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Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. (Exodus 20:16)1
The Ninth Commandment is found two times in the Old Testament and four times in the New Testament: Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20, Matthew 19:18, Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20, and Romans 13:9.
Some of the greatest tragedies in the Scriptures, including the crucifixion of Yeshua2 (Jesus’ given Hebrew name), occurred in whole or in part as the result of Ninth Commandment infractions. It is hardly surprising that, in the list enumerating the seven sins Yahweh 3 hates, four out of seven are consequences of violating the Ninth Commandment:
These six things doth YHWH4 hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Sheqer and Shav
The English wording of the Ninth Commandment is nearly identical in Exodus 20:16 and Deuteronomy 5:20, but a notable difference is found in the Hebrew. The word “false” in these verses is translated from two etymologically unrelated Hebrew words. In Exodus 20, “false” is translated from sheqer, and in Deuteronomy 5, it is translated from shav.
Sheqer is defined:
…an untruth; by implication, a sham….5
….deception, disappointment, falsehood….6
Shav is defined:
…in the sense of desolating; evil (as destructive), lit. (ruin) or mor. (espec. guile); fig. idolatry (as false, subj.), uselessness (as deceptive, obj.; also adv. in vain).7
…emptiness, vanity, falsehood….8
We are not told why Yahweh inspired two different words to express this Commandment, but it stands to reason that together they best communicate His intention. Other passages employing these two words, assist us in understanding their meaning. The following passages use the word sheqer:
Keep thee far from a false matter…. (Exodus 23:7)
Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous. (Psalm 31:18)
Bread of deceit is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel. (Proverbs 20:17)
And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers…. (Malachi 3:5)
The following passages employ the word shav:
Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. (Exodus 23:1)
Ninth Commandment Statutes
They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak. (Psalm 12:2)
I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in YHWH. (Psalm 31:6)
Remove far from me vanity and lies…. (Proverbs 30:8)
Although these passages and others provide us with a better understanding of the intent of the Ninth Commandment, they barely touch its breadth and depth. Like the other nine Commandments, the Ninth encompasses much more than meets the eye.
Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment. (Exodus 23:1-2)
We are not to bear false witness as individuals, with someone else, or with a multitude. The latter, more often than not, describes democracy or majority rule, which unlawfully governs by sheer numbers, often with no regard for justice. When American Christians9 finally repent of their love affair with the United States Constitution,10 we can one day build upon its ruins a government constructed exclusively upon the perfect laws of Yahweh (Psalm 19:7). That government’s viability and success will depend upon Yahweh’s moral laws, which include a godly, righteous judicial system. The Ninth Commandment is essential to a godly judiciary. Justice depends upon both God-fearing, honorable judges and the integrity of the witnesses. Trustworthy testimony is requisite for just decisions. Because reliable testimony is imperative, it must be compulsory.
This is one of many areas in which the United States’ judicial system fails. Witnesses swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but in most instances the punishment for perjury is minimal or nonexistent. Therefore, witnesses have little incentive to be truthful.
It is impossible to guarantee absolute truth in all cases, but Yahweh has provided safeguards that assure us of truthful testimony. These safeguards ensure predominately reliable witnesses because they prevent the majority of fraudulent cases and false witnesses from going to litigation in the first place.
Yahweh placed the six following safeguards in His Word to curb false testimony in courts of law:
Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause…. (Proverbs 24:28)
Frivolous cases that fail to merit the court’s attention should be immediately dismissed. This criterion alone would eliminate a large percentage of the cases that clog today’s courts.
If a man deliver unto his neighbour an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast, to keep; and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, no man seeing it: Then shall an oath of YHWH be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good. (Exodus 22:10-11)
The oath of Yahweh is also advocated in Deuteronomy:
Thou shalt fear YHWH thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. (Deuteronomy 6:13)
In Genesis 24:3, Abraham compelled his servant to swear by Yahweh before sending him to look for a wife for Isaac. The oath of Yahweh is also referred to in the New Testament epistle to the Hebrews:
For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. (Hebrews 6:16, NASB)
In order for such an oath to affect disputes, it must be self-maledictory – that is, an oath in which the person calls a curse upon himself if he provides false testimony. An example of a self-maledictory oath is found in Nehemiah:
…their nobles … entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God’s law … and to observe and do all the commandments of YHWH our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes; and that we would not give our daughters unto the people of the land, nor take their daughters for our sons. (Nehemiah 10:29-30)
A self-maledictory oath to Yahweh should be required of all litigants in every court case:
If a man sin against his neighbour, and an oath be laid upon him to make him swear, and the oath come before thine altar in this house; then hear thou from heaven, and do, and judge thy servants, by requiting the wicked, by recompensing his way upon his own head; and by justifying the righteous, by giving him according to his righteousness. (2 Chronicles 6:22-23)
Unlike the vast majority of oaths taken in our modern courts or by presidents and other politicians who break their oath of office whenever it is advantageous, the oaths taken in Nehemiah’s day actually meant something:
By taking the oath, a man promised to abide by his word and his obligations even as God is faithful to His word. If he failed, by oath of office, the public official invoked divine judgment and the curse of the law upon himself.11
An outward pledge given by the person taking it that his attestation or promise is made under an immediate sense of his responsibility to God…. The term has been variously defined: as, “a solemn invocation of the vengeance of the Deity upon the witness if he do [sic] not declare the whole truth, so far as he knows it;” … or “religious asseveration by which a person renounces the mercy and imprecates the vengeance of Heaven if he do [sic] not speak the truth” … or “a religious act by which the party invokes God not only to witness the truth and sincerity of his promise, but also to avenge his imposture or violated faith, or … to punish his perjury if he shall be guilty of it;”…. The essential idea of an oath would seem to be, however, that of a recognition of God’s authority by the party taking it, and an undertaking to accomplish the transaction to which it refers as required by his laws.12
So solemn and awful were all appeals to God considered in those ancient times, that it was taken for granted that the man was innocent who could by an oath appeal to the omniscient God that he had not put his hand to his neighbour’s goods. Since oaths have become multiplied, and since they have been administered on the most trifling occasions, their solemnity is gone, and their importance little regarded. Should the oath ever reacquire its weight and importance, it must be when administered only in cases of peculiar delicacy and difficulty, and as sparingly as in the days of Moses.13
The solemnity and consequence of the oath has been lost not because of its multiplied use, but because its judgment is no longer enforced. As a transgression of the Third Commandment, lying or breaking an oath made in the name of Yahweh is punishable by death.14
And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am YHWH. (Leviticus 19:12)
And he that blasphemeth the name of YHWH, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land…. (Leviticus 24:16)
If a judge deemed it a serious enough offense, he could order the perjurer put to death on a Third Commandment violation alone.
One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established. (Deuteronomy 19:15)
Every matter must be determined by the testimony of at least two witnesses. Under Yahweh’s judicial system, a false accuser cannot even hope to get his case docketed without coercing or bribing someone else to take the same risk, as described in Safeguard 6.
If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before YHWH, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; and the judges shall make diligent inquisition…. (Deuteronomy 19:16-18)
Every man is given an opportunity in court to defend himself against false accusations. This provides the judge the opportunity to administer self-maledictory oaths and determine which litigant is speaking the truth.
Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die. At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you. (Deuteronomy 17:5-7)
In capital cases, witnesses must be so certain of their testimony that they, along with the blood avengers (Deuteronomy 19:11-12), are prepared to initiate judgment upon the person against whom they testify.
If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before YHWH, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; and the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Deuteronomy 19:16-21)
Before going to trial, a false witness must take a calculated risk, knowing that if he is caught perjuring, he will suffer whatever malice he intended upon his adversary. This judgment, known as lex talionis, or the law of retribution, protects the integrity of the court and all but guarantees truthful testimony. Mahatma Gandhi is reputed to have said, “An eye for eye makes the whole world blind,” but, in fact, lex talionis ensures far fewer maimed or murdered people in society. Lex talionis provides for equitable retribution while restricting the extent of retaliation (Exodus 21:23-25, Leviticus 24:18-20).
The Six Safeguards in Action
Most of the injustices that take place in America’s courts fall under the jurisdiction of the Ninth Commandment. When false testimony is tolerated, justice is all but impossible. Yahweh placed these six safeguards within His judicial system to assure maximum protection against false testimony.
King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 21:3, “To do justice and judgment [righteousness and justice, NASB] is more acceptable to YHWH than sacrifice.” The book of Isaiah opens with Yahweh informing the house of Judah that He had no regard for their sacrifices because, among other things, they had no regard for His justice. “Thou shalt not bear false witness” demands equity in our courts of law. Because Yahweh’s laws do not govern today’s courts, justice is seldom found therein.
If we would return to Yahweh’s perfect laws, and particularly the Ninth Commandment statutes, few would dare bear false testimony. These safeguards would also all but eliminate slander and defamation in society. The Ninth Commandment and its respective statutes and judgments are meant to protect our reputations. Without the protection of the Ninth Commandment, a person can maliciously impugn another’s name with essentially no fear of punishment. When the Ninth Commandment is not enforced, slander and libel become the unchecked practice of governments and especially the media.
