21 October 2008

The Bible's guide to abortion

I don't know how I missed this before, but I did. There is a biblical way of having an abortion. A method that is not only approved by God, it was invented by him. He describes it himself in the book of Numbers (5:11-31).

It's a bit long and complicated, so I'll break it up for you.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying ... If any man's wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him, And a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and there be no witness against her, neither she be taken with the manner; Numbers 5:11-13

The first thing to notice is the context. This procedure is only intended for married couples, specifically for any man that suspects that his wife has been messing around. No proof is necessary; suspicion alone is sufficient to God.

Then shall the man bring his wife unto the priest, and he shall bring her offering for her, the tenth part of an ephah of barley meal; he shall pour no oil upon it, nor put frankincense thereon ... And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel; and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put it into the water ... And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD ... and the priest shall have in his hand the bitter water that causeth the curse.... (5:15-18)

OK, I am leaving some of the details out here, so if you're going to try this at home, make sure to follow God's instructions exactly. There's no guarantee any of this will work otherwise.

And the priest shall charge her by an oath, and say unto the woman, If no man have lain with thee, and if thou hast not gone aside to uncleanness with another instead of thy husband, be thou free from this bitter water that causeth the curse: But if thou hast gone aside to another instead of thy husband, and if thou be defiled, and some man have lain with thee beside thine husband: Then the priest shall charge the woman with an oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman, The LORD make thee a curse and an oath among thy people, when the LORD doth make thy thigh to rot, and thy belly to swell; And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen. 5:19-22

This is the part that fooled me. I get the idea that if the woman has been unfaithful, then the magic bitter water will do something awful to her. But I wasn't sure just what. What does it mean to have your belly swell and your thigh rot? But then I saw the footnote in the NIV that said it meant this: "cause you to be barren and have a miscarrying womb."

So if the woman is guilty (had sex with someone besides her husband), then the bitter water will make her unable to have children in the future. And if she is pregnant at the time, it will abort the pregnancy.

And when he hath made her to drink the water, then it shall come to pass, that, if she be defiled, and have done trespass against her husband, that the water that causeth the curse shall enter into her, and become bitter, and her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall rot: and the woman shall be a curse among her people. And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean; then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed. This is the law of jealousies, when a wife goeth aside to another instead of her husband, and is defiled; Or when the spirit of jealousy cometh upon him, and he be jealous over his wife, and shall set the woman before the LORD, and the priest shall execute upon her all this law. Then shall the man be guiltless from iniquity, and this woman shall bear her iniquity.5:27-31

It's all part of God's wondrous Law of Jealousies. God's magical abortion procedure. A priest, some bitter water, and a wife that you think might have been unfaithful. Priceless. So if God has his own abortion procedure, abortion can't be wrong, right?


geniusofevil said...

Wow, I think you've really hit on something here that's sure to provoke some thought. And I though your God vs Devil death tally was interesting.

busterggi said...

Well that explains what we're doing wrong.

Priests are supposed to perform abortions, not doctors!

Primus said...

Wait a minute.

In Deuteronomy 22:22 'If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.'

You're wife and her lover are to be put death if she is sleeping around, not given bitter / curse / abortion water. Maybe you let the priest give her the curse water, let her bear her iniquity and THEN start killing or at least find someone to kill them.

OR does it matter if she is in the city or in the field? Then you have to go it alone and stone them.

Why is the infallible word of god so confusing?

lolkoran said...

So if you drink mud, you have an abortion? Does Planned Parenthood have a position on this?

Steve Wells said...

Yeah this story seems to be a God-approved abortion procedure. But notice that it is the man, not the woman that decides. It's a forced abortion that is done against the will of the woman.

Good point. I hadn't thought of that! Priests perform biblical abortions, not doctors. Maybe Catholic hospitals can start doing abortions now.

You're right. It is hard to follow the Bible's instructions. But in this case no one knows whether anyone even had sex. The husband just suspects that his wife might have. So there's no man involved, at least no one knows if there is or who he might be. so I guess we can't kill him.

