Subsídio em inglês para a 12ª Lição – You shall not covet

Lesson 12                                                               March 22, 2015

YOU SHALL NOT COVET

Golden Text

“I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing” (Acts 20:33).

Useful practice

Covetousness is the root from which comes every sin against others, both in thought and in practice.

Scripture Reading

Exodus 20:17

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

1 Kings 21:1-5, 9, 10, 15, 16

  1. Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.

2 Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”

3 But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.”

4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.

5 His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”

General objective

To present the subtlety of the last commandment of the Decalogue.

Specific objectives

  1. To treat the scope and purpose of the last commandment.
  2. To show the real meaning of covetousness.

III. To highlight the harmful consequences of covetousness through the example of Naboth’s vineyard.

Commentary

Introduction

The tenth commandment involves actions and feelings. The seventh commandment forbids adultery, and here God forbids the desire to commit adultery. The Lord Jesus got to the point: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt 5:28). The last commandment protects human beings from wrong ambitions. Covetousness infects poor and rich people in its various forms.

  1. Scope. The theme concerns the prohibition of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (Gen. 3:6; 1 John 2:16). This involves many types of sin and sensuality, lewdness, unbridled quest for illegal possessions, obsession with power, snobbish ostentation and pride. This evil has continued in human beings from their fall until today.
  2. Objective. God’s purpose is to establish limits to human will, so that there is mutual respect between people and their possessions. Many other vices are linked to covetousness, such as lasciviousness, lust, envy and avarice, among others. (Gal 5:20,21; James 4:2). There can be no peace in a context like this. It is necessary that every person control themselves in order to live a virtuous life, and this is crucial in building a fair and happy society. A self-controlled person is better than one who takes a city (Proverbs 16:32). We have an advantage because we have Jesus and the Holy Spirit (Gal 2:20; 5:5).
  3. Context. There are some variations between the two texts (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21). The order of the clauses is reversed. In Deuteronomy, appears a synonym for the verb “to covet” and the word “field” is added. This shows that the Exodus format is adapted to Israel’s nomadic lifestyle in the desert, while Deuteronomy is the model for the nation about to be established in the land of Canaan.
  4. Clarification. Roman Catholics and Lutherans divide the tenth commandment into two parts. First: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house”, and second: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” (Ex 20:17). While these sentences are read as separate commandments, they consider “You shall have no other gods […]” and “You shall not make for yourself a graven image […]” as a single commandment. Summing up, the ten commandments remain. Both of them have kept the medieval catechetical tradition since Augustine of Hippo. We follow the system of Reformed Churches, which comes from the Jews and is prior to all this (cf. Flavius Josephus. History of the Hebrews. CPAD Edition, pages 165-66)

II Covetousness

  1. Meaning. The Hebrew verb hamad indicates the act of desiring that which is generated by emotion, which begins with a visual impression of the thing or person you want. All this is summed up in “desiring, trying to acquire, craving, coveting”. The term is used for “to find pleasure in” (Isaiah 1:29; 53:2). Hamad appears twice here in the tenth commandment (Ex 20:17). The Septuagint translates it as the verb epithymeo, which literally means “to fix desire on”; from epi, “on”, and thymos, “passion, anger”. The term in both languages can refer to something good or something bad, depending on the context (Mt 5:28; 13:17).
  2. To covet. To desire what belongs to another person is the sin that the tenth commandment condemns. The New Testament mentions this last commandment of the Decalogue (Rom 7:7; 13:9). It is about coveting your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s wife and then the commandment includes his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, and ends with the words “or anything that belongs to your neighbor”. Covetousness is an excessive desire to possess what belongs to others. The description makes it clear that it is not just about wanting a home or an ox, but about an uncontrollable desire to own the house and the ox that already belongs to someone else, by illegal means (Acts 20:33; 1 Cor 10:6; James 4:2). It is the same as stealing (Micah 2.2)
  3. The parallel text. As stated before, the tenth commandment in Deuteronomy does not strictly follow the account of Exodus. But that does not change the meaning of the message. The second verb used for “to covet” is awah, meaning “to hanker after, to yearn, to crave, to covet”. It appears next to hamad (Gen 3:6) and, as an alternative term, in “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife” (Deut 5:21). The Septuagint also translates both verbs as epithymeo.

III Naboth’s vineyard

  1. Refused proposal. The biblical account of the criminal confiscation of Naboth’s vineyard is one of the most shocking ones in the Bible and serves as a sample of what covetousness can do. Naboth’s vineyard was a neighboring property close to king Ahab’s palace, in Samaria. The king proposed a purchase or a seemingly fair exchange. But Naboth refused the king’s offer: “The Lordforbid that I should give you the inheritanceof my ancestors” (vv. 1-3). There was a family, cultural and religious matter about that refusal. The property was a sacred asset that should not be definitively transferred to another family (Lev 25:23-25; Num 36:7).
  2. The right of ownership. The king was “sullen and angry […] lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat” (v. 4). King Ahab fell ill because the lust for something that did not belong to him had dominated him. The Bible says that the measure of Ahab’s wickedness was completed when he married Jezebel, a Phoenician princess of pagan origin, a devotee of Baal. She was the daughter of Ethbaal king of Sidon (1 Kings 16.29-32). Jezebel did not respect the sacred right of ownership established by God in the law of Moses. She did not hesitate to draw up a criminal plan to condemn Naboth to death and confiscate his vineyard (vv.9,10).
  3. The sin of Ahab and Jezebel. Jezebel’s plan worked with her husband’s connivance. She involved the elite of the society and the palace court, which in itself shows that Samaria’s society was completely dominated, because the text mentions “elders and nobles” corrupting false witnesses (1 Kings 21:8-10). The charge was as follows: “You have cursed both God and the king” (v.10). Now Naboth was to be “legally” stoned to death for refusing to sell his property to the king. The two witnesses gave legal consistency to the process (Lev 24:10-16; Deut 17:6).
  4. The couple did not have a true witness. Everything was over and well done socially and legally speaking. Upon hearing about the news, Ahab was cured of his illness and went to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard (vv. 15, 16). They infringed on the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder”; the eighth, “You shall not steal”; the ninth, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor”; and the tenth, “You shall not covet ” (Deuteronomy 5:17, 19-21). Not to mention the first three commandments that had already violated with their idolatry, from the beginning. But Ahab and Jezebel did not have a witness who knew everything and had authority to avenge those atrocities (1 Kings 21:17-19 ) .

Conclusion

Ahab’s sad episode has been repeated throughout history. May God deliver us from all these evils. The law does not prohibit desire itself, but desiring what belongs to others. It is not a sin to desire pessessions and comfort, the good things we need in life. Actually, living is desiring. To desire a home is more natural than breathing, but this requires work and making savings until you have your desire satisfied with the help of God.

 

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