Was Jesus A Nazarite?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Does the Bible say Jesus was a Nazarite like Samson was?

Origin of the Nazarite’s

There isn’t a lot of biblical history about Nazarite’s. The word itself means “one who lives apart” or “one who has made a vow of abstinence,” and some of the prohibitions for the Nazarites were the same for the high priests and the priests during worship. The high priest had these restrictions throughout their life, just as a Nazarite would. Nazarite’s and the high priests were restricted from drinking wine or anything made from grapes, they were not allowed to cut their hair or touch any dead carcass, human or animal, but what is most interesting, they both were “set apart” for God’s use. This was what Samson was called to. He was the most famous Nazarite of all, unless Jesus was a Nazarite. Samson, like all Nazarite’s, was not allowed to drink wine, consume anything made from grapes, cut their hair, or touch any dead carcass, human or animal. Clearly, a Nazarite was called to be in a position of a priest to intercede on behalf of the people. During Samson’s day, there were few priests and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. During this time period of the Judges, God would raise up a judge for Israel because they had fallen into idolatry (Judges 2).

Time of the Judges

After Joshua had died and Israel fell into idolatry, “the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Yet they did not listen to their judges, for they whored after other gods and bowed down to them. They soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so” (Judges 2:16-17). Samson was a Nazarite but was also a judge of the nation Israel. God raised him up for that very purpose, but of course, we know from biblical history, he failed in his leadership and broke his Nazarite vows by doing just about everything a Nazarite shouldn’t do, and when his hair was cut, it was the end of Samson’s God-given strength. Even though God knew Samson would fail, He allowed this man to fall into sin, but as God often does, He uses evil for good (Gen 50:20). We can only look at the cross to see how the greatest evil of all rendered the greatest good of all (John 3:16). In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether Jesus was a Nazarite or not. He did not come to be a Nazarite but to give His own life as a ransom for many who would trust in Him (Mark 10:45). What greater purpose was there?

Judges

If Jesus was a Nazarite, then He was raised up by God to be a judge and that is what Jesus is. He will judge the nations and rule them with a rod of iron and there will be peace on the earth, as “the” Judge Who has been set apart by the Father to Judge the world, but it would seem wrong for Jesus, if indeed He was a Nazarite, to partake of the wine during the Passover meal. Even worse for a Nazarite, Jesus turned water (something Nazarites could drink) into wine (which was forbidden by Nazarites). I think there is not enough evidence, either biblical or extra-biblical to say Jesus was a Nazarite. Even though He is called, “Jesus of Nazareth” (Matt 26:71), He is not called Jesus the Nazarite. It actually says, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee” (Matt 21:11), so we could just as easily call Him Jesus of Galilee, because it would be more accurate. If fact, confusion about whether or not Jesus was a Nazarite can be easily settled when you read Matthew 2:34: “And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.” Though it is also true that Jesus was rejected in the city of Nazareth (Matt 13:55-58).

From, Not Of

I can be Jack from Belle Plaine, but no one ever refers to me as “Jack of Belle Plaine.” They might associate my name with the town or my town with me, but I am not my town, just as Jesus is not Nazareth. The question of whether Jesus was a Nazarite fails by His not avoiding certain things like drinking of the vine (grapes or wine) and touching dead carcasses (He touched the dead to raise them to life). In the religious order of the Jews, if you touched something dead, you were deemed unclean. Same for lepers, and women who had blood issues, but again, Jesus shatters their tradition and trappings of the Mosaic Law to show that God desires mercy and not sacrifice (like works). Doing good is useless without obedience because God will not accept an offering from polluted hands. We must come before God with a clear conscience and clean hands, although not sinless, but we must do good because we love God.

Conclusion

Since the judges of ancient Israel were the leaders of the nation, so too will Jesus, as the supreme Judge, rule…but not just Israel. He will rule the world with a rod of iron, but as judges did, and so did Nazarites, they offered sacrifices for their people, but this is a far better sacrifice that Jesus made because He offered His own life. If not, we’d have no way to be reconciled to God. It was through the eternal sacrifice that Jesus paid that will keep the doors of heaven open for all eternity, at least for those who have been brought to repentance and trust in Christ. Many people will question Jesus’ existence, so even though they might not believe, what they believe doesn’t change what is true, and that is Jesus Christ does exist, has always existed, and is coming again to judge the world in righteousness. Either Jesus will be your Judge (Rev 20:12-15) or He will say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:23). That kind of joy cannot even be described.

More for you to read: What Are Some Other Names for Jesus?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible : English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Katharine July 15, 2019 at 10:12 am

Not to seem argumentative, but Jesus did say at the Last Supper, that He would not partake of the fruit of the vine until the Wedding Supper of the Lamb, or something like that.
And after He made this proclamation, He did refuse the vinegar they offered Him on the cross, which could easily have been grape vinegar. I’ve often wondered about this and found your site by searching this very topic. 🙂

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Jack Wellman July 15, 2019 at 2:52 pm

Thank you Katharine. You bring up a very good point. Very insightful.

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caleb November 11, 2020 at 4:19 pm

Matthew 11:19 19The Son of Man came eating and *drinking, and they say, ‘Look at this glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners! But wisdom is vindicated by her actions.

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Teddy August 5, 2019 at 10:43 am

I believe Jesus was a Nazarite.For they were all but a symbol of him.Also look at the meaning of Nazarite and see if he doesn’t qualify to be one.

