Sixth Covenant with Man
Moses c. 1300 BC.
Ratification of the
Moses himself was told, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, with Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You shall all worship at some distance, but Moses alone is to come close the Lord; the others shall not come too near, and the people shall not come up at all with Moses.
When Moses came to the people and related all the words and ordinances of the Lord, they all answered with one voice, “We will do everything that the Lord has told us.” Moses then wrote down all the words of the Lord and, rising early the next day, he erected at the foot of the mountain an altar and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then, having sent certain young men of the Israelites to offer holocausts and sacrifice young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord, Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls; the other half he splashed on the altar. Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, “All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do.” Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying. “This is the blood of the covenant which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of his.”
Moses then went up with Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy elders of Israel, and they beheld the God of Israel. Under his feet there appeared to be sapphire tilework, as clear as the sky itself. Yet he did not smite these chosen Israelites. After gazing on God, they could still eat and drink.
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and, while you are there, I will give you the stone tablets on which I have written the commandments intended for their instruction.” So Moses set out with Joshua, his aide, and went up to the mountain of God. The elders, however, had been told by him, “Wait here for us until we return to you. Aaron and Hur are staying with you. If anyone has a complaint, let him refer the matter to them. After Moses had gone up, a cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the Lord settled upon Mount Sinai. The cloud covered it for six days, and on the seventh day he called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the Lord was seen as a consuming fire on the mountaintop. But Moses passed into the midst of the cloud as he went up on the mountain; and there he stayed for forty days and forty nights.
Past Favors Recalled
Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “You have seen all that the Lord did in the land of Egypt before your very eyes to Pharaoh and all his servants and to all his land; the great testings your own eyes have seen, and those great signs and wonders. But not even at the present day has the Lord yet given you a mind to understand, or eyes to see, or ears to hear. ‘I led you for forty years in the desert. Your clothes did not fall from you in tatters nor your sandals from your feet; bread was not your food, nor wine or beer your drink. Thus you should know that I, the Lord, am your God’ when we came to the place, Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, came out to engage us in battle, but we defeated them and took over their land, which we then gave as a heritage to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh. Keep the terms of this covenant, therefore, and fulfill them, that you may succeed in whatever you do.
All Israel Bound to the Covenant.
“You are all now standing before the Lord, your God – your chiefs and judges, your elders and officials, and all of the men of Israel, together with your wives and children and the aliens who live in your camp, down to those who hew wood and draw water for you – that you may enter into the covenant of the Lord, your God, which he concluded with you today under this sanction of a curse; so that he may now establish you as his people and he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But it is not with you alone that I am making this covenant, under this sanction of a curse; it is just as much with those who are not here among us today (including their descendants) as it is with those of us who are now here present before the Lord, our God.
Warning against Idolatry
“You know in what surroundings we lived in the land of Egypt and what we passed by in the nations we traversed, and you saw the loathsome idols of wood and stone, of gold and silver, that they possess. Let there be, then, no man or woman, no clan or tribe among you, who would now turn away their hearts from the Lord, our God, to go and serve these pagan gods! Let there be no root that would bear such poison and wormwood among you. If any such person, upon hearing the words of this curse, should beguile himself into thinking that he can safely persist in his stubbornness of heart, as though to sweep away both the watered soil and the parched ground, the Lord will never consent to pardon him. (This unfaithful Israelite will cause God to punish the good with the wicked, to root out the good plants growing in irrigated soil, together with the worthless plants growing in the dry ground). Instead, the Lord’s wrath and jealously will flare up against that man, and every curse mentioned in this book will alight on him. The Lord will blot out his name from under the heavens and will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for doom, in keeping with all the curses of the covenant inscribed in this book of the law.
Punishment for Infidelity
“Future generations, your own descendants who will rise up after you, as well as the foreigners who will come here from far-off lands, when they see the calamities of this land and the ills with which the Lord has smitten it – all its soil being noting but sulfur and salt burnt-out waste, unsown and unfruitful, without a blade of grass, destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the Lord overthrew in his furious wrath – they and all the nations will ask, ‘Why has the Lord dealt thus with this land? Why this fierce outburst of wrath?’ And the answer will be, ‘Because they forsook the covenant which the Lord, the God of their fathers, had made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, and they went and served other gods and adored them, gods whom they did not know and whom he had not let fall to their lot: that is why the Lord was angry with this land and brought on it all the imprecations listed in this book; in his furious wrath and tremendous anger the Lord uprooted them from their soil and cast them out into a strange land, where they are today.’ (Both what is still hidden ((the events of the future)), and what has already been revealed ((God’s law and the punishments in store for those who break it. Leave the future to God; our business is to keep his law)) concern us and our descendants forever, that we may carry out all the words of this law.)
Terms of Covenant
You will be my people
and I will be your God.
Obey God with the reward of life.
Disobey God with the punishment of Hell.