But what about the woman? What if her belly swells and her thigh rots? That would take care of the fetus, but what do we do with her? The test shows that she's guilty, then shouldn't she be killed according to Deuteronomy 22:22?

I don't think Planned Parenthood would approve of this abortion procedure. The woman has no choice, but gets all the blame and punishment.

v_quixotic said...

I wonder how those NIV bozos decided that to have your belly swell and your thigh rot meant you to be made barren and have a miscarrying womb?

geniusofevil said...

I can't wait to talk to my one-issue-voter friend.

William said...

Let us remember that this was old testament, and that the people of israel did not view God as a God of grace (yahway), but reffered to him as that of a God of covenants and contracts (El Oheem). While He is still a God of covenant, there is room for grace in the new covenant. So the whole idea of the ritual surrounding Numbers 5 is that we as a people cannot follow His instruction without grace, and it gives us no right to perform curses on other people who are just as imperfect as those of us who call ourselves "Christians." To follow Christ is to follow a path of love towards everyone regardless of iniquities or imperfections. Please do forgive my misspelling of the Hebrew names of God earlier in the comment.
William F. Sparks

the mysterious said...

You're wrong. An Ephah of Barley is not an abortificient like you claim it is. And your scriptural exegesis is very sloppy at best.

swamijie said...

@the_mysterious: ohrly?!? How how so? please explain it to the heathens...

@William: are you saying people wrote the Old Testament? Meaning, the bible is not the inerrant word of God? Also are you telling me that the Bible is wrong when it says that God told Moses he was YHWH (Yahweh) because according to you, "the people of israel did not view God as a God of grace (yahway), but reffered to him as that of a God of covenants and contracts (El Oheem)". If the ancient Isrealites didn't "view God as a God of grace (yahway)" then why was Moses, the original Isrealite, instructed that God was YHWH and that is referenced throughout the Torah? I also call you out on your use of "grace". Why give instructions if God knows we can't follow them? Even the Jesus described in the Bible would have called for strict application of Mosaic Law.

laura said...

I am always astonished at the ignorance of some people that will write a blog or even an entire book and not have the first clue that the first five books of the Old Testament are obsolete. See the New Testament.

Steve Wells said...


The first five books of the Old Testament are obsolete.

I didn't know that. I guess I really am ignorant.

So the ten commandments are obsolete? (See Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.)

Keri said...

Laura is somewhat correct and needed to expand her comment for your understanding. The old testament is obsolete in that the covenant made in the old testament is no longer valid. God made a new covenant in the new testament. Things from the old testament, if they are to be followed, were re-iterated in the New Testament, like the ten commandments. You might find some explanation in the following website. http://www.bibleword.com/tincoman.htm

Mat Noir said...

Oh That is probably why the barley water no longer makes he belly swell and the thigh rot. Cancel the books, change the chemistry. Smart. Now I believe!

Heidi said...

Hey, it's not magic water, it's ergot poisoning from the fungus growing on the grains on the floor. It's the same thing that caused the Salem Witch Trials.

applefritter2715 said...

Wow, I read that chapter over and over again....and in more than one translation. Not once did I see anything even hinting about a pregnancy. I do know that when my father-in-law died of Cirrhosis (liver disease) from heavy alcohol abuse, he had a hugely swollen belly and died from it. I have a friend who was Vietnam and was affected by Agent Orange and is suffering from liver ailments and he looks like he's pregnant. My conclusion is that this passage doesn't talk about pregnancy, and thus not abortion either.

11freelyb said...

Did any of you read this carefully? It says nothing of the woman being with child. Yes, this is just as bad as the Salem Witch trials and trial by water but let's be fair, it isn't an abortion manual.

Wegita said...

Many people vehemently quote a passage in Leviticus about homosexuality. But, Leviticus is in the old testament. So, if, as you say, there is a new covenant and we should not be bound by the rules of the old testament, then why is that Leviticus passage so touted?

Eric P said...


Ahh your right! There was no mention of the woman being pregnant (in this particular translation). So where are the instructions on what to do with a woman who is pregnant? Oh wait, there are none? God gives instructions on how to poison your wifes womb, these instructions apply whether she is pregnant or not. We can only assume that in some instances the wife became pregnant from cheating and thus the poison womb killed the baby. Unless you know of a exemption clause that gives specific instructions on what to do if your wife gets pregnant, then we have to assume that God killed some pregnant cheating wives.

