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M9. Coveting or Planning to Acquire Another's Property.    [Make a Comment]

We are not to covet or plan to acquire another's property.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Exodus 20:14(17) (Maimonides RN265-266; Meir MN40-41; Chinuch C38, C416)
Do not covet your neighbor's house; do not covet your neighbor's wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Deuteronomy 5:18(21) (Maimonides RN66; Meir MN41; Chinuch C416)
Do not covet your neighbor's wife; do not covet your neighbor's house, his field, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

Deuteronomy 7:25 (Maimonides RN265; Chinuch C38)
You are to burn up completely the carved statues of their gods. Don't be greedy for the silver or gold on them; don't take it with you, or you will be trapped by it; for it is abhorrent to ADONAI your God.

Proverbs 12:12
The wicked covet the loot of evil men, but the root of the righteous gives forth of itself.

Ephesians 5:5
For of this you can be sure: every sexually immoral, impure or greedy person ["covetous man" in NKJ] - that is, every idol-worshipper - has no share in the Kingdom of the Messiah and of God.

Colossians 3:5
Therefore, put to death the earthly parts of your nature - sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed (which is a form of idolatry)


Coveting another's property is desiring it or longing for it. Planning to acquire another's property is the next step in coveting; it is sin, but falls short of theft or some other way to improperly take the thing coveted into one's possession. Coveting is not merely saying: "It would be nice to have that thing." It is a desire to have something (that belongs to another) that is so strong that one's mind dwells on it and how to acquire it through even improper means. The Scriptures are clear that such desire, whether or not accompanied by a plan to acquire it improperly, is sin. Wanting an item that belongs to another and offering to purchase it for a fair price is not prohibited and is not sin unless the longing for it exceeds reason.

Classical Commentators

Maimonides, Meir, and HaChinuch agree with the meanings of "coveting" and "planning to acquire" as stated above.


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