Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness

In the Old Testament we have the ten commandments.  One of them is often abbreviated for easy remembering, to read "Thou shalt not bear false witness."  In reality, the whole verse points to interactions with one's neighbor, but for the sake of this post, we'll roll with the abbreviated version, as there is truth to be found in it.

Thou shalt not bear false witness.  Typically I have equated this to lying, however what if we take it in exactness.  There may be some variations with translation to consider, but I'm not going there.

Thou = you/me
Shalt = will
Not = not
Bear = speak or convey
False = untrue
Witness (n) = an account of something factual

What if to not bear false witness was interpreted as not acting as a witness when we have not been one?

For example, let's say I come upon a scene of an accident of some sort.  I did not witness it, but I assert to the police when they come that the driver of one car was to blame, over another.  Let's imagine that I am related to the blameless victim, and am pointing the finger of blame at the other car.  Am I an accurate witness?

Under what conditions is it safe to say that we "know" something?  Does the term only cover areas which are witnessed with the five senses?  Or can we say we know something we have felt with senses beyond the physical ones? 


  1. I also wonder how this might relate to the bearing of testimonies in Church. I typically prefer to say "I believe" as opposed to "I know," except for a few truths that I no longer take on faith on account of some powerful personal experiences.

    1. Right on. Same here. And it becomes even harder once I find out that something I thought I knew, now I view differently. I'm more inclined to use the word with much more caution.

      Thanks for your comment, Sam!


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