A “Young” Woman’s Vows Annulled

I was going to put this with my short list of misconceptions but the content got to be too long. I will refer to things in this post so you might want to read it: https://kingdomofgodcommunes.org/2020/04/09/a-list-of-torah-misconceptions-in-short/

9. Misconception “A woman’s vows in her father’s house could only be annulled when she was young.”

This may not be a misconception but I thought I’d add my alternate interpretation here as well. The verses in question are here:

3 When a woman makes a vow to the Lord, or binds herself by a pledge, while within her father’s house, in her youth, 4 and her father hears of her vow or her pledge by which she has bound herself, and says nothing to her; then all her vows shall stand, and any pledge by which she has bound herself shall stand. 5 But if her father expresses disapproval to her at the time that he hears of it, no vow of hers, and no pledge by which she has bound herself, shall stand; and the Lord will forgive her, because her father had expressed to her his disapproval.

6 If she marries, while obligated by 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 at the time that he hears, then her vows shall stand, and her pledges by which she has bound herself shall stand. 8 But if, at the time that her husband hears of it, he expresses disapproval to her, then he shall nullify the vow by which she was obligated, or the thoughtless utterance of her lips, by which she bound herself; and the Lord will forgive her. 9 (But every vow of a widow or of a divorced woman, by which she has bound herself, shall be binding upon her.) 10 And if she made a vow in her husband’s house, or bound herself by a pledge with an oath, 11 and her husband heard it and said nothing to her, and did not express disapproval to her, then all her vows shall stand, and any pledge by which she bound herself shall stand. 12 But if her husband nullifies them at the time 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 nullified them, and the Lord will forgive her. 13 Any vow or any binding oath to deny herself, her husband may allow to stand, or her husband may nullify. 14 But if her husband says nothing to her from day to day, then he validates all her vows, or all her pledges, by which she is obligated; he has validated them, because he said nothing to her at the time that he heard of them. 15 But if he nullifies them some time after he has heard of them, then he shall bear her guilt. 16 These are the statutes that the Lord commanded Moses concerning a husband and his wife, and a father and his daughter while she is still young and in her father’s house. (Numbers 30:3-15)

What if “youth” here just means “under authority” like a “servant.” Indeed some people are more mature than others regardless of their age. The fact that it speaks about the woman’s vows being able to be annulled by her husband later means there isn’t necessarily a concern for the woman’s youth or inexperience just a concern for the authority structure in the household and of protecting the woman from making rash vows (men are not protected in this way at any point) However, women and men are always allowed to run away from any authority. (as we have learned in my previous post)

It’s true that the translators are a lot smarter than me and they translate the word נָעֻר as “youth.” For the usage see here: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H5271&t=KJV

However, some other very smart people have declared that the word is simply another form of: נַעַר

Properly, pass. participle from נַעַר (H5288) as denominative

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H5271&t=KJV

Hence, the core meaning is the same (see: https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=H5288&t=KJV ) and Gesenius writes this at one point of the masculine form:

In other places boy is rather the name of function, and denotes servant . . . Gen. 37:2 נַעַר הוּא “he (was) servant with the sons of Bilhah,” etc. . . 2 Kings 5:20; 8:4: Exod. 33:11; 2 Ki. 4:12; used also of common soldiers . . . 1 Kings 20:15, 17, 19; 2 Kings 19:6

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=H5288&t=KJV

Indeed, it uses the same term for “youth” when a woman returns to her father’s house when older “as in her youth” and says she can eat the same things she could in her “youth.” In addition, along with the family, it was only servants bought with money that could also eat these holy things:

10 No lay person shall eat of the sacred donations. No bound or hired servant of the priest shall eat of the sacred donations; 11 but if a priest acquires anyone by purchase, the person may eat of them; and those that are born in his house may eat of his food. 12 If a priest’s daughter marries a layman, she shall not eat of the offering of the sacred donations; 13 but if a priest’s daughter is widowed or divorced, without offspring, and returns to her father’s house, as in her youth, she may eat of her father’s food. No lay person shall eat of it. 14 If a man eats of the sacred donation unintentionally, he shall add one-fifth of its value to it, and give the sacred donation to the priest. 15 No one shall profane the sacred donations of the people of Israel, which they offer to the Lord, 16 causing them to bear guilt requiring a guilt offering, by eating their sacred donations: for I am the Lord; I sanctify them. (Leviticus 22:10-16 NRSV)

The annulling of vows by the father may have partially been to prevent the curse in Genesis from taking place, compare the following:

To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children,
yet your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.” (Gen 3:16 NRSV)

16 When a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged to be married, and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. 17 But if her father refuses to give her to him, he shall pay an amount equal to the bride-price for virgins. (Exodus 22:16-17 NRSV)

A woman may rashly vow to marry a controlling husband but think better of it later as this research may show:

Even worse, these masculine men often embody the Dark Triad, a personality constellation that encompasses Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism. So, what in the world is appealing about these objectionable individuals? Quite simply, they possess high-quality genes that they will pass down to their future children.

. . .
What did the researchers find? Women preferred aggressive men as short-term mates, and particularly during ovulation. This finding builds on previous work demonstrating that women find male characteristics such as dominance and masculine facial features especially attractive when they are fertile.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/head-games/201305/the-allure-aggressive-men

We have also learned the following in my previous post:

A. Even sons in their father’s house had no income of their own and had to follow all the orders of their father. (Luke 15:11-32)

B. Good sons are said to “serve” their fathers with the same word used for “servant” in Malachi 3:17.

C. That a servant is not different from a son until inheritance. (Galatians 4:1-3)

D. That sex with the capability of producing children is an obligation of men to women.(Ex 21:10) (Gen 30:14-18) (Gen 38:8-10)

In addition to D. one of the Jewish interpretations of Leviticus 19:29 in the Talmud is to not deny your daughter her right to get married when she is young:

(Fol. 76) You shall not profane your daugher (Lev. 19, 29). R. Eliezer says: “This refers to one who marries off his [young] daughter to an old man.” R. Akiba says: “This refers to one who leaves his daughter unmarried until she enters the age of womanhood.” R. Cahana in the name of R. Akiba said (Ib. b) Who is to be considered poor and shrewd-wicked? He who has left his daughter unmarried until she enters the age of womanhood.”

Ein Yaakov (Glick Edition), Sanhedrin 9:1

Gesenius has this for the word used in Leviticus 19:29:

(3) to lay open, to give access to [“to profane, from the idea of opening”], hence—(a) חִלֵל הַבַּת Lev. 19:29, to prostitute one’s daughter, comp, Lev. 21:7,14.

https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H2490&t=KJV

So these things about making sure the father lets his daughter get married may fit with my interpretation but it would also fit with the standard interpretation of “youth.” If that standard interpretation is correct then by specifying “in her youth” it’s implying the father should make sure she doesn’t have to remain in his house afterward. Given what we know about household authority and not being able to resolve “why are her vows able to be annulled when she is older by her husband” this would make some sense.

The last question is “could the word be interpreted both “youth” and “under authority” in this case?” If that was the case the associated meanings I have come up with for both interpretations would seem to apply.