January 30, 2009

Stoning in the New Testament

Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.
John 8:5, NKJV.

This past Tuesday night in my seminary class, Greek Bible & the Western Mediterranean World, I was part of a team of four that had to give a presentation on the topic of stoning in the Bible. This presentation was more of a historical description of what the event of stoning looked like rather than a theological interpretation. In this post, I will include both.

This was a very interesting research project without any theological references used during the presentation.


One of the books used as a reference was The Mishnah, a compilation of Rabbinical teaching and laws collected from perhaps the second century B.C. through the end of the second century A.D., which reveals to us today, a contemporary picture of the process of stoning during the times of the early church.

The Life and Epistles of St. Paul (1890) by Th. Lewin

The word stoned comes from the Greek word lithoboleō λιθοβολέω which is from a compound of lithos (lee'-thos) λίθος and ballō βάλλω to throw stones, that is, lapidate: - stone, cast stones. (Lithos - Apparently a primary word; a stone (literally or figuratively): - (mill-, stumbling-) stone. Ballō - A primary verb; to throw (in various applications, more or less violent or intense)).

When we read a passage of Scripture such as the woman caught in adultery whom the scribes and Pharisees wanted to stone to death (John 8:1-11), or when Stephen was stoned for a false accusation of blaspheming God and Moses (Acts 6:11), it is helpful to understand why this form of capital punishment was instituted in the Bible.

What constituted such an execution to take place and why?

The purpose that runs through the entire process which led to death by stoning is that of holiness and the sanctity of the community. The LORD reminded His people many times that He was holy and therefore, they were to be holy also (Leviticus 11:45). Stoning, as a cruel and public means of execution, was meant to foster the fear of God and of His laws. Such fear was meant to focus one’s mind and heart on obedience to the LORD and as a deterrent to disobedience. Stoning, as a communal act, was a statement by the congregation (community) to rid itself of grievous sin and remain holy. It did not take place within the city so as not to defile the city and no one had to touch the corpse and be personally defiled.

A death penalty by the act of stoning was required when any of the following offenses were found guilty in a person:

  • Idolatry – Deuteronomy 17:2-7; 13:6-10 (Matthew 7-11)
  • Sacrificing children to Molech – Leviticus 20:2-5
  • Prophesying in the name of a foreign god – Deuteronomy 13:1-5
  • Divination – Leviticus 20:27
  • Blasphemy – Leviticus 24:15-16
  • Sabbath breaking – Numbers 15:32-36
  • Death caused by an ox – Exodus 21:28-32
  • Adultery – Deuteronomy 22:22-24
  • Rebellion by children – Deuteronomy 21:18-21
Blasphemy, breaking the Sabbath or not keeping the Sabbath, adultery and rebellious children all warrant death by stoning. We see and hear these exact same things in our society today by countless people and while stoning is not considered a humane form of punishment for such biblical offenses, these same people have a tremendous weight of wrath and judgment hanging over them for remaining in their sin before a just and holy God.

This is the reason why Christ died on the cross as He satisfied the punishment for these offenses before God. However, such an atonement cannot be treated casually, without gratitude or disrespect either to remain unrepentant before God regarding the most gracious act of mercy He has shown toward us.

“Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” Hebrews 10:29.

Matthew Henry’s commentary regarding adultery in this passage of John 8 says, “Adultery is an exceedingly sinful sin, for it is the rebellion of a vile lust, not only against the command, but against the covenant, of our God. It is the violation of a divine institution in innocency, by the indulgence of one of the basest lusts of man in his degeneracy.”

Additional justifications for stoning:

  • Customarily employed to indicate execution by stoning in OT legal texts. For example, violation of civil law as in cursing the king was a capital offense (1 Kings 21:10-15).
  • Ceremonial law called for the execution by stoning for idolatry (Deuteronomy 13:10; 17:5).
  • Violation of the ban on booty during holy war (Joshua 7:25).
  • Certain types of sexual misconduct (Deuteronomy 22:21,24).
Cursing the king was a capital offense that warranted death by stoning. Think of the number of people who have cursed our past and present President. In the days of the Bible, this was taken seriously for the king was to be seen as a representative of God among the people though he was not God. He was expected to perform his office with wisdom, justice and righteously before the people.

