From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article
|Part of a series on|
|Bible book Bible portal|
A biblical covenant is a religious covenant that is described in the Bible. All Abrahamic religions consider biblical covenants important. Of the covenants found in the Pentateuch or Torah, the Noahic Covenant is unique in applying to all humanity, while the other covenants are principally agreements made between God and the biblical Israelites. In the Book of Jeremiah, verses 31:30-33 predict "a new covenant" that God will establish with Israel and Judah. Most Christians believe this New Covenant is the "replacement" or "final fulfilment" of the Old Covenant described in the Old Testament and as applying to the People of God, while a minority believe both covenants are still applicable in a dual covenant theology.
In Judaism, the Seven Laws of Noah (Hebrew: שבע מצוות בני נח Sheva mitzvot B'nei Noach), or the Noahide Laws, are a set of moral imperatives that, according to the Talmud, were given by God as a binding set of laws for the "children of Noah" – that is, all of humanity. The Noahic covenant[Gen 9:8-17] applies to all of humanity and to all other living creatures. In this covenant, God promises never again to destroy all life on Earth by flood[9:11] and creates the rainbow as the sign of this "everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth".[9:12-17]
The Abrahamic covenant found in Genesis 12-17 is known as the Brit bein HaBetarim, the "Covenant Between the Parts" in Hebrew, and is the basis for brit milah (covenant of circumcision) in Judaism. The covenant was for Abraham and his seed, or offspring, both of natural birth and adoption.
In Genesis chapters 12–17 three covenants can be distinguished based on the differing Jahwist, Elohist and Priestly sources. In Genesis 12 and 15, God grants Abraham land and descendants but does not place any stipulations (unconditional). By contrast, Gen. 17 contains the covenant of circumcision (conditional).
Covenants in biblical times were often sealed by severing an animal, with the implication that the party who breaks the covenant will suffer a similar fate. In Hebrew, the verb meaning to seal a covenant translates literally as "to cut". It is presumed by Jewish scholars that the removal of the foreskin symbolically represents such a sealing of the covenant.
The Mosaic covenant, beginning in Exodus 19-24, contains the foundations of the written Torah and the Oral Torah. In this covenant, God promises to make the Israelites his treasured possession among all people[Exo 19:5] and "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation"[Exo 19:6], if they follow God's commandments. As part of the terms of this covenant, God gives Moses the Ten Commandments. These will later be elaborated on in the rest of the Torah.
The form of the covenant resembles the suzerainty treaty in the ancient Near East. Like the treaties, the Ten Commandments begins with Yahweh's identification and what he had done for Israel ("who brought you out of the land of Egypt"; Ex 20:2) as well as the stipulations commanding absolute loyalty ("You shall not have other gods apart from me"). Unlike the suzerainty treaty, the Decalogue does not have any witness nor explicit blessings and curses. The fullest account of the Mosaic covenant is given in the book of Deuteronomy.
The priestly covenant (Hebrew: ברית הכהונה brith ha-kehuna) is the covenant that God made with Aaron and his descendants, the Aaronic priesthood, as found in the Hebrew Bible and Oral Torah. The Hebrew Bible also mentions another perpetual priestly promise with Phinehas and his descendants.
The Davidic covenant[2Sam 7] establishes David and his descendants as the kings of the united monarchy of Israel[Jer 33:17-21] (which included Judah). The Davidic covenant is an important element in Jewish messianism and Christian theology. In Jewish eschatology, the messiah is believed to be a future Jewish king from the Davidic line, who will be anointed with holy anointing oil, gather the Jews back into the Land of Israel, usher in an era of peace, build the Third Temple, have a male heir, re-institute the Sanhedrin and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age.
Christian theologian John F. Walvoord maintains that the Davidic covenant deserves an important place in determining the purposes of God and that its exegesis confirms the doctrine of a future reign of Christ on earth. While Jewish theologians have always held that Jesus did not fulfill the expectations of a Jewish messiah, the position of conservative Christian theologians is almost unanimous that Jesus fulfills the Davidic covenant, the provisions of which Walvoord lists as:
The New Covenant is a biblical interpretation originally derived from a phrase in the Book of Jeremiah, in the Hebrew Scriptures. It is often thought of as an eschatological Messianic Age or world to come and is related to the biblical concept of the Kingdom of God.
Generally, Christians believe that the New Covenant was instituted at the Last Supper as part of the Eucharist, which in the Gospel of John includes the New Commandment. A connection between the Blood of Christ and the New Covenant is seen in most modern English translations of the New Testament with the saying: "this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood".
Christians see Jesus as the mediator of this New Covenant, and that his blood, shed at his crucifixion is the required blood of the covenant: as with all covenants between God and man described in the Bible, the New Covenant is considered "a bond in blood sovereignly administered by God." It has been theorized that the New Covenant is the Law of Christ as spoken during his Sermon on the Mount.