THE PALESTINIAN COVENANT: The Covenant of the Promised
Kevin J. Conner and Ken Malmin

B. Childress
Apr 18 2008

Because of its close association with the Mosaic Covenant, the Palestinian Covenant has often not been recognized as a
covenant in its own right.  However, Deuteronomy 29:1 clearly distinguishes it from the Mosaic Covenant by stating,
"beside the covenant which He made with them in Horeb."  While the Mosaic Covenant was made at Mt. Sinai with the first
generation out of Egypt and gave laws for the people, the Palestinian Covenant was made in the plains of Moab with the
second generation and gave laws for the land.  Thus these two distinct covenants given in two distinct places to two
distinct generations for two-distinct reasons.

While this new generation received a new covenant, the Palestinian Covenant, it also received a rehearsal of the Moral
and Civil Laws of the Mosaic Covenant.  This constitutes the book of Deuteronomy, "The Second Law."  Thus this
generation was under the Mosaic Covenant, received the Palestinian Covenant and entered the land promised in the
Abrahamic Covenant.

The failure of the first generation to keep the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants precipitated the giving of the Palestinian
Covenant.  The climax of their failure is recorded in Numbers 13,14.  At Kadesh-Barnea they searched the land for forty
days, believed the "evil report" and "in unbelief rejected the covenant land promised to Abraham.  God transposed the
forty days into forty years of wandering in the wilderness to experience His "breach of promise" (Numbers 14:34).  Thus,
the first generation died in unbelief failing to enter into covenant rest (Hebrews 3,4; Deuteronomy 8:1-16).  The old
generation experienced the cycle of probation, failure and judgment which led to the new generation receiving the next
covenant.  The Palestinian Covenant reaffirms and fully amplifies the conditions of the Mosaic Covenant for the keeping
of the land promised in the Abrahamic Covenant.

I.  The WORDS of the Covenant

The word "land" is used approximately 180 times in the Book of Deuteronomy.  This illustrates that the primary focus of
the Palestinian Covenant was on the promised land.  It was made with the generation that was about to enter into the
land, giving them the conditions of living in the land.

    A.  The Promises of the Covenant

    The Book of Deuteronomy gave that generation a graphic description of the promised land.  God had distinctly
    said that it was "His land" (Leviticus 25:23,24) and that He was allowing them to enter into that land as stewards
    over it.  God described this land as:

    *  A land of hills and valleys.

    *  A land watered by early and latter rains.

    *  A land of fruitfulness.

    *  A land of watched over by the Lord God.

    *  A land of rivers and fountains.

    *  A land of mineral wealth.

    *  A land of prosperity

    (Deuteronomy 8:7-10; 11:9-17; 26:15, 28:11-13; Leviticus 26:3-13).

    1.  Promises of Blessing (Deuteronomy 28:1-14)

    God promised that if they were obedient many blessings would come upon Israel and overtake them.  They
    would be placed high above all nations.  Moses also gave particular blessings to each of the twelve tribes,
    even as Jacob had blessed each of his twelve sons (Deuteronomy 33 with Genesis 49).   Following are the
    blessings of the Palestinian Covenant:

    a.  Blessed in the city.

    b.  Blessed in the field.

    c.  Blessed in fruitfulness.

    d.  Blessed in daily provision.

    e.  Blessed in daily activities.

    f.  Blessed in victory over their enemies.

    g.  Blessed in storehouses.

    h.  Blessed in labor.

    i.   Blessed in seasonal rains.

    j.   Blessed in national position

    k.  Blessed in commerce.

    The fulfillment of these promises of blessing began with the ministry of Joshua as he led them in their
    conquest and possession of the land promised originally in the Abrahamic Covenant and confirmed in the
    Mosaic and Palestinian Covenants.  Joshua records their victory over their enemies and the dividing of the
    land into the tribal inheritances (Joshua 11:23; 21:43-45).  The Books of Judges, Ruth, I and II Samuel, I and
    II Kings and I and II Chronicles record times when these promises of blessing were fulfilled in the history of
    Israel.  The greatest extend of their conquest came through the leadership of David and the greatest extend
    of their material prosperity came during the reign of King Solomon.

