Deuteronomy 6
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Now 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:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
Hortatory Exposition of the First Two Commands

CHAPTER 6:4–11:32

The First Commandment. (Deut 6:4–8:20)

CHAPTER 6:4–25

4Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord. 5And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6And these words which I command [am commanding] thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7and thou shalt teach [sharpen] them diligently unto thy children [sons], 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 [omit thou shalt] bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as front-lets 9[brow-bands] between thine eyes. And thou shalt [omit 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 thee1 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, 11and houses full of all [every kind of] 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 [and thou 12eatest and art full], Then beware lest thou forget the Lord, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage [bondmen]. 13Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. 14Ye shall not go after [go behind, follow] 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 [land]. 16Ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, as ye tempted him in Massah. 17Ye shall diligently2 [truly, carefully] 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 [good] with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land [the land, the good] which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, 19To cast out [so that, because he drives out] all thine enemies from before thee, as the Lord 20hath spoken. And when thy son asketh thee in time to come [in the future], saying, What mean [is wished, intended by] 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 bond-men in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand: 22And the Lord shewed [gave] signs and wonders, great and sore [evil] 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 [hither] 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 [think upon, keep] to do all these commandments3 [this whole command] before the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us.


1. Deut 6:1–9. The exposition of the first command (comp. 5:6, 7) connects itself both with the doctrine, the matter of faith, Deut 6:4, and with the life, the moral demand, Deut 6:5. (This is to the Jew the sacred quintessence of his religion, through the involuntary expression of which many betrayed themselves, and were burned during the persecution in Spain.) אֶחָד is not synonymous with לְבַדִּי, alone. But if Jehovah is one, Deut 6:4, he is therewith also alone Jehovah. The sense of the verse is, Jehovah our God is as such, as this Jehovah, one (Mark 12:29, 32). [WORDSWORTH: “Surely the adoption of these words of Deuteronomy by our blessed Lord Himself is a sufficient refutation of the theory of those who affirm that Deuteronomy is a spurious work. Our Lord makes them the very ground-work of all true religion.” BIB. COM. “This mighty text contains far more than a mere declaration that God is one. It asserts that the Lord God of Israel is absolutely God, and none other. The last letter of the first and last word are written large, which the Jewish commentators make highly significant.”—A.G.] The predicate of the sentence begins with the repeated Jehovah; but Jehovah is repeated in order to bring out more impressively the absolute being of the God of Israel, from which results, qualitatively, His universality and eternity, relatively His absoluteness, quantitatively His unity (4:35, 39). With the unity of the absolute, His simplicity also must be conceded, which, although it does not occur in the Scripture, in its metaphysical abstraction, meets us still in the attributis derivatis, His immateriality, spirituality and invisibility in the second command (comp. upon. 5:8). For this first command, so far as the doctrine or faith is concerned, limits itself to the oneness, i.e. to the monotheism of the absolute Jehovah, over against polytheism generally, and also over against every polytheistic, paganistic nationalizing or localizing of Jehovah (Zech. 14:9). This is the explanation of the I am Jehovah thy God, and the no other gods before me. This oneness, and therefore exclusiveness, of Jehovah well supports, Deut 6:5, the moral demand for the perfect ordering of the life. The Hear, O Israel (as usually behold), which in the conciseness of the expression calls attention to the importance of the subject, reaches still to this also. The polytheist is absolutely dependent upon no one of his gods, and thus religion with him never reaches the truth of its idea. But as and just because Jehovah is one, His demand generally upon Israel, thus the whole law, with all its variety of commands, must have a unity (John 17:21 sq.), just as law and promise are also one, Gal. 3:21. Since, however, the unity of Jehovah opens or begins the law, it is only fitting that the unity in the demands of Jehovah should be placed as the first command (as the πρώτη ἐντολή, Matt. 22:38), the opening for all that follows, in the very spirit of which they are to be understood.