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March 24

Numbers 30, John 4:1-26

Thought from Today’s Old Testament Passage:

The Validity of Women’s Vows. 30:1-16.

Every culture devises ways of making human intention binding. In civil matters the Bible world used both the signed document and sworn testimony (oaths). In religious matters people made vows. The unspoken intention was made binding when embodied in speech. Laws regulating vows are taken up in Deuteronomy 23; Leviticus 27; and Numbers 6; but here special emphasis is laid on the validation of a woman's vow. The Lord directed that a woman's father or her husband was to invalidate her vows if he felt that she was not to be held responsible. He could uphold her vow by his silence or make it invalid by his veto. A father was to have absolute authority over an unmarried daughter in such matters, and a husband over a wife. Women were largely untaught concerning the details of religious ceremony and therefore could make rash pledges or vows harmful to their husbands' households. A disaffected wife might purposely make a vow or pledge that would injure her husband. So his legal ability to invalidate his wife’s oath protected his estate, since a vow might include the payment of a large sum. If the vow was the kind that placed an affliction or prohibition on the wife, the husband was free to validate the vow and so share this burden, or to veto it.

Charles F. Pfeiffer, Everett F. Harrison, eds., The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press) 1962, p. 149

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