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Parashah 18 Mishpatim

Exodus 21:1-24:18

By Dr. K. Blad  ©

Second edition 2013-14

Lucrative copying not permitted.   

Torah Readings:

  1. 21:1-19
  2. 21:20 – 22:4 (3 Heb.)
  3. 22:5-27 (22:4-26 Heb.)
  4. 22:28 – 23:5 (22:27 – 23:5 Heb.)
  5. 23:6-19
  6. 23:20-25
  7. 23:26 – 24:18
  8. Maftir: 24:15-18 (Sephardic); 24:16-18 (Ashkenazi)


Haftarah: Jeremiah 34:8 – 22; 33:25-26.


means “sentences”.



The First Aliyah, 21:1-19

21:1 “Now these are the ordinances which you shall set before them.”(HNV) – The Hebrew word that is translated “ordinances” is mishpatim[1]. There are several different words used in the Torah to describe the commandments that the Eternal has given his people. These are the five most common:

·        Torah[2] (plural: torot) means “instruction”, “norm”, “law”. It comes from the root yarah,[3] “point” or “mark. It has several different meanings. The following are the most important:

o       Instruction, i.e. any instruction at all, for example in Proverbs 3:1a “My son, don’t forget my teaching (torah)…”

o       A specific instruction on a certain subject, for example, the instructions concerning each of the sacrifices, Leviticus 6:9 (6:2 Heb.) “This is the law (torah) of the burnt offering…”; Leviticus 7:1 “This is the law (torah) of the trespass offering…”, Romans 7:2 “For the woman that has a husband is bound by law (torah) to the husband”.

o       The general instruction given to Israel – Moshe’s Torah, the five books of Moshe, Chumash, the Pentateuch, “the law”, for example Deuteronomy 31:26 “this book of the law (torah)”, Joshua 1:7-8 “according to all the law (torah), which Moshe my servant commanded you… This book of the law (sefer ha-torah)”, Matthew 5:17 “the law”, Luke 24:44 “the law of Moshe”.

o       All Hebrew Spirit-breathed Scripture – Tanach (an acronym for the words Torah (Instruction), Nevi’im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings)).

§         Example from the Prophets: John 12:34 “We have heard out of the law that the Messiah remains forever (see Isaiah 9:7).”

§         Example from the Writings: John 10:34 “Yeshua answered them, ‘Isn’t it written in your law: I said, you are gods?’”(quote taken from Psalm 82)

·        Mitzvah[4] (plural: mitzvoth) – commands – a general term that encompasses all kinds of commandments. It comes from the root tzavah,[5] which means “command”, “order”, “assign”.

·        Mishpat[6] (plural: mishpatim) – “ordinance”, “norm”, “decree”, “habit”, “process of sentencing”, “justice”, “mode”. The word comes from the root shafat,[7] which means “judge”, “execute judgment”, “rule”. The noun form of the word is shofet, which means “a judge”.

·        Chok[8] (plural: chukim) – “border”, “assignment”, “portion”, “obligation”, “mandate”. This word comes from the root chakak,[9] which means, “engrave”, “decide”, “command”. This word also has a feminine form, chukah, plural: chukot.

·        Edah[10] (plural: edot) – “proof”, “witness”.

The connection between these words can be explained this way:

Moshe's TorahThe Torah is the general instruction that was given from heaven through Moshe. The Mitzvot are the 613 commandments that are in the Torah of Moshe. There are three kinds of commandments among the 613. They are Mishpatim, Chukim, and Edot. Mishpatim are the social commandments, which govern all social life within the community of Israel. Chukim are those commandments that are hard to understand since they do not have logical explanations. Edot are commandments that give the people of Israel their special marks of recognition, such as the mezuzah, tzitzit, and tefillin.

In Deuteronomy 4:44-45, it is written,

This is the law (torah) which Moshe set before the children of Yisra'el: these are the testimonies (edot), and the statutes (chukim), and the ordinances (mishpatim), which Moshe spoke to the children of Yisra'el, when they came forth out of Egypt”(HNV)

In the text that we are looking at (21:1), the word used is mishpatim, which stands for those laws that govern Israel’s social life. The ten words had already been given audibly from Mount Sinai. The ten words summarize all 613 commandments that would be given to the people of Israel. This Parashah, Mishpatim, begins with the small word va, which means “and”. This teaches us that what follows this word is connected to that which was mentioned before. These mishpatim, social laws, are therefore connected to that which is written at the end of chapter 20.

This Parashah contains more than fifty commandments, and they are, with a few exceptions, social laws. After receiving all these laws, Moshe wrote a scroll called “the book of the covenant”, in 24:7. The Sages discuss what this scroll contained, whether it was everything from Bereshit (Genesis) 1:1 and forward, or if it began at another point. Rashi says that everything from the creation account until the giving of the Torah was written in it.

