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Passage: Deuteronomy 5:21

Deuteronomy 5:21 – Coveting


The ninth and tenth words for Catholics and Lutherans, the tenth for Judaism, deal with coveting.


The Decalogue concludes with a departure from the preceding commandments. The previous five commandments have all dealt with the respect one owes other human beings. Consideration of the relational character of the Decalogue was helpful in discerning the somewhat narrow scope of these commandments while emphasizing their concern to forbid injury to others. Here, however, it is not action that is prohibited, but attitude.  While the first verb for "coveting" (hamad) does imply a strong desire that ultimately leads to action, the second verb (awah) only refers to an internal desire, leading to the proposition that motives are as important in our relationships as outright actions.