Making vows

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promiseAbundance is defined as a quantity considerably more than what one would expect or anticipate, beyond the norm2. Does this definition of abundance describe your life? Not only material things, but every aspect of your life: your relationships, health, your mental state, and most importantly your spiritual life. How would you describe your relationship with YHVH? Can you say you have a deep, intimate relationship with your Creator, Him fulfilling your every need? Do you hear His voice? Does He guide you in all your ways? If you were to describe your life metaphorically with either the word blessing or curse, what would it be?

All these questions are meant to prompt you to evaluate your life. How did you do?

Did you know that it is YHVH’s plan for us to live life abundantly?

Abundant blessing

We have a choice in this.

Deuteronomy 30:19
19 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,

In Deuteronomy 28, YHVH describes this abundance.

Deuteronomy 28:1–14
1 “Now it shall be, if you diligently obey YHVH your Elohim, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, YHVH your Elohim will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2 “All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey YHVH your Elohim:

3 “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.

4 “Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.

5 “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

6 “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.

7 “YHVH shall cause your enemies who rise up against you to be defeated before you; they will come out against you one way and will flee before you seven ways.

8 “YHVH will command the blessing upon you in your barns and in all that you put your hand to, and He will bless you in the land which YHVH your Elohim gives you.

9 “YHVH will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of YHVH your Elohim and walk in His ways. 10 “So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of YHVH, and they will be afraid of you.

11 “YHVH will make you abound in prosperity, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your beast and in the produce of your ground, in the land which YHVH swore to your fathers to give you.

12 “YHVH will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.

13 “YHVH will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of YHVH your Elohim, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully, 14 and do not turn aside from any of the words which I command you today, to the right or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.

I have bolded a few lines in this passage. This is the condition for the blessing: obedience to YHVH’s instructions. We are not to turn aside from any of His words to go after other gods. We are to give ourselves wholly to HIM and serve Him with our heart, soul and mind.

Y’shua confirmed this as He summarized the intend of YHVH’s instructions.

Matthew 22:37–40
37 And He said to him, “ ‘You shall love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

YHVH gave us instructions to let us know how He wants us to love and worship Him and how we are to relate to ourselves and others. His instructions are to our benefit, we don’t always understand, but we don’t have to. Sometimes He does show us why. For example, we are commanded not to eat pork. Modern science has proven that pork is bad for our health. We are commanded not to have sexual relations during menstruation. Modern science has proven that doing this may increase the risk of cervical cancer. We can go on and on. Other prohibitions, if obeyed, will protect us spiritually. YHVH forbids fornication and adultery. We have learned that soul ties form when we have sexual relations with somebody. These soul ties have a profound effect on our lives.

From these few examples, we see that YHVH gave us instructions in order to give us the possibility to live life abundantly.

However, when we disobey YHVH’s commandments, we give Satan an opportunity. He uses our disobedience to steal, kill and destroy. We give him what he needs, an open door. The protective hedge around us is destroyed when we sin and gives him free access to our lives. When we read further in Deuteronomy 28, we read about the curses. These are what we then experience. Our iniquity will also affect our descendants and we are affected by the iniquity of our forefathers. We have written a bit about this in our previous article: “Free from captivity.”

We have also studied Y’shua’s role in our freedom from this captivity. Y’shua came that we may have life and have it abundantly.

John 10:10
10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

Through Y’shua, abundance is within our reach. We can get freedom from the captivity that prevents us from leading abundant lives.

This study about vows highlights one aspect of this captivity we are it. So, this may not be the answer to all your problems, but it may be one piece of the puzzle, one step closer to abundance. YHVH has put us on this journey to become free from captivity and we are sharing with you what we are learning. It is a process and it is hard to face all that is holding us back, but it is a necessary process if we want to be free.

You may wonder what vows have to do with abundance and captivity. Follow along and you will understand.

Making vows

When we make a vow, we bind ourselves. This binding can have a profound effect on our lives. Positive or negative.

We find lots of instruction in scripture regarding the taking of an oath or making of a vow. Before we look at this, let’s define the words.


