Adultery (Mt 5:27-5:28)

“You have heard

That it was said.

‘You shall not

Commit adultery.’

But I say to you

That everyone

Who looks at a woman

With lust

Has already committed adultery

With her

In his heart.’”


Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη Οὐ μοιχεύσεις.

γὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ βλέπων γυναῖκα πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτὴν ἤδη ἐμοίχευσεν αὐτὴν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ.


Once again, Matthew alone mentions one of the 10 Commandments from Exodus, chapter 20:14.  This was something all the Jewish people knew, since they had heard it said often (Ἠκούσατε ὅτι ἐρρέθη).  Everyone knew that they should not commit adultery (Οὐ μοιχεύσεις), having sex with a married woman who was not your wife.  However, Matthew has this solemn statement of Jesus (γὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν) that he was demanding more.  Everyone who looked at a woman lustfully (ὅτι πᾶς ὁ βλέπων γυναῖκα πρὸς τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι αὐτὴν), has already committed adultery with her in his heart (ἤδη ἐμοίχευσεν αὐτὴν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτοῦ).  This was a much higher standard, not merely the act of adultery, but the planning to do so was wrong.  This was adultery of the heart.

The Decalogue (Deut 5:1-5:22)

“Moses convened all Israel, and said to them. ‘Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances that I addressing to your ears today. You shall learn them and observe them diligently. Yahweh our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Not with our ancestors did Yahweh make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive this today. Yahweh spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the fire. At that time I was standing between Yahweh and you to declare to you the words of Yahweh. You were afraid because of the fire and you did not go up the mountain. ”

Now begins the ‘shema’ or the request, ‘Hear, O Israel’ that becomes an important part of Israelite life. The Israelites must listen and follow. There is a great emphasis on Yahweh with his voice in the fire. Moses speaks as if the listeners were at Horeb (Sinai), when in fact they had died out and the new generation is listening. They must listen and follow the commandments diligently. This covenant and ordinances of Mt. Horeb can be compared to the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai in Exodus, chapter 20, since they are exactly the same. I will point out the minor differences.

“He said. ‘I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”

1)                  This is the first commandment. There is some confusion since this might be part of a preamble. In other words, Yahweh is the number one God because there may be others behind him since no other gods should come before him. However, Yahweh saved the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The big dispute about the 10 Commandments begins here. Originally these commandments may have been simple short utterances. The first 3 are about relationships to God, and they are fairly complex, while the next 7 are about how you are to conduct yourself with your neighbor.

“You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them. I Yahweh your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of their parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me. However, I show steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

1b or 2a) Here comes the second part of the first commandment or is it the second commandment? Is this the 2nd commandment or part of the 1st commandment? In any case it is very long. Do not make any idols. Do not worship false idols. You cannot have any forms or image for God, neither earthly nor heavenly items, as well as items from the sea. This jealous Yahweh God becomes the basis for the monotheism of the Judaic, the Christian, and the Muslim concepts of God. He will reward and punish in future generations. This is a repetition of what he just saw in the preceding chapter 4.

“You shall not make wrongful use of the name of Yahweh your God, for Yahweh will not accept anyone who misuses his name.”

2b or 3) This is relatively simple. However, is this statement a separate commandment? The normal translation of this is not to take the name of God in vain. You should not misuse the name of God. Somehow this has become known as swearing.

“Observe the Sabbath day. Keep it holy, as Yahweh your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God. You shall not do any work that is you, or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your ox, or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns. Your male and female slaves may rest as well as you. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt. Yahweh your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore Yahweh your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”

3)                  The Sabbath statement is more elaborate here than in Exodus. However, it also starts with a simple admonition. Do not work on the Sabbath. The Sabbath is not so much a day of worship but a day of rest from work for the whole household, even the slaves, aliens, and livestock. There is no reference to the Genesis creation story as in Exodus. Instead there is a strong emphasis on the flight from Egypt, and how the Israelites were slaves there.

“Honor your father and your mother, as Yahweh your God commanded you so that your days may be long. May it go well with you in the land that Yahweh your God is giving you.”

4) Now we switch from God to our fellow men. Coming first is our parents. You will live long if you take care of your parents. There is a slight addition here about things going well in the new land if you honor your parents.

“You shall not murder.”

5) Next up are the three simple comments. First is that you shall not kill. There is no indication of any nuance about various types of murder. Clearly Yahweh had killed the first-born in Egypt and the soldiers in the Red Sea disaster. He also ordered the Levites to kill their fellow idolatrous Israelites. In fact, on the east bank of the Jordan they massacred every man, woman, and child during their victories. In fact, they set up towns in the new land for the refugee murderers.

“Neither shall you commit adultery.”

6) There are no explanations or exceptions. Having sex with a married person who is not your wife or husband is wrong. Obviously the meaning of this has been extended to other sexual activities.

“Neither shall you steal.”

7) Once again there are no nuances about borrowing or anything like that. You cannot take something that does not belong to you.

“Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor.”

8) This is not exactly lying in general, but lying against your neighbor, perhaps in some sort of legal setting.

“Neither shall you covet your neighbor’s wife.”

9) There is no confusion here in Deuteronomy like in Exodus, on whether this is a separate commandment. Clearly, it stands alone. You should not desire your neighbor’s wife, so that this is a clear male commandment, as it says nothing about desiring your neighbor’s husband.

“Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s house, or field, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

10)              You shall not covet or desire your neighbor’s house is simple enough. Here in Deuteronomy as opposed to Exodus, the wife has been separated out from the other parts of the household items. The slaves and animals are still here as anything that belongs to your neighbor. This is the ‘covet’ concept, not actually stealing, but desiring to steal any possession in the other person’s house. We might call it envy.

“These words Yahweh spoke with a loud voice to your whole assembly at the mountain, out of the fire, the cloud, and the thick darkness. He added no more. He wrote them on two stone tables, and gave them to me.”

There was no mention of stone tables in Exodus. Here are my comments about the 10 commandments that are like the section about Exodus, chapter 20. You can reverse these negative commandments with positive blessings. You are blessed to be able to worship the one true God. Therefore you do not need to have false material gods in the place of the real God. As the name of God is a holy name you do not use it in vain. Thus you respect it. The world is yours to use and not misuse so that you need a day of rest. The Christians keep Sunday as a day of rest. They worship instead on Sunday instead of Saturday because Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday. You honor your parents because the family is the basis of all society. Life is precious so that obviously you do not kill anyone. You respect the property of others so that you do not steal from anyone. Truth is so important that you do not lie. Your neighbor’s wife has dignity and worth so you do not commit adultery. You respect the goods of others so that you do not desire or covet them. Here we have the basis for the Judeo-Christian culture, respect for God, our parents, our neighbors, their things, and all people. The followers of Christ have accepted these Jewish commandments. Sometimes Christians have given the impression that they or Jesus invented them, which of course is not true.

Elaboration on moral prescriptions (Lev 19:1-19:37)

 “Yahweh spoke to Moses.  Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, ‘You shall be holy.  For I, Yahweh your God, am holy.  You shall each revere your mother and father.  You shall keep my Sabbath.  I am Yahweh your God.  Do not turn to idols or make cast images for yourselves.  I am Yahweh your God.”

This life of holiness is a further explanation or elaboration of the Ten Commandments that were in Exodus, chapter 20.  Holiness is tied to cultic and social obligations, so that the closer you are to the holy one, Yahweh, the holier you will be. You are to be holy, because Yahweh, your God, is holy.  This outcry is repeated over and over again, ‘I am Yahweh your God.’

The main obligations are simple:

1)      You shall each revere your mother and father;

2)      You shall keep my Sabbath;

3)      You shall not turn to idols;

4)      You shall not make cast images for yourselves.

 “When you offer a sacrifice of well-being to Yahweh, offer it in such a way that it is acceptable on your behalf.  It shall be eaten on the same day you offer it, or on the next day.  Anything left over until the third day shall be burned with fire.  If it is eaten at all on the third day, it is an abomination.  It will not be accepted.  All who eat it shall be subject to punishment, because they have profaned what is holy to Yahweh.  Any such person shall be cut off from the people.”

The sacrifices of well-being, as in chapter 7, have to be eaten within two days.  Otherwise on the third day you throw it into the fire.  However, if you eat it on the third day, you have profaned holy Yahweh.  Any one eating it on the third day will be cut off the people, ostracized, a difficult punishment.  Watch out how long you keep your leftovers.  Remember there are no refrigerators.

“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest.  You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard.  You shall leave them for the poor and for the alien.  I am Yahweh your God.”

When you harvest your field or vineyard, you leave the edges, the gleanings of your harvest, and the fallen grapes for the poor and the aliens.  This is the first instance where you actually do something for the poor.  Up to this point, the poor could be offered less.  It is not clear how poor is decided, but at least the poor were people who did not own property or livestock.  Obviously it refers to the time when they are settled in the Promise Land.

“You shall not steal.  You shall not deal falsely.  You shall not lie to one another.  You shall not swear falsely by my name, profaning the name of your God.  I am Yahweh.”

Once again, we get back to expanding the Ten Commandments with your neighbor:

1)      You shall not steal;

2)      You shall not deal falsely;

3)      You shall not lie to one another;

4)      You shall not swear falsely by the name of God;

 “You shall not defraud your neighbor.  You shall not steal.  You shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning. You shall not revile the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind.  You shall fear your God.  I am Yahweh.”

The elaboration of the commandments continue;

1)      You shall not defraud your neighbor;

2)      You shall not steal;

3)      You shall not keep for yourself the wages of a laborer until morning;

4)      You shall not revile the deaf;

5)      You shall not put a stumbling block before the blind;

6)      You shall fear your God, Yahweh.