Lex talionis alone would all but assure truthful testimony in most instances, with the exception of slander or libel cases in which no physical damage or identifiable monetary consequences are involved. In cases of this nature, it is impossible to exact a comparable compensation for the damages incurred. Consequently, a fixed monetary judgment would be the only alternative to lex talionis. Because no other defamation cases, wherein a judgment amount is prescribed, exist in the Bible, the following judgment is case law:
If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, and give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid [virgin]: Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; and, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; and they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. (Deuteronomy 22:13-19)
The judgment against defamation is twofold. Chastisement, found in verse 18, is the first judgment. The word “chastise” is translated from the Hebrew word yacar:
…a primitive root; to chastise, literally (with blows) or figuratively (with words); hence, to instruct.15
In this instance and in other cases of defamation, chastisement would surely entail a physical beating, since a simple dressing-down by the judge would add very little, if anything, to the second judgment. Other than the stipulation that the number of stripes not exceed forty, the severity of the beating is left to the discretion of the judge:
If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee. (Deuteronomy 25:1-3)
The second judgment, found in verse 19, is a fine of one hundred shekels of silver, to be paid to the victim. A hundred shekels would equal approximately forty ounces of silver, a substantial amount of money in that day. For the average man (depending upon whether he was a freeman or a slave), this amount of silver would have represented 2 to 3½ years’ income (Exodus 21:32, Leviticus 27:3, Leviticus 25:53, Isaiah 16:14). Cases of defamation would be very rare indeed if this judgment were enforced today. It would also transform today’s media, which is far more concerned with producing sensational copy than with risking libel.
This may seem too stiff a penalty, until you consider how much your good name and reputation is worth:
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches…. (Proverbs 22:1)
A good name is better than precious ointment…. (Ecclesiastes 7:1)
If you put yourself in the victim’s shoes, suddenly this judgment may seem lenient.
Because 18th and 19th-century American courts provided little recourse against defamation, many people considered dueling (a transgression of Exodus 21:12-19) the only means of protecting their names and reputations. Countless men were wounded and killed because the courts failed to provide scriptural recourse. Although the courts occasionally brought judgment against the duelers, they never addressed their own failure. Today’s courts do no better.
A Heart Transgression
… Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates: And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith YHWH. (Zechariah 8:16-17)
In agreement with Proverbs 6, Zechariah pointed out that one of the things Yahweh hates is a false witness against a brother or neighbor. He also notes, as did Yeshua, that this sin originates in one’s heart:
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man…. (Matthew 15:18-20)
Conversely, King David provides a glimpse into the actions and the heart of a righteous man:
YHWH, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. (Psalm 15:1-3)
False accusing and backbiting are essentially the same sin. The only difference between them is bravado. A false accuser is not afraid to slander someone in his presence, whereas a backbiter spreads his calumny behind his victim’s back.
Psalm 15:3 describes the righteous man as one who will not take up a reproach against his neighbor; in other words, he will not entertain a traducer. Proverbs 17:4 describes the man who listens to someone who vilifies another as wicked:
A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue. (Proverbs 17:4)
A righteous man not only refuses to participate in such sins, he also does his best to deliver his brother from them:
The words of the wicked … lie in wait for blood: but the mouth of the upright shall deliver them. (Proverbs 12:6)
This would be true of any transgression against a brother or neighbor, not just murder. When it comes to slander or libel, it is not enough to be a passive or silent non-participant. We are duty bound to come to a brother’s defense in public, on the Internet, or in a court of law:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove [expose, NASB] them. (Ephesians 5:11)
To know the right thing to do and not to do it is sinful. (James 4:17)
Ephesians 5:11 is essentially a reiteration of Leviticus 5:1, which demands testimony of all witnesses:
Now if a person sins, after he hears a public adjuration to testify, when he is a witness, whether he has seen or otherwise known, if he does not tell it, then he will bear his guilt. (Leviticus 5:1, NASB)
This statute stipulates that a witness to any crime must testify to that crime. The Ninth Commandment not only condemns false testimony, it demands truthful testimony. To fail to intervene or testify against a crime – including slander and libel – is a juridical theorem known as misprision. In simple terms, misprision means to do nothing to effect the apprehension or conviction of a criminal:
Misprision of felony is the like concealment of felony, without giving any degree of maintenance to the felon…. Misprision of treason is the concealment of treason by being merely passive…. It is the duty of every good citizen, knowing of a treason or felony having been committed, to inform a magistrate [at the very least]. Silently to observe the commission of a felony, without using any endeavors to apprehend the offender, is a misprision. …The passive omission to do one’s duty – to stand by and make no attempt to apprehend the offender or give information to the police. The least degree of assent makes the person a principal in treason, or in felonies a principal or accessory.16
Anyone who refuses to testify to a crime is an accessory to the same crime. As a witness, you are duty bound by Leviticus 5:1 to testify, regardless of possible consequences:
YHWH, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. …He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. (Psalm 15:1-4)
A witness who, because of threats or intimidation, refuses to testify against a criminal or on behalf of an innocent person violates the Ninth Commandment. A passive or silent witness, whether in a courtroom or in public, is a false witness because he is false to the victim.
When a witness can be intimidated into not testifying, he emboldens the wicked and becomes party to the crime against the innocent. By his failure to speak out, and in some instances to intervene, he becomes a transgressor of the following Ninth Commandment statute:
Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment. (Exodus 23:1-2)
The man who fails or refuses to testify, or even to simply reprove the unrighteous, joins hands with the wicked and becomes a false witness, subject to lex talionis. In order to enforce Leviticus 5:1 (the obligation to testify), a corresponding judgment must exist. If lex talionis or a beating and today’s equivalent of a hundred shekels of silver is implemented as the judgment against those who refuse to testify, a thug or gangster’s threat would lose its potency. The witness no longer has anything to gain by refusing to testify. In fact, the odds would be in favor of the witness, especially in capital cases, in which the judgment for refusing to testify would be the forfeiture of his life for the life of the victim whom he abandons. On the other hand, if a witness does testify, the criminal will promptly be put to death – provided he is tried in a biblical court that demands a speedy and public execution of the condemned (Ecclesiastes 8:11). Yahweh’s court system has no appellate process, which usually only delays justice.
Leviticus 5:1 vs. The Fifth Amendment
Leviticus 5:1 requires a criminal to testify against himself, whereas the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution declares that a criminal cannot be compelled to do so. In effect, the Fifth Amendment sides with the criminal. American jurisprudence further dictates that no one can be compelled to testify against a spouse. This exception does not originate in the Bible. In fact, it is another transgression of Leviticus 5:1.
The Bible describes murder in terms of blood crying from the ground for justice. Certainly, Yahweh would want a wife who is privy to a murder committed by her husband to reveal his crime. Does it seem reasonable that He would prefer the wife to remain loyal to her murderous husband and allow the murder to go unpunished?
In Acts 5, the Apostle Peter required Sapphira to testify against her husband Ananias. Sapphira chose to lie, and Yahweh struck her dead as He had already struck Ananias dead when he refused to testify against himself. On the other hand, in 1 Samuel 25, righteous Abigail testified against her husband Nabal to save his and others’ lives.
The spousal exemption in American jurisprudence came, not from the Bible, but from the heretical Babylonian Talmud. In his book The Ten Commandments for Today, William Barclay comments upon Talmudic law as it pertains to this and other non-scriptural exceptions:
No relation of the man on trial is eligible to give evidence, and the disqualifying relationships are carefully listed – kinsmen, father, brother, father’s brother, mother’s brother, sister’s husband, father’s sister’s husband, mother’s sister’s husband, together with all their sons and sons-in-law. A stepson may not give evidence, but his sons can. In general, no one qualified to be the heir of the person on trial can give evidence (Sanhedrin 3.3, 4; Makkoth 1.8). Neither a friend nor an enemy can give evidence. The friend is described as one who had been the accused’s groomsman and an enemy as one who has not spoken to him for three days, because of a difference (Sanhedrin 3.5).17
This exception effectively eliminates just about everyone from testifying in courts of law. Because the Talmud is nearly always antithetical to Yahweh’s law, this should come as no surprise. What is surprising are the exceptions to Leviticus 5:1 provided by Rushdoony in The Institutes of Biblical Law:
The right to silence on the grounds of privileged communication is to a degree granted to pastors and doctors. The presupposition in both cases is the same. The statements or confessions made by a person to his pastor or doctor in the course of a formal or professional relationship are privileged communications, because the person in question is in effect confessing to God in the form of a ministering agent. Both doctor and pastor are concerned with health, the one with physical and the other with spiritual health. Salvation literally means health. The religious nature of a doctor’s calling is a deeply rooted one. Doctors were formerly monks, and hospitals until fairly recently were entirely and exclusively Christian institutions. The modern divorce of both pastor and doctor from Biblical faith does not alter the essential nature of their calling. Privileged communication rests on the presupposition of the religious function of pastor and doctor as God’s servants in the ministry of health. A person’s relationship to them is thus not the property of the human agent but of God. This does not deny the duty of pastor and doctor to urge a person to make restitution where restitution is due, or to urge confession where confession is due. It is their duty to uphold the law of God by urging compliance with it of all who come to them, but they cannot go beyond that fact of counsel.18
I do not know the source of Rushdoony’s “privileged communication,” but it did not come from Yahweh’s law. The Catholic Church’s Seal of Confession or Seal of Secrecy demands the same protection for their priests:
In the “Decretum” of the Gratian … we find … the following declaration of the law as to the seal of confession: “Deponatur sacerdos qui peccata p nitentis pulicare praesumit.”, i.e., “Let the priest who dares to make known the sins of his penitent be deposed.”19
Under Yahweh’s law, the spouse, priest, pastor, or doctor who helps conceal a crime by refusing to testify against a criminal should face either the judgment of lex talionis or today’s equivalent of one hundred shekels of silver and a public beating.
Rushdoony also taught that attorneys are exempt from Leviticus 5:1:
...conferences with one’s attorney are privileged communications, since the attorney serves as the defendant’s agent and representative in court. To compel an attorney’s testimony is to deny the defendant his liberty and privacy.20
Nowhere does the Bible provide for attorney privileges. Defense attorneys who know their clients are guilty routinely cover up the crimes and get their clients acquitted despite their guilt. Such attorneys are guilty of transgressing Leviticus 5:1 and are thereby accomplices to the crimes of their clients. Consequently, they should be prosecuted and punished according to lex talionis.
