Perjury is the willful taking of an oath in order to tell or to confirm anything known to be false. This is evidently a very heinous crime, as it is treating the Almighty with irreverence; denying, or at least disregarding his omniscience; profaning his name, and violating truth. By the Mosaic law, perjury was strictly prohibited as a most heinous sin against God; to whom the punishment of it is left, and who in Ex 20:7 expressly promises that he will inflict it, without ordaining the infliction of any punishment by the temporal magistrate; except only in the case of a man falsely charging another with a crime, in which case the false witness was liable to the same punishment which would have been inflicted on the accused party if he had been found guilty; but this not, indeed, as the punishment of perjury against God, but of false testimony. Perjury, therefore (שׁבֻעִת שֶׁקֶר, "false swearing"), was prohibited by the Hebrews in a religious point of view (Ex 20:7; Le 19:12; comp. Mt 7:29; Zec 8:17), but in the law only two sorts of perjury are noticed: 1, false testimony in judicial proceedings; 2, a false assurance, confirmed by an oath, that one has not received or found a piece of property in question (Le 5:1; Le 6:2 sq.; Pr 29:24). A sin-offering is provided for both (comp. Plaut. Rud. 5:3, 21), and in the latter case satisfaction for the injury, with increase (comp. Hebenstreit, De sacrifcio a perjuro ojn- endo, Lips. 1739). Among the ancient Romans, also, the punishment of perjury was left with the gods (Cic. Leg. 2:9), and no official public notice was taken of the perjured man, save by the censor (Ge 7:18; comp. Cic. Off. 3:31; Rein, Rom. Criminalrecht, p. 795 sq.). On the contrary, the Talmud not only notices the subject at greater length, but ordains more severe penalties for perjury: scourging and full reparation when any serious injury has been done (Mishna, Maccoth, 2:3 sq.; Shebuoth, 8:3). It also determines in special cases the value of the sin-offering to be presented (Shebuoth, 4:2; v. 1; comp. further Zenge and Stemler, De jurejur. sec. discipl. Hebr. p. 57 sq.). SEE OATH.

Bible concordance for PERJURY.

Definition of perjure

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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