Old Testament

The Pentateuch

Did God give the Israelites more laws than the ones found in Leviticus?

Yes. One law in Numbers concerning adultery went into vivid detail. The law applied to women only. If a woman was suspected of being an adulteress, her husband brought her before the priests. The priests, in turn, performed an elaborate ritual where he prepared the woman a drink containing water, dust from the floor of the Tabernacle, and ink from where the priest recorded the curses spoken to the woman. Then the priest spoke to the woman, “The LORD make you an execration and an oath among your people, when the LORD makes your uterus drop, your womb discharge; now may this water that brings the curse enter your bowels and make your womb discharge, your uterus drop!” (NRSV, Numbers 5:21–22) The woman was instructed to say, “Amen, Amen,” and she drank the liquid. The idea behind this ritual was that God would cause a miscarriage if the woman was pregnant due to infidelity, but that he would bless her with fertility if she was innocent. Rituals for determining blame were common in other societies at this time. This law differs from Leviticus 20:10 in which both the adulterous man and adulterous woman are put to death.


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