Updated: Dec 14, 2019
When Yeshua stated that we are "not to swear" what was He really saying? Is it wrong, or a sin, to swear. Matthew 5:34 "But I say unto you, Swear not at all;"
First, we need to realize that whether we use the English word swear, promise, affirm, or any other oath taking term, it all means the same thing.
In first century Judaism, and earlier, the custom had developed where oaths had been turned into a fake way of making promises where the person had no intention of keeping them. The idea was to swear by the name of heaven, the altar or some other object within the Temple etc.
They would often see how they could "out do" each other in their ridiculous oath taking; but the key is that they didn't intend on keeping them. This was their sin.
This is what Yeshua warns against. By reading Matthew 23:16-22 we can clearly see this understanding.
James 5:12 "But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your "yes" be "yes", and your "no", "no", lest you fall into judgment.
James (Jacob) follows suit with the Master's teaching.
What we are suppose to learn here is the sin of "our words" - or "lying". In Torah and the Prophets we are instructed to let our words be true. We don't need to take oaths, make promises, and not keep them. This is the warning here.
In today's society it is common for people to promise to do something but they never follow through. This is a sin! Oath taking is not a sin so long as you follow through with the oath. Things don't need to be added to the oath for "power" purposes. That is why our "no" should mean "no" and our "yes" needs to be "yes". It needs no attachments for power.
Leviticus 19:12 "And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD"
Leviticus 6:2-3 "If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour; Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein:"
It is "swearing falsely" that is a sin.
In Deuteronomy 6:13; and 10:20, oaths are actually upheld, and in fact, it is stated that one can swear in HaShem's Name.
So, our words matter to God. He expects us to keep our oaths, promises. We should never make a promise rashly. The sin is in swearing falsely, so consider your words before they are spoken. God intends you to follow through with what you speak to Him or to another human being.
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Here are additional scriptures to study for more clarity on this subject: Numbers 30:2,
Jeremiah 7:9, I Kings 1:30, Isaiah 48:1, Jeremiah 12:16.
Yahweh swears by His own name: Exodus 32:13 and 33:1