Sotah, Chapter 3, Mishnah 2

Sotah, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two

 

Introduction

The mishnah continues to outline the process of the Sotah ritual.  We should note that the Torah is ambiguous with regard to when the woman drinks the water.  Numbers 5:24 says that the priest gives the sotah to drink, and then vs. 25-26 describe the sacrifice of the meal offering.  However, the end of vs. 26 states “and afterward he shall make the woman drink the water.”  Hence this point is debated in our mishnah.

 

Mishnah Two

1)      He waves it, he brings it near [the altar], he takes a handful and he turns it into smoke, and then the remainder is eaten by the priests.

2)      He [first] gives [her the water] to drink, and then sacrifices her meal-offering.

a)      Rabbi Shimon says: he sacrifices her meal-offering and then gives her to drink, as it is said, “And afterward he shall make the woman drink the water” (Numbers 5:26), but if he gave her to drink and then sacrificed her meal-offering it is valid.

 

Explanation

Section one:  This section is a paraphrase of vs. 25-26.  In yesterday’s mishnah the priest took the meal offering from the Sotah, and in today’s mishnah he offers it. This includes waving it (which was actually described in yesterday’s mishnah), bringing it to the altar, and finally taking a handful and burning it.  The remainder can be eaten by the priests, as can most offerings.

Section two:  According to the first opinion, the woman drinks the water and then the meal offering is sacrificed.  Rabbi Shimon says that the opposite order is preferable.  However, even according to Rabbi Shimon, if the priest performed the steps in the order prescribed by the previous opinion they are valid.