Thought for the day.
23rd May 2020
I don’t suppose I am the only person who is worrying about the growing need for a haircut, as even my limited amount of hair grows longer and barbers’ and hairdressers’ shops remain closed under lockdown.
Then entirely by chance I came across the following snippet in Acts C.18. v18:
‘…… Cenchrea’ he (Paul) had his hair cut for he was under a vow’
That started me wondering, why did Luke (the author of Acts) think it was important to record Paul’s haircut ? What was the nature of the ‘vow’ Paul was under ?
The original greek word that is used in this passage for ‘vow’ is ɛύχή. A modern greek dictionary translates ɛύχή as a prayer, a wish or a blessing and has a different word for a vow. Maybe the bible translators use the word ‘vow’ to make clear the sort of dedication Paul had undertaken instead of the obscure word nazirite.
The original concept of a Jewish vow first occurs in Chapter 6 of Numbers which records the Lord telling Moses:
‘When either men or women make a special vow, the vow of a nazirite, to separate themselves to the Lord……….(v2)……..
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.’ (v5)
It seems to me that a vow or ɛύχή was not so much a promise as a time when a person was especially trying to do or not do something to further her or his relationship with Almighty God. Perhaps a little like the Christian idea of giving up something for Lent whilst we make a particular effort to increase our understanding and relationship with God or going on a retreat.
Of course the most famous haircut in the Bible is the one Delilah arranged for Sampson to take away his strength after he had told her the secret of it:
“A razor has never come upon my head, for I have been a nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved then my strength would leave me; I would become weak and be like anyone else.’ (Judges C.16, v17).
This incident shows the dedication to God’ work by Sampson in the concept of a nazirite.
Just before he had his haircut, Paul had been evangelising in Athens and Corinth. Had he treated himself as a nazirite for this mission which he had now completed and was setting out for Jerusalem ?. I don’t suppose we shall ever know.
Maybe we should be treating our present time without haircuts as an opportunity for making a particular effort to increase our understanding and relationship with Almighty God. We should have the available time to do so.



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