IX. (51) Again, according to the injunctions of the sacred scriptures the constitution of the law does not recognise a harlot; as being a person alienated from good order, and modesty, and chastity, and all other virtues, who has filled the souls both of men and women with intemperance, polluting the immortal beauty of the mind, and honouring above it the short-lived perishable beauty of the body prostituting herself to every chance comer, and selling her beauty as if it were some vendible thing in the market, doing and saying every thing with a view to catch the young men. And she excites her lovers to contests with one another, proposing herself as the most disgraceful prize for those who gain the victory. Let her, therefore, be stoned as an injury and mischief to, and a common pollution of, the whole state, having corrupted the graces of nature, which she ought to have adorned further by her own excellence.

X. (52) The law has pronounced all acts of adultery, if detected in the fact, or if proved by undeniable evidence, liable to the punishment of death; but cases in which guilt is only suspected, it does not choose should be investigated by men, but it brings them before the tribunal of nature; since men are able to judge of what is visible, but God can judge also of what is unseen, since he alone is able to behold the soul distinctly, (53) therefore he says to the man who suspects such a thing, “Write an accusation, and go up to the holy city with thy wife, and standing before the judges, lay bare the passion of suspicion which affects you, not like a false accuser or treacherous enemy, seeking to gain the victory by any means whatever, but as a man may do who wishes accurately to ascertain the truth without any sophistry. (54) And the woman, having incurred two dangers, one of her life, and the other of her reputation, the loss of which last is more grievous than any kind of death, shall judge the matter with herself; and if she be pure, let her make her defence with confidence; but if she be convicted by her own conscience, let her cover her face, making her modesty the veil for her iniquities, for to persist in her impudence is the very extravagance of wickedness. (55) But if the charge which is made against her be contested, and if the evidence be doubtful, so as not to incline to either side, then let the two parties go up to the temple, and let the man stand in front of the altar, in the presence of the priest for the day, and then let him state his suspicions and his grounds for them, and let him produce and offer some barley flour, as a species of oblation on behalf of his wife, to prove that he accuses her, not out of insult, but with an honest intention, because he has a reasonable doubt. (56) And the priest shall take the barley and offer it to the woman, and shall take away from her the head-dress on her head, that she may be judged with her head bare, and deprived of the symbol of modesty, which all those women are accustomed to wear who are completely blameless; and there shall not be any oil used, nor any frankincense, as in the case of other sacrifices, because the sacrifice now offered is to be accomplished on no joyful occasion, but on one which is very grievous. (57) And the reason why the flour is to be made of barley is, perhaps, because the food which is made of barley is of a somewhat ambiguous character, and is suited for the use both of irrational animals and of needy men; and is therefore a sign that a woman who has committed adultery differs in no respect from the beasts, whose connections with one another are promiscuous and incessant; but she who is pure from all such accusations is devoted to that manner of life which befits human beings. (58) Then the law proceeds to say, the priest, having taken an earthen vessel, shall pour forth pure water, having drawn it from a fountain, and shall also bring a lump of clay from the ground of the temple, which also I think has in it a symbolical reference to the search after truth; for the earthenware vessel is appropriate to the commission of adultery because it is easily broken, and death is the punishment appointed for adulterers; but the earth and the water are appropriate to the purging of the accusation, since the origin, and increase, and perfection of all things, take place by them: (59) on which account it was very proper for the law-giver to set them both off by epithets, saying, that the water which the priest was to take must be pure and living water, since blameless woman is pure as to her life, and deserves to live; and the earth too is to be taken, not from any chance spot, but from the soil of the ground of the temple, which must, of necessity, be most excellent, just as a modest woman is. (60) And when all these things are previously prepared, the woman with her head uncovered, bearing the barley flour in her hand, as has been already specified, shall come forward; and the priest standing opposite to her and holding the earthenware vessel in which are the water and the earth, shall speak thus: (61) “If you have not transgressed the laws of your marriage, and if no other man has been associated with you, so that you have not violated the rights of him who is joined to you by the law, you are blameless and innocent; but if you have neglected your husband and have followed empty appetites, either loving some one yourself or yielding to some lover, betraying your nearest and dearest connections, and adulterating them by a spurious mixture, then learn that you are deservedly liable to every kind of curse, the proofs of which you will exhibit on your body. Come then and drink the draught of conviction, which shall uncover and lay bare all thy hidden and secret actions.” (62) Then the priest shall write these words on a paper and dip it in the water which is in the earthenware vessel, and give it to the woman. And she shall drink it and depart, awaiting the reward of her modesty or the extreme penalty of her incontinence; for if she has been falsely accused she may hope for seed and children, disregarding all apprehensions and anxieties on the subject of barrenness and childlessness. But if she is guilty then a great weight and bulk, form her belly swelling and becoming full, will come upon her, and a terribly evil condition of her womb will afflict her, since she did not choose to keep it pure for her husband, who had married her according to the laws of her nation. (63) And the law takes such exceeding pains to prevent any irregularity taking place with respect to marriages, that even in the case of husbands and wives who have come together for legitimate embraces, in strict accordance with the laws of marriage, after they have arisen from their beds it does not allow them to touch anything before they have had recourse to washings and ablutions; keeping them very far from adultery and from all accusations referring to adultery.