Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

6.4 The Ninth and Tenth Commandment

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.


6.4.1 Introduction

This commandment is unique in two ways. 

  1. It is the only commandment that deals with property crime. Commentary: so important is the sanctity of life that the right to possessions only shows up as the final commandment. 
  2. It is the only commandment that includes conviction ethics – even desiring another’s property is banned. Otherwise, the legal attitudes of the Old Testament are largely base in actions (according to Neumann, which may also explain why he struggles in his interpretation here). For the first time, not only the final deed but also the desire to commit it are addressed here. Even wishing for the property of another is sanctioned. The next person to address this topic in this way is Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. 

The word “house” is probably used here to mean household goods and not the structure itself. It probably refers to everything that is your neighbors. The second sentence of this commandment serves to clarify and expound upon the first. 


6.4.3 Source

Exodus 20

Luther’s Small Catechism 

Instruction of the Fathers/Proverbs


6.4.3 Application/Discussion

Especially the Desert Fathers spent a lot of time thinking about envy as the source of property crime. Especially interesting is that they saw comparison as the source of envy. Comparison is where sin gains leverage. “Wherever you go, do not compare yourself with others and you will find rest.” (Instruction Nr. 788).