NUMBERS CHAPTER 30.
Regulations Concerning Vows.
the obligation of vows. — V. 1. And Moses spake unto the heads of the tribes, to whom the regulation of affairs regarding families was entrusted, concerning the children Of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded: V. 2. If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with "a bond, both the vows to perform and the vows to abstain being included in the precept, he shall not break his word and thus profane his solemn utterance, Ps. 55, 20, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth, for the promise, supported with an oath, has called upon God as a witness, and therefore its fulfillment is a sacred obligation. Far better not to make a promise than to do so lightly and afterward not keep one's word, Deut. 23, 21. 22. The purpose of this regulation, which looked forward to the time of Israel's living in Canaan, was to prevent frivolous vowing and foolish promising, a practice which to this day tends to loosen the bonds of obligation which men ought to feel in their intercourse with one another.
regarding vows of persons in dependent positions. — V. 3. If a woman also vow a vow unto the Lord and hind herself by a bond, being in her father's house in her youth, and thus bound under the Fourth Commandment in its full range and compass, v. 4. and her father hear her vow and her bond wherewith she hath bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her, not object or interfere, then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hath bound her soul shall stand, for her father's silence would be construed as equivalent to consent. V.5. But if her father disallow her, prohibit the keeping of the vow, in the day that he heareth, not any of her vows or of her bonds Wherewith she hath bound her soul, whether they included the performance of, or the abstinence from, anything, shall stand; and the Lord shall forgive her because her father disallowed her. Obedience to her father was to be placed higher than any self-imagined act of worship. V. 6. And if she had (at all) an husband when she vowed, or uttered aught out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul, v. 7. and her husband, toward whom she was in a state of dependence, since he, from the time of betrothal, was the head of the family or house, heard it, and held his peace at her in the day that he heard it, then her vows shall stand, and her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand. V. 8. But if her husband disallowed her, if he vetoed the promise which she brought along with her into marriage, on the day that he heard it, then he shall make her vow which she vowed, and that which she uttered with her lips, wherewith she bound her soul, of none effect; and the Lord shall forgive her. In this case the jurisdiction of the husband was equal to that of the father before the woman's marriage. V. 9. But every vow of a widow and of her that is divorced, forsaken or rejected by her husband, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her; in either case the woman was not restricted by any male authority or household government. V. 10. And if she vowed in her husband's house or bound her soul by a bond with an oath, v. 11. and her husband heard it and held his peace at her and disallowed her not, then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hound her soul shall stand. V. 12. But it her husband hath utterly made them void, frustrated them, made them of none effect, on the day he heard them, namely, by his refusal to sanction them, then whatsoever proceeded out of her lips concerning her vows or concerning the bond of her soul, no matter what promise it may have been, shall not stand; her husband hath made them void; and the Lord shall forgive her. V. 13. Every vow and every binding oath to afflict the soul, to burden the soul with the obligation of fulfilling the provisions of the promise, her husband may establish it, by his consent, or her husband may make it void, by his disapproval. V. 14. But if her husband altogether hold his peace at her from day to day, although he knows of the vow, then he establisheth all her vows or all her bonds which are upon her; he conflrmeth them, because he held his peace at her in the day that he heard them, for his silence is equivalent to consent. V. 15. But if he shall anyways make them void after that he hath heard them, tries to nullify them after a period of silent consent, then he shall bear her iniquity, namely, the guilt which his wife would have loaded upon herself, had she frivolously broken her vow. V. 16. These are the statutes which the Lord commanded Moses, concerning the relations between a man and his wife, between the father and his daughter, being yet in her youth in her father's house. "How carefully the divine law consults the good order of families, and preserves the power of superior relations and the duty and reverence of inferiors! Rather than break these bonds. God Himself would quit His right and release the obligation of a solemn vow." (Henry.)