Lisel H Kruger Joubert


This article deals with a central question regarding the interpretation of the tenth
commandment, namely “do the two verbs that are translated with covet/desire in the
tenth commandment refer to a solely mental attitude or do they necessarily imply
action to make the object of desire one's own?” The Decalogue forms part of the
relationship between God and Israel where certain values regarding life and
harmony in the covenant community is promoted. The proposal of this article is that
desire as a mental attitude is the theme of this commandment because it already
leads to disharmony in a society even without action to attain the object of one's
desire. The same mode of thought can be recognised in African cultures. In reading
proverbs from Africa no clear indication is found that they relate to both coveting
and any actions resulting from coveting, as with the tenth commandment. The
proverbs warn against desire or coveting as mental activities per se.
“Be patient a burning desire is not a pain”

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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