Vows by women in the O.T. (Numbers 30:9)

Hi all! I received a biblical question from a young Christian woman I am mentoring and would appreciate your thoughts and knowledge in responding to her. I do not wish to mislead her with my admittedly limited understanding of this text. Below you will find her question and my response so far.

Her Question:

Heya! Do you happen to know if verse 9 is saying that if a women is divorced or widowed, then she has to carry out a vow, even if it was nullified during a marriage?

My Response:
Ok, so my understanding of v.9, in the context of reading v.1-12 is that if a widow or divorced woman made a vow during her marriage and her husband had agreed with that vow during their marriage, then she would be bound by that vow after her husband either dies or has divorced her. If her husband had spoken out against that vow during their marriage, then she would be released from carrying out that vow as a widow or divorced woman.

This being said, I am no biblical scholar and would be interested in hearing this verse interpreted by someone who is well-versed (no pun intended) in O.T. interpretation because I may well be off base here. I am going to reach out to some of my friends who know the Bible way better than me.

Thanks !


For what I have read your answer to your friend is correct.
Here is a little support from a commentary that I have.

A woman who was no longer under the patriarchal authority of her father or her husband, whether by his death or by divorce, possessed the same status and responsibility of a man with regard to vows and obligations. Women were afforded a significant position in Israelite society, for they were permitted to buy and sell property, negotiate contracts, operate businesses, and make vows and pledges (Num 27:7; 36:8). That widows and divorcees are classified together implies that in the functional relationship, the former husband of the latter was viewed as if he were dead, like the late husband of the widow.

Cole, R. D. (2000). Numbers (Vol. 3B, pp. 484–485). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.


Thanks so much Jimmy. This is helpful. I will pass this along to her!

God bless!


Wow, I’ve never heard this topic in light of that point that you made:

This has given new light for me to consider this issue, especially because I identify with the issue at hand.

Thank you for your input. I’d love to hear if you have any further insight on the subject.

God bless you!