(01285)(berit/berith/beriyth) means covenant, treaty, compact,
agreement between two parties (first use in God's covenant with Noah - Ge
6:18, 9:9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17). As discussed more below beriyth
describes a compact made by passing between pieces of flesh. Covenant is a solemn, binding arrangement between two parties and
entails a variety of responsibilities, benefits and penalties depending on
the specific covenant which is being studied. OT covenants were made
between God and man (eg, God with Noah - Ge 6:18, with Abram - Ge 15:18)
or between men (Abraham and Abimelech - Ge 21:27, Isaac and Abimelech - Ge
26:28, Jacob and Laban - Ge 31:44) (For summary of covenants see -
Covenant in the Bible).
Covenant can be summarized as
(1) Between two parties (sometimes
equal, other times superior to inferior) -- (a) nations -- (peace)
treaty, alliance of friendship (b) individuals -- a pledge or
agreement with mutual obligations to each other (c) monarch and
subjects (2Sa 3:21, 5:3, 1Chr 11:3) -- a constitution (d) God and
man -- Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, New Covenants. TWOT
Apart from blood ties the covenant was
the way people of the ancient world formed wider relationships with each
other The accounts of the relationship between David and Jonathan
are the only unequivocal mention of a compact between two individuals in
the Old Testament (1Sa 18:3; 20:8; 23:18). It is spoken of as “a covenant
of the Lord” because the Lord witnessed the transaction and protected the
(2) Accompanied by (a) signs
(also witnesses, memorials, shared meals) (b) sacrifices, (c)
solemn, binding oaths -- sealing the relationship with promises of
blessing for keeping the covenant and curses for breaking the covenant (d)
Sometimes with written document on which the words of the covenant, its
terms in the form of promises and stipulations were spelled out, witnessed
to, signed and sealed. Behm (TDNT) notes that in ancient times
There is no firmer guarantee of legal
security peace or personal loyalty than the covenant (e.g., Amos 1:9).
(3) Is depicted in the idiomatic phrase
"make (cut) a covenant" in which there is was a blood sacrifice as
part of the covenant ritual.
Almost 100 years
ago, Andrew Murray motivated by a waning understanding regarding
the truth and power inherent in the Biblical truth of covenant
One of the words of Scripture, which is
almost going out of fashion, is the word 'Covenant'. There was a
time when it was the keynote of the theology and the Christian life of
strong and holy men. We know how deep in Scotland it entered into the
national life and thought. It made mighty men, to whom God, and His
promise and power were wonderfully real. It will be found still to bring
strength and purpose to those who will take the trouble to bring all their
life (Ed: and their marriages) under control of the inspiring
assurance that they are living in covenant with a God who has sworn
faithfully to fulfill in them every promise He has given. (Two Covenants - Index - Andrew
The majority of the the OT uses of
beriyth are translated as covenant (275/285 uses) and the
majority of these are translated into Greek using the word
diatheke [word study],
which was a common technical word used in the Greco-Roman law to describe
the settlement of an inheritance (i.e., a "last will and testament") and
used in the NT to describe the "self-commitment, promises, and conditions
by which [God] entered into relationship with man" (Friberg).
Vine says this about the use
used in the Greek Septuagint to
translate the Hebrew word Beriyth...
The wholly gracious and effective
character of God’s “covenant” is confirmed in the Septuagint by the choice
of diatheke to translate berit/beriyth. A diatheke is a will that
distributes one’s property after death according to the owner’s wishes. It
is completely unilateral.
ISBE says that
In essence a covenant is an
agreement, but an agreement of a solemn and binding force. The early
Semitic idea of a covenant was doubtless that which prevailed among the
Arabs. This was primarily blood-brotherhood, in which two men
became brothers by drinking each other’s blood. (Ed: Now that
sounds serious to me!) (Ed:
illustration in pagan culture).
Beriyth is used in the
context of marriage...
(Context Pr 2:16 = The adulteress) That leaves the companion of her
youth and forgets the covenant (Heb = beriyth;
diatheke) of her God (Proverbs 2:17)
Yet you say, ‘For what reason?’ Because
the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth,
against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion
and your wife by covenant (Heb = beriyth;
Then I (God speaking figuratively to
Israel, personified as a woman, specifically a woman He took as His wife -
see other OT ref = Isa 54:5, Je 31:32; Ho 2:19) passed by you and saw you,
and behold, you were at the time for love; so I spread My skirt over you
and covered your nakedness (Note: Ancient custom that is tantamount to a
"marriage proposal" - see Ru 3:9-note).
I also swore (Literally "sevened" ~ like repeating a declaration 7x) to
you and entered into a covenant (Heb = beriyth;
with you so that you became Mine," declares the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 16:8)
Covenant: As It Relates to Marriage
It has been well stated that there
was no firmer guarantee of legal security, peace or personal loyalty than
that found in the word covenant. In the ancient world the greatest tool
for covenant making came to be the written document on which the words of
the covenant, its terms in the form of promises and stipulations, were
spelled out, witnessed to, signed and sealed. In fact such covenant
documents abound in the ancient world.
The meaning of the Hebrew word for
covenant is illustrated in Genesis 15, the first use of the Hebrew
phrase "cut (Heb = karath) covenant (beriyth)" (often
translated in English Bibles by the Hebrew idiom "make [made] a
So He (God) said to him (Abram), "Bring
Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three
year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon." 10 Then he brought
all these to Him and cut them in two, and laid each half opposite the
other; but he did not cut the birds. 11 And the birds of prey came down
upon the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. 12 Now when the sun was
going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great
darkness fell upon him.
And it came about when the sun had set,
that it was very dark, and behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a
flaming torch which passed between these pieces. 18 On that day the LORD
made (cut = karath) a covenant (beriyth) with Abram, saying,
"To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as
far as the great river, the river Euphrates (Ge 15:9-12, 17, 18)
Comment: This passage
illustrates the meaning of an agreement or compact made by passing between
the halves of cut flesh. In this case using highly figurative language,
Moses records that it was Jehovah alone Who passed between the halves of
flesh, indicating God cut an unconditional covenant with Abram. Note that
the spillage of blood was part of the cutting of this covenant.
In another example of the meaning of
covenant the Lord declares...
And I will give the men who have
transgressed My covenant, who have not fulfilled the words of the covenant
which they made before Me, when they cut the calf in two and passed
between its parts-- the officials of Judah, and the officials of
Jerusalem, the court officers, and the priests, and all the people of the
land, who passed between the parts of the calf--and I will give them into
the hand of their enemies and into the hand of those who seek their life.
And their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the sky and the
beasts of the earth. (Jer 34:19-20)
Comment: Jeremiah records a
covenant between man and God but it was not an unconditional covenant like
the Abrahamic and New Covenants. Therefore we see that the failure of
the men to keep their covenant obligations brought severe consequences.
