A biblical covenant is an agreement found in the Bible between God and His people in which God makes specific promises and demands. It is the customary word used to translate the Hebrew word berith (ברית Tiberian Hebrew bərîṯ Standard Hebrew bərit) as it is used in the Tanakh 135 times (see appended list), thus it is important to all Abrahamic religions. The equivalent word in the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament is διαθήκη diatheke (Strong's G1242).
In theology and Biblical studies, the word "covenant" principally refers to any of a number of solemn agreements made between God and the children of Israel in the Hebrew Bible, as well as to the New Covenant, which some Christians consider to be the replacement or final fulfilment of these, see Supersessionism. Likewise, some Christians use the term Old Covenant to collectively refer to the covenants described in their "Old Testament", of which they hold different views.
The foundation of the Torah is the belief that God chose the Children of Israel, in His wisdom and for His purposes, and made His covenant with them. This covenant requires the Children of Israel not to practice idolatry and to live their lives according to the commandments.
Part of a series on The Bible Biblical canon
Old Testament (OT)
New Testament (NT)
Chapters and verses
Old Testament canon
New Testament canon
Dead Sea scrolls
Targums · Peshitta
Septuagint · Vulgate
Gothic Bible · Vetus Latina
Luther Bible · English Bibles
Biblical studies Dating the Bible
Novum Testamentum Graece
NT textual categories
Archeology · Artifacts
Science and the Bible
Pesher · Midrash · Pardes
Perspectives Gnostic · Islamic · Qur'anic
Christianity and Judaism
Inerrancy · Infallibility
Criticism of the Bible
Conditional and Unconditional Covenants
Although covenants in the Ancient Near East could have parity between parties (i.e. such as agreements between Hittites and Egyptians), covenants in the Torah were generally one-sided. However, covenants can either be conditional or unconditional in the Torah. Some appear to have the form of a Suzerainty treaty where there are clear stipulation to be upheld by both parties involved, but other covenants do not have stipulations and represent a divine charter or gift. As an example see Abrahamic covenant below that can involve both conditional and unconditional covenants.
The Noahic covenant
- places all plants and animals under human command
- forbids eating meat with the blood still in it
- forbids murder
- Says that violent men will be repaid by violence
- promises that HE will never again destroy all life on earth by flood
- creates the rainbow as the sign of this "everlasting covenant" for all ages to come
And in the twenty-eighth jubilee [1324-1372 A.M.] Noah began to enjoin upon his sons' sons the ordinances and commandments, and all the judgments that he knew, and he exhorted his sons to observe righteousness, and to cover the shame of their flesh, and to bless their Creator, and honour father and mother, and love their neighbour, and guard their souls from fornication and uncleanness and all iniquity. For owing to these three things came the flood upon the earth ... For whoso sheddeth man's blood, and whoso eateth the blood of any flesh, shall all be destroyed from the earth.
— Jubilees 7:20-28 
According to the Documentary Hypothesis, in Genesis 12-17 three covenants can be distinguished based on the differing J, E, P, and D sources. In Gen. 12 and 15, God grants Abram land and descendants but does not place any stipulations (unconditional). By contrast, Gen. 17 contains the covenant of circumcision (conditional).
- To make of Abraham a great nation and to bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him and all peoples on earth would be blessed through Abraham.
- Circumcision is to be the permanent sign of this everlasting covenant with Abraham and his male descendants and is known as the covenant of circumcision.
- To give Abraham's descendants all the land from the river (or wadi) of Egypt to the Euphrates.
- To make Abraham a father of many nations and of many descendants and the land of Canaan as well as the entire middle-east to his descendant.
Covenant with Isaac
The Abrahamic Covenant of Isaac did not pass to all the descendants of Isaac, however. From Isaac the Covenant passed to Jacob
Covenant with Jacob
- To give him and his descendants the land on which he is lying
- That his descendants will be numerous like the dust of the earth
- That all peoples on earth will be blessed through him and his offspring.
- To watch over him wherever he goes.
- To make the children of Israel His special possession among all people if they obey God and keep his covenant
- To make the children of Israel a kingdom of priests and a holy nation
- To give the children of Israel the Sabbath as the permanent sign of this covenant
As part of the terms of this covenant, God gives Moses the Ten Commandments. These will later be elaborated in the rest of the Pentateuch. The form of the covenant resembles the suzerainty treaty in the ancient Near East  but those are not matching exactly. Like the treaties, the Decalogue begins with Yahweh's identification and his doing for Israel ("who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Ex 20:2) as well as the stipulations commanding absolute loyalty ("You shall not have other gods apart from me"). Yet, unlike the suzerainty treaty, the Decalogue in the book of Exodus doesn't have any witness nor explicit blessings & curses. The fullest account of the Mosaic covenant is given in the book of Deuteronomy
The priestly covenant
The Israel covenant
The Israel covenant
- That Israel would lose their identity
- That while Israel (Ephraim) will become many nations between the Nile and the Euphrates, yet only a remnant of the people of Ephraim will return
- That Israel and Judah will be at war with each other, but that the Lord would bring about a peace between Israel and Judah
- That Ephraim would return to Lebanon and Gilead, which is located in Western Jordan
- That there would be a conflict between Ephraim and many other nations of the World
- The remnant that will return from Ephraim will be the descendants of those who did not bow to Baal
- That a new nation of Ephraim will form south of Israel in Saudi Arabia or Egypt. A nation the Jewish people will refer to as Sodom
- To regather Israel from its dispersion and unite them with Judah, but that Judah would not recognize them
- That a people who are called "Not his people" will be called his people
- To bring the Israelites to the land which their fathers possessed (here named Land of Canaan)
- To prosper the Israelites above their fathers.
