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Wills

WILLS. Testaments, oral or written, which law courts put into effect, by which property may be disposed of after death. Covenants between living persons might be bilateral, each party making promises, or unilateral, an agreement by one party that the other may accept or reject but may not alter. Wills grew out of the latter. In early times among the Hebrews as among others, property descended according to the laws of inheritance without wills. The only clear Bible reference to a will is in Heb.9.16-Heb.9.17, and its meaning is disputed. The context seems to assimilate the testament to a unilateral covenant of God with his people: Greek diathēkē always primarily meant a will, but was used in the LXX for Hebrew berîth, “covenant.” In question here is an instrument that is effective only after the death of the one who made it, and this justifies RSV and NIV in translating it as “will.”