Thursday, December 1, 2011

Revile Not the Gods

I came across a verse that I don’t remember taking much notice of before. I know I’ve read it, but I don’t recall doing more than that. “Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.” (Exodus 22:28)

The last part of that verse is clear enough. For us in America, that means we should be careful about what we say about the President, the members of Congress, the judges throughout the land, the Governor, the Mayor or anyone else in such a position. We can certainly say that we disagree with them, but they are to be treated with respect and we aren’t to wish they were dead.

It is the first part that got me. “Thou shalt not revile the gods…” How does that fit with the statement, “thou shalt have no other gods before me?” When you look back at the Hebrew, it doesn’t help much. The word that is translated as “gods” is often translated as “God”. The verse would mean something very different if it were stated as “Thou shalt not revile God.” And does it mean “thou shalt not revile the gods” or does it mean “thou shalt not revile the gods of thy people?”

If we take it just as it is translated in the King James Version, what it seems to be saying is that we shouldn’t use abusive language concerning other people’s gods. But Elijah didn’t seem to see anything wrong with that when he challenged the prophets of Baal. But another way this word is translated is as “judges”. Given the context, that actually makes more sense.

We are not to be disrespectful to those who have the authority over us. As we approach an election year, we will encounter many people who speak with contempt for some of those who currently hold office. We should not participate in this talk, rather we should be an example to others. Though we may disagree with our leaders, we should show them respect, even as we make our case against their decisions.