“But what comes out
Of the mouth
Proceeds from the heart.
This is what defiles a man.
Out of the heart
These are what
Defile a man.
But to eat
With unwashed hands
Does not defile a man.”
τὰ δὲ ἐκπορευόμενα ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ἐκ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχεται, κἀκεῖνα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.
ἐκ γὰρ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχονται διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί, φόνοι, μοιχεῖαι, πορνεῖαι, κλοπαί, ψευδομαρτυρίαι, βλασφημίαι.
ταῦτά ἐστιν τὰ κοινοῦντα τὸν ἄνθρωπον· τὸ δὲ ἀνίπτοις χερσὶν φαγεῖν οὐ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον.
There is something similar to this in Mark, chapter 6:20-23. Jesus indicated that the true defilement was what came out of a person’s mouth, not what went into it. He clearly explained defilement. What came out of the mouth (τὰ δὲ ἐκπορευόμενα ἐκ τοῦ στόματος) proceeded from the heart (ἐκ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχεται). That is what defiled a man (κἀκεῖνα κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον). Out of the heart came (ἐκ γὰρ τῆς καρδίας ἐξέρχονται) such things as evil or wicked thoughts, plots or deliberations (διαλογισμοὶ πονηροί), murders or killings (φόνοι), adulteries (μοιχεῖαι), sexual immoralities, fornication or pornography (πορνεῖαι), theft (κλοπαί), false witness or false testimony (ψευδομαρτυρίαι), and slander, abusive language, or blasphemy (βλασφημίαι). These were the things that defiled a man or person (ταῦτά ἐστιν τὰ κοινοῦντα τὸν ἄνθρωπον). You can clearly see what Jesus, his disciples, and the early Christian community considered as sins or defilements that made a person unclean. But to eat with unwashed hands did not defile a man (δὲ ἀνίπτοις χερσὶν φαγεῖν οὐ κοινοῖ τὸν ἄνθρωπον) or make him unclean. Notice that there is no mention of any unclean foods as in Mark. Perhaps the Jewish Christians around Matthew still held to Jewish dietary laws.
You have heard
That it was said
To your ancient ancestors.
‘You shall not swear falsely!
But carry out
You have made
To the Lord.’”
Πάλιν ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις Οὐκ ἐπιορκήσεις, ἀποδώσεις δὲ τῷ Κυρίῳ τοὺς ὅρκους σου.
Jesus, via Matthew, expounded on another of the Ten Commandments, bearing false witness or lying, as expressed in Exodus, chapter 20:7. Apparently, this was unique to Matthew. They had all heard what was said to their ancestors (Πάλιν ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη τοῖς ἀρχαίοις). They were not to swear falsely or lie (Οὐκ ἐπιορκήσεις). Then Matthew added that they also should do or perform the vows that they swore to do to the Lord (ἀποδώσεις δὲ τῷ Κυρίῳ τοὺς ὅρκους σου), as indicated in Deuteronomy, chapter 23:21-23. They should be careful about what they vow. They should fulfill these vows quickly, since they were free to vow to the Lord God, Yahweh, or not. However, when they did, they should make sure that they did what they said that they were going to do.
“Then Susanna cried out
With a loud voice.
‘O eternal God!
What is secret!
Aware of all things
Before they come to be!
That these men
Now I am to die!
Yet I have done none
Of the wicked things
That they have charged
Susanna that cried out loud in a prayer to God. She said that God knew all secrets. He knew what was going to happen before it happened. He knew that this was a false witness that these two elders had rendered. He knew that she had not done any of the wicked things that she was accused of. He knew that she was about to die.
“Let your foot be seldom in your neighbor’s house.
Otherwise the neighbor will become weary of you.
He will hate you.
One who bears false witness against a neighbor is
Like a war club,
Like a sword,
Like a sharp arrow.
Trust in a faithless person
In time of trouble is
Like a bad tooth
Or lame foot.”
Be careful with your neighbors. Do not go there too often. Otherwise your neighbor will grow weary of you. He will end up hating you. Do not bear false witness against a neighbor. That is dangerous like a war club, a sword, or a sharp arrow. Do not trust a faithless person when you are in trouble. They will be like a bad tooth or a lame foot, an annoyance to you.
“To get wisdom is to love oneself.
To keep understanding is to prosper.
A false witness will not go unpunished.
The liar will perish.”
You love yourself if you seek wisdom. This wisdom will lead to understanding and prosperity. Then in case you forgot about the consequences for lying and bearing false witness that admonition is repeated here, a few verses after the earlier indication. Liars will not go unpunished. In fact, they will perish.
“Whoever speaks the truth
Gives honest evidence.
But a false witness
Rash words are like sword thrusts.
But the tongue of the wise
Truthful lips endure forever.
But a lying tongue lasts only a moment.
Deceit is in the mind of those who plan evil.
But those who counsel peace have joy.
No harm happens to the righteous.
But the wicked are filled with trouble.
Lying lips are an abomination to Yahweh.
But those who act faithfully are his delight.”
Truth is important. Telling the truth is giving honest evidence. The false witness was full of deceitful speech. Their rash words were like sword swipes. The tongue of the wise truthful one brings healing and endures forever. The lying tongue only lasts a moment. The deceitful people plan their evil deeds. If you counsel peace, you will bring joy. The righteous are not harmed, but the wicked are full of trouble. Yahweh hates lying lips, but loves faithful true lips.
“Yahweh hates six things.
But seven are an abomination to him.
They are haughty eyes.
They include a lying tongue.
They are hands that shed innocent blood.
They include a heart that devises wicked plans.
They are feet that hurry to run to evil.
They include a lying witness who testifies falsely.
They include anyone who sows discord in a family.”
This is a numerical listing of vices like the medieval 7 deadly sins. Although Yahweh hates 6 things, 7 are an abomination to him. Among these 7 mentioned, lying is mentioned twice. The first is haughty eyes. The second is the lying tongue. Thus eyes and mouths can create evil vices. Then there are hands that shed innocent blood and feet that run to evil. Thus hands and feet can do evil. Then there is the heart that devises wicked plans. There is then a second mention of lying, by being a false witness, which is somehow different than just a lying tongue. Finally, there is the 7th vice of sowing discord in a family.
“A single witness shall not suffice to convict a person of any crime or wrong-doing in connection with any offense that may be committed. Only on the evidence of two or three witnesses, shall a charge be sustained.”
The witness of 1 person is not good enough to convict anyone of any crime. There must be at least 2 or 3 witnesses to sustain a charge.
“If a malicious witness comes forward to accuse someone of wrongdoing, then both parties to the dispute shall appear before Yahweh, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days. The judges shall make a through inquiry. If the witness is a false witness, having testified falsely against another, then you shall do to the false witness just as a false witness had meant to do to the other. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. The rest shall hear and be afraid. A crime such as this shall never again be committed among you.”
Both parties of a dispute must appear before the priests and judges. If someone had been a false witness, they must be purged and suffer the consequences. It is not clear if they are killed or not.