SLANDER

slan'-der (substantive, dibbah, "slander"; diabolos, "slanderer"; verb raghal, "to slink about" as a talebearer, lashan, "to use the tongue," "to slander"; diaballo, "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 Mt 5:11); but it may be a truth circulated insidiously and with a hostile purpose (e.g. Dan 3:8, "brought accusation against," where Septuagint has diaballo, "slander"; Lk 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 (Lev 19:16; Ezek 22:9). There are repeated warnings against evil-speaking (as in Ps 34:13; Prov 15:28; Eph 4:31; Col 3:8; Jas 4:11; 1 Pet 3:10), which is the cause of so much strife between man and man (Prov 16:27-30), and which recoils on the speaker himself to his destruction (Ps 101:5; 140:11). Especially is false witness, which is "slander carried into a court of justice," to be condemned and punished (Ex 20:16; Dt 19:16-21; compare Prov 12:17; 14:5,25; 19:5; 21:28; 24:28). Special cases of slander more than usually mean are when a wife's chastity is falsely impeached by her husband (Dt 22:13-19), and when one slanders a servant to his master (Prov 30:10). Even a land may be slandered as well as persons (Nu 14:36). Slanderers and backbiters are mentioned in some of Paul's darkest catalogues of evildoers (Rom 1:29,30; 2 Cor 12:20; 2 Tim 3:3). To refrain from slander is an important qualification for citizenship in theocracy (Ps 15:1,3; 24:3,4) and for a place in the Christian church (1 Tim 3:11; Tit 2:3). Jesus Himself was the victim of slanders (Mt 11:19) and of false testimony (Mt 27:63). The apostles, too, came in for a full share of it (e.g. Acts 24:5 f; 28:22; 2 Cor 6:8). In the case of Paul, even his central doctrine of justification was "slanderously reported" as if it encouraged immorality (Rom 3:8). The devil (= "the calumniator") is represented as the great accuser of God's people (Rev 12:10), the slanderer paragraph excellence (compare Job 1:9-11; Zec 3:1).
See also CRIMES; PUNISHMENTS.
D. Miall Edwards