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The Seventh Shema

by Paul Sumner

  Resonance. Harmonics. Chord resolution. It's what we find over and over in the New Covenant (Testament).

The Hebrew Scriptures are the ottava bassa. The stories and letters and revelation about Yeshua are the ottava alta that re-echo off golden Jerusalem stones, resolving the themes and movements and dissonance of the ancient grand music.

The Hebrew word shema is a command. It means hear or obey (someone). Often it means both. We're familiar with the servant's response to his king: "To hear is to obey." An Old World expression; a Hebraic covenant principle.

The Five Shemas
The command "Shema Yisrael" occurs five times in the Hebrew Bible, all in the book of Deuteronomy. In the first passage, shema is a command to hear-and-obey. In the others, it means "pay close attention to the following word."

Shema, O Israel, (to) the laws and rules that I proclaim to you today. (5:1)
Shema, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is the one and only. (6:4)
Shema, O Israel! You are about to cross the Jordan. (9:1)
Shema, O Israel! You are about to join battle with your enemy. (20:3)
Shema, O Israel! Today you have become the people of the LORD your God. (27:9)


A Sixth Shema
A sixth shema occurs in Deuteronomy 4:1, with different word order: Yisrael shema. Its meaning is much the same as 5:1.

O Israel, shema (to) the laws and rules that
I am instructing you to observe.
As the Second Generation is about to enter Canaan (the land given to them by the LORD), they must prepare spiritually and morally. If they would remain in the Land and know his blessing Presence, they must hear and do all that the Redeemer has said to, and done for, them.

The Seventh Shema — Prophesied
(Deuteronomy 18)

What is not often mentioned is Moses' Seventh Shema in Deuteronomy 18.

There, in God's name and authority, Moses tells Israel that God will raise up another prophet like himself. He will put His very "words in [the prophet's] mouth." And because he will speak "in [God's] name," the prophet will be in God's stead among the people.

As Moses was "God" [le-elohim] to the people (Exod 7:1), so this Coming Prophet will be God's authoritative Voice. "He will speak to them all that I [God] command him" (v. 18b).

The good news is: God will not leave Israel orphans. When Moses is gone, Another will come to fill his role. Someone they will be recognize because of what God has done — and said — through Moses.


After prophesying about this Other Prophet, Moses commands Israel again:

Elayv tishma'un — Him you shall heed, listen to, obey. (Deut 18:15)

Tishma'un is the plural command form of the verb shama. The people must, in the future, shama the Coming Prophet, as they had (erradically) heard and obeyed Moses himself. If they don't, they will be paid dier consequences: "Whoever will not listen [shama] to My [God's] words [spoken by the Prophet], I myself will call him to account" (v. 19b).

This prophecy became one of many partial chords in Israel's songs of messianic expectation. When will "the Prophet" come to complete and resolve the chord?


The Seventh Shema — Fulfilled
(Matthew 17)

The gospel of Matthew records a visionary, mountaintop experience involving Yeshua and three of his disciples: Peter, Jacob and John (chap. 17).

Just as the Kavod (Glory) of God had appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai, a "bright cloud" appeared and "overshadowed" the disciples and Yeshua. Then a Voice came from the cloud:

This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased. Hear him!
(v. 5)
If we translate the last phrase into Hebrew, we read:
Elayv tishma'un — Him you shall heed, listen to, obey.
These are the identical words Moses commanded Israel regarding the coming Prophet. And elayv tishma'un is how the Modern Hebrew NT versions of Delitzsch, Salkinson, and the Israel Bible Society all render this phrase in Matthew 17:5.

The echo with Deuteronomy 18:15 rings bell-tone perfect.


The Voice of God
Yeshua said he came in God's name (John 5:43) and spoke only the words of God, his Father (John 3:34). John the Immerser said of him,

He whom God has sent speaks the words of God,
for He gives the Ruach without measure. (John 3:34)
Note the verbal link between "the Ruach" (divine Breath) and his speaking God's words.

Isaiah also linked being anointed with the Ruach and "breathing in" [ravach, same root as ruach]. In this case, the Anointed would breathe reverence for the Lord. Then he would breathe out a sin-piercing Breath (ruach) and slay God's enemies (Isa 11:2-4).

By his words and actions, Yeshua was stepping into the role of the prophesied Prophet of Deuternomy 18. He was announcing himself as "That One" — the one they expected because they knew and heeded Moses (John 4:25-26).

Yeshua was preparing the Third Generation of Israel to re-enter the Land of promise with his message that the Kingdom was near, and to press outward into the lands of the Goyim to bring them into "the eternal covenant" (Heb 13:20).

The scene in Matthew 17 involving Yeshua on the mountain of revelation — enshrouded by the Cloud of the holy Presence — becomes an early reiteration, fulfillment, and thematic conclusion to one of the many movements in the ancient grand "Symphony in Alef-Tav."

. . . the Prophet sent by the LORD your God.

A true Hebrew prophet is God's messenger (malakh; Grk angelos).

He (or she) has overheard the deliberations and decisions in the divine Council chambers, and is then dispatched to deliver what he heard to God's people.

The prophet may predict the future, but not always. Whatever he says in God's name is God's Davar or Word. [Haggai 1:13; Jer 23:18, 22; Isa 6:8; Zech 3; Isa 1:10; Jer 2:4; Ezek 18:25.]



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