Covenant in the Old Testament

Old Testament is the collection of covenants that God concluded with different people in different circumstances. However, what is covenant? Word "covenant", in relation to God, in the Bible is used in three meanings:

  • In the sense of vows, which bind either one side - unilateral covenant, or different sides - bilateral covenant.
  • In the means of vows with all its teachings, institutions, charging, and so on.
  • In the meaning of the same vows with all its teachings, institutions, charging as well as servants that serve to the subjects of the covenant.

In each subsequent sense of the word, there is everything that was in the previous one, with some additions. All these meanings are biblical. According to Marlowe:

The Greek word (diatheke), usually translated "covenant" in English versions of the Bible, is a legal term denoting a formal and legally binding declaration of benefits to be given by one party to another, with or without conditions attached. In secular contexts it was most often used of a "last will and testament." In the Greek version of the Old Testament was used as the ordinary rendering for the Hebrew word

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There are two types of covenant: conditional and unconditional. The conditional covenant is the proposal from God to man, which can be expressed with formula "if you will". God promises to bless man in a special way if he fulfills certain conditions that are contained in the covenant. The failure of a person in the matter of execution of such conditions often leads to the punishment. Unconditional covenant is the sovereign act from the side of God, in which He unconditionally agrees to pour out blessing on people who honored an agreement with him. This covenant is defined by the formula, "I will" which proclaims God's purpose to enforce what He promises. The Edenic and the Mosaic Covenants are conditional the Adamic, the Noahic, the Abrahamic, the Palestinian, the Davidic, and the New Covenant are unconditional.

In this paper, I am going to discuss the five Covenants that were concluded between God and man.

The Edenic Covenant

There are two places in the Bible referring to the Edenic Covenant: Genesis And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.(Genesis 1:28-30)

More details are given in Genesis 2:15-17

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

The Edenic covenant was concluded between God and Adam. Adam personified the whole human race. It was given seven promises. The first -man was created to be fruitful, multiply and fulfill the Earth. Man was given the command to populate the earth. Thus, an increase in the population is part of God's order. The second -man was created to own the land. He had to own the land and enjoy all the earth's resources and energy, which God has created for him. That does not mean that God allowed man defile the land! The third -man was the lord of all living creatures. Animal kingdom, land, air and the sea habitants were subjected to the rule of man. The fourth promise concerned to the human diet. The man was vegetarian. This covenant does not even mention the point that man could eat any of the animals, although he had power over them. He should not have shed the blood of animals. According to the fifth promise, the man had to take care of Eden Garden. The sixth - man was forbidden to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This was the only prohibition of Eden Testament and was designed to test obedience of man. The seventh promise contained a punishment for disobedience.

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Eve was tempted and disobeyed the only prohibition. Adam realized what had happened, but he decided to join his wife in disobedience. After that, the Edenic Covenant, being conditional, ceased to exist.

The Adamic Covenant

The Adamic Covenant is concluded in Genesis (3:14-19). It is the covenant between God and Adam. Adam became the human race representative again. God speaks to the Serpent (that is Satan himself), Adam and Eve. God said to Satan that he would be "cursed more than all cattle" and "will go flat on the earth" (Genesis 3:14). The reason for this judgment is that the serpent was used as a tool of Satan, promoting the fall of man.

Eve and all women were given three curses. The first is the multiplication of pain during regular bleeding and conception. Since the time of fall to these days, woman has the ability to conceive, at least once a month, furthermore, women's "periods" (cycles) are accompanied by discomfort and pain. The second women had to give birth in pain and sufferings. The third -wife was to be in total submission to her husband, and this principle operates today.

Adam, all men and all mankind were chastened to three positions:

1)The whole earth was cursed. The need to work was not something new because labor took place back in Edenic Covenant. However, in the Edenic Covenant, the land fully pays for the cost of human labor in the cultivation. However, after the fall, there were thistles, thorns and weeds.

2)A man's work became known as the "hard work".

3)A man is subjected to physical death.

The Covenant with Adam was the basis for the dispensation of conscience. It was an unconditional covenant therefore it is largely valid today.

The Noahic Covenant

The entire covenant with Noah is in Genesis (9:1-17). The covenant was concluded between God and Noah. Similarly to Adam, Noah became the representative of the entire human race. Man had to re-populate the earth. All of humanity, except for eight people, was killed by the flood. Mankind has increased dramatically in number, by then, but "the sin of man was great on the earth" (Genesis 6:5). Thus, God has brought a general punishment on the earth. After the Flood, the earth was desolated, and only eight people inhabited the earth. As in the provisions of Edenic Covenant, man was told to populate the earth again. In this time, a person has not been said to possess the land and apply its rule. He lost it right after the fall. Satan usurped this power. However, the man still was given the power and control over the animal kingdom, and that is why all animal feared the man. Human diet consisted of vegetables and meat of animals. However, man was forbidden to eat meat with blood. The whole life of living beings and human are concentrated in the blood. Blood is a symbol of life, and the shedding of blood is the symbol of death. First death penalty has become part of the human being. When Cain killed Abel, he was not executed because the death penalty has not been established; it was introduced at the time of the Covenant with Noah, and all murderers since then had to be put to death.

