Tonight as I am studying this Shabbat’s torah portion, Mishpatim, I am listening to beautiful worship music.
What a blessing to even want to keep G-d’s Sabbath. This portion is where Abba is about to give the Torah (instructions) to the Israelites. Not just Judah (the Jewish Tribe), but to all the tribes and the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt. I am so thankful to be grafted into the root of the commonwealth of Israel and to be learning the Ancient Path, His ways!
For this portion, the Torah reading is from Exodus 21:1 – 24:18. This portion is called Mishpatim, which means judgments. It is taken from the first verse in our portion
Exodus 21:1 Now these are the regulations that you are to set before them:
The word “regulations” means judicial decisions, judgments. Remember the Kingdom of G-d and think of these as the Kingdom’s rules / instructions for living in that “nation”. So these are Abba’s decisions on how to live. Notice His instruction begins way before the stone tablets are given.
I’m not going to delve into each instruction for living.However, I strongly encourage you to read scripture for yourself (in context) and study the words you read. Learn how they are used and dig into the meaning to understand them from an Eastern mindset (not the westernized mindset that we so commonly see taught). I will just point out things that struck me or convicted me. That does NOT mean it is meant to convict you… it just means that I personally am walking something out that a verse or scripture pointed to.
What really spoke to me in this portion was the constant reference as to what their intent was, the desire of their heart. Was it to cause harm, defraud, or hurt their neighbor, or was it by accident? If it was by accident, it did not absolve them of guilt, but it did change the penalty.
Exodus 21:12 He that strikes a man, so that he dies, is to be put-to-death, yes, death.
Exodus 21:13 Now should he not have lain in wait (for him), but should God have brought him opportunely into his hand: I will set aside for you a place where he may flee.
Exodus 21:14 But when a man schemes against his neighbor, to kill him with cunning, from my very slaughter-site you are to take him away, to die!
It’s always been about our heart. Remember King David was not perfect (by any stretch), but he was quick to repent! Now negligence was also as good as guilty. In other words, it is as if we intended and planned to commit the act.
Exodus 21:28 When an ox gores a man or a woman, so that one dies, the ox is to be stoned, yes, stoned, and its flesh is not to be eaten, and the owner of the ox is to be clear.
Exodus 21:29 But if the ox was (known as) a gorer from yesterday and the day-before, and it was so designated to its owner, and he did not guard it, and it causes the death of a man or of a woman, the ox is to be stoned, and its owner as well is to be put-to-death.
The penalty for neglect is the same as if you meant to cause harm. That really makes me think about our walk. Are we guilty of neglect in our own walk? What are we neglecting that we are now considered guilty of because we are neglecting to handle or deal with?
A recurring theme throughout scripture is protecting the widows and the orphans. When I looked up widow in Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon on Blue Letter Bible, the description is just so beautiful and telling… Metaphor used of a state bereft of its king. The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible focuses more on the aspect of grief: “As bound in grief.”. It further uses Bind and Sheaf as part of the definition. Think about that. When we marry we are to become one, bound to one another. When I looked up orphan, its root means “to be lonely”. So a fatherless child who is lonely for his father. I think this is more than just the widows and orphans, although they are a perfect representation of this concept of having compassion for not only those that are less fortunate… these represent those that lack a protector and a guide. As I listen to Psalm 91 as I type this… they lack the earthly representative that points them to our Father in Heaven. Adrift and vulnerable…. are the words that come to my mind.
In Chapter 23, we have verse 7 that should make us all tremble…
Exodus 23:7 From a false matter, you are to keep far! And (one) clear and innocent, do not kill, for I do not acquit a guilty-person.
In researching this verse, I read Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon on the Blue Letter Bible site, and this language is exactly what they use for this verse. Absolve, acquit. So, God will not clear us of our guilt. He can’t. He is just. That would be unjust. This is another issue I have with the way our Westernized religion teaches about God and His Word. He is merciful and forgiving but we have a part in that too… we have to be repentant. And to be repentant means to turn from our sin. We can’t go on sinning and continue using Grace to “get out of Hell free”. That is abusing His gift. Every messenger of God consistently says the same thing over and over and over again. Repent! For the Kingdom of God is at hand.
In Chapter 24, we have a clear understanding of what is happening here. It is a covenant. The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible defines covenant as:
A covenant is instituted through a sacrifice of a choice, fatted, animal which is cut into two and the parties of the covenant pass through the pieces. If one party fails to meet the agreements of the covenant then the other may do the same to them.
It is an “if/then” statement. If you do this, I will do this. A ketubah. Another great study is the marriage contract. I highly recommend you study that one out! Moses not only wrote it down in verse 4 of chapter 24, he reads it back to the people in verse 7.
Exodus 24:7 Then he took the account of the covenant and read it in the ears of the people. They said: All that YHVH has spoken, we will do and we will hearken!
We will hear and obey. Shema. Instructions for living. This is confirmed in verse 12
Exodus 24:12 Now YHVH said to Moshe: Go up to me on the mountain and remain there, that I may give you tablets of stone: the Instruction and the Command that I have written down, to instruct them.
Now this word Instruct is a GREAT word to study out. It is H3384. Brown Driver Briggs defines it as:
??? / ???
ya?ra?h / ya?ra?’
1) to throw, shoot, cast, pour
1a1) to throw, cast
1a2) to cast, lay, set
1a3) to shoot arrows
1a4) to throw water, rain
1b) (Niphal) to be shot
1c1) to throw, cast
1c2) to shoot
1c3) to point out, show
1c4) to direct, teach, instruct
1c5) to throw water, rain
If you think of shooting an arrow and hitting the mark… that is what these instructions are for, to help us hit the mark! This is Abba’s “love language”. What an amazing way to view the Word of God.
I pray this study was a blessing to you!
If you are interested in what translation of Scripture I am quoting from, it is the The Five Books of Moses by The Shocken Bible. I like having a book to hold, but if you want to read it online, here is a pdf.
And I reference Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon many times. It is my favorite for sure. Here is a hard copy if you are like me and love to hold a book and highlight and underline! But you can also read it free on Blue Letter Bible as well.