Numbers 5:21
Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say to the woman, The LORD make you a curse and an oath among your people, when the LORD does make your thigh to rot, and your belly to swell;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
5:11-31 This law would make the women of Israel watch against giving cause for suspicion. On the other hand, it would hinder the cruel treatment such suspicions might occasion. It would also hinder the guilty from escaping, and the innocent from coming under just suspicion. When no proof could be brought, the wife was called on to make this solemn appeal to a heart-searching God. No woman, if she were guilty, could say Amen to the adjuration, and drink the water after it, unless she disbelieved the truth of God, or defied his justice. The water is called the bitter water, because it caused the curse. Thus sin is called an evil and a bitter thing. Let all that meddle with forbidden pleasures, know that they will be bitterness in the latter end. From the whole learn, 1. Secret sins are known to God, and sometimes are strangely brought to light in this life; and that there is a day coming when God will, by Christ, judge the secrets of men according to the gospel, Ro 2:16. 2 In particular, Whoremongers and adulterers God will surely judge. Though we have not now the waters of jealousy, yet we have God's word, which ought to be as great a terror. Sensual lusts will end in bitterness. 3. God will manifest the innocency of the innocent. The same providence is for good to some, and for hurt to others. And it will answer the purposes which God intends.Gone aside ... - literally, "gone astray from" thy husband by uncleanness; compare Hosea 4:12.21. The Lord make thee a curse, &c.—a usual form of imprecation (Isa 65:15; Jer 29:22). An oath, i.e. a form of cursing or imprecatory oaths, that when they would curse a person, they may wish that they may be as cursed and miserable as thou wast upon this occasion. See the phrase Isaiah 65:15 Jeremiah 29:22 and compare Genesis 48:20 Ruth 4:11,12.

Thy thigh; a modest signification of the genital parts, used both in Scripture, as Genesis 46:26 Exodus 1:5, and other authors, that the sin might be evident in the punishment.

To rot, Heb. to fall, i.e. to die or waste away, as the word is used, 1 Chronicles 21:14, compared with 2 Samuel 24:15.

To swell, suddenly and violently till it burst, which the Jews note was frequent in this and like cases, as Exodus 32:20. And it was a clear evidence of the truth of their religion. Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing,.... An oath which has a curse annexed to it, if taken falsely, which was to be pronounced upon the woman if guilty:

and the priest shall say unto the woman; pronouncing the imprecation or curse upon her, she having taken the oath, should she be guilty of the crime suspected of, and she had swore concerning:

the Lord make thee a curse, and an oath among the people; accursed according to the oath taken; or let this be the form of an oath and imprecation used by the people, saying, if I have done so and so, let me be accursed as such a woman, or let not that happen to me, as did to such a woman, so Jarchi:

when the Lord doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell; upon drinking the bitter waters; but though these things followed upon that, yet not as the natural cause of them, for they are ascribed to the Lord, and to a supernatural and miraculous power of his, which went along with the drinking of them.

Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman, The LORD make thee a {k} curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell;

(k) Both because she had committed so heinous a fault, and forswore herself in denying the same.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 21. - Then the priest shall say unto the woman. These words are parenthetical, just as in Matthew 9:6. The latter part of the oath is called "an oath of cursing," because it contained the imprecations on the guilty. To rot. Hebrew, "to fall." Τὸν μηρόν σου διαπεπτωκότα,, Septuagint. To swell. The Hebrew zabeh is not of quite certain meaning, but probably this. If a man's wife went aside, and was guilty of unfaithfulness towards him (Numbers 5:13 is an explanatory clause), through a (another) man having lain with her with emissio seminis, and it was hidden from the eyes of her husband, on account of her having defiled herself secretly, and there being no witness against her, and her not having been taken (in the act); but if, for all that, a spirit of jealousy came upon him, and he was jealous of his wife, and she was defiled,...or she was not defiled: the man was to take his wife to the priest, and bring as her sacrificial gift, on her account, the tenth of an ephah of barley meal, without putting oil or incense, "for it is a meat-offering of jealousy, a meat-offering of memory, to bring iniquity to remembrance." As the woman's crime, of which her husband accused her, was naturally denied by herself, and was neither to be supported by witnesses nor proved by her being taken in the very act, the only way left to determine whether there was any foundation or not for the spirit of jealousy excited in her husband, and to prevent an unrighteous severance of the divinely appointed marriage, was to let the thing be decided by the verdict of God Himself. To this end the man was to bring his wife to the priest with a sacrificial gift, which is expressly called קרבּנהּ, her offering, brought עליה "on her account," that is to say, with a meat-offering, the symbol of the fruit of her walk and conduct before God. Being the sacrificial gift of a wife who had gone aside and was suspected of adultery, this meat-offering could not possess the character of the ordinary meat-offerings, which shadowed forth the fruit of the sanctification of life in good works; could not consist, that is to say, of fine wheaten flour, but only of barley meal. Barley was worth only half as much as wheat (2 Kings 7:1, 2 Kings 7:16, 2 Kings 7:18), so that only the poorer classes, or the people generally in times of great distress, used barley meal as their daily food (Judges 7:13; 2 Kings 4:42; Ezekiel 4:12; John 6:9, John 6:13), whilst those who were better off used it for fodder (1 Kings 5:8). Barley meal was prescribed for this sacrifice, neither as a sign that the adulteress had conducted herself like an irrational animal (Philo, Jonathan, Talm., the Rabb., etc.), nor "because the persons presenting the offering were invoking the punishment of a crime, and not the favour of God" (Cler., Ros.): for the guilt of a woman was not yet established; nor even, taking a milder view of the matter, to indicate that the offerer might be innocent, and in that case no offering at all was required Knobel), but to represent the questionable repute in which the woman stood, or the ambiguous, suspicious character of her conduct. Because such conduct as hers did not proceed from the Spirit of God, and was not carried out in prayer: oil and incense, the symbols of the Spirit of God and prayer, were not to be added to her offering. It was an offering of jealousy (קנאת, an intensive plural), and the object was to bring the ground of that jealousy to light; and in this respect it is called the "meat-offering of remembrance," sc., of the woman, before Jehovah (cf. Numbers 10:10; Numbers 31:54; Exodus 28:12, Exodus 28:29; Exodus 30:16; Leviticus 23:24), namely, "the remembrance of iniquity," bringing her crime to remembrance before the Lord, that it might be judged by Him.
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