Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The law concerning vows of men, Num 30:1, Num 30:2. Of women under age, and in what cases the father may annul them, Num 30:3-5. The vows of a wife, and in what cases the husband may annul them, Num 30:6-8. The vows of a widow, or divorced woman, in what cases they may be considered either as confirmed or annulled, Num 30:9-15. Recapitulation of these ordinances, Num 30:16.
If a man vow a vow - A vow is a religious promise made to God. Vows were of several kinds: -
1. Of abstinence or humiliation, see Num 30:13;
2. Of the Nazarite, see Numbers 6;
3. Of giving certain things or sacrifices to the Lord, Lev 7:16;
4. Of alms given to the poor, see Deu 23:21.
The law in this chapter must have been very useful, as it both prevented and annulled rash vows, and provided a proper sanction for the support and performance of those that were rationally and piously made. Besides, this law must have acted as a great preventive of lying and hypocrisy. If a vow was properly made, a man or woman was bound, under penalty of the displeasure of God, to fulfill it.
In her youth - That is, say the rabbins, under twelve years of age; and under thirteen in case of a young man. Young persons of this age were considered to be under the authority of their parents, and had consequently no power to vow away the property of another. A married woman was in the same circumstances, because she was under the authority of her husband. If however the parents or the husband heard of the vow, and objected to it in the same day in which they heard of it, (Num 30:5), then the vow was annulled; or, if having heard of it, they held their peace, this was considered a ratification of the vow.
A rash vow was never to be kept; "for," says Philo, and common sense and justice say the same, "he who commits an unjust action because of his vow adds one crime to another,
1. By making an unlawful vow;
2. By doing an unlawful action."
Concerning the bond of her soul - Her life is at stake if she fulfill not the obligation under which she has laid herself.
These are the statutes - It is very probable that this law, like that concerning the succession of daughters, (Numbers 27)., rose from the exigency of some particular case that had just then occurred.
Making vows, in almost any case, is a dangerous business; they seldom do any good, and often much evil. He who does not feel himself bound to do what is fit, right, and just, from the standing testimony of God's word, is not likely to do it from any obligation he may lay upon his own conscience. If God's word lack weight with him, his own will prove lighter than vanity. Every man who professes the Christian religion is under the most solemn obligation to devote body, soul, and spirit to God, not only to the utmost extent of his powers, but also as long as he exists. Being baptized, and receiving the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, are additional ratifications of the great, general, Christian vow; but every true follower of Christ should always remember, and frequently renew, his covenant with God.