Numbers 5

Many of the civil and religious laws of Israel and the rites connected with them are hard for us to understand. They may seem strangely abhorrent, sometimes inhumane or quasimagical in character.
It is important to bear in mind:
(a) the authority of the priest in every sphere of Israel’s life, including that of cleanliness and hygiene, which were as much a part of ‘religious’ ceremony as the worship in the tabernacle;
(b) the background of religious rites common to the whole of the ancient Near East and used by Israel, thought transformed both by her faith in the one true God, and in order to make them usable in his worship; and
(c) the need that this new, God-chosen nation should be constantly reminded of the holiness and moral demands of her God.

  1. What sort of people were to be ‘put out’ of the camp, and why?
    Cf. Lev. 13:46; 15:31. What interests of humanitarian justice are satisfied in the commands of 5:11-31?
    These seem like purely magical rites, but note verse 16, 18, 21 and 30.
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