The Book of Numbers, chapter 5 verse 11, starts a section out with the inescapable fact that this passage is not just some prophet or opinionated preacher or whatever, this is GOD speaking: “Then the LORD said to Moses:”
Numbers 5: 12-19 sets the stage: if a man knows or suspects that his wife has been sleeping with someone else, then he has to take her to the priest with a “grain offering of jealousy”. The priest takes the woman to “stand before the LORD”. He unloosens her hair. He puts the jealousy offering of grain into her hands. He takes some “holy water”, and sprinkles into it some dust from the temple floor. Then he puts her under oath and says “If you’re innocent, may this bitter water not harm you.”
But if she is guilty, it is God’s command that the priest ask God to curse her and cause her to have an abortion and have her uterus collapse, as a warning to others and as a way of making sure that the husband is only raising his own children.
Numbers 5: 20-22 (from the GOD’S WORD translation, 1995)-
20 If, in fact, you have been unfaithful and have had sexual intercourse with another man,
21 may the LORD make you an example for your people to see what happens when the curse of this oath comes true: The LORD will make your uterus drop and your stomach swell.’ “Then the priest will administer the oath and the curse by saying:
22 ‘May this water that can bring a curse go into your body and make your stomach swell and your uterus drop!’ “Then the woman will say, ‘Amen, amen!’
And the priest writes the curse on a scroll, and washes the words off into the bitter “holy water”, and makes the woman drink the water, which is designed to make her abort if she is guilty and to “cause her bitter pain” and to prevent her having any further children;
28 but if the woman is not unclean and is pure, she is not guilty and will be able to have children
… but only by her loving husband, of course.
Gotta love those primitive tribes and their old time religion!
Some of the American politicians should be reading this. Then again, they’d probably say Moses and his Lord did good.
I met a man of the age of 50. He had never married but in his life’s experiences has had 5 long term relations with women who were married to another man.
I have always been confused by that passage, because when I read that they gave her “bitter water” I immediately thought of the herbal concoctions historically used to induce abortions in women. They are bitter and cause lots of pain and mess, and sometimes infertility. Of course, the woman would almost always be seen as guilty then, regardless of whether she actually was or not.
Nothing confusing here… if the procedure guarantees a guilty verdict, any woman with any sense will be properly terrified – not only of being suspected of adultery, but also of giving her husband any reason to ever be angry at her, lest he lie and the courts find her, you know, guilty of adultery.
Self-policing is the best policing.
Actually the proper translation is, “the Lord makes your thigh fall away and your body swell” This means that she curses her own womb. There is no mention that this lady was pregnant, nor does it have anything to do with abortion. It is simply a guide to show that adultery was wrong. In today’s language it would be like you “swearing to god” that you did not do such and such. Of course today we no longer live under the law.
Thigh in the bible tends to be discussing the genitals. For instance if a woman grabs a mans thigh as to help her husband in a fight you may cut off her hand. Or Abraham put his hand under his thigh to make a pact. This is literally grabbing the dude by the balls. The original hebrew (or greek depending on translation) referred to this section utilizing one word which was translated into old english (KJV) as thigh (still didn’t have a variation of testicles or balls). Typically the only reason a man would suspect a woman of infidelity would be because she already was pregnant, this passage specifically states that if the woman was pregnant with the mans child she would not have a miscarriage or a “rotted thigh”.
Ironically the bible is full of people not following the 10 commandments (especially in the New Testaments since Jesus offered up that new commandent “Love one another”. You do that you tend to be golden).
Also whatever God requires, or however strict it appears should tell you something. It says that sin, any sin is detestable to God. Such extremes were God’s way of trying to teach his people how wrong something like infidelity is before a Holy God. And I correct myself. Later in verse 27 it does say, “womb shall swell” but again it is to show God’s power and hatred of sin. Also whatever the Lord takes away he can also restore. Such extremes were removed from us what God sent His only Son to suffer in our place, die in our place and rise again. Punishments like the one you address were placed on Jesus, so that we no longer would have to carry that burden.
With respect, the conclusion you wish to be drawn, that “It says that sin, any sin is detestable to God.” is some sort of misunderstanding or delusion, at the very very best. If sin is an arrow that misses, then the unjust punishment of forced fertilization is, let’s say a little more than a missed arrow, to the life of a woman. You really think that God armed his priests with the power to fertilize a woman on a whim of her husband because all sin is detestable to God?
I can’t say “forced fertilization” often enough really, to impress upon you (at least your ears) how unpleasant those words sound, compared to the soothing peaceable words you use.. restore, burden, hatred of sin, etc. You might not listen, but your ears will undoubtedly hear it.