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. Patpilot

    "I give you these fifteen (CRASH), um... Ten Commandments.

    May 24, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      LOL. Mel does have a sense of humor.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
  2. I saw it on FOX News so it must be true ...

    Christianity is just Scientology with a 2000 year head start.

    May 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  3. Scholar

    Take a look again at Proverbs where the style of the poetry usually contains two statements of a concept, a way of getting one's arms around the idea being described. The use of this style in Proverbs helps to get the meanings across in case one statement is unclear. Two different ways of saying the same things usually help grasp it.

    May 24, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  4. Joey

    Sounds classy.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  5. Squeezebox

    The song speaks for itself. If you spread lies, somebody's gonna kill you.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Stonesrule

      Somebody oughta tell CNN reporters......

      May 24, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  6. veggiedude

    Why do people always site the original set of commandments as the "Ten Commandments"? Moses destroyed them, and later went back and received a new set. This new set is where 'the Ten Commandments' is used to describe them for the first time, and this new set does have 'thou shalt not kill' and does not have 'thou shalt not commit adultery' among other things. It does say not to eat a calf that has been bathed in its mother milk. How many christians follow that rule?

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

      what the hell are you talking about!!! Have you ever even read the Bible??? cover to cover?? I DOUBT IT. get an education!!!

      May 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Brian Hartman

      Actually, I would guess *most* of them follow that rule. How many calves to you think bathe in their mothes' milk nowadays?

      May 24, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Brian, to bath an animal in it's mother's milks is perversion.

      May 24, 2012 at 7:27 pm |


    May 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • clubschadenfreude

      oh really, predestined? And just how can you prove this, dear Calvinist? Can yuo show that your version of Christianity is the only right one and those Christians who claim free will are wrong? Seems about time to have you all get infront of a altar, and pray for your version of god to answer you with fire. Poor things, can't agree at all. So much for any magical knowledge.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Lilith

      Then what's the point .. if it's all predestined?

      May 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      It's called being humble as you ask Jesus for forgiveness, ask that you get closer to Him so you can learn wisdom how to live righteously, and of course, sin no more.

      May 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  8. TED


    May 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Snow

      days without food and water makes anyone delusional and cause hallucinations.. simple logical explanation.. no god!

      May 24, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      LOL. The carnally minded denying His spiritual truth.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
  9. bob o'neill

    I'm a Christian and I call it the Old Testment.

    Also Steak shoiuld be medium rare. Try getting well done in Europe!

    May 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Squeezebox

      Easier to get mad cow than well done in Europe.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  10. ttwp

    "But to the wicked, God says: “What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face." Psalm 50:16-21

    May 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • arthurrrr

      Good word dude!!!! very appropriate- rappers are DESPERATELY WICKED- every last one of them.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  11. catholic engineer

    Chalk one up for the atheist/materialist notion of "progress". If I walk next door and tell the guy he's an a$$, the anti-Christians feast on it and call me a hypocrite (why? atheists say Christianity is an inferior standard, then call me a hypocrite if I live "down" to it.) If I tell a guy in Tasmania by cell phone that he's an a$$, it's "progress". Apparently, human nature is too big for atheists to see. Atheists are always too early. They praise "reason" to the skies before they see what humans will do with their reason.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • copanut

      You don't like what humans do with reason. What is your preferred alternative? Irrationality?

      Reason is never wrong. It is often incomplete, such as based on faulty premises, and that leads to a wrong result. If irrationality ever leads to a good result, it's only coincidental good luck.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • wolfpackbob

      Reason is never wrong? "Love your neighbor as you would love yourself" is unselfish, but it is surely not rational. Are you OK with that?

      May 24, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • clubschadenfreude

      catholic engineer, if you don't like mere human reason, I'd suggest that you give up your computer, your modern medicine, your car, the foods you eat, etc, and go live in a mud hut like they did in bronze age Israel. Then surely your god would answer you, yes? But alas, you are too much of a hypocrite to do so. Nice to see that 😉

      May 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Chikkipop

      The reason we exalt reason is because of the awful consequences we see when it is absent.

      For example, in your entire post.

      Utterly inane!

      May 24, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      What's not rational about loving your neighbor or treating others as you'd like to be treated .. it is completely sound evolutionary psychology.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Snow

      @wolfpack.. define "love" and we can go from there..

      or, spend a few mins thinking about your definition of love and you will figure it out yourself

      May 24, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Reasonably

      Look what humans have done in the name of your god and religion. The crusades, inquisition, salem witch trials...yeah – I'd say you guys have a lock on making rational decisions based on your book and beliefs.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • If Nabateans had Gods ... their Gods would be blocks of stone

      I agree with "If Horses..", loving (or respecting) your neighbor is sound to many creatures on the Earth.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • If Nabateans had Gods ... their Gods would be blocks of stone

      "The crusades, inquisition, salem witch trials..."

      All that can be summed up as politics and/or fear. Religion was just the excuse.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • copanut

      Wolfpackbob, if you think "Love your neighbor as you would love yourself" is not rational, you have not completely thought it through. There are perfectly plausible, rational reasons why the Golden Rule is effective. You don't need to appeal to irrationality, you only need to think through why such a thing works in society and why society itself is beneficial. Intellectual laziness is a poor excuse for option to be embrace irrationality.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • wolfpackbob

      Rational thought is subjective. To claim that all atheists worship at the same altar of rationality is a lie. Everyone has their own view of the world and their place in it and to suggest that there is some universally accepted and exalted "reason" that all atheists worship and practice is absurd. Atheists would not agree with that. When your code is to pick and choose what is rational for you alone, you therefore elevate yourself to god-like status amongst your "less rational" fellow man, you even elevate yourself above more thoughtful and open-minded atheists. You will not even allow us to agree to disagree. Adios.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Humans versus God's truth. Do you know the difference?

