King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Deuteronomy 6

A persuasive to obedience. (1-3) An exhortation to obedience. (4,5) Obedience taught. (6-16) General precepts, Instructions to be given to their children. (17-25)

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A persuasive to obedience

1 Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:

2 That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.

3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.

An exhortation to obedience

4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Obedience taught

6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

10 And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,

11 And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;

12 Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

14 Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;

15 (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

16 Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah.

General precepts, Instructions to be given to their children

17 Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee.

18 And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers.

19 To cast out all thine enemies from before thee, as the LORD hath spoken.

20 And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD our God hath commanded you?

21 Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh’s bondmen in Egypt; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand:

22 And the LORD shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes:

23 And he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers.

24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.

25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 3. Hear. The Jews have a particular respect for the seven following verses, which they write on vellum, and recite every day, as a preservative against the devil. Clarius. — To do. It will not suffice to hear nor to learn the law, we must also put it in execution. C. v. 1. W.

Ver. 5. Whole heart…soul…and strength. God admits of no partner, nor will he suffer any rivulet to be drawn from the fountain of love, which is not ultimately referred to himself. Our neighbour we must love only for his sake, and by the observance of this two-fold precept, we shall fulfil the whole law and the prophets. Matt. xxii. 40. H. See S. Aug. de Doct. i. 22. — We must love God disinterestedly for his own sake: we must sacrifice our soul and life for his honour, with all our strength, beginning every good work with fervour, and persevering in our undertakings. All our faculties and senses must be consecrated to the divine service, as well as all our goods; in which sense the Chaldee, &c. understand the word strength. Heb. lit. ex toto valdè tuo. By this singular expression Moses seems to insinuate, that he cannot find words to specify how much we ought to love the Sovereign Good. C. — “The measure of loving God, is to love without measure.” S. Bernard. H. — By many words, the same thing is more forcibly inculcated. T. M. — In the gospel we find, with thy whole mind, (Luc. x. 27,) added by the lawyer. H. — We must give God the preference before all, and thus have our heart perfect before him, like David, &c. T.

Ver. 7. Tell. Heb. “thou shalt chew them” as nurses do bread for their little ones; or thou shalt “sharpen,” like a razor, “explain clearly and often,” these precepts, which are of the utmost importance. — Meditate; speak of them to others, (C.) and entertain thyself with them in thy own heart. The mouth of the just man shall meditate wisdom, and (that is) his tongue shall speak judgment. Ps. xxxvi. 30. Ex. xiii. 9. — Sleeping. The spouse, in the canticle, (v. 2,) says, I sleep, and my heart watcheth. If we carefully direct our intention, we may merit even when we are incapable of thinking. God will reward our good desires. Our last and first thoughts ought, in a particular manner, to be consecrated to God, (H.) when we go to rest and when we arise, (M.) as he is our first beginning, the source of all graces, and our last end, to whom we ought to refer every thing, even our ordinary actions of sleeping, labour, and diversion. If we make his divine perfections and his law the subject of our daily meditations, our soul will naturally be affected with the same sentiments during the night. Quicquid luce fuit tenebris agit. “The occurrences of the day have an influence upon our dreams;” (Petronius) and as we are accountable for many things by placing the cause, which in the hours of sleep or of drunkenness we are not able to prevent, so it cannot be doubted but that we shall increase in virtue, if we regulate our thoughts and actions in a proper manner, even when our soul is incapable of exerting her faculties. Hence we may perceive, of what vast importance it is to have a pure intention. H.

Ver. 8. Sign, or seal, (Cant. viii. 6. C.) attached to the ring which the Jews wore on their fingers, (H.) to seal their letters, after they were enveloped and tied with linen. The Jews have bandages of vellum on their hand, with sentences of the law inscribed upon them, (C.) as well as others upon their forehead; while many get the whole law, particularly the Book of Deuteronomy, by heart: for which purpose, the Rabbins inform us, there were above 4000 schools and synagogues at Jerusalem, where the law of God was learnt and explained. The design of this injunction was not, however, to enforce the wearing of such bandages, as the Pharisees imagined, (Mat. xxiii. 5,) but to put all in mind that they ought to meditate frequently upon the commandments, (T.) and regulate their lives by their direction. — Shall move. Sept. adds a negation, but to the same import, “it (the sign) shall not be removed from before thy eyes.” H. — Heb. “they shall be as totaphoth, frontlets, ” ornaments hanging between the eyes. (Ex. xiii. 9. C.) “Tephilim,” (Chald.) or “spectacles.” Grotius.

Ver. 12. Full. Our Saviour seems to apply this to his disciples, in a spiritual sense, remarking that Moses and the prophets had prepared the way for them. Others have laboured, and you have entered into their labours. Jo. iv. 38. H.

Ver. 13. Only. This is omitted in Heb.; but the Sept. and Jesus Christ retain it, (Mat. iv. 10,) as the sense requires. You cannot serve God and mammon. Lu. xvi. 13. C. — Name, and not by that of idols, whenever you may be authorized to take an oath. H. — To swear by any other, is to acknowledge him in some sort for a god. When we take an oath on proper occasions, and with due respect and caution, we perform and act of religion. C.

Ver. 16. Temptation. Heb. “in Massa,” where Moses gave the people water from Horeb. Ex. xvii. 7.

Ver. 25. Merciful. Heb. “he will justify us.” Chal. “reward us.” Justice often denotes the mercy which God shews to his people, and the punishment which he inflicts upon their enemies. C. Mat. vi. 1. — Past, present, and future benefits concur to make the Hebrews observe the commandments. God had rescued them from slavery; (v. 21,) he had already given them great possessions, and would grant them still more if they would be faithful; as on the other hand, all will be lost if they prove rebellious, v. 15. H.