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“You shall not covet your neighbour’s house. You shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.”

EXE 20:17 NIV

Basic Information

Envy - or covetousness - is the deadly sin which seeks to possess that which rightly belongs to others. The covetous man not only desires material goods, he seeks to deprive his neighbour of those goods - if he seeks merely to have more, then that is probably greed or pride, whilst the man who is excessively protective of those things that are his is called jealous instead. Envy may disguise itself as a desire for "equity" or "justice", but in reality simply sees no reason why no-one else should have what he does not. Combining an inappropriate desire for the material with the hostility to his neighbour clear points to the sinful nature of this behaviour.

It is not necessary for an envious person to end up in possession of whatever it is they desire - the statement "if I can't have it, no-one can" is also one fuelled by envy. Also, an envious person may desire something not for its value to them, but because their neighbour values it - this is a particularly dark form of the sin, quicker burning and swift to harm. Alternatively it may lead to the acquisition of things of little value simply to prevent another having them, which is still a loss for the sinner but of questionable harm to anyone else.

Emblematically envy is associated with the colour green, and with the serpent or a dog.


1. full source reference

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