The Unclean Expelled. 1The LORD said to Moses: 2Order the Israelites to expel from camp everyone with a scaly infection, and everyone suffering from a discharge, and everyone who has become unclean by contact with a corpse.* a 3Male and female alike, you shall expel them. You shall expel them from the camp so that they do not defile their camp, where I dwell in their midst.b 4This the Israelites did, expelling them from the camp; just as the LORD had commanded Moses, so the Israelites did.
Unjust Possession.* 5The LORD said to Moses: 6c Tell the Israelites: If a man or a woman commits any offense against another person, thus breaking faith with the LORD, and thereby becomes guilty, 7that person shall confess the wrong that has been done, make restitution in full, and in addition give one fifth of its value to the one that has been wronged. 8However, if there is no next of kin,* one to whom restitution can be made, the restitution shall be made to the LORD and shall fall to the priest; this is apart from the ram of atonement with which the priest makes atonement for the guilty individual. 9Likewise, every contribution among the sacred offerings that the Israelites present to the priest will belong to him.d 10Each shall possess his own sacred offerings; what is given to a priest shall be his.e
Ordeal for Suspected Adultery. 11The LORD said to Moses: 12Speak to the Israelites and tell them: If a man’s wife goes astray and becomes unfaithful to him 13by virtue of a man having intercourse with herf in secret from her husband and she is able to conceal the fact that she has defiled herself for lack of a witness who might have caught her in the act; 14or if a man is overcome by a feeling of jealousy that makes him suspect his wife, and she has defiled herself; or if a man is overcome by a feeling of jealousy that makes him suspect his wife and she has not defiled herself— 15then the man shall bring his wife to the priest as well as an offering on her behalf, a tenth of an ephah* of barley meal. However, he shall not pour oil on it nor put frankincense over it, since it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of remembrance which recalls wrongdoing.
16The priest shall first have the woman come forward and stand before the LORD. 17In an earthen vessel he shall take holy water,* as well as some dust from the floor of the tabernacle and put it in the water.g 18Making the woman stand before the LORD, the priest shall uncover her head and place in her hands the grain offering of remembrance, that is, the grain offering of jealousy, while he himself shall hold the water of bitterness that brings a curse. 19Then the priest shall adjure the woman, saying to her, “If no other man has had intercourse with you, and you have not gone astray by defiling yourself while under the authority of your husband, be immune to this water of bitterness that brings a curse. 20But if you have gone astray while under the authority of your husband, and if you have defiled yourself and a man other than your husband has had intercourse with you”— 21so shall the priest adjure the woman with this imprecation—“may the LORD make you a curse and malediction* among your people by causing your uterus to fall and your belly to swell! 22May this water, then, that brings a curse, enter your bowels to make your belly swell and your uterus fall!”h And the woman shall say, “Amen, amen!”* 23The priest shall put these curses in writing and shall then wash them off into the water of bitterness, 24and he will have the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings a curse, so that the water that brings a curse may enter into her to her bitter hurt. 25But first the priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy from the woman’s hand, and having elevated the grain offering before the LORD, shall bring it to the altar, 26where he shall take a handful of the grain offering as a token offering and burn it on the altar.i Only then shall he have the woman drink the water. 27Once he has had her drink the water, if she has defiled herself and been unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings a curse will enter into her to her bitter hurt, and her belly will swell and her uterus will fall, so that she will become a curse among her people. 28If, however, the woman has not defiled herself, but is still pure, she will be immune and will still be fertile.
29This, then, is the ritual for jealousy when a woman goes astray while under the authority of her husband and defiles herself, 30or when such a feeling of jealousy comes over a man that he becomes suspicious of his wife; he shall have her stand before the LORD, and the priest shall perform this entire ritual for her. 31The man shall be free from punishment,* but the woman shall bear her punishment.
* [5:2] For the laws regarding victims of skin disease, see Lv 13–14; those suffering from a discharge, Lv 15; those unclean by contact with a corpse, Nm 19:11–22; Lv 21:1–4.
* [5:5–10] The basic law on unjust possession is given in Lv 5:14–26. The new item here concerns the case where the injured party has died and left no heirs, in which case the restitution must be made to the priest.
* [5:8] Next of kin: Hebrew go’el (“redeemer”), a technical term denoting the nearest relative, upon whom devolved the obligation of “redeeming” the family property, in order to keep it within the family. Cf. Lv 25:25; Ru 4:1–6.
* [5:15] Ephah: see note on Is 5:10.
* [5:17] Holy water: water from the basin that stood in the court of the tabernacle.
* [5:21] Curse and malediction: the woman’s name would be used in curses and oaths to invoke a similar misfortune on another person or on oneself. Cf. Is 65:15; Jer 29:22.
* [5:22] Amen: a Hebrew word meaning “certainly, truly,” used to give assent to a statement, a curse, a blessing, a prayer, or the like, in the sense of “so be it.”
* [5:31] Free from punishment: the point is that a husband will not suffer a harmful consequence if his accusation is not borne out by the ordeal; if he’s right, his wife’s punishment vindicates him. For her part, the woman (if guilty) must bear her punishment.
a. [5:2] Nm 19:11, 13; Lv 13:46; 21:1; 22:4.
d. [5:9] Dt 18:3–4; Ez 44:29–30.