The covenant and the law (Gal. 3:17)

“This is what I mean.

The law,

Which came

Four hundred thirty years later,

Does not annul

A covenant

Previously ratified

By God,

So as to make the promise void.”

τοῦτο δὲ λέγω· διαθήκην προκεκυρωμένην ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ ὁ μετὰ τετρακόσια καὶ τριάκοντα ἔτη γεγονὼς νόμος οὐκ ἀκυροῖ, εἰς τὸ καταργῆσαι τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν.

Paul said, “This is what I mean (τοῦτο δὲ λέγω).  The law (νόμος), which came four hundred thirty years later (ὁ μετὰ τετρακόσια καὶ τριάκοντα ἔτη γεγονὼς), does not annul or revoke (οὐκ ἀκυροῖ) a covenant (διαθήκην) previously ratified (προκεκυρωμένην) by God (ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ), so as to make the promise void (εἰς τὸ καταργῆσαι τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν).”  Only this letter to the Galatians used this unique word προκεκυρωμένην, that means to establish beforehand or ratify before.  Paul here was alluding to the law of Moses that took place 430 years after Abraham.  That was the number of years that the Israelites were in Egypt according to Exodus, chapter 12:40-41.  “The time that Israelites had lived in Egypt was four hundred thirty years.  At the end of four hundred thirty years, on that very day, all the companies of Yahweh went out from the land of Egypt.”  This passage says exactly four hundred thirty years, so that it throws off the genealogy in Exodus, chapter 6 that would account for about two hundred years at best, three to four generations, since Moses is either the grandson or great-grandson of Levi.  It also would be pretty hard to ascertain the exact date of departure, since it would depend on whether they count when Joseph arrived or when Jacob and his family arrived.  There certainly was a time span between Abraham and Moses.  The Mosaic law was considered a ratification of the divine promise made to Abraham, not the revoking of the treaty or covenant made with Abraham.  Do you feel closer to Moses or Abraham?

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