Numbers 30
Clarke's Commentary
The law concerning vows of men, Numbers 30:1, Numbers 30:2. Of women under age, and in what cases the father may annul them, Numbers 30:3-5. The vows of a wife, and in what cases the husband may annul them, Numbers 30:6-8. The vows of a widow, or divorced woman, in what cases they may be considered either as confirmed or annulled, Numbers 30:9-15. Recapitulation of these ordinances, Numbers 30:16.

And Moses spake unto the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded.
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 vow is a religious promise made to God. Vows were of several kinds: -

1. Of abstinence or humiliation, see Numbers 30:13;

2. Of the Nazarite, see Numbers 6;

3. Of giving certain things or sacrifices to the Lord, Leviticus 7:16;

4. Of alms given to the poor, see Deuteronomy 23:21.

The law in this chapter must have been very useful, as it both prevented and annulled rash vows, and provided a proper sanction for the support and performance of those that were rationally and piously made. Besides, this law must have acted as a great preventive of lying and hypocrisy. If a vow was properly made, a man or woman was bound, under penalty of the displeasure of God, to fulfill it.

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;
In her youth - That is, say the rabbins, under twelve years of age; and under thirteen in case of a young man. Young persons of this age were considered to be under the authority of their parents, and had consequently no power to vow away the property of another. A married woman was in the same circumstances, because she was under the authority of her husband. If however the parents or the husband heard of the vow, and objected to it in the same day in which they heard of it, (Numbers 30:5), then the vow was annulled; or, if having heard of it, they held their peace, this was considered a ratification of the vow.

A rash vow was never to be kept; "for," says Philo, and common sense and justice say the same, "he who commits an unjust action because of his vow adds one crime to another,

1. By making an unlawful vow;

2. By doing an unlawful action."

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.
But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand: and the LORD shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her.
And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or uttered ought out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul;
And her husband heard it, and held his peace at her in the day that he heard it: then her vows shall stand, and her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand.
But if her husband disallowed her on the day that he heard it; then he shall make her vow which she vowed, and that which she uttered with her lips, wherewith she bound her soul, of none effect: and the LORD shall forgive her.
But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her.
And if she vowed in her husband's house, or bound her soul by a bond with an oath;
And her husband heard it, and held his peace at her, and disallowed her not: then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she bound her soul shall stand.
But if her husband hath utterly made them void on the day he heard them; then whatsoever proceeded out of her lips concerning her vows, or concerning the bond of her soul, shall not stand: her husband hath made them void; and the LORD shall forgive her.
Concerning the bond of her soul - Her life is at stake if she fulfill not the obligation under which she has laid herself.

Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void.
But if her husband altogether hold his peace at her from day to day; then he establisheth all her vows, or all her bonds, which are upon her: he confirmeth them, because he held his peace at her in the day that he heard them.
But if he shall any ways make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity.
These are the statutes, which the LORD commanded Moses, between a man and his wife, between the father and his daughter, being yet in her youth in her father's house.
These are the statutes - It is very probable that this law, like that concerning the succession of daughters, (Numbers 27)., rose from the exigency of some particular case that had just then occurred.

Making vows, in almost any case, is a dangerous business; they seldom do any good, and often much evil. He who does not feel himself bound to do what is fit, right, and just, from the standing testimony of God's word, is not likely to do it from any obligation he may lay upon his own conscience. If God's word lack weight with him, his own will prove lighter than vanity. Every man who professes the Christian religion is under the most solemn obligation to devote body, soul, and spirit to God, not only to the utmost extent of his powers, but also as long as he exists. Being baptized, and receiving the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, are additional ratifications of the great, general, Christian vow; but every true follower of Christ should always remember, and frequently renew, his covenant with God.

Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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