Numbers 5: The Law of Jealousy


All the lepers are to be cast out of the camp and if a man is jealous of his wife and thinks she is cheating on him with another man but can’t prove it, he is to bring her to the priest with an offering or barley and frankincense and the priest shall take dust from the floor of the tabernacle and put it in water and curse the woman telling her – drink this – if you are defiled, your belly will swell and your thighs will rot. If you are clean, you will be fine. This curse is written in a book, then blotted out with water. Part of the offering is then burnt upon the altar and the woman is made to drink the dirt filled water so everyone can see what happens next.

In other words:

Men who are jealous of their wives but can’t prove they are unfaithful can ask the priest to test the wives by making them drink dirty water to see if they get sick. If they do, they were defiled. If they don’t, they are declared innocent.

My impressions of this as a woman:

Obviously, this is unfair to the women. After all husbands can get mad and try to kill their wives this way.  On the other hand, drinking dirt filled water isn’t guaranteed to kill you, so I suppose you do have a chance of surviving. Still, I would not want to live under this sort of law where without proof, a husband can threaten my life.

Moral Lesson Learned:

Jealousy can make people do REALLY stupid things (Numbers 5)