372 Parallels

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This page forms part of the resources for 372 Against Oaths in the Jesus Database project of FaithFutures Foundation

Crossan Inventory | 372 Literature | 372 Parallels | 372 Commentary | 372 Poetry | 372 Images



Right or wrong, so not involve yourself in an oath. [Lev 6:3]

And you shall not swear by my name falsely,
so that you do not profane the name of your God. [Lev 19:12]


Accustom not your mouth to swearing,
neither use thyself to the naming of the Holy One. [Sirach 23:9-11]


To swear not at all is the best course and most profitable to life, well suited to a rational nature which has been taught to speak the truth so well on each occasion that its words are regarded as oaths; to swear truly is only, as people say, a second-best voyage, for the mere fact of his swearing casts suspicion on the trustworthiness of the man. Let him, then, lag and linger in the hope that by repeated postponement he may avoid the oath altogether. [Philo, On the Decalogue 17]
Cited in Lachs, Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament, 100-103.


Although the rabbinic point of view, represented by these quotations, indicates that they wished to limit the oath and/or swearing, they did not as a matter of law prohibit it. The Essenes, on the other hand, were well known for their refusal to take an oath as being contrary to their belief:

6. And truly, as for other things, they do nothing but according to the injunctions of their curators; only these two things are done among them at everyone's own free-will, which are to assist those that want it, and to show mercy; for they are permitted of their own accord to afford succor to such as deserve it, when they stand in need of it, and to bestow food on those that are in distress; but they cannot give any thing to their kindred without the curators. They dispense their anger after a just manner, and restrain their passion. They are eminent for fidelity, and are the ministers of peace; whatsoever they say also is firmer than an oath; but swearing is avoided by them, and they esteem it worse than perjury (4) for they say that he who cannot be believed without [swearing by] God is already condemned. They also take great pains in studying the writings of the ancients, and choose out of them what is most for the advantage of their soul and body; and they inquire after such roots and medicinal stones as may cure their distempers. [Josephus, [Jewish Wars] II.8.6]

2 Enoch

For I swear to you my children, but I will not swear by a single oath neither by heaven or by earth nor by anything made by God. God said, 'there is no sweating in Me nor injustice but truth.' If there is no truth in men let thou swear by a word, yea yea, nay nay. But I swear to you yea yea.' [Slav Enoch 49:1-2]
Cited in Lachs, Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament, 100-103.


The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel, 'Do not imagine that you are permitted to swear by My name even in truth ...' [Num. R. 22:1]

R. Huna said: 'The yeas of the righteous are a yea, their nos are a no!" [Ruth R. 3.18]

Cited in Lachs, Rabbinic Commentary on the New Testament, 100-103.