covet

The Hebrew and Greek that is typically translated as “covet” in English is translated as “bulge your eyes over what is someone else’s” in Isthmus Zapotec. (Source: Waterhouse / Parrott in Notes on Translation October 1967, p. 1ff.)

In Bura-Pabir it is translated with ngguka or “have strong desire for” which differentiates from silka or “jealous,” which refers not to one’s jealous attitude to one’s neighbor. (Source: Andy Warren-Rothlin)

See also greed / covetousness.

Translation commentary on Deuteronomy 5:21

This commandment, unlike the others, deals with an inner motivation, not with an action. By forbidding the motivation, the resultant action is also forbidden. All the people and things included in the list belong to a person’s male fellow Israelite: they are his property, his cattle, and his slaves. In Exo 20.17 the all-inclusive “your neighbor’s household” comes first, and then the items belonging to that household.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife: obviously what can be prohibited and punished is not the desire as such but the attempt to satisfy that desire. The verb covet here is different from the verb translated desire in the following clause, but the two have almost the same meaning (the Septuagint translates both by the same Greek verb). Neighbor here meant “a fellow Israelite,” and as applied to people today it means “a fellow human being,” not just the person living next door. So Good News Translation has “Do not desire another man’s wife.”

After the list of particular items, home, ox … ass (see verse 14), comes the final inclusive summary: or anything that is your neighbor’s.

Here ends the direct quotation of Yahweh’s words that began in verse 6.

Quoted with permission from Bratcher, Robert G. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on Deuteronomy. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2000. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .