Shemoth (Exodus) 20:7 & Devarim (Deuteronomy) 5:11: You shall not take the name of the Yahweh your Elohim in vain, for the Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
Many would recognize this verse of scripture as being the Third Commandment of the Ten Commandments (properly translated as “words”). Many of you have, perhaps, memorized the commandments for religion classes or “Sunday school,” but do you really understand what it means to “take his name in vain?” The English word “vain” is derived from the Latin word “vanus” meaning “empty.”
Now, we know that the “Old Testament” was derived primarily from the Hebrew Masoretic Text (also from the Greek Septuagint LXX), so let’s go back to the beginning to understand the full context of what is being said:
The word translated as “vain” comes from the Hebrew word shav שָׁוְא (H7723 – shäv) meaning “emptiness, nothingness, vanity, falsehood, lying, and worthlessness.”
– The word literally means “to devour the strong hook/peg that secures.” If you can, visualize a man beginning to remove the tent pegs/stakes that hold a tent down. This is the “concrete” meaning of the word “shav” – causing emptiness and worthlessness because you are removing the strength and structure securing the tent to the ground. This pictorial definition allows us to see this word’s relationship with other words and how it affects their meanings – remove structure security from “truth” an you get lies and falsehood, remove meaning from a name and you have emptiness, remove value from an object and get worthlessness.
Scriptural Examples of “shav”
Shemoth (Exodus) 23:1: “You shall not spread a false report. Don’t join your hand with the wicked to be a malicious witness.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 5:20: “Neither shall you give false testimony against your neighbor.”
Iyob (Job) 15:31: Let him not trust in emptiness, deceiving himself; For emptiness shall be his reward.
Tehellim (Psalms) 12:2: Everyone lies to his neighbor. They speak with flattering lips, and with a double heart.
Tehellim (Psalms) 31:6: I hate those who regard lying vanities, But I trust in Yahweh.
Tehellim (Psalms) 119:37: Turn my eyes away from looking at worthless things. Revive me in your ways.