Friday, February 16, 2007

The Test for an Unfaithful Wife

Numbers 5:11-31 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'If a man's wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him by sleeping with another man, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure- then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder offering to draw attention to guilt.

" 'The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the LORD. Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 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. Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, "If no other man has slept with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have defiled yourself by sleeping with a man other than your husband"- here the priest is to put the woman under this curse of the oath-"may the LORD cause your people to curse and denounce you when he causes your thigh to waste away and your abdomen to swell. May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells and your thigh wastes away."
" 'Then the woman is to say, "Amen. So be it."

" 'The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. He shall have the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water will enter her and cause bitter suffering. The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the LORD and bring it to the altar. The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. If she has defiled herself and been unfaithful to her husband, then when she is made to drink the water that brings a curse, it will go into her and cause bitter suffering; her abdomen will swell and her thigh waste away, and she will become accursed among her people. If, however, the woman has not defiled herself and is free from impurity, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.

" 'This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and defiles herself while married to her husband, or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the LORD and is to apply this entire law to her. The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.' "




tiny tim said...

I don't get the point of these posts. Maybe I'm slow on the uptake.

Please explain its purpose.

Anonymous said...

I want to know what a woman should do when her husband is unfaithful.

Roopster said...

tiny tim,

The purpose of this blog is to highlight scriptures that we ignore to discuss and/or explain them. If you search the internet, there are a lot of site that discredit christianity because of these scriptures. Are there explanations? Do these scriptures accurately describe God?

The other alternative is that these images do not accurately describe God. Of course, this calls into question the infallability of the Bible.

I'm leaning to the 2nd choice (as you can read from my other blog). However, I'd love to see what the explanations are for these troubling passages. I'm hoping that as time goes on, this blog is a source of information for Christians with similiar questions. Of course, that depends on the quality of the comments.

I was reading Numbers last night and came up with this one. I thought "Huh?" and decided to post it. I've read the Bible through several times and I'm surprised as what you find when you read it through different eyes. It's not as easy to just skip over the difficult passages.

Thanks for your comments. Please let others know about the blog. I would love to get some Christian Apologists on the site to add their comments.


tiny tim said...

But how do laws from 4000 years ago call into question the infallability of the Bible?

Roopster said...

It's not so much the above passage. It's the killings, genocides, etc. attributed to God. Many of these passages go against our definition of who God is. As someone commented on another blog, it's ok to define God as these things and simply say he is God and his ways are not our ways. However, if we preach God as a loving, caring, compassionate Father in heaven who is rich is mercy, slow to anger, and all the other great characteristics of God (which I agree with BTW), how can we also say that he kills babies, condones rape and slavery, kills people for minor transgressions (such as gathering wood on the sabbath or not having an orgasm inside of your dead's brothers wife). These are the questions that this blog raises and would love to see the answers.

tiny tim said...

So there's no problem with Numbers 5?

I would say that if we have a problem with God killing people, then our definition of who God is is wrong. God is allowed to do whatever He wants. He answers to no one. We have no rights and He doesn't owe us anything. If God wants to kill 1000 people for worshipping idols, we should rest assured that His judgment was just.

Slavery seems to keep coming up for some reason. In the OT, slavery was part and parcel with the culture of the time. Just because slavery is outlawed today doesn't mean it should have been outlawed it back then. Remember, God's rules regarding slaves were put in place to ensure slaves had rights and freedoms, something they wouldn't have had otherwise. For example, Deut 23:15 "You shall not give back to his master the slave who has escaped from his master to you", Exd 21:2 "If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing" and Deu 24:14 "Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant [that is] poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:"

Secondly, God's laws were God's laws. It wasn't up to the Israelities to question why, it was their responsibility to follow them. So if God says don't gather sticks on the Sabbath because the Sabbath day is holy, then you didn't gather sticks. As weird as these laws may seem to us today, that doesn't discount the fact that God's laws aren't ever up for personal interpretation. He says, we follow.