21:2 “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years and in the seventh he shall go out free without paying anything.”(HNV) – In Hebrew there is no distinction between a slave and a servant. The children of Israel were slaves in Egypt in the sense that they had neither the right nor freedom to govern their own lives. A slave is the property of another man. Israelites could not be slaves again in the same way that they were in Egypt, because if they were sold as slaves after this point, it would not be forever. During the shemitah year, the free year, the Shabbat year, which occurs every seven years, they would be set free. It was, therefore, not slavery in the meaning of the English word, but rather it was a life of servanthood with rights to food, board, and the provision of personal needs, but not more, in exchange for 24-hour service. If the servant did not want to be released during the free year, his earlobe was marked as a sign. Thus he remained in his master’s house until the year of jubilee, which came every 49th year. Because of this, the Hebrew servant never became the property of anyone in the absolute sense. It was different, however, for those slaves bought from among other nations, especially from the survivors of the nations that were destroyed during the conquering of Kana’an. They were not released during the shemitah year or during the year of jubilee. In their case we can call it slavery, since they were the property of their masters in the same sense that objects and animals are, see 21:21.

We have to understand, however, that the Hebraic way of thinking concerning slavery is markedly different than the slavery that existed during the Middle Ages, and especially during the time when slaves were sold from Africa to America. In this Parashah we will see how a servant/slave had social rights and had to be treated with respect, as opposed to the slaves of the heathen nations. In verse 21:5, we see that a Hebrew servant might want to remain as the “property” of another, since it was more comfortable for him to remain than to be released. That shows us how a Hebrew servant or slave was treated in the Israeli community. As servant he did not have to take responsibility for his own upkeep. This is what some prefer over having the responsibility of taking care of themselves.

The only condition under which a Hebrew man could be sold as servant was if he had stolen something that he could not repay. Then the court, Beit Din, has the obligation of selling him as servant for the value of what was stolen, see 22:3. This command does not apply to women.

21:3 “If he comes in by himself, he shall go out by himself. If he is married, then his wife shall go out with him.”(HNV) – This is talking about a Hebrew wife. The master that bought the servant has the added responsibility of caring for the wife of the servant during the time of service.

21:4 “If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself.”(HNV) – This is referring to a non-Hebrew wife that his master gave him in order to have slave children through her. They remain with him after the Hebrew servant is released.

21:5 “But if the servant shall plainly say, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I will not go out free”(HNV) – The Hebrew people were taken out of Egypt in order to be free. This decision goes against the Eternal’s perfect will, and therefore, his ear was marked.

21:6 “then his master shall bring him to Elohim, and shall bring him to the door or to the door-post, and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him for ever.”(HNV revised) – The word Elohim in this case means a judge. The word “for ever”, in Hebrew le-olam, in this case, means up until the year of jubilee.

21:7 “If a man sells his daughter to be a maid-servant, she shall not go out as the men-servants do.”(HNV) – If a Hebrew family was very poor, they could sell a daughter as servant before she was twelve years old. The goal was then that she would eventually marry her master or his son. This would help her in the family’s hard situation. That she was not released as the other slaves meant that she was not released on the sabbatical year, as it is written in Deuteronomy 15:12,

“If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold to you, and serve you six years; then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you.”(HNV)

This means, according to Rashi, that if a Hebrew manservant or a Hebrew maidservant, lost their tooth or eye, they cannot be released like those slaves that come from the gentile nations, see 21:26-27. A Hebrew manservant or a Hebrew maidservant were only set free during the shemitah year, or if they were redeemed, that is if someone paid the ransom needed for them so they would not have to serve until the next shemitah year or year of jubilee.

If the Hebrew maidservant’s master did not want to marry her, as had been his original intention, or if his son does not want to marry her, she may not be sold to anyone else.

21:10 “If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marital rights.”(HNV) – A husband is obligated to give these three things to his wife.

21:11 “If he doesn’t do these three things for her, she may go free without paying any money.”(HNV) – According to Rashi, these three things are: that she marry her master (v. 8), that she marry her master’s son (v.9), or that her ransom amount, by which she could be redeemed, be lowered (v. 8). If her master does not do one of these three, then she must be released without being redeemed with a ransom.

21:12 “One who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death”(HNV) – Social laws govern concrete actions. God has delegated to man the right to carry out his wrath over certain crimes. An earthly court can carry out the Eternal’s righteousness to a certain extent. It can, however, also make mistakes since it cannot take into consideration the inner motive behind crimes, which is necessary in order to give a just sentence. Only God knows the heart of every man. It is necessary, however, for earthly courts to hold the position of God on the earth so that evil does not spread. Society must be founded on righteousness. A government must govern so that righteousness rules among the people, as it is written in 1 Kings 10:9,

“Blessed be HaShem your God, who delighted in you, to set you on the throne of Yisra'el: because HaShem loved Yisra'el forever, therefore made he you king, to do justice and righteousness.”(HNV revised)

In Proverbs 16:12, it is written,

“Evil-doing is disgusting to kings: for the seat of the ruler is based on righteousness.”(BBE)

In Psalm 9:4b, it is written,

“You sit on the throne judging righteously.”(HNV)

