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.

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“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. jake

    momoya's full time job is apparently trolling on christianity on CNN's comment sections.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  2. RapidOne


    May 24, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • jake

      blah blah blah hate republicans blah blah blah

      May 24, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  3. Choconet

    Dear CNN,

    Every day I click on your website to find some attack on Christianity! Why is this particular faith the object of your err? It’s because of the powerful name of Jesus Christ and the blood that he shed on the cross for us! Just because my faith allows for freedom in its practice and free will to choose doesn't mean you get to attack and tear down Christianity! Lately I stopped visiting your website because of your incendiary articles and misleading information about Christianity. In all your getting of God's word I hope you get that you will secure yourself a special place in Hell for your misleading of so many people away from the one true living God! That's right leaders who hold great influence over God's greatest creation man, God holds to a higher accountability and has secured a special place in Hell for you. So if one day CNN Staff, you should happen to wake up in an unbearable heat and you find yourself in the company of such people as Jim Jones and Hitler know that you are exactly where you belong among your kindred.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • BRC

      What about this article is an "attack" on christianity?

      May 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • The Stranger

      Please do tell.. How are they attacking Christianity?

      May 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Apparently just mentioning christians, christianity or the dude named jesus is an attack on christianity. What believers, especially christians, fail to realize (in addition to the probability of there being any gods being just about zero) is that news agencies just report the news. If christians don't want to be in the news, they should stop doing things worthy of being in the news. Most importantly, if they don't want to be attacked, or even feel that they are being attacked, they should stop doing silly things. In other words, they should stop 'shooting the messenger' and deal with the underlying issue!

      May 24, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • James PDX

      Choconet, the problem I see is that your religion DOES allow for freewill to choose, however, way too many Christians forget that this is one of the 3 most important tenets of the new covenant with God, along with loving each other and not judging others.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Lucifer

      You're not very bright are you? Childish as well..."na na na na na na, you don't believe in my god, you're going to hell"...I bet you belive in free will too.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • capitalist

      Another example how the educational system in the U.S. has failed. Religions\cults\social clubs, etc., are fine but everyone needs to know what they represent. If people want to believe in a bronze-age book composed of myths, fables, and legends, it is okay with me. If you earnestly believe in the bible and it is as much a part of you as one of your limbs, you should learn how and why it was written, translated, and interpeted. Many parts of the bible were "borrowed" from Buddhism and other religions. I suggest you read a few Joseph Campbell books for indepth analysis of myths and their origins. Good luck!

      May 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • NutGrinder

      Religion is ignorance plain in simple. It was made up by ignorant uneducated "cave men" (essentially that's what humanity was 2000 years ago compared to today's standards). It is then perpetuated by fear: ie. "Hey 6 year old Johnny, Do you want to got to Heaven and eat ice cream every day, or do you want to go to Hell and burn and suffer for all eternity?"... "Of course i want to go to Heaven" reply's Johnny.

      When I talk about your hateful "god", you are a perfect example of my point. You didn't like what CNN has to say, so you rage about a "special place in hell", with the likes of "Jim Jones and Hitler".

      Again you exemplify my point when you say "Hitler". He was a devout christian who really believed he was doing god's work by exterminating the Jewish population.

      All religions are delusions and should be treated as a clinical condition. If i ran around wearing a pink tutu and claiming that Cinderella lost a slipper for my sins, and life is about finding the slipper so we could go to Heaven, wouldn't you think i was crazy? Religion is the same thing.

      Please pick up and read something other than the bible sometime. Thanks.

      June 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  4. jjframirez@gmail.com

    So a couple of rappers referencing a verse makes it a trend? If I stub my toe twice in a month, is it a national epidemic?

    May 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • James PDX

      OUCH!!! Thanks a lot, jackhole.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • NutGrinder

      it would be a toepidemic indeed!

      June 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  5. Sumo

    Why should I care what the bible says anyway?

    May 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      You will find yourself crying out that His truth takes affect when folks that hold your life in their hands make righteous decisions they learned from abiding in His teachings that directly affects you.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • sbp

      Heavensent, there's a big difference between sounding knowledgeable and sounding pretentious. A difference you clearly do not appreciate.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Let's see sbp. Christians can flip a coin to see if a non-believer will tell the truth or fall back onto lies. Can it be? Yes, it's whichever way the wind blows that day.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
  6. joe

    I'm glad to know that there is a biblical argument for outlawing all political ads. Amen.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  7. liz48

    It will be good for Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, Trayvon Martin's attorneys and the prosecutor to read this verse...fairness and justice requires that you publish what helps your case and what is against it.

