75 words for 75 years of Israel – Brit/Covenant

In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, Israel365 is excited to launch a new series of essays that will unlock the secrets of the Hebrew Bible!

Excerpted from Rabbi Akiva Gersh’s forthcoming book, 75 Hebrew Words You Need to Understand the Bible (available soon!) these essays illuminate the connection between related Hebrew words, revealing Biblical secrets only accessible through Hebrew.

Enjoy the series – and happy 75th birthday to the State of Israel!

בְּרִית

BRIT

BREET

COVENANT

“On that day God made a covenant with Abram: “To your offspring I assign this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.” (Genesis 15:18)

ביום ההוא כרת יהוה את אברם ברית לאמר לזרעך נתתי את הארץ הזאת מנהר מצרים עד הנהר הגדל נהר פרת.

“Such shall be the covenant between Me and you and your offspring which you shall keep: every male among you shall be circumcised.” (Genesis 17:10)

זאת בריתי אשר תשמרו ביני וביניכם ובין זרעך אחריך המול לכם כל זכר.

When God chooses Abraham to be the father of a new nation that will bring His word to the world, He makes with him a brit, a “covenant.” “On that day God made a covenant with Abram: ‘To your offspring I assign this land’” (Genesis 15:18). This covenant was sealed by Abraham cutting a number of animals into two, which was an ancient way of making agreements between two parties. In fact, the Biblical word for cutting is vater, which is formed with the same letters as the word brit.

God’s brit with the people of Israel is unchangeable. ”And also the Glory of Israel will not lie nor repent; for He is not a man, that He should repent” (I Samuel 15:29). Even if the people of Israel stray or sin, God’s covenant remains intact. A covenant with God is eternal; it is not a contract which loses its legitimacy if one or both of the sides breaks its conditions or promises. 

Through His covenant with Abraham, God ensured that the land of Israel would belong to the people of Israel, for all time. Though the people of Israel sinned and were exiled from the land, their 1,900 years of wandering among the nations of the earth did not dissolve their bond with the land. For God promised that He would bring His people back: “He will bring you together again from all the peoples where Hashem your God has scattered you” (Deuteronomy 30:3).

The people of Israel’s covenant with God is also expressed through the commandment to circumcise baby boys on the eighth day after birth. This is called a “Brit Milah,” a “covenant of the foreskin,” and it is a physical sign that attests to the baby’s deep and unbreakable relationship with God. 

The Israel Bible Team

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