cast the first stone

to judge or blame unfairly or too quickly
—Whenever a government official is caught breaking the law, the local journalists seem perfectly happy to cast the first stone.

One day some Pharisees and Jewish teachers brought to Jesus a woman who had been caught committing adultery. Wanting to trap Jesus, they said that Moses’ law commanded that she should be killed by stoning. They then asked him what he thought should happen to her. They were hoping to force him into making a decision that was unpopular (to stone her) or ungodly (to ignore God’s law). Jesus paused for a short time, writing on the ground with his finger, then answered,

Whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her [let him first cast a stone at her]. (John 8:7)

(In today’s phrase, the first has moved to a different place, but the basic meaning is the same.)

After hearing Jesus’ reply, the woman’s accusers walked away, one by one. Then Jesus said,

“Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She replied, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.” (John 8:10, 11)

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