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Commentary on Judges 6
 

Commentary on Judges 6

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    Commentary on Judges 6 Commentary on Judges 6 Document Transcript

    • The Toe of the Kingdom An Exposition of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 S. DEAN MCBRIDE, JR. Associate Professor of Old Testament Tale University Divinity School The verses have constituted a living document upon which our various forebears, seeking to discover and revitalize for themselves identities in the world, have left behind a succession of exegetical imprints. Λ Τ THE HEART of Old Testament covenant theology is the affirma- -¿V-tion of an intimate but conditional symbiosis between Yahweb and his people Israel. The covenanting God is not merely the divine ruler of a single nation. He is the ultimate source of all life and wisdom, the one whose royal decrees create and define existence, whose judgments alone are decisive in governing the affairs of nature and mankind. But while God's kingdom is universal in scope—and hence revealed in countless ways to those who have eyes to see—it is with the progeny of Jacob that he has chosen to initiate his manifest rule in history. When Yahweh delivered the clans of Jacob from Egyptian bondage, he brought "Israel" into being and thereby established a living testimony to his own incomparable power and providence. Conversely, when the clans ac- cepted freedom from the burden of pharaoh, they took upon themselves the yoke of a far mightier suzerain whose gracious deeds and laws united them. So viewed, Israel's very existence becomes at once a political and 273
    • theological fact of awesome proportions. A collection of slaves is trans- formed into the vassal-nation in whom Yahweh stakes the destiny of his temporal kingship. Israel's vicissitudes, its achievements and failings, inevitably shape the way God himself is known by all peoples of the earth : And for its part, the nation Israel can survive only so long as it faithfully honors the exclusive divine rule of Yahweh, the suzerain who alone is able to sustain its common life. This fundamental notion of Israel's identity is concisely articulated in the verses from Deuteronomy whose meaning and significance it is our purpose to investigate here. The Hebrew text may be translated thus: Hear, O Israel ! Our God is Yahweh, Yahweh alone ! And love Yahweh your God with all your heart, with all your life, indeed with all your capacity ! I. T H E TEXT AS "TRADITION" The words of Deuteronomy 6 i^î. are eloquent and lucid... deceptively so ! They crystallize a wealth of ancient ideology, the precise lineaments of which are still in dispute. Yet equally important this one, like few if any other Old Testament texts, carries with it an accumulated weight of interpretation, controversy, and familiar usage which the modern exegete can neither ignore nor easily shoulder aside. Thus before examining the verses in their Deuteronomic context, it is appropriate to sketch the development of the secondary guises in which we most commonly recog- nize them. By New Testament times the text had already become a semi-inde- pendent tradition—a living expression of allegiance to God's eternal king- dom—nurtured and transfigured in the cult, preaching, and private wor- ship. For the Jew, recited as the crux of the "Shema c ," Deuteronomy 6:4f. epitomized the essential legacy claimed from ancient Israel. For the Christian, promulgated anew as the "Great Commandment" and combined with the command to love the neighbor (Lev. 19:18), the verses first tended to summarize the Mosaic Torah and then to replace it as the fundamental decree of the "new covenant." 274
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation The Shema' From at least the end of the first century A.D., Judaism has recognized no more important devotional tradition than the "Reading of the Shema'" (qerV at sema').1 The title "Shema c " (sometimes "Shema' Israel") derives, of course, from the initial word of Deuteronomy 6:4, the imperative "Hear!" In classical sources the extent of the text so labeled is somewhat fluid, and in modern usage Shemac is often variously employed to designate Deuteronomy 6:4-9 or 6:4L as well as verse 4 alone. However in its definitive form, (c.f. Mishnah Berakot 1:1—3:6) the Shema' consists of a catena of biblical passages (Deut. 6:4-9, 11:13- 21; Num. 15:37-41) and accompanying benedictions. The faithful are required to recite the text twice daily, upon rising in the morning and before falling asleep at night (cf. Deut. 6:7), not simply as a pious gesture but to effect an orientation of the whole self toward the rule of God. Reciting the Shemac is a two-fold act of sacramental incorporation into the communal faith of "Israel." Thus the Mishnah records that inten- tional, reflective "hearing" of the words in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 should precede the reading of the other portions of the text ". . . so that a man may first receive upon himself the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven (God) and aftei ward receive upon himself the yoke of the commandments" (Berakot 2:2). While the earlier growth of the tradition is not certain, there is evi- dence (Mishnah Tamid 4:3—5:1 ) for a prior, formal stage of develop- ment. We are told that the liturgy associated with daily Temple sacrifice included the reading of four biblical passages which are separately en- titled : the Decalogue, the Shema ', Deuteronomy 11:13 (-21 ) and Num- bers 15:37 (-41 ). Similarly, in our oldest Hebrew manuscript that seems to attest the Shemac as such—the so-called Nash Papyrus, dating to about the mid-second century B.C.—a version of the Decalogue immediately 1. The standard discussion of the Shema' as an early Jewish liturgical tradition remains that of Ismar Elbogen, Der jüdische Gottesdienst in seiner geschichtlichen Entwicklung (Hildesheim, Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1962 reprint of 1931 s ), pp. 14-26. Cf. also Ludwig Blau, 'Origine et histoire de la lecture du Schema," Revue des Études Juives, 31:179-201 (1895); and Louis Finkelstein, "The Development of the Amidah," JQR, 16:1-43 (1925). For a brief discussion in English of the text and its significance, the following is useful: Louis Jacobs, "Shema, Reading of," in Encyclopaedia Judaica (New York, The Macmillan Company, 1971), XIV (Red-Sl),cols. 1370-74· 275
    • 2 precedes Deuteronomy 6:4L (6-g?). It appears probable, therefore, that Shema' originally designated a section of the biblical text used in the daily liturgy, perhaps 6:4 alone but more likely 6:4f. and later 6:4-9. When the public recitation of the Decalogue was discontinued sometime during the first century A.D., the Shema ' headed the liturgy and, in accord 3 with the ancient practice of incipit titling, gave its name to the whole. Both within and apart from the Shema ' as a liturgical tradition, Deu­ teronomy 6:4 holds a place of special prominence in the literature, the­ ology, and practice of Judaism.4 In contemporary discussion this is frequently expressed by referring to the verse as "the Jewish confession of faith par excellence," "the fundamental doctrine of Judaism," and the like. In rabbinic sources, two phrases are associated with the verse which aptly characterize its import and classical interpretations : "the unifica­ tion of his (God's) Name" (meyahedet semo), and "receiving upon one­ self the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven (God)" (meqabbel 'alavo ς61 malkût sämayim ). 2. It may be noted that the citations of Deut. 5:6ff. and 6:4L attested here reflect not the M T but the Hebrew text which seems to underlie the "Old Greek" preserved especially in L X X A . Moreover, the Nash text remains our oldest Hebrew witness to Deut. 6:4L The "All Souls Deuteronomy Scroll" from Qumran (4 Q Deut n ) breaks off at Deut. 6 : 1 , and Frank M. Cross has informed me that the gap is not filled by any of the unpublished Deuteronomy fragments from Qumran Cave 4 (though 4 Deuto enticingly preserves ]3«lôhênû yahweh[ from Deut. 6 : 4 ) . The M T tradition of Deut. 6:4-9 1S attested in a phylactery from Murabba c ât dating to the early second century A.D. 3. See Midrash Sifre Deut. (Wa'ethanan 6:7) 34; Elbogen, Der jüdische Gottesdienst, pp. 24L, 242, 246-48; and George Foot Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era: The Age of the Tannaim (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1962 6 ), III, 68f., 95L Cf. also Geza Vermes' recent discussion, "The Decalogue and the Minim," in Matthew Black & Georg Fohrer, eds., In Memoriam Paul Kahle (Berlin, Alfred Töpelmann, 1968), pp. 232-40. The identity of the sectarians (Minim) whose "quibbling" prompted discontinuation of the public recitation of the Decalogue (to avoid the charge that of the laws in Torah only the "Ten Words" were directly sanctioned by divine authority) has been much disputed. Vermes argues that the Minim in this case were "liberal" Jewish Hellenists rather than Judeo-Christians ". . . since none of the parties within the early Church taught an 'antinomianism' as radical as the complete denial of the divine origin of the Torah" (pp. 237f.). In this regard, however, there is definite evidence that by the mid-second century A.D. some gnosticizing Christians (or Judeo-Christians) were indeed claiming that only the Decalogue was "pure" legislation decreed by God himself, and hence not abolished by the mission of Jesus. (The remainder of the Law, abrogated or superseded by Christ, was of lesser inspiration, having been delivered through Moses and the elders.) See Gilles Quispel, tr. and ed., Ptolémée, Lettre a Flora (Sources Chrétiennes, 24; Paris, Les Éditions du Cerf, 1966), pp. 54-57, 6of. 4. The Hebrew Massoretic Text of the Bible signals the verse's unusual import by "capita- lizing" the final consonants of its first and last words (i.e., the majuscule writing of the ' in lemac and the d in 'ehäd). Cf. Leviticus Rabbah 19:2 and Canticles Rabbah 5:11. For discussion of the general meaning and significance of Deut. 6:4 in Jewish thought, see especially Arthur Marmorstein, Studies in Jewish Theology, J. Rabbinowitz & M.S. Lew, eds. (London, Oxford University Press, 1950), pp. 72-105. 276
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation The former phrase articulates an understanding of Deuteronomy 6:4 which came to be widely held in Judaism and remains so : By reciting the verse one proclaims the immutable unity of the one God, Yahweh.5 And, while this interpretation is not canonized in the biblical text itself, it has been sanctified through the centuries by the blood of Jewish martyrs who, facing pagan and Christian opponents, have died with the first words of the Shemac on their lips, as it were, "unifying55 God.6 Rabbinic Judaism may have begun to interpret Deuteronomy 6:4 as an affirmation of the "unity of God'5—in opposition to both Gnostic and Christian theologies—as early as the beginning of the Amoraite period (third century A.D.). 7 But there is scant indication, if any, of such an emphasis or interest in the rabbinic literature of the preceding Tannaite age (first and second centuries A.D.). Here we find that the claims of dualism, polytheism, and atheism alike were answered not by an avowal 5. The classical interpretation of the verse as a statement of radical monotheism and monism is set forth in the work of Maimonides, the eminent Jewish philosopher of the late 12 th century. (Cf. Harry A. Wolfson, "Maimonides on the Unity and Incorporeality of God," JQR, 56:112-36 [1965-66].) Following rabbinic precedent, Maimonides classified Deut. 6:4 second among the 248 positive commandments (out of" a total 613) given to Moses on Sinai and subsequently promulgated in Scripture. Exod. 20:2 was reckoned to be the first commandment, asserting the existence of God and the necessity of Israel's belief in him. The second positive commandment proclaimed in addition that God is metaphysically one, that he is pure spirit and hence indivisible. On the one hand it denied polytheism's claim that the divine is manifold in substance and form; on the other, it denied the corporeality of God himself, the view that since he is a *'body" he is intelligible as a whole comprised of a number of "members." Maimon- ides' philosophical arguments here were directed, at least in part, against the sorts of christologi- cal and trinitarian speculations dogmatically fixed in the creeds of the early church. And, clearly, in the history of Jewish thought Deut. 6:4 has often been used as a doctrinal bulwark against those ". . . who darkened the sky of Israel's pure monotheism by teaching their peculiar theory of Jesus, identifying him with God, and declaring him to be God's son by advancing the dogma of the Trinity . . ." (Marmorstein, Studies in Jewish Theology, pp. 74f.). Maimonides' stress on the metaphysical "unity" of the single divine Being was, to a limited degree, anticipated by Philo Judaeus; see Moore, Judaism, I, 359-62 and the references there cited. 