    2.  Promises of Cursing (Deuteronomy 28:15-68)

    God promised that if they were disobedient many cursings would come upon Israel and overtake them.  
    These are distinctly referred to as curses of the covenant, meaning that God would be bound by His word to
    judge them for their disobedience (I Kings 8; Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27:15-26).  Following are the
    curses of the Palestinian Covenant:

    a.  Cursed in the city.

    b.  Cursed in the field.

    c.  Cursed in daily provision.

    d.  Cursed in fruitfulness.

    e.  Cursed in daily activities.

    f.   Cursed in labor.

    g.  Cursed in diseases.

    h.  Cursed in the land.

    i.  Cursed in the lack of rains.

    j.  Cursed in defeat by their enemies.

    k.  Cursed in captivities.

    l.   Cursed in domestic life.

    m.  Cursed in possessions.

    n.  Cursed in national position.

    The fulfillment of these promises of cursing began in the time of the Judges when the people turned away
    from God to idols and suffered for it (Judges 2).  The Books of Ruth, I and II Samuel, I and II Kings and I and
    II Chronicles record times in which these promises of cursings were fulfilled in the history of Israel.  The
    ultimate fulfillment of these curses in the Old Testament  came with the captivities of the houses of Israel and
    Judah (II Kings; II Chronicles).

    B.  The TERMS of the Covenant

    In that God had already stated that "the land is Mine" (Leviticus 25:23,24), He had established the fact of His
    ownership and rulership over the land.  He presented Himself to Israel as the Lord of the land, their "land-lord,"
    and as such He laid down the conditions for their possessing the land.  Through under the Abrahamic Covenant
    the land had been promised as an "everlasting possession" (Genesis 17:8), under the Palestinian Covenant
    conditions were added that had to be met in order for the promise to be fulfilled.  The Palestinian Covenant being
    attached to the Mosaic Covenant had the same terms as the Mosaic Covenant.  However, the overwhelming
    emphasis in the Palestinian Covenant was on obedience.  There had to be obedience to the moral laws as well as
    the laws of the land.  The most specific term attached to this covenant was the keeping of the seventh year and
    jubilee Sabbath rest for the land.  The terms of the covenant were the following:

    1.  Obedience to the Ten Commandments, even as under the Mosaic Covenant (Deuteronomy 5:1-21).  Upon
    entering Canaan they were to write the words of the covenant on plastered stones (Deuteronomy 27:1-4).  

    2.  Love for God (Deuteronomy 6:4-6; 10:12-16; 30:6-8).

    3.  Rest for the Land

    a.  Every seventh year was to be a year of rest for the land (Leviticus 25:1-7).

    b.  Every fiftieth year was to be a jubilee year of rest for the land (Leviticus 25:8-17).

    c.  God promised tremendous blessing of fruitfulness in the years of labor to provide for them through these
    Sabbath years (Leviticus 25:18-22).

    The tragic history of Israel reveals their failure to keep the terms of this covenant as well as their judgment by
    expulsion from the land.  God foreknew and foretold this result by Moses even before they entered the land
    (Deuteronomy 31:15-21).  They experienced the curses of the covenant, the sicknesses and plagues of the land,
    being overthrown like Sodom and Gomorrah, and finally being rooted out of their land and cast into another land
    because of their forsaking of the covenant as other nations before them (Deuteronomy 29:16-29; Leviticus 18:24-

    C.  The Oath of the Covenant

    Though there is no oath attached to the blessings of this covenant, there is an oath attached to its curses.  This
    oath was meant to assure Israel of the certainty and severity of God's punishment upon their covenantal
    disobedience, even they were His chosen nation.  Daniel 9:11 refers to the oath of this covenant, as being part of
    the "law of Moses."  To properly interpret this it must be remembered that both the Mosaic and Palestinian
    Covenants were given by Moses and both can be referred to as "his law."

    D.  The Book of the Covenant

    The Book of the Covenant is referred to in Deuteronomy 31:9, 10, 24-26.  Moses was told to write the law in a
    book and place it in the side of the Ark of the covenant.  It was to be there as a witness against Israel.  It was to be
    read especially to Israel every seventh year, or the Sabbath year, and this was to be done during the Feast of
    Tabernacles, the feast of the seventh month.  As other covenants, it finds its place in the Bible, God's Book.

II.  The BLOOD  of the Covenant

    A.  The Sacrifice of the Covenant

    The Palestinian Covenant sacrifices follow the pattern laid down in the Mosaic Covenant sacrifices.