The foundation of the Eternal’s throne is first and foremost righteousness, not compassion, as it is written in Psalm 97:2,

“Clouds and darkness are around him. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.”(HNV)

The righteousness of the Eternal is the foundation for his government, not primarily his compassion. Righteousness is the foundation of the Torah. That is why all these social laws are founded on righteousness, as it is written in Psalm 19:9b,

“HaShem’s ordinances (mishpatim) are true, and righteous altogether.”(HNV revised)

In Deuteronomy 32:4, it is written,

“The Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice: a God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is he.”(HNV revised)

The Messianic Kingdom is going to be established on righteousness, as it is written in Isaiah 9:7,

“Of the increase of his government and of shalom there shall be no end, on the throne of David, and on his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even forever. The zeal of HaShem Tzevaot will perform this.”(HNV revised)

Righteousness is the foundation of his kingdom, but righteousness without compassion means destruction for the sinner. If God were to judge the world according to righteousness alone, we would all have been destroyed long ago. This is why compassion is also an important element to the reign of the Eternal, as it is written in Psalm 89:14,

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. Loving kindness and truth go before your face.”(HNV)

In Proverbs 20:28, it is written,

“Love and faithfulness keep the king safe. His throne is sustained by love.”(HNV)

In Hebrews 4:16, it is written,

“Let us therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace for help in time of need.”(HNV)

n Isaiah 16:5, it is written,

"A throne shall be established in loving kindness; and one shall sit thereon in truth, in the tent of David, judging, and seeking justice, and swift to do righteousness.”(HNV)

Mercy is given so that the sinner may repent from his sins, as it is written in Romans 2:4,

“Or do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”(HNV revised)

Goodness and mercy are given, first and foremost, to those who repent from their sins, as it is written in Romans 11:22,

“See then the goodness and severity of God. Toward those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness; otherwise you also will be cut off.”(HNV revised)

With these two of the Eternal’s characteristics, righteousness and mercy, as point of reference, we can understand correctly how we are to apply the Torah in society. Righteousness is the foundation, but if someone shows signs of repentance or if the evil deed was done accidentally, then he must receive mercy. A society that is not founded on righteousness is swept away by corruption, as it is written in Proverbs 14:34,

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”(HNV)

In Proverbs 16:12, it is written,

“Evil-doing is disgusting to kings: for the seat of the ruler is based on righteousness.”(BBE)

In Proverbs 21:7, it is written,

“The violence of the wicked will drive them away, because they refuse to do what is right.”(HNV)

In Proverbs 28:12, it is written,

“When the righteous triumph, there is great glory; but when the wicked rise, men hide themselves.”(HNV)

In Proverbs 29:12, it is written,

“If a ruler listens to lies, all of his officials are wicked.”(HNV)

In Proverbs 29:16, it is written,

“When the wicked increase, sin increases; but the righteous will see their downfall.”(HNV)

Peace is the result of righteousness, as it is written in Hebrews 7:2b,

“first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace”(KJV)

If righteousness alone is carried out without mercy for the sinners who show signs of repentance, then the society becomes very hard and cruel; but neither can righteousness be ignored or justice be distorted when compassion is given. Anyone who willfully kills another must die. That is righteousness. Anyone who hits his father or mother so that they are wounded must die. That is righteousness. Anyone who curses his father or mother must be stoned to death. That is righteousness.

In Psalm 119:172, it is written,

Let my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteousness.” (HNV)

Anyone who believes that it is unrighteous to stone a person that has committed adultery doesn’t have a correct perception of righteousness. Anyone who thinks that a murderer should not be given the death sentence doesn’t have a normal mindset because it is not in line with the righteousness of God. Anyone who thinks that a kidnapper should live in spite of his crime does not know the righteousness of the One who created man in His image to be like Him. This is God’s righteousness and His righteousness is eternal, as it is written in Psalm 119:142,

Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness. Your law (torah) is truth.”(HNV)

Compassion is given to the one who repents, but anyone who does not know righteousness cannot truly repent, for he does not think that what he has done is serious. A man who commits adultery deserves the death penalty. A woman who commits adultery deserves death. If they understand this and accept this as righteousness, then they can repent and ask for mercy and then compassion can be given to them. Compassion is given on the basis of righteousness, not vice versa!

In 1 Timothy 1:13b, it is written,

I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”(HNV)

Those who continue in their sin, however, are sooner or later going to suffer the consequences of their actions, as it is written in Romans 2:5-6,

“But according to your hardness and unrepentant heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath, revelation, and of the righteous judgment of God; who ‘will pay back to everyone according to their works’”(HNV revised)

If the authorities do not stand in righteousness, then the society will become corrupt. Authorities must also show compassion. If, however, they show compassion so that the sinner can continue misbehaving, then society will be destroyed from within, which is what happened at the time of Noach before the flood and in Sodom and Gomorra.

