This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.The Koran summarizes God's covenant with the Children of Israel as follows.
"God took compact [covenant] with the Children of Israel; and We raised up from among them twelve chieftains [leaders]. And God said, 'I am with you. Surely, if you perform the prayer, and pay the alms, and believe in My Messengers [Apostles] and succor [help] them, and lend to God a good loan, I will acquit you of your evil deeds, and I will admit you to gardens underneath which rivers flow. So whosoever of you thereafter disbelieves, surely he has gone astray from the right way." (Koran 5:15)There are several issues with this verse when compared with the Jewish account and record. First is the idea that God raised up twelve chieftains, or leaders, for the people. While it is true that these twelve tribes descended from the twelve individuals, they were long dead when the Children of Israel entered into a covenant with God to possess the promised land. The life of these tribes were tribal, even thought many of these tribes were quite large, and they had already developed distinct leadership patterns even before their coming to the place of possessing the Promise Land. While one could say that God "raised" up the leaders of each tribe, there is no claim to this in the Jewish text and it seems that the people selected and followed the leaders as they chose, as any tribal society of that time would have, and, while we do read their names in the Jewish texts, most of them are only named once or twice in the text. We know very little of them and they play a very minor role in the Jewish narrative. Far from God raising up twelve chieftains, we merely see twelve leaders already in place and simply acknowledged by Moses when the function of leadership was necessary, such as in numbering the people and leading armies.
Secondly, the requirements to perform that prayers, pay the alms, believe in Moses, and lend to God were never part of the covenant God made with Israel. The basic covenant was contained in the Ten Commandments which enjoins the worship of one God, keeping the Sabbath, and honoring your father and mother. It also forbids idols, taking the Lord's name in vain, murder, adultery, stealing, perjury, and covertness. All these other things are requirements of Muhammad's religion, not God's
Third, there is no evidence that Moses, or God, ever required the people to obey Moses. The command was always, and only, to obey God. This does not mean that Moses was not obeyed, but the command was to obey God and His law. Moses was merely the conveyor of this law and it was the law and God that were to be obeyed. Muhammad seems to have been particular about the people obeying him and projected that same command on the prophets and messengers of the scriptures to try and justify his demand that the people obey him.
Fourth, the commands of God were never given as a means to forgive sin, rather they were given to define sin. If you did these things then it was well with you, but if you transgressed the laws of God, you were a sinner, and once a sinner, you could not simply try and do better at the law in order to find forgiveness under the law. James tells us, "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all." (James 2:10) The Law provided for only one means to forgive sin, and that was through the shedding of blood. It was only through the blood sacrifice of animals that one could be forgiven under the Jewish law.
Lastly, the Jewish law contained no promise of eternal life, or life in Paradise, for those who kept the law. The best promise was that they would live long in the land God have given them. "So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time." (Deuteronomy 4:40) The truth is that the law is incapable of making anyone fit for heaven and it cannot impart eternal life to anyone. Such requires a greater sacrifice than that of animals and requires a greater transformation of the soul than the law can accomplish. It would be another two thousand years before God would reveal the true path to eternal life and to eternal habitations with God.
More to come...