Last week in a weekly Torah study I'm a part of, I mused (on the tenth commandment):
Is coveting your neighbor's wife necessarily the prelude to committing adultery? Is coveting your neighbor's donkey the prelude to stealing? If so, then is this last mitzvah a sort of "fence" around the previous mitzvot? If it is a fence, then why did Yeshua teach that 'anyone who looks on a woman lustfully commits adultery with her in his heart'--why didn't he simply refer to this as coveting? (Possible answer: adultery has a penalty of death, so it's considered a more severe transgression...thus he heightened his point by focusing on the mitzvah with the greater penalty.)These thoughts were rather stream of consciousness, and afterwards I delved into a more detailed word study in both the Tanakh and the Apostolic Writings. So imagine my surprise (and joy) when I discovered that I was wrong, and Yeshua actually DID use the word for coveting. Here's what I wrote back:
I was incorrect; Yeshua DOES use the word for coveting in relation to his statement about not lusting: "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to COVET AFTER HER [my literal translation] has already committed adultery with her in his heart." [Compare the Greek text with Paul's lists of the commandments in Romans or Galatians.] This verse seems to be universally translated as "to lust after" [See hI am curious about the near-universal choice of "lust" here over "covet" in English translations: is there a strong linguistic basis for it or does it have more to do with the meanings of the English words "lust" and "covet" in our modern day? Or is it simply the profound literary influence of the masterful KJV translation?
t t p : / / b i b l e . c c / m a t t h e w / 5 - 2 8 . h t m ], with Young's literal translation being one notable exception. By contrast, the Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels explicitly highlight the presence of the word covet in the text: "whoever gazes at a woman to covet [footnote: desire] her..."
In any case, I think this is one great example of how the Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels can be highly effective in helping us to get to know the canonical Greek texts better, while simultaneously highlighting for us the fact that our English translations are just that: translations.
(Update: Rabbi Russ Resnik also draws this connection in his book Divine Reversal--see my comment below.)