Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy

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The Five Books of the Pentateuch Form the Bible's Theological Foundation

We will come back to this in a moment. Deuteronomy begins with a temporal clause after the meta-comment in Deuteronomy The beginning of a second paragraph is signalled in Deuteronomy by an Imperative introduced by asyndeton. Deuteronomy contains six paragraphs arranged in two sets of three with an additional paragraph containing a meta-comment at the center.

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The significance of this will become plain shortly. There is a clear flow of thought throughout the six paragraphs. The first paragraph bases the commitment of the people on the grace of Yahweh in his dealings with them in the past. This idea is identical to what we see in Exodus Then comes the oath or vow, a performative speech act that actually creates the covenant on the human side.

After these ritual words, the third paragraph is a warning about covenant disloyalty—much like the sermon in a wedding after the vows. The first paragraph in the second set of three deals with the distant future. Those who see this as referring to the present fail to allow Paul to guide them in their exegesis of the OT. Moses assumes covenant disloyalty on the part of the people and subsequent exile as Yahweh is true to his Word in bringing the covenant curses on Israel.

The second paragraph deals with the gift of a circumcised heart in the future as an act of divine grace. The people will then keep the covenant and be blessed. Finally, the third paragraph in the second set, like that in the first, ends with a warning to maintain covenant loyalty. The covenant sets before Israel the offer of life or death. There is not sufficient space here for a full discussion and explanation of this significant text. For our purposes, it is important to actually cite Deuteronomy before we make a few brief observations regarding the text.

I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet. We took their land and gave it for an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of the Manassites.

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The key to understanding Hebrew literature is grasping the function and role of repetition. An author will go round a topic at least twice, each time discussing that topic from a different angle or perspective so that hearing in succession the two treatments is like listening to the left and right speakers of stereo system playing music. Therefore statements made in a fuller treatment of a topic may be referred to by means of abbreviated statements in a parallel or repeated section or sometimes vice-versa.

Much of what is treated in chapters is developed at greater length in chapters Here I borrow an outline of from the essay by John Meade in this same issue of SBJT to show that the flow of thought there is identical to the flow of thought in chapters The Basic Stipulation in the covenant is complete devotion and loyalty to Yahweh, their covenant lord and suzerain, as expounded in Deuteronomy ff. Then, exactly as in chapters , comes the warning against disloyalty and unfaithfulness creeping in to the relationship in D followed by the assumption in E that this will happen and hence a prediction of eventual restoration.

Then both and chapters end with the choices provided by the covenant relationship. The observation that Deuteronomy and are parallel sequences in treating the same topic along with a grasp of how Hebrew literature works can help to correctly interpret ambiguous statements in Deuteronomy This is hyperbolic since those in the audience hearing Moses at this point who actually remembered these things would only be those over fifty years old.

Observe that a similar point is made in , b-5, and This is a rhetorical device to help the generation listening to Moses identify with the Israel that entered the covenant at Sinai and commit to its renewal in the covenant at Moab. Notice in Deuteronomy Moses affirms that the human party committing to the covenant at Moab are those here today and those not here today. That covenant was made with our parents and not with us. We are not responsible for this covenant at all.

On a crassly literal level of interpretation this could mean that the testings, i. This, however, is an entirely shallow interpretation. What Moses is saying is this: incredible displays of supernatural power in miracles and physical deliverance from slavery were insufficient to bring the hearts of the people to be completely devoted and loyal to Yahweh. God rescued them from Egypt, but the moment he arranged to solemnize an agreement of loyalty between them, i.

As a matter of fact, Isaiah makes the same point in Isaiah During the crisis created by the rise of Assyrian power and the pressure put on Judah by the anti-Assyrian coalition of Syria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel, both king and people wanted to make deals with the Assyrians or the Egyptians, and not to believe the Word of Yahweh given to Isaiah. In rejecting the prophetic message calling them back to covenant loyalty, God confirms them in their rejection by pouring upon them a spiritual blindness and stupor.

In Deuteronomy Moses draws attention in an explanatory note marked by asyndeton to the miracles in the desert journey: their clothes and shoes did not wear out. So the miracles in the desert are designed to bring the people to complete trust in the word of Yahweh—exactly what happens in a covenant relationship. Yet the miracles by and large do not achieve this goal: the hearts of the people remain uncircumcised. We are now in a position to appreciate the major tension in the plot structure of chapters 29—30, and in fact of the entire book of Deuteronomy: on the one hand, Moses is laying out for the people the direction or instruction , i.