Roopster said...

Numbers 5 was just a "huh?"

I understand your point of view.

My follow up question is this -
Do you believe God is a loving, caring, compassionate Father who is slow to anger & rich in mercy?

lenny said...

Numbers 5 leaves you with the burning question - "Is this the eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, infinite Creator of the Universe talking or some ancient culture's traditions?"

tiny tim said...

Yes, I would say God is all of those. Psa 103 is great in terms of describing God. Same with Exodus 34:10 "And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee."

The attitude of God is indeed of mercy, kindness, grace and forgiveness towards His children, as the New Testament so abundantly declares; but it is all within the framework of their ultimate welfare in His purpose.


tiny tim said...

No, Numbers 5 doesn't leave me with that burning question, and nor should it for anyone else. These were the laws God gave to the Israelites. That's all there is to it. I don't understand what the preoccupation is...?

Anonymous said...

I have a big problem with Numbers 5. If there were scripture about how men make themselves impure when laying with someone other than his wife, then perhaps God would be seen as a just God. Numbers 5 shows a very unjust God.

Mickey said...

This passage sure sounds like God is causing the woman to abort, doesn't it?

If she has defiled herself and been unfaithful to her husband, then when she is made to drink the water that brings a curse, it will go into her and cause bitter suffering; her abdomen will swell and her thigh waste away, and she will become accursed among her people. If, however, the woman has not defiled herself and is free from impurity, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.


tiny tim said...

Phew. God is a just God after all. That was a close call...

Deu 22:25 "But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die:"

Anonymous said...

Tiny tim,

That man was not having an affair, he was raping the lady. But it seems a man can have an affair with a willing subject...who if caught will then be impure, but not him.

tiny tim said...

The comment was, "If there were scripture about how men make themselves impure when laying with someone other than his wife..." I provided a verse. Nothing in the comment about affairs only. Seems we're getting technical now... :)

Lev 20:10 "And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." Note: Death for both, not impurity for one.

elentari said...

Great, Tim. You have proven God is just. Mean, but just.

tiny tim said...

Hurray! :)

Mark Wilson said...

Onya tiny time. Good job.

On the topic of God being just... yes He is just. That is the Judge aspect of His character.

God is mean? I can see your perspective. Let me say this:

WHY did God bring in a set of laws that were so hard? Paul in Romans says that He brought in the law to SHOW us that we COULDN'T keep the law and therefore were NOT able to make ourselves righteous.

The only way to make ourselves righteous was - and still is - through faith in God.

So was He mean to bring in laws of such high standards? No. He was illustrating our inability.

The Jewish people then went on stubbornly to try and try and try (and I've been to the wailing wall - they are STILL trying) to make themselves righteous.

He sent a prophet Isaiaha to show them how to be righteous through faith

Isaiah 51:2 "Look to Abraham your father"

And Paul shows us again in Romans. It's really up to us to stop hardening our hearts and to accept that apart from Him we are in need.

When we get that in our heads, when we humble ourselves... we can turn to Him and accept His help.

But first I guess we have to keep discussing His character, in order to decide if He is loving or not.

That's cool. We can do that. But when it's established that we can trust Him absolutely and all that He says... I pray that THEN we will turn to Him as He is in the bible and have Him restore and heal and love us in return.

God bless you,

The Exiled Contessa said...

Hmm. I believe I am finally starting to understand your perspective - and your questions regarding the nature of God.

The Old Testament shows us the nature of God. How He favors and blesses. How he punishes and curses. Somewhere in the latter half of the 20th century, we humans took up this idea that because, "God is love," God should be some sort of...punk? Somebody we can get things over on because he HAS to be loving all the time. The OT shows us who God is, what He is capable of, and that He is perfectly capable of running things and taking care of business - and He is NOT to be trifled with.

The New Testament shows us the doorway to His mercy and the grace of God. He offered us Christ Jesus as that door. You choose which door you go through and where you ultimately end up.

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