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Tuesday, June 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 30

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And Moses spake unto the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded.

This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded. The subject of this chapter relates to vowing, which seems to have been an ancient usage, allowed by the law to remain and by which some people declared their intention of offering some gift on the altar, of abstaining from particular articles of meat or drink, of observing a private fast, or doing something to the honour or in the service of God, over and above what was authoritatively required. In Num. 30:39 of the preceding chapter mention was made of 'vows and free-will offerings,' and it is probable, from the explanatory nature of the rules laid down in this chapter, that these were given for the removal of doubts and difficulties which conscientious persons had felt about their obligation to perform their vows in certain circumstances that had arisen.

Verse 2

If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

If a man vow a vow. A mere secret purpose of the mind was not enough to constitute a vow: it had to be actually expressed in words; and though a purely voluntary act, yet, when once the vow was made, the performance of it, like that of every other promise, became an indispensable duty-all the more that, referring to a sacred thing, it could not be neglected without the guilt of prevarication and unfaithfulness to God.

Shall not break - literally, profane his word; render it vain and contemptible (Psalms 55:20; Psalms 89:34). But as it would frequently happen that parties would vow to do things which were neither good in themselves nor in their power to perform, the law ordained that their natural superiors should have the right of judging as to the propriety of those vows, with discretionary power to sanction or interdict their fulfillment. Parents were to determine in the case of their children, and husbands in that of their wives-being, however, allowed only a day for deliberation after the matter became known to them-and their judgment, if unfavourable, released the devotee from all obligation.

Verse 3

If a woman also vow a vow unto the LORD, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father's house in her youth;

A woman ... in her father's house in her youth. Girls only are specified; but minors of the other sex, who resided under the paternal roof, were included, according to Jewish writers, who also consider the name 'father' as comprehending all guardians of youth, and tell us that the age at which young people were deemed capable of vowing was thirteen for boys and twelve for girls. The judgment of a father or guardian on the vow of any under his charge might be given either by an expressed approval or by silence, which was to be construed as approval. But in the case of a husband, who, after silence from day to day, should ultimately disapprove or hinder his wife's vow, the sin of non-performance was to be imputed to him, and not to her.

Verses 4-8

And her father hear her vow, and her bond wherewith she hath bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her: then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hath bound her soul shall stand.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 9

But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her.

Every vow of a widow. In the case of a married woman who, in the event of a separation from her husband, or of his death, returned, as was not uncommon, to her father's house, a doubt might have been entertained whether she was not, as before, subject to paternal jurisdiction, and obliged to act with the paternal consent. The law ordained that the vow was binding if it had been made in her husband's life-time, and he, on being made aware of it, had not interposed his veto: as, for instance, she might have vowed when not a widow, that she would assign a proportion of her income to pious and charitable uses, of which she might repent when actually a widow; but by this statute she was required to fulfill the obligation, provided her circumstances enabled her to redeem the pledge. The rules laid down must have been exceedingly useful for the prevention or cancelling of rash vows, as well as for giving a proper sanction to such as were legitimate in their nature, and made in a devout, reflecting spirit.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Numbers 30". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/numbers-30.html. 1871-8.
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