Deut 4:44-11:32

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Home > The Old Testament > Deuteronomy > Chapters 4b-11 / Verses 4:44-11:32
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  • Deut 5:9: 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.)
  • Deut 5:10: Unto thousands. The NIV and The Anchor Bible translate this phrase as "to the thousandth generation."
  • Deut 5:10: Love me. Compare Deut 7:8 where love is made parallel to keeping an oath, suggesting a connotation of faithfulness, loyalty, and obedience here.
  • Deut 5:9-10: Extent of mercy vs. justice. 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 vengeance 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).
  • Deut 5:9-10: Individual vs. communal punishment. 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).
According to the Anchor Bible (see Notes for 5:11), there are two main ways this commandment has been interpreted. The first is to swear by God's name something that is known to be false (cf. 7:9; Lev 19:12; Hosea 4:2; and Zech 5:4). The second is to swear by God's name about something that is commonplace (emphasis on the word vain). See the different connotations of the word vain in the lexical notes above.
  • Deut 5:12-15: Symbolism of the Sabbath day. The symbolism of the Sabbath day as a commemoration of the seventh creative period is well known. But in verse 5:15 it states that the Sabbath day is also observed in commemoration of the Lord's deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt. Deliverance from bondage also evokes the atonement, which can deliver us from the bondage of sin, and which is commemorated on the Sabbath day in the ordinance of the Sacrament. See the discussion of Genesis 2:1-3 for additional symbolism of the Sabbath day.
  • Deut 6:1: 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.
  • Deut 6:2: 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.)
  • Deut 6:5: Love the Lord. Notice the contrast here with the phrase "fear the Lord" in verse 2 (and the associated cross-references).
  • Deut 6:5: 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).
  • Deut 6:4-5: Loving one God. 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.
  • Deut 6:7-9, 20-25: Structural bookends. These passages both discuss the need to teach the law to subsequent generations. These passages thus serve as structural bookends to the intervening verses which exhort complete devotion to God.
  • Deut 6:7: Thou shalt teach thy children. During the reign of the judges, the Israelites do not heed this advice and lose God's favor (cf. Judg 2:10).
  • Deut 6:13: Christ quotes this verse. Note that Christ seems to quote this verse when he is being tempted by Satan in Matt 4:10.
  • Deut 6:15: God is a jealous God. See the notes on Deut 5:9 where God says this in relation to the second of the 10 commandments about not bowing down to other Gods.
  • Deut 6:16: Christ quotes this verse. Note that Christ seems to quote this verse when he is being tempted by Satan in Matt 4:7.
  • Deut 6:16: Massah. See Ex 17:7 where the children of Israel murmured against Moses for lack of water.
  • Deut 6:22: Before our eyes. This phrase may suggest that the plagues inflicted upon Pharaoh were for the benefit of Israel. That is, perhaps another method may have been employed to free the Israelites from Egypt but would not have left as strong of an impression on the Israelites. In Deut 28:60 Israel is warned that the plagues will befall them if they are not obedient to God's laws.
  • Deut 6:24: Fear the Lord. See verse 6:13 for more on the theme of fearing and loving God in this chapter. Also, see Deut 28:58-68 for the curses that await Israel if they are not obedient to God's laws, thus providing a good reason to fear God.
  • 'Deut 7:8: Because the Lord loved you. Notice this phrase is parallel with "because he would keep the oath." According to The Anchor Bible (v. 5, p. 351), "the practical meaning of the command of love is loyalty and obedience . . . [and] corresponds to the way loyalty is depicted in the vassal treaties." (Cf. 6:5-6; 10:12; 30:16, 20; see also 5:10; 7:13; and 23:6.)
  • Deut 7:10: To their face. According to the Anchor Bible, this phrase may mean "personally" (see Notes on Deut 5:10 regarding communal vs. individual punishment).
  • Deut 7:12: If. The Hebrew word eqeb, translated if, is a slightly unusual word choice, but is likely a play on the word Jacob (there is only one letter difference, Jacob starts with the additional letter yod). This same word is used in Deut 8:20, suggesting the following chiastic structure:
 A: Hear, O Israel (6:4)
   B: If ye hearken (7:12)
   B': if ye do not hearken (Deut 8:20)
 A': Hear, O Israel (9:1)
(See The Word Biblical Commentary on Deut 6:4-25, Introduction for more.)
  • Deut 8:3: Christ quotes this verse. Note that Christ seems to quote this verse when he is being tempted by Satan in Matt 4:4.
  • Deut 9:4.: It is interesting Moses tells the children of Israel that it is not because of their righteousness that they are given the promised land; however, at the same time, he asserts that it is because of the unrighteousness of the people who lived their before that "God doth drive them out from before thee." See also 1 Ne 17:31-35.

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