If the earthly governments do not execute righteousness, then God will have his justice. Things that are evident can be judged by men, but the Eternal is going to judge all secrets, as it is written in Deuteronomy 29:29,

“The secret things belong to HaShem our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”(HNV revised)

In Romans 2:16, it is written,

“in the day when God will judge the secrets of men, according to my Good News, by Yeshua the Messiah.”(HNV revised)

Through the Messiah the whole world is going to be judged in righteousness, which means according to the laws established in Moshe’s Torah, as it is written in Psalm 9:7-8,

“But HaShem reigns forever. He has prepared his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness. He will administer judgment to the peoples in uprightness.”(HNV revised)

In Psalm 96:11-13, it is written,

 “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice. Let the sea roar, and it’s fullness! Let the field and all that is in it exult! Then all the trees of the woods shall sing for joy before HaShem; for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, the peoples with his truth.”(HNV revised)

In Acts 17:31, it is written,

because he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; whereof he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.”(HNV)

Psalm 119:172 says,

“My tongue shall speak Your Word, for all Your Commandments are righteousness.” (MKJV)

When we study the social laws of the Torah we have to accept that they are completely righteous. They stand for the highest level of righteousness, God’s righteousness applied to earthly society. It is not always possible to carry out complete righteousness in society, but these are the guidelines that the Eternal has marked out for a society that is submitted to His Kingdom.

The Torah Oral doesn’t only give the explanation of how and when these laws shall be applied but also how and when mercy should be applied.

The death of the Messiah Yeshua is the righteous foundation that the Eternal stands on in order to forgive a sinner his sins. Payment for his sins is made there. The death of the Messiah Yeshua is the only proof that the Eternal has for the fact that he is still righteous when he shows compassion to a sinner, see Romans 3:25-26.

21:15 “Anyone who attacks his father or his mother shall be surely put to death.”(HNV) – According to Talmud,[11] he is not guilty with the penalty of death unless there is damage such as a bruise or a bleeding wound.

21:17 “Anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.”(HNV) – Yeshua quotes this text in Matthew 15:4 and Mark 7:10. According to Talmud,[12] the mode of execution is always to be strangling, unless specified otherwise in the text.

21:19 “if he rises again and walks around with his staff, then he who struck him shall be cleared: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall provide for his healing until he is thoroughly healed.”(HNV) – According to Mishnah,[13] there are five kinds of restitutions that must be given by the one who caused physical damage to another,

1.      Restitution for physical damage, in Hebrew nezek.

2.      Restitution for physical pain, in Hebrew tzaar.

3.      Restitution for the price of a physician, in Hebrew ripui.

4.      Restitution for slowness and unemployment, in Hebrew shevet.

5.      Restitution for shame, in Hebrew boshet.

The Second Aliyah, 21:20 – 22:4 (3 Heb

21:20 “If a man strikes his servant or his maid with a rod, and he dies under his hand, he shall surely be punished.”(HNV) – The punishment mentioned here is death by sword, see Leviticus 26:25 where the same Hebrew word occurs, nakam, which is translated as “vengeance”. This is not talking about Hebrew slaves, since verse 21 says that they are their master’s property. This is not the case with the Hebrew servants. This teaches us that a non-Hebrew slave is of the same value as a Hebrew slave. All people have the same worth.

21:21 “Notwithstanding, if he gets up after a day or two, he shall not be punished, for he is his property.”(HNV) – If the slave dies after twenty-four hours, it is not considered murder, which would have been the case if it had not been his slave.

21:22 “And if men strive together, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart, and yet no harm follow, he shall be surely fined, when the woman's husband denounces him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.”(JPS revised) – In this case the death of the unborn baby is not cause for death penalty. The violent one must pay fines as restitution for the unborn baby according to what the judges decide if the husband takes the case to Beit Din, court.

21:23 “But if any harm follows, then you must take life for life”(HNV) – According to Talmud,[14] this is not a question of removing an organ as restitution for the damage, but of a monetary payment equal to the value of the damage. The amount is determined according to the reduction in price that such a person would have if he were sold in a slave market, compared to the price he would have had if he were whole.

If a person damages another so that he can no longer earn as much money at his job as he did earlier, then the first of the five different restitutions apply, the restitution for nezek, for the remainder of his lifetime. For example: If a man earned 100 when he had both hands and both feet, but now that he has lost a limb he can only earn 40, then the person who was the cause of the accident must supply the lacking 60 for the rest of his life. This is the way that compensation is made for the loss.

21:25 “burning for burning, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise.”(HNV) – These three cases are not referring to the loss of a limb or organ, but of physical pain, tzaar. It has to be compensated for as well, according to the sum of money that a similar person would be willing to receive in return for going through that same pain.[15] According to Rashi, a wound (in Hebrew petza) is any injury that bleeds, and a bruise (in Hebrew chaburah) is any injury that causes the blood to coagulate internally and the skin to turn red.