“You shall not render an unjust judgment.  You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great.  With justice, you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people.  You shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor.  I am Yahweh.”

The elaboration of the commandments continues”

1)      You shall not render an unjust judgment;

2)      You shall not be partial to the poor;

3)      You shall not defer to the great;

4)      You shall judge your neighbor with justice;

5)      You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people;

6)      You shall not profit by the blood of your neighbor;

“You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin.  You shall reprove your neighbor, or you will incur guilt yourself.  You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself.  I am Yahweh.”

Once again a further explanation of the commandments ends with the basic fundamental concept of love your neighbor as yourself, which became the cornerstone of Judaism and Christianity, as well as the occasion for the Good Samaritan parable.

1)      You shall not hate in your heart anyone of your kin;

2)      You shall reprove your neighbor or you will incur the guilt yourself;

3)      You shall not take vengeance;

4)      You shall not bear a grudge;

5)      You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

“You shall keep my statutes.  You shall not let your animals breed with a different kind.  You shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed.  You shall not put on a garment made of two different materials.

You have to follow Yahweh’s commandments, not mixing things up:

1)      You shall keep his statutes;

2)      You shall not let your animals breed with a different kind;

3)      You shall not sow your field  with two kinds of seed;

4)      You shall not put on a garment of two different materials.

“If a man has sexual relations with a woman who is a slave, designated for another man but not ransomed or given her freedom, an inquiry shall be held.  They shall not be put to death, since she has not been freed.  He shall bring a guilt offering for himself to Yahweh, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, a ram as a guilt offering.  The priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of a guilt offering before Yahweh for his sin that he committed.  The sin he committed shall be forgiven him.”

If a man has sexual relations with a woman who is a slave, they are not put to death.  She cannot be put to death because she is not free.  He has to make a sin/guilt offering of a ram at the entrance to the tent.  Then he shall be forgiven.  The penalty in this case went from death to a sacrifice of a ram.

“When you come into the land and plant all kinds of trees for food, then you shall regard their fruit as forbidden.  Three years it shall be forbidden to you.  It must not be eaten.   In the fourth year all their fruit shall be set apart rejoicing in Yahweh.  But in the fifth year you may eat of their fruit, that their yield may be increased for you.  I am Yahweh your God.”

When you plant a tree, you cannot eat the fruit of the tree the first 3 years. In the 4th year all their fruit shall be given to Yahweh.  From the 5th year on you will have good harvests and you may eat the fruit.  You have to take good care of the land that you will get in Canaan.

You shall not eat anything with its blood.  You shall not practice augury or witchcraft.  You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard.  You shall not make any gashes to your flesh for the dead or tattoo any marks upon you.  I am Yahweh.”

Here comes another series of prohibitions:

1)      You shall not eat anything with its blood;

2)      You shall not practice augury or witchcraft;

3)      You shall not round off the hair on your temples;

4)      You shall not mar the edges of your beard;

5)      You shall not make any gashes in your flesh for the dead;

6)      You shall not tattoo any marks upon you.

Apparently, you had to take care of your hair and beard in a certain way. Of course, tattoos were not allowed.

“Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, so that the land does not become prostituted and full of depravity.  You shall keep my Sabbath and reverence my sanctuary.  I am Yahweh.”

You have to respect your daughter and the Lord’s Sabbath and sanctuary:

1)      You shall not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute;

2)      You shall keep my Sabbath;

3)      You shall revere my sanctuary.

“Do not turn to mediums or wizards.  Do not seek them out, to be defiled by them.  I am Yahweh your God.”

You were not to turn to mediums or wizards or other magicians because Yahweh is greater than all as the magicians or false gods.

“You shall rise up before the aged and defer to the old.  You shall fear your God.  I am Yahweh.”

You must respect old people and fear God.

“When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien.  The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you.  You shall love the alien as yourself.  You were once aliens in the land of Egypt.  I am Yahweh your God.”

You shall not oppress the resident aliens in your land.  In fact, you treat them like a native citizen.  An alien should be loved like a neighbor and yourself.  After all, you were aliens in Egypt.  Despite the separateness of the Israelites they were to treat the residing aliens in their land as if they were yourself, just a good neighbor.

“You shall do not cheat in measuring length, weight, or quantity.  You shall have honest balances, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin.  I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.  You shall keep all my statutes and all my ordinances, and observe them.  I am Yahweh.” 

Here are the final prescriptions about measuring and weighing correctly.   In particular you

1)      You shall not cheat in measuring length, weight, or quantity;

2)      You shall have honest balances, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest him.

The weights and measures of ephah and hin are mentioned here.  The ephah is a produce measure, the rough equivalent of a bushel basket.  A hin is a large liquid measure, sometime like a small barrel containing about 8 quarts of liquid.  Yahweh brought you out of Egypt. Thus you have to keep all his statutes and ordinances.  He is Yahweh.  There are nearly forty explicit rules on how to conduct a holy life towards Yahweh and your neighbor.