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You Shall Not Commit Adultery
First appearing in the Decalogue, adultery, or  נָאַף (na'ap) in Hebrew, is contained in the prohibition to not commit adultery. Exodus 20:14 reads,  "You shall not commit adultery (na'ap)."


This word for "adultery" occurs only 34 times in the Old Testament as compared to זָנָה (za'na), a word that denotes fornication or other illicit sexual activity (both physically and metaphorically as spiritual fornication; variously translated) occurring in the Old Testament text. Na'ap denotes "sexual intercourse with the wife or betrothed of another man." (Koehler and W. Baumgartner)

Israelite Sexual Purity
In contrast to other surrounding pagan religions of the ancient near east, Israelites were to be sexually pure.  The practice of adultery was detestable in God's eyes and warrants double mention in the Decalogue ("You shall not commit adultery"; "You shall not covet your neighbors wife...").


Biblical references to adultery include:
  • Genesis 2:24; The institution of marriage renders two flesh into one. Adultery violates the First Commandment by placing man's will in opposition and above God's will. 
  • Proverbs 6:32-33; The destruction of ones own soul and reputation.
  • Lev. 19:20; 20:10; Adultery was punishable by death. Fornication did not merit the death penalty.
  • Mal. 2:14-16; Divorce is explicittly condmened as hateful to God.
  • Numbers 5:11-31; Women suspect of adultery are given to undertake this trial.

Spiritual Adultery 
Hosea is the embodiment of the LORD's teaching on spiritual adultery. Not only is the LORD King of all Israel, but He is also the husband of Israel. "Israel is condmened for disavowing God's claims as the marriage lord.  They have served other gods by practicing cultic and spiritual prostitution (4:11-12)." (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)


Hebrew Mnemonic for "Adultery" 
To recall "na'ap" is " he committed adultery" find a "sound-alike" word for "na'ap." For myself, it sounds like "nap."  Associate your "sound-alike" to the definition of " he committed adultery."  I vividly picture a man taking a "nap" with a woman that is not his wife.

Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary Helps
To learn more Hebrew vocabulary and grammar quickly and easily, visit us on the web at Biblical Hebrew Made Easy! To see more works by author Blair Kasfeldt, visit his website, Boost Your Memory!

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