For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
The Torah presents us with a simple way of dealing with a woman’s suspected adultery. If a man suspects his wife to have been unfaithful to him, as a matter of protection to the woman from the jealous husband, he is not to take the matter into his own hands. From the moment of his suspicion, he is not to have any intimacy with her, but he is to take his wife to the Temple in Jerusalem for her to be tested by the trial of ‘bitter waters’. This consisted of a Scripture-curse written and diluted in a mixture of water and dust from the Temple. The woman was to drink it then go to the hill country. If she survived the mixture, she would be immune from the bitter waters and at a later date conceive, if not she would quickly die of a loathsome disease (Numbers 5:19-31).
The idea is about a man who, for a reason or another, maybe his wife’s unseemly behavior, suspects her of unfaithfulness. He only suspects her but cannot prove it, so he presents his case to God. The sages notice that whereas it is a prohibition to deface or erase the Name of God, the curse to be diluted in water contains the tetragramaton. Jewish sages concluded from this the extreme importance that God accords to solving marital problems. I think that God would agree that marriage being the cornerstone of a civilization; it must not only be kept pure, but also peaceful (Colossians 3:18-19). We see this importance in the story of the King of Persia and his wife Vashti who defied her husband in the sight of all his Princes. For the sake of domestic peace in every family in the Empire, she was not allowed to remain queen and her place was given to a more deserving one (Ester 1). In any case, the fate of the suspected woman is put into the hands of the only God who condemn or exonerate her by heavenly decree.
We have a similar case in the Apostolic Scriptures. Miriam, a young bride to be receives a visitation. She then leaves to visit her cousin for three months only to return pregnant to the dismay of Joseph her betrothed. One could hardly blame him for not believing the angel story. In his case, there was no suspicion, so there was no need for the test. Miriam stood right beside him pregnant and he knew that he had nothing to do with it. In his eyes, Miriam was already condemned. Hadn’t it been for the angel that spoke to Joseph, she was to be stoned to death (Matthew 1:18-25).
The remarkable parallel is that whereas Miriam was not subjected to the trial of bitter waters, she was still exonerated through heavenly intervention. When a suspected woman drinks the Temple mixture, she drinks the Word of God with His Name, and later conceives, Miriam did not drink the potion but gave birth to the One who would be called ‘The Mimrah: The Word (John 1).
In a certain way, like the woman suspected of adultery, we are also all guilty and as we drink the Torah it condemns us to death. But those of us who have Messiah as the Shield of our Salvation are also exonerated by heavenly intervention.