Hebrew Roots/Torah observance/Mishpatim
Mishpatim – Sentences/Judgements Shemot/Exodus Chapters 21 - 24 Isaiah 28:9-13; Matthew 12:38-39; John 10:27-28
This Torah lesson is Yahweh’s basis for establishing a pathway to Holiness for His people Yisrael. Torah is a document which teaches, both by instruction and example, how a redeemed person is to live in a redeemed community. It is in short, Yahweh’s manual of life. Due to the inclination of men’s hearts, Yahweh establishes these edicts for our daily living to protect us from ourselves. Yahweh’s intent was to create a nation of righteous people and by so doing, they would spread His edicts for the way-of-life to all men that they encountered. As we read this week’s lesson, we quickly realize that Yahweh establishes these measures to protect the innocent, the poor, and those in society who do not have a voice to be heard. He champions the cause of each to ensure their safety and their place within the nation of Yisrael. The basis of the Mishpatim were not to limit Yisrael’s civil liberties, but to ensure the freedom of all. We must follow the leading angel Yeshua to receive this truth, for where the Ruach haKodesh dwells, there is liberty.
In last week’s message of Yisro, the Ten Commandments were given. These commandments were seeds for nurturing growth of a holy lifestyle unto Yahweh. These seeds were planted as an everlasting affirmation of our relationship unto Him from season to season and from year to year throughout our generations. Holiness was to be indivisible for the nation of Yisrael. It was biblically impossible to separate Holiness from Yisrael as a nation. The government was predicated upon the Word of Yahweh. It was the world’s first true theocracy based upon the Word of Yahweh.
The Hebrew word mishpat actually means sentence. The plural form of the word mishpat in Hebrew is mishpatim, which means sentences. Its secondary meaning is that of a court judgment of what punishment is to be inflicted, on a convicted person, formally after deliberation.
These laws are also a guide to keeping the testimony of the One they represented. If they were His people, they were to reflect His likeness. They were called to be a holy nation, to be a people that would be in His image and likeness according to the original creation. (Exodus 19: 6; Genesis 1:26) When Yahweh called Abraham, He said to him, "Walk before Me and be blameless" (Gen. 17: 1) As the head of a nation, he was called to holiness by keeping all of His commandments and principles, which he did. (Genesis 26: 5) In that, he was a testimony to all around of the One whom he served and he saved many souls. Both in Haran and in Canaan, Abraham gathered many into his household for the kingdom.
We also are called to reflect the light of His presence within and shine as lights in the world. The life of Yeshua Who is the "brightness of His (the Father's) glory and the very image of His person", should radiate from us, being seen by the good works of righteousness which we do for His Name's sake. (Matthew 5:16) In keeping His precepts we become a walking testimony of His life within us and demonstrate that we also are the children of Abraham, walking in the commandments and precepts of the Almighty.
This lifestyle did not save them. This lifestyle served to prepare them to meet the true "Teacher", the Messiah, as they reached the age of accountability. In this way, the New Covenant teaches that the Torah acted as a custodian, or a "schoolmaster" (read Galatians 3:24-25). Once we reached the age where a conscious decision could be made, the Torah should have presented us with the proper framework to make the right decision: trusting faithfulness in Yahweh, as demonstrated through our dependency in His provision in His Son Yeshua the Messiah!
This faithful lifestyle is magnificently portrayed in the covenants that the people had experienced thus far.
The Promise of His Presence
"Where there is no vision, the people perish, but he that keeps Torah happy is he." Proverbs/Mishle 29:18
The vision of their inheritance and the promises relating to it were dependant upon them keeping Torah.
