Psycho-Babble Faith | about religious faith | Framed
This thread | Show all | Post follow-up | Start new thread | List of forums | Search | FAQ

Re: Ancient Near Eastern Covenants

Posted by MKB on December 18, 2004, at 10:28:17

In reply to Ancient Near Eastern Covenants, posted by MKB on December 15, 2004, at 0:20:41

Some ancient written treaties are available from the 3rd to the 8th centuries BC. But even before the advent of written treaties, binding covenants existed in the ancient near east.

The origin of the word covenant is uncertain, but some think it means "to eat" or "to choose." Sometimes the term used actually means "to cut a covenant."

There were slightly different forms of covenants depending on whether the parties were equals or not. But in general, "to cut a covenant" referred to the fact that slain animals were laid on the ground. The blood was a necessary part of the covenant. The parties to the covenant would then walk between the parts of the slain animals. By doing this they were saying "May it be done to me as has been done to these animals if I break this covenant."

The covenant was binding even upon future generations. Only a son or direct descendant could change or modify the covenant, in which case a new covenant would be "cut" with a son or direct descendant of the other party.

After walking through the dead bodies of the animals, the parties would share a meal together.
Understanding the cultural background of ancient near eastern covenants is very helpful when you're trying to understand biblical covenants. The covenants between the Jewish people and God were updated many times over the years.

In the covenant God made with Abraham in Genesis 15, only God passed through the cut pieces. He did not make Abraham pass through the pieces. Some see this as a "promissory covenant" meaning that God was guaranteeing he would keep his part of the covenant no matter what Abraham did. Other scholars are not so sure about whether Abraham had to do anything or not. In later covenants, it was very clear that the Israelites were required to do something in order for God to keep his part of the covenant.

The Passover meal, as well as the Christian communion, can be understood in light of the "cutting the covenant" tradition. That is why Christians take communion: to confirm their part in the New Covenant.

Jesus was a descendant of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Legally, he fulfilled all the requirements for "cutting a new covenant." The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, according to the Old Testament prophets, had failed to keep the laws of the Old Testament. Because they had participated in many covenants with God over a thousand years or so, they deserved to die, according to the law of the time. Jesus, as a physical descendant, took the punishment for them. Therefore, He, as Son of God and Son of Man, was uniquely able to "cut the New Covenant."
That is why it is said of Jesus that he fulfilled all righteousness, even man's law.

This is just a little background information off the top of my head. Perhaps it will interest some enough to encourage further study. Believe me, the Bible will make a lot more sense to you if you can understand this historical background.




Post a new follow-up

Your message only Include above post

Notify the administrators

They will then review this post with the posting guidelines in mind.

To contact them about something other than this post, please use this form instead.


Start a new thread

Google www
Search options and examples
[amazon] for

This thread | Show all | Post follow-up | Start new thread | FAQ
Psycho-Babble Faith | Framed

poster:MKB thread:429741