Deut 6:1-5

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The Old Testament > Deuteronomy > Chapter 6

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Lexical notes[edit]

Verse 1[edit]

  • Judgments. The Hebrew word mishpat can mean "judgment, justice, or ordinance." In English, these meanings seem quite dissimilar at first blush. Judgment and justice come from the Indo-European root deik- which means to show or pronounce solemnly. Ordinance on the other hand comes from ar- meaning to fit together (as in establishing order). Two more similar English words from these same two roots are, respectively, dictum and ordinance—both are pronouncements made for the purpose of establishing order.

Verse 2[edit]

  • Fear the Lord. The Hebrew word yare' can mean fear, reverence, or awe. Translated fear, this verse stands in contrast to the commandment to love God in verse 4 (cf. 1 Jn 4:18 and Moro 8:16). However, translated as reverence, this verse seems more similar to love in verse 4. (See also verses 13 and 24 on fear and 7:8 which includes several more cross-references in Deuteronomy on love.)

Verses 3-4[edit]

  • Hear, O Israel. See Deut 7:12 for structural notes regarding this phrase.

Verse 5[edit]

  • Love the Lord. Notice the contrast here with the phrase "fear the Lord" in verse 2 (and the associated cross-references).
  • Heart and soul. There is not really a word in Biblical Hebrew for mind per se. In fact, when this passage is quoted in Mark 12:30, the word mind (dianoia) is inserted after the words "heart" (kardia) and soul" (psyche) perhaps because the Hebrew words lbb (heart) and nphsh (soul) include the Greek concept of dianoia (mind).


Verses 4-5: Loving one God[edit]

Why is the phrase "our God is one Lord" included in verse 4? One possible reason is that it sets up a contrast between the belief in many gods and the belief in the one true God (Jehovah). Another reason might be to emphasize the unity of God (and/or the Godhood) so as to justify the command given in verse 5, to love God with heart, soul and might. In this sense, one might be emphasizing God's integrity and/or immutability. If God there were more than one God (contrary to the former interpretation), or if God were more fickle (contrary to the latter interpretation), then loving God so completely would likely be less achievable or more futile.

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