What is the process through which a sotah is compelled to drink the bitter water? First the husband comes to the court in his city and tells them: "I warned my wife [not to enter into privacy] with so and so, and she entered into privacy with him. These are the witnesses who will confirm my statements. She claims not to have committed adultery. I desire to have her drink the bitter water to verify this matter."

The court then listens to the testimony of the witnesses. [If it is substantial,] they provide [the husband] with two sages1 to watch over him, lest he engage in relations with her before she drinks the bitter water, for she is prohibited to him until that time,2 and he is sent to Jerusalem. For a sotah is compelled to drink [the bitter water] only by the Supreme Court of 70 elders,3 who [hold session] in the Temple.4


כֵּיצַד סֵדֶר הַשְׁקָאַת סוֹטָה. הַבַּעַל בָּא לְבֵית דִּין שֶׁבְּעִירוֹ וְאוֹמֵר לָהֶן אִשְׁתִּי זוֹ קִנֵּאתִי לָהּ עִם פְּלוֹנִי וְנִסְתְּרָה עִמּוֹ וְאֵלּוּ הֵן עֵדַי וַהֲרֵי הִיא אוֹמֶרֶת שֶׁהִיא טְהוֹרָה וַאֲנִי רוֹצֶה לְהַשְׁקוֹתָהּ לִבְדֹּק הַדָּבָר. וּבֵית דִּין שׁוֹמְעִין דִּבְרֵי הָעֵדִים. וּמוֹסְרִין לוֹ שְׁנֵי תַּלְמִידֵי חֲכָמִים לְשָׁמְרוֹ שֶׁמָּא יָבֹא עָלֶיהָ קֹדֶם שְׁתִיָּה. שֶׁהֲרֵי נֶאֶסְרָה עָלָיו עַד שֶׁתִּשְׁתֶּה. וּמְשַׁלְּחִין אוֹתוֹ לִירוּשָׁלַיִם שֶׁאֵין מַשְׁקִין אֶת הַסּוֹטָה אֶלָּא בְּבֵית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁל שִׁבְעִים זְקֵנִים בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ:


When they arrive in Jerusalem, the High Court has her sit in its presence while her husband is not present,5 and they alarm her, frighten her and bring upon her great dread so that she will not [desire to] drink [the bitter water.6

They tell her: "My daughter, [we know] that wine has a powerful influence, frivolity has a powerful influence, immaturity has a powerful influence, bad neighbors have a powerful influence.7 Do not cause [God's] great name, which is written in holiness, to be blotted out in the water."

And they tell her: "There are many who preceded you and were swept away [from the world].8 Men of greater and more honorable stature have been overcome by their natural inclination and have faltered." [To emphasize this,] they tell her the story of Judah and Tamar, his daughter-in-law,9 the simple meaning of the episode concerning Reuben and [Bilhah], his father's concubine,10 and the story of Amnon and his sister,11 to make it easier for her to admit [her guilt].12

If she says: "I committed adultery," or "I will not drink [the water],"13 she is to be divorced without receiving [the money due her by virtue of] her ketubah, and the matter is dismissed.


הִגִּיעוּ לִירוּשָׁלַיִם בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל מוֹשִׁיבִין אוֹתָהּ בֵּינֵיהֶן וּמְאַיְּמִין עָלֶיהָ שֶׁלֹּא בִּפְנֵי בַּעְלָהּ וּמַפְחִידִין אוֹתָהּ פַּחַד גָּדוֹל שֶׁלֹּא תִּשְׁתֶּה. וְאוֹמְרִים לָהּ בִּתִּי הַרְבֵּה הַיַּיִן עוֹשֶׂה. הַרְבֵּה שְׂחוֹק עוֹשֶׂה. הַרְבֵּה יַלְדוּת עוֹשָׂה. הַרְבֵּה שְׁכֵנִים רָעִים עוֹשִׂים. אַל תִּגְרְמִי לַשֵּׁם הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁנִּכְתַּב בִּקְדֻשָּׁה שֶׁיִּמָּחֶה עַל הַמַּיִם. וְאוֹמְרִין לָהּ בִּתִּי הַרְבֵּה קְדָמוּךְ וְנִשְׁטְפוּ וַאֲנָשִׁים גְּדוֹלִים וִיקָרִים תָּקַף יִצְרָן עֲלֵיהֶן וְנִכְשְׁלוּ. וּמַגִּידִין לָהּ מַעֲשֵׂה יְהוּדָה וְתָמָר כַּלָּתוֹ. וּמַעֲשֵׂה רְאוּבֵן בְּפִילֶגֶשׁ אָבִיו עַל פְּשָׁטוֹ. וּמַעֲשֵׂה אַמְנוֹן וַאֲחוֹתוֹ. כְּדֵי לְהָקֵל עָלֶיהָ עַד שֶׁתּוֹדֶה. וְאִם אָמְרָה הֵן נִטְמֵאתִי אוֹ אֵינִי שׁוֹתָה יוֹצְאָה בְּלֹא כְּתֻבָּה וְהוֹלֶכֶת לָהּ:


If she persists in her claim of innocence, she is brought to the eastern gate of the Temple Courtyard, which faces the Holy of Holies.14 She should be taken from place to place [in the Temple Courtyard] and made to walk around it so that she will become tired and her spirits will sap [with the intent that perhaps] she will admit [her guilt].


עָמְדָה בְּדִבּוּרָהּ שֶׁהִיא טְהוֹרָה. מְבִיאִין אוֹתָהּ לְשַׁעַר מִזְרָחִי שֶׁל עֲזָרָה שֶׁהוּא כְּנֶגֶד קדֶשׁ הַקָּדָשִׁים. וּמַעֲלִין אוֹתָהּ מִמָּקוֹם לְמָקוֹם וּמַקִּיפִין בָּהּ כְּדֵי לְיַגְּעָהּ עַד שֶׁתִּקְצַר נַפְשָׁהּ אוּלַי תּוֹדֶה:


If she persists in her claim, she is brought outside the eastern gate and made to stand there. If she usually dresses in white, she should dress in black. If black garments make her look attractive, she should dress in clothes that do not make her attractive. All silver and gold jewelry should be removed from her.


אִם עָמְדָה בְּדִבּוּרָהּ מְבִיאִין אוֹתָהּ כְּנֶגֶד שַׁעַר הַמִּזְרָח מִבַּחוּץ וּמַעֲמִידִין אוֹתָהּ שָׁם. הָיְתָה מִתְכַּסָּה בִּלְבָנִים מִתְכַּסָּה בִּשְׁחוֹרִין. וְאִם הָיוּ הַשְּׁחוֹרִין נָאִין לָהּ מִתְכַּסָּה בִּבְגָדִים שֶׁאֵין לָהּ בָּהֶן נוֹי. וּמְסִירִין כָּל כְּלֵי כֶּסֶף וְזָהָב שֶׁעָלֶיהָ:


Many women are gathered [to see] her, for all the women present [on the Temple Mount] are obligated to observe her, [as implied by Ezekiel 23:48]: "So that all women will be taught not to follow their lewdness." Any man who wants to observe her may do so.15

She stands among [the women] without a cloak or a veil, wearing only her clothes and a cap, as a woman dresses within her home.16


וּמְקַבְּצִין עָלֶיהָ קִבּוּץ גָּדוֹל שֶׁל נָשִׁים שֶׁכָּל הַנָּשִׁים הַנִּמְצָאוֹת שָׁם חַיָּבוֹת לִרְאוֹתָהּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יחזקאל כג מח) "וְנִוַּסְּרוּ כָּל הַנָּשִׁים וְלֹא תַעֲשֶׂנָה כְּזִמַּתְכֶנָה". וְכָל אִישׁ שֶּׁיַּחְפֹּץ לָבֹא לִרְאוֹתָהּ יָבֹא וְיִרְאֶה. וְהִיא עוֹמֶדֶת בֵּינֵיהֶן בְּלֹא רְדִיד וּבְלֹא מִטְפַּחַת אֶלָּא בִּבְגָדֶיהָ וְכִפָּה שֶׁעַל רֹאשָׁהּ כְּמוֹ שֶׁהָאִשָּׁה בְּתוֹךְ בֵּיתָהּ:

Mishneh Torah (Moznaim)

Featuring a modern English translation and a commentary that presents a digest of the centuries of Torah scholarship which have been devoted to the study of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.