Who participated in judicial process of an accused person?

First, there had to be a minimum of two witnesses regarding the offense. Prior to giving their testimony before a court, they were admonished intensely reminding them they were accountable to God for any blood that was shed of a man who was wrongfully condemned. They were then examined with a series of questions by the Sanhedrin.

As prescribed in The Mishnah, twenty-three judges were necessary to try a capital offense (except in the case against the High Priest or a false prophet, where 71 judges would be necessary to adjudicate the matter.) A majority of two was need for a conviction for any capital offense.

The process of rendering a decision focused on the community of people continuing to be a holy people before God, which included the fear of shedding innocent blood. Hence, the concept of innocent until proven guilty.

Trials and verdicts in capital cases had to be held during the daytime and a decision to acquit could be rendered on the same day.

Two scribes were present during the trial – one to write down the words spoken that favored the acquittal and the other to write down the arguments for the conviction.

What happened once convicted of the offense?

After a guilty verdict was rendered, the condemned person was dragged some distance outside the city gate, to a pit, where the actual stoning occurred. If a woman was convicted of adultery, the stoning could likely occur in front of her father’s house as a symbol of the shame that was brought to that household and family members were to hold no compassion for them regarding their offense because they knew the commandments they were to live by.

A herald would lead the procession to the stoning pit outside the city gate and his job was to announce the condemned person’s name and his or her father’s name, the crime they were convicted of and the names of the witnesses.

The condemned person had an opportunity to be acquitted of their crime, up to and during the stoning execution, should someone come forth with new information that might overturn the courts decision and now find them innocent. If such a person was available with credible information, a member of the court standing by the city gate would wave two flags, signaling a rider on horseback to hurry and stop the execution and to bring the individual back to the court for further testimony that might aid in their acquittal. This could happen up to four or five times.

The place of execution.

Upon arrival where the stoning would occur, the condemned person would make a confession of their guilt approximately 18 to 24 feet away from the stoning pit. At this point, he might say, “May my death be an atonement for all my sins.”

At approximately 6 to 8 feet before the stoning pit, males were stripped of their clothes and would only wear his loincloth while a woman would remain clothed. The witnesses would lay their hands on the head of the condemned absolving themselves from the guilt of stoning the individual as a just form of punishment.

The first witness pushed the individual into the pit from a height of 10 feet and if the fall did not kill them, then the witness would turn the body over, standing over the individual with a heavy stone maybe 10 or 15 pounds in weight and thrust it onto the chest of the condemned. If that did not kill the person, the second witness would approach and perform the same action with another heavy stone. If that did not kill them, then the entire congregation (community) would barrage the body of the individual with hand-size stones until they were dead.

The apostle Paul said in his second letter to Timothy, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

It is not hard to hear those who blaspheme the name of God or Jesus Christ, it is not too difficult to see the disobedience in children because parents have lacked in being firm in their discipline when their children are disobedient. It is not difficult to see the unholy lives of people who live openly, boasting with pride their homosexuality and calling their homosexual relationship holy before God.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20.
Likewise, there are those who live with an uncontrolled sexual appetite craving for the next sexual escapade rather than extensive times of prayer and intimacy with God.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:7-8.
While the practice of stoning is not practiced here in America, it is practiced elsewhere in the Muslim world (Fox News - Two Men Stoned to Death for Adultery in Iran).

As we continue to see our world change in such a way that brings us closer and closer to the return of Christ, being stoned to death would seem like a more preferred form of punishment, rather than the wrath of God that abides upon those who continue to disbelieve that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father (John 3:36, 14:6).

Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Hebrews 10:28.

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17.


Herbert Danby, translator, The Mishnah (New York: Oxford Univ., 1983).

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

January 28, 2009

No Time is Amiss to Meditate on God's Word

I had a reading assignment for my spiritual formation class at seminary and I had to write about how the practice of meditation on God's Word impacted me this week. It was only a one page assignment and it is due tomorrow, but it's done.

