Numbers 30

Numbers 30:1-16

1. And Moses spake unto the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded.

1. Et loquutus est Moses ad capita tribuum in Israel, dicendo: Hic est sermo quem praecepit Jehova.

2. 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.

2. Vir qui voverit votum Jehovae, aut juravefit jusjurandum, quo constringendo constrinxerit animam suam, ne violet verbum suum: sed secundum omne quod egressum fuerit ex ore ejus, faciat.

3. 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;

3. Mulier autem si vovetit votum Jehovae, et constringendo constrinxerit in domo patris sui in pueritia sua:

4. 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.

4. Et audierit pater ejus votum ipsius, et oblationem qua adstrinxit animam suam, et tacuerit ei (vel ad eam) pater ejus, stabilia erunt omnia vota ejus, omnisque obligatio qua constrinxit animam suam stabilietur.

5. 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.

5. Si autem irritum fetetit pater ejus illo die quo audierit omne votum ab ea factum, et obligationem ejus quibus constrinxerit animam suam, non stabilietur: et Jehova parcet el, quia pater ejus irritum fecerit.

6. And if she had at all an husband when she vowed, or uttered ought out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul;

6. Quod si fuerit sub viro, et fuerint vota ejus super eam, aut prolatio labiorum qua constrinxerit animam suam:

7. 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.

7. Et audierit maritus eius, et die quo audivit tacuerit el: tunc stabilietur vota ejus, et obligationes quibus constrinxerit animam suam stabilientur.

8. 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.

8. Quod si quo die audivit marl tus ejus irritum id fecerit, et dissolverit vota ejus quae erant super eam, et prolationem labiorum ejus relaxaverit, qua constrinxerat animam suam, tunc Jehova propitius illi erit.

9. But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced, wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her.

9. Votum autem omne viduae et repudiatae quo constrinxerit animam suam, stabilietur super eam.

10. And if she vowed in her husband's house, or bound her soul by a bond with an oath;

10. Porro si in domo mariti sui votum fecerit, aut constringendo constrinxerit animam per jusjurandum:

11 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.

11. Et maritus ejus audierit et tacuerit ei, nec irritum fecerit illud: tune stabilientur omnia ejus vota, et omnis obligatio qua eonstrinxerit animam suam stabilietur.

12. 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.

12. Quod si dissolvendo dissolverit illa maritus ejus, quo die audivit omnem prolationem labiorum ejus, ad vota ejus, et obligationem animae ejus, non stabilietur; maritus ejus dissolvit ea, et Jehova propitius erit el.

13. Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void.

13. Omne votum, et omnejusjurandum obligationis ad affligendam animam maritus ejus stabiliet, et maritus ejus dissolvet.

14. 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.

14. Sin tacendo tacuerit maritus ejus a die in diem, tune stabiliet omnia vota ejus, et omnes obligationes ejus: quae sunt super eam, stabiliet, quia tacuit ei quo die audivit.

15. But if he shall anywise make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity.

15. Quod si dissolvendo dissolverit, ea postquam audierit, portabit iniquitatem illius.

16. 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.

16. Haec sunt statuta quae praecepit Jehova Most inter virum et uxorem ejus, inter patrem et filiam ejus quae est in pueritia in domo patris sui.


1. And Moses spake. Moses teaches in this chapter that the vows which were made by persons who were not free, were not held good before God; and although no mention is made of male children, still, as their condition was the same, it seems that by synecdoche they must be included with the daughters and wives, unless perhaps God chose to pay regard to the weaker sex. But since He permits females, who were not under their father's power, to make vows in spite of their sex, nor does He make it to be an excuse for levity or thoughtlessness, it seems that the object proposed was, that the right of the father over his children as well as of the husband over the wife, should be maintained inviolate.

2. If a man vow a vow. Wishing to modify the general law, lest any one should think that there was any contradiction in this exception, he begins by repeating the law itself, that every one should faithfully pay whatever he had vowed; as much as to say, that this stands good, but that he only refers to such as are their own masters; and that women or girls who are under the power of another, were not free to make vows without the concurrence of their fathers' or husbands' consent. This preface, however, must be understood, as I have already pointed out, of lawful vows, whereby neither is religion corrupted nor the holiness of God's name profaned. And assuredly, unless what we offer is acceptable to God, there can be no obligation on the conscience. Moreover, since there is here a distinction made between males and females, it may be probably conjectured that boys of ten years old, although still united with their family, are bound by their promises; and therefore I will not pertinaciously contend about this, because it is better to leave undecided whatever is doubtful, and disputable, as it is commonly called, on either side.