At the end of the exhortation to be completely devoted and loyal , the summary in claims that this revelation sets blessing and cursing before the people. The parallel section in Deuteronomy 29—30 ends with exactly the same theme: blessing and cursing leading either to life and prosperity or adversity and death Indeed, the end of the Covenant Text is Deuteronomy which puts blessings and curses before the people. In great tension with this is the fact that Yahweh has not given them a circumcised heart—Deuteronomy In both sections, Deuteronomy and at the exact same spot in the flow of thought circumcision of the heart is actually mentioned and described as a future event.

Israel is called to absolute loyalty to Yahweh in the Covenant, but the plot-structure to this point in the OT shows that the human partner is incapable of faithfulness, something that will be given by divine grace at a future time. Here Moses sums up his entire ministry. A major part of correctly grasping the tension in the plot structure is interpreting the time of Deuteronomy Is it present or future? For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.

It is in your mouth and in your heart , so that you can do it esv. Frequently commentators view it as present. Nonetheless, all of the clauses or sentences in these verses are nominal sentences and have no explicit tense. Recently Steven Coxhead has argued that Deuteronomy refer solely to the future. He considers the fact that there is no finite verb in the text and as a result the tense is determined by the previous text in vv How do we decide? The ancient Near Eastern epic of Gilgamesh relates how in the face of the death of his closest friend he sought answers to the issues of death and life by going across the ocean.

Moses, by contrast is saying that the issues of death and life are not that far away. The issues of death and life entail two matters: divine instruction and the loyalty of the heart. In the covenant at Moab, the divine instruction has already been given to them. The only issue preventing blessing and life is the loyalty of the human heart. So the answer is not very far away: it is in our own hearts. The answer is not out there; it is in us. According to Deuteronomy , Israel will obtain a circumcised heart at a future time, and that is why refers to the future and not to the present.

Paul in his exposition in Romans 10 was right. Let us remember Deuteronomy , the meta-comment and the tension in this text: there is a tension in chapters between divine sovereignty i. This, in fact, turns out to be the tension of his entire ministry. The research in this paper has resulted in a new perspective on the literary structure of the book and will require, therefore, minor revision of the exposition given in KTC.

All the instances of covenant after a in chapters refer to the covenant at Moab b, 9, 12, 14, 21, Note carefully in that the book of Deuteronomy chapters is written as a single text and placed beside the Ark of the Covenant just as Deuteronomy specifies that it is a covenant beside the covenant at Sinai. Now a better interpretation may be suggested.

The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. Not with our fathers did the Lord make this covenant, but with us, who are all of us here alive today. The Lord spoke with you face to face at the mountain, out of the midst of the fire, while I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to declare to you the word of the Lord.

Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy

For you were afraid because of the fire, and you did not go up into the mountain. This passage reviews the covenant material from Exodus 19—24 before presenting the main stipulation of the covenant Deut followed by the detailed stipulations. This is a clear reference to the Israelite covenant made at Sinai, i.

The covenant referred to in v 3 is the covenant at Sinai which is being distinguished from the Abrahamic covenant. The language at the end of v 3 is part of the rhetorical device in the book where Moses seeks to connect the people listening to him at Moab with the events in Egypt and at Sinai, even though they were children under 20 at the time. This cuts the Gordian knot of this verse satisfactorily, at least to my mind.

We are now in a position to conclude. The question before us is this: why was an addition codicil? Thus the instruction in Deuteronomy reshapes the Covenant at Sinai for life in the land. There is a whole new context and situation even though it is the same covenant. Second, we must put the covenant making at Moab in perspective with what comes before and what comes after. In referring to the covenants that precede it, I shall not appeal as does David A. Dean to terminology imposed from the outside such as covenant obligations versus regulations, conditional versus unconditional, or bilateral versus unilateral covenants.

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Creation entails a covenant between God and man on the one hand and between man and the world on the other. Second, God makes a covenant with Abraham Gen This entails commitments and promises to Abraham and requires Abraham to be an obedient son and servant king. Though Abraham is less than a satisfactory ambassador and agent for Yahweh, God reaffirms and upholds his covenant in Genesis Then at Sinai Yahweh offers to the nation the role of kingdom of priests and holy nation.

