The Greatest Commandment – Shema, a Christian Relevant Commandment & Prayer

Deuteronomy 6:4-5


Sh’ma, Yisra’elYahweh Eloheinu, Yahweh echad [Hear, Isra’el! Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one]; and you are to love Yahweh your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources. 

Here is a better literal translation of what this reads using what the words actually mean at the time written:

Attention and Obey, (people who believe He rules as God)! Yahweh is our God, Yahweh comes first. You will accept Yahweh your God with your whole mind, your whole body, and with forceful passionate strength.

Let’s break it down:

>>>Hebrew word shema is used to gain Moses’ audience attention. That is in English we read, “If you listen”. What it says is “if you shema…..”. Let us be informed that shema MEANS to listen and obey. It does NOT mean only to hear, because in modern English the words listen and hear are passive. We can sit right where we are and listen or hear and feel no obligation to take action. Shema means to HEAR what God has to say and then proceed to DO IT! This cannot be stressed enough that what it’s  telling you is not allegory; rather this IS the meaning of the Hebrew shema.

שׁמע ; shâma‛ ; shaw-mah’ H8085

A primitive root; to hear intelligently (often with implication of {attention} {obedience} etc.; causatively to {tell} etc.): – X {attentively} call (gather) {together} X {carefully} X {certainly} {consent} {consider} be {content} {declare} X {diligently} {discern} give {ear} (cause {to} {let} make to) hear ({-ken} {tell}) X {indeed} {listen} make (a) {noise} (be) {obedient} {obey} {perceive} (make a) proclaim ({-ation}) {publish} {regard} {report} shew ({forth}) (make a) {sound} X {surely} {tell} {understand} whosoever {[heareth]} witness.

>>>Next word, Israel… H3478  ישׂראל ; yiώrâ’êl ; yis-raw-ale’ ; he will rule as God ;
{Jisrael} a symbolical name of Jacob; also (typically) of his posterity: – Israel.

Paul has waxed eloquently in the Book of Romans that it is the Covenant of Abraham (a Hebrew covenant) that established the promises for future “seed of Abraham”. And that it is the seed of Abraham who will be the inheritors of God’s Kingdom. So, Believing gentiles, if you trust Christ then you are seed of Abraham and you are an inheritor of God’s Kingdom; that’s the promise. But what specific group of people held that promise in the form of a covenant given to them by God? The Hebrews. So how did gentiles get into a position to be seed of Abraham? We were grafted into the Hebrew’s covenants by our trust in Messiah Yeshua (Paul will discuss that at length in Romans 11). That is, if we trust in the perfect faithfulness of Jesus Christ then we will be included in the promises and terms of the Covenants of Abraham and Moses even though we are not physical Hebrews.

13 However, to those of you who are Gentiles I say this: since I myself am an emissary sent to the Gentiles, I make known the importance of my work 14 in the hope that somehow I may provoke some of my own people to jealousy and save some of them! 15 For if their casting Yeshua aside means reconciliation for the world, what will their accepting him mean? It will be life from the dead! 16 Now if the hallah offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole loaf. And if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you — a wild olive — were grafted in among them and have become equal sharers in the rich root of the olive tree, 18 then don’t boast as if you were better than the branches! However, if you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, the root is supporting you.

And certainly this passage is emphatic that the new covenant is for Israel. Even so the Church has got it right that gentiles can be included, grafted in. But the Church has also gotten it wrong by making Christianity a new and separate religion, whose God is Jesus, and this to the exclusion of the God of Israel, Yehoveh, His Word, the Torah and even the Jewish people. So a Christian is included in “people who believe HE rules as God.”

>>  “Yahweh is the God of us” is the next 2 words: H3068 ; יהוה ; yehôvâh ; yeh-ho-vaw’ ;  (the) self Existent or eternal;
{Jehovah} Jewish national name of God: – {Jehovah} the Lord. 

>> H430 ; אלהים ; ‘ĕlôhîym ; el-o-heem’

Plural of H433 ; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural {thus} especially with the article) of the supreme God.. followed by the suffix NU, “of us”.

>> Followed by God’s Name again

> is ONE ; H259 ; אחד ; ‘echâd ; ekh-awd’
A numeral from H258 ; properly {united} that {is} one ; or (as an ordinal) first: as in first in our lives, One God.

>> and you love ; H157 אהב אהב ‘âhab ‘âhêb {aw-hab’} aw-habe’

A primitive root; to have affection for (sexually or otherwise): – (be-) love ({-d} {-ly} {-r}) {like} friend.

