We’re in the midst of studying the mysterious water ritual in Numbers 5 that is used to determine the guilt or innocence of a wife suspected of committing adultery.
Again, I need to stress that there is a key difference between how the crime of adultery is treated here (in Numbers) and how it is treated in Leviticus.
In Leviticus the adulteress is to be stoned to death but not here in Numbers
The reason why is because here in numbers the jealous husband only suspects his wife may be cheating on him.
He doesn’t have evidence in the form of witnesses.
According to Torah, a criminal act requiring capital punishment must be verified by at least two witnesses.
What I’d look to do next is travel forward in time to one of the most famous stories in the New Testament dealing with adultery.
Let’s read it right now.
But Yeshua went to the Mount of Olives.
At daybreak, he appeared again in the Temple Court,
where all the people gathered around him,
and he sat down to teach them.
The Torah-teachers and the P’rushim
brought in a woman who had been
caught committing adultery
and made her stand in the center of the group.
Then they said to him,
“Rabbi, this woman was caught
in the very act of committing adultery.
Now in our Torah,
Moshe commanded that
such a woman be stoned to death.
What do you say about it?”
They said this to trap him,
so that they might have ground
for bringing charges against him;
but Yeshua bent down
and began writing in the dust with his finger.
When they kept questioning him,
he straightened up and said to them,
“The one of you who is without sin,
let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Then he bent down and wrote in the dust again.
On hearing this, they began to leave, one by one,
the older ones first, until he was left alone,
with the woman still there.
Standing up, Yeshua said to her,
“Where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, sir.” Yeshua said,
“Neither do I condemn you.
Now go, and don’t sin any more.”
Now what is the traditional Christian interpretation of this event?
The traditional complete-lack-of-Torah-knowledge Christian interpretation of this event is that Yeshua is simply telling the adulteress’s accusers that unless they themselves have lived a life free of sin, how dare they accuse this women?!
And then after the accusers leave the area after being put to shame, Yeshua in his limitless mercy and abundant maple syrupy love simply decides to ignore the crime of adultery the woman has just committed and then just lets her off the hook with the caveat to “go and sin no more“.
Gentile pastors, preachers, and teachers love to use this story as a great demonstration of God’s boundless love and also as an indirect jab at those they criticize and judge as being Judaizers.
Now let’s step back for a minute and think about it for a second.
Does the traditional Christian interpretation really make sense?
Would Israel’s Messiah, one of the most Torah observant men who ever walked the earth simply wave his hand and dismiss what according to Torah is one of the worst sins that can be committed?
Umm, I think NOT!
You may not be aware of this but this particular story of the adulteress being brought to Yeshua has troubled Bible scholars and Bible councils for the longest time.
Over the centuries this story has been removed and added back in to the New Testament countless times.
The reason is because the traditional interpretation of this controversial narrative just doesn’t jive with Yeshua’s Torah-compliant life.
There are three main problems with the traditional Christian interpretation of this event.
First, according to Torah, adultery is a God-ordained capital offense.
From HASHEM’s perspective, adultery was considered so bad it was put on the same level as murder!
It is even a part of the 10 Words (otherwise known as the 10 Commandments) which are the foundational principles for the entire Bible!
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.”
Notice how the crime to not commit adultery follows right after the crime to not murder.
And of course, there’s no way around the clear wording in Leviticus 20.
“If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife,
that is, with the wife of a fellow countryman,
both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.”
There’s absolutely no wiggle room here.
A woman who commits adultery is to be executed, period.
Second, we never, ever see the woman ask for forgiveness nor was forgiveness offered to her.
In addition, we see absolutely no element of this woman acknowledging Yeshua as the Messiah and then bowing down and putting her faith in Him.
Isn’t the formula to acknowledge one’s sin, repent and then after that receive forgiveness?
We see none of this in the story of the adulteress in John 8.
Third, as the Torah made flesh and as God’s very representative of Hashem’s Authority on earth does it make sense that Yeshua would so flippantly abrogate God’s Word?
Here’s the thing.
Absolutely nowhere in the Torah will you find Yeshua cutting slack on civil and criminal law breakers.
Yet, you’re going to tell me that Yeshua just dismissed this woman’s crime, one of the most heinous crimes one can commit, and then just told her to not do it again!
Actually HELL NO!
I maintain this story as well as all of the stories in the New Testament must be properly viewed through the lens of what came before, the Torah which is the foundation of ALL the Scriptures and then the rest of the Tanach (Old Testament).
You cannot, I repeat, CANNOT separate the events of Yeshua in the New Testament from the fact that he was a Torah observant Jew.
The Rabbis and scribes who dragged the woman accused of adultery before Yeshua were trying to trick Yeshua into saying something against the Law of Moses.
Because they knew if he did say something contrary to Torah, he would be immediately discredited.
You’ve also got to understand that this a time of tremendous political upheaval and Temple corruption.
So sorry, I know this is one of the most beloved stories (among the gentiles) in the New Testament, but my conclusion (actually not just my conclusion but anybody’s conclusion who even has a rudimentary knowledge of Torah) is that this story HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH YESHUA BEING MERCIFUL.
Nor is it a message that only the sinless have the right to judge others.
If anything, this is a story that demonstrates just how well-versed and Torah-observant Yeshua was.
A point I’m going to demonstrate blow-by-blow in my next post.