Chapter 30

NUMBERS CHAPTER 30

Laws Concerning Vows

    • Moses called the leaders of the Israelite tribes together and told them that the Lord had commanded the following:

      • When a man makes a vow to the Lord or obligates himself by swearing an oath, he must not break his word. He must do exactly what he said he would do.

        • Guzik writes, “A vow before God is no small thing. God expressly commanded that Israel should be careful to keep its vows, and to fulfill every oath made…In many circles today, the breaking of an oath is just standard business practice – but before God, it is simply sin…Some people today believe that vows or oaths are not permitted for a Christian today. They think this because of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:34-37: But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God’s throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear by your head, because you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one. (See also James 5:12)… But, in context of the rest of Scripture, we see that Jesus was not forbidding oaths, as much as telling us that we should be so filled with integrity in our words that an oath is unnecessary… Jesus answered under oath in a court (Matthew 26:63-64), and God Himself swears oaths (Luke 1:73, Acts 2:30, Hebrews 3:18, 6:13, 17).”

      • If a young woman still living at her father’s home makes a vow or oath to the Lord and her father hears about it and doesn’t object to it, then her vow or oath is binding on her. However, if her father hears about it and immediately prohibits her from fulfilling it, she will not be held accountable by the Lord for breaking it because her father didn’t allow her to do it.

      • Guzik notes, “An unmarried woman’s vow was not taken as binding, unless approved of in some way by her “head” – her father, who had the right to overrule her.”

      • If a young woman makes an impulsive vow before she gets married, then her husband hears about it after they are married, he must object as soon as he hears about it in order to void her vow. If he hears about it and doesn’t object immediately, then her vow is binding and she must fulfill it.

        • Guzik writes, “A married woman’s vow was not taken as binding, unless ratified in some way by her husband, who had the right to overrule her.”

      • Any vow made by a woman who is divorced or widowed is binding and she must fulfill it.

        • Guzik notes, “A widow or divorced woman had no male “head” of her household (her “head” is God directly), so she is bound by her vows.”

      • If a woman is married and living in her husband’s house makes a vow or oath, and her husband hears about it but does not object, then her vow or oath is binding. However, if her husband objects as soon as he hears of her vow or oath, then her vow is not binding and the Lord will not hold her responsible for fulfilling her promise. Her husband may confirm or void any vow his wife makes of self-denial. If her husband doesn’t object to her vow as soon as he hears about it, then objects later, he will be held responsible for her guilt in not fulfilling her vow.

        • The NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “The self-denial mentioned in 30:13 probably refers to fasting…He could not delay in his objection, or he would incur the guilt of a broken vow.” However, the HCSB adds, “This statute would also apply to a woman taking a Nazirite vow.”

    • These are the laws the Lord gave Moses with respect to the relationship between a man and his wife or between a father and his young daughter still living in his house.