 What ought to matter to us is what love and hate means from God’s perspective. First and foremost love means a wholehearted acceptance and hate means a complete rejection. Thus as it relates to our relationship with God, to love Him is to fully accept Him and to hate Him is to firmly reject Him. To love what is good is to fully accept and internalize what is good. To hate what is good is to purposely and knowingly reject what is good. Second, love is complete devotion to a person, an ideal, a god or perhaps a way of life. Hate is a complete disregard and aversion towards a person, an ideal, a god, or a way of life. But third, as biblically defined, love and hate intrinsically involve actions: outward behavior. And this may be the largest departure from how those two terms are thought of today whereby love and hate are seen as mostly products of emotion.  While love and hate can certainly involve our emotions, biblically speaking love and hate are not the names of two of our emotions nor are love and hate primarily about emotion.
>> Yahweh your god… see above

>> With all your MIND; לבב lêbâb lay-bawb’
From H3823 ; the heart (as the most interior organ); used also like H3820 : – + bethink {themselves} {breast} {comfortably} {courage} ({[faint]} [tender-] {heart([-ed]}) {midst} {mind} X {unawares} understanding.


We associate thought and memory with the brain today, but in the idiom of the Bible, thinking is a function of the heart. The psalmist thought about his present difficult situation in the light of his past. As he “remembered [his] songs in the night,” he says, “My heart mused and my spirit inquired” (Ps 77:6 NIV).
When the term heart is used in Holy Scripture, it is referring to the seat of intellect, the human mind (which during the entire Biblical era was believed to occur in the heart organ). Today we associate the mind with the brain. The brain and the head provide us with a number of stock images of the mind and its functions. So it comes as a surprise to many modern people that in the imagery of the Bible there is no awareness of the brain as the center of consciousness, thought or will. The processes of the “mind” are frequently associated with an organ that for us evokes the emotions, that is, the heart. English translations of the Bible vary in the extent to which they preserve the word “heart” rather than substitute a word or image associated with the mind.
In that era the kidneys, liver, and even stomach were seen as the inner sources of human emotions. To summarize: in Bible times the heart was NOT seen as the seat of our emotions, but rather as the seat of our intellect. Yes; back then it was assumed that the human heart organ was where our mental processes, our thinking, took place. They knew nothing of the brain as part of the thinking process. So the better way to perceive what the Bible means by “heart” (lev in Hebrew, kardia in Greek) is to substitute the word “mind”.

>> All of your SOUL; H5315 נפשׁ nephesh neh’-fesh
From H5314 ; properly a breathing {creature} that {is} animal or (abstractly) vitality ; used very widely in a {literal} accommodated or figurative sense (bodily or mental): – {any} {appetite} {beast} {body} {breath} {creature}
This one might shock you but it cannot be more true.

The Old Testament. The Hebrew word so rendered is nepes [נפש]. It appears 755 times in the Old Testament. The King James Version uses 42 different English terms to translate it. The two most common renderings are “soul” (428 times) and “life” (117 times). It is the synchronic use of nepes [נפש] that determines its meaning rather than the diachronic. Hebrew is inclined to use one and the same word for a variety of functions that are labeled with distinct words in English.

Nepes [נפש] in the Old Testament is never the “immortal soul” but simply the life principle or living being. Such is observable in Genesis 1:202124, where the qualified (living) nepes [נפש] refers to animals and is rendered “living creatures.” The same Hebrew term is then applied to the creation of humankind in Genesis 2:7, where dust is vitalized by the breath of God and becomes a “living being.” Thus, human being shares soul with the animals. It is the breath of God that makes the lifeless dust a “living being”person.
David very often referred to his body as (translated poorly) “soul”… e.g. Psalm 35.
All these are almost direct references to his own “body” or his “being”…

>> and all your “utterly you”; H3966 מאד me’ôd meh-ode’
From the same as H181 ; properly {vehemence} that {is} (with or without preposition) vehemently ; by implication {wholly} speedily } etc. (often with other words as an intensive or superlative; especially when repeated): – {diligently} {especially} exceeding ({-ly})

ve·he·mence /ˈvēəməns/ the display of strong feeling; passion.
You choose to recite the Shema which ever way you want, but know the truth about the word meanings and also note, this is commanded by God for us all to proclaim!!
This can be used as a statement of faith, a daily prayer, or as a reminder of how deep our God is asking us to Love and Accept Him!!!







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