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The 10th Commandment, Pt. 1

The 10th Commandment, Pt. 1

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The sin of covetousness is usually the root or prime cause of violating the other Nine Commandments. For this reason, the Tenth Commandment may very well be the most important of the last six Commandments.
The sin of covetousness is usually the root or prime cause of violating the other Nine Commandments. For this reason, the Tenth Commandment may very well be the most important of the last six Commandments.

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Published by: Mission to Israel Ministries on Jun 04, 2009
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06/16/2009

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The Tenth CommandmentBy Ted R. WeilandPart 1
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife,nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thyneighbour’s. (Exodus 20:17)
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The Tenth Commandment is found twice in both the Old and New Testaments: Exodus 20:17,Deuteronomy 5:21, and Romans 7:9 and 13:9.Although the wording in Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21 is virtually identical, Exodus 20employs only one Hebrew word to express the sin of covetousness, whereas Deuteronomy 5 usestwo etymologically unrelated words to express the same sin. In Exodus 20:17, “covetistranslated twice from
chamad 
, however, in Deuteronomy 5:21, “covet” is translated from
avah
:
 Neither shalt thou desire [
chamad 
] thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet [
avah
]thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass,or any thing that is thy neighbour’s. (Deuteronomy 5:21)
A closer look at these two words will provide a clearer understanding of their meaning.
Chamad 
Chamad 
is defined as follows:
…a primitive root; to delight in.
2
as a verb: 1) to desire, to covet, to take pleasure in, to delight in, a) (Qal) to desire, b)(Niphal) to be desirable, c) (Piel) to delight greatly, to desire greatly as a feminine noun:2) desirableness, preciousness.
3
Desire, delight in … but also covet, lust after….
4
In addition to “covet,” the King James Version translated
chamad 
as “pleasant,” “desire,”“precious,” “beauty,” “lust,” “delectable,” and “greatly beloved.”
 Avah
 Avah
is defined as follows:
…a primitive root; to wish for.
5
…to desire, to incline, to covet, to wait longingly, to wish, to sigh, to want, to be greedy,to prefer.
6
…desire, long, lust, covet, wait longingly, wish, sigh, crave, want, be greedy, prefer.
7
In addition to “desire,” the King James Version translated
avah
as “lust,” “longs,” and “longing.”
 
Because Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21 use both words interchangeably to express theconcept of covetousness, it is not surprising that
chamad 
and
avah
, although unrelatedetymologically, have similar meanings. Neither 
chamad 
or 
avah
implies anything inherently evil. Both Hebrew words can be employedto express a sin or to express a desire for something. Neither word necessarily implies TenthCommandment transgression. Covetousness depends upon motivation and the person or objectthat is coveted.When Moses used
chamad 
in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, the desire or lust is directed at what belongs to someone else and is clearly evil. When
chamad 
is directed at the gold and silver of idols in Deuteronomy 7:25, it is evil as well. In Proverbs 6:28, where
chamad 
is translated as“lust” for a woman other than one’s wife, it also denotes evil.On the other hand, we also find passages where
chamad 
is clearly used in a righteous sense:
The law of 
YHWH
8
is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of 
YHWH
is sure,making wise the simple. The statutes of 
YHWH
are right, rejoicing the heart: thecommandment of 
YHWH
is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of 
YHWH
is clean,enduring for ever: the judgments of 
YHWH
are true and righteous altogether. More to be
desired
are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and thehoneycomb. (Psalm 19:7-10)
Yahweh
9
wants us to covet His law, His commandments, statutes, and judgments. The blessingsfrom wisdom are also something to be coveted:
There is treasure to be
desired
and oil in the dwelling of the wise…. (Proverbs 21:20)
In Daniel 10:11, Daniel is said to be “a man greatly beloved,” that is, a man coveted by Yahweh.In Genesis 2:9 and 3:6,
chamad 
is translated “pleasant” in the phrases referring to the tree of theknowledge of good and evil. The fact that this tree was desirable did not make it evil. Yahwehintended it to be desirable. The evil that ensued occurred when Adam and Eve sinned by partaking of what had been forbidden.
 Avah
is used in similar fashion. It connotes wickedness in Deuteronomy 5:21, Numbers 11:4,Psalm 106:14, and Proverbs 21:10 and 23:3. In other locations, it is employed in a good andrighteous sense. For example, 2 Samuel 23:15 declares that David longed (
avaw
) for a drink of water from Bethlehem’s well. His longing (his covetousness) for Bethlehem’s water was notungodly. In Isaiah 26:9, we are told the prophet Isaiah desired (coveted) Yahweh. Psalm 132:13informs us that Yahweh desired, or coveted, Zion.
 Epithumeo
Both
chamad 
and
avaw
are morally neutral words. The same is true for the Greek word
epithumeo
, translated “covet” in the New Testament. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy that itwas a good thing to covet the office of a bishop or overseer:
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he
desireth
a good work. (1Timothy 3:1)
2
 
In 1 Corinthians 12:31, where Paul is discussed the first-century miraculous gifts, he encouragedhis readers to “covet earnestly the best gifts.” In Galatians 5,
epithumeo
is used in both a negativeand a positive fashion:
For the flesh
lusteth
against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these arecontrary the one to the other…. (Galatians 5:17)
The New American Standard Bible translates this verse, “For the flesh sets its desire against theSpirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another….” In other words, if 
epithumeo
is according to the flesh, it is evil, and if according to the Spirit, it is good.Like lying and bribery, covetousness can sometimes be righteous.
10
It depends upon the motiveand its intended purpose. If for strictly self-serving purposes with no regard for another person’s possessions, Tenth Commandment covetousness is ungodly.
A Heart Sin
The sin of covetousness is usually the root or prime cause of violating the other NineCommandments. For this reason, the Tenth Commandment may very well be the most importantof the last six Commandments.Covetousness is a heart sin. It is usually at the core of the willful or intentional sins, acted uponwith our mouths, eyes, hands, and feet:
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee afroward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and letthine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways beestablished. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.(Proverbs 4:23-27)
The New American Standard Bible translates verse 23 as “Watch over your heart with alldiligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” Young’s Literal Translation translates it “Aboveevery charge keep thy heart, for out of it [are] the outgoings of life.”Covetousness, lust, and greed (all Tenth Commandment violations) are sins for which we can becondemned without any additional action. In Colossians 3:5-6, Paul lists covetousness as one of the sins for which “the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience.” He identifiedcovetousness as idolatry, which is most often nothing more than a sin of the heart:
Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me. And the word of 
YHWH
came unto me, saying, Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart…. (Ezekiel 14:1-3)
Idols of the heart are usually manifested as some form of covetousness, greed, or lust.
The Sin of the Pharisee
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But Isay unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committedadultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:27-28)
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