Covenant

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The Covenant This doctrine has not made the Jews popular in the outside world; the sign of the Noahide Code is the rainbow. `My bow I set in the cloud, sign
Christian Church preaches that the Jews forfeited their special position of the covenant between myself and earth.'
One essential element of the Jewish faith is the belief that Jews are the when they rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Instead, Christianity teaches Abraham ­ the first patriarch, where G-d promised him the Promised
chosen people of G-d. that he Church is now the new chosen Israel of G-d. Land and many descendents if he worshipped him and no other G-d, left
`You are a people holy to the Lord you G-d; the Lord you G-d has chosen Anti-Semites have accused the Jews of racism because they argue that his land and circumcised himself and all of his male descendents. This
you to be a people for his possession out of all peoples that are on the this implies that the Jews are superior to everyone else. became the physical sign of the Covenant. His sons, Isaac and Jacob
faceoff the earth.' Deuteronomy 7:6. followed as the next 2 patriarchs.
It goes on to explain that the Jews weren't chosen because they were the Sanctification of History: Moses ­ the Ten Commandments after the Jews were lead out of Egypt.
most significant or the most numerous group, but because `the Lord loves The Torah is seen as an account of G-d's activities within history, starting The other 603 mitzvoth were also created on Mount Sinai. The fulfilments
you and is keeping His oath which he swore to your forefather.' with the creation of the world. of these are seen as the purpose of life. The new physical sign of the
`If you will obey my voice ... you shall be my own possession among all The liberation from Egypt in Exodus isn't just an event n history; it is Covenant. Ten Commandments were rules that incorporated ways in
peoples...you shall be for e a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' sanctified because G-d brought it about. which to worship G-s (festivals, rites of passage, kosher and agriculture
Exodus 19: 5-6. G-d's actions are seen through his relationship with the Jews, and these laws).
actions have implications for all other peoples.
Penalties and Privileges: After spending 40 years in the wilderness, they finally reached their
Since the Jews are in a covenant relationship, it carries a large The Jewish people have taken the quote `Kingdom of priests' to mean promised land (Canaan) which showed G-d fulfilling his side of the
responsibility. The Jews will not e indiscriminately favoured because G-d that they have a mission to bring the knowledge of the one true G-d to the Covenant. These events demonstrate G-d is directing human history and
chose them. world. However, they do not expect non-Jews to follow all 613 laws, as are seen as G-d unfolding his divine plan.
The people will only be chosen if they continue to obey G-d's these laws are for Jews alone. For everyone else, it is enough to keep a
commandments, if they are disobedient and turn away from G-d then few moral rules, such as avoiding murder, incest and adultery. Importance:
disaster will befall the nation. At the same time, the Torah is understood as the blueprint for everything It is vital that they keep the mitzvoth as it gives them a sense of identity
that exists, and is described in h Divine Wisdom book to being essential and belonging. As they look back over their past, the strength of the
Alan Segal explains that the covenant is `the central organising concept in the creation of the universe. Covenant drives Judaism forward, and Jews still communicate with G-d
in Israelite religion. It is a theological term that means much the same Traditionally, the Torah is identified as that divine wisdom. The Torah has by observing the Covenant, although there are different interpretations.
thing that `contract' does today. The purpose of life is determined by the cosmic significance, and should be understood as instruction, teaching or
special contractual relationship that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses pattern. Different Interpretations:
enter with G-d. The covenant specifies exactly which human behaviours The rabbis were teaching that long before the creation of the universe, Orthodox Jews believe the Torah to be the Word of G-d and therefore
G-d wants and which He does not. It gives a divine mandate to their the Torah lay G-d's bosom and sang his praises with the angels. obey it word or word. Many are still orthodox and view these laws as the
social laws.' The Torah was consulted by G-d before He embarked on the creation of foundations of the faith.
the universe, and is therefore, an active instrument in the making of the Jews believe that they will be judged eventually, on the way that they
`No Jew can tell another Jew how to live. We are responsible for world. have kept/not kept the Covenant.
