Num 30.2 tells us that the Lord will hold us to our word by saying, “He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” This is a very important concept in the Law of the Tongue. Num 30.3-4 gives us a few more concepts, “If a woman makes a vow to Yehovah and binds herself by an obligation in her father’s house in her youth and her father hears her vow and her obligation by which she has bound herself, and her father says nothing to her, then her vow shall stand, and every obligation by which she has bound herself shall stand.” Now, these verses talk about her father, but they will also apply to her husband and how he can annul her vow.
This is a very interesting instruction in the Torah, and a tender area in these days and times. There has been an all out effort by certain groups to downplay the role of men and to make men stand in the background, but that is not God’s way. How do we deal with a woman in our home and authority? Most men don’t know what to do with it. What does the Lord say? We clamor and argue about it.
1 Cor 14.34 says, “Let the woman keep silent in the congregations, for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves just as the Torah (law) says.” We are going to examine this verse and what it means by saying “just as the Torah says.” These verses are based on Gen 3.16 and Num 30.1-16.
There are two reasons why this subject is never taught. First, it is about woman. Second, it says, “just as the Torah (law) says” and people don’t know what it says, nor do they care to know. What does the Torah say? We just read it in Numbers 30, and we have read it in Gen 3.16! The father or the husband has the authority in the home. He is her covering when she speaks a vow. He is the “shevet” (rod, staff) of that family. He will decide if such vows and proclamations are going to be made and approved by him.
Nobody can speak for the tribe of Benjamin unless the head of the tribe says it is allowed. It is the same thing with a wife and husband. She can speak for the family if the husband agrees. But, when he hears the vow or rash statement she makes he has the authority to reverse what she says. If a wife or a daughter wants to commit the family to a task, the husband or father can decide otherwise. But in the day that he hears it and he says nothing, then it is confirmed and he can’t go back later to annul it. Silence is consent in regards to this law and she has spoken for the family.
1 Cor 14.34 is saying that a wife should not be breaking into a service to judge prophecy. In 1 Cor 14.28-33 he uses the same word “silent” (v 28 and 30) for a man that is used in verse 34, so this has nothing to do with male chauvinism. He said the same thing about a man. Paul is saying that they were to be courteous and to stop interrupting if someone is revealing a truth. He already said that women can pray and prophesy in a congregation in 1 Cor 11.5 so “silent” is not the the issue here, but judging a prophecy is.
Spiritually, this law applies like this. We were in our “father’s house” called the “world” and we were subjected to the will and wants of the nations. It seemed like it was really impossible to fulfill the will of God and it can appear that the Lord has no “say” with us. However, as we turn our hearts toward God, the power of the nations over us is weakened, like when one is engaged. The last stage is when we will leave the father’s house (world) to live as married with the Messiah in the Natzal who will have full rights over us, and the father’s house (world) will lose all power. We will be under God’s authority now. The world today is not going to like this, but the man is the leader of the family, and many families make up the Kahal (congregation). How far reaching is this?
We communicate with the mouth. We have already mentioned that God is the seal of truth (“emet”). We speak in one of three time periods, as we have said before, every time we speak. The “past” is where most people speak from. We do this when we argue about something, complain, confuse, explain, clarify, comment, defend, demonstrate, decide, discuss, justify, show, teach and expound. The “present” is when something is changed or something is accomplished, or in a transaction. The “future” is where a “vow” (neder) comes in. It is a declaration to do something or consecrate something to the Lord. It is a declaration, or to swear, or an oath. From this point on into the future a reality is created. This reality is not only for us, but for those around us, too. A vow modifies a part of the creation of God.
Rabbi Gamaliel once said to a student, “Go get the best meat at the market.” So the tamid brought back a tongue. Then he said, “Go get the worst meat” and he brought back a tongue. This teaches us that there is nothing better than a good tongue and nothing worse than an evil tongue. Vows use words, the very same thing God used when he created the universe. Now we are in his realm when we use words, and if you are going to use words to create realities around you with vows, you are going to do it God’s way with his rules.
