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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
Numbers 30



Verses 1-16

Numbers 30:15. He shall bear her iniquity. The Samaritan pentateuch, and the Septuagint read, Then “he shall bear his iniquity,” which conveys the just idea that by disannulling the vow, he took the blame upon himself.


This revelation respecting vows is addressed to the heads of the tribes, that it might be thence conveyed to the heads of houses: and it is an essential branch of the ministry to acquaint masters and parents with the several branches of their duty. Full of cares and labours they have less time to study, and consequently are not in a situation adequately to comprehend and discharge the several religious duties of their station. Hence they often need the aid of divine instruction.

The vows here are understood to be on an inferior scale to those mentioned in Leviticus 27.; and merely to respect small oblations, abstinence from certain meats, or the performance of some particular devotion; all good in their kind, or at least well intended.

A daughter or a wife before she vows in this way, should consider her relative situation. The devotion she proposes to pay to God, must not interfere too much with the deference and duties she owes to her father or her husband. One covenant must not supersede another. Consequently, God will accept from a child an extra duty in religion, but with the consent and approbation of the parent; and surely this is a considerable argument in favour of filial obedience, and equally so in favour of deference in the wife towards her husband.

When once a vow is made it is an oath of the soul, by which it is bound to perform those purposes which have been uttered before the Lord. And from the faithful and sacred manner in which the Lord performs his promises to man, we learn in how sacred a manner he expects we should pay our vows to him. He who swears falsely to his God must bear his iniquity. But though a daughter cannot perform any extra devotions of this kind without her father’s consent, nor a wife without the approbation of her husband; yet the law does not relate to the duties of prayer, praise, and ordinary devotion. Every child, on coming to the knowledge of good and evil, is bound to be religious, whether the parents will consent or not: so it is with the wife in regard to a carnal husband. No man has a right to supersede the word of God, and force either wife or child into compliance with the sinful vanities of the age. A woman is bound to perform all the duties of conjugal life to her husband; but she is bound by superior and more durable ties to be a faithful follower of God; and those who are most faithful to the Lord, are found in the issue to have performed their relative duties from the most pure and noble principles.


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 30:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 25th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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