A Miscarriage of Justice
"And what of your husband?" asked Beriah with a devilish grin.
"Ha! You think the man has eyes for anything other than his vineyards and his money bag?" declared Orpah. She turned and shrugged into her cloak. "Our marriage was arranged. A marriage of convenience!"
"You must be careful, nonetheless! If he ever guesses it could be disastrous for both of us!" he cautioned with a frown creasing his forehead.
"What he doesn't know, won't hurt him. Now," she said as she kissed him, "I must go my lover. He will be in from the fields soon."
Jehiel trudged wearily up the hill. Squinting from the glare of the afternoon sun, his gaze took in the villa which he had built up these past five years. He had worked hard to make his father proud. I have a beautiful wife, many servants, a flourishing vineyard and... his thoughts were interrupted as he saw Orpah in the distance, silhouetted against the sun. What is she doing out without her maid?
Jehiel stopped and watched in silence. No servant in attendance? No market basket? "She is hurrying from somewhere." He muttered.
Entering the villa, Jehiel was irritated that there was no servant to wait upon him. "Kore! Bring me some water!" he shouted. Unexpectedly, his only answer was silence. "Orpah! Where are you?" he demanded.
"I am here my husband!" she called from her rooms. "You're home early!"
He walked briskly down the hall and as he entered, he saw the wash basin she tried to hide beneath the bed. "What were you doing?" he asked growing suspicious.
Orpah side-stepped quickly to hide the puddle of water. "Nothing!" she said nervously. "I-i-it was rather hot today and I was just trying to freshen up before starting dinner." She recovered quickly.
"Oh? Well, yes, it is rather hot today," He agreed. "Where are the servants? Kore was not in attendance when I came home."
"I gave the servants the afternoon off. With this awful heat, I didn't want any of them to become ill and leave me shorthanded for the feast tomorrow night." She said "I thought we could have a cold supper and retire early tonight."
"Did you go to the market and buy something special for supper?" he asked casually.
"No. I haven't left the house all day," she lied. "It's been too hot."
All through the evening meal, Jehiel observed his wife's behavior. He knew she had lied and yet she carried on as if nothing were amiss. They retired to their room and she gave him the perfunctory kiss goodnight before turning away from him.
Long after the sun went down, Jehiel was still thinking about the lie. What was she hiding? Why did she act so nervous when he came home? Why would she hide the basin beneath the bed? Where did she go? The questions tortured him endlessly.
As one possessed, a jealous rage overtook him. He could think of nothing but the unfaithfulness of his Orpah. How could she! "Get up!" he shouted as he yanked the covers back. "Get up! We are going to see the priest!"
Orpah shook with dread as she stood before the priest. She never thought she'd be tested for adultery.
Her hair was let down. The meal offering of jealousy had been provided by her husband. She was made to hold it as she took the oath of the curse. While the priest held the water of bitterness that brings the curse, he continued speaking the requirements for the law of jealousy.
"And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly swell, and thy thigh to rot." Said the priest.
"Amen." Said Orpah.
He then wrote the curses in the book and washed them into the water of bitterness. Tears streamed down her face as he handed her the cup and she drank it.
As it is written, "...and the water that causes the curse shall enter into her..1" the priest continued on.
Orpah walked among the crowd going from one vendor to another. Smiling, she patted her growing belly as the child began to stir. I have escaped the judgment of God, she thought with joy. It is as I told Beriah, what my husband does not know...
Suddenly, she doubled over in pain. It had begun.
1 Numbers 5:11-20
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