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Why couldn’t the Nazirite drink wine?

March 11, 2009

W. H. Bellinger Jr. in the New International Biblical Commentary on Leviticus, Numbers floats the following novel theory:

The prohibition could be a protest against the lifestyle of intoxication, decadence or degeneracy, or an avoidance of what is fermented. Fermentation causes a change in the liquid that blurs the classification of the substance and so violates the Priestly categories of creation. (p. 200)

Spoken like a true Baptist.

Strangely, Bellinger doesn’t mention this violation of Priestly categories when exegeting the requirement of wine as drink offerings in Lev 23:13; Num 15:5, 7, 10; 28:14 (or Exod 29:4, which isn’t covered in the commentary).

Obviously, I have some misgivings with Bellinger’s theory…

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