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Home » CHFWeb Forum » BibleIssues » Help
Help [message #785186] Tue, 20 August 2013 08:45 Go to next message
Barbara K (NC)
Messages: 1864
Registered: April 2005
Location: North Carolina
Senior Member
Numbers 5:11ff

I just had a young woman bring this passage to my attention. Can someone help me with this?


Barbara K (NC)

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Cor 9:8


Re: Help [message #785193 is a reply to message #785186 ] Tue, 20 August 2013 13:10 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lisa R.  is currently offline Lisa R.
Messages: 14920
Registered: April 2005
Location: Georgia
Senior Member

What sort of help do you want?


Blessings,
Lisa R.
Re: Help [message #785195 is a reply to message #785193 ] Tue, 20 August 2013 13:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Barbara K (NC)
Messages: 1864
Registered: April 2005
Location: North Carolina
Senior Member
I'm trying to find a larger context for this or a better understanding.

The two things my friend (who is NOT a liberal thinker at all) mentioned was that

1. It sounds like this is a God-directed abortion.

2. It also sounds a lot like the Salem witch trials where they threw a woman into a pond to see if she was a witch. If she floated, she was a witch and would be executed. If she sank and drowned, then she wasn't a witch. But bummer for her, she was dead.

My friend is desperately trying to see how this fits with God's character. To be honest, I've never even seen this passage before. I'm pretty sure I've read through the Bible a couple times so I probably DID read it but I've never actually comprehended the content. Evidently.


Barbara K (NC)

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Cor 9:8


Re: Help [message #785308 is a reply to message #785195 ] Wed, 21 August 2013 19:15 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Jamie
Messages: 4192
Registered: April 2005
Senior Member
Barbara K (NC) wrote on Tue, 20 August 2013 13:15

I'm trying to find a larger context for this or a better understanding.

The two things my friend (who is NOT a liberal thinker at all) mentioned was that

1. It sounds like this is a God-directed abortion.

2. It also sounds a lot like the Salem witch trials where they threw a woman into a pond to see if she was a witch. If she floated, she was a witch and would be executed. If she sank and drowned, then she wasn't a witch. But bummer for her, she was dead.

My friend is desperately trying to see how this fits with God's character. To be honest, I've never even seen this passage before. I'm pretty sure I've read through the Bible a couple times so I probably DID read it but I've never actually comprehended the content. Evidently.


I can see where it sounds unfair. I would hate to go through the ordeal myself just based on suspicion alone. However, I think it is more a deterrent thing? I am also reading this as kind of a harmony type thing. While dunking (or ducking as I've learned the term) was not used during the Salem witch trials, your point is made...and I can see - especially for a nonbeliever - where this seems horribly similar. I can only say that in this specific case God is stating that He will be the witness to the fidelity of the woman...and it's Him that's going to cause all this to happen or to even bless her once her innocence is proven (v28).

And that v28 brings about...there's never any mention of the woman having been pregnant in this "trial" so I truly do believe that this is just the church's (or part of the historical church) overlaying what isn't there. Just from reading the scripture straight, you can't get that she's with child and you certainly can't get that this is an abortion. This is about adultery as sin, not pregnancy. Honestly, if organs are exploding inside her, the woman's dead at best, dying at worst.

Yet, I can also see where there is some compassion in this...a woman is caught in a seemingly compromising position but innocent...her husband can not for the life of him get over it and suspects the worst...let's say she is pregnant...that must be tormenting for them both...is the baby his, is it not? Is she publically playing him for a fool he thinks, his pride injured his heart likely...he might even want to get past it, but just can not...so, you go and have this done...now, I'm not going to be too thrilled or feeling very warmly towards my husband on the donkey-ride home if I'm brought out here on something like this and proven innocent...but it does present us a starting point, I would think. And, there's not going to be the little whisperings about in gossip because I've been publically proven upright in this matter. Bonus: God was intervening for me ... we didn't default right to the stoning based on *his* say so, where otherwise a woman under suspicion in that era and/or region would simply be stoned to death. I'm thinking this is a pretty good deal. Yea, I'd rather just have the trust of my husband...but, I'm reading the scripture as if at least the being alone with another man was somewhat under my control in the first place.


Peace
Re: Help [message #785340 is a reply to message #785186 ] Thu, 22 August 2013 04:49 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Lisa R.  is currently offline Lisa R.
Messages: 14920
Registered: April 2005
Location: Georgia
Senior Member

I don't have good answers, having never really studied such things.

However, I would lump it in with things like the urim and thummin or casting lots. Without the Holy Spirit *within* them (That wasn't available till after Jesus ascended back into heaven), God gave them a way to determine His will. He performed and gave all kinds of signs in the OT and early NT.

Beyond that, I'm not willing to speculate, as I haven't studied all that in context, and I'm guessing it is a bigger answer than I have time to study.

Note: I would agree with Jamie...there's nothing that says she's pregnant, and that doesn't seem to be the issue.


Blessings,
Lisa R.
Re: Help [message #785404 is a reply to message #785340 ] Thu, 22 August 2013 15:37 Go to previous messageGo to next message
Barbara K (NC)
Messages: 1864
Registered: April 2005
Location: North Carolina
Senior Member
Lisa R. wrote on Thu, 22 August 2013 04:49

I don't have good answers, having never really studied such things.


