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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
1Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:
Moses proceeds to set forth more particularly and to enforce the cardinal and essential doctrines of the Decalogue, the nature and attributes of God, and the fitting mode of honoring and worshipping Him. Two objects are indicated Deuteronomy 6:2-3, the glory of God and the welfare of man, as the grand aims that he has in view.
2That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.
3Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.
In the land - Better: According as the Lord the God of thy fathers promised thee a land flowing with milk and honey.
4Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
These words form the beginning of what is termed the "Shema" ("Hear") in the Jewish Services, and belong to the daily morning and evening office. They may be called "the creed of the Jews."
This weighty text contains far more than a mere declaration of the unity of God as against polytheism; or of the sole authority of the revelation that He had made to Israel as against other pretended manifestations of His will and attributes. It asserts that the Lord God of Israel is absolutely God, and none other. He, and He alone, is Jehovah (Yahweh) the absolute, uncaused God; the One who had, by His election of them, made Himself known to Israel.
5And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Since there is but One God, and that God is Israel's God, so Israel must love God unreservedly and entirely. The "heart" is mentioned as the seat of the understanding; the "soul" as the center of will and personality; the "might" as representing the outgoings and energies of all the vital powers.
The New Testament itself requires no more than this total self-surrender of man's being to his maker Matthew 22:37. The Gospel differs from the Law not so much in replacing an external and carnal service of God by an inward and spiritual one, as in supplying new motives and special assistances for the attainment of that divine love which was, from the first and all along, enjoined as "the first and great commandment."
6And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
By adopting and regulating customary usages (e. g. Egyptian) Moses provides at once a check on superstition and a means of keeping the Divine Law in memory. On the "frontlets," the "phylacteries" of the New Test. Matthew 23:5, see Exodus 13:16. On Deuteronomy 6:9; Deuteronomy 11:20 is based the Jewish usage of the mezuzah. This word denotes properly a door-post, as it is rendered here and in Exodus 12:7, Exodus 12:22; Exodus 21:6 etc. Among the Jews however, it is the name given to the square piece of parchment, inscribed with Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21, which is rolled up in a small cylinder of wood or metal, and affixed to the right-hand post of every door in a Jewish house. The pious Jew touches the mezuzah on each occasion of passing, or kisses his finger, and speaks Psalm 121:8 in the Hebrew language.
9And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
10And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,
The Israelites were at the point of quitting a normal, life for a fixed and settled abode in the midst of other nations; they were exchanging a condition of comparative poverty for great and goodly cities, houses and vineyards. There was therefore before them a double danger;
(1) a God-forgetting worldliness, and
(2) a false tolerance of the idolatries practiced by those about to become their neighbors.
The former error Moses strives to guard against in the verses before us; the latter in Deuteronomy 7:1-11.
11And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;
12Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
13Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.
The command "to swear by His Name" is not inconsistent with the Lord's injunction Matthew 5:34, "Swear not at all." Moses refers to legal swearing, our Lord to swearing in common conversation. It is not the purpose of Moses to encourage the practice of taking oaths, but to forbid that, when taken, they should be taken in any other name than that of Israel's God. The oath involves an invocation of Deity, and so a solemn recognition of Him whose Name is made use of in it. Hence, it comes especially within the scope of the commandment Moses is enforcing.
14Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;
15(For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.
16Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.
17Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee.
18And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers,
19To cast out all thine enemies from before thee, as the LORD hath spoken.
20And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD our God hath commanded you?
21Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand:
22And the LORD shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes:
23And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.
24And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.
25And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.
It shall be our righteousness - i. e., God will esteem us as righteous and deal with us accordingly. From the very beginning made Moses the whole righteousness of the Law to depend entirely on a right state of the heart, in one word, upon faith.