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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. kyle

    It is the prime example of hypocrisy in the religious right politics. Faux news is constantly being shown as reporting false news or hypocrisy. Maybe they are just bad christians.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Edwin

      kyle: Fox news is not run by christians - it is run by businessmen, who understand that people don't watch the news to learn truth - they watch the news to reinforce what they already believe.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  2. Henry

    Close to that, in Exodus 21:20-21, are the instructions on how to beat your slave...

    May 24, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
  3. Conrad Shull

    "Beef is best served like steak/well done". Note to self: never let Pasha T cook steak for me.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  4. BigRed

    Not only are the versus obscure but so are the nobody rappers and the ridiculous story. Who actually cares?

    May 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Edwin

      BigRed: apparently YOU cared, enough to read the article and write a response... and as of now, there are 5 full pages of response posts, so apparently you are not the only one who cared.

      I'm sure CNN wants to apologize, however, that you did not find this particular article as relevant to your personal life as others they have written.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • BigRed

      Actually that was very well said. Thanks for the response.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  5. Dl

    Yeah, tho I speaketh to thou,
    Obcureth more thy words,
    More seemeth holy unto thou,
    Ramble ye on with thy horeskrap unto the ignoramusites

    May 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  6. CADMAN1

    There is no such thing as an Atheist. When your time is up it comes right down to you and GOD eye to eye and you know this is true. But its to late by then since you have dedicated your life to trash mouth him.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • PhillipJay

      Well can your God microwave a burrito so hot that he himself could not eat it?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      If I'm ever "eye to eye" with a God(s) .. then I will believe. If God(s) cannot understand why I feel the way I do then said God(s) are not worthy of the ttle.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Flippy1124

      The definition of an atheist is a person who agrees with you about everyone elses god and agrees with everyone else about your god.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • joe

      Ok, doing works can't get you into heaven but it can keep you out??? Please make up your mind. If an atheist is face to face with God I think the atheist would accept him.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • cybercmdr

      It's not that atheists trash talk God per se. It is more that we think he doesn't exist. Atheists do however tend to mock the statements of those who try to impose their beliefs on others, or make unsubstantiated claims based on their beliefs. Look, if there was any real evidence that the religion that you grew up with is any more valid than the other religions out there, you could point to it and have others flock to your beliefs. Since there is no objective evidence, we have thousands of religions all claiming to be the one true faith. The ONLY thing you have to justify that you belong to the "right" religion is that it was the belief system you were brought up with. That makes you no different from those who believe in Allah, Vishnu, the Great Spirit, etc.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Edwin

      CADMAN1: an atheist is not illogical, so if GOD physically presented in front of an atheist, the atheist would believe - well, at least believe a powerful being had physically manifested in front of them. But atheists ARE logical, so if you present them with a book that you CLAIM to be the "word of god" then they will want more evidence than your opinion.

      I will admit my understanding of the modern American christian mind is perhaps a bit lacking, but, um, I didn't think GOD physically manifested... ever. Well, at least not in the last 2000 years.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Edwin

      Flippy1124: that is awesome 🙂

      May 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • griz5106

      I am a 100 percent godless free thinker; however, if I am wrong, wouldn't an all-loving god forgive me for being merely mistaken. I have so far lived a very fulfilling life and have attempted to be a decent human being. Maybe I can convince god to just burn me for a little while....a day or two. That burning for eternity stuff just seems a bit over the top.

      May 24, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  7. geome

    What exactly is the point being made here??

    All I got is that some rapper quoted a verse.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • PhillipJay

      Who's Pusha T?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Motty

      Yeah, I'm a little confused too. What's this got to do with gay marriage?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  8. flashtrum

    Please push Pusha out the door. I was intrigued by the headline but disappointed to read the article. CNN you ow me 3 minutes of my life back.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  9. Seyedibar

    When is someone going to write a sequel to the Bible? Maybe they can get Dean Koontz or James Patterson involved.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • orellana

      It's called the Book of Mormon.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Book 1 – Smitey God of the Jews
      Book 2 – God's Wussy Son
      Book 3 – American Jesus

      May 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Eli

      The sequel to the Bible was called the New Testament. The sequel to the New Testament is called the Koran.

      An appropriate sequel to the Koran and the New Testament has not appeared yet. I'm pretty sure it will not mention any books other than those and the Torah.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • asdf

      Agreed. The Mormons proved you can make one up about virtually anything – as long as its fan fiction someone will like it. So go for it.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Greatday

      And the KING fo the UNIVERSE STILL Loves you, Doc!

      May 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  10. Kafkawasright

    Check out this battle...http://www.wickedlocal.com/middleborough/news/x1982676345/Religious-objections-may-signal-end-of-Kiwanis-Cross-in-Middleboro-Route-28-median#axzz1vWlI39yU

    May 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      I would love to show Christians the commandment about not having images of anything in heaven or on earth (Bible's words, not mine). I wonder how they justfiy having an image of the cross.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  11. Lily

    It's trending on Twitter because eventually every stupid, idiotic thing in the world will trend on Twitter. That's the nature of Twitter. It's meant for the generations with almost zero capacity for sustained thought. Every little item excites them for about 15 minutes and then something else shiny comes along and grabs there attention. Generally each thing will be 'the best ever' for that 15 minutes and then the next 'best ever' will push it out of their memories.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      The Internet Generation's attentions spans are a direct result of life-long inundation with superficial sound bytes presented as..... ha ha! That cat wants a cheeseburger!

      May 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • john

      you mad?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • mb2010a

      "Where's the beef?"

      May 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Doc, wasn't it Wimpy that wanted a cheeseburger, and he'll gladly pay you on Tuesday?

      May 24, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  12. svann

    Religious or not thats good advice. I cant stand a liar.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  13. Doc Vestibule

    Someone needs to translate the Bible into Ebonics.
    Word.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • If Nabateans had Gods ... their Gods would be blocks of stone

      I have to admit..that made me laugh.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • flashtrum

      The "Pastors" and "Reverends" (self appointed of course) do this every weekend in cities like Baltimore.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  14. MNTaxpayer

    I really don't care what the verse says, especially someone named 'Pusha T's' interpretaion of it.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  15. jg47

    This guy has no palate for steak. Well done? I'll take mine medium rare, thank you.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Cindy

      Oh no, well done

      May 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  16. Norm

    "Pusha" T.......as in drug pusher?

    These guys are so last century...

    May 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • flashtrum

      yyyyyeeeeaaaahhhh boooyyeeeeeeee

      May 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  17. Jan

    CNN and FOX both need to earn from this verse and stop false reporting.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Jan

      earn=Learn

      May 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • MNTaxpayer

      Wha is it they should learn?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Jason K

      But if they and other media outlets didn't do that, then the people of the nations of the world would really start to realise how alike they all are, how much they DON'T hate each other, and how their leaders are manipulating them.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  18. Jeremy

    WoW, this writer really has nothing better to write about? Seriously? WOW

    May 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • orellana

      World of Warcraft?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  19. Salb80

    This article was a waste of time. Why did I bother reading it?.Now why do I even bother to tell you it's a waste of time...that's just wasting more time.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • NSB

      I concur...

      May 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  20. MNTaxpayer

    “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

    Which makes no sense, either.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Norm

      His agent probably paid CCN to write this article.
      Never heard of the guy before today.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
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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.