So, that is why the husband “bears the rod” for his family. If he hears a vow contrary to this “staff” (his authority) he has the authority from God to annul it. If he doesn’t block it, and says nothing, it is a reality and even he must live with the reality of the vow. He must help fulfill it from that point on. As we have said before, this chapter is about the “Law of the Tongue.” This is a different realm because a vow creates a reality for others, too. The past is explained away and hidden, but vows are future.
There is nothing in the Torah that says a woman cannot teach, prophesy or speak in a congregation. We have seen that daughters had an inheritance in Num 27 and Deborah was the fourth judge of Israel, a prophetess and was also a military leader (Judges 4). Huldah was a prophetess (2 Kings 22.14-20; 2 Chr 34.22-28). In a congregation these principles operate and there should be no repression on who serves. This is true as long as she is not usurping the authority of her father or husband, or the congregation. This understanding will give us a better understanding of controversial verses in the epistles. We have already briefly looked at 1 Cor 14.34, now let’s look at 1 Tim 2.11-12.
These verses will also be based on Gen 3.16 and Num 30.1-16. 1 Tim 2.11-15 says, “Let a woman (wife) quietly receive instruction (learn in tranquility and silence is the composure) with entire submissiveness. I do not allow a woman (wife) to teach (wrong doctrine) or exercise authority over a man (dominate a husband but to be in quietness) but to remain quiet (Literally, ‘a wife, in quietness, I let learn’).” Paul goes on to say in 1 Tim 2. 14-15 that Adam was created first, then Chava, and she was deceived and fell into transgression. However, she will be preserved (saved) through the bearing of children (even though they will bring forth children in pain and sorrow according to the original curse in Gen 3.16) if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint (not a temporary confession like some-Luke 8.13). When you understand that “woman” or “women” in these verses are referring to a “wife” or “wives” it makes more sense, in light of Num 30.1-16. Paul is not saying a wife cannot speak in a congregation, but they were not to do it in spite of their husbands. For a complete understanding of these verses, we refer you to the writings of Dr. Spiros Zodhiates on the New Testament and he goes into great detail on these verses.
Women were prophets, teachers, judges, evangelists and apostles and they could do whatever the Lord wanted them to do, but they could not usurp the authority of their fathers or their husbands (1 Cor 11). There are leaders or husbands who will exercise their authority, so that must be understood. It is right and proper for them to do so. However, they can only exercise that authority on the day they hear of the vow. Here is a reminder. Yeshua first appeared to a woman because she believed. There is nothing wrong with a woman serving in a congregation, but they are to do it according to what the Torah says.
The Book of James says the tongue is like a rudder and it can turn the ship. The right word at the right time can bring a lost soul to the Lord. It is the same thing with us. Our tongue will turn us, so we need to be careful about what we say. There is a thin line between a promise and a vow. There is a difference between, “I need to go get gas tomorrow” and “I am going to get gas tomorrow.” We have a tongue to say it but we have no authority to make it happen. We can’t make the earth turn and we may not even have our next breath. A storm can come and destroy our car and the gas station! We are not to make rash statements which is a meaningless vow. Let our “yes” mean “yes” and our “no” mean “no.” Stay in the present tense by saying. “as the Lord wills.”
There are two covenants we want to mention. There is a Covenant of Circumcision and the Covenant of the Tongue. The Covenant of Circumcision dedicates the physical creative power to God, and the Covenant of the Tongue dedicates the spiritual creative power of the tongue in man to service of the spirit, soul, heart and mind. James 4.13-17 tells us not to make plans in our own strength because we don’t have any control over tomorrow. Instead, we should say “as the Lord wills” when we discuss what we want to do because a boast is an improper vow. Now read James 5.1-12.
There is a rule found in the Torah. The force of light is always greater than the force of darkness. When words are not tainted, the mouth is a good vessel. Good words have the power to overcome and transform the darkness. What if we utter a curse and it is future (a vow). The Lord will teach us to be patient and to not make those mistakes. The Lord will hold us accountable for our words.
We will pick up in Num 31.1-20 in Part 32.