Numbers 5:15

Numbers 5:15

Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest
Not to the high priest but to a common priest, anyone then officiating in his course; for there was a jealousy offering to be offered up before the Lord upon the altar, which none but a priest might do; and besides, the whole process in this affair was to be carried, on by him: according to the Misnah F14, the man brought his wife first to the sanhedrim, or court of judicature in the place where he lived; before whom, as Maimonides F15 says, he proved by witnesses that he had warned his wife of being in private with such a man, and yet she had done it again; and whereas she insisted on her chastity, he desired that the bitter waters might be given her, that the truth might appear; and then they sent him with two disciples of the wise men, to the great sanhedrim at Jerusalem, where the trial was made; who, in order to bring her too confession, endeavoured to terrify her, as they do persons in capital cases, and finding this wilt not do, then they used smooth words, saying, my daughter, perhaps much wine was the occasion of it, or much laughter

and he shall bring her offering for her:
not the priest, but her husband, and that whether he is willing or not, as Aben Ezra; who also observes, that it may be interpreted, with her, or for her sake, not to make any expiation for any fault of his, that when he first observed her immodesty, did not reprove her; for the offering, though brought by him, was not his, but his wife's, and not to expiate her sin, but to bring it to remembrance, as is after expressed:

the tenth [part] of an ephah of barley meal;
which was an omer, ( Exodus 16:36 ) , the quantity of manna for one man every day, ( Exodus 16:16 ) , and the quantity of flour in the daily meat offering, ( Exodus 29:40 ) ; only that was of fine wheaten flour; this of barley, the food of beasts, as the Targum of Jonathan remarks; and R. Gamaliel in the Misnah F16 says, that as her deed was the deed of a beast, so her offering was the food of a beast; and this is observed by Jarchi and Aben Ezra on the text, as the reason of barley being used in this offering: some say it was a symbol of her impudence, others of her being little at home, as the barley is not long under ground F17; the true reason, it may be, was for her humiliation, being vile, and mean, hence it follows:

he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon;
as used to be oft meat offerings, denoting their acceptableness to God, ( Leviticus 2:1 ) ; the reason seems to be, because these were tokens of joy and gladness, whereas this was a mournful affair to the husband, that he should have any cause of suspicion and jealousy, to the wife that she should be suspected, and to the whole family on that account:

for it [is] an offering of jealousy, an offering of memorial, bringing
iniquity to remembrance;
if guilty of it, and therefore oil and frankincense were forbidden in this kind of offering as in a sin offering, ( Leviticus 5:11 ) .


FOOTNOTES:

F14 Ut supra, (Misn. Bava Kama, c. 9.) sect. 3, 4.
F15 Hilchot Sotah, c. 3. sect. 1.
F16 Sotah, c. 2. sect. 1.
F17 Apud Muis. in loc.