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Bible Commentaries

Matthew Poole's English Annotations
on the Holy Bible
Numbers 30

 

 

Verse 1

NUMBERS CHAPTER 30

Vows not to be broke: if a man vow, he must perform, Numbers 30:1,2. If a daughter living with her father vow, and he disapprove thereof, she is free, Numbers 30:3-5. If a married woman vow, and her husband disapprove thereof, she is free, Numbers 30:6-8. A widow or divorced woman’s vow binding, Numbers 30:9; but not those of a married woman, unless her husband consent or be silent, Numbers 30:10-15.

The heads of the tribes; the chief rulers of each tribe, who were to communicate it to the rest.


Verse 2

A man; which notes both the sex, as appears by Numbers 30:3, and the age, that he be grown up; for none can be so weak as to think the vow of a young child would bind it.

A vow, i.e. a simple Vow to do something possible and lawful.

Unto the Lord; to the honour and service of God.

Or swear an oath; confirm his vow by an oath.

To bind his soul with a bond; to restrain himself from something otherwise lawful, as suppose from such a sort of meat or drink; or to oblige himself to the performance of something otherwise not necessary, is to observe a private day of fasting.

He shall not break his word, Heb. not pollute or profane his word, as the same phrase is used, Psalms 55:20 89:34, i.e. not render his word, and consequently himself, profane, or vile and contemptible in the eyes of others.

According to all that proceedeth out of his own mouth; and that without delay, Deuteronomy 23:21 Ecclesiastes 5:4, provided the thing be not unlawful and forbidden by God, Acts 23:14; for it is an idle conceit that a man can give away God’s right, or that he can make void God’s commands by his own vows, which was the dotage of the Pharisees, Mark 6:23,26.


Verse 3

If a woman, or a man in the same circumstances, a son or a servant, as plainly appears from hence, because the reason of this law is perfectly the same in both sexes, which is, that such persons have given away what was not their own, but another’s, even their superior’s right, which is against the rule and law of natural reason, and against the word of God, which binds all persons to give to every one their due. He instanceth only in the woman, because that sex is both by creation and sin put into a state of subjection, but under the chief and most unquestionable kind all other subjects in like circumstances are comprehended, as is very usual.

Being in her father’s house, i.e. under his care, power, and government, which she is whilst she continues in her father’s house, being a virgin, as appears by the opposition of a married woman, Numbers 30:6, and of a widow, and divorced woman, Numbers 30:9, and by this phrase of being in her father’s house, for when she marries, she is removed into her husband’s house, Ruth 1:9. Or, being in, or of her father’s family, the word house being commonly used for family; for when she marries, she is translated and removed into another family.

In her youth; when not only her sex, but her age, disenables her for vowing; and this clause is added not by way of restriction, as if’ virgins in their riper years were freed from their parents’ jurisdiction, and at their own disposal, (which undoubtedly they are not,) but by way of addition, or amplification, q.d. especially (which particle is here to be understood, such defects of particles being frequent in the Hebrew tongue) in her youth, which is commonly reckoned about her twelfth or thirteenth year.


Verse 4

Her father; under which title seem to be comprehended, as in other places of Scripture, masters, magistrates, and all other superiors, in such cases wherein their right is given away by the inferior’s vow; as for instance, when a servant vows to go a long journey for his friend, and his master will not permit him to do so; but not in other cases; as if a servant vows to do something for another in that time which his master alloweth to his own use and disposal, in this case his vow binds him, but not in the former.

And her father shall hold his peace; his silence being an interpretative consent, and much more if he declares his approbation of it.

Shall stand, i.e. be established, or confirmed, or be in force.


Verse 5

In the day that he heareth, i.e. speedily, or without delay, allowing’ only necessary and convenient time for deliberation. And it is hereby intimated, that the day or time he had for disallowing her vow was not to be reckoned from her vowing, but from his hearing or knowledge of her vow.

Shall forgive her; or, will forgive either her rashness of making such vows, or rather her not performing of it. But this is to be understood only of such vows which could not be performed without invading the father’s or superior’s right; for if one should vow to forbear such or such a sin, and all unnecessary occasions or means leading to it, and to perform such or such duties, when he had opportunity, no father nor superior can discharge him from such vows.


Verse 6

An husband, to whose will and authority she was thereby made subject.

When she vowed, to wit, when she was in her father’s house, as is evident by comparing Numbers 30:10; and this clause seems to be added by way of exception to that which was said Numbers 30:3,4, to signify, that though she were in her father’s house, yet if she were married, her husband only, and not her father, could disoblige her from her vow.

Or uttered ought; either,

1. By way of vow, and so this clause explains and determines the former, i.e. if she express her vow in words. Or,

2. By way of oath, concerning which this same phrase is used Leviticus 5:4, and so this clause is distinct from the former, which the disjunctive particle or implies.


Verse 9

Though she be in her father’s house, whither such persons oft returned; which limitation may be gathered both from the opposition of her being

in her husband’s house, Numbers 30:10, and from hence, that this was the only doubtful cast for if such a person was not in her father’s house, she was unquestionably bound by it, but being now freed from her husband, and returned to her father, it was doubtful whether she was not returned to the same state of subjection in which she was before, and consequently unable to make or perform a vow without her father’s consent, as she was before, which is here denied.


Verse 10

In her husband’s house, i.e. if she that now is a widow, or divorced, made that vow whilst her husband lived with her; as suppose she then vowed, that if she was a widow, she would give such a proportion of her estate to pious or charitable uses, of which vow she might repent when she came to be a widow, and might believe or pretend she was free from it, because that vow was made in her husband’s lifetime, which is here granted, in case her husband then disallowed it, but denied, in case by silence or otherwise he consented to it. And thus this law is sufficiently distinguished from that above, Numbers 30:6-8.


Verse 13

Afflict the soul, i.e. herself by fasting, which oft goes under that name, as Leviticus 16:29,31 23:27,32 Isa 58:5, by watching, or the like. And these words are added not for limitation, for it is manifest from Numbers 30:5,8,10,12, that the power of parents and husbands was more general and large; but for amplification, to show that the husband had this power not only in those vows which concerned himself or his estate, but also in those which might seem only to concern her own person or body. And the reason hereof is, because the wife’s person or body being the husband’s right, she might not do any thing to the injury of her body without his consent.


Verse 15

After that he hath heard them, and approved them by his silence from day to day; if now after that time spent, he shall upon further thoughts dislike and hinder it, which he ought not to do,

her iniquity, her nonperformance of her vow, shall be imputed to him, not to her.

 


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Bibliography Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 30:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/numbers-30.html. 1685.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, December 16th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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