The Shema

The Shema
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Ehad

I love the Shema. The Hebrew ??? (shema) is in imperative and is literally commanding: “Hear!” Deuteronomy 6:4-9 tells us:

4 Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!
5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.
7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

This is probably the most important prayer in Judaism… and it should be in Christianity as well, especially since it was reaffirmed as one of Jesus’ greatest commandments. Mark 12:29-30 has Jesus’ response to a scribe’s question about which is the greatest commandment:

29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

The Old Testament and the New Testament seem to agree: YHVH, God, The Lord, Jesus is who we are to live for. Not just a priority, but everything. Everything in our life stems from our devotion to Him. Seems pretty clear to me!

One of my favorite words in the Hebrew (yeah, cause I have so much experience!) is ??? (nephesh) and is used in Deut. 6:5 and is most often translated as “soul” but has a much richer connotation. Here are a few of the words that ??? can also translated as: living being, life, self, person, desire, appetite, emotion, and passion. This Hebrew word is somewhat comparable to the Greek ???? (psuch?) word that is used in Mark 12:30. The Greek also has much deeper meaning than the simple translation “soul”: inner self, life, person and Louw & Nida comment that it is “the essence of life in terms of thinking, willing, and feeling - ‘inner self, mind, thoughts, feelings, heart, being.’” Again, this is all to say that God wants every part of our life. Not just one aspect.

So, Hear O Israel! And that means YOU. This is the personal God of Israel that has become the personal God of the world. He wants you to hear. Not just listen, but hear.

The Hebrew in Deuteronomy and the Greek in Mark are both extremely beautiful, so here they are:

The Shema in Deuteronomy
The Shema in Mark

Categories: Religion, Theology Tags:
  1. February 2nd, 2007 at 12:36 | #1

    I like the old testament god better then the new because he struck people down with fear and death and he broke a lot of stuff. :)

  2. February 2nd, 2007 at 18:00 | #2

    Hey Matt…how’s it going? Are you going to school or looking for a job now? Or working? My school in Korea is hiring someone, starting on March 2. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll give you more details.

  3. February 5th, 2007 at 01:48 | #3

    I dunno but for some odd reason I like the word Elelyon. It means ‘The most High God’.

  4. February 7th, 2007 at 17:32 | #4

    Haha… well Tony, fortunately for you, they are both the same God!

    Hey Jackie, nice to hear from you! I am looking for a job but will be going back to school in the summer or fall. The offer is actually pretty tempting, but I think I need to stay here and actually get going on getting my certificate!

    El Elyon or sometimes simply Elyon is another beautiful name for God. It seems to convey a sense of majesty. :)

  5. February 8th, 2007 at 10:57 | #5

    just for those who don’t know (and I had to look this up since I don’t read Hebrew yet), you posted more than just “Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad”… in the Hebrew, at least, it also says:

    “V’ahav’ta eit Adonai Elohekha b’khol l’vav’kha uv’khol naf’sh’kha uv’khol m’odekha.”

    “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

  6. February 8th, 2007 at 10:59 | #6

    oh I forgot to say… it’s exciting to see other believers find such value in the traditions our Messiah also held so dear!

  7. February 8th, 2007 at 12:45 | #7

    Thanks for pointing that out Julia, I probably should have mentioned that. The image at the top of the post is the intro of the Shema (Deut 6:4 - Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Ehad - Hear O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!) and the image at the bottom is the Hebrew of Deut 6:4-5.

    And thanks Julia, while I don’t follow all the traditions of the OT (which I greatly respect), I think it is silly that some find such disconnection between the Old and New Testaments. My comment back to Tony, while somewhat jocular in response, is something that people often forget. God of the Old is God of the New. Jesus is the Messiah, is Yehoshua, is (the somewhat scary name) Immanuel: YHVH saves AND he is with us! How fortunate!

  8. February 11th, 2007 at 06:32 | #8

    Hi Matt,
    It has been awhile since I have visited. Hope you have been well.

    I too love the Shema. Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. He is indeed. Amen.

  1. February 7th, 2007 at 19:14 | #1
  2. February 3rd, 2007 at 03:21 | #2
  3. November 18th, 2013 at 00:12 | #3