21:26 “If a man strikes his servant’s eye, or his maid’s eye, and destroys it, he shall let him go free for his eye’s sake.”(HNV) – This is referring to a Canaanite, a non-Hebrew slave as we said earlier. In addition to an eye and a tooth, the same thing applies to the loss of any part of the twenty-four limbs, fingers and toes, ears, nose, and male organ.

21:29 “But if the bull had a habit of goring in the past, and it has been testified to its owner, and he has not kept it in, but it has killed a man or a woman, the bull shall be stoned, and its owner shall also be put to death.”(HNV) – According to Rashi, in this case it is heavenly justice, not people, that will make sure that the owner is put to death. This text teaches us that animal owners are responsible for any damage caused by their animals.

21:32 “If the bull gores a man-servant or a maid-servant, thirty shekels of silver shall be given to their master, and the ox shall be stoned.”(HNV) – This is speaking of a Canaanite, non-Hebrew slave. If it had been a Hebrew servant, the ransom sum would have to be paid for his release.[16]

The price that was given to Yehudah in exchange for Yeshua was thirty silver coins, see Matthew 26:15; 27:9.

22:1 “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it, or sells it; he shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.”(HNV) – This restitution applies only to the theft of these specific animals.

22:2 “If the thief is found breaking in, and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no guilt of bloodshed for him.”(HNV) – This teaches us that if someone comes against you to kill you, you have the right to strike first and you will not be considered to be a murderer if he would die.

22:3 “If the sun has risen on him, there shall be guilt of bloodshed for him; he shall make restitution. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.”(HNV) – In this case the rabbis do not interpret the word “sun” as literal. Rashi follows an interpretation by a Midrash[17] which says that the sun symbolizes peace. Talmud[18] however, claims that the sun symbolizes clarity and security. Onkelos Targum interprets the text like this: “if the eyes of witnesses fall on him…”, which means that he had been urged earlier by witnesses not to kill if he should be discovered during the theft.

If anyone repents of his sin, he then must make restitution for the damage that was done, as it is written in Luke 19:8-9,

“Zakkai stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much.’ Yeshua said to him, ‘Today, salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Avraham.’”(HNV)

Zakkai was prepared to make restitution beyond what was righteously demanded according to the Torah. This is clear proof that he had truly repented. Therefore salvation came to his family. Anyone that is not prepared to make restitution for the damage he has done has not repented fully and his salvation is not genuine.

Dear Reader, if you have stolen or have caused physical damage to anyone before you committed your life to the God of Israel, you must pay the restitution as long as it is possible. If you will not, then your repentance is not sincere and salvation has not come into your life.

The Third Aliyah, 22:5-27 (22:4-26)

22:7 “If a man delivers to his neighbor money or stuff to keep, and it is stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief is found, he shall pay double.”(HNV) – In this case the restitution is double when the thief has given an oath that he is innocent. In any other case he shall repay the same thing that was stolen.

22:8 “If the thief isn’t found, then the master of the house shall come near to Elohim, to find out if he hasn’t put his hand to his neighbor’s goods.”(HNV revised) – In this case the Hebrew word Elohim ought to be translated as “judges”, as well as in the following verse. Judges have received delegated authority on the earth to represent God in their judgments.

22:10 “if a man delivers to his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep, and it dies or is injured, or driven away, no man seeing it”(HNV) – According to Rashi, this is referring to a man having paid someone to guard his things.

22:16 “If a man entices a virgin who isn’t pledged to be married, and lies with her, he shall surely pay a dowry for her to be his wife.”(HNV) – The dowry for a virgin was 50 silver shekels, see Deuteronomy 22:29. It amounts to food and clothing for one person for eight years (R. Hirsch). The dowry, in Hebrew mohar, was later replaced by the ketuvah, the marriage contract. The nation of Israel was very poor during the second temple period. Therefore there were very few who could afford to pay dowries. There was included in the ketuvah, therefore, a promise to pay, which the bridegroom had to keep. It represented what had earlier been “mohar”, the price for a bride.

According to Rambam[19] this payment is only made if the girl’s father and the girl are in agreement that she be married to the man. Thus it is not considered a fine. No one should be married by force.

22:18 “You shall not allow a sorceress to live.”(HNV) – This teaches us that the Torah was written first and foremost to the judges in Israel. Only a court with 23 judges can execute someone. This command applies to both men and women. The Torah mentions that which was most common. In this case it was more common for women to be sorceresses than for men to be sorcerers. There are several different opinions about which kind of death penalty applies in this case. Some say it ought to be done by sword. Others say it is a question of stoning.

22:20 “He who sacrifices to any god, except to HaShem only, shall be utterly destroyed.”(HNV revised) – According to Rashi, this command applies to three kinds of sacrifices to gods, similar to those offered to the Eternal: animal sacrifices, lighting of incense, and drink offerings.

