Covenantal Rewrite

Uploaded by heterodoxism16 on 19.10.2010

All of this is but a prelude then to the people's reaffirmation and renewed commitment to the
covenant, and it's spelled out in great detail in Nehemiah 10. Chapter 10 opens, "In view
of all this, we make this pledge and put it in writing," and then there follows a list
of all the officials: the Levites, the priests, the heads of the people. And it says that
all of these officials and leaders in conjunction join with the people, verse 30 and 31, they:
ů join with their noble brothers, and take an oath with sanctions to follow the Teaching
of God, given through Moses the servant of God, and to observe carefully all the commandments
of the Lord our Lord, His rules and laws. Namely: We will not give our daughters in
marriage to the peoples of the land or take their daughters for our sons.
So we then read the various obligations that the people are committing themselves to, and
these include observance of the Sabbath day and the Sabbath year as well as supplying
the needs of and the upkeep of the temple. But it's surely significant that the ban on
intermarriage and the observance of the Sabbath top the list. We are going to commit ourselves
again to God's teaching, his rules and laws; namely: we won't intermarry and we'll observe
the Sabbath! So these are singled out at the top of the list, as central covenantal obligations.
Chapter 13 describes Nehemiah's efforts to see that the people live up to this pledge.
And he scurries around Jerusalem--he's enforcing the cessation of work on the Sabbath, he's
persuading individuals to give up their foreign wives. Ezra and Nehemiah were zealous in their
promotion of the renewed covenant, and in their view, the centerpiece of the covenant
was the ban on intermarriage and the observance of the Sabbath. It is interesting that these
two phenomena, in addition to circumcision, will emerge as the three identifying features
of a Jew in the ancient world when you look at external literature: they are a circumcised
people, there's one day of the week that they don't work, and they don't marry outside their
group. Those are the kinds of themes that you start to see in writings of ancient Greeks
and so on when they talk about this people.