Was Jesus a Nazirite?

by Matt Slick

No, Jesus was not a Nazirite in the Old Testament sense of being consecrated to God, taking vows, not drinking alcohol, not touching the dead, etc (Num. 6:1-21). He did, however, live in Nazareth (Luke 2:39) and could be called a Nazarite. But that is a different usage of the word, and it does not make him a Nazirite in the former sense. Also, notice the English spelling of Nazirite and Nazarite. The former spelling is different than the latter, where the latter is speaking of those born the city of Nazareth.

A Nazirite had to fulfill at least three main requirements in his vow: abstain from drinking alcohol, abstain from cutting the hair on the head, and avoid going near or even touching dead bodies. Let's take a look at the requirements of being a Nazirite.

Numbers 6:2–3, "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to dedicate himself to the LORD, 3 he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes. 4 ‘All the days of his separation he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from the seeds even to the skin. 5 ‘All the days of his vow of separation no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he separated himself to the LORD; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long. 6 ‘All the days of his separation to the LORD he shall not go near to a dead person. "

So we see that a Nazirite was not to drink alcohol, it is here, or go near dead bodies. Though the Gospels don't talk about Jesus' hair in the Gospels, they do mention that Jesus drank alcohol and went near the dead. Let's take a look.

  • Alcohol, Luke 7:34, "The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’"
  • Jesus touched the coffin of a dead man, Luke 7:12–14, "Now as He approached the gate of the city, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!”"
  • Jesus touched the dead girl, Luke 8:49–54, "While He was still speaking, someone came from the house of the synagogue official, saying, “Your daughter has died; do not trouble the Teacher anymore.” 50 But when Jesus heard this, He answered him, “Do not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she will be made well.” 51 When He came to the house, He did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the girl’s father and mother. 52 Now they were all weeping and lamenting for her; but He said, “Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep.” 53 And they began laughing at Him, knowing that she had died. 54 He, however, took her by the hand and called, saying, “Child, arise!”"

Did the girl really die as is recorded in Luke 8:49? After all, Jesus said that she had not died, but she was asleep. The answers found in the idiomatic expressions of the time, particularly in the Old Testament. We find in Daniel 12:2 that says, "Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt." And, in the New Testament when Jesus went to Lazarus to raise the dead, we see the same usage of sleep being used in reference to death.

John 11:11–13, "This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” 12 The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep."  


We see that Jesus could not have been a Nazirite in the sense of Numbers 6:1-6 since He drank alcohol and approached the dead. He was, however, from Nazareth.





About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.