Numbers 5:18

18 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.

Read Numbers 5:18 Using Other Translations

And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD, and uncover the woman's head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering: and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse:
And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD and unbind the hair of the woman's head and place in her hands the grain offering of remembrance, which is the grain offering of jealousy. And in his hand the priest shall have the water of bitterness that brings the curse.
When the priest has presented the woman before the LORD, he must unbind her hair and place in her hands the offering of proof—the jealousy offering to determine whether her husband’s suspicions are justified. The priest will stand before her, holding the jar of bitter water that brings a curse to those who are guilty.

What does Numbers 5:18 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Numbers 5:18

And the priest shall set the woman before the Lord
In the east of the tabernacle, with her face to the west, where was the holy of holies, so Ben Gersom; but not immediately for they had her from place to place, as Jarchi says, till she was weary, and her mind disturbed, that she might confess; and if she said, I am defiled, she rent the writing of her dowry, and went out; but if she said, I am pure, they brought her to the eastern gate, the gate of Nicanor, for there they made women suspected of adultery to drink the waters F20:

and uncover the woman's head;
as a token of her immodesty and non-subjection to her husband, and that she might be seen by all, to cause shame in her: according to the Misnah F21, the priest took off her clothes, and loosed her hair--if she was clothed with white garments, he clothed her with black; if she had on her ornaments of gold, chains, earrings, or rings, he took them away from her, that she might be unseemly, and whoever would might come and look at her:

and put the offering of memorial into her hands, which [is] the
jealousy offering;
to weary her, as Jarchi says, that if perhaps her mind was disturbed she would confess; and so in the Misnah F23 it is said, that her husband put this offering into her hands to weary her; but the true reason here seems to be, that it might appear to be her own offering:

and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth
the curse;
not that the water was bitter of itself, for it was the water out of the laver, and had nothing in it but the dust of the floor of the tabernacle; though some think some bitter thing was put into it, so Ben Gersom, as wormwood; but it is so called from the effects of it on those that were guilty; it produced sad effects in them, bitter and distressing, and made them appear to be accursed ones, for it was not bitter till it entered, ( Numbers 5:24 ) ; whereas it was not so to the innocent, nor attended with any such consequence to them; so that there was nothing in the water itself, but its efficacy was divine and supernatural.


FOOTNOTES:

F20 Sotah, c. 1. sect. 5.
F21 Sotah, c. 1. sect. 5, 6.
F23 Sotah, c. 2. sect. 1.
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