of the sea, Acts xviii. 11. (Spencer, Rit. iii. 6.) Juvenal alludes to this custom, when he observes, that sailors with their heads shaved, delight in safety to recount the dangers to which they have been exposed:

Gaudent ubi vertice raso,

Garrula securi narrare pericula NautŠ. (Sat. ii.)

Ver. 3. Drunk. Hebrew shecar, may signify old or palm wine, Leviticus x. 9. --- Drink. Hebrew, "of shecar," which was a clear wine, with perhaps a mixture of sugar. --- Vinegar was a common beverage among the ancients. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xiv. 16; Ruth ii. 14.) The soldiers gave our Saviour some of theirs to drink. The Turks, who are not allowed to drink wine of the grape, make use of various other sorts of made wine. --- Grape, or the liquor procured from grapes, with a mixture of water, after they have served already to make wine. This liquor is called secondary wine by the Greeks, (Menochius) being designed for labourers in winter. (Varro 54, and Colum. xii. 40.) Grapes of every description are forbidden to the Nazarites, as they either tend to inebriate, or at least are too luxurious. (Haydock) --- God deigns to give those a rule, who voluntarily consecrate themselves to his service. "What do the Nazarites designate, but the life of those who abstain, and are continent?" (St. Gregory, Mor. xxxii. 23.) (Worthington)

Ver. 4. Kernel, or stone. Neither the inside nor the outside must be eaten.

Ver. 5. Grow. At the commencement, and at the end of the Nazariteship, the hair was cut; though perhaps a sort of crown was left at the top of the head, as the 7th verse may be rendered, "the crown of his God," &c. (Calmet) --- The Nazarite is under the same regulations as the high priest, with respect to any corpse, ver. 6. (Maimonides; More, p. 3.; Leviticus xxi. 11.) Both were consecrated to God in the most perfect manner. (Menochius) --- When the hair of Samson was cut off, he immediately lost his supernatural strength, Judges xvi.

Ver. 6. Dead. To teach us that those who are consecrated to God, ought to abstain from the works of death. (Haydock)

Ver. 9. Day. That none might escape; (Theodoret, q. 11,) though the Hebrew may imply that the hair was only shaved on the ninth day, when he was to be purified, chap. xix. 12. Then the Nazarite had to begin again, as if he had done nothing, (Calmet) if his vow were only for a time. Those who had taken a vow for life never shaved.

Ver. 11. Sinned. Contracting a legal uncleanness. --- That day, and commence his vow. (Menochius)

Ver. 13. He. The priest.

Ver. 18. Fire, on the altar, where the ram has been sacrificed. (Abulensis.) Lyranus thinks it was burnt on the fire, with which the meat was boiled. (Menochius) (Chaldean) (Tirinus) --- The Septuagint, Philo, &c., understand it in the former sense; and Theodoret says the consecrated hair was placed upon the victim on the fire. (Calmet)

Ver. 20. Priest, contrary to what was required in other sacrifices. (Jospehus, [Antiquities?] iv. 4. Both the priest and the Nazarite waved the sacrifice towards the four quarters of the world.

Ver. 21. Mind. If he have vowed any thing more, he must perform it. (Haydock)

Ver. 23. Sons. The three forms of benediction for the high priests, have all the same meaning, and they might choose which they pleased. Grotius observes, that they pronounced them aloud standing, with their hands lifted up. The books of Moses are the ritual of the priests.

Ver. 25. Shew. Hebrew, "make his face shine," joyful and serene, (Calmet) like a light to direct thy steps, Psalm lxvi. 2.

Ver. 26. Turn. With loving mercy, may he comfort and protect thee. (Menochius)

Ver. 27. Invoke. Hebrew, "they shall name my name (Yehovah, in pronouncing blessings) upon the sons of Israel," which I will ratify. (Haydock) --- "They shall place the blessing of my name," &c., Chaldean. They shall praise my name. (Calmet) --- God authorizes us to use a determinate form of blessing, and grants the effect, when his minister pronounces it, (Worthington) if no obstacle be put by the party. (Haydock)