Are You Smarter Than a (Jewish) Fifth Grader?

I’m pretty much an expert on the Bible. I grew up in a Christian home, went to a Christian high school, attended church all my life, and took a few classes on the Bible in college. I can define terms like “hypostatic union,” “dispensationalism,” and “amillenialism.” So I think it’s safe to say I’m a Scripture guru.

That’s what I tend to think of myself most of the time. But every now and then, something will happen that changes my tune completely. One of these things happened yesterday.

I forgot where to find the Ten Commandments.

This wasn’t just one of those things where I thought they were in chapter x when they were really in chapter y. I couldn’t even remember what book to look in. I was clueless. My wife saw me Googling “where are the Ten Commandments” and made sure to give me a hard time about it. I think I’ve mentioned before that The Giving of Hard Times is one of her love languages.

I was even more ashamed when, later that evening, my wife reminded me that in ancient Jewish culture, most boys had memorized the first five books of the Old Testament by the time they were ten years old. That’s embarrassing. I think I could maybe recall four or five verses from memory, and these little grade school kids were reciting four or five books.

My first response, however, was not embarrassment. I tried to get myself off the hook by rationalizing: Well, let’s be fair. These kids devoted a big chunk of their lives to memorization and study of the Torah. Unfortunately, instead of getting me off the hook, this thought just made me feel even more convicted.

How much time do we actually spend studying the Word of God? How much time do we actually spend trying to memorize it? We live in a culture where information is so easily available that the only thing we memorize anymore are the words to our favorite song. I feel like something’s a little backwards when I can belt out the latest Ke$ha song but can’t even think of single verse out of Leviticus.

Memorization is hard. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself I’d memorize a passage of Scripture and after a couple weeks given up after realizing I’d only made it through two or three verses. But it’s important. Sometimes we’re faced with situations where we need Scripture immediately, and we don’t have time to sit down and Google “where are the Ten Commandments.”

They’re in Exodus, by the way. Thanks, Internet.

Question of the Week
Do you memorize Scripture? What are some tricks you use to remember?

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One thought on “Are You Smarter Than a (Jewish) Fifth Grader?

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