Numbers 5:11–31, The adulterous woman. This passages deals with a curious ritual involving wives suspected of adultery called the Law of Jealousies whereby the woman is hauled before the priest, her head is uncovered and, according to Jewish tradition, her dress is ripped open just above her breasts (b.Talmud Sota 7a). She then has the choice to drink a concoction of earth from the floor of the tabernacle mixed with the set-apart (kadosh) water from the bronze laver into which is dipped a piece of paper that contains the curses written on it. If she is guilty of the charges of adultery when she drinks the bitter waters, her belly shall swell and her thigh (Heb. yarek or side or loins,which are the seat of procreative power) shall rot as a result of a divine judgment. If she is guiltless, the bitter waters will have no effect on her. If she refuses to drink the bitter water and her husband still suspects her unfaithfulness, then he is free to divorce her, even though she has admitted no guilt. According to Jewish tradition, this legal procedure was carried out by Israel’s highest court in Jerusalem (Sota 7b).
Some biblical commentators see a parallel here between the adulterous woman and the trial and execution of Yeshua at the cross. After only a casual reflection on the issues, this may seem unlikely. But ponder this for a moment. Did YHVH liken his relationship to Israel as a marriage? (See Ezek 16.) Did Israel (both houses) remain faithful to her (their) marriage covenants? (See Ezek chapters 16 and 23; Jer 3; the entire book of Hosea.) Under the Torah, adultery was a capital offense (Lev 20:10). Was YHVH faithful to his marriage covenants with Israel? Of course. He is not a sinner (i.e., a violator of his own Torah, 1 John 3:4). With whom was the fault then? It was with the house of Israel and the house of Judah! (See Heb 8:7–8.) Have we all sinned (violated YHVH’s Torah) and fallen short of his glory? (See Rom 6:23.) What are the wages of sin? (See Rom 3:23 and Ezek 18:4.)
“But I am a Gentile Christian, not an Israelite,” you may respond. “Neither I nor my ancestors was ever an Israelite who was spiritually married to YHVH. Therefore, I am not guilty of spiritual unfaithfulness. I have not broken any marriage covenants with YHVH.” In response, first, who did Yeshua come to redeem? (See Matt 15:24.) Are we all not likened to the lost sheep of the house of Israel? (See Isa 53:6.) Did not Paul equate Gentile believers with the house of Israel? (See Rom 9:25–29 and compare with Hos 2:23; Isa 10:22–23.) Who did Jacob prophesy that the descendant of Ephraim and Manasseh would be? (Read Genesis 48:14–16.) In this scripture passage, Jacob speaks of a Messenger from heaven who redeemed him from all evil, he makes the sign of the Paleo-Hebrew letter tav over his grandsons, which is the sign of the cross. He then speaks of them growing into a multitude in the midst of the earth, or becoming like fish in the sea of humanity (see the Orthodox Jewish ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash/Tanach translation of this verse). Who are these descendants who have the sign of the cross, the fish as their symbol and speak of a Redeemer or Savior? Spiritually speaking, are you not that adulterous woman? Furthermore, does Paul not clearly state that ALL those who have put their trusting faith in Yeshua the Messiah are Israel and Abraham is their father? (Read Rom 4:16; 9:8–11; Gal 3:7, 9, 14, 28, 29.)
Now that we have established this point, let’s ask the next question. At the cross did Yeshua bear upon himself all of our sins? (See Isa 53:4–6.) Did he even bear upon himself our guilt for committing spiritual adultery? Did he die in our place by becoming like the adulterous woman that we were? Was the crucifixion like drinking a bitter cup for him? (Matt 26:39,42; John 18:11). Was Yeshua hauled before the highest religious court in the land of Israel in Jerusalem to stand trial prior to his death? (See Matt 26:57–68.) Was he stripped of his garments? (See Matt 27:31.) Was his side ripped open by the Roman soldier’s spear? (See John 19:34.) As a substitution for us, he took the curses against us for adultery that in times past would have been written down on paper (Num 5:23). In light of this, what does Paul say in Colossians 2:12–15, with special emphasis on verse 14, that Yeshua did with those curses against us? For those who are washed in Yeshua’s redeeming blood and have been buried with him in water immersion or baptism (Col 2:12 cp. Rom 6:3–11), does the devil, who is the accuser of the brethren, have any charges to lay against us any more? (Read Col 2:15!)