Numbers 30:2
If a man vow a vow to 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 proceeds out of his mouth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Numbers 30:2. If a man vow a vow — Concerning something lawful, and in his power to perform. Unto the Lord — To the honour and service of God. Or swear an oath — Confirm his vow by an oath. To bind his soul with a bond — To restrain himself from something otherwise lawful; as, suppose, from such a sort of meat or drink; or to oblige himself to the performance of something otherwise not necessary, as to observe a private day of fasting. He shall not break (Hebrew, he shall not profane) his word — Not render his word, and consequently himself, profane, or contemptible in the eyes of others. He shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth — Punctually and conscientiously. His vow shall be performed in the manner, time, and kind which was at first proposed, in reverence to the great God to whom it was made. But in case a man vows, or takes an oath, to do any thing that is in itself unlawful, as those Jews did, mentioned Acts 23:14, nothing can be plainer than that such vow or oath must be void in the very nature of the thing. For promises and resolutions, enforced by the strongest oaths, or most solemn vows, are but secondary obligations, and therefore can never absolve us from our primary and immutable obligation to obey the laws of God and nature; for this would be to say, that we could, by an oath, oblige ourselves to do what God had before obliged us not to do. “He who perpetrates any act of injustice,” says Philo Judæus, de specialibus legibus, “upon account of his oath, adds one crime to another; first by taking an unlawful oath, and then by doing an unlawful action. Therefore such a one ought to abstain from the unjust action, and pray God to pardon him for his rash oath.” Thus Herod ought to have done; instead of performing the rash promise which he had sealed with an oath, he ought to have punished that wicked woman, who instigated him to commit murder, under pretence of fulfilling his oath, Matthew 14:9. Grotius observes further, that though the thing promised be not absolutely unlawful, yet, if it obstruct some greater moral good, such a promise, even sealed with an oath, is not binding.30:1,2 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.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. 2. If a man vow a vow unto the Lord—A mere secret purpose of the mind was not enough to constitute a vow; it had to be actually expressed in words; and though a purely voluntary act, yet when once the vow was made, the performance of it, like that of every other promise, became an indispensable duty—all the more because, referring to a sacred thing, it could not be neglected without the guilt of prevarication and unfaithfulness to God.

he shall not break his word—literally, "profane his word"—render it vain and contemptible (Ps 55:20; 89:34). But as it would frequently happen that parties would vow to do things which were neither good in themselves nor in their power to perform, the law ordained that their natural superiors should have the right of judging as to the propriety of those vows, with discretionary power to sanction or interdict their fulfilment. Parents were to determine in the case of their children, and husbands in that of their wives—being, however, allowed only a day for deliberation after the matter became known to them; and their judgment, if unfavorable, released the devotee from all obligation [Nu 30:3-8].

A man; which notes both the sex, as appears by Numbers 30:3, and the age, that he be grown up; for none can be so weak as to think the vow of a young child would bind it.

A vow, i.e. a simple Vow to do something possible and lawful.

Unto the Lord; to the honour and service of God.

Or swear an oath; confirm his vow by an oath.

To bind his soul with a bond; to restrain himself from something otherwise lawful, as suppose from such a sort of meat or drink; or to oblige himself to the performance of something otherwise not necessary, is to observe a private day of fasting.

He shall not break his word, Heb. not pollute or profane his word, as the same phrase is used, Psalm 55:20 89:34, i.e. not render his word, and consequently himself, profane, or vile and contemptible in the eyes of others.

According to all that proceedeth out of his own mouth; and that without delay, Deu 23:21 Ecclesiastes 5:4, provided the thing be not unlawful and forbidden by God, Acts 23:14; for it is an idle conceit that a man can give away God’s right, or that he can make void God’s commands by his own vows, which was the dotage of the Pharisees, Mark 6:23,26. If a man vow a vow unto the Lord,.... Which must be in a thing that is lawful to be done, which is not contrary to the revealed will and mind of God, and which may tend to the glory of God, the honour of religion, the service of the sanctuary, the good of a man's self or of his neighbour; or in things purely indifferent, which may, or may not be done, without offence to God or man; as that he will not eat such a thing for such a time, or he will do this or the other thing, as Jarchi observes; who moreover says, that he may forbid himself what is forbidden, and forbid what is free and lawful; but he may not make free or lawful what is forbidden, that is, he may not vow to do a thing which is contrary to the law of God, such a vow will not stand: and he was to be of such an age before he could make a vow that would be valid; according to the Targum of Jonathan, he must be thirteen years of age; it is said in the Misnah (p),"a son of twelve years and one day, his vows are examined; a son of thirteen years and one day, his vows are firm, and they examine the whole thirteenth year before that time; although they say we know to whose name (or on whose account) we vow or consecrate, their vow is no vow, nor their consecration no consecration; but after that time, though they say we know not to whose name (or, on whose account) we vow or consecrate, their vow is a vow, and their consecration a consecration:"

