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subsequently among the Hebrews. (1 Sam. xxv. 26. 2 Sam. xi. 11. xiv. 19. comp. Psal. lxiii. 11.) The Hebrews also swore by cities and consecrated places, such as Hebron, Shilo, and Jerusalem. A person sometimes swore by himself and sometimes by the life of the person before whom he spoke, viz. by myself, by thee, or by thy life. (1 Sam. i. 26. 2 Kings ii. 2. Gen. xlii. 15. Josh. vii. 8. Judg. vi. 13. 15. 1 Kings iii. 17. 26.) In some instances, persons adjured others by the beasts of the field (Sol. Song, ii. 7.), a sort of adjuration, which, to the present day, makes its appearance in the writings of the Arabian poets.1
The Jews, in the time of Christ, were in the habit of swearing by the altar, by Jerusalem, by heaven, by the earth, by themselves, by their heads, by the gold of the temple, by sacrifices, &c. Because the name of God was not mentioned in these oaths, they considered them as imposing but small, if any obligation.2 And we, accordingly, find, that the Saviour takes occasion to inveigh, in decided terms, against such arts of deception. (Matt. v. 33-37. xxiii. 16-22.) It is against oaths of this kind, and these alone, (not against an oath uttered in sincerity,) that he expresses his displeasure, and prohibits them. This is clear, since he himself consented to take upon him the solemnity of an oath (Matt. xxvi. 63.); and since Paul himself, in more than one instance, utters an adjuration. Compare Rom. ix. 1. 2 Cor. i. 23.
In the primitive periods of their history, the Hebrews religiously observed an oath, (Josh. ix. 14, 15.) but we find, that, in later times, they were often accused by the prophets of perjury. After the Captivity, the Jews became again celebrated for the scrupulous observance of what they had sworn to, but corruption soon increased among them: they revived the old forms, the words without the meaning; and acquired among all nations the reputation of perju
II. A vow is a religious engagement or promise voluntarily undertaken by a person towards Almighty God. "Unless the Deity has expressly declared his acceptance of human vows, it can at best be but a very doubtful point, whether they are acceptable in his sight; and if they are not so, we cannot deduce from them the shadow of an obligation; for it is not from a mere offer alone, but from an offer of one party, and its acceptance by another, that the obligation to fulfil an engagement arises. The divine acceptance of vows, we can by no means take for granted; considering that from our vows God can derive no benefit, and that, in general, they are of just as little use to In Matt. xv. 4-6. and Mark vii. 9-13. Christ himself man."4 notices the vow of Korban (already considered), which was common
1 Consult the Koran, Sura lxxxv. 1—3. lxxxvi. 1. 11–13. Ixxxix. 1—4, ix. 1 4. xci. 1-8. &c.
2 Martialis Epigramat. XI. 95.
3 Mr. Upham's Translation of Jahn's Archeologia Biblica, pp. 494, 495.
in his time, and by which a man consecrated what he was bound to apply to the support of his parents; and he declares it to be so impious that we cannot possibly hold it to be acceptable to God. In the New Testament, no vows whatever are obligatory, because God has no where declared that he will accept them from Christians. But the people of Israel had such a declaration from God himself; although even they were not counselled or encouraged to make vows. sequence of this declaration, the vows of the Israelites were binding; and that not only in a moral view, but according to the national law and the priest was authorised to enforce and estimate their fulfilment. The principal passages relating to this point, are Lev. xxvii. Numb. xxx. and Deut. xxiii. 18. 21, 22, 23.
III. In order to render a vow valid, Moses requires,
1. That it be actually uttered with the mouth, and not merely made in the heart. In Numb. xxx. 3. 7. 9. 13. and Deut. xxiii. 24. he repeatedly calls it the expression of the lips, or, what has gone forth from the mouth; and the same phrase occurs in Psalm lxvi. 14. If, therefore, a person had merely made a vow in his heart, without letting it pass his lips, it would seem as if God would not accept such a vow; regarding it only as a resolution to vow, but not as a vow itself.
This limitation is humane, and necessary to prevent much anxiety in conscientious people. If a vow made in the heart be valid, we shall often experience difficulty in distinguishing whether what we thought of was a bare intention, or a vow actually completed. Here, therefore, just as in a civil contract with our neighbour, words-uttered words-are necessary, to prevent all uncertainty.
2. The party making the vow must be in his own power and competent to undertake the obligation. Therefore the vows of minors were void, unless they were ratified by the express or tacit consent of their parents. In like manner, neither married women nor slaves could oblige themselves by vow, unless they were ratified by their husbands or masters.
