Numbers 5

1 God spoke to Moses:
2 "Command the People of Israel to ban from the camp anyone who has an infectious skin disease, anyone who has a discharge, and anyone who is ritually unclean from contact with a dead body.
3 Ban male and female alike; send them outside the camp so that they won't defile their camp, the place I live among them."
4 The People of Israel did this, banning them from the camp. They did exactly what God had commanded through Moses.
5 God spoke to Moses:
6 "Tell the People of Israel, When a man or woman commits any sin, the person has broken trust with God, is guilty,
7 and must confess the sin. Full compensation plus twenty percent must be made to whoever was wronged.
8 If the wronged person has no close relative who can receive the compensation, the compensation belongs to God and must be given to the priest, along with the ram by which atonement is made.
9 All the sacred offerings that the People of Israel bring to a priest belong to the priest.
10 Each person's sacred offerings are his own, but what one gives to the priest stays with the priest."
11 God spoke to Moses:
12 "Tell the People of Israel, Say a man's wife goes off and has an affair, is unfaithful to him
13 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,
14 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,
15 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.
17 He is to take some holy water in a pottery jar and put some dust from the floor of The Dwelling in the water.
18 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.
19 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.
20 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' -
21 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.
22 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.
24 He then is to give the woman the bitter water that delivers a curse. This water will enter her body and cause acute pain.
25 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.
26 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.
27 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.
28 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,
30 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.
31 The husband will be cleared of wrong, but the woman will pay for her wrong."

Numbers 5 Commentary

Chapter 5

The unclean to be removed out of the camp, Restitution to be made for trespasses. (1-10) The trial of jealousy. (11-31)

Verses 1-10 The camp was to be cleansed. The purity of the church must be kept as carefully as the peace and order of it. Every polluted Israelite must be separated. The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable. The greater profession of religion any house or family makes, the more they are obliged to put away iniquity far from them. If a man overreach or defraud his brother in any matter, it is a trespass against the Lord, who strictly charges and commands us to do justly. What is to be done when a man's awakened conscience charges him with guilt of this kind, though done long ago? He must confess his sin, confess it to God, confess it to his neighbour, and take shame to himself; though it go against him to own himself in a lie, yet he must do it. Satisfaction must be made for the offence done to God, as well as for the loss sustained by the neighbour; restitution in that case is not enough without faith and repentance. While that which is wrongly gotten is knowingly kept, the guilt remains on the conscience, and is not done away by sacrifice or offering, prayers or tears; for it is the same act of sin persisted in. This is the doctrine of right reason, and of the word of God. It detects hypocrites, and directs the tender conscience to proper conduct, which, springing from faith in Christ, will make way for inward peace.

Verses 11-31 This law would make the women of Israel watch against giving cause for suspicion. On the other hand, it would hinder the cruel treatment such suspicions might occasion. It would also hinder the guilty from escaping, and the innocent from coming under just suspicion. When no proof could be brought, the wife was called on to make this solemn appeal to a heart-searching God. No woman, if she were guilty, could say "Amen" to the adjuration, and drink the water after it, unless she disbelieved the truth of God, or defied his justice. The water is called the bitter water, because it caused the curse. Thus sin is called an evil and a bitter thing. Let all that meddle with forbidden pleasures, know that they will be bitterness in the latter end. From the whole learn, 1. Secret sins are known to God, and sometimes are strangely brought to light in this life; and that there is a day coming when God will, by Christ, judge the secrets of men according to the gospel, ( Romans 2:16 ) . 2 In particular, Whoremongers and adulterers God will surely judge. Though we have not now the waters of jealousy, yet we have God's word, which ought to be as great a terror. Sensual lusts will end in bitterness. 3. God will manifest the innocency of the innocent. The same providence is for good to some, and for hurt to others. And it will answer the purposes which God intends.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO NUMBERS 5

This chapter contains a repetition of some former laws, concerning putting unclean persons out of the camp, Nu 5:1-4; making restitution in case of trespass against another, Nu 5:5-8; and of giving the offering of all holy things and all hallowed things to the priests, Nu 5:9,10; and a new law concerning jealousy, in a man, of his wife, Nu 5:11-14; when she was to be brought to the priest, and various rites and ceremonies to be used, Nu 5:15-23; who was to give her bitter water as a trial of her chastity, which, if guilty, would have a strange effect upon her, and make her accursed, but if not, would not affect her, and she would be free and happy, Nu 5:24-31.

Numbers 5 Commentaries