Posted by: religionthink | September 10, 2009

Holy Warriors and Yahweh. (Part 1)

Holy Warriors and Yahweh. (Part 1)

Num 6:1-21

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: (2) Speak to the Israelites and say to them: When either men or women make a special vow, the vow of a nazirite, to separate themselves to the Lord, (3) they shall separate themselves from wine and strong drink; they shall drink no wine vinegar or other vinegar, and shall not drink any grape juice or eat grapes, fresh or dried. (4) All their days as nazirites they shall eat nothing that is produced by the grapevine, not even the seeds or the skins.(5) All the days of their nazirite vow no razor shall come upon the head; until the time is completed for which they separate themselves to the Lord, they shall be holy; they shall let the locks of the head grow long. (6) All the days that they separate themselves to the Lord they shall not go near a corpse. (7) Even if their father or mother, brother or sister, should die, they may not defile themselves; because their consecration to God is upon the head. (8) All their days as nazirites they are holy to the Lord. (9) If someone dies very suddenly nearby, defiling the consecrated head, then they shall shave the head on the day of their cleansing; on the seventh day they shall shave it. (10) On the eighth day they shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting, (11) and the priest shall offer one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering, and make atonement for them, because they incurred guilt by reason of the corpse. They shall sanctify the head that same day, (12) and separate themselves to the Lord for their days as nazirites, and bring a male lamb a year old as a guilt offering. The former time shall be void, because the consecrated head was defiled. (13) This is the law for the nazirites when the time of their consecration has been completed: they shall be brought to the entrance of the tent of meeting, (14) and they shall offer their gift to the Lord, one male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering, one ewe lamb a year old without blemish as a sin offering, one ram without blemish as an offering of well-being, (15) and a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of choice flour mixed with oil and unleavened wafers spread with oil, with their grain offering and their drink offerings. (16) The priest shall present them before the Lord and offer their sin offering and burnt offering, (17) and shall offer the ram as a sacrifice of well-being to the Lord, with the basket of unleavened bread; the priest also shall make the accompanying grain offering and drink offering. (18) Then the nazirites shall shave the consecrated head at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and shall take the hair from the consecrated head and put it on the fire under the sacrifice of well-being. (19) The priest shall take the shoulder of the ram, when it is boiled, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them in the palms of the nazirites, after they have shaved the consecrated head. (20) Then the priest shall elevate them as an elevation offering before the Lord; they are a holy portion for the priest, together with the breast that is elevated and the thigh that is offered. After that the nazirites may drink wine. (21) This is the law for the nazirites who take a vow. Their offering to the Lord must be in accordance with the nazirites vow, apart from what else they can afford. In accordance with whatever vow they take, so they shall do, following the law for their consecration.

Above we have the requirements of the Nazirite order. However there are many examples of the Nazirites as Holy warriors. Sampson, being one example, apparently there may have been an exception to the rule of coming in contact with the dead and being unclean, or it only applied to tribal members. Many of the “saviors” or “judges” of Israel may heave been Holy Warriors or Nazirites. Below we shall look at a few examples.

One of the earliest known examples we find in the Holy War Song of Deborah in Judges chapters four and five. In Judges 5:2 we read:

“When locks are long in Israel, when the people offer themselves willingly— bless the Lord!

This text harkens back to a day when all the Israeli tribes united and fought holy war together. Of the main issues in the early tribal league was that not all the tribes showed when holy war under Yahweh was called. Many did not feel they had to defend their bothers and so when Saul took office we find him uniting the tribes for war. Woe to those tribes who did not show. Here we find Saul calling the tribes to battle in I Samuel 11:6-8.

(6)And the spirit of God came upon Saul in power when he heard these words, and his anger was greatly kindled. (7) He took a yoke of oxen, and cut them in pieces and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by messengers, saying, “Whoever does not come out after Saul and Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen!” Then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people, and they came out as one. (8) When he mustered them at Bezek, those from Israel were three hundred thousand, and those from Judah seventy thousand.

