The Law Concerning Oaths

Numbers 30

Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of Israel, saying: If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to bind himself, he shall not violate his word. In other words, he is bound to do according to all that proceeded from his mouth. However, this is not the same concerning a woman. A man is bound to keep his oath but the oath of a woman could be forbidden by the man who is her head. For a woman, not yet married, her father is her head, but a married woman’s head is her husband. The man who is her head has the right to decide if the oath stands. If a woman’s father or husband forbids her to keep the vow, then she is not obligated to keep it, but if he allows it, she is bound to do according to all that proceed from her mouth. Silence from a woman’s father or husband was considered affirmation. 

There are two things that we can focus on in this text. The first being the making of an oath and keeping a vow. The second being that the man is the head of the woman. Not that all men are the head of all woman, but the man is the head of the woman in his household. The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:3

But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

The understanding that the man is the head of the woman did not change with the new covenant. However, it should be understood, that the man is head of the women in his own household and not all women. In the making of oaths and the keeping of vows the widow and the divorced woman were bound to do according to all that proceed from their mouths. The widow and the divorced woman do not have a man as their head. This is the second thing, but now I would like to discuss the first thing.

The first thing is making oaths and keeping them. While the second thing, the man being the head of the woman has not changed with the new covenant, the making of oaths has changed. In his great sermon on the mountain, Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus said: 

“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘ YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all...But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.

The commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ is that we should make no oaths at all. If you make no oath, then you are not obligated to keep an oath. Jesus said what he meant and meant what he said. This was not simply good advise but a commandment of the Lord. Jesus commanded that his follower make no oath at all! When people ask something of us, a simple yes or no is to be given. We shall not make any oaths. We are slaves of Jesus Christ, he bought us at a high price, the price of his own life's blood. In another metaphor, we are the bride of Christ. Like the man is the head of the woman, let us not forget, Christ is the head of the man and Christ has commanded that we make no oaths at all.

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