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. WhatWhatWhat?

    “Beef is best served like steak/well done/get a gun in your face,” Wait a minute, steak is beef, isn't it? And who likes it cooked well done? And w_t_f does beef/steak have to do with guns in yo' face? Wow, those certainly are words to live by, aren't they?

    May 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  2. boocat

    Crap quoting crap....ah irony.....

    May 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  3. ReligionIsBS

    You ever notice how rappers talk about god in one verse, then selling crack and killing people in the next? "Yo god, thanks for making me rich by serving these fiends. POP. POP. POP. Another dead ninja!"

    May 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Rynomite

      "You ever notice how rappers talk about god in one verse, then selling crack and killing people in the next?"

      Maybe rappers they learned their styling from the Old Testament? Its all about god in one verse and killing in the next!

      May 24, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  4. mankind99

    Wow CNN you have now officially joined the ranks of TMZ and Yahoo News as the most moronic news agencies on the planet. What happened to REAL news? Sad.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      When you are a 24-hour news agency, you have to talk about something. If you don't like it, get your own channel/website and put out what news you think is important.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      Jacques, is that you? Dude I saw you perform a few years back, I hope you recovered well from the accident.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Yeah I was juggling too many balls but I'm back juggling balls again!

      May 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  5. Woody

    The bible its verses are just like songs as they are all human mammal written and people can write anything they want in a bible and a bible is little more than a human mammal written book and the bible was even written 300 years after Jesus was long gone . And over the years people just keep on adding the stories they like .

    May 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Joseph

      Woody, please do just a little bit of research and you will see that they were written one generation after Jesus died and was resurrected. We have dates and proof that the Bible has not been changed or altered. If you say that all of it was fake then you might as well just go ahead and say that Aristotle never existed. When someone makes a big exclusive truth claim as Jesus did, "I am the way the truth and the light, no one can come to the Father but by Me." You may want to actually do some research on the matter instead of just making stuff up.
      Thank you,
      God bless.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
    • Bizarre

      "well just go ahead and say that Aristotle never existed."

      Any claims of fact made by or attributed to Aristotle are held to the same process of verification as any other.

      There is not a shred of verification for the supernatural claims made by or attributed to Jesus.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  6. Jake Darnell

    Who care what a rapper sings. Their trashy music isn't worth listening too.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  7. Fuser

    Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Repent!

    May 24, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      So is Allah! No wait, its Mithra! No, I heard it was Zues! Whatever, just know that im right and you're wrong! I hold the secret to life, not you!

      May 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Chad

      How about reminding people that Jesus loves them first? Repenting comes when you discover Jesus and His love and want to live your life for Him.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      No, it comes from when you discover Allah. Or Jehova. Or Posiden. Or tribal river gods.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      Chad, you mean when you're completely delusional?

      May 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Michael

      @ Chad, I don't have a problem with letting people know that Jesus loves them, because He does. However, before you tell this believer to correct their witnessing method, you might want to look at the Bible. John the Baptist, who Jesus refers to as being the greatest born amount women (Matthew 11:11), but he did not go around saying Jesus loves you now repent. He said, "Repent. for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2)

      May 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      Yup, completely delusional.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  8. saint

    who dat ?

    May 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  9. bigfire01

    Rpmney / entire republican party are guilty of this = “You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness.”

    May 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Correction, all politicians are guilty of this.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  10. Sally

    Since when is the Old Testament called the "Hebrew Bible"? I'm a Christian, and my Bible has an old and a new testament. No one I ever told me we were supposed to call the first part something else.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • BRC

      The Old Testament is actually the Torah, the holy book of Judaism. IT is only called teh Old testament if you are discussing christianity.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • dmp

      Don’t know much about the origins of your own religion, do you?

      May 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • frank

      most xians dont know a thing about their religion. Case in point

      May 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Tim

      Maybe you should learn about your own religion yourself, instead of listening to what other people tell you to do. Might change your life.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Jim Ryan

      But since there are two very different Gods, there has to be a division of Old and New. One is a cruel theocratic dictator. The newer, more forgiving God in the Ne Testament. But here's what they have in common. They are both man made delusions the require a life of servitude. No thanks!