From these passages we can see that God is serious about covenant,
in this case taking the life of those who broke this covenant. We also see a
description of one meaning of the Hebrew word, specifically the passing or
walking between pieces of cut flesh of an animal. In contrast to Ge
15:18, where it was God Who passed through the pieces, in this covenant it
was the men who passed through the pieces of cut flesh. Note also that
that the cutting of covenant entailed the "spillage" of blood.
TWOT notes that
The etymology of the word is uncertain.
It may be related to the Akkadian word burru which means "to
establish a legal situation by testimony with an oath"; but some tie it to the Akkadian word
birtu "a fetter"
which is a derivative of the word meaning "between." Köhler claims the
word was related to the root b-r-h which has to do with the
food and eating involved in the covenant meal. The root is nowhere used as a
verb in the OT nor is any other derivative of this root used, but the
action involving covenant making employs the idiom "to cut a covenant"
(Ge 15:18 = first use - see next entry below), that is making a bloody sacrifice as part of the
covenant ritual. Köhler then would have the animal eaten in the covenant
R L, Archer, G L & Waltke, B K Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.
Moody Press or
ISBE agrees that...
The etymological force of the Hebrew
berith is not entirely certain. It is probable that the word is the same
as the Assyrian biritu, which has the common meaning “fetter,” but also
means “covenant.” The significance of the root from which this Assyrian
word is derived is uncertain. It is probable that it is “to bind,” but
that is not definitely established. The meaning of biritu as covenant
seems to come directly from the root, rather than as a derived meaning
from fetter. If this root idea is to bind, the covenant is that which
binds together the parties. This, at any rate, is in harmony with the
general meaning of the word.
In the Old Testament the word has an
ordinary use, when both parties are men (Abraham and Abimelech - Ge 21:27,
Isaac and Abimelech - Ge 26:28, Jacob and Laban - Ge 31:44, see also 2Ki
11:4), and a distinctly religious use,
between God and men. There can be no doubt that the religious use has come
from the ordinary, in harmony with the general custom in such cases, and
not the reverse. There are also two shades of meaning, somewhat distinct,
of the Hebrew word: one in which it is properly a covenant, i.e. a solemn
mutual agreement, the other in which it is more a command, i.e. instead of
an obligation voluntarily assumed, it is an obligation imposed by a
superior upon an inferior. This latter meaning, however, has clearly been
derived from the other. It is easy to see that an agreement, including as
the contracting parties those of unequal position, might readily include
those agreements which tended to partake of the nature of a command; but
the process could not readily be reversed.
"CUT A COVENANT"
Cut a covenant (karath
beriyth) - 49 times in the OT - Ge 15:18 Ge 21:27 21:32 26:28 31:44
Ex 34:10 34:12 34:15 34:27 Dt 5:2 Josh 9:6 9:7 9:11 9:16 24:25 1Sa 11:1
18:3 23:18 2Sa 3:12 3:13 3:21 5:3 1Ki 5:12 20:34 11:4 11:17 17:35 23:3
1Chr 11:3 2 Chr 23:3 23:16 29:10 34:31 Ezra 10:3 Neh 9:8 Job 31:1 41:4 Ps
50:5 89:3 28:15 Jer 34:8 34:13 34:15 Ezek 17:13 34:25 37:26 Ho 2:18 10:4
Ray Stedman once summarized
the distinction between the Old and New Covenants...
New Covenant: Nothing coming from me,
everything from God.
Old Covenant: Everything coming from
me, nothing from God.
Comment: While Pastor Stedman's summary is totally true, one needs
to fully understand what "nothing from me" really means. It
does not absolve the covenant partner from responsibility and it
certainly does not mean to imply just "let go and let God".
An excellent example is seen in God's UNCONDITIONAL covenant with Noah. In
other words, the covenant was a gift of God's grace, grace which would
fulfill the covenant promises. And yet did Noah have any responsibility?
Absolutely! He had to (1) build an ark over 120 years during which there
was apparently no rain and (2) he had to enter the ark in order to receive
the salvation God promised in the ark. Hebrews 11:7 summarizes the
By faith Noah, being warned by God
about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation
of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of
the righteousness which is according to faith. (He 11:7)
Comment: Notice this verse begins and
ends with faith. Note also that there is a "mini-definition" of faith
("things not yet seen" - cp He 11:1). Finally,
Covenant is strictly speaking
not a contract as Marshall explains...
In modern times we define a host of
relations by contracts. These are usually for goods or services and for
hard cash. The contract, formal or informal, helps to specify
failure in these relationships. The Lord did not establish a contract
with Israel or with the church. He created a covenant. There is a
Contacts are broken when one of
the parties fails to keep his promise. If, let us say, a patient fails to
keep an appointment with a doctor, the doctor is not obligated to call the
house and inquire, “Where were you? Why didn’t you show up for your
appointment?” He simply goes on to his next patient and has his
appointment secretary take note of the patient who failed to keep the
appointment. The patient may find it harder the next time to see the
doctor. He broke an informal contract. According to the Bible, however,
the Lord asks: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no
compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not
forget you!” (Isa. 49:15) The Bible indicates the covenant is more like
the ties of a parent to her child than it is a doctor’s appointment. If a
child fails to show up for dinner, the parent’s obligation, unlike the
doctor’s, isn’t canceled. The parent finds out where the child is and
makes sure he’s cared for. One member’s failure does not destroy the
relationship. A covenant puts no conditions on faithfulness. It is the
unconditional commitment to love and serve. (Jesus the Savior, IVP, 1990)
Related OT word:
Beriyt (01286) - name of a
Canaanite god combined with El (god) in Jdg 9:6 for the name of the temple
at Shechem (Jdg 0:46), El-Berith, "god of the covenant". Other Canaanite
gods were named Baal-berith (Jdg 8:33; 9:4). How quickly the people of
Israel "slipped" back into idolatry when Gideon died, choosing to worship
the Baals (this word means "lord"), specifically Baal-Berith (El-Berith)
instead of the true lord. Beloved, man is made to worship God and if he
refuses the true God, he will default to a false god, a god of his own
making which is really no god at all. Who or what are you worshipping?
Elohim or money, possessions, power, prestige, people, etc?
J. Gresham Machen
The covenant is an expression of God's
will, not man's, and man must listen to its terms, trust God that they are
holy and just and good, and order his life accordingly.
RELATED TO COVENANT
Spurgeon quotes related to
As we are under the covenant of
grace, we are secured against departing from the living God by the sure
declaration of the covenant.
Faith always sees the bow of
covenant promise whenever sense sees the cloud of affliction
The covenant is a rocky foundation
to build on for life or for death.
