Please stand by while I air my grievances:
When a husband is suspicious of his wife’s loyalty to him, or jealous of her interactions with another man, he can publicly humiliate her? I’m glad the women at least have a chance to defend themselves, but to be on trial like that and be a spectacle in the Temple would be mortifying.
Also, I didn’t see any avenues for the women to go down if they’re suspicious of their husband’s faithfulness.
And wow. Having your hair pulled down, a rotting womb and fat belly as a punishment? Is there much else that could take down a woman in this cultural context?
God is fiercely protective over marriage, and requires fierce consequences. He is a jealous God, and desires our complete loyalty. This is to be reflected in our faithfulness to our spouses when we are in covenant together with the Lord.
The commentary in my Bible points out that surrounding cultures in this time period would have poisoned women in a public ritual like this, whether they were guilty or not. So comparatively, drinking a little dirty water was essentially harmless to the innocent.
Later in the Bible, a woman will be pulled out of bed while she’s cheating on her husband, and thrown down at the feet of Jesus (John 8). Religious leaders, with their hands gripped around rocks, will wait for Jesus to give them the green light to stone this woman to death.
She deserved condemnation, according to The Law. But Jesus steps in and intervenes, sparing her life, showing her mercy, and teaching the religious leaders that he brings Life to those facing death.
He’s the curse-breaker, slate-wiper and law-fulfiller.