—And thou shalt love, καὶ ἀγαπήσεις, Mark 12:30. A simple continuation of Deut 6:4, as that which evidently flows from it. It is scarcely and strictly a command, rather as a direction or concession: the duty belongs to thee to love in this measure, sq.: at the most a demand; so love, sq. (5:10). To the unity of the absolute, since He is the God of Israel (5:6), agrees the redemption from Egypt (6:12, 21 sq.), as showing that He is such, through which also this Jehovah appears worthy of love, and indeed to the whole man, in heart and life, and in all his relations. Heart (5:26) the innermost, then soul as synonymous with life, thus already more external than heart, (4:29) and then strength, which designates the still more outward effective proofs of the life. (Matt. 22:37; Luke 10:27; Mark 12:33). [BIB. COM.: “The specification is intended to include every faculty that can possibly come in question.” ALEXANDER on Mark 12:29–31: “There is no need of attempting any nice distinction between heart and soul and mind, the obvious design being to exhaust the one idea of the whole man.” It is clear also from the reference of our Lord to this command, that the law and the Gospel do not differ as an outward and carnal service from an inward and spiritual one. Love holds the same prominence in both, but the gospel gives new and peculiar motives to enforce this love.—A. G.]. As the love to Jehovah, and the keeping of His commands are connected, 5:10, so now Deut 6:6 sq., follows Deut 6:5, as love must show itself in this relation, or way. These words which, thus all which is commanded, 6:1. Shall be in [upon, SCHROEDER] thine heart, (11:18) as the duty which rests upon thee, but also a matter of the heart, and therefore must be a “pleasant burden” (SCHULTZ) 1 John 5:3. “As written upon the heart, Jer. 31:33.” KNOBEL. Whatever the heart is full of, that comes out from the mouth, Deut 6:7, and whatever comes from the heart, reaches the heart; but that it may reach the hearts of the children, it must be sharpened [taught diligently] upon their hearts, rigorously commanded, for mere words secure only a mere recollection (Heb. 4:12). Of them.בְּ as in 3:26, so that the discourses rest in them, have their very substance and contents in them, and indeed at all times and everywhere, Ps. 1:2. Deut 6:8, 9, state how the commandment should rule the private, domestic, and public life in figurative, but therefore in more vivid and proverbial language (comp. 11:18; Ex. 13:9, 16; Prov. 3:3, 21, 22; 6:21, 22; 7:3; Isa. 49:16) precisely in accordance with oriental usage. We use the hand in our acts, and hence to bind them upon thy hand is to keep them for a sign for thy conduct, as ever to be regarded, and which must determine my manner of action. The brow, between thine eyes, represents the chamber of thought, is as the door to the intellectual nature of man (hence the easy transition to the door-posts, Deut 6:9). The commandments, as frontlets or browbands, become therefore a badge or confession by which one may be known, and embrace the private life, both on the side which is turned, and open to the man himself, and upon that which lies open to other men (Rev. 13:16; 14:1). טֹטָפֹת instead of טַפְטָפוֹת occurs only in the Pentateuch, is obsolete in later periods. Transformed into a symbol and by the Pharisees perverted to carnal ends, Matt. 23:5. The socalled Tephillim, for the left hand and the head, small cases with the Scripture texts Ex. 13:1–11; 11–17; Deut. 6:4–10; 11:13–26, fastened with a leathern thong, are still worn among the Jews of to-day as an appropriate prayer ornament. But writing is first spoken in Deut 6:9. Since the commandments are a pledge or confession, he states also how they express the rule and support of the domestic and public life. That which is thus a confession, serves at the same time as a continual self-exhortation, as with respect to the family, so in civil life the Litera scripta manet. The analogy of Deut 6:8, the universality in the terms and write them, and the indefiniteness as to what is to be written, all go to prove that Deut 6:9 uses merely figurative language, and does not require any actual inscription upon the gates and door-posts. The references to Egyptian usages (HENGSTENBERG and SCHULTZ), to the customs of oriental nations of to-day (KNOBEL), which might be enlarged still further from Germany, show how little of this kind it was necessary to require. [See also WILKINSON, A. E. III., 364,—LANE, Modern Egypt,—KITTO and SMITH for fuller statements as to these oriental and Jewish usages.—A. G.]. If writing has once become a popular means to aid the memory it is evident that one would say, “lest thou forget it, write it upon thy wall, upon thy door.” If this is not what it means, still it must be regarded as a proverbial figurative expression for forget not! as Deut 6:12 expresses the exhortation. As the Tephillim are connected with Deut 6:8, so the Talmud connects with Deut 6:9 the (מְזוּזָה, door-posts, Ex. 12:7; 21:6), mezuzah, a metal case containing a parchment roll, inscribed with Deut 6:4–9, and 11:13–22, and dedicated to Shaddai, (the Almighty) which every Jew fastened to the right door-post of his house as a protection against death, the devil, ghosts and witchcraft.

