A Test for Adultery

Numbers 5

11 God spoke to Moses: "Tell the People of Israel, Say a man's wife goes off and has an affair, is unfaithful to him by sleeping with another man, but her husband knows nothing about it even though she has defiled herself. And then, even though there was no witness and she wasn't caught in the act, feelings of jealousy come over the husband and he suspects that his wife is impure. Even if she is innocent and his jealousy and suspicions are groundless, he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of two quarts of barley flour for her. He is to pour no oil on it or mix incense with it because it is a Grain-Offering for jealousy, a Grain-Offering for bringing the guilt out into the open.

16 "The priest then is to take her and have her stand in the presence of God. He is to take some holy water in a pottery jar and put some dust from the floor of The Dwelling in the water. After the priest has her stand in the presence of God he is to uncover her hair and place the exposure-offering in her hands, the Grain-Offering for jealousy, while he holds the bitter water that delivers a curse. Then the priest will put the woman under oath and say, 'If no man has slept with you and you have not had an adulterous affair and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that delivers a curse not harm you. But if you have had an affair while married to your husband and have defiled yourself by sleeping with a man other than your husband' - here the priest puts the woman under this curse - 'may God cause your people to curse and revile you when he makes your womb shrivel and your belly swell. Let this water that delivers a curse enter your body so that your belly swells and your womb shrivels.' "Then the woman shall say, 'Amen. Amen.'

23 "The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash the words off into the bitter water. He then is to give the woman the bitter water that delivers a curse. This water will enter her body and cause acute pain. The priest then is to take from her hands a handful of the Grain-Offering for jealousy, wave it before God, and bring it to the Altar. The priest then is to take a handful of the Grain-Offering, using it as an exposure-offering, and burn it on the Altar; after this he is to make her drink the water. If she has defiled herself in being unfaithful to her husband, when she drinks the water that delivers a curse, it will enter her body and cause acute pain; her belly will swell and her womb shrivel. She will be cursed among her people. But if she has not defiled herself and is innocent of impurity, her name will be cleared and she will be able to have children.

29 "This is the law of jealousy in a case where a woman goes off and has an affair and defiles herself while married to her husband, or a husband is tormented with feelings of jealousy because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand in the presence of God and go through this entire procedure with her. The husband will be cleared of wrong, but the woman will pay for her wrong."

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by NavPress and Eugene H. Peterson
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