In their keeping of the covenant He says that His Presence will go with them to keep them in the way and to bring them to the place which He had prepared for them. "Behold! I send an angel before you to protect you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have made ready." (23:20)
Yahweh had said to them in Ch 19:5 "Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice, and keep My brit (covenant), then you shall be My own possession from among all peoples; for all the earth is Mine;"
Yahweh will be sending His special Angel with Yisrael to first “keep” them by the way (from the Hebrew root word “shamar” which can mean to restrict within certain boundaries) and second, to bring them into the place He prepared for them. Then they are told to pay attention to this Angel (in Hebrew the word Mal’ach – Angel also can be translated as Messenger), to listen to His voice (kol), not to provoke Him for He will not pardon their disobedience. Why? - Because Yahweh’s Name is in Him. The word 'voice' (kol) as used in the Hebrew is idiomatic for obedience. But more than that, the word kol is also idiomatic for the Word (Memra in the Aramaic Onkelos Targum).
The voice of God is the Word of God!
This Angel will keep the bnei Yisrael within certain boundaries while they are on their way by His voice (kol) or by His Word. Therefore, what is being said here is that the Word of this Angel will be the boundaries bnei Yisrael will be restricted to!
We know that angels normally are sent as ministering spirits and they do not to interfere with us. (Hebrews 1:14)
"Beware of him – hearken to his voice, do not rebel against him, for he will not forgive your willful sin – for My Name is within him. For if you hearken to his voice and carry out all that I shall speak, then I shall be the enemy of your enemies and persecute your persecutors. For My angel shall go before you and bring you to the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Canaanite, the Hivvite, and the Jebusite, and I will annihilate them." (21-23)
He will not forgive their disobedience. Nowhere in Scripture are we ever told or even given the impression that an angel can speak laws or forgive sin, only God can do that! The third thing we are being told about this Angel is that He bears the Name of Yahweh. This is the Memra, the Word of God manifested in 'Angelic' form.
The Name of Yahweh represents His character. God’s Name is His character! Therefore, what we are being told is that this Angel will not just do great and mighty things as acting “in the Name of God,” nor will He just do great and mighty things by the “power of God,” but He will actually have the whole nature and essence of God.
Yahweh has used a variety of ways to "manifest" his holiness among men. These include: angelic representatives, a burning bush, a pillar of a cloud, a pillar of fire, thick darkness, a thunderous voice, etc. All of these manifestations are known in Hebrew thinking as "Sh'khinah", coming from the root word "shakhan" meaning "to dwell".
Moshe and the leaders catch a glimpse of his holiness when they went up on the mount (24: 9-11), They saw God, and ate and drank and yet were not consumed. The root Hebrew word used for “saw” in this passage is “yirah” which can be translated as; “see”, “observe”, “appear”, “gaze”. In addition, the fact that they saw what was under God’s feet, “…a paved work of sapphire stone…,” the seventy elders saw the Divine Angel, pre-incarnate Yeshua, spoken of in verse 23:20. This explanation will also confirm the deity of the Angel, thus explaining why He had these supernatural and divine attributes. It will also explain why the elders were able to look upon God and live.
The best and most complete revelation of Yahweh still remains to be in the person and life of Yeshua his Divine Son, the Word of God!
John tells us that the Word (God) was made flesh and "dwelt" among us in the form of Yeshua the Messiah. That term "dwelt" shares the exact same root word as "Sh'khinah" above.
Do not prostate yourself to their gods, do not worship them, and do not act according to their practices; rather, you shall tear them apart, and you shall smash their pillars. You shall worship Yahweh your God and He shall bless your bread and your water, and I shall remove illness from your midst." Shemot/Exodus 23:20-25
Also in 23:52-53b "You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods .. .. .. For if you serve their gods it will surely be a snare to you." At this time an ancient Kenan'ani (Canaanite) practice was to kill a beast of burden (an ox, cow, or goat of some sort), and seethe its body (boiled, stewed, i.e. cooked) in its own mother's milk as a symbol of the animal's fertility. This ceremony invoked the powers of both the agricultural gods, as well as the fertility gods. The pagans believed that this sacrificial ceremony would appease these gods into blessing them with health, offspring, and abundant crops. Yahweh forbids His people in 23:19 from imitating this practice!
Some of the rabbis, not knowing the background for this warning in the scripture, have turned the mitzvah into a prohibition of eating milk and meat products in the same meal. We have the scriptural record of Abraham who kept God's commandments, preparing meat and milk products together and offering them to the heavenly visitors who came to him. (Genesis 18:1-8).