Neither her servants nor her maidservants are allowed to be there, because [when] she recognizes them, her spirits will be fortified.17


וְאֵין מַנִּיחִין שָׁם לֹא עֲבָדֶיהָ וְלֹא שִׁפְחוֹתֶיהָ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא מַכֶּרֶת אוֹתָן וְדַעְתָּהּ מִתְיַשֶּׁבֶת בָּהֶן:


Afterwards, the priest administers an oath to her in a language that she understands.18 He tells her in her language that [she is being subjected to this test] because of the warning that her husband gave her, [which she violated by] entering into privacy [with the man in question].

He repeats for her in a language that she understands [the Biblical passage, Numbers 5:19-23]: "If a man has not lain with you, and you have not committed adultery, so as to be defiled to your husband, you shall be unharmed by this curse-bearing bitter water. But if you have committed adultery and you have become defiled, because a man other than your husband has lain with you... God will make you into a curse and into an oath among your people, causing your thigh to rupture and your belly to swell. This curse-bearing water will enter your body, causing your belly to swell and your thigh to rupture." [This serves as an oath]. She responds: "Amen, Amen,"19 in a language she understands.

He tells her that her belly will be affected first and afterwards, her thigh so as not to tarnish the reputation of the water.20


וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַשְׁבִּיעָהּ הַכֹּהֵן בְּלָשׁוֹן שֶׁהִיא מַכֶּרֶת וּמוֹדִיעָהּ בִּלְשׁוֹנָהּ שֶׁלֹּא גָּרַם לָהּ אֶלָּא קִנּוּי וּסְתִירָה שֶׁקִּנֵּא לָהּ בַּעְלָהּ וְנִסְתְּרָה. וְאוֹמֵר לָהּ בְּלָשׁוֹן שֶׁמַּכֶּרֶת (במדבר ה יט) "אִם לֹא שָׁכַב אִישׁ אֹתָךְ וְאִם לֹא שָׂטִית טֻמְאָה תַּחַת אִישֵׁךְ הִנָּקִי מִמֵּי הַמָּרִים הַמְאָרַרִים הָאֵלֶּה" (במדבר ה כ) "וְאַתְּ כִּי שָׂטִית תַּחַת אִישֵׁךְ וְכִי נִטְמֵאת וַיִּתֵּן אִישׁ בָּךְ אֶת שְׁכָבְתּוֹ מִבַּלְעֲדֵי אִישֵׁךְ" (במדבר ה כא) "יִתֵּן ה' אוֹתָךְ לְאָלָה וְלִשְׁבֻעָה בְּתוֹךְ עַמֵּךְ בְּתֵת ה' אֶת יְרֵכֵךְ נֹפֶלֶת וְאֶת בִּטְנֵךְ צָבָה" (במדבר ה כב) "וּבָאוּ הַמַּיִם הַמְאָרְרִים הָאֵלֶּה בְּמֵעַיִךְ לַצְבּוֹת בֶּטֶן וְלַנְפִּל יָרֵךְ". וְהִיא אוֹמֶרֶת (במדבר ה כב) "אָמֵן אָמֵן" בְּלָשׁוֹן שֶׁמַּכֶּרֶת. וּמוֹדִיעָהּ שֶׁהַבֶּטֶן הִיא תִּלְקֶה תְּחִלָּה וְהַיָּרֵךְ בַּסּוֹף כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא לְהוֹצִיא לַעַז עַל הַמַּיִם:


Afterwards, a scroll of parchment from a kosher animal, like the parchment used for a Torah scroll,21 is brought. On it is written, word for word, letter for letter,22 the entire passage that [the priest] administered to the woman as an oath.

[The passage must be] written in Biblical Hebrew, with ink that does not contain kankantum,23 for the sake of the woman, as a get must be written with that intent.24 God's name should be written in the proper manner.25 The words "Amen, Amen" should not be written.