    1.  The Body

    Moses told Israel that they were to build an altar of unhewn stones on the day that they passed over Jordan
    into the land.  Upon this altar they offered the sacrifices of burnt offerings and peace offerings unto the
    Lord.  The body of the sacrificial victims were presented as voluntary offerings (Deuteronomy 27:5-7 with
    Leviticus 1,2,3).

    2.  The Blood

    The offerings of the burnt and peace offerings involved the shedding of sacrificial blood (Deuteronomy 27:5-
    7).  It was upon the basis of voluntary sacrificial offerings, the body and blood of innocent victims, that Israel
    inherited the land of promise.  There could be no land of rest apart from sacrifice.

    B.   The Mediator of the Covenant

    The same priesthood established under the Mosaic was in mediatorial work under the Palestinian Covenant.  This
    is seen in the order of their religious service when Israel entered the land (Deuteronomy 27:1-14; Joshua 8:30-35).

    1.  Eleazar

    After the death of the Law giving Mediator, Moses, and the death of the Atoning-Mediator, Aaron, Eleazar
    was chosen to be the next High Priest.  Under Eleazar's priesthood Joshua would receive direction from the
    Lord concerning the conquest and division of the land unto its tribal inheritances (Numbers 27:15-23;
    Deuteronomy 27:9,10; Joshua 14:1; 17:4).  Thus Eleazar was the High Priest during the initial fulfillment of
    the Palestinian Covenant.

    2.  Levites

    Associated with Eleazar the High Priest were the priests and Levites.  As the people of Israel stood on the
    respective mountains of blessing and cursing, the Levites were to declare to all the men of Israel the curses
    of the Law.  The people were to respond with an "Amen."  The Levites were to teach the people the laws of
    God and thus be the mediators of the words of the covenant (Deuteronomy 27:9-26; 33:8-11).

    C.  The Sanctuary of the Covenant

    Relative to the Palestinian Covenant, the land itself was considered to be God's sanctuary.  In order to appreciate
    the significance of this fact it is worthy to note the order of the dedicatory service which God, through Moses,
    commanded Israel to perform the day they entered the promised land.  These facts together show how the land of
    Canaan was the sanctuary of this covenant.

    1.  Upon Israel's entering the land they were to write the words of the covenant on great plastered stones
    (Deuteronomy 27:1-4; Joshua 8:32).

    2.  Then upon the altar the sacrifices of the covenant were to be offered, thus dedicating the land to God by blood
    atonement (Deuteronomy 27:5-7; Joshua 8:30,310.

    3.  The Ark of the Covenant was centered between two mountains, Gerizim and Ebal (Joshua 8:33).

    4.  The priests and the Levites, as mediators of the covenant, along with Eleazar stood in their places relative to
    the Ark of the Lord.

    5.  The tribes of Israel stood at the Mount of Blessing, Mount Gerizim and the Mount of Cursing, Mount Ebal as the
    words of the covenant, the blessings and the cursings, were read to them by Joshua and confirmed to them by the
    Levites (Deuteronomy 27:11-14; Joshua 8:34-35).

    6.  Palestine, the blessed and rich land of promises was spoken of in very glorious terms.

    a.  It was the land of promise (Genesis 17:8).

    b.  It was the pleasant land (Daniel 8:9; Psalms 106:24).

    c.  It was the glory of all lands (Ezekiel 20:6,15).

    d.  It was the glorious land (Daniel 11:41).

    e.  It was Immanuel's land (Isaiah 8:8).

    f.   It was the land of rest (Hebrews 4).

    g.  It was the Sanctuary land of the Lord (Exodus 15:17; Psalms 78:54).

    When God set the boundaries of the inheritances of all other nations, He gave to each their own land but He
    chose Palestine as "His land," His sanctuary.  In this land was "the holy temple" (Psalms 5:7); "the holy mountains"
    of Sinai and Zion (Psalms 68:17; 87:1; Daniel 9:16,20).  It was to this land the Messiah would come and fulfill the
    covenants of God.  Hence, it is spoken of as "the holy land" (Zechariah 2:12).

    Thus when God looked down upon all the countries of the earth, the promised land was His Sanctuary, the most
    holy place, the earth's "Holiest of All," because of God's covenantal purposes which would ultimately lead to the
    New Covenant and the cross of Jesus Christ.

    The scene enacted in Joshua 8 as Israel entered the land included an Altar of Sacrifice, the Ark of the Covenant,
    the Priesthood, and two mounts of blessing and cursing.  This constituted the land as "the sanctuary" of the
    Palestinian Covenant.

