Sotah: A Jealous Spouse

May 24, 2015

וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃

Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying:

Numbers 5:11

וְנִקָּה הָאִישׁ מֵעָוׂן וְהָאִשָּׁה הַהִוא תִּשָּׂא אֶת־עֲוׂנָהּ׃

The man shall be clear of guilt; but that woman shall suffer for her guilt.

Numbers 5:31

This passage deals with a very difficult subject: a husband who suspects his wife of infidelity. If there are no witnesses to back his claim, God Himself stands witness between them.


The jealous husband must bring his wife to the priest, where she brings a special offering of barley flour without oil or frankincense. The priest takes sacred water and mixes in some earth from the floor of the Tabernacle. He stands the woman before God and uncovers her hair. She holds the meal-offering while he holds the bitter waters.


The priest warns her that if she was unfaithful, God will cause her thigh to fall away and her belly to swell upon the conclusion of the water ritual, and she must acknowledge. The priest records the curse on a scroll and dissolves the words into the bitter water and makes the woman drink. If she was unfaithful, the curse will be fulfilled, but if she was not, she will become pregnant instead.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

If the woman might be innocent, why do you think she is made to go through this demeaning ordeal?

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