וְאַחַר כָּךְ מֵבִיא מְגִלָּה שֶׁל עוֹר טָהוֹר כְּמוֹ סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה וְכוֹתֵב עָלֶיהָ בִּלְשׁוֹן הַקֹּדֶשׁ בִּדְיוֹ שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ קַנְקַנְתּוֹם לִשְׁמָהּ שֶׁל אִשָּׁה כְּמוֹ הַגֵּט. וְכוֹתֵב כָּל הַדְּבָרִים שֶׁהִשְׁבִּיעַ אוֹתָהּ בָּהֶם אוֹת בְּאוֹת מִלָּה בְּמִלָּה. וְכוֹתֵב אֶת הַשֵּׁם כִּכְתָבוֹ. וְאֵינוֹ כּוֹתֵב אָמֵן אָמֵן:


Afterwards, an earthenware vessel26 that was never used for any task previously27 and that does not look aged is brought. If one takes an aged vessel and returns it to a kiln so that it looks new, it is acceptable.

A half a log28 of water from the basin [from which the priests wash]29 is placed in it. There was a measuring vessel of that size in the Temple. Afterwards, the water is taken into the Sanctuary.


וְאַחַר כָּךְ מֵבִיא כְּלִי חֶרֶשׂ שֶׁלֹּא נַעֲשָׂה בּוֹ מְלָאכָה מֵעוֹלָם וְלֹא יֵרָאֶה כִּכְלִי בָּלֶה מֵאֹרֶךְ הַזְּמַן. וְאִם הֶחְזִירוֹ לַכִּבְשָׁן עַד שֶׁנִּתְחַדֵּשׁ כָּשֵׁר. וְנוֹתֵן לְתוֹכוֹ חֲצִי לוֹג מַיִם מִן הַכִּיּוֹר. וּבַחֲצִי לוֹג שֶׁהָיָה בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ הָיָה מוֹדְדוֹ. וְנִכְנַס בּוֹ לַהֵיכָל:


[In the Sanctuary,] there was a place, one cubit by one cubit, at the right as one entered, [covered by] a marble tile with a ring affixed to it.30 [The priest] would lift the tile and take "from the dust... on the earth of the Tabernacle" [Numbers 5:17] and place it in the water, so that it could be seen [floating] on the water.

Into this mixture is also placed a bitter substance, wormwood or the like, as implied by [ibid.:18], which refers to "the bitter water."

He [then] dissolves [the writing of] the scroll in [the water], doing this for the sake of [the woman being tested]. He must dissolve [the writing] carefully, so that no trace of it remains on the scroll.


וּמָקוֹם הָיָה שָׁם אַמָּה עַל אַמָּה לִימִין הַנִּכְנָס וּבוֹ טַבְלָא שֶׁל שַׁיִשׁ וְטַבַּעַת קְבוּעָה בָּהּ. מַגְבִּיהַּ הַטַּבְלָא וְלוֹקֵחַ עָפָר מִקַּרְקַע הַמִּשְׁכָּן. וְנוֹתְנוֹ עַל גַּבֵּי הַמַּיִם כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּרָאֶה עַל פְּנֵי הַמַּיִם. וְנוֹתֵן לְתוֹכָן דָּבָר מַר כְּגוֹן לַעֲנָה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ה יח) "מֵי הַמָּרִים". וּמוֹחֵק לְתוֹכָן הַמְּגִלָּה לִשְׁמָהּ וְיִמְחֹק יָפֶה יָפֶה עַד שֶׁלֹּא יִשָּׁאֵר בַּמְּגִלָּה רשֶׁם הַנִּכָּר כְּלָל:


Afterwards,31 one of the priests [serving] in the Temple courtyard would approach her.32 He would take hold of her clothes from the front and rip them until he revealed her heart. Similarly, he would reveal her hair,33 undoing the plaits of her hair, to make her look unattractive.

He would then bring an Egyptian rope34 to allude to the conduct of the Egyptians35 - which she emulated - and tie it above her breasts so that her clothes would not fall, for they were torn, and she be left standing naked. If an Egyptian [rope] is not available, he should bring any rope.


