Bible Savvy Podcast Episode 32: Numbers 5:11-31

Sometimes Old Testament passages are hard to understand in our modern world. Join Nikki, Eric, and Clayton as they use the COMMA method to unpack the passage of Numbers that discusses a test for an unfaithful wife.

WARNING – The passage in this episode contains mature themes. Kids, please talk to an adult before listening.

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  1. Such a puzzling passage! Our Western modern worldview gets in the way of understanding the complete message of this passage, I’m sure. I was intrigued by the term “miscarriage” in the NIV that Clayton says is “thigh fall away” in other translations (ESV & RSV). I found it as “thigh shrivel” (NASB2020), “thigh to rot” (KJV) and “private parts shrivel” (CJB). “Thigh,” I learned from Bible scholars, is though to be a euphemism for “organs of procreation” (Gen. 24:2,9, 47:29) . It seems, if the outcome of this bitter water ritual for the innocent wife is “free to bear children” (v.28), then the opposite is likely to be the outcome of this ritual for the guilty wife, that being sterilization. And if the guilty wife had just lain with a man, her womb might be holding his offspring when it shrivels. That sounds like miscarriage in my modern understanding of “shriveled private parts.” Better than being put to death, but still pretty awful.

    I like to think of this ritual as a contrasting backdrop to the loving and merciful, husband Hosea as he lived with a flagrantly unfaithful wife, Gomer. Gomer represents God’s people and their chronic unfaithfulness to Him. Taking the story another step forward, we, the Church, are the unfaithful bride to Jesus, our merciful and ever-loving groom. How underserving we are of Him! And how great is He, and worthy of our faithful devotion!

    Hats off to you three for taking on such a challenging passage!

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