6. For the significance of the verse and the formula meyahedet lemo beginning with the early medieval crusader pogroms in Europe, see Shalom Spiegel, The Last Trial, trans. Judaíx Goldin (New York, Schocken Books, 19692), pp. 17-27 and the literature there cited. The origin of this martyrological tradition is usually traced to Rabbi 'Aqiba' who when executed as a revolutionary by the Romans in 135 A.D. died reciting the Shema', prolonging on his lips the final word, 'ehäd, of Deut. 6 : 4 ; Babylonian Talmud, Berakot 61b. (This, however, was surely an affirmation by 'Aqiba' of God's exclusive sovereignty and not an avowal of divine meta- physical unity.) I know of no occurrences of the formula meyahedet semo which are Tannaitic or demonstrable early Amoraic; for examples of the formula, specifically associated with the twice-daily recitation of the Shema', see the following: Genesis Rabbah 2 0 : 7 ; Canticles Rabbah 2:16, 7 : 2 ; Lamentations Rabbah 1:14, 3:21-24. 7. The first clear antichristological interpretation of Deut. 6:4 seems to have been derived by reading the verse in the light of Eccl. 4 : 8 : God is "one" (and not "two"), having neither "son nor brother." Cf. Deut. Rabbah 2 : 3 3 ; Eccl. Rabbah 4:7f. 277
    • of God's "oneness53 but by the confession of his preeminent sovereignty, his unrivaled power and providence. And here too it is the phrase "re- ceiving upon oneself the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven55 which most incisively captures the meaning and significance ascribed to the opening line of the Shemac.8 The verse was read as an oath of allegiance to the suzerainty of Yahweh alone. Rather than proclaiming God's unity, it effected the unity, the corporate identity of those bound into his kingdom, setting them free from the lesser political dominions of the world. This is borne out by the earliest rabbinic comments on Deuteronomy 6:4 which are preserved in the Tannaite Midrash, Sifre Deuteronomy. According to the tradition first attested here and in the Palestinian Tar- gums, the initial verse of the Shema ' originated as a solemn declaration by the sons of Jacob-Israel, delivered at their father's deathbed (i.e., the setting described in Genesis 49 ) .9 The patriarch, troubled lest his off- spring prove unworthy of the blessing they are to inherit, questions them to see if they, like their kinsmen, are prone to idolatry and polytheism. They respond, "Hear, O Israel (our father) ! Our God is Yahweh . . . !" swearing fealty to the divine lord who alone had guided their fathers before them. Further, the Tannaite exegetes derived from the verse a statement of the two-fold nature of God's providential rule when it was read in the light of Zechariah 14:9. Yahweh, who has chosen Israel as his special possession and is now acknowledged as its only God, is also the sole God whose exclusive divine suzerainty will be acknowledged by all nations of the earth in the coming age.10 8. On the formula meqabbël ( äläw ' δΐ malkût lämayim and its analogues in rabbinic sources, see especially the citations and discussions in Israel Abrahams, Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels, Second Series (London, Cambridge University Press, 1924), pp. 4-14; and Adolph Büchler, Studies in Sin and Atonement in the Rabbinic Literature of the First Century (Library of Biblical Studies; New York, KTAV Publishing House, 19672), pp. 36-118. Cf. Deut. Rabbah 2:31 where the title "Kingdom of Heaven/God" for Deut. 6:4 is discussed. "Yoke" ('öl) in the metaphorical sense of "dominion, sovereignty, rule" is, of course, well attested in the biblical literature: e.g., Deut. 2 8 : 4 8 ; Isa. 10:27; Jer. 2 : 2 0 ; Hos. 11:4; cf. Matt. n : 2 9 f . Cf. also the biblical and ancient Near Eastern evidence for the use of nîr in this sense collected by Paul D . Hanson, "The Song of Heshbon and David's NIR," HTR, 61:310-20 (1968). 9. Sifre Deut. (Wa 9 ethanan 6:4) 31. Cf. Deut. Rabbah, 2 : 3 5 ; and Gen. Rabbah, 9 8 : 3 . 10. Zech. 14:9, which may indeed be an early comment on Deut. 6:4, reads: "And Yahweh will become king over the whole earth in that day; Yahweh will be ' ehäd (sole, unique, alone) and his name 'ehäd/9 Hence the rabbis derived that the words yahweh *eWhênû in Deut. 6:4 express the primary, intimate relationship between Yahweh and Israel ("our God"), and that yahweh ' ehäd affirms the universal eschatological rule of God over the nations. It seems quite likely this interpretation is reflected by Paul in Romans 3:29f., though modified in the light of his own mission and eschatology. 278
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation In sum, the classical Jewish sources reveal two overlapping stages in the interpretation of the opening line of the Shema In the first, it articu- lated a radical monotheism, a universal divine kingship awaiting his- torical actualization. In the second, developed largely in response to Christian theology and persecution, it became a statement of the immuta- ble oneness of the single divine Being. The Great Commandment In the history of Jewish interpretation, Deuteronomy 6:4 was virtually hypostatized from its biblical context, the "meaning55 of the verse ap- propriately nuanced to meet the changing needs of Israel's religious identity. Much the same must be said of Deuteronomy 6:5 in early Christian exegesis. In a development that is a classic example of Christian midrash, the command to "love God55 was transformed from the funda- mental obligation of the Deuteronomic torah into the "new command- ment55 received by the church alone, enjoining God5s new chosen people to abide as one, bound together in the spiritual love manifested through the Christ. The pericope commonly labeled "the Great Commandment55 is found in all three Synoptic Gospels, although the Greek phrase so translated (entöle me gale) appears in only one of them (Matt. 22:36, cf. v. 38). Indeed the three accounts are at variance in a number of significant respects. While some inter-Synoptic development is clear, critics have long disagreed as to its exact typology and whether one primary tradi- tion or more must be recognized.11 Let us examine each of the passages, giving particular attention to the Marcan narrative. The account in Mark (12:28-34) is the most vivid and spontaneous of the three. A scribe, possibly associated with the Pharisees, asks Jesus, "What commandment (entöle) is foremost (prôtë) of all?55 (v. 28). Jesus5 response (vs. 29-31) links Deuteronomy 6 : 4 ! and the so-called "love commandment55 from Leviticus 19:18 : 11. Günther Bornkamm, for example, posits separate traditions behind the Marcan and Matthean accounts (largely, it seems, because he wishes for theological reasons to stress the import of the latter) : "Das Doppelgebot der Liebe," Neutestamentliche Studien für Rudolf Bultmann (Berlin, Alfred Töpelmann, 1954), pp. 85-93; see also Bornkamm's essay "End- Expectation and Church in Matthew" in Tradition and Interpretation in Matthew, trans. Percy Scott (The New Testament Library; Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1963), pp. I S - S ^ S P - 30-32. 279
    • 12 Foremost is 'Hear, Israel! Our God is 'Adonai (Kyrios), 'Adonai alone he is; and you shall love ' Adonai your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, 13 14 and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' Next (to it) is this, Ύοιι shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these. 5 A second exchange then follows. The scribe, affirming Jesus response, paraphrases the biblical quotations and, in an apparent allusion to I Samuel 15:22, observes that the demands they make are more funda­ mental than acts of the sacrificial cultus (v. 33 ). The pericope concludes with Jesus commending the scribe : "You are not far from the kingdom ofGod"(v.34). There is not the slightest trace of hostility in the scribe's manner or re­ marks. He comes forward to speak out of admiration for the exegetical sophistication this unknown teacher has shown in debating the Sadducees (12:18-27). So too the scribe's response to Jesus' words shows that he has recognized a wise and welcome answer (but not necessarily a novel one) to a serious question. For this reason critics have usually supposed— and no doubt correctly—that the question itself must reflect learned Jewish discussion about the Torah in Jesus' day.15 Certainly this eli­ minates the possibility, which the text cannot support in any event, that Jesus was asked and acquiesced in attempting to single out one or two 12. Greek kyrios heis estin follows the LXX of Deut. 6 : 4 and renders literally the Hebrew text witnessed by the Nash Papyrus: (see note 2) yahweh 'ehäd hûy (as against the M T and Samaritan Pentateuch which lack the final pronoun). Standard Hebrew and Greek syntax both support the Eng. trans, of the verse given above. For heis elsewhere in the sense "only, alone" see, for example, Mark 2:7, 10:18. 13. On the textual issues posed by the Synoptic renditions of Deut. 6:5 see Krister Stendahl, The School of St. Matthew and Its Use of the Old Testament (Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 19682), pp. 72-76; and Robert H. Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew's Gospel with Special Reference to the Messianic Hope (Supplements to Novum Τ est amentum, 18; Leiden, E. J. Brill, 1967), pp. 22-24. 14. The definite article is used with neither prôtë nor deutera and hence the usual trans- lations "the first" and "the second" adopted in Eng. texts are at least potentially misleading. It is not clear, in other words, that Jesus' answer is meant to suggest a ranking or rota of the individual commandments of Torah, and indeed this seems quite unlikely. Note the use of deuteros in the L X X to render Hebrew misneh in the sense of "alongside, next to, second-born" : e.g., I Sam. 8:2 ; 23:17 ; II Sam. 3 : 3 . 15. It has often been suggested that the scribe inquired as to which of the 613 commandments of Scripture (see above note 5) was "greatest," "weightiest" or the like. But efforts to catalog the stipulations of Torah and to tie the oral law to fixed scriptural loci were a post-Jamnia development in Judaism. The evidence usually cited pertaining to the tradition of 613 com- mandments dates to the Amoraite period and later, and hence sheds little direct light upon rabbinic debate in the first half of the first century A.D. 280
