Monday, January 26, 2015

Deuteronomy: Chapter 6

The bonds that tie
And consume, 
Hand,  body,  soul 
How do you bind the heart? 
Make my name your word

[For full chapter, click here

"Hear, therefor O Israel"--this chapter continues Moses' anaphoric exhortations to the nation, culminating in the most famous need to "hear": "Hear, O Israel: God is our Lord, God is One." From actions ("the commandment, the statutes, and the ordinances") we have moved to being and emotion: " and you shalt love God your Lord, with all your heart, with all thy soul, with all your might."If the previous chapter established the need for distance, this chapter establishes a new kind of closeness: not to an external voice and perception that overwhelms, but rather a bond that comes from within, from inside  the human heart (one of the key words of the chapter): "these words that I commanded you this day, shall be on your heart." This is the chapter of presence/ Rather than consuming, God's presence here permeates: "you shall speak of them when you sit in your home, when you walk on  the way, when you lie down, when you rise." It becomes a self-engendered bond, both literal--"you shalt bind them as a sign upon your arm"--and figurative-- "you shalt ...swear by His name." God's name becomes the way  to bind yourself, and make your word your bond. It creates a bond between generations, as the chapter repeatedly highlights what must be "said to your children."

Yet presence is still dangerous. God is a "jealous God," and betrayal of the bonds can lead to a taking away of what was "given"]

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