Deuteronomy 6:8
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
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(8) And thou shalt bind them . . .—From this precept the Jews derive the use of the Tephillin, the portions of the Law which they bind upon the head or arm when about to pray.

Deuteronomy 6:8. Thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand — As at that time there were few written copies of the whole law, and the people had it read to them only at the feast of tabernacles, God seems to have appointed, at least for the present, that some select sentences of the law, that were most weighty and comprehensive, should literally be written upon their gates and walls, or on slips of parchment, to be worn about their wrists, or bound upon their foreheads. The spirit of the command, however, and the chief thing intended, undoubtedly was, that they should give all diligence and use all means to keep God’s laws always in remembrance, as men frequently bind something upon their hands, or put something before their eyes, to prevent forgetfulness of a thing which they much desire to remember.

6:6-16 Here are means for maintaining and keeping up religion in our hearts and houses. 1. Meditation. God's words must be laid up in our hearts, that our thoughts may be daily employed about them. 2. The religious education of children. Often repeat these things to them. Be careful and exact in teaching thy children. Teach these truths to all who are any way under thy care. 3. Pious discourse. Thou shalt talk of these things with due reverence and seriousness, for the benefit not only of thy children, but of thy servants, thy friends and companions. Take all occasions to discourse with those about thee, not of matters of doubtful disputation, but of the plain truths and laws of God, and the things that belong to our peace. 4. Frequent reading of the word. God appointed them to write sentences of the law upon their walls, and in scrolls of parchment to be worn about their wrists. This seems to have been binding in the letter of it to the Jews, as it is to us in the intent of it; which is, that we should by all means make the word of God familiar to us; that we may have it ready to use upon all occasions, to restrain us from sin, and direct us in duty. We must never be ashamed to own our religion, nor to own ourselves under its check and government. Here is a caution not to forget God in a day of prosperity and plenty. When they came easily by the gift, they would be apt to grow secure, and unmindful of the Giver. Therefore be careful, when thou liest safe and soft, lest thou forget the Lord. When the world smiles, we are apt to make court to it, and expect our happiness in it, and so we forget Him who is our only portion and rest. There is need of great care and caution at such a time. Then beware; being warned of your danger, stand upon your guard. Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God; neither by despairing of his power and goodness, while we keep in the way of our duty; nor by presuming upon it, when we turn aside out of that way.By adopting and regulating customary usages (e. g. Egyptian) Moses provides at once a check on superstition and a means of keeping the Divine Law in memory. On the "frontlets," the "phylacteries" of the New Test. Matthew 23:5, see Exodus 13:16. On Deuteronomy 6:9; Deuteronomy 11:20 is based the Jewish usage of the mezuzah. This word denotes properly a door-post, as it is rendered here and in Exodus 12:7, Exodus 12:22; Exodus 21:6 etc. Among the Jews however, it is the name given to the square piece of parchment, inscribed with Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21, which is rolled up in a small cylinder of wood or metal, and affixed to the right-hand post of every door in a Jewish house. The pious Jew touches the mezuzah on each occasion of passing, or kisses his finger, and speaks Psalm 121:8 in the Hebrew language. CHAPTER 6

De 6:1-25. Moses Exhorts Israel to Hear God and to Keep His Commandments.

1-9. Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them … whither ye go to possess it—The grand design of all the institutions prescribed to Israel was to form a religious people, whose national character should be distinguished by that fear of the Lord their God which would ensure their divine observance of His worship and their steadfast obedience to His will. The basis of their religion was an acknowledgment of the unity of God with the understanding and the love of God in the heart (De 6:4, 5). Compared with the religious creed of all their contemporaries, how sound in principle, how elevated in character, how unlimited in the extent of its moral influence on the heart and habits of the people! Indeed, it is precisely the same basis on which rests the purer and more spiritual form of it which Christianity exhibits (Mt 22:37; Mr 12:30; Lu 10:27). Moreover, to help in keeping a sense of religion in their minds, it was commanded that its great principles should be carried about with them wherever they went, as well as meet their eyes every time they entered their homes. A further provision was made for the earnest inculcation of them on the minds of the young by a system of parental training, which was designed to associate religion with all the most familiar and oft-recurring scenes of domestic life. It is probable that Moses used the phraseology in De 6:7 merely in a figurative way, to signify assiduous, earnest, and frequent instruction; and perhaps he meant the metaphorical language in De 6:8 to be taken in the same sense also. But as the Israelites interpreted it literally, many writers suppose that a reference was made to a superstitious custom borrowed from the Egyptians, who wore jewels and ornamental trinkets on the forehead and arm, inscribed with certain words and sentences, as amulets to protect them from danger. These, it has been conjectured, Moses intended to supersede by substituting sentences of the law; and so the Hebrews understood him, for they have always considered the wearing of the Tephilim, or frontlets, a permanent obligation. The form was as follows: Four pieces of parchment, inscribed, the first with Ex 13:2-10; the second with Ex 13:11-16; the third with De 6:1-8; and the fourth with De 11:18-21, were enclosed in a square case or box of tough skin, on the side of which was placed the Hebrew letter (shin), and bound round the forehead with a thong or ribbon. When designed for the arms, those four texts were written on one slip of parchment, which, as well as the ink, was carefully prepared for the purpose. With regard to the other usage supposed to be alluded to, the ancient Egyptians had the lintels and imposts of their doors and gates inscribed with sentences indicative of a favorable omen [Wilkinson]; and this is still the case, for in Egypt and other Mohammedan countries, the front doors of houses (in Cairo, for instance) are painted red, white, and green, bearing conspicuously inscribed upon them such sentences from the Koran, as "God is the Creator," "God is one, and Mohammed is his prophet." Moses designed to turn this ancient and favorite custom to a better account and ordered that, instead of the former superstitious inscriptions, there should be written the words of God, persuading and enjoining the people to hold the laws in perpetual remembrance.

