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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1And Moses spake unto the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded.
The regulations respecting vows appropriately follow those given respecting sacrifices, since a large proportion of vows would always relate to the presentation of such offerings. Rules had already been given Leviticus 27 for the estimation of things vowed to God. It is probable that this fresh legislation dealing especially with vows made by persons in a state of tutelage, was occasioned by some case of practical difficulty that had recently arisen; and it is addressed by Moses to "the heads of the tribes" Numbers 30:1, who would in their judicial capacity have to determine questions on these subjects.
There is no provision in the chapter for annulling vows made by boys and young men; from which it has been inferred that the vows of males were in all cases and circumstances binding.
2If 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.
The "vow" was positive; the "bond" negative or restrictive. By a vow a man engaged to dedicate something to God, or to accomplish some work for Him: by a bond he debarred himself from some privilege or enjoyment. A vow involved an obligation to do: a bond, an obligation to forbear doing.
3If a woman also vow a vow unto the LORD, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father's house in her youth;
Being in her father's house in her youth - It was not ordinarily until her betrothal or marriage, that the female passed (some suppose by purchase) from the power of her father to that of her husband.
4And 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.
5But 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.
The Lord shall forgive her - i. e., shall remit the obligation. (Compare 2 Kings 5:18.)
6And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or uttered ought out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul;
Rather, And if she shall at all be an husband's, and her vows shall be upon her, or a rash utterance of her lips, wherewith she hath bound her soul, etc. The "at all" intimates that the case of a girl betrothed but not yet actually married is here especially contemplated. After betrothal, a woman continued to reside, until the period of her marriage arrived, in her father's house; but her property was from that time forward vested in her husband, and she was so far regarded as personally his, that an act of faithlessness to him was, like adultery, punishable with death Deuteronomy 22:23-24. Hence, his right to control her vows even before he actually took her home as his wife.
7And 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.
8But 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.
9But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her.
10And if she vowed in her husband's house, or bound her soul by a bond with an oath;
11And 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.
12But 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.
13Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void.
14But 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.
15But if he shall any ways make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity.
16These 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.