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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Deuteronomy 6

Verse 1

Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:

Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord ... commanded.

The grand design of all the institutions prescribed to Israel was to form a religious people, whose national character should be distinguished by that fear of the Lord their God which would insure their divine observance of His worship and their steadfast obedience to His will.

Verse 2

That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 3

Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.

As the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee. The reference is to Genesis 15:5; Exodus 3:8; Exodus 3:17.

Verse 4

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord - or, as the words may perhaps be better translated, 'Hear, O Israel: Yahweh (H3068) is our God ( 'Elohiym (H430), plural), Yahweh alone.' [The Septuagint has: kurios ho Theos heemoon kurios heis estin (cf. Zechariah 14:9).] The basis of their religion was an acknowledgment of the unity of God with the understanding, and the love of God in the heart (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). [ lªbaadkaa (H3824), thy heart, the seat of feeling and affections-namely, of love. Napshªkaa (H5315), thy breath, the vital spirit; also the rational soul, as capable of intelligent perception and thought. And so this law is interpreted in the Gospels (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27).]

Compared with the religious creed of all their contemporaries, how sound in principle, how elevated in character, how unlimited in the extent of its moral influence on the heart and habits of the people! Indeed, it is precisely the same basis on which rests the purer and more spiritual form of it which Christianity exhibits; but it is observable that a belief in the unity of God was a fundamental principle not of their faith only, but of their political constitution. The social fabric in all other contemporary nations rested upon the assumed truth of polytheism; and the Israelites themselves were so deeply infected with the spirit of idolatry that the stupendous miracles of the exodus could not wholly eradicate that cherished tendency, or keep them faithful to the worship and service of the true God. The wisdom of God, who had separated them for high purposes, provided that their civil polity should be essentially connected with the worship of the one living and true God; so that their national history became a history of the Church; and the moment they abandoned the service of God, they ceased to exist as a nation.

Moreover, to help in keeping a sense of religion in their minds, it was commanded that its great principles should be carried about with them wherever they went, as well as meet their eyes every time they entered their homes. A further provision was made for the earnest inculcation of them on the minds of the young by a system of parental training, which was designed to associate religion with all the most familiar and oft-recurring scenes of domestic life.

Verses 5-6

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 7

And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Thou shalt teach them diligently, [ wªshinantaam (H8150)] - thou shalt sharpen them. It is probable that Moses used the phraseology in the seventh verse merely in a figurative way, to signify assiduous, earnest, and frequent instruction. But the mode of teaching among the Israelites was chiefly oral. They were enjoined to instruct their children from infancy (Isaiah 28:9) in the decalogue and other principal parts of the law, by speaking on every suitable occasion (cf. Deuteronomy 11:18-20; Psalms 34:11; Psalms 69:13; Jeremiah 31:34; Josephus, 'Antiquities,' b.

iv., ch. 8:, sec. 12). 'No reference is made to letters or books. What the parents could retain in memory from hearing the law read once in seven years, they were to inculcate upon their children' (Stuart, 'On the Old Testament Canon'). But this is a mistake, for a reference to their having the precepts of the law in a written form is contained in this very passage (Deuteronomy 6:9), and abundant evidence exists to show that the Israelites were familiar with the art of writing before the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 30:11-16; Numbers 1:2, Numbers 1:47-54; Numbers 2:2, Numbers 2:34; Numbers 17:2-3; 38:21,25 ). This injunction to write the "words" on the door-posts of every house shows the extent of the popular attainments in reading as well as writing; and their previous education in those branches, however limited it might be, was a wise arrangement of Providence for transmitting in Israelite families a knowledge of religious precepts, by inscriptions profusely painted on their walls, as they still are in printed placards on those of our public schools.

Verse 8

And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

Thou shalt bind them for a sign, [ lª'owt (H226)] - for a token, a memorial. Rings were and are used on the wrists and the fingers, with seals containing some moral or religious sentiment or precept (John 3:33; 2 Timothy 2:19).

And ... frontlets between thine eyes, [ lªToTaapot (H2903)] - for bands or fillets, particularly strips of parchment, containing sentences from the Mosaic law, which the Israelites wound round the forehead (see the note at Exodus 13:9). Perhaps Moses meant the metaphorical language in the eighth verse to be taken in the same sense also. But as the Israelites interpreted it literally many writers suppose that a reference was made to a superstitious custom borrowed from the Egyptians, who wore jewels and ornamental trinkets on the forehead and arm, inscribed with certain words and sentences, as amulets to protect them from danger. These, it has been conjectured, Moses intended to supersede by substituting sentences of the law: and so the Hebrews understood him, because they have always considered the wearing of the Tephilim, or frontlets, a permanent obligation.

The form was as follows: Four pieces of parchment-inscribed, the first with Exodus 13:2-10; the second with Exodus 13:11-16; the third with Deuteronomy 6:1-8; and the fourth with Deuteronomy 11:18-21 - were enclosed in a square case or box of tough skin, on the side of which was placed the Hebrew letter shin, and bound round the forehead with a thong or ribbon. When designed for the arms, those four texts were written on one slip of parchment, which, as well as the ink, was carefully prepared for the purpose.

With regard to the other usage supposed to be alluded to, the ancient Egyptians had the lintels and imposts of their doors and gates inscribed with sentences indicative of a favourable omen (Wilkinson); and this is still the case; because in Egypt and other Mohommedan countries, the front doors of houses-in Cairo, for instance-are painted red, white, and green, bearing conspicuously inscribed upon them such sentences from the Koran as 'God is the Creator,' 'God is one, and Mahomet is his prophet.' Porter ('Damascus,' 1:, p. 37) describes the ceilings and wainscoted walls in the more ancient houses of Damascus as 'covered with the richest arabesques, encompassing little panels of deep blue and delicate azure, on which are inscribed, in elegantly interlaced Arabic characters, whole verses and chapters of their law' ('Koran'). Moses designed to turn this ancient and favourite custom to a better account, and ordered that instead of the former superstitious inscriptions should be written the words of God, persuading and enjoining the people to hold the laws in perpetual remembrance.

Verses 9-12

And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 13

Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

Shalt swear by his name. The reference is to solemn and judicial oaths, an appeal to God being evidently sanctioned by the terms of the third commandment, though limited in practice to grave occasions, and directed by serious considerations. (Cf. Matthew 5:33-37; James 5:12, which refer to swearing in common conversation.

Verse 14

Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 15

(For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

(For the Lord thy God is a jealous God among you) - literally, in the midst of you. The threatening in this verse, annexed to Deuteronomy 6:14, was probably applicable to violations both of the first and second commandments, (see the notes at Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:1-35.)

Verses 16-19

Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verses 20-24

And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD our God hath commanded you?

When thy son asketh thee. The directions given for the instruction of their children form only an extension of the preceding counsels In referring to the laws, institutions, and observances special to their nation, the Israelites were taught to recognize the right of Yahweh to enact these as founded on His special relations to them as a people. Indeed, in no passage of Scripture is God's right to prescribe laws for the Hebrew nation ascribed to His being the Creator and moral Governor of the world, but to His character as King in Israel, who founded and upheld their theocratic polity, (cf. Exodus 20:23: see Michaelis, 'Commentary,' arts. 33: and

xxxiv.)

Verse 25

And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.

And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments. Every Israelite who yielded an external obedience to the Mosaic law was termed righteous, and had a claim, in virtue of that obedience, to the land of Canaan; so that doing these things, he lived by them (Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 5:33). The import of the statement in these verses, then, is, that a faithful observance of "all these commandments" should constitute their title to the promised blessings of the covenant.

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/deuteronomy-6.html. 1871-8.