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. MyTake

    The bible has been interpreted for centuries to mean whatever you want it to ... lol ... it's all make believe anyway ...

    May 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • You are a bot

      And "you" don't exist. You are actually a collection of different people at various computers.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  2. Damo

    ...That's it?

    Even for an article about that book of fiction, this is pretty thin.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • Moe

      What fiction do you refer to? The FACT that the Israelites existed, the FACT that they occupied the land of Canaan, the FACT that Egypt had slaves that built their buildings, the FACT that archeological records support the existence of cities and kings mentioned in the Bible, the FACT that they had a law code of 600+ laws, that FACT that there is secular historical evidence of the individuals mentioned in the accounts of Jesus life?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      Moe .. nothing you mentioned makes religion true. It just shows history & no one questions historical facts, just supernatural interpretation of them.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • Bizarre


      The fact that places mentioned in the Bible have been verified archeologically has no bearing on the veracity of the supernatural stories put forth in that book.

      Mount Olympus (and many other places mentioned in their legends and myths) really exists in Greece. Does that mean that 12 gods really live there? Dickens' "The Christmas Carol" fairly accurately portrays the places and conditions of 19th century England. Does that mean that the supernatural visits of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come were real? All sorts of fiction and fantasy stories are set in real places.

      The Bible is a book which includes *some* history of primitive Hebrew culture, and *some* good advice for practical, beneficial human behavior, but a great deal of it is a compilation of ancient Middle Eastern historical fiction, myth, legend, superst.ition and fantasy.

      There is not a whit of verified evidence for any of the supernatural beings or supernatural events in that book.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  3. Spike

    Very interesting conversation! In my humble opinion faith seems to trump fact with most so called religious fanatics. To those of great faith be very careful! Read your history! Not just the storie from the Bible, but from actual history books. Get your information from more than one source, and truly try to listen to other opinions. A closed mind is ultamitly very dangerous, for all of us!

    May 24, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      History means His story!


      May 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Kayann

      I've read my history and my science and I believe more than ever in the Bible. No one in any field has ever disproved what is in the Bible. It takes a lot of faith to be an aetheist (sp?) I can't even spell it much less consider it. How many of the commentors on here who bash the Bible know anything at all about it or the science or history or archeology. They don't want to know. It's hard to be a Christian and most people want the easy way. Good luck at the end of times.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • Bizarre

      Heaven Sent, I hope that you are just trying to be cute, because...

      " from O.Fr. historie, from L. historia "narrative, account, tale, story," from Gk. historia "a learning or knowing by inquiry, history, record, narrative," from historein "inquire"

      In Latin "His story" would be something like, "Narratus Suus", and in Greek, "ιστορία του".

      May 24, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      Kayann .. the easy way out is to simply believe what your parents told you to believe .. it's much harder to make your own decisions by studying into them especially if they don't follow what's currently "trending".

      May 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  4. Tim

    The Bible used to be a source of inspiration. Now it's a one-stop ammo dump where anyone anywhere in the political spectrum can browse for that perfect blunt instrument to strike down enemies.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Thus has it always been.
      Crusades, Inquisitions, "Cognite Intrare" etc ad nauseum

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

      You two are confusing mortal humans with Jesus' truth. Jesus' truth stands for eternity.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  5. Conrad Shull

    "'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." WHAT? It channels absolutely nothing, and means even less.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • cbinal

      Exactly – I thought the same thing when I read that part.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • MNTaxpayer

      It's gibberish.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  6. rhm

    whoop-de-frigg-in-do. who cares.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  7. Chris VC

    This story shows what so many of us don't like about the Bible('s various translations). Verses can have multiple meanings. It muddles the message. It also adds credence to the idea (I would say fact) that it is a human, conceived, inspired, and written anthology of writings that needs to be examined critically, and not blindly or ignorantly accepted.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Leviticus 18&20

      a book that started out in Aramic, was translated to Greek, Arabic, Latin, THEN from there into French, Italian, Spanish, and after all of those, into English. So, what, 8 steps to get to here? I wonder how many other passages in the bible have been warped and twisted due to this consistent changeover...

      May 24, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • If Nabateans had Gods ... their Gods would be blocks of stone

      @Leviticus 18&20- Actually..look at the Great Scroll of Isaiah from th Dead Sea Scrolls. Our modern copies of that book is quite accurate to a direct translation from the scroll and that's skipping all the greek, latin and thensome.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Everett Wallace

      So true and WE are decoding the Holy Bible to get everyone on the same page AND we're going to recover the missing part of the book of AMOS and this book Nooooo one has been able to restructure, I do mean Noo one stay tuned. By the way to let you know where we are at this point the crucifixtion IS A BIG FAT LIE. In the Holy Bible GOD says HE hates human sacrifice, no way would HE sacrifice HIS firstborn. Another minipulation john 3:16 HIS only begotten SON should say HIS first begotten SON. A hidden subject by the "church" book of jeremiah 7:18-19 (new international version) speaks of the QUEEN of HEAVEN go figure all this time everyone has been "taught" it was just The FATHER-SON-HOLYSPIRIT, so this is the kinda of stuff which has been going on at a HIGH level of discussions. Another thing the "church" is saying only 144 thousand would be saved, now from my insider knowledge the number saved IS 6 BIllion.

