Understanding the Scriptures
Deuteronomy 6:4–5—The First and Great Commandment
In Hebrew the word hear is shema. Consequently, the Jews call Deuteronomy 6:4–5 the Shema. When asked which was the greatest commandment in all the law, Jesus quoted the Shema (see Matthew 22:36–38). President Ezra Taft Benson explained why it must be first: “When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1988, 3; or Ensign, May 1988, 4).
Deuteronomy 6:8–9—How Did the Israelites Apply This Instruction?
By the time of Jesus, many Jews interpreted Deuteronomy 6:8–9 in a very literal way. They wrote verses 4–5 on small scrolls, put the scrolls in small boxes called “phylacteries,” and tied one box on their arms and another around their heads so that the box was over the forehead. They also put one of these scrolls in a small container called a “mezuzot” and nailed the mezuzot to the right doorpost of their homes.
Studying the Scriptures
Do activities A–C as you study Deuteronomy 6.
How Can You Remember?
Write a Question
Write what you think is an important, meaningful question that can be answered by Deuteronomy 6:24.
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