      May 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Dangerkittie

      Just wow.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Matt

      It has always been called the Hebrew Bible but not to Christians. Jews read from the Hebrew Bible. Christians include it in the Bible but call it the Old Testament.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • Christ

      I'm guessing no one ever told you it is all cr@p either.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • bigfire01

      You seem to be ignorant about the Xtian bias towards their superiority, therefor calling their 'book' the bible.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Sensible Mind

      1 Timothy 2:12
      I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Matt: it has not always been called "the Hebrew Bible." That's an invention of academia.

      Jews call it the Torah (first 5 books) or Tanakh (whole OT).
      Christians call it the Old Testament.
      Only in the academy (where the two interact in scholarship) do scholars call it "the Hebrew Bible" – referring to the language, not the people.

      The PC motivations here fail to understand that Jews don't call it that among themselves.
      Honestly, it'd be like calling the NT "the Greek Bible" because it is mostly in Greek.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Automatic Translator

      "Hebrews? In MY bible?? Unpossible."

      May 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • LJ

      Jacques, while I agree with a lot of what you say, every culture around the world recording a great flood in their history is pretty strong indication that the flood of Noah and survivors (although not proof that Noah was among them) is genuine. Not to mention that there is geologic evidence of huge floods.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
    • Bizarre

      "there is geologic evidence of huge floods."

      So what? There is no evidence that these floods occurred at the same time, worldwide.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • topcityres

      BRC– Actually the TORAH is only the first 5 books of the old testament. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The TORAH is not the entire old testament. The Old testament is comprised of three parts. The TORAH, the Prophets, and the Writings. All of these together is called the Tanakh. Or the Old Testament. I think an interesting point is that many Jews today use the Talmud which is something totally different and I'm sorry to say, very disturbing. Good day.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • TG

      The first 39 books of the Bible, commonly called "the Old Testament" is accurately called the Hebrew Scriptures and the remaining 27 book of the Bible are accurately called the Christian Greek Scriptures. The Bible has never been divided into halves, as if there is an "Old Testament" and "New Testament".

      The terms Old and New Testament is because of a mistranslated Greek word di·a·the′ke at 2 Corinthians 3:14 that is rendered in the King James Bible as "old testament" (Greek palaias diatheke) but is accurately translated as "old covenant". Hence, there is no old or new testament of the Bible, as if it divided, but is all one book by one author, Jehovah God.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Oh those poor Jews. It must be tough getting through life with only half a Bible.
      Or 1/3 of a Bible if one takes the Mormon perspective.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  11. Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

    The book of Exodus is all made up anyway. There is no evidence to indicate that the Egyptians ever enslaved an entire race of people. Those huge monuments were built by well-compensated Egyptian citizens. There is no evidence that Moses ever even existed. There is no evidence that 600,000 Israelites (plus non-Israelites and livestock) walked across the desert for 40 years. You would think with around 1 million people/livestock there would have been at least one piece of archaeological evidence to prove it. Not to mention if they had walked in a straight column 10 people/wagons wide, they column would have been well over 100 miles long. There is no indication in Egyptian history either of the severe economic/social turmoil that would have occurred due to 600,000 slaves suddenly leaving. The exodus did not happen.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • BRC

      Let's not forget that the Egyptians, who had been writing and recording their history since the hebrews were still just a band of desert nomads, have no record of ANY of the 10 plagues, that supposedly decimated their population, and involved supernatural phenomena that would have been recorded by everyone who didn't die.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • frank

      nothing in the bible happened is probablly the all encompassing statement

      May 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Well that's true BRC but I usually leave that out because the argument that Egyptians very seldom recorded defeats makes it a tie when it comes to both sides of the debate.

      Still, you would think there would have been something recorded about a crazy amount of turmoil just from the river Nile being turned to blood, not to mention the death of the firstborn. They could have at least been explained away by Egyptians failing to appease their gods.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • patp

      The whole bible is made up, just like lord of the ring. There's no evidence that Aragorn was really good friend with Gimli.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Chad

      You seem to have a lot of passion in your heart for proving God and Christianity wrong. The apostle Paul also had a lot of passion in persecuting and killing early Christians. God changed his heart and used his passion to do a lot of good. I thank God for your passion and pray he does the same for you.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      You have to understand frank, in a debate like this, it is best to start small and work from there. By disproving the exodus account (and therefore the passover) it becomes much easier to start to discredit the Bible as a whole. If Jesus was really God's son and he was hanging out in heaven before he came to earth, wouldn't he have known the passover didn't happen and refuse to celebrate?

