chapter
4 Pages

Numbers

N umbers 5: 11-31 contains what has been regarded as either an "ordeal ofjealousy" or a "rite to establish a child's paternity. ,,1 The narrative hasusually been assigned to P, but, in view of comparative Near Eastern data dealing with ordeals, it certainly reflects a tradition deeply imbedded in the past.2 It concerns a husband seized by a fit of jealousy who, lacking the proper number of witnesses [cf. Deut. 19: 15; Numb. 35:30], brings his wife to the temple and forces her to undergo a divinely controlled trial. 3 Preparation for the ritual begins with the husband providing a meal-offering, an act, perhaps, designed to involve him in the proceedings.4 A priest, perhaps equivalent to the manzadublu of the Nuzi ordeals,S accompanies the wife before YHWH. 6 Duse from the tabernacle's floor is then added to the sacred waters8 of an earthen vessel. The priest loosens the woman's hair,9 and places the meal offering between her hands. In his hands, the priest carries a liquid, mey hammarzm ha-me)ararzm.