Why is it so important to be honest?

One of the biggest problems of the different Bible translations in general, and the English translation in particular, is the gap between the unique grammatical system of Hebrew and the other languages.

In English for example, there is no differentiation between second person singular and second person plural – in both cases one would use the word ‘you’. However, in Hebrew this differentiation exists – similar to some other languages (and even has another different form for second person feminine) and can be found in the following verse:

“YOU shall do no injustice in court. YOU shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall YOU judge your neighbor.” (Leviticus 19:15)

As you have probably noticed in all of these cases, the English translation uses the same word (‘you’), so when one reads this verse one assumes that the Bible actually speaks about the SAME person.

However, in the original Hebrew ‘YOU shall do no injustice in court’ is written in the plural from (‘Lo Ta’asu’ {לא תעשו}) which suggests ‘you’ – second person plural, while the other part ‘YOU shall not be partial to the poor…’ is written in the singular form (‘Lo Tisa’{לא תשא} ) which suggest ‘you’ – second person singular.

In other words, according to the original Hebrew, we should read and understand this verse as referring to DIFFERENT people: the judge as well as the people who are on trial!

The first part of the verse which is written in the plural form is talking about the obligation of the people who are facing trial. THEY ‘shall do no injustice in court’ meaning they should tell the truth and be honest. And once they did their part, only then can the judge do his important role and fulfill his obligation which is ‘in righteousness shall YOU judge your neighbor.’