I read Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary regarding the first three verses of Psalm 1 and it spokely gently but firmly to me, regarding the need to spend quality time in prayer, meditation and study of God's Word.

In these challenging days that we are living in, there is nothing else that will be more comforting to us, nor more trustworthy than God's Holy Word, for those who have put their faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Psalm 1:1-3, NKJV

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary says of Psalm 1:1-3,

"To meditate in God's word, is to discourse with ourselves concerning the great things contained in it, with close application of mind and fixedness of thought. We must have constant regard to the word of God, as the rule of our actions, and the spring of our comforts; and have it in our thoughts night and day. For this purpose no time is amiss."


Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

January 12, 2009

Only God Can Restore the Soul

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Psalm 23:3, NKJV.

This verse is from a familiar passage of Scripture that is often read at funerals, where Psalm 23 is known as The Shepherd’s Psalm.

I cannot help but think how much this verse addresses the soul of those who have been saved through repentance from sin and through faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation.

The soul of every unbelieving person remains apart from God and apart from the atonement of sin through Jesus Christ. What we think is righteousness before God remains but a filthy rag before Him (Isaiah 64:6) because we choose to make the way of salvation and forgiveness through our own way rather than by humility and submitting ourselves to the atonement of Christ and His cross.

When a person comes to faith in Christ, realizing that the entirety of their sin has been placed upon Jesus Christ (Isaiah 53:5-6) a tremendous weight of judgment has been removed. What follows then, is often an inexpressible peace and joy in their life, knowing that it was not through their work that has saved them, but what God did in condemning sin in His Son, who knew no sin but was made to be sin for us, so that we could be found righteous before Him (Romans 8:3, 2 Corinthians 5:21).

The peace this brings to the sinner whose soul has been restored by God because they have repented and found salvation through Jesus Christ!

It is God who restores the soul, not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. No amount of therapy sessions restores the soul the way God can. Only the cry of a repentant heart to God that grieves over their own sinfulness, how they casually trampled the blood of Christ, the very means that has covered their sin before God, walking over it like it was a doormat.

Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 10:29.

Conversely, the soul of the unrepentant sinner fearfully holds back from coming to God to seek His forgiveness. The anxiety that exists in their heart, concerning their fear of His righteous judgment that will come, one day, without an advanced notice.

Yet the forewarning to repent and place their faith for salvation in Christ alone, the plea to become born again would continue to come to them through many people, even the same people.

This restoration of the soul, leads to walking in the righteousness of Christ on a daily basis. Though it is hard and often challenging, His name is glorified through those whom He has saved as they tell others of what God has done in and through their lives.

The temptation to sin never goes away once the sinner has been saved. In fact, the temptation becomes more enticing and at times regretfully, successful, in luring the Christian into sinning against God, the same sin that was placed upon Jesus Christ when He was crucified and brought peace to our souls.

Paul said of this constant war that took place within is a constant struggle between obeying the Spirit of God and the remaining desire of our flesh to find pleasure and satisfaction in the sinful behavior that was once enjoyable, but is now condemnable. (Romans 7:15:25, 8:3).

In Charles Spurgeon’s work, Treasury of David, Sir Richard Baker said of verse 3, “He restores my soul”, “He restores it to its original purity, that was now grown foul and black with sin; for also, what good were it to have "green" pastures and a black soul! He "restores" it to its natural temper in affections, that was grown distempered with violence of passions; for alas! what good were it to have "still" waters and turbulent spirits! He "restores" it indeed to life, that was grown before in a manner quite dead; and who could "restore my soul" to life, but he only that is the Good Shepherd and gave his life for his sheep?”

Some of the very same pleas that David cries out to God for, in the book of Psalms, are what many people have spoken to have their souls restored by God and countless many yet will speak, but in their hearts and minds, this is what they desire from God.