22:21 “You shall not wrong an alien, neither shall you oppress him, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.”(HNV) – This is not only referring to proselytes, because the children of Israel were not proselytes in Egypt. It is referring to a non-Jew who lives in the land of Israel. According to Rashi, the word “alien”, in Hebrew ger, is always referring to someone who is not born in the land that he is living in, one who has come from another land to live there. According to Talmud,[20] the word “wrong”, in Hebrew yanah, in this case means verbally wrong, and the word “oppress”, in Hebrew lachatz, in this case means stealing of possessions. There are forty cases in the Torah that speak of the importance of caring for strangers.

22:22 “You shall not take advantage of any widow or fatherless child.”(HNV) – Israel’s God perceives the needs of the weak. He cares especially about strangers, widows, and orphans. That is why there are very clear laws to protect them.

22:25 “If you let any of the poor among my people have the use of your money, do not be a hard creditor to him, and do not take interest.”(BBE) – A hard creditor uses blackmail to get money and usually humiliates the one who borrowed the money. Both these things are forbidden in Israel. We ought even to go further than what is righteous according to the Torah and extend mercy, according to the Messiah’s Torah, as it is written in Luke 6:34-36,

“If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive back as much. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back; and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, even as your Father is also merciful.”(HNV revised)

Lending with interest to the needy is prohibited.

22:26 “If you take your neighbor’s garment as collateral, you shall restore it to him before the sun goes down”(HNV) – According to Rashi, this means a collateral that is taken when the lender is not able to pay at the appointed time. If, however, the lender gave a garment as collateral when he receives the loan, then the one who gave the loan does not have to return it in the afternoon.

The Fourth Aliyah, 22:28 – 23:5

22:28 “You shall not blaspheme God, nor curse a ruler of your people.”(HNV revised) – The word God[21] can mean both God and a judge who represents Him in society.

22:29 “You shall not delay to offer from your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. You shall give the firstborn of your sons to me.”(HNV) – This means, according to Rashi, that the order in which the offerings are made is not to be altered. The bikurim, the first fruit offering, is first, and it is given to the temple. After that comes terumah, the lifted part, which is given to the priest, see Numbers 18:12. The ma’aser, tithe, comes last.

There are three kinds of tithe: the first tithe, ma’aser rishon, the second tithe, ma’aser sheni, and the tithe of the poor, ma’aser ani. First the ma’aser rishon is consecrated and given to the Levite, who in turn gives a tenth of the tithe to the kohen, the priest, see Numbers 18:21. After this the ma’aser sheni is consecrated, which is to be taken to Jerusalem to be eaten during the first, second, fourth, and fifth years of the seven year cycle, see Deuteronomy 14:22-26. The third and sixth year the ma’aser ani is consecrated instead of the ma’aser sheni, and given to the poor, see Deuteronomy 14:28-29. On the seventh year the tenth of the fruit of the ground is not consecrated.

Originally it was the first born who were chosen to be priests to serve in the temple. However, since they could not serve as priests, on account of the sin with the golden calf, they were brought to the kohen to be redeemed. This is done with the ransom amount of five shekels, biblical shekels. One shekel represents approximately 17 grams of silver. This was done with Yeshua, as it is written in Luke 2:22-23,

“When the days of their purification according to the law of Moshe were fulfilled, they brought him up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called consecrated to the Lord’)”(HNV revised)

This also teaches us that if Israel had not sinned with the golden calf, then Yeshua would have been one of the priests in the temple in Jerusalem.

22:30 “You shall do likewise with your oxen and with your sheep. Seven days it shall be with its mother, then on the eighth day you shall give it me.”(HNV) – This does not mean that they had to be given only on the eighth day, but could be given any time from the eighth day and on, see Leviticus 22:27.

Yeshua was not circumcised in the temple, but in Beit-Lechem. He was not brought to the temple until forty days after his birth.

22:31 “You shall be consecrated men to me, therefore you shall not eat any flesh that is torn by animals in the field. You shall cast it to the dogs.”(HNV revised) – The Hebrew word that is translated “torn” is terefah,[22] the feminine form of teref,[23] which comes from the root taraf,[24] meaning “capture”, “tear into pieces”, “wound”. Terefah literally means “a torn apart animal”. In Jewish law, however, this term means a clean animal that is fatally injured, whether it is dead or still alive. The meat of such an animal is not kasher (“kosher”), fit to be eaten by a Jew.

This teaches us that consecration is related to food. Sin came into the world through forbidden food. A consecrated person is very careful with what enters his mouth, see Acts 11:8. This verse teaches us that if an Israelite eats meat that is terefah, he is no longer consecrated before the Eternal. Dogs can eat that type of meat. This teaches us that the Eternal is also interested in making sure the dogs are well taken care of.

23:1 “You shall not spread a false report. Don’t join your hand with the wicked to be a malicious witness.”(HNV) – According to Targum, this means that one should not accept a false report. One has to be VERY careful not to tell others what one has heard. The reports could be false, and as it is written in Proverbs 10:18b,

 “He who utters a slander is a fool.”(HNV)

23:2 “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; neither shall you testify in court to side with a multitude to pervert justice”(HNV) – There are many different things derived from this in Jewish halachah, practical law, that are used in the Jewish judicial department. Among other things, in order to give pardon from death penalty, a one-vote majority is all that is needed. In order to give a death sentence, however, a majority of at least two votes is necessary. These interpretations are not made according to the simple level of interpretation, peshat. According to Rashi the literal meaning of this verse is, “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; and you shall not answer in a hearing by conceding to the majority and thus perverting justice.”

