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.

Leviticus Rabbah 12


Another explanation of the text, AFTER THE DOINGS OF THE LAND OF EGYPT...SHALL YE NOT DO. It bears on what is written in Scripture: The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying : No eye shall see me; and He that dwelleth in secret putteth a face. Resh Lakish expounded: You must not suppose that only he who has committed the crime with his body is called an adulterer. If he commits adultery with his eyes he is also called an adulterer; for it says, ‘The eyes also of the adulterer.’ Now this adulterer sits and watches expectantly for the moment when twilight will arrive, when evening will come; as it says, In the twilight, in the evening of the day (Prov. vil, 9). And he does not know that He who sitteth in the secret place of the world, namely, the Holy One, blessed be He, fashions the features of the embryo’s face in his image, so as to expose him. This is what Job meant by, Is it good unto Thee that Thou shouldest oppress? (Job x, 3). This man [the husband] feeds and maintains her and He fashions the embryo’s features in the likeness of another! And not only that but Thou shouldest despise the work of Thy hands, and after having worked upon it [the embryo] forty whole days, Thou marrest it again Moreover, Thou dost Shine upon the counsel of the wicked. Is this consonant with Thy dignity, to stand between the adulterer and adulteress? Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: ‘Job, you really owe Me an apology. What would you? That it should be said of Me as you have said, namely, Hast Thou eyes of flesh? ‘Indeed,’ said the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘I shall fashion all his features in the likeness of his father in order to expose him.’

 Notes and References

"... 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

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