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Special Protection for Women

Today’s reading: Numbers 30:1-31:54

My selection: Numbers 30:15

15 But if he makes them null and void after he has heard of them, then he shall bear her iniquity.”



My reflections: I am sure some of my feminist friends will bristle at this passage, but wait. The law actually protected women both married and single from shady deals, as well as rash commitments. They had a safety net in case they made a vow or contract that was unwise or ungodly. There has been much made in our times of the inequality of pay scales for women in comparison to men, but here the women had protection even when they freely made a bad deal. Men had no such advantage but were required to keep their word without an escape hatch (vs. 1-2).

Furthermore, when a woman made a vow and her husband disavowed it, “he [would] bear her iniquity”. She would be free from the vow, but any repercussions for the disavowing would fall to the husband.

Finally, while some will see this law as holding women in disdain, as if they were more prone to make rash vows than men, there is also a built in (and valid) assumption that men tend to procrastinate in decision making. Men whose wives or unmarried daughters make vows had until sundown to make a decision about sustaining or voiding the vow. If nothing was said by the end of the day, the vow would stand.

God wisely gave this law not as an insult to women or to unfairly empower men, but in recognition of tendencies and weaknesses of the flesh of both. I, for one, long for a society in which men loved and protected their wives, sisters, and daughters instead of abusing and competing with them. When will we see a time in which women cannot be tricked and cheated in business dealings and contracts? If the law of Numbers 30 held true, anyone dealing with a woman would have to beware lest the deal be voided and exposed for what it is.

My challenge: Pray as Jesus taught us, “Thy kingdom come…”

Tomorrow’s reading: Numbers 32:1-33:56

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