Presentation on theme: "The Making of the Covenant Exodus 1-18 The First Episode The children of Israel are delivered from bondage in Egypt. They are then guided through the wilderness."— Presentation transcript:
The Making of the Covenant Exodus 1-18 The First Episode The children of Israel are delivered from bondage in Egypt. They are then guided through the wilderness. "Thus shall you say to the house of Jacob; tell the Israelites: You have seen for yourselves how I treated the Egyptians and how I bore you up on eagle wings and brought you here to myself. Therefore, if you hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my special possession, dearer to me than all other people, though all the earth is mine. You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. That is what you must tell the Israelites."
Yahweh’s Revelation at Sinai Exodus 19-24 The Second Episode The children of Israel arrive at Mount Sinai, where God reveals Himself to them. Moses ascends Sinai and receives the Ten Commandments and other laws by which Israel is to live. Rashi “In order not to have the people think that one commandment was more important than another, God spoke all the commandments at one time.”
Yahweh’s Revelation at Sinai Midrash “When God gave the Torah, no bird sang, no fowl flew, the sea did not roar, and no creature spoke. Even the angels stopped singing their praises of God. The entire world was silent. Only the voice of God could be heard, saying, “I AM the Lord your God.” “All prophecies and all future teachings were also handed down on Mount Sinai.”
Two events inseparably related! Yahweh had been carrying his people, just as an eagle lifts its young on its wings, toward this spot for a particular purpose. His people were not intended to be a crowd but a community, bound to him and one another by a covenant bond. The peculiar nature of this community is expressed in the covenant relationship between Yahweh and his people, and the laws and institutions by which this relationship was expressed
Whether or not these people would be the people of Yahweh depended on a condition: “if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant” Then they would be Yahweh’s personal ‘possession’ (the Hebrew word means ‘private property’) The community that belongs to Him in a special sense and whose vocation was to order its life according to His sovereign demands
A strange combination of the universal and the particular Yahweh’s sovereignty knows no boundaries, for all the earth is His. But from His many peoples He singles out one people, not for privilege but for a task. Midrash The Torah was given in the wilderness of Sinai rather than in the land of Israel. This teaches us that it is a law for all nations. If it had been given in Israel, the other nations could say that Israel alone is obligated to obey its laws God did not give the Torah to the Israelites until they were able to stand as one at the foot of Mount Sinai. God waited until they were of one heart and mind, and there was peace among them. Vilna Gaon No one can observe all the laws of the Torah. There are some laws that can be observed only by landowners, others only by priests, and so on. It is only the Jewish people as a whole that can fulfill all the commandments.
God makes a covenant with his people! The first concept of covenant is made effective in a sacred meal on top of the mountain. Exodus 24:1-2, 9-11 The participants in this summit ceremony are the representative, the “chief men” of Israel (The 72 leaders of the nation sent out to the people) The statement “after gazing on God they could still eat and drink” suggests that during the covenant meal God was so vividly present that he could be seen in his heavenly majesty without causing harm.
The second concept of covenant is made effective by sacrifice. Exodus 24:3-8 The whole assembly of Israel takes part in a covenant ceremony at the foot of the mountain. Moses builds an altar and sets up twelve pillars to represent the people according to the twelve tribes. Animals are sacrificed. Half the blood is dashed against the altar as a symbol of Yahweh’s participation in the rite. The other half is put in basins, and Moses acting as covenant mediator reads to the people “the book of the covenant.” When the people pledge to obey God’s demands, Moses dashes the other half of the blood upon the people saying, “Behold the blood of the covenant which Yahweh has made with you according to these words.”
Both Concepts of Covenant Converge The people are involved through their representatives and they take part directly The requirements of the big “If” apply equally to all “If you obey my voice and keep my covenant” The covenant embraces the whole body of law It embraces the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17) And the Covenant Code (Ex. 20:23-23:19) Covenant Code is the law of the land. It changes with changing circumstances but its authority lies with God and the good of the people.
Two general Types of Law Are Found in the Pentateuch Conditional (or case) Law has a characteristic formula: If this happens, then that will be the legal consequence. Each case includes numerous conditions. Conditional law was prevalent in the ancient world and is best represented in the “Code of Hammurabi.”
Two general Types of Law Are Found in the Pentateuch Absolute (or apodictic) law is unconditional This is more characteristically Israelite. No ifs, ands, or buts It is stated in sharp, terse language The Hebrew word for the Ten Commandments is most appropriately translated “The Ten Words” Apodictic Law expresses the unconditional demands of the covenant.
The Relationship Between Covenant and Law The Motive of Obligation Two types of covenants: Parity A reciprocal covenant in which both parties bind themselves to each other by bilateral agreement. Suzerainty A unilateral agreement between a king and his vassal which obligates the inferior party to obey the commands of the king not due to force but out of respect and gratitude for the gracious acts of the king on their behalf
The Sinai Covenant was in no sense parity It was a relationship between inequalities The covenant was given by God The relationship was conferred on the people by their sovereign Yahweh was not legally bound to Israel, for his sovereignty was not limited by the covenant. Israel’s obedience was based on gratitude for God’s benevolence The Law was preceded by Israel’s gospel The “good news” of what God has done Exodus 20:2
Summary of the main aspects of Mosaic faith Yahweh is pre-eminently the God of history. –Yahweh is Lord of nature but Yahweh himself is no natural power –Yahweh can use the powers of nature to accomplish His purpose Yahweh takes the initiative in establishing a close relationship between himself and his people. –The relation of Israel to Yahweh was not that of a slave but that of a “first-born son” who had been graciously redeemed by Yahweh –Gratitude for deliverance was the primary motive for Israel’s response of faith There is only one God –This stands in contrast to the polytheism and idol worship of the ancient world.
The Law is the first stage on the way to the kingdom In the light of Moses’ prophetic interpretation, The people accepted the obligation of the covenant in gratitude for what Yahweh had already done on their behalf According to Christian tradition the law is holy, spiritual, and good yet still imperfect. Like a tutor it shows what must be done, but does not of itself supply the strength, the grace of the Spirit, to fulfill it. Because of sin, which it cannot remove, it remains a law of bondage.
The Holiness Code God commands the Israelites to observe special laws and commandments, for they are a holy people. These include moral and ethical practices as well as religious rituals. Leviticus 19:1-37 “Not only the ten commandments but also the civil laws that follow were issued by God on Mount Sinai.”
Maimonides God set the commandments before us, but we can decide whether or not to obey them. Every person has free will. He can be righteous or wicked. Since all wicked deeds we commit are committed willfully, we can blame no one for them and must repent and make amends. This power is within our hands. It is the basis of the commandments and of all law.