Bitter Water

So, in Indiana (where I live) Governor Mike Pence recently signed a law that banned abortions based on the potential gender, ethnicity, or disability of the fetus. This has spurred the creation of a protest of sorts in the form of “Periods for Pence” a group encouraging women across the state to call, tweet, Facebook, or otherwise inform Mike Pence of the happenings with their menstrual cycle. This has since made the national news circuit. You can read about it here and other places.

Not a perfect segue, but I was thinking about how in this presidential election cycle two GOP (Rubio and Walker) presidential candidates came out as opposed to abortion in all circumstances including rape, incest, and even if the life of the mother was in jeopardy.

I wonder, if those individuals who believe like Rubio and Walker that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances are aware of a rather peculiar ritual described in the Old Testament where a suspicious husband could force his wife (no proof necessary) to take a “magic potion” that of course would do no harm to an innocent woman, but would most likely (the wording is a little obscure, yet still pretty explicit) cause the death of an unborn child for a pregnant women and (or if she wasn’t already pregnant) cause her to remain barren for the rest of her life. See Numbers 5:11-31 for the full text, it is lengthy so I’ve edited out some redundancy and extraneous bits.

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 12 “Speak to the people of Israel, If any man’s wife goes astray and breaks faith with him… 14 and if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife who has defiled herself…15 then the man shall bring his wife to the priest and bring the offering required of her, a tenth of an ephah of barley flour…

16 “And the priest shall bring her near and set her before the Lord. 17 And the priest shall take holy water in an earthenware vessel and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water… 19 Then the priest shall make her take an oath…21 

 24 …And he shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings the curse, and the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain…. And when he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has broken faith with her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall swell, and her thigh shall fall away, and the woman shall become a curse among her people. 28 But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she shall be free and shall conceive children.

The trick with this verse is no one quite seems to know what “her thigh shall fall away” means. The NIV translation seems to be the only one that will directly translate that to “her womb will miscarry.” However, bitter pain, a swelling womb, and something falling away, coupled with an “innocent” woman being able to conceive children seems pretty obvious to me. It is called context clues people. That and the Bible is known for using euphemisms when it comes to discussing genitals.

Take this strange story about God trying to kill Moses in Exodus 4: 24-26. Why God is trying to kill Moses is never explained (it is an entirely random insertion) nor why circumcising an infant and throwing the bloody foreskin at Moses’s feet or penis would make God stop. But at least the penis makes more sense than his feet.

This also completely changes Ruth’s story in Ruth 3:4

The thing I find most interesting is the grain offering. I know even priests have to eat, but step back Planned Parenthood Jewish priests were the original abortion profiteers.

Props to the Awkward Moments Children’s Bible for making me aware of this verse, for some reason it is typically left out at Sunday school. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you definitely need to check them out.