Hebrew Highlights 74 - SHMA
Shalom. This is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
DEU 6:4-7 "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and 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.”
You may possibly have heard these famous Hebrew words either recited or sung, “Shma Israel, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad”. This passage in Deuteronomy is to the people of Israel, what the “Lord’s Prayer” is to Christians. We see their importance in the command to keep them with us at all times, and to teach them to our sons. The directive continues in verses 8-9, "And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
As a result of these words, the tradition of wrapping phylacteries on the forehead when praying developed in the Jewish people. If you have visited Israel, you would also have noticed the “Mezuzot” hanging on the doorpost of every door. Inside this small decorative fixture is a rolled up copy of the “Shma”, this ancient prayer from the Torah.
“Shma” is itself a very common word in the Bible, used 267 times. To do a study on its use by the Heavenly Father towards His people is an interesting exercise in discovering how serious He is when He speaks to us.
As an example, let’s look at PRO 1:7-9, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction. Hear, my son, your father's instruction, And do not forsake your mother's teaching; Indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head, And ornaments about your neck.” Again, we see the picture of carrying God’s word close to us at all times.
Though many times the word “Shma” is used to begin a rebuke, it also finds its way into declarations and promises, as we see in JER 31:10-13, “ Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, And declare in the coastlands afar off, And say, "He who scattered Israel will gather him, And keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock." For the Lord has ransomed Jacob, And redeemed him from the hand of him who was stronger than he. "And they shall come and shout for joy on the height of Zion, And they shall be radiant over the bounty of the Lord-- Over the grain, and the new wine, and the oil, And over the young of the flock and the herd; And their life shall be like a watered garden, And they shall never languish again.
"Then the virgin shall rejoice in the dance, And the young men and the old, together, For I will turn their mourning into joy, And will comfort them, and give them joy for their sorrow.”
Lest we as Christians think these words of the “Shma” are no longer important, let’s remind ourselves of Yeshua’s words in MAR 12:28-31, “And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, "What commandment is the foremost of all?" Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; 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 second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
Now, the people of Israel are well aware that the “hearing” is only the beginning of our obeying God’s command. Interestingly, the word “Shma” is a root word found right in the middle of the word “Mishma’at”, which means obedience, or discipline.
So, in a sense, in Hebrew, we cannot obey without first stopping to hear, and once we hear, we are expected to obey. One of the most Jewish passages in the New Testament is found in JAM 1:22-25, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.”
“Shma Israel, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad”. If we were to summarize today’s Hebrew Highlights in a new prayer to bind in our hearts, and on our doorposts, we might say this, “Hear O Israel, and the Church! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And you shall not only hear, but obey Him as well.”
Shalom, Shalom , from Jerusalem.