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Principle of Covenant

The principle of the covenant is considered one of the most fundamental in Judaism. In many ways, the idea of covenant forms the ground of Jewish religion and it is evident from numerous examples of Jewish lifestyle, culture, history, and religious rituals. These examples prove the impact of the covenant on Jews in many spheres of their life. In Judaism, the covenant is a link between the Jews and God or the way how God communicates with the Jewish people through Abraham, David, Noah, and other notable Biblical figures. Basically, the covenant regulates the relations between the Jews and God on the principles of consent and obedience, adherence to the covenant by Jews, which is reflected throughout their history.

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One of the most striking and obvious examples of covenant influence in Judaism is circumcision. Initially, circumcision was considered a sacred ritual for all Jewish men as a part of the covenant between God and Abraham. Furthermore, according to Davies, Finkelstein, and Horbury, in much of contemporary Jewish usage, the word covenant had come to have the restricted meaning of circumcision (665). Hence, this ritual is compulsory for Jewish men to be in covenant since those who are out of covenant are considered Gentiles.

Nonetheless, the idea of covenant is also reflected in Jewish relations between the state and each other. Firstly, the political thought of the Jewish people was largely impacted by the idea of the covenant where God and people were partners in a deal or agreement. In many ways, it is similar to the Western concept of the social contract. The idea of covenant plays a crucial role for the Jewish state, as Elazar considers Israel continues the Jewish tradition of synthesizing covenant and kinship (195). Secondly, the relations inside the Jewish communities, which are based on kinship, mutual support, and social order, may look similar to those between a state and a man. Relations in Jewish communities may be characterized as federation based on kinship and consent. Elazar considers that such a social system was typical for the Jewish tribes in early periods of history due to the adherence to the concept of covenant that was an ancient tradition of Jewish polity (230). On the other hand, the role of the covenant is not as high among non-religious Jews who are supposed to leave their Jewish identity as Orthodox Jewish communities.

Finally, another striking manifestation of the covenant is Zionism. Zionism is not only based on the political traditions of the Jewish people, which were influenced by the covenant. Mittleman, Licht, and Sarna claim that the goal of the covenant is the essential thing, the completion of creation for which God elected Israel in the first place (182). Thus, it may be considered that the establishment of the Jewish state Israel that was one of the targets of the covenant is founded on the principles of the covenant. All in all, a covenant with David led to the creation of the new Jewish state, therefore, the concept of covenant is tightly related to the Jewish state-making.

The examples presented above illustrate a huge role of the concept of covenant in the life of the Jewish people. This role is not limited to the ritual of circumcision in Judaism. The idea of covenant forms the worldview of Jews, which is based on kinship and mutual support of each other. In addition, the principles, included in the covenant, greatly contributed to the formation of the Jewish state, starting with David and ending with modern Israel. Being the grounding tradition of the Jewish political thought, covenant established the system of consent and agreement between the state and citizens, which reflects the relations between God and the Jewish people.

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