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation specific commandments as most enlightened, thereby implying that the others were of lesser value and authority. Instead, the scribe seems to have asked for either an epitome of the law or its fundamental beginning point, the sine qua non for access into the divine government which the law constitutes. Why the combination of these two scriptural passages? We have no other evidence from early Jewish sources attesting just this configuration of verses. Nevertheless there are sufficient data to suggest with reasonable certainty how the stipulations are comparable or, better, related as "fore- most of all." In the initial part of his reply to the scribe, Jesus was ob- viously citing the section of the biblical text known in the Jewish liturgy as the "Shema c ." As we have already seen, these verses, and especially Deuteronomy 6:4, were beginning to play an ever larger role in the Jew- ish self-understanding of Jesus5 time.16 Recall too what the text meant for the Jew who recited it with full intention: "receiving upon oneself the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven." It was the act par excellence of acknowledging God's sovereignty over the individual Israelite and Israel as a whole.17 The acceptance of Yahweh's rule was certainly foremost of all for faithful Jews, literally prior to every other demand, ritual law, and ethical norm articulated in the Torah, both oral and written. Yet once allegiance is sworn to the divine king, obedience to his decrees must fol- 16. The significance of Mark 12:29 equaling Deut. 6:4 has all too often been slighted in New Testament criticism. As is indicated beyond any doubt by the stress it receives in the scribe's paraphrase, the verse was a crucial part of Jesus' answer and not a mere introduction to Deut. 6:5 where the love of God is commanded. Surely if we seek to distinguish the two fundamental "commandments" here proclaimed, they are not "love of God" and "love of neighbor" but the confession that Tahweh alone L· to be honored as Israel's God and love of neighbor. (Hence also the difference between the Marcan and Matthean versions is not simply "stylistic." Equally gratuitous, however, is G. G. Montefiore's comment on Mark 12:29, sug- gesting that Jesus cited Deut. 6:4 as a "confession of pure, unadulterated monotheism" in order to deny rumors of his own quasi-divinity : The Synoptic Gospels Edited with an Intro- auction and a Commentary (London, The Macmillan Co., 1927), p. 286. 17. It affirms, in other words, the covenant initiated at Sinai-Horeb. In this connection we should note that in first century rabbinic discussion there is a parallelism between the two yokes articulated in the Shema* (accepted through its recitation) and the text of the Decalogue, which at one time preceded the Shema* in the liturgy. Thus Exod. 20:2/Deut. 5:6 may also be described as "the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven," which Israel received in Egypt by choosing to be delivered from pharaoh: Exod. 2o:3-i7/Deut. 5:7-21 is the "yoke of the command- ments," the fundamental burden of God's rule accepted by Israel at Sinai. For the rabbinic texts which make this interpretation explicit, see A. Büchler, Studies in Sin and Atonement . . ., pp. 36-40; and G. G. Montefiore & H. Loewe, A Rabbinic Anthology (Philadelphia, The Jewish Publication Society, "Medidian Books" edition, 1963), pp. 77-79, 117, 121. 281
    • low, which the Rabbis described as "receiving upon oneself the yoke of the commandments.55 Is not this latter "yoke55 the one which Jesus com- mends by citing Leviticus 19:18? It too is foremost, summarizing and leading into the whole of the Torah. Here we may take note of a com- ment attributed to a contemporary of Jesus, Rabbi Haninah who is called "the Chief of the Priests.55 The decree to love the neighbor as one- self enshrined in Leviticus 19:18, he said, is the "commandment55 (däbär) upon which "the whole world is suspended55 (hä'oläm kûllô täluy). It articulates, in other words, the essence of God5s universal government over mankind, made specifically binding upon Israel at Sinai.18 The true servants of Yahweh are those who, having confessed his preeminent king- ship over their own lives, accord their fellow subjects the same worth they themselves have received in abundance. In this pericope from the Gospel of Mark, therefore, we catch a glimpse of Jesus who is in full but creative continuity with the most profound Jew- ish tradition, thought, and piety of his day. In the Lukan and Matthean versions this is not the case, at least not to the same extent. The account in Luke (10:25-28) begins abruptly with neither setting nor rationale specified. A "lawyer55 stands up, apparently while Jesus is addressing a crowd, to "tempt55 or bait him. The lawyer's question differs from that of the scribe in Mark, though on a more fundamental level it connoted much the same thing: "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?5519 Jesus answers the question with a question, "What is written in the Law?55 to which the lawyer responds by citing in conflated form Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18; there is neither citation of nor allusion to the opening line of the Shemac20 "You have answered correctly;55 Jesus then says, "do this, and you will live.55 18. Abot de Rabbi Natan 6 : 2 7 : 9 - 1 1 . In the "A" text ( 16:33!:.) the saying is attributed to Simeon ben Eleazar. Cf. Büchler, op. cit., pp. 301. 19. Note in this regard the rabbinic formula (s) "to acquire (qänäh) I to enter (bô') the life of the world to come (hayyê häe oläm habbä' ) " associated with obedience to the Torah. See, e.g., 'Abot de Rabbi Natan A:2-25, 14:10; and Mishnah 'Abot (Pirqe 'Abot) 2:7. 20. Apart from Mark 12:29, the New Testament makes scant reference to Deut. 6:4. There appear to be only several oblique allusions to the verse in the Pauline corpus to affirm that there is but one God of all mankind (Rom. 3 : 29L; I Cor. 8:4, 6; Gal. 3 : 2 0 ) . Cf. Brevard S. Childs, Biblical Theology in Crisis (Philadelphia, Westminster Press, 1970), pp. 202-19. Much more explicit use is made elsewhere of Lev. 19:18 as the single commandment which "fulfills" or "summarizes" the Law (Rom. 13: 8fî. ; Gal. 3 : 2 0 ; James 2 : 8 ) . The verse affirms what one should do to be numbered among the righteous, but if the positive law of love is not obeyed then divine retribution exacted on the basis of the manifold negative commandments may be expected (Rom. 13:9; Gal. 5 : 1 5 ; James 2 : 9 ) . 282
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation The Marcan tradition has here been attenuated, its force and most of its profundity swept aside. The Torah is affirmed but in a rather back- handed manner as its significance is reduced to a debater's point. This becomes even clearer in the following verse when the lawyer retorts, "And who is my neighbor?" (v. 29). In fact, "the Great Commandment" is not an independent pericope at all in Luke; it serves only to introduce the lawyer's second question and Jesus' subsequent response, the parable of the "good Samaritan" (vs. 30-37). The Matthean version also presents us with a confrontation, but it is a more meaningful one. The pericope (22134-40) is placed in the context of a series of disputations between Jesus and his Jewish opponents (21:45—22:46) in which the latter attempt to discredit and indict the new "prophet" whom the people acclaim, by posing for his bemuse- ment difficult and controversial interpretive issues. (The result is that Jesus emerges as a preeminent "rabbi" as well as prophet.) Thus in 22:34-36 a lawyer, here identified specifically with the Pharisees, "tests" Jesus by asking him to formulate "the great (est) commandment in the law." Both the wording of the question and Jesus' answer are remarkably similar to the tradition in which Rabbi c Aqiba ' declared Leviticus 19:18 "the greatest principle in the Torah" (Ifläl gädol battoräh).21 Jesus in- deed seems to derive an exegetical and practical principle in Matthew's account by juxtaposing two "commandments" which are "like" (homoia) one another in demanding love. Deuteronomy 6:5 (again, without allu- sion to the preceding verse), is cited as "the great (est) and first (or 'foremost') commandment" and "a second (or 'another')" is the love of one's neighbor; upon these together "depend (Heb. tlh?) all of the Law and the Prophets" (vs. 37-40). The value of the Torah as a whole is neither denied nor reduced, but here and elsewhere in the Gospel of 2i.Sifra, Lev. 19:18 loc. cit.; and Genesis Rabbah 24:7. Morton Smith's rejection of the "parallel" is hasty and unwarranted: Tannaitic Parallels to the Gospels (JBL Monograph Series, 6; Philadelphia, Society of Biblical Literature, 1951), p. 138. The relevant comparison is, of course, between Mal gädol battoräh and entolê megalê en to nomo (Matt. 22:36 rather than 2 2 : 3 8 ) . Whether entöle accurately renders keläl is a moot point but that a "rule" is formulated in Matt. 22:37-39 "which includes by implication all the rest (of the Law)" is made explicit in 22:40. On the tradition of the so-called "negative golden rule" as an epitome of the Law in early Jewish texts, see especially the following: Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a; Tobit 4 : 1 5 ; Mishnah 'Abot (Pirqe 'Abot) 1:12; 'Abot de Rabbi Natan B : 2 6 : i - 8 . 283
    • Matthew its fulfillment is measured by the rule of "love."22 There is no convincing reason to deny the development of a single tradition in these three Synoptic accounts. The clear priority of Mark should be evident. Even apart from formal considerations, the Marcan narrative alone is fully illuminated by early Jewish sources. The tradi- tion as Mark presented it was either misunderstood, tendentiously re- shaped, or both, in the Lukan and Matthean versions. The Judaic Jesus of Mark is replaced in Luke by the Christ whose universal message pre- figures the Gentile mission of the church, and in Matthew by the Messi- anic Lord who radicalizes and fulfills the "old" covenant. But most im- portant for our purposes, in the latter two accounts we can trace the early typological development of the two-fold "love commandment" into a Christian norm which is supposed to stand above Jewish parochialism (whether the combination of Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18 was originally Judaic or not). 23 As it so often does, the Johannine literature offers an ambivalent wit- ness to the tradition with which we are concerned. The "Great Com- mandment" pericope as such is not represented in the Fourth Gospel. And yet the biblical structure of its earliest Synoptic form (as preserved in Mark) can be detected, fleshed out with a theological and ecclesiologi- cal interpretation going well beyond the development of the tradition attested in Matthew. Although in no small measure the Fourth Gospel polemicizes against the Jews, in content it is neither anti-Judaic nor non-Judaic. When one reads John in the light of first-century Jewish thought and its Old Testa- ment antecedents, it becomes apparent that for the writer or community which produced the Fourth Gospel, Christianity has inherited—perhaps more accurately, usurped—the traditional identity of Israel. From the midst of the old covenant community God has called forth a new people 22. Cf. Gerhard Barth, "Matthew's Understanding of the Law," in Tradition and Interpreta- tion in Matthew, trans. Percy Scott (Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1963), pp. 58-164, esp. 75-85 ; and the studies of Bornkamm cited in n. 11 above. 23. For the rabbinic traditions on love of God and neighbor, see esp: Israel Abrahams, Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels, First Series (London, Cambridge University Press, 1917), pp. 18-29; G. F. Moore, Judaism, II, 84-88. Explicit Jewish association of Deut. 6:5 and Lev. 19:18 is suggested (if not proven) by 3 passages in "The Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs" : Issachar 5:2 ; 7 : 6 ; Dan. 5:3. 284
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation to be his witness, in much the same way he called forth Abraham from Mesopotamia, promising his progeny blessing and dominion when Abra- ham "believed" (cf. John 8:31-59; 10:22-42). According to John, God has not rejected the Jews; they have rejected his rule throughout their history, condemning themselves finally by their failure to acknowledge the one whom he has sent to offer redemption and entrance into the eternal divine kingdom (12:37-50 ). To believe in Jesus is to affirm the authority of God and Scripture, and that Jesus was not well received means that most of those to whom he came "have not the love of God" within them (5:31-47, especially v. 42). 24 It is, in other words, Christ alone who now offers "the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven." Nor is "the yoke of the commandments" missing in Johannine formula- tion. To those who accept him and enter God's kingdom, Christ delivers a solemn decree, "love one another," no doubt derived from Leviticus 19:18. In the Fourth Gospel this pattern—acknowledging God in Christ and accepting the law of love—is revealed especially in two keynote sections of Jesus5 "Last Discourse" delivered to the disciples following the "new covenant" meal they share together ( 13:1-30). Thus in 13:31-35 Jesus first announces his imminent departure (passion and resurrection) through which he and God will be glorified as one. Then follows im- mediately the "new commandment" (entolê kainë) : " . . . love one another; just as I have loved you, so shall you love one another. If you have love for one another, then all will know that you are my disciples." The pattern is more elaborately developed in John 15:7-27, a homily on the parable of the vine (15:1-6). Christ is portrayed as the essential link between the divine Father and those who would serve him. When the Jews rejected Jesus, they rejected the God of the Shemac as well (vs. 22-25). Conversely, those who acknowledge Jesus experience the love of God revealed through him; as members of the new covenant community 24. While the phrase tën agapën tou theou is grammatically ambiguous, the context here strongly suggests that it refers to Israel's love for God (demanded in Deut. 6 : 5 ) , rather than God's love for Israel. The point of the pericope is that if the Jews were truly the "Israel" defined in the Shema'—having both acknowledged Yahweh's sovereignty and internalized his decrees in order to do them—they would have accepted the divine mission of Jesus. See also James 1:12; 2:5. 285
