Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



The tablets of the covenant are one of the most enduring symbols of the Hebrew Bible. In Deuteronomy 27 the command is given to inscribe on stones “all the words of the this torah”: וכתבת על–האבנים את–כל–התורה הזאת . These stones are potent visual symbols in the Hebrew Bible, symbols of the enduring nature of the binding oath of the covenant made between God and the people. This paper will explore this connection between the ratification of covenant and the crafting of an iconic representation of the covenant on visual media. Special attention will be given to the command to inscribe the torah stones in Deut 27 and the command in Deut 6 following the Shema to write the commandments on physical objects such as doorposts, or mezuzot. This act of inscribing objects for display with the commandments was part of the ritual enactment of the covenant in Deut 27. And the main idea of this paper is that the crafting of iconic visual symbols played a significant role in the construction of the meaning of covenant in Deuteronomy especially.


Presentation delivered at the Society of Biblical Literature: San Antonio, 2016