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Moab - The Other Covenant

Sinai covenant, Law of Moses, Moab covenant, Levite Levites, Hebrews 9, Levitical Priesthood, Moses, curses of the covenant, covenant confirmation, the Law

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As it turns out this other covenant made in Moab is a very good fit for the 'old covenant' of Hebrews 9:18-22 even though the Christian clergy has largely ignored it.

"These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on this side of the Jordan ... 2 It is eleven days journey from Horeb by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea3 Now it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spoke to the children of Israel according to all that the LORD had given him as commandments to them, ... 5 On this side of the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain this law, saying," (Deu 1:1-5)

It is here that Moses spoke every major precept of the law, just as Hebrews 9:19 indicates. Here is where the Law of Moses is formally explained. Certainly the Elders had heard it before this time.

Although there is no detailed account of the sacrifice, this day was a new moon.  As such there typically would have been offerings of calves and at least one goat (Num 28:11-15).  It is obvious the tabernacle and its utensils did exist and the people understood they were required to keep this new law along with the Law of God, His law, the Sinai Law.

"This day the LORD your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17 Today you have proclaimed the LORD to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice. 18 Also today the LORD has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments," (Deu 26:16-18)

The fact is, the account of the ratifying of the Old Covenant in Hebrews is referring to the ratifying of this covenant made in Moab JUST BEFORE Israel was led into the Promised Land, "when I took them by the hand to lead them out of [mental] Egypt".

Deuteronomy is by and large a speech Moses delivered to Israel, which became the binding terms of this covenant. Moses spoke generally the text of Deuteronomy to the Children of Israel just before they went into the Promised Land. This was over 39 years after the Sinai covenant.

"These are the words of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb." (Deu. 29:1;  One covenant besides another covenant is two covenants jointly applicable)  

9 " Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do..... 12that you may enter into covenant with the LORD your God, and into His oath, which the LORD your God makes with you today.... 14 I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, 15but with him who stands here with us today before the LORD our God, as well as with him who is not here with us today...... 21And the LORD would separate him [the disobedient] from all the tribes of Israel for adversity, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this Book of the Law"

Chapter 30 continues. 10"if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.......19I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live."

Chapter 31 continues.9 'So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.....24So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, 25that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying: 26Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you." '

On the day Moses spoke these words of Deuteronomy to the children of Israel, God made a second covenant with the people. This covenant was placed near the crux of the Sinai covenant, the Covenant of the Lord, but it did not displace the Covenant of the Lord. It repeated the foundational terms or 'words' of the Sinai covenant, but this covenant was clearly a different covenant. "These are the words of the covenant ..., besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb". (Deu 29:1) 

An important concept to understand is found in Galatians 3:15. "...Though it is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed, no one annuls or adds to it." 

The ancients did not modify their blood covenants. Once confirmed both parties were duty bound to live by the agreement they made. This covenant made in Moab did not run at cross-purposes to the Sinai covenant, but included additional provisions. Israel was bound to live according to both. This was certainly obvious to them since the terms of the covenant of the Lord were included in the law that was assumed to exist by the Moab covenant, i.e. Exodus. "So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel." (Deu. 31:9). The Law of Moses contains record of both. The covenant of the Lord, the Ten Commandments, had already been in its place of honor for over 39 years. It was not displaced, added to or annulled. The Moab covenant was included along side the Sinai covenant.

So what is the difference between these two covenants? In simple terms, the difference, is the difference between Exodus 20-23 and the entire Book of the Law, Genesis though Deuteronomy. Some will also want to know why there needed to be a second covenant.  The most important additions were the curses, the establishment of the tribe of Levi as judges and priests and the requirement of regular sacrifices.


"His Covenant" is indeed the Ten Commandments. "So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone." (Deu. 4:13, see also Ex 34:28) Those words, or terms of His covenant, were not affected by the later covenant. "This Covenant" by which term the Moab covenant is consistently referred to in Deuteronomy, made just before entering the Promised Land, is a different covenant. It is clear when one carefully examines what the scriptures say. His covenant was made at a past event. This covenant was made on the day Moses spoke Deuteronomy.

Nowhere in Deuteronomy or anywhere else is there any indication that the Sinai covenant, or especially the Covenant of the Lord, has been replaced or amended by 'this covenant' made in Moab. Some have tried to say that it was simply a reiteration of the Sinai covenant, but there are a number of significant differences. Things were added in this covenant that are nowhere mentioned in the Sinai covenant, and in some cases ran contrary to the intent of the Sinai covenant.

Since traditional Christianity has assumed the Old Covenant is the Sinai covenant, it assumes it can pick and choose what is important to the Creator and what is not.  With this perspective in mind the common teaching on the New Testament is based on false assumptions and is highly misleading.