Protection for Women Falsely Accused

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), February 28 

Feminists often accuse God of being a male chauvinist. They are misinformed.

imagesThe LORD reveals His care for women who are falsely accused of adultery by ungrounded suspicions of jealous husbands: “If the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, who has defiled herself; or if the spirit of jealousy comes upon him and he becomes jealous of his wife, though she has not defiled herself—then the man shall bring his wife to the priest. He shall bring the offering required for her, one-tenth of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, because it is a grain offering of jealousy, an offering of remembering, for bringing iniquity to remembrance” (Num. 5:14-15).

The LORD gave the priest a strange procedure to follow to prove the accused wife’s innocence—he “shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it in water” (15:17). He must then place the graining offering provided by the husband in one of her hands and the vessel of water in the other and put her under oath to tell the truth. After the oath is recorded, it must be scraped off into the water. Her guilt will manifest itself physiologically after she drinks the water; her thigh will rot and her belly swell if she is guilty.

This law takes vengeance out of a jealous husband’s hands and puts jealousy under restraints. Under the law, a husband may not exercise his jealousy in a fit of passionate anger; he must bring his wife before a priest. Bringing in a witness provides accountability and delays action, protecting the woman from hasty actions on her husband’s part. This law both exhibits God’s care for women and the hope available to women who are falsely accused of adultery.

Questions from today’s reading (Numbers 4:1-5:31):

What do God’s instructions regarding Kohathite duties do for them as a small community within the larger community?

What does the Lord’s command regarding people with physical impurities reveal about God? About community?