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Live Blogging the Bible: Numbers 5:11-31

June 21, 2013 3 comments

by Noah Lugeons

Numbers is a tricky book.  It rests there in between Leviticus and Deuteronomy, two of the most notorious books in the bible, and yet it manages to have very little reputation at all.  It’s known for boring lists and the titular numbers, but little else.  And you can read a few chapters in without seeing much more than that.  It tries to put you to sleep with all the census lists and exact recounting of sacrifices, perhaps with hopes that you’ll overlook the talking donkey.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I started this book off with no real idea what to expect and for the first four chapters I was starting to worry that we’d have nothing interesting to talk about in next week’s “Holy Babble” segment.  And then I reached chapter five and we got something so weird it could fill the whole 9 minute segment if we wanted it to.

This is essentially a biblical Montel Williams recipe.  If you want to know for sure if your woman has been faithful, apparently there’s just one way to know for sure and it’s outlined in detail for 20 full verses of Numbers, Chapter 5.  Now, I’ll skimp a bit on the details, but essentially the process breaks down as follows:

  1. Take your wife to the temple along with a tenth of an ephah of flour.
  2. Get some water, put some dirt in it and muss up your wife’s hair.
  3. Say a magical incantation over the dirty water that turns it into adulteress poison.
  4. Make her drink it.

If she’s been faithful, she’ll be fine.  If not, apparently her womb will fall out, she’ll be in horrible pain and she’ll never conceive.

Despite the divine seal of approval on this method, I suppose it’s easy to see why it fell out of favor.  Obviously today’s women are much harder to talk into drinking dirt, but beyond that the price for finding out she’s been banging the UPS guy is pretty high.  I’d kind of rather not know than have my wife’s womb fall out.  But I suppose that’s just a by-product of the sissification of my secular lifestyle.