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17. AT THE MOUNTAIN OF GOD In the preceding section (II.A, chapters 10—16) we have found that in the Pentateuch the Priestly theology of the "everlasting covenant" presents a distinc­ tive pattern of symbolization: the Creator of heaven and earth enters into special relationship with the people Israel and condescends to tabernacle in their midst. The holy God dwells in the midst of a holy people at the center of a holy land. We turn now to the Mosaic covenant perspective, as set forth preeminently in the book of Deuteronomy. Deuteronomic interpreters present a symbolic world in which God chooses to be present in the midst of the people, "going before them" in their wanderings and eventually dwelling in their midst by putting the divine name on the central sanctuary. The central person in this "world of meaning" is Moses, the rugged figure por­ trayed in Michelangelo's well-known statue. In ancient tradition he was accompa­ nied by two other persons: his brother Aaron and his sister Miriam (Mic. 6.4).' Abrabamic and Mosaic Covenants In the final form of the Pentateuch (Torah), the Mosaic covenant is subordinate to the Abrahamic. In this canonical context the Abrahamic covenant, which guaran­ tees the promise of land and posterity, is the overarching theme within which the Mosaic covenant of law is embraced. This is evident from the fact that the book of Deuteronomy, the classical exposition of Mosaic covenant theology, is inserted into the Priestly work, just before its conclusion. In this location, the book of Deuteronomy provides the conclusion to the Priestly Torah (Pentateuch), which is actually a Tetrateuch plus the conclusion of Deuteronomy, chapter 34. At the same time it is the introduction to the historical work that follows.-Joshua through 2 Kings, known as the Latter Prophets, or in scholarly terms, the Deuteronomistic history. Thus we are presented with a huge narrative, extending from creation to the conclusion of the monarchy (Pentateuch + Former Prophets). In this canonical arrangement, the Abrahamic covenant provides the perspec­ tive within which the exodus from Egypt and the Sinai sojourn are viewed. In a Priestly passage found at the beginning of the exodus story we read that the enslaved Israelites groaned under Egyptian bondage and cried to God for help. God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. —Exod. 2:24 The covenant later made at Sinai, as portrayed in the Old Epic tradition (Exodus 19-24), is subsumed under, or included within, the Abrahamic covenant, showing 1. On the overshadowing of Miriam in the present form of the tradition, see the discussion, p. 54; and Phyllis Trible, "Bringing Miriam Out of the Shadows," BR 5, no. 1 (1989) 14-25, 34. 137 138 Contours 0} Old Testament Theology that in the view of the final editors these two covenants belong together insepara­ bly—a matter that we must explore as we go along. We have already found that in the message of Ezekiel the two covenants (as well as the Davidic covenant to be considered in the ensuing section II.C, chapters 23-26) are brought together. There is good reason to believe, however, that originally, before the canonical combination of the two covenants, the Mosaic covenant belonged to a separate theological tradition. This tradition was especially at home in north Israel (Ephraim), where prophets like Moses appeared, especially Samuel, Elijah, and Hosea. This Ephraimitic provenance would explain why the northern prophet, Hosea, speaks from the platform of Mosaic theology (exodus and Sinai covenant) and does not refer to the Abrahamic covenant at all (see Hos. 11:1, 12:9, 13). The Symbolic World oj the Mosaic Covenant The best way to gain an entry into the symbolic world of the Mosaic covenant is to read the opening chapters of Deuteronomy, which purport to be Moses' final sermon(s) to the people just before his death in full sight of the promised land and just before the people crossed over the Jordan River to ascend what is now called the West Bank.2 In these chapters we find impassioned preaching to the people, based on and elaborating the sacred story of exodus and Sinai that unfolds in the book of Exodus, especially the Old Epic tradition found in Exodus 1-24 and 32-34. The book of Deuteronomy presents not one sermon but three: the first in 1 -.6—4:40; the second in chapters 5-28; and the third in chapters 29-30...


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