OathAid to Bible Understanding
or persons, a written document, a pillar or an altar stood as a witness and reminder of an oath or a covenant.—Gen. 31:45-52; Deut. 31:26; Josh. 22:26-28; 24:22, 24-27; see COVENANT.
UNDER THE LAW
Instances in which oaths were required of certain persons under the Mosaic law were: of a wife in the trial of jealousy (Num. 5:21, 22); of a bailee when property left in his care was missing (Ex. 22:10, 11); of the older men of a city in the case of an unsolved murder. (Deut. 21:1-9) Voluntary oaths of abstinence were allowed. (Num. 30:3, 4, 10, 11) Servants of God were sometimes adjured by one in authority, and they told the truth. Likewise a Christian under oath would not lie but would tell the whole truth called for, or he may refuse to answer if it jeopardizes the righteous interests of God or of fellow Christians, in which case he must be ready to suffer any consequences that might result from his refusal to testify.—1 Ki. 22:15-18; Matt. 26:63, 64; 27:11-14.
Vows were regarded in Israel as having the strength of an oath, as sacred and to be fulfilled even though they resulted in loss to the vower. God was viewed as watching to see that vows were carried out, and as bringing punishment for failure. (Num. 30:2; Deut. 23:21-23; Judg. 11:30, 31, 35, 36, 39; Eccl. 5:4-6) The vows of wives and unmarried daughters were subject to affirmation or cancellation by the husband or father, but widows and divorced women were bound by their vows.—Num. 30:3-15.
Jesus Christ, in his Sermon on the Mount, corrected the Jews in their practice of light, loose and indiscriminate making of oaths. It had become common among them to swear by heaven, by the earth, by Jerusalem and even by their own heads. But Jesus said: “Just let your word Yes mean Yes, your No, No; for what is in excess of these is from the wicked one.”—Matt. 5:33-37.
Jesus Christ did not hereby prohibit the making of all oaths, for he himself was under the Law of Moses, which required oaths under certain circumstances. In fact, when Jesus himself was on trial he was put under oath by the high priest, yet he did not object to this, but gave an answer. (Matt. 26:63, 64) Rather, Jesus was showing that a person should not have two standards. The keeping of one’s word, once given, should be viewed as a sacred duty and should be fulfilled just as an oath would be; the person should sincerely mean what he says. He shed further light on the meaning of his words when he exposed the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees by saying to them: “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is under obligation.’ Fools and blind ones! Which, in fact, is greater, the gold or the temple that has sanctified the gold?” He went on to say: “He that swears by heaven is swearing by the throne of God and by him that is sitting on it.”—Matt. 23:16-22.
By the false reasoning and hairsplitting casuistry of these scribes and Pharisees, as here pointed out by Jesus, they justified themselves in failing to carry out certain oaths, but Jesus showed that such swearing on their part was falsity toward God and was actually reproaching his name (for the Jews were a people dedicated to Jehovah). Jehovah plainly states that he hates a false oath.—Zech. 8:17.
James corroborates Jesus’ words. (Jas. 5:12) But these statements of Jesus and James against such indiscriminate practices do not apply as preventing the Christian from taking an oath when necessary to assure others of the seriousness of his intentions or of the truthfulness of what he says. For instance, as Jesus illustrated by example before the Jewish high priest, a Christian would not object to taking an oath in court, for he is going to speak the truth whether under oath or not. (Matt. 26:63, 64) Even the Christian vow to serve God is an oath or a swearing to Jehovah, putting the Christian into a sacred relationship. Jesus put swearing and vows in the same category.—Matt. 5:33.
Also, the apostle Paul, in order to strengthen his testimony before his readers, makes what is tantamount to an oath at 2 Corinthians 1:23 and Galatians 1:20. He further refers to an oath as a customary and proper way of putting an end to a dispute and calls attention to the fact that God, “when he purposed to demonstrate more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of his counsel, stepped in with an oath,” swearing by himself, since he could not swear by anyone greater. This added to his promise a legal guarantee and gave double assurance by means of “two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie,” namely, God’s word of promise and his oath. (Heb. 6:13-18) Furthermore, Paul points out that Christ was made High Priest by oath of Jehovah and has been given in pledge of a better covenant. (Heb. 7:21, 22) The Scriptures make upward of fifty references to Jehovah himself as making oaths.
ObadiahAid to Bible Understanding
(O·ba·diʹah) [servant of Jah].
1. A family head in the tribe of Issachar; son of Izrahiah and descendant of Tola.—1 Chron. 7:1-3.
2. A Zebulunite whose son was a prince of that tribe during David’s rule.—1 Chron. 27:19, 22.
3. A mighty Gadite warrior who crossed the Jordan at flood stage and supported David when he lived as a fugitive from Saul’s wrath.—1 Chron. 12:8, 9, 14, 15.
4. The household steward of King Ahab. Even though King Ahab and Jezebel practiced wickedness, Obadiah greatly feared Jehovah, hiding one hundred prophets of Jehovah “by fifties in a cave” when Jezebel had ordered them all slaughtered. During the divinely imposed drought foretold by Elijah, Obadiah’s master Ahab divided certain territory with him and each was searching for grass to feed the livestock, when Elijah met up with Obadiah. Elijah had not been seen by Ahab during the drought, a period of some three years. Upon being told to inform Ahab that Elijah had returned, Obadiah, out of great fear, hesitated to go until given assurance that the prophet would not leave, for Ahab would surely kill his servant if this report proved false.—1 Ki. 18:1-16.
5. A prince sent by Jehoshaphat to teach the law of Jehovah in the cities of Judah.—2 Chron. 17:7, 9.
6. A distant descendant of Saul and Jonathan in the tribe of Benjamin.—1 Chron. 8:33-38; 9:44.
7. A Merarite Levite, one of the overseers of the temple repairs that King Josiah ordered to be made.—2 Chron. 34:8, 12.
8. A prophet of Jehovah and writer of the fourth of the so-called “minor” prophetical books. (Obad. 1) Nothing personal is known of this prophet of the seventh century B.C.E.—See OBADIAH, BOOK OF.
9. A Levite who returned from Babylon and lived in Jerusalem. (1 Chron. 9:2, 3, 14, 16) He is evidently called Abda at Nehemiah 11:17. Possibly the same as No. 13.
10. A postexilic descendant of David and Zerubbabel.—1 Chron. 3:5, 9, 10, 19, 21.
11. Head of the paternal house of Joab who led 218 males of this family back to Jerusalem with Ezra in 468 B.C.E.; son of Jehiel.—Ezra 8:1, 9.
12. One of the priests (or his descendant) who subscribed to the covenant of faithfulness made by the returned exiles under Nehemiah’s governorship.—Neh. 9:38; 10:1, 5, 8.
13. A Levitical gatekeeper in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra. (Neh. 12:25, 26) Possibly the same as No. 9.
Obadiah, Book ofAid to Bible Understanding
OBADIAH, BOOK OF
The shortest prophetic book of the Hebrew Scriptures. Written by Obadiah (concerning whom nothing but the name is known), this book contains a proclamation of Jehovah’s judgment against Edom, presents the reason for that judgment and points forward to restoration for the “house of Jacob.” The extinction of the Edomites as a people and the restoration of the Israelites to their land