      May 24, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  12. Snow

    Why? simple.. things that are discussed common place get refuted so often that they lose being the "it thing" and thus its importance(except for the ardent, of course). So, how do the religious show they are better then others? well, go to the obscure ones, of course. and say, "Oh you didn't know that?"
    comes down to basic psychology of feeling good by shoving others down..

    May 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      Insert an understanding of human psychology and the history of the worlds religions into the human brain and out falls religion.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  13. Doc Vestibule

    Does the white guy's hat say "H.W.A."?
    Hon/kys with atti.tude?

    May 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Kevin in Atlanta

      Freakin awesome...

      May 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  14. rcpr

    Beef is best served like steak/well done/get a gun in your face,”

    this is what the youth have for music now a days... how sad, how truly sad... nothing original or nothing that makes sense...

    May 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  15. slason

    Stupid people talking about stupid things. Selling stupidity to children is joining the 'wicked'. Intellectually inferior is no way to go through life. Add in the inadequacy and you have neither an artist nor philosopher...just a typical publicity hound.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  16. David

    A better question would be "why does CNN consider Twitter trends to be news?"


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

      Can I hear an AMEN!

      May 24, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  17. Ron WPAFB

    Well that verse does not bode well for Republicans! You know, the Moral Majority, the Far Right! If the verse held any power, the GOP would have been removed from the earth by God! Old Testament. The new Testament tells it better
    2nd Thessalonians 10

    10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
    11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
    12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • L

      If God was wiping people off the earth I dont think any politician would stand a chance.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  18. Canopy

    Great song! And very true....people are so quite to jump on rumors these days.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  19. PJ

    Why are atheists so nasty? If your contention is that God doesn't exist and you are sure of it, why are you so defensive? Every time I read a religious article posted here the atheist trolls appear. Go away! There are hundreds of millions of people who believe in Jesus. For some reason atheists are the few enlightened and everybody else is wrong!

    May 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Colin

      Numbers are irrelevant. For thousands of years, the whole planet theought the Earth was flat. Gods cannot be democratically elected into existence.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Unfortunately for you PJ, facts are not democratic.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • copanut

      "Atheists" aren't nasty. PEOPLE are nasty, some of whom happen to be atheists, and some of whom happen to be believers. Anonymous internet posters have a higher likelihood to be nasty in general. It proves nothing about the larger population.

      But if you are looking at atheists as a group, they tend to be highly educated, logical thinkers and have a high correlation to humanism, an inherently positive world view.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Bizarre


      Billions upon billions have believed in the Hindu gods for something like 7,000 years! That MUST mean they are real, eh?

      May 24, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Rob- Texas

      Colin- Ancient man knew the world was not flat. The greeks, romans, egypitans, mayans, hebrews, etc, etc, knew the earth was not flat. It was the loss of knowlege and egocentric european people that thought they knew better than everyone else (and history) that the world was flat. It wasn't tousands of years, it was hundreds of years. We have not even began to understand the knowledge that anchient people had, so we are all pretty ignorant.

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

      It is about faith. You can't prove that God exists and they can't prove He does not exist. Faith is confidence in what you cannot see or prove. You do not need to trash another's belief to have confidence in your own. But they obviously are not strong in their faith in atheism so they resort to diminish yours to "prove" theirs. Leave it at that. These trolls do not speak for all atheists so you are wasting your time here.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ... their Gods would be horses

      wolfpackbob ... it's not about faith or confidence or trashing others as you have, it's about probability. It is more likely that a Stegasaurus is orbiting Pluto at this moment than there is a God(s) in the universe. Why, becuase both Stegs and Pluto have been proven to be real .. God has not. So, why don't you believe in my orbiting Steg ... because it's extremely improbable and God(s) are infinitely improbable.

      May 24, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      wolfpackbob, I like how you call using logic and reason "trashing" your faith. If your beliefs can't withstand any scrutiny, they must not be valid. You are right though, by proving that the stuff in the Bible isn't real, I am bolstering my belief that your god doesn't exist. That's usually how logic works.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • wolfpackbob

      I did not trash atheists, I trash trolls who pretend to speak for atheists. You cannot prove that there is no God, but that is your faith and I am OK with that. I cannot prove that there is a God and that is my faith. But why are you not OK with that and feel you need to attack me or anyone else to "prove" to yourself what can't be proved?

      May 24, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • Brian Hartman

      Rob from Texas:

      Actually, that's a myth. People in Columbus's time *did* know the earth was a sphere (or at least close to a sphere, if you really want to get picky).

      May 24, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • If Nabateans had Gods ... their Gods would be blocks of stone

      "People in Columbus's time *did* know the earth was a sphere (or at least close to a sphere, if you really want to get picky)."

      Reference Dante's Divine Comedy. Written in the early 1300's, it shown that Pre-Columbus Europeans knew of a circular Earth.

      May 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      There's a common misunderstanding about atheism and indeed theism in general. So I'll try to clear it up

      Agnostic Theism (Belief in a god/gods without claiming that they KNOW for a fact that a god exists)
      Gnostic Theism (Belief in a god/gods and claiming that they KNOW for a fact god exists)
      Agnostic Atheism (Non-belief in a god/gods without claiming that they know for a fact that no god/gods exist)
      Gnostic Theism (Non-belief in a god/gods and claiming that they know for a fact no god/gods exist)

      May 24, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  20. jh

    Clearly the case of when comments go south and divert from the topic. Insidious Idiots many are....the song is great & speaks of no individual yet speaks to the masses.

    May 24, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
    • rcpr

      the song is nothing but plagiarism... duh

      May 24, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
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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.