Note: I would agree with Jamie...there's nothing that says she's pregnant, and that doesn't seem to be the issue.


In the ESV, the Numbers 5:27 says: Num 5:27 And when he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has broken faith with her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall swell, and her thigh shall fall away, and the woman shall become a curse among her people.

The part about her womb swelling is probably what made my friend wonder about abortion.

In the NIV (and I realize that many do not feel that is the most accurate translation) it says: Num 5:27 If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse.

That comes a lot closer to a pregnancy/miscarriage/possible abortion scenario and that might be the version that raised the question for my friend. If some set of translators included a reference or implication of miscarriage, there might be something linguistically that indicates that?

I'm not trying to argue for that understanding, but I just wanted to point out that depending on which version you use, that's not a preposterous conclusion or question raised.


Barbara K (NC)

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Cor 9:8


Re: Help [message #785413 is a reply to message #785404 ] Thu, 22 August 2013 18:19 Go to previous messageGo to next message
LauraBeth  is currently offline LauraBeth
Messages: 245
Registered: January 2010
Location: Arizona
Senior Member
I asked Kirk (my dh, who is studying Hebrew right now) about this.

His response to your two concerns:
1)the "God-directed abortion" idea: Using the word abortion here is not appropriate. The passage doesn't tell us if the woman is pregnant or not when she is brought before the priest. She might be. The language used leaves open the possibility that she might be pregnant, and might miscarry as a result of this test. But it is not a man-directed event, in which humans terminate a pregnancy--it is a God-directed judgment on an act of sin. It is clear that there will be sterility or an inability to carry a baby to term, if the woman is guilty. So it's inaccurate and inappropriate to call it an abortion, because it's not the priest making the woman abort--it's God using that process to bring judgment.

Thinking back to my study of Leviticus...there is a great theme of the need to keep the holy (holy water, dirt from the sanctuary floor, words of the curse) separate from the unholy (a person who has committed adultery.) If a woman who HAD committed adultery was to drink this holy water, there would be immediate and direct judgment upon her, because her impure self is coming into contact with something consecrated.

2)As for the Salem witch trial parallel...this is not a process where the innocent woman is harmed by the test itself. Because if she IS innocent, that holy water will not harm her at all. It only harms her if she is guilty (and presumably has been lying about it.)

Also, I think it's important to see this in the context of the culture and times. In those times, in most of the cultures around Israel, if a man was displeased with his wife for any reason, he could divorce her. Also keep in mind that the penalty for adulterers was stoning. This passage is actually a PROTECTION for the innocent woman. God is instituting a clear procedure for uncovering the truth--so she is not held hostage by her husband's unreasonable jealousy or unjust accusations--and the onus of proof falls on God Himself. The priest is not responsible for discerning who is being truthful, except insofar as he administers the test and observes how God brings the truth to light through the results.

So think about it...if your husband was irrationally suspecting you of being unfaithful, who would you rather be the judge of your innocence--a man or panel of men? or God Himself, who knows your heart and can make your innocence clear?

Hope that helps.
Re: Help [message #785427 is a reply to message #785413 ] Fri, 23 August 2013 02:37 Go to previous message
Barbara K (NC)
Messages: 1864
Registered: April 2005
Location: North Carolina
Senior Member
LauraBeth wrote on Thu, 22 August 2013 18:19

I asked Kirk (my dh, who is studying Hebrew right now) about this.

His response to your two concerns:
1)the "God-directed abortion" idea: Using the word abortion here is not appropriate. The passage doesn't tell us if the woman is pregnant or not when she is brought before the priest. She might be. The language used leaves open the possibility that she might be pregnant, and might miscarry as a result of this test. But it is not a man-directed event, in which humans terminate a pregnancy--it is a God-directed judgment on an act of sin. It is clear that there will be sterility or an inability to carry a baby to term, if the woman is guilty. So it's inaccurate and inappropriate to call it an abortion, because it's not the priest making the woman abort--it's God using that process to bring judgment.

Thinking back to my study of Leviticus...there is a great theme of the need to keep the holy (holy water, dirt from the sanctuary floor, words of the curse) separate from the unholy (a person who has committed adultery.) If a woman who HAD committed adultery was to drink this holy water, there would be immediate and direct judgment upon her, because her impure self is coming into contact with something consecrated.

2)As for the Salem witch trial parallel...this is not a process where the innocent woman is harmed by the test itself. Because if she IS innocent, that holy water will not harm her at all. It only harms her if she is guilty (and presumably has been lying about it.)

Also, I think it's important to see this in the context of the culture and times. In those times, in most of the cultures around Israel, if a man was displeased with his wife for any reason, he could divorce her. Also keep in mind that the penalty for adulterers was stoning. This passage is actually a PROTECTION for the innocent woman. God is instituting a clear procedure for uncovering the truth--so she is not held hostage by her husband's unreasonable jealousy or unjust accusations--and the onus of proof falls on God Himself. The priest is not responsible for discerning who is being truthful, except insofar as he administers the test and observes how God brings the truth to light through the results.

So think about it...if your husband was irrationally suspecting you of being unfaithful, who would you rather be the judge of your innocence--a man or panel of men? or God Himself, who knows your heart and can make your innocence clear?

Hope that helps.


Thanks, LB, this helps a lot.


Barbara K (NC)

"And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." 2 Cor 9:8


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