Also in 2 Samuel 17:27-29 the people brought mixed dairy and meat products to David to eat, not observing this custom which has developed after the second century AD.
Hearing The Word
Yeshua is the Word of Yahweh our God, which manifested Himself and became flesh, see the gospel of John 1:14; and He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28 The Pharisees of Yeshua's day could not hear Him. They claimed to be disciples of Moshe, but if they were, they would have known who Yeshua was and embraced Him through the interpretation of the Mishpatim and followed the leading of the 'angel of Yahweh' who had His name within him.
The Pharisees of today are the rabbis, the preachers, the bishops and Elders which interpret the precepts upon precepts, precepts upon precepts, lines upon lines, lines upon lines according to their own understanding. “In the way of righteousness is life: and in the pathways thereof there is no death.” Proverbs 12:28
Man is to live by the Word of Yahweh. “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh.” (Matthew 4:3-4; Deuteronomy 8:3) In the observance of His Word is life. The Targum of Johnathan confirms that it was the Word of Yahweh who tells Moshe to go up to Yahweh on the mountain and Who gave the ten commands on Sinai. (Shemot 20:1 & Shemot 24:1)
The Desire for Signs
"Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered saying, Lord, we prefer to see a sign from you. But He answered and said unto them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and there shall be no sign given to it but the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Matthew 12:38-39 The harshness of Yeshua’ response was to emphasize the point that they were seeking signs as proof of His word instead of hearing His voice and putting Yahweh’ Kingdom first in their lives. The way to the kingdom is through holiness and full acceptance of His Mishpatim. They had made themselves interpreters of the Torah.
"Yeshua said unto them, “If Yahweh were your Father, you would love me: for I proceeded forth from and came from Yahweh; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.”
“Why do you not understand my speech? Is it because you cannot hear My word?” John 8:42-43
The world today seeks a sign from Yahweh to determine how-to-prioritize their life and their time while they still maintain control and do things their way. This is the generation Yeshua spoke of as an evil and adulterous generation; it is a generation which seeks out its gratification through the pursuits of the things of this world. Every aspect of daily living is given to the god of this world, mammon. It is a generation given to positive thinking instead of the power of prayer; a generation given to Wall-street instead of the walls of the new Jerusalem with 12 pearly gates and streets of gold for the children of Yisrael. The word of Yahweh says that we are to seek first the Kingdom of Yahweh and His righteousness. Let him that has an ear to hear, let him hear.
The gospel of John 8:31-2 says, “ If you continue in My word you are My disciples indeed and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." We must first accept the truth and allow the truth to begin to operate in our lives, only then will it effectively change us. We must first empty ourselves and allow and make room for truth to reside within our hearts. His Mishpatim must first begin with our voluntary submission and acceptance of His will upon our lives. Only then will truth begin to manifest itself from within us and finally to our outward walk and that is when the truth shall make you free.
“Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy or blessed is he who keeps the law.” Proverbs 29:18
May we never become as those who live just for today and the spiritual needs of the day only, but always have the vision of being prepared and adorned as His Bride ready to meet Him whenever He comes.
Judicial Laws for Slaves 21: 1-11
The very first judgment has to do with slaves purchased from a Hebrew family. As a people dedicated to morality and ethics, they were called to stand out from the societies around them by the standards they set. Having come out of slavery themselves, this is one of the first issues that Yahweh addresses. In the society of that time, slavery was part of the social structure and the laws which Yahweh gave them were for humane treatment of them. From their experience they were able to have a heart of compassion for the 'slave' and to release him after six years of service.
In today's society, we work for wages and what we do can be making or producing items which will thereafter belong to the one we serve and we walk out of that employment without those goods. Female workers today have the benefit of good conditions.
