Matthew’s Torah Quotes – Part 4 – Deuteronomy

From Deuteronomy

The writer of Matthew quotes from Deuteronomy 6:5, 6:16, 8:3, and 10:20. These four quotes cover topics on:

the greatest of all the commandments (6:5), not tempting God (6:16), man does not live by bread alone (8:3), fear “the Lord” your God (Matthew says worship in place of fear) (10:20) .

Topic: The Greatest of all commandments

The “Shama” as this Scripture is known in Judaism, is considered by many as the greatest of all the commandments. It is recited several times during prayers on Shabbot, at selected times.

Shama Israel Adoni Eloanoo Adoni Echad.

Hear Israel The Lord God The Lord is One

-Deuteronomy 6:4

And then it continues with:

You shall love the Lord your God with all all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.

Deuteronomy 6:5

Shama or “Hear” is a cry out to all of Israel, not Israel the land but Israel the people. This cry is saying “Listen” I am about to give you a description of who I am.

It says that “Yod Hay Vav Hay” or the tetagramation of Gods name, we translate as “Adoni”. He is identifying Himself, to leave no doubt about to who is. No other god, this is YHVH. The next word is “God”. It’s interesting to note that at this point, it depends on who is reading this and the lens they are reading it through provides their understanding. It is important to keep in mind that when God created us, we were created us in His image.1 But He does not have flesh and bones like we do.2 So the image that is spoken of is not that of a body of flesh. We as humans consist of a body and a soul. God created our flesh from the earth, and then placed the soul into it.3 The soul can not be seen by our eye made of flesh. The body without the soul cannot function. Our true self is our soul, it is who we are. Our soul was made in the image of God.4 We cannot see God with the human eye.5 He created us (humans) from the earth to have flesh and bones bodies to reside in while we are here, until our human body dies, and then we return to Gen Eden (heaven). God did not create a flesh and bone body for Himself. He did not and does not need one.

The word “God” is a term we use to describe YHVH, or Adoni. He is what He is, or as He described it “I am who I am”.6 He is without description – we do not have the capability to describe Him. He is outside our understanding. He could be seen as a “force”, or an “energy”, yet these terms fall short of who He is.

With all this He gave us the Torah to provide us with a guide for living our lives here on this earth. But it is also a guide on how to draw close to Him. What does He desire, is contained in this guide called the Torah.

The next two words of the Shama states His name again YHVH is Echad. The Hebrew word echad is similar to the word “one” in English. It can mean one in the sense of a single unit or one in the sense of one set. This can be described as, I want to buy one dining room table consisting of only a table, or I want to buy one dining room table set, consisting of a table and chairs. Each is purchased as “one”. The difference is a single unit verses a composite. This difference has been the subject of many debates for many decades between Judaism and Christianity. The position taken by Judaism is that echad (one) is referring to God as being “one”, and there is no other.

Both the Hebrew echad and the English one have the same meaning. It’s interesting to note that God used the word echad here and not some other numerical word to describe Himself. He could have said that He is a composite consisting of several components.7 Or that He is “sh’na’yim” (two) or “sh’lo’shah” (three), but He didn’t. He also did not elaborate any further, describing how He may manifest Himself, from what the Israelite’s have already seen. He would communicate with Moses one on one, at the fiery bush that didn’t burn, and on Mount Sinai. He communicated with the Prophets in dreams, and visions. He would also communicate with Prophets, with messengers (angels) that He would send. Everything points to the meaning of echad in this instance as meaning a single unit.

It’s interesting to note that God is commanding us to love Him, and to what extent. We are not to just “love” Him, but to love Him with all of our, heat, soul, and might. What does this mean?

To break the verse down, the Hebrew text says that, we must love. Then following the Hebrew “et”, it goes on to tell us we must we love, the Lord (YHVH) our God.

The next part of the verse describes how He wants us to love Him. First we are to love him with all of our “lebab” the heart, (in a physical sense), or for life. Its like when we tell someone that we love them with all of our heart, we are expressing that we love them unconditionally. Unconditionally would also express for life.

We are to love Him with all of our “nephesh” soul. Our “soul” is who we are, it is our being, that was created in the image of God. Our soul lives on after our physical body dies and returns back to the earth. Our body is merely the vessel that our soul dwells in while we are here. It is our soul that will be judged at the end of time. Our love for God is to come from our soul and not our flesh.