3. The things vowed to be devoted to God must be honestly obtained. It is well known, that in antient times, many public prostitutes dedicated to their gods a part of their impure earnings. This is most expressly forbidden by Moses. (Deut. xxxiii. 18.)
IV. There are two sorts of vows mentioned in the Jewish Law, viz. 1. The (CHEREM), which was the most solemn of all, and was accompanied with a form of execration, and which could not be redeemed; and, 2. The 3 (NeDeRiM), or common vows.
1. The cherem is no where mentioned by Moses; nor does he specify by what solemnities or expressions it was distinguished from other vows, but pre-supposes all this as already well known. The species of cherem with which we are best acquainted, was the previous devotement to God of hostile cities, against which they intended to proceed with extreme severity; and that with a view the more to inflame the minds of the people to war. In such cases,
not only were all the inhabitants put to death, but also, according as the terms of the vow declared, no booty was made by any Israelite; the beasts were slain; what would not burn, as gold, silver, and other metals, was added to the treasure of the sanctuary; and every thing else, with the whole city, burnt, and an imprecation pronounced upon any attempt that should ever be made to rebuild it. Of this the history of Jericho (Josh. vi. 17-19. 21-24. and vii. 1. 12-26.) furnishes the most remarkable example. In Moses' lifetime we find a similar vow against the king of Arad. (Numb. xxi. 1-3.)
If an Israelitish city introduced the worship of strange gods, it was (as we have already seen) in like manner, to be devoted or consecrated to God, and to remain un-rebuilt for ever. (Deut. xiii. 16-18.) Jephthah's dedication of his daughter is generally supposed to have been a cherem but we have shown in another part of this work, that he did not sacrifice her. The text (Judg. xi. 30.) says that Jephthah vowed a vow (7, NeDeR) unto the Lord, and again (verse 39.) that he did with her according to his vow (73). There is no word in either of these passages, that either expresses or implies a
2. The common vows were divided into two sorts, viz. 1. Vows of dedication, and, 2. Vows of self-interdiction or abstinence. i. The (NeDeR) or vow, in the stricter sense of the word, was when a person engaged to do any thing, as, for instance, to bring an offering to God; or otherwise to dedicate any thing unto him. Things vowed in this way, were, 1. Unclean beasts. These might be estimated by the priest, and redeemed by the vower, by the addition of one-fifth to the value. (Lev. xxvii. 11-13.)-2. Clean beasts used for offerings. Here there was no right of redemption; nor could the beasts be exchanged for others under the penalty of both being forfeited, and belonging to the Lord. (Lev. xxvii. 9, 10.)-3. Lands and houses. These had the privilege of valuation and redemption. (Lev. xxvii. 14-24.)-To these we have to add, 4. The person of the vower himself, with the like privilege. (Lev. xxvii. 1-8.) To this species of vow Michaelis thinks the second tenths may have belonged, as Moses no where speaks of them as a new institution. They most probably derived their origin from the vow made by Jacob, which is recorded in Gen. xxviii. 22.
ii. Vows of self-interdiction or self-denial were, when a person engaged to abstain from any wine, food, or any other thing. These are especially distinguished by Moses from other vows in Numb. xxx.,
AssaR AL) אסר על נפש Assam), or) אסר and are there termed
NEPHеSH), that is, a bond upon the soul, or person, a self-interdiction from some desire of nature, or of the heart, or, in other words, a vow of abstinence, particularly from eating and drinking. Among this species of vows may be classed those of the Nazareate or Nazaritism; which, Michaelis is of opinion, was not instituted by Moses, but was of more antient, and probably of Egyptian origin; the Hebrew legislator giving certain injunctions for the better regulation and
performance of these vows. The statutes respecting the Nazareate are related in the sixth chapter of the book of Numbers. Lamy, Calmet, and others have distinguished two classes of Nazarites: first, those who were Nazarites by birth, as Sampson and John the Baptist were; and, secondly, those who were Nazarites by vow and engagement; who followed this mode of living for a limited time, at the expiration of which they cut off their hair at the door of the tabernacle, and offered certain sacrifices. The Nazarites were required to abstain from wine, fermented liquors, and every thing made of grapes, to let their hair grow, and not to defile themselves by touching the dead; and if any person had accidentally expired in their presence, the Nazarites of the second class were obliged to recommence their Nazariteship.
