When one of the Scribes asked Messiah Yeshua about the first of all commands, Christ answered with the declaration or Oath of Israel known as the “Shema” which is recited even today among the Jewish communities around the world. This oath encapsulated their calling and the main command which was given to them by our Creator in Heaven.
Mar 12:29,30 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
This of course was quoted from the Scriptures in Deut 6:4,5 by Yeshua, but we also see that it was common knowledge even at the time of Messiah’s ministry. This particular oath, The “Shema” is recited by the Jewish community and a growing amount of believers of Messiah every Sabbath around the world, and starts with the word “Shema” which is commonly translated as “Hear”. This translation does not do the Hebrew Word “Shema” justice, as there is a deeper meaning to the word than the common understanding of “Hearing” or “Listening”.
Looking at the usage of Shema in the Scriptures gives us a better understanding of this amazing Hebrew Word. As we see below, the word “Shema” is an active word which has a duality of meaning.
Shema – Hear and Obey
H8085 – שׁמע – shâma‛ – Browns-Driver-Briggs Definition: to hear, listen to, obey
The below passages show that the words uttered in Deut 6:4,5 and Mark 12:29,30 starts with a call to action! Shema – Hear and Obey. It is not a passive “listen”, but an acting out of our faith. It is hearing with the intent of putting something into action.
Gen 22:18And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.
Exo 5:2 And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.
Exo 19:5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
Deu 11:27,28 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
2Sa 22:45 Strangers shall submit themselves unto me: as soon as they hear, they shall be obedient unto me.
Isa 30:9 That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:
Isa 42:24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law.
Jer 7:23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.
Jer 17:23 But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.
Jer 22:21 I spake unto thee in thy prosperity; but thou saidst, I will not hear. This hath been thy manner from thy youth, that thou obeyedst not my voice.
Jer 34:10 Now when all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let his manservant, and every one his maidservant, go free, that none should serve themselves of them any more, then they obeyed, and let them go.
Jer 38:20 But Jeremiah said, They shall not deliver thee. Obey, I beseech thee, the voice of the LORD, which I speak unto thee: so it shall be well unto thee, and thy soul shall live.
Eze 12:2 Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.
Dan 9:11 Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him.
Shema means not only to listen, but obey through listening. This is the Oath which God called Israel to make, and the same oath that Yeshua spoke of as the greatest of Commandments. Let us all strive to Shema – Listen and Obey!