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"My Brother Esau Is a Hairy Man"Hair and Identity in Ancient Israel$
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Susan Niditch

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195181142

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195181142.001.0001

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The Nazirite Vow

The Nazirite Vow

Domesticating Charisma and Recontextualizing Hair

(p.81) 4 The Nazirite Vow
"My Brother Esau Is a Hairy Man"

Susan Niditch (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The focus of this chapter is Numbers 6, a ritual text that describes a vow undertaken by an individual to become a Nazirite for a specified period of time. A close reading, with help from methodological perspectives introduced earlier, reveals a different version of Nazirism than that described for Samson. The vow in Numbers 6 has been shaped by a particular priestly worldview that is highly concerned with issues of purity even while democratizing holy status, evidencing the worldview of postexilic priestly writers of the Persian period. A man or a woman may take the vow voluntarily. This form of Nazirism allows women of means an opportunity for some kind of sacred status, but it is temporary and no threat to the male Levitical priesthood. An interesting thread in this chapter concerns economic status and the Nazirite vow.

Keywords:   ritual, Nazirite vow, purity, Persian period, postexilic, women, Levitical priesthood, economic status

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