2. Deut 6:10–19. Deut 6:10. Comp. with 1:8; 4:37, 38; Gen. 50:24. Cities, sq. A detailed description for the purpose of warning, to which the exhortation now passes. Deut 6:11. And thou eatest sq. The rich enjoyment and pleasure should not destroy the remembrance of Jehovah. (5:6). The religious secularization (of God) is image worship, here they are warned against the moral secularization (of men). But comp. 31:20; 32:15. Deut 6:13. They must guard above all against forgetting the name with which the redeemer of Israel out of Egypt had named Himself. Hence the positive form of the lest thou forget with reference to the name Jehovah, still not now for the purpose of explaining the third command, but rather to impress the heartfelt fear of Jehovah (6:2; 5:26) for the individual, and the service of Jehovah in the cultus and life (5:9) for the household (Josh. 24:15). And shalt swear by His name, i.e., when thou swearest—the solemn, vital, essential confession of the mouth, as before the court, so also in civil life and acts (Isa. 19:18; 45:23; 65:16; Jer. 12:16; 4:2; Ps. 63:11), [of the oath as an act of worship. See Matt. 5:34; Heb. 6:16; James 5:12.—A. G.]. The emphatic position of אֶה־יְהוָֹה prepares the way for Deut 6:14 (comp. further Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:8; the Sept. adds μόνῳ) with which comp. 4:3. Deut 6:15. See 5:9; 4:24;—Ex. 32:11;—Deut. 4:26; 5:16. Deut 6:16 parallel to Deut 6:14. There superstition, here unbelief, which calls in question the presence of Jehovah, or generally His existence. Ex. 17:7; Matt. 4:7; Luke 4:12; (1 Cor. 10:9). [Deut 6:16. This is one of the texts quoted by Christ in the temptation. And as He quoted Deuteronomy as a part of the sacred Scriptures, and as it was then held, i.e., as the work of Moses, so we have here again His endorsement of the Mosaic authorship of this book.—A. G.] Deut 6:17. Forgetfulness leads to apostacy, and to sinful doubt, love, to the keeping of the commandments sq. Comp. 4:40, 45. Deut 6:18. יָשָׁר even, straight. טוֹב (contracted from טהב = צהב), bright, brilliant, beautiful, the good as it falls in the eyes namely, of God, as pleasing to Him, (1 John 3:22; John 8:29). There is here a play upon words, to the good, good comes, it goes well—here in reference to the good land, (Deut 6:10). Deut 6:19; 4:38; Ex. 23:27; Lev. 26:7. Preparatory to chap. 7.

