The Seventh Commandment.png

Thou shalt not commit adultery

This is Part 1 of Part 5 of our study on The Seventh Commandment.

The Seventh Commandment is found twice in the Old Testament and six times in the New Testament: Exodus 20:14; Deuteronomy 5:18; Matthew 5:27, 19:18; Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20; Romans 13:9 and James 2:11.

Marital Intimacy
This teaching is devoted to the sexual intimacy that Yahweh designed for a man and a woman joined together in holy matrimony to experience and enjoy. Adam referred to this husband-and-wife relationship after Yahweh had provided Eve as his helpmeet:
23 Then Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” 24 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
(Genesis 2:23-24, Amplified Bible (AMP), emphasis added)
When this “one flesh” relationship between a husband and his wife is approached and experienced as Yahweh intends it, sexual intercourse is one of the most intimate and beautiful acts shared by two individuals. However, when it is perverted or adulterated, it becomes one of mankind’s most debased, obscene and repugnant of acts. When man turns away from Yahweh’s created order, he makes what is beautiful ugly, what is wholesome obscene and what is lovely vulgar. In short, he makes what is good evil, what is light dark, and what is sweet bitter – Isaiah 5:20.
Without Yahweh and His Laws, unregenerate man is capable of devising, participating in and justifying the vilest behavior. The Seventh Commandment – the antithesis of man’s decadent sexual conduct – brings Yahweh’s condemnation upon anyone who does not repent of the sin of adultery.
Sexual relations with someone other than a person’s husband or wife is adultery; but this limited application does not cover the scope of the Seventh Commandment. Sexual relations with someone other than your marriage partner is adultery; but adultery is not simply sexual relations with someone other than your marriage partner.
The word “adultery” is derived from “adulterate.” Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary defines “adulterate:”
…to corrupt, debase, or make impure by the addition of a foreign or inferior substance … spurious.[1]
[1] “adulterate,” Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield MS: G. & C. Merriam Company, 1975) page 17.
Infidelity, miscegenation, sodomy, bestiality, incest and other spurious sexual relations satisfy this definition of adultery because they all corrupt, debase and make impure by the addition of a foreign or an inferior substance.
Moichos and Pornos
Adultery is any sexual transgression as defined by the Bible that defiles the marriage bed. Hebrews 13:4, which is probably the single best commentary on the Seventh Commandment, associates not only moichos (Strong’s #G3432), the Greek word translated adulterers, with defiling the marriage bed but also pornos (Strong’s #G4205), the Greek word translated whoremongers or fornicators.
Marriage is to be held in honor among all [that is, regarded as something of great value], and the marriage bed undefiled [by immorality or by any sexual sin]; for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
(Hebrews 13:4, Amplified Bible (AMP), comments added)
Hebrews 13:4, in the New American Standard Version, is fairly close to how the translators of The Bible in Basic English rendered Exodus 20:14:
Do not be false to the married relation.
Pornos, which is a form of porneia (Strong’s #G4202) and from which our English word “pornography” is derived. It is usually translated as “fornication” in the New Testament. Pornos or porneia are more inclusive words than what most Christians[2] realize. Fornication is most often portrayed as sexual misconduct participated in by an unmarried couple. While this is one form of fornication, porneia or fornication is not limited to premarital sexual improprieties. For example, incest is described as porneia in 1 Corinthians Chapter 5:
[2] Not everyone claiming to be a Christian has been properly instructed in the biblical plan of salvation. Therefore in many instances the designation “Christian” is used only in a generic sense. Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41, 22:1-16; Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27 and 1 Peter 3:21 should be studied in order to understand what is required to be covered by the blood of Yeshua and be forgiven of sins. For a more thorough explanation concerning baptism and its relationship to salvation, “Baptism by the Scriptures” may be read at or it may be ordered as a free tract from Mission to Israel Ministries, PO Box 248, Scottsbluff, Nebraska 69363.
It is actually reported [everywhere] that there is sexual immorality among you, a kind of immorality that is condemned even among the [unbelieving] Gentiles: that someone has [an intimate relationship with. Some maintain that the man had married his stepmother. The marriage, if it occurred, was illegal and invalid by both Jewish and Roman law.] his father’s wife.
(1 Corinthians 5:1, Amplified Bible (AMP), comments added)
Porneia, in 1 Corinthians Chapter 6, describes harlotry or prostitution:
13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will do away with both of them. The body is not intended for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body [to save, sanctify, and raise it again because of the sacrifice of the cross]. 14 And God has not only raised the Lord [to life], but will also raise us up by His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Am I therefore to take the members of Christ and make them part of a prostitute [Corinth was famous for its prostitutes, and many if not all probably practiced their trade in connection with the worship of Aphrodite. Having relations with temple or cult prostitutes was considered acceptable behavior, and Paul’s admonitions here indicate that some of the Corinthian converts were continuing the practice.]? Certainly not!
