Rebellion to Tyrants is obedience to God

Did you know that “Rebellion to Tyrants is obedience to God” was the national motto that Benjamin Franklin suggested?  Even more than that he suggested the following design for the national seal:

“Moses standing on the Shore, and extending his Hand over the Sea, thereby causing the same to overwhelm Pharaoh who is sitting in an open Chariot, a Crown on his Head and a Sword in his Hand. Rays from a Pillar of Fire in the Clouds reaching to Moses, to express that he acts by Command of the Deity.”Motto, Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God.”


Thomas Jefferson also suggested allegorical scenes. For the front of the seal: children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. For the reverse: Hengist and Horsa, the two brothers who were the legendary leaders of the first Anglo-Saxon settlers in Britain.

Kind of amazing imagery for people supposedly creating a nation completely separating church and state.  Makes me think the modern interpretations of that phrase are not what the Framers had in mind.


visit for the history quoted above.


About Scott Roberts

pastor of Hope in Christ Church, Bellingham, WA
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