וְאַחַר כָּךְ כֹּהֵן אֶחָד בָּא אֵלֶיהָ מִכֹּהֲנֵי הָעֲזָרָה וְאוֹחֵז בִּבְגָדֶיהָ מִכְּנֶגֶד פָּנֶיהָ וְקוֹרֵעַ עַד שֶׁהוּא מְגַלֶּה אֶת לִבָּהּ. וּמְגַלֶּה שְׂעָרָהּ וְסוֹתֵר מַחְלְפוֹת רֹאשָׁהּ כְּדֵי לְנַוְּלָהּ. וּמֵבִיא חֶבֶל מִצְרִי כְּדֵי לְהַזְכִּירָהּ מַעֲשֵׂה מִצְרַיִם שֶׁעָשְׂתָה. וְאִם לֹא מָצְאוּ מִצְרִי מֵבִיא חֶבֶל מִכָּל מָקוֹם. וְקוֹשְׁרוֹ לְמַעְלָה מִדָּדֶיהָ כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִפְּלוּ הַבְּגָדִים וְנִמְצֵאת עֲרֻמָּה שֶׁהֲרֵי נִקְרְעוּ:


Afterwards, he would bring an isaron36 of barley37 meal purchased by the husband and place it in an Egyptian basket.38

The rope and the basket should be purchased from the funds remaining in the Temple treasury.39 [The basket with the meal] should be placed in her hand to weary her.40


וְאַחַר כָּךְ מֵבִיא עִשָּׂרוֹן קֶמַח שְׂעוֹרִים מִשֶּׁל בַּעַל. וְנוֹתְנוֹ בִּכְפִיפָה מִצְרִית. וְהַחֶבֶל וְהַכְּפִיפָה בָּאִין מִשְּׁיָרֵי הַלִּשְׁכָּה. וְנוֹתְנוֹ לְיָדֶיהָ כְּדֵי לְיַגְּעָהּ:


Afterwards, the meal offering is taken from the basket and placed in a sacred vessel.41 Neither oil nor frankincense should be placed upon it.42 If [these substances] are placed upon it, [the priest] should be lashed for [placing] both the oil and the frankincense individually,43 as [implied by Numbers 5:15]: "He shall not pour oil on it, nor place frankincense on it."


וְאַחַר כָּךְ לוֹקֵחַ הַמִּנְחָה מִן הַכְּפִיפָה וְנוֹתְנָהּ לִכְלִי שָׁרֵת. וְאֵינוֹ נוֹתֵן עָלֶיהָ שֶׁמֶן וְלֹא לְבוֹנָה. וְאִם נָתַן לוֹקֶה עַל הַשֶּׁמֶן בִּפְנֵי עַצְמוֹ וְעַל הַלְּבוֹנָה בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָהּ. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ה טו) "לֹא יִצֹק עָלֶיהָ שֶׁמֶן וְלֹא יִתֵּן עָלֶיהָ לְבֹנָה":


Throughout the time the priest uncovers the woman's hair and places the isaron [of meal] on her hand, the priest should hold the vessel containing the water in his hand and show it to the woman,44 as [implied by Numbers 5:18]: "The bitter, curse-bearing waters shall be in the hand of the priest."


וּבְכָל זְמַן שֶׁפּוֹרֵעַ רֹאשָׁהּ וְנוֹתֵן הָעִשָּׂרוֹן עַל יָדֶיהָ יִהְיוּ הַמַּיִם בִּכְלִי בְּיַד הַכֹּהֵן וְיַרְאֶה אוֹתָהּ אֶת הַמַּיִם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ה יח) "וּבְיַד הַכֹּהֵן יִהְיוּ מֵי הַמָּרִים הַמְאָרַרִים":


Afterwards, he gives her [the water] to drink. After she drinks, he takes the sacred vessel containing the meal offering and places it on her hand. The priest then places his hand below her [hand] and waves the offering45 in [the portion of the Temple courtyard to] the east [of the altar], as is done with all other meal offerings.46

He should bring it to [each of the four compass directions] and up and down.47 Afterwards, he brings the meal offering to the horn at the southwestern corner of the altar, as is done with other meal offerings brought by private individuals.48

