The first few chapters of Numbers have contained a lot of numbers. Let’s see if Chapter 5 continues the theme of numbers.
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the Lord is guilty and must confess the sin they have committed.’’” – Numbers 5:5-7
This is reasonable. I don’t agree with the Lord part since I don’t believe in a Lord, but in terms of not wronging another, I agree with punishing wrongdoing, obviously.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing. The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband” here the priest is to put the woman under this curse “may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.” – Numbers 5:11-22
WTF?!?!?!? This is the test for an unfaithful wife. First, why is it the woman’s fault? Men can have concubines, but not women? Second, what kind of test is this? Bitter water determines faithfulness? What a joke! If this is the test for faithfulness, God has lost his marbles. Third, God allows a curse that causes the woman to miscarry. In other words, God commits abortion. Fourth, and this is the funny (or maybe hypocritical part), the people are supposed to have full faith in God and trust Him, but women can’t be trusted. The woman may be faithful, but she still must undergo the test for faithfulness. Her word is not to be trusted.
“The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.” – Numbers 5:31
And there you have it. Classic biblical misogyny. The man is innocent of any wrongdoing. The woman will bear the consequence. The man may incorrectly identify his wife as unfaithful and force her to go through this test of faithfulness, but if he’s wrong, he faces no punishment.
This is a horrible chapter in the Bible in my opinion. It further pushes the theme that men are better than women and women are not to be trusted. A man needs no evidence of faithfulness. He can have the woman tested at any time and he bears no fault in whatever happened. Sickening.
Coming Soon: Numbers – Chapter 6: The Nazirite