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

      @Leviticus – actually, the translations did not occur as you mentioned. The Hebrew Old Testament is virtually the same in Hebrew today as it was several millenia ago. Additionally, ancient Greek texts of the New Testament as written are also still in existence. Modern translations (ones done in a scholarly fashion) actually clear up confusion mostly because of recent findings and discoveries in archeology that gives us a clearer historical and grammatical understanding of the culture in which they were written.

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

      @Lev – you need to go back and study how it was really translated – nothing you said was correct. I hate all of these newer translations that are suppose to make the Bible easier to understand. Maybe the reason you don't understand it is because it wasn't written to you. Ever try to read someone elses mail and understand it all.

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

      @Everett – wake up man, you don't have a clue. You're reading somebody elses mail too.

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

      @cbinal – The Bible has a message for all. The truth remains the truth whether we believe it or not. As Christians, if what we believe is not true, we should be the ones pitied because we believe a lie. If what we believe is true, then we should be proclaiming the message to all so that all who would believe would hear the message. What truly makes me sad are the hateful and derogatory comments from all those who say that Christianity is hateful. Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black, eh? None of those would tolerate one bit me saying to them what they say about Christians. How blind they are to their own judgements of others.

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

      @Sean – Respectfully, the Bible has one message for all and that is Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. If a person doesn't believe, then it's not for them. They can read it all they want and they will be just as confused as ever with more things to ridicule. I appreciate your heart for them, but unless the Spirit draws them, they won't understand.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Commenter

      Everett Wallace,
      "Another thing the "church" is saying only 144 thousand would be saved, now from my insider knowledge the number saved IS 6 BIllion."

      Well, that's just a very few of the 38,000 +/- denominations that say that (Jehovah's Witnesses, for one). They disagree with the other 38,000 +/- and the other 38,000 +/- disagree with them. What to do, what to do? Who to believe? They can't all be right, but they can all be wrong.

      Flash: The population of the world has risen to 7 Billion at the present time. 3500 years now (2000+ for the NT) and The Bible's supernatural stories are believed by only about 1/3 of them.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Chris, Jesus told us to be humble and seek His wisdom. Have you done what He asked? No. That's why you have no eyes to see nor ears to hear His truth with your carnal mindset you cherish.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  8. Everett Wallace

    Don't know about the song really don't care. The Holy Bible says (new international version) exodus 23:1 " Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness" then the Holy Bible references to exodus 20:16 (new international version) this goes to the Ten Commandments and says "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor" you see the difference in my Holy Bible and your bible is that it gives passages in your studies with references to other passages for your Spiritual growth. Little child you still drink the milk you are not REady for the Spritual food and that's gaining knowledge of Who GOD THE FATHER is and WHo GOD THE HOLYSPIRIT is, just having knowledge of the TRINITY! is not enough because you just see " The Man" and it's much higher than that.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Alicia Townes

      To me it goes to show that the Bible that is the old testament is written for the jews

      May 24, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
    • MNTaxpayer

      If you say so. Seems by now, with so many people 'studying' the bible for centuries, someone would be able to interpret it correctly.

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

      Alicia, the Tribe of Judah is only one of the Tribes of Israel.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  9. Elizabeth

    So, Fox News disobeys the Bible, no surprise.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • granger

      how's that, genius?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
    • If Nabateans had Gods ... their Gods would be blocks of stone

      Lo...Fox haters on CNN...who would have thought?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  10. Rynomite

    “You shall not spread a false report."

    Too bad the entire bible more or less violates this verse.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Wrath of Zeus

      Bible pwnd!

      May 24, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • If Nabateans had Gods ... their Gods would be blocks of stone

      You do realize that there is no singular book called the Bible right? It's a collection of books..so if one part says something, that doesn't mean it violates other parts.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Mark

      So which parts are holy and which ones can be ignored if they don't agree with each other?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Cardog204

      Truth, aparently, is just like beauty; it is in the eye of the beholder.

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

      @Mark- "So which parts are holy and which ones can be ignored if they don't agree with each other?"

      ~Don't know...go and search it out.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Rynomite

      @ Nabateans – Yeah I realize its a collection of books. Since the entire collection is historical fiction, I agree that "if one part says something, that doesn't mean it violates other parts". After all fiction is meant to be read with the willing suspension of disbelief.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Rynomite

      @ Mark – "So which parts are holy and which ones can be ignored if they don't agree with each other?"

      Well if you are Christian, the holy parts are the ones that justify whatever is your current agenda.
      The ones that can be ignored are the ones that are otherwise inconvenient.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • If Nabateans had Gods ... their Gods would be blocks of stone

      @Rynomite- "Since the entire collection is historical fiction,"

      ~Did the original authors write it as fiction?

      May 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  11. HA

    Maybe "Ironic" verse would have been better.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  12. Novel T

    He that hath fool around with barn yard animals, must be watched...

