“Then Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes concerning the children of Israel, saying, ‘This is the thing which the Lord has commanded:(2) If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by some agreement, he shall not break his word- he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.'”
It is always beneficial to bear in mind the archetypal images of masculinity and femininity as they exist universally, as well as the plain vitality wrapped up in the ancient ‘He’, which I may examine later. I have to point out here, that there is nothing more in this chapter concerning the “man” and his vows. One line.
(3)”Or if a woman makes a vow to the Lord, and binds herself by some agreement while in her father’s house in her youth,(4)and her father hears her vow and the agreement by which she has bound herself, and her father holds his peace, then all her vows shall _stand, and every agreement by which she has bound herself shall _stand.(5)But if her father over-rules her on the day that he hears, then none of her vows nor her agreements by which she has bound herself shall _stand- and the Lord will release her, because her father over ruled her.
(6)”If indeed she takes a husband, while bound by her vows or by rash utterances from her lips by which she bound herself,(7)and her husband hears it, and makes no response to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall _stand, and her agreements by which she bound herself shall _stand.(8)But if her husband over rules her on the day that he hears it, he shall make void her vow…and the Lord will release her.
(9)”Also any vow of a widow or divorced woman, by which she has bound herself, shall _stand against her.”
The message is clear in these passages, but for arguments sake I
would like to make a few comments on the context. From a completely simplistic perspective, we would see that these lines not only pertain to any woman at whatever stage of maturity she may be at, but also the fact that each step from youth, to marriage, to divorce or widowhood, is essentially the reality for every woman in any given life. From her father’s house, to her husbands house, to her own house.
What would be the essence of the Lord’s commandment to the tribes of Israel that, as individual men and women, their “vows shall stand?” Stand for what? Abide in what? Remain until when? For better or for worse?
The next level of interpretation may be found very definitely with a turn to Jeremiah. I will let the scriptures speak for themselves firstly, and then extrapolate.
“How shall I pardon you from this? Your children have forsaken Me, and sworn by those that are not gods. When I fed them to the full, then they committed adultery…” Jer5:7
“Shall I not punish them for these things?” says the Lord. “And shall I not avenge myself on such a nation as this? Go up on her walls and destroy, but do not make a complete end. Take away her branches, for they are not the Lord’s. For the house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously with Me.”. Jer5:9-11
“I have likened the daughter of Zion to a lovely and delicate woman.” Jer 6:2
“That I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh, that I had in the wilderness a lodging place for travellers- that I might leave my people, And go from them! For they are all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men,” Jer 9:2
and finally chapter 31:
(10)”For I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn…”
(22)”How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter?For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth— A woman shall encompass a man.”
The value of the context in the above examples centers around the acknowledgement that from a higher perspective, according to the Old Testament, Israel as a whole, as a nation, were considered as a type of woman. From one angle the daughter, from another the adulterous wife. Again we may hear the argument alluding to it being “just” a metaphor, but there’s no reason to think that the idea of it being a metaphor frees the subject from its connection to the purpose of this essay.
Taking Israel as a collective whole, which is certainly the rule, and following the biblical definition of that whole as the Daughter or Wife of the Lord, our examination of Numbers 30 takes on an expanded interpretation that opens a particular window into the study. Of course, “He who has the bride is the bridegroom…” Jn3:29 cont. pg.5