COVETOUSNESS AND DESIRE: THE TENTH COMMANDMENT IN AFRICA
AbstractThis 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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