Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Deuteronomy 6

Verses 1-25


Practical Exhortations

To the repetition of the Decalogue Moses adds in the following chapters a practical exhortation to obedience founded on the special relation of Jehovah to Israel as their Redeemer (6-11). Deuteronomy 6 particularly insists upon the remembrance of God's statutes and the training of the children in them.

4, 5. Our Lord calls these words 'the first and great commandment.' They express the highest truth and duty revealed to the Hebrew nation: the truth of God's unity and uniqueness; the duty of loving and serving Him with every faculty of the being. Consequently they became the Jewish Confession of Faith; and under the name of the 'Shema' (the first word of Deuteronomy 6:4 in the Hebrew) are still recited, along with Deuteronomy 11:13-21 and Numbers 15:37-41, as the first act of worship in the Jewish synagogue, and twice a day by every adult male Jew.

5. Love goes deeper than fear. It is the fulfilling of all law, and includes obedience. Both in the OT. and in the New it is the effect of God's greatest love in redemption. 'We love Him because He first loved us.'

8, 9. Cp. Deuteronomy 11:18-20. From early times the Jews understood this injunction literally; and in the time of our Lord a great importance was attached to three 'memorials,' or visible reminders of this obligation to keep the Law of Jehovah. One was the 'zizith' or 'fringe' which was worn on the corners of the outer garment: see on Numbers 15:37-41. The others were the 'tephillin' and the 'mezuza,' the use of which was founded on this passage of Deuteronomy. The 'tephillin' were two small boxes, about a cubic in. in size, containing each a piece of parchment, on which were written in a special form of handwriting the four passages, Exodus 13:1-10, Exodus 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21. One was fastened inside the left forearm and the other on the forehead, to be a sign upon the hand and a frontlet between the eyes. They were worn at prayer on week days, and sometimes enlarged, as by the Pharisees of our Lord's time, to suggest particular devotion to the Law (Matthew 23:5). The Hebrew name 'tephillin' means 'prayers'; but they were also called in Gk. 'phylacteries' or 'protectors,' from their supposed power to ward off evil spirits. The 'mezuza' was a small oblong box containing the passage Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and was affixed to the right-hand door-post of the house and of each inhabited room, in accordance with the injunction in Deuteronomy 6:9. It had a beautiful significance as a reminder of the presence of God in the house, and the obligation of all the inmates to keep His holy law, but has also been degraded into a mere charm to keep off evil spirits during the night.

10-13. Cp. Deuteronomy 8:10-14 and see on Deuteronomy 4:25.

13. Swear by his name] Jehovah, the God of truth, is to be recognised as the unseen witness of all agreements between a man and his neighbour, and the avenger of all falsehood: cp. the Third Commandment.

16. They tempted God at Massah by insisting that He should prove His presence among them in the way that they prescribed: see Exodus 17:7. But man must beware of dictating to God, in unbelief and presumption. Our Lord refused to demand from God a special token of His presence and care, and quoted this warning against the tempter: see Matthew 4:7. It is to be observed that our Lord not only took all His answers from the Scriptures, but from the same portion of Deuteronomy, viz. Deuteronomy 5-10 : see Matthew 8:3; Matthew 6:13; Matthew 10:20.

20-25. Cp. Deuteronomy 6:7. The keeping of the Law is required by the fact of redemption, and is rewarded with the divine blessing.

25. Our righteousness] Obedience increases merit. For a particular instance see on Deuteronomy 24:13.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 6". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/deuteronomy-6.html. 1909.