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Bible Dictionaries

Smith's Bible Dictionary

Vows

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Vows. A vow is a solemn promise made to God to perform or to abstain from performing a certain thing. The earliest mention of a vow is that of Jacob. Genesis 28:18-22; Genesis 31:13. Vows in general are also mentioned in the book of Job, Job 22:27. The law, therefore, did not introduce, but regulated the practice of, vows. Three sorts are mentioned: 1, Vows of devotion; 2, Vows of abstinence; 3, Vows of destruction.

1. As to vows of devotion, the following rules are laid down:

A man might devote, to sacred uses, possessions or persons, but not the first-born of either man or beast, which was devoted already. Leviticus 27:28.

(a) If he vowed land, he might either redeem it or not. Leviticus 25; Leviticus 27.

(b) Animals fit for sacrifice, if devoted, were not to be redeemed or changed, Leviticus 27:9-10; Leviticus 27:33, persons devoted stood thus: devote either himself, his child (not the first-born) or his slave. If no redemption took place, the devoted person became a slave of the sanctuary: see the case of Absalom. 2 Samuel 15:8 . Otherwise, he might be redeemed at a valuation according to age and sex, on the scale given in Leviticus 27:1-7.

Among general regulations affecting vows, the following may be mentioned:

(1) Vows were entirely voluntary, but once made were regarded as compulsory. Numbers 30:2; Deuteronomy 23:21; Ecclesiastes 5:4.

(2) If persons in a dependent condition made vows as

(a) an unmarried daughter living in her father's house, or

(b) a wife, even if she afterward became a widow, the vow, if

(a) in the first case, her father, or

(b) in the second, her husband, heard and disallowed it, it was void; but, if they heard without disallowance, it was to remain good. Numbers 30:3-18.

(3) Votive offerings arising from the produce of any impure traffic were wholly forbidden. Deuteronomy 23:18.

2. For vows of abstinence, see Corban.

3. For vows of destruction or extermination, see Anathema and Ezra 10:8; Micah 4:13. It seems that the practice of shaving the head at the expiration of a votive period was not limited to the Nazaritic vow. Acts 18:18; Acts 21:24.

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Bibliography Information
Smith, William, Dr. Entry for 'Vows'. Smith's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/sbd/v/vows.html. 1901.

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