Today let’s deal with the question of why the Nazarite is strictly forbidden from eating grapes.
The Scripture doesn’t give us a direct answer but the Jewish scholars give us an answer that makes really good sense.
The first point I want to make is that in Scripture Israel is often symbolized by the grapevine.
“You brought a vine out of Egypt;
you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it,
and it took root and filled the land.”
“Israel was a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit”
“I planted you as a choice vine,
from the purest stock.
How then did you turn degenerate
and become a wild vine?”
And I’m sure, you can recall many NT references to the vine such as Yeshua saying “I am vine and you are the branches” etcetera.
Now I’d like to draw a connection between the grapevine, the land of Israel, and the 7th year Sabbatical year which we learned during our studies of the Jubilee year.
Do you recall what the Sabbatical year was all about?
It was about the land being consecrated or dedicated to the Lord every seventh year.
Just as we are to enter a sabbath rest every seventh day of the week, so was the land of Israel to enter a sabbath rest every seventh year.
During this seventh sabbatical year, the land was literally not to be touched.
No tilling or weeding was permitted.
The fields were not to be harvested.
Even the grapes on the vines were to be left to rot and the twice a year pruning of the grapevines was put on hold.
Because it was during the Sabbatical year that the land of Israel was especially set apart and set-aside as HOLY to the Lord.
Now what have we learned about the Nazarite?
The Nazarite was also somebody who took a vow to be consecrated to the Lord for a specified period of time.
During the period of his vow, the Nazarite was to fully personify and exemplify what Israel was all about, namely, HOLINESS.
And the same thing held true for the Sabbatical year.
The Sabbatical year was to symbolize the fact that God had especially chosen the Land of Israel as a land HOLY unto Himself.
So here’s the mind-blowing connection the rabbis have given us.
We know that both the Nazarite and the Land of Israel were consecrated to the Lord during a specified period of time, the Nazarite during the period of his or vow, and the Land of Israel during the Sabbatical year.
Now just as the grapevines and grapes were NOT to be touched during the Sabbatical year, the same also applied to the Nazarite during the period of his vow.
In other words, the period of time of the vow the Nazarite took was kind of like a Sabbatical year for him, because during that period he was consider consecrated to the Lord.
Here’s another interesting point.
If you check a concordance, you’ll find that the meaning of the word NAZIR (the Hebrew word for Nazarite) also means “untrimmed vines“.
I don’t know about you but the connection the rabbis have drawn between the Nazarite, the grapevines and the Sabbatical year seems pretty credible to me.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“I am the true vine,
and my Father is the gardener.
He cuts off every branch in me
that bears no fruit,
while every branch
that does bear fruit he prunes
so that it will be even more fruitful.
You are already clean because of the word
I have spoken to you.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you.
No branch can bear fruit by itself;
it must remain in the vine.
Neither can you bear fruit
unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches.
If you remain in me and I in you,
you will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing.”