Day 56: Jealous Husbands

Numbers 5:1 This book gives specific laws to govern Israel, including instructions on the expulsion of the unclean, the importance of restitution, and the handling of cases involving unsubstantiated accusations of adultery. The Israelites were called to both PHYSICAL and MORAL cleanliness. (CCC 2454)


Deuteronomy 5:2 The Decalogue was not an independent set of moral instructions but part of the larger covenant between God and Israel, and, in the Pentateuch, it is always spoken of within that larger context. (CCC 2060)


Ch 5:4 The Decalogue was a direct Revelation of God’s will spoken to Moses from a theophany of fire (theophany means a physical manifestation of God to humankind). In revealing the Commandments in a spectacular way, he manifested that Israel was his Chosen People. (CCC 231, 2059, 2083)


Ch 5:6-7 God did indeed lead his people out of slavery as a type of the much greater liberation from the bondage of sin (TYPOLOGY!!). (CCC 431, 2061, 2133)


Ch 5:8-11 To venerate sacred images is NOT a sin against the Commandments since the images themselves ARE NOT WORSHIPPED; rather they are intended to cultivate a spirit of prayer and love for God. (CCC 2112-2114, 2132, 2141)


Ch 5:15 Though much of the Decalogues consists of negative prohibitions (“You shall not…”), they are crucial elements of SELF-MASTERY that lead to positive deeds of charity. (CCC 2057, 2067, 2070, 2189)


Ch 5:16 The Fourth Commandment enjoys a special importance since it refers to the love of one’s parents. Fulfillment of this mandate is so pleasing to God that he promises a long and prosperous life for those who keep it. (CCC 2200, 2232-2233, 2251)


Ch 5:17-20 The Fifth through Eigth Commandments are stated unequivocally: MURDER, ILLICIT SEXUAL ACTIVITY, THEFT, and LYING are all STRICTLY FORBIDDEN. (CCC 2258, 2273, 2318-2325, 2394-2400, 2450, 2504)


Ch 5:21 The prohibitions against covetousness are tied to the virtue of MODESTY. With modesty, we can live simply and yet feel nothing lacking. Accompanying modesty are the related virtues of PATIENCE, DECENCY, and DISCRETION. (CCC 2533, 2536-2540)


Psalm 90 The Lord urges us to realize our life is finite and our days are few for the purpose of serving him better. Reflection on the brevity of life leads to WISDOM and HOLINESS.

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)


  • We have to deal with Numbers Ch 5

  • We have to talk about an unfaithful wife or a jealous husband

  • If a man is JEALOUS of a wife even if he has no proof of her being unfaithful, this whole section can strike modern sensibilities

  • Remember the +1 theory of education

  • God is starting from a certain place with this culture and moving them FORWARD

  • Consider this, (consider this, hint of the century, consider this) In the ancient world, a woman was considered to be under FULL AUTHORITY of her husband

  • So if the husband EVEN ACCUSED HER, he could do WHATEVER HE WANTED TO DO WITH HIS WIFE

  • Here comes the Law of Moses that says, “YOU DON’T ACTUALLY GET TO DO THAT”

  • Remember in Genesis Ch 3, one of the consequences of the Fall was this horrible tension between man and woman, husband and wife, where men are tempted so often to DOMINATE, to USE women

  • This Law of Moses is part of the REMEDY

  • Remember in the ancient world, a woman was considered the FULL PROPERTY of her husband

  • And in ALL OF THE MIDDLE EASTERN CULTURES, if a man was jealous, then he could do LITERALLY WHATEVER HE WANTED TO HER (Honor Killings, anyone?)

  • But here is the +1 theory of education where God says, through Moses, that he DOES NOT GET TO DO WHATEVER HE WANTS

  • He must bring her to THE MEDIATOR

  • He must bring her to THE PRIEST

  • What happens after he brings her to the priest can still be distressing

  • This was called the Trial by Ordeal

  • Think of the Salem Witch Trials

  • Think of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, if she floats SHE’S A WITCH!!!!!! (trust me, go watch that movie ;) )

  • Trial by Ordeal was actually relatively common

  • It wasn’t the best method, obviously

  • The interesting thing here is what happens in the trial by ordeal?

  • The woman will drink this water mixed with some dust/cereal offering

  • If she is guilty, a MIRACLE has to happen that proves she is guilty

  • Normally, she will drink this concoction and be COMPLETELY FINE

  • This is where there is balance

  • This is part of the genius of Scripture, even if problematic, is that the man DOES NOT HAVE TOTAL AUTHORITY OVER THE WOMAN

  • He has to bring her to a mediator

  • He MUST SUBMIT TO A HIGHER AUTHORITY

  • Both husband and wife find themselves UNDER THE LAW

  • This trial by ordeal, which again to us seems unfair, is THE OPPOSITE of the Witch Trial in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

  • If she is guilty, a MIRACLE HAS TO PROVE SHE IS GUILTY

  • She is PROTECTED by this process rather than THREATENED BY IT

  • Normally, any person who drank water mixed with this cereal offering, NOTHING WOULD HAPPEN

  • EXACTLY!!