He should take a fistful of the meal and offer it on the fire. The remainder [of the meal] should be eaten by the priests.49


וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַשְׁקֶה אוֹתָהּ. וְאַחַר שֶׁתִּשְׁתֶּה לוֹקֵחַ כְּלִי שָׁרֵת שֶׁבּוֹ הַמִּנְחָה וְנוֹתְנוֹ עַל יָדֶיהָ. וְכֹהֵן מֵנִיחַ יָדוֹ תַּחְתֶּיהָ וּמְנִיפָהּ בַּמִּזְרָח כִּשְׁאָר כָּל הַתְּנוּפוֹת. מוֹלִיךְ וּמֵבִיא מַעֲלֶה וּמוֹרִיד. וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַגִּישׁ הַמִּנְחָה לְקֶרֶן דְּרוֹמִית מַעֲרָבִית שֶׁל מִזְבֵּחַ כִּשְׁאָר מְנָחוֹת שֶׁל יָחִיד. וְקוֹמֵץ וּמַקְטִיר הַקֹּמֶץ. וְהַשְּׁאָר נֶאֱכָל לַכֹּהֲנִים:


If the woman is guiltless, she may depart; she is permitted to her husband. If she committed adultery, her face will immediately turn pale yellow, her eyes will bulge forth, and her veins will surface.

Everyone immediately shouts, "Take her out [of the Women's Courtyard]! Take her out!" so that she does not have a menstrual emission [there],50 for women who are in a menstrual state make the Women's Courtyard impure.51

They take her out of the Women's Courtyard, where she was standing. Her belly swells first and then her thigh ruptures and she dies.


אִם טְהוֹרָה הִיא יוֹצֵאת וְהוֹלֶכֶת לָהּ וַהֲרֵי הִיא מֻתֶּרֶת לְבַעְלָהּ. וְאִם טְמֵאָה הִיא מִיָּד פָּנֶיהָ מוֹרִיקוֹת וְעֵינֶיהָ בּוֹלְטוֹת וְהִיא מִתְמַלֵּאת גִּידִין גִּידִין וְהֵן אוֹמְרִין הוֹצִיאוּהָ (הוֹצִיאוּהָ) כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא תִּפְרשֹׁ נִדָּה וְהַנִּדּוֹת מְטַמְּאוֹת עֶזְרַת נָשִׁים. וְהֵן מוֹצִיאִין אוֹתָהּ מֵעֶזְרַת נָשִׁים שֶׁהִיא עוֹמֶדֶת בָּהּ. וּבִטְנָהּ צָבָה בַּתְּחִלָּה וְאַחַר כָּךְ תִּפּל יְרֵכָהּ וְתָמוּת:


When she dies, the adulterer because of whom she was compelled to drink will also die, wherever he is located. The same phenomena, the swelling of the belly and the rupture of the thigh, will also occur to him.

All the above applies provided her husband never engaged in forbidden sexual relations in his life. If, however, her husband ever engaged in forbidden relations, the [bitter] waters do not check [the fidelity of] his wife.


בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה שֶׁתָּמוּת הִיא יָמוּת הַנּוֹאֵף שֶׁהִשְׁקָה עַל יָדוֹ בְּכָל מָקוֹם שֶׁהוּא וְיֶאֶרְעוּ לוֹ מְאֹרָעוֹת שֶׁאֵרְעוּ לָהּ (במדבר ה כב) "לַצְבּוֹת בֶּטֶן וְלַנְפִּל יָרֵךְ". וְכָל זֶה אִם לֹא בָּא בַּעְלָהּ בִּיאָה אֲסוּרָה מֵעוֹלָם. אֲבָל אִם בָּעַל בְּעִילָה שֶׁל אִסּוּר אֵין הַמַּיִם בּוֹדְקִין אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:


If [a husband] transgressed and compelled his wife to drink [the bitter water], although he previously entered into a forbidden relationship, he adds further transgression to his sin. For he causes God's name [which is not] pronounced to be blotted out on the waters for no reason and defames the reputation of the waters [used to test] a sotah. For his wife will tell others that she committed adultery and that the [bitter] waters did not harm her, without knowing that it was her husband's deeds that prevented the waters from checking her [fidelity].


