Declaration and Covenant is a fascinating examination of covenant formulae from the Old Testament and the Ancient Near East. This study shows how covenant partners sometimes created their connection by an oral declaration like the formula: “I am yours, you are mine.” This oral declaration could affect the original covenantal union, or it could reaffirm the existing bond or reestablish a broken pact.
The author develops the argument through an introductory discussion which establishes the specific Old Testament concept of covenant and shows that berît is not the only way to designate biblical covenants. Then he analyzes in detail the nature and function of oral declaration formulae in Joshua 9:8; 1 Samuel 27:12; 2 Kings 10:5-6; and 2 Kings 16:7 in the light of the fullest possible range of ancient Near Eastern examples, including the “Royal Formula” (PN is king) and legal formulae, e.g., of adoption, enslavement, service and marriage. These non-biblical materials establish five types of formulae found in general use: a generic formula, “We are all one,” and four specific formulae which define the nature of the bond: “vassal-lord,” “father-son,” “brother,” and “friend/ally.”
An important conclusion in the light of current discussion is the affirmation that covenant does convey a primary idea of relationship. Further, the survey of ancient Near Eastern materials is as complete a catalogue of examples as could be gathered. The intrinsic value of such a catalogue is self-evident, and it further serves to confirm that covenant was a relationship.