Here are some practical ramifications as I see it:
Originally Posted by RTaron
1) If Deuteronomy is structured after the pattern of a 2nd millennium Hittite treaty, then it was more likely written in the 2nd millennium, which supports the traditional view that Moses authored the book.
2) Noting the resemblance between Deuteronomy (as well as Exodus 19-23; Joshua 24) and the ANE treaty helps us to better understand the nature of a divine-human covenant. The attempt to define a divine-human berit as simply an "oath-bound promise" is inadequate. In reality, the covenant God made with Israel involved not only a formal self-imposed obligation on God's part (i.e., a divine promise to fulfill the sanctions) but also divinely delineated obligations imposed on the Israelites in the form of laws or stipulations. Hence, Yahweh could declare to the Israelites,
If you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;One cannot "keep" another person's oath-bound promise. Nor can "covenant" be reduced to such ideas of "friendship" or "relationship," as some Reformed theologians have tried to do. Of course, these ideas are usually present in a covenant but are not the essense. Here's a definition I've put together in light of the parallels with ANE treaties and, more importantly, the data of the OT:
The standard Hebrew term for “covenant” is berit. Its semantic range is multifaceted and somewhat flexible. Not surprisingly, it is challenging to find one definition that suits every context in which the term is found. At its most basic level, a berit. refers to a formal commitment or obligation that is self-imposed or imposed upon another party or parties. When the commitment or obligation is imposed upon another party, it assumes the form of law or commandment (Exod. 19:5; 24:3-8; Deut. 4:13; 33:9; Isa. 24:5; Psa. 50:16; 103:18). When the commitment or obligation is self-imposed, it takes the form of promise or threat, which is often solemnized with an oath (Gen. 15:17-18; 21:22-27; 26:28-30; Psa. 89:3,28,34) and sometimes accompanied by symbolic gestures or signs. The Bible contains examples of both parity and non-parity covenants. Some human covenants are made among parties that are more or less equals (Gen. 14:13; 31:44; 1 Sam. 20:14-17; 23:18; 1 Kgs. 5:12 [Heb. 26]; 15:19; Mal. 2:14). On the other hand, there are examples of human covenants involving a superior and inferior. In such cases, the superior usually imposes the terms of the covenant upon the inferior (Josh. 9:6; 1 Sam. 11:1; Ezek. 17:12-18; Jer. 34:8), though in a few cases the inferior may request the terms (1 Kgs. 15:19; 20:34; Hos. 12:1 [Heb. 2]).Obviously, the covenants between God and man are non-parity in nature. 3) Noting the parallels between OT divine-human covenants and their ANE counterparts together with the ANE sacral kingship ideology (i.e., the monarch was viewed as the "image," "son," and vice-regent of his deity) that often accompanied the suzerain-vassal treaty helps us to interpret the data given the the Genesis creation account(s). As Yahweh-Elohim's image-son, Adam was created as a covenantal creature, as God's vice-regent and commissioned to administer the divine kingdom and extend its boundaries over the entire earth (Gen. 1:26-28).
These are some of the practical implications.