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Numbers 5 Living Bible (TLB)

1-2 These are further instructions from the Lord to Moses: “Inform the people of Israel that they must expel all lepers from the camp, and all who have open sores, or who have been defiled by touching a dead person. This applies to men and women alike. Remove them so that they will not defile the camp where I live among you.” These instructions were put into effect.

5-6 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel that when anyone, man or woman, betrays the Lord by betraying a trust, it is sin. He must confess his sin and make full repayment for what he has stolen,[a] adding 20 percent and returning it to the person he took it from. But if the person he wronged is dead,[b] and there is no near relative to whom the payment can be made, it must be given to the priest, along with a lamb for atonement. 9-10 When the people of Israel bring a gift to the Lord it shall go to the priests.”

11-12 And the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel that if a man’s wife commits adultery, 13 but there is no proof, there being no witness, 14 and he is jealous and suspicious, 15 the man shall bring his wife to the priest with an offering for her of a tenth of a bushel of barley meal without oil or frankincense mingled with it—for it is a suspicion offering—to bring out the truth[c] as to whether or not she is guilty.

16 “The priest shall bring her before the Lord, 17 and take holy water in a clay jar and mix into it dust from the floor of the Tabernacle. 18 He shall unbind her hair and place the suspicion offering in her hands to determine whether or not her husband’s suspicions are justified. The priest shall stand before her holding the jar of bitter water that brings a curse. 19 He shall require her to swear that she is innocent, and then he shall say to her, ‘If no man has slept with you except your husband, be free from the effects of this bitter water that causes the curse. 20 But if you have committed adultery, 21-22 then Jehovah shall make you a curse among your people, for he will make your thigh rot away and your body swell.’ And the woman shall be required to say, ‘Yes, let it be so.’ 23 Then the priest shall write these curses in a book and wash them off into the bitter water. 24 (When he requires the woman to drink the water, it becomes bitter within her if she is guilty.[d])

25 “Then the priest shall take the suspicion offering from the woman’s hand and wave it before Jehovah, and carry it to the altar. 26 He shall take a handful, representing all of it, and burn the handful upon the altar, and then require the woman to drink the water. 27 If she has been defiled, having committed adultery against her husband, the water will become bitter within her, and her body will swell and her thigh will rot, and she shall be a curse among her people. 28 But if she is pure and has not committed adultery, she shall be unharmed and will soon become pregnant.

29 “This, then, is the law concerning a wayward wife—or a husband’s suspicions against his wife— 30 to determine whether or not she has been unfaithful to him. He shall bring her before the Lord and the priest shall handle the situation as outlined above. 31 Her husband shall not be brought to trial for causing her horrible disease, for she is responsible.”


  1. Numbers 5:7 for what he has stolen, literally, “for his wrong.”
  2. Numbers 5:8 But if the person he wronged is dead, implied.
  3. Numbers 5:15 a suspicion offering—to bring out the truth, literally, “an offering of remembrance.”
  4. Numbers 5:24 if she is guilty, implied.
Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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.’”


  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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