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Why is obscure Bible verse from Exodus trending on Twitter?
Rapper Pusha T, far left, has a song out that takes its name from a verse in Exodus.
May 24th, 2012
12:21 PM ET

Why is obscure Bible verse from Exodus trending on Twitter?

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) – It’s not every day a Bible verse lights up social media, but a relatively obscure verse from the Hebrew Bible what Christians call the Old Testament was trending on Twitter worldwide Thursday.

The verse, Exodus 23:1, offers this admonition: “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness.” (New Revised Standard Version)

It comes in a section following Moses’ bringing the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai. "Exodus 23:1" also is the title of a new song from rapper Pusha T, which may explain why it’s trending.

In the song, Pusha T aims verbal barbs at someone who he says wronged him. Hip-hop websites have speculated that that someone is fellow rapper Drake.

“Beef is best served like steak/well done/get a gun in your face,” Pusha T raps in the song, which makes no mention of the Bible verse but which certainly channels its spirit.

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And the rapper cited the verse Thursday when he tweeted: "Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness." That’s the New Living Translation of Exodus 23:1.

The Book of Exodus tells the story of the Israelites fleeing from bondage in Egypt, wandering in the desert in the years before they reach Israel. Exodus 23:1 comes not long after the story of God’s parting of the Red Sea so that the Israelites could escape, a tale that established Moses as a hero.

After Moses returns from Sinai and delivers the Ten Commandments, he goes on to explain God’s laws in greater detail. The laws dictate how the Israelites are to function as a society, regarding everything from property rights to the conduct of annual festivals.

Gallery: Bible verses and pop culture

“This verse is understood by the rabbis to mean two separate things,” Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld from Ohev Sholom, the National Synagogue in Washington, wrote in an e-mail to CNN, referring to Exodus 23:1.

“The great medieval commentator Rashi understands the first half of the verse to mean: ‘Don't accept a false report or malicious rumors about someone,’ ” the scholar said. “Other commentators say the first part of the verse means don't spread false rumors.

“The second part of the verse has a slightly different meaning. It means: ‘Don't convince another person to join with you and offer false testimony,’” Herzfeld wrote, noting that Jewish law requires two witnesses for testimony to be heard.

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O. Wesley Allen Jr., an associate professor of homiletics and worship at Kentucky's Lexington Theological Seminary, said that Exodus 23:1 is among several verses in which “God dictates to Moses instructions that in different ways unpack and expand upon elements of the (Ten Commandments).”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bible • Music

soundoff (883 Responses)
  1. Jasmynt Morringx

    Good write-up, I am regular visitor of one's site, maintain up the nice operate, and It's going to be a regular visitor for a long time.

    July 4, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  2. New Gawker

    "You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness." Maybe church needs to start practicing what it preaches and stop molesting boys and protecting the pedophiles.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  3. idunno

    I'm not even going to read one word of this article. It's about Twitter and is not news. Journalists now adays are such cop outs trying to fill the space by calling YouTube videos, and Internet trends news, because you're too lazy to go find some real stories. The Internet is not news. Kim Kardashians twitters are not news. Some da mn good journalists are losing their jobs because they refuse to sell out and report on YouTube video and celebrity tweets.

    WHAT. A. JOKE.

    June 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • idunno

      JUST LIKE JUSTIN BIEBER WALKING INTO A GLASS DOOR AND TWEETING THAT HE'S OK IS NOT NEWS!!!

      June 22, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  4. Lou

    I think this passage from the bible is obscure and should be read carefully: How will we know the report we retell is false? And if we join hands with people it is usually out of friendship and love, so how will we know the people we have joined are the wicked while those others we haven't joined hands with are the good? How do we become good judges, knowing the true from the false, and the innocent from the guilty?

    June 21, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  5. BMoore

    What is "obscure" about that verse? It simply expands or provides more detailed application of the commandment not to bear false witness against another person....one of the foundational lynchpins of American jurisprudence. Websters Dictionary defines obscure as: "not readily understood or clearly expressed; shrouded in or hidden by darkness". I guess the Mr. Marrapodi assumes all verses from the Hebrew Bible are "obscure".

    June 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • Lou

      This passage from the bible seems to be saying that speech (the spreading of reports) and friendship (the joining of hands) should not be based on the exclusion of others.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Lou

      Speech (the spreading of reports) and friendship (the joining of hands) should not be based on the exclusion of others.

      June 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  6. denise bailey

    the media should concern themselves with that quote from the bible. If you know someone is lying then why do you print their words anyway?

    June 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  7. BriSoFla

    Happy Gay Pride Month Everyone!

    See how relevant that is to the above article? It isn't obviously and so are 99% of the comments made on these boards. If you have nothing nice to say, close your browser, shut your computer down, go outside and have a nice day.

    June 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • tootsie15

      I suggest you follow your own advice. At least the others had some intelligent reflections.

      June 21, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
  8. WhiteSpatula

    " ' Beef is best served like steak/well done/get a gun in your face, ' Pusha T raps in the song, which makes no mention of the Bible verse but which certainly channels its spirit." SAY WHAT!? How on earth does that "channel the spirit" of a Bible verse condemning dishonesty?

    June 19, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  9. HeavenSent

    While the deaf non-believers do Satan's bidding, I study the Bible so that I can hear God's voice. I pity you filthy doers of Satan.

    Amen.

    June 18, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Jesus

      hey "Heaven Sent" – you have not read the Bible nor understand its meaning... Love God and Love each other.

      June 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • thinkbeforeyouspeak

      HeavenSent–"judge not"–keep studying.

      June 19, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Jr

      What Bible are you reading? Check the cover dude! I agree... keep studying or at least take off the headphones

      June 22, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  10. XMasnaX

    What's wrong with this pic? Ummm.... THE WHITE DUDE!

    June 18, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  11. Jesus

    Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the Earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

    Matt:10-34

    June 18, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • HeavenSent

      I am shaking.

      June 18, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • New Gawker

      Come here little Johnny! It's time to "pray" Take off your pants.

      -Matt the priest

      June 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  12. GeorgeBos95

    {yawn}

    June 18, 2012 at 8:47 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.