וְאִם עָבַר וְהִשְׁקָה אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה מוֹסִיף עַל חַטָּאתוֹ פֶּשַׁע שֶׁגָּרַם לַשֵּׁם הַמְפֹרָשׁ שֶׁיִּמָּחֶה בַּמַּיִם לְבַטָּלָה וּמוֹצִיא לַעַז עַל מֵי סוֹטָה שֶׁאִשְׁתּוֹ אוֹמֶרֶת לַאֲחֵרוֹת שֶׁזִּנְּתָה וְלֹא בָּדְקוּ בָּהּ הַמַּיִם וְהִיא לֹא תֵּדַע שֶׁמַּעֲשֵׂי הַבַּעַל גָּרְמוּ שֶׁלֹּא בָּדְקוּ בָּהּ:


Therefore, when the number of people who openly committed adultery increased in the Second Temple era, the Sanhedrin52 nullified the use of the bitter water, relying on the verse in the [prophetic] tradition, [Hoshea 4:14]: "I will not punish your daughters when they commit harlotry."


לְפִיכָךְ מִשֶּׁרַבּוּ הַמְנָאֲפִים בְּגָלוּי בְּבַיִת שֵׁנִי בִּטְּלוּ הַסַּנְהֶדְרִין אֶת מֵי הַמָּרִים וְסָמְכוּ עַל הַכָּתוּב בַּקַּבָּלָה (הושע ד יד) "לֹא אֶפְקוֹד עַל בְּנוֹתֵיכֶם כִּי תִזְנֶינָה" וְגוֹ':


When a sotah has merit because of Torah study53 - although she herself is not obligated to study the Torah54 - her merit prolongs [her life] and she does not die immediately. Instead, she continues to be weakened,55 and suffers severe illness until she dies after a year, two years or three years, according to her merit. [When she dies,] she dies with a swollen belly and ruptured limbs.


סוֹטָה שֶׁיֵּשׁ לָהּ זְכוּת תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵינָהּ מְצֻוָּה עַל תַּלְמוּד תּוֹרָה הֲרֵי זֶה תּוֹלֶה לָהּ וְאֵינָהּ מֵתָה לִשְׁעָתָהּ אֶלָּא נִמֹּקֶת וְהוֹלֶכֶת וָחֳלָאִים כְּבֵדִים בָּאִין עָלֶיהָ עַד שֶׁתָּמוּת אַחַר שָׁנָה אוֹ שְׁתַּיִם אוֹ שָׁלֹשׁ לְפִי זְכוּתָהּ. וְהִיא מֵתָה בִּצְבִיַּת בֶּטֶן וּבִנְפִילַת אֵיבָרִין:


When a sotah drinks the bitter water and does not die immediately, she is permitted to her husband, even if he is a priest.56 Even if illness begins to set in and her limbs become afflicted, as long as her belly does not swell or her thigh rupture, she is permitted.57

When, however, her belly begins to expand and her thigh begins to rupture, she is forbidden.58


סוֹטָה שֶׁשָּׁתָת מֵי הַמָּרִים וְלֹא מֵתָה מִיָּד הֲרֵי הִיא מֻתֶּרֶת לְבַעְלָהּ. וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיָה כֹּהֵן. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִתְחִילוּ הֶחֳלָאִים לָבוֹא עָלֶיהָ וְחָלוּ שְׁאָר אֵיבָרֶיהָ הוֹאִיל וְלֹא צָבְתָה בִּטְנָהּ וְלֹא הִתְחִיל יְרֵכָהּ לִנְפּל הֲרֵי זוֹ מֻתֶּרֶת. אֲבָל מִשֶּׁהִתְחִיל בִּטְנָהּ לַצְבּוֹת וִירֵכָהּ לִנְפּל הֲרֵי זוֹ אֲסוּרָה וַדָּאִית:


When a sotah who was innocent drinks [the bitter water], she becomes stronger and her face glows. If she was afflicted by sickness [that prevented her from conceiving],59 it will disappear; she will conceive and give birth to a male. If she previously had difficulty giving birth, she will give birth speedily. If she would give birth to girls, she will give birth to males.


