Mark 12:29 The first of all the commandments [is], Hear, O Israel;

KJV Verse: 

Mark 12:29 The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:

Greek Verse: 

Mark 12:29 Πρώτη ἐστίνἌκουε, Ἰσραήλ, Κύριος ” “θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστίν, ”

Deu 6:4  ἄκουε Ισραηλ κύριος ὁ θεὸς ἡμῶν κύριος εἷς ἐστιν

Literal Alternative: 

First is: Hear, Israel;  Master, that God of yours, master one he is.

Interesting and Hidden Aspects: 

This is a word for word quote from the Septuagint version of  Deu 6:4. It is much simpler than the version about loving God in Matthew 22:37, a word-for-word quote from the Greek Septuagint, Deu 6:5.

The only command here, that is, the only verb in the imperative form, is to "hear and understand." The first command is for us to listen and understand not to actually do or be anything. Our primary role is to learn.

The word "Lord" is one of the many words whose meaning has been changed by the Bible. We use "Lord" and "God" interchangeably, almost exclusively in a religious sense. It also applies to hereditary nobility, but that isn't a common topic of conversation. In Christ's time, "lords" were much more common. The idea was simply that a person had power over something, coming from his ownership of it. Each man was the lord of his house. Ownership was the source of power over something.

In an era when slavery was common practice and an accepted par of life (see this article), the lordship of one person over another was a basic idea. The focus here is on God's lordship over everything, not simply his oneness.

KJV Analysis: 

The -- There is no Greek word that is translated as "the" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. It was added for clarity.

first -- The word translated as "first" takes a lot of different types of "first" meanings from its context. Here, it is technically an adjective but it plays the role of the English adverb "initially." The gender of this adjective matches the gender of the word "commandment" so it clearly refers to it from the question Jesus was asked.

of all the commandments  -- There is no Greek words that is translated as "of all the commandments" in the source we use today but it does exist in the source that the KJV translators used.

is, -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics.

Hear, -- "Hear" is translated from a Greek word that has the same sense as the English not only of listening but of understanding.

O -- There is no Greek word that is translated as "O" in the source we use today nor was there one in the source that the KJV translators used. It was added for dramatic purposes.

Israel; -- This is the Hebrew name in Greek letters, but Jesus uses it to refer to the nation.

The  -- The word translated as "the" is the Greek definite article, but this word preceders the word for "God" not the word for "Lord." The Greek article is much closer to our demonstrative pronouns ("this", "that", "these", "those"). See this article for more. 

Lord -- The word translated as "master" is the same word that is often translated as "Lord" or "the Lord" in the NT. It also means "lord", "master of the house," and "head of the family." It is the specific terms for the master of slaves or servants, but it was a common term of respect both for those in authority and who were honored. It was the term people used to address Christ, even though he had no formal authority. Today, we would say "boss" or "chief".

our -- The "our" is the plural possessive first-person pronoun. 

God -- The word translated as "God" means "God" and "deity." It is introduced with an article, so "the God." Jesus often uses it this way perhaps to indicate the one God as opposed to the pagan gods.

is -- The verb "is" here is the common form of "to be" in Greek. It means to have a certain characteristic or remain in a certain condition. It also equates terms or assigns characteristics. This verse is the ending word int the verse.

one -- The Greek word translated as "one thing" means "one" (as opposed to other numbers), "single," and "one and the same."As in English, it can be used as a pronoun, meaning a single person.

Lord: -- The word translated as "master" is the same word that is often translated as "Lord" or "the Lord" in the NT. It also means "lord", "master of the house," and "head of the family." It is the specific terms for the master of slaves or servants, but it was a common term of respect both for those in authority and who were honored. It was the term people used to address Christ, even though he had no formal authority. Today, we would say "boss" or "chief".

Greek Vocabulary: 

Πρώτη ( adj sg fem nom ) "First" is protos. In place, this means "before", "in front," and, as a noun, "the foremost." Of time, it means "former", "earlier," and, as a noun, "the initial." In order, it means "the first." In math, it means the prime numbers. Of rank or degree, it means "superior" or, as a noun, "the highest" or "the best."

ἐστίν ( verb 3rd sg pres ind act ) "Is" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen",  and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

Ἄκουε, ( verb 2nd sg pres imperat act ) "Hear" is akouo, which means "hear of", "hear tell of", "what one actually hears", "know by hearsay", "listen to", "give ear to", "hear and understand," and "understand."

Ἰσραήλ, (Hebrew name) "Isreal" is from the Greek spelling of the Hebrew word.

Κύριος (noun sg masc nom) "Lord" is kyrios (kurios), which means "having power", "being in authority" and "being in possession of." It also means "lord", "master of the house," and "head of the family." -- The word translated as "master" is the same word that is often translated as "Lord" or "the Lord" in the NT. It also means "lord", "master of the house," and "head of the family." It is the specific terms for the master of slaves or servants, but it was a common term of respect both for those in authority and who were honored. It was the term people used to address Christ, even though he had no formal authority. Today, we would say "boss" or "chief".

(article sg masc nom) "The" is the Greek definite article, hos, ("the").

θεὸς (noun sg masc nom) "God" is theos, which means "God," the Deity."

ἡμῶν (pro 1st pl gen) "Our" is hemon, which is the plural possessive (genitive) form of the first-personal pronoun. 

κύριος  (noun sg masc nom) "Lord" is kyrios (kurios), which means "having power", "being in authority" and "being in possession of." It also means "lord", "master of the house," and "head of the family."

εἷς ( noun sg masc nom ) "One" is heis, which means "one" (as opposed to other numbers), "single," and "one and the same." This adjective is irregular, having a number of forms depending on sex, number, and case: heis, henos, heni, hen, hena, mia, mias, miai, mian; hen, henos, hen. 

ἐστίν, ” ( verb 3rd sg pres ind act ) "Is" is eimi, which means "to be", "to exist", "to be the case," of circumstance and events "to happen",  and "is possible." (The future form is esomai. The 3rd person present indicative is "esti.")

Wordplay: 

The modern emphasis is on the meaning here of the "oneness" of God, but in Greek, like English, the word "one" doesn't only mean only the number "one," but also a single individual, acting like a pronoun. Christ plays with this dual meaning here connecting it to the repeating the word for "lord" (kurios) to emphasize that its actual meaning is "having power."  Its root word is kuria, meaning "power", "authority", "possession," and "control."

Related Verses: 

Nov 28 2019