A sacred promise to keep one’s word (Num. 30:2) and to honor one’s covenants and agreements (Gen. 26:28; 2 Kgs. 11:4). As such, oaths are solemn declarations, which invoke God (Gen. 24:3; 31:53; Deut. 10:20) or some sacred object (Gen. 24:2; 47:29; cf. Matt. 5:33–37; 23:16–22) in order to guarantee the truth of what is declared. The power of the promise itself is binding in biblical oaths and is premised on the understanding that an oath confirms the obligation of the spoken word (Judg. 11:35; 1 Sam. 14:24–27; Jdt. 8:30; cf. Matt. 14:9). The sacral nature of oaths is emphasized by the invocation of God as the guarantor or witness to the sworn word (Gen. 21:23; Josh. 9:19; 1 Kgs. 2:8, 23, 42), and not uncommonly God swears an oath in the OT. Often these concern the promises made to Israel, e.g., those made to Abraham and other ancestral figures (Gen. 22:16–18; 24:7; Deut. 19:8; Josh. 21:43–44; Jer. 11:5; Sir. 44:21), but sometimes they involve threats and sanctions against those who would violate the covenant (Josh. 5:6; 1 Sam. 3:14; Ezek. 17:16–19).3

Three different Hebrew words are used: “saba,” “nadar” and “asar”.

8678 שָׁבַע (šā·ḇǎʿ): v.; ≡ Str 7650; TWOT 2318—LN 33.463–33.469

(qal pass.) swear on oath, promise, take an oath, adjure, i.e., make a promise to do something, or affirm the truth of a statement, with sanctions to follow if the conditions are not met (Eze 21:28[EB 23]a+), see also 8652;

(nif) swear an oath, make a sworn promise (Ge 24:7);

(hif) make one swear an oath, give a charge (1Sa 14:27)4

5623 נָדַר (nā·ḏǎr): v.; ≡ Str 5087; TWOT 1308—LN 33.463–33.469

(qal) make a vow, i.e., make a binding promise to God, possibly with sanctions if the promise is not kept (Ge 28:20; 31:13; Lev 27:8; Nu 6:2, 21; 21:2; 30:3[EB 2],4[EB 3],11[EB 10]; Dt 12:11, 17; 23:22[EB 21],23[EB 22],24[EB 23]; Jdg 11:30, 39; 1Sa 1:11; 2Sa 15:7, 8; Ps 76:12[EB 11]; 132:2; Ecc 5:3[EB 4],4[EB 5]; Isa 19:21; Jer 44:25; Jnh 1:16; 2:10[EB 9]; Mal 1:14+)

5624 נֵדֶר (nē·ḏěr): n.masc.; ≡ Str 5088, 5886;—LN 33.463–33.469 vow, i.e., a binding promise made to deity, often with conditions and particular results on both parties, implying failure to keep will result in disfavor. 4

The figurative sense of the Hebrew word “asar” is only used in one passage of scripture, Numbers 30. Here it is used 11 times and attest to the binding nature of an oath.


˒asar (אָסַר, 631), “to bind, imprison, tie, gird, to harness.” This word is a common Semitic term, found in both ancient Akkadian and Ugaritic, as well as throughout the history of the Hebrew language. The word occurs around 70 times in its verbal forms in the Hebrew Old Testament. The first use of ˒asar in the Hebrew text is in Gen. 39:20, which tells how Joseph was “imprisoned” after being wrongfully accused by Potiphar’s wife.

The common word for “tying up” for security and safety, ˒asar is often used to indicate the tying up of horses and donkeys (2 Kings 7:10). Similarly, oxen are “harnessed” to carts (1 Sam. 6:7, 10). Frequently, ˒asar is used to describe the “binding” of prisoners with cords and various fetters (Gen. 42:24; Judg. 15:10, 12-13). Samson misled Delilah as she probed for the secret of his strength, telling her to “bind” him with bowstrings (Judg. 16:7) and new ropes (Judg. 16:11), none of which could hold him.

Used in an abstract sense, ˒asar refers to those who are spiritually “bound” (Ps. 146:7; Isa. 49:9; 61:1) or a man who is emotionally “captivated” by a woman’s hair (Song of Sol. 7:5). Strangely, the figurative use of the term in the sense of obligation or “binding” to a vow or an oath is found only in Num. 30, but it is used there a number of times (vv. 3, 5-6, 8-9, 11- 12). This section also illustrates how such “binding” is variously rendered in the English versions: “bind” (RSV, KJV, NAB); “promises” (TEV); “puts himself under a binding obligation” (NEB, NASB); “takes a formal pledge under oath” (JB). 5

A vow is a binding obligation we make. We can’t just say it and forget about it. We can’t use a vow to manipulate YHVH into doing something for us and then forget about it. Making a vow is a serious matter and making a vow and not paying it is sin.

