Biblical Principle #244: Israelites to Give Truthful Testimony

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Principle

Under the Law of Moses, Israelites were commanded to provide truthful testimony, never bearing false witness.

Explanation

From the beginning of GOD’s first covenant with Israel, telling the truth about one’s neighbor was a top concern, for it was one of the Ten Commandments:

16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Exodus 20:16 OSB; repeated in Deuteronomy 5:20

This principle of truthful honesty was reiterated within the context of the Law’s instructions regarding Israel’s court testimony.

Israelites were forbidden from spreading lies (or “fake news” as it is often referred to in modern times) nor deviating from truth just because it might be unpopular:

1 “Now you shall not circulate a false report. Do not agree with the wicked man to be an unrighteous witness. 2 You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor join with them, so as to turn aside with the majority to pervert justice.

Exodus 23:1-2 OSB

GOD warned Israel, saying:

7 Keep yourself far from every unjust matter; do not kill the innocent and the righteous; and do not justify the wicked for his gifts.

Exodus 23:7 OSB

The consequences of bringing false charges were severe:

16 If an unjust witness rises against any man accusing him of impiety, 17 then both men in the controversy shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days. 18 Thus the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is an unjust witness who has testified unjustly against his brother, 19 then you shall do to him in the manner he maliciously intended to do to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you. 20 Then those who remain shall hear and be afraid, and hereafter they shall not again commit such evil among you. 21 Your eye shall not pity him: life shall be for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Deuteronomy 19:16-21 OSB

Telling the truth about what happened and about one’s neighbor has always been of high importance to GOD. One who lacked this character was deserving of death.

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