Privileged communication does not originate with the laws of Yahweh; it is a form of Pharisaism, and it predominates our modern constitutional courts.
Two Forms of Defamation
Defamation comes in two forms: slander, which is verbal, and libel, which is written. Today’s media libels with impunity under the guise of freedom of speech and freedom of the press:
By the twentieth century, in America as in Europe, the ideal social order and civil government was believed to be one which was dedicated to liberty, one which made basic to its purpose freedom of religion, speech, and press. But a society which makes freedom its primary goal will lose it, because it has made, not responsibility, but freedom from responsibility, its purpose. When freedom is the basic emphasis, it is not responsible speech which is fostered but irresponsible speech. If freedom of press is absolutized, libel will be defended finally as a privilege of freedom, and if free speech is absolutized, slander finally becomes a right. Religious liberty becomes the triumph of irreligion. Tyranny and anarchy take over. Freedom of speech, press, and religion all give way to controls, totalitarian controls. The goal must be God’s law-order, in which alone is true liberty.21
True liberty is found only in Yahweh’s law of liberty:
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. (James 1:25)
James was not describing some alleged New Covenant law that freed everyone to do whatever they wish. That kind of freedom is nothing more than humanism, which eventually leads to anarchism, one of the quickest paths to legal slavery. Instead, James described the same perfect law of liberty – Yahweh’s commandments, statutes, and judgments – as King David did:
The law of YHWH is perfect, converting the soul…. (Psalm 19:7)
So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty…. (Psalm 119:44-45)
Forgiveness, or liberty from our personal sins, is gained through Yeshua’s blood-atoning sacrifice on the cross and resurrection from the grave.22 All other liberty is found in the implementation and enforcement of Yahweh’s perfect laws of liberty – not in the hollow promises of a man-made document. In other words, Yahweh’s grace on the personal level and Yahweh’s law on the community level are our only means to true freedom. When either of these is abused, freedom (including freedom of speech and press) is also abused.
Yahweh hates a false witness for many reasons, including the following:
A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow. (Proverbs 25:18)
A rascally witness makes a mockery of justice…. (Proverbs 19:28, NASB)
We should hate false accusers as well:
A righteous man hateth lying…. (Proverbs 13:5)
Without the Ninth Commandment, enforced by lex talionis, we will never have justice in our courts, and defamation will continue largely unchecked.
Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment: Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause…. Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause. Keep thee far from a false matter…. And thou shalt take no gift [bribe, NASB]: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous. (Exodus 23:1-8)
Ronald Knox rendered verse 8, “they blind even the prudent,” and James Moffett translated it, “a bribe blinds even men whose eyes are open.” In other words, a bribe blinds the eyes of those who know better. King Solomon explained that a bribe affects the heart of a man:
Surely oppression maketh a wise man mad; and a gift destroyeth [corrupts, NASB] the heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:7)
Put simply, bribery perverts righteous judgment:
A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom to pervert the ways of judgment [justice, NASB]. (Proverbs 17:23)
Woe unto them … which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! (Isaiah 5:22-23)
Rushdoony commented upon the effect of a bribe on a judge:
The judge thus must be blind to the persons in the case, and must see the issues involved. A bribe reverses this order, and the judge is then blind to the issues and sees only the persons.23
Rather than placing emphasis on the judge or witness, The Jerusalem Bible emphasizes the victim of bribery:
You must not accept a bribe, for a bribe … is the ruin of the just man’s cause. (Exodus 23:8)
A righteous man is impervious to bribes; he hates a bribe just as he hates all unrighteousness:
He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts [bribes, NASB] shall live. (Proverbs 15:27)
Conviction vs. Preference
Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. (Deuteronomy 16:19)
In this verse, the “righteous” man is a man with righteous preferences, as opposed to a man of righteous convictions. Although a man of conviction can be tempted, he cannot be bought. It is important to understand this distinction. Only a man of conviction will remain righteous under temptation and persecution. A man of preference who possesses few, if any, convictions will seldom stand fast. Preferences are determined by expedience; convictions are determined by one’s love for Yahweh and Yahweh’s moral laws.
Judas Iscariot was likely a man who often exhibited good preferences. But he was not a man of conviction. He not only accepted the chief priests’ bribe, he initiated it:
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:14-15)
Christians should be diligent to cultivate convictions instead of mere preferences. Only the former will help a man remain true to God through the worst of times (Matthew 24:13).
Bribes are not limited to the judicial arena. America’s congressmen are guilty of taking bribes whenever they accept, prosper by, and are influenced by the gifts of special interest groups:
The king by judgment [justice, NASB] establisheth the land: but he that receiveth gifts overthroweth it. (Proverbs 29:4)
Many of these same congressmen clamor about reforming the laws regarding such bribes, while enriching themselves by taking gifts, accepting vacations at expensive resorts, and pocketing favors from special interest groups. That these hypocrites feign endorsement for reform laws while continuing to take bribes demonstrates what scoundrels they really are.
With the foregoing in mind, we can see Exodus 23:8 was written not so much to benefit the righteous man, but rather to keep a man of good preferences from going bad.
Judgment for Bribery
When bribery contributes to unjust judicial decisions, the judge becomes an accomplice with the false witness. Bribery, therefore, demands the same judgment as for any false testimony:
…if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Deuteronomy 19:18-21)
In a capital case, a judge or witness who aids in perverting justice by taking a bribe should be put to death, as per lex talionis. Any judge convicted of taking a bribe in a non-capital case would, of course, immediately be removed from his bench, in addition to any other judgment required. One of the qualifications for a judge – provided in Exodus 18:20-22, 2 Chronicles 19:5-7, 1 Timothy 3:1-3, and Titus 1:5-7 – is a hatred of covetousness or filthy lucre by which he might be bribed. Many judges would be out of a job if this were a requirement in the United States judicial system.
Only the Bribed
Rushdoony alleges that only the person receiving the bribe is to be punished:
Very plainly, Scripture condemns the taking of bribes…. On the other hand, Biblical law has no penalties for offering bribes. This is a point which troubles many Christians. The fact is, however, that Scripture sees the problem very realistically…. First, the bribe is normally solicited by the official in power. It is the standard means of doing business with him….
In most instances, to punish the one who bribes is somewhat analogous to punishing a rape victim rather than the rapist. True, the briber is not always under a like coercion, but often the coercion is very real, so that bribery comes close to being a form of theft. It involves a monetary theft, and also a theft of justice…. Bribery must be condemned, but in terms of Scripture.24
Because man is a sinner, even the most godly of judges will be fallible and erring, but, by virtue of his faith, will be guided by the law-word of God and His Holy Spirit. The ungodly judge, having no such standard, will naturally be partisan: he will represent a faction or class. For him to accept a bribe is thus logical, however evil: he is there to represent human power, not the law of God and His righteousness. Thus, in terms of Biblical law, while it is a crime for a judge to accept a bribe, it is not a crime for a man to bribe a judge.25
Rushdoony’s reasoning is compelling – but is it scriptural? Let us begin with the fact that the law only addresses the bribed. Could this be because, without the complicity of the person being bribed, the briber alone cannot accomplish his intended subornation? Neither party is guilty of any crime without the complicity of the other. However, once the crime is committed, the briber becomes an accomplice to the one who takes the bribe. Yahweh focused on the person who consummates the sin. Once consummated, both briber and bribed should be prosecuted according to lex talionis.
Rushdoony compared punishing a briber to punishing a rape victim. This is a poor analogy because a rape victim is always the one upon whom the crime is initiated, whereas a briber, particularly in criminal court cases, often initiates the crime to his own advantage. Also, it must not be overlooked that in instances where a rape victim does not resist the rapist, she is punished right along with her assailant (Deuteronomy 23:23-27).
Much more appropriate is the analogy of a briber in comparison to a person who hires someone to commit murder. Although Deuteronomy 27:25 condemns the hired killer, nowhere does it specifically condemn the person who initiates the contract. We know, however, that without the contractor – who is at the very least a murderer in his heart, and thus just as culpable in Yahweh’s sight, according to Matthew 5:21-22 and 1 John 3:15 – the crime would never be contemplated, let alone carried out. It is doubtful Rushdoony would have provided the same clemency to those who contract for murder as he does for those who contract through bribery. Yahweh held David just as culpable for Uriah’s murder, if not more so, than He did Joab who carried otu the crime (2 Samuel 12:1-12), and He also certainly held the chief priests just as liable for the bribery that led to Yeshua’s death as He did Judas Iscariot (Matthew 26:14-15).
When Rushdoony exempted any person initiating a bribe, he was operating from a flawed paradigm. He attempted to apply Yahweh’s laws to man-made surrogate governments, even though doing so inevitably produces less than desirable results. This is why Christians should never be satisfied with anything less than total dominion in all areas of society, particularly in government. Christian dominion can only be accomplished when government is in the hands of the righteous and based solely upon Yahweh’s perfect laws (Psalm 19:7).
The Bible does not sanction an open-ended allowance for bribers, but it does sanction righteous bribery, much the same as it does righteous lying (which will be discussed later).
The word “gift” in Exodus 23:8 and Deuteronomy 16:19 is translated from the Hebrew word shachad. Shachad is used in the Old Testament exclusively for bribes, including the following two proverbs that endorse bribery:
A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth, it prospereth. (Proverbs 17:8)
A gift in secret pacifieth anger: and a reward in the bosom strong wrath. (Proverbs 21:14)
Jacob’s bribery of Esau in Genesis 32:13-21 is one example of righteous bribery. Had Jacob not bribed Esau, Esau may have murdered Jacob, his wives, children, and servants. Jacob’s bribe pacified Esau’s anger.