The third expression of love God is asking from us is, “me’od” much, exceed, abundance. I interpret this expression as giving Him our love freely, and openly. An abundance of love may be seen as willing to lay down your life for another because of your love for that one. Abundance of love for God places my love for Him before anybody else.

If I were to summarize this verse it may be something like this: God desires our life long love from our soul, commanding us to love Him with of all that we have.

The writer of Matthew records Jesus being tested with a question from a orthodox (Pharisee) lawyer to get his response about what is the greatest of all the commandments in the Torah. The reply from Jesus is as follows:

Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

Matthew 22:37 NKJ

Take note that his quote is not the same as it is written in the Torah. Jesus ends the with “all of your mind”. I researched this difference to see why the difference. Is this difference in translation related? No they are not related. The Hebrew is translated as “might” and is not related in any way to mind. The Greek word in Matthews text is translated as “mind” and is not related to might. The LXX translates this text from Deuteronomy as “might”. The Hebrew spelling for the word might could not be mistaken for mind, as they are totally different in their respective spelling. The only conclusion I can draw is three fold. Either the writer of Matthew made a mistake quoting Jesus. Another possibility is the difference between the two Greek words for mind and might. The Greek word for mind is “dianoia” (pronounced dee-an’-oy-ah), and the Greek word for Might (powerful) is “dunamis” (pronounced doo’-nam-is). Both of these Greek words begin with the same letter, but it pretty much ends there. The remaining spelling of the two words only has a couple of other common letters, and they are in a different order. The third possibility that I see is that Jesus made a mistake. However Jesus being a Torah teacher, and very knowledgeable in Torah, isn’t likely to make such a mistake as this.

This same quote recorded by the writer in Mark, is also in error. Mark says:

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

Mark 12:30 NKJ

The word “strength” for might is understandable for the translator to use, however the Greek word here is “ischus” meaning ability, force, strength, and might. It doesn’t have quite the same meaning as the Hebrew word “me’od” as described above. But the writer of Mark also adds “with all your mind”. It appears that when the writer of Matthew was working off from Mark, he left out, “with all your strength”.

The writer of Luke in chapter 10 verse 27 makes reference to this commandment but it is not referring to this incident. It is not a quote that Jesus is making. However it is a quote from the Tanach. In this case the writer of Luke adds the same phrase, “with all your mind”.

“With all your mind” is not in the text of Deuteronomy 6:5. It is adding to the Torah, which we are commanded not to do.8 It is my opinion that God left out a command to love Him with all our mind, for a good reason. I think He wants our love for Him to be much deeper than that! Perhaps the difference could be seen as a Hebrew vs. Greek way of approaching love. I do not believe that Jesus was Hellenistic, however I believe the writers of these three books were coming from a Greek perspective.

Topic: To not tempt God

In Exodus 17:1-7 records an incident that happened just after the exodus. After leaving Egypt the Israelite’s were in a wilderness area called Sin, in the desert and without water. They began to complain to Moses and made several remarks causing Moses to approach God for direction. The Lord instructed Moses to take the rod that he had used at the river, and the elders, then go out of the camp to Mt. Horeb. There the Lord would meet them at a rock. Upon reaching the rock Moses was instructed by the Lord to strike the rock before the elders and water came gushing out of it.

There was a problem with remarks that were made to Moses by the Israelite’s. The people were thirsty and without water. They went to their leader Moses, complained against him with statements like, “is this that you have brought us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?”9 However they also approached Moses and wanted him to provide water, when there wasn’t any saying, “give us water that we may drink”10. It was like OK you did these other miracles now what are you going to do now. And when he didn’t do anything, they complained about dying in the desert.

Contrast this against, an approach of asking the Lord for water to drink. The attitude could have been that of recognizing what God had done delivering them from Egypt and knowing that He is the one that provides. Corporately ask Him for water. Instead the attitude was, how are you going to get us out of this predicament that you got us into. They were tempting God! Moses named this place “Messah” meaning temptation. Because the Israelite’s tempted the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”11 This is a sharp contrast from the commandment to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and might.

The Lord then gives us a commandment to not tempt Him, as was done at Messah, recorded in Deuteronomy:

“You shall not tempt the Lord your God as you tempted Him in Massah.”

