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Westminster Theological Journal 22 1960 133 46 Copyright 1960 by Westminster Theological Seminary Cited with permission THE TWO TABLES OF THE COVENANT MEREDITH G KLINE AND he declared unto you his covenant which he commanded you to perform even ten commandments and he wrote them upon two tables of stone Deut 4 13 It has been commonly assumed that each of the stone tables contained but a part of the total revelation proclaimed by the voice of God out of the fiery theophany on Sinai Only the subordinate question of the dividing point between the first and second tables has occasioned disagreement 1 A reexamination of the biblical data however particularly in the light of extra biblical parallels suggests a radically new interpretation of the formal nature of the two stone tables the importance of which will be found to lie primarily in the fresh perspective it lends to our understanding of the divine oracle engraved upon them Attention has been frequently directed in recent years to the remarkable resemblance between God s covenant with Israel and the suzerainty type of international treaty found in the ancient Near East 2 Similarities have been discovered in the areas of the documents the ceremonies of ratification the modes of administration and most basically of course 1 The perashiyoth pericopes marked in the Hebrew text apparently reflect the opinion that the second table begins with the fourth commandment Here and elsewhere in this article the designation of specific commandments is based on the common Protestant enumeration The dominant opinion has been that the second table opens with the fifth commandment but Jews usually count the fifth commandment as the last in the first table filial reverence being regarded as a religious duty 2 See G E Mendenhall Covenant Forms in Israelite Tradition The Biblical Archaeologist XVII 1954 3 pp 50 76 D J Wiseman had previously read a paper on some of the parallels to the Society for Old Testament Studies Jan 1948 The most

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