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Recognize the significance of God’s response to Moses, “I am who I am.” (Sect. 9.2)
- There are two possibilities for why God answers this way:
- • God is purposely ambiguous so Moses would not try to control him.
- • God is magnifying the intensity of his name. God defines himself in terms of himself because nothing can compare with him. He is wholly other.
- The verb for “I am,” ehyeh, can be translated as present tense, but also as future tense, “I will be.” So the key phrase here, ehyeh ashur ehyeh, can mean “I am who I am” or “I will be who I will be. The probable meaning of the phrase is “I am he who is continually here for you” (see Brevard S. Childs, The Book of Exodus, OTL, Westminster Press, 1974, 60-77). The phrase is crystallized in the personal name for the God of Israel, “Yahweh,” using the consonants, YHWH.
Define a power encounter.
A power encounter is a visible, practical demonstration that the true and living God (Jesus Christ) is more powerful than the false god(s) or spirit(s) worshipped or feared by the members of a people group. E.g., Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18).
Explain the purpose of a power encounter:
Their purpose is to make God known by evidencing his kingdom and by executing his judgment upon the false gods. E.g., God calls Moses and Aaron to confront Pharaoh and the Egyptians with signs and wonders so they will know that God is the Lord.
Explain how one of the plagues on Egypt represented a power encounter between the God of Israel and a god of Egypt (Exodus 5-11). Answer in 2 paragraphs.
- God sent ten plagues: three sets of three plagues plus a tenth. In the tenth plague, God killed the firstborn of all animals and people—except he passed over the homes where the blood of the Passover lamb was on the doorways. Thus, God brought judgment on all the gods of Egypt, showing that he is the Lord.
- 10.3.1. Examples
- In a power encounter between the true, living God and the false gods, YHWH effaces the images of Egypt’s gods.
- 10.3.1.1. The Nile River
- Believed to be the sacred abode of the Nile god, Ha’pi.
- • Moses struck the Nile with his staff, turning it to blood. This demonstrated death to the Nile god.
- 10.3.1.2. The Sun
- Ra, the sun god, is one of the highest Egyptian gods.
- • God totally blocks out the sun, bringing thick darkness people could feel.
- 10.3.1.3. Pharaoh’s son
- Both Pharaoh and his first-born son were held to be divinely conceived and to be images of gods.
- • God kills Pharaoh’s firstborn son and cancels out the pagan god.
- 10.3.1.4. The fertility god
- • Heqit, the fertility goddess, is symbolized by the frog. God also makes frogs multiply out of control and defeats the fertility god
Recognize the six sections of a typical Suzerain-Vassal treaty and their corresponding citations from Exodus and Deuteronomy: Ex. 20:2a “I am the Lord your God.”
Recognize the six sections of a typical Suzerain-Vassal treaty and their corresponding citations from Exodus and Deuteronomy:Ex. 20:2b “Who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”
Recognize the six sections of a typical Suzerain-Vassal treaty and their corresponding citations from Exodus and Deuteronomy:Ex. 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.” - 1st Commandment (general).
Ex. 20:4-17 2nd-10th Commandments (specific).
cf. Josh. 24 In the covenant renewal ceremony, Joshua reviews Israel’s relationship with God.
Recognize the six sections of a typical Suzerain-Vassal treaty and their corresponding citations from Exodus and Deuteronomy:Dt. 10:1-5 or Ex. 25:16 10 Commandments on two stone tablets put in the ark of the covenant.
Dt. 31:10-13 Public reading of the 10 Commandments.
Recognize the six sections of a typical Suzerain-Vassal treaty and their corresponding citations from Exodus and Deuteronomy:
Dt. 30:19 God calls heaven and earth as witnesses against Israel.
cf. Josh. 24:22-27 The Israelites are witnesses against themselves that they have chosen to serve the Lord.
Recognize the six sections of a typical Suzerain-Vassal treaty and their corresponding citations from Exodus and Deuteronomy: Dt. 28
cf. Lev. 26 Choose life, not death.
• If you obey, you will receive these blessings (vv. 1-14).
• If you disobey, you will receive these curses (vv. 15-68).
6.Curses and Blessings
Recognize why God’s covenant with Israel is modeled after the ANE Suzerain-Vassal treaty.
In the Ancient Near East, a covenant is a means of establishing a relationship, not naturally existing (i.e., by blood), which is given sanctions (binding force; hold power) by an oath sworn in a ceremony of ratification.
The Sinai Covenant follows very closely the literary form and structure of the International Treaty of the Ancient Near East between an overlord, or Suzerain, and his subject people, vassals. The Suzerain-Vassal Treaty was widely known and used during the second millennium B.C.—the most complete and largest number of examples having come to us from the Hittite texts found at Boghaskoy dating to the 14th and 13th centuries.
The Suzerain-Vassal Treaty is not a treaty between equals; but between a lord and a servant. It requires complete loyalty and obedience from the servant who benefits from the provision and protection of the lord.
SUMMARY: By modeling the covenant after a Suzerain-Vassal treaty, God communicated his purpose in a way that Israel could easily understand.
Write-out from memory the verses of Exodus 33:15-16.
“Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?’” – Ex 33:15-16
Identifies the author (Suzerain/lord) of the treaty, giving his titles.
Sets forth the previous relations between the two parties involved and emphasizing the benevolent deeds performed by the Suzerain on behalf of the vassal. These past beneficent acts are what made the grounds for the vassal’s gratitude and future loyalty and obedience.
- The stipulations consist of:
- • General – the basic demand for allegiance and faithfulness.
- • Specific – normalizing relationships within the empire.
- Provisions are made for:
- • Deposit and safe-keeping of the treaty in the heart of the chief god’s temple.
- • Periodic public reading of the treaty – typically at a certain time of the year to remind the vassal of his obligations to the Suzerain.
The list of divine witnesses to and guarantors of the treaty.
Blessings and curses
- The curses or blessings invoked upon the vassal for breaking or keeping the covenant
- • If he obeys, he will receive certain blessings.
- • If he disobeys, he will receive certain curses and judgments.