One of the regulations of Naziriteship was not to go near or touch a dead person:

Numbers 6:6 NASB

6 "All the days of his separation to the Lord he shall not go near to a dead person. 7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head."

As a Nazirite why was Samson exempted?

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    Samson breaking all of the vows of the Nazirites is the whole point.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented May 19, 2019 at 23:13
  • This would be a better question if it also gave a reference for Samson's having touched or gone near a dead person. Similarly for the claim that he was "exempted". Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 13:14
  • 1 Sam 18:27 says that Samson and his friends killed 200 philstines, and took there foreskins. To cut the foreskins off a dead body has to defile a Nazirite, but we don't know if Samson shaved off his hair afterwards, as stipulated in the Nazirite code, or not. Although it was not recorded that he did, he could very well have done that. Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 14:51
  • @ Ray Butterworth: Samson was a special nazirite,as I wrote he never took the nazirite oath not to touch a corpse. He was commission by God for a special purpose, to deliver the Israelites from the Philistine bondage. Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 16:02
  • @ Constantin: There are two classes of nazirites, those that volunteered and took the oath, Samson was commission from conception and never took the nazirite oath. Samson was betrayed by Delilah, and the Philistines cut his hair off, he lost his enormous power, Read Judges 16: 4-21 Commented Sep 14, 2019 at 16:20

3 Answers 3


Samson was not 'exempted' from touching dead bodies, nor can I find any record that he did so.

... And he smote them hip and thigh, with a great slaughter; Judges 15:8 KJV.

When Samson smote them, they were alive.

After he smote them, they died.

And he used a weapon, in any case, and did not touch them with his hand :

And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men. Judges 15:16 KJV.

Edit: Samson killed thirty Philistines, and again they were alive when he smote them and they died after he did so. It cannot be proved that Samson touched their dead bodies. He 'slew them and took their spoil' does not imply stripping the dead bodies but implies entering their houses and taking garments from their cupboards - 'spoil'.

Samson rent a lion which was alive when he rent it. And he took honey from its carcase but did not touch the carcase, he only touched the honey.

The case needs to be proved 'beyond reasonable doubt' in order to establish an offence.


There was provision made for a Nazarite 'if any man dies suddenly by him' : there was a sacrifice available. Provision was made. Numbers 6: 9-12.

  • @ Nigel J. Judges 14:19 NASB says: Then the Spirit of the Lord [a]came upon him mightily, and he went down to Ashkelon and killed thirty of them and took their spoil and gave the changes of clothes to those who told the riddle. And his anger burned, and he went up to his father’s house. He also touched a dead lion Judges 14:8-9 Commented May 20, 2019 at 5:50
  • @OzzieNicolas I still do not see any evidence. Edited to include.
    – Nigel J
    Commented May 20, 2019 at 6:21
  • @Nigel J / you have no idea how battle looks. Donkey's jaw is a short thing, enemies were likely using spears and swords, Samson needed to get very close to them. He likely did not have a shield, so restricting himself to one arm is asking to get killed. He slain 1000 men, the number so large, they'd fight standing on dead bodies. Numbers 6:6 and 6:9 does not allow Nazirite to came even close to death, and if it happened by accident there was law for that. Commented May 20, 2019 at 8:06
  • @ Nigel J. The verse says that he took the cloths of the slain men and gave them to those who told the riddle. There is a special reason that Samson was allowed to touch dead people. Commented May 20, 2019 at 8:24
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    Even if he killed them without touching them he would have become impure according to Numbers 31:19
    – b a
    Commented May 21, 2019 at 7:10

Samson was a Nazirite, (Judges 13:1-5) yet we read that he touched dead persons ,Judges 15:8 , Why?

Nazirite: Meaning , "The one separated or one consecrated to God.

There were two types of Nazirites, those that volunteered and took the nazirite oath and those that were appointed by God. Those that took the nazirite oath to God were to live as nazirites for the duration of the vow which was:

Numbers 6:1-7 (NRSV)

The Nazirites : Those that took the vow.

1" 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,[a] 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[b] 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."

Nazirites: Those commission from from conception by God, did not take the oath and remained nazirites for life, their special purpose and requirements were defined by God;

Regarding Samson:

Judges 13:5 (NRSV)

5 "For you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor is to come on his head, for the boy shall be a nazirite to God from birth. It is he who shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.”

Regarding John the Baptizer;

John was commission to turn the hearts of the people to God, and to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for him.

Luke 1:7-17 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

7 "But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were getting on in years.8 Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense. 10 Now at the time of the incense offering, the whole assembly of the people was praying outside."

11 "Then there appeared to him an angel of the Lord, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified; and fear overwhelmed him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth."

15 "For he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He must never drink wine or strong drink; even before his birth he will be filled with the Holy Spirit. 16 He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 With the spirit and power of Elijah he will go before him, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”


I find it interesting that the text feels the need to inform us that he did not tell his parents where he got the honey from. If there was nothing considered "unclean" about the honey, then why mention that detail?

I can't help but wonder how he got the Philistine foreskins without defiling the typical Nazirite vow. It appears that Samson was set apart unto God for this very purpose and that his miraculous birth was such an indicator. He should have never existed in the first place apart from special accommodation being facilitated by God Himself.

That being said, I can not see how Samson would have been in violation of anything considering that it was God who both inspired and authenticated the Law in the first place and has every right to make any exceptions, loopholes, or negations that he sees fit.

It appears to be the case with Samson and we seem to see a similar mechanism at work with David and the hollowed bread which was only lawful for the priest to eat.

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    Welcome to the site, and for giving answers with various points in it. One requirement for Hermeneutics is that personal opinions are to be avoided, with evidence presented from the text itself as to what the answer is. The text in question does not deal with any event many years later involving Samson, so the assumption of the OP, that Samson was exempted from the requirement of a Nazirite re. dead bodies, would have to be dealt with first. Can you do that?
    – Anne
    Commented Oct 19, 2022 at 15:55
  • It seems as though the honey from the Lion would be be evidence that Sampson wasn't concerned with the typical Nazarite requirements because the text implies that Samson hid from his parents the origin of the honey. If the honey was fine then why did he do that? Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 16:32
  • Also, doesn't Leviticus 5:2 prohibit anyone from touching the bones of a dead animal as well? I can't help but believe that it is seriously stretching the plain reading of the text to say that Sampson could have killed so many people with such a relatively small weapon requiring close combat and not get any blood on him or come into contact with any other dead bodies apart from the jawbone he used which was part of the dead body of an animal. Sorry if I sound redundant Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 16:44
  • I brought up David and the shew bread because it appears to be an obvious example of special exemptions made relative to calling and purpose. Jesus acknowledged that it was unlawful for anyone to eat but the priest and yet King David did not transgress. He was supposed to be put to death for adultery and yet the prophet who was the mouth piece of God stated that the legal prescription was to be over ruled. I don't think that it is too far of a stretch to say that Sampson fell into the lot of a prophet with special instruction with special exemptions to carry out a special task. Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 17:02
  • Yes, I agree re. David and the shewbread, and that Samson [no 'p'!] was a prophet with a special task. I was just commenting on the requirements for answering a hermeneutics question. This site is not like most others, having a fairly tight remit both for Qs and for As. Do keep contributing!
    – Anne
    Commented Oct 20, 2022 at 17:18

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