Remember the old Scotch wife, who
thanked God for the porridge, and then thanked Him that she had a covenant
right to the porridge, since He had said, "Verily, thou shalt be fed." Oh,
it makes life very sweet to take everything from the hand of a covenant
God, and to see in every mercy a new pledge of covenant faithfulness! It
makes life happy ; and it also inspires a believer to do great things for
his gracious God. Standing on covenant ground we feel consecrated to the
noblest ends. (Barbed Arrows from the Quiver of C. H. Spurgeon)
(The "covenant blessing") Do not be
satisfied with a little, weak, almost imperceptible, pulse of religion, of
which you can hardly judge whether it is there or not; but ask to feel the
divine energies working within you, the eternal omnipotence of God,
struggling and striving mightily in your spirit until sin shall be
conquered, and grace shall gloriously triumph. This is a covenant
blessing. Seek ye for it. (Listen to His sermon in Mp3 with a British
The Blood of the Covenant -
Hebrews 13:20, 21
Rather read it? =
The Blood of the Covenant)
Sermons by Spurgeon Related to
The Covenanter - Psalm 25:10
The Covenant Pleaded - Psalm 74:20
God’s Remembrance of His Covenant -
Psalm 106:44, 45
Covenant Blessings - Psalm 111:5
The Covenant - Psalm 111:5
Christ in the Covenant - Isaiah 49:8
Taking Hold of God’s Covenant - Isaiah
Twelve Covenant Mercies- Isaiah 55:3
The Bond of The Covenant- Ezekiel
Cleansing: A Covenant Blessing Ezekiel
Covenant Blessings - Ezekiel 36:26, 27
The Holy Spirit in the Covenant -
The Covenant Promise of the Spirit -
God in the Covenant - Jeremiah 31:33
The Blood of Christ’s Covenant-
The Messenger of the Covenant - Malachi
The Wondrous Covenant- Hebrews 8:10
The Blood of The Everlasting Covenant-
The Ark of His Covenant - Revelation
The Ark of His Covenant - Revelation
11:19 Jer 3:16
The "Priestly Covenant"
initially with Phinehas of Nu 25:12-13, the "Davidic Covenant" of
course with King David of 2Sa 7:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 and
the New Covenant of Jer 31:31 are all specific related to God's
Covenant of Grace (as opposed to the Covenant of Law). This
Covenant of Grace reaches its climax and consummation in the
Incarnation of Jesus Christ Who was (is) "full of grace and truth"
(Jn 1:14), Who was sent by His Father to be the personification of the
Covenant (Is 42:6) and the Messenger of that Covenant (Mal 3:1 - note
first "messenger" = John the Baptizer, Jesus = the second "Messenger") Who
fulfilled all the stipulations of the covenant of Law and bore the curse
we all deserve for breaking it. John describes how Jesus supersedes the
covenant of law making it "obsolete" (for all who have entered the
Covenant of Grace, typified by the New Covenant in His blood)...
For of His (Jesus') fulness we have all
received (specifically those who have received Him Jn 1:11, 12), and grace
("piled") upon grace (Abundant, sufficient grace). For the (Covenant of)
Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus
Christ (The Covenant of Grace was effected in His blood sacrifice at
Calvary and His resurrection was the Father's "exclamation point"
testifying that the covenant which had been cut was acceptable and that it
was everlasting). (Jn 1:16, 17)
The Shaw Pocket Bible Handbook
writes that covenant is...
A solemn agreement, such as the pact
between Jacob and Laban (Ge 31:44). God’s love and grace are shown in
the readiness to make covenants with people. When God promised Noah that
he would not again destroy the world with a flood, He made a covenant with
him (Ge 6:18; 9:9-17). A very important covenant existed between God and
Israel (Ex 24:1-8), which is pictured in the book of Hebrews as the
“old covenant.” When the people repeatedly broke that covenant, God
promised a new covenant based on forgiveness and the writing of His law on
people’s hearts (Jer 31:31-34). Jesus inaugurated this new covenant with
His blood (Mk 14:24; 1Co 11:25).
makes an interesting observation that...
it has been pointed out often that in Ge 2:4,5, 7, 8, 9 the
Name of God appears in a different form than in Genesis 1. We have for the first time the great
Name of God that appears
in so much of the rest of the Bible,
(or in the Hebrew,
Elohim, translated in our version, LORD God. There
is a special reason for this change. In Chapter 1 we are dealing with the
making of things, and God is presented to us under the name of
i.e., the Creator. But when man appears on the scene God appears also in a
different character. He now appears under the title of
means essentially the covenant-making God, the God Who keeps a promise.
is particularly significant that when God first reveals Himself to this
race of ours, it is as a God who intends to keep His promises.
J Dwight Pentecost writes...
In the NT we read of only two
covenants—the New and the Old, the former brought in and established by
Christ, and the latter in consequence ceasing to exist. The Old, i.e., the
covenant of law, with all its outward institutions and ritualistic
services, is regarded as the Old because its full and formal ratification
took place before the other. In germ the New Covenant (or that of grace)
existed from the first; and partial exhibitions of it have been given all
through the world’s history. It was involved in the promise of recovery at
AN IN DEPTH
UNDERSTANDING OF COVENANT?
Here is just some of the "fruit" you will glean from a study of
Covenant as defined by God in the Bible:
1) Deeper Understanding of the
- You will attain a grasp of the Word of God that far exceeds anything
that you have ever known or experienced before. More important however
than enhanced knowledge is a deepening of your relationship with your
Creator. The Truth of Covenant will be used by the Spirit of Truth to grow
you in your intimacy with your Father, and truly if this were the only
"fruit" of a better understanding of covenant it would be enough! You will
come to understand that while the word may not be specifically mentioned,
the truth of covenant permeates the entire Scripture. As one has described
it "the crimson thread of covenant is woven throughout the fabric of God's
truth from Genesis to Revelation."
One modern Christian writer
sounds the alarm and exhortation at the same time noting that...
The notion of a covenant is unfamiliar today. But the concept of covenant
is utterly basic to our understanding of Scripture. In Old Testament times
this complex concept was the foundation of social order and social
relations, and it was particularly the foundation for an understanding of
humanity's relationship with God.
2) Everything God Does in His
interaction with Man is Based on Covenant
- You will come to understand that all God's interactions with mankind
are based on covenant.
3) Better Understanding of the New Covenant
- You will obtain a deeper appreciation of the New Covenant with Jesus
Christ and what has taken place in your life when you entered into His New
Covenant. You will come to know that because of His Covenant of Grace you
can be assured that you will always be the "beloved of God" in
Christ Jesus Whose hands eternally bear the mark of covenant.
Stated another way, if you "wrestle" with your assurance of salvation
or the doctrine of "eternal security", covenant will solidify and
undergird those truths in your soul.
