#33. One patriarchal covenant OR three? (Gen 15:18, 17:1-14, etc. vs Lev 26:42)


A theological staple in all the Pentateuch sources (Yahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist, and Priestly) is the covenant promise of the land of Canaan to Abraham and his seed, variously given as an unconditional and conditional promise, as we have already seen in #29. Furthermore, this covenant, this one covenant, is then transferred to each successive patriarch and his offspring, i.e., to Isaac, to Jacob, and then finally to Joseph’s sons—all P texts (Gen 28:1-5, 35:9-12, and 48:3-6).

Yet apparently the scribe who wrote Lev 26:39-45, most probably a later redactor, misrepresented this one covenant as three unique covenants!

Then I [Yahweh speaking] shall remember my covenant with Jacob, and I shall remember also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham.

The patriarchal covenant is never stipulated in this manner, as three separate covenants. It is  always one covenant: “my covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.”

We’ll chalk this one up to a copyist or scribal error. But I’m counting it anyway, to the chagrin (or perhaps mockery) of my fundamentalist readers.

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