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Numbers 30

Solemn promises by men

1 Moses spoke to the leaders of the tribes of the Israelites: This is what the LORD has commanded:
2 When a man makes a solemn promise to the LORD or swears a solemn pledge of binding obligation for himself, he cannot break his word. He must do everything he said.

Solemn promises by women

3 When a woman makes a solemn promise to the LORD or a binding obligation while she is young and in her father's household,
4 and her father hears her solemn promise or her binding obligation for herself and keeps silent—then all her solemn promises and any of her binding obligations for herself will stand.
5 But if her father expresses disapproval to her on the day that he hears her, none of her solemn promises nor any of her binding obligations for herself will stand. The LORD will forgive her, because her father expressed disapproval to her.
6 If she marries while her solemn promise is in effect or makes a statement by which she binds herself,
7 and her husband hears it and on the day he hears it keeps silent—her solemn promises will stand as well as her binding obligations for herself.
8 But if on the day that her husband hears it he expresses disapproval to her, he can break her solemn promise and the statement by which she bound herself. Then the LORD will forgive her.
9 Every solemn promise of a widow or a divorced woman who makes a binding obligation for herself will stand.
10 If a woman makes a solemn promise in her husband's household or makes a binding obligation for herself with a solemn pledge,
11 and her husband hears, keeps silent, and doesn't express disapproval to her—then all her solemn promises will stand and all her binding obligations for herself will stand.
12 If her husband breaks them on the day he hears them, then whatever she said with regard to her solemn promises or the binding obligations for herself will not stand. Her husband has broken them. The LORD will forgive her.
13 Her husband may allow any solemn promise or any binding pledge of self-denial to stand or be broken.
14 But if her husband keeps silent from one day to the next, he has upheld all her solemn promises, or all her binding obligations. He has upheld them because he remained silent on the day he heard them.
15 If he breaks them after he has heard them, he will assume her guilt.
16 These are the regulations that the LORD commanded Moses concerning a husband and his wife and between a father and his daughter while she is young and in her father's household.

Numbers 30 Commentary

Chapter 30

Vows to be kept. (1,2) The cases wherein vows might be released. (3-16)

Verses 1-2 No man can be bound by his own promise to do what he is already, by the Divine precept, forbidden to do. In other matters the command is, that he shall not break his words, through he may change his mind.

Verses 3-16 Two cases of vows are determined. The case of a daughter in her father's house. When her vow comes to his knowledge, it is in his power either to confirm it or do it away. The law is plain in the case of a wife. If her husband allows her vow, though only by silence, it stands. If he disallows it, her obligation to her husband takes place of it; for to him she ought to be in subjection, as unto the Lord. The Divine law consults the good order of families. It is fit that every man should bear rule in his own house, and have his wife and children in subjection; rather than that this great rule should be broken, or any encouragement be given to inferior relations to break those bonds asunder, God releases the obligation even of a solemn vow. So much does religion secure the welfare of all societies; and in it the families of the earth have a blessing.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or her father is deaf to her.

Chapter Summary


Mention being made, in the latter part of the preceding chapter, of vows to be performed to the Lord, besides the sacrifices directed to; here some account is given of them, and men are charged to fulfil, and not break them, Nu 30:1,2 but as to women, if a maid, being in her father's house, made a vow in his hearing, and he silent at it, her vow stood; but if he disapproved of it, it was null and void, Nu 30:3-5 and so a wife, when she vowed a vow in the hearing of her husband, and he said not ought against it, it was valid; but if he objected to it, it stood for nothing, Nu 30:6-8, likewise a widow, or one divorced, that made a vow in her husband's house, before he died, or she was put away from him, and he did not contradict it, it remained in force and to be fulfilled; but if he made it void, it stood not, and she was forgiven, Nu 30:9-12 it being in an husband's power to confirm or make null a vow or oath, made by his wife to afflict her soul; but if he made any void after he heard them, and had been silent, he himself was to bear her iniquity, Nu 30:13-16.

Numbers 30 Commentaries