DON’T COVET YOUR NEIGHBOR’S ASS

So there we were in the car driving home on a lovely spring day . I was mentally shuffling that the heap of miscellaneous stuff that passed for my brain, trying to remember all ten of the commandments.

sunlight in new leaves Route 16

Why? Because I thought I should know them. They are supposedly the basis of all moral law, right? Why don’t I know them? Why aren’t they all on the tip of my tongue?

I found myself at a full stop around seven or eight, depending on how I divided the “How to behave to God” section which contains a lot of run-on sentences that could be interpreted as two or sometimes even three commandments but have — I suppose for convenience — been lumped into one.

Chestnut Street Magnolia

I ask Garry if he knows the ten commandments. He replies, with irritation, he has to pay attention to traffic. There wasn’t any traffic, except for the slow driver in front of us. I suppose Garry was trying to not ram him.

Finally, he admits he doesn’t know all of them either, at least not in order.

“A sad state of affairs,” I point out, “When two educated souls cannot recite the ten commandments.”

“There’s a lot of stuff about not making idols and coveting and all.”

“Yeah, and taking one day off each week.”

When I got home, I looked them up.

It turns out there are a bunch of “how to behave to God” commandments. Not all Christians — much less Jews — divide them up the same way. You can count as many as fifteen (à la Mel Brooks in “History of the World, Part I”) or as few as eight. It depends on how you look at them and punctuate the sentences.

Following are the Big Ten according to most Protestant sects, plus a second list containing my streamlined, easy-to-remember set.

Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17 NKJV)

  1. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  2. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.
  3. “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
  4. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
  5. “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
  6. “You shall not murder.
  7. “You shall not commit adultery.
  8. “You shall not steal.
  9. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  10. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

Heston-Charlton-Ten-Commandments

I’ve always wondered how come we need laws from God to know that murder is not okay. Aren’t we born knowing this? Don’t we know without being told that stealing is bad? That we should take care of our parents and show them respect? Do we really need laws to tell us?

Modernization is all the rage, so here’s my take on them. Not etched in stone. For the sake of today’s prompt, jealousy is mentioned once in the second commandment where it is good because it’s the Lord’s prerogative. In the tenth, it’s covetousness which is not good because jealousy is good for God, but not for us.

A Streamlined Top Ten

  1. I’m God. The One and Only. Don’t forget it, not for a moment.
  2. Idols are O-U-T.
  3. Don’t swear using God’s name. Maybe no swearing at all. I’m not sure.
  4. Take a break on the seventh day of your week. It doesn’t matter what day you choose because when I started making the world, there were no calendars. So take your pick, then stick to it. Everyone gets the same day off, including your family, guests, slaves, servants, and animals. No work. Got that?
  5. Respect your parents. Take care of them.
  6. Don’t murder anyone.
  7. Don’t cheat on your spouse.
  8. Don’t steal stuff.
  9. Don’t lie.
  10. Don’t envy other people’s stuff. You’ve got your own.

I’m just here to help.

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

58 thoughts on “DON’T COVET YOUR NEIGHBOR’S ASS”

  1. I think I would like to see you write out your conversations with Garry everyday- I find your conversation in the car quite entertaining- your description allowed me to picture it perfectly. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Marilyn, see my reply to Ms. Swiss. What? Please I’m driving! For the record, I am NOT saying “shut up”!

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  2. Out of personal experience the 11th commandment is “Thou shalt not speak to thy husband when he is driving. It is forbidden to disturb his concentration on the road surface” It’s as simple as that. Or perhaps it is another excuse to tell you to keep quiet, I am concentrating. The mysteries of mankind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ms. Swiss. This isn’t a guy thing. I really do FOCUS on traffic or road curves, etc. And, given the way people drive these days, it really pays to watch out for the other motorist and gauge traffic patterns, anticipating changes. As I grow older, I am a more careful driver. The other thing: My “bad” ear faces Marilyn and I can’t always hear what she is saying while driving. It’s awkward and frustrating.
      As for the Commandments, I remember 10 of them. But not the other 5 that Mel Brooks dropped in “History of the World-Part One”.
      Finally, the title of this post could be mis-leading to some guys. Not me, of course!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The funny thing is that Mr. Swiss says exactly the same in so many words “keep quiet I am concentrating”. I wonder how it would go if Marilyn or I would be driving and the other would be the passenger. No, forget it, not a good idea.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ms. Swiss, I am rarely the passenger these days. When I am, I try to return the same courtesy I ask as a driver. When I was younger, I was a much more sociable driver but not nearly as careful.

