In the parashah before this one, Moses repeated the Ten Commandments. Remember, the purpose of the book of Deuteronomy is to “explain this Torah” (Deu 1:5); i.e. the entire body of God’s laws, His definition of right and wrong, His instruction of walking in His ways. Then Moses said that God’s covenant (His Torah) was the Ten Commandments (Deu 4:13). In other words, the Ten Commandments summarize the entire Torah. And the two commandments, Love God, and Love your neighbor, summarize the Ten. This is why Jesus said that upon those two commandments hang all the Torah and the Prophets (Mat 22:40).
So in order to explain this Torah, Moses began by stating the Ten Commandments. We saw in the last parashah that the Ten Commandments were the central axis around which everything else revolved. When he finished the Ten, then Moses said, “Now this is the commandment, and these are the statutes and judgments which YHVH your God has commanded to teach you …” (Deu 6:1).
Well, we just got done seeing that in order to explain this Torah, Moses has to explain the Ten Commandments. Is the commandment, and the statutes and judgments, that he is going to explain in Deu 6, now something other than the Ten? No, the commandment, statutes and judgments will explain what the Ten Commandments mean, by God’s definition.
Notice that there is one commandment – singular – but several statutes and judgments. What is THE commandment?
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deu 6:4-5
The Hebrew of verse 4 can read, “The Lord our God is one,” or it can read, “The Lord our God alone is God,” or it can read, “The Lord our God is the only God.” The word for “one,” echad in Hebrew, can mean one, alone, or only.
THE Commandment is none other than the 1st Commandment! It is the first commandment in the order of the Ten Commandments, but it is also the First Commandment, meaning the greatest commandment; the commandment upon which all other commandments depend. In this parashah and for the next several parashiyot, Moses is going to explain what obeying the First Commandment, You shall worship YHVH only, and have no other gods before Him, looks like.
Now how do we keep the First Commandment? Moses has already given us our first clue: we have to have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the ekklesia, the assembly of believers. We cannot keep any commandment unless we first hear what the Spirit is saying! Rom 10:17 teaches us, then, that if we hear what the Word is saying, what the Spirit is saying by the Word, then the fruit of that hearing will be faith. We have to believe in the trueness of the statement, YHVH alone is God and beside Him there is no other.
By this the Spirit is teaching us that there can be no obedience unless there is first faith in the heart! James puts it this way: Faith is the engine that drives the train of good works (Jam 2:14-26)! Of course this must be true, because faith is from the Word; the Word is the Seed (Messiah, the Living Torah, or the Word clothed with flesh, Joh 1:14), and the Seed of Messiah produces the fruit of Messiah after its kind – obedience, or the fruit of the Spirit (of Messiah), which is not against Torah, but fulfills Torah (Gal 5:22-23)!
The next thing the Spirit teaches us, is that in order to obey the First Commandment, we need to love the Lord our God with all that we are! Jesus also said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments;” (Joh 14:15), because one proceeds from the other! True obedience comes from a circumcised heart that loves God – obedience is the fruit of love! Are Yeshua’s commandments different from His Father’s commandments? No! The Son and the Father are One (Joh 10:30)! When YHVH voiced these Commandments out of the midst of the fire, on Sinai, Israel heard the Word of YHVH, who is Messiah!
The love we have for YHVH is in Hebrew אהב, ahab, Strong’s H157, aleph hey bet. It means, to desire, to sigh after with longing, to love, to delight in. It is not a lukewarm emotion, and the fruit of it is not lukewarm devotion. We love YHVH with all our being – spirit (heart, or center of our being), soul (mind, will, thoughts, emotions), and body (strength). This command, in Deu 6:5, is the commandment spoken of in Deu 6:1 – the greatest commandment of all Torah, as Jesus taught us (Mat 22:36-40).
The rest of the parashah teaches us how we keep the level of emotion and devotion high, and what the fruit of that kind of love looks like: it is by the Word of YHVH, and not just any word, but a very specific word: “the words which I [Moses] command you today;” i.e. Torah. YHVH reveals five verbs that we are to do with His Torah: be (in the heart); teach diligently (to our children); talk of (in all places and at all times); bind (on the hand – i.e., do them – and on the forehead – i.e., think about them); and write (on doorposts of houses and gates of cities).
Be in the heart: The heart is from the Hebrew primary root לבב, labab, Strong’s H3823, lamed bet bet. It means, to be hollow. The Hebrew letters that make up the primary root themselves mean to yoke or bind in. In other words, the (spiritual) heart is hollow, and is meant to hold something within it. It will hold something within it, for that is its nature. YHVH is telling us, to make sure that what fills our hearts, are His words. Then the fruit that will be produced, from His words being in our hearts, will be ahab – love for, devotion to, and longing after Him.
Teach diligently to our children: Teach diligently is from the Hebrew primary root שנן, shanan, Strong’s H8150, shin nun nun. It means, to sharpen as a sword. In fact, this word occurs nine times in the Old Testament, and eight of the times it is translated with words having to do with sharpening, whetting, or pricking. In this passage only, it is translated teach diligently. The Hebrew could read, You shall sharpen your sons by them. It means more than just teaching them to your children so that they know what the Torah says with their minds. It means, sharpen your children with them, so that they not only learn the Lord’s words, but they learn to walk according to the Lord’s words. Sharpen your sons by them, so that their habits of thinking and doing become compatible with Torah.
Talk of in all places and at all times: Talk is from the Hebrew primary root דבר, dabar, Strong’s H1696, dalet bet resh. It means, to put words in order, i.e. to speak. The command is to verbalize, to vocalize the words of YHVH. Perhaps this is because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Rom 10:17). When our own ears (and the ears of others) hear the Word, the hearing plants the seed of the Word within our hearts, which then produces the fruit of faith, or belief in the trueness of that Word. The belief is key, because many in Israel did not enter in to the Promise(d Land) because of their unbelief (Heb 3:19).
Bind on the hand and forehead: Bind is from the Hebrew primary root קשר, qashar, Strong’s H7194, quph shin resh. It means just that, to bind or to tie together. Webster’s adds that it means to make secure by tying. How do I know that this verse, vs. 8, when it says to bind the Lord’s words as a sign on the hand, means to do them? Or to have the Word as frontlets between the eyes, means to think about them or to think in accordance with them? This came from looking up every word in the verse, and seeing how else they were used in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. I saw that the thematic connection between all these instances was that what we did and what we thought marked us (like a signpost) as belonging to God or to God’s enemy. You can read about it here: Marked on the hand and forehead, part one, part two, part three, and part four.
Write on doorposts and gates: Write is from the Hebrew primary root כתב, kathab, Strong’s H3789, kaph taw bet. It means just that, to write or to record by inscribing or engraving. Now why have the Torah of YHVH, contained in the Ten Commandments, inscribed on the doorposts of the houses or the gates of a city? I believe it is to remind all who dwell in that house or who dwell in that city, that these are the standards of behavior to which those who dwell in that house or city will be held to. It reminds the children every time they enter or exit the door; it reminds the citizens every time they come in or go out of the gate. No one can break the Law and say that they were ignorant of it. Having the Torah posted, not only reminds the residents, but it informs visitors, what behavior is acceptable and not acceptable in that house or that city. YHVH also commanded Israel to inscribe His Torah at the entrance to the Promised Land (Deu 27:1-3), so that all Israel would be reminded that the nation was governed by this Torah, and all visitors would be informed that the Torah is to be obeyed within the boundaries of the country.
The theme of the parsha stumah from Deu 6:4-9 is to Hear the Word of YHVH so that we may do it.