By the grace of G-d
Copyright © 2012 Nathaniel Segal
Do not covet the house of your fellow.
Do not covet the wife of your fellow, or his male slave, or his female slave, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your fellow.
In addition, do not covet the wife of your fellow;
And do not lust after the house of your fellow, his field, or his male slave, or his female slave, his ox or his donkey, or anything that belongs to your fellow.
* These verse numbers are according to the Jewish tradition.
These verses together form the tenth of the Ten Commandments – again according to the Jewish tradition. Jews call these the "Ten Speeches", "Ten Proclamations", or "Ten Edicts" (Aseret HaDibrot).
Upon hearing the Ten Proclamations at Mount Sinai, the people affirmed their commitment by saying, ". . . Everything that
The Speeches contain 620 letters – corresponding to the 613 Commandments for Jews plus the Seven Noahide Commandments for the rest of humanity (Ba'al HaTurim).
Then, Moses reviewed the Ten Speeches during the last year of his life, in preparation for entering the Land of Israel.
The Ninth Speech from Sinai is to not bear false witness against another person – one's fellow. The Tenth Speech against covetousness follows on the heels of the Ninth. Is there a relationship between these two speeches? We learn explicitly from Moses' review one thing that directly addresses an aspect of human nature. A man who covets the wife of his fellow is tempted to testify falsely that this man is dead so that he can marry the wife. Keep in mind that, upon entering the Land of Israel, the Israelites might find themselves in battle. A woman cannot remarry until it is demonstrated that her husband has died. Addressing this, the Tenth Speech is explicit: "If you are tempted to have your friend's wife for your own, overcome this temptation, and, by all means, don't be tempted to lie that he died in battle."