    • —no longer "slaves" of God but now "allies55 of Christ25—the disciples are charged to abide in the divine love, manifesting it toward one another. In both of these passages we observe that it is not universal love which is commanded but love among the disciples (i.e., the church), witnessing to their chosenness while distinguishing them from the rest of mankind.26 Finally, attention may be called to the prominence of this same pattern in the Johannine epistles (I John 2:1-17, 3:19-24, 4:7-5:5; II John 5-11 ). In I John 3:23 the shape of the two yokes is succinctly delineated : God has decreed that "we should believe in the name of his son Jesus Christ, and love one another " God, Christ, and believing community are joined in a mystical kingdom whose bond is mutual and exclusive love. To be sure, there is recognition in the epistles that the "love com- mandment" is "old," which is to say Mosaic (I John 2:7; II John 5). 27 But in Christ it has become both "new" and "true" in an eschatological sense, setting Christians as "children of God" apart from other people and freeing them from bondage to the flesh, the devil, and the world (IJohn2:8-i7,5:2-5). Evident in the New Testament data we have surveyed is a widening gulf between the church and the synagogue, between Christianity and its parent faith. In fashioning its own secure identity, initially within and then over against first century Judaism, the church appropriated and re- interpreted Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18. Two tendencies may be discerned. In Matthew the commands to love God and neighbor 25. John 15:7-17 is permeated with covenantal language and ideology, attesting esp. close acquaintance with the Deuteronomic concepts, literature and theology of the OT. Of particular interest is the use of philoi in vs. 13-15 in the sense of "(covenantal) allies," RSV, "friends"). See in this connection Deut. 5:10 (cf. 7 : 9 ) , and the discussion of Deut. 6:5 below. 26. On the narrowness of the love command in the Fourth Gospel, see Ernst Käsemann, The Testament of Jesus: A Study of the Gospel of John in the Light of Chapter 17, trans. Gerhard Krodel (Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1968), pp. 59-61. 27. Like the Fourth Gospel, the Johannine epistles exhibit a close acquaintance with O T and rabbinic traditions; they reveal the early church attempting to claim the identity of the old Israel while interpreting that identity in the light of a new revelation. Similarly, the primary threat to which the epistles speak is the danger that the new will not survive as distinct from and the fulfillment of the old. Hence also the "deceivers," the "false prophets," the "antichrist" (I John 4:1-6; II John 7-11) abroad in the land are not those spreading a docetic heresy or the like, but Jews or, most likely, Judaeo-Christians who fail to acknowledge the full divinity of "both the Father and the Son" (II John 9 ) . From the Johannine perspective it is the doctrine of the exalted Christ who "came in the flesh" which is threatened by the "deceivers" and not the humanity of Jesus. This is made quite explicit in I John 2:22f. where acknowledging Jesus as the Christ and Son of God becomes the test distinguishing the church from sectarian Judaism. Cf. C. W. Dugmore, The Influence of the Synagogue upon the Divine Office (West- minster, The Faith Press Ltd., 19642), pp. 1-6. 286
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation are exegetically compounded into an ethical principle in which the Mosaic Torah is positively summarized and fulfilled.28 While this is often represented as a broadening of the love demand as Judaism interpreted it, in the Johannine literature especially, the "way" into the divine king- dom has become very narrow indeed. Here the "Yahweh alone" con- fessed in the Shemac is replaced by the God who is one with the exalted Christ. And the love of God and neighbor is transformed into an inner- directed and self-justifying sign of Christian election. No doubt in the Johannine formulation we must recognize the emergence of the theology which provoked Judaism a century or so later to reinterpret Deuteronomy 6:4 as a declaration of the immutable "unity" of God. II. T H E TEXT AS DEUTERONOMIO TORAH The dynamic of contextual reinterpretation illustrated by early Christ- ian and Jewish use of Deuteronomy 6:4f. was hardly a post-canonical innovation in the history of the biblical literature. Recasting older tra- dition in order to hear it speak to changing communal needs and condi- tions was the process which shaped the Old Testament canon itself and which may be detected already in the formation of its earliest strata. Deuteronomy provides a classic example of this process in operation. With its magnificent synthesis of narrative prose, legal instruction, and homiletical exposition the book embodies a profound second-level reflec- tion upon central themes and texts crystallized in the earlier Epic (JE) traditions of the Tetrateuch. In its present form, of course, Deuteronomy was promulgated during the half-century that began with the propitious accession of Josiah to the Judaean throne in 640 B.C. Reform, national renewal, the tragedy of the young king's death, subjugation to foreign powers, and internal strife followed in rapid succession; the period ended with the demise of the Davidic state, its populace scattered among the nations. And the many facets of Deuteronomy reflect these tumultuous years, the hopeful and 28. The development can be traced through the Patristic period. See particularly Justin, Dialogue with Trypho, chap. 93, where the "double love commandment" is used as the text for an incredible polemic against the Jews. Cf. (without the polemical overtones) II Clement 13:14; Didache 1:2; Barnabas 19:5. 287
    • the bleak alike.29 Yet we miss the point if we suppose the book to be primarily a reactionary product of the age. Despite its complexity, Deu- teronomy is not a loose, rambling panegyric whose authors used the artifice of Mosaic teaching to prop up the crumbling religious and politi- cal institutions they served. Neither is it an elaborate corpus of burden- some laws and dogma meant to coerce social conformity as a last ditch defense against national dissolution. While Deuteronomy speaks to a people in transition, a nation threatened by disaster, its message seeks to articulate from the tradition what is enduring in Israel's experience, what is vital to its continuing existence—Israel's covenantal identity. Appropriate to this endeavor, the book is cast in the form of Moses5 last will and testament, addressed both to the tribes assembled on the plains of Moab, poised for the conquest of Canaan, and to their heirs in sub- sequent generations who must decide anew whether to participate in the elusive reality of Yahweh's historical kingdom.30 The spirit which pervades Deuteronomy is nowhere more eloquently captured than in 6 :/.t Although frequently severed from one another in the history of interpretation, the two verses comprise a syntactical and semantic whole, a single coordinate sentence bound together by the im- perative construction "hear . . . and love. . . ."31 Moreover the verses are a legitimate text for exegesis, distinguishable within their larger literary setting. Like the similar constructions introduced by the formula "Hear, O Israel !" in 5:1 and 9:1-3, Deuteronomy 6:4f. sounds the keynote for a 29. The origins and history of the Deuteronomic traditions remain matters of substantial critical disagreement. A very strong case can be made for the pre-Josianic origins of much of the book (whether or not this material is to be associated with the document discovered in the Jerusalem Temple during Josiah's reign). However, the decisive stages of the book's final redaction certainly correspond with the major "editions" of the Deuteronomic History, on which see esp: Frank M. Cross, "The Structure of the Deuteronomic History" in J. M. Rosenthal, ed., Perspectives in Jewish Learning (Chicago, The College of Jewish Studies Press, 1967), III, 9-24. 30. In recent years the remarkable affinities between Deut. and the ancient Near Eastern treaty literature have rightly been stressed. But while Deut. is pervaded from beginning to end with treaty or covenantal language, forms, and ideology, in its present overall form, it cannot be considered the text of a treaty or the like. The "suzerainty treaty" scenario is, at best, residual in the present structure of the book whose structure is certainly that of a "testament." Deuteronomy preserves, in other words, a second-level reflection on the covenantal traditions associated with the figure of Moses. Note that the "covenant in the land of Moab" (Deut. 29:1—30:20 [28:69—30:20 Heb.]) is part of the Mosaic legacy, in the same way that the legacy of Joshua (Josh. 23L) includes the making of a pact at Shechem. 31. I.e., the imperative continued by waw plus the perfect. On this construction (esp. common in Deut.) see Thomas O. Lamdin, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew (New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, i 9 7 i ) , p . 119 (para. 107:b). 288
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation new subsection in the structure of Moses' farewell discourse.32 The text, then, constitutes a literary rubric which serves two ends. It introduces the theme of radical obedience to the rule of Yahweh elaborated in 6:6—8:20, and it links this parenetic unit with the larger Mosaic sermon on the fundamental import of the divine law which includes 4:44— 11:28. Let us turn now to an exposition of the specific phrases through which the Deuteronomists have fashioned this superlative statement of the Mosaic legacy. Hear, O Israel! Old Testament occurrences of "Hear, O Israel!55 (semaf yisrä'el) are limited to the Book of Deuteronomy where the specific phrase appears five times.33 As noted above, in three cases (5:1 ; 6:4; 9:1) it is used as a structural signal within a major discourse; in the two additional oc- currences it functions as a formal salutation (20:3; 27:9). On the strength of these latter attestations, Gerhard von Rad suggested that "Hear, O Israel !" was ". . . the traditional summons with which in the old days the assembly for worship of the tribes, the qähäl, was opened."34 This is not at all unlikely and yet it is a generalization which sheds little light on the meaning and possible origin of 6:4. Support outside of Deuteronomy for the formal antiquity of the specific expression is lack- ing, and "the assembly for worship of the tribes" is an apt description not only of the five passages where the phrase occurs but for the setting presupposed by Deuteronomy as a whole. Rather than objecting to the description of the phrase as "merely a literary coinage" (Von Rad), we should ask what informs its prominent literary use by the Deuteronomists. While the specific expression is not found elsewhere in the Old Testa- ment, comparable formulas are abundantly attested. Imperative forms of the verb säma often associated with vocatives specifying the parties addressed, are employed in numerous contexts to introduce commands, 32. Cf. William L. Moran, "Deuteronomy," in Reginald C. Fuller, ed., A New Catholic Commentary on Holy Scripture (Camden, Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1969), p. 265, and Norbert Lohfink, Das Hauptgebot: Eine Untersuchung literarischer Einleitungsfragen zu Dtn 5-11 (Analecta Biblica, 20; Romae, E Pontificio Instituto Biblico, 1963), pp. 63-68, 163L 33. There are also direct echoes of the formula in Deut. 4:1 and 6:3. 34. Deuteronomy: A Commentary, trans. Dorothea Barton (The Old Testament Library; Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1966), p. 63. 289
