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Deuteronomy 6:3-4

Context
6:3 Pay attention, Israel, and be careful to do this so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in number 1  – as the Lord, God of your ancestors, 2  said to you, you will have a land flowing with milk and honey.

The Essence of the Covenant Principles

6:4 Listen, Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 3 

1 tn Heb “may multiply greatly” (so NASB, NRSV); the words “in number” have been supplied in the translation for clarity.

2 tn Heb “fathers” (also in vv. 10, 18, 23).

3 tn Heb “the Lord, our God, the Lord, one.” (1) One option is to translate: “The Lord is our God, the Lord alone” (cf. NAB, NRSV, NLT). This would be an affirmation that the Lord was the sole object of their devotion. This interpretation finds support from the appeals to loyalty that follow (vv. 5, 14). (2) Another option is to translate: “The Lord is our God, the Lord is unique.” In this case the text would be affirming the people’s allegiance to the Lord, as well as the Lord’s superiority to all other gods. It would also imply that he is the only one worthy of their worship. Support for this view comes from parallel texts such as Deut 7:9 and 10:17, as well as the use of “one” in Song 6:8-9, where the starstruck lover declares that his beloved is unique (literally, “one,” that is, “one of a kind”) when compared to all other women.

sn Verses 4-5 constitute the so-called Shema (after the first word שְׁמַע, shÿma’, “hear”), widely regarded as the very heart of Jewish confession and faith. When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment of all, he quoted this text (Matt 22:37-38).



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