  • “Hear a just cause, O LORD, attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.” Psalm 17:1.
  • “For Your name’s sake, O LORD, pardon my iniquity, for it is great.” Psalm 25: 11.
  • “I am feeble and severely broken; I groan because of the turmoil in my heart.” Psalm 38:8.
  • "Do not forsake me, O LORD; O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O LORD, my salvation!” Psalm 38:21-22.
  • “I said, “LORD, be merciful to me; heal my soul, for I have sinned against You.”” Psalm 41:4.
  • “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.” Psalm 51:1-2.
  • “Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.” Psalm 51:9-12.
  • “But as for me, my prayer is to You, O LORD, in the acceptable time; O God, in the multitude of Your mercy, hear me in the truth of Your salvation.” Psalm 69:13.
  • “Deliver me in Your righteousness, and cause me to escape; incline Your ear to me, and save me.” Psalm 71:2.
  • “Help me, O LORD my God! Oh, save me according to Your mercy,” Psalm 109:26.

Can you hear the cry of David's heart in these verses? Could any of these verses be the very cry of your own heart?

The Bible provides not only a word concerning God’s displeasure and hatred for sin, but it also contains His desire to see those plagued by sin, to seek His forgiveness and mercy that He is so ready to give those who come to Him with a humble and contrite heart. (Isaiah 57:15).

So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm. Joel 2:13.

And my soul shall be joyful in the LORD; it shall rejoice in His salvation. Psalm 35:9.

Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10.


Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Spurgeon, C. Treasury of David, Psalm 23. Retrieved January 12, 2009 from http://www.biblebb.com/files/SPURGEON/TOD/chstp23.htm.

January 8, 2009

Rejecting the Word of God

That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the LORD; Isaiah 30:9, NKJV.

The full context of this passage reads as follows:

8Now go, write it before them on a tablet, and note it on a scroll, that it may be for time to come, forever and ever: 9That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the LORD; 10 Who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. 11 Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.”

I read this passage in the past and had heard it mentioned in one of Pastor David Wilkerson’s sermons, either Whatever Happened to Repentance Preaching (26 November 2006) or The Great and Final Apostasy (20 August 2006). Both of these sermons should be listened to, given the poor watered-down sermons that take place in too many, but not all, pulpits across the country and even in other parts of the world.

In these three verses, God instructed Isaiah to go and preach to the people concerning their sin of rebellion against God. It must have been hard enough to preach this warning to the people let alone write it on a tablet, such as were the Ten Commandments Moses brought down from the mountain that were written by the finger of God (Exodus 31:8).

A rebellion is a revolt or open resistance to authority, or an avowed renunciation of authority. There are numerous examples in the Bible of people who rebelled against God and these examples are provided to us so that we may avoid the consequences of those who openly rejected God.

The example here in the book of Isaiah is no different from what we see today, so this just isn’t about the people of Israel in the Old Testament who rebelled against God.

We live in a society that is rebellious toward government, the military and rebellious to the law through subversive acts of fraud, deceit and greed. There is a rebellion against morality where what has long been considered immoral, such as homosexuality, is strongly contested to be accepted as a moral behavior. There is a rebellion against monogamy where debauchery of all kinds pervades the lives of promiscuous young teenagers in high school and college. There is a rebellion against marital fidelity where some husbands and wives abandon their marriage for selfish and immature reasons that will not be considered acceptable to God on their day of judgment.

So here we have the prophet Isaiah, communicating God’s displeasure to rebellious children who have lied and refuse to hear His law preached before them.

The Hebrew word for children in verse 9 is bên בּן (pronounced bane) and this word can reference not only children in a family, but used more broadly, refers to a subject, nation, quality or condition of people.

Is it not true that we see in today’s society, a condition of people that refuses to hear the law of the LORD because they would rather submit to their own way of living rather than the commandments found in God’s Holy Word? They not only refuse to keep the Sabbath day holy, but also refuse to hear someone preaching the Bible on the street in public places.

Why was there a refusal to hear God’s law? The answer is found in verse 12 and it is because they despised hearing it and this was justification for God’s judgment upon a rebellious people.

The fear people should have of their own souls, to defy the living God and rejecting His Holy Word to live by!

Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; (Hebrews 3:12, NKJV).
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31, NKJV).
Matthews, Walton and Chavalas (2000) state in reference to Isaiah 30:10 that the Israelites either ignored the prophets or told them to prophesy only pleasant words and visions. (See also Jeremiah 7:25-26 and Amos 2:12).

Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them: Yet they hearkened not unto me, nor inclined their ear, but hardened their neck: they did worse than their fathers. (Jeremiah 7:25-26, KJV, emphasis mine).

“But you gave the Nazirites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets saying, ‘Do not prophesy!’ (Amos 2:12, NKJV).
The people of the Bible believed that the prophets not only preached God’s word, but their arrival and announcements often unleashed the divine action they had been forewarning the people. Some people feared them, others despised them and attempted as much as they could to silence them or kill them if they could. It is no surprise too why the prophets would either be threatened with their lives or persuaded to say something other than the judgment that was about to come.

The apostle Paul in his second letter to Timothy, encouraged him to continue preaching the Gospel to people without compromise. He had advised him that people would be seeking to hear something other than the truth of the Gospel, something more palatable to their lives that would be more appealing to them. And if they were not able to persuade someone to speak what would be pleasing to their ears, they would find someone who would.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4, KJV).
Where have we gone wrong as a nation that has turned from God and the Bible, selfishly seeking to use God for our own personal benefit, with untrained and uncalled people to pulpit ministry who are advocating the same?

Just as death can come quickly and unexpectedly, so will the execution of God’s judgment upon those who have rejected and rebelled against Him.

Verse 13 says, “Therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach ready to fall, a bulge in a high wall, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant.”

The consequences for sin will suddenly ensue upon anyone like a balloon stretched beyond its capacity to contain the air that is filling it, expanding to a point where it will suddenly burst. Such is our own lives that continue to reject the Word of God and live in rebellion to His grace, mercy and love.

How can people not expect God’s judgment upon them for continually rejecting Him, rebelling against Him, when He has warned us like a father of the consequences for walking on a path that is not good for us?

Even the worst rebel who has sinned against God is worthy of His mercy and forgiveness and He is ready to forgive those who come to Him with a repentant heart.

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. (Daniel 9:9, NKJV)

They refused to obey, and they were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among them. But they hardened their necks, and in their rebellion they appointed a leader to return to their bondage. But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them. (Nehemiah 9:17, NKJV)
Is it worth the consequence of spending an eternity in hell, in punishment and torment for rejecting the Word of the LORD, knowing that God is ready to extend his grace, mercy and forgiveness, to anyone who genuinely repents for their rebellion against Him?

Jesus said, “Repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15) and tragically, society rejects and ignores the gospel.

The greatest gift one receives for repenting and believing in the gospel is the forgiveness of their sins and eternity in paradise, just as Jesus promised the thief who hung on the cross next to him (Luke 23:43).

Their salvation becomes justified by faith through the LORD Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1) while a rejection of the gospel, unbelief in the Son of God results not with life, but death where the wrath of God abides upon them (John 3:36).

Should not God’s grace and mercy be desired more than a casual acceptance of His wrath for the selfishness to live in rebellion against Him?
For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” Hebrews 3:14-15, NKJV.
The rejection of the Word of God and living in rebellion against Him justifies God's sentence upon the soul that opposes Him, while the one who has chosen to repent of their sins and is redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, saves the sinner and grants them a place in God’s eternal kingdom of heaven.

To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him. Daniel 9:9, NKJV

Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. Luke 14:23, NKJV.

Are you a good person?


Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

January 4, 2009

Man-made Theology Will Not Grow a Church

Many pastors, especially need to be converted from their "I can do it" theology. Their thinking needs to take a sharp turn from the foolish spirit of competition - works of flesh that focus on who has the biggest church building, the biggest congregation, the best music, the biggest budget, the best praise meetings. They need to turn from their constant search for new ways to get results. And they need to get back to the secret closet of prayer - to dependence on God rather than on man (page 41).

Wilkerson, David. 2000. The New Covenant Unveiled - God's plan to free the last-days church from the power of sin. Texas. Wilkerson Trust Publications.

January 1, 2009

New Year's Resolution

May you be resolved to accomplish these things in the year ahead.

For I determined not to know anything among you except

Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

1 Corinthians 2:2

Have you betrayed Jesus?

When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray ...