New Defender's Study Bible Notes
5:4 without the camp. Because of the contagious and incurable nature of such lethal plagues as leprosy, such ostracism was mandatory in close quarters like those in the wilderness camp and, later, in crowded towns and villages. They are, therefore, appropriate types of the fatal spiritual disease of sin, which “when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:15). Those who die in their sins must be separated forever “from the presence of the Lord” (II Thessalonians 1:9) for, in the holy city, “there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth” (Revelation 21:27). However, the Lord Jesus Christ, “that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate” (Hebrews 13:12) taking “our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness” (I Peter 2:24).
5:12 any man’s wife go aside. This remarkable test (Numbers 5:12-31) for adultery was established by God (Numbers 5:11) for the purpose of maintaining family purity and integrity in His chosen people. The “holy water” (Numbers 5:17) is mentioned only here, so its nature and activity are not known. Also unknown is the chemical composition of the “dust” mixed with it, so the capabilities of the resulting solution is also unknown. It may be that some as yet undiscovered chemical reaction would produce the described results in a guilty wife, or it may be that her guilt would affect her psychologically and this would generate such a physiological reaction. Most likely, however, God would intervene supernaturally in such cases, to make the decision Himself. This was a very special period in world history and miracles were common–the manna itself was a daily miracle! It would not take many such miraculous decisions to put a high restraint on future temptations to wifely infidelity.