How Many Is God? An Investigation Into The Meaning Of Deuteronomy 6:4–5 -- By: Daniel I. Block

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 47:2 (Jun 2004)
Article: How Many Is God? An Investigation Into The Meaning Of Deuteronomy 6:4–5
Author: Daniel I. Block


How Many Is God? An Investigation Into The Meaning Of Deuteronomy 6:4–51

Daniel I. Block

[Daniel Block is professor of Old Testament at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2825 Lexington Road, Louisville, KY 40280]

1 Introduction

In Deuteronomy 6:4 Moses commences the second major section of his second address. The limits of this segment are marked by his call, “Listen, O Israel!” at the beginning, and the warning of Israel’s certain doom at the end, “because you would not listen to the voice of Yahweh your God” (8:20). This demarcation is confirmed by 9:1, which signals the beginning of a new subsection with a third call to “Hear!” (cf. 5:1). Between these two markers, Moses offers a profound exposition of the essence of Israel’s covenant relationship with Yahweh. Moses announces the grand theme of this section in emphatic but eloquent style with the “Shema‘” in 6:4–5: a call for exclusive covenant commitment to Yahweh.

Moses maintains his covenantal focus throughout this section particularly through the repetition of the phrase “Yahweh your God,” which occurs 31 times, and “Yahweh our God,” which occurs an additional four times, yielding a total of 35 occurrences in 68 verses. The covenant mediator describes this relationship from both sides. On the one hand, he notes Yahweh’s love for Israel (7:7, 8, 13), his faithfulness to his covenant (6:10, 18, 23; 7:8, 9, 12; 8:18), and his providential care for them (8:216). On the other hand, he emphasizes the response that Yahweh expects from his people: love (6:5); fear (6:13, 24; 8:6); trust (7:17–24); and remembrance (6:12; 8:11, ...

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