III.  The SEAL of the Covenant

There are two parts to the seal of this covenant; the sabbath rest for the land and the early and latter rains.

    A. The Sabbath Rest

    As the Sabbath day of rest for the people was the seal of the Mosaic Covenant, so the Sabbath year of rest for the
    land was the seal of the Palestinian Covenant.  Every seventh year was to be a year of rest for the land.  During
    that year the Israelites were not to till the land (Leviticus 25:1-7).  Also every fiftieth year was to be a jubilee year of
    rest for the land (Leviticus 25:8-17).  This is the part of the seal of the covenant that Israel was responsible to

    B. The Early and Latter Rains

Upon Israel's obedience to this covenant God promised to send the early and latter rains as His seal upon the land, the
token of His covenant blessings.  However, if they failed to keep the terms of the covenant, including rest for the land,
God promised to withhold the rains from the land (Leviticus 25:18-22; Deuteronomy 11:10-17; 28:1-8; Kings 8:35-40;
Joel 2).

Israel's history reveals their suffering the consequences of breaking both the Mosaic and Palestinian Covenants.  Their
major violations were their repeated idolatry and immorality as well as their continued failure to keep the Sabbaths
(Leviticus 26:33,34; Ezekiel 20:1-26; II Chronicles 36:21).

These sins forced God to judge them by withholding the rains repeatedly through their history and eventually by spewing
them out of the land, as He had done to the previous nations (Jeremiah 5:24; Amos 4:6-12; I kings 17:1; Joel 1; Haggai 1:
1-11).  The Northern Kingdom of Israel was cast out of the land in 721 B.C. by Assyrian Captivity and never returned to
the land as a nation.  They were scattered among all nations and were to wander into other land by God's appointment
to fulfill their destiny as seen in the Abrahamic Covenant (Amos 9:8,9; II Samuel 7:10).

The Southern Kingdom of Judah was cast out of the land in 606 B.C. by Babylonian Captivity and returned to the land
after 70 years.  These 70 years were to make up for the 70 seventh-year Sabbaths in which they had not allowed the
land to rest (II Chronicles 36:21).  At the close of the 70 year captivity the remnant of Judah was allowed to return to
Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the sanctuary (Ezra 1:1-4).  God's purpose in this was to hold them in the land until the
coming of the Messiah and the establishing of the New Covenant.  Ironically, as a nation, they rejected their own Messiah
(John 1:11,12).  Because of this Jesus foretold the desolation of the city, the temple, the people and their expulsion once
again from the land (Luke 19:41-44; 21:20-24; Daniel 9:26; Matthew 23:38; 24:1-2).

With the dispersion of the house of Judah the land itself became desolate, with the cessation of the early and latter rains,
for centuries.  Just as God was careful to bring a remnant of Judah out of Babylonian Captivity to be in the land for
Messiah's first coming, so today God has as a sign, allowed a remnant of Judah out of all nations to return to the land in
preparation for the second coming.  The Scriptures indicate that the Jews will receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and
will be grafted back into the olive tree by faith in the New Covenant in Christ (Zechariah 12; Romans 9,10,11).  All of this
illustrates the fact that God's covenantal purposes for His natural people centre around the land.


The Palestinian Covenant is undoubtedly a "land covenant."  The land promised in the Abrahamic Covenant and
confirmed in the Mosaic Covenant was made conditional under the Palestinian Covenant.  Though before the cross the
land was exalted geographically and spiritually as the base for God's redemptive purposes for the earth, since the cross
the land has ceased to be the focal point for redemption.  It is no longer a "holy" land having spiritual elevation.  The
focal point of redemption is no longer a promised place but a promised person: Christ (John 4:20-24; Galatians 4:22-31;
Revelation 11:8).

The natural language of the Palestinian Covenant is given spiritual significance in the New Testament in relation to the
Church.  Just as the principles of rest and rain upon obedience to the covenant are applicable to any land or nation
naturally, so it is applicable to the Church spiritually.  The New Testament speaks of the Church as being God's land
which He tills with the expectation of receiving spiritual fruit (I Corinthians 3:9).  In this way the outpouring of the early and
latter rains represent the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church and upon all flesh (James 5:7; Joel 2:18-32).  This
also is dependent upon obedience to the terms of the New Covenant.


The Covenants, by Kevin J. Conner and Ken Malmin, Copyright 1983, Bible Temple Publishing.