Similar to the Nazareate was the vow frequently made by devout Jews, on their recovery from sickness, or deliverance from danger or distress; who, for thirty days before they offered sacrifices, abstained from wine, and shaved the hair of their head. This usage illustrates the conduct of St. Paul, as related in Acts xvii. 18. The apostle, in consequence of a providential deliverance from some imminent peril not recorded by the sacred writer, bound himself by a vow, which the law in this case required him to pay at Jerusalem. In consequence of this transaction St. Luke relates, that he shaved his head at Cenchrea. St. Paul, in his intended journey afterwards to Judæa, says, he must needs go to Jerusalem: for the laws respecting the Nazarite's vow required the person who had entered into this engagement, if he were in a foreign country when he first laid himself under this solemn obligation, to go up to Jerusalem to accomplish it. Here several appointed sacrifices were offered, and a certain course of purifications and religious observances was prescribed and performed. This appears from another passage in the same sacred writer. (Acts xxi. 21 -27.) "We have four men who have a vow on them: them take and PURIFY thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that THEY MAY SHAVE THEIR HEADS. Then Paul took the men: and the next day purifying himself with them, entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification; and that an offering should be offered for every one of them. And when the SEVEN days were almost ended," &c. Josephus presents us with an instance parallel to this of St. Paul, in the person of Bernice, who went to Jerusalem, in order to perform a vow which she had made to God.2
1 An usage, similar to the vow of Nazariteship, exists in Persia to this day. It frequently happens after the birth of a son, that if the parent be in distress, or the child be sick, or that there be any cause of grief, the mother makes a vow, that no razor shall come upon the child's head for a certain portion of time, and sometimes for his whole life, as Samuel was. (1 Sam. i. 11.) If the child recovers, and the cause of grief be removed, and if the vow be but for a time, so that the mother's vow be fulfilled, then she shaves his head at the end of the time prescribed, makes a small entertainment, collects money and other things from her relations and friends, which are sent as Netzers or offerings to the mosque at Kerbelah, and are there consecrated. Morier's Second Journey, p. 109.
2 Ibid. See Lamy's Apparatus Biblicus, vol. i. p. 221. Calmet's Dictionary, voce Nazarite. Fleury's Manners of the Israelites, pp. 338, 339. Lardner's Credibility,
ON THE PURIFICATIONS OF THE JEWS.
1. Materials, with which the Purifications of the Jews were performed. -II. Ceremonies of Purification.-III. Of the Persons lustrated. -IV. Account of the different kinds of legal impurities, particularly 1. The Leprosy of the Person.-2. The Leprosy of Clothes. -3. The House Leprosy.-V. Minor legal impurities, and their lustrations.
IT was requisite that every one who was about to make any offering to Jehovah should be cleansed from all impurities, or lustrated, -to adopt an expression in common use among the Romans. The materials, form, and ceremonies of these lustrations, which were prescribed by Moses, were various, according to different circumstances. The design of them all was not only to preserve both the health and morals of the Israelites, but also to intimate how necessary it was to preserve inward purity, without which they could not be acceptable to God, though they might approach his sanctuary.
I. The purifications were for the most part performed with water, sometimes with blood (Heb. ix. 21, 22.), and with oil. (Exod. xxxix. 26. Lev. viii. 10, 11.) The water of purification was to be drawn from a spring or running stream, and was either pure, or mixed with blood (Heb. ix. 19.), or with the ashes of the red heifer. For preparing these ashes, a heifer of a red colour was burnt with great solemnity. This ceremony is described at length in the nineteenth chapter of the book of Numbers. As all the people were to be interested in it, the victim was to be provided at their charge. This Jewish rite certainly had a reference to things done under the Gospel, as St. Paul has remarked in his Epistle to the Hebrews. For if the blood of bulls and of goats (alluding to the sin-offerings, and to the scape-goat), and THE ASHES OF A HEIFER, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ.... purge (or purify) your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. As the principal stress of allusion in this passage is to the ordinance of the red heifer, we may certainly conclude that it was designed to typify the sacrifice of our adorable Redeemer.
In the ordinance of the red heifer, we may perceive the wisdom of Moses (under the guidance of Jehovah) in taking every precaution that could prevent the Israelites from falling into idolatry. The animal to be selected was a heifer, in opposition to the superstition of the Egyptians, who held these to be sacred, and worship
book i. c. 9. § 7. (Works, vol. i. pp. 208-212.) Jenning's Jewish Antiquities, book i. c. 8. pp. 214-220. Reland's Antiq. Hebr. part i. c. 10. pp. 234-239. Michaelis's Commentaries on the Law of Moses, vol. ii. pp. 260-271. 280-283. Dr. Randolph's Discourse on Jephthah's Vow, in his View of Christ's Ministry, &c. vol. ii. pp. 166 -272.
1 Josephus, Ant. Jud. lib. iii. c. 8. § 6.