Tag Archives: Covenant

Exodus 21- 24:

Laws and Regulations:
Yahweh begins to dictate His laws and regulations to the Israelites.  These are placing moral and ethical boundaries on behavior.  He limits retribution to “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” (Ex. 21:23-25)  This does not proscribe violence as many today commonly think, rather this places a limitation on violence.  Yahweh introduces the moral idea of proportionality.  Likewise, slaves are to be released upon the seventh year, “he shall be given his freedom without cost.” (Ex. 21:2)

Breaking the Ten Commandments deserves death:
What ensues is a list of proscriptions for dealing with people who break the law, which often times results in “must be put to death.”  Murderers are to be put to death.  Kidnappers “shall be put to death.”  Whoever strikes or curses his mother or father, “shall be put to death.” (Ex. 21:17)  “You shall not let a sorceress live.  Anyone who lies with an animal shall be put to death.  Whoever sacrifices to any god, except the Lord alone, shall be doomed.” (Ex. 22:17-19)  “Never mention the name of any other god; it shall not be heard from your lips.” (Ex. 23:13)  Like the Canaanite ritual, “you shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” (Ex. 23:19)

Keep the Feast Days:
Yahweh instructs the Israelites to keep the feast days, most probably Passover, Pentecost and Booths.  “Three times a year you shall celebrate a pilgrim feast to me. You shall keep the feast of Unleavened Bread.” (Ex. 23:14-15)

The Angel of the Lord:
The Angel of the Lord is Yahweh Himself, or in our New Testament Trinitarian understanding, more like God the Son in human form.  There is a purposeful blending of Yahweh and the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament, a sort of haziness and mysteriousness about who is Yahweh and who is His angel?  Are there two forms of Yahwehs, as Judaic second temple literature contemplated?  The intentional mysteriousness about the Angel of the Lord is a foreshadowing and the slow reveal of the three Persons of the Trinity.  It is the obscured reality in the Exodus that God is three Persons, but who are one.  Yahweh says, “See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. Be attentive to him and heed his voice.  Do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your sin.  My authority resides in him.  If you heed his voice and carry out all I tell you, I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes.” (Ex. 23:20-22)  Who else but God can forgive sin?  Certainly not an angel.  Who carries the authority of Yahweh? Again, not an angel.  This is something, or more precise, someone, greater than an angel.  The angel is Yahweh, and Yahweh is the angel.  Yet, he is Yahweh, but somehow, mysteriously distinct from Yahweh. Yahweh is the angel in physical form, or most likely the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ.  The words above presage the words of God the Father at the Transfiguration of Jesus: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Mt. 17:5)

The Warrior Angel of Yahweh and the Canaanites:
Just as the warrior Yahweh led the Israelites out of Egypt with signs and wonders and did battle with the Egyptians as a pillar of fire and cloud of smoke, so now too, the warrior Angel of Yahweh will do battle with the giant clans of the Canaanites to seize the Promised Land.  “My angel will go before you and bring you to the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites and Jebusites; and I will wipe them out.  Therefore, you shall not bow down in worship before their gods, nor shall you make anything like them; rather, you must demolish them and smash their sacred pillars.” (Ex. 23:23-24)  Again, Yahweh, or the Angel of Yahweh, will do battle with His enemies and those who serve the demonic “gods.”

The Giant Clans and Descendants of the Nephilim Targeted for Destruction:
Just as Nephilim and their progeny were targeted for destruction in the Great Flood of Noah, so now too, their descendants who survived are targeted for destruction. The Canaanites and the giant clans, the descendants of the Nephilim, as seen back in Genesis 6:1-4, reside in the land of Canaan. They worship the fallen angels and devils through idolatry, and engage in cultic human sacrifice and orgies. Yahweh tells the Israelites they must be thoroughly wiped out and utterly destroyed.  The seed and the corruption of the Nephilim must be eradicated from the earth, and especially, from the Promised Land.  This is the only instance in the Bible where a group of people is targeted for total annihilation, a holy war.  The Hebrew word is kharam/kherem, or “devote to destruction.”  Wherever the bloodlines of the Nephilim and giant clans are found, they are to be eradicated. “I will have the fear of me precede you, so that I will throw into panic every nation you reach.  I will make all your enemies turn from you in flight, and ahead of you I will send hornets to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way.” (Ex. 27-28)  There is no clear cut answer in the commentaries whether the “hornets” are real, literal hornets (very probably), or figurative for the fear of Yahweh, or some other sort of plague or ailment, like leprosy.  In regards to the Canaanites: “You shall not make a covenant with them or their gods. They must not abide in your land, lest they make you sin against me by ensnaring you into worshiping their gods.” (Ex. 23:32-33)