Excruciating Headache said...

A covenant can never be broken.

The god of israel broke plenty.

Therefore, he is a fraud.

The Old Testament spoke of abortions because they have been necessary since the beginning of time.

I'm glad your lives are so small and perfect that an unwanted pregnancy has never impacted you.

christophales said...

If the Old Testament is obsolete? Why are the two "Greatest" commandments, according to Jesus, found there? See Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18

Meanwhile, God seems to not like the unborn up to one month old. It seems God is very much a forced abortion provider. Exodus 21:22-23, Leviticus 27:6, Numbers 3:15-17, Hosea 9:14-16, Hosea 13:16, 2 Samuel 12:14, Genesis 38:24.

God seems to not like fetus or even young babies, nor think they are worth anything, unless they are part of Ancient Jewish genealogy, which is pretty much what the Law is about, preserving the heritage of Jewish progeny.

James Gilliam said...

Biblical definition of a histerectomy. Acid rips out the uterus...the key word is barren in the NIV footnote.

The choice was always abort ironically.

Its not your body...its a GIRL!

Even if its not a girl but a boy at some point it is a seperate human life.

In cases of infidelity just killing the baby to determine whether it was just jealousy seems tame as compared to.killing both the woman and her male bed buddy.

sunshine jo said...

It's funny how apologetics try to say that the Torah/ Old Testament / book of the Law is obsolete or no longer relevant. What nonsense, they don't even know their own religion. Jesus himself said “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." Matt 5:17. Jesus came to FULFILL the Law, the dreadful law of Moses and the Prophets.

sunshine jo said...

Remember that God also called for the stoning of rape victims, which would have led to an abortion in some cases. He clearly was not a fan of illegitimate children.
Deut 22:23-24

Ray said...


There are many passages that indicate that the 'Old Testament' god is anti abortion.

Perhaps, the message is this, abortions for the masses but a select few are special.

Ana said...

Hi everyone. This passage does not talk about abortion. It points to the Jewish belief in courses. The bible talks a lot about the importance of blessing people or cursing people. And how speaking over a person can change a person. its actually very interesting and there are many scientific studies today that show its true that words can chage molecules, see the study done to molecules of water by Masaru Emoto. In this passage God is placing a curse on the woman only if she has been unfaithful. it reads The priest will then put the woman under oath and say to her, ‘If no other man has had sex with you, and you have not gone astray and defiled yourself while under your husband’s authority, may you be immune from the effects of this bitter water that brings on the curse." aLso notice that the priest is feeding her muddy water to bring on the curse. much like Jesus put mud on blind people's eyes to make them see. Try putting mud on their eyes today and see if that works. the mud is symbolic and through faith the curse is real. BY faith the woman would become sickly and she would go on to be barren since in those days that was a terrible horrible thing to happen to any women. since women depended on their husbands and male children to be provided for them. You will see many women in the bible talking about being blessed with children and being cursed with a barren womb.

Leviticus 1:12 said...

You truly believe that a priest waving his hands over a poisonous drink and uttering incantations can turn it into a non-poisonous substance? The bible says a believer may drink any deadly thing and suffer no harm. Why not demonstrate your belief by drinking a deadly glass of Drano? Please don't. It would kill you. By the standards set forth in the bible itself, you are not a believer.

Silver Phoenyx said...

"Excruciating Headache said...

I'm glad your lives are so small and perfect that an unwanted pregnancy has never impacted you."

Coming from someone who has miscarried five times, I would say that if you don't want to RAISE a child, you could always put them up for adoption. If you don't want to GIVE BIRTH to a child, keep your legs closed.

goaskalicea said...

Awwww the wonderful misogynist slogan for the ages, the good 'ole "keep your legs closed" because women bear sole responsibility for sex. The world is already frighteningly overpopulated. Instead of ignoring your body and having five miscarriages, why didn't YOU "keep your legs closed" and opt for adoption?? Yeah, it cuts both ways.