    • requests, proclamations, accusations, and simply good advice. In pro­ phetic speech the imperative "Hear!" is especially frequent as, for exam­ ple, when it signals a direct pronouncement from the heavenly court of Yahweh (e.g., I Kings 22:19; Jer. 34:4; Amos 7:16). "Hear!" is also a common rhetorical device in wisdom discourses; in particular, it may mark the beginning of the kind of practical instruction a sage offers his 35 students (e.g., Prov. 1:8; 4 : 1 ; 8:32). Or, the imperative may com­ mence a special plea, as when one directs a heartfelt petition to Yahweh (e.g., Deut. 33:7; II Kings 19:16; Ps. 28:2 ). In each of these cases "Hear!" communicates a sense of urgency, spe­ cial import, or both. The speaker is not only soliciting attention, he is anticipating a positive response. For example, when divine judgment is "heard," repentance is expected and that this does not always happen is part of the anomalous burden of prophecy (cf. II Kings 22:11,18-22 ; Isa. 6:9-10; Ezek. 3:27). Similarly, the efficacy of prayer and divine entreaty is predicated on the expectation that when God "hears" a just complaint or pious supplication he will act favorably: "Hear, O Yahweh, and show grace toward me !" (Ps. 30:10 [11 Heb.] ) ; "And hear (O God) in heaven, your place of enthronement, and when you hear, forgive!" (I Kings 8:30.) There is, in other words, a strong note of intentionality conveyed by the verb sarna' whose force in Hebrew must often be rendered in English by "obey," "heed," rather than simply "hear." If one really hears, he will respond in accord with what he has learned. Hearing in this purposeful, almost compulsive sense is crucial to the whole enterprise which the Book of Deuteronomy represents.36 First, it is the mode through which nascent Israel received the Decalogue, the 35. Primarily on the strength of this evidence it has been suggested (Dennis McCarthy, Treaty and Covenant [Analecta Biblica, a i ; Rome, Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1963] pp. 114, ΙΣ 9> 135) t n a t Deut. 6:4fr. reflects a "wisdom" genre. The "parallel" is scarcely remarkable however, and the speeches in Deut. introduced by the imperative "Hear" can no more usefully be subsumed under the rubric "wisdom" than can the numerous prophetic oracles which begin similarly. A general caution should be urged regarding recent attempts to posit strong "wisdom" influence in Deuteronomy on the basis of supposed terminological and ideological parallels. Without the controls of firm literary typology and genre analysis such arguments from common language are seldom convincing. 36. Cf. Josef Schreiner, "Hören auf Gott und sein Wort in der Sicht des Deuteronomiums" in Erich Kleineidem & Heinz Schürmann, eds., Miscellanea Erfordiana (Erfurter Theologische Studien, 12; Leipzig, St. Benno-Verlag, GMBH, 1962), pp. 27-47. As Norbert Lohfink (Das Haubtgebot, pp. 148-53) has argued, the import of sarna' is both stylistic and conceptual in Deut. 5—6. Note that lama* occurs seven times in the brief section 5:23-28 where Moses is commissioned as mediator for the people. 290
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation basic stipulations of the divine government, directly from Yahweh at Sinai-Horeb (5:4-22). Second, the remainder of God's covenantal de- crees, elaborating and protecting the fundamental royal policy, are "heard" by Moses on behalf of the people and mediated to them through his teaching office (5:27 ; cf. 5:23—613). Thus when hearing the Mosaic instruction—whether standing on the plains of Moab or in the context of later covenant celebrations—each member of the Israelite community internalizes the demands of God in order "to do them55 and "live55 in the land of inheritance (3119-13; 4:1). So emphasized by the Deuteronomists, hearing is an act of initiation and assent. It defines Israel as a truly transcendent community, forming a link between the covenant nation then and now, between those who initially heard the Mosaic legacy, and those who later receive it. "Hear, O Israel!55 The opening words of Deuteronomy 6:4 are a summons to those who would be Israel in any age. Our God is Yahweh, Tahweh alone! Deuteronomy 6:4 opens on a note of proclamation, of direct address to the assembled nation. This carries over into verse 5 where Israel is commanded to "love Yahweh your God. . . .55 But the words in verse 4 thus bracketed by second person imperatives are not themselves phrased in the imperative mood. They are neither instruction nor commandment, but a declaration, a confession. The stress is on the personal and hence the particular : "Our God,55 the God of Israel, Yahweh. What is confessed about "our God?55 The Hebrew text is clear enough.37 It consists of four substantive elements, two being the divine name Yahweh, juxtaposed without a verb: yahweh 'Hohênû yahweh 'ehäd. And yet, after the divine sentence-name in Exodus 3:14 and possibly the opening words of Genesis 1, no statement in the Hebrew Bible has provoked more discussion with less agreement than this one. A glance at a variety of English translations, all claiming some currency if not equal support, will serve to illustrate the grammatical and theological issues at stake : 37. The reading of the Nash Papyrus (with final hu')s also reflected in the LXX, is prosaic and almost certainly secondary. See above notes 2 and 12. 291
    • The Lord is our God, the Lord alone38 The Lord is our God, one Lord39 The Lord our God is one Lord40 The Lord our God, the Lord is one41 The Lord is our God, the Lord is one42 Our one God is Yahweh, Yahweh43 On the grammatical level the problem is two-fold: first, whether the four words should be read as one or two nominal clauses and, in either case, which elements function as subject and which as predicate ; second, the precise semantic force and syntactical function of the final element 'ehäd. On the theological level the question is whether we have a decla- ration of Yahweh's "oneness," the indivisibility of his person into semi- autonomous attributes, local manifestations and the like, or a declaration that Israel is to serve Yahweh exclusively, however many other "gods55 there may be vying for the nation's attention. An acceptable reading of the statement must satisfy both the criterion of appropriate Hebrew grammar and that of appropriate meaning in the context of Deuter- onomic theology. It must suffice here to treat the grammatical issues briefly. In his recent and thorough study on the syntax of nominal clauses in the Pentateuch, Francis Andersen has raised fundamental objections applicable to the first five translations in the list above. Andersen, whose own rendering of 6:4 is the last cited, argues for a single nominal clause in which yahweh ... yahweh is the discontinuous predicate and * Hdhenu . . . ' ehäd is the discontinuous subject.44 Admittedly, this is an unusual and some- what awkward construction in Hebrew. Nevertheless in taking 'elôhênû 38. So the following, loc. cit.: The Torah: The Five Books of Moses (Philadelphia, The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1967 2 ); The New American Bible (New York, P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1970) ; The Revised Standard Version, footnote reading. 39. The New English Bible (London, Oxford University Press, 1970), loc. cit. 40. So the following, loc. cit.: The King James? Version and The Revised Standard Version; cf. The Jerusalem Bible (Garden City, New York; Doubleday & Company, Inc., 19683). Gf. also Samuel Rolles Driver, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Deuteronomy (ICC Edinburgh, T.&T. Clark, 1895), pp. 89f., n. 30. 41. RSV footnote reading, loc. cit. 42. RSV footnote reading, loc. cit. Cf. J. Schreiner, "Hören auf Gott . . . , " p. 36. 43. Francis I. Andersen, The Hebrew Verbless Clause in the Pentateuch (Journal of Biblical Literature Monograph Series, 14; Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1970), p. 47. 44. Andersen, The Hebrew Verbless Clause, p. 47. Cf. Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, trans. D.M.G. Stalker (New York, Harper & Row, Publishers, 1962), I, 227 n. 87. 292
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation as subject, Andersen has emphasized what is surely correct : the declara- tion is an answer, not to the implied question "Who is Yahweh?" but to the question "Who is our god?" Beyond this the ambiguities of syntax may be real. The awkwardness of Andersen's discontinuous subject may be avoided, however, if with regard to ' ehäd we follow normal Hebrew word-order, reading it as an adjective modifying the second occurrence of "Yahweh." An appositional predicate is thereby formed : "Our God is Yahweh . . . Yahweh alone!" The translation "alone" for 'ehäd should provoke neither surprise nor objection.45 Long before the advent of his- torical-critical study it was recognized to have this sense in Deuteronomy 6:4. Moreover, we now have clear evidence for the use of the adjective 'ehäd and cognate forms with the meaning "only, alone" in early North- west Semitic and especially Akkadian.46 What is the appropriate meaning of yahweh 'Hôhênû yahweh 'ehäd in the context of the historical, political, and religious concerns to which the traditions in the Book of Deuteronomy were addressed? In the first place, Deuteronomy lacks the dramatic eschatological dimension attested in Zechariah 14:9 and the Tannaitic comments on Deuteronomy 6:4 noted earlier. The Deuteronomic traditionists, to be sure, affirmed that Yahweh was God par excellence, the sole creator and sustainer of the cosmos (4:32,35,39; 10:14; 32:8,39). But an eschatological kingdom incorporating the nations was quite beyond the interest if not the potential 45. Andersen dismisses the reading "Yahweh alone" for yahweh ' ehad with the remark that it ". . . involves a strange use of 'ehäd with the meaning of febaddô" (p. 4 7 ) . In fact, though, it is not at all clear that lebaddo would be a more appropriate way to convey the meaning of "alone" here. First, the form febaddo (preposition + substantive + suffix) is properly used as an adverbial accusative of specification or mode in biblical Hebrew; with few exceptions it is employed in verbal sentences. Secondly, lebaddô and the related compound preposition lebad connote "aloneness" with the specific nuance of "apart, separate, distinct (from)." Thus in the few passages where febaddö is used with reference to Yahweh, it has an objectifying force, setting Yahweh apart from all other "gods." Yahweh is the God; he is in a category by him- self (cf. II Kings 19:15, 19; Isa. 37:16, 20; Pss. 83:18 [19 Heb.]; 8 6 : 1 0 ; Neh. 9 : 6 ) . In Deut. 6:4, on the other hand, we have a subjective classification: Yahweh alone is "our God." Gf. A.B. Ehrlich, Randglossen zur Hebräischen Bibel: Textkritisches, Sprachliches und Sach- liches, Vol. 2, (Leipzig, J. G. Hinrichs'sche Buchhandlung, 1909), p. 270. 46. Note particularly the following Ugaritic example (in a speech delivered, apparently, by the god M o t ) : 'ah(h)adayya (sic) du yamluku 'ale 'iVima, "I alone am he who will rule over the gods" (CTÀ 4 : V I I : 4 9 f . ; UT 51 : V I I : 4 9 f . ) . See also GTA 14:11:96 and I V : 184 (UT Krt 96, 184) where 'hd and yhd ("alone, only, solitary one") appear as variants. For Ganaanite yahudunni * y ah (u) danni with the meaning "by myself, I alone" see the following: Moshe Held "The Root ZBL/SBL in Akkadian, Ugaritic and Biblical Hebrew," JAOS, 88:94 n. 81 ( 1 9 6 8 ) ; and EA 365:24. For examples of Akkadian edenu and edu with meanings "solitary, alone" see CAD, IV ( E ) , 27, 37. 293
