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Exodus Mishpatim
  Ki Tisa
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23:1 Do not accept a false report.

Do not join forces with a wicked person to be a corrupt witness.
Lo tisa shema shav al-tashet yadcha im-rasha lihyot ed chamas.

23:2 Do not follow the majority to do evil.

Do not speak up in a trial to pervert justice. A case must be decided on the basis of the majority.
Lo-tihyeh acharey-rabim lera'ot velo-ta'aneh al-riv lintot acharey rabim lehatot.


  (Targum; Rashi; cf. Pesachim 118a; Sanhedrin 7a). Or, 'do not spread false rumors' (Ibn Ezra).

false report
  (Targum; Rashi). Or, 'an illegal report' (see Exodus 20:7). This prohibits the courts from accepting illegal testimony, specifically when the defendant or opposing party is not present (Sanhedrin 7a; Yad, Sanhedrin 21:7; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative Commandment 281). Or, 'a trivial report.' This is seen as a commandment against listening to malicious gossip (lashon ha-ra) when not necessary, even if it is true (Pesachim 118a).

to be a corrupt witness
  Since two witnesses are always needed (Numbers 35:30, Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15), and a wicked person is not a valid witness, it is forbidden to join with him to make a pair (Mekhilta; Saadia; Yad, Eduth 10:1; Ibn Ezra; Sforno). Or 'Do not join forces with a wicked person to be a false witness' (Targum; Rashi).

Do not follow
  (Targum; Rashbam; Ibn Ezra; Bachya). Or, 'Do not follow a majority [of one] to impose a [death] penalty' (Mekhilta; Yad, Sanhedrin 8:1).

to pervert justice
  (Ibn Ezra; Tur; Abarbanel). See Exodus 23:6; Deuteronomy 27:19, Malachi 3:5. The form li-n'toth here denotes 'to turn [oneself] aside' (cf. Numbers 22:26; 2 Kings 20:10; Psalms 17:11). Hence, it is also translated, 'do not speak up [in a trial] to bend yourself [to follow the consensus]' (Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative Commandment 183; cf. Rashbam; Saadia, Yad, Sanhedrin 10:1). Or, 'Do not speak up to bend yourself [and change your mind about your verdict]' (Yad, Sanhedrin 10:2; Sefer HaMitzvoth loc. cit.). See note, this verse, 'A case must be...'.

Others translate this, 'Do not speak up in a lawsuit [to coach either party]' (Bachya; cf. Yad, Sanhedrin 21:10; Choshen Mishpat 17:8).

Since the verb anah has the connotation of testimony (Exodus 20:13), the verse can also say, 'do not testify at a trial to pervert justice.'

A case must be decided...
  (Chullin 11a; Bava Metzia 49b; Saadia; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Positive 175). This is a general rule that we must follow a majority in all cases.

Some put the entire second part of the verse together, 'Do not speak up in a trial, leaning toward the majority to pervert justice' (Mekhilta; Rashbam; Abarbanel). The form le-hatoth used here has the connotation of perverting justice; Isaiah 10:2, Proverbs 17:23, 18:5, Lamentations 3:35. It also has the connotation of turning aside another (Numbers 22:23, 1 Kings 8:58). Hence, 'Do not speak up in a trial to turn aside, following a majority to change someone else's decision (Chizzkuni).

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