4) Assurance, Freedom, Power
- An understanding of Covenant will give you assurance of who you are
in Jesus Christ (your new identity) and of Whose you are in Him (your
responsibility). It will also give you freedom from what may have bound
you in the past or may be binding you right now, and awaken in you the
power that is yours in Christ Jesus, power based on your New Covenant life
in Christ. About 10 years ago one of the young men that was studying with
us, was so struck by some of the truths of Covenant that he was almost
instantly set free from an unforgiving spirit that had hamstrung him for
most of his Christian life. He is now serving in full time ministry. All
glory to God, amen? Amen!
5) An Attitude of Gratitude
- An understanding of God's Covenants will give you a deeper sense of
gratitude for what God has accomplished for you in sending His Son to
"cut" covenant with you.
6) Accountability and responsibility - As alluded to above, you will
have a greater understanding of your responsibility as a result of having
entered the New Covenant as you begin to see your role in the covenant
relationship with Christ.
7) Understand missing piece of the puzzle
- You will understand what it means to be in covenant with the
eternal, invisible, immortal God in Jesus Christ, and see as you have
never seen before that truly covenant is "the missing piece of the
puzzle". You will begin to see how the entire word of God fits together as
you grow in your understanding of the Abrahamic covenant, the old covenant
(Mosaic, "the Law"), and the New Covenant.
8) You will never be the same again
- Many have testified that as a result of beginning to truly
understand the meaning of covenant their spiritual life has undergone a
major transformation. This can also be your testimony if you persevere and
diligently pursue studying the Biblical truths about covenant.
CONCEPT OF COVENANT
Has covenant impacted history? Absolutely!
Clearly the Bible testifies to this truth, but even specific
historical events have been impacted by the powerful concept of covenant
as shown in the following example from the history of Scotland.
C H Spurgeon
writes about the great Scottish believers of yesteryear who understood
the solemn and binding nature of covenant and as result were
willing to lay down their lives to defend the truth (some even signing
their covenants with their own
The Covenanters— In my bedroom I
have hung up the picture of an old Covenanter. He sits in a wild glen with
his Bible open before him on a huge stone. He leans on his great
broadsword, and his horse stands quietly at his side. Evidently he
smelleth the battle afar off, and is preparing for it by drinking in some
mighty promise. As you look into the old man's face you can almost hear
him saying to himself,
"For the crown of Christ and the
I would gladly lay down my life this day."
They did lay down their lives, too,
right gloriously, and Scotland owes to her covenanting fathers far
more than she knows. It was a grand day that in which they spread the
Solemn League and the Covenant upon the tombstones of the old kirkyard in
Edinburgh, and all sorts of men came forward to set their names to it.
Glorious was that roll of worthies. There were the lords of the Covenant
and the common men of the Covenant; and some pricked a vein and dipped
the pen into their blood, that they might write their names with the
very fluid of their hearts.
All over England also there were men
who entered into a like solemn league and covenant, and met
together to worship God according to their light, and not according to
human order-books. They were resolved upon this one thing—that Rome should
not come back to place and power while they could lift a hand against her;
neither should any other power in throne or Parliament prevent the free
exercise of their consciences for Christ's cause and covenant.
These stern old men, with their stiff
notions have gone. And what have we in their places? Indifference and
frivolity. We have no Roundheads and Puritans; but then we have scientific
dress-making, and we play lawn-tennis! We have no contentions for the
faith (Jude 1:3); but then our amusements occupy all our time. This
wonderful nineteenth century has become a child, and put away manly
things. Self contained men, men in whom is the true grit, are now few and
far between as compared with the old covenanting days. (Barbed Arrows
from the Quiver of C. H. Spurgeon)
Solemn League and Covenant (1643)
285x in 265v in OT - NAS renders it
as - allied(1), allies*(1), covenant(275), covenants(1), El-berith*(1),
Ge 6:18 "But I will establish My
covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark-- you and your sons and
your wife, and your sons' wives with you.
Ge 9:9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17,
14:13; 15:18; 17:2, 4, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 19, 21; 21:27, 32; 26:28;
Ex 2:24; 6:4, 5; 19:5; 23:32; 24:7, 8;
31:16; 34:10, 12, 15, 27, 28;
Lev 2:13; 24:8; 26:9, 15, 25, 42, 44,
Nu 10:33; 14:44; 18:19; 25:12, 13;
Deut 4:13, 23, 31; 5:2, 3; 7:2, 9, 12;
8:18; 9:9, 11, 15; 10:8; 17:2; 28:69; 29:8, 11, 13, 20, 24; 31:9, 16, 20,
25, 26; 33:9;
Josh 3:3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17; 4:7, 9, 18;
6:6, 8; 7:11, 15; 8:33; 9:6, 7, 11, 15, 16; 23:16; 24:25;
Jdg 2:1, 2, 20; 20:27;
1Sa 4:3, 4, 5, 11:1; 18:3; 20:8; 23:18;
2Sa 3:12, 13, 21; 5:3; 15:24; 23:5;
1Ki 3:15; 5:26; 6:19; 8:1, 6, 21, 23;
11:11; 15:19; 19:10, 14; 20:34;
2Ki 11:4, 17; 13:23; 17:15, 35, 38;
18:12; 23:2, 3, 21;
1Chr 11:3; 15:25, 26, 28, 29; 16:6, 15,
17, 37; 17:1; 22:19; 28:2, 18;
2Chr 5:2, 7; 6:11, 14; 13:5; 15:12;
16:3; 21:7; 23:1, 3, 16; 29:10; 34:30, 31, 32;
Neh 1:5; 9:8, 32; 13:29;
Job 5:23; 31:1; 40:28;
Ps 25:10, 14; 44:18; 50:5, 16; 55:21;
74:20; 78:10, 37; 83:6; 89:4, 29, 35, 40; 103:18; 105:8, 10; 106:45;
111:5, 9; 132:12;
Isa 24:5; 28:15, 18; 33:8; 42:6; 49:8;
54:10; 55:3; 56:4, 6; 59:21; 61:8;
Jer 2:22; 3:16; 11:2, 3, 6, 8, 10; 14:21;
22:9; 31:31, 32, 33; 32:40; 33:20, 21, 25; 34:8, 10, 13, 15, 18; 50:5;
Ezek 16:8, 59, 60, 61; 17:13, 14, 15,
18, 19; 20:37; 30:5; 34:25; 37:26; 44:7;
Da 9:4, 27; 11:22, 28, 30, 32;
Hos 2:20; 6:7; 8:1; 10:4; 12:2;
Zech 9:11; 11:10;
Mal 2:4, 5, 8, 10, 14; 3:1, 2
Below are a few of the uses of
beriyth in the Old Testament...
Job 31:1 "I have made (Perfect tense ~
speaks of permanence) a covenant ("cut a covenant") with my eyes. How then
could I gaze (Heb = consider carefully) at a virgin?