      Same logic can be used with the flood of Noah's day. Jesus mentioned it as if it were a real event but we know scientifically that the flood account with Noah and the Ark in Genesis chapter 7 didn't happen. Why would Jesus mention it if it didn't happen? He would have had to know it didn't happen.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      patp, there is plenty of proof that Aragorn was friends with Gimli. I'd like to invite you to the church of Tolkien. We have meetings every Sunday. Don't forget to put money into the collection plate we pass too.

      Chad, you are comparing me proving the Bible wrong to Paul killing Christians. Because the two are clearly related. What's the weather like in the reality you live in? Is it a humid or dry climate?
      I love how you can't prove any of what I said wrong so you resort to ad hominem. Well done.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • JoePub

      Read about Pi-Rameses. You will find your answer there.

      May 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  12. Honey Badger Dont Care

    What does rap and the bible have in common?

    Both are cr@p.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  13. Elliott

    yes more colored pretend religion. next thing you know they pop a cap in someone's as ss

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

      Can you not find your shift key because the small holes in your KKK mask obscure your field of view?

      May 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  14. Kayann

    It takes an awful lot of faith to be an aetheist. Check out recent scientific studies about evolution, creation, etc. You might be very surprised.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Flippy1124


      The definition of an athiest is someone who agrees with you about everyone elses god and agrees with everyone else about your god.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      Even if it did take a lot of faith (or any at all) that still does not make God(s) real or biblical stories any more true than simple metaphors.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • John

      Wow. Could you be any less informed? Try and read something with an open mind. You might learn something. Oh wait, I forgot that learning anything is bad for you guys.

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

      Uh, no. It takes a little bit of KNOWLEDGE to be an athiest,
      it takes an awful lot of blind faith to be a religious idiot.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • Let me do some translating for you

      Christians – "I know in my heart"

      translated to actual English is – "I instinctively believe it and refuse to analytically think about it because i am emotionally attached to the concept and don't care if it is actually true as long as i get to believe that it is true and judge others who don't."

      May 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • WrshipWarior

      @Horses – Archeologists have uncovered (and continue to do so) many, many ancient areas of the middle east which substantiate a lot of what the Bible records historically. The Bible is a record of proven history. I will not argue your denial of God as it is your choice to reject your Creator. He does not force anyone to accept Him.

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

      @WrshipWarrior You have to be joking right? Proven fact? Even catholic cardinals say that adam and eve didn't exist and the bible is all metaphor. PLEASE READ SOMETHING BEFORE YOU TALK. Also, before you try and say cite your source, since I actually only try and say things that I have researched, here is your proof.


      May 24, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Flippy1124

      WrshipWarior – Archeologists have uncovered Troy too; I guess that means the god Apollo existed too.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • WrshipWarior

      @Tim – I in no way support religious idealogies from "authorities" that deny the very existence of God and creation. If catholic cardinals want to be atheists then that is their choice. And I would dare say that not all catholics share the same sentiments. And I am not a catholic.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      WrshipWarior .. I accept historical fact, but I don't think you actually know what that means. Show me some historical fact of a God(s) existence then we can have a reasonable conversation about it.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Edwin

      WrshipWarior: okay, so the Bible is aligned with historical events. I had always believed so. But have archaeologists seen evidence from these sites that the Bible's version is accurate down to the religious aspects? For example, have they found a pillar of stone resembling Lot's wife? Have they found linguist evidence that every human spoke the same language until they tried to build the Tower of Babel? Have they found evidence that Jesus physically rose from his tomb? Or that Jacob fought with an actual Angel?

      As a historic log of the Hebrew people, the Bible is probably pretty good. But as for the miracle stuff... I don't think you're going to find any archaeological evidence of miracles. I don't mind if you believe in a Creator - it doesn't bother me unless you want to force me to believe, or force me to worship your God.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • WrshipWarior

      @Tim – Proof that King David reigned.


      There are two sides to every fence. I choose LIFE!

      May 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Tim

      Okay, fine you are not catholic, so let's look at the Old Testament then. Plagues...no written mention of them in Egyptinan history (even though they are regarded as some of the best historians in the ancient era, writing down almost everything). Pretty sure they would mention something that killed that many of them.