    May 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  13. Lofter

    Not surprised that this "art form" completely debauches and fails to grasp the meaning behind a passage of scripture.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  14. Natasha

    I just love it when idiots use the bible o make a point and then live like HELL.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Natasha

      I meant "to" make a point, sorry!

      May 24, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Tammy

      but you must admit that God loves EVERYONE, to include I. D. 10 T's

      May 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • MNTaxpayer

      Tammy – Then why is there a h-e-ll?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  15. bigjohnhunkler

    Only the looney left would call this verse "obscure"

    Essentially it goes against everything they stand for.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
    • Frogman

      That's showing your true Christian spirit

      May 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Jesus Christ

      Um... what?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • amphiox

      Funny how bigjohnhunkler seems to have overlooked the fact that he has violated both the spirit and letter of this verse in his own post, right here.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  16. John N. Seattle, WA

    Quick! Someone let the guys at Fox know about this verse!

    May 24, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • LinSea

      MSNBC are the ones who should really be worried.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
  17. ArizonaUSA

    Who says this verse is "obscure"? It's very familiar to people who actually read the Bible.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • If Nabateans had Gods ... their Gods would be blocks of stone

      Well...it's not as well known as verses like John 3:16 and such.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • ArtInChicago

      It is obscure to the extent that it is not discussed nor said with any frequency within mass media, and for that fact amongst Christians.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • ArtInChicago

      btw...if you live your life trying to encapsulate a person in connection to a label, you are a dummmmaizz

      May 24, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  18. tiredteacher

    If you have no desire for a Saviour, then trust me on this, you won't have one.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • kent

      i have a desire for truth. there is no evidence of a savior that will give us life after death. the god that people worship is not there. we are as destined as the zebra on the african plains. live, die, and that's it. your bible that draws people to say there is a god and a savior is the very thing i use to deny that a god exists. keep on plugging the savior and life after death. that is fine. my angle is from the same reading, and of course what i actually witness, and learn about confirms my thinking. at bare minimum, the god and savior of the bible is a myth.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Wrath of Zeus

      People who are not scared of death or a non existent god do not want a made up savior.

      May 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Save me, please.

      What if I am scared of extra terrestrial zombies?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • KillemAll

      Like you know something others don't. Weak-willed sheep should shut up and stay on their knees praying to NOTHING.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Glen

      Kent Only a fool says in his heart that there is no God or Savior in this case, that is not me saying but God in His Word. Those who know and experience God do have hope because they have something you don't possess or have aquired as yet. A broken and a contrite heart I will not turn away; this is what God requires of us in order to receive his Eternal gift of Salvation thru the only way He made for mankind. For us believer it is the only truth for you it is to wonder if this might be true, so give it a try, what do you have to lose on the other hand if you are wrong, you stand to lose everything.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • MNTaxpayer

      We really don't have to 'trust' you on anything. You may not have a saviour either.

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

      Glenn –
      so give it a try, what do you have to lose on the other hand if you are wrong, you stand to lose everything.

      Is that how you define belief? Give it a try? Either you beleive something or you don't. You can't just give it a try. And to say you believe something you really don't believe just for the possible benefit is really quite cynical.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Bizarre

      "Only a fool says in his heart that there is no God or Savior in this case, that is not me saying but God in His Word."

      No, the MEN who wrote the Bible said that. There is no evidence that it is the "Word" of any god.

      It is a quite old and sometimes effective tactic – declaring that those who do not believe your story are 'fools'. Nobody wants to be considered 'dumb' for not seeing the Emperor's new clothes, or a 'bas.tard' for not seeing the Sultan's new turban, or a 'cuckold' for not being able to see the Miller's gold thumb.

      Even Joseph Smith used it when he gathered his 'witnesses' to his golden plates. He told them that only those with 'true faith' would be able to 'see' them.

      The ancient, primitive Hebrews who originated those Bible stories were quite adept at manipulative mind-games.


      As for "what have you got to lose?"...

      What if Allah is the real god?... or Zeus, or Jupiter, or Quetzalcoatl? You have lost everything if you haven't worshipped them.

      What if "God" knows that you are believing just to cover your butt?

      May 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  19. Mike

    Pusha T's credibility takes a huge hit with that white guy in the photo... He's probably Pusha's accountant or Financial Advisor, but more likely his Seein' Eye Dawg. You couldn't have photoshopped him out of the picture? At least his lanyard bling he's flashing? C'mon!

    May 24, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • MNTaxpayer

      Pusha T's credibility. That's the funniest thing I've read today.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  20. 4 travelers

    Exactly how does a rap about revenge/feuds (beef) and guns in faces "channel the spirit" of a verse that calls people to be truthful, and to avoid joining with those who will defame others? Seriously, CNN, spend some money to get some real writers.

    May 24, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Kyley

      I had the same thought when I read that 🙂

      May 24, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • Jerry

      Exactle right, travelers. Another CNN distortion of biblical truth and the purpose is to get people to distrust the Word of God.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:18 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.