Comment: Considering the solemn,
binding nature of covenant, Job's use in this context gives us some
sense of how serious he was about "guarding his glance"! One wants
to be careful applying this verse personally. What do I mean? The "danger"
is placing yourself under the "law" and becoming legalistic about your
looking. Beloved fellow believer, the only way we can keep this covenant
is by continual, total dependence on God's Spirit and His always
sufficient grace! Don't try to pull this off in your own strength saying
something like "I'm never going to look at pornography on the internet
again!" The intention may be good, the power (my own strength and
determination) to fulfill the task is lacking.
Can you appreciate the picture which
Job's cutting of a covenant conveys?
He's not talking about a casual glance (cp Jos 7:21) or an accidental
viewing of an attractive and/or sensual woman (that would be virtually
impossible in America... but it is possible to make certain provisions --
all under [depending upon]
grace of course -- and they
include not going to PG-13 movies or even PG ratings these
days -- they have all become too sensual, even as the "moral compass" of
America and especially Hollywood gravitates toward greater and greater
degrees of depravity. We can chose not to watch talk shows
that bring up "lust" inflaming subjects. In short, Job is saying don't
stare at her because if you do Jesus says you've already committed
adultery in your heart Mt 5:28-note...you
need to (figuratively, empowered by grace) pluck your eye out before you
do this! That's how enslaving this sin can be...so it requires radical
surgery and complete extirpation! Don't just biopsy it! Cut it
out completely!). (cp Col 3:5-note,
Some other translations of Job 31:1:
I dictated a covenant (an
agreement) to my eyes; how then could I look [lustfully] upon a girl?
I made a covenant with mine eyes; and how should I fix my regard upon a
"I made a covenant with my eyes; how
then could I entertain thoughts against a virgin? (NET)
I made a covenant with my eyes; how
then could I ogle at a girl? (Berkley Version)
I had made an agreement with my eyes
not to linger on any virgin. (New Jerusalem Bible)
I have made a covenant with my
[Isa 33:15; Mt 5:28-note]
eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? (ESV) (cp similar thought by
David! This must have been after Bathsheba! = Ps 101:3-Spurgeon's
George Hakewill on Ps 101:3
writes "A bird may light upon a man's house; but he may choose whether she
shall nestle or breed there, or not: and the devil or his instruments may
represent a wicked object to a man's sight; but he may choose whether he
will entertain or embrace it or not. For a man to set wicked things before
his eyes is nothing else but to sin of set purpose (cp Ro 13:14-note),
to set himself to sin, or to sell himself to sin, as Ahab did, 1Ki
Psalm 25:10 All the paths of the LORD
are lovingkindness (Hesed - God's loyal, steadfast, unfailing love) and
truth to those who keep (guard, protect, observe) His covenant and
Comment: This refers to God's
covenant of law (Mosaic) and relying on God's covenant of grace
(Abrahamic, New) is the only way to keep it! Just try to keep it in your
own strength! You will surely fail and fall. We must continually remember
that what God desires for us to do, He empowers us to do.
Spurgeon comments that: This is
a rule without exception. God is good to those that be good. Mercy and
faithfulness shall abound towards those who through mercy are made
faithful. Whatever outward appearances may threaten we should settle it
steadfastly in our minds that while grace enables us to obey the Lord's
will we need not fear that Providence will cause us any real loss. There
shall be mercy in every unsavory morsel, and faithfulness in every bitter
drop; let not our hearts be troubled, but let us rest by faith in the
immutable covenant of Jehovah, which is ordered in all things and sure.
Yet this is not a general truth to be trampled upon by swine, it is a
pearl for a child's neck. Gracious souls, by faith resting upon the
finished work of the Lord Jesus, keep the covenant of the Lord, and, being
sanctified by the Holy Spirit, they walk in his testimonies; these will
find all things working together for their good, but to the sinner there
is no such promise. Keepers of the covenant shall be kept by the covenant;
those who follow the Lord's commandments shall find the Lord's mercy
Psalm 25:14 The secret of the LORD is
for those who fear Him, And He will make them know His covenant.
Comment: The word secret
is a good translation ,but it does not fully convey the nuances of this
Hebrew word (cowd/sod - 05475). See these other translations - Ps
25:14ESV, Ps 25:14NIV. Ps 25:14NLT. The primary meaning is "confidential
speech" (cp Arabic sa'wada = "speak secretly"). It can also refer to a
circle of trusted intimates who give their advice or to a group of
intimates with whom one shares confidential matters Job 15:8. The various
translations in the NAS also help give one a sense of the grandeur and
privilege of this word - Pr 3:32 = intimate with the upright Ps
55:14 = fellowship Ps 111:1 = In the company of the upright
Pr 15:22 = consultation, Amos 3:7 = His secret counsel
Job 29:4 = friendship of God. The Hebrew word for know
(yada' = 03045) speaks of an intimate, experiential knowing of God.
Ultimately this becomes a reality in the covenants of grace (the Abrahamic
Covenant and the New Covenant in His blood) by which we experience the
forgiveness of sins and oneness with the Holy One of Israel.
Spurgeon comments: The secret of
the Lord is with them that fear him. Some read it "the friendship:"
it signifies familiar intercourse, confidential intimacy, and select
fellowship. This is a great secret. Carnal minds cannot guess what is
intended by it, and even believers cannot explain it in words, for it must
be felt to be known. The higher spiritual life is necessarily a path which
the eagle's eye hath not known, and which the lion's whelp has not
travelled; neither natural wisdom nor strength can force a door into this
Saints have the key of heaven's
hieroglyphics; they can unriddle celestial enigmas. They are initiated
into the fellowship of the skies; they have heard words which it is not
possible for them to repeat to their fellows.
And He will shew them his covenant.
Its antiquity, security, righteousness, fulness, graciousness and
excellence, shall be revealed to their hearts and understandings, and
above all, their own part in it shall be sealed to their souls by the
witness of the Holy Spirit. The designs of love which the Lord has to His
people in the covenant of grace, He has been pleased to show to believers
in the Book of Inspiration, and by his Spirit He leads us into the
mystery, even the hidden mystery of redemption. He who does not know
the meaning of this verse, will never learn it from a commentary; let him
look to the cross, for the secret lies there. (Click
for multiple additional thought by other writers)
Thomas Watson writes that:
Walking with God is the best way to know the mind of God; friends who
walk together impart their secrets one to another: "The secret of the
Lord is with them that fear him." Noah walked with God (Ge 6:9), and
the Lord revealed a great secret to him, of destroying the old world, and
having him in the ark. Abraham walked with God (Ed: cp Ge 17:1 - A
command to walk. YLT has "walk habitually". Think of a "Coram Deo"
lifestyle! Does this describe
me? Or do I at least aspire to such a life on a higher plane [cp Hab 3:19,
Remember that Revelation always brings responsibility!), and
God made him one of his privy council: "Shall I hide from Abraham that
thing which I do?" Ge 24:40 18:17. God doth sometimes sweetly unbosom
himself to the soul in prayer, and in the holy supper, as Christ made
Himself known to His disciples in the breaking of bread. Luke 24:35.
