“Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell the people of Israel, ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him; that is, if another man goes to bed with her without her husband’s knowledge, so that she becomes impure secretly, and there is no witness against her, and she was not caught in the act; then, if a spirit of jealousy comes over him, and he is jealous of his wife, and she has become impure — or, for that matter, if the spirit of jealousy comes over him, and he is jealous of his wife, and she has not become impure — he is to bring his wife to the cohen, along with the offering for her, two quarts of barley flour on which he has not poured olive oil or put frankincense, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a grain offering for remembering, for recalling guilt to mind.”-Numbers 5:11-15
Today and over the next couple of days we’re going to be dealing with what may arguably be one of the most fascinating parts in all of Torah.
From verse 11 of Numbers 5 we’re presented with a situation where a man suspects his wife has committed adultery.
Notice I said “suspects“.
The man doesn’t know for sure but for whatever reason thinks his wife may have slept with another man.
Now there’s a very good reason why these verses are in our Torah.
This situation of a man suddenly becoming jealous and suspecting his wife of cheating on him must have been quite a frequent occurrence, or it wouldn’t be here in the Scriptures in the first place.
Again, understand the current EXTREME circumstances the Israelites have been thrust into.
It’s only been about a year or so since this ragtag mob of about 2 to 3 million wanderers left Egypt.
They’re living in tents closely packed together which meant that the usual safeguards to maintain privacy were practically non-existent.
Men and women would have been coming into contact with each other in ways that undoubtedly led to temptation and indiscretion.
Hence, methods for dealing with and discouraging immoral behavior had to be established.
Take a good look at verse 12.
“Tell the people of Israel, ‘
If a man’s wife goes astray
and is unfaithful to him“.
Notice the use of the word “unfaithful“.
Now contrast this with Numbers 5:6 just a few verses earlier in dealing with a situation when a man lied to God about a sin he committed.
“Tell the people of Israel, ‘When a man or woman commits any kind of sin against another person and thus breaks faith with Adonai, he incurs guilt.”
In other words, the act of lying to God and a woman committing adultery are both considered acts of breaking faith ultimately with the Almighty.
The Wilderness Tabernacle was a physical model of God’s spiritual dwelling place.
And marriage was meant to be an earthly or physical model of a believer’s relationship with God.
Of course, it’s not the only model.
Yeshua himself never married (for this reason alone, the ultra-orthodox deny his messianic credentials) and the Apostle Paul said “Now to the single people and the widows I say that it is fine if they remain unmarried like me“.
Nevertheless, marriage is and remains an important model of God’s relationship with mankind.
There is a reason why believers are referred to as the “bride of Messiah” and there is a reason why adultery is a topic that is covered in several places in Torah.
In fact, going back to even before Abraham, every ancient society has had its laws and regulations to deal with adultery.
This might surprise you but even among those heathen nations notorious for all kinds of sexual immorality (I’m talking about orgies and sex with relatives), adultery was considered immoral and very serious.
In fact, among the pagans, adultery was seen as an offense against the gods.
Now keep in mind that according to TORAH, adultery is only based on the marital status of a female.
A married man having sex with an unmarried woman was NOT considered adultery.
Ancient Middle Eastern cultures were patriarchal and male dominated.
If the husband discovered for sure that his wife had slept with another man, he had the legal right to kill her.
Of course, that wasn’t a frequent occurrence.
Usually, the husband just divorced his cheating wife or if he had more than one wife, he would lower the status of the cheating wife to the level of a concubine.
However, there was one very interesting difference between Israel and the other ancient societies.
When one studies ancient documents such as the Law of Hammurabi, we discover that adultery was NOT treated as a “crime and punishment” matter.
Rather, it was considered to be more of a religious or personal matter separate from the official legal code.
But with Israel, adultery was treated differently.
It was a full-blown crime included in the legal code right along with murder, stealing and so on.
In fact, in Leviticus we’ve already learned that there really is only one acceptable penalty for adultery and that penalty is DEATH.
That’s why the little study we’re about to embark on from today is going to be quite fascinating because if the woman suspected of adultery was found guilty, she wasn’t put to death in this case.
To be continued…
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Let us rejoice and be glad
and give the glory to Him,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come and
His bride has made herself ready.”“