Watch the video above and talk about it with a group or mentor. Learn more.

What did “love” mean in the Old Testament? Learn more about Judaism’s most famous prayer, the Shema.

Key Points:

  • As a general rule, “ahavah” is about affection and care and is typically translated that way into English from Hebrew.
  • God’s ahavah toward Israel in the Old Testament (OT) is not because the Israelites had earned love or were especially worthy of it for some reason (Jeremiah 31:3).
  • God’s love is not merely a feeling, but an action (Deuteronomy 4:37). In Deuteronomy 4, Moses says that God’s ahavah led him to take action by leading Israel out of slavery in Egypt.
  • We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). If we love God, we will not live in a way that is inconsistent with this love.

Quote This:

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (NASB) Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

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Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. Read Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and John 14:15. How should the Shema play into the Christian life? Should it play in at all? Explain.
  3. How do you define love? Explain.
  4. How does knowing you are loved by others help you to succeed in life and to live faithfully to God?
  5. What is the interplay between feelings of love and actions of love toward other people?
  6. What is the interplay between feelings of love and actions of love toward God?
  7. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

This is part of the Hebrew Word Studies series.