How important it is to not follow the majority when it concerns being faithful to the Eternal! Each person is going to be held accountable for his own life. If you are convinced that something is right and still do not bring it forth, but you back down to the majority in order to gain the approval of people, then you are acting incorrectly. Then you have more fear of man than of the Eternal and you are like the one who built the house on the sand, which symbolizes the masses. When the storm comes, the house falls apart. It is better to build on the rock, the Torah, see Matthew 7:24-27.

23:4-5 “If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall surely bring it back to him again. If you see the donkey of him who hates you fallen down under his burden, don’t leave him, you shall surely help him with it.”(HNV) – The Torah does not allow bitterness toward an enemy. This is a practical way of showing love to an enemy, as it is written in Proverbs 25:21,

“If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink”(HNV)

The Fifth Aliyah, 23:6-19

23:7 “Keep far from a false charge, and don’t kill the innocent and righteous: for I will not justify the wicked.”(HNV) – Yeshua was handed over to be executed in an illegal way, a way that was against the Torah. Everyone knew that he was innocent. In spite of that, he was still executed.

If the Eternal will not justify the one who is guilty, how then can he forgive a sinner and not punish him according to his deeds? The answer is that when he repents, HaShem lets His Son’s sacrifice pay for the sins. Yeshua died in the sinner’s place in order to take his punishment and to save him forever! Yeshua’s death is the only righteous basis upon which the Eternal can forgive a sinner and justify the unrighteous, as it is written in Romans 4:5b,

“him who justifies the ungodly”(HNV)

23:12 “Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your handmaid, and the alien may be refreshed.”(HNV) – This is one of the few texts that show that the Shabbat was also created for rest and the renewal of strength. The main thought behind the Shabbat is that one cease in creative and productive activities.

23:13 “Be careful to do all things that I have said to you; and don’t invoke the name of other gods, neither let them be heard out of your mouth.”(HNV) – Naming the names of other gods is forbidden. But does not the Torah itself do this in many cases? This teaches us that it is forbidden to utter the names in order to honor them, not to identify them.

23:14 “You shall observe a feast to me three times a year.”(HNV) – The feasts are intimately connected with the agricultural cycle in the land of Israel. The Feast of Pesach is connected with the barley harvest, Shavuot is connected with the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Sukkot is connected with the fruit harvest.

23:16 “and the feast of harvest, the first-fruits of thy labours, which thou sowest in the field; and the feast of ingathering, at the end of the year, when thou gatherest in thy labours out of the field.”(JPS) – The first fruits refer to Shavuot. This feast has three names,

  • Chag Shavuot, “Feast of Weeks”, referring to the seven full weeks counted from Pesach, see Leviticus 23:15.

  • Chag Ha-Katzir, “Feast of the Harvest”, referring to the two loafs of bread from the first wheat harvest that are presented in the temple, see Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:17.

  • Chag Ha-Bikurim, “Feast of the First Fruits”, since one could give the first fruits to the temple beginning at Shavuot, see Numbers 28:26.

23:18 “You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread, neither shall the fat of my feast remain all night until the morning.”(HNV) – The expression “my sacrifice” is only found twice in the Chumash, the Pentateuch; and that is here and in Exodus 34:25. The only sacrifice that is called “my sacrifice” is the Pesach sacrifice. There is a special connection between this sacrifice and the sacrifice of God’s Lamb. The Eternal calls Yeshua’s death, “my sacrifice”.

23:19 “The first of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of HaShem your God. You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.”(HNV revised) – In Hebrew it is written, resheet bikurei admatechah, which means “the best of the first fruits of your ground”. The word resheet with the prefix “be”, is the first word of the Torah. The word resheet[25] means “beginning”, “first fruit”, “the best”. It comes from the word “rosh”,[26] which means “head”, “top”, “corner”, “beginning”, “chief”, “troop”, “branching”. This is the fourth time that the word resheet is found in the Scriptures. It refers to the Messiah.

The word “first fruits” is also referring to the Messiah’s resurrection and entrance into his heavenly priesthood according to the order of Malki-Tzedek. He was the first that was raised. Here it is written that the best of the first fruits must be brought to God’s house. This was fulfilled when the Messiah was brought to the heavenly temple after he was raised from the dead.

“You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” – This is the first time that this expression occurs. It is written a total of three times in the Torah, see Exodus 34:26; Deuteronomy 14:21. These three texts mean that there are three prohibitions,

·        To boil meat and milk together.

·        To eat meat that has been prepared in milk.

·        To use this type of mixture.

According to Rashi, the word that is translated as “kid”, in Hebrew gedi, means the young of any animal at all, not only the young of a goat. It could also be the young of a sheep or a cow.

