The Constitution of the Old Testament – Part 6 & Conclusion

The Constitution of the Old Testament – Part 6 & Conclusion December 21, 2016

 וּכְתַבְתָּ֛ם עַל־מְזוּזֹ֥ת בֵּיתֶ֖ךָ וּבִשְׁעָרֶֽיךָ ס9

And write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Have you ever seen a mezuzah on a doorpost of a Jewish home?  It is a little rectangular container, usually silver or gold, containing parchment on which is written either the Shema or some other Torah passage.  Its purpose is to remind the disciple of God’s words as he enters or leaves his house.

Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish philosopher/theologian, wrote,

“The ancient sages said, ‘Whoever has tefillin on his head and arm, tsitsit [tassels on the fringe of his prayer shawl—which Jesus undoubtedly wore, as seen in the gospel stories of people being healed by touching the ‘hem’ (the Greek makes clear this consisted of the tassels mandated for Jewish men in Nb 15.37-41)] on his garment, and a mezuzah on his door may be presumed not to sin,’ for he has many reminders, and these are the ‘angels’ that save him from sinning, as it is said, ‘The angel of the Lord camps around those who revere Him and rescues them’ (Ps 34.8).”

My wife and I have a mezuzah on the doorpost of our home. In it is inscribed the whole Shema, written for us by a messianic rabbi.

The gates refer to the gates of the city, not the home, because most homes did not have gates.  It was there that the city leaders did business and made laws.  The point was to remind leaders of God’s commandments while they were making laws and giving judgment for legal cases.



So why is the Shema called the Constitution of the Old Testament?

Because it tells us

  1. Who God is
    1. the God of Israel
  2. Who we are and what we are to do
    1. We are Jews and Gentiles called to the commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2)
    2. And called to love this God with all our heart, life, and goods.
  3. How we are to pass on our faith to the next generation
    1. Talk about this God’s words to our children and grandchildren throughout the day and night
    2. And use visible and material signs for our persons and homes and communities
      1. To help us remember and to deliver the divine presence to us
      2. Some of these signs are the Christian sacraments.
    3. This is the whole duty of man and woman—to love God and keep his commandments, and to raise up godly children and grandchildren, and bring His life and truth to the public square.
      1. This is why the Shema is the summary of the Law and the Prophets
        1. As Jesus put it, the two great commandments—to love God with heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Browse Our Archives