      I am not even going to try and talk about the idea that the Earth being only 5000 years old. I am not sure if you support that idea, but it is a point that clearly takes away from the accuracy of the bible. Fianlly, as said above, the discovery of certain landmarks or ruins does not prove anything besides that those landmarks existed. Nothing else.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • BRC

      Finding sites that MIGHT be cities reference in the bible does not make the stories in teh bible true. It means the men who wrote the bible, much much later, overlayed the stories on an accurate map.

      I was going to give an another example, but the Troy/Apollo one is pretty much spot on.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • Rob

      Theists threaten people with rules based on unproven claims, Atheists call them on that. Atheists are simply people that have heard theists claims, looked at their evidence, and found these claims to be completely unjustified. No atheist could assert 100 % that there is no god, they just haven't seen any good reason to believe there is one, and hold god in the same category as any other mythological figure. Please note that nobody has ever disproved any greek or egyption god, but no faith is required to dismiss them as make-believe.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • happyday

      @ Tim. Last I heard, unless something is plural, it means one. "Catholic cardinal says"....that is the view of one person out of 2.1 billion Christians. Before you tell others to research something, make sure your own facts rely on solid numbers, not just the opinion of one.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Tim

      My mistake for assuming that the opinion of one of the highest positions in the Catholic Church (appointed by the pope no less) might hold some weight. I guess I should not be surprised though seeing as how Christians have been ignoring the opinion of scientific experts for years choosing rely instead on their own guesswork.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • WhatWhatWhat?

      Dude, you are whacked out delusional.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  15. JR Jake

    Bearing false witness against anyone is never a good practice. Gossip, innuendo, insinuation and lies has ruined a man probably quicker than any deed the man might have committed. Assisting those in performing ill will (against your conscience) is a form of hypocrisy that is rarely spoken. How can I support bringing down a person who I don't know, but have only heard rumors, with good cause and conscience? How can I go into a foreign country and kill a innocent person and there was NO CRIME committed against me or my country? We live in a world of hypocrisy.

    Lies and deceptions surround us on a daily basis. The OT and NT is laced and lined with counsel and admonition on how we should live our lives and how we should treat others. If your rationale does not stand up to basic logic and scrutiny at some point and time in life; it will come to bear in your heart and conscience (sleepless nights and general angst) somewhere down the road. A guilty conscience is hard to soothe when you know that you have been in the wrong, have not corrected a misdeed, have preached in support of wrong doing; and yet still call yourself a believer.

    It is inevitable before you close yours eyes the final time, it is said a person's life passes before their eyes. All I know is I want my thoughts to be pleasant and not with lamentation. Corrcting immediately is much better than trying to remember and correct in a short period of time.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Everett Wallace

      YOU sound like a preacher and 100% of the time I am correct.

      May 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  16. MNfree

    The true crime here is a 'well done' steak. Next thing you know it, kids these days will put ketchup on that steak too.

    Dark times.

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

      Agreed! I think that was the 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not burn a perfectly good steak.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  17. Everett Wallace

    @cbinal. MMMMMM I don't have a clue? been to mental hospital twice had to go before a Judge to be released the first time, been to jail twice all because I said that I have seen GOD THE FATHER. Have 24/7 surveillence by Fighter Jets and Others no matter where I am, so do you really THINK I need to get a clue. you religious scholar.

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

      uh no, you need to be put back in.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Rich

      Yeah, sorry pal. You're not big enough for 24/7 surveillance by fighter jets and others. The RFID chip in your tooth serves us JUST FINE.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  18. Steve the Goat

    Rap, like the bible, is crap.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  19. angryersmell

    Pusha T is teaching me about The Bible! Yay! I feel edjumacated!

    Oh wait. No I don't, because he's just spouting off the same generic stupid garbage the "industry" side of the hip-hop/rap community keeps pushing these days. Like the "industry" side of the rock community of the late 70's and 80's pushing big hair, androgynous clothes and "partying" (aka: hanging out with loose women and drug abuse).

    Here's an idea: while this genre still has people's attention, why don't you rap about something that matters? Maybe encourage kids to find constructive ways to escape the ghetto, rather than telling them to embrace it and wallow in it.

    Interpreting a Bible verse, intended to be used as law, that tells people not to bear false witness against neighbors, as meaning: "don't rat or we got beef and I'll shoot you,". Wow. How enlightening. Stupid. Garbage.

    May 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
  20. cmc

    Get your face out of oudated holy books and into a grilling cookbook, stat!

    May 24, 2012 at 2:40 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.