Numbers 5:11-31 Adultery Test

GOD promised to give the true answers.

God gives the people specific directions on dealing with jealousy and hidden adultery. BECAUSE He gave it the woman can be sure its judgement will be true.

The first thing I want to say here is that I don’t like this part one bit! I have a couple of reasons for this. First of all I have lived with a jealous husband and he accused me without cause. If we were living in bible times he could have dragged me before the priest any time he got the urge. I would be stuck “defending myself” whenever his jealousy flared. I wonder how many times that would have been over the lifetime of our marriage. Fortunately this is not how my current husband behaves. And before you ask, no, that wasn’t the reason we are no longer together.

The second reason I really don’t like this part is because the men get off scot free! The jealous husband has no repercussions if he falsely accuses his wife. If the cheating wife is found out her partner is not brought up on charges for his part in the process. IT TAKES TWO!!! Why does God let the man off the hook here? We know from our earlier studies that the man is not excused from punishment if it is found out. Leviticus 20 tells of that the man and woman both are to be put to death. But if she is not asked or made to reveal her partner’s name, he is free of judgement in this instance.

Ok. Now that my rant is over let me tell you what I learned today. I have read this section before and never liked it any better then than I do now but today I saw it in a different light. Before, when I would think about this passage I viewed this “test” more as a “crapshoot” than a just judgement. It brought to mind the Salem Witch Trials. During those trials there was really no winning or proving yourself innocent. One of the “tests” was if the person could survive being thrown in the water. If you could swim, you were a witch. If you drown you must have been innocent. Either way you died because if you swam and preserved your life you were guilty and then burned at the stake.

What was impressed upon me today though was completely different. This was not only a way for the jealous or suspecting husband to gain proof but a promise to the wife. If she was innocent GOD would stand up for her! If she was guilty GOD would prove it out. With my ex-husband I didn’t have anything but my word as proof I was innocent of his suspicions. He either believed me or he didn’t. But these wives had Someone to stand up for them. On top of that, they were promised children when their innocence was established.

God designed this test. If the parties did as they were command GOD rendered a truthful judgement. There was no way the woman could hide the truth from Him, no matter how careful she had been. When the woman was innocent God was her champion, no matter how many people were gossiping about her. And there was NEVER a chance that God would make a mistake or remain silent on the matter. He promised to tip the scales with the truth when HE set up the requirements. No luck, no magic, no ambiguous or wrong answers would alter the outcome.

Because of the certainty I wonder how many wives threatened with this test “came clean.” Did the woman who had strayed beg not to be brought to the priest for this test and finally confess or did she think she could “take her chances” and maybe get away with it? The alternative was death. Did the wife who was innocent beg for this test when her husband’s jealousy got out of hand? What did he do if she did? Did it make her claims more believable? What about the wife who was guilty but played the innocent part so well with her husband that she dared him to test her? Was that husband swayed? Or did the woman have any input at all regarding being brought before the priest for this test? And how many times was the man allowed to bring his wife for testing? Was there a limit or could he bring her any time his jealousy reared its ugly head? I know a few women who would have been standing in this place MANY times if the husband had free reign in this instance. Some of them would not have passed the test. Not bragging, but I would have each time. My ex-husband would have stopped bringing me if for no other reason than to stop letting me be blessed with more children for my innocence. Four was more than enough for him.

Father God, thank You for clearing up my conceptions of this test. I still don’t like the idea of the wife being subject to judgement every time the husband gets jealous but I sue would have appreciated something to PROVE to Dale that his allegations were WRONG! I hated the way he treated me with doubt and suspicion even though I never gave him any reason. Thank You that I don’t have to deal with that issue any longer. I honestly would have continued on in that marriage and left it all in Your hands if it had been up to me. But I was released from it by his actions. Thank You for blessing me with Steve who loves me with his whole heart, and I him in return. Thank You that I don’t have to face the issue of continual jealousy any longer. Sometimes it crops up but it is easily put to rest with Steve without needing to “prove” myself.

More than anything else though Father, thank You for confirming to me Your trustworthiness. No woman had to fear being unjustly judged because YOU set up the system and made her a promise. YOU saw her. You see me just as clearly and the promises that You made to me are just as sure as hers were. The one I like BEST is “Whosoever believeth in Me shall have eternal life.” I can take that to the bank!!! No luck, no magic and no fortunetelling need to know the answer here.

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2 Responses to “Numbers 5:11-31 Adultery Test”

  1. Mike says:

    I stumbled on this while trying to get my head around this strange adultery test. I enjoyed your reflections on it.
    Part of it may be to do with paternity. The husband may be jealous, not just because of his wife’s activities but the fear that a child to come may not be his own.
    Now unless someone does a nifty switch in a maternity ward, no one is going to ask who the mum is.
    So in that respect, the test of the woman’s faithfulness but not the test for the man’s would make sense – since it is paternity not maternity that is in dispute.
    It doesn’t say the woman is pregnant, of course but the reference to the woman having children at the end seems a little telling – and continuing the family line does seem very important to that culture.
    I agree that it vindicates the woman and would hopefully reassure the man.
    I still find the test itself quite bizare – although I guess it beats spitting on the ground to heal someone’s eyes.

    Sorry you had such a rough time with your ex.Good to hear you found a good man..



    • Annette Vincent says:

      Hi Mike,
      Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts. I’m glad I could offer some of my ideas. Hope they helped.
      Would love to hear your ideas on any topic. Thanks for joining in. Hope to hear from you again. Thanks for the moral support too.

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