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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 5


The LORD said to Moses:


1 "Order the Israelites to expel from camp every leper, and everyone suffering from a discharge, and everyone who has become unclean by contact with a corpse.


Male and female alike, you shall compel them to go out of the camp; they are not to defile the camp in which I dwell."


The Israelites obeyed the command that the LORD had given Moses; they expelled them from the camp.


2 The LORD said to Moses,


"Tell the Israelites: If a man (or a woman) commits a fault against his fellow man and wrongs him, thus breaking faith with the LORD,


he shall confess the wrong he has done, restore his ill-gotten goods in full, and in addition give one fifth of their value to the one he has wronged.


3 However, if the latter has no next of kin to whom restoration of the ill-gotten goods can be made, the goods to be restored shall be the LORD'S and shall fall to the priest; this is apart from the atonement ram with which the priest makes amends for the guilty man.


Likewise, every sacred contribution that the Israelites are bound to make shall fall to the priest.


Each Israelite man may dispose of his own sacred contributions; they become the property of the priest to whom he gives them."


The LORD said to Moses,


"Speak to the Israelites and tell them: If a man's wife goes astray and becomes unfaithful to him


by having intercourse with another man, though her husband has not sufficient evidence of the fact, so that her impurity remains unproved for lack of a witness who might have caught her in the act;


or if a man is overcome by a feeling of jealousy that makes him suspect his wife, whether she was actually impure or not:


he shall bring his wife to the priest and shall take along as an offering for her a tenth of an ephah of barley meal. However, he shall not pour oil on it nor put frankincense over it, since it is a cereal offering of jealousy, a cereal offering for an appeal in a question of guilt.


"The priest shall first have the woman come forward and stand before the LORD.


4 In an earthen vessel he shall meanwhile put some holy water, as well as some dust that he has taken from the floor of the Dwelling.


5 Then, as the woman stands before the LORD, the priest shall uncover her head and place in her hands the cereal offering of her appeal, that is, the cereal offering of jealousy, while he himself shall hold the bitter water that brings a curse.


Then he shall adjure the woman, saying to her, 'If no other man has had intercourse with you, and you have not gone astray by impurity while under the authority of your husband, be immune to the curse brought by this bitter water.


But if you have gone astray while under the authority of your husband and have acted impurely by letting a man other than your husband have intercourse with you' - 


6 so shall the priest adjure the woman with this oath of imprecation - 'may the LORD make you an example of malediction and imprecation among your people by causing your thighs to waste away and your belly to swell!


7 May this water, then, that brings a curse, enter your body to make your belly swell and your thighs waste away!' And the woman shall say, 'Amen, amen!'


The priest shall put these imprecations in writing and shall then wash them off into the bitter water,


which he is to have the woman drink, so that it may go into her with all its bitter curse.


But first he shall take the cereal offering of jealousy from the woman's hand, and having waved this offering before the LORD, shall put it near the altar,


where he shall take a handful of the cereal offering as its token offering and burn it on the altar. Only then shall he have the woman drink the water.


Once she has done so, if she has been impure and unfaithful to her husband, this bitter water that brings a curse will go into her, and her belly will swell and her thighs will waste away, so that she will become an example of imprecation among her people.


If, however, the woman has not defiled herself, but is still pure, she will be immune and will still be able to bear children.


"This, then, is the law for jealousy: When a woman goes astray while under the authority of her husband and acts impurely,


or when such a feeling of jealousy comes over a man that he becomes suspicious of his wife, he shall have her stand before the LORD, and the priest shall apply this law in full to her.


8 The man shall be free from guilt, but the woman shall bear such guilt as she may have."


1 [2] For the laws regarding victims of leprosy, see Lev 13-14; those suffering from a discharge, Lev 15; the unclean by contact with a corpse, Numbers 19:11-22; Lev 21:1-4.

2 [5-10] The basic law on unjust possession is given in Lev 5:14-19. The new item here concerns the case where the injured party has died and left no heirs, in which case the restitution must be made to the priest.

3 [8] Next of kin: literally "redeemer," a technical term denoting the nearest relative, upon whom devolved the obligation of "redeeming" the family property, in order to keep it within the family. Cf Lev 25:25; Ruth 4:1-6.

4 [17] Holy water: water from the laver that stood in the court of the Dwelling.

5 [18] Appeal: by which she invokes the Lord and refers her case to his decision.

6 [21] An example of malediction and imprecation: the woman's name would be used in curses and oaths to invoke a similar misfortune on another person or on oneself. Cf Isaiah 65:15; Jeremiah 29:22.

7 [22] Amen: a Hebrew word meaning, "certainly, truly," used to give assent to a statement, a curse, a blessing, a prayer, or the like; in this sense of "so be it," the Christian liturgy also uses it after prayers and blessings.

8 [31] Free from guilt:by fulfilling his obligation of obtaining a decision in the matter.

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