Do gods exist? 31 Do not covet

Picture adapted from Rembrant’s Moses Smashing the Tablets of the Law

The tenth commandment of the Christian god is that you should not desire things or people owned by your fellow tribesmen.

According to the Bible, the tenth commandment is

“Thou shalt not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbour’s.” (Ex 20:17, Deut 5:21)

In the Deuteronomy version, the order of house and wife is reversed, and the neighbour’s field is also included.

The first thing to note about this law is that it is absurd. It seeks to regulate what you think, not what you say or do, and no law can enforce what you think. Furthermore, if people did not covet things owned by other people, nobody would ever purchase anything from anybody else.

The second thing to note is a man’s property includes his wife and his servants. I give other examples of this in my analysis of the earlier commandments.

The Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches typically divide this commandment into two, to make up for the fact that they omit the second commandment that forbids making graven images.

This allows them to separate a man’s wife from the rest of his property. But there is only one sentence in the tenth commandment, and there is no justifiable reason to divide it in two.

So that is commandment number ten. I will examine the other ten commandments in my next post.

What? The other ten commandments? Yes, the different ones that the god gave to Moses after he broke the first set. The ones that the Bible actually calls the Ten Commandments.

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