Covenant PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephen Langfur

There are several forms of covenant in the Bible. God's covenant with Abraham took the form of a promise, which was accompanied by rituals of blood. Such a covenant suited the father of a clan whose members were united by blood-ties. But when it was a question of binding a great many people together, including converts who were not blood-related, a more elaborate form was needed. This we find in the Sinai covenant (Exodus 19 - 24), as well as in the structure of the whole Book of Deuteronomy and in Joshua 24.  The form goes as follows:

1. The people assemble.

2. God or the leader reviews the history of what God has done for the people.

3. The people declare their readiness to fulfill whatever God requires.

4. The laws are stated. (For example, the ten commandments.)

5. The covenant is sealed by a ritual act, written down, and stored.

This form of covenant appeared elsewhere in the Ancient Near East: in treaties defining the relations between lord and vassal or between god and king. It is unique, however, to find this form defining the relation between God and an entire people.