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Numbers 5New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 5

The Unclean Expelled. The Lord said to Moses: Order the Israelites to expel from camp everyone with a scaly infection, and everyone suffering from a discharge, and everyone who has become unclean by contact with a corpse.[a] Male and female alike, you shall expel them. You shall expel them from the camp so that they do not defile their camp, where I dwell in their midst. This the Israelites did, expelling them from the camp; just as the Lord had commanded Moses, so the Israelites did.

Unjust Possession.[b] The Lord said to Moses: Tell the Israelites: If a man or a woman commits any offense against another person, thus breaking faith with the Lord, and thereby becomes guilty, that person shall confess the wrong that has been done, make restitution in full, and in addition give one fifth of its value to the one that has been wronged. However, if there is no next of kin,[c] one to whom restitution can be made, the restitution shall be made to the Lord and shall fall to the priest; this is apart from the ram of atonement with which the priest makes atonement for the guilty individual. Likewise, every contribution among the sacred offerings that the Israelites present to the priest will belong to him. 10 Each shall possess his own sacred offerings; what is given to a priest shall be his.

Ordeal for Suspected Adultery. 11 The Lord said to Moses: 12 Speak to the Israelites and tell them: If a man’s wife goes astray and becomes unfaithful to him 13 by virtue of a man having intercourse with her in secret from her husband and she is able to conceal the fact that she has defiled herself for lack of a witness who might have caught her in the act; 14 or if a man is overcome by a feeling of jealousy that makes him suspect his wife, and she has defiled herself; or if a man is overcome by a feeling of jealousy that makes him suspect his wife and she has not defiled herself— 15 then the man shall bring his wife to the priest as well as an offering on her behalf, a tenth of an ephah[d] of barley meal. However, he shall not pour oil on it nor put frankincense over it, since it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of remembrance which recalls wrongdoing.

16 The priest shall first have the woman come forward and stand before the Lord. 17 In an earthen vessel he shall take holy water,[e] as well as some dust from the floor of the tabernacle and put it in the water. 18 Making the woman stand before the Lord, the priest shall uncover her head and place in her hands the grain offering of remembrance, that is, the grain offering of jealousy, while he himself shall hold the water of bitterness that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall adjure the woman, saying to her, “If no other man has had intercourse with you, and you have not gone astray by defiling yourself while under the authority of your husband, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings a curse. 20 But if you have gone astray while under the authority of your husband, and if you have defiled yourself and a man other than your husband has had intercourse with you”— 21 so shall the priest adjure the woman with this imprecation—“may the Lord make you a curse and malediction[f] among your people by causing your uterus to fall and your belly to swell! 22 May this water, then, that brings a curse, enter your bowels to make your belly swell and your uterus fall!” And the woman shall say, “Amen, amen!”[g] 23 The priest shall put these curses in writing and shall then wash them off into the water of bitterness, 24 and he will have the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings a curse, so that the water that brings a curse may enter into her to her bitter hurt. 25 But first the priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy from the woman’s hand, and having elevated the grain offering before the Lord, shall bring it to the altar, 26 where he shall take a handful of the grain offering as a token offering and burn it on the altar. Only then shall he have the woman drink the water. 27 Once he has had her drink the water, if she has defiled herself and been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings a curse will enter into her to her bitter hurt, and her belly will swell and her uterus will fall, so that she will become a curse among her people. 28 If, however, the woman has not defiled herself, but is still pure, she will be immune and will still be fertile.

29 This, then, is the ritual for jealousy when a woman goes astray while under the authority of her husband and defiles herself, 30 or when such a feeling of jealousy comes over a man that he becomes suspicious of his wife; he shall have her stand before the Lord, and the priest shall perform this entire ritual for her. 31 The man shall be free from punishment,[h] but the woman shall bear her punishment.

Footnotes:

  1. 5:2 For the laws regarding victims of skin disease, see Lv 13–14; those suffering from a discharge, Lv 15; those unclean by contact with a corpse, Nm 19:11–22; Lv 21:1–4.
  2. 5:5–10 The basic law on unjust possession is given in Lv 5:14–26. The new item here concerns the case where the injured party has died and left no heirs, in which case the restitution must be made to the priest.
  3. 5:8 Next of kin: Hebrew go’el (“redeemer”), a technical term denoting the nearest relative, upon whom devolved the obligation of “redeeming” the family property, in order to keep it within the family. Cf. Lv 25:25; Ru 4:1–6.
  4. 5:15 Ephah: see note on Is 5:10.
  5. 5:17 Holy water: water from the basin that stood in the court of the tabernacle.
  6. 5:21 Curse and malediction: the woman’s name would be used in curses and oaths to invoke a similar misfortune on another person or on oneself. Cf. Is 65:15; Jer 29:22.
  7. 5:22 Amen: a Hebrew word meaning “certainly, truly,” used to give assent to a statement, a curse, a blessing, a prayer, or the like, in the sense of “so be it.”
  8. 5:31 Free from punishment: the point is that a husband will not suffer a harmful consequence if his accusation is not borne out by the ordeal; if he’s right, his wife’s punishment vindicates him. For her part, the woman (if guilty) must bear her punishment.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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