Mosaic covenant

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"Old Covenant" redirects here. For the Icelandic Old Covenant, see Old Covenant (Iceland).
"Moses with the Ten Commandments" by Rembrandt (1659).

The Mosaic Covenant (named after Moses), also known as the Sinaitic Covenant (named after the biblical Mount Sinai), refers to a biblical covenant between God and the biblical Israelites, including their proselytes.[1][2] The establishment and stipulations of the Mosaic Covenant are recorded in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, which are traditionally attributed to Mosaic authorship and collectively called the Torah, and this covenant is sometimes also referred to as the Law of Moses or Mosaic Law or the 613 Mitzvot.


In the Hebrew Bible, God established the Mosaic Covenant with the Israelites after he saved them from slavery in Egypt in the events of the Exodus. From it is derived the 613 commandments.

The Mosaic Covenant played a role in defining the Israelite kingdom (c.1220-c.930 BCE), and subsequently the southern Kingdom of Judah (c.930-c.587 BCE) and northern Kingdom of Israel (c.930-c.720 BCE), and Yehud Medinata (c.539-c.333 BCE), and the Hasmonean Kingdom (140-37 BCE), and the Bar Kokhba revolt (132-136 CE), and Rabbinic Judaism c.2nd century to the present.

Rabbinic Judaism[3] asserts that the Mosaic covenant was presented to the Jewish people and converts to Judaism (which includes the biblical proselytes) and does not apply to Gentiles, with the notable exception of the Seven Laws of Noah which apply to all people.


A depiction of the famous Sermon on the Mount of Jesus in which he commented on the Old Covenant. Christians believe that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant.[4] Painting by Carl Heinrich Bloch, Danish painter, d. 1890.

The Mosaic Covenant, which Christians generally call the "Old Covenant", in contrast to the New Covenant, has played an important role in the shaping of Christianity and been the source of serious dispute and controversy since its inception, such as Jesus' expounding of the Law during his Sermon on the Mount, the circumcision controversy in early Christianity, and the Incident at Antioch which has led scholars to dispute the relationship between Paul of Tarsus and Judaism. The Book of Acts recorded that after the ascension of Jesus, that as the first Christian martyr Stephen was killed in a controversy over which he was accused of speaking against the Jerusalem Temple and the Mosaic Law, Act 6:8-14. Later, in Acts 15:1-21, the Council of Jerusalem addressed the circumcision controversy in early Christianity.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Proselyte: "...Isa. lvi. 3-6 enlarges on the attitude of those that joined themselves to Yhwh, "to minister to Him and love His name, to be His servant, keeping the Sabbath from profaning it, and laying hold on His covenant.""
  2. ^ Exodus 20:8: "thy stranger that is within thy gates"
  3. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia: Gentiles: Gentiles May Not Be Taught the Torah
  4. ^ Such as Hebrews 8:6 etc. See also Wikisource-logo.svg "Epistle to the Hebrews". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. : "The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and His Divine mediatorial office.... There He now exercises forever His priestly office of mediator as our Advocate with the Father (vii, 24 sq.)."

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