The term "covenant" which originally meant "shackle" or "chain" derived from the Hebrew word, berit. It later came to be known as any form of binding agreement. There are a number of examples of covenants in the Bible (1). Abraham had made a covenant alliance with the Canaanites (Gn 14:13). Isaac made a covenant with Abimelech concerning water rights (Gn 26:26ff), and Jacob had once made a covenant with Laban (Gn 31:44ff), to mention just a few (2). The agreement I will discuss is the covenant of Sinai. I will refer to it as this; although the exact geographical location is uncertain. There are two strong traditions, which place the site of the covenant at Sinai, or at Horeb (3). Furthermore, there are other scholars who would argue the location was in neither of these areas. For the sake of my discussion throughout this essay, I will refer to the agreement as the "covenant of Sinai," or quite simply the "covenant."
The covenant agreed between God and the Israelites at Sinai was the cardinal dogma of the Old Testament religion (4). This covenant is more than just a contract, as it actually establishes an artificial kinship between God and Israel. The Hebrew word hesed in referring to the covenant refers to the affection and loyalty of kin (5). The covenant at Sinai is hugely significant to the Israelite people as it demonstrates God's commitment to them. It is the culmination of events that led them to this juncture in their history. God had sought out Moses in Egypt. He then proceeded to lead him and his people out of slavery (6). God in return seeks foremost from his followers, loyalty to him. He is the one, and only true God. Therefore, he must be treated as so by his disciples.