Having tried cases where the presiding officer acted as both judge and prosecutor, I decided to investigate the covenant lawsuit, also known as the prophetic lawsuit, where Yahweh acts as both judge and prosecutor. Usually the face saving solution, adopted to avoid the ugly consequences of an appeal, is the entry of a verdict having no consequences, such as guilty with probation.
The various examples of the covenant lawsuits identified in the Prophets are based on the form of the ancient Hittite treaty lawsuit. Although Mendenhall was the first to note the Hittite treaty/Sinai Covenant parallels, he minimized the importance of the suzerainty treaty for
Kirsten Nielsen suggested in Yahweh as Prosecutor and Judge (1978) that the essence of the covenant lawsuist is in these four elements: the calling of witnesses, the lodging of an accusation, the consideration of a defense, and the issuance of a judgment. The initial comparisons were made by Mendenhall between the Hittite treaty lawsuit and Deuteronomy. In fact, some have even suggested that Deuteronomy is based upon the structure of a Hittite form of suzerainty treaty. This treaty type was not used after 1200 BCE. It is apparent that the comparison is also valid as to the covenant lawsuits in Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Micah.
The prophets were messengers of Yahweh to the people who have breached the covenant with Yahweh. The prophets also announced the consequences of default. The messenger theme carried over to the new covenant announced by Jeremiah and proclaimed by John the Baptist and the Prophet like Moses who followed him telling parables about the Good Samaritan and the Wicked Tenants.
In the covenant lawsuits, unlike the experiences of my clients, the consequences are real and devastating. Micah was the first prophet to foresee