Monday, October 19, 2009

44: Witch Hunt

Numbers 5-6
Numbers 5 starts with God telling Moses (again) not to let any impurity come into the Israelite camp. Apparently dead bodies somehow make you unclean (I'm told it is by touching a dead body, but the bible hasn't said yet) because nobody that is ceremonially unclean from a dead body can enter the camp.

A subsection in Numbers 5 is "The Test for an Unfaithful Wife". I didn't know that was easily testable. Well here it is, the inalienable word of God. If a man's wife is unfaithful (or more accurately, if a man thinks his wife has been unfaithful) he takes his wife to the priest. The priest will take some holy water and put dirt from the tabernacle floor into it. Then he will put grain in her hands and loosen her hair. The priest is supposed to write on scrolls that if she has been unfaithful the water will make her sick. Finally he washes off the ink from the scrolls into the water and makes her drink it. If she gets sick then she was unfaithful, and if she hasn't she will be fine. This isn't anything like the Salem witch trials. If she is innocent, of course, the husband wont be in trouble for accusing her, but the woman will bear the consequences if she has been unfaithful (or more accurately, if she fails this ridiculous test).

Since when does drinking dirty ink water have anything to do with one's faithfulness? And what's to stop a husband from falsely accusing their wife if their is no consequence? This doesn't sound like something an all knowing creator would write. However, this does sound like something a sexist, ancient, Israelite man, who was ignorant of any modern knowledge would write. I'll let you decide which it was.

Numbers 6 is all about how you become a Nazirite. I'm not really sure what makes a Nazirite and a regular Israelite different. The Nazirites can't eat a few extra things but who cares? What difference does that make? To become a Nazirite you have to go through a period of separation where you can't shave your head. The Nazirites can't even go near a dead body, there is no definition of "near" as far as I can tell, so I guess it's however far you think it is. There seems to be a bit of an obsession with hair. If someone suddenly dies in your presence (thus making you "near" a dead body) then you are said to have defiled your hair. Once your period of separation is over you are to shave your head, then you can drink wine. I'm not sure what you've accomplished by becoming a Nazarite. Something to brag about at a dinner party?

1 comment:

  1. One theory about the origin of the idea that Jesus came from Nazareth is that originally he was known as a Nazarite. One of the Gospels even says that he was a Nazarite from birth (which makes no sense, given Numbers).

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