Bible Notes

Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" (Ex. 20:7)—The words "in vain," which are found twice in this verse, represent the Hebrew "la-shave," meaning literally "for 'emptiness, vanity, nothingness, worthlessness' " (Brown, Driver, and Briggs: Hebrew Lexicon, p. 996), while the word rendered "take" means also "to lift up, bear, carry" (ibid.). Thus a literal translation would be: "Thou shalt not bear the name of the Lord thy God for naught," a rendering which is of not a little interest in view of the words of the prophet Jeremiah: "O Lord, . . . we are called by thy name" (Jer. 14:9). Smith renders: "You must not invoke the name of the Lord your God to evil intent;" and Moffatt has: "You shall not use the name of the Eternal, your God, profanely;" while the Margin of the Revised Version suggests "for vanity or falsehood" instead of "in vain."

"For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest . . ." (Jer. 10:3)—Smith translates this verse as follows: "For the cults of the peoples are vanity—they are but a timber which one cuts from the forest, which the carpenter's hands have wrought with the axe;" while the Septuagint translators had: "For the customs of the nations are vain; it is a tree cut out of the forest, the work of the carpenter, or a molten image."

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