Numbers 5:28
And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Numbers 5:28. Conceive seed — That is, shall bring forth children: as the Jews say, in case of her innocence, she infallibly did, yea, though she had been barren before.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.Of itself, the drink was not noxious; and could only produce the effects here described by a special interposition of God. We do not read of any instance in which this ordeal was resorted to: a fact which may be explained either (with the Jews) as a proof of its efficacy, since the guilty could not be brought to face its terrors at all, and avoided them by confession; or more probably by the license of divorce tolerated by the law of Moses. Since a husband could put away his wife at pleasure, a jealous man would naturally prefer to take this course with a suspected wife rather than to call public attention to his own shame by having recourse to the trial of jealousy. The trial by red water, which bears a general resemblance to that here prescribed by Moses, is still in use among the tribes of Western Africa. 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.

She shall be free, to wit, from these bitter curses and miseries.

Shall conceive seed, i.e. shall bring forth children, as the Jews say, in case of her innocency, infallibly she did, yea, though she was barren before; or shall be as capable of bearing children as other women. And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean,.... If she is not guilty of adultery, but pure from that sin:

then she shall be free; from the effects of the bitter water; they shall have no such influence upon her, but she shall be as soured and healthful as ever; nay, the Jewish writers say more so, that if she had any sickness or disease upon her she would now be freed from it (n); the Targum of Jonathan has it, her splendour shall shine, the brightness and beauty of her countenance:

and shall conceive seed; a man child, as the same Targum; and the Jewish writers say, if she was barren before, now she would be fruitful; but no more is meant by it than that her husband should receive her gladly, and she should live comfortably with him hereafter, and the blessing of God would be upon her, which would still be a confirmation of her chastity.

(n) Maimon. Hilchot Sotah, c. 3. sect. 22.

And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
28. she shall be free] she shall be acquitted; proved innocent.Verse 28. - And shall conceive seed. As a sign of the Divine favour; to a Jewish woman the surest and most regarded (1 Samuel 2:5; Psalm 127:3; Luke 1:58). The oath which the priest required her to take is called, in Numbers 5:21, האלה שׁבעת, "oath of cursing" (see Genesis 26:28); but it first of all presupposes the possibility of the woman being innocent, and contains the assurance, that in that case the curse-water would do her no harm. "If no (other) man has lain with thee, and thou hast not gone aside to union (טמאה, accus. of more precise definition, as in Leviticus 15:2, Leviticus 15:18), under thy husband," i.e., as a wife subject to thy husband (Ezekiel 23:5; Hosea 4:12), "then remain free from the water of bitterness, this curse-bringing," i.e., from the effects of this curse-water. The imperative is a sign of certain assurance (see Genesis 12:2; Genesis 20:7; cf. Ges. 130, 1). "But if thou hast gone aside under thy husband, if thou hast defiled thyself, and a man has given thee his seed beside thy husband,"...(the priest shall proceed to say; this is the meaning of the repetition of לאשּׁה...והשׁבּיע, Numbers 5:21), "Jehovah shall make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, by making thy hip to fall and thy belly to swell; and this curse-bringing water shall come into thy bowels, to make the belly to vanish and the hip to fall." To this oath that was spoken before her the woman was to reply, "true, true," or "truly, truly," and thus confirm it as taken by herself (cf. Deuteronomy 27:15.; Nehemiah 5:13). It cannot be determined with any certainty what was the nature of the disease threatened in this curse. Michaelis supposes it to be dropsy of the ovary (hydrops ovarii), in which a tumour is formed in the place of the ovarium, which may even swell so as to contain 100 lbs. of fluid, and with which the patient becomes dreadfully emaciated. Josephus says it is ordinary dropsy (hydrops ascites: Ant. iii. 11, 6). At any rate, the idea of the curse is this: Δι ̓ ὧν γὰρ ἡ ἁμαρτία, διὰ τούτων ἡ τιμωρία ("the punishment shall come from the same source as the sin," Theodoret). The punishment was to answer exactly to the crime, and to fall upon those bodily organs which had been the instruments of the woman's sin, viz., the organs of child-bearing.
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