(1 Corinthians 6:13-15, Amplified Bible (AMP), comments added)
In Hebrews Chapter 12, forbidden lineage relationships are likewise associated with the Greek word pornos:
15 See to it that no one falls short of God’s grace; that no root of resentment springs up and causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 and [see to it] that no one is immoral or godless like Esau [who took two wives from the forbidden lineage of the Canaanites], who sold his own birthright for a single meal.
(Hebrews 12:15-16, Amplified Bible (AMP), comments added)
In Jude 1, sodomy or homosexuality is defined by the Greek word ekporneuo (Strong’s #G1608), a combination of two words including porneuo, from which porneia is derived:
just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent cities, since they in the same way as these angels indulged in gross immoral freedom and unnatural [women with women and men with men - Romans 1:26-27] vice and sensual perversity. They are exhibited [in plain sight] as an example in undergoing the punishment of everlasting fire.
(Jude 1:7, Amplified Bible (AMP), comments added)
These four acts of immorality – incest, harlotry, forbidden lineage and sodomy – are identified in the New Testament as instances of porneia or fornication that defile the marriage bed. This defilement is not limited to sexual misconduct committed after the wedding. Sexual sins committed prior to the wedding also defile the marriage bed because Yahweh’s design for sexual intimacy is exclusive to the marital relationship between husbands and wives.
Although not specified as porneia in the New Testament, there are other sexual perversions, for example miscegenation[3] and bestiality,[4] that also constitute porneia or fornication that can be placed under the broader heading of adultery.
[3] “Miscegenation,” Merriam-Webster definition is - a mixture of races; especially: marriage, cohabitation, or sexual intercourse between a white person and a member of another race.
[4] “Bestiality,” Merriam-Webster definition is - sexual relations between a human being and a lower animal.
Adultery is any sexual impropriety committed before or after the wedding that is false to the marriage covenant. Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) corroborates this broader definition or understanding:
1. Violation of the marriage bed; a crime, or a civil injury, which introduces, or may introduce, into a family, a spurious offspring. In common usage, adultery means the unfaithfulness of any married person to the marriage bed…. 2. In a scriptural sense, all manner of lewdness or unchastity, as in the seventh commandment.[5] (Emphasis added)
[5] Noah Webster, “adultery,” American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 edition reprinted (San Francisco, CA: The Foundation for American Christian Education, 1967).
The Seventh Commandment is found only twice in the Old Testament. However, most commentaries and books devoted to the Ten Commandments include Leviticus 18:20 as another instance where the Seventh Commandment is cited in the Old Testament:
You shall not have intimate relations with your neighbor’s wife, to be defiled with her.
(Leviticus 18:20, Amplified Bible (AMP), emphasis added)
With the limited definition that most Christians assign to “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” it is immediately apparent why many “think” that this verse is another Old Testament instance of the Seventh Commandment. Leviticus 18:20, however, is not a reiteration of the Seventh Commandment but instead it is one of the statutes that falls under or helps to explain the Seventh Commandment. Most of the other Seventh Commandment statutes are also listed in Leviticus Chapter 18. This is one instance when the Bible has the majority of a commandment’s statutes listed in the same location.
No [This passage (vv 6-18) states incestuous prohibitions.] one shall approach any blood relative of his to [This Hebrew euphemism for sexual relations occurs in each verse in the passage.] uncover nakedness (have intimate relations). I am the Lord [Strong’s Concordance #H3068 YHWH in the Hebrew text].
(Leviticus 18:6, Amplified Bible (AMP), emphasis and comments added)
Leviticus 18:6 is a general statement condemning incestuous relationships. The following twelve verses expand upon this statute to include prohibitions against sexual relationships between parents and children, siblings or half siblings, grandparents and grandchildren, uncles or aunts and nephews or nieces and between in-laws.
Leviticus 18:7-8 describes incest with a person’s mother or a father’s wife with the idiom “uncovering your father’s nakedness:”
7 You shall not uncover the nakedness [The father’s nakedness is a reference to his wife in her role as his sexual partner, i.e. the nakedness that belongs to him alone by virtue of their marriage (cf 1 Corinthians 7:4). Otherwise, the literal meaning would refer to intimate relations with the father himself, including homosexuality. The text itself states that this is not the meaning, especially in 20:11a (The man who lies...has uncovered his father’s nakedness).] of your father, that is, the nakedness of your mother. She is your mother. You shall not uncover her nakedness. 8 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is your father’s nakedness.