Deuteronomy 6:6

We are not to tempt the Lord like was done at Massah. What was done at Massah is given as an example, of what God does not want us to do. We are to come to Him and ask for what we need, but not to come with a challenging or defiant attitude. I have counseled people in the past that God can handle us being upset with Him, using King David as an example. This being true, however we still need to maintain an attitude and demeanor before God of humility and reverence.

The writer of Matthew in telling the story of Jesus being tempted states that Jesus quoted from this verse.

“Then the devil took him up into the holy city set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, ‘if you are the son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written: He shall give His angles charge concerning you, and in their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ Jesus said to him, ‘it is written again; you shall not tempt the Lord your God.”

Matthew 4:5-7

In this story it says, “then the devil took him”. The Greek text says, “diabolos” (pronounced dee-ab-ol-os), meaning in English a false accuser, or a slanderer. A devil is from Greek mythology. This devil wants Jesus to jump off the top of the temple, to test him. He uses two verses that he makes reference from.12 Jesus then replies to him with the command, to not tempt God. I have heard this referred to as Jesus’ reply meaning; to not tempt him (Jesus) as god. However, looking at the original text around the commandment, it could also be evident that he was referring to not tempt the Lord God, and not referring to himself. It would be tempting God by intentionally jumping off the building and testing the two verses that were given.

Because I don’t believe in Greek mythology, I am prone to believe that this story could have been a vision, a dream, or perhaps a parable.

Topic: Man does not live by bread alone

In chapter 8 of Deuteronomy the first couple verses, begins with Moses reminiscing about their journey over the past 40 years. Moses addresses the people about how God tested them using hunger:

And you shell remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep the commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3

Deuteronomy reads like a summery of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Moses is explaining why they went through the test of not having bread. The primary purpose of the test was to see if they would keep the commandments. God wanted to know what was in their heart. To accomplish this test He allowed them to experience hunger, and then provided them with manna to eat satisfying that hunger. But they had some rules (commandments) to follow. Could they follow them, and have fresh manna each day, with the exception of the Shabbot.13 When we follow Torah (ie. the mouth of the Lord) and know what pleases Him, He provides all our needs (ie. our bread). Life isn’t about the bread (ie. getting ahead, wealth, etc.), God is faithful and provides all of our needs as we draw close to Him by studying/knowing His Torah.

Matthew makes reference to this passage from Deuteronomy in his story of Jesus being tempted by the devil. Jesus goes to the wilderness, possibility the Negev, and fasts for 40 days. At the end of the fast the writer of Matthew says that Jesus was hungry. He says that the “tempter” comes to him and says:

“If you are the son of God, command that these stones become bread.” “But he answered and said, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 4:3b-4

I find this statement that Matthew claims the devil says to Jesus, very interesting. He preferences with, “if you are the son of God”. What does this term mean? Because he follows with a challenge, “command that these stones to become bread.” He is challenging Jesus to do a miracle because of his understanding of him to be “the son of God”.

The term “son of God” has two totally different meanings, depending on if it is being understood from a Jewish or pagan viewpoint. Jesus being a Jew and a Torah teacher, would make the assumption that his references and statements would be in a Jewish context. Using this premise, I will attempt to answer our question defining “son of God” from a Jewish perspective, followed by defining the same question from a pagan perspective.


From: Kaufmann Kohler, Emil G. Hirsch

“Sons of God” and “children of God” are applied also to Israel as a people (comp. Ex. iv. 22 and Hos. xi.1) and to all members of the human race……… The Hebrew idiom conveys nothing further than a simple expression of godlikeness (see Godliness). In fact, the term “son of God” is rarely used in Jewish literature in the sense of”Messiah.” 14


From: Wikipedia

In 42 BC, Julius Caesar was formally deified as “the divine Julius” (divus Iulius) after his assassination. His adopted son, Octavian (better known as Augustus, a title given to him 15 years later, in 27 BC) thus became known as divi Iuli filius (son of the divine Julius) or simply divi filius (son of the god)………

Later, Tiberius (emperor from 14–37 AD) came to be accepted as the son of divus Augustus and Hadrian as the son of divus Trajan.15

The Jewish meaning of this term and the pagan meaning are not related in any way. The Jewish meaning of “son of God” just means basically a person. We are children of God, I am a child of God, or a son of God. The pagan meaning adds divinity to the meaning. In the reference above I selected how it was used in the Roman culture because of it’s relationship with Israel at around the same time as when the Gospels were written. We can see why Matthew has the “devil” asking or tempting Jesus to do a miracle, turning the stones to bread. This insinuates Jesus as being divine, assuming he would have the ability to do this. However the Jewish meaning of this term, has no association to a divine being in any way. The term does not associate with a messiah. However a messiah would be seen as a “son of God”, but a “son of God”, isn’t necessarily a messiah.

