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People's Dictionary of the Bible


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Oath. The forms of solemn affirmation mentioned in Scripture are: 1. Lifting up the hand. Witnesses laid their hands on the head of the accused. Genesis 14:22; Leviticus 24:14; Deuteronomy 17:7; Isaiah 3:7, A. V., but the R. V. reads "he shall lift up his voice." 2. Putting the hand under the thigh of the person to whom the promise was made. Genesis 24:2; Genesis 47:29. 3. Oaths were sometimes taken before the altar, or by an appeal to Jehovah; "as the Lord liveth." 2 Kings 2:2. Comp. 1 Kings 8:31; 2 Chronicles 6:22. 4. Dividing a victim and passing between or distributing the pieces. Genesis 15:10; Genesis 15:17; Jeremiah 34:18. As the sanctity of oaths was carefully inculcated by the law, so the crime of perjury was strongly condemned; and to a false witness the same punishment was assigned which was due for the crime to which he testified. Exodus 20:7; Leviticus 19:12. The New Testament has prohibitions against swearing. Matthew 5:34-37; James 5:12. It cannot be supposed that it was intended by these to censure every kind of oath. For our Lord himself made solemn asseverations equivalent to an oath; and Paul repeatedly, in his inspired epistles, calls God to witness the truth of what he was saying. The intention was, as Alford well notes upon Matthew 5:34-37, to show "that the proper state of Christians is to require no oaths; that, when evil is expelled from among them, every yea and nay will be as decisive as an oath, every promise as binding as a vow."

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'Oath'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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