סוֹטָה שֶׁשָׁתָת וְהָיְתָה טְהוֹרָה הֲרֵי זוֹ מִתְחַזֶּקֶת וּפָנֶיהָ מַזְהִירוֹת. וְאִם הָיָה בָּהּ חלִי יָסוּר. וְתִתְעַבֵּר וְתֵלֵד זָכָר. וְאִם הָיָה דַּרְכָּהּ לֵילֵד בְּקֹשִׁי תֵּלֵד בִּמְהֵרָה. הָיָה דַּרְכָּהּ לֵילֵד נְקֵבוֹת תֵּלֵד זְכָרִים:


If witnesses who say that she committed adultery come after she drinks the bitter water, she should be divorced without receiving [the money due her by virtue of] her ketubah, and she is forbidden to her husband.

This applies even when none [of the negative consequences] mentioned above occur to her. For the [bitter] waters will check only [the fidelity of a woman] concerning whom there are no witnesses who will testify to her sexual misconduct.60 Moreover, it is possible that her husband is not guiltless, and it is because of him that the waters did not check his wife.61

If, however, one witness comes and testifies that a woman committed adultery, she is not forbidden [to] her husband and can remain married to him. For she drank [the bitter water].62


בָּאוּ עֵדֵי טֻמְאָה אַחַר שֶׁשָּׁתְתָה הֲרֵי זוֹ תֵּצֵא בְּלֹא כְּתֻבָּה וַאֲסוּרָה לְבַעְלָהּ. וַאֲפִלּוּ לֹא אֵרַע לָהּ דָּבָר מִדְּבָרִים אֵלּוּ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין הַמַּיִם בּוֹדְקִין אֶלָּא מִי שֶׁאֵין לָהּ עֵדִים שֶׁמּוֹדִיעִין זְנוּתָהּ. וְעוֹד שֶׁמָּא בַּעְלָהּ אֵינוֹ מְנֻקֶּה מֵעָוֹן לְפִיכָךְ לֹא בָּדְקוּ הַמַּיִם אֶת אִשְׁתּוֹ. אֲבָל אִם בָּא עֵד אֶחָד וְהֵעִיד שֶׁהָיְתָה טְמֵאָה אֵינָהּ אֲסוּרָה וְתֵשֵׁב תַּחַת בַּעְלָהּ שֶׁהֲרֵי שָׁתְתָה:


When a woman was compelled to engage in adulterous relationships or did so unintentionally,63 or lay naked in the embrace of the man regarding whom she was warned, but did not engage in vaginal relations,64 [her fidelity] will not be checked by the [bitter] waters, as [implied by the following verses]. [Numbers 5:13 states:] "And she was not taken against her will," thus excluding a woman who was raped. [Ibid.:27 states:] "And she was unfaithful to her husband," excluding a woman who acted unintentionally." And [ibid.:13 states]: "And a man laid with her, [imparting] his seed," excluding an embrace without intercourse.


אִשָּׁה שֶׁזִּנְּתָה בְּאֹנֶס אוֹ בִּשְׁגָגָה אוֹ שֶׁבָּא עָלֶיהָ זֶה שֶׁקִּנֵּא לָהּ עִמּוֹ דֶּרֶךְ אֵיבָרִים אֵין הַמַּיִם בּוֹדְקִין אוֹתָהּ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר ה יג) "וְהִיא לֹא נִתְפָּשָׂה" פְּרָט לַאֲנוּסָה שֶׁהֲרֵי נִתְפְּשָׂה בְּחָזְקָה. (במדבר ה כז) "וַתִּמְעל מַעַל בְּאִישָׁהּ" פְּרָט לְשׁוֹגֶגֶת. (במדבר ה יג) "וְשָׁכַב אִישׁ אֹתָהּ שִׁכְבַת זֶרַע" פְּרָט לְבָא עָלֶיהָ דֶּרֶךְ אֵיבָרִים: