Vows. [N] [T] [E]

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 ; 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 Levi 25,27. (b) Animals fit for sacrifice if devoted, were not to be redeemed or changed, ( Leviticus 27:9 ; 10:33 ) 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 ; 23:21 ; Ecclesiastes 5:4 ) (2) If persons In a dependent condition made vows as (a) an unmarried daughter living in her fathers 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, 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. ( 23:18 )
  2. For vows of abstinence, see CORBAN.
  3. For vows of extermination 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 ; 21:24 )

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[T] indicates this entry was also found in Torrey's Topical Textbook
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Vows'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.
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