Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Deuteronomy 6

Deuteronomy vi.

Notes & 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 power of the devil. (Clarius.) --- To do. It will not suffice to hear nor to learn the law, we must also put it in execution, chap. v. 1. (Worthington)

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, Matthew xxii. 40. (Haydock) See St. Augustine, 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 Chaldean, &c., understand the word strength. Hebrew literally, ex toto valde 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. (Calmet) --- "The measure of loving God, is to love without measure." (St. Bernard) (Haydock) --- By many words, the same thing is more forcibly inculcated. (Tirinus) (Menochius) --- In the gospel we find, with thy whole mind, (Luke x. 27,) added by the lawyer. (Haydock) --- We must give God the preference before all, and thus have our heart perfect before him, like David, &c. (Tirinus)

Ver. 7. Tell. Hebrew, "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, (Calmet) 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, Psalm xxxvi. 30., and Exodus xiii. 9. --- Sleeping. The spouse, in the canticle, (Canticle of Canticles 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, (Haydock) when we go to rest and when we arise, (Menochius) 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. (Haydock)

Ver. 8. Sign, or seal, (Canticle of Canticles viii. 6.; Calmet) attached to the ring which the Jews wore on their fingers, (Haydock) 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, (Calmet) 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 400 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, (Matthew xxiii. 5,) but to put all in mind that they ought to meditate frequently upon the commandments, (Tirinus) and regulate their lives by their direction. --- Shall move. Septuagint adds a negation, but to the same import, "it (the sign) shall not be removed from before thy eyes." (Haydock) --- Hebrew, "they shall be as totaphoth, frontlets," ornaments hanging between the eyes. (Exodus xiii. 9.; Calmet) "Tephilim," (Chaldean) 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, John iv. 38. (Haydock)

Ver. 13. Only. This is omitted in Hebrew; but the Septuagint and Jesus Christ retain it, (Matthew iv. 10,) as the sense requires. You cannot serve God and mammon, Luke xvi. 13. (Calmet) --- Name, and not by that of idols, whenever you may be authorized to take an oath. (Haydock) --- 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 an act of religion. (Calmet)

Ver. 16. Temptation. Hebrew, "in Massa," where Moses gave the people water from Horeb, Exodus xvii. 7.

Ver. 25. Merciful. Hebrew, "he will justify us." Chaldean, "reward us." Justice often denotes the mercy which God shews to his people, and the punishment which he inflicts upon their enemies. (Calmet) (Matthew vi. 1.) --- Past, present, and future benefits concur to make the Hebrews observe the commandments. God had rescued them from slavery; (ver. 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, ver. 15. (Haydock)