Yahweh's 'Priestly Kingdom'
: A Metaphor for Israel's Priestly Status Function in Exodus 19.6a

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (awarded by OU/Aberdeen)


The Sinai Pericope, Exodus 19.3b—24.11, represents a significant conceptualisation of Israel’s identity, as the metaphor ‘priestly kingdom’ is conferred upon the nation via Yahweh’s speech act in Exodus 19.6a. The key interpretive question in the field of biblical studies with respect to Israel’s self–understanding vis–à–vis ‘Israel is priestly kingdom’ is to what degree priestly status functionis conceptualised for the entire society. The phrase ‘priestly kingdom’ along with the associated phrases ‘treasured people’and ‘holy nation’ in Exodus 19.5–6a function as a metaphor cluster, conveying cultural and relational conceptualisations with respect to Yahweh and Israel. Exegetical analysis of Exodus 19.6a, as well asofsurrounding micro and near contexts, confirmsthat the Hebrew tribes gathered at Sinai were consecrated and ordained to priestly status function. This conclusion is supported by the comparison of Israel’s consecration and ordination through the covenant–making event with rituals stipulated in Exodus 29 andLeviticus8 for the consecration and ordination of the Aaronic cultic priesthood. Understood in this way, Israel’s hereditary sacral specialists served as the paradigm of priestly conceptions for the entire society to emulate. Macro–textual and cognitive linguistic analysis demonstrate that limiting inputs and framings occur throughout the Old Testament which exclude cultic functions from Israel’s national priesthood. Yet substantialpriestly functionsare demonstrated for the society, along vertical (Godward) and horizontal (interpersonal) axes as the nation exercises priestly conceptions of holiness, justice, and mercy, through worship, teaching, caring for the vulnerable, and incorporating resident–aliens into Israel’s social structure and worship. Israel’s self–conception as ‘Yahweh’s priestly kingdom’ went through developmental stages as constituents experienced the Exilic Event, the Restoration Event, and the Christ Event. The priestly status function of Israel provides a suitable approach for reading the Old Testament, for assessing Israel’s role in the missio Dei, and impacts the way 1 Peter 2.5, 9 and Revelation 1.6; 5.9–10; 20.6 are conceptualised by the Christian movement today.
Date of Award13 Jul 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Aberdeen
SupervisorJamie Grant (Supervisor) & Alistair Wilson (Supervisor)

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