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Numbers 5


Please choose a passage to read our commentary:

Numbers 5:1-4

Numbers 5:1-4 includes the LORD’s commands concerning personal uncleanness. There are several ways mentioned here that a person could become unclean. Any unclean person was to be sent outside the camp to quarantine for a period of time.

Numbers 5:5-10

The LORD then, in Numbers 5:5-10, instructed Moses about what to do when a person commits an offense against another person in the camp. This section repeats the law given to Moses in Leviticus 5:14-6:7. It stresses the importance of maintaining purity in interpersonal relationships within the camp as they travel to the Promised Land.

Numbers 5:11-15

The next subject, which is called “the law of jealousy” in Numbers 5:31, is discussed in verses 11-31. It concerns marital infidelity that was suspected but not verified. The marriage relationship, the most basic of all between humans, and the building block for a successful self-governing society, was a reflection of one’s relationship to the LORD. To be unfaithful in marriage was to be unfaithful to one’s LORD.

Numbers 5:16-22

Verses 16-22 describe the ritual performed by the priest in order to determine the guilt or innocence of the woman suspected of adultery. It included the drinking of the “water of bitterness” which, depending on her guilt or innocence, would affect her physically. The ritual included the pronouncement of a curse that would go into effect if she was guilty of adultery. The accused woman would then agree to the terms of the curse.

Numbers 5:23-28

Numbers 5:23-28 contain additional activities that needed to happen prior to the woman drinking the water.

Numbers 5:29-31

Numbers 5:29-31 provide a summary of the principles in this section (verses 11-28) concerning a husband’s suspicion and jealousy of his wife’s adultery.