Does Numbers 5:11-31 support abortion?

Recently I was asked if Numbers chapter 5 verses 11-31 supports a woman’s right to abort their unborn child. These passages define the civil actions that God commanded the Israeli men of the Old Testament to take if they were “jealous” of their wife; jealous meaning that the husband believed the wife to be unfaithful. The wife in question was to ingest a special drink made by the priests. This drink would give signs if a person was guilty; ie, the thigh would rot and the belly would swell.

  1. The main reason that this has became an issue is because of a mistranslation in the NIV. I would add that the NIV is a perversion of the scriptures and a poor excuse for an translation. The NIV uses the phrase “your womb miscarries” while the KJV uses the phrases “thy thigh to rot.” The NIV wrongly says that the womb miscarries, which causes multiple people to fall into confusion.
  2. The primary focus of this passage is to manifest the guilty party. Nowhere in these passages is there any hint of an unborn child from an adulterous relationship. The thigh rotting and belly swelling was a supernatural means in which God shined a light onto the guilty party. It would be like a prosecutor having undeniable evidence.
  3. Both guilty and innocent wives of jealous husbands drank this concoction indiscriminately. Why would it only cause abortions on the guilty? Why would it not harm the unborn children of the innocent wives? Verse 28 states concerning the innocent wives, “she shall be free, and shall conceive seed.” Again, it only affected the guilty, yet, BOTH drank it. This certainly did not cause an abortion, it manifested the guilty.

When does life begin? It either happens at conception or it doesn’t. There is no grey area when life begins. To describe a pregnant woman, the bible often uses the term ‘with child’. Check out these verses: Ge 16:11, Ge 19:36, Ge 38:24, Ge 38:25, Ex 21:22, 1Sa 4:19, 2Sa 11:5, 2Ki 8:12, 2Ki 15:16, Ec 11:5, Isa 26:17, Isa 26:18, Isa 54:1, Jer 30:6, Jer 31:8, Ho 13:16, Am 1:13, Mt 1:18, Mt 1:23, Mt 24:19, Mr 13:17, Lu 2:5, Lu 21:23, 1Th 5:3, Re 12:2.

David considered himself a sinner from the moment of conception, ‘Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.’ (Psalms 51:5)

The bible does not support abortion. A human fetus is a living person and deserving of basic human rights. Every child is a “heritage of the LORD” and should be treasured as such.

Originally Published March 2014

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