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The men who swept aside my covenant,

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who did not uphold the words of the covenant which they cut

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before me, I will deliver

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them over to the same fate as the calf when they cut it in two and passed between its parts.


The men who overstepped the bounds of my covenant and thus rendered it invalid, the ones who did not even fulfill their own pledges when they made a covenant among themselves in my presence, I will deliver those people over to the consequences of having cut a calf in half from head to tail and walked between the two halves in a self-damning pledge of their very lives.



God is accusing them of two wrongs, one is that they did not follow the stipulations of His covenant with the people of Israel, and secondly, they did not follow their own covenant which they made with each other saying “we are committed to following God’s covenant.” The second one was intended to hold them fast in their resolve and hold them accountable to one another. But, since their hearts were not right with God, they did not do what they had pledged they would do.


The cutting of the animals from head to tail was such a common part of a covenant ritual that they referred to establishing a covenant as “cutting a covenant.”


The word I have rendered as “deliver over to” is basically one of their words for “give” but it is used with great latitude, meaning that it had a wide range of uses. As is often the case in Hebrew, something is missing here, and context must be used to fill in the blank. In this context it can mean one of two things, which in reality end up being the same thing arrived at from two different angles. It can mean 1) I will give you up/deliver you over to the consequences of violating this covenant, the consequences being that you will be cut in half like the calf used to establish that covenant. The cutting of the animals in the formation of a covenant were intended to proclaim, “If I do not follow the conditions of this covenant, you can do to me what we have done to these animals – cut me in half from head to “tail.” 2) I will give you up/deliver you over to the same fate as the calf which you cut in half. You can see that, as far as the meaning of the words and the structure of the sentence, there are two option, but they both end up with the same result. It is just a matter of which way to say it; one way is shorter, the other takes more words. Most modern English translations opt for wording that follows the shorter option. I have used the shorter option in the translation column on the left, and the longer option in the paraphrase column on the right.