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Numbers 30:2-3

Context
30:2 If a man 1  makes a vow 2  to the Lord or takes an oath 3  of binding obligation on himself, 4  he must not break his word, but must do whatever he has promised. 5 

Vows Made by Single Women

30:3 “If a young 6  woman who is still living 7  in her father’s house makes a vow to the Lord or places herself under an obligation,

1 tn The legal construction states the class to which the law applies, and then lays down the condition: “men [man] – if….”

2 tn The Hebrew text uses a cognate accusative construction to express this: “a man if he vows a vow.”

3 tn The expression is “swear an oath” (הִשָּׁבַע שְׁבֻעָה, hishavashÿvuah). The vow (נֵדֶר, neder) was a promise to donate something of oneself or one’s substance to the Lord. The solemn oath seals the vow before the Lord, perhaps with sacrifice. The vocabulary recalls Abraham’s treaty with Abimelech and the naming of Beer Sheba with the word (see Gen 21).

4 tn The Hebrew text hasלֶאְסֹר אִסָּר (lesorissar), meaning “to take a binding obligation.” This is usually interpreted to mean a negative vow, i.e., the person attempts to abstain from something that is otherwise permissible. It might involve fasting, or abstaining from marital sex, but it might also involve some goal to be achieved, and the abstaining from distractions until the vow is fulfilled (see Ps 132). The נֶדֶר (neder) may have been more for religious matters, and the אִסָּר more for social concerns, but this cannot be documented with certainty.

5 tn Heb “according to all that goes out of his mouth.”

6 tn The qualification comes at the end of the verse, and simply says “in her youth.”

7 tn The Hebrew text just has “in her father’s house” and not “who is still living,” but that is the meaning of the line.



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