Num 5: "The law of jealousy was a most unusual, although
significant, ritual. It determined the honesty and attitude of a wife under
accusation. It sets before us the position of the espoused of Christ, and our
relationship to Yahweh. It taught that Yahweh is a jealous God (Exo 20:5;
14:14), and Israel is His Bride (Isa 54:5). There was no provision for a wife to
press a case against a husband, because the Law saw beyond natural relationships
to those existing between Yahweh and His people. Though the wife might be
cleansed of the accusation of adultery, her conduct to her husband was the cause
of her humiliation, and to that extent she was guilty and deserving of the shame
heaped upon her. Israel became guilty of spiritual adultery (Jer 3:1-3). With
the temple service, etc, there was all the appearance of bearing seed -- but
none to the glory of the Father without the spiritual purity of His ways. Those
humbled, but who have not been guilty of adultery, will be restored and bear
seed. Thus the ch presents the parable of Israel provoking Yahweh to jealousy,
and all who do so will find their name 'blotted out' from the way of joy and
peace (Deu 28:17-20)" (GEM).
Vv 11-31: "As the sin of adultery is particularly defiling and
destructive of the relations existing between Yahweh and Israel -- which are
typified by the husband and his wife (Isa 54:5; Lev 20:26) -- and as such sin is
disruptive of the very foundations of the social order, the whole subject is
dealt with in this chapter at a length proportionate to its importance. However,
Scripture does not reveal one instance where this law was invoked by a jealous
husband, so it is evident that it is designed to illustrate spiritual adultery
and Yahweh's viewpoint towards it.
"Considered in that light, this strange law become prophetic
of Israel's relationship with Yahweh her spiritual Husband, and His treatment of
her as exhibited by the words and actions of Hosea, the prophet of enduring
"Through Moses, Israel was warned that it must have no other
God: 'for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God' (Exo 34:14). The Law
relating to the Trial of Jealousy reveals the responsibility resting upon the
nation because of its privileged position as Yahweh's bride, and the
consequences of spiritual adultery" (Expos).
Vv 12 - 31: The trial of jealousy. The mixing of the dust of
the tabernacle floor with the water (Num 5:17) and then causing of the woman to
drink of it (Num 5:24) is reminiscent of the way that the golden calf was dealt
with Exo 32:20. In Exodus Israel was committing spiritual adultery and Yahweh
was showing that He was a jealous God.
HOLY WATER: "Waters of purification" derived from ashes
of red heifer (Num 19:11-22). The only other holy water in Law.
DUST: A sharing of the curse of the woman and the
serpent again (Gen 3:14,16).
Vv 21,22: THIGH... ABDOMEN: Prob euphemisms for the sexual