God teaches Moses in the Book of Numbers, saying that if a man is suspicious about his wife’s chastity and thinks that she might have slept with other man but there is no evidence, he shall bring barley meal to a priest and offer it as an offering of jealousy to God, and the priest shall let his wife drink bitter water to see whether her belly would swell and her thigh rot. God says that if her belly swells and her thigh rots, it is the evidence that she has sinned against her husband; but if she is innocent she will be all right and conceive seed (Numbers 5:11-31).
5: 11 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
5: 12 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man’s wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him,
5: 13 And a man lie with her carnally, and it he hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and there be no witness against her, neither she be taken with the manner;
5: 14 And the spirit of jealousy come upon him and her be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled: or if the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled:
5: 15 Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest, and he shall bring her offer for her, the tenth part of an ephah* of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon; for it is an offering of jealousy, an offering of memorial, bringing iniquity of remembrance.
[*Epha is an ancient Hebrew unit of dry measure equal to a little more than a bushel.]
5: 16 And the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the Lord:
5: 17 And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel: and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacles the priest shall take, and put it into the water:
5: 18 And the priest shall set the woman before the Lord, and uncover the woman’s head, and put the offering of memorial in her hands, which is the jealousy offering: and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse:
5: 19 And the priest shall charge her by an oath, and say unto the woman if no man have lain with thee, and it thou hast not gone aside to uncleanness with another instead of thy husband, be thou free form this bitter water that causeth the curse:
5: 20 But if thou hast gone aside to another instead of thy husband, and if thou be defiled, and some man have lain with thee beside thine husband:
5: 21 Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman,
5: 22 And this water that causeth the curse shall go into that bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say Amen, amen.
5: 23 And the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall blot them out with the bitter water:
5: 24 And he shall cause the woman to drink bitter water that causeth the curse: and the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter.
5: 25 Then the priest shall take the jealousy offering out of the woman’s hand, and shall wave the offering before the Lord, and offer it upon the alter:
5: 26 And the priest shall take an handful of the offering, even the memorial thereof, and burn it upon the altar, and afterward shall cause the woman to drink the water.
5: 27 And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that, if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the woman shall be a curse among her people.
5: 28 And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed.
5:29 This is the law of jealousies, when a wife goeth aside to another instead of her husband, and is defiled;
5:30 Or when the sprit of jealousy cometh upon him, and he be jealous over his wife, and shall set the woman before the Lord, and the priest shall execute upon her all this law.
The law of jealousy given by God was for men who were suspicious about their wife’s chastity. But from every angle, this law does not seem to be from almighty God. God, according to the Christian belief, knows all the doings and thoughts of the past, present, and future of every man and every woman. If that is true, were all those time-consuming procedure of executing jealousy offering to God and making the woman drink bitter water to see if her belly would swell and her thigh rot necessary?
Deuteronomy 5;30 reads “… when the spirit of jealousy cometh upon him and he be jealous over his wife ....” The spirit of jealousy, the spirit of adultery, the spirit of lies, etc. are the very devils or Satan in terms of religion. Therefore, the man to whom the spirit of jealousy came is the demoniac. Then the one who really needs a spiritual treatment (religious therapy or exorcism) is the man and not his wife; and the one who has the ultimate responsibility to cast the demon out from the man is God. Nevertheless, Moses’ god regards the man, who is possessed with the spirit of jealousy, as blameless and gives the strange law of forcing his wife to drink the bitter water to see if her belly would swell and her thigh rot.
Ancient people thought all the phenomena under the sun were caused by spirits or gods; so they created numerous kinds of spirits or gods. The spirit of jealousy, devil, Satan, Jehovah, etc. are all the creation of ancient priests. (Of course religionists will not accept this kind of explanation.)
By the way, it is not certain what the bitter water used to detect the sin of women was. Had the Bible clearly explained what the bitter water was or the recipe of such water, many modern Christian men who are suspicious about their wives’ chastity would prove the sin of their wives by administering the bitter water to their wives (in the presence of a priest and God). But alas! The Bible does not tell specifically what the bitter water is. It might have been possible that the bitter water was a kind of poison ancient Egyptians had used. Jesus taught his followers that true believers do not get harmed by any poison (Mark 16:15-18).
(This article is a part of the 28th Chapter of Salvation from Religion, vol. 3 by the author.)