The Trial of the Suspected Wife
Numbers 5:11-31
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,…

: —

I. CONFIDENCE IN CONJUGAL RELATIONS IS OF GREAT IMPORTANCE. "Suspicion," says Bp. Babington, "is the cut-throat and poison of all love and friendship." And in proportion to the intensity of the love will be the anguish of suspicion in respect to the object of the love.

II. ADULTERY IS A SIN OF THE GREATEST ENORMITY. This dreadful ordeal, which was intended to prevent it, shows how great was its heinousness in the Divine estimation. This is expressed —

1. In the abasement of the suspected woman. The "barley meal," of which the offering was composed, the "earthern vessel" which contained the water, and "the dust" that was put into the water, indicate a state of deep humiliation and disgrace. The absence from the offering of oil, the symbol of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, and of frank. incense, the symbol of prayer, also proclaimed her questionable repute and the suspicion with which she was regarded. In like manner the "uncovering of the woman's head" was indicative of the loss of woman's best ornament, chastity and fidelity in the marriage relation.

2. In the terrible punishment which came upon the guilty. This ordeal was made so terrible that the dread of it might effectually prevent the wives in Israel from the least violation of their fidelity to their husbands. It remains as an impressive proclamation of the utter abhorrence with which God regards the sin of adultery. It is a sin against God; it inflicts the most intolerable injury upon the husband; it is an unmitigated blight upon the family; and it is a wrong to society generally. The most terrible condemnations are pronounced upon it in the Sacred Word (Leviticus 20:10; Malachi 3:5; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Hebrews 13:4).

III. THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN IS CLOSELY RELATED TO THE SIN ITSELF. The punishment came in those portions of her body which she had abused.

IV. GOD WILL BRING TO LIGHT THE SECRET SINS OF MEN. If the suspected woman were guilty, after this ordeal her guilt would be made manifest. All sins are known unto Him.

V. GOD WILL ASSUREDLY VINDICATE THE INNOCENT WHO HAVE SUFFERED FROM SUSPICION AND SLANDER. In this case the vindication was most complete. "If the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed." "If not guilty after such a trial," says Adam Clarke, "she had great honour; and, according to the rabbins, became strong, healthy, and fruitful; for if she was before barren, she now began to bear children; if before she had only daughters, she now began to have sons; if before she had hard travail, she now had easy; in a word, she was blessed in her body, her soul, and her substance." Thus to the innocent there was no terror in this stern ordeal. It was rather a blessing to them, if by any means they had come to be regarded with suspicion by their husbands; for by means of it such suspicions would be removed, and their fidelity and honour vindicated and exalted. And God will, sooner or later, splendidly vindicate all who suffer from misrepresentation, slander, or false accusation.

(W. Jones.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

WEB: Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,

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