3. If a woman also vow. He now proceeds to the point of which he proposed to treat, i.e., that vows made by persons who are not their own masters do not hold good; and he mentions two cases. For, in the first place, he teaches that if a daughter, whilst living with her father, has vowed anything without his knowledge, it is of no force. He lays down the same rule, if the father, hearing the vow, has disallowed it; but if he has held his peace, it is declared that his silence is equivalent to consent. Hence we gather that all those who are possessed of power do not do their duty unless they frankly and discreetly express their opposition whenever anything displeases them; since their connivance is a kind of tacit approbation. In the second place, he treats of married women, whose vows, made in the absence or with the disapproval of their husbands, he commands to be of none effect; but if the husbands have known of them, and been silent, he obliges their performance. For many deceptions might have thus arisen; since it is usual with many when they wish to gratify their wives, to conceal their opinion for the time, but, when the period of actual performance arrives, to elude what may have been promised. But unless they use their privilege in proper time, God would have them bear the punishment of their servile indulgence and dissimulation; but because women are often urged to deceive by their levity and inconstancy, this danger is also anticipated. It may also happen1 that a woman, when subject to her husband, may make a vow in the precipitate fervor of her zeal, and when he is dead, may retract it under the specious pretext that she was not then free and her own mistress; the same thing may occur when a divorced woman shall bind herself, and then when she has married, shall appear to herself to be released. Since instances of this wicked change of mind are too frequent, no wonder that this special precaution should be added, to prevent frauds. Wherefore God declares that the period when the vow was made is to be considered, so that they are no less liable than as if their condition had remained the same. He therefore condemns to the performance of their vow those women who have been emancipated from their fathers' authority by marriage, and also who have been set free by death or divorce; yet it appears from the last verse of the chapter, that two exceptions, modifying the general law, are here peculiarly treated of.

5. But if her father disallow her. The expression is remarkable, "And the Lord shall forgive her," whereby Moses gently reproves the foolish thoughtlessness of the girl; and soon afterwards the same thing is spoken of married women. And surely their rashness is worthy of reprehension, if unmindful of their condition, they, as it were, shake off the yoke and hastily commit themselves. God therefore hints that they are not without blame; but lest they should be tormented by secret remorse, He removes every scruple, declaring that He will forgive, if the performance of the vow shall have been prevented in any other quarter. When the dissent of the father or the husband is required on the same day, it is tantamount to saying that what they have once approved of cannot be disallowed. Further, to "hold his peace" to a wife or daughter, signifies that he does not oppose, but give by silence a token of consent.

9. But every vow of a widow. I have stated why widows are expressly named, viz., lest a woman should think that by a second marriage she would escape, as being no longer free, and again under the yoke; since by such subtle excuses people often extricate themselves. No other subject is referred to down to the end of the last verse but one; for they have made a very gross mistake, who interpret it as applying to a family and its master.2 The subject itself certainly does not admit of such an explanation; and the words of Moses forbid it: so that it is the more surprising that persons skilled in the Hebrew language have not seen the matter clearly.

1 The Lat. is, "Accidet ut mulier in vidaitate viro non subjecta, praecipiti zeli fervore voveat, eo mortuo retractet specioso praetextu, quia tunc libera non erat, nec sui juris." The Fr., "Il adviendra qu'une femme estante en sujection de mari, vouera par une ardeur hastive de zele, le marl trespasse, elle prendra honneste couverture de se retracter, d'autant qu'elle n'estoit pas libre pour lors." I have translated the latter, not being able to understand the original, nor to reconcile them.

2 Ver. 10, hsya tybaMaw. Literally, "And if the house of her husband." C. and A.V. follow LXX. in assuming that the preposition in should be supplied before the house. S.M., on the other hand, translates the word tyb, family, which is undeniably allowable; but says in a note, "By family, is to be understood the wife here, as the chief personage in it after its master." To this treatment of the text C. here adverts, as strange on the part of one so skillful in the Hebrew tongue. -- W.