Numbers 5

1 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying:
2 "Command the children of Israel that they put out of the camp every leper and every one who hath an issue and whosoever is defiled by the dead.
3 Both male and female shall ye put out. Outside the camp shall ye put them, that they defile not their camps in the midst whereof I dwell."
4 And the children of Israel did so, and put them out outside the camp; as the LORD spoke unto Moses, so did the children of Israel.
5 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying,
6 "Speak unto the children of Israel: `When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit to do a trespass against the LORD, and that person be guilty,
7 then they shall confess their sin which they have done. And he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it a fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed.
8 But if the man have no kinsman to recompense the trespass unto, let the trespass be recompensed unto the LORD, even to the priest, besides the ram of the atonement, whereby an atonement shall be made for him.
9 And every offering of all the holy things of the children of Israel, which they bring unto the priest, shall be his.
10 And every man's hallowed things shall be his; whatsoever any man giveth the priest, it shall be his.'"
11 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying,
12 "Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them: `If any man's wife go astray and commit a trespass against him,
13 and a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband and be kept secret, and she be defiled and there be no witness against her, neither be she taken in the act,
14 and the spirit of jealousy come upon him and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled -- or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled--
15 then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest. And he shall bring her offering for her, a tenth part of an ephah of barley meal. He shall pour no oil upon it nor put frankincense thereon, for it is an offering of jealousy, an offering of memorial, bringing iniquity to remembrance.
16 "`And the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the LORD.
17 And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take and put it into the water.
18 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.
19 And the priest shall charge her by an oath, and say unto the woman, "If no man have lain with thee and if thou hast not gone astray to uncleanness with another instead of thy husband, be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse.
20 But if thou hast gone astray to another instead of thy husband, and if thou be defiled and some man have lain with thee besides thine husband"--
21 then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman -- "the LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot and thy belly to swell.
22 And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels to make thy belly to swell and thy thigh to rot." And the woman shall say, "Amen, amen."
23 "`And the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall blot them out with the bitter water;
24 and he shall cause the woman to drink the bitter water that causeth the curse, and the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her and become bitter.
25 Then the priest shall take the jealousy offering out of the woman's hand, and shall wave the offering before the LORD and offer it upon the altar.
26 And the priest shall take a handful of the offering, even the memorial thereof, and burn it upon the altar, and afterward shall cause the woman to drink the water.
27 And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, if she be defiled and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her and become bitter, and her belly shall swell and her thigh shall rot; and the woman shall be a curse among her people.
28 And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean, then she shall be free and shall conceive seed.
29 "`This is the law of jealousies, when a wife goeth aside to another instead of her husband and is defiled,
30 or when the spirit of jealousy cometh upon him and he is jealous over his wife, and shall set the woman before the LORD, and the priest shall execute upon her all this law.
31 Then shall the man be guiltless from iniquity, and this woman shall bear her iniquity.'"

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


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

Third Millennium Bible (TMB), New Authorized Version, Copyright 1998 by Deuel Enterprises, Inc., Gary, SD 57237. All rights reserved.