Read verses 11-15
Q: At first glance this process seems completely weighted in favor of the husband with little or no consideration for the wife. But why is this, in reality, a kind of protection for women of these ancient times?
A: In most cultures women were treated as property. God’s Law given to Israel actually elevated the protection of women, in this case that a divorce could not be granted merely because a man became jealous and suspected something. In the context of the cultures of the day, this was extraordinary protection for women that the matter be settled before God.
Q: What is unusual about the grain offering that is required for what is termed here “a grain offering of memorial”?
A: Whereas ordinary offerings symbolized bringing forth the fruit of a sanctified life in good works by being made from fine wheaten flour, this consisted of the much cheaper barley meal to represent the ambiguous, suspicious character of her conduct. Because such conduct did not proceed from the Spirit of God and was not carried out in prayer, oil and incense—the symbols of such—were not added to the offering. Altogether it was a solemn occasion to bring the thing before the judgment of God, and the absence of the elements indicate the absence of a final verdict, whether innocent or guilty.
Q: What do you suppose is the deeper spiritual condition that is being addressed here?
A: Individual faithfulness. Throughout Scripture the repeated example used by God to teach us of how He views our personal relationship with Him is that of marriage, or a wife devoted to her husband. Those that go astray after alternate gods and doctrines are characterized as adulterous.
Q: Why do you suppose that biblical jealousy is not characterized as a negative quality and might even have positive benefits?
A: First, if a husband cared not at all for his wife’s feelings or affections, he’d never feel jealousy. It’s an indication of desiring an exclusive relationship, just as God describes Himself as “a jealous God”. Second, it’s a defensive mechanism of keeping away all influences that might lead to someone going astray, to eventually becoming unfaithful. Such influences are destroyed at the earliest stages before they ever have an opportunity to take root.
Q: How do we know when jealousy is unbiblical and leading towards the wrong result?
A: When it results in or fosters envy or hatred.
Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous of her sister; and she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die.”
— Genesis 30:1
Do not envy a man of violence
And do not choose any of his ways.
— Proverbs 3:31
Q: What are the results of godly jealousy?
A: It’s a consuming, single-minded pursuit of a good end.
He said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.”
— 1 Kings 19:10
You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,
— Exodus 20:5
Q: How does Paul use jealousy in the proper context to explain the spiritual purposes at issue?
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.
— 2 Corinthians 11:2
Application: For what reasons have you exhibited jealousy in a relationship? Would you describe them as being biblically “acceptable” or “unacceptable”?