In Exodus 20:14 it reads:

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house: you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife...or his ox or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s

Does G-d equate women to objects?

  • There are definitely some aspects in which one's slave, wife, or daughter are considered one's property, for example, a wife is acquired with money. Or if one harms his fellow's wife, he pays damages to the husband. But this does not mean that they equate to objects, for example, women possess property and money (their inheritance) while slaves and objects don't.
    – Al Berko
    Sep 11, 2021 at 17:49
  • 3
    Are all comparisons equivalences? If not, then what is the basis of your question?
    – Double AA
    Sep 12, 2021 at 2:21

2 Answers 2


You can look at laws and therefore tell what problems exist. A sign in a subway car says do not lean on doors? Because people probably do. Does the sign in the subway car say do not shave yourself with a weed wacker? No, because that's far less common. If state laws have one category for grand theft, and a special one for grand theft auto, you can tell that stealing cars is a common problem. (Just as the Torah had a special penalty for stealing livestock.)

The Torah here is addressing a less-than-perfect man who, just as he might think no fair! Why does that dude have a mansion and I don't?! I deserve it more than he does; I'm gonna figure out a way to get his! ... the fellow might think hey why did that guy deserve a wife that [adjective]?! In doing so, yes the fellow in question is arguably viewing the female partner in that relationship as something her husband "got." But the Torah then says not to do this.

As the Talmud tells it, Moses is up in the Heavens trying to get the Torah, and the angels say "hey we want it up here in the Heavens instead." And Moses replies -- commandments about not murdering or coveting or lying -- are those intended for perfect beings who have no interest in doing such things? Or for flawed ones with lots of vices? Moses wins the debate, and brings the Torah down to earth.


The Ramban (quoting Ibn Ezra) understands it as following the normal order of life and not as equating them per se:

Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra wrote [of the commandment, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house… thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, etc.], that Scripture adopted a normal course of life. First, it mentioned the neighbor’s house, for an enlightened person will first acquire a house, and then marry a woman to bring her to his house, and only afterwards will he acquire a manservant or a maidservant. But in the Book of Deuteronomy, it mentions the wife first, because young men desire to marry first [before they acquire a house]. It may be that because the coveting of a neighbor’s wife is the greatest sin of all things mentioned in that verse, [it is listed first].

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