Matot and Masei

Written by Mordecai Silver. Posted in Journey Through Torah.


Numbers 30:2-32:42

Masei-Journeys of

Numbers 33:1-36:13

Acts 21:19-26


Are vows and oaths the same? No: the first is a promise to do something and the latter is a promise not to do something. The first changes the status of an object (eg: if one “vows” not to watch TV, it has made TV a forbidden object), the latter places an obligation on the person (eg: if one “vows” to lose weight, this is an obligation on the person, and leaves the status of food unchanged).

Numbers 30:2-17

2 If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. 3 "If a woman vows a vow to the LORD and binds herself by a pledge, while within her father's house in her youth, 4 and her father hears of her vow and of her pledge by which she has bound herself and says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. 5 But if her father opposes her on the day that he hears of it, no vow of hers, no pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. And the LORD will forgive her, because her father opposed her. 6 "If she marries a husband, while under her vows or any thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she has bound herself, 7 and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her on the day that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. 8 But if, on the day that her husband comes to hear of it, he opposes her, then he makes void her vow that was on her, and the thoughtless utterance of her lips by which she bound herself. And the LORD will forgive her. 9 (But any vow of a widow or of a divorced woman, anything by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her.) 10 And if she vowed in her husband's house or bound herself by a pledge with an oath, 11 and her husband heard of it and said nothing to her and did not oppose her, then all her vows shall stand, and every pledge by which she bound herself shall stand. 12 But if her husband makes them null and void on the day that he hears them, then whatever proceeds out of her lips concerning her vows or concerning her pledge of herself shall not stand. Her husband has made them void, and the LORD will forgive her. 13 Any vow and any binding oath to afflict herself, her husband may establish, or her husband may make void. 14 But if her husband says nothing to her from day to day, then he establishes all her vows or all her pledges that are upon her. He has established them, because he said nothing to her on the day that he heard of them. 15 But if he makes them null and void after he has heard of them, then he shall bear her iniquity." 16 These are the statutes that the LORD commanded Moses about a man and his wife and about a father and his daughter while she is in her youth within her father's house. (ESV)

<05088> Meaning: a vow

<0632> neder or issar (64b)
neder (623d)
Meaning: a bond, binding obligation

In this section about vows and oaths the interesting thing we note is the limitations placed on a woman. If the woman is not married and lives in her father’s house and he hears the vow or oath and takes no action then it stands. If he decides he will not allow it the vow or oath will be set aside. If she marries the responsibility then falls to her husband. The other part to this is the action on the part of the father or husband must be taken when they hear of it. It would seem that if they hear of it and do nothing at that time but decide later on they want to take action they cannot. Does this diminish a woman’s right to make her own decisions or can we learn something from this passage that can show us how our relationship with Messiah is to work?

Do we believe we can do away with Torah or does this passage about vows and oaths show us that Messiah, as our future husband, have authority over us even now before the actual wedding ceremony takes place? In the context of a Jewish wedding ceremony it is a two-step process. The first step, in what we would commonly call the engagement, is the betrothal where we are being set apart to our betrothed Yeshua. In Jewish thought one is actually entering into a marriage commitment but without the physical consummation of the marriage. It is a period of time that can last for one year and is meant to show the commitment of the couple to each other. It is also a time for them to get to know one another because in most observant Jewish relationships the marriages are arranged and in some cases the couples may not even know one another prior to the betrothal. How does all of this relate to our relationship with Yeshua? Because we are betrothed to Him once we accept Him as our Messiah. As such we fall under His covering and are to line up our beliefs with His and our behavior with what He desires from us. So, in committing ourselves to Him, we are in essence giving our vow or an oath to do as He instructs us to. A vow or an oath, while being two separate actions with different meanings are essentially very similar in that we are setting ourselves apart for a purpose and the only one who can release us from them is Messiah. In practice one who makes a vow can only release it by going to the Temple and following the procedure laid out and must make a sacrifice. An example of this is found in the book of Acts and pertains to the Shaliach Shaul/the Apostle Paul.

Do we truly understand that entering into a relationship with Messiah is basically pledging ourselves to Him without reservation? An oath is a bond or binding obligation we willingly place upon ourselves and if we choose to go back on that we have broken our bond illegally and there will be consequences. It is not much different when we choose to be part of a congregation and then for whatever reason we decide it’s not the place for us and we leave without so much as an explanation to the leadership why we are doing it. In relation to that it is the same thing when we decide to turn our backs on Messiah and forsake the bond we have entered into with Him. The concept of the bond-servant follows this line of reasoning. The disciples or talmidim of Messiah considered their relationship to be one of bond-servants freely chosen by them but with the understanding it would last for as long as they lived. They did not seek an easy out but knew what it was they were getting themselves into. Do we understand what it is we are getting ourselves into when we commit ourselves to Messiah or to a particular Body of Believers? I don’t think we do. In fact we seem to seek any and all reasons to eventually leave that Body because something did not work out for us. No congregation is perfect the same as no Believer in perfect. We are all works in progress. Honor your vow or your oath because only your betrothed Yeshua can release you from it.

Acts 21:19-26

19 After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the Torah, 21 and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 22 What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take these men and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may shave their heads. Thus all will know that there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself also live in observance of the Torah. 25 But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality." 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them. (ESV)

Shaul had been instructed by Yaakov/James to go to the temple and take four men were under a vow and pay for their expenses associated with the release of the vow to show that he, Shaul, was obedient to the Torah. Did Shaul argue about it and refuse to do it? No, he did not! He did as he was told to do thereby affirming his obedience to Torah. He was in covenant with God through his faith in Messiah Yeshua and understood that part of that covenant was to be set apart to Messiah as part of the bride. Shaul had been under an earlier vow and had shaved his head and was now coming to the temple to complete the process. The only one who could defer the vow would have been Messiah Yeshua since He was Shaul’s betrothed the same as He is ours.

If Shaul was against Torah He would not have agreed to do as he was instructed to do but he did not argue, he did as he was told. He had placed himself under the authority of the Jerusalem Council and its leader Yaakov/James the brother of Yeshua. Yaakov was known to be a Torah observant Believer in Messiah accepted by even the non-Yeshua believing Pharisees. The legend goes that Yaakov sent so much time on his knees praying he had bony knees and calluses had built up on them. This was a man sold out to prayer and sold out to God and a firm Believer in Messiah Yeshua who was Torah observant. He understood what his relationship with Yeshua meant while many of us today do not realize the depth of our relationship and what it requires from us.

This walk we have been called to is not an easy one. It was never meant to be that way. You might be asking why not? Because we are supposed to value it and not take it for granted where all we do is to pay lip service to it. This walk requires sacrifice on our part because we are called to be a light in the darkness that surrounds us and is growing every single day. This world is not getting any better and is actually getting worse. Your commitment to Messiah made when you asked Him for forgiveness will cause you to be tested. That is the given. How will you be judged when you stand before Him in the Day of Judgment? Will you fall short because you looked for every excuse you could find to get out you vow or oath to Him when you asked Him for forgiveness or will you stay the courses until the end no matter what is thrown at you?

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; 5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, "MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; 6 FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES." 7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. (NAU)

Blessings in Messiah Yeshua,

Mordecai Silver

Torah Man says, “In the straight and narrow way the traffic is all one way.”

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