Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Deuteronomy 6:1-9
Ordinary B49


Now this is the commandmentA—the statutesB and the ordinancesC

Notes on verse 1a

A “commandment” = mitsvah. From tsavah (to charge, command, order, enjoin). This is a commandment, law, ordinance obligation, or tradition. It is something commanded whether by God or by a human authority. This term is sometimes used collectively to refer to the Law.
B “statutes” = choq. From chaqaq (to inscribe, carve, or decree; a lawmaker; literally, this is engraving, but it implies enacting a law because laws were carved into stone or metal). This is statute, boundary, condition, custom, limit, ordinance It is something that is prescribed or something that is owed.
C “ordinances” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.

that the LordD your GodE chargedF me to teachG you

Notes on verse 1b

D “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
E “God” = Elohim.
F “charged” = tsavah. Related to “commandment” in v1. See note A above.
G “teach” = lamad. Properly, this refers to goading (using a pointed stick to guide or prod one’s flock). By implication, it means teaching or instructing.

to observeH in the landI that you are about to crossJ into and occupy,K 

Notes on verse 1c

H “observe” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
I “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
J “cross” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.
K “occupy” = yarash. This is inheriting or dispossessing. It refers to occupying or colonizing – taking territory by driving out the previous inhabitants and living there instead of them. By implication, it can mean to seize or rob, to expel, ruin, or impoverish.

so that you and your childrenL and your children’s children may fearM the Lord your God all the daysN of your life,O

Notes on verse 2a

L “children” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
M “fear” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
N “days” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
O “life” = chay. From chayah (to live or keep alive literally or figuratively). This is alive, living, lifetime. It can also be used to describe someone’s age. It can refer to animals, plants, water, or a company or congregation of people. It is life in a very broad sense.

and keepP all his decreesQ and his commandments that I am commandingR you, so that your days may be long.S 

Notes on verse 2b

P “keep” = shamar. This is to keep, watch, or preserve. It means to guard something or to protect it as a thorny hedge protects something.
Q “decrees” = chuqqah. Related to “statutes” in v1. From choq (see note B above). This is something prescribed such as a statue, custom, or ordinance.
R “commanding” = tsavah. Same as “charged” in v1. See note F above.
S “long” = arak. This is to continue, lengthen prolong, delay, or endure. It is being long or causing something to be long in a literal or figurative sense.

3 HearT therefore, O Israel,U and observe them diligently,V so that it may go wellW with you,

Notes on verse 3a

T “here” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
U “Israel” = Yisrael. Related to “God” in v1. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (see note E above). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
V “observe…diligently” = shamar + asah. Shamar is the same as “keep” in v2. See note P above. Asah is the same as “observe” in v1. See note H above.
W “go well” = yatab. This is to be good or pleasing, joyful. It can also mean doing good in an ethical sense or be beautiful, happy, successful, or right.

and so that you may multiplyX greatlyY in a land flowingZ

Notes on verse 3b

X “multiply” = rabah. This is increasing in any aspect whether quantity, authority, size, quality, greatness, etc.
Y “greatly” = meod. Perhaps from the same as uwd (firebrand, a poker). This is very, greatly, exceedingly. It can also mean vehemence, force, abundance.
Z “flowing” = zub. This is to flow or gush. It is to flow like water or overflow. It can also be discharge, pine, waste away, or have a sexual flow.

with milkAA and honey,BB as the Lord, the God of your ancestors,CC has promisedDD you.

Notes on verse 3c

AA “milk” = chalab. Perhaps from the same as cheleb (fat, finest, marrow; fat in a literal or figurative sense; the richest or best part). This is milk or cheese or suckling.
BB “honey” = debash. Root may mean being gummy. This is honey or honeycomb because it is so sticky. It can also refer to syrup.
CC “ancestors” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.
DD “promised” = dabar. This is generally to speak, answer, declare, or command. It might mean to arrange and so to speak in a figurative sense as arranging words.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.EE You shall loveFF the Lord your God with all your heart,GG and with all your soul,HH and with all your might.II 

Notes on verses 4-5

EE “alone” = echad. Perhaps from achad (to unify, continue on a path; figuratively, to gather one’s thoughts). This is the number one, first, united. It can also be alone, altogether, a certain, a few.
FF “love” = aheb. This is to love, beloved, friend. It is to have affection for sexually or otherwise.
GG “heart” = lebab. May be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.
HH “soul” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.
II “might” = meod. Same as “greatly” in v3. See note Y above.

KeepJJ these wordsKK that I am commanding you today in your heart. ReciteLL them to your children and talkMM about them

Notes on verses 6-7a

JJ “keep” = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v1. See note D above.
KK “words” = dabar. Related to “promised” in v3. From dabar (see note DD above). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
LL “recite” = shanan. 9x in OT. This is to pierce, sharpen, or whet. It is often used for sharp arrows or being pricked in the heart. Figuratively, it can mean to teach diligently.
MM “talk” = dabar. Same as “promised” in v3. See note DD above.

when you areNN at homeOO and when you arePP away,QQ when you lie downRR and when you rise.SS 

Notes on verse 7b

NN “are” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
OO “home” = bayit. Related to “children” in v2. Probably from banah (see note L above). This is house, court, family, palace, temple.
PP “are” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
QQ “away” = derek. From darak (to tread, march, to walk. Can also mean affixing a string to a box since one needs to step on it to bend it in the process; so also an archer). This is a road as a thing that is walked on. Can be used figuratively for the path that one’s life takes or how one chooses to live one’s life.
RR “lie down” = shakab. This is to lie down, lodge. It is lying for sleep, sex, or other reasons.
SS “rise” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.

BindTT them as a signUU on your hand,VV fixWW them as an emblemXX on your forehead,YY 

Notes on verse 8

TT “bind” = qashar. This is to tie or bind. It can also refer to joining together as a league or in love. In a negative sense, it can mean to conspire.
UU “sign” = oth. From avah (to mark, sign, point out); OR from uth (to agree). This is a sign in a literal or figurative sense. It could be a flag or monument. It could be evidence or a mark. It could also be an omen or a miracle. 
VV “hand” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
WW “fix” = hayah. Same as “keep” in v6. See note JJ above.
XX “emblem” = totaphoth. 3x in OT.  Root may mean to bind. This is a band or phylactery.
YY “on your forehead” = bayin + ayin. Literally, “between your eyes.” Bayin is from bin (to discern, consider, attend to; distinguishing things in one’s mind or, more generally, to understand). This is among, between, interval. Ayin is eye in a literal or figurative sense so eye, appearance, favor, or a fountain (the eye of the landscape).

9 and writeZZ them on the doorpostsAAA of your house and on your gates.BBB

Notes on verse 9

ZZ “write” = kathab. This is to inscribe, write, record, or decree.
AAA “doorposts” = mezuzah. 19x in OT. From the same as ziz (moving things like animals, abundance). This is a door or gate post. In modern Judaism, a mezuzah adorns the doorpost of many Jewish homes in reference to Deuteronomy 6:9. See
BBB “gates” = shaar. May be related to sha’ar (to calculate or reckon; may come from a root that means to open up or split). This is a gate, door, or other opening like a port.

Image credit: Relief of Moses at the Colegio Israelita in Porto Alegre, Brazil – Photo by Eugenio Hansen, OFS, 2012.

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