of the better summary discussions of Covenant in the Old Testament is found
in following article from the conservative 1915 version of the
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia:
COVENANT, IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
1. EARLY IDEA:
We consider first a covenant in
which both contracting parties are men. In essence a covenant is an
agreement, but an agreement of a solemn and binding force. The early
Semitic idea of a covenant was doubtless that which prevailed among the
Arabs. This was primarily blood-brotherhood, in which two men
became brothers by drinking each other’s blood (Ed Note:
illustration in pagan culture). Ordinarily this meant that
one was adopted into the clan of the other. Hence, this act involved the
clan of one of the contracting parties, and also brought the other party
into relation with the god of this clan, by bringing him into the
community life of the clan, which included its god. In this early idea,
then, “primarily the covenant is not a special engagement to this or that
particular effect, but bond of troth and life-fellowship to all the
effects for which kinsmen are permanently bound together” (Smith). In this early ceremonial the religious idea was
necessarily present, because the god was kindred to the clan; and the god
had a special interest in the covenant because he especially protects the
kindred blood, of which the stranger thus becomes a part. This religious
side always persisted, although the original idea was much modified. In
later usage there were various substitutes for the drinking of each
other’s blood, namely, drinking together the sacrificial blood, sprinkling
it upon the parties, eating together the sacrificial meal, etc.; but the
same idea found expression in all, the community of life resulting from
2. PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS:
The covenant in the Old Testament
shows considerable modification from the early idea. Yet it will doubtless
help in understanding the Old Testament covenant to keep in mind the early
idea and form. Combining statements made in different accounts, the
following seem to be the principal elements in a covenant between men.
Some of the details, it is to be noted, are not explicitly stated in
reference to these covenants, but may be inferred from those between God
1. A statement of the terms agreed
upon (Genesis 26:29;
31:50,52).. This was a modification of the
earlier idea, which has been noted, in which a covenant was all-inclusive.
by each party to observe the terms, God being
oath (Ge 26:31; 31:48, 49, 50, 51, 52,
was such a characteristic feature that sometimes the term
“oath” is used as the equivalent of covenant (see Ezekiel 17:13).
3. A curse invoked by each one upon
himself in case disregard of the agreement. In a sense this may be
considered a part of the oath, adding emphasis to it. This curse is not
explicitly stated in the case of human covenants, but may be inferred from
the covenant with God (Dt 27:15,
16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26).
4. The formal ratification of the
covenant by some solemn external act.
The different ceremonies for this
purpose, such as have already been mentioned, are to be regarded as the
later equivalents of the early act of drinking each other’s blood.
In the Old Testament accounts it is not certain that such formal act is
expressly mentioned in relation to covenants between men. It seems
probable, however, that the sacrificial meal of Genesis 31:54 included Laban, in which case it was a covenant sacrifice. In any
case, both sacrificial meal and sprinkling of blood upon the
two parties, the
altar representing Yahweh, are mentioned in Exodus 24:4,
5, 6, 7, 8, with allusions elsewhere, in ratification of the covenant
at Sinai between Yahweh and Israel.
In the covenant of God with
Abraham is another ceremony, quite certainly with the same purpose.
This is a peculiar observance, namely, the cutting of animals into two
parts and passing between the severed portions (Ge 15:9, 10, 11, 12,
13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18), a custom also referred to in Jeremiah 34:18.
Here it is to be noted that it is a smoking furnace and a flaming torch,
representing God, not Abraham, which passed between the pieces. Such an
act, it would seem, should be shared by both parties, but in this case it
is doubtless to be explained by the fact that the covenant is principally
a promise by Yahweh. He is the one who binds Himself. Concerning the
significance of this act there is difference of opinion. A common view is
that it is in effect a formal expression of the curse, imprecating upon
oneself the same, i.e. cutting in pieces, if one breaks the terms of the
covenant. But, as W. R. Smith has pointed out (op. cit., 481), this does
not explain the passing between the pieces, which is the characteristic
feature of the ceremony. It seems rather to be a symbol that the two
parties “were taken within the mystical life of the victim.” (Compare
the interpretation of He 9:15, 16, 17 in COVENANT, THE NEW
TESTAMENT.) It would then be an inheritance from the early times, in
which the victim was regarded as kindred with the tribe, and hence, also
an equivalent of the drinking of each other’s blood.
The immutability of a covenant
is everywhere assumed, at least theoretically.
Other features beyond those
mentioned cannot be considered as fundamental. This is the case with the
setting up of a stone, (Pillar)
a or raising a heap of stones (Heap Hebrew =
31:45,46). This is doubtless simply an ancient custom, which
has no direct connection with the covenant, but comes from the ancient
Semitic idea of the sacredness of single stones or heaps of stones.
Striking hands is a general
expression of an agreement made (Ezra 10:19; Eze 17:18, etc.)
3. DIFFERENT VARIETIES:
In observing different varieties of
agreements among men, we note that they may be either between individuals
or between larger units, such as tribes and nations. In a great majority
of cases, however, they are between the larger units. In some cases, also,
when an individual acts it is in a representative capacity, as the head of
a clan, or as a king.
When the covenant is between
tribes it is thus a treaty or alliance. The following
passages have this use of covenant: Genesis 14:13; 21:27,32; 26:28; 31:44;
Exodus 23:32; 34:12,15; Deuteronomy 7:2; Joshua 9:6,7,11,15,16; Judges
2:2; 1Samuel 11:1; 1Kings 3:12; 15:19 parallel 2Chronicles 16:3; 1Kings
20:34; Psalms 83:5; Isaiah 33:8; Ezekiel 16:61; 17:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18,
19; 30:5; Daniel 11:22; Amos 1:9.
In other cases it is between a
king and his subjects, when it is more a command or
ordinance, as 2Samuel 3:12,13,11; 5:3 parallel 1Chronicles 11:3;
Jeremiah 34:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,1 5,1 6,1 7, 18; Daniel 9:27.
In other cases it is between
individuals, or between small groups, where it is an
agreement or pledge (2Kings 11:4 parallel 2Chronicles 23:1;
Job 31:1; 41:4; Hosea 10:4).
Between David and Jonathan it
is more specifically an alliance of friendship (1Sa 18:3; 20:8; 23:18),
as also apparently in Ps 55:20 ("He has put forth his hands against
those who were at peace with him; He has violated his covenant.")
illustration in pagan culture)
It means an alliance of marriage in
("Yet you say, 'For what reason?' Because the LORD has been
a witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have
dealt treacherously, though she is your companion and your wife by
covenant."), but probably not in Proverbs 2:17 ("That leaves
the companion of her youth, And forgets the covenant of her God"), where
it is better to understand the meaning as being “her covenant with God.”
Ed Note: Most commentaries
favor Proverbs 2:17 to at least in part represent an allusion to the
covenant of marriage.