  • THAT IS THE POINT

  • It was a DEFENSE MECHANISM against the JEALOUSY OF MEN against their wives

  • Now this would happen in any culture where there is jealousy between each other

  • There was also a high need to be able to maintain faithfulness amongst a community of people who were recently FREED and are now wandering in the wilderness

  • They don’t necessarily know how to live as FREE PEOPLE

  • So, God is teaching them

  • Some of you may be thinking, “Yo, this is so weird!”

  • Just keep in mind, this is a step towards GREATER EQUALITY

  • This is a step towards GREATER HONOR AND RESPECT FOR BOTH MALE AND FEMALE

  • Hopefully that makes sense to you

  • Deuteronomy Ch 5: after all this time in the wilderness, Moses is reminding the people of what happened at Mt. Horeb/Mt. Sinai (same place)

  • What happened that first year when God spoke out of the fire?

  • The Israelites were overwhelmed by God speaking out of this fire on this mountain to them through Moses

  • The Lord spoke to them FACE TO FACE

  • Yet another time, Moses asked to see God’s face

  • And God said he couldn’t see His face and live

  • Talking to God fact to face in the Hebrew idiom does not necessarily mean God revealed HIS FULL GLORY

  • It means God was speaking in an INTIMATE WAY

  • In a way that was PERSON TO PERSON

  • Here is the PERSON OF GOD speaking to the PERSON OF MOSES

  • Here is the PERSON OF GOD speaking to the PEOPLE OF GOD

  • So when Scripture describes God as speaking to someone FACE TO FACE means that it happened in an INTIMATE WAY

  • In the Ten Commandments, there is the commandment about not making GRAVEN IMAGES

  • What people misunderstand about Catholics is that they claim we worship images and statues

  • Catholics would NEVER make images TO WORSHIP THEM

  • CCC 2130: Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the Ark of the Covenant, and the cherubim. (MIC DROP!!)

  • God COMMANDED His people to make these images!

  • What we are talking about is not a STRICT, ABSOLUTE, and COMPLETE PROHIBITION of making images

  • We are PROHIBITED from making images IN ORDER TO WORSHIP THOSE IMAGES

  • CCC 2131: Basing itself on the mystery of the incarnate Word (the invisible God becoming Flesh in Jesus Christ), the seventh ecumenical council at Nicaea (787) justified against the iconoclasts (those people that wanted to break icons) the veneration of icons-of Christ, but also of the Mother of God, the angels, and all the saints. By becoming incarnate, the Son of God introduced a new “economy” of images. (What’s that? OH MIC DROP!!)

  • The Christian VENERATION of images is NOT CONTRARY to the First Commandment which describes IDOLS

  • It is a RESPECTFUL VENERATION of what THE IMAGE REPRESENTS

  • Still having trouble with this?

  • Realize that words are SIMILAR TO THIS

  • Huh? Que??

  • Words are things we create that REPRESENT THE REALITY THAT WE ARE TRYING TO EXPRESS

  • We don’t WORSHIP THE BIBLE

  • But the Bible is held in great esteem

  • The Bible contains WORDS that THEMSELVES ARE NOT GOD HIMSELF!!

  • The words REPRESENT what God has revealed to us

  • We have images of Jesus on the Cross

  • We have images of Jesus as icons

  • We have images of Jesus that are brought to us THROUGH THE BIBLE

  • NONE OF THOSE THINGS are VIOLATIONS of the commandment against graven images

  • This is because we recognize that the words on the page themselves are NOT THE WORD INCARNATE, JESUS

  • The Image of the Crucifixion IS NOT THE WORD INCARNATE, JESUS

  • The Image of the icon IS NOT THE WORD INCARNATE, JESUS

  • They simply represent the TRUTH

  • They simply represent the REALITY in our limited, frail, human way

  • Fr Mike is very proud of you to have made it this far

  • Keep praying for each other

  • This community is being forged even more strongly and even more tightly every passing day

  • We will continue to be faithful, BECAUSE GOD IS FAITHFUL

  • We will continue to be steadfast, BECAUSE GOD IS STEADFAST

  • Even if we fall, we can get back up again because our Lord God meets us WHEN WE FALL


Prayer by Fr Mike: “Father in Heaven, we give you praise and glory. We thank you for your Word today. We thank you not only for your Word, we thank you for your faithfulness. Lord God, we find so often that we are unfaithful, and yet you are patient with us. We find that we are fickle and yet you are stable, you are steadfast in your love for us. So this day, we give you praise. We thank you for continuing to speak to us. We thank you for continuing to be with us. We thank you for continuing to be ours, to be our God. You are not ashamed. Hebrews 11 says, You are not ashamed to be our God. Thank you so much. Help us never to be ashamed to be your people, to belong to you, to be the sheep of your pasture, those you have chosen. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”