6.22.2008

Let Her Hair Grow: Part Two


By the NT period long hair was a ‘shame’ to a man (1 Cor. 11:14), although Paul made that statement to a church in Greece. Women, on the other hand, wore the hair long and practically uncut in both periods. The Talmud does mention women’s hairdressers, but the root of the word is ‘to plait’ [braid] rather than ‘to cut’. (New Bible Dictionary. Includes index. (electronic ed. of 2nd ed.). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.)


Other than three rare exceptions (Samson, Samuel, and probably John the Baptist), a Nazarite would always cut their hair after a specified time, usually 30 days according to the Jewish Mishna, not the Scriptures (Mishna, the first part of the Talmud, containing traditional oral interpretations of scriptural ordinances (halakhot, compiled by the rabbis about A.D. 200)), although double and triple vows for 60 and 100 days were sometimes made.

The Nazarite vow resembled the sanctified life of the priest, except that it was done spontaneously unto God by ordinary Israelites. This vow not only set a man apart but also shamed him, perhaps signifying the shame Jesus would endure. Some contend that since women took Nazarite vows (Numbers 6:2), they cut their hair as men did at the end of the vow. However, they have overlooked the fact that a woman’s vow was ALWAYS subject to her father’s or her husbands’ approval. Youth were also to confer with their parents. Obviously harmful, youthful zeal was to be avoided.

God Himself specifies this limitation in Numbers 30:1-16.

Num 30:1
Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: "This is what the LORD commands:
Num 30:2 When a man makes a vow to the LORD or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.
Num 30:3 "When a young woman still living in her father's house makes a vow to the LORD or obligates herself by a pledge
Num 30:4 and her father hears about her vow or pledge but says nothing to her, then all her vows and every pledge by which she obligated herself will stand.
Num 30:5 But if her father forbids her when he hears about it, none of her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand; the LORD will release her because her father has forbidden her.
Num 30:6 "If she marries after she makes a vow or after her lips utter a rash promise by which she obligates herself
Num 30:7 and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her, then her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand.
Num 30:8 But if her husband forbids her when he hears about it, he nullifies the vow that obligates her or the rash promise by which she obligates herself, and the LORD will release her.
Num 30:9 "Any vow or obligation taken by a widow or divorced woman will be binding on her.
Num 30:10 "If a woman living with her husband makes a vow or obligates herself by a pledge under oath
Num 30:11 and her husband hears about it but says nothing to her and does not forbid her, then all her vows or the pledges by which she obligated herself will stand.
Num 30:12 But if her husband nullifies them when he hears about them, then none of the vows or pledges that came from her lips will stand. Her husband has nullified them, and the LORD will release her.
Num 30:13 Her husband may confirm or nullify any vow she makes or any sworn pledge to deny herself.
Num 30:14 But if her husband says nothing to her about it from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or the pledges binding on her. He confirms them by saying nothing to her when he hears about them.
Num 30:15 If, however, he nullifies them some time after he hears about them, then he is responsible for her guilt."
Num 30:16 These are the regulations the LORD gave Moses concerning relationships between a man and his wife, and between a father and his young daughter still living in his house.

Since the entire point of his limitation was submission, and the Bible explicitly teaches that a woman’s hair is a symbol of submission, we should rightly believe that a women then let their hair be "unkempt" for the specified time, but they did not cut it at all. The vow at the maximum demands it simply be uncut. "As mentioned prior, there are at least three Biblical figures who did not cut their hair after taking the vow. In fact, the Talmud does mention women’s hairdressers, but the root of the word is "to plait" [braid] rather than "to cut". I said that it can be in a matter of personal sanctification."

The argument attempting to be made from those who reject the notion that a woman's hair should not be cut, in efforts to let the hair grow, is one from silence.

Some contend that while Paul taught men to have short hair, he himself took a Nazarite vow, basing this opinion on Acts 18:18:

"And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren and sailed thence into Syria and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow."

There are other interpretations, however, the "vow" referred to in this verse is from "euche" the same word used in James 5:15 for the "prayer" of faith. It is possible that Paul did not shave his head because he was finishing a Nazarite vow. Even if he did the New Testament church did not maintain this practice. It is possible that he had just been delivered from the court of Gallio, so he needed to cut (“kiero”) his hair because he was going to prayer. It is possible that Paul knew that God cared what his hair looked like.

