Whoops! I have been caught up on reading but not blogging, due to some unexpected busy days. My apologies for being lax.
So, Numbers. A lot of things I don’t find much to say on; there’s a lot of dense and seemingly irrelevant information.
But I do find buried in there, the interesting story of what to do with a woman who is suspected of infidelity but whose husband has no proof.
On the one hand, I’m pleased to see that the husband is required to provide proof — he can’t just accuse his wife and expect to not have to provide any — but the woman herself does not get much defense. She is taken to the Temple. She is shamed (hair disheveled) and she is subject to a test. She does not speak, she does not get to offer evidence in her defense.
Instead, water is mixed with dust and a curse, the water is bitter and the woman drinks it. If she’s been unfaithful, then the water will cause her uterus to ‘drop’ and if she has not, then she will be fine.
Writing the curse and dissolving it into water is an interesting bit of magic. The idea being that the curse becomes part of the water. Now, the idea of words having power is not unusual in magical work — things may be written and burnt or buried or kept secret. They may be covered in honey or vinegar, depending on intent, and fed energy. Absorbing a spell isn’t unusual either; it could be soaking in a magical bath or drinking a tea or potion, or eating a food magically prepared. Knowingly or unknowingly, the idea is at the simplest level, we are what we eat(drink). The intent comes into the person on whom the work is being done.
Of course, depending on how much you believe in magic, or how you believe in it, the question is raised of whether or not something like that might work. That I leave up to you, but I also consider the idea of bitter water.
The logical part of me thinks that something like this could easily involve water mixed with an herb that would induce miscarriage. There are any number of herbs which can cause miscarriage in the early stages of pregnancy with varying degrees of success. (PSA for the ladies: if you like herbal teas or anything of the sort, do your research and talk to a qualified herbalist should you become pregnant. There are many herbs which are perfectly safe in general but that should not be used during pregnancy, especially in the early months.)
Of course, this is problematic in itself. If a woman was pregnant, the child could just as easily be her husband’s; herbs cannot distinguish her paternity. And of course they are not always successful so a woman could not miscarry even if given certain herbs.
So we have, then, at the end, a voiceless woman tested. Through magical or practical means, she is put on trial based on suspicion and jealousy. She’s offered no defense and can only pray that she will not be cast into guilt.
I wonder what she thought about how God cared for her?