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Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Context
The Essence of the Covenant Principles

6:4 Listen, Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! 1  6:5 You must love 2  the Lord your God with your whole mind, 3  your whole being, 4  and all your strength. 5 

Exhortation to Teach the Covenant Principles

6:6 These words I am commanding you today must be kept in mind, 6:7 and you must teach 6  them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, 7  as you lie down, and as you get up. 6:8 You should tie them as a reminder on your forearm 8  and fasten them as symbols 9  on your forehead. 6:9 Inscribe them on the doorframes of your houses and gates. 10 

Deuteronomy 11:13-21

Context
11:13 Now, if you pay close attention 11  to my commandments that I am giving you today and love 12  the Lord your God and serve him with all your mind and being, 13  11:14 then he promises, 14  “I will send rain for your land 15  in its season, the autumn and the spring rains, 16  so that you may gather in your grain, new wine, and olive oil. 11:15 I will provide pasture 17  for your livestock and you will eat your fill.”

Exhortation to Instruction and Obedience

11:16 Make sure you do not turn away to serve and worship other gods! 18  11:17 Then the anger of the Lord will erupt 19  against you and he will close up the sky 20  so that it does not rain. The land will not yield its produce, and you will soon be removed 21  from the good land that the Lord 22  is about to give you. 11:18 Fix these words of mine into your mind and being, 23  and tie them as a reminder on your hands and let them be symbols 24  on your forehead. 11:19 Teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road, 25  as you lie down, and as you get up. 11:20 Inscribe them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates 11:21 so that your days and those of your descendants may be extended in the land which the Lord promised to give to your ancestors, like the days of heaven itself. 26 

1 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).

2 tn The verb אָהַב (’ahav, “to love”) in this setting communicates not so much an emotional idea as one of covenant commitment. To love the Lord is to be absolutely loyal and obedient to him in every respect, a truth Jesus himself taught (cf. John 14:15). See also the note on the word “loved” in Deut 4:37.

3 tn Heb “heart.” In OT physiology the heart (לֵב, לֵבָב; levav, lev) was considered the seat of the mind or intellect, so that one could think with one’s heart. See A. Luc, NIDOTTE 2:749-54.

4 tn Heb “soul”; “being.” Contrary to Hellenistic ideas of a soul that is discrete and separate from the body and spirit, OT anthropology equated the “soul” (נֶפֶשׁ, nefesh) with the person himself. It is therefore best in most cases to translate נֶפֶשׁ (nefesh) as “being” or the like. See H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, 10-25; D. Fredericks, NIDOTTE 3:133-34.

5 sn For NT variations on the Shema see Matt 22:37-39; Mark 12:29-30; Luke 10:27.

6 tn Heb “repeat” (so NLT). If from the root I שָׁנַן (shanan), the verb means essentially to “engrave,” that is, “to teach incisively” (Piel); note NAB “Drill them into your children.” Cf. BDB 1041-42 s.v.

7 tn Or “as you are away on a journey” (cf. NRSV, TEV, NLT); NAB “at home and abroad.”

8 sn Tie them as a sign on your forearm. Later Jewish tradition referred to the little leather containers tied to the forearms and foreheads as tefillin. They were to contain the following passages from the Torah: Exod 13:1-10, 11-16; Deut 6:5-9; 11:13-21. The purpose was to serve as a “sign” of covenant relationship and obedience.

9 sn Fasten them as symbols on your forehead. These were also known later as tefillin (see previous note) or phylacteries (from the Greek term). These box-like containers, like those on the forearms, held the same scraps of the Torah. It was the hypocritical practice of wearing these without heartfelt sincerity that caused Jesus to speak scathingly about them (cf. Matt 23:5).

10 sn The Hebrew term מְזוּזֹת (mÿzuzot) refers both to the door frames and to small cases attached on them containing scripture texts (always Deut 6:4-9 and 11:13-21; and sometimes the decalogue; Exod 13:1-10, 11-16; and Num 10:35-36). See J. H. Tigay, Deuteronomy (JPSTC), 443-44.

11 tn Heb “if hearing, you will hear.” The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute to emphasize the verbal idea. The translation renders this emphasis with the word “close.”

12 tn Again, the Hebrew term אָהַב (’ahav) draws attention to the reciprocation of divine love as a condition or sign of covenant loyalty (cf. Deut 6:5).

13 tn Heb “heart and soul” or “heart and being.” See note on the word “being” in Deut 6:5.

14 tn The words “he promises” do not appear in the Hebrew text but are needed in the translation to facilitate the transition from the condition (v. 13) to the promise and make it clear that the Lord is speaking the words of vv. 14-15.

15 tn Heb “the rain of your land.” In this case the genitive (modifying term) indicates the recipient of the rain.

16 sn The autumn and the spring rains. The “former” (יוֹרֶה, yoreh) and “latter” (מַלְקוֹשׁ, malqosh) rains come in abundance respectively in September/October and March/April. Planting of most crops takes place before the former rains fall and the harvests follow the latter rains.

17 tn Heb “grass in your field.”

18 tn Heb “Watch yourselves lest your heart turns and you turn aside and serve other gods and bow down to them.”

19 tn Heb “will become hot”; KJV, NASB, NRSV “will be kindled”; NAB “will flare up”; NIV, NLT “will burn.”

20 tn Or “heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heaven(s)” or “sky” depending on the context.

21 tn Or “be destroyed”; NAB, NIV “will soon perish.”

22 tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 11:4.

23 tn Heb “heart and soul” or “heart and being.” See note on the word “being” in Deut 6:5.

24 tn On the Hebrew term טוֹטָפֹת (totafot, “reminders”), cf. Deut 6:4-9.

25 tn Or “as you are away on a journey” (cf. NRSV, TEV, NLT); NAB “at home and abroad.”

26 tn Heb “like the days of the heavens upon the earth,” that is, forever.



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