Shema (2)

Shema Of the many prayers now constituting the Jewish ritual, the Shema, so called from the first word, שׁמִע, i.e. hear, occurring in it, was the only really fixed form of daily prayer which is mentioned at an early period. Being a kind of confession of faith, every Israelite was to repeat it morning and evening. The Shema itself consists of three passages from the Pentateuch:

1. Shema Israel (De 6:4-9);

2. Vehayah im shamoa (11:13-21); and

Bible concordance for SHEMA.

3. Vayomer Jehovah el Mosheh (Nu 15:37-41). In the morning it was preceded by two and succeeded by one, and in the evening both preceded and succeeded by two prayers, which, although considerably enlarged, are still in use. We quote them (omitting all later additions), as probably in use at the time of our Lord:

Before the Shema, Morning and Evening.—"Blessed art thou, O Lord, King of the world, who formest the light and createst darkness, who makest peace and createst everything; who in mercy givest light to the earth and to those who dwell upon it, and in thy goodness renewest day by day, and continually, the works of creation. Blessed be the Lord our God for the glory of his handiworks, and for the light-giving lights which he hath made for his praise, Selah! Blessed be the Lord who formed the lights!" Subjecting the second prayer to the same criticism, we read it:

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

"With great love thou hast loved us, O Lord our God! and with thy great compassion thou hast abundance of pity on us. O our Father! our King! for the sake of our fathers who trusted in thee, to whom thou didst teach the statutes of life, have compassion on us, and enlighten our eyes in thy law, and bind our hearts in thy commandments. O unite our hearts to love and fear thy name, that we may not be abashed for evermore. For thou art a God who preparest salvation, and us hast thou chosen from among all nations and tongues, and hast in truth brought us near to thy great name, Selah, in order that we in love may praise thee and praise thy unity. Blessed be the Lord who in love chose his people Israel, ." Then follows the Shema:

"Hear, O Israel: the Lord thy God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, land with, all thy might, and these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the; way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates" (De 6:4-9). "And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I commanded you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full. Take heed to yourselves that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside and serve other gods, and Worship them; and the Lord's wrath be kindled against, you, and he shut, up the heaven, that there be no rain and that the land yields not her fruit; amid lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth you. Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they many be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in a thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them as the days of heaven upon the earth" (De 11:13 -21). "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes, in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: and it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the.Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your town heart and your own eyes, after which ye used to go astray: that ye may remember and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God. I am the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God" (Nu 15:37-41). The morning prayers concluded with the following, now in use: "It is true that thou art the Lord our God, and the God of our fathers; our Redeemer, and the Redeemer of our fathers; our Rock, and the Rock of our salvation. Our Redeemer and Deliverer; this is thy name from everlasting; there is no other God besides thee. A new song did they that were delivered sing to thy name by the seashore, together did all praise, and own thee King, and say, Jehovah shall reign world without end! Blessed be the Lord who saveth Israel." An addition dating from the 2d century inserts before the words "A new song, " etc., a particular record of God's past dealings. The additional prayer for the evening is as follows:

"O Lord our God! cause us to lie, down in peace, and raise us up, O our King! to a happy lifte. Oh spread thy pavilion of peace over us, and direct us with good counsel from thy presence; and save us for the sake of thy name. Oh shield us, and remove from us the stroke of the enemy, the pestilence, sword, famine, and sorrow: and remove the adversary from before and behind us and conceal us under the shadow of thy wings; for thou, O God! art our Guardian and Deliverer; and thou, O God! art a merciful and gracious King. Oh guard us at our going out and coming in with a happy and peaceable life, from henceforth and forevermore." Although these prayers were sometimes lengthened or shortened, they were at a very early period in general use among the Hebrews. Like many other things these prayers were made the subject of casuistic discussions, and the very first pages of the Talmud are crowded with questions and answers as to "how" and "when" the Shema is to be read (see treatise Berachoth). Women and servants and little children, or those under twelve years, are exempted by the Mishna from this obligation. See Zuni, Gottesd. Vortrage den Juden p. 367, 369-371; Schurer, Lehrbuch der neutestament Zeitgeschichte, p. 499 sq.; Prideaux, Connection (Wheeler's led.), 1, 31; Etheridge Introduction to Hebrew literature, p.93 sq.; Edersheim, History the Jewish Nation, p. 360 sq. SEE PHYLACTERY. (B.P.)

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