They will be bound to Yahweh by covenant and will act as obedient son and servant king in the world. Although God forgave Israel in Exodus 33—34, that entire generation, i. God has no commitment to uphold that which he has not already upheld. And the human partner that made the covenant is dead. It is a brand new Israel that has replaced the earlier one that needs to affirm loyalty to Yahweh in the face of earlier faithlessness and covenant violation. No, they need to renew the covenant by making a covenant to keep the earlier one, just as we see in Joshua 23— Then the content or instruction of this covenant can be added to the earlier one and can be kept beside the ark of the covenant.

Earlier we saw that Joshua 23 and 24 indicates a continuity between the Book of Joshua and the Pentateuch. Deuteronomy 29—30 indicates that in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses is adding something in continuity with the Covenant at Sinai. Moses is making a covenant to keep the Covenant at Sinai. And this time the covenant is made not only with the Israel present but with all future generations of Israel so that the children cannot argue that covenant at Sinai was with their parents, and not with them.

Deuteronomy is best seen as a renewal and expansion of the Sinai Covenant. The exposition given here of Deuteronomy coheres completely with Deuteronomy and Leviticus where even the idea of uncircumcised heart is found and repentance in exile. This, then, best explains the relation of Deuteronomy 1—30 to Exodus 19—24 and the terminology used to describe that relationship. It is clear from this analysis that there is no such thing as a Palestinian Covenant in Deuteronomy as proclaimed by dispensationalists. Peter J. The author of many articles, Dr. For the Truth.


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Covenant Renewal in Joshua 23—24 Chapter 23 reports that toward the end of his life, Joshua summoned all the tribes of Israel to Shechem. The Literary Structure of Deuteronomy When I co-authored Kingdom through Covenant with Stephen Wellum I devoted an entire chapter to the book of Deuteronomy as I attempted to come to grips with what this book represents and what the nature of its relationship is to the Covenant at Sinai.

What Is the Pentateuch? The Five Books of Moses

Title 2. Historical Prologue 3. Detailed 4. Deposition 4. Public Reading Witnesses Blessings and Cursesa. Preamble 2. Historical Preamble 3. Specific 4. Document Clause 5. Appeal to Witness 6. Blessing and Curses EV 7. Deuteronomy [ MT] Subscript or Superscript? The arguments provided by Tigay represent this position well: This subscription concludes the covenant made in the land of Moab, whose terms and consequences are presented in and chapter Deuteronomy has been much used both by Christians and ancient Jews.

It is quoted in the New Testament over fifty times, a number exceeded only by Psalms and Isaiah. The book contains much exhortation. The detailed legal material Deut. The book is a repetition of the law and history of Israel. It consists mainly of three great speeches and a legal compendium given by Moses at the end of his life, while the people were encamped in the plains of Moab, just before Joshua took command and led the people in the conquest of Canaan. The opening address Deut. Deuteronomy does not speak of how Moses confronted Pharaoh and how the miracles of the ten plagues forced Pharaoh to let the people go, but it alludes to the Exodus repeatedly five times in the first address: Deut.

Then he details their defeat both spiritually and militarily at Kadesh-barnea. There are references here to events recorded in Numbers, but like the record in Numbers, almost nothing is said about events of the forty years of wilderness wandering. The journey around Edom toward Transjordan is mentioned, and the defeat of the kings Sihon and Og is recorded in fuller detail than in Numbers.

Then comes the allocation of land in Transjordan for the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh as in Num. The second address Deut. Some consider this address as continuing to Deut. The speech begins with the Ten Commandments, almost exactly like the wording in Ex. The terror of the theophany a visible self-revelation of God is recalled with the call to obedience. Only the Ten Commandments are given directly by the voice of God; the rest of the law is mediated through Moses. These examples serve to warn Israel to trust the Lord and not themselves.

The laws Deut. The third address Deut.

It includes the solemn ceremony to be held in the valley between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, near Shechem, after Israel had secured a foothold in Canaan—a ceremony reminiscent of the covenant ceremony of Ex. The final sections of the book are equally important and powerful — Through types and prophecy this book also points us to Christ.

He is the Passover Lamb and the coming Prophet. The substance of the covenants is the same, but their manner of administration differs significantly. Whereas the old covenant was written on tablets of stone, Christ writes the new covenant through the Spirit of the living God on the tablets of human hearts 2 Cor. The old covenant called for shedding the blood of animals; the everlasting new covenant was instituted once and for all by the blood of Christ Jer. The old covenant calls for a heart religion, but it failed through human weakness and became obsolete after its fulfillment at Calvary Rom.

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Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy
Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy
Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy
Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy
Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy
Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy
Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy
Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy
Covenant Sequence in Leviticus and Deuteronomy

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