(Leviticus 18:7-8, Amplified Bible (AMP), emphasis and comment added)
In Deuteronomy 22:30, the phrase “expose his father’s wife” in the Amplified Bible (AMP) and in the KJV, it is “discover his father’s skirt” and the KJV phrase “uncovereth his father’s skirt” in Deuteronomy 27:20 also describe incest with a person’s mother or a father’s wife.
The proper understanding of these phrases is crucial to understanding Yahweh’s judgment upon Noah’s grandson Canaan. Many Bible readers are bewildered as to why Canaan was cursed for his father Ham’s sin in Genesis Chapter 9:
22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw [by accident] the nakedness of his father, and [to his father’s shame] told his two brothers outside. 23 So Shem and Japheth took a robe and put it on both their shoulders, and walked backwards and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine [induced stupor], he knew what his younger son [Ham] had done to him. 25 So he said,
Cursed be Canaan [the son of Ham]; A [The words of Noah are prophetic. God later found the disobedience of the Canaanites to be repulsive and replaced them with the descendants of Shem.] servant of servants He shall be to his brothers.”
26 He also said,
Blessed be the Lord [Strong’s Concordance #H3068 YHWH in the Hebrew text], The God of Shem [The Jewish people are the descendants of Shem. Through Shem’s lineage came the Messiah and salvation.]; And let Canaan be his servant.
“May God enlarge [the land of] Japheth,
And let [Note that “let” in this verse represents a command, as in “Let there be light” (1:3). “Let” is a word of permission.] him [The antecedent of the word “him” could be Japheth but it could also be “God,” thus making Him (the Messiah) dwell in the tents of Shem indicating the incarnation in the Semitic line.] dwell in the tents of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant.”
(Genesis 9:22-27, Amplified Bible (AMP), emphasis and comments added)
The biblical understanding of the phrase “the nakedness of his father” helps to correctly determine what happened in this incident. It reveals why Canaan was named in this passage instead of Ham’s other sons and why Canaan and his descendants were cursed instead of Ham. Permitting the Bible, specifically Leviticus 18:7-8, Deuteronomy 22:30 and 27:20, to be its own commentary, it becomes apparent that Canaan was cursed because he was the offspring of Ham’s sexual relationship with his mother.
While some people may still question why Canaan was cursed instead of Ham, Yahweh, in His omniscience, knew that the progeny from this incestuous relationship would prove to be morally reprobate. This was also true of the Moabites and the Ammonites who were from the incestuous relationships of Lot and his two daughters, as described in Genesis 19:30-38. In addition to the Canaanites, the Moabites and the Ammonites were likewise cursed in Ezra 9:1-12 and the Israelites were forbidden to marry them.[6]
[6] The Perizzites, although not Canaanites, dwelt among the Canaanites (Genesis 13:7; 15:18-21, 34:30, etc.) and certainly they intermarried with them. Therefore, the Perizzites were counted among those lineages with whom Israel was forbidden to marry. Not all Egyptians (Hamites – Psalm 78:51, 105:23, 27; 106:21-22) were forbidden for Israel to marry. However, the descendants of Canaan were a forbidden lineage of Hamites and, therefore, the reason for concluding that the Egyptians cited in Ezra 9:1 were another line of Canaanites or Hamites who had mixed with the Canaanites.
New Testament Testimony
The gravity of incest is also demonstrated in the New Testament. Of all the crimes, including murder, of which Herod was guilty, John the Baptist singled out the sin of incest:
14 King Herod [Antipas] heard about this, for Jesus’ name and reputation had become well known. People were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why these miraculous powers are at work in Him.” 15 But others were saying, “He is Elijah!” [Many of the Jews believed that the prophet Elijah would return before the Messiah appeared.] And others were saying, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets [of old].” 16 But when Herod heard [of it], he kept saying, “John, whom I beheaded, has risen [from the dead]!”
