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Is the comparison, Hosea makes between Adam and the people of Israel, that they both transgressed a covenant with God or simply that they both transgressed?

Hosea 6:7 (ESV): But like Adam they transgressed the covenant;
there they dealt faithlessly with me.

If it is clearly implied that what Adam trangressed was a covenant with God, what are the indicators from the Genesis account that the relationship between God and Adam was covenantal?

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  • Adam accepted means he joined the agreement or covenant. When you call a slave to work for you, and he rejects it means there's no covenant between the two.
    – Michael16
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 5:02
  • @Michael16 what do you mean by "Adam accepted?" What scriptural support do you have for this meaning?
    – Austin
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 5:08
  • Common sense is the support for it. If he had rejected then it would have been mentioned. Why do you expect an explicit agreement to be mentioned? Adam was like God's child. The fact that Eve contemplated about breaking the law of eating the fruit show they respected the command. If they had never accepted then there was no need for the misguide Satan to misguide them. They would have already eaten, and we'd have a calvinist Adam, born sinner, totally depraved in our Bible and Satan wouldn't have existed.
    – Michael16
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 5:14

2 Answers 2

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Great question! We should first observe that the word for "covenant" בְּרִית (berith) is never used in connection with Adam. Its first appearance in the Biblical text is Gen 6:18 in connection with the Noahide covenant.

However, a number of scholars have observed "covenant language" in Gen 1 & 2. Generally, covenants, in their complete form, had a structure shown in the appendix. Most of this can be seen in the promises and instructions given to Adam and Eve, and thus is often termed the "Edenic Covenant" specifically:

Bible References: Gen 1:26, 28-30, 2:16, 17.

This covenant is not as explicit as those which follow because the word “covenant” is not used. However, following the general principle that laws are never given without a being in the context of a covenant, there appears to be a clear implication of one. This covenant consists of:

  • God blessed mankind, Gen 1:28
  • God gives the gift of all seed-bearing plants as food, including fruit trees and green plants, Gen 1:28, 2:16
  • Command to “be fruitful”, Gen 1:28
  • Command to “multiply”, Gen 1:28
  • Command to “fill the earth”, Gen 1:28
  • Command to “subdue the earth”, Gen 1:28
  • Command to “rule/have dominion over all the creatures”, Gen 1:26, 28
  • Command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil else they would die, Gen 2:17. [This was, unfortunately, disobeyed and then fulfilled in Gen 3.]

Thus, many have argued that there was a prevailing divine covenant applying to Adam and Eve as broadly listed above.

APPENDIX - Covenant Structure

All divine covenants in the Bible contain the following six elements:

  • Statement of pre-amble and/or purpose of the covenant
  • Promise of benefits given by God. This shows that such divine covenants are the initiative of God alone. In no case were such covenants initiated by humans.
  • Promise of curses/consequences if the covenant is not kept
  • Requirements of people on whom the benefits are bestowed. This is sometimes also call the associated “law” of the covenant.
  • A sign of the covenant to remind the people of their responsibilities
  • A ceremony, usually consisting of a “cutting”, always a sacrifice or similar.
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  • But how do you know Hosea is talking about Adam the individual?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 23:53
  • @curiousdannii - The noun is singular and so cannot be rendered "men" plural. This noun occurs in 10 places and is always the individual.
    – Dottard
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 0:37
  • @Dottard Yes … but even if you translate adam as ‘man’ [singular] this makes sense, as Hosea is comparing ‘man’ to Israel [a nation]. And …. ‘Adam’ was never associated or used as a personal ‘name’ for the first ‘man’! (In the Old Testament).
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 1:03
  • @Dave - not quite true - what of Gen 3:17, 4:25, 5:1, 3, 4, 5, 1 Chron 1:1, Job 31:33.
    – Dottard
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 1:40
  • @Dottard Well… we could ‘debate’ this, but we’d be rehashing a long standing debate - one which I’m sure you’re aware of. And it’s a ‘side issue’ to the main point. Back to that point …. there are some translations that do interpret ‘adam’ in Hosea as ‘man/men’ - so there is a case to consider.
    – Dave
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 2:45
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A covenant doesn't necessarily have to be formed in the ritual manner of ancient middle east, by sacrificing animal etc. Whenever God commands and you agree or accept, it becomes a contract, mutual agreement, a covenant.

When you work for your master, you are working under a covenant of agreement, even though you may not have done the ritual of sacrifice.

God has written his laws in the heart (conscience) of men (Romans 2:6-12) and they are thus in a covenant with God by virtue of basic moral conscience. That moral conscience itself indicates the reality of the allegorical account of Adam. Transgression necessarily implies a law to be transgressed. No law, no covenant: no transgression of that covenant.

The following is from an answer from Judaism-SE on the same question on Hosea 6:7.

Rashi says

like Adam: Heb. כְּאַדָם, like the first man. there they betrayed Me: In a good land where I settled them, there they betrayed Me, like Adam, whom I brought into the Garden of Eden, and he transgressed My commandment. [from Gen. Rabbah 19:9]

Medrash Rabbo Hamevuor explains (abridged):

Just like HKB”H introduced Adam into Gan Eden with a commandment (which the Medrash understands to be a covenant, bris), he transgressed and was exiled, so too Adam's children were introduced to Eretz Yisroel, commanded with the Torah (also a bris) transgressed and were exiled.

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