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Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 5

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 2

Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead:

Put out of the camp. — To show, that sin unrepented of, throws us out of the communion of faith and saints; shuts us out of the congregation of God in earth and heaven. No fellowship, place, or reward with them. See Revelation 21:27 . See Trapp on " Revelation 21:27 "

Defiled by the dead. — Heb., Defiled by a soul. The Hebrews call a dead corpse Nephesh here, and elsewhere; that is, a soul, to note that it shall live again, and that the soul shall return to it. The heathene also (saith a grave interpreter) called a dead body a soul: possibly from some glimpse of the resurrection.

Verse 3

Both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell.

Without the camp shall ye put them. — Evildoers are to be suspended, excommunicated, 1 Corinthians 5:13 which text showeth plainly the truth of this ceremony.

Verse 6

Speak unto the children of Israel, When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the LORD, and that person be guilty;

Any sin that men commit. — For what man is he that liveth and sinneth not? I am a man a sinner, ανηρ αμαρταλος saith Peter, Luke 5:8 not more a man than a sinner. Our lives are fuller of sin, than the firmament of stars, or the furnace of sparks: we can as little cease to sin, as the hart to pant, pulse to beat, … The devil, when he speaks lies, speaks of his own, John 8:44 so when we do evil, we work of our own, we "walk as men." 1 Corinthians 3:3 Sins are here called human sins, as the Greek hath it.

Verse 7

Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth [part] thereof, and give [it] unto [him] against whom he hath trespassed.

Then they shall confess their sin. — So they were bound to do, all their sins. Proverbs 28:13 Job 33:27-28 Confessio peccati est medicina peccati, saith Nazianzen; a sin acknowledged is half amended.

And he shall recompense his trespass. — Restitution must be made of goods unjustly detained, or else you shall cough in hell, said Mr Latimer. Our King Henry VII, in his last will and testament, after the disposing of his soul and body, he devised and willed restitution should be made, of all such moneys as had unjustly been levied by his officers. Speed’s Hist., fol. 995. So did Selymus the great Turk give orders at his death for the restoring and recompensing of the great treasure he had taken from the Persian merchants. Turk. Hist., fol. 767.

Verse 8

But if the man have no kinsman to recompense the trespass unto, let the trespass be recompensed unto the LORD, [even] to the priest; beside the ram of the atonement, whereby an atonement shall be made for him.

Unto the Lord, even to the priest. — The priest is the Lord’s receiver. Sacerdos est vicarius et quasi haeres. - Dio. So Hebrews 7:6-9 Tithes are due to the ministers of Christ "that liveth," because due to him, and they are in his stead. 2 Corinthians 5:20

Verse 9

And every offering of all the holy things of the children of Israel, which they bring unto the priest, shall be his.

And every offering. — So liberally doth the Lord provide for his priests. See Trapp on " Leviticus 27:30 " And is not the right of livelihood as equal and due to the ministers of the gospel, whose ministry is far more glorious, 2 Corinthians 3:8-9 even greater than that of John Baptist? Matthew 11:11

Verse 12

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man’s wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him,

If any man’s wife go aside.Ad alterum, vel ad alterius torum; unde dicitur adulterium. If, as a naughty woman, she want one, when she hath her own. But how naughty are the Lithuanians, who give way to their wives to have their gallants, if Maginus belie them not, and call such connubii adiutores, prizing them far above all their acquaintances!

Verse 13

And a man lie with her carnally, and it be 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];

And it be hid from the eyes — As Proverbs 30:20 . Such a privy whore was Livia, the wife of Augustus Caesar, who, though otherwise very observant of her husband, yet lived in adultery with Eudemus her physician: qui specie artis frequens secretis, saith Taeitus; who, under a show of curing her, corrupted her. So do the Jesuits many dames at this day; being, as one saith of them, Connubi sanctifugae, clam meretricitegae. The friars are said to send men whose wives are barren, in pilgrimage to St. Joyce the patroness of fruitfulness, and meanwhile to lie with their wives.

Verse 14

And the spirit of jealousy come upon him, and he 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:

And the spirit of jealousy come upon him. — In the baths at Upper Baden in Helvetia, cernunt viri uxores tractari, cernunt cum alienis loqui, et quidem solam cum solo, saith Munster, and yet are not jealous. But the Italians are so jealous, that how many husbands, so many jailers. And the Turks as far exceed the Italians herein, as the Italians do us. Therefore their women go muffled, all but the eyes: nor are they suffered to go to church, or so much as look out at their own windows. Blunt’s Voyage into Levant. In Barbary it is death for any man to see one of the Shereef’s concubines: and for them too, if, when they see a man, though but through a casement, they do not suddenly scream out.

Verse 15

Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest, and he shall bring her offering 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 to remembrance.

Barley meal. — Barley, not wheat. She hath done the act of a beast, and her oblation is the meat of a beast, as Sal. Zarchi here noteth.

Verse 16

And the priest shall bring her near, and set her before the LORD:

Set her before the Lord. — Whose the judgment was; that, if guilty, she might be scared from submitting herself to this trial; since God knows all our thefts.

Verse 17

And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel; and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put [it] into the water:

Holy water,i.e., Water taken out of the holy laver: no warrant for Popish lustral water, and sprinkling of sepulchres: for the ground whereof Cardinal Baronius fairly refers us to Juvenal’s sixth Satire. Annal. ad Annum 44.

Verse 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:

Uncover the woman’s head. — Because she stood now upon her justification, and thereupon laid aside, for present, this sign of subjection to the man. 1 Corinthians 11:7

The offering of memorial. — Brought by her husband, Numbers 5:15 who was now sick of one of those three diseases, that they say are hardly cured, jealousy, frenzy, and heresy.

Verse 19

And the priest shall charge her by an oath, and say unto the woman, If no man have lain with thee, and if thou hast not gone aside to uncleanness [with another] instead of thy husband, be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse:

Causeth the curse. — The divine justice caused it; the water discovered it.

Verse 21

Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman, The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell;

Thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell. — God takes notice of the offending member; as he did in those blasphemers, who gnawed their tongues; Revelation 16:10 Absalom’s hair; Jeroboam’s hand; the adulterer’s loins; Proverbs 5:11 Zimri and Cozbi, thrust through the belly. Numbers 25:8 Charles II, King of Navarre, Joan, Queen of Naples, …, suffered as they sinned.

Verse 22

And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make [thy] belly to swell, and [thy] thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen.

Amen, amen. — Twice; to show the fervency of her zeal, the innocency of her cause, the uprightness of her conscience, and the purity of her heart.

Verse 23

And the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall blot [them] out with the bitter water:

Shall write these curses in a book. — To show, that the word written should cause the water thus to work, according to the cleanness or uncleanness of the party. See 2 Corinthians 2:16 . See Trapp on " 2 Corinthians 2:16 "

Verse 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.

And her belly shall swell. — This was a usual miracle among the Jews; and showed that their religion was of God.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 5". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/numbers-5.html. 1865-1868.
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