Can a bribe be acceptable even in a court of law?
Exodus 23:8 forbids the judge’s acceptance of a bribe. A bribe perverts the wise and righteous person. Thus, the judge who is righteous is characterized in part by his refusal to accept a bribe….
But what of the unrighteous judge who rules in a corrupt society? What can righteous people do about him? If a righteous person is brought before an unrighteous judge or an unrighteous court, how does he gain righteous judgment? What if he is a stranger in some society that expects bribes from those seeking justice? ...to make such payments is to subsidize evil – corrupt officials – to some degree. On the other hand, to allow corrupt officials to continue to make personally profitable but socially bad decisions is also to subsidize evil to some degree. Wouldn’t it be better to have a bribe-seeking public official profit from a good decision rather than from a bad decision? The question then arises: Are righteous people allowed to pay bribes, even though officials [under Yahweh’s government] are forbidden by the Bible to receive them?
Contrary to most people’s expectations, the Bible says yes. The Bible recognizes that in order to gain legitimate goals in life, righteous people are allowed to pay bribes to corrupt officials. In the same way that a bribe to a righteous judge is designed to twist righteous justice, a bribe to an unrighteous judge is designed to straighten out unrighteous judgments….
[In Proverbs 17:8, Solomon] … had in mind a judge, someone who has the power “to pervert the ways of judgment.” Solomon was not talking about gifts of friendship; he was talking about gifts to produce favorable judgments. …He seems to have had in mind the righteous bribe – a gift to an unrighteous judge from a righteous person in order to gain righteous judgment.26
Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language’s and Bouvier’s Law Dictionary’s definitions attest to the difference between righteous and unrighteous bribery:
To give or promise a reward or consideration, with a view to pervert the judgment, or corrupt the conduct. To hire for bad purposes; to purchase the decision of a judge, the testimony of a witness, or the performance of some act contrary to known truth, justice or rectitude.27
The receiving or offering any undue reward by or to any person whomsoever, whose ordinary profession or business relates to the administration of public justice, in order to influence his behavior in office, and to incline him to act contrary to his duty and the known rules of honesty and integrity….28
In other words, bribery is unlawful except when it protects yourself, your loved ones, or your neighbors from an ungodly, tyrannical government or someone else who intends harm. In short, if you look at a bribe as a payment for a commodity, you can judge the righteousness or unrighteousness of the bribe by what it is purchasing. If it purchases injustice in what is considered a righteous setting, it is unrighteous bribery. However, if it purchases justice in what otherwise is an unrighteous setting, it is righteous.
Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am YHWH. (Leviticus 19:16)
In the New American Standard Bible, “talebearer” is translated “slanderer.” Today’s English Version reads: “Do not speak lies about anyone.”
The serious nature of this sin is demonstrated by the numerous instances in which Yahweh chose to address it in His Word. Following are but a few of those instances:
But unto the wicked God saith, … Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother’s son. These things hast thou done … but I will reprove thee.... (Psalm 50:16-21)
He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool. In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. (Proverbs 19:18-19)
King David did not tolerate such wicked behavior:
Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer…. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight. (Psalm 101:5-7)
In Proverbs 4:23-24, King Solomon admonished his readers to “keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” He immediately followed this with “put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.” Out of the heart proceeds either life or death, both of which are often expressed by a person’s words:
…out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matthew 12:34-37)
The Apostle Paul and James, the brother of Yeshua, issued similar warnings:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers…. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice…. (Ephesians 4:29-31)
…If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. …the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. …the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. (James 3:2-10)
Paul particularly warned women concerning this sin. He admonished older women against slandering and younger women against the related sins of gossiping and meddling:
Even so must their [the elder’s] wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. (1 Timothy 3:11)
And withal they [the younger women] learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers [gossips, NASB] also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. (1 Timothy 5:13)
The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things. (Titus 2:3)
Paul, presumably, was inspired to focus on women in these verses because of their emotional makeup, which perhaps makes them more susceptible to this particular sin. However, men are certainly not immune to committing slander.
The word “devil” is translated from the Greek word diabolos, the same word from which “slanderers” and “false accusers” are translated in 1 Timothy 3:11 and Titus 2:3. Puritan preacher and author, Thomas Watson concurred:
He that raises a slander, carries the devil in his tongue and he that receives it, carries the devil in his ear.29
The second half of Watson’s warning reminds us that the person who intentionally listens to slander is just as guilty as the slanderer. Without a willing listener, the slanderer has nowhere to ply his trade.
Backbiting and Gossiping
Backbiting and gossip, sister sins to slander and libel, are likewise condemned by the Ninth Commandment:
An ungodly man diggeth up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire. A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief [intimate, NASB] friends. (Proverbs 16:27-28)
It is an honour for a man to cease from strife: but every fool will be meddling…. He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips [do not associate with a gossip, NASB]. (Proverbs 20:3, 19)
Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife. (Proverbs 26:20-21)
Without the gossiper, the slanderer can have little or no impact. He must first have someone who will hear his calumny and repeat it to others. In Romans 1, Paul identifies gossipers in company with sodomites and haters of God and depicts them as having reprobate minds. The Apostle Peter associates them with murderers and thieves:
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody [troublesome meddler, NASB] in other men’s matters. (1 Peter 4:15)
In Proverbs 22:1, Solomon wrote that “a good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” It is better to steal a man’s possessions than to rob him of his good name. Whereas riches can be reimbursed, a man’s good name can never be completely restored so long as a lie continues to circulate – and with the advent of the Internet, circulation has endless potential.
Words can effect tremendous good, or they can cause untold damage. Solomon compared malevolent words to clubs, razors, and swords. Augustine wrote, “The tongue inflicts greater wounds than a sword.”30 An Old Testament Commentary for English Readers provides the following comments on Leviticus 19:16:
…slander ... kills three persons with one act, the person who slanders, the person who is slandered, and the person who listens to the slander.31
Responses to Slanderers
Christians cannot live in fear of what others have said or might say, lest we allow another person’s lies to control our actions. Yahweh admonished the Prophet Ezekiel not to fear his adversaries’ words:
And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear…. (Ezekiel 2:6-7)
Solomon provided two simple safeguards to prevent us from participating in slander:
Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another. (Proverbs 25:9)
Yeshua likewise commanded us:
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. (Matthew 18:15)
It is, of course, much easier to tell someone else a brother’s fault than to tell the brother himself – especially if you have fabricated his sin.
Proverbs 25 provides one response to someone who comes to us defaming another:
The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue. (Proverbs 25:23)
If you are not courageous enough to verbally rebuke a backbiting slanderer, the very least you can do is summon the dirtiest look you can muster and walk away. If your rejection does not cause him to reconsider his calumny, it will at least discourage him from spreading further lies to you.
On the other hand, what should be our response if we are on the receiving end of slander – especially since little civil recourse currently exists? Following are six suggestions to anyone being defamed:
First, bear in mind that you are in good company. Nearly all of Yahweh’s servants were lied about: David, Jeremiah, and the Apostles, to name just a few. John the Immerser was accused of having a devil, and Yeshua Himself was slandered countless times. Yeshua informed His disciples to expect the same treatment:
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. …The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you…. (John 15:18-20)
Second, if you are slandered because you are a Christian, rejoice that you have been counted worthy to suffer shame for Christ’s name:
If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye…. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. (1 Peter 4:14-16)
…when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. (Acts 5:40-42)
Third, do not lower yourself to the level of your slanderers; do not return evil for evil. Heed Solomon’s advice in Proverbs 26:
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. (Proverbs 26:4)
Slanderers are usually “tar babies,” like the one in the children’s story about Brer Rabbit. The less you have to do with them, the less tar will stick to you (Proverbs 9:7). When you defend yourself to a slanderer, he will often twist your defense and attempt to rend you asunder (Matthew 7:6). It is worth noting that Yeshua did not respond to His accusers’ slander when He was before Pontius Pilot.
Fourth, let the way you live your life prove your defamer is a liar:
Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless [innocent, NASB], the sons of God, without rebuke [above reproach], in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation [generation], among whom ye shine as lights in the world. (Philippians 2:14-15)
For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. (1 Peter 2:15)
Fifth, remain open to whatever lessons Yahweh may be teaching you. This was the approach King David took when he was reviled by Shimei. When Abishai wanted to remove Shimei’s head, David refused:
And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because YHWH hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so? ...Let him alone, and let him curse; for YHWH hath bidden him. It may be that YHWH will look on mine affliction, and that YHWH will requite me good for his cursing this day. (2 Samuel 16:10-12)
Sixth, do not back down or back off from the work Yahweh has given you. Nehemiah provides an example of continuing the work of Yahweh no matter what His enemies contrived. Nehemiah’s enemies tried everything at their disposal, including slander and character defamation, in an attempt to destroy his good work. Nehemiah would have none of it, and Yahweh’s work continued at record speed.
Immerse yourself in the work of God, and a slanderer’s efforts to defame you – successful or otherwise – will become insignificant in light of building Yahweh’s Kingdom.
Lastly, keep in mind Thomas Watson’s noteworthy encouragement:
A good conscience is a wall of brass that will be able to stand against a false witness. As no flattery can heal a bad conscience, so no slander can hurt a good.32
Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another. (Leviticus 19:11)
If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.33
The sin of lying, which is at the root of all other Ninth Commandment violations, rivals slander (and its related sins of libel, backbiting, gossiping, etc.) in the number of times it is mentioned in the Bible.