E.g., the Believer's Study Bible
"The "companion of her youth" primarily
is her husband. Instead of submitting to her husband, she is self-ruled.
However, she breaks not only her covenant of marriage but also her
covenant with God Himself (e.g., Jer. 3:4), including the seventh
commandment (Ex. 20:14)
Warren Wiersbe writes that the woman
described here in Proverbs 2
"She has no respect for God, because
she breaks His law (Ex. 20:14); she has no respect for her husband because
she violates the promises she made to him when she married him. She no
longer has a guide or a friend in the Lord or in her husband, because she
has taken the path of sin. Anyone who listens to her words and follows her
path is heading for the cemetery." [Wiersbe, W. W. Be skillful. An Old
Testament study. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books]
Finally the respected expositor John
MacArthur writes that
"In a wide sense this could be the
covenant of Sinai (Ex 20:14), but specifically looks to the marriage
covenant of Gen. 2:24, with its commitment to fidelity." [MacArthur, J. J.
The MacArthur Study Bible. Nashville: Word Pub])
4. PHRASEOLOGY USED:
In all cases of covenants between
men, except Jeremiah 34:10 (see context Je 34:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15,
15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 - pay special attention to the ritual in
Jer 34:18!) and Daniel 9:27-note,
the technical phrase for making a covenant is
berith, in which
meant originally “to
cut.” Everything indicates that this verb is used with reference to the
formal ceremony of ratification above mentioned, of cutting animals in
BETWEEN GOD AND MEN.
1. ESSENTIAL IDEA:
As already noted, the idea of
covenants between God and men doubtless arose from the idea of covenants
between men. Hence, the general thought is similar. It cannot in this
case, however, be an agreement between contracting parties who stand on an
equality, but God, the superior, always takes the initiative. To some
extent, however, varying in different cases, is regarded as a mutual
agreement; God with His commands makes certain promises, and men agree to
keep the commands, or, at any rate, the promises are conditioned on human
obedience. In general, the covenant of God with men is a Divine ordinance,
with signs and pledges on God’s part, and with promises for human
obedience and penalties for disobedience, which ordinance is accepted by
men. In one passage (Ps 25:14-note,
it is used in a more general way of an alliance of friendship between God
2. COVENANTS RECORDED IN THE OLD
A covenant of this general kind is
said in the Old Testament to have been made by God with Noah (Genesis
9:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15,16, 17 and elsewhere). In this the promise is that there shall
be no more deluge.
A covenant is made with Abraham,
the thought of which includes his descendants. In this the promise
of God is to multiply the descendants of Abraham, to give them the land of
Canaan, and to make them a blessing to the nations. This is narrated in
Genesis 15:18; 17:2-21, etc.
A covenant is made with the
nation Israel at Sinai (Horeb) (Ex 19:5; 24:7,8; 34:10,27,28,
etc.), ratified by a covenant sacrifice and
sprinkling of blood (Exodus 24:4, 5, 6, 7, 8). This constituted the nation the
peculiar people of God, and was accompanied by promises
for obedience and penalties for disobedience. This covenant was
renewed on the plains of Moab (Deut 29:1 "These are the words of
the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the sons of
Israel in the land of Moab, besides [Hebrew word "bad" = core idea
is to be separate & isolated, besides, in addition to, apart from a state
of something being in addition to what already exists] the covenant which
He had made with them at Horeb (the covenant of law, the "ten
Ed Note on Deuteronomy 29:1:
Some consider this declarations to be an "amendment" to the covenant at Sinai
while others feel it represents allusion to a different covenant.
John MacArthur reasons that...
The majority of interpreters view the
covenant stated here as a reference to the covenant made at Sinai.
According to this view, the covenant that God made with Israel at Sinai
(Horeb) was renewed in Moab. However, this verse clearly states that the
covenant of which Moses now speaks was “besides,” or “in
addition to,” the previous covenant. This was another covenant
distinct from the one made at Sinai. This other covenant is viewed by some
interpreters as the Palestinian Covenant, (see Ryrie and McGee
below) which gave Israel the title to the land. However, the emphasis of
these two chapters is not on the Land, but on the change of Israel’s
heart (see the contrast between Deut 29:4 and Deut 30:6). It was
exactly this change of heart which the later prophets would term “The
New Covenant” (see Jer. 31:31, 32, 32, 34; Ezek. 36:26, 27). In response to
Israel’s certain failure under the provisions of the Sinaitic Covenant
(Deut 29:23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28), Moses anticipated the New Covenant under which Israel would be
obedient to the Lord and finally reap His blessings (Deut 30:1, 2, 3, 4,
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10).(MacArthur,
J.: The MacArthur Study Bible Nashville: Word
Charles Ryrie has this
Moses now details the agreement under
which the people would enter the land of Palestine. This Palestinian
covenant was in addition to the Mosaic covenant given at Sinai (Horeb).
Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation: 1995. Moody
J Vernon McGee writes that...
The covenant which God is going to make
with them here relates to the land, and it is called the Palestinian
covenant. God makes this covenant with them just before they enter the
J. V. Thru the Bible commentary. Vol. 1, Page 9-600. Nashville: Thomas
these national covenants the individual had a place, but only as a
member of the nation. The individual might forfeit his rights under the
covenant, however, by deliberate rebellion against Yahweh, sinning "with a
high hand" (Numbers 15:30), and then he was regarded as no longer a member
of the nation, he was "cut off from among his people," i.e. put to death.
This is the teaching of the Priestly Code (P), and is also implied
elsewhere; in the mercy of God, however, the punishment was not always
A covenant with the tribe of Levi, by which that became the priestly
tribe, is alluded to in Deut 33:9; Jer 33:21; Mal 2:4.
The covenant with Phinehas (Numbers 25:12,13) established an
priesthood in his line.
The covenant with Joshua and Israel (Joshua 24:15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21,
22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27) was an agreement on their part to serve Yahweh
The covenant with David (2Sa 7 parallel 1Chr 17; see also
Ps 89:3,18,34,39; 132:12; Jeremiah 33:21) contained a promise that his
descendants should have an
everlasting kingdom, and should stand to God in
the relation of sonship.
The covenant with Jehoiada and the people (2Ki 11:17 parallel
2 Chr 23:3) was an agreement on their part to be the people of
The covenant with Hezekiah and the people (2Chr 29:10) consisted
essentially of an agreement on their part to reform the worship.
The covenant with Josiah and the people (2Ki 23:3), of an agreement on
their part to obey the Book of the Law.
The covenant with Ezra and the people (Ezra 10:3) was an agreement on
their part to put away foreign wives and obey the law.
The prophets also speak of a new covenant, most explicitly in Jeremiah,
but with references elsewhere, which is connected with the Messianic time
(see Isaiah 42:6; 49:8; 55:3; 59:21; 61:8; Jer 31:31,33; 32:40; 50:5;
Ezekiel 16:60,62; 20:37; 34:25; 37:26; Hosea 2:18).
