Previous Next

Table of Contents


Vows. A vow is a solemn promise made to God to perform or to abstain from performing a certain thing. The earliest mention of a vow is that of Jacob. Gen. 28:18-22; 31:13. Vows in general are also mentioned in Job 22:27. The law therefore did not introduce, but regulated the practice of, vows. Three sorts are mentioned: 1, vows of devotion; 2, vows of abstinence; 3, vows of destruction.

1. As to vows of devotion, the following rules are laid down: A man might devote to sacred uses possessions or persons, but not the first-born of either man or beast, which was devoted already. Lev. 27:26. (a) If he vowed land, he might either redeem it or not. Lev. 25, 27. (b) Animals fit for sacrifice, if devoted, were not to be redeemed or changed. Lev. 27:9, 10, 33. The case of persons devoted stood thus: A man might devote either himself, his child (not the first-born) or his slave. If no redemption took place, the devoted person became a slave of the sanctuary: see the case of Absalom. 2 Sam. 15:8. Otherwise he might be redeemed at a valuation according to age and sex, on the scale given in Lev. 27:1-7. Among general regulations affecting vows, the following may be mentioned: (1) Vows were entirely voluntary, but once made were regarded as compulsory. Num. 30:2; Deut. 23:21; Eccles. 5:4. (2) If persons in a dependent condition made vows, as (a) an unmarried daughter living in her father’s house, or (b) a wife, even if she afterward became a widow, the vow, if (a) in the first case her father, or (b) in the second her husband, heard and disallowed it, was void; but if they heard without disallowance, it was to remain good. Num. 30:3-16. (3) Votive offerings arising from the produce of any impure traffic were wholly forbidden. Deut. 23:18. 2. For vows of abstinence, see Corban. 3. For vows of extermination, see Anathema, and Ezra 10:8; Micah 4:13. It seems that the practice of shaving the head at the expiration of a votive period was not limited to the Nazaritic vow. Acts 18:18; 21:24.