Janelle said...

Lol... Laura.. Jesus said to follow the old commandment. But please, keep cherry picking your sins.

Jason April said...

I love the "But the old Testament is obsolete" responses. Oh, so God used to be fine with murdering pregnant women and infants and gays and so on, but then he changed his mind. Well, that makes it okay.

Ed Hartmann said...

@Ana (22-March-2014):
"...there are many scientific studies today that show it's true that words can change molecules, see the study done to molecules of water by Masaru Emoto."
Emoto is a charlatan and a fraud who preys upon gullible people. Please provide a link to a single peer-reviewed article in a reputable scientific journal that supports Emoto's claims. You can't, because there are none.

theologystudent said...

Abortion is defined as, "the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy."

This Biblical passage is not detailing how to murder a child. It is explaining how the Lord can inform a jealous husband whether his jealousy is based in the unfaithful actions of his wife, or whether he is just a little crazy in love and possessive.

Numbers 5:27-28 state, "27And 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. 28But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she shall be free and shall conceive children. "

It says nothing about a child being present in the womb at the time of the curse being enacted. It is intended to punish an adulterous woman's sin, not to kill an unborn child.

To understand this one must understand the historical context of the text. If a woman cannot bear children in the ancient world she was viewed as cursed because without children the elderly would be left destitute and helpless. It was your children that would take care of you when you became elderly since they did not have modern social programs to provide money, or care such as social security.

In the ancient world, this punishment brings shame on the woman and acts as a deterrent for adultery. If you knew that your punishment would leave you poor and cursed would you still sleep with neighbors husband?

Food for thought, but that is beside the point. This scripture is not a guide for abortion.

Neil said...

I encourage you to re-read your pro-abortion Bible texts. That passage doesn't even say the woman was pregnant, yet pro-aborts use it to rationalize abortion! It shows how desperate they are -- as if they actually cared about what the Book of Numbers said.

You are welcome to show me in the Book of Numbers where it says the woman is pregnant (not there). Then you could show where she has an abortion (not there). Then you could show where God taking a life means that we can also take lives in the another fashion for any reason, including those of our own children (not there).

See this for more -- http://wp.me/p1wGU-6lx

Carol said...

Leaving aside for the moment that everything here is decided by the husband/priest, at the very least this seems to support that a pregnancy can be terminated in case of rape.

GhostRiderInTheSky said...

In parts of the world, notably Africa, women used a few barley grains and their urine to show if they were pregnant or not: the hormones created by a pregnancy promote sprouting in the seeds.

I assume this is still practiced where modern medical services aren't easy to get to or aren't affordable, etc.

Servant said...

I'm sure none of you really care, but this is not an abortion serum, but a way for God and the priests to judge the sexual trespasses of a spouse. If the husband suspects that the wife has been unfaithful, but he has no proof and no witnesses, this potion is administered to miraculously determine her innocence or guilt. From the beginning of time, God has given the people freedom of choice, but he has also created a repercussion for sin. It may sound like hocus pocus today, but God interacted with his people in miraculous ways to prove his divinity and power. If the woman is innocent, she has nothing to fear: if she is guilty, she will suffer the consequences of sin. Many of the Old Testament laws were written specifically to the Jews and were fulfilled through Jesus Christ. At that time, many of the laws regarding clean/unclean, severe punishment like stoning, and other laws specific to keeping the Jewish people as a separate nation pure from other nations and idolatries were nailed to the cross. That doesn't mean that Christians are now free to make their own laws for living and worship, but that God judges the heart of man and his willingness to submit to the word of His Son and His apostles. If you want to understand the Bible and Christianity, you have to read the Bible cover to cover, again and again.

Tiffany Jobi said...

I looked this up in my NIV version Zondervan Study Bible (which has copious notes determined by global leaders in Bible Scholarship). If you want to argue what I'm about to quote from that Bible and its notes, take it up with Zondervan - not me.

