Was Jesus a Nazarene or a Nazirite?
In several verses, Jesus is called a Nazarene because He was raised in the city of Nazareth, yet the Bible teaches that He was NOT a Nazirite.
Matthew 2:22 "And he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene."
What is a Nazirite?
A Nazirite was one who had taken a vow of Nazirite and kept the requirements of the Nazirite laws. The Nazarite vow was a voluntary pledge of devotion to special service for the Lord. This pledge had a fixed duration. Those who wished to take the Nazarite vow had to be willing to sacrifice some aspects of their lives for the duration of their pledge:
1. They could not cut their hair the entire time of their vow. Then, they were required to shave their heads and burn the hair, after which they could return to normal life.
Numbers 6:5 "For the entire period of his vow of separation, no razor shall pass over his head. He must be holy until the time of his separation to the LORD is complete; he must let the hair of his head grow long.
Numbers 6:18 "Then at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the Nazirite is to shave his consecrated head, take the hair, and put it on the fire under the peace offerings.
Manoah, Samson's mother, was visited by the angel of the Lord and he announced that she would conceive a child who was to remain under the Nazarite law all his life. Samson did not make the vow voluntarily, but the Lord elected him. Samson's hair was the conspicuous symbol of this covenant and the source of his strength. His wife Delilah betrayed him when she had his hair cut off and handed him over to the Philistines.
Judges 13:5 "For behold, you will conceive and give birth to a son. And no razor shall come over his head, because the boy will be a Nazirite to God from the womb, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”
Judges 16:19 "And having lulled him to sleep on her lap, she called a man to shave off the seven braids of his head. In this way she began to subdue him, and his strength left him."
2. They were to abstain entirely from eating grapes or any product made from them such as juice, raisins, etc. They were also prohibited from drinking wine. But Jesus turned water into wine and drank it in moderation. Of course, He did condemn any excessive use of wine that could cause harm.
Numbers 6:3-4 "he is to abstain from wine and strong drink. He must not drink vinegar made from wine or strong drink, and he must not drink any grape juice or eat fresh grapes or raisins. All the days of his separation, he is not to eat anything that comes from the grapevine, not even the seeds or skins."
Luke 7:33-34 "For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon! The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at this glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!."
3. They could not approach or touch the dead. But Jesus raised the dead: Lazarus, the daughter of Jairus, and the son of the widow of Nain
Numbers 6:6-7 "Throughout the days of his separation to the LORD, he must not go near a dead body. Even if his father or mother or brother or sister should die, he is not to defile himself, because the crown of consecration to his God is upon his head."
Jesus drank wine, and touched the dead, but in doing so He did not transgress any law of God, for He was not under Nazirite obligation which would have also required Him not to cut His hair. Notice how on several occasions Jesus was able to hide from his enemies by sneaking in among the masses. When the officials came to Him, they would not immediately identify Him because there was nothing distinctive in his appearance that would have set Him apart from the Jews of His day. Judas had to kiss Him to help the officials identify Him. If He had long hair, contrary to the customary style of his days, He would certainly have stood out in the crowd.
Luke 4:30 "They got up, drove Him out of the town, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him over the cliff. But Jesus passed through the crowd and went on His way."
John 8:59 "At this, they picked up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple area."
Matthew 26:48 "Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The One I kiss is the man; arrest Him.."
► Physiological anthropologist Joe Zias, who has examined hundreds of skeletons found in Jerusalem, said in a 2004 Reuters article, "Jesus did not have long hair. Ancient Jewish men did not have long hair."
► Lawrence Schiffman from the University of New York has also confirmed that ancient Jewish texts derided long hair as either something Roman or Greek.
► On the Arch of Titus (see picture below), which was erected in Rome after the capture of Jerusalem in the year 70, there is a depiction of Jewish men being taken captive with their hair short.
1 Corinthians 11:14 "Doesn’t nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him."
It is important to put into perspective all these images of Jesus that misrepresent His true nature, give a false perception of Him and unwittingly cause many to fall into idolatry, racism and even spontaneous rejection of the Word of Truth.
Exodus 20:4 "Exodus 20:4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in the heavens above, on the earth below, or in the waters beneath."
May the Holy Spirit guide you through the understanding of this message.