From: Stephen Williamson
Sent: Friday, July 05, 2013 9:55 AM
Subject: Chatting about swearing and oath of office
Updated 23rd September, 2019
The word oath, 'she•vu•ah,' is closely related to the number seven, 'she•va.' Much has been written about the hidden powers pertaining to this number. Of course, the first time it is mentioned is right at the first chapter of Genesis. From this moment on, it becomes the key for major landmarks of the Jewish life cycle. Words such as Sabbath ('Sha•bat'); a week ('sha•vu•ah'); and Pentecost ('sha•vu•ot') are all related to the number seven, along with many more. 'Sha•vu•ot' is the holiday which is celebrated a day after counting seven weeks from Passover. You can't miss the double seven here! The 'Pente' in Pentecost relates to the 50th day (7×7+1) after Passover when the Pentecost is celebrated.
The word oath is historically connected to the holy number seven. It is considered holy, as well, and is very binding. A famous oath was made by Abraham and Abimelech where Abraham reinforced and substantiated that oath with a gift of seven lambs. The oath was to testify for Abraham's ownership of a well of water. Abraham named the place where the oath was taken ‘Beersheba,’ today a major city in Israel. This name means: 'the well of the seven' (
The oath, like the week, is a circle that begins when taking the oath and ends when it is fulfilled. In scriptures, we were warned to use it carefully:
James 5:12 "But above all things, my brothers, don't swear, neither by heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath,"
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Click here for all occasions of 'she•vu•ah' — it's 30 times in total.
In the New Testament "Orkos" in Greek meant a (sacred) fence circle or boundary line that the speaker would not permit to be crossed. A related English word is "Horizon", also "Exorcism" from a related Greek word "exorkismos" which meant to bind (and separate), sever ("seven") the evil spirit from its victim.
Click here for all occasions of 'orkos' singular and plural — it's 10 times in total.
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Original email 5th July, 2013
Chatting about Mr Husic on Wednesday, swearing his oath of office on his father's Koran. In the Australian on Wednesday, Tony Abbott said any abuse of Mr Husic was "completely unacceptable".
Just a few thoughts.
Perjuring yourself was "epiorkos"
— stepping over and outside that boundary line, and thus dishonouring not only your earlier words but also belittling that by which you had sworn eg in modern day aussie swearing, most awkwardly — Death and Hell (bloody and damn), the Names of God and Jesus, the Marriage Bed with its potential procreation (using the f--- word), etc.
Words in Aussie-speak that we name with passion.
I found this interesting article by John Piper — extract below
In Hebrews 6:16 it says, "For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute." In other words, when you want to stress the validity of your promise you pick out some great value (the Bible, your Mother's grave, God) and you swear by it. "On my mother's grave, I swear I did not steal your purse."
Why do you swear on something great and valuable? Because what you are saying in an oath is this: If I prove false -- if I am lying -- then let my dead mother be a liar. Or: Let God be false. Or: Let the Bible be condemned. So the degree that you value and esteem the basis of your oath, to that degree your word can be trusted.
Then the writer looks at the way God took his oath in verse 13. He says, "For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself." Do you see what God was doing here? He was saying: Now I want to give my people strong encouragement. So I will add an oath to my promise to show them how much I want to undergird their hope. So what shall I swear by? I could swear by the sun and the moon. They are great. Or I could swear by the world, or by my people Israel whom I love, the apple of my eye. Or I could swear by all the angels of heaven -- by Gabriel and Michael. But no, none of these is great enough to give the level of encouragement and hope I want my people to have.
These are all valuable to God. But there is one thing he values and esteems above all. There is one Reality that he is less likely to dishonor and to shame than any other. There is one Person whose worth and honor and dignity and preciousness and greatness and beauty and reputation is more than all other values combined -- ten thousand times more, namely, God himself. So God swears by himself. "Since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself."
If he could have gone higher, he would have gone higher. Why? To give you strong encouragement in your hope. In verse 18, the writer says that God has spoken "by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie."
The reason God cannot lie is that God cannot hate God. God can no more lie than he can stop being God.
So yes, coming right back to Tony Abbott, I can see his point, given the value Ed Husic would (presumably) be placing on his father's holy book.
And also, given the weakness of our frame, why Jesus said the preference is not to swear at all.
Blessings all Steve
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