- To restore the Israelites spiritually so that Israel will love the Lord with all their heart and soul
- To put all the curses of Israel upon Israel's enemies
- That the descendants of Judah, i.e. the Jewish people, would return to where their family "Israel" already was
The Davidic covenant
- David is to have a child, yet to be born, who shall succeed him and establish his kingdom.
- This son (Solomon) shall build the temple instead of David.
- The throne of his kingdom shall be established forever.
- The throne will not be taken away from him (Solomon) even though his sins justify chastisement.
- David’s house, throne, and kingdom shall be established forever.
National covenants by the nations of Israel and Judah can be found in texts such as, , (Josiah), , , , and . National covenants were often associated with times of spiritual renewal or revival.
Personal covenants or commitments abound in the Scriptures and are prominent in the Psalms. They may be prefaced with expressions such as "I will". One example is: "I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvelous works."
The New Covenant in Christianity
The Writings of the New Testament
The Gospels: Luke tells of the birth of John the Baptist. His father, Zacharias, prophesied at the time. In his prophecy he says that God has remembered His holy covenant. The events at the beginning of the Christian story are connected to the covenant God made with Abraham.  Just before his crucifixion, Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples. All three of the synoptic gospels describe the special attention he gives to the bread and the wine. When he presents the wine to his disciples, he says that it is the blood of the covenant poured out for them. Matthew explains that the pouring out of the blood was done for the forgiveness of sins. Luke calls it the new covenant.
The Book of Acts: Peter and John heal a crippled man. Peter speaks to the wondering crowd. He says they are the children of the covenant God made with their fathers and quotes the promise to Abraham, "And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed." Peter tells them that God has sent the resurrected Jesus first to them to bless them and forgive them of their sins. He proclaims Jesus to be the covenant "seed" promised to Abraham. 
Epistle to the Romans: Paul addresses God's covenantal relationship with the Jewish people.  He states emphatically that God has not rejected the Jewish people. To drive home his point, he recalls the time when Elijah felt all alone in his service to God. God assured Elijah that he wasn't alone, that there were 7000 that had not bowed the knee to Baal.  Paul says that the Jewish people's rejection of Christ was a stumbling but not a falling.  He writes that the Jewish rejection has opened the way for the Gentiles to be saved. Paul considers this turn of events to be a great blessing for the Gentiles. He then asks, if this Jewish failure to accept Christ brought such blessings to the world, what greater blessings will come when the Jewish people finally join the fellowship. 
Christian views of the New Covenant
The Christian New Covenant involves the theological concept of a new relationship between God and humans mediated by Jesus. This new relationship is available to all people, both Jews and Gentiles.
Christians vary in their view of the New Covenant. Some believe the New Covenant extends the Mosaic Covenant but it seemingly accomplishes new things. Christian laws of faith claim that a New Covenant of the trinitarian God with the Christians and the Christian Church replaces, fulfills or completes God's Mosaic covenant. See also Types of Supersessionism.
“ ³¹Behold, days are coming - the word of HASHEM - when I will seal a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the Lord. "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the Lord. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34) ”
This prophet's word refers to the birth of Jesus Christ and his atonement on the cross (Matthew 26:28), as well as the expounding of proper interpretation of the law, based on principle rather than rule (Matthew 21-48).
Covenant in Islam
As an Abrahamic faith Islam continues the belief of the Covenant with Abraham. Circumcision is still carried out as a symbol of this Covenant. A blood link is not required either. Any person confessing to faith can become a Muslim and partake of this Covenant with God:Remember We made the House a place of assembly for men and a place of safety; and take ye the station of Abraham as a place of prayer; and We Covenanted with Abraham and Isma'il, that they should sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or use it as a retreat, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer).[Quran 2:125]
- Alliance (Bible)
- Oaths in Jewish tradition
- Covenant theology
- Covenantal nomism
- Covenant (Latter Day Saints)
- Law in Christianity
- Lawsuits against God
- Covenant of Bahá'u'lláh, founder of another Abrahamic religion
- ^ Rashi on Gen. 9:7: "And you, be fruitful and multiply: According to its simple meaning: the first [mention] (verse 1) was a blessing, and this [mention] is a commandment. According to its midrashic interpretation, [it is written here] to compare one who does not engage in propagation to one who sheds blood. — [from Yev. 63b]"
- ^ (part of the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible but generally considered to be 2nd century BC Jewish apocrypha)
- ^ The Book of Jubilees: Noah offers Sacrifice; the Cursing of Canaan (cf. Gen. ix. 20-28): Noah's Sons and Grandsons (cf. Gen. x.) and their Cities. Noah's Admonitions (vii. 1-39). p. 68 The quote given is by R. H. Charles 1913 translation from the Koine Greek, but Jubilees is also extant in Geez and multiple texts found at Qumran which are still being examined.
