Numbers 5:26
And the priest shall take an handful of the offering, even the memorial thereof, and burn it upon the altar, and afterward shall cause the woman to drink the water.
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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.The memorial thereof - See the marginal reference. "Memorial" here is not the same as "memorial" in Numbers 5:15.23, 24. write these curses in a book—The imprecations, along with her name, were inscribed in some kind of record—on parchment, or more probably on a wooden tablet.

blot them out with the bitter water—If she were innocent, they could be easily erased, and were perfectly harmless; but if guilty, she would experience the fatal effects of the water she had drunk.

The memorial thereof, of which see Leviticus 2:2.

And the priest shall take an handful of the offering, even the memorial thereof,.... For good or evil, according as her works were, as Aben Ezra observes; a memorial for good, if innocent, and a memorial for evil, if guilty:

and burn it upon the altar; as the handful of other meat offerings used to be, Leviticus 1:2,

and afterwards shall cause the woman to drink the water; oblige her to it; having proceeded thus far, and no confession made, namely, an oath taken, the curses of it written in a scroll and scraped into the waters, and the jealousy offering waved and offered.

And the priest shall take an handful of the offering, even the memorial thereof, and burn it upon the {n} altar, and afterward shall cause the woman to drink the water.

(n) Where the incense was offered.

26. an handful of the meal-offering] In accordance with the general regulation laid down in Leviticus 2:2.

as the memorial-offering thereof] The technical term ’azkârâh is confined to P . It is used of the frankincense burned for the Presence-bread (Leviticus 24:7), the meal of the poor man’s sin-offering (Leviticus 5:11 f.), and the meal-offering (here, Leviticus 2:2; Leviticus 2:9; Leviticus 2:16; Leviticus 6:15). The burning of the incense or meal in each case was to bring the worshipper before God’s memory. Cf. Exodus 28:29.

and afterward &c.] Strictly interpreted this is a second draught which the woman is made to take. But a second draught is very improbable. There has apparently been some accidental disarrangement of the text. Notice that Numbers 5:27 b repeats the substance of Numbers 5:24.

Numbers 5:26After the woman's Amen, the priest was to write "these curses," those contained in the oath, in a book-roll, and wash them in the bitter water, i.e., wash the writing in the vessel with water, so that the words of the curse should pass into the water, and be imparted to it; a symbolical act, to set forth the truth, that God imparted to the water the power to act injuriously upon a guilty body, though it would do no harm to an innocent one. The remark in Numbers 5:24, the priest was to give her this water to drink is anticipatory; for according to Numbers 5:26 this did not take place till after the presentation of the sacrifice and the burning of the memorial of it upon the altar. The woman's offering, however, was not presented to God till after the oath of purification, because it was by the oath that she first of all purified herself from the suspicion of adultery, so that the fruit of her conduct could be given up to the fire of the holiness of God. As a known adulteress, she could not have offered a meat-offering at all. But as the suspicion which rested upon her was not entirely removed by her oath, since she might have taken a false oath, the priest was to give her the curse-water to drink after the offering, that her guilt or innocence might be brought to light in the effects produced by the drink. This is given in Numbers 5:27 as the design of the course prescribed: "When he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, the water that causeth the curse shall come (enter) into her as bitterness (i.e., producing bitter sufferings), namely, her belly shall swell and her hip vanish: and so the woman shall become a curse in the midst of her people."
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