a treaty between nations, or between individuals, for their mutual advantage

Abraham formed an alliance with some of the Canaanite princes (Genesis 14:13), also with Abimelech (21:22-32).

When the Israelites entered Canaan they were forbidden to enter into alliances with the inhabitants of the country (Leviticus 18:3-4; 20:22-23). Joshua and the elders of Israel entered into an alliance with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:3-27).

Solomon formed a league with Hiram (1 Kings 5:12). This “brotherly covenant” is referred to 250 years afterwards (Amos 1:9). He also appears to have entered into an alliance with Pharaoh (1 Kings 10:28-29).

In the subsequent history of the kingdoms of Judah and Israel various alliances were formed between them and also with neighboring nations at different times.

In patriarchal times, a covenant of alliance was sealed by a blood sacrifice. The animal sacrificed was cut in two (except birds), and between these two parts the persons contracting the alliance passed (Genesis 15:10). There are frequent allusions to this practice (Jeremiah 34:18). Such alliances were called “covenants of salt” (Numbers 18:19; 2 Chronicles 13:5), salt being the symbol of perpetuity.

A pillar was set up as a memorial of the alliance between Laban and Jacob (Genesis 31:52).

Throughout their history, the Jews attached great importance to keeping these covenants. Divine wrath fell upon violators (Joshua 9:18; 2 Samuel 21:1-2; Ezek. 17:16).

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