In the ordeal of the Water of Jealousy described in Numbers 5:11-31 (P), the effect on the unfaithful wife ot the drinking of the holy water was to cause the thigh to fall away (Revised Version) or rot (the King James Version) and the abdomen to "swell." This ceremonial was a direct appeal to the judgment of God, for there was nothing in the holy water (taken from the laver) or the dust of the temple which was mixed with it to produce this effect. In the Talmudic tract Cotah there are given many rabbinical opinions and particulars as to the procedure in later times. Apparently from the passage in Numbers, the judgment speedily followed the appeal, but according to Sotah, iii.4, it might be postponed even for four years, and in v.1, it is said to have produced the same effect on the adulterer as on the unfaithful wife. We have no details as to the nature or permanency of the swelling.
"Swell" as the translation of another word, batseq, is used in the sense of blistering of the feet from long tramping. Both in Deuteronomy 8:4 and Nehemiah 9:21 it is said that in spite of their long wilderness marches the feet of the Israelites did not swell. This was a token of divine protection.
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