Deuteronomy 23:21–23
21 “When you make a vow to YHVH your Elohim, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and YHVH your Elohim will surely require it of you. 22 “However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. 23 “You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to YHVH your Elohim, what you have promised.

A vow to YHVH

As I said, making a vow to YHVH is serious.

Ecclesiastes 5:4–5
4 When you make a vow to Elohim, do not be late in paying it; for He takes no delight in fools. Pay what you vow! 5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.

This is usually done when a person is in distress and need protection or something specific from YHVH. Jacob made a vow like this (Gen 28:20-22) when his brother was after him. Hannah was desperate to have a child and made a vow to YHVH to give this child to Him (1 Sam 1:11), Jephtha needed victory in battle and vowed that the first to come out of his house will be sacrificed to YHVH (Judg 11:30), and Jonah when he was in distress, almost drowning, made a vow to YHVH (Jon 2:9).

Vows are binding. The practice of making a vow before YHVH still takes place in our time. When we get married, we make a vow before YHVH to love and care for each other always. A witness in a court will make a vow of honesty before he testifies. In the modern context, we know that vows are not really taken seriously any more. Divorce is rampant and witnesses, mostly don’t even believe in YHVH. A person’s word or honesty is not very highly regarded nowadays.

We sometimes make a vow without thinking of the consequences. These vows are also binding and will have an effect on our lives. An example is a vow made by a forefather when they joined a secret organization. When somebody joins Freemasonry, for example, they make vows that affect their descendants. In this vow, a curse is pronounced on their descendants if they were ever to leave the organization. This is real and affect many believers. When a vow like this is made, it gives satan a legal right, even in the life of a believer.

The authority of the father and husband

YHVH has put an authority structure in place. A wife and unmarried daughter are under the authority of the man in the house (This will include children, boys and girls who are not of age yet.)

In Numbers 30:1-16, we find detailed instructions regarding vows and the authority of the father to annul a vow made by his daughter who lives under his roof, as well as vows made by women. A husband, when he finds out about a vow his wife has made can annul the vow if he doesn’t agree with it.

Numbers 30:1–16
1 Then Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the sons of Israel, saying, “This is the word which YHVH has commanded. 2 “If a man makes a vow to YHVH, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. 3 “Also if a woman makes a vow to YHVH, and binds herself by an obligation in her father’s house in her youth, 4 and her father hears her vow and her obligation by which she has bound herself, and her father says nothing to her, then all her vows shall stand and every obligation by which she has bound herself shall stand. 5 “But if her father should forbid her on the day he hears of it, none of her vows or her obligations by which she has bound herself shall stand; and YHVH will forgive her because her father had forbidden her. 6 “However, if she should marry while under her vows or the rash statement of her lips by which she has bound herself, 7 and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her on the day he hears it, then her vows shall stand and her obligations by which she has bound herself shall stand. 8 “But if on the day her husband hears of it, he forbids her, then he shall annul her vow which she is under and the rash statement of her lips by which she has bound herself; and YHVH will forgive her. 9 “But the vow of a widow or of a divorced woman, everything by which she has bound herself, shall stand against her. 10 “However, if she vowed in her husband’s house, or bound herself by an obligation with an oath, 11 and her husband heard it, but said nothing to her and did not forbid her, then all her vows shall stand and every obligation by which she bound herself shall stand. 12 “But if her husband indeed annuls them on the day he hears them, then whatever proceeds out of her lips concerning her vows or concerning the obligation of herself shall not stand; her husband has annulled them, and YHVH will forgive her. 13 “Every vow and every binding oath to humble herself, her husband may confirm it or her husband may annul it. 14 “But if her husband indeed says nothing to her from day to day, then he confirms all her vows or all her obligations which are on her; he has confirmed them, because he said nothing to her on the day he heard them. 15 “But if he indeed annuls them after he has heard them, then he shall bear her guilt.” 16 These are the statutes which YHVH commanded Moses, as between a man and his wife, and as between a father and his daughter, while she is in her youth in her father’s house.

