Numbers 5:11-31

Husbands and wives

11 The Lord said to Moses:

12 ‘Speak to the Israelites. Tell them to follow these rules. A woman may do wrong things against her husband. 13 She might have had sex with another man. The husband might not know about this. His wife might have kept it secret. Nobody came in while it was happening. So there is nobody to say that it happened. 14 But the man may think that it happened. He will be angry. But she may not have made herself unclean in that way. 15 The man must take his wife to the priest. He must bring one kilogram of barley flour with him. This is a grain offering to discover if his wife really did do those things. So he must not put oil or incense on the grain offering. That is an offering because the man does not trust his wife.

16 Then the priest will bring the woman to stand in front of the Lord. 17 He must pour some holy water into a bowl that someone has made from clay. He must take some dust from the floor of God's Tent. And he must put the dust into the water. 18 Then the priest must bring the woman in front of the Lord. The priest must make the woman's hair free. He must put into her hands the grain offering. That is the offering because the man does not trust his wife. The priest must hold the bowl that contains the bitter water. The bitter water brings a curse. 19 Then the woman must agree to the special promise that the priest speaks. The priest should tell her that she must agree.

5:17Holy water’ was special water that the priests kept in God's tent.

He must say, “This water brings a curse. If no other man has had sex with you, it will not hurt you. 20 But if another man has had sex with you, 21 may the Lord cause the curse. The bitter water will cause your female parts to become smaller. Your stomach will become very big. 22 That will happen when you drink the bitter water.”

The woman must say, “That should happen. I agree!”

23 Then the priest must write everything on special paper. Then he must wash off the words into the bitter water. 24 He must tell the woman that she must drink the bitter water. This water that brings a curse will go into her body. It may cause her to be very ill. 25 But first, the priest must take the grain offering from her hands. That is the offering because the man does not trust his wife. The priest must lift it up in front of the Lord. Then he must bring it to the altar. 26 He must burn a small part of it as a sacrifice. After that, the woman must drink the bitter water. 27 If the woman has had sex with another man, the water will cause her to have very bad pain. Her female parts will become smaller. Her stomach will become very big. And people will curse her. 28 But, if she did not do those wrong things, the water will not hurt her. She will be able to have babies.

29-30 Perhaps a man is angry because his wife has had sex with another man. Or a man may think that his wife has had sex with another man. You must do this. This is the rule. The man must bring her in front of the Lord. The priest must obey all these rules. 31 If the woman did not do those wrong things, you must not punish her husband. But if the woman did do those wrong things, you must punish her.’