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The 9th Commandment

The 9th Commandment

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Some of the greatest tragedies in the Scriptures, including the crucifixion of Yeshua, 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 hates, four out of seven are consequences of violating the Ninth Commandment. Among other things, this article addresses the six safeguards Yahweh placed in His Word, which all but guarantee truthful testimony in courts of law; the crime-deterring affects of the law of retribution, known as lex talionis; righteous bribery and lawful lying; and six responses to defamation.
Some of the greatest tragedies in the Scriptures, including the crucifixion of Yeshua, 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 hates, four out of seven are consequences of violating the Ninth Commandment. Among other things, this article addresses the six safeguards Yahweh placed in His Word, which all but guarantee truthful testimony in courts of law; the crime-deterring affects of the law of retribution, known as lex talionis; righteous bribery and lawful lying; and six responses to defamation.

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Published by: Mission to Israel Ministries on Apr 28, 2009
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The Ninth Commandment
By Ted R. Weiland
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. (Exodus 20:16)
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The Ninth Commandment is found two times in the Old Testament and four times in the NewTestament: Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20, Matthew 19:18, Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20, andRomans 13:9.Some of the greatest tragedies in the Scriptures, including the crucifixion of Yeshua,
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occurred inwhole or in part as the result of Ninth Commandment infractions. It is hardly surprising that, inthe list enumerating the seven sins Yahweh
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hates, four out of seven are consequences of violatingthe Ninth Commandment:
These six things doth
YHWH
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hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look,
alying tongue
, and hands that shed innocent blood,
an heart that deviseth wickedimaginations
, 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 andDeuteronomy 5:20, but a notable difference is contained in the Hebrew. The word “false” in theseverses is translated from two etymologically unrelated Hebrew words. In Exodus 20, “false” istranslated 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).
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…emptiness, vanity, falsehood….
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We are not told why Yahweh inspired two different words to express this Commandment, but itstands to reason that together they best communicate His intention. Other passages employingthese 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 contemptuouslyagainst the righteous. (Psalm 31:18)Bread of 
deceit
is sweet to a man; but afterwards his mouth shall be filled with gravel. (Proverbs20:17)
 
And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, andagainst 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 unrighteouswitness. (Exodus 23:1)They speak 
vanity
every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart dothey 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)
Ninth Commandment Statutes
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 nineCommandments, the Ninth encompasses much more than meets the eye.
False Testimony
Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteouswitness. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause todecline 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 to justice. When American Christians
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finally repent of their loveaffair with the United States Constitution,
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we can one day build upon its ruins a governmentconstructed exclusively upon the perfect laws of Yahweh (Psalm 19:7). Its viability and successwill 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 justdecisions. 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 tellthe 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 thatassure us of truthful testimony. These safeguards ensure predominately reliable witnesses becausethey prevent the majority of fraudulent cases and false witnesses from going to litigation in thefirst place.Following are the six safeguards Yahweh has placed in His Word to curb false testimony in courtsof law:
Safeguard 1
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Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause…. (Proverbs 24:28)
Frivolous cases not meriting the court’s attention should be immediately dismissed. This criterionalone would eliminate a large percentage of the cases that clog today’s courts.
Safeguard 2
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. (Deuteronomy6:13)
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 theHebrews:
For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation isan 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 whichthe 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 toobserve 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 daughtersfor 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 oathcome before thine altar in this house; then hear thou from heaven, and do, and judge thyservants, 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 politicianswho break their oath of office whenever it is advantageous, the oaths taken in Nehemiah’s dayactually meant something:
By taking the oath, a man promised to abide by his word and his obligations even as God isfaithful to His word. If he failed, by oath of office, the public official invoked divine judgmentand the curse of the law upon himself.
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An outward pledge given by the person taking it that his attestation or promise is made under animmediate sense of his responsibility to God…. The term has been variously defined: as, “asolemn invocation of the vengeance of the Deity upon the witness if he do [
 sic
] not declare thewhole truth, so far as he knows it;” … or “religious asseveration by which a person renouncesthe mercy and imprecates the vengeance of Heaven if he do not speak the truth” … or “areligious act by which the party invokes God not only to witness the truth and sincerity of his
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