To adjure is to solemnly command, with legitimate authority, a person who is under oath to comply; often, in a court of law, to bind, urge, compel, under threat of serious legal penalty or curse, truthful testimony, without distortion or concealment. The act of lawfully adjuring is called adjuration.
In the U.S.A. up until near the end of the 20th century, witnesses in a court of law would be instructed to place their left hand on a Bible, raise their right hand, and solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, "so help me, God." This was an oath, calling upon God Almighty to bear witness to the truthfulness or falsity (perjury) of the testimony and to punish the false witness who lied or who withheld vitally relevant information.
This has ancient precedent in the Law of Moses in the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:16: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor", and in the injunction to not deceive the judges set in judgment over the people, Exodus 23:1-3; Deuteronomy 16:18-20; 19:15-21; 27:19, 26.
- Joshua 6:26
1 Samuel 14:24
1 Kings 22:16
2 Chronicles 18:15
- Joshua 6:26
Liberals and atheists, in particular the ACLU, have used legal casuistry to attempt to persuade the Supreme Court to rule against the required use of the Bible and any requirement of swearing to tell the truth by invoking the help of God in any court of law. They have not been entirely successful. It is neither forbidden nor required according to the U.S. Constitution which prohibits "an establishment of religion" . Hostile witnesses are adjured to avoid the secular penalties for perjury whenever they are solemnly reminded by the court that they are "under oath". The very real danger of a divine punishment inflicted by the curse of God for daring to lie under oath is not considered relevant or practical.
The most famous case of adjuration in history is recorded in the New Testament of the Christian Bible, the documented occasion of the informal preliminary hearing by the high priest, the scribes and the elders of Israel solemnly assembled together to hear for themselves relevant testimony, when Jesus Christ the Son of God is adjured by the high priest of Israel:
- "And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God." Matthew 26:62-63 King James Version (boldface emphasis added).
- St. Thomas Aquinas took up the question of lawful adjuration in his Summa Theologica.
St. Thomas Aquinas - The Summa Theologica. Of the Taking of God's Name by Way of Adjuration (Three Articles). Second Part of the Second Part, Question 90 (dhspriory.org) —scroll down the page to see all three articles
- "adjure" (oxforddictionaries.com). See Catholic Encyclopedia: adjuration (newadvent.org).
Authority, Justice, Law (stubbornthings.org) the authority required to legitimately adjure.
- See the following Strong's numbers:
Strong's H7650 Joshua 6:26; 1 Kings 22:16; 2 Chronicles 18:15
Strong's H422 1 Samuel 14:24
Strong's G1844 Matthew 26:63
Strong's G3726 Mark 5:7; Acts 19:13
- First Amendment - Annotations (constitution.findlaw.com)
- Establishment Clause - Legal Information Institute (law.cornell.edu)
What is ADJURATION? - The Law Dictionary, Featuring Black's Law Dictionary Free Online Legal Dictionary 2nd Ed. (thelawdictionary) —The page includes links to Related Legal Terms: SWEAR, JURATION, SUPER-JURARE, CONJURATIO, ANTEJURAMENTUM, AFFIDATIO, CORPORAL OATB, AHTEID, PURGATION, DOME