International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
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 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 diaballo, "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, 25; 19:05; 21:28; 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, 30 2 Corinthians 12:20 2 Timothy 3:3). To refrain from slander is an important qualification for citizenship in theocracy (Psalm 15:1, 3; Psalm 24:3, 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; 28:22:00; 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 paragraph excellence (compare Job 1:9-11 Zechariah 3:1).