Friday, August 15, 2014

Fact-Checking the Torah -- more Numbers neders

Your assignment was to read Numbers 30:3-16 carefully.
A woman who makes a neder to the Lord and prohibits something to herself in the house of her father when she is a naarah
And her father hears her neder and the prohibition she places on herself and holds his tongue toward her, all her neders are established and all her prohibitions that she placed on herself shall be established.
If her father dissuades her on the day that he hears any of her neders or prohibitions that she placed on herself, it shall not be established and the Lord will pardon her for her father dissuaded her.
If she is already married and has neders on her or a statement of her own mouth that she prohibited to herself.
And her husband hears, on the day that he heard and holds his tongue, her neders and prohibitions are established that she placed on herself.
If on the day of her husband hearing he dissuaded her and annulled her neder that was on her and what she spoke with her mouth that she prohibited herself, the Lord shall pardon her.
The neder of a widow or divorcee all that she prohibited herself is established.
If she made a neder in the house of her husband or prohibited something to herself with an oath
And her husband heard and held his peace toward her and didn’t prohibit her, all her neders and prohibitions that she placed on herself shall stand.
If her husband absolutely annulled them on the day he heard what came out of her mouth for her neders or prohibitions on herself, they shall not stand, her husband annulled them and the Lord will pardon her.
Every neder and oath of prohibition to oppress the soul her husband may establish it or annul it.
But if her husband actually held his peace toward her for twenty-four hours, all her neders or prohibitions that she places on herself are established, he established them because he held his peace toward her on the day he heard.
If he definitely annulled them after he heard them, he shall bear her sin.
These are the laws that the Lord commanded Moshe between a man and his wife, a father and his daughter when she is a naarah in the house of her father.
Now let’s look at a seeming contradiction.  I said that the husband or father had to annul the vow “on the day he heard it.”  But one of the verses above says “for twenty-four hours.”  The Hebrew for this phrase is me-et le-et, from one point in time to that same point in time, 24 hours later.
Why isn’t this a contradiction?  Because as already discussed, “day” can be ambiguous.  Mishnah established what it meant for purchases, but Torah established what it meant for the vows of a naarah.  It means 24 hours.  The husband may be out in the fields and not come home until dark.  He didn’t have a chance to find out about the oath.  But if he is given 24 hours, then the naarah can’t play tricks on him by only making vows while he is in the field and trusting to the onset of dark to prevent him from annulling them.
The other issue is that it says he has to hear it, but it doesn’t say he has to hear it from her.  So anybody in the house who hears her say it can tell the husband and he can annul it. 
Again, people make stupid vows, and there’s no reason for a husband to put up with all the stupid things his child bride might vow just because she tries to outwit him.
For next week, read Leviticus 7:16-18 and 27:1-28 and we’ll talk about more vows.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights Reserved

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