The Bible in a Year: Day 51 (Deuteronomy 5-8)

Deuteronomy 5 repeats Exodus 20 but 5:1 sets up a link between the Ten Commandments and the Shema (Deut. 6:4) with the same introduction: שמע ישראל. It has been suggested by many scholars/commentators that the two “great” commandments (Deut. 6:4-5; Lev. 19:18) encapsulate all of the Ten Commandments. I’d have to agree since the first 4 (depending on how one divides the commandments) are God-ward while the final 6 are man-ward.

Deuteronomy 5:23-27 — The problem is that they heard God’s voice but didn’t want to listen. Even when they say that they’ll listen to God when he speaks to Moses they didn’t really mean it. We see that again and again throughout their wilderness wandering. Eventually it corrupted Moses, because even when he heard what God said to do with the rock, he didn’t listen and actually do it.

Deuteronomy 6-7 — Obedience has its rewards, namely long life and prosperity. The Shema (6:4-9) is all about exclusive devotion. The LORD alone (אחד) is Israel’s God. It is the LORD alone that Israel is to love with all their heart, soul, and strength. They’re to teach their children about the LORD alone. They’re to constantly remember the LORD alone when they pray with the tefillin and enter their homes and pass by the mezuza. And this is the point of the Shema: exclusive devotion; the LORD alone. Yes, אחד can be translated as “one,” and it is in most translations (the NRSV and NLT are two popular translations that render is “alone”), but armed with modern concepts of monotheism that actually serves to detract from the point. The point isn’t that there’s only one God that exists; it’s that the LORD alone is Israel’s God; the LORD alone is the true God who is worthy of absolute love.

This exclusiveness continues as we finish up the chapter and carries on into the next. Israel is to serve only the LORD and to take oaths in his name (6:13). They are not to follow the gods of the nations (6:14) because the LORD is jealous and will destroy them (6:15; 7:4; 8-19-20). His uniqueness is also emphasized in his being Israel’s Deliverer (6:20-23), Elector (7:7), and Redeemer (7:8). It’s the LORD’s uniqueness and his character that makes obedience to his commands worth it. He’ll keep covenant and bless his people so long as his people keep covenant and serve him only (7:12-16).

Deuteronomy 8 — This chapter continues as a reminder of who the LORD is and what he’s done and is doing. Remembering the LORD leads to life and blessings in abundance while forgetting him results in ruin.

B”H

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