One example of when all the tribes did not show for holy war. Here the consequences of not showing were deadly for that tribe in Judges 19 and 20. Using the example in Judges 19:29-30, we see why Saul cut the bull in pieces in I Samuel 11:6-8, for it harkens back to a bloody civil war in Israel that almost wiped out the tribe of Benjamin. Here in Judges 20:5-8 we see where the fateful decision was made not to show.

(5) The lords of Gibeah rose up against me, and surrounded the house at night. They intended to kill me, and they raped my concubine until she died. (6) Then I took my concubine and cut her into pieces, and sent her throughout the whole extent of Israel’s territory; for they have committed a vile outrage in Israel. (7) So now, you Israelites, all of you, give your advice and counsel here.” (8) All the people got up as one, saying, “We will not any of us go to our tents, nor will any of us return to our houses. At times the instructions for battle were given by Yahweh and anything captured in the Holy War was Yahweh’s. At times the Israelites were allowed to keep specific things that Yahweh would allow them to keep. And it this convent was broken then serious consequences were dealt out. For Yahweh would punish with a loss of battle, plague, or captivity into enemy hands. We find one violation of holy war and how it was dealt with in Joshua 7:19-26 when Achan failed to comply with Yahweh’s requirements of Holy War.
(19) Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel and make confession to him. Tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” (20) And Achan answered Joshua, “It is true; I am the one who sinned against the Lord God of Israel. This is what I did: (21) when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels, then I coveted them and took them. They now lie hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.” (22) So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent; and there it was, hidden in his tent with the silver underneath. (23) They took them out of the tent and brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites; and they spread them out before the Lord. (24) Then Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan son of Zerah, with the silver, the mantle, and the bar of gold, with his sons and daughters, with his oxen, donkeys, and sheep, and his tent and all that he had; and they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. (25) Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The Lord is bringing trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him to death; they burned them with fire, cast stones on them, (26) and raised over him a great heap of stones that remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his burning anger. Therefore that place to this day is called the Valley of Achor.

We also find Saul failing to comply with Yahweh’s requirements through Samuel in I Samuel chapter 15. Although the short term penalty was not as harsh, the long term was. Later Yahweh would repent making Saul king, send and evil spirit to torment him, take Israel and his entire house from him, and leave him to commit suicide on the battle filed, alone without his God to fight the war with him.

Returning to the Nazirite order, we find notable characteristics of the nazirite vow. Although some of the vows differed from person to person was that they all never shaved their heads or drank wine or ate anything from the grapevine what the seemingly had. We find these rules in the instructions given to Sampson’s parents in Judges Chapter 13 and then echoed again in the vow Hanna made to Yahweh in I Samuel Chapter 1. We also find these men consecrated as vessels, into which Yahweh would pour his spirit and as long as they met the requirements or the convent, they would perform heroically on the battlefield. If however they become unclean or their hair was shaved they were shamed or in Sampson’s case loose their super human abilities. They would have to go through a ritualistic cleansing as seen above in Numbers Chapter 6. Even shaving the beard was a gross form of shame. One example of an account, that is rather humorous, is of Hanun, king of the Ammonites in II Samuel Chapter 10: 2-5.

(2) David said, “I will deal loyally with Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father dealt loyally with me.” So David sent envoys to console him concerning his father. When David’s envoys came into the land of the Ammonites, (3) the princes of the Ammonites said to their lord Hanun, “Do you really think that David is honoring your father just because he has sent messengers with condolences to you? Has not David sent his envoys to you to search the city, to spy it out, and to overthrow it?” (4) So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half the beard of each, cut off their garments in the middle at their hips, and sent them away. (5) When David was told, he sent to meet them, for the men were greatly ashamed. The king said, “Remain at Jericho until your beards have grown, and then return.”

Also in Samuel it is the Nazirite vow and Holy War requirements that cause a problem for David with Uriah the Hittite. When David tried to persuade Uriah to sleep with his wife and drink wine he replies in II Samuel 11:11,
“The ark and Israel and Judah remain in booths; and my lord Joab and the servants of my lord are camping in the open field; shall I then go to my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? As you live, and as your soul lives, I will not do such a thing.”


* All biblical references are taken from the New Revised Standard Version

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