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On Defilement

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Command the Israelites to send away from the camp every leper and everyone who has a discharge, and whoever is defiled [that is, ceremonially unclean] by [coming in contact with] the dead. You shall send away both male and female; you shall send them outside the camp so that they will not defile their camp where I dwell in their midst.” The Israelites did so, and sent them outside the camp; just as the Lord had said to Moses, so the Israelites did.

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Say to the Israelites, ‘When a man or woman commits any of the sins of mankind [against other people], thus breaking faith with the Lord, and that person is guilty, then he shall confess the sin which he has committed, and he shall make restitution for his wrong in full, and add a fifth to it, and give it to [the person] whom he has wronged. But if the man [who was wronged] has no redeemer (relative) to whom the restitution may be made, it is to be given to the Lord for the priest, besides the ram of atonement with which atonement is made for the offender. Also every contribution pertaining to all the holy gifts of the Israelites which they offer to the priest, shall be his. 10 And every man’s holy gifts shall be the priest’s; whatever any man gives the priest, it becomes his.’”

The Adultery Test

11 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them, ‘If any man’s wife goes astray (deviates) and is unfaithful to him, 13 and a man is intimate with her, and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband and it is kept secret, although she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act, 14 and if a spirit (sense, attitude) of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous and angry at his wife who has defiled herself—or if a spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife when she has not defiled herself— 15 then the man shall bring his wife to the priest, and he shall bring as an offering for her, a tenth of an ephah of barley meal; he shall not pour oil on it nor put frankincense on it [the symbols of favor and joy], because it is a grain offering of jealousy, a memorial grain offering, a reminder of [the consequences of] wickedness.

16 ‘Then the priest shall have her approach and have her stand before the Lord, 17 and the priest shall take holy water [from the sacred basin] in an earthenware vessel; and he shall take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it in the water. 18 The priest shall then have the woman stand before the Lord, and let the hair of the woman’s head hang loose, and put the memorial grain offering in her hands, which is the jealousy offering, and in the hand of the priest is to be the water of bitterness that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall have her take an oath and say to the woman, “If no man has lain with you and if you have not gone astray into uncleanness [while married], then be immune to this water of bitterness that brings a curse; 20 but if you have gone astray [while married] and you have defiled yourself and a man other than your husband has been intimate with you” 21 (then the priest shall have the woman swear the oath of the curse, and say to the woman), “The Lord make you a curse and an oath among your people when the Lord makes your thigh [a]waste away and your abdomen swell; 22 and this water that brings a curse shall go into your stomach, and make your abdomen swell and your thigh waste away.” And the woman shall say, “Amen. Amen (so let it be).”

23 ‘The priest shall then write these curses on a scroll and shall wash them off into the water of bitterness; 24 and he shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings a curse, and the water that brings the curse will go into her and cause bitterness. 25 Then the priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy out of the woman’s hand, and he shall wave the grain offering before the Lord and offer it on the altar. 26 Then the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering as the memorial portion of it and offer it up in smoke on the altar, and afterward he shall make the woman drink the water. 27 When he has made her drink the water, then it shall come about, that if she has defiled herself and has been unfaithful to her husband, the curse water will go into her and cause bitterness and cause her abdomen to swell and her thigh to waste away, and the woman will become a curse among her people. 28 But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she will be free and conceive children.

29 ‘This is the law of jealousy: when a wife goes astray [while married] and defiles herself, 30 or when a spirit (sense, attitude) of jealousy and suspicion comes on a man and he is jealous of his wife; then he shall have the woman stand before the Lord, and the priest shall apply this law to her. 31 Further, the husband will be free from guilt, but that woman [if guilty] shall bear her guilt.’”

Law of the Nazirites

Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Say to the sons of Israel, ‘When a man or a woman makes a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, that is, one separated and dedicated to the Lord, he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes.(A) [b]All the time of his separation he shall not eat anything produced from the grapevine, from the seeds even to the skins.

‘All the time of the vow of his separation no razor shall be used on his head. Until the time of his separation to the Lord is completed, he shall be holy, and shall let the hair of his head grow long.

‘All the time that he separates himself to the Lord he shall not go near a dead body. He shall not make himself [ceremonially] unclean for his father, mother, brother, or sister, when they die, because [the responsibility for] his separation to God is on his head. All the time of his separation he is holy to the Lord.

‘If a man dies very suddenly beside him, and he defiles his dedicated head, then he shall shave his head on the day that he becomes [ceremonially] clean; he shall shave it on the seventh day [the end of the purification period]. 10 On the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the doorway of the Tent of Meeting (tabernacle). 11 The priest shall offer the one as a sin offering and the other as a burnt offering and make atonement for him concerning his sin because of the [dead] body. He shall consecrate his head the same day, 12 and he shall dedicate himself to the Lord for the time of his separation and shall bring a male lamb a year old as a guilt offering; but the previous days will be void and lost, because his separation was defiled.

13 ‘Now this is the law of the Nazirite when the days of his separation and dedication are fulfilled: he shall bring the offering to the doorway of the Tent of Meeting (tabernacle). 14 and he shall offer his gift to the Lord: one male lamb a year old without blemish as a burnt offering, and one female lamb a year old without blemish as a sin offering, and one ram without blemish as a peace offering, 15 and a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread spread with oil, along with their grain offering and their drink offering. 16 Then the priest shall present them before the Lord and shall offer the person’s sin offering and his burnt offering. 17 He shall also offer the ram as a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, together with the basket of unleavened bread; the priest shall offer also its grain offering and its drink offering. 18 The Nazirite shall shave his dedicated head at the doorway of the Tent of Meeting (tabernacle), and take the dedicated hair of his head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings. 19 The priest shall take the boiled shoulder of the ram, and one unleavened [ring-shaped] loaf out of the basket, and one unleavened flat cake and shall put them on the hands of the Nazirite after he has shaved his dedicated hair. 20 Then the priest shall wave them as a wave offering before the Lord; they are a holy portion for the priest, together with the breast that is waved and the thigh that is offered by lifting up; and afterward the Nazirite may drink wine.’

21 “This is the law for the [c]Nazirite who vows his offering to the Lord for his separation, besides what else [d]he is able to afford, according to the vow which he has vowed; so shall he do according to the law for his separation and abstinence [as a Nazirite].”(B)

Aaron’s Benediction

22 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them:

The Lord bless you, and keep you [protect you, sustain you, and guard you];

The Lord make His face shine upon you [with favor],
And be gracious to you [surrounding you with lovingkindness];

The Lord lift up His countenance (face) upon you [with divine approval],
And give you peace [a tranquil heart and life].’

27 So Aaron and his sons shall put My name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”


  1. Numbers 5:21 Lit fall.
  2. Numbers 6:4 Lit All the days of his consecration and so throughout.
  3. Numbers 6:21 Normally, the Nazirite vow was for a limited duration (usually two weeks). Samson’s Nazirite vow was special in that it seemed to have involved a lifetime commitment (Judg 13:1-16:31).
  4. Numbers 6:21 Lit his hand can reach.

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