Numbers 28-30 Psalm 49

The section on the vows of women might upset some people. It could be easy to read this section and see it as a divine ordinance placing women under the authority of men.

It. Is. Not.

This is God protecting women in a culture that subjects them to the authority of men. God is preventing conflict. He is freeing women from the possibility of having to choose between their faith and the peace of their family.

Most of the commentaries I read seem to focus on the financial cost of the vow the woman might have entered into. The man would know better what the household could afford and was free to annul the vow of the woman if it was unwise or unaffordable. (Some do focus on the peacekeeping/safeguarding idea.)

Okay. This still doesn’t assert that a woman should be under the absolute authority of the man, or that she should be ignorant of the financial situation and therefore unable to make an informed decision. This passage is protecting her from conflict. She does not have to choose between sinning against her father/husband or sinning against God.

In all honesty, I can’t say that I’ve ever heard this passage used against women. I’m sure it has been, but I haven’t heard it. (After all, those commentary passages I referred to are pretty… uh, infantilizing, I believe the word is.) I must have skimmed over it on previous read-throughs because I only vaguely remember having encountered it at all. Which, honestly, is impressive considering some of the messages about women that have been quite clear in my life.

Just remember, God protects the weak and disadvantaged, and he doesn’t hold you accountable for the actions of others. If someone prevents you from work he’s ordained, that’s on them, not you. As long as your heart and your intentions are pure, you fulfilled your obligation, and he will deal with you faithfully. We are each responsible for ourselves, accountable for our own choices and actions, but we don’t live in isolation. Sometimes, circumstances beyond our control alter the course of our lives, keep us from the path we should have followed.

I promise you, God has another path, and he will be faithful.

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