Every morning and evening Jews say “The Shema” which is a prayer from Deuteronomy 6:4-5.

“Hear, O Isreal, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one, and as for you, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength.”

I love listening to podcasts before bed and I stumbled across the “The Bible Project” which had a series on the Hebrew words and meaning in the Shema.

There were six words that they studied, Shema / Listen, YHWH / Lord, Ahavah / Love, Lev / Heart, Nephesh / Soul and Me’od / Strength. All the studies were very enlightening but the last one really challenged me.

Me’od is mentioned over 300 times in the Bible but never means simply ‘strength’. There is a perfectly good word for strength, Koakh. In Genesis, God calls the world good six times and the seventh time ME’OD good (Gen 1:31). In the story of Noah, the waters become ME’OD powerful (Gen 7:38). In the story of Cain and Abel, Cain wasn’t just angry at his brother but ME’OD angry (Gen 4:5). When Saul became the King of Isreal he became ME’OD happy (1 Sam 11:15). Jacob became so wealthy it is described as ME’OD, ME’OD wealthy (Gen 30:43).

ME’OD is used as an adverb to intensify the meaning of a word to its fullness e.g. very, extremely, abundantly, fully.

The message in the Shema is to love God not just with your heart and soul, but to love him extremely, abundantly and fully. ME’OD is not about one part of your life but every part. Every moment, every opportunity, every ability and capacity, offers a chance to love God.

When Jesus was asked what the most important command was, he answered in part with the Shema. The extreme, all-encompassing command to love is one we consistently fall short of, but through Christ’s death and resurrection we are free from failure and can embrace moving closer to how God wants us to be.

I really recommend the website and podcast https://thebibleproject.com/explore/shema-listen/. It has helped me connect with the Bible and what God is saying through it.