    • purview of the Deuteronomic preaching. Rather the Deuteronomists were concerned with the historical continuity of God's rule over Israel, with Israel's national identity and well-being as defined in terms of the particular covenant initiated at Sinai-Horeb. For the same reason very little is said in the book about the present relationship between Yahweh and the nations. It is noted in Deuteronomy that the plethora of lesser cosmic forces designated "gods" by Israel's neighbors are at best proxy rulers whose existence and authority were decreed by Yahweh himself (4:19; 32:8; cf. 29:26 [25 Heb.] ). Yet the Deuteronomists' theological interest in such deities goes no further than the point of enjoining Israel from having anything whatsoever to do with them. And this is the crux. It is underscored emphatically and often in the book. From Israel's point of view (as the Deuteronomists define it), the contrast between Yahweh and the "gods" is not relative in either a qualitative or quantitative sense; it is, quite simply, absolute. Yahweh is a zealous God who demands exclusive allegiance from those he has created to be his people (4:23-24 ; 5:7-9 ). If Israel rebels against its divine suzerain by dividing its loyalties, by following after other gods, Yahweh's judgment will be swift and sure (6:i4f.; 27:25-28 [24-27 Heb.] ; 30:17f.; 31:16-18; 32 : i6f,2i ). So too the threat which infidelity poses to Israel's existence becomes the chief rationale for a conquest of Canaan that is to be decisive and thorough. The destruction of the land's pre-Israelite inhabitants must be complete lest they remain to ensnare the covenant people in alliances and marriages which lead to idolatrous worship (7:1-5; 20:16-18; 29:16-19 [15-18 Heb.]). When the land is secure, any sign of apostasy or idolatry which appears in Israel's midst must be weeded out with the same single-minded zeal. Idolators are to be purged as a warning to others but, more important, to stop the disease before the entire national body is contaminated, thereby bringing down God's judgment upon the whole people (13:1-18 [2-19 Heb.]; 17:2-7; 18:9-14). In short, Israel must be as vigorous in protecting itself from potential threat to the covenant as Yahweh will be in guarding his ex- clusive claim upon Israel's loyalty. Those who find in Deuteronomy 6 an assertion that "Yahweh is one" see it addressed to another issue, largely internal to Israelite Yahwism. As Von Rad has stated the matter, the verse preserves " . . . a confession 294
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation of the oneness of Yahweh in face of the multiplicity of divergent tradi- tions and sanctuaries of Yahweh."47 God's "unity" is thus set over against not only the manifold hypostases in which the pagan gods were recognized by their worshipers but also the analogous partisan, provincial cults of Yahweh scattered across the Palestinian countryside. Rather than the Yahweh of Jerusalem, the Yahweh of Shechem, the Yahweh of Bethel, and the like it is supposed that the Deuteronomists wished to reinstate worship of the "one Yahweh" who was God of all Israel. Hence also, it is claimed, Deuteronomy 6:4 must be understood as a "doctrine" of God's unity connected with the Deuteronomic program of cult-unifica- tion.48 "One Yahweh, one place of worship, one people" : this has become in the critical discussion virtually a liturgical summary of Deuteronomy's message. But it is quite misleading to the extent that it implies that the Deuteronomists saw their task as one of "unifying" Yahweh and his cult. We must be careful not to distort the way the issues are focused by the Deuteronomic writers themselves. And, there is not the slightest hint in Deuteronomy—or elsewhere in the Old Testament for that matter—that fragmentation of Yahweh into numerous minor deities or semi-hypostases was recognized as a problem. Nor are the Deuteronomists interested in cult "centralization" if we understand by that term an attempt to relocate in one place the disparate but legitimate cultic institutions of pre-Deuter- onomic Yahwism. Instead, the Deuteronomists viewed the worship of Yahweh at the high places and the local sanctuaries, however venerable their traditions, as part and parcel of the gross infidelity infecting Israel's national body. The Book of Deuteronomy makes no effort to draw a fine distinction between idolatrous Yahwism, syncretistic Yahwism, Baalism, polytheism, or paganism in general. By definition, Israelite worship 47. Deuteronomy: A Commentary, p. 63. Von Rad here gives this reading as one alternative, a more flexible position than is stated in his Old Testament Theology, I, 227. Cf. also the ap- parently contradictory assessments of Walther Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament, trans. John Baker (The Old Testament Library; Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1961, 1967), I, 94; II, i88f. 48. Gf. Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, I, 227 where cult-centralization is described as ". . . the direct consequence of the important theological proposition that Jahweh is one . . . ." Gf. also S.R. Driver, Deuteronomy (ICG), pp. xxviii-xxix; and Moshe Weinfeld, "Cult Centralization in Israel in the Light of a Neo-Babylonian Analogy," JNES, 23:2031. and n. 11 (1964). Such an origin for the Deuteronomic legislation concerning "the place which Yahweh shall choose" is, however, altogether implausible, regardless of the meaning of Deut. 6:4. 295
    • which adopts the places and customs of the Canaanites is not Yahwistic but pagan and therefore a threat to the nation's existence (i2:i-3i). 4 9 This Deuteronomic perspective may be elitist, but it is scarcely a novel way of viewing the crisis which Israel faced in the last centuries before the Exile. The prophet Hosea's message is pervaded by the same un- compromising attitude toward "Yahwistic" worship tainted by idolatry (cf. especially Hos. 8:1-14; 10:1-8; 13:1-3). Prophesying a century and a half after Hosea, in the final days of the Judaean kingdom, Jeremiah describes the situation as one in which Yahweh's people have thrown off the yoke of his rule, prefering to whore after the gods of Canaan : "for as many as your cities are your gods, O Judah!" (Jer. 2:28). This was no doubt unrealistic hyperbole to those so indicted who still claimed to be nominal Yahwists. Yet for Jeremiah the paganizing forms of their wor- ship condemn them; there is no middle ground between exclusive devo- tion to Yahweh and pursuit of the "gods55 who cannot save (Jer. 2:2-27 ). The prophets Hosea and Jeremiah, and the Deuteronomists, know an apostate Israel, a people whose single focus on Yahweh has been distorted by the enticements of foreign cults and idolatrous practices. The solution does not lie in finding the right theological synthesis, in articulating a doctrine of the one Yahweh who encompasses or transcends the many "gods55 venerated in the local shrines. If time remains for them, the peo- ple must reaffirm their undivided allegiance to Yahweh's rule as defined in the covenant. To do so is to choose life, hope, blessing, and identity (30 : 11-20). For in the final analysis Israel's alternative to reliance upon Yahweh alone is not Yahweh and the gods, or the gods alone, but death, destruction, and loss of land (e.g., 11:8-21 ; 28:58-63 ). It is this practical, existential decision with which Deuteronomy is passionately concerned. From this vantage point it is possible to look beyond the present literary setting of the words yahweh 'Hohênû yahweh 'ehäd to their ultimate origin. It may be that we have here a positive restatement of the first 49. See especially 12:2-5, 8-11, ißf., 29-31. The explicit argument here is that if Israel had carried out the conquest as charged, then only one place for sacrificial worship "chosen" by Yahweh himself would have existed after the inheritance was secured. In other words, the argument undercuts precisely the claims of those sanctuaries (especially Bethel and Shechem) whose origins in popular tradition were traced to the Patriarchal period. By contrast of course, Yahweh's "election" of Jerusalem and the construction of its Temple occur when Israel's full "rest and inheritance" are achieved (cf. II Sam. 6 : 1 — 7 : 2 9 ; I Kings 5:3-5 [17-19 Heb.]; 8 : i 5 - 2 i ; P s s . 78: 67-72; 132). 296
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation commandments of the Decalogue as has so often been supposed (5:7. ) .50 If so, it is an example of Deuteronomic preaching at its finest. And yet the words have an integrity suggesting more than a piece of inspired exegesis. The formulation has a liturgical aura about it, the feel of hav- ing been shaped through long usage in the cult.51 The words themselves and the act of acknowledgment they express bring to mind the climax of the covenant ceremony narrated in Joshua 24 where the assembly of tribes is offered the familiar and fateful choice between allegiance to "Yahweh, God of Israel55 and worship of the gods of other nations (vs. I4f.). The people's response, prolonged and elaborated as it is in this passage (vs. 16-24), includes several oaths which strongly resonate with Deuteronomy 6:4 (vs. 18,21,24). When we read Deuteronomy 6:4 in this context its function is per- fectly clear. The verse is a solemn reminder of a commitment once made but forgotten, a yoke once received but broken. It is at the same time an urgent summons to affirm anew the covenantal oath of undivided alle- giance to Yahweh : "Our God is Yahweh, Yahweh alone !" And love Yahweh your God In the context of the covenant, election and responsibility are mutual categories. And thus the assurance of personal, communal, and national worth which comes with incorporation as "the people of God55—the acknowledgment of Yahweh5s suzerainty—demands a reciprocal commit- ment by those so valued to the obligations which God's rule imposes. The rabbis, as we have seen, used the metaphor of the "yoke55 to ex- press both of these necessary dimensions as confessed in the Shemac. The recitation of Deuteronomy 6 ^(-g), "the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven,55 50. So, for example, both Calvin and Luther: John Calvin, Commentaries on the Four Last Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony, tr. and ed. Charles W. Bingham (Calvin's Commentaries; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., n.d.), I, 420; Martin Luther, Lectures on Deuteronomy, tr. Richard E. Caemmerer (Luther's Works, 9; St. Louis, Concordia Publishing House, i 9 6 0 ) , pp. 67. Cf. also G. Ernest Wright, "The Book of Deuteronomy: Introduction and Exegesis" in George A. Buttrick, ed., The Interpreter's Bible (Nashville, Abingdon Press, 1953), II, 372. 5i.Lohfink, (Das Hauptgebot, pp. i63f.) suggests that while Deut. 6:4a ("Hear, O Israel") indicates Deuteronomic redaction, 6:46-5 preserves an ancient ". . . short-formulation of the chief commandment (of the covenant), long isolated in the cult." Syntactically, however, such a division is unlikely since 6:5 continues the imperative force of "Hear!" Moreover, although the command to "love Yahweh" may well be an old covenantal demand, its expression in Deut. 6:5 is certainly Deuteronomic and secondary. Thus it seems more plausible that 6:46 alone is the ancient covenantal formula here set within the Deuteronomic framework of 6:40 and 6:5. 297
