Trial by Ordeal

“Speak to the people of Israel, If any man’s wife goes astray and breaks faith with him, if a man lies with her sexually, and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband, and she is undetected though she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her, since she was not taken in the act, and if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife who has defiled herself, or if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife, though she has not defiled herself, then the man shall bring his wife to the priest and bring the offering required of her, a tenth of an ephah of barley flour. He shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of remembrance, bringing iniquity to remembrance.” Numbers 5:13-15

What follows is a long prescription of how to reveal the truth of the husband’s suspicion. For a man to put his wife through this it would take a deep sense of betrayal that must be resolved. If this ritual, which would require God’s intervention to reveal the woman’s guilt, shows she is innocent, then the man would have to let it go. God would have vindicated her before her husband and the priest.

If the woman was guilty, and had decided to play this game of chicken with God, she would not only be guilty of adultery, but of being defiant of God. If she had been guilty, and been remorseful, and had confessed to her husband, she would have gotten off with a sin offering. It reminds me that in the public arena, the cover-up is treated more harshly than the crime.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.