A Covenant in the Ancient Near East

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A Covenant in the Ancient Near East. King. Conquered people. Similar to our legal contracts, ancient covenants had witnesses, requirements, promises, and signatures. A Covenant is. A binding promise Sealed in blood Administered by a king Contained blessings and curses.
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A Covenant in the Ancient Near EastKingConquered peopleSimilar to our legal contracts, ancient covenants had witnesses, requirements, promises, and signatures.A Covenant is . . .
  • A binding promise
  • Sealed in blood
  • Administered by a king
  • Contained blessings and curses.
  • Noah sacrificed a lamb as part of the covenant ceremony.The Covenant in Abram’s Vision
  • The Promise—God promised to make Abram into a great nation and give his descendants the land of Canaan.
  • Blood—Abram cut a heifer, a goat, a ram, a dove and a pigeon into two halves.
  • The King—God was the great King and Abram was the subject.
  • Blessings—Abram would be the father of many nations.
  • Curses—Abram assumed death would be the curse for breaking the covenant.
  • What did Abram do with the bloody animal pieces?Image from zixyon.2ya.comWhy is it amazing that God passed through the bloody pieces?God’s CovenantTypical Ancient CovenantEsarhaddon’s Covenant Treaty“This is the treaty of Esarhaddon, king of the world, king of Assyria…I have conquered you and I am now your king. You must be loyal to me. You must report any rebellions to me, come to me when you need help (instead of going to another king) and you must not help my enemies. If you do not serve the king in the open country…May Ashur, king of the gods…decree for you an evil fate and not grant you…old age…Just as these calves and lambs are cut open and their entrails are rolled around their feet, so may the entrails of your sons and daughters be rolled around your feet.”
  • What was the purpose of this document? Why was it put in place?
  • What was the purpose of the bloody ceremony?
  • What are some similarities and differences between Esarhaddon’s covenant and the covenant God made with Abram in Genesis 15?
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