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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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. Nymm

    All I know is that I can't trust anything said by someone who says that steak should be served well-done. Heresy!

    June 16, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Agreed. Walk it through a warm room and it's ready.

      June 16, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • 13monkees

      Just let the bull run loose. I'll rip off a hunk as he runs by!

      June 17, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • pockets

      The 'bible' is a sick comic book.

      June 17, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  2. Hear Ye

    When will this rap crap thing finally place a bullet in it's own head? These clowns are the a88holes of the universe and have NO CONTRIBUTION for society. Guns, drugs and violence – what a fine legacy. Don't buy or listen to this trash – you only encourage more of it.

    June 16, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  3. Prayer Change Things


    June 16, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • HeavenSent

      You want to be a real Christian, get nailed to a cross.


      June 18, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  4. SimpleX

    It's about God and His words, thus, no surprise it's trending.

    June 16, 2012 at 3:30 am |
    • 84%

      Should it be atheism, we definitely could care less.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:32 am |
  5. joe

    Rap Artists (I use "artists" very loosly), are a bunch of no-talent A.$-$ clowns. Looks like they found a new source to steal material from.

    June 15, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  6. Mary Porter

    Did Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor, actually write:

    " “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."

    And none of the theological disputants here has challenged that incredible assertion? No, Eric, "get a gun in your face" doesn't channel "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor".

    June 15, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • txbd948

      I couldnt believe he actually wrote it either, i'm very surprised more people aren't challenging that. I was actually made dumber by reading that line...

      June 16, 2012 at 2:37 am |
    • Indeed

      Apparently, it was (eric) the author who's obscure.

      June 16, 2012 at 4:15 am |
  7. roby

    Do not take a scripture out of its context.Read the entire chapter before and after to understand. Then in the 12th chapter of Romans in the new testament you will see how christians are to treat each other.The old testament and the new testament complement each type of laws in how we are to take care of each other and be helpful instead of hurtful.

    June 15, 2012 at 3:46 am |
  8. Gonzo

    A relationship with Christ is a personal experience that transcends the physical. It is where the physical and the spiritual meet. Where the Holy Spirit comes to you and takes you for a roller coaster ride. If you have not experienced the ride, at least once, then you only have head knowledge. For the persons that deny this as all myth, well, they just have not been allowed OR better yet, they have not asked to go on THAT ride. If you have experienced that RIDE, even once, there is no deying it and you can't just live like it never happened. That is me at this time. I know waht Iexperienced was real and powerful. I am hopeful that Christ will come soon and fix this messed up world – and don't tell me that it is not broken. Do I know all the answers? no, but I have the hope for the coming Kingdom that will allow us to live the life that we were meant to live. I love this life and I enjoy it very much when I can, but I can see that it is passing, only temorary. I can see the flames coming over the ridge of the mountains, if I can put it that way. This world is headed for disaster. We need to live holy lives that are pleasing to God. Sometimes I forget that it is a real war out there. Sure, I would love to sometimes get loaded and escape this reality. But I have been touched, and I know that the real HIGH is not here in this world. The enemy want to kill and destroy. He wants you defeated, messed up, dysfunctional, unfuctional, hateful and angry. He want your mariage and any other relationships destroyed. From what I see out there he is doing plenty of damage. But just because it looks dire does not mean Evil is going to win out at the end. The hopefull are working while waiting for that day when HE comes to rule with rightous justice. The day is coming. Well, got to go to work. have a blessed day

    June 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • Fladabosco

      Lots of people have wonderful experiences in their heads, whether they call it religion, being saved or whatever.

      Lots of people believe some deity did something for their soul, but I can prove that Beethoven did things for my spirit. I'd rather believe in that.

      And I do believe the ride Beethoven gives me is just as profound, satisfying and fulfilling as your experience with Jesus.

      If you have never experienced it yourself you just haven't immersed yourself in His greatness.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • Jeff

      Wouldn't the ideal be people doing good simply for good's sake? You don't need to accept God to be a positive force in the world. Of course it can help, I'm not trying to bash you. But honestly, people get too caught up in labels and sects to see the bigger picture. We are people, on a planet, living together. Having a positive outlook and acting upon it shouldn't require blind devotion to something that nobody can agree upon. Having said that, you're certainly walking a righteous path and I appreciate your words.

