For a guy with two wives, Moses sure flaps his mouth a lot!
While the first two verses of Numbers 30 are about men making vows to God, the remainder of the 14 verses are about vows for women, and as we’ve come to expect from the bible, the rules regarding women are convoluted and sexist. Let’s enjoy them together!
When a father learns that his unmarried daughter has made a vow unto the Lord, he can nullify it if he doesn’t like the vow. Okay, I’m not too much against this, I mean, unmarried daughters in this culture are usually pretty young, so I can’t fault a society for wanting to cancel the promises made by a thirteen-year-old girl. But why is it that a thirteen-year-old boy is still expected to honor his promises regardless of the father’s disapproval?
Next, when the woman becomes married, if her new husband doesn’t like the vow she made before they were wed, he too can nullify it, and ditto when a husband learns of a vow made by the woman to whom he’s already married! That first part was crossing the line, but I was almost about to give it a pass considering the era, but this rule assumes there was never a line to begin with! When a forty-year-old woman makes a vow, you can be damn sure she knows what she’s doing, and doesn’t need her husband’s approval, or worse, his annulment!
Finally, there is a time limit; the father or husband can’t wait too long time before nullifying the vows or he becomes responsible for them. The bible fails to give us a specific length of time, so it’s anyone’s guess as to what counts as “too long.” A day? A week? A month? Who’s to say? Also, if a man divorces his wife or dies before nullifying her vows, they must be kept by the woman unless a new husband comes along to nullify them. She’s powerless to break the vows herself.
Apologists will say, “God isn’t sexist, he’s just let the Israelites be sexist because that was their culture,” but that is not what we see here. God himself is forcing the Israelites to behave in a hugely sexist manner.
And aren’t God’s rules supposed to be timeless and perfect? Think about how this would work in a modern society. A woman signs a contract for a 30-year loan for a house, then, five years later, she gets married and her husband says, “nope!” and the contract is nullified! So much for the investment business! And the bible is even talking about vows made to God himself! A woman can vow to God that she will give half of her income to helping the poor for the rest of her life, then gets married, and the husband says, “nope!” This actually creates some amazing legal loopholes! You can renege on any contract simply by having your wife make the vow, pretending you don’t know about it for a while, and then, “nope!”
By the way, I’m going to be in Arizona on business for several days, so the comics are going to be staggered this week and the next. Nothing to worry about.