In the feministic society we live in, this is unthinkable. However, this is not a form of oppression, there is protection for the daughter and wife in this. Women tend to be more emotional than men, we were designed this way for our unique role. We may sometimes, while in an emotional state, make a rash statement. When the husband hears of this, he can annul it and she will be free from the obligation of her words. However, if he hears of it and allows it, it will stand. A rash statement is defined as follows:

4439 מִבְטָא (miḇ·ṭā(ʾ)): n.[masc.]; ≡ Str 4008; TWOT 232a—LN 33.374–33.381 rash promise, imprudent oath, i.e., words spoken in a foolishness or undisciplined manner (Nu 30:7[EB 6],9[EB 8]+), note: see also domain LN 33.470–33.4754

This “rash statement” is similar to a personal or inner vow.

Personal or Inner Vow

Sometimes we make a resolution within ourselves. This can be referred to as a personal or inner vow. A personal or inner vow is often characterized by the words “I will always” or “I will never. I will never trust people, I will never be like my mother or father, I will always struggle, I will never forgive this person for doing this.” Some more examples are “I hate men” or “nobody likes me” or, “I am worthless

These are inner or personal vows, often taken in anger or after we have been hurt by somebody. Offence or hurt causes a wound and we make a vow in order to protect ourselves from further hurt. These are very strong resolutions, we therefor refer to it as personal or inner vows. We start making these kind of vows when we are young and when made at an early age, we may have forgotten about these. These vows will still have a profound effect in our lives. It is like pronouncing a curse on ourselves.

These vows may prevent us from having meaningful relationships with people. If you have made a vow not to trust men, for example, you will not be able to have a trusting relationship with any man including your husband. There will always be some disconnect and if you have made the vow in anger or when traumatized at a young age, you may not remember this and will therefor not know what the source of that disconnect is.

When we make a vow like this, we build walls around ourselves, not allowing people to get close to us. These walls will then prevent people from forming meaningful relationships with us, affirming our negative thinking. In time we develop a heart of stone. A heart of stone doesn’t allow anybody in and is hard and compassionless.

The enemy uses these vows to keep us bound in certain areas. We are prevented from going forward and don’t realize that it is caused by a vow we took. It prevents us from reaching our full potential and purpose. It is bondage.

This may be what is described in Leviticus 5:4-6.

Leviticus 5:4–6
4 ‘Or if a person swears thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, in whatever matter a man may speak thoughtlessly with an oath, and it is hidden from him, and then he comes to know it, he will be guilty in one of these. 5 ‘So it shall be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned. 6 ‘He shall also bring his guilt offering to YHVH for his sin which he has committed, a female from the flock, a lamb or a goat as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement on his behalf for his sin.

Swearing thoughtlessly is sin. Numbers 30:6 describes this as a rash statement. The same Hebrew word is used. If a woman has made a “rash statement” like this, even before her marriage, and her husband finds out about it, he can annul it and YHVH will forgive it.

Numbers 30:6–8
6 “However, if she should marry while under her vows or the rash statement of her lips by which she has bound herself, 7 and her husband hears of it and says nothing to her on the day he hears it, then her vows shall stand and her obligations by which she has bound herself shall stand. 8 “But if on the day her husband hears of it, he forbids her, then he shall annul her vow which she is under and the rash statement of her lips by which she has bound herself; and YHVH will forgive her.

Making vows like these are careless words. This is serious and it has serious consequences. Y’shua said that we will give an accounting for every careless word we have spoken.

Matthew 12:36–37
36 “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37 “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Y’shua also said the following about making vows.

Matthew 5:33–37
33 “Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to YHVH.’ 34 “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of Elohim, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. 36 “Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 “But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.

James 5:12
12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.

Vows we make have consequences, especially if we don’t or can’t fulfill them.

The consequences of inner vows

I am reading a book to my children, and in this book the life of a man is described. A man who took a vow to take revenge on two men who were responsible for the death of the young lady he was going to marry. This vow eventually destroyed him. He searched for and hunted for these two men for twenty years. He eventually found them and murdered them both. He was caught and died in prison of an aneurysm a day before the trial. He was consumed by this vow, possessed by it. This is an extreme example, but we are in the same way consumed by our inner vows. It may not have the same dramatic results, but we reap the fruit thereof.

Every one of us has made personal vows. I know I have and I am reaping the fruit of it. I have asked YHVH to show me, and He is faithful. As it is revealed to me, I can identify the fruit of it in my own life.