    The information on Zimmerman, which could have gone against Martin, was ignored, delayed or twisted.

    Discipline at the bar is appropriate for the attorneys, if confidence is to be maintained in any system of ethical regulation by the FL bar...

    Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and the so called spiritual leaders who supported them, will receive their just deserts from The Lord God of the Bible, Whose Name they use...

    May 24, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
    • RapidOne

      Republicans will get it then if that's the case: they are proven to be liars.

      At least in the Trayvon case, there is a lot of 'UNKNOWNS'. Well, except to racist bigots like you.

      May 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • LinSea

      Grow up, Rapid. You are lying to yourself if you think that lying isn't a bipartisan past time.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  8. JPX

    "Why is obscure bible verse trending?" The short answer is that there is a strong correlation between uneducated and being religious. There are a lot of stupid people out there, which is why so many embrace Bronze Age thinking.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Your post allows me to repeat my original post as follows:

      You will find yourself crying out that His truth takes affect when folks that hold your life in their hands make righteous decisions they learned from abiding in His teachings that directly affects you.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • Miriam

      Then why are there so many professionals at my house of worship?

      May 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  9. momoya

    It's called "cherry-picking," CNN.. Look into it.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      It's called living your life righteously as He taught us. Right vs wrong. Truth vs lies.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • James PDX

      Is that why so many Christians follow the divine laws which are easy for them, but not the ones that directly affect them? Such as not allowing gays to marry but not having any problem allowing themselves and fellow Christians to divorce?

      May 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      James PDX, you're proving to be another non-believer that cares less about your soul, as well as others. Christians care that everyone dwells with Jesus for eternity. That's it in a nutshell. Christians care about all others and non-believers don't care about themselves as well as all others..

      May 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • Rob- Texas

      HeavenSent- You are wrong for saying that to James. He is right. Accourding to the Bible, divorce is only Ok if your spouse has commited adultry. So James is pointing out that many Christans look one way on one issue, and another way on another. No consistancy. So unless you know James, you don't know who he lives for our how he treats his soul. He maybe a more divout Christan than yourself.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Rob- Texas, I've never met a true Christian that doesn't tell another Christian (faithful or not) that they own the sin that is blinding them when seeking a divorce from a spouse that is faithful. True, I haven't meet every Christian in the world, but, speaking Jesus' truth to a sinner, always applies in conversation.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Bwahahhhaha! Oh, this is truly priceless! HS giving advice to others on interpersonal relationships like marriage!

      Talk about the blind leading the blind!!

      May 24, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
  10. charles

    The world is coming to an end

    May 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  11. Cyle

    It always amazes me that reading the bible and comprehending the bible part ways at blind faith.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  12. charles

    I believe the world is in a state that may be irreversable things will continue on this same course till Jesus returns.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • Cyle

      so... foreven then.

      May 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Cyle


      May 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • BRC

      I agree with the first half of your assertion, that time travel is impossible, but I do not believe that Jesus is coming back.

      May 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  13. hello

    this is news?

    May 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Lilith


      May 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  14. Irony At Its Finest

    Then I say it to you, CNN workers: "“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness.”

    And I also say it to all Republicans, but they know this is aimed at them anyway, ironically, by the media, like CNN and its employees.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • RapidOne


      May 24, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  15. Bubba

    Somebody send this verse to the birthers.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • momoya

      "Crazy" don't care about reputation.

      May 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  16. markd

    “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness.” Seems to fit perfectly well with the way things are in the news today especially politcs. Too much mud being thrown with total disregard to what the truth really is.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
  17. James

    It's actually sublime when you think about it. I mean, look at all the people who've led masses and masses astray by misquoting, abusing, and otherwise twisting the Bible out of context.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Geraard Spergen

      Or IN context!

      May 24, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
  18. John Q. Reader

    "makes no mention of the Bible verse but which certainly channels its spirit" ? Please. This is a pathetic attempt to lend some gravitas to mindless rap lyrics. The Bible verse says not to spread a FALSE report. Rappers, on the other hand, like to tell anyone who will listen that it's wrong to spread a TRUE report, i.e. it's wrong to snitch by turning someone into police for something they ACTUALLY did.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son


      May 24, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  19. James

    I don't know why this is twitting right now, but I'm glad it is.

    May 24, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • John

      Twit should be the key, here...

      May 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  20. Lilith

    Any reason to make a public statement to earn brownie points for God .. especially if a celeb did it first, you don't even have to think of it on your own, just follow. Like Tebowing in public .. look at me God look at meee!

    May 24, 2012 at 12:40 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.