Matthew has Jesus replying to the devil with Scripture, that we are not to live by bread alone, but by every word from the Lord our God, associating it with his temptation by the devil.

In verse 7, Jesus says “You shall not tempt the Lord your God”. This can give the impression that the devil by temping Jesus is tempting God. This coincides with the pagan understanding of the term, “son of God” being divine. It is my opinion this is a case where the writer of Matthew is presenting a story of Jesus that does not line up with neither the context of the Scripture of the Tanach nor Jewish beliefs.

Topic: Fear “the Lord” your God

We are commanded to fear “the Lord” your God. There is only one name in this verse, substituted for the tetragrammaton with the term “the Lord” in English, or Adoni in Hebrew. There are many god’s created by man, however there is only one God, the creator of Heaven and Earth, and all of mankind. He is the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. This is presented to us:

The verse begins with the Hebrew word, et. Et in Hebrew says that what follows in what the writer is talking or referring to. This verse says that YHVH is your God, and we are to fear Him, it is Him that we are to serve, and to Him we hold fast, it is in His name we are to take oaths.

Deuteronomy 10:20

It is translated in the NKJ as:

You are to fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name.

Deuteronomy 10:20

The verse begins with who our God is by giving us His name (YHVH). It then continues with how we are to relate to Him, by giving us four respective categories to follow. They are:

  • to fear Him,
  • serve Him,
  • hold fast to Him,
  • and only take oaths in His name.

We are to have a healthy fear for our God. The verse does not say to be afraid of Him but to fear Him. My fear for Him I think could be seen as a very strong respect for who He is. I had a Rabbi express it to me many years ago as, “to not sit in His seat”. A healthy fear tells me to study Torah so I will know God and know what His desires are, keeping my relationship with Him is on firm ground, so I don’t drift in a direction that I should not go.

I am to serve Him, by knowing what He likes and dislikes. Our question every day needs to be, “how can I serve You today?”. He wants to commune with us, He has given us a guide for us to follow. In many ways we are serving Him by caring for our fellow neighbor.

He desires for us to hold fast to Him. We are to cling to Him and not let go. In all that I do and all that I say I am to be doing it and saying it while holding on to my Creator. I may be going through great times, or they may be in the valleys of my life, in either case my arms are to be holding fast to my God, who carries me through my life experiences.

Any oath I take is to be in the name of my God and Creator. He created everything, nothing is greater then Him. He is my rock and my salvation, so if I take a oath it is to be in His name only.

The writer of Matthew makes reference to this verse in chapter 4 verse 10 as follows:

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you Satan! For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’”.

Matthew 4:10

What is stated here as being said by Jesus is similar to the Deuteronomy reference, but yet not the same. It is a misquote, and I don’t believe Jesus as a Torah teacher would misquote the Torah. The Hebrew reference says to “fear” God, Matthew says to “worship” God. There is no doubt that we are to worship God, but that is not what this verse says in this case. It is telling us to fear God. The Hebrew word in the original text only means fear and does not translate to English as worship.

In verse 9, Matthew has the devil saying to Jesus that he will give him, “all these things” if he will worship him. And then Jesus replies back with the above statement. So we can see why Matthew inserts the word “worship” in place of “fear”. To worship and to fear God are not the same! Therefore they can not be interchanged for the purpose of translating, because they would be giving the reader a mis-translation and the wrong message.

It is my belief that these temptations recorded in Matthew chapter 4 of Jesus’ temptations are a story given by Matthew, and not an actual event that took place.

by, Jim Behnke

1Genesis 1:27

2Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29

3Genesis 2:7

4Genesis 1:27

5Exodus 33:20

6Exodus 3:14

7Exodus 34:6-7

8Deuteronomy 4:2

9Exodus 17:3

10Exodus 17:2

11Exodus 17:7

12Psalms 91:11-12

13The Israelites were only to gather enough manna for that day. However on the Sabbath they were not to gather manna. Instead they were to gather twice as much on Fridays to accommodate the Sabbath. Exodus 16:4-5



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