The Ratification of the Covenant:
Then, Moses and “seventy of the elders of Israel” went up the mountain (Mt. Sinai) to worship Yahweh.  The number 70 is significant because it was 70 nations that were scattered amongst the earth at the Babel event, when God disinherited the nations.  God will now, through the Covenant with the one Jewish nation, “His portion,” begin to reclaim all the nations of the world, represented in the 70 nations scattered at Babel.  Through the seed of Abraham, all the world will be blessed.  The Israelites then offer holocausts and sacrifices of young bulls to Yahweh.  Then, “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.'” (Ex. 24:6-8) Then Moses and the seventy elders went up, “and they beheld the God of Israel.” (Ex. 24:10)  And finally, they have the sacred meal: “they beheld God, and ate and drank.” (Ex. 24:11)  Jesus later renews the New Covenant in His blood at the Last Supper, His own sacred meal of the Passover, transformed into the Catholic Mass.  As Jesus said at the Last Supper: “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Lk. 22:20)  The sprinkling of the blood of bulls of the Old Covenant is replaced with the blood of Jesus Christ in the New Covenant.  Moses then passed into the midst of the cloud on Mt. Sinai into the presence of God, and “there he stayed for forty days and forty nights.” (Ex. 24:18)

Genesis 12-23:

Abram / Abraham:
The next section in Genesis begins with the calling of Abram (Abraham). “Whereas Yahweh had scattered humankind in all directions, now Yahweh calls someone to follow a particular path away from Babylon, the place of dispersion, to the land of Canaan.” There, God makes an everlasting covenant with Abraham to become a great nation.

Abram meets a mysterious figure called Melchizedek, who is both priest and king, who offers up “bread and wine.” (Gen. 14:18) He is referred to as the “king of Salem,” probably the precursor to Jerusalem. His title is the king of peace. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews refers to Melchizedek as a form, or prefigurement, of Jesus Christ. He is both priest and king, who offers bread and wine to God, and have their priesthood directly from God, and not from ancestors of Aaron or Levi. Hebrews declares Jesus is a “priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 7:17) This itself a quote from the Psalms, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Ps. 110:4) Jesus, who is priest and king, offers his body and blood up under the species of bread and wine at the Last Supper.

The Covenant:
Yahweh makes two promises to Abraham. “He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so,’ he added, ‘shall your descendants be.’ Abram put his faith in the Lord, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.” (Gen. 15:5-6) The Lord then requests Abram to bring him a three years old heifer, a three years old she-goat, a three years old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. He splits them in two and placed each half opposite the other. Abram then falls into a deep slumber (recalling the deep sleep God put on Adam when he made Eve from one of his ribs). Yahweh speaks to him in his sleep about the future history of Israel, and their future slavery and exodus from Egypt. Then, “there appeared a smoking brazier and a flaming torch, which passed between the pieces. It was on that occasion that the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I give this land. . .” (Gen. 15:17-18) The sign of the Abrahamic covenant is circumcision, just as the sign of the covenant with Noah is the rainbow. Every male shall be circumcised at eight days old, “Thus my covenant shall be in your flesh as an everlasting pact.” (Gen. 17:13) Yahweh then tells Abram that he and his wife Sarah, although “ninety years old,” will bear a son and shall name him Isaac. The Abrahamic Covenant is the foundation for all Monotheism. This is the first definitive break in human history from polytheism and paganism.

The Three Visitors:
The next interaction I believe hints at the Trinity. It reads: “The Lord appeared to Abraham . . . Looking up, he saw three men standing nearby.” (Gen. 18:1) The three visitors seem to speak together as “they.” When Abraham offered to make them some food, they respond “‘Very well,” they replied, ‘do as you have said.'” He bakes them “three seahs of fine flour” to make them bread, associating the bread with the Lord in Eucharistic overtones. Later in the passage, however, the Lord is distinguished as one of the people, while the other two are referred to as angelic messengers.