      June 15, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  9. Don Canard

    f*ing seriously ? rap trash gets news coverage as relevant to anything, cretins regurgitating a phrase they heard cause there's a glimmering in their empty heads that it might support their perceived self-interest ? Instead of tootling about garbage as culture, why not encourage all young people including them, to tune in to actual culture, included but not limited to what's in the bible ? Idiocracy is here in full bloom, folks.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • Sandra

      Because if Bible verses are being quoted in rap songs, the true meaning of the words, and the context in which they are used, deserves discussion. Whether we like it or not, rap has become part of the culture of young people, many of whom have heard parts of the Bible, and think, just like many Christians, that the words themselves are enough. Context and meaning are also required.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:36 am |
  10. NutGrinder


    June 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • b4bigbang

      Dont fear them – grind them!
      You *are* the NutGrinder aren't you?

      June 15, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  11. itsokay2bfrizzle

    Well, if you really like the Old Testament the Veggie Tales have an awesome song about all those funny rules in the movie "Jonah" I think, with "have four tassels on your cloak!"
    You know what, come to think of it, I can satisfy my curiosity right now. When browsing the Old Testament I've always wondered about where socio/cultural importance of random things like 4 tassels stems from, and golly just 10 years ago I would have to enroll in expensive Bible college to find out but these days I can just google it or look it up on wikipedia! For that matter I bet there's free info online about direct Greek/Aramic translations, the things I used to only be able to hear about from the pulpit. I always had a feeling those preachers weren't any smarter than me and that if I just had access to that same information I could deduce the same things they were preaching about..... I will google the four tassels right now. Thanks rapper Pusha T for reminding me about the Bible and technology, by their being an article about what verse on Exodus is "trending" right now and I'm like "wha?"

    June 13, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • mattindc

      It's Adam & Eve NOT Adam and STEVE....!

      June 13, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  12. mercenary76

    it would be fine for anyone to mention or discuss biblical verse except rappers that seem to be more suited to gang banging while they appear to be flinging a booger from their fingers .

    June 12, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  13. Moses

    These dummies break 9 of 10 commandments and want to wrap about a verse. Yeah ok. I'm not even religious, but this stuff is laughable. CNN needs to get a life.

    June 12, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Martin

      You said "wrap" .... dummy

      June 15, 2012 at 12:41 am |
  14. Phillip Martin

    Is this supposed to be profound?

    June 12, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  15. BAD Journalism

    Obscure Bible verse? Why is it obscure? That's an entirely subjective statement. Nothing in the Bible is obscure to those who READ IT!

    June 12, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Sandra

      And that's the point. You may have read it, I have read it, but if it is being used improperly, wherever, and people think that is the teaching of the Bible, they are wrong. How is that bad journalism? Journalism is the investigation and reporting of events. That is what this article has done.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:41 am |
  16. PJ

    “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness.”...unless you're Fox News...

    June 12, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  17. Johan

    A clarification of one of the ten commandments is hardly obscure. If we lived by them to the best of our ability, what a better place this world would be. The first four are a basis for a relationship with the Creator and the last six are the basis of a relationship with the community at large. Even if you an atheist, following the last six can only help your relationships and decisions. Too many people living for the moment instead of reflecting on how their actions affect those around them have inured us to what community is about.

    June 11, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  18. Kindness

    For you.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."

    June 11, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • NutGrinder

      "Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement..." and instead enslave yourself to a hateful "god' that tricks you with illusions of love and kindness... a god that sends you hell if you don't believe in him.

      Ignorance is bliss.

      June 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • jkflipflop

      So the billions and trillions of people that were born before 2000 years ago were just screwed? What do Zeus and Ra have to say about your Jehovah? Do they have the same seven day timeline of creation or were their creationary timelines a little off? You say your God loves us "unconditionally". . . unless we do something we *think^ he doesn't want us to do – then he sends your soul to a pit of fire to burn alive in unimaginable torment for the rest of eternity. But let's not forget he loves you.


      June 13, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Fladabosco

      "Evidence follows faith."

      Can there be a more foolish statement? It's like saying that something is only true if you are schizophrenic so you should become schizophrenic.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  19. Joe Plumber

    The Bible is a fairy tale.

    June 10, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Sunnylovetts

      The Bible is reality.

      June 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Fladabosco

      Hmm, which version of the bible is reality? Please tell me that every word is true. We just have to decide which words you are talking about.

      You realize the bible you are talking about was put together centuries after Jesus lived, selected by a Roman emperor from dozens and dozens of gospels. There is much doubt about who actually wrote those stories. And they have been translated, changed, characters added, etc. Are you talking about the Gnostic bibles that showed up in the centuries after Jesus showed up or the Good News bibles of the 1960s?

      In fact the only holy book used by a major religion that has never been changed from the original is the Koran, so if you are looking for authenticity you'll want to start with Islam.

      I'm not a Moslem, I'm just saying....

      June 15, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  20. yuri pelham

    Oh my?! How are politicians going to run for office?

    June 10, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
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.