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Then there was the promise: humanity will never be destroyed by the flood again. A sign of that promise became a rainbow, which then first appeared in human history. The covenant with Noah became the basis of the dispensation of human government. Although this period ended, unconditional covenant with Noah is still in action.

The Abrahamic Covenant

There are six places in the Bible referring to the Abrahamic Covenant: Genesis (12:1-3, 12:7, 13:14-17, 15:1-21, 17:1-21, 22:15-18). Personalities involved in the covenant are God and Abraham. In this covenant, Abraham personifiednot all of humanity, but the Jewish nation only. The list of following passages shows the correlation of 13 provisions in this covenant:

1)Great nation was supposed to stem from Abraham the people of Israel (12:1, 7, 13:14, 15, 17, 15:17-21, 17:8).

2)Abraham was promised a land, or rather, Canaan (12:1, 7; 13:14-15, 17, 15:17-21, 17:8).

3)Abraham himself will be blessed (12:2).

4)The name of Abraham is a great power (12:2).

5)Those who bless Israel will be blessed (12:3).

6)Those who curse Israel will be cursed (12:3).

7)In Abraham, all will be blessed in the end (12:3 a, 22:18).

8)Abraham had a son from his wife Sarah (15:1-4, 17:16-21).

9)His descendants fall into Egyptian slavery (15:13-14).

10)Other nations, except for Israel, will occur from Abraham (17:3-4, 6), for example, Arab states, among others.

11)His name should be changed from Abram to Abraham (17:5).

12)The name of Sarai was to be changed to Sarah (17:15).

13)There should have been a sign of the covenant -circumcision (17:9-14), and, therefore, in accordance withcovenant with Abraham, circumcision was to be the hallmark of Jewry.

The Abrahamic Covenant consists of three aspects: land, seed, and blessing. The aspect of the land is introduced in the Palestinian Covenant, aspect of semen -in covenant with David, and the aspect of the blessing is presented in the New Covenant. Abraham had several sons and three different women; therefore, the question arises: through whose son will covenant be established? God has revealed that the statement should have been held in a Sarah's son, Isaac. Isaac had two sons, and God has chosen to adopt the covenant with Jacob as it is seen in Genesis 28:13-15.

And he saw the Lord by his side, saying, I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac: I will give to you and to your seed this land on which you are sleeping. Your seed will be like the dust of the earth, covering all the land to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south: you and your seed will be a name of blessing to all the families of the earth. And truly, I will be with you, and keep you wherever you go, guiding you back again to this land; and I will not give you up till I have done what I have said to you.

After that, it has been confirmed by all the twelve sons of Jacob.The Abrahamic Covenant became the basis for the dispensation of Promise. As the covenant with Abraham is unconditional, it is still active and has not been fully executed, yet.

The Mosaic Covenant

The covenant with Moses contains very extensive information. The Scripture gives an expanded view of it, from Exodus 20:1 to Deuteronomy 28:68. God and Israel were involved in this covenant. Covenant was concluded with allIsrael, not only Moses as the representative of Israel. This is clearly shown in Exodus 19:3-8.

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And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.

The Covenant with Moses placed a restriction on one of the provisions of the Covenant with Noah. The Covenant with Mosesordered that the Jews could eat marine animals that have fins and scales; of all animals Jews could eat only ruminant and artiodactyl. Circumcision was not a sign of the Jews as it was in the Covenant of Abraham. It showed the obedience to the law, and the Jews were obliged to fulfill the whole law. It was a conditional Jewish covenant, which ultimately ended with the death of Christ (Romans 10:4, 2, Cor. 3:3-11, Gal. 3:19; Eph. 2:11-18, Hebrews. 7:11-12, 18). Since then, the Law of Moses is not valid. Prophetically, the covenant had lost its force even before Christ died to liberate Jews from the law (Jeremiah 31:33).

In contradistinction to the Mosaic Covenant, the new Jesus Christ Covenant is appointed for all humanity regardless of race. Jesus sent his apostle, for the fact that they could tell the history of cross.

Throughout all human history, God invokes people to return to him. Concluding the covenant is the God's method of dealing with mankind. In this paper, I examined five covenants: the Edenic, the Adamic, the Noahic, the Abrahamic and the Mosaic Covenants.

Works Cited

  1. Marlowe, M. D. "The meaning of "Covenant in the Bible." Bible Research by Michael Marlowe.
  2. "Bible, King James Version." N.p., n.d. Web. 15 July 201.
  4. "Genesis." N.p., n.d. Web. 15 July 2013.
  6. "Exodus." N.p., n.d. Web. 15 July 2013.
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