17 For Herod himself had sent [guards] and had John arrested and shackled in prison because of Herodias [Herodias was not the lawful wife of Herod Antipas. She was married to her uncle, Herod Philip I. She deserted him in order to live with another uncle, Herod Antipas, whose legal wife was the daughter of Aretas, King of Arabia.], the wife of his [half-] brother Philip, because he (Herod) had married her. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful [under Mosaic Law] for you to have your brother’s wife. 19 Herodias had a grudge against John and wanted to kill him, but she could not, 20 because Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and he continually kept him safe. When he heard John [speak], he was very perplexed; but he enjoyed listening to him. 21 But an opportune time [finally] came [for Herodias]. Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his officials (nobles, courtiers) and military [Greek chiliarchois (Strong’s #G5506), originally referring to a commander of 1,000 but in Roman times of 600.] commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22 Now [Salome] the daughter of Herodias came in and danced [for the men]. She pleased and beguiled Herod and his dinner guests; and the king said to the girl [Salome was probably only fourteen or fifteen years old.], “Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you.” 23 And he swore to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give it to you; up [This was intended as an expression of generosity rather than a literal offer. In reality Herod was a tetrarch, a puppet ruler under Rome and he did not have authority over a “kingdom.”] to half of my kingdom.” 24 She went out and said to her mother, “What shall I ask for?” And Herodias replied, “The head of John the Baptist!” 25 And she rushed back to the king and asked, saying, “I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter!” 26 The king was deeply grieved, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests [who might have regarded him as weak], he was unwilling to [break his word and] refuse her. 27 So the king immediately sent for an executioner and commanded him to bring back John’s head. And he went and had John beheaded in the prison, 28 and brought back his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.
(Mark 6:14-28, Amplified Bible (AMP), emphasis and comments added)
The Apostle Paul also condemned incest:
1 It is actually reported [everywhere] that there is sexual immorality among you, a kind of immorality that is condemned even among the [unbelieving] Gentiles: that someone has [an intimate relationship with. Some maintain that the man had married his stepmother. The marriage, if it occurred, was illegal and invalid by both Jewish and Roman law.] his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud and arrogant! You should have mourned in shame so that the man who has done this [disgraceful] thing would be removed from your fellowship!
3 For I [Paul], though absent [from you] in body but present in spirit, have already passed judgment on him who has committed this [act], as if I were present. 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I am with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to hand [Probably a call for the man to be excommunicated and removed from the safety and blessing of the church.] over this man to Satan for the destruction of his body, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
(1 Corinthians 5:1-5, Amplified Bible (AMP), emphasis and comments added)
The Physical Consequences of Incest
Yahweh did not feel compelled to explain His reason for condemning the familial[7] relationships listed in Leviticus Chapter 18. Although the Israelites of Moses’ day may not have yet made the connection between such close genetic relationships and the spiritual and physical consequences that usually result from incest, theirs was not to question why but to simply benefit from what might be labeled blind obedience.
[7] Incest is usually defined as forbidden sexual relations between near-blood kinsmen. However, Leviticus 18:16 and Deuteronomy 27:23 expand the term “near of kin to him” to include sister-in-laws and mother-in-laws.
Arthur C. Custance in “Doorway Papers, No. 51, Cain’s Wife” expounded upon the physical consequences of incestuous relationships:
From a mathematical point of view … matings among first cousins (as in Darwin’s case, for example, or his sister Caroline’s case) result in the offspring having identical genes in a ratio of 1 to 7. Many of these genes will be recessive mutants and therefore detrimental to the possessor when inherited homozygously. Mating of uncle to niece or nephew to aunt raises this ratio to 1 to 3. Matings among brothers and sisters raises this ratio, often disastrously, to 1 to 1….
Such children will have an increased risk of being affected by recessive conditions. In order to get an estimate of the extent of this risk, in 1958 I invited Children’s Officers to let me know prospectively of pregnancies or of new births in which it was known that the pregnancy or birth was the result of incest between first degree relatives.
…Thirteen cases of incest (6 father-daughter and 7 brother-sister) were reported to me … when the children were all 4 to 6 years old. I summarize … the information on these 13 children.
Three children are dead: one at 15 months of cystic fibrosis of the pancreas, … one at 2 1/2 months of progressive cerebral degeneration with blindness; and one at 7 years, 11 months of Fallot’s Tetrology (this child had an IQ of 70). One child is severely sub-normal, with much delayed-milestones, and was considered non-testable at age 4 years, 9 months, when she had a vocabulary of only a few words. Four children are educatively subnormal: the known IQ of 3 are 59, 65, and 76….[8]
[8] Arthur C. Custance, “Doorway Papers, No. 51, Cain’s Wife.”
In other words, eight out of thirteen children were born with or developed severe mental or physical deficiencies and three of the children were dead before they reached their eighth birthday. Although man may not have yet understood these potential consequences, Yahweh could foresee the consequences when He commanded Moses to ban these adulterous relationships.
Menstrual Impurity
19 When a woman has a discharge, if her bodily discharge is blood, she shall continue in her menstrual impurity for seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. 20 Everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean; and everything on which she sits shall be unclean. 21 Anyone who touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 22 Whoever touches anything on which she sits shall wash his [or her] clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 23 And if it is on her bed or on the thing on which she is sitting, when he [or her] touches it, he [or her] shall be unclean until evening. 24 If a man actually lies with her so that her menstrual impurity is on him, he shall be unclean for seven days; and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.