Some examples of the fruit of inner vows are: not able to trust people, anger, running away from situations, a critical spirit, cold and unloving, automatic responses, fear and a heart of stone.

YHVH doesn’t want us to live like this. This is not abundance.

The problem with these vows we have made is that we don’t have the power to fulfill them. We make these vows in order to protect ourselves, instead of relying on YHVH for protection. When we make an inner vow, we become our own protection. However, we cannot protect ourselves with vows like this, we curse and harm ourselves instead.

Another problem is that these vows are ongoing, they don’t have a finish-line. If we don’t repent of and renounce the vow, we will live with these consequences.

A vow like “I will never be like my mother” is impossible to keep. Also, when we have made the vow not to ever be like our mother or someone else, we judged that person in a way we should not judge. We will, for this reason, become just like that person, for in the way we judge, we will be judged.

Matthew 7:2
2 “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.

This is serious. The vows we spoke have consequences in our lives. Inner vows are so strong they control us, our mind, will and emotions.

The good part is, we can become free from this through Y’shua.

What to do if we have made personal vows like this

In Numbers 30, we read that a father or a husband has the authority to break these vows or annul these when they hear of it. Husbands and fathers, you have a responsibility here. Teach your children about vows and the power of the spoken word and when you become aware of vows like this, you can renounce these. Same with vows your wife has made, when you become aware of these, you can renounce it. The husband and father is the spiritual leader in the home and this is why YHVH gave these instructions. A man has a great responsibility as father and husband.

However, when you know about a vow and have not renounced it, or have made a vow yourself? Or in the case of a divorced or widowed woman? What then?

In Leviticus 5:4-6, we see that the maker of the vow is to repent of this sin and is to bring a guilt offering. Y’shua was our guilt offering. He took all our sin upon Himself and died an excruciating death on our behalf. YHVH raised Him from the dead. As a result of His death and resurrection, we now have authority through His name. Through Him we can come free from this captivity.

We are to ask YHVH to reveal all vows we have made, even vows we made when we were children. We may not remember, but YHVH can bring it to our remembrance through His Spirit. Then we are to renounce these vows and repent of it. We do this in the name of Y’shua. We then send all spirits associated with this vow away in His name. We are to break the curse we have brought upon ourselves. It is best to do this audibly and with a witness.


There is a reason YHVH gave us His instructions. He wants to teach us how to worship Him, how to live and as protection. He is a loving Father, and He wants the best for us. This is the reason we need to keep His commandments. It is part of our love relationship with our Father.

When we break these commandments, we sin and bring a curse over ourselves. This steals the abundance YHVH has for us as His children, from us. This topic of vows attest to this. YHVH doesn’t want us to make vows we can’t keep. He knows it harms us. It is bondage and prevents us from fulfilling the purpose He has for us or makes it difficult. It impacts on relationships with other people as well.

We can be free from this through Y’shua. He came to set the captives free.

Vows often occur together with judgments. To learn more about judgments you can read ” Imprisoned by unrighteous judgment”



  1. All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Y’shua for Jesus
  2. Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, pp. 598–599). New York: United Bible Societies.
  3. Mitchell, A. C. (2000). Oath. In D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers, & A. B. Beck (Eds.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (p. 978). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
  4. Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
  5. Vine, W. E., Unger, M. F., & White, W., Jr. (1996). Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Vol. 1, pp. 17–18). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson.

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6 responses to “Making vows”

  1. Cheri

    What about making a marriage vow? What happens when a woman makes a vow to love her husband until the day he dies and in the vows are not listed any way out – so not for adultery, ect (modern marriage vows are not a ketubah)? Then, the next day, the husband declares that he wants an annulment? The woman stated the vow to God ‘before’ she was married and did not live in her father’s house. So the woman was independent and not married when she made the vow to love her future husband until he died, no matter if he divorced her or slept with other women or was verbally, sexually, and physically abusive, ect.?

    1. Shalom Cheri,

      Thanks for your question. Unfaithfulness is a valid ground for divorce, according to Torah. This is a complex situation, it is not possible to make a general ruling based on so little information and we are not experienced to make a ruling on this.

      Elsa ands Schalk

  2. What if I made a vow to a god or deity and later repented and gave your life to christ, what shall i do about the vow?

    1. shalom,
      You can break the vow in Y’shua’s name and send away any demons whose task it is to keep it in force. Then you will be free from it as you have already repented from making it. That is the first step.


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