Conceptions of Biblical Morality

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Conceptions of Biblical Morality

Over the course of the first two books of the Old Testament, Genesis and Exodus, a noticeable evolution of the relationship between humankind and God takes center-stage. From the initial creation of Adam to the Ten Commandments delivered from Mount Sinai, God’s covenant with the Israelites is fulfilled through different means and varying modes of communication. The manner in which God interacts with his subjects over the early history of the biblical world helps to understand his motivation as a creator, and the moral reasoning behind the actions of his people.

The first instance of God’s relationship with human beings comes with the creation of Adam: “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he crated them…” (Genesis 1.27). The fact that Adam was created in the image of God immediately depicts a face to face relationship of similarity. God and humankind share the same image, and are on a parallel field in terms of living conditions. “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze…” (Genesis 3.8). This equality of image, however, did not extend beyond a visual relationship. God entrusted the guardianship of the garden of Eden to Adam, but “commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’” (Genesis 2.16-2.17). The violation of this command brought swift retribution from God, although the punishment came with a certain benevolence, as the creator did not destroy Adam, but instead sentenced him to life outside of the garden. Genesis 3.14-3.19 solidifies the power of God and the strength of his w...

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...k of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.’” (Exodus 24.7).

Through the evolution of his relationship with humankind, God was able to establish a sound concept of moral reasoning among his subjects according to that which he found to be most important, his will. Over time, God showed a definitive progression in his relationship between prominent biblical characters. As he isolated himself physically from the human world, he began to assert his power and will in other ways, establishing a strong sense of faith, fear, and law.

Works Cited

The New Oxford Annotated Bible. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Fishbane, Michael. “Biblical Prophecy as a Religious Phenomenon” Jewish Spirituality.

Ed. Arthur Green. New York: Crossroad Pubg Co., 1989. 62-81.
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