(Leviticus 15:19-24, Amplified Bible (AMP), emphasis and comments added)
Also you shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness during her menstrual impurity and ceremonial uncleanness.
(Leviticus 18:19, Amplified Bible (AMP), emphasis added)
This verse addresses an area of privacy that is seldom spoken of or written about. Because many people are unaware that the Bible addresses this area of intimacy, many Christians are transgressing this statute.
This Seventh Commandment statute is principally speaking of the monthly cycle that follows a woman’s ovulation, technically known as menstruation. It is by this cycle that Yahweh designed a woman’s body to cleanse and prepare itself for reproduction.
A man’s wife, especially a prudent wife, is a gift from Yahweh – Proverbs 19:14. But, Yahweh has not given man a license to do whatever he wishes with his wife, prudent or otherwise. The gift comes with certain conditions, as do all of Yahweh’s gifts.
Even though Adam and his progeny were given the earth to inhabit, till and subdue, the Bible contains many agricultural statutes that dictate how the land is to be farmed. Included in those laws is a stipulation that the land is to be rested every seven years. It could be said that the same applies to a man’s wife, not every seven years but for at least seven days every month. Menstruation is a time when women are to be set apart and protected.
Just as the land suffers when Yahweh’s agricultural Laws are abandoned, so does a woman’s health when the statutes regulating sexual relations are ignored. It is a medical fact that a woman’s health, specifically the environment of the womb, is compromised when Yahweh’s statutes concerning sexual abstinence are disregarded.
Couples should abstain from conjugal relations for seven days from the beginning of the menstrual cycle, provided the woman’s cycle is normal. Although, there are differences of opinions as to whether this passage requires total separation, there is no question that Yahweh demands sexual abstinence during this cleansing cycle. The same Law of abstinence applies so long as the blood flow continues:
25 Now if a woman has a flow of blood for many days, not during the time of her menstruation, or if she has a discharge beyond that period, as long as the impure discharge continues she shall be as she is in the days of her [normal] menstrual impurity; she is unclean. 26 Every bed on which she lies during the time of her discharge shall be to her like the bed of her menstrual impurity, and whatever she sits on shall be unclean, like the uncleanness of her monthly period. 27 And whoever touches those things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. 28 When she is cleansed from her discharge, then she shall count off for herself seven days, and after that she will be clean.
(Leviticus 15:25-28, Amplified Bible (AMP), emphasis and comment added)
Abstinence should also be observed following childbirth. The duration differs depending upon the gender of the child, forty days for a male child and eighty days for a female child:
2 Speak to the children of Israel, saying,
If a woman conceives and gives birth to a male child, she shall be [ceremonially] unclean for seven days, unclean as during her monthly period. 3 On the eighth day the flesh of the male child’s foreskin shall be circumcised. 4 Then she shall remain [intimately separated] thirty-three days to be purified from the blood; she shall not touch any consecrated thing nor enter the [courtyard of the] sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. 5 But if she gives birth to a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as during her monthly period, and she shall remain [intimately separated] sixty-six days to be purified from the blood.
(Leviticus 12:2-5, Amplified Bible (AMP), emphasis and comments added)
The Bible does not disclose why sexual abstinence is to be twice as long following the birth of a female child as it is for a male child. Although probably having something to do with hormonal variations, medical science has yet to determine the reason for this stipulation. Unquestioning obedience is, nonetheless, required. At the best, it is an inconsiderate and selfish husband who would demand or do otherwise.
The judgment for transgressing Leviticus 18:19 depends upon whether defilement during menstruation is inadvertent or deliberate. According to Leviticus Chapter 15, inadvertent contamination results in physical uncleanness, requiring purification by a self-imposed separation or quarantine, whereas a deliberate offence is a much more serious transgression in Yahweh’s sight:
If a man lies [intimately] with a woman during her menstrual cycle and uncovers her nakedness, he has exposed her flow, and she has uncovered the flow of her blood; both of them shall be cut off from their people [excluding them from the atonement made for them].
(Leviticus 20:18, Amplified Bible (AMP), emphasis and comments added)
The phrase “cut off from their people” is used in the Old Testament for both capital punishment and excommunication, the latter probably being the punishment in this instance. No matter how this phrase is interpreted, it is obvious that deliberate transgression of this statute is a serious infraction in Yahweh’s sight.
This concludes our study of Part 1 of Part 5 on The Seventh Commandment. Stay tuned for Part 2.