The Torah prohibits the boiling of these two ingredients together. The rabbis have established that it is also forbidden to mix meat and milk products in the same meal.

The Sixth Aliyah, 23:20-25

23:20 “Behold, I send an angel before you, to keep you by the way, and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.”(HNV) – According to the Jewish Sages, this angel is called Metatron. The name comes from the ancient word metator,[27] which described a minister that went before the king, i.e. the king’s most important minister. That would then imply that Metatron is the most important angel and that he leads the rest of the angels.

23:21 “Pay attention to him, and listen to his voice. Don’t provoke him, for he will not pardon your disobedience, for my name is in him.”(HNV) – The Eternal’s name is in this angel. In ancient sidurim, Jewish prayer books, from the celebration of Rosh HaShanah, it is written that Metatron is Yeshua.

23:25 “You shall serve HaShem your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from your midst.”(HNV revised) – Physical healing is promised for the people of Israel when they constantly serve the Eternal. Within the covenant there is a heavenly source for healing from all diseases.

The Seventh Aliyah, 23:26 – 24:18

24:5 “He sent young men of the children of Yisra'el, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed peace-offerings of oxen to HaShem.”(HNV revised) – These priests were the firstborn of all the tribes of Israel.

24:8 “Moshe took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘Look, this is the blood of the covenant, which HaShem has made with you concerning all these words.’”(HNV revised) – The Jewish Sages teach that Israel entered the covenant by three things,

·        Circumcision

·        Immersion into a ritual bath

·        Sprinkling of blood from a sacrificed animal

These three things were also necessary in order for gentiles to be able to convert and become proselytes during the second temple period. Today, only the two first things are possible, since there is no temple.

To be able to enter the spiritual body of the Messiah, the same three steps must be taken,

·        Circumcision of the heart, Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11

·        Immersion into a ritual bath in Yeshua’s name, Acts 8:16; 10:48.

§         Sprinkling in the Messiah’s blood, 1 Peter 1:2.

This Parashah contains commandments 42-94 of the 613 commandments.

42. The law about a Hebrew servant, Exodus 21:1.

43. The command to appoint a Hebrew maidservant for marriage, Exodus 21:8.

44. The command to redeem a Hebrew maidservant, Exodus 21:8.

45. The prohibition of selling a Hebrew maidservant, Exodus 21:8.

46. The prohibition of decreasing (or denying) a wife’s right to food, clothing, and intimate relations, Exodus 21:9.

47. The duty of the highest court to execute by strangling those condemned to death, Exodus 21:12.

48. The prohibition of striking one’s father or mother, Exodus 21:15.

49. The laws about fines, Exodus 21:18.

50. The duty of the highest court to execute by beheading one who is given that sentence, Exodus 21:20.

51. The duty of the highest court to judge concerning damages caused by animals, Exodus 21:28.

52. The prohibition of eating a bull sentenced to death by stoning, Exodus 21:28.

53. The duty of the highest court to judge the damage caused on account of a well being left open, Exodus 21:33.

54. The duty of the highest court to condemn a thief whether he has made himself guilty of fines or the death penalty, Exodus 21:37.

55. The command about the court’s duty to judge damages caused by a domestic animal that has eaten or trampled, Exodus 22:5 (Heb. 4).

56. The court’s duty to judge damages caused by fire, Exodus 22:6 (Heb. 5).

57. The court’s duty to judge cases concerning an unpaid guard, Exodus 22:7 (Heb. 6).

58. The court’s duty to judge in the case of a complainant and a defendant, Exodus 22:9 (Heb. 8)

59. The court’s duty to judge cases concerning a paid guard or a landlord, Exodus 22:10 (Heb. 9).

60. The court’s duty to judge cases concerning someone who borrowed something in order to use it, Exodus 22:14 (Heb. 13).

61. The court’s duty to judge cases that have to do with a seducer, Exodus 22:16 (Heb. 15).

62. The prohibition of allowing a sorceress to live, Exodus 22:18 (Heb. 17).

63. The prohibition of humiliating a convert (proselyte) with words, Exodus 22:21 (Heb. 20).

64. The prohibition of hurting a convert (proselyte) financially or through his possessions, Exodus 22:21 (Heb. 20).

65. The prohibition of mistreating a fatherless or a widow, Exodus 22:22 (Heb. 21).

66. The command to lend to the poor, Exodus 22:25 (Heb. 24).

67. The prohibition of being a hard creditor to a poor person who cannot pay back the loan, Exodus 22:25 (Heb. 24).

68. The prohibition of helping one who gives loans and one who takes loans with interest (so that they can settle the loan between them), Exodus 22:25 (Heb. 24).

69. The prohibition of blaspheming a judge, Exodus 22:28 (Heb. 27).

70. The prohibition of blaspheming God’s Name, Exodus 22:28 (Heb. 27).

71. The prohibition of blaspheming a ruler, Exodus 22:28 (Heb. 