Abstract

The ritual depicted in Exod 24 stands as one of the most unusual in Israel's Scriptures. Moses tosses sacrificial blood on the entire congregation in the midst of confirming God's covenant with them. Multiple theories have arisen for the possible meaning or function of this striking ritual act. This essay argues for the use of a narrative method to understand this event better in light of the events that precede and follow it. When viewed in the context of Exodus as a whole, the application of the blood on the congregation does serve to seal the covenant and consecrate the people, as others have argued. In light of the use of blood in Israel and other ancient Near Eastern cultures, however, the application of blood also serves to create an expectation and desire for the immediate nearness of God.

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