Matthew 5:28

New Testament

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to desire her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into hell. 30 If your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away! It is better to lose one of your members than to have your whole body go into hell.

Kallah 2

Minor Tractate

He who pays money to a woman, counting from his hand into her hand in order to gaze at her, even if he be like Moses our teacher who received the Torah from Mount Sinai, will not be exempt from the penalty of Gehinnom; as it is stated, Hand to hand, the evil man shall not be unpunished. Prov. 11, 21, My hand upon it! Behold Scripture declares, And we have brought the Lord’s offering, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, armlets, and bracelets, signet-rings, ear-rings, and girdles, to make atonement for our souls before the Lord. Num. 31, 50. ‘Eẓadah (armlets) means a garter; ẓamid (bracelets) silk cloaks; ‘agil (ear-rings) a cast of the female breasts; kumaz (girdles) a cast of the womb. To make atonement for our souls: Moses said to Israel, ‘Perhaps you have returned to your former sinful lapse’. Their association with the women of Midian; cf. Shab. 64a. They replied to him, ‘There lacketh not one man of us’. ‘If so,’ he retorted, ‘why this atonement?’ They replied, ‘We may have escaped sin, but we have not escaped sinful thoughts’. Why [did they offer] signet-rings? Because whoever gazes intentionally at a woman is as though he had intercourse with her. Hence the Rabbis declared: Whoever touches a woman’s little finger is as though he touched ‘that place’.

 Notes and References

"... The commandment is again quoted verbatim from LXX Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18. It is concerned specifically with a man who has sexual relations with another man’s wife. The “woman” in Jesus’ declaration is thus to be understood also as another man’s wife, and the looking “in order to desire her,” specifically of wanting (and planning?) sexual relations (hence my translation “wants to have sex with her” above). The focus is thus not (as some tender adolescent consciences have read it) on sexual attraction as such, but on the desire for (and perhaps the planning of) an illicit sexual liaison (compare Exodus 20:17, “you shall not covet your neighbor’s ... wife,” where LXX uses the same verb, epithymeō). The famous sin of David (2 Samuel 11:2-4), where such a desire led not only to adultery but also to murder, would naturally come to mind as a lurid scriptural example. The danger of looking lustfully at women is the subject of many Jewish sayings (e.g., Job 31:1, 9; Proverbs 6:25; Sirach 9:5, 8; Testament of Benjamin 8:2), and the idea that the desire is tantamount to the deed is hinted at in, for example, Testament of Reuben 5:6; T. Iss. 7:2 and explicit in the extracanonical tractate Kallah (“whoever gazes intentionally at a woman is as though he had intercourse with her”); according to b. Yoma 29a it is even worse ..."

France, R. T. The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 233-234) William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007

"... In its association of vision and phallus, however, the Yerushalmi goes further than the kind of manual vision envisaged in Cixous’ description. This Palestinian tradition crystallizes earlier Jewish traditions, such as those found in Matthew 5:28 and Leviticus Rabbah 23:12, which emphasize the sinfulness of the illicit sexual gaze ..."

Neis, Rachel The Sense of Sight in Rabbinic Culture: Jewish Ways of Seeing in Late Antiquity (p. 120) Cambridge University Press, 2013

 User Comments

Do you have questions or comments about these texts? Please submit them here.