(Exodus 20:14) The parties to this crime, according to Jewish law, were a married woman and a man who was not her husband. The Mosaic penalty was that both the guilty parties should be stoned, and it applied as well to the betrothed as to the married woman, provided she were free. (22:22-24) A bondwoman so offending was to be scourged, and the man was to make a trespass offering. (Leviticus 19:20-22) At a later time, and when owing, to Gentile example, the marriage tie became a looser bond of union, public feeling in regard to adultery changed, and the penalty of death was seldom or never inflicted. The famous trial by the waters of jealousy, (Numbers 5:11-29) was probably an ancient custom, which Moses found deeply seated--(But this ordeal was wholly in favor of the innocent, and exactly opposite to most ordeals. For the water which the accused drank was perfectly harmless, and only by a miracle could it produce a bad effect; while in most ordeals the accused must suffer what naturally produces death, and be proved innocent only by a miracle. Symbolically adultery is used to express unfaithfulness to covenant vows to God, who is represented as the husband of his people.)
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