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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Deuteronomy 6

Moses, after repeating the decalogue, and recalling the solemn and sublime circumstances under which it was given, continues his discourse, emphasizing its great truths and doctrines.

Verses 1-2

1, 2. The commandments That which is commanded. The word in its signification is equivalent to the thorah, the law.

Statutes, and the judgments Explanatory of the preceding word statutes referring more to moral and religious precepts, judgments to laws regulating civil rights.

That thy days may be prolonged Comp. what Moses says in chap. Deuteronomy 8:1; Deuteronomy 30:16.

Verse 3

3. Promised thee, in the land As there is no preposition before the word translated land the passage is better read: “For Jehovah, God of thy fathers, promised thee a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Verse 4

4. The Lord our God is one Lord The force of the Hebrew is with difficulty expressed: “Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” The unity of the Godhead is thus brought out with strong emphasis to a people who had seen, and many of them been seduced by, the impure rites of polytheism.

Verse 5

5. Love the Lord thy God This comprehensive requirement Christ calls the first and great commandment. And by its side he places the requirement to love our neighbours as ourselves. Leviticus 19:9. On these two hang all the law and the prophets. Comp. Matthew 22:37-40; Mark 12:29-31; Luke 10:27. The whole significance of the Scriptures as a rule of life is embodied in these requirements.

With all thine heart The commandment excludes all division of affection. Love to God must be engrossing. The word we translate heart is used to denote the centre of all moral activity, not merely the seat of the affections.

With all thy soul The word for soul is used to denote the entire personality: love to God must pervade the entire man.

With all thy might With all the power God has given man. What higher demand could be made?

Verse 6

6. These words,… shall be in thine heart The passage might be rendered, “Let these words be in thine heart.” Comp. Jeremiah 31:33: “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.”

Verse 7

7. Teach them, etc. These precepts were to be constantly impressed upon their households at all times.

Verse 8

8. Thou shalt bind them… upon thine hand, and… between thine eyes The Jews applied this literally. The so-called phylacteries, in Hebrew tephillin, are leather boxes with four compartments, in which are put four portions of the law written on parchment. The passage is Exodus 13:9. On this box is the letter שׁ , (shin,) written in the usual form, for the right hand side of the wearer, and the same letter with four strokes for the left hand side. There was another box with only one compartment, but with the same passages for the arm of the worshipper. The phylacteries were bound to the forehead and arm by long leather straps. The straps around the head were to be tied in the shape of a ד , (daleth.) The straps on the arm must go around it seven times, and three times around the middle finger, with enough over to form the letter י , (yodh.) Thus, by the shin on the leather box, the daleth on the forehead, and the yodh on the hand, would be formed the word Shaddai the Almighty.

Verse 9

9. Write them upon the posts of thy house The Egyptians placed inscriptions on the lintels and doorposts of their dwellings for favourable omens. In Moslem countries, on gates and fountains and bridges, as well as houses, the traveller sees inscribed passages of the Koran or choice sentences from the poets. The mezuza was a cylindrical tube of tin or lead, on which were written two passages of Scripture Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21. The word Shaddai (Almighty) was written on the outside of the parchment, and a section cut out of the tube, so that this word could be clearly seen. The mezuza was nailed to the doorpost on the right hand side. All who entered were thus to be reminded that the eyes of the Almighty were upon them. The Talmudists say that “Whoever has the phylacteries bound to his head and arm and the fringes thrown over his garments, and the mezuza fixed on his doorpost, is safe from sin, for these are excellent memorials, and the angels secure him from sin, as it is written, ‘The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.’ Psalms 34:7.” BARCLAY’S Talmud, p. 363. To the positive precepts which he has enjoined upon the people Moses now adds solemn admonitions. In their subsequent prosperity he sees their danger of forgetting Jehovah. Their possession of the Land of Promise will give them homes of abundance vineyards and olive groves that they have not planted. Their prosperity will be their peril. How appropriate that these words of warning be impressed upon them! They are not to forget that Jehovah, their fathers’ God and their God, brought them out “from the house of bondage.”

Verse 13

13. Swear by his name Not servile fear, but reverential awe, is enjoined. This was the essential basis of Hebrew worship. The oath in the name of Jehovah was equivalent to a solemn acknowledgment of belief in him. This command is not to be considered inconsistent with what the Saviour enjoins in Matthew 5:34.

Verse 16

16. Ye shall not tempt the Lord This is one of the passages quoted by our Lord in the temptation in the wilderness. Matthew 4:7. “And as he quoted Deuteronomy as a part of the sacred Scriptures, and as it was then held that is, as the work of Moses so we have here again his endorsement of the Mosaic authorship of this book.” LANGE’S Deuteronomy, p. 96.

As ye tempted him in Massah They had there tempted God by their murmuring and unbelief. The reference is to Exodus 17:1-7. The place was Rephidim, but Moses called it Massah and Meribah, “because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord.” “Massah” is derived from a verb which means to tempt; “Meribah,” from one that means to strive. Rephidim was the place of tempting and striving.

In the concluding verses the teaching of the commandments to their children, already enjoined in the seventh verse, is more fully enforced. The people were to instruct their children as to the significance of the requirements of Jehovah.

Verse 22

22. Signs and wonders The plagues sent upon the Egyptians before they would consent to the liberation of the Israelites from their bondage.

Verse 25

25. It shall be our righteousness “Righteousness will be to us” is the literal rendering. If we keep the commands of God we shall be deemed righteous, is undoubtedly the meaning of the expression. “This righteousness before Jehovah is not indeed the gospel righteousness of faith; but there is no opposition between the two, as that which is here spoken of is not founded on the outward righteousness of works, but upon an earnest striving after the fulfilment of the law to love God with all the heart; and this love is impossible without living faith.” Keil.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 6". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/deuteronomy-6.html. 1874-1909.