Death Penalty 21:12-27
The first instance deals with slaughter where there has been malice and previous intention. This is again cited in Leviticus 24:17, 21it only being done on the evidence of two or three witnesses. Deuteronomy 17: 6; 19:15 Monetary payment cannot be substituted for the life of the offender - Numbers 35:30-31
The second instance is pre-meditated and planned murder. They are not excused by taking hold of the horns of the altar. (21:14)
Mishpatim deals with the very act of striking a parent being worth the death penalty, regardless of the consequences of such an action (death does not have to be involved). The violent act is sufficient to warrant it. Even cursing a parent warrants death. Honouring parents is essential, the rebellious son is to be taken for judgement to the elders, and verbal abuse amounts to murder as Yeshua brought out in Matthew 5:21-22. See also Deuteronomy 21:18-20
Making Restitution 21:18-27
The 'eye for eye', 'tooth for tooth' compensation covered here has been misunderstood by the western mind. It is intended to mean fair compensation of the same value as the loss and is not meant to be taken literally.
Payment in money is usually intended. Such is the case in v.18-19 where willful harm was done and the perpetrator has to pay for the victim's loss of time and medical expenses.
21:22-25 is another example, where payment for the cost of the loss of the child only is to be made to the family as set by the judge if no agreement can be reached. If there was loss of life to the woman, then the law for manslaughter would apply.
In verse 26, we see that adequate compensation had to be given for the loss of whatever body part was damaged, giving them their freedom if permanent damage was sustained. In all the instances the one who sustained the damage is to 'give' to the victim a compensation. Giving a literal eye for an eye is no real compensation. Certainly the victim has no desire to receive a gouged out eye. Monetary compensation fits the description, a dismembered limb doesn't. This is the Jewish understanding of the passage.
Animal Control Laws 21:28-35
This was to cover situations which could occur and are an example of how loving your neighbour as yourself would apply in these situations of life.
Responsibility Regarding Property and People 22: 1-31
This section deals with the various situations where a man may be wronged by another either by accident or by intent and the right manner in which to deal with it and make restitution. If there is a dispute and someone infringed the rights of another where it could not be resolved between them, they were to come before the judges (v.9) and the guilty person was to pay double. If someone steals, the Torah requires him to repay four to five times as much. But it allows him to repay his debt through a six-year servitude. If he wishes to extend his servitude, the Torah prescribes the piercing of his ear at the doorpost.
Judgement on Witchcraft 22:18, 20
"You shall not permit a sorceress to live" The Hebrew here is 'to whisper a spell' Strongs 3784 A sorcerer was one who used magic to gain for someone whatever advantage he wanted in a situation. The feminine is used here as most likely those who practiced this were women. This was a very common practice among their neighbours and was involved with the worship of their many gods which Israel is forbidden to worship. Death is the penalty for these crimes and the only way to keep the redeemed community free from the polytheism of the surrounding nations. Bestiality 22:19 also incurred the death penalty, which was also practiced by the nations around them.
All Judgement Based Upon Witnesses
The principles of the Torah would seem to allow the guilty sometimes to escape punishment, because it requires that everything be established by two or three witnesses. The Torah prohibits condemning a person based on probability or 'hear-say' evidence.
Provision For the Needy 22:21-27
This section covers the four disadvantaged groups which were vulnerable and which come under the special concern of Yahweh These are the stranger, the widow, the poor and the orphan.
The Stranger covers all who are in a strange place away from family that can give them sustenance, counsel and care. The Torah places great importance on the treatment of strangers, covering it a total of thirty-six times.
"you shall not mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." v.21
We are to love them as He does - Deuteronomy 10:17-19 We are to love them as ourselves - Leviticus 19:33-34 See also 1 John 3:16-18
The Widow and the Fatherless "You shall not afflict the widow or the fatherless child" v.22
Yahweh Himself champions the cause of the widows and the orphans saying that He personally will bring retribution on those who do them wrong. Proverbs 22:22-23; 23:10-11
"If you afflict them in any way and they cry out at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry, and My wrath will become hot, and I will kill you with the sword, your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless." (22-24)
Lending money to the poor is not to be with the charge of interest and his need is to be considered in any pledge that he may give for things borrowed or loaned. Also he is to be dealt with justly and not to be treated with partiality - verses 23: 3, 6
Yeshua said, "Whatsoever you have done to the least of these My brethren you have done it unto Me" Matthew 25:34-40)