The Steps In Making A Blood Covenant

By William Handschumacher

Rock of Offence Special Commentary

A series of events are set into motion when two people decide they want to "cut the covenant." It is referred to as the blood covenant ceremony and is considered a most serious and solemn event.

  • An animal is sacrificed: Usually a bull, a goat, or a lamb is killed and cut in half down the center. The two halves are separated with a pool of blood between them.

  • The exchange of coats: Each participant removes his coat, a sign of the tribe's identity and authority, and gives it to the other participant. By doing so, each is saying, "Everything I am, everything I represent now belongs to you."

  • The exchange of weapon belts: Each participant removes his weapon belt, which included his sword and bow. They would exchange these belts and, by so doing, declare to each other, "All my strength now belongs to you. My enemies are now your enemies." It was saying that when an enemy attacked then my blood covenant brother had a responsibility to defend me the same as he would himself.

  • The exchange of names: Each participant takes the other's name on himself. A person's name represents his individuality. This exchange of names demonstrated a death to being an "individual." Remember that covenant is the union of two people. In covenant you are no longer concerned only with yourself. Your concern now includes your blood covenant brother. You care for your blood brother the same as you care for yourself because the two of you are now one.

  • The walk of blood: Each participant walks a path in the shape of a figure "8" between the halves of the slain animal, then stops in the middle in the midst of the pool of blood to pronounce the blessings and the curses of the covenant. The curses would be brought to bear upon the one who broke the blood covenant. It basically said, "the one who breaks this covenant will die just like this animal has died." A pledge was also made that said, "Just as this animal gave its life so I will give my life for you if necessary."

  • The cut of the covenant: A knife is used to make an incision in either the palms or the wrists of each participant. This was to allow blood to freely flow. The Bible teaches that life is in the blood. The two participants then engage in a handshake allowing the free flowing blood to intermingle. This symbolized the two bloods, the two lives, being joined into one blood and one life. In some cultures, the blood from each participant is mixed into a cup of wine. Each would drink from the cup demonstrating their union. The actual practice of "cutting the covenant" varies in its methods depending on the culture. When this event was finished, a substance would be rubbed into the wounds so they would never heal cleanly. This was done so that a permanent "mark" would be left. Wherever these men would go, they would be identified as a "covenant man" by the visible mark on their bodies.

  • The covenant meal: This is usually a meal of bread and wine. Each fed the other signifying that "all that I am is coming into you." The covenant meal usually ended the blood covenant ceremony. At this point a new relationship is born. It is a love relationship. This kind of love is called "Hesed" in Hebrew and "Agape'" in the Greek. It is a love that says, "I will never leave you or forsake you."

The following illustration helps the reader to better understand the binding conditions of a blood covenant. Let's say I want to get together with a friend of mine. For the purpose of this illustration, let's say that his name is Kris. I call Kris on the telephone and say, "Why don't we get together at a restaurant for a steak next Sunday?" Kris agrees and we meet and have a good meal. As we begin to leave, I suddenly realize that I forgot to go to the bank and I have no money to pay my bill. I look over at Kris and say, "Can you believe it? I have no money on me. Can you loan me twenty dollars until tomorrow?" Kris, being a close friend, says, "Sure, no problem."

Now let's say that Kris and I conclude we have a special relationship and enter a blood covenant. Kris and I are now bound together in the union that the blood covenant represents. Kris and I are now blood brothers. We meet at the same restaurant and have a good meal together. At the end of the meal, I realize, once again, that I forgot to go to the bank and I have no money to pay my bill. I look over at Kris and say "Can you believe it? I have no money on me. Kris, give me your wallet." Kris could say, "You rude thing! If you ask politely I'll give you what you need." But, he doesn't say that. Why? Because he understands the covenant and knows that everything he has belongs to me and everything I have belongs to him. We are not two individuals but one new man. We share all assets, liabilities and resources. Now I understand that this concept seems radical, but that's only because in America we are not accustomed to the characteristics of covenant. Keep this example in mind as we continue our study.

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