Thou shalt give all diligence, and use all means, to keep them in thy remembrance, as men ofttimes bind something upon their hands, or put it before their eyes, to prevent forgetfulness of a thing which they much desire to remember: compare Proverbs 3:3 6:21 7:3. See Poole "Exodus 13:16".

And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand,.... As a man ties anything to his hand for a token, that he may remember somewhat he is desirous of; though the Jews understand this literally, of binding a scroll of parchment, with this section and others written in it, upon their left hand, as the Targum of Jonathan here interprets the hand:

and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes; and which the same Targum interprets of the Tephilim, or phylacteries, which the Jews wear upon their foreheads, and on their arms, and so Jarchi; of which See Gill on Matthew 23:5.

And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
8. thou shalt bind them for a sign … for frontlets, etc.] See for the exact meanings the notes on Exodus 13:9; Exodus 13:16. As there, so here probably the injunction is to be taken metaphorically and not literally, as the later Jews understood it, though they carried it out not by tattooing, which seems the meaning here, but by writing these words as well as Deuteronomy 11:15-21 and Exodus 13:1-16 on small parchment rolls, enclosing them in metal covers, and wearing them, bound on the arm and brow, at morning prayer. They are called in late Hebrew tephillin and in the N.T. φυλακτἡρια. See E.B. ‘Frontlets.’

Verse 8. - The words of God were to be bound for a sign [a memorial or directory] upon thine hand, the instrument of acting, and to be as frontlets [fillets or bands] between thine eyes, the organs of direction in walking or moving, and so on the forehead, the chamber of thought and purpose; and they were to inscribe them on the posts of their houses, and on their gates. The purport of this is that they were constantly and everywhere to have these commandments of the Lord in view and in mind, so as to undeviatingly observe them. It seems, however, to have been a custom widely prevalent among the ancient Eastern peoples to carry about their persons slips of parchment or some other material, on which were written sentences of moral or religious import; and such sentences they were also wont to inscribe on conspicuous places of their dwellings; usages still to be found among the Moslems (see Wilkinson, 'Ancient Egyptians,' 3:364; Lane, 'Modern Egypt,' 1:358; Russell, 'Nat. Hist. of Aleppo;' Thomson, 'Land and the Book,' 1:216), and the latter of which was not altogether unknown among Western nations (cf. Virgil, 'Georg.' lit. 26, etc.), of which traces may still be seen in Switzerland, Germany, and on old houses in both England and Scotland. This custom originated, probably, in a desire to have the sentiments inscribed always in mind; but for the most part these inscriptions came to be regarded as amulets or charms, the presence of which on the person or the house was a safeguard against evil influences, especially such as were supernatural. By the Jews this custom was followed; and they regarded it as authorized by the injunction of Moses in this passage. Taking his words literally, they had their tôtâphoth and their mezuzah, the former of which - the phylacteries of the New Testament - were strips of parchment, on which passages of the Law (Exodus 13:2-10, 11-17; Deuteronomy 6:4-10, 13-22) were written, and these, enclosed in a box, were bound on the forehead and left wrist, and worn at prayers by the worshippers; the latter a slip of parchment, on which were written certain passages of Scripture (vers. 4-9; Deuteronomy 11:13-21), and which, enclosed in a reed or cylinder, was fixed on the right-hand doorpost of every room in the house (see arts. 'Mezuzah' and 'Phylacteries' in Kitto's 'Biblical Cyclopedia,' 3rd edit.). Deuteronomy 6:8But for the love of God to be of the right kind, the commandments of God must be laid to heart, and be the constant subject of thought and conversation. "Upon thine heart:" i.e., the commandments of God were to be an affair of the heart, and not merely of the memory (cf. Deuteronomy 11:18). They were to be enforced upon the children, talked of at home and by the way, in the evening on lying down and in the morning on rising up, i.e., everywhere and at all times; they were to be bound upon the hand for a sign, and worn as bands (frontlets) between the eyes (see at Exodus 13:16). As these words are figurative, and denote an undeviating observance of the divine commands, so also the commandment which follows, viz., to write the words upon the door-posts of the house, and also upon the gates, are to be understood spiritually; and the literal fulfilment of such a command could only be a praiseworthy custom or well-pleasing to God when resorted to as the means of keeping the commandments of God constantly before the eye. The precept itself, however, presupposes the existence of this custom, which is not only met with in the Mahometan countries of the East at the present day (cf. A. Russell, Naturgesch. v. Aleppo, i. p. 36; Lane, Sitten u. Gebr. i. pp. 6, 13, ii. p. 71), but was also a common custom in ancient Egypt (cf. Wilkinson, Manners and Customs, vol. ii. p. 102).

(Note: The Jewish custom of the Medusah is nothing but a formal and outward observance founded upon this command. It consists in writing the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Deuteronomy 11:13-20 upon a piece of parchment, which is then placed upon the top of the doorway of houses and rooms, enclosed in a wooden box; this box they touch with the finger and then kiss the finger on going either out or in. S. Buxtorf, Synag. Jud. pp. 582ff.; and Bodenschatz. Kirchl. Verfassung der Juden, iv. pp. 19ff.)

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