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Numbers 5 New 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.

Numbers 5 New International Version (NIV)

The Purity of the Camp

The Lord said to Moses, “Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has a defiling skin disease[a] or a discharge of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body. Send away male and female alike; send them outside the camp so they will not defile their camp, where I dwell among them. The Israelites did so; they sent them outside the camp. They did just as the Lord had instructed Moses.

Restitution for Wrongs

The Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way[b] and so is unfaithful to the Lord is guilty and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged. But if that person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest, along with the ram with which atonement is made for the wrongdoer. All the sacred contributions the Israelites bring to a priest will belong to him. 10 Sacred things belong to their owners, but what they give to the priest will belong to the priest.’”

The Test for an Unfaithful Wife

11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure— 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah[c] of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing.

16 “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse[d] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

“‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.

23 “‘The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering will enter her. 25 The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the Lord and bring it to the altar. 26 The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial[e] offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. 27 If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse. 28 If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.

29 “‘This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and makes herself impure while married to her husband, 30 or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the Lord and is to apply this entire law to her. 31 The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.’”

Footnotes:

  1. Numbers 5:2 The Hebrew word for defiling skin disease, traditionally translated “leprosy,” was used for various diseases affecting the skin.
  2. Numbers 5:6 Or woman who commits any wrong common to mankind
  3. Numbers 5:15 That is, probably about 3 1/2 pounds or about 1.6 kilograms
  4. Numbers 5:21 That is, may he cause your name to be used in cursing (see Jer. 29:22); or, may others see that you are cursed; similarly in verse 27.
  5. Numbers 5:26 Or representative
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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