Numbers 5:30
Or when the spirit of jealousy cometh upon him, and he be jealous over his wife, and shall set the woman before the LORD, and the priest shall execute upon her all this law.
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5:11-31 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, Ro 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.Of itself, the drink was not noxious; and could only produce the effects here described by a special interposition of God. We do not read of any instance in which this ordeal was resorted to: a fact which may be explained either (with the Jews) as a proof of its efficacy, since the guilty could not be brought to face its terrors at all, and avoided them by confession; or more probably by the license of divorce tolerated by the law of Moses. Since a husband could put away his wife at pleasure, a jealous man would naturally prefer to take this course with a suspected wife rather than to call public attention to his own shame by having recourse to the trial of jealousy. The trial by red water, which bears a general resemblance to that here prescribed by Moses, is still in use among the tribes of Western Africa. 29. This is the law of jealousies—Adultery discovered and proved was punished with death. But strongly suspected cases would occur, and this law made provision for the conviction of the guilty person. It was, however, not a trial conducted according to the forms of judicial process, but an ordeal through which a suspected adulteress was made to go—the ceremony being of that terrifying nature, that, on the known principles of human nature, guilt or innocence could not fail to appear. From the earliest times, the jealousy of Eastern people has established ordeals for the detection and punishment of suspected unchastity in wives. The practice was deep-rooted as well as universal. And it has been thought, that the Israelites being strongly biassed in favor of such usages, this law of jealousies "was incorporated among the other institutions of the Mosaic economy, in order to free it from the idolatrous rites which the heathens had blended with it." Viewed in this light, its sanction by divine authority in a corrected and improved form exhibits a proof at once of the wisdom and condescension of God. No text from Poole on this verse.

Or when the spirit of jealousy cometh upon him, and he be jealous over his wife,.... See Gill on Numbers 5:14,

and shall set the woman before the Lord; has carried the matter so far as to bring his wife to the priest or civil magistrate, and declare his suspicion, and the ground of it:

and the priest shall execute upon her all this law; he shall proceed according to the law, and perform every rite and ceremony required; nor could any stop be put to it, unless the woman owned she was defiled.

Or when the spirit of jealousy cometh upon him, and he be jealous over his wife, and shall set the woman before the LORD, and the priest shall execute upon her all this law.
Numbers 5:30Numbers 5:29-31 bring the law of jealousy to a formal close, with the additional remark, that the man who adopted this course with a wife suspected of adultery was free from sin, but the woman would bear her guilt (see Leviticus 5:1), i.e., in case she were guilty, would bear the punishment threatened by God. Nothing is said about what was to be done in case the woman refused to take the oath prescribed, because that would amount to a confession of her guilt, when she would have to be put to death as an adulteress, according to the law in Leviticus 20:10; and not she alone, but the adulterer also. In the law just mentioned the man is placed on an equality with the woman with reference to the sin of adultery; and thus the apparent partiality, that a man could sue his wife for adultery, but not the wife her husband, is removed. But the law before us applied to the woman only, because the man was at liberty to marry more than one wife, or to take concubines to his own wife; so that he only violated the marriage tie, and was guilty of adultery, when he formed an illicit connection with another man's wife. In that case, the man whose marriage had been violated could proceed against his adulterous wife, and in most instances convict the adulterer also, in order that he might receive his punishment too. For a really guilty wife would not have made up her mind so easily to take the required oath of purification, as the curse of God under which she came was no easier to bear than the punishment of death. For this law prescribed no ordeal whose effects were uncertain, like the ordeals of other nations, but a judgment of God, from which the guilty could not escape, because it had been appointed by the living God.
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