Greek scholars A.T. Robertson and Marvin Vincent agree that it was not a Nazarite vow for it could only be absolved only in Jerusalem. It is possible that the hair was only polled or trimmed, cut shorter, not “shaved” for there is a distinction as both verbs are contrasted in I Corinthians 11:6 it is not clear what sort of a vow Paul had taken or why he took it. It may have been a thank offering for the outcome at Corinth.

In Acts 21, I believe Paul is making a point to those who are truly Messianic Jews that to be a believer you do not have to abandon all your customs. Paul did take a vow, if Nazarite I believe like Calvin that it refers to a "superstitious" inclination of Paul. Even if Paul or Messianic Jews, for that matter, (the only ones who could remotely come close to relevantly exacting such a vow) take the Nazarite vow, in some sense, it does not disprove anything by point of fact.

In my opinion a Messianic Jew could possibly or probably (if so inclined) take a Nazarite vow. The vow however, as well as their entire living, will be moderated by the natural order and that order indeed further clarified by the New Testament. They would be aware of Paul's writings as it relates to hair for both genders. I believe that is possibly why God did command the youth to defer to parents. They, being cognizant of the desires of God, would not allow their youth's zeal to violate another principle. Especially in light of the later inspired text of the New Testament.

It wasn't until Acts 15 that the Disciples could come to agreement upon Gentile salvation. The Jerusalem Council. I do not think Paul would have encourage a Gentile to do such a thing, even though he may have done one while being a Jewish believer.

In addition it wasn't until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we became the Temples of that same Spirit. At least in this way. Some things were tolerated by God yet not approved. No matter what we concluded about any Nazarite vow Paul states clearly that a man is not to have long hair, and he expounded this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit which more clearly states what God desires of men and women through their bodies, not just our cerebral forefronts. I beleive some principles of the Old Testament move into the New Testament by spiritual principle. Jesus carried over almost everyone of the Ten Commandments into the New Testament. No longer do men simply murder with swords and spears but also through their tongues.

1 comment:

Anders said...

Hello! I found your website. My name is Anders Branderud, I am 23 years and I am from Sweden.
By practising Torah non-selectively we make the world a better place to live in!

To realize that one can follow two polar-opposite masters — the authentic, historical, PRO-Torah 1st-century Ribi from Nazareth – the Messiah - and the 4th-century (post-135 C.E.), arch-antithesis ANTI-Torah apostasy developed by the Hellenists (namely the Sadducees and Roman pagans who conspired to kill Ribi Yәhoshua, displaced his original followers (the Netzarim) and redacted the NT); is a step in that direction!

So who then was the historical Jesus? His name was Ribi Yehoshua.
The research of world-recognized authorities (for example Barrie Wilson; www.barriewilson.com) in this area implies that Ribi Yehoshua was a Pharisee (a Torah-practising Jewish group - who according to 4Q MMT (a Scroll found in the Qumran-caves) practised both written and oral Torah (oral Torah in an unbroken chain since Mosheh (Moses); commanded by Mosheh in Torah; oral Torah is recorded Beit-Din (Jewish Court)-decisions of how Torah shall be applied).. As the earliest church historians, most eminent modern university historians, our web site (www.netzarim.co.il) and our Khavruta (Distance Learning) texts confirm, the original teachings of Ribi Yehoshua were not only accepted by most of the Pharisaic Jewish community, he had hoards of Jewish students.

For words that you don’t understand; se www.netzarim.co.il ; the link to Glossaries at the first page.

Ribi Yehoshua warned for false prophets who don’t produce good fruit = defined as don’t practise the commandments in Torah according to Halakhah (oral Torah; see the above definition). See Devarim (Deuteronomy) 13:1-6.

The research of Scholars in leading universities which implies that Ribi Yehoshua was a Pharisee necessarily implies that if you want to follow him you need to practise his Torah-teachings.
So you need to start follow the historical Ribi Yehoshua – the Messiah – by practising Torah (including oral Torah)!

Finding the historical Jew, who was a Pharisee Ribi and following him brings you into Torah, which gives you a rich and meaningful life here on earth and great rewards in life after death (“heaven”)!

From Anders Branderud
Geir Toshav, Netzarim in Ra’anana in Israel (www.netzarim.co.il) who is followers of Ribi Yehoshua – the Messiah – in Orthodox Judaism

Adversus Trinitas

"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24 ESV)