COVETOUSNESS, condemned and prohibited in the tenth commandment of the Decalogue (Ex. 20:14; Deut. 5:18), and throughout the Bible and Jewish ethical literature, particularly in the Book of Proverbs (e.g., 3:31, 14:30, etc.). Since envy may be defined as a state of mind which wishes to change existing relations, there is an inherent relationship between the condemnation of covetousness and the maintenance of established social and economic conditions. Greed is regarded as the root of all social injustice (see micah 2:1 ff.; Hab. 2:9, etc.). The talmudic rabbis and medieval thinkers as well as modern scholars argue, for example, that the tenth commandment summarizes all the previous ones (Pes. 107aff.; Meg. 6; Naḥmanides' commentary on Ex. 20:14, etc.), because it is envy which leads to all the other sins. Avot 4:2 states that desire causes covetousness, which leads to robbery and tyranny (see also ibid., 2:11, 28; Mekh. to Ex. 20:14; BM 107, etc.). In the 20th century, too, hermann cohen repeated that greed causes envy which, in turn, causes hate, that leads to war (Religion der Vernunft aus den Quellen des Judentums (1929), 522). Since there is no limit to the objects of greed, envy is never sated, but is rather self-aggravating (Prov. 27:20; Eccles. 5:9; Eccles. R. 1:34; Ibn Ezra's commentary on Ex. 20:14, etc.), which explains the ethical warning that covetousness leads to the self-destruction of the one prey to it (Prov. 28:22; Sanh. 106; Sot. 9a). The cure for limitless greed lies in contentment and humbleness (Avot 4:1: "Who is rich? He who delights in his share"). Jewish tradition acknowledges, however, that the final abolition of envy will occur only with the advent of the messianic, i.e., the totally just society (see M.Ḥ. Luzzatto , Mesillat Yesharim, ch. 11, based on Isa. 11:13). (Steven S. Schwarzschild)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Covetousness — • Generally, an unreasonable desire for what we do not possess Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Covetousness     Covetousness      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Covetousness — Cov et*ous*ness, n. 1. Strong desire. [R.] [1913 Webster] When workmen strive to do better than well, They do confound their skill in covetousness. Shak. [1913 Webster] 2. A strong or inordinate desire of obtaining and possessing some supposed… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • covetousness — index desire, greed Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • covetousness — covetous ► ADJECTIVE ▪ longing to possess something. DERIVATIVES covetously adverb covetousness noun …   English terms dictionary

  • covetousness — noun see covetous …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • covetousness — See covetously. * * * …   Universalium

  • covetousness — noun Immoderate desire for the possession of something, especially for wealth. He which will yield to Fear. muſt neceſſarily yield to Covetouſneſs or any inordinate Deſire …   Wiktionary

  • Covetousness —    A strong desire after the possession of worldly things (Col. 3:5; Eph. 5:5; Heb. 13:5; 1 Tim. 6:9, 10; Matt. 6:20). It assumes sometimes the more aggravated form of avarice, which is the mark of cold hearted worldliness …   Easton's Bible Dictionary

  • covetousness — Selfish greed, condemned by Jesus (Luke 12:15) and regarded by Paul as the kind of specific command that makes people aware of their sinfulness (Rom. 7:7) …   Dictionary of the Bible

  • covetousness — I (Roget s IV) n. Syn. avarice, Cupidity, avariciousness; see greed . II (Roget s Thesaurus II) noun 1. Resentful or painful desire for another s advantages: enviousness, envy, jealousy. See DESIRE. 2. Excessive desire for more than one needs or… …   English dictionary for students

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