Deut 5:6-10

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The Old Testament > Deuteronomy > Chapter 5

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Lexical notes[edit]

Verse 9[edit]

  • Jealous God. The Hebrew word qanna, translated here as "jealous" (The Anchor Bible translates this "impassioned" and notes "zealousness" as another possible meaning), is based on the root qana which is often used in the context of a jealous lover (cf. Num 5:14, 30). This root occurs frequently in the Old Testament in relation to Israel's loyalty toward God. Note that Ex 34:14-15 follows the description of God as jealous with a warning against "whoring after" other gods. Note also the love imagery indicating the metaphor of God as the husband of Israel in Hosea 1-3, Jer 3, and Ezek 16 and 23. (See also Isa 42:8; Deut 4:24; 6:14-15; 32:21-22.)

Verse 10[edit]

  • Unto thousands. The NIV and The Anchor Bible translate this phrase as "to the thousandth generation."
  • Love me. Compare Deut 7:8 where love is made parallel to keeping an oath, suggesting a connotation of faithfulness, loyalty, and obedience here.


Verses 9-10: Four generations vs. thousands[edit]

Although God is depicted as both a kind/merciful God and a vengeful/just God, his kindness and mercy are far greater, extending to thousands, than his vengance which only extends to four generations. Notice that four generations is roughly the maximum length of time an individual lives to see (cf. Job 42:16 and Gen 15:16, 50:23).

Verses 9-10: Individual vs. communal punishment[edit]

Notice this raises the issue of collective punishment (cf. Lev 26:39-40 and Lam 5:7) vs.individual punishment (cf. Jer 31:29-30; Ezek 18:2-9; also, contrast this passage as well as Ex 34:6-7 and Num 14:18 which suggest a form of communal punishment with Deut 7:9-10 where the communal punishment is omitted; also, note the individual responsibility in Deut 24:16).

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