3. PHRASEOLOGY USED:
Various phrases are used of the
making of a covenant between God and men. The verb ordinarily used of
making covenants between men, karath, is often used here as well. The
following verbs are also used: heqim, “to establish” or “confirm”;
nathan, “to give”; sim, “to place”; tsiwwah, “to command”; `abhar,
“to pass over,” followed by be, “into”; bo, “to enter,” followed by
be; and the phrase nasa’ berith `al pi, “to take up a covenant upon the
mouth of someone.”
4. HISTORY OF COVENANT IDEA:
The history of the covenant idea in
Israel, as between God and man, is not altogether easy to trace. This
applies especially to the great covenants between God and Israel, namely,
the one with Abraham, and the one made at Sinai. The earliest references
to this relation of Israel to Yahweh under the term “covenant” are in
Hosea 6:7; Hosea 8:1. The interpretation of the former passage is doubtful
in details, but the reference to such a covenant seems clear. The latter
is considered by many a later addition, but largely because of this
mention of the covenant. No other references to such a covenant are made
in the prophets before Jeremiah. Jeremiah and Ezekiel speak of it, and it
is implied in Second-Isaiah. It is a curious fact, however, that most of
the later prophets do not use the term, which suggests that the omission
in the earlier prophets is not very significant concerning a knowledge of
the idea in early times.
In this connection it should be
noted that there is some variation among the Hexateuchal codes in their
treatment of the covenants. Only one point, however, needs special
mention. The Priestly Code (P) gives no explicit account of the covenant
at Sinai, and puts large emphasis upon the covenant with Abraham. There
are, however, apparent allusions to the Sinaitic covenant (Leviticus 2:13;
24:8; 26:9,15,25,44,45). The facts indicate,
therefore, principally a difference of emphasis.
In the light partly of the facts already noted, however, it is held by
many that the covenant idea between God and man is comparatively late.
This view is that there were no covenants with Abraham and at Sinai, but
that in Israel’s early conceptions of the relation to Yahweh He was their
tribal God, bound by natural ties, not ethical as the covenant implies.
This is a larger question than at first appears. Really the whole problem
of the relation of Israel to Yahweh throughout Old Testament history is
involved, in particular the question at what time a comprehensive
conception of the ethical character of God was developed. The subject will
therefore naturally receive a fuller treatment in other articles. It is
perhaps sufficient here to express the conviction that there was a very
considerable conception of the ethical character of Yahweh in the early
history of Israel, and that consequently there is no sufficient reason for
doubting the fact of the covenants with Abraham and at Sinai. The
statement of W. Robertson Smith expresses the essence of the matter (op.
cit., 319): “That Yahweh’s relation is not natural but ethical is the
doctrine of the prophets, and is emphasized, in dependence on their
teaching, in the Book of Deuteronomy. But the passages cited show that the
idea had its foundation in pre prophetic times; and indeed the prophets,
though they give it fresh and powerful application, plainly do not regard
the conception as an innovation.”
A little further consideration
should be given to the new covenant of the prophets. The general teaching
is that the covenant was broken by the sins of the people which led to the
exile. Hence, during the exile the people had been cast off, the covenant
was no longer in force. This is stated, using other terminology, in Hosea
3:3, 4ff; Hosea 1:9; 2:2. The prophets speak, however, in anticipation, of the
making of a covenant again after the return from the exile. For the most
part, in the passages already cited, this covenant is spoken of as if it
were the old one renewed. Special emphasis is put, however, upon its being
everlasting covenant, as the old one did not prove to be, implying that
it will not be broken as was that one. Jeremiah’s teaching, however, has a
little different emphasis. He speaks of the old covenant as passed away
(Jer 31:32). Accordingly he speaks of a new covenant (Jer 31:31,
new covenant in its provisions, however, is much like the old. But there
is a new emphasis upon individuality in approach to God. In the old
covenant, as already noted, it was the nation as a whole that entered into
the relation; here it is the individual, and the law is to be written upon
the individual heart.
In the later usage the specific
covenant idea is sometimes less prominent, so that the term is used
practically of the religion as a whole; see Is 56:4, Ps 103:18-note
article from Bakers
Dictionary of Biblical Theology -
Online Book Related to the
Study of Covenant...
By H Clay Trumbull
BLOOD COVENANT A PRIMITIVE RITE AND ITS BEARINGS ON SCRIPTURE
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.
CRITICAL ESTIMATES OF "THE BLOOD
COVENANT" (Read How Others
Reviewed this book)
LECTURE I. THE PRIMITIVE RITE ITSELF.
SOURCES OF BIBLE STUDY.
AN ANCIENT SEMITIC RITE
THE PRIMITIVE RITE IN AFRICA
TRACES OF THE RITE IN EUROPE
WORLD-WIDE SWEEP OF THE RITE
LIGHT FROM THE CLASSICS
THE BOND OF THE COVENANT
BOND OF THE WEDDING-RING
THE RITE AND ITS TOKEN IN EGYPT
OTHER GLEAMS OF THE RITE.
LECTURE II. SUGGESTIONS AND PERVERSIONS
OF THE RITE
SACREDNESS OF BLOOD AND OF THE HEART
VIVIFYING POWER OF BLOOD
A NEW NATURE THROUGH NEW BLOOD
LIFE FROM ANY BLOOD, AND BY A TOUCH
INSPIRATION THROUGH BLOOD
INTER-COMMUNION THROUGH BLOOD
SYMBOLIC SUBSTITUTES FOR BLOOD
LECTURE III. INDICATIONS OF THE RITE IN
LIMITATIONS OF INQUIRY
PRIMITIVE TEACHINGS OF BLOOD
THE BLOOD COVENANT IN CIRCUMCISION
THE BLOOD COVENANT TESTED
THE BLOOD COVENANT AND ITS TOKENS IN
THE BLOOD COVENANT AT SINAI
THE BLOOD COVENANT IN THE MOSAIC RITUAL
THE PRIMITIVE RITE ILLUSTRATED
THE BLOOD COVENANT IN THE GOSPELS
THE BLOOD COVENANT APPLIED
IMPORTANCE OF THIS RITE STRANGELY
LIFE IN THE BLOOD, IN THE HEART, IN THE
TRANSMIGRATION OF SOULS
THE BLOOD-RITE IN BURMA
BLOOD-STAINED TREE OF THE COVENANT
HINTS OF BLOOD-UNION
SUPPLEMENT TO SECOND EDITION
VITAL UNION BY SUBSTITUTE BLOOD
BLOOD MAKES UNITY : EATING SHOWS UNION
ETHNIC REACHINGS AFTER UNION WITH THE
THE VOICE OF OUTPOURED BLOOD
GLEANINGS FROM THE GENERAL FIELD