KJV Deuteronomy 5 : 3

The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.

In the above text its not clear which fathers Moses was referring to whom God had not made covenant with.

Could Moses be referring to their immediate fathers those who had perished in the wilderness or the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

Which fathers was Moses referring to?

  • It is not those who perished in the wilderness as Moses says in verse 2 'with us in Horeb' and in verse 4 'the Lord talked with you'. His hearers were alive at the beginning of the wilderness journey and his hearers heard the covenant. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 5, 2022 at 19:13

2 Answers 2


Deut 5:3 says this:

He did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with all of us who are alive here today.

Note that this text says several things about the covenant:

  • it was NOT made with the fathers/ancestors
  • the ancestors were doubtless those present when the covenant of the 10 commandments (Deut 4:10, Ex 34:28, see also Deut 10:4) was originally given in Ex 19-23, ie, the previous generation
  • the covenant was made with the current generation of people

This verse contains an important principle - God's covenant is always with those who are alive now and not merely (but still importantly) a historical agreement!

However, there is a further and important sense contained in the verse: The "fathers" here were those who died in the desert because they refused the covenant and its associated promises; they perished and never received the covenant promises. The current generation was about to reap that covenant promises.

  • +1 Very good points.
    – Rajesh
    Jan 5, 2022 at 21:17
  • +1 Also consider they broke the covenant in Exodus and ended up in the desert for 40 years, but you cover it adequately.
    – Perry Webb
    Jan 6, 2022 at 10:06

In the above text its not clear which fathers Moses was referring to” -[snip]

I would argue that it is clear - crystal clear. Via context. This verse, and the preceding verses are about Covenants. And the only other covenant God made with them - the nation - (Israel), was with their patriarch - Abraham.

GEN 17:2 I will now act on my covenant between me and you. I will greatly increase the number of your children after you.”

  • The covenant made at Sinai was not the everlasting covenant made with Abraham. There are two covenants . . . . two mountains (Sinai and Zion). . . . two heads (Adam and Christ) . . . two seeds . . .. two women (Hagar and Sarah) . . . . two ways to seek righteousness (Law and Gospel) . . . . two kinds of walk (legal works and patient faith) . See Galatians.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 5, 2022 at 21:16
  • 1
    The covenant made with ‘the fathers’ was the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 17:2). I should have specified this, but assumed it would be known. Deuteronomy 5:3 is referring to the Mosaic covenant (Sinai). The answer to the question is Abraham - but you seem to disagree? And, nowhere did I suggest that the covenant at Sinai was everlasting, but nevertheless it was a covenant, a binding covenant.
    – Dave
    Jan 5, 2022 at 23:24
  • Yes, agreed. That is now clearer. Thank you.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 5, 2022 at 23:43

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