Matthew 5:34

New Testament

33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not break an oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ 34 But I say to you, do not take oaths at all—not by heaven, because it is the throne of God, 35 not by earth because it is his footstool, and not by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King. 36 Do not take an oath by your head because you are not able to make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word be ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no.’ More than this is from the evil one.

Nedarim 77b

Babylonian Talmud

Rava said to Rav Naḥman: Master, see that Sage who came from the West, Eretz Yisrael, and who said: The Sages attended to the dissolution of a vow taken by the son of Rav Huna bar Avin, and they dissolved his vow and said to him: Go and request mercy for yourself, for you have sinned by taking a vow. As Rav Dimi, the brother of Rav Safra teaches: With regard to anyone who takes a vow, even if he fulfills it, he is called a sinner. Rav Zevid said: What verse teaches this? It is: “But if you refrain to vow, it will be no sin in you” (Deuteronomy 23:23). It may be inferred that if you did not refrain from taking vows, there is sin.

 Notes and References

"... The most striking aspect of the exegetical debate on vowing (Deuteronomy 23:22) or not vowing (Deuteronomy 23:23) is that the debate needs to be held at all. Normally, rabbinic legal exegesis has no trouble dealing with redundant, inconsistent, or even contradictory texts. According to the system of harmonistic legal exegesis (midrash halakah), the simple solution is to deny any redundancy, inconsistency, or contradiction. In the case of the three pentateuchal manumission laws, for example, each is construed as having a separate application so that there is no overlap between them. Theoretically, a similar approach might have worked here: “If you vow: this applies to case A. But if you do not vow: this applies to case B.” But no such solution is suggested. Instead, the text becomes a context for arguing the relative merits of vowing or not vowing. Neither R. Meir nor R. Judah can read Deuteronomy’s law of vows as a coherent unit; each must choose between verses 22 and 23, between vowing and not vowing, and between the original text and the interpolation. This debate on vows struck a responsive chord in a wide range of rabbinic texts. It is widely cited in both the Babylonian and the Palestinian Talmuds in a number of contexts. The position of R. Meir seems to become dominant, to the extent that the very notion of vowing altogether comes to be regarded as a sin (b. Nedarim 77b) ..."

Levinson, Bernard M. A More Perfect Torah: At the Intersection of Philology and Hermeneutics in Deuteronomy and the Temple Scroll (p. 64) Penn State University Press, 2013

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