The Role of Covenant in the Book of Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy - Outside the Box - Diana V. Edelman

Diana V. Edelman [+-]
University of Oslo
Diana V. Edelman is Professor Emerita of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oslo. Her own research focuses on the history, archaeology, and literature of the southern Levant, the development of early forms of Judaisms, and ancient Near Eastern literature viewed from the perspective of social memory. She has thirteen seasons of excavation experience in Israel. While her research tends to focus on the Iron Age and Persian period, she is interested in earlier and later periods and a wide range of topics. Current interests include local responses to imperialism, royal ideology, the development of technology and agriculture, everyday life, issues involving religion and ritual, burial and afterlife beliefs, diaspora studies, migration studies, frontier studies, social memory, ancient economies, and ancient political organization. Her numerous publications include 17 authored or edited books, 44 chapters in edited volumes, 14 articles in refereed journals, 58 dictionary and encyclopedia articles, and 128 book reviews (as of 2/2015).


Comparative ancient Near Eastern terminology suggests that the Hebrew term berît (ברית) designated a formal, oath-bound agreement with two constituent elements: the ‘edut, “written specifications,” and the ‘edut, “oath” or “curse.” Its use in Deuteronomy can be construed either as an example of a formal vassal treaty entered into between Yhwh and Israel, or as the written terms of formal contracts, whose Hittite examples have been dubbed “instructions,” being entered into by various groups of “royal” (divine) employees, who participated in an oath-swearing ceremony to uphold the stipulated terms. In Deut 12:1–26:15, haḥuqqîm wehammišpāṭîm represent the directives for behavioral norms of the berît being entered into in the storyworld. They do not adhere to the formulation of known units in ancient Near Eastern legal collections; they are best construed either as treaty stipulations or instructions to royal employees. Finally, explanations for why Yhwh’s people are designated Israel, not Judah, are examined.

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Edelman, Diana. The Role of Covenant in the Book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomy - Outside the Box. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Jul 2024. ISBN 9781800503717. Date accessed: 08 Dec 2023 doi: 10.1558/equinox.44274. Jul 2024

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