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In English, an "oath" is defined as either a solemn promise to do something, or to tell the truth (although both involve telling the truth). The original Hebrew and Greek words of the Holy Scriptures, that are translated as "oath," generally mean a solemn promise to do something; the Ninth Commandment (see the Fact Finder question below) already covered telling the truth. Hence Christ's instruction that, when it comes to telling the truth, just do it.

"But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is His footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." (Matthew 5:34-37 KJV)

"he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth"

The principle of how, in the Scriptures, oaths were a solemn promise to do something, not an "oath" in the modern-day sense, can be illustrated by this example whereby The Lord made an oath to do something; obviously, The Lord, Who cannot lie, did not need to make an oath to tell the truth. In the Bible, "oath" is almost always used to describe a solemn pledge to do what one says will be done. Here The Lord made an oath "to perform the mercy promised to our fathers." This example also shows how prophecy is as much a matter of having the power to make something happen in the future, as it is being able to see it beforehand. Prophecy is often a matter of the materialization of stated long-range planning.

Holy Bible

"As He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham" (Luke 1:70-73 KJV)

Here are other examples of "oath" meaning a promise to carry out what one says one is going to do. Telling the truth is an integral part of that, but in the Bible it was moreover used as an obligation of action.

"Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned. And Abraham said, I will swear" (Genesis 21:23-24 KJV) (see also On His Own Two Feet)

"This heap be witness, and this pillar be witness, that I will not pass over this heap to thee, and that thou shalt not pass over this heap and this pillar unto me, for harm. The God of Abraham, and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge betwixt us. And Jacob sware by the fear of his father Isaac." (Genesis 31:52-53 KJV) (see also Jacob and Laban)

"And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence." (Genesis 50:25 KJV) (see also Potiphar)

"If a man vow a vow unto The Lord [see also YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD], or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth." (Numbers 30:2 KJV)

"Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do as thou sayest. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise." (Nehemiah 5:12 KJV) (see also Governor Nehemiah)

"Whereupon he promised with an oath to give her whatsoever she would ask. And she, being before instructed of her mother, said, Give me here John Baptist's head in a charger. And the king was sorry: nevertheless for the oath's sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her. 14:10 And he sent, and beheaded John in the prison." (Matthew 14:7-10 KJV) (see also John's Last Days)

Fact Finder: What is the Ninth Commandment?
See "Thou shalt not bear false witness"

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