The Tenth Command

What is the tenth command?

לֹ֥א תַחְמֹ֖ד בֵּ֣ית רֵעֶ֑ךָ לֹֽא־תַחְמֹ֞ד אֵ֣שֶׁת רֵעֶ֗ךָ וְעַבְדּ֤וֹ וַאֲמָתוֹ֙ וְשׁוֹר֣וֹ וַחֲמֹר֔וֹ וְכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר לְרֵעֶֽךָ׃פ

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.  (Exodus 20:17)


What is coveting?

Coveting is a desire for something.

The emphasis of חָמַד falls on an emotion which often leads to a commensurate action”.  The object of the verb varies: land (Exodus 34:24), agriculture (Genesis 2:9; 3:6), shade (Song of Songs 2:3), man (Isaiah 53:2), silver and gold (Deuteronomy 7:25), treasure (Proverbs 21:20), location (Isaiah 1:29), idols (Isaiah 44:9), and another’s property (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21 [18]; Joshua 7:21; Proverbs 6:25; 12:12; Micah 2:2). NIDOTTE 167-8.


What other Scriptures help us understand coveting?

Consider Micah 2:2 – “They covet fields and then seize them, and houses, and take them away.  They rob a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.”  Here we see that this robbery and theft began in the person’s mind.  It began with a covetous thought and then manifested itself in an actual act of stealing.


What do we learn about coveting from Isaiah 1:29?

In Isaiah 1:29, God is speaking to Israel and says: “Surely, you will be ashamed of the oaks which you have desired חֲמַדְתֶּם, and you will be embarrassed at the gardens which you have chosen.” This text is interesting since it puts coveting in parallel with choosing בָּחַר.  Again, the thought is that sin began in the mind before it became a real action.




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