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COVENANT, BIBLICAL

In the Old Testament an agreement between God and Israel in which God promised protection to the Chosen People in return for exclusive loyalty. "If you obey my voice and hold fast to my covenant, you of all nations will be my very own" (Exodus 19:5). Moses presented Yahweh's offer to his people, who promptly "answered as one, 'All that Yahweh has said we will do.'" The compact was sealed (Exodus 19:8). Many years later Jeremiah prophesied that a new covenant would be offered. "Deep within them," Yahweh promised, "I will plant my law, writing it on their hearts" (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Ezekiel foresaw that God would "make a covenant of peace with the, an eternal covenant" (Ezekiel 37:26). Its universal character was foreshadowed by Isaiah, to whom it was revealed by Yahweh, "so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 49:6). In the New Testament, when Paul was explaining to the Corinthians the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, he repeated Christ's words: "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, Whenever you drink it, do this as a memorial of me" (I Corinthians 11:25). This master idea of the New Testament is reinforced in the Letter to the Hebrews: "It follows that it is a greater covenant for which Jesus has become our guarantee" (Hebrews 7:22). Christ himself is the new covenant between God and his people. (Etym. Latin convenire, to agree, to come together.)

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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