View Numbers 5 in the note window.
A command to remove the unclean out of the camp, ver. 1 - 4.
Laws concerning restitution, ver. 5 - 10.
The law concerning a woman suspected of adultery, ver. 11 - 31.
3: That they defile not the camp - By which God would intimate the
danger of being made guilty by other mens sins, and the duty of avoiding
intimate converse with wicked men. I dwell - By my special and gracious
6: Any sin that men commit - Heb. any sins of men, that is, sins
against men, as deceits or wrongs, whereby other men are injured, of which
he manifestly speaks. Against the Lord - Which words may be added, to
shew that such injuries done to men are also sins against God, who hath
commanded justice to men, as well as religion to himself. Guilty - That
is, shall be sensible of his guilt, convicted in his conscience.
7: They shall confess their sin - They shall not continue in the
denial of the fact, but give glory to God, and take shame to themselves
by acknowledging it. The principal - That is, the thing he took away,
or what is equivalent to it. And add - Both as a compensation to the
injured person for the want of his goods so long, and as a penalty upon
the injurious dealer, to discourage others from such attempts.
8: No kinsman - This supposes the person injured to be dead or gone,
into some unknown place, and the person injured to be known to the injurer.
To the priest - Whom God appointed as his deputy to receive his dues, and
take them to his own use, that so he might more chearfully and entirely
devote himself to the ministration of holy things. This is an additional
explication to that law, (Le 6:2), and for the sake thereof it seems
here to be repeated.
9: Unto the priest - To offer by his hands.
10: Every man's hallowed things - Understand this not of the
sacrifices, because these were not the priest's peculiar, but part of them
was offered to God, and the remainder was eaten by the offerer as well as
by the priest; but of such other things as were devoted to God, and could
not be offered in sacrifice; as suppose a man consecrated an house to the
Lord, this was to be the priest's.
12: If a man's wife - This law was given partly to deter wives from
adulterous practices, and partly to secure wives against the rage of their
hard - hearted husbands, who otherwise might upon mere suspicions destroy
them, or at least put them away. There was not like fear of inconveniences
to the husband from the jealousy, of the wife, who had not that authority
and power, and opportunity for the putting away or killing the husband, as
the husband had over the wife. Go aside - From the way of religion and
justice, and that either in truth, or in her husband's opinion.
15: The man shall bring her to the priest - Who first strove to
persuade her to own the truth. If she did, she was not put to death,
(which must have been, if it had been proved against her) but only was
divorced and lost her dowry. Her offering - By way of solemn appeal to
God, whom hereby she desired to judge between her and her husband, and by
way of atonement to appease God, who had for her sins stirred up her husband
against her. He shall pour no oil - Both because it was a kind of
sin - offering, from which these were excluded, and because she came thither
as a delinquent, or suspected of delinquency, unpleasing both to God and
men; as one that wanted that grace and amiableness and joy which oil
signified, and that acceptance with God which frankincense denoted,(Ps 141:2).
Bringing iniquity to remembrance - Both to God before whom she appeared as
a sinner, and to her own conscience, if she was guilty; and, if she were not
guilty of this, yet it reminded her of her other sins, for which this might
be a punishment.
16: Before the Lord - That is, before the sanctuary where the ark was.
17: Holy water - Water of purification appointed for such uses. This
was used, that if she were guilty, she might be afraid to add profaneness to
her other crime. An earthen vessel - Because, after this use, it was to
be broken in pieces, that the remembrance of it might be blotted out as far
as was possible. Dust - An emblem of vileness and misery. From the
floor of the tabernacle - Which made it holy dust, and struck the greater
terror into the woman, if she were guilty.
18: Before the Lord - Before the tabernacle with her face towards
the ark. Uncover her head - Partly that she might be made sensible how
manifest she and all her ways were to God; partly in token of her sorrow
for her sin, or at least for any cause of suspicion which she had given.
In her hands - That she herself might offer it, and thereby call God to
be witness of her innocency. Bitter - So called either from the bitter
taste which the dust gave it, or from the bitter effects of it upon her, if
she were guilty. That causeth the curse - Not by any natural power, but
by a supernatural efficacy.
19: By an oath - To answer truly to his question, or to declare
whether she be guilty or no, and after such oath shall say as follows.
21: An oath - That is, a form of cursing, that when they would curse
a person, they may wish that they may be as miserable as thou wast. Thy
thigh - A modest expression, used both in scripture, as (Ge 46:26),(Ex 1:5), and other authors.
To rot - Heb. to fall, that is, to die or waste away. To swell
- Suddenly and violently till it burst, which the Jews note was frequent
in this case. And it was a clear evidence of the truth of their religion.
22: Amen, amen - That is, so let it be if I be guilty. The word is
doubled by her as an evidence of her innocency, and ardent desire that God
would deal with her according to her desert.
23: In a book - That is, in a scroll of parchment, which the
Hebrews commonly call a book. Blot them out - Or scrape them
out and cast them into the bitter water. Whereby it was signified,
that if she was innocent, the curses should be blotted out and come to
nothing; and, if she were guilty, she should find in her the effects of
this water which she drank, after the words of this curse had been scraped
and put in.
24: To drink - That is, after the jealousy - offering was offered.
28: Conceive seed - That is, shall bring forth children, as the
Jews say, in case of her innocency, she infallibly did, yea though she
was barren before.
31: Guiltless - Which he should not have been, if he had either
indulged her in so great a wickedness, and not endeavoured to bring her
to repentance or punishment, or cherished suspicions in his breast, and
thereupon proceeded to hate her or cast her off. Whereas now, whatsoever
the consequence is, the husband shall not be censured for bringing such
curses upon her, or for defaming her, if she appear to be innocent.
Her iniquity - That is, the punishment of her iniquity, whether she was
false to her husband, or by any light carriage gave him occasion to suspect