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  3. Usually my husband drives. Why? Because he makes a very bad passenger – always pointing out upcoming stop signs, lights, cross traffic, the speed at which the vehicle is traveling (too fast? too slow?). Once when I was driving, his comments became so annoying that I lost my temper and told him if he didn’t like my driving, he could get out and walk. — we were on the way to the ER because he was having tachycardia. and I had rolled through a yellow light because I really wanted to get there. I’ve been hearing about that incident ever since.

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  4. Wow… God sounds like kind of an ass in those first few commandments (Don’t look for the lightning strike, I’m already hellbound anyway). I can start to see where all of the religious nuttiness comes from now. The god I would want to believe in wouldn’t be jealous, or demand worship, or even have a list of “thou shalt nots” for me to obey…

    And that brings me to your point about whether murder of stealing are self-evident as beliefs to humankind, and I would say probably not. I guess it depends on how much one would differentiate us from the rest of the animal kingdom which has no problem murdering and stealing and commiting adultery when and where it seems fit… but I believe those ideals we take so much for granted are more the result of civilization rather than human nature. And human nature, sadly, comes out in people much more than we’d care to see…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Animals generally do not kill each other. They kill things to eat, but survival is not murder. It’s survival. As for adultery, I always figured it was the sin of growing up.

      No animal except humans go to war or kill each other in cold blood. They don’t steal anything except food and they don’t own anything. They protect their children and their nest. Overall, most animals have a higher morality than people do.

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    2. I am so relieved you said that about the first couple of commandments. I thought maybe that was just me that felt that way. I’m not comfortable with the idea of a jealous god or one who would punish generations of innocent people for the sins of their parents. I thought we were not supposed to do that! I guess this is why I don’t go to church. I expect God to treat us as He would like to be treated.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right. It pretty much covers it all. Hillel, slightly earlier, said “Do not do to anyone what you wouldn’t want someone to do to you.” The “golden rule” predates everything. There’s an ancient Chinese version of it it and it’s probably scrawled on a cave wall somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. “There’s a lot of stuff about not making idols and coveting and all.” and “Not etched in stone” on the modern version… I laughed. Well that’s a productive use of your time today! 😀 Now that we have all of that settled, what next?

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      1. Yeah, and what if your neighbor has a great ass.., coveting comes without even giving it a thought. Coveting occurs so fast you hardly know what happened until it’s done.., by then it’s too late. I’m so weak…

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    1. You know, there’s big breakage and little breakage. Shoplifting when you’re a kid is not quite the same as grand theft auto and mass murder … gee. How many mass murderers are walking around free … running nations for that matter? The whole religious legal system needs some fine tuning. IMHO, that is.

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  6. Great summary. Harder to follow when you remember Jesus raised the bar: hate=murder, lust=adultery (just having the attitude and meaning it was enough). The blaspheme thing is more than a choice of words. It’s also about not claiming God told you to do things when He clearly didn’t.

    It would have ‘solved’ a lot of world history if people had followed these rules more closely. The hippies of the ’60s were onto something there.

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    1. If we followed any moral compass, the world would be a better place. They are all variations on a theme of “be nice” and “treat others like you want to be treated.” Every religion, old and new, has a set of these and they are all similar, all good. The problem is not following them.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. LOL… I missed this for some reason. Must have been a DaNile sort of day. I am hear today to bear non-false witness to the fact I’ve coveted an ass or two in my day. Usually just jealous of someone else’s more toned one than the one I ended up with sixty years later. Having said that, I am sure you know I only lusted in my heart, and never committed adultery anywhere other than my head. 😉

    And as further too much information, I completely understand the don’t talk to me while I drive mentality, MrA. As a long-term ADD individual, it’s dangerous to drive, look at bright shiny objects and squirrels and dog butts, AND also process and respond to verbiage. Just too much to ask for.

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  8. Somehow it seems all wrong without all the pomposity, I don’t know. And why not some more important ones than don’t swear – don’t spend your life so focused on money, or property, or stuff, that you forget about life. How about something on organized religion inherently leading to evil? Stuff like that?

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    1. If it were up to me, I’d say the early versions of the golden rule answer most human needs. Don’t do anything to someone else that you wouldn’t want them to do to you. The ones that involved worshiping god and praising him/her/it/them … well … I guess you’d have to believe that there IS a deity who is fed by the praise and prayers of adherents. Mind you, there are many writers who have postulated exactly that — the gods exist only when/because we worship them and when we stop, they grow old and die. Worship is their food.

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