THE VERSE: "here the priest is to put the woman under this curse -- may the Lord cause you to become a curse among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries." Numbers 5:21-22

Notes for Numbers 5:21 in Zondervan NIV Study Bible:

"your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. Speaks of the loss of the capacity for childbearing (and, if pregnant, the miscarriage of the child). This is demonstrated by the determination of the fate of a woman wrongly charged (v. 28). For a woman in the ancient Near East to be denied the ability to bear children was a personal loss of inestimable proportions. Since it was the bearing of children that a woman's worth was realized in the ancient world, this was grievous punishment indeed."

Also, with regard to the New Covenant and "disregarding" some of the Old Testament, the New Testament and Jesus himself make it clear not one practice or law is to be changed with his arrival. Here are some examples of New Testament scripture from http://www.evilbible.com/do_not_ignore_ot.htm:

1) “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:18-19 RSV)

2) All of the vicious Old Testament laws will be binding forever. "It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid." (Luke 16:17 NAB)

---Conclusion: The Numbers passage is very clearly about a real, physical abortion as well as shame and cursing the woman in her community. Something we are still very familiar with today. The excuse that the "New Covenant" somehow replaces or voids some or all of the Old Testament Covenant is a myth, and a dangerous one if your ultimate quest is for the real truth. That truth, for me, is that the Bible was curated by fallible humans who invoked God to do their evil bidding and also their good deeds. In a world where we understand most of the things we see as explained by science, logic, and reason...we no longer need fear or to penalize our humanity. We can celebrate it and learn how to be peaceful. We can rise above religion to accomplish the ultimate human endeavor...true love, acceptance, civility, and peace - celebrating our differences and individuality while respecting the same in others and doing no harm. ---

Allen Marco said...

I think now a days there are more abortion alternatives

randomguy567 said...


I would argue that IT IS a recipe for abortion. This magic spell will kill a womans uterus, on purpose even if she is pregnant. Thereby killing the fetus. The husband & priest do this knowingly. Just like if you draged her knowingly to an abortion clinic knowing what would happen. The bonus that the husband and priest are hoping for is that God renders her barren in to the bargain.

Of course we can all hope that the magic spell proves her innocent, and she delivers a healthy baby later.

Deb Shaw said...

Actually, the biblical recipe for abortion was just ashes and water. What do you get when you mix ashes and water? You get Sodium Hydroxide, better known as lye. Drinking lye will most certainly destroy the gut and other internal organs. The real test here was whether the woman would willingly drink it. The priest would be watching her reactions to her husband telling the tale, the priest mixing the ashes and water, and being offered the bitter drink. If she was willing to drink it, she would be doing so in the faith that her god was protecting her because she was innocent. If she refused to drink, it meant she knew that it would destroy her because she was guilty. I doubt anybody ever actually drank the lye.

prographo said...

>>Steve Wells said...

>The first five books of the Old Testament are obsolete.

>I didn't know that. I guess I really am ignorant.

>>So the ten commandments are obsolete? (See Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.)

yes Steve.

Lisa K. said...

On first reading I understood "curse" as having two possible meaning. 1) The opposite of blessing 2) Curse being a very common euphemism for menstruation. Read with both meanings in mind, if the woman is guilty she'll have a miscarriage.

Brandon R said...

So prographo, you're just gonna ignore all the direct quotes you've been given in which Jesus states he didn't come to break or change the laws of the Old Testament? The whole book is just a long list of self-contradicting rules, stories and parables. There is no continuity to it, yet it was created by a perfect, all-knowing God? Right? Perfection is perfection, it shouldn't change, it shouldn't contradict itself and it shouldn't tell people to do horrible things to each other... regardless of circumstance.

Don Camp said...

I'd like to argue that this is not an abortion performed by a priest or by means of a potion. It is a judgment of God - not man a priest or the community - upon infidelity, which is surprise, surprise just what it says in verse 21.

Remember that God has the right to take a life. My life and your life belongs to God not us. He gives life, and he takes life. So the death of an unborn child is wrong, not because a child dies but because a man or woman has taken what is God's right alone into his or her own hands.

Remember, we all die. Remember also that that is by God's determination: "It is appointed unto man once to die. . . " The death of an unborn child is not the issue. It is taking that life unlawfully and in contempt of God that is the issue.