An Acceptable Abomination
Lying may be acceptable to modern society, but it is certainly not acceptable to Yahweh:
The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment…. Lying lips are abomination to YHWH: but they that deal truly are his delight. (Proverbs 12:19, 22)
Lying is not only unacceptable to Yahweh, it is abominable. Ananias and Sapphira’s sudden deaths in Acts 5 are proof that He loathes lying. Yahweh inspired the use of the Hebrew word towebah, translated “abomination” in Proverbs 12:22, to describe His abhorrence of idolatry, child sacrifice, witchcraft, and sodomy. Sadly, few Christians look upon lying with the same gravity as they do these other abominations. Lying has become an accepted practice, even by many Christians. On the other hand, a truly righteous man hates lying as much as does Yahweh (Proverbs 13:5).
New Testament Scriptures are just as critical of liars:
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another…. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:25-30)
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him. (Colossians 3:9-10)
If you are the same liar you were before becoming a Christian, you either were never truly born from above,34 or you are quenching the Holy Spirit.
Behold, he [the wicked] travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood. He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. (Psalm 7:14-15)
Ironically, most people seem to believe the best way to get themselves out of the hole they have dug by their lies is to tell more lies. Telling more lies only exacerbates the problem and entrenches people deeper in their self-made ditches. Just as repetition can never turn a lie into the truth, neither can more lies remedy former lies.
To get out of the hole you have dug, you cannot continue doing the very thing that got you into the hole in the first place. To get out, you must confess your lies and tell the truth:
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another…. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (James 5:16)
Flattery, a form of lying, consists of insincere compliments or praise designed to gain some benefit or advantage. It is deceit with self-serving objectives:
The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords. (Psalm 55:21)
He who hates disguises it with his lips, but he lays up deceit in his heart. When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart. Though his hatred covers itself with guile, his wickedness will be revealed before the assembly. He who digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him. A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin. (Proverbs 26:24-28, NASB)
…ungodly sinners.… These are … flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage. (Jude 1:15-16, NASB)
Some people even attempt to flatter Yahweh:
And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. (Psalm 78:35-36)
In other words, they call Him, “Lord, Lord” but do not the things He commands (Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46-49).
Intentional false teachers are described as both liars and flatterers:
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches [smooth and flattering speech, NASB] deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18)
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
Such preachers exist only because many people prefer lies to the truth:
A wonderful [appalling, NASB] and horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? (Jeremiah 5:30-31)
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame. (Proverbs 13:5)
The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth…. (Zephaniah 3:13)
Among other things, Yahweh’s remnant is depicted as people who do not lie or practice deceit. Truth is paramount to them. It has been said that “everyone wishes to have truth on his side, but not everyone wishes to be on the side of truth.” The righteous man strives for both.
Only One Lie
Why did Solomon write in Proverbs 19:22 that “a poor man is better than a liar?” The answer is found in Proverbs 22:
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. (Proverbs 22:1)
It only takes one lie to cast suspicion and aspersion on your name. French novelist Jean Giraudoux wrote, “You know what it’s like when you find out a friend is a liar? Whatever he says after that sounds false, however true it may be.”35
Liars somehow think they can find refuge in their prevarication, but Yahweh puts an end to this self-deception:
Wherefore hear the word of YHWH, ye scornful men…. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell [sheol] are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: Therefore thus saith YHWH God…. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. (Isaiah 28:14-17)
Yahweh demonstrates His abhorrence of lying not only by associating it with witchcraft, child sacrifice, sodomy, etc., but also by its ultimate judgment:
And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold … I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. (Revelation 21:5-8)
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Revelation 22:14-15)
The Ninth Commandment requires what is just and proper in our personal relationships, particularly verbally. The Apostle Paul sums up this Commandment in his epistle to the Ephesians:
Let no corrupt communication [harmful words, TEV] proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)
Paul instructed us in both the negative and positive aspects of the Ninth Commandment. We should not speak untruths but instead build up one another.
Vows, Oaths, and Our Every Word
…This is the thing which YHWH hath commanded. If a man vow a vow unto YHWH, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth. (Numbers 30:1-2)
Vows and Oaths
Vows (nadar') are made to Yahweh, whereas oaths (shebuw'ah) are made in the name of Yahweh. To fail to fulfill either one is to break both the Third36 and Ninth Commandments.
Regrettably, many Christians often make vows and oaths, give their word, and enter into agreements and contracts lightly. The leaders of Israel and their military commander Joshua, however, understood the gravity of keeping their word, as required in Leviticus 5:4, even when the other party entered the pact with disingenuous motives. When the Israelites discovered that the Gibeonites had lied about their identity, Joshua and the other elders still refused to go back on their word:
[The rulers of Israel] … asked not counsel at the mouth of YHWH. And Joshua made peace with them [the Gibeonites], and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. And it came to pass at the end of three days … that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them…. And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by YHWH God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes. But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by YHWH God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them. This we will do to them; we will even let them live, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we sware unto them. (Joshua 9:14-20).
In Judges 11, Jephthah vowed that if Yahweh would give him victory over the Ammonites he would sacrifice to Yahweh whatever first met him when he returned home. Even when his only daughter was the first to meet him, he remained true to his vow and kept her a virgin the rest of her life. In 1 Samuel 1, Hannah also remained true to her vow to dedicate Samuel, her only offspring at the time, to Yahweh. King David summed up this kind of integrity:
YHWH, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. …He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. …He that doeth these things shall never be moved. (Psalm 15:1-5)
Matthew 5 and James 5
Who shall ascend into the hill of YHWH? Or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. (Psalm 24:3-4)
Although the Bible warns us several times that it is better not to vow than to vow and break your word, Yahweh does not condemn vowing or swearing oaths. In court cases (Exodus 22:11, Leviticus 5:1, 2 Chronicles 6:22), swearing an oath is required procedure. How, then, can Numbers 30:2 be reconciled with Matthew 5:33-37 and James 5:12?
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I [Yeshua] say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. (Matthew 5:33-37)
But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. (James 5:12)
Did Yeshua change Yahweh’s moral laws? Did Yahweh alter His morality? Did His laws become evil? Consider carefully the implications of answering any of these questions affirmatively. If Yahweh’s morality has changed, then Yahweh Himself has changed – which would make Him a liar when He declared, “I am YHWH, I change not….” (Malachi 3:6).
Yahweh’s morality is constant and, therefore, reliable. What was forbidden under the Old Covenant commandments and statutes remains forbidden under the New Covenant, and what was commanded or permissible under the Old Covenant remains so under the New Covenant. The nature and consequences of murder are the same after the Cross as they were before the Cross. The same is true of the Ninth Commandment statute found in Numbers 30:2. Otherwise Yahweh would be no more reliable than unregenerate man. Moreover, if Yeshua had changed Yahweh’s moral laws, He would have done so while living under the jurisdiction of the Mosaic Covenant – an act tantamount to breaking the very laws He came to fulfill:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. (Matthew 5:17)
Because sin is a transgression of Yahweh’s moral laws (1 John 3:4), had Yeshua altered Yahweh’s laws, it would have been impossible for Him to be our sinless substitution and Savior (1 John 3:4).
Many people attempt to use Yeshua’s statements regarding the woman caught in adultery in John 8 and His declaration regarding usury in Luke 19 as proof that He changed Yahweh’s laws. However, when these passages are properly interpreted, they demonstrate that Yeshua upheld His Father’s moral laws perfectly.37
Whether we can reconcile Yeshua’s statement in Matthew 5 with Yahweh’s law on vows, one thing is certain: Yeshua did not change the morality of Yahweh. If we claim Yeshua as our Savior, we must work from this paradigm. And if we cannot reconcile Yeshua’s statements with Yahweh’s law, we must believe that Yahweh and Yeshua have reconciled them.
Albert Barnes’ comments on Matthew 5:33-37 are excellent:
It appears … from this passage … that while the Jews [Judahites] professedly adhered to the law, they had introduced a number of oaths in common conversation, and oaths which they by no means considered to be binding. For example, they would swear by the temple, by the head, by heaven, by the earth. So long as they kept from swearing by the name Yahweh, and so long as they observed the oaths publicly taken, they seemed to consider all others as allowable, and allowedly broken. This is the abuse which Christ wished to correct. “It was the practice of swearing in common conversation, and especially swearing by created things.” To do this, he [Yeshua] said that they were mistaken in their views of the sacredness of such oaths. They were closely connected with God; and to trifle with them was a species of trifling with God. Heaven is his throne; the earth his footstool. Jerusalem his special abode; the head was made by him, and was so much under his control that we could not make one hair white or black. To swear by these things, therefore, was to treat irreverently objects created by God, and could not be without guilt. It is remarkable that the sin here condemned by the Saviour prevails still in Palestine in the same form and manner referred to here. Dr. Thomson (The Land and the Book, vol. ii, p. 284) says, “The people now use the very same sort of oaths that are mentioned and condemned by our Lord. They swear by the head, by their life, by heaven, and by the temple, or what is in its place, the church. The forms of cursing and swearing, however, are almost infinite, and fall on the pained ear all day long.”
