God Ordered Abortions

The Judeo-Christian God instructs his followers to do many disturbing and barbaric things, and indeed does many himself, in the bible — mostly in the Old Testament, but to an extent in the New Testament (see Absolutely Horrific Things You Didn’t Know Were in the Bible).

One interesting decree was in Numbers 5, where God is explaining to Moses how to maintain “The Purity of the Camp,” to quote the chapter title. According to the story, this is when Moses is leading the Hebrews through the wilderness toward the Promised Land, and receives laws of conduct from God at Mount Sinai.

God outlines a way for men to determine if their wives have been unfaithful, and it involves forced abortion for the women who became pregnant due to infidelity.

Women are made to drink a “bitter” “holy water” containing “dust from the Tabernacle floor.” If the woman is innocent of adultery, the water will not harm her. If she is guilty, it will cause her to miscarry, should she be pregnant.

Numbers 5:11-22 (NIV):

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure—then he is to take his wife to the priest…

“‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse.

“‘Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”—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.”'”

For the people in Moses’ camp, God’s will was for adulterous women to be made to have an abortion, and God himself was the abortion doctor, as the magic potion is presumably magic due only to the power of God. Note that “he makes your womb miscarry” (pronouns for God are not capitalized in the NIV).

The woman, of course, must submit to this without question: “Then the woman is to say, ‘Amen. So be it'” (Numbers 5:22). Unfortunately for her, she may have to do this more than once, as this can occur whenever a man “suspects his wife,” even if there is “no witness,” the act being “undetected” — in other words, when there exists little or no evidence.

One might assume, whether a miscarriage or a swollen abdomen tells the priests and husband she is guilty, the woman will be afterwards put to death, given the law of adultery outlined in the previous biblical book.

For nonbelievers, who imagine God is fictional (like so many other deities), this is just another example of primitive peoples behaving in a primitive way. For believers, forcing suspected adulterers to drink a potion that will allegedly kill a fetus is just another example of a perfectly good, all-loving God behaving in a perfectly good, all-loving way. That is, that this law, like so many other equally disturbing ones, were all a part of God’s Plan, which involved humans being cruel to each other long ago, but loving and merciful in modern times (see Either God Changes or He’s Psychotic: Comparing Testaments Old and New).

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