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Jack Wellman August 5, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Hello Teddy. The definition of a Nazarite is that He is an Israelite consecrated to the service of God, under vows to abstain from alcohol, let the hair grow, and avoid defilement by contact with corpses (Num. 6), but since Jesus’ touched many dead bodies as He was raising them from the dead, He was not a true Nazarite. Historical evidence shows that Jews at the time of Jesus’ ministry and years before and after, never wore long hair as Jesus is falsely depicted.

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RON January 16, 2020 at 7:27 am

still learning JESUS is Lord of lords king of kings could he not do all and still be a Nazarite

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TTS March 11, 2020 at 9:23 am

Can you direct us to the Historical Evidence that shows jews never wore long hair?

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Jack Wellman March 11, 2020 at 9:51 am

If you look at historical writings of the time that the Jews were living like in Jesus’ day you will see that all Jewish men had short hair and close cropped beards. The acceptable style in the Roman world was to be clean shaven and short-haired. As Paul says in his letter to the Corinthian church, “Does not even nature tell you that for a man to have long hair is dishonourable to him?” (1 Cor. 11:14), so why would Jesus wear long hair when the Bible says its a dishonor to men? The only exception to that for Jews was if you undertook a Nazirite vow (Numbers 6:1-21; Acts 21:24). For this vow, you let your hair grow, and didn’t drink wine, among other things. John the Baptist was a lifelong Nazirite, dedicated by his parents to God, as the Gospel of Luke indicates (Luke 1:15), but Jesus was not, because he is often found drinking wine (Matt. 11:19).
Here’s more: https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/what-did-jesus-really-look-like-as-a-jew-in-1st-century-judaea-1.3385334

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Michael Weiss March 11, 2021 at 12:49 pm

A Nazirite vow is a personal vow – intended to increase an individual’s personal righteousness. No one should expect Jesus felt the need to increase His personal righteousness. But, He clearly was a Nazirite – a Nazirite who’s actions would always be how can we all increase our righteousness. Nazirite rules and laws are extensive – because individuals are unique – a study of how Jesus understood this vow shows us He wanted widespread righteousness not just personal righteousness.
The miracle in Cana has numerous clues that can not be pushed aside. He did not need wine – but the marriage did. His solution was brilliant and immensely charitable. The connection to the Exodus is also noticeable – water to blood – no, water to wine – wine is a metaphor for happiness/joy. The marriage metaphor is also obvious.

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Jack Wellman March 11, 2021 at 1:24 pm

Hello Mr. Weiss. there is not enough evidence, either biblical or extra-biblical to say Jesus was a Nazarite. Even though He is called, “Jesus of Nazareth” (Matt 26:71), He is not called Jesus the Nazarite. It actually says, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee” (Matt 21:11), so we could just as easily call Him Jesus of Galilee, because it would be more accurate. If fact, confusion about whether or not Jesus was a Nazarite can be easily settled when you read Matthew 2:34: “And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.” Though it is also true that Jesus was rejected in the city of Nazareth (Matt 13:55-58), so He was never a Nazirite, never took such a vow, as He exceeded the righteousness of any Nazarite or any man, so you have no biblical evidence to say Jesus was a Nazirite, unless you mean He was from Nazarith, so there is zero historical and biblical evidence to suggest He was. To say He was is to base it on your own human opinion, and speculation at best and that is always dangerous theologically. I pray you are not misleading others into error like this.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether Jesus was a Nazarite or not. He did not come to be a Nazarite but to give His own life as a ransom for many who would trust in Him (Mark 10:45). And our righteousness cannot be increased by vows or human effort; it is by God’s Spirit alone that works in us to sanctify us.

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Will Meyers April 7, 2021 at 7:22 am

It is worth pointing out also that the city of Nazareth (New Testament) has no connection Biblically to Nazarites (Old Testament). In fact the city of Nazareth is not even mentioned until the New Testament.
Additionally, in regard to a Nazarite being “one consecrated to the service of God”, we do know that Christ lived in complete obedience to the will of the Father to accomplish His purposes. But, one could make the argument that Jesus lived, died, and rose as a service to us, thus leaving us an example to serve other. If we say that obedience and submission to the will of God in someone’s life constitutes as being a Nazarite (One consecrated to the service of God), then we would have to conclude that God has called for all of us to be a Nazarite. Rather, God calls us to sanctification through Christ and the word of God. Jesus isn’t the consecrated but the consecrator.

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Jack Wellman April 7, 2021 at 7:55 am

Hello Mr. Meyers. You are so wrong sir on so many accounts. There are about 10 at least that I could find that have Nazareth in the New Testament, so it IS mentioned in the New Testament several time like in Matt 2:23 where it says “And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.” We DO know Christ lived in complete obedience as He never sinned and was sinless during His earthly ministry. We are not saving that obedience and submitting to the will of God makes us a Nazarite. That is unscriptural to say the least. God has called all of us to holiness and not become a nazarene. That is nowhere in Scripture. I suggest you actually read the New Testament to see how often you were wrong in saying ” the city of Nazareth is not even mentioned until the New Testament” as you are wrong on several accounts and Jesus did live a sinless life, so we DO know. Please find a good study Bible for you clearly have not really read the Bible. I pray you will.

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Johnny Stewart September 19, 2021 at 8:54 am

It seems by reading all the comments that no one knows for sure. Of course, that is great because as Jesus has said, “come and learn of me” There is also a scripture in Revelation when He returns, that He will have a name on Him that no man knows except Himself. Let’s not get stuck on things just to make ourselves look smart, but let us look to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. Shalom.

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