3. Deut 6:20–25. Deut 6:20. The carrying out of Deut 6:7, as Deut 6:8 sq. is of Deut 6:6. מָה with respect to their import, or their ground and aim. The son asks because he sees the father doing, as Deut 6:7 enjoins (Ex. 13:14; 12:26). A testimony, example, and earnest instruction is presupposed, (Ps. 34:11; Prov. 4:1; Eph. 6:4). It concerns the ground or reason, if the youth asks wherefore? and the application to the heart and life, if the question is that just as frequently asked, What is that to me? to what end? (How practical)? First the wretched condition of Israel, bondmen, sq., then the redemption (Deut 6:22נָהַן as Ex. 7:9. Comp. Deut. 4:34) to its completion (Deut 6:23, that he might, sq.) with a citation of the promise, which he swore, sq., and with an emphatic mention of the fruits of salvation (Deut 6:24, comp. upon 4:1). Lastly the thankfulness in Deut 6:25: So we are under obligation to God. Righteousness (24:13, comp. upon 4:8) refers to the acquitting sentence of the law, as opposed to κατάκριμα (Rom. 5:16) and hence involves the fulfilling (Rom. 2:13) of the whole law (James 2:10); and as more nearly defined here as before the Lord this righteousness is not opposed to that in Rom. 8:4, which also consists in walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Thus Moses describes the righteousness which is of the law (Rom. 10:5) as far from the hypocritical, or even merely external righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 5:20) as Paul on his side separates widely justification by faith from the simple, external apprehension of the work of Christ for us. [But Paul never separates justification by faith from a hearty practical obedience to the law. He teaches that the man is justified by the simple apprehension and reception of the work of Christ for us, i.e., by faith—but this faith is never fruitless. The man so believing is in Christ, Rom. 8:1, and so must walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. The note in BIB. COM. is judicious. The word translated righteousness is the same as in Gen. 15:6, rendered in the N. T. by δικαιοσύνη. Moses from the very beginning has made the whole “righteousness of the law” to depend so entirely on a right state of the heart, in one word, on faith, that there can be no real inconsistency between the verse before us, taken thus strictly and properly, and the principle of Justification by faith only.—A. G.]. At the same time it is clear that although לפּני יְוָֹה cannot be referred to וצדקה, true righteousness is the justification of men, not before men, but before God, and therewith Christ is the end of the law for righteousness (Rom. 10:4) Rom. 8:3. Here also the faith, Deut 6:4, precedes the love, Deut 6:5.


1. “All comprehensive obedience roots itself in the fear of the Lord, (Deut 6:2, 3), for this is the first and nearest truth in the relations of Israel to Jehovah, (5:26). But if the fear of Jehovah especially restrains man from gratifying his selfish nature as opposed to God, it cannot rest in this mere denial of the self-will, although this is first as even the negative form of the decalogue shows, but leads to a union of the divine and human wills, and this is love, which has been explained as the true condition of obedience in the decalogue (5:10).” BAUMGARTEN.

2. Since love—and love to God is the strength of the love to our neighbor—is represented as the sum of the commandments, the deep inward character of the Mosaic law appears here (comp. further 10:12; 11:1, 13), and at the same time it is presented as one holy spiritual whole, so that we cannot speak of any higher New Testament stand-point in this regard. Pharisaism does not find its condemnation first in Christ, it met it long ago in Moses. But as this Jewish (not O. T.) idea and use of the law separates it into manifold external statutes, literally understood, so on the other hand it breaks the thread which connects the law, according to its origin with the covenant of God, and love as the fulfilling of the law with faith. The “position of faith to the law” in the old covenant, (AUBERLEN) is this, “the believer receives the law as a gracious gift of God, rejoices in its perfection, places his whole life under its sacred discipline and control. But the more earnestly he strives after the fulfilling of the law, the more he recognizes his own unfitness to the effort, his weakness to good, the power of evil in the heart. Then he seeks the forgiveness of sins, as it was already offered in the O. T., through the grace of God, and comforts himself with redemption through the Messiah.”