    • is followed by the biblical verses which represent "the yoke of the commandments.55 The two dimensions of covenantal allegiance, how- ever, are already encapsulated in 6:4. The remainder of the pericope in Deuteronomy and the rest of the Shemac are, quite literally, commentary and application. With verse 5 we revert to the imperative mood established by the open- ing summons of verse 4. As Joshua 24 dramatically illustrates, one must choose to accept the rule of Yahweh; this is an act of will which cannot be coerced. But once allegiance is sworn (Josh. 24:24) or covenantal identity reaffirmed (Deut. 6:4) then instruction, statute, and decree are appropriate (cf. Josh. 24:25-27). Even so, the formulation of this in Deuteronomy 6:5 is extraordinary. The stipulations of the covenant, the irreducible demands which God makes upon his subjects are summarized in the single exhortation "love Yahweh your God . . . !55 Love of God is not presented as a worthy emotion which the faithful should strive to attain. Much less is it set forth as a lofty spiritual ideal or mystical exer- cise in piety, either exceeding or replacing mere obedience to the "law.55 The love of God is itself a duty; it is commanded, expected of all those who are Israel. A great deal of attention has rightly been given to exploring the nature of this "love55 and the possible sources of the idea. In the biblical litera- ture antedating Deuteronomy it is minimally attested with comparable significance. The prophet Hosea, who not infrequently shares concerns and terminology with the Deuteronomists, refers a number of times to God's love for Israel.52 The nuance of this love is not the same in each case, but it stands in obvious contrast to harlot Israel's passion for the "gods.5553 On the basis of this evidence it has usually been supposed that the Deuteronomists borrowed a term belonging properly to the sphere of sexual and familial relations—the bond between husband and wife, the 52. Gf. Hos. 3 : 1 ; 9:15; 11:1,4; x 4 : 4 (5 Heb.). For discussion, see especially William Moran, "The Ancient Near Eastern Background of the Love of God in Deuteronomy," GBQ, 25:77f. (1963), and Lohfink, "Hate and Love in Osee 9, 15," GBQ, 25:417 (1963). It seems likely that Hosea was dependent upon the covenantal love demand reflected most clearly in Deuteronomy, which he secondarily interpreted especially in light of his marriage-harlotry- divorce metaphor. There is simply no evidence to support the reverse claim that Hosea was secondarily developing within a covenantal context an ancient "bride-rescue story" which was ". . . the basic thematic framework of the Exodus narrative even at its earliest level": Robert B. Goote, "Hosea XII," VT, 21:401 ( 1 9 7 O . 53.See Hos. 9:10, and cf. Hos. 2:5,7,10,12,13 (7,9,12,14,15 H e b . ) ; 3 : 1 ; 4 : 1 8 ; 8 : 9 ; 9 : 1 . 1298
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation compassion of parent for child, or, more broadly, the fidelity uniting kinsmen—and refined it to epitomize the God-centered love incumbent upon Israel as a whole.54 More illuminating, though, are two passages where the plural participle of 'äheb designates those loyal to Yahweh. The invocation which con- cludes the Song of Deborah contrasts God's "friends" (literally "those who love him/you") with his "enemies55 (Judg. 5:31). Similarly, in the parénesis to the second commandment of the Decalogue the judgment of God upon those who "hate55 him is contrasted with the "covenant grace55 (hesed) he bestows upon those who love him and keep his command- ments (Exod. 20:5; Deut. 5:9; cf. Deut. 7:9). As William Moran has convincingly argued, these texts suggest what is even more explicit in Deuteronomy and further substantiated in the vocabulary of ancient Near Eastern political relations: the love Israel must manifest toward God is, specifically, a covenantal love, the steadfastness which a vassal is obliged to maintain toward his suzerain or faithful subjects must show their king.55 When 'äheb is viewed within its covenantal setting, several features of the Deuteronomic theology are highlighted. The love of God which Deuteronomy demands of Israel is, first of all, response in kind. It is the appropriate counterpart to the faithfulness Yahweh has demonstrated in his previous dealings with the Israelite community. Thus Yahweh "loved55 the patriarchal progenitors of Israel and because of this "chose55 (bhr) their descendants as his prized people in bringing them forth from Egypt (4:37; 10:15). Or stated conversely, the oath which Yahweh had sworn to the fathers issued in his "love55 for their heirs (j:jf.) ; cf. 54. See, for example, G. Ernest Wright, "The Terminology of Old Testament Religion and its Significance," JNES, 1:406-09 (1942),* and James L. Mays, Hosea: A Commentary (The Old Testament Library; Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, 1969), pp. 151-54. 55. E.g., in about the same era Deuteronomy was promulgated the Neo-Assyrian rulers Esarhaddon and Assurbanipal imposed oaths of allegiance upon their vassals in which the latter swore to "love (ra'ämu) their Assyrian overlords. (For citations of relevant texts, see Moran, "Ancient Near Eastern Background," pp. 78-82 and especially 80, notes 22 and 24.) The difference in precise terminology ('äheb and ra'ämu / / rhm?) alone suggests that the Deute- ronomists were not simply borrowing a concept from Assyrian diplomacy but rather were placing special emphasis on a familiar idea, elevating it to a decisive position in their technical vocabulary. In any event, the treaty context of "love" demonstrated by Moran brilliantly illumines the legal and political implications of the biblical concept which all too often has been characterized in largely moral, antinomic, and psychological terms. On the relationship between Akk. ra'ämu and Heb. räham, see the following: Michael Fishbane, "The Treaty Background of Amos 1:11 and Related Matters," JBL, 89:313-18 ( 1 9 7 0 ) ; and Robert B. Goote, "Amos 1:11 : RHMYW," JBL, 90:206-08 ( 1971 ) . 299
    • 23:5 [6 Heb.] ). The love of God toward Israel is hence synonymous with the acts of gracious election upon which the covenant is grounded. But equally important, the same divine love—manifested as blessing, physical well-being, tenure in the land of promise, and abundant progeny—is assured to succeeding generations who are obedient to Yahweh's rule (7:9-15). God's love is the motive force in Israel's history, creating the 56 nation and encompassing its present and future. The nature of the reciprocal love of Israel toward God is concretely defined in Deuteronomy. It is, indeed, the zealous allegiance to Yahweh's exclusive, divine kingship which underlies the manifold decrees, statutes, and ordinances of the Deuteronomic torah ( 11:1 ; 13:3 ; 30:6) ,57 Here we should also emphasize that Deuteronomy attributes to Israel a com­ mitment fully analogous to God's love which spans the generations. The covenant must be periodically rehearsed (a much better term than "re­ newed" ), not because it ceases to be binding upon the nation after a given number of years but precisely so that the successive incarnations of Israel will fully appreciate the awesome and irrevocable commitment which has already been made for them ( 5 : 3 ; 29:14t [i3f. Heb.]; cf. 3ΐ:9-ΐ3). 5 8 This too is the clear rationale for the Deuteronomic stress on careful rear­ ing of children in the tradition through instruction and example. Elders must instill in younger generations the love of God as informed by both a mature comprehension of the responsibilities inherent in Israel's fealty to Yahweh and the divine grace to which the perpetual oath sworn at Sinai- Horeb was a response (6:6-25; 11:1-7,18-21; 31:12.). In the Deuteronomic exposition of the Mosaic legacy, then, Israel's 56. Similarly, a commitment or gracious election by the suzerain spanning several generations may be affirmed in the treaty literature; see, for example, the "Treaty between Mursilis and Duppi-Tessub of Amurra," tr. Albrecht Goetze, in James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1 9 5 5 2 ) , pp. 203b-204a. 57. More specifically, the love of Israel toward Yahweh is glossed and paralleled by the following expressions in Deut.: "to walk in all his ways" (läleket bekol-deräkäw)—10:12; 11:22; 19:9; 3 0 : 1 6 ; "to serve Yahweh your God" (la'aböd 'et-yahweh 'elöhekä)—10:12; 11:13; "to cleave to him" (ledabeqäh-bo)—11:22; 3 0 : 2 0 ; "to fear Yahweh your God" (leyir3äh 'et-yahweh '^löhekä)—10:12; "to obey him" (lismo™ beqo"lo)—30:20. 58. In other words, all future manifestations of Israel were proleptically present with those who enacted the treaty at Sinai-Horeb. (Cf. Montefiore & Loewe, A Rabbinic Anthology, p. 108.) Once again, a similar emphasis may be found in the Near Eastern treaty literature. See especially Donald J. Wiseman, "The Vassal-Treaties of Esarhaddon," Iraq, 20:29-30 (VTE I : i - i a ) , 49-52 ( ^ . - 2 8 3 - 9 1 ) , 57-58 (V:38o-96), ( 1 9 5 8 ) ; and Joseph A. Fitzmyer, The Aramaic Inscriptions of Sefìre (Biblica et Orientalia, 19; Rome, Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1 9 6 7 ) , p . 14 (Sf I : A : i - 6 , 14-15)* i7 ( I : B : i - 6 , 21-22). 3OO
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation fidelity is motivated out of gratitude for what Yahweh has done and promises to do and out of fear of the dire consequences of covenant break­ ing. To love God is to obey his decrees. But we would be remiss without underscoring the positive and trusting relationship which the command to love Yahweh so vividly expresses. The God who entered into treaty with Israel is not an obscure, otiose divine principle to be contemplated and revered from afar; neither is his rule whimsical or burdensome for those who acknowledge him. Love is an appropriate demand because it measures the personal, the intimate, and hence the particular dimension of covenant faith, the nearness of the cosmic divine king who is passion­ ately concerned with the day-to-day well-being of those who serve him (cf.8:i-io; 15:7-11; 26:1-15; 28:47). "And love Yahweh your God . . .": Obey his laws faithfully, not simply because it is an obligation under oath to do so but as joyous par­ ticipants in his beneficent and providential government. . . . with all your heart, with all your life, indeed with all your capacity! Israel is inexorably sworn to serve Yahweh; yet however meritorious and unwavering that service, it must spring from the depths of being to be labeled "love." Love is the logical counterpart of faith in God because once he is truly acknowledged as the sole, ultimate source of value in life, then a total commitment of the self to his rule must follow.59 "Covenant" in the Old Testament and the ancient Near Eastern litera­ ture is a concept or metaphor most appropriate to communal relations and international law. It denotes a political reality whose forms, require­ ments, rituals, and ideology can be described in institutional terms. And perhaps it is characteristic of our own thinking that we tend to view such "realities" as extrinsic to the inner man. For the same reason we are often impatient with rabbinic "legalism," considering it a futile if not idolatrous quest to institutionalize what is properly personal and spiritual. And we become intellectually and morally bored by the chapter after chapter of 59. In his comments on Deut. 6:5, Luther expressed this well: "No one can have one God unless he clings to Him alone and trusts in Him alone : otherwise he will be snatched off into a variety of works and will devise various gods. . . . [W]hen we repose all faith in Him to whom we cling and understand that all things flow from Him alone and that we are in His care, then sweet love toward Him has to follow." (Lectures on Deuteronomy, p. 68.) 3ΟΙ
    • ritual and legal instructions which adhere to the Sinai covenant, making up the bulk of the Pentateuch after Exodus 20. With relief we turn to the "new covenant" passages, especially in Jeremiah (31:31-34; 32:3ο- 4i ), where it seems the focus has changed. What had hitherto been external is internalized, the communal context gives way to an individual­ ism, and the objectively legal is transformed into an expression of subjec­ 60 tive spirituality. Doubtless there is a shift of emphasis in Jeremiah's portrayal of the 61 covenant (though not necessarily a benign one. ) Moreover, the way for this shift does seem to have been prepared in Deuteronomy which pro­ motes an Israelite community whose individual members are motivated from within to obey Yahweh. As we have observed, through the act of hearing the demands of God are internalized or, in the words chosen by Jeremiah (31:33), "inscribed upon the heart" rather than merely on tablets of stone.62 Hence the doing of the law, epitomized as the love of God, begins in the heart and embraces the whole man. But the instruc­ tion of Deuteronomy and the vision of Jeremiah are hardly unique in this regard. Earlier prophetic calls to repentence (e.g. Hos. 14:1-3 [2-4 Heb.] ) and the covenantal traditions to which they refer, as well as the legal corpora of the priestly writers and Pharisaic Judaism, certainly share the concern for an inward, all-encompassing obedience. Moreover a similar desire to assure profound, total loyalty of the vassal to his sover­ eign clearly underlies the manifold stipulations, blessings, and curses of the ancient Near Eastern suzerainty treaties.63 The key phrase in the three-part adverbial clause modifying the com­ mand to "love Yahweh" in Deuteronomy 6:5 is reflected, in fact, in the extra-biblical treaty literature. For example, the Hittite king Mursilis II adjures Niqmepa, the vassal ruler of Ugarit, to "be faithful with all your heart (ina kul libbika) " and to "fight with all your heart" in support of 60. Cf., for example, George Adam Smith, Jeremiah (New York, Harper & Brothers Pub­ lishers, 1929 4 ), pp. 367-80; and John Skinner, Prophecy and Religion: Studies in the Life of Jeremiah (London, Cambridge University Press, 1936), pp. 320-34. 61. I.e., Jer. 31:31-34 suggests a lobotomy of the human will. Individual obedience will be assured at the cost of individual freedom since there will no longer be even the possibility of rebellion against God. Christian interpreters should be wary of exalting this text as a pre- figurement of the New Testament message ! 62. Cf. Sifre Deut. (Wa 5 ethanan 6 : 7 ) 34, where Jer. 31:33 and Deut. 6:4fr are explicitly associated. 63. Note, for example, the treaty stipulations imposed upon Assyrian vassals by Esarhaddon on behalf of his heir designate, Assurbanipal. Wiseman, op. cit., (VTE 1:49-54). 302
