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Numbers 5-Biblical Abortion?


dairyfreelife

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I forgot about this passage and saw it the other day and was reminded of some of the harsh realities for women in Biblical times.

Numbers 5: 11-30: (NIV)

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure—then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing.

“‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the LORD. Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. After the priest has had the woman stand before the LORD, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husbandâ€â€” here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the LORD cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.â€

“‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.â€

“‘The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. He shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering will enter her. The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the LORD and bring it to the altar. The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse. If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.

“‘This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and makes herself impure while married to her husband, or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the LORD and is to apply this entire law to her. The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.’â€

They are giving the woman something here meant to cause her to miscarry if she was unfaithful. If she was not unfaithful, she would not miscarry. How do you think adament pro-lifers justify this passage?

Edit because is and if are not the same word and to reword the question.

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Well, I suppose they could say it's one of those parts of the Old Testament that no longer applies.

If nothing else, this shows that the practice of deliberately ending pregnancies has been around since biblical times. But we knew that already.

I wonder what was actually in the "bitter water". Something that always caused miscarriage, so that any wife who was accused would be judged guilty? Or something that only caused miscarriage sometimes?

With my evil doubting mind, I could see the priest making the potion stronger or weaker depending on whether he thought the wife was guilty.

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“‘This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and makes herself impure while married to her husband, or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the LORD and is to apply this entire law to her. The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.’â€

I have a problem with a lot of different parts of the bible but this might be among the top 10. :x

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All of the passages of the Lex Talonis (eye for an eye, etc) proscribe death as a punishment for murder, but a lesser punishment for causing a woman to miscarry. This would also imply that abortion is not the same thing as murder. And in Numbers, babies aren't even counted in the census until they are a month old, and certainly not before they are born.

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All of the passages of the Lex Talonis (eye for an eye, etc) proscribe death as a punishment for murder, but a lesser punishment for causing a woman to miscarry. This would also imply that abortion is not the same thing as murder. And in Numbers, babies aren't even counted in the census until they are a month old, and certainly not before they are born.

Yep, and i'm sure fellow FJ Jew Crew members can back me up here, I read SOMEWHERE that in Jewish law that I think until the baby's head is out, the mother's life is to be considered over the baby's. Once the head is out, you must attempt to save both of them.

Edited: Aish.com helped me out! http://www.aish.com/ci/sam/48954946.html

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This reminds me of (fabled?) method of trying women for witchery: Throw her in the river, if she's innocent she'll drown, if she's guilty, she'll swim/float.

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uber frau: it's not fables, it's really true! Gotta love such "logic",eh?

She turns men into newts, but they get better. Ducks float and if she weighs the same as a duck, she is witch. Burn her! ;)

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Well, I suppose they could say it's one of those parts of the Old Testament that no longer applies.

If nothing else, this shows that the practice of deliberately ending pregnancies has been around since biblical times. But we knew that already.

I wonder what was actually in the "bitter water". Something that always caused miscarriage, so that any wife who was accused would be judged guilty? Or something that only caused miscarriage sometimes?

With my evil doubting mind, I could see the priest making the potion stronger or weaker depending on whether he thought the wife was guilty.

Well, certain herbs and such are known to cause menstruation/miscarriage and have been used to abort for centuries. It is known that purposely ending pregnancies has been around since Biblical times, but most pro-lifers like the Duggars use the Old Testament and believe all abortion is wrong. I am just wondering how they could justify this? If Leviticus laws for waiting to the deed are fine and believing in the whole "Be fruitful and multiply" stuff, but ignore passages like these, how would they justify this "test for the unfaithful wife?"

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Hmm, I am interpreting this differently. I don't think the woman is pregnant now and is given something to make her miscarry. I think what they mean by the curse is that if the woman is guilty of adultery, she will miscarry when she gets pregnant in the future. If she hasn't cheated, she will be able to carry a child to term in the future. Not being able to have children is seen as a curse in the OT.

ETA: I don't know, maybe it's not so different. Even if you're "wishing" a future miscarriage on a woman, you can still glean that they don't think every embryo is special and wonderful and deserving of life no matter what the situation. Basically, OT views on pregnancy, abortion, life, etc. are NOT the same as those of a modern conservative Christian.

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But even worse, it means that a woman is punished for her husband's feelings of jealousy. Even if no swelling and miscarrying occur, she is still humiliated and objectified because of her husband's emotional problem. If you go by this logic, then the extreme modesty makes perfect sense. In Biblical times, it was dangerous for a woman to look even marginally appealing.

The more I study the Bible, the more militant my atheism becomes.

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Well, certain herbs and such are known to cause menstruation/miscarriage and have been used to abort for centuries. It is known that purposely ending pregnancies has been around since Biblical times, but most pro-lifers like the Duggars use the Old Testament and believe all abortion is wrong. I am just wondering how they could justify this? If Leviticus laws for waiting to the deed are fine and believing in the whole "Be fruitful and multiply" stuff, but ignore passages like these, how would they justify this "test for the unfaithful wife?"

They do like Josiah and completely ignore it. No matter how you look at this passage, it is obvious that it was okay to kill a fetus for a punishment and they didn't view it as the priest murdering a baby.

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This post is making me come out of lurkdom to say, the Bible is such a fucked-up book! Why anyone would base their life on this antiquated and misogynist tome is far beyond my ken.

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