Generally a valuable consideration given with a view to influencing its recipient to act, usually unjustifiably or corruptly, in behalf of the giver. Depending on the context, the Hebrew word for a bribe (shoʹchadh) may also be rendered “gift” or “present.” (Ex 23:8, ftn; 1Ki 15:19; Pr 17:8) The Scriptures indicate that the accepting of bribes led not only to the perversion of justice but even to bloodshed.—De 16:19; 27:25; Eze 22:12.
Accepting bribes was specifically prohibited by God’s law to Israel, and Jehovah, as the Supreme Judge, set the perfect example by always rendering impartial decisions and never accepting bribes. (Ex 23:8; 2Ch 19:7) Hence, those who would be guests in Jehovah’s tent must imitate him in this respect.—Ps 15:1, 5; see also Isa 33:15, 16.
The Bible contains numerous examples of those who were not free from bribery. Delilah was bribed to betray Samson, each axis lord of the Philistines paying 1,100 silver pieces ($2,422, if the “silver pieces” were shekels). (Jg 16:5) The sons of Samuel the prophet and judge, unlike their father, accepted bribes and perverted judgment. (1Sa 8:3; 12:3) David speaks of those whose right hand, which should have been supporting the cause of right, was full of bribery. (Ps 26:10) Kings Asa and Ahaz bribed the king of Syria and the king of Assyria respectively for military aid. (1Ki 15:18, 19; 2Ki 16:8) The head ones, or princes, of unfaithful Jerusalem proved to be lovers of bribes. (Isa 1:23; 5:23; Mic 3:11) Unlike ordinary prostitutes who receive hire, unfaithful Jerusalem actually bribed others to come to her.—Eze 16:33.
In the first century C.E., Judas Iscariot, in effect, accepted a bribe to betray Jesus Christ (Mt 26:14-16, 47-50), and Governor Felix withheld justice in Paul’s case in the hope of receiving a bribe from the apostle.—Ac 24:26, 27.
The expressions “a bribe from the bosom” and “a bribe in the bosom” can be better understood when considering that in Hebrew the word “bosom” may also refer to the fold of a garment above the belt. Therefore, these expressions indicate that the bribe apparently was hidden in the upper fold of the garment and then given in secrecy to another who, in turn, likewise concealed it.—Pr 17:23; 21:14; see GIFTS, PRESENTS.