Sodom and Gommorah:
From there, they all walk towards the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord said “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave, that I must go down and see whether or not their actions fully correspond to the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out.” (Gen. 18: 20-21) The two angelic beings keep walking toward the towns, but the Lord remained standing with Abraham telling him his intent to destroy the cities. Abraham then begins to intercede for the towns, “Will you sweep away the innocent with the guilty?” (Gen. 18:23) Abraham pleads with him that there were “fifty innocent people” there, would you still destroy them? The Lord vows to spare them if he finds fifty people there, then Abraham continues to intercede for them. How about 45 people? 40? 30? 20? 10? The Lord responds, “For the sake of those ten,” he replied, “I will not destroy it.” (Gen. 18:32)

Lot, and Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed:
The two angelic messengers go to Sodom where they find Lot, who is Abraham’s nephew. Lot offers to bring them into his house and “bake cakes without leaven” (Gen. 19:3) for them, again, with overtones of a Eucharistic meal. Later, however, “all the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old – all the people to the last man – closed in on the house. They called to Lot and said to him, ‘Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have intimacies with them.'” (Gen. 19:4-5) Lot protested against the “wicked thing” they were trying to do, and even offered up his two daughters to appease the mob, but they would have nothing of it.

At this point the two angelic beings intervene as “they struck the men at the entrance of the house, one and all, with such blinding light that they were utterly unable to reach the doorway.” (Gen. 19:11) The angels told Lot and his family to flee the city in the morning because the Lord was about to destroy it. As the sun was rising “the Lord rained down sulphurous fire upon Sodom and Gomorrah from the Lord out of heaven. He overthrew those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.” (Gen. 19: 24-26) The next morning Abraham went to look at the plain and saw “dense smoke over the land rising like fumes from a furnace.”

Jesus referred to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah saying of those that reject the gospel, “Amen, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.” (Mt. 10:15) Saint Peter also refers to the immorality of Sodom and Gomorrah and their subsequent destruction. He says “and if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction, reducing them to ashes, making them an example for the godless people of what is coming.” (2 Pt. 2:6) Jude makes a similar statement saying that Sodom and Gomorrah were punished for their fornication and “indulged in unnatural lust,” or “went after other flesh.” (Jude 7) Clearly, one of the aspects of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah that cries out to heaven is the homosexual act. Modern apologists for homosexuality cite that the sins of the cities of the Plain were “rape” or even “inhospitality,” but this deflects from the truth. The Bible holds these two cities as the most extreme examples of inhospitality specifically because they sought to commit homosexual rape, and even the rape of angelic beings. The unnaturalness of these acts adds to their particular depravity.

The Birth of Isaac:
Yahweh fulfills his word towards Abraham and Sarah with the birth of Isaac. Abraham is 100 years old. Sarah remarks “God has given me cause to laugh.” (Gen. 21:6) Sarah, upset by the presence of the slave-girl Hagar and her son, Ishmael, who she bore to Abraham, forces them from their presence, saying “No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance with my son Isaac!” (Gen. 21: 10) Many point to this initial division between Isaac and Ishmael for the current and ongoing disputes millennia later between their descendants, the Jews and Arabs respectively.

The Testing of Abraham:
God tests Abraham by telling him to “Take you son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you.” (Gen. 22:2) Abraham takes Isaac to the site, whereupon he “took the wood for the holocaust and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,” (Gen. 22:6) then he, “built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Next he tied up his son Isaac, and put him on top of the wood on the altar. Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.” (Gen. 22:9-10) At this point, an angel from heaven stops Abraham from going through with it, but Abraham has proved his faithfulness to God. God says to him, “Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.” (Gen. 22: 12)

Isaac and Jesus:
The parallels between Isaac and Jesus are striking. The location where Abraham was to sacrifice his son was at Mount Moriah, the site in Jerusalem of the Temple. The pagans of the day had offered child sacrifices there to the fire god Molech. God shows in this episode that he is vehemently opposed to child sacrifice and this evil practice is to no longer be practiced. Child sacrifices to Molech have reemerged in our latter days in the present evils of abortion. Isaac prefigured Jesus. Isaac was to be sacrificed in the same location where Jesus offered up himself in the sacrifice of the Cross. Jesus is the only Son of God, with whom he loves. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Mt. 3:17) Jesus walks the way of the Cross, also with beams of wood on his shoulders. He goes up Mount Moriah to Golgotha, where he would be fixed to the wooden beams of the Cross as a sacrifice – for all. As John wrote later in the gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:16) God the Father, out of love for us, sacrifices his only begotten son – the very act with which he tested Abraham.