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation his suzerain's policies.64 Here and in 6:5 alike "heart" obviously denotes "intention, will, desire"—a "whole-hearted" commitment leaving no faculty of the person untouched. However, while the Deuteronomists have used a traditional formula to express the intentionality with which Israel must love its divine suzerain, the full expression (bekol-lebäbekä ubeko-napsekä ûbekol-me'ödekä) bears the particular stamp of the Deuteronomic writers themselves. Elsewhere it appears only in II Kings 23:25, a Deuteronomic tribute to the covenant fidelity of King Josiah.65 A shorter version of the expression—"with all (your) heart and with all (your) life" —is found seventeen additional times in the Old Testament, in each case occurring in a Deuteronomic passage or in a context directly reflecting the work of the Deuterono- mists.66 How are we to understand the specific force of the three parts of the expression in Deuteronomy 6:5? Two quite different options are sug- gested in the early history of the verse's exegesis. Midrash Sifre Deu- teronomy interprets lëbab, ne pes and me'öd as designating distinct but complementary ways of manifesting love toward God.67 "With all your heart" means with a loyalty that is undivided, involving both the "im- pulse" (or "inclination, purpose"—Heb. yëser) to do evil and the "im- pulse" to do good which together comprise the human will.68 "With all your life" means commitment to God even to the point of death or martrydom should that be necessary. And nf'öd here denotes the indivi- dual's "substance, wealth, property" all of which must be expendable in the service of God. On the other hand, early Christian exegesis especially, working with the Greek text, viewed the three terms as designating complementary attributes of the human personality, together comprising the whole "inner man."69 Thus dianoia and kardia interpret Hebrew 64. PRU 17. 353:20-21 ; J. Nougayrol, Le palais royal d'Ugarit, IV, 89. 65. The specific correlation of terminology between Deut. 6:5 and II Kings 23:25, and the claim for the unrivaled faithfulness of Josiah thereby promulgated, is without question of funda- mental import in understanding the purpose and structure of the Deuteronomic history. Josiah, as the leader of Yahweh's people, excels even David in actualizing the Mosaic legacy ! Cf. F. M. Gross, "The Structure of the Deuteronomic History," pp. 14-16. 66. Deut. 4 : 2 9 ; 10:12; 11:13; 13*3 (4 Heb.); 26:16; 30:2, 6, 10; Josh. 2 2 : 5 ; 2 3 : 1 4 ; I Kings 2 : 4 ; 8 : 4 8 / / I I Chron. 6:38; II Kings 2 3 : 3 / / II Chron. 3 4 : 3 1 ; II Kings 2 3 : 2 5 ; II Chron. 15:12 ; Jer. 32:4i (in Yahweh's pledge to restore Israel). In each case the expression reinforces a covenantal commitment. 67. Sifre Deut. (Wa' ethanan 6:5) 32; cf. Montefiore & Loewe, A Rabbinic Anthology, pp. 276, 377. 68. Rabbinic exegesis associated the two "impulses" with the double b of lëbâb. 69. See the references cited in note 13 above. Cf. Luther, Lectures on Deuteronomy, pp. 68f. 303
    • lëbab as "mind, intellect, intention" while psychë for Hebrew nepes de- notes the "soul," and dynamis or ischys for Hebrew me'5d means " (spirit- ual and moral) power." There is a third alternative more appropriate to the Deuteronomic context than either of these interpretations. Clearly in Deuteronomy 6:5 we do not have a statement of early Greek psychology nor does it seem likely that precise modes of expressing love were intended by the three terms. They were not meant to specify distinct acts, spheres of life, attri- butes, or the like, but were chosen to reinforce the absolute singularity of personal devotion to God. While syntactically the three phrases are co- ordinate, semantically they are concentric, forming a sort of (prosaic) climactic parallelism. Thus, as noted above, lëbab alone designates the intentionality of the whole man; nepes similarly means the whole "self," a unity of flesh, will, and vitality. Most difficult is me'5d since its use here as a substantive noun is a hapax, found only in the two occurrences of the full expression. Usually me'öd connotes "excess, muchness" and it hence appears to function in 6:5 to accent the superlative degree of total com- mitment to Yahweh already expressed through the use of the preceding terms. Rather than a particular faculty, "strength" or the like, me'5d evokes the fullest "capacity" of loving obedience to Yahweh which the whole person can muster. Finally, we should reemphasize that the intense personal allegiance to Yahweh as suzerain adjured in Deuteronomy demands self-discipline but it bears no trace of mystical self-denial or spiritual privatism. The com- munion between God and man has a social setting so that obedience and love, though springing from the "heart" of the individual, are manifest within the community, in the sharing of God-given value with other selves (cf. 10:17-19). "And love Yahweh your God . . . with all your capaci- ty !" : Serve him with your whole being in order to prosper his kingdom on earth. III. FAITH AND IDENTITY For us as present-day interpreters, Jews and Christians alike claiming continuity with the biblical record, Deuteronomy 6:4L should pose a challenge. The text is an extraordinary testament, yet it must appear to us as something of a palimpsest, promulgated not in one age but many. The verses have constituted a living document upon which our various 304
    • The Yoke of the Kingdom Interpretation forebears, seeking to discover and revitalize for themselves identities in the world, have left behind a succession of exegetical imprints. In the preceding pages, our task was first of all to distinguish the primary layers of over-writing, to read each briefly within its own setting. The purpose of this was not to deny the validity of particular claims but rather to view with greater clarity the basic script which elicited the complex his- tory of interpretation. There should be no pretense that we have fully deciphered the pristine writing. But we have seen the text as a whole and in doing so have discovered nothing less than a magnificent epitome of the Deuteronomic preaching, itself echoing and reinvigorating far older notions of Israel's covenantal identity. The Deuteronomists addressed a fragmented community whose links with the transcendent realities, that alone were able to sustain it, had become strained or broken. No longer were the heirs of Jacob a single nation unified through exclusive allegiance to Yahweh, bound together in his service, and living in the shadow of his protection. No longer were they a contemporary manifestation of the Israel which had escaped bondage to the hostile dominions of the world. Nor were they the peo- ple—alive and yet to be born—who had stood at Sinai to enter into solemn pact with their divine deliverer. Or the Israel to whom Moses had spoken on the border of the promised land, or the Israel which Joshua, Samuel, David, and Solomon had led into a bountiful inheritance. And yet the transcendent realities themselves, covenant people and sover- eign God, were no less immanent and powerful than they had ever been. For the Kingdom of God proclaimed by the Deuteronomists was neither a quaint archaism, an outmoded relic, nor merely an ideal awaiting some future actualization. It was present—as a historical legacy whose poten- tial remained untarnished and as a perennial summons, urgently tendered, to accept the yoke of God's rule. Has the Mosaic legacy as the Deuteronomists articulated it lost its force and currency over the centuries? Perhaps it has. Certainly more often than not the heritage it represents has been a divided one, a cause of contention rather than unity. As H. Richard Niebuhr argued, the all- encompassing faith in "the Creator and God of grace" affirmed by both Judaism and Christianity has seldom existed as a living orientation.70 70. Radical Monotheism and Western Culture (London, Faber and Faber, i960), pp. 24-37, 56-63 and passim. As Niebuhr defined it, radical monotheism has two positive components. 305
    • We find on close and honest examination that even during those eras in the past when total faith in the One, "radical monotheism," seems to have blossomed most elegantly—such as in the age of Israel's great prophets or in the period of the church's formation—it did not in fact escape con- tamination from lesser forms of worship and belief. The antithesis of radical monotheism has always been not atheism but a narrow vision which confuses loyalty to particular communities and causes with faith in the One in whom alone reside life's ultimate reason and destiny. Thus while claiming to be "Israel" the church has frequently erected barriers within its own midst and between itself and the greater kingdom for whose service it was created. Repeatedly the church has even denied its essential kinship with the heirs of those to whom the Mosaic legacy was first delivered. And how often in theology and practice have Chris- tians failed to distinguish clearly between the sole God and the Christ through whom they are grafted onto the body of "Israel"? However, the failure is not the church's burden alone. It has been shared by all seg- ments of human society. Whenever particularistic values—land and property, national sovereignty and ascendancy, race and social ties, and a host of other communal and individual concerns—have been used to establish primary identity for some while denying comparable worth to others, radical monotheism has been contaminated. Yet for us too the Mosaic legacy should be present as a summons and as a hope. We can no longer afford a world where, in Niebuhr's terms, our lives are ruled by the "half-gods" of national henotheism and the "mini- mal gods" of social polytheism. It probably matters very little whether we can still hear Deuteronomy 6:4f. as a clear call to affirm covenant with Yahweh in the guise of cosmic king, historical suzerain, and divine judge. But it matters a great deal whether we as individuals and as com- munities can find common identity and purpose through participation in the Kingdom, at once transcendent and immanent, which the One God alone governs. The yoke is indeed offered to us as it was to Israel of old. The first is total reliance upon a single, transcendent locus of value. It is manifest as con- fidence that not only the self but everything which exists has significance through relationship with the God who is the source of all being. The second and reciprocal component is total faith-loyalty to the One, manifest especially as love for all that God creates and sustains. We can, of course, recognize here the legacy of Deut. 6:4; and the two components can be labeled by their rabbinic titles: "the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven" and "the yoke of the cc^irnandments." 306
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