Deut 6:4, 5. LUTHER: “That God is one, profits us not, but that He is held as one God and our God, that is blessedness and life and the fulfilling of all the law. The first explanation of the first command relates to faith. For no one can have one God who does not depend upon Him alone, does not leave all for Him alone, otherwise he will be hurried away to manifold works, and feign himself manifold deities. The second explanation flows from the first, and relates to love. For when we understand that all things flow from Him, then a sweet love necessarily follows. In Deut 6:4 He claims the confidence of all, and then in Deut 6:5 awakens a joyful and free service of God. Thus in faith we receive through the unity of God all things freely of God, through love we do all things cheerfully for our God. The one God and His one command. True love requires the whole man). Deut 6:6. BERL. BIB.: “The heart alone receives this lesson. The language of love is taught by love, and love teaches to love.” LUTHER: “Not alone in the book, nor in thought, but in the innermost affection of thy heart.” TUEB. BIB.: “The law of God must be engraved upon our hearts with an evangelical pen, if we will keep it.” STARKE: “Whoever will truly teach and inculcate upon others the commands of God, must first take them to heart, that he may mould his Christian character, faith, and walk, upon them. Mark that, ye parents and teachers.” Deut 6:7. RANDGL.: “The more one obeys the word of God the clearer and fresher it will become. The longer, the more lovingly.” STARKE: “Parents should not only send their children to school, and lead them to Church, but hold frequent instructive conversations with them. They should be diligently trained in the Catechisms in the Church, school, and at home.” (How faith and love rule all, heart, home, and land). RICHTER: “According to Deut 6:9 every Israelite must be able to read and write.”(?) Deut 6:10–12. LUTHER: “He reproves wealth and luxury, especially mammon and avarice (1 Tim. 6:10; Col. 3:5). For the human heart yields itself to present good, but has no confidence in that which is not present. But trust in wealth, and faith, and love cannot rule in the same heart at the same time. See how Moses guards against the idolatry of the heart before he speaks of other gods.” SCHULTZ: To be full becomes a peculiar pregnant expression in Scripture. Deut 6:12. CRAMER: “There must be great strength to support such good days.” Deut 6:13. LUTHER: “This is the strength of faith, and the result of the first command, that in prosperity we are reverent and fearful, in adverse affairs we are secure and free, and in both lean upon God. In great wealth do not trust therein, hast thou none, be not therefore despondent. Moses never dreams of the doulia, latria, hyperdoulia of the sophists. And so also should’st thou take this oath, since thou remainest in the service of God.” (The true oath an act of worship). Deut 6:14. A bad neighborhood often corrupts good morals. Deut 6:16. LUTHER: “Before, it was that we should in prosperous times do right, now that in the opposite condition we should suffer right, and be certain that God is near us in the time of need. God is tempted, 1) when we do not use what we have, thus whoever complains and thinks that God should feed him without his own efforts; 2) when we appoint Him place, time, method, and so to speak feel whether He is there; thus through the pressure of want, and the counsel of a weak faith.” What is it to tempt God? To doubt His being, to test His omnipotence, to give direction for His help, to question His faithfulness, to hasten or anticipate His providence, to limit His grace to our own will, to ridicule His long-suffering patience, and also His righteousness, etc. BERL. BIB.: “God was tempted in His wisdom, Ps. 73:11, in His truth, 2 Kings 7:2, in His goodness and providence over us, Matt. 4:6, 7, in His power, Num. 11:4, 5; Ps. 78:19, 20; Num. 14:22, in His omnipresence, Ex. 17:7.” God never tempts us to evil, and we ought not to tempt Him out of our wicked will, (Matt. 22:18). The right and the wrong doubt. Gideon (Judg. 6:36 sq.) Ahaz (Isa. 7:12) and Jesus (Matt. 4:7). The good is at the same time the beautiful. That is good which, 1) will pass with God; 2) upon which and through which good comes to us; 3) through which we may enter upon the good, the eternal good. Deut 6:20. SCHULTZ: “As revealed religion was introduced into the world through teaching and discipline, so it must be preserved through the same method.” LANGE: “Happy parents whose children seek after the commandments of God.” BERL. BIB.: “One may better be sparing in pleasures, and have a Bible in his house, better than all prayer books, that he may read with his family, and ever take it to his heart.” Deut 6:24. SCHULTZ: “Our life support comprehends all that makes our life truly beautiful, easy, and blessed. As there is nothing without life, so there is no life, truly so-called, without many things, as health, success, joy and peace.” BERL. BIB.: “Serving God we truly serve ourselves, for then we have all things for our use.”


1[Deut 6:10. Lit.: Shall have caused thee to come.—A. G.]

2[Deut 6:17. Lit.: Keeping ye shall keep.—A. G.]

3[Deut 6:25. All the command. The pronoun is singular; the commandment is one.]

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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