(New Revised Standard Version)
You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise.
(Todays English Version)
Remember these commands and cherish them. Tie them on your arms and wear them on your foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you are resting and when you are working.
Remember these commands and cherish them!
In Deuteronomy Moses recalls the great events of the past forty years as he appeals to people to remember how God has led them through the wilderness. He reviews the commandments that are to guide the peoples life in the promised land. He reminds the people of Gods covenant with them, that God has saved and blessed them and calls for them to renew their commitment. A key verse of the book for us to remember is 6: 5: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your might, (which is followed by verses 6-8, very similar to Heb. 11:18-19). Recall! Review! Remember! Renew! Read the book of Deuteronomy all the way through. How do we remember the God who has saved and blessed us as a community of faith?
Bind them, tie them refers to an ancient Hebrew practice of wearing a phylactery on the head and arms, a small square leather box holding inscriptions of the commandments. We may not be able to picture that practice, nor do many of us want to wear our faith on our sleeves. But we who live thousands of years later, on this side of the cross and resurrection, do put on Christ each day as we splash water on our faces in the morning and remember we have been baptized in the waters of new life. Splash! Tie! Bind! Wear Christ on every occasion. We bind Gods Word to ourselves so closely, so intimately that we are unable not to share it with others. How might you bind Scripture to yourself? Your mind? Your heart? Your home? How might we live and teach the Bible to our children, and our childrens children, in our churches and neighborhoods?
Teach the words, yes, memorizing key verses. More importantly teach for understanding, reaching out with the good news for which the world hungers. Biblical interpretation is key. We study the Commandments not in order to count which sin is worse than another, proving our worth by judging others. One could read Deuteronomy and see only Obey (11:8,13, 22, 27), or All the land that you march over will be yours (11:24). Such a narrow reading could lead one to think we earn Gods favor through obedience or that our own nation is Gods chosen people today with special entitlements in the world. But searching the context further, one notices the call to love and serve God with all our hearts. Gods people, then and now, are to stop being stubborn and thinking our will is Gods will. This God who is great and mighty does not show partiality. This God makes sure that orphans and widows are treated fairly. This God loves the foreigners who live among our people and gives them food and clothes (10:17-18). Search! Study! Serve! Teach! Notice how different translations of the Bible present us with variations on interpretation and understanding. Read parts of Deuteronomy in more than one version of the Bible.
Norma Cook Everist teaches at Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.
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