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Bible: The Old Testament

Literature
  • Study Guide
Quotes

Important Quotes Explained

Quotes Important Quotes Explained

Quote 2

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead.
         (Deuteronomy 6:4–8)

Stationed on the border of the promised Land, Moses delivers these instructions in his farewell address to the Israelites. In one sense, his speech, which constitutes the Book of Deuteronomy, is redundant. Moses reiterates many of the religious laws and commandments already stated by God in the Book of Leviticus and the latter half of Exodus. However, Moses is speaking to a new, younger generation of Israelites who, after wandering the desert for forty years, are now ready to take the land sworn to them by God, a land they have never seen. Just as the history of Israel is at a turning point, so Moses describes the laws and the covenant in terms very different than before. Previously, the symbols of God’s covenant have been external: the rite of circumcision, the Ark of the Covenant, and various rules for physical cleanliness. Now, Moses describes the laws as internal to the Israelites. The religious laws are words and ideas that should be so precious to the Israelites that they are in their “heart[s],” remaining with the people wherever they go. This passage suggests why Judaism refers to the biblical laws as “Torah”: laws that are not just rules for behavior but models for all of life.