- ^ Michael D. Coogan, A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 62-68
- ^ Kline, Meredith. "Deuteronomy". The Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary http://www.covopc.org/Kline/Deuteronomy_Zondervan_Dictionary.html
- ^ Michael D. Coogan, "A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament" page 103, Oxford University Press, 2009
- ^ a b Walvoord, John F. "Eschatological Problems VII: The Fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant." Web: 19 Mar 2010. Fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant
- ^ New Covenant (Ezekiel 47:21–23; Isaiah 2:1–4; 11:10; 56:1-8; Micah 4:1–5)
- ^ "Unlike Christianity, Judaism does not deny salvation to those outside of its fold, for, according to Jewish law, all non-Jews who observe the Noahide laws will participate in salvation and in the revards of the world to come". H. Revel, Universal Jewish Encyclopedia; Universal Jewish Encyclopedia Inc., New York, 1939-1943, pp. 227-228.
- Paul Fiddes (1985). 'Covenant - Old and New', in P. Fiddes, R. Hayden, R. Kidd, K. Clements, and B. Haymes, Bound to love: the covenant basis of Baptist life and mission, pp. 9-23. London: Baptist Union.
- Truman G. Madsen and Seth Ward (2001). Covenant and Chosenness in Judaism and Mormonism. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. ISBN 0838639275. it was very a raw flim
- A Course on Covenants by Scott Hahn (Catholic perspective)
- Jewish Encyclopedia: Covenant
- Nave's Topical Bible on covenants
- The Economy of the Covenants Between God and Man by Hermann Witsius (Reformed perspective)
- Understanding of the Covenant of Joseph by Michael Stansfield (Biblical perspective)
- "What is a Covenant" from Kingdom Prologue by Meredith G. Kline (Reformed perspective)
Part of a series on Christianity Jesus Christ Foundations Bible Theology History and
Western: Adventist · Anabaptist · Anglican · Baptist · Calvinism · Evangelical · Holiness ·
Independent Catholic · Lutheran · Methodist · Old Catholic · Pentecostal · Quaker · Roman Catholic
Eastern: Eastern Orthodox · Eastern Catholic · Oriental Orthodox (Miaphysite) · Assyrian
Nontrinitarian: Christadelphian · Jehovah's Witness · Latter Day Saint · Oneness Pentecostal · Unitarian
Topics Christianity portal
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Biblical law in Christianity — generally refers to a discussion as to what and how the biblical law applies in a Christian context. There are diverse views of the issues involved. Biblical law, commonly called Mosaic Law or Divine Law, refers to the statements or principles of … Wikipedia
Covenant theology — This article is about Calvinist theological framework. For Covenantal Theology in the Roman Catholic perspective, see Covenantal Theology (Roman Catholic). For the religious and political movement in Scotland, see Covenanters. Calvinism John… … Wikipedia
Covenant (disambiguation) — A covenant, in its most general sense, is a solemn and bilateral promise to do or not do something specified.Covenant may also refer to:In theology: * Covenant (biblical), a series of solemn agreements believed to exist between God and the… … Wikipedia
Covenant — A covenant is a solemn agreement to engage in or refrain from a specified action. It is commonly found in religious contexts, where it refers to sacred agreements between a god and human beings. It may also refer to: Contents 1 Religion 2 Law and … Wikipedia
Covenant (theology) — In religion a covenant can refer to a promise between man and God: Covenant (biblical), in the Hebrew Bible Greater Covenant, in the Bahá í Faith Covenant Theology, in Christianity interpretations of a covenant surrounding Jesus s death and… … Wikipedia
Biblical Antiquities — • Details domestic, political, and sacred antiquities Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Biblical Antiquities Biblical Antiquities … Catholic encyclopedia
Covenant Day School — Location Charlotte, North Carolina Information Motto Academic Excellence. Biblical Worldview. Affordability. Unsurpassed. Religious affiliation(s) Presbyterian Christian Established … Wikipedia
COVENANT — COVENANT, a general obligation concerning two parties. It was confirmed either by an oath (Gen. 21:22ff.; 26:26ff.; Deut. 29:9ff.; Josh. 9:15–20; II Kings 11:4; Ezek. 16:8; 17:33ff.), by a solemn meal (Gen. 26:30; 31:54; Ex. 24:11; II Sam. 2:20) … Encyclopedia of Judaism
Biblical theology — is a discipline within Christian theology which studies the Bible from the perspective of understanding the progressive history of God revealing God s self to humanity following the Fall and throughout the Old Testament and New Testament. It… … Wikipedia
Covenant Christian Academy (Georgia) — Covenant Christian Academy Location 6905 Post Road Cumming, Georgia 30040 Information Type Private Christian, non denominational Motto Soli Deo Gloria (Latin) Established 1982 … Wikipedia