THE TENTH COMMANDMENT
You shall not covet . . . anything that is your neighbor’s. . . .
You shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his
manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or any
thing that is your neighbor’s.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
The tenth commandment unfolds and completes the ninth,
which is concerned with concupiscence of the flesh. It forbids
coveting the goods of another, as the root of theft, robbery, and
fraud, which the seventh commandment forbids. “Lust of the eyes”
leads to the violence and injustice forbidden by the fifth command
Avarice, like fornication, originates in the idolatry prohib
ited by the first three prescriptions of the Law.
commandment concerns the intentions of the heart; with the ninth,
it summarizes all the precepts of the Law.
The sensitive appetite leads us to desire pleasant things we
do not have, e.g., the desire to eat when we are hungry or to warm
ourselves when we are cold. These desires are good in themselves;
but often they exceed the limits of reason and drive us to covet
unjustly what is not ours and belongs to another or is owed to him.
The tenth commandment forbids
and the desire to
amass earthly goods without limit. It forbids
arising from a
passion for riches and their attendant power. It also forbids the
desire to commit injustice by harming our neighbor in his temporal
When the Law says, “You shall not covet,” these words
mean that we should banish our desires for whatever does
not belong to us. Our thirst for another’s goods is immense,
infinite, never quenched. Thus it is written: “He who loves
money never has money enough.”
III, 37; cf.