or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; to his vow adds an oath for the greater confirmation of it, and to lay himself under the greater obligation to perform it:

he shall not break his word; or profane it (q) but punctually perform it; men should be careful how they vow, and not rashly do it; but when they have vowed, they ought to perform; see Ecclesiastes 5:4,

he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth; it is not in his power to revoke his vow or make it null: the Misnic doctors (r) say, a man can loose all vows, excepting his own. R. Judah says, not the vows of his wife, nor those which are between her and others; that is, as one of the commentators (s) explains it, such vows which are not made to afflict, or respect not fasting; but according to the Targum of Jonathan, though a man cannot loose his vows, or free himself from them, yet the sanhedrim, or court of judicature, can, or a wise man that is authenticated thereby, as Jarchi says, or three private persons; but these are such traditions; which make void the commandment of God, as our Lord complains, Matthew 15:1.

(p) Niddah, c. 5. sect. 6. (q) (r) Negaim, c. 5. sect. 5. (s) Bartenora in Misn. Negaim, c. 5. sect. 5.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. Two kinds of pledges are here mentioned, a vow and an obligation. A vow is a promise to give something to God. Such votive offerings were frequent in times of danger or special need (cf. Genesis 28:20-22, Jdg 11:30 f.). In post-exilic times they would often consist in gifts to the temple (cf. Luke 21:5 ἀναθήματα). An obligation is a prohibition laid upon oneself, a pledge of abstinence; e.g from wine, as in the case of a Nazirite (ch. 6), or from food (1 Samuel 14:24, Acts 23:21); see also Psalm 132:3 f.

he shall not profane his word] To break a solemn promise is an act of profanation. The importance of keeping vows is emphasized in Deuteronomy 23:21 ff., Ecclesiastes 5:4 f.; cf. Matthew 5:33.

all that proceedeth out of his mouth] A vow is not a vow until it has been expressed in words (cf. Numbers 32:24, Jdg 11:35 f.). The Rabbis of a later time further enjoined in the Mishna that the mere utterance of words without a real intention is not binding. ‘No utterance is binding unless the mouth and the heart agree.’Verse 2. - If a man vow a vow. נֶדֶר, a vow, is commonly said to be distinctively a positive vow, a promise to render something unto the Lord. This, however, cannot be strictly maintained, because the Nazarite vow was neder, and that was essentially a vow of abstinence. To say that the vow of the Nazarite was of a positive character because he had to let his hair grow "unto the Lord" is a mere evasion. It is, however, probable that neder, when it occurs (as in this passage) in connection with issar, does take on the narrower signification of a positive vow. Swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond. Literally, "to bind a bond upon his soul." אִסָּר, a bond, which occurs only in this chapter, is considered to be a restrictive obligation, a vow of abstinence. It would appear that the issar was always undertaken upon oath, whereas the neder (as in the case of the Nazarite) did not of necessity require it. He shall not break his word. This was the general principle with respect to vows, and, as here ]aid down, it was in accordance with the universal religious feeling of mankind. Whatever crimes may have claimed the sanction of this sentiment, whatever exceptions and safeguards a clearer revelation and a better knowledge of God may have established, yet the principle remained that whatsoever a man had promised unto the Lord, that he must fulfill. Iphigenia in Aulis, Jephthah's daughter in Gilead, proclaim to what horrid extremities any one religious principle, unchecked by other coordinate principles, may lead; but they also proclaim how deep and true this religious principle must have been which could so over-ride the natural feelings of men not cruel nor depraved. The eighth day was to be azereth, a closing feast, and only belonged to the feast of Tabernacles so far as the Sabbath rest and a holy meeting of the seventh feast-day were transferred to it; whilst, so far as its sacrifices were concerned, it resembled the seventh new moon's day and the day of atonement, and was thus shown to be the octave or close of the second festal circle (see at Leviticus 23:36).
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