The Ninth and Tenth Commandments

[This is taken from Emanuel Swedenborg's Spiritual Life and the Word of God.]

The ninth commandment, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house,” is now to be treated of.  There are two loves from which all lusts spring and flow forth perpetually like streams from their fountains.  These loves are called love of the world and love of self.  Lust is a love continually desiring, for what a man loves, that he continually longs for.  But lusts belong to the love of evil, while desires and affections belong to the love of good.  Now because love of the world and love of self are the fountains of all lusts, and all evil lusts are forbidden in these last two commandments, it follows that the ninth commandment forbids the lusts that flow from love of the world, and the tenth commandment the lusts that flow from love of self.  “Not to covet a neighbor’s house” means not to covet his goods, which in general are possessions of wealth, and not to appropriate them to oneself by evil arts. This lust belongs to love of the world.  (A.E., n. 1021.)

The tenth commandment is “Thou shalt not covet (or try to get possession of) thy neighbor’s wife, his man-servant, or his maid-servant, his ox, or his ass.”  These are lusts after what is man’s own, because the wife, man-servant, maid-servant, ox, and ass, are within his home, and the things within a man’s home mean in the spiritual internal sense the things that are his own, that is, the wife means affection for spiritual truth and good, “man-servant and maid-servant,” affection for rational truth and good serving the spiritual, and “ox and ass” affection for natural good and truth.  These signify in the Word such affections; but because coveting and trying to get possession of these affections means to wish and eagerly desire to subject a man to one’s own authority or bidding, it follows that lusting after these affections means the lusts of the love of self, that is, of the love of ruling, for thus does one make the things belonging to a companion to be his own.

From this it can now be seen that the lust of the ninth commandment is a lust of the love of the world, and that the lusts of the tenth commandment are lusts of the love of self.  For, as has been said before, all lusts are of love, for it is love that covets; and as there are two evil loves to which all lusts have reference, namely, love of the world and love of self, it follows that the lust of the ninth commandments has reference to love of the world, and the lust of this commandment to love of self, especially to the love of ruling.  (A.E., n. 1022.)





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