Shit My Bible Says: Numbers 5:11-28

Back in January, the Pennsylvania House passed a resolution naming 2012 “The Year of the Bible”:

WHEREAS, a bunch of pious bullshit, and

WHEREAS, a pile of revisonist history, and

WHEREAS, puppies are cute and stuff, therefore let it be

RESOLVED, something or other blah blah blah this is an easy vote-winner and I can get out of here in time for happy hour, right?


So, yeah. Year of the Bible. Huh. Presumably that means that the good people of Pennsylvania ought to read the Bible to find out what it says, that our country and values are based on. Or, if it’s anything like Black History Month, sit through a bunch of PSAs and maybe, if you’re still in school, go on a field trip to the local museum.

So, as a public service, allow me to present what I’d like to call Shit My Bible Says. For this first episode, let’s take a look at Number 5:11-28 (skip forward for the tl;dr version):

11 Then the LORD said to Moses, 12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure— 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah[a] of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing.

16 “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the LORD. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the LORD, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the LORD cause you to become a curse[b] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

“‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”

23 “‘The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering will enter her. 25 The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the LORD and bring it to the altar. 26 The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial[c] offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. 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. 28 If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.

(emphasis added, quite emphatically)

To recap: if a man thinks his wife has been cheating on him, the local priest should give her a magic potion that will induce an abortion if she was unfaithful.

Read that again: causing a miscarriage — or, as the pro-life crowd likes to call it, murdering a baby — is considered an acceptable side effect of finding out whether your wife’s been getting some action on the side.

I was going to say that this shows that the God of the Bible doesn’t consider fetuses to be human, but then I realized that he’s quite fond of killing, and ordering the killing of, people who are unambiguously human.

At any rate, I don’t see why the religious right are up in arms about abortifacients, to say nothing of contraceptives. It seems obvious that according to the Bible, killing fetuses is no big deal.

(HT Larry O’Heam, aka Almighty God.)

One thought on “Shit My Bible Says: Numbers 5:11-28”

  1. This passage in Numbers was the catalyst for changing me from a believer to an atheist, ironically as the result of doing devotional “read the Bible every day” kind of reading, using a reading guide by D.A. Carlson. I read this passage, thought “oh, wait, that can’t be right” . . . read it again, and thought “there’s no way this has anything to do with God”, consulted Carlson’s book, which completely ignored the passage even though it was part of the day’s reading . . . and then I didn’t believe any more. I had a high view of scripture (“all truth, without error”) so when one part was obviously untrue, the whole thing went out the window. After a lifetime in the church it was quite a shock, but now two years later I can’t believe I ever took any of it seriously.


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