Numbers 5:19-22 – “And the priest shall put her under oath, and say to the woman, “If no man has lain with you, and if you have not gone astray to uncleanness while under your husband’s authority, be free from this bitter water that brings a curse. 20 But if you have gone astray while under your husband’s authority, and if you have defiled yourself and some man other than your husband has lain with you” — 21 then the priest shall put the woman under the oath of the curse, and he shall say to the woman — “the LORD make you a curse and an oath among your people, when the LORD makes your thigh rot and your belly swell; 22 and may this water that causes the curse go into your stomach, and make your belly swell and your thigh rot.”
‘Then the woman shall say, “Amen, so be it.” NKJV
Some have called this the first example of a “Lie Detector” and focused on the secret bitter herb declaring that if we knew what it was and could find it today the same result would work. I believe it worked but I believe there was something far more essential than just a particular herb drank by the accused or suspect. Curses were a part of covenant and I won’t attempt to present a thesis on curses, rather I want to focus on this event and the fact that God knows and how the human mind and conscience works to reveal the secrets of our hearts.
It has been scientifically verified there are physiological and psychological changes that transpire in an individual when they tell a lie. That is, in normal people not pathological liars who essentially lie so much and often they frequently believe the lies they tell. If a person is innocent, most of the time there is no real change in them physiologically or psychologically. If a person tells a lie, under oath, there is a measurable change and those changes affect the heart, blood vessels and blood pressure. We have all seen evidences of this and possibly without realizing what we were witnessing.
Many things cause changes in the body such as embarrassment, fear or anticipation which causes “tachycardia” (rapid heart) as well as increased respiration. Sudden surprises can induce vomiting and anguish may cause one to sweat. Fits of anger can cause apoplexy and death because of the sudden increase in blood pressure. In truth, every organ in the body is affected by conditions such as those mentioned. I have known people whose mouth would water at the mere thought of certain foods.
The test in Numbers 5 is based at least, in part, on those things mentioned above. God gave this test to Moses. It was administered under OATH. The individual taking the oath must fully believe in the validity and consequences of the test which is emphasized by a CURSE. The individual must believe in the dire consequences that will accompany lying under oath. This test listed in Numbers 5 is a bit one-sided because, as was reflective of the culture, the man accused the wife not the other way around. He was suspicious or jealous but had no witnesses or proof. He took her to the priest and her head covering was removed and she was placed under oath. The priest detailed the consequences of lying and/or guilt. If she was innocent nothing would happen but if she were guilty or lied this potion would produce a violent poison, cause peritonitis and gangrene resulting ultimately in death. The priest were completely serious and the person under oath took it seriously. Over time, I am quite sure they had seen both sides and fully believed. The woman took the oath and then said, “Amen, Amen” (So Be It!)
I am not seeking to cause anyone to speculate on what was in the drink or potion but the fact that God knows and has conditioned our human body and organs to react to guilt and lies producing very harmful chemicals in our blood stream. The Bible declares in 1 Corinthians 4:5 that there will come a time when “God will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the heart.” There will be a time when we stand before God and attempting to lie will not be an option. Jesus said in Luke 12 that there would come a time when nothing covered would remain covered but would be exposed.
What is the message? You cannot fool God so why not make truth your absolute rule in life and reject lies. I am not suggesting that you tell everything you know in such a manner as to callously bring injury but the pain of truth is far more desirable than the pain of a lie.
God bless you as you go through this day!