ourselves. The good Jew is the one who sets the example, the one who Reform Jews view the mitzvoth as the revealed Word of God and so can
`lives' it. If someone's sets an example to others, it makes me want to Waiting for the Messiah: be interpreted more freely, adhere tot eh covenant in a different way ­ no
emulate it, and I know I fall short.' David. G-d will send a Messiah, a new King who will gather the Jewish people kosher food laws.
back from exile and establish truth and justice forever. Some Jews look to other aspects of Judaism as the determination to
After Moses had finished reading the Book of the Covenant to the people, `Thus said the Lord G-d; behold I will take the people of Israel from the survive as a nation and the attachment to secular Judaism.
they saw what was entitled and accepted their duties. `All that the Lord nations among which they have gone ... they shall be my people and I
has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.' shall be their G-d. My servant David will be king over them ... I will make SUMMARY:
However, during the course of Jewish history, the people frequently a covenant of peace with them... then the nations will know that I the A Covenant is an agreement, bargain or contract between G-d and Jews.
turned their backs on G-d, again and again the prophets warned of the Lord will sanctify Israel, when m sanctuary is among them forever more.' Originated with Noah, than Abraham/Isaac/Jacob and Moses.
dire consequences of their behaviour. Ezekiel 37: 27-28. Contains 613 mitzvoth.
G-d promises to protect his chosen people and give them the Promised
In 721 BCE, the 10 northern tribes of the people were overrun by the Some Jews have abandoned this hope of a Messiah, while the Zionists Land.
Assyrian army, where they were taken into exile where they intermarried have transformed this religious promise into a political campaign for the Today the Covenant is still kept strictly by Orthodox Jews but less strictly
with the surrounding peoples, losing their special identity forever. Only 2 establishment of a national homeland for the Jewish people. by Reform Jews.
of 1 tribes remained. Reform Jews rejected the idea of a Messiah and looked forward to a It is the foundation of Jewish faith.
universal golden age where the advances of science and social reform The implications of the Covenant are that Messiah/messianic Age will
Hosea insisted that G-d would forgive His people again and again, would perfect the world through human beings. come and Jerusalem will be rebuild/peace on earth.
despite his abandonment shown. After this Jews will be judged on how they have kept the mitzvoth.
`How can I give you up O Ephraim; how can I hand you over O Israel ... However, despite these differences in opinion, Jews still believe that Zionists say covenant is already fulfilled ­ State of Israel 1948.
my heart recoils within me, my compassion grows warm and tender.' there is still much to be done and they pray for a time when `The Lord Some say it is a privilege to be chosen by G-d.
Hosea 11:2. shall be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord shall be One and his Big responsibility to follow laws, they have been persecuted and exiled
name One.' and to lead other nations to G-d.
Pious Jews today would agree to this, despite the terrible history of exile Covenant is the heart of Judaism; others say communities, festivals and
and persecution, which culminated in Hitler's murder of over 6m Jews in The Jewish Mission to the World: rites of passage are, along with synagogues.
the Holocaust. The Jewish people have survived and continue to offer Through their faithfulness of the commandments, they testify to the reality Chosenness can sometimes be confused with superiority.
their unique religious vision o the world. of G-d, and they believe that this will ultimately transform everything. There is diversity of beliefs, Modern Orthodox thinkers as well as Reform
`In days to come the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as Jews reject this idea of superiority.
Living with Chosenness: the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised high above the hills; all
Apparently, the privilege of being G-d's chosen people was offered to all nations will stream to it.' Isaiah's description of the enlightenment of all
other nations first. Each in turn rejected it since they did not want to keep peoples.
G-d's Torah. Only after G-d threatened imminent destruction did the
Jews, the lesser of all peoples, turned away from their old ways and Establishment of the Covenants:
became obedient to the commandments. Noah ­ G-d's promise was to never again destroy the earth again. `Never
There is an old joke that due to all of the disasters which have occurred in again shall all living creatures be destroyed by the waters of the flood;
the Jewish history, it may be time that G-d chose someone else. never again shall there be a flood to lay waste to the Earth.' The physical

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