Yesterday as I was sitting down at my kitchen table to do my Bible reading/blog post, I thought to myself “Alright, Deuteronomy, let’s do this!” Today, I said out loud, “Hey there Leviticus!””
But, I’m supposed to be reading Numbers!
The book of Numbers is soooo boring, that my brain has apparently blocked its existence from my memory. Thankfully, it looks like chapters 5 and 6 are pretty short, so let’s get this over with.
Chapter 5- Lepers and other such unclean people are to be put outside the camp. People should make restitution for their sins to the person they sinned against; if there is no person to make restitution to, it goes to the priests. If a man becomes jealous and suspects his wife of cheating, he should take her to a priest who will make her drink water mixed with dust from the floor of the tabernacle. If she is guilty, her thigh will rot and stomach swell. If she is innocent, nothing will happen.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Look, I don’t condone cheating on your partner. It’s a serious breach of the trust and respect that should be part of a relationship. But to make the accused woman drink dirt? That’s dehumanizing and should be unnecessary. God supposedly spoke directly to the people at this time in history. His instructions could have been, “come to the tabernacle, and I will see what is in her mind and tell you if she is guilty.” Instead, He sets it up like a witch hunt!
This method for detecting adulteresses was for those times when “there was no witness against her, nor was she caught.” So, the husband doesn’t need any proof whatsoever, just a “spirit of jealousy” to make his wife drink dirty water. Then something mystical will happen where she will get fat and sick if she’s guilty, but will remain unharmed if she’s innocent. Maybe there were germs or parasites in the dirt? Perhaps that was the reason some women fell sick, with no correlation to her sexual fidelity.
There is no penalty given for wrongful accusations. If a woman doesn’t get sick from the water, I guess she should just count her blessings that she’s innocent. No worries that her husband doesn’t trust her, or that he made her drink dirt. In fact, verse 31 says, “Then the man shall be free from iniquity, but that woman shall bear her guilt.”
And what if a woman suspects her husband of infidelity? There is no consideration given here to a jealous wife. If she suspects her husband of cheating, is she just to stand meekly aside and ignore it? Boys will be boys, right God?
Also, there doesn’t seem to be any penalty for the man she cheated with. Only the woman is referred to as “defiled” or having “guilt.” It takes two to tango, as the old cliche goes, and it’s the epitome of slut-shaming to only blame the female partner.
Man, I just rapidly cycled from bored with Numbers to pissed off at Numbers!
Chapter 6- The rules concerning men who chose to separate themselves as Nazirites.
The word Nazirite isn’t defined here. It kinda sounds like an ascetic or a monk. They make a vow to God, then during the time of that vow they can’t drink wine, touch dead bodies (even family) or shave their heads. Whenever they stop being a Nazirite, they should shave their head and have the priest burn their hair along with a sin offering.
Weird. I really wish the Bible did a better job of explaining its terms instead of assuming all readers know what they mean.
Verses 24-26: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”
When I was in college the first time, I was a member of Sigma Alpha Iota, a music fraternity for women. One of the songs we would sometimes sing was called “Benediction” and the lyrics were these verses. I still think it’s a beautiful song, even though I’ve long stopped wanting the Lord of the Bible to shine upon me.
Here’s a recording I found on YouTube of the song: