Isolation of the Unclean

The Lord instructed Moses: “Command the Israelites to send away anyone from the camp who is afflicted with a skin disease, anyone who has a bodily discharge, or anyone who is defiled because of a corpse.(A) You must send away both male or female; send them outside the camp, so that they will not defile their camps where I dwell among them.” The Israelites did this, sending them outside the camp. The Israelites did as the Lord instructed Moses.

Compensation for Wrongdoing

The Lord spoke to Moses: “Tell the Israelites: When a man or woman commits any sin against another, that person acts unfaithfully toward the Lord and is guilty. The person is to confess the sin he has committed. He is to pay full compensation, add a fifth of its value to it, and give it to the individual he has wronged.(B) But if that individual has no relative(C) to receive compensation,[a] the compensation goes to the Lord for the priest, along with the atonement ram by which the priest will make atonement for the guilty person.(D) Every holy contribution the Israelites present to the priest will be his.(E) 10 Each one’s holy contribution is his to give; what each one gives to the priest will be his.”

The Jealousy Ritual

11 The Lord spoke to Moses: 12 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: If any man’s wife goes astray, is unfaithful to him, 13 and sleeps with another,[b] but it is concealed from her husband, and she is undetected, even though she has defiled herself, since there is no witness against her, and she wasn’t caught in the act; 14 and if a feeling of jealousy comes over the husband and he becomes jealous because of his wife who has defiled herself—or if a feeling of jealousy comes over him and he becomes jealous of her though she has not defiled herself— 15 then the man is to bring his wife to the priest. He is also to bring an offering for her of two quarts[c] of barley flour. He is not to pour oil over it or put frankincense on it because it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering for remembrance that brings sin to mind.

16 “The priest is to bring her forward and have her stand before the Lord. 17 Then the priest is to take holy water in a clay bowl, and take some of the dust from the tabernacle floor and put it in the water. 18 After the priest has the woman stand before the Lord, he is to let down her hair[d] and place in her hands the grain offering for remembrance, which is the grain offering of jealousy. The priest is to hold the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 The priest will require the woman to take an oath and will say to her, ‘If no man has slept with you, if you have not gone astray and become defiled while under your husband’s authority, be unaffected by this bitter water that brings a curse. 20 But if you have gone astray while under your husband’s authority, if you have defiled yourself and a man other than your husband has slept with you’— 21 at this point the priest must make the woman take the oath with the sworn curse, and he is to say to her—‘May the Lord make you into an object of your people’s cursing and swearing when He makes your thigh[e] shrivel and your belly swell.[f] 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your stomach, causing your belly to swell and your thigh to shrivel.’

“And the woman must reply, ‘Amen, Amen.’

23 “Then the priest is to write these curses on a scroll and wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He will require the woman to drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and it will enter her and cause bitter suffering. 25 The priest is to take the grain offering of jealousy from the woman’s hand, wave the offering before the Lord, and bring it to the altar. 26 The priest is to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial portion and burn it on the altar. Then he will require the woman to drink the water.

27 “When he makes her drink the water, if she has defiled herself and been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings a curse will enter her and cause bitter suffering; her belly will swell, and her thigh will shrivel. She will become a curse among her people. 28 But if the woman has not defiled herself and is pure, she will be unaffected and will be able to conceive children.

29 “This is the law regarding jealousy when a wife goes astray and defiles herself while under her husband’s authority, 30 or when a feeling of jealousy comes over a husband and he becomes jealous of his wife. He is to have the woman stand before the Lord, and the priest will apply this entire ritual to her. 31 The husband will be free of guilt, but that woman will bear the consequences of her guilt.”

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 5:8 If the individual has died
  2. Numbers 5:13 Lit and man lies with her [and has] an emission of semen
  3. Numbers 5:15 Lit a tenth of an ephah
  4. Numbers 5:18 Or to uncover her head
  5. Numbers 5:21 Possibly a euphemism for the reproductive organs
  6. Numbers 5:21 Or flood

The Purity of the Camp

The Lord said to Moses, “Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has a defiling skin disease[a](A) or a discharge(B) of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean(C) because of a dead body.(D) Send away male and female alike; send them outside the camp so they will not defile their camp, where I dwell among them.(E) The Israelites did so; they sent them outside the camp. They did just as the Lord had instructed Moses.

Restitution for Wrongs

The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way[b] and so is unfaithful(F) to the Lord is guilty(G) and must confess(H) the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution(I) for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged. But if that person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest, along with the ram(J) with which atonement is made for the wrongdoer.(K) All the sacred contributions the Israelites bring to a priest will belong to him.(L) 10 Sacred things belong to their owners, but what they give to the priest will belong to the priest.(M)’”

The Test for an Unfaithful Wife

11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray(N) and is unfaithful to him 13 so that another man has sexual relations with her,(O) 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), 14 and if feelings of jealousy(P) 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— 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah[c](Q) of barley flour(R) on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy,(S) a reminder-offering(T) to draw attention to wrongdoing.

16 “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair(U) and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy,(V) while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse.(W) 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray(X) and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse(Y) not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray(Z) while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse(AA)—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse[d] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water(AB) that brings a curse(AC) enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

“‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.(AD)

23 “‘The priest is to write these curses on a scroll(AE) and then wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering will enter her. 25 The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the Lord(AF) and bring it to the altar. 26 The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial[e] offering(AG) and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. 27 If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse.(AH) 28 If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.

29 “‘This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray(AI) and makes herself impure while married to her husband, 30 or when feelings of jealousy(AJ) 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. 31 The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences(AK) of her sin.’”

Footnotes

  1. Numbers 5:2 The Hebrew word for defiling skin disease, traditionally translated “leprosy,” was used for various diseases affecting the skin.
  2. Numbers 5:6 Or woman who commits any wrong common to mankind
  3. Numbers 5:15 That is, probably about 3 1/2 pounds or about 1.6 kilograms
  4. Numbers 5:21 That is, may he cause your name to be used in cursing (see Jer. 29:22); or, may others see that you are cursed; similarly in verse 27.
  5. Numbers 5:26 Or representative

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