Bible Review 1:4, Winter 1985

Continuity & Change in Israel’s Convenant with God

By Kevin G. O’Connell

Israel’s faith-history begins with the people’s response to their escape from Egypt under Moses’ leadership around 1275 B.C.1

What happened at the Exodus? A motley group of slaves, resident aliens in a hostile Egypt, escaped from oppression under the leadership of a certain Moses; then they saw in their successful escape a clear sign of God’s special love and care for them. In the concept of covenant, Moses helped them see God’s hand in what had happened and taught them how to respond to their saving God.2

Moses apparently took over the political form of covenant from a type of treaty, either contemporary or remembered from the not-too-distant past, made by Hittite emperors in what is now central Turkey with their loyal vassals in various parts of the Near East. Moses used the Hittite covenant form to shape the Israelite people’s understanding of their new relationship with the God who had delivered them.3

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