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slan´dẽr (substantive, דּבּה, dibbāh, “slander”; διάβολος, diábolos, “slanderer”; verb רגל, rāghal, “to slink about” as a talebearer, לשׁן, lāshan, “to use the tongue,” “to slander”; διαβάλλω, diabállō, “to calumniate,” “to slander”; and other words):

Slander (etymologically a doublet of “scandal,” from OFr. esclandre, Latin scandalum, “stumblingblock”) is an accusation maliciously uttered, with the purpose or effect of damaging the reputation of another. As a rule it is a false charge (compare Matthew 5:11); but it may be a truth circulated insidiously and with a hostile purpose (e.g. Daniel 3:8, “brought accusation against,” where Septuagint has diaballō, “slander”; Luke 16:1, the same Greek word). Warnings, condemnations and complaints in reference to this sin are very frequent, both in the Old Testament and New Testament. Mischievous “tale-bearing” or “whispering” is condemned (Leviticus 19:16; Ezekiel 22:9). There are repeated warnings against evil-speaking (as in Psalm 34:13; Proverbs 15:28; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; James 4:11; 1 Peter 3:10), which is the cause of so much strife between man and man (Proverbs 16:27-30), and which recoils on the speaker himself to his destruction (Psalm 101:5; Psalm 140:11). Especially is false witness, which is “slander carried into a court of justice,” to be condemned and punished (Exodus 20:16; Deuteronomy 19:16-21; compare Proverbs 12:17; Proverbs 14:5, Proverbs 14:25; Proverbs 19:5; Proverbs 21:28; Proverbs 24:28). Special cases of slander more than usually mean are when a wife's chastity is falsely impeached by her husband (Deuteronomy 22:13-19), and when one slanders a servant to his master (Proverbs 30:10). Even a land may be slandered as well as persons (Numbers 14:36). Slanderers and backbiters are mentioned in some of Paul's darkest catalogues of evildoers (Romans 1:29, Romans 1:30; 2 Corinthians 12:20; 2 Timothy 3:3). To refrain from slander is an important qualification for citizenship in theocracy (Psalm 15:1, Psalm 15:3; Psalm 24:3, Psalm 24:4) and for a place in the Christian church (1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 2:3). Jesus Himself was the victim of slanders (Matthew 11:19) and of false testimony (Matthew 27:63). The apostles, too, came in for a full share of it (e.g. Acts 24:5 f; Acts 28:22; 2 Corinthians 6:8). In the case of Paul, even his central doctrine of justification was “slanderously reported” as if it encouraged immorality (Romans 3:8). The devil (= “the calumniator”) is represented as the great accuser of God's people (Revelation 12:10), the slanderer par excellence (compare Job 1:9-11; Zechariah 3:1).

See also Crime; Crimes; Punishments.

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