קום in the Hifil can refer to confirming an existing covenant (Lev. 26:9). It can also refer to fulfilling an existing covenant (Gen. 17:7, 19, 21) or failing to fulfill an existing covenant (Jer. 34:18). I would argue that it can also refer to the making of a covenant (Gen. 6:18; 9:9, 11, 17; Ex. 6:4; Eze 16:60, 62). This variation of senses should not be surprising since קום has a wide semantic range.
This latter use is controversial. Gentry and Wellum claim:
An exhaustive study of all instances of berit in the Hebrew Bible and classification of all constructions and expressions in which this noun occurs reveals a completely consistent usage: the construction ‘to cut a covenant’ (karat berit) refers to covenant initiation while the expression ‘to establish a covenant’ (heqim berit) refers to a covenant partner fulfilling an obligation or upholding a promise in a covenant initiated previously so that the other partner experiences in historical reality the fulfilling of this promise, i.e., one makes good on one’s commitment, obligation, or promise.”Kingdom through Covenant, 155; cf. Myers, God to Us, 106.
However, this claim is difficult to square with Genesis 6:18; 9:9, 11, 17 and Ezekiel 16:60, 62. The occurrences in Genesis 6 and 9 relate to the establishment of the Noahic covenant. Gentry and Wellum claim:
God is not initiating a covenant with Noah but rather is affirming to Noah and his descendants a commitment initiated previously. This language clearly indicates a covenant established earlier between God and humans at creation, or between God and humans at creation. When God says that he is affirming or upholding his covenant with Noah, he is saying that his commitment to his creation…are now to be with Noah and his descendants.God’s Kingdom through God’s Covenants, 60.
Stephen Myers rightly notes that the creation covenant is the covenant of works. The Noahic covenant cannot be a confirmation of the covenant of works:
The covenant of works had required perfect obedience from a sinless Adam; how could it be meaningfully renewed with fallen Noah? Such a situation would not be the renewal of an existing covenant, but the establishment of an altogether different covenant, on different terms, with different requirements.God to Us, 107.
Furthermore, the content of the Noahic covenant shows that it is not a works covenant. The creation covenant promised life and blessing for obedience and death and cursing for disobedience. But the Noahic covenant promises a stay on God’s wrath for all of creation in recognition of the sinfulness of mankind.
Myers agrees with Gentry and Wellum that heqim berit does not refer to the making of a covenant, and he proposes that the Noahic covenant is the renewal of the covenant of grace, which was first announced in Genesis 3:15 (God to Us, 107). But this also cannot be. Myers takes the participants of covenant of grace to be the Father and Christ (with all the elect in him). But the Noahic covenant was made between God and all of Noah’s seed (elect and non-elect), indeed with every living creature (Gen 9:9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17). The Noahic covenant and the covenant of grace cannot be the same covenant if they are made with different parties.
There is no plausible covenant to which the Noahic covenant is a renewal. It is best, therefore, to recognize that heqim berit sometimes can refer to the initial making of a covenant (Leupold, Genesis, 1:275; Mathews, Genesis 1:1-11:26, NAC, 367). The word קום in the Hifil “means literally ‘to make stand, to erect.’ God “erects” a covenant with Noah. Thus the verb may indicate that God here institutes a new relationship” (Hamilton, Genesis 1-17, NICOT, 316).
In Exodus 6:4, God uses קום to refer to making a covenant with the patriarchs. Gentry and Wellum argue that God is referring to his action during the exodus to fulfill the land promise part of the covenant (Kingdom through Covenant, 159). But קום occurs here as a non-initial perfect, indicating past tense (as the translations uniformly recognize). This verse refers to the making of the covenant, not to its fulfillment (cf. Hamilton, Exodus, 98).
Ezekiel 16:59-63 is another instance in which heqim berit refers to the making of a covenant. Gentry and Wellum initially granted that this passage was an exception to their claim that heqim berit never refers to the making of a covenant (Kingdom Through Covenant, 475-76). However, they have since revised their view. They now argue that the two covenants in view are the Abrahamic covenant (indicated with red lettering) and the Mosaic covenant (indicated with blue lettering):
“For thus says the Lord GOD: I will deal with you as you have done, you who have despised the oath in breaking the covenant, 60 yet I will remember my covenant with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish for you an everlasting covenant. 61 Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you take your sisters, both your elder and your younger, and I give them to you as daughters, but not on account of the covenant with you. 62 I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the LORD, 63 that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I atone for you for all that you have done, declares the Lord GOD.”
However, since Ezekiel 16 is about Jerusalem in particular rather than about the nation Israel generally, the covenant made with Jerusalem in its youth, which covenant she broke, is likely the covenant in which Yhwh chose Jerusalem as his own dwelling place and the seat of the Davidic ruler (Ps 132:13-17; Stuart, Ezekiel, PC, 135; Alexander, “Ezekiel,” REBC, 722). The covenant that Yhwh will make in the future is the new covenant (the emphasis on knowing Yhwh is an important part of the new covenant), a covenant which includes the restoration of the city of Jerusalem (Jer. 31:38-40; 32:36-41). The Abrahamic covenant has no such promise regarding the restoration of Jerusalem. Since the new covenant, a covenant still in Ezekiel’s future, is the one that Yhwh will establish, heqim berit here refers to the making of a covenant rather than the confirming of an existing covenant.
The claim that heqim berit is sometimes used to indicate the making of a covenant is consistent with the semantic range of קום in the Hifil. There are other passages in which the word carries the meaning of “set up,” “make,” or “found” something Joshua 4:9; 2 Samuel 3:10; 1 Kings 7:21; Psalm 78:5; Amos 9:11).