We study the Torah according to the triennial cycle every Sabbath. (Why?)
We must understand the paragraph divisions in Torah, which are inspired by the Spirit and preserved by Moses and the Jewish scribes (but discarded by the English translators), are key to help us understand what God is trying to tell us. He wants to be understood, and has provided these helps to aid us! We must also understand how the Spirit teaches through Torah by common theme.
Today is the 135th Sabbath of the triennial cycle: parashah (Torah portion) Shema /Hear, Deu 6:4 – 7:11. Read Deu 6:4 – 7:11 at Bible Gateway, or Deu 6 and 7 from the Hebrew Bible in English.
Deu 6:4-9 ends with a parsha stumah, a weak paragraph division.
Deu 6:10-15 ends with a stumah.
Deu 6:16-19 ends with a stumah.
Deu 6:20-25 ends with a stumah.
Deu 7:1-11 ends with a parsha p’tuchah, a strong paragraph division. This means that Deu 6:4 – 7:11 is teaching a single overarching theme.
The theme of the parsha stumah from Deu 6:4-9 is to Hear the word of YHVH.
The theme of the parsha stumah from Deu 6:10-15 is to Pay Heed to the word of YHVH that we have heard.
The theme of the parsha stumah from Deu 6:16-19 is to Do and Observe the word of YHVH that we have heard and taken heed of.
The theme of the parsha stumah from Deu 6:20-25 is to Teach to the next generation the word of YHVH that we have heard, taken heed of, and observed.
The theme of the parsha p’tuchah from Deu 7:1-11 is the relationship between Love and Covenant Keeping.
This parashah forms a chiastic structure:
1A Deu 6:1-9 – do the commandment, statutes, and judgments;
1B Deu 6:10-19 – YHVH repays love and hatred shown to Him;
1C Deu 6:20-22 – Israel redeemed from Egypt;
1D Deu 6:23 – YHVH brought Israel in to keep His promise;
1E Deu 6:24-25 – Israel’s righteousness expressed by keeping His commandments;
–> X Deu 7:1-5 – complete destruction of the Canaanites and their idolatry;
2E Deu 7:6 – Israel a holy people and a special treasure above all other nations;
2D Deu 7:7-8a – YHVH brought Israel in to keep His promise;
2C Deu 7:8b – Israel redeemed from Egypt;
2B Deu 7:9-10 – YHVH repays love and hatred shown to Him;
2A Deu 7:11 – keep the commandment, statutes, and judgments.
The individual parshas show us several truths to help us keep the commandment, to worship YHVH only. First it we see that the covenant keeping on both sides is from a heart of consuming love for the other party. Then we see that while God needs no help keeping His love for us alive, we can help ourselves keep our love for Him alive by keeping His Word central in our lives.
But since the central axis of the entire parashah is the complete destruction of the Canaanites and their idolatry, we see that guarding ourselves from mixing with idolatry or unbelief in any way, shape, or form, is central to keeping the commandment. Rather, eradicating completely idolatry, unbelief, and worldliness where it is found is central to keeping the commandment.
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