Deuteronomy 6:5 states, “You shall love (אהבת; ahavta) the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your life and with all your strength” (Deut 6:5). But what does it mean to “love” God according to ancient Israelite thought? For the biblical authors, love isn’t just an intense form of “liking” or some kind of “warm feeling” for another; rather, the most common Hebrew word for “love” (אהבה; ahavah) expresses loyalty.

To understand love as “loyalty” in Deut 6:5, we need to read the verse in the context of what comes right before it: the Shema. Most English translations of Deut 6:4 read, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one (אחד; echad).” While the Hebrew אחד can mean “one”—as in, “and there was evening, and there was morning: day one (אחד)” (Gen 1:5)—echad can also mean “alone.” Here’s a stronger translation of Deut 6:4: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord alone.” That is, the Lord is Israel’s God, and the people of Israel must “not go after other gods” (Deut 6:14); they must “love,” or be “loyal” to, the Lord alone.

The loyalty we have for the God of Israel—to the exclusion of all other gods—extends to our fellow human beings, particularly those who are less familiar to us. Leviticus uses the exact same word for our “loyalty” to God in the command to love the stranger: “You shall treat the stranger who dwells with you as the native among you, and you shall love (אהבת; ahavta) him as yourself” (Lev 19:34). When it comes to the heavenly realm, we are to be loyal to God alone, but here on earth, God commands us to pledge that same loyalty to those around us.

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    • Loyalty to The One God can now only be seen as allowing a proliferating instincts, to totally entrain us. Musicians, dancers, athletes, & other "artists" know how it feels to be entrained in the moment. This instinct of music, in which God has endowed upon all of our species, has a purpose!! (as does all evolved biology) Technology has finally evolved as well, in order to educate & be able to contact the global community. Groovists believe that Internet knowledge will coalesce perfectly with musical instincts!! Billions with The One will prove miraculoua!!
  1. I love all the Israeli people but one Rabbi was calling me a low life and all sorts of name. I'm not angry to him but I don't blame him, because he doesn't know the new Testament, we Christian didn't write it; all who write the New Testament are all the Jewish and we Christians read it and believe it; and not only the New one but the Old Testament we read and believe it, because it's the Word of God. I pray for all the Israeli and it's my duty to do so.
    • Sheila, some Rabbi call secular Jews also low life, unless they have God and Torah they are not more than the behemoth, a beast, animal, cattle. Original Word: בְּהֵמָה. So this is their view, is more of the Christianity that is like Idol worship of statues etc, Its what some of it evolved in to and also stories of persecution of Jews by the Christians. But new generations of Rabbis acknowledge the evangelical Christians, not in open yet they don't see massive images and statues, they see love and support instead of persecutions. Josephus called Christians a Tribe, (of Israel).

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  2. The same can be said about Hesed. What is translated in English as mercy if one reads in content one can see that Hesed is Loyalty. Hasid a pious one is also a loyal one. As to the Shema, it states that love with all your Heart's. Multiple hearts, not one heart. Levaveha - In the distant past heart was not just a muscle pump but actually more of what we call today brain. We don't think in our heart we think in our brain. So it used to refer to the Brain. The left and the right sides :-/)
  3. Excellent point you make. Repeated in the eschatological Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:12,39. Yahweh ba-dad yanken-nu, weh-ain im-mo ail naikar... Re-u atah ki anee, anee hu; weh-ain elohim im-madi... He alone led Israel; he alone is the true elohim, and worthy of all loyalty. Baruk shemo leh-olam - shemo Yahweh! Zikro leh-dor wa-dor! Exodus 3:15.
  4. If I understand the word loyalty correctly the Levities both sinned in Exodus 32:26 (golden calf) yet were loyal (for the LORD). This is what the death of Christ (Justice) looked like to me. "Whoever is for the LORD, come to me." And all the Levites rallied to him.
  5. I would like to learn more about the source documents and be able to review them. I am interested in the Aramaic, Syriac, Coptic, and other documents as reference and comparison. I know, I ask too much..
  6. I think that God's Word is really simple. We complicate it ourselves. Getting insight from the Hebrew language makes it even more exciting. I am going to make time to study Hebrew soon. So much wisdom and insight locked up in the language. God knows our hearts and our needs. Before I started these emails, God would often wake me with a word that made no sense and I would reseach and invariably it would be a Hebrew word that stirred my spirit in a way nothing else could. The Holy Spirit is indeed our teacher
  7. The resources here are very good and illuminating, but do they contradict the New Testament text of the Bible in any way or the fact that Jesus Christ has come to the World as prophesied by the old testament Prophet Isaiah and that He is the true Messiah of the World including the Jews?
    • Dear Olufemi, we have many lecturers and scholars that take part in our research center. We find strength in diversity of religious opinions. That said to the best of my knowledge the author of this post (and I am too :-)) are dedicated followers of the Jewish Christ Jesus.

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