Our Saviour here evidently had no reference to judicial oaths, or oaths taken in a court of justice. It was merely the foolish and wicked habit of swearing in private conversation; of swearing on every occasion and by everything that he condemned. This he does condemn in the most unqualified manner. He himself, however, did not refuse to take an oath in a court of law, Matt 26:63-64. So Paul often called God to witness his sincerity, which is all that is meant by an oath. See Rom 1:9; 9:1; Gal 1:20; Heb 6:16. Oaths were, moreover, prescribed in the law of Moses, and Christ did not come to repeal those laws. See Ex 22:11; Lev 5:1; Num 5:19; Deut 29:12, 14.38
Yeshua did not abrogate oaths, vows, or swearing when used in accordance with Yahweh’s laws. Instead, He condemned the Pharisaical abuse of those laws:
The trifling use of the oath was forbidden by Christ in Matthew 5:33-37, whose words had a partial reference to Numbers 30:7. False swearing was already banned in the law; Christ made clear that the oath or vow was not to be used for private purposes except on such serious occasions as the lawful intended use allowed. The cheap recourse to vows to prop up one’s word, however true, was forbidden.39
Not only does Exodus 22:11 require swearing an oath, but Yahweh’s law actually commands us to swear by His name:
Thou shalt fear YHWH thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. (Deuteronomy 6:13)
In Genesis 24:3, this is precisely what Abraham required of his servant prior to sending him in search of a wife for Isaac. Such swearing is lawful and even encouraged. However, before doing so, we should first count the cost and be absolutely committed to fulfilling any oath we make in Yahweh’s name. To do otherwise, could incur judgment from Yahweh.
When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5)
If a woman also vow a vow unto YHWH, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father’s house in her youth; and her father hear her vow, and her bond wherewith she hath bound her soul, and her father shall hold his peace at her: then all her vows shall stand, and every bond wherewith she hath bound her soul shall stand. But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds … shall stand: and YHWH shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her. And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or uttered ought out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul; and her husband heard it, and held his peace at her in the day that he heard it: then her vows shall stand, and her bonds wherewith she bound her soul shall stand. But if her husband disallowed her on the day that he heard it; then he shall make her vow which she vowed … wherewith she bound her soul, of none effect: and YHWH shall forgive her. But every vow of a widow, and of her that is divorced [having no male covering], wherewith they have bound their souls, shall stand against her…. But if her husband hath utterly made them void on the day he heard them; then whatsoever proceeded out of her lips concerning her vows, or concerning the bond of her soul, shall not stand: her husband hath made them void; and YHWH shall forgive her. Every vow, and every binding oath to afflict the soul, her husband may establish it, or her husband may make it void. But if her husband altogether hold his peace at her from day to day; then he establisheth all her vows, or all her bonds, which are upon her: he confirmeth them, because he held his peace at her in the day that he heard them. But if he shall any ways make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity. (Numbers 30:3-15)
The consequence of transgressing this statute is in evidence as far back as the garden of Eden, when Eve partook of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil without her husband’s permission and when Adam, after discovering her sin, did not disavow what she had done but instead participated in the same sin.
In Her Youth
Because Yahweh’s order is patriarchal, He has placed women under the authority – the coverture or protection – of a father or a husband whenever possible. In the absence of a husband, unwed daughters (with the exception of those widowed or divorced and living elsewhere) are covered by their fathers regardless of age.
Let me propose two possible interpretations for the potentially problematic phrase “in her father’s house in her youth” in Numbers 30:3. This phrase was probably included because most women in biblical times would have married at a relatively early age. Therefore, the phrase represents the majority, but it does not exclude those who were not married until an older age or not at all, or those widowed and divorced who returned to live under the covering of their fathers.
The second option is that “in her youth” is an idiom referring to any unmarried daughter living under her father’s roof. Regardless of her age, an unmarried daughter is under the authority of her father, just as her mother is. The same would also apply to sons living under the same roof.
A wife, regardless of her age, is always under the authority of her husband. Why would it be different for a grown daughter living under her father’s roof? This would be an inequity that would certainly foster discord in the home.
In principle, this authority extends to any wife, daughter, or underage son who leaves home without a husband’s or father’s blessing. An unauthorized departure by a wife, daughter, or underage son may physically remove them from their covering and protection, but in principle, such rebellion does not exempt their subordination to their covering, any more than a man’s rebellion exempts him from his subordination to Yahweh. The authority given to fathers and husbands comes from Yahweh and is, thus, an extension of Yahweh’s authority. Any rebellion against fathers or husbands is rebellion against Yahweh Himself.
Exodus 22 demonstrates that age is not a factor for unwed daughters:
And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins. (Exodus 22:16-17)
Fathers have the ultimate authority over a defiled virgin daughter. If a father refuses to allow the marriage of his daughter to the man who defiled her, the daughter, regardless of her age, is to return to the authority of her father.
Numbers 30 requires the active role of husbands and fathers in the lives of their wives and children. Yahweh’s patriarchal plan does not allow for absentee husbands or fathers. Only a derelict husband or father would declare that the affairs of his wife or children are none of his business. Yahweh made it a man’s business, and therefore men are ultimately responsible for any and all decisions, vows, and oaths made by those in their care or under their authority.
Not only are we commanded in Numbers 30:1-2 to fulfill everything we vow or swear to, we are to heed every word that proceeds from our mouths. The average person today, Christians included, has little regard for keeping his word.
Scripture reveals that people who cannot be trusted to keep their word in the smallest of matters are unlikely to be trustworthy in weightier matters:
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. (Luke 16:10)
From a long-range perspective, the smallest matters bear the greatest weight in establishing a track record and proving trustworthiness for greater tasks. In other words, it is often the little things that matter most.
…For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (Matthew 12:34-37)
This reveals a serious problem among Christians, whose word, vows, oaths, and agreements ought to be as good as gold. Solomon does not mince words:
Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? There is more hope of a fool than of him. (Proverbs 29:20)
Praise Yahweh for His grace and mercy because none of us are able to keep His word perfectly. Nonetheless, perfection should be our goal.
Your Word, Your Bond
Numbers 30:2 declares, “If a man … swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word….” This is where the saying “his word is his bond” originated. Such a person’s word is so reliable and so honorable that he does not need to guarantee it with anything more than his word:
…let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. (Matthew 5:37)
This statement should characterize everyone who claims to be a Christian. Our word, without any additional guarantees, should be so dependable that if we fail to arrive at an appointment at the designated time, the most likely conclusion should be that we were injured or killed en route.
It is a double standard to point an accusatory finger at politicians who fail to keep their word when ours is no better.
Your Word, Your Reputation, Your Name
This is no trivial matter. Our word is a reflection of our character, our character determines our reputation, and our reputation – good or bad – reflects upon our name. Solomon commented on the immeasurable worth of a good name:
A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches…. (Proverbs 22:1)
If you wish to have a good name, begin by making your word your bond in even the smallest of matters. Anything less is a transgression of the Ninth Commandment, as described in Numbers 30:2. Yahweh delights in the person whose word is his bond:
Lying lips are abomination to YHWH: but they that deal truly are his delight. (Proverbs 12:22)
In Yeshua’s Name
Someone might argue that Numbers 30 is describing a man or woman who takes a vow or an oath specifically in the name of Yahweh. This is a good point if you are not a Christian:
…whatsoever ye [Christians] do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. (Colossians 3:17)
If we claim to be Christians, everything we do is done in Yeshua’s name. Everything we do and say represents the King whose name we wear and whose ambassadors we are. Consequently, a case could be made that every time we are not true to our word, we transgress not only the Ninth Commandment, but the Third Commandment40 as well:
And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am YHWH. (Leviticus 19:12)
Strong’s Concordance provides the following definition for the Hebrew word chalal, translated “profane”:
…a primitive root … properly, to bore, i.e. (by implication) to wound, to dissolve; figuratively, to profane (a person, place or thing), to break (one’s word)….41
Jerome, the 5th-century Christian apologist and translator of the Latin Vulgate, is quoted as saying, “Consider your every word an oath.” More than that, we should consider our every word an oath in Yahweh’s or Yeshua’s name.
When thou shalt vow a vow unto YHWH thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for YHWH thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto YHWH thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth. (Deuteronomy 23:21-23)
Most Christians believe a lie is a lie no matter how one attempts to dress it up, but this is not always true. There are lies – serious, bold, intentional prevarications – that do not violate the Ninth or any other Commandment. The Bible differentiates between lies that are Ninth Commandment infractions and those that are not.
Yahweh describes Ninth Commandment transgressions as bearing false witness against your neighbor. In other words, the Ninth Commandment forbids doing your neighbor harm in what you say or write. Sheqer, the Hebrew word translated “false” in the Ninth Commandment, is defined in the Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon:
a lie, a deception, a disappointment, a falsehood a) a deception (what deceives or disappoints or betrays one) b) deceit, fraud, wrong; fraudulently, wrongfully (as adverb) c) falsehood (injurious in testimony); testify falsehood, false oath, swear falsely d) falsity (of false or self-deceived prophets) e) a lie, a falsehood (in general); a false tongue.42
Note particularly the phrase “betrays one.” Ephesians 4:29 condemns evil and harmful words, but not all falsehoods are evil and harmful and not all falsehoods betray. Some falsehoods, in fact, accomplish precisely the opposite.
The Bible provides many examples of people lying to protect their own lives or the lives of others. These people were not condemned, and, in some instances, they were even commended and blessed by Yahweh.
Abraham and Isaac
And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee. (Genesis 12:11-13)
And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. (Genesis 20:2)
And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon. (Genesis 26:6-7)
That Abraham and Isaac required their wives to lie is usually portrayed, at best, as a lack of faith and, at worst, sinful cowardice. But their lies were actually meant to protect their wives from a society that had no compunction about murdering men and kidnapping and raping women. Although modern Christianity demeans Abraham and Isaac for their actions, Yahweh did not. His judgment fell upon both Pharaoh and King Ahimelech, even though their actions were influenced by Abraham’s and Isaac’s deception:
In Bible times and in Bible lands, there was a custom known as fratriarchy. …if a woman’s parents were dead, it meant that if someone wanted to marry that woman, he had to negotiate with her brother. And when Abram told Sarai to tell them he was her brother, Abram knew that he could still protect his wife because he could prevent any marriage from taking place because anyone who wanted Sarai had to deal with him. Pharaoh was a wicked man and … he simply took Sarai, against custom, against the laws of hospitality; and therefore, God plagued his house…. Abram used deceit in dealing with a tyrant in order to save his life, and also save the life of his wife…. You do not owe the truth to one who’s going to abuse the truth. If you give the truth to someone who’s going to abuse it, then you become a partaker and accomplice in that individual’s sin.43
Shiphrah and Puah
And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah: And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him…. But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive? And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them. (Exodus 1:15-19)
When Shiphrah and Puah lied to Pharaoh, they did not bear false witness against anyone. Because their lie protected their own lives and the lives of others, it was not a Ninth Commandment infraction.
Christians who fail to distinguish between lies have no alternative but to claim that Shiphrah and Puah were sinful and, because we have no record of them repenting, that they should have been condemned to the lake of fire described in Revelation 21:8. If this were true, why did Yahweh bless them?
Therefore God dealt well with the midwives…. And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses [established households for them, NASB]. (Exodus 1:20-21)
Amram and Jochebed
Not only was Moses eulogized for his faith in Hebrews 11, but so were his parents, Amram and Jochebed, who deceived Pharaoh:
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. (Hebrews 11:23)
Amram and Jochebed were extolled for deceiving Pharaoh. Instead of rebuking them for their deception, Yahweh enshrined them in His “faith hall of fame.” Surely, He must have disdained the other parents who, unlike Amram and Jochebed, sacrificed their children to Pharaoh.
In Exodus 3, Yahweh instructed Moses to lie to Pharaoh as part of the strategy to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian bondage:
And God said moreover unto Moses…. Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, … I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land … unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. …and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, YHWH God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to YHWH our God. (Exodus 3:15-18)
Was it Yahweh’s plan that the nation of Israel sacrifice to Him in the wilderness and then return after three days? Or was it His plan that Israel leave Egypt and never return? The narrative proves it was the latter. Yahweh Himself commanded Moses and the elders to lie to Pharaoh in order to deliver them from Egypt’s bondage. Were Moses and the elders condemned for doing what Yahweh commanded?
And it was told the king of Jericho, saying, Behold, there came men in hither to night of the children of Israel to search out the country. And the king of Jericho sent unto Rahab, saying, Bring forth the men that are come to thee…. And the woman … said thus, There came men unto me, but I wist not whence they were: And it came to pass … when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them. But she had brought them up to the roof of the house, and hid them with the stalks of flax…. (Joshua 2:2-6)
Rahab saved the two Israelite spies by hiding them and then lying to the King of Jericho. Hebrews 11 and James 2 identify her deeds as acts of faith.
Rushdoony responded to those who attempt to condemn Rahab for lying:
…it is very strange theology which will admit that God approved of the faith and the act of Rahab, but that the lie on which the whole rescue rests is somehow bad.44
…Barak pursued after the chariots … and all the host of Sisera fell upon the edge of the sword…. Howbeit Sisera fled away on his feet to the tent of Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite…. And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not…. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him…. Then Jael Heber’s wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground…. So he died. (Judges 4:16-21)
How many Israelites were spared as a result of Jael’s deception? Yahweh did not condemn Jael for her mendacious act of treachery, but instead recorded Deborah’s and Barak’s tribute to her in His Word:
Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women…. (Judges 5:24)
Yahweh instructed Samuel to deceive King Saul with a half-truth in order to save his own life, :
And YHWH said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons. And Samuel said, How can I go? If Saul hear it, he will kill me. And YHWH said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to YHWH. (1 Samuel 16:1-2)
Why would Yahweh command Samuel to lie to save his life, only to take away his life for lying?
King Saul’s daughter Michal lied to her father’s henchmen to save the life of her husband David, and she lied to her father to save her own life:
And the evil spirit from YHWH was upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his javelin…. And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin … and David fled, and escaped that night. Saul also sent messengers unto David’s house … to slay him in the morning…. So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped. And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth. And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, He is sick.… And when the messengers were come in, behold, there was an image in the bed…. And Saul said unto Michal, Why hast thou deceived me so, and sent away mine enemy, that he is escaped? And Michal answered Saul, He said unto me, Let me go; why should I kill thee? (1 Samuel 19:9-17)
Saul’s son Jonathan also deceived his father to protect David:
And it came to pass on the morrow, which was the second day of the month, that David’s place was empty: and Saul said unto Jonathan his son, Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse…. And Jonathan answered Saul, David earnestly asked … Let me go, I pray thee; for our family hath a sacrifice in the city; and my brother, he hath commanded me to be there…. (1 Samuel 20:27-29)
This lie was at David’s request:
And David said unto Jonathan, Behold, to morrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may hide myself in the field unto the third day at even. If thy father at all miss me, then say, David earnestly asked leave of me that he might run to Bethlehem his city: for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the family. (1 Samuel 20:5-6)
David lied to the Levitical priest Ahimelech to protect his own life.
Then came David to Nob to Ahimelech the priest: and Ahimelech … said unto him, Why art thou alone…? And David said unto Ahimelech the priest, The king hath commanded me a business, and hath said unto me, Let no man know any thing of the business whereabout I send thee, and what I have commanded thee…. (1 Samuel 21:1-2)
Had it not been for Doeg the Edomite’s treachery, David’s lie would also have protected Ahimelech.
David often lied to King Achish regarding his secret raids against the Philistines and their allies:
…David and his men went up, and invaded the Geshurites, and the Gezrites, and the Amalekites…. And David smote the land, and left neither man nor woman alive … and returned, and came to Achish. And Achish said, Whither have ye made a road [raid, NASB] to day? And David said, Against the south of Judah, and against the south of the Jerahmeelites, and against the south of the Kenites. (1 Samuel 27:8-10)
In 1 Kings 15:5, we are told that “David did that which was right in the eyes of YHWH, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Urijah the Hittite.” Obviously, David’s lies to Saul, Ahimelech, and Achish were not considered violations of the Ninth Commandment.
King David’s friend Hushai lied to David’s son Absalom to protect a vulnerable David:
And Hushai said unto Absalom, The counsel that Ahithophel hath given is not good at this time. For, said Hushai, thou knowest thy father and his men, that they be mighty men, and they be chafed in their minds, as a bear robbed of her whelps in the field: and thy father is a man of war, and will not lodge with the people. Behold, he is hid now in some pit, or in some other place…. (2 Samuel 17:7-9)
David’s and Hushai’s lies provide scriptural precedent for lying with immunity during times of war.
An Unnamed Prophet
And a certain man of the sons of the prophets … said, Smite me, I pray thee. And the man smote him, so that in smiting he wounded him. So the prophet departed, and waited for [Ahab] the king by the way, and disguised himself with ashes upon his face. And as the king passed by, he cried unto the king: and he said, Thy servant went out into the midst of the battle…. (1 Kings 20:35-39)
Not only did Yahweh inspire this prophet to lie to a tyrannical ruler, He inspired the false prophets to lie in order to deceive the wicked:
And YHWH said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? …Now therefore, behold, YHWH hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets…. (1 Kings 22:20-23)
And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I YHWH have deceived that prophet…. (Ezekiel 14:9)
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie. (2 Thessalonians 2:10-11)
And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them…. Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal … for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtilty, to the intent that he might destroy the worshippers of Baal. …and all the worshippers of Baal came…. And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of YHWH, but the worshippers of Baal only…. And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword…. (2 Kings 10:18-25)
In this instance, King Jehu’s lie was not to save lives but to destroy evil people, in obedience to Yahweh’s command in Deuteronomy 17:2-7. Did Yahweh condemn Jehu for breaking the Ninth Commandment? Or did He honor him for his obedience to the Second Commandment’s required judgment?
The Prophet Jeremiah
In obedience to King Zedekiah’s instructions, Jeremiah lied to the princes of Judah to protect the King and himself:
Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Let no man know of these words, and thou shalt not die. But if the princes hear that I have talked with thee … and say unto thee, Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the king, hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death; also what the king said unto thee: Then thou shalt say unto them, I presented my supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return to Jonathan’s house, to die there. Then came all the princes unto Jeremiah, and asked him: and he told them according to all these words that the king had commanded.... (Jeremiah 38:24-27)
The Wise Men
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men … sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also…. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. (Matthew 2:7-12)
Yahweh directed the wise men to break their word and deceive Herod, the governor of Judea, in order to keep him from destroying the Christ child.
In none of the previous instances does Yahweh even hint that He was displeased with or considered these men or women to be sinners for lying. Yahweh not only condones such prevarications, He commands them:
But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Timothy 5:8)
What good is providing food, clothing, and shelter, if you are not also prepared to protect your family and your provisions from murderers, rapists, and thieves? The head of every Christian household needs to be prepared to protect the physical welfare of his family and his possessions with whatever means or force is required,45 including deception. Any man unwilling to do so is worse than an infidel in Yahweh’s sight.
Truth-Telling That’s Equivalent to False Witnessing
Telling the truth when you know it will jeopardize someone’s life, welfare, property, or privacy is tantamount to dealing falsely with your neighbor – and is therefore a form of bearing false witness. There are evil ways to lie and righteous ways to lie, just as there are righteous ways to speak the truth and unrighteous ways to speak the truth:
The ninth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Ex. 20:16), has been widely misinterpreted to mean that “Thou shalt at all times and under all circumstances tell the truth to all men who may ask anything of you.”46
The Commandment is very clear: we are not to bear false witness against our neighbor, but this does not mean that our neighbor or our enemy is ever entitled to the truth from us, or any word from us, about matters of no concern to them, or of private nature to us. No enemy or criminal has any right to knowledge from us which can be used to do us evil…. No one who is seeking to do us evil, to violate the law in reference to us or to another, is entitled to the truth. More than that, it can with scriptural grounds be called an evil to tell the truth to evil men and enable them thereby to expedite their evil…. To see men planning theft or murder, and then to answer truthfully concerning the whereabouts of the man, woman, or property they mean to kill, rape, or steal, is to be party to their offense. Such truth-telling is then participation in the crime. In terms of this, Rahab, had she told the truth, would have been an accessory to the death of two men.47
If we are not permitted by this law to injure “our neighbour’s good name,” how much less are we permitted to aid evil men to steal his property, rape his women-folk, and kill him as well? Truth-telling under such circumstances is not a virtue but moral cowardice.48
King Hezekiah was harshly judged by Yahweh for what amounted to telling the truth to the King of Babylon’s emissaries:
At that time Berodach-baladan, … king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah…. And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and shewed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not. Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, …What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them. And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of YHWH. Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith YHWH. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. (2 Kings 20:12-18)
In Proverbs 11:12, Solomon declared, “A talebearer reveals secrets, but he who is of faithful spirit conceals a matter.” Sometimes concealment requires that we lie to the wicked.
Proverbs 12:22 declares that “lying lips are abomination to YHWH….” If Yahweh does not differentiate between liars and their motives, we are compelled to conclude that Abraham, Isaac, Shiphrah, Puah, Amram, Jochebed, Moses, Rahab, Samuel, Michal, Jonathan, David, Jehu, Jeremiah, and the wise men – some of whom are eulogized in Hebrews 11 and some of whom were commanded by Yahweh to lie – were all abominable to Him. If Yahweh does not discriminate between self-serving lies and life-preserving lies, we are forced to conclude that Abraham, Isaac, and the rest were worthy of the same eternal judgment as unrepentant murderers, whoremongers, and sodomites. It is absurd to think Yahweh would judge those who prevent murder in the same manner He judges those who commit murder.
Like those who attempt to employ the Sixth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” to oppose capital punishment and self-defense, people who do not distinguish between righteous and unrighteous lying fall under the Apostle Paul’s description of people who use Yahweh’s laws unlawfully (1 Timothy 1:8).
Ninth Commandment Judgment
If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before YHWH, before the priests and the judges … and the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Deuteronomy 19:16-21)
A false witness is liable for whatever judgment his lie would have precipitated upon his victim. Judgment for Ninth Commandment violations can require either capital or non-capital verdicts, depending upon the severity of the alleged crime. In instances of simple defamation, Deuteronomy 22:13-19 prescribes a beating and a fine of one hundred shekels of silver.
If the instances of lying cited in the previous section were a crime, what would be their just and comparable judgment? No one lost an eye, a tooth, a limb, or a life. Instead, some of those losses were prevented. Would Yahweh have us execute a person who saves someone’s life by his prevarication? Of course not. This alone demonstrates that a person can lie with immunity to save the life of another person or even his own life.
Ninth Commandment transgression has become one of our society’s more acceptable sins, with few or no consequences. This sin, however, is never overlooked by Yahweh. Men with wicked intentions must inevitably pay for violating the Ninth Commandment, if not at the hands of righteous judges in this life, then ultimately at the hands of Yahweh in eternity:
A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape. (Proverbs 19:5)
1. All Scripture is quoted from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Portions of Scripture have been omitted for brevity. If you have any questions regarding a passage, please open your Bible and study the text to ensure it has been properly used.
2. Yeshua is the English transliteration of our Savior’s given Hebrew name. For a more thorough explanation concerning the use of the sacred names of God, “The Third Commandment” may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
3. YHWH (most often pronounced Yahweh) is the English transliteration of the Tetragrammaton, the principal Hebrew name of the God of the Bible. For a more thorough explanation concerning the use of the names of God, “The Third Commandment” may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
4. Where the Tetragrammaton (YHWH) – the four Hebrew characters that represent the personal name of God – has been unlawfully rendered the LORD or GOD in English translations, I have taken the liberty to correct this error by inserting YHWH where appropriate. For a more thorough explanation concerning the use of the names of God, “The Third Commandment” may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska, 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
5. James Strong, “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, s.v. “sheqer” (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990) p. 121.
6. Francis Brown, et al., The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, s.v. “sheqer” (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1979) p. 1055.
7. Strong, “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, s.v. “shav,” p. 113.
8. Brown, et al., The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, s.v. “shav,” p. 996.
9. Not everyone claiming to be a Christian has been properly instructed in the biblical plan of salvation. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41, 22:1-16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-13; and 1 Peter 3:21 should be studied in order to understand what is required to be covered by the blood of Yeshua and forgiven of your sins. For a more thorough explanation concerning baptism and its relationship to salvation, “Baptism by the Scriptures” and “Fifty Objections to Baptism Answered” may be read online, or the book Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for free.
10. For a more thorough exposé on the United States Constitution, Bible Law vs. Constitutionalism may be listened to online, or Bible Law vs. The United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective may read online.
11. Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1973) p. 111.
12. John Bouvier, Bouvier’s Law Dictionary: A Concise Encyclopedia of the Law, 3 vols., s.v. “Oath” (Kansas City, MO: Vernon Law Book Company, 1914) vol. 3, p. 2388.
13. Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary, 6 vols. (New York, NY: Carlton & Phillips, 1853) vol. 1, p. 413.
14. “The Third Commandment” may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of Yahweh thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
15. Strong, “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, s.v. “yacar,” p. 50.
16. Bouvier, vol. 2, pp. 2225-26.
17. William Barclay, The Ten Commandments for Today (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1946) pp. 199-200.
18. Rushdoony, p. 567.
19. “The Law of the Seal of Confession,” Online Catholic Encyclopedia,<www.newadvent.org/cathen/13649b.htm>.
20. Rushdoony, p. 567.
21. Rushdoony, p. 581.
22. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41, 22:1-16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-13; and 1 Peter 3:21 should be studied to understand what is required to be covered by the blood of Yeshua and forgiven of your sins. For a more thorough explanation concerning baptism and its relationship to salvation, “Baptism by the Scriptures” and “Fifty Objections to Baptism Answered” may be read online, or the book Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for free.
23. Rushdoony, p. 535.
24. Rousas John Rushdoony, Law and Society (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1982) pp. 697-98.
25. Rousas John Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law (The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1973) p. 613.
26. Gary North, (Tyler, TX: The Institute for Christian Economics, 1997) pp. 793-95.
27. Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, s.v. “Bribe” (1828; reprint ed. San Francisco, CA: The Foundation for American Christian Education, 1967).
28. Bouvier, vol. 1, p. 394.
29. Thomas Watson, quoted by Philip Graham Ryken, Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005) p. 658.
30. Augustine, Sancti Aurelii Augustini Hipponensis Episcopi Opera Omnia (Paris, France: Tomus Sextus, 1323) p. 1841.
31. Charles John Ellicott, D.D., ed., An Old Testament Commentary for English Readers, 5 vols. (London, Paris, New York: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co., 1882) vol. 1, p. 424.
32. Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, In a Series of Sermons on the Shorter Catechism Composed by the Reverend Assembly of Divines at Westminster (Aberdeen, Scotland: D. Chalmers and Co., 1838) p. 442.
33. Mark Twain, Albert Pain, edit., Mark Twain’s Notebook (New York, NY: The Mark Twain Company, 1935) p. 240.
34. Not everyone claiming to be born from above (born again) has been properly instructed in the biblical plan of salvation. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41, 22:1-16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27; Colossians 2:11-13; and 1 Peter 3:21 should be studied in order to understand what is required to be covered by the blood of Yeshua and forgiven of your sins. For a more thorough explanation concerning baptism and its relationship to salvation, “Baptism by the Scriptures” and “Fifty Objections to Baptism Answered” may be read online, or the book Baptism: All You Wanted to Know and More may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for free.
35. Jean Giraudoux, Christopher Fry, trans., Tiger at the Gates (La Guerre de Troie N’aura Pas Lieu) (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1956) p. 11.
36. A more thorough explanation concerning the “The Third Commandment” may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of Yahweh thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
37. More thorough explanations for John 8:3-11 and Luke 19:12-24 may be read in “The 7th Commandment” and “The 8th Commandment”, respectively, or the books Thou shall not commit adultery and Thou shall not steal may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $6 donation each.*
38. Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.
39. Rushdoony, p. 114.
40. A more thorough explanation concerning the Third Commandment may be read online, or the book Thou shalt not take the name of YHWH thy God in vain may be ordered from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363, for a suggested $4 donation.*
41. Strong, “Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary,” The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, s.v. “chalal,” p. 39.
42. Francis Brown, et al., The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon, s.v. “shaaqer,” p. 1055.
43. John Weaver, “How Do We Deal with Tyrannical Powers?,” from the audio series The Biblical Doctrine of War.
44. Rushdoony, p. 545.
45. “Firearms: Scripturally Defended,” a treatise on the scriptural mandate to be armed, may be read online.
46. Rushdoony, p. 542.
47. Ibid, pp. 543-44.
48. Ibid, p. 548.
*We are admonished in Matthew 10:8 “freely ye have received, freely give.” Although we have a suggested price for our books, we do not sell them. In keeping with 2 Corinthians 9:7, this ministry is supported by freewill offerings. If you cannot afford the suggested price, inform us of your situation, and we will be pleased to provide you with whatever you need for whatever you can send.
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