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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Numbers 5

Verses 1-4

NUMBERS-CHAPTER FIVE

Verses 1-4:

The law of the leper was precise, Leviticus 13, 14. It ordered that the leper be placed outside the camp. The present text is the implementation of that order.

Defilement of one with "an issue" is treated in Leviticus chapter 15. In the present text, the expulsion order is expanded to include such.

Defilement by contact with the dead is treated in Le 11:24; 21:1. The present text orders expulsion from the camp. Provision for this defilement is treated in Nu 19:11-21.

God demands cleanliness, and the removal of any defilement from the midst of His people. This demand of the Law illustrates a spiritual principle stated in 2Co 6:17.

Scripture does not record the number of Israel which was excluded from camp at the enforcement of this statute.

Verses 5-10

Verses 5-10:

The "trespass," asham, of this text is a sin against the property of another, defined in Le 6:1-5. Many regard such deeds as sins only if found out. But they are sins against the Lord because they involve a violation of His righteous principles.

The guilty party must come before the Lord, and publicly confess his trespass. Only in so doing could he find forgiveness, see 1Jo 1:7-9.

The guilty one must bring the prescribed sacrifice, Le 6:1-7. In’ addition, he must make restitution to the offended party. He must pay the full market value, of whatever property he had damaged. In addition, he must pay a fine of twenty percent of the value of the property. This fine must be paid either to the offended person, or to his near kinsman. If there were no kinsman, the fine was to be paid to the priest.

Verses 11-15

Verses 11-15:

The Law demanded the death penalty for adultery, Le 20:10. This was enacted only upon the testimony of two or three witnesses, De 19:15. If a man suspected his wife of adultery, and if there were no proof of her guilt, there was a procedure to determine her guilt or innocence.

The jealous husband was to bring his wife to the priest, along with a food offering consisting of a tenth of an ephah (about two quarts) of barley meal. The details of the offering symbolize the suspicion aroused by either the husband’s jealousy, or the wife’s questionable conduct.

The fruit of the earth, symbolizing the fruit of the wife’s suspicious conduct.

Barley meal, food of the common people, symbolizing the wife’s low estate due to the suspicion surrounding her.

Without oil or incense (flavor), symbolizing the absence of grace.

The offering was a "memorial," to bring the woman into judgment before the Lord that her innocence or guilt might be established.

Verses 16-22

Verses 16-22:

"Holy water," likely from the brazen Laver which stood at the door of the Tabernacle (Ex 30:18). The expression occurs nowhere else in Scripture. The Septuagint renders this, hudor katharon zon, pure running water.

Dust from the Tabernacle floor was mixed with the water, "bitter water" for the woman to drink.

The priest then uncovered the woman’s head, symbolizing that if she were guilty as charged she had forfeited her glory by violating her marriage covenant, see 1Co 11:5-10.

The priest then placed the jealousy offering in the woman’s hands, as a token that she was offering the fruit of her life in judgment to God.

The woman was then required to drink the "bitter water," so called because of the bitterness of judgment if she were found guilty.

The priest then pronounced the curse, to which the woman must agree by affirming, "Amen, amen," or "So might it be." If she refused to agree to the curse, she pronounced herself guilty.

Verses 23-28

Verses 23-28:

This text describes the procedure the priest followed in determining the guilt or innocence of the accused wife. If she were guilty, her internal organs would swell horribly, and her thigh would "rot," naphal, "be caused to fall." The medical designation of this malady is not further described.

If the woman were innocent, no harm would come to her. She would be vindicated of all charges.

Verses 29-31

Verses 29-31:

God used this method to demonstrate the innocence or guilt of one charged with a sin, in the absence of witnesses. This shows the inevitability of sin’s exposure, Nu 32:23; Pr 15:3. None can escape the consequences of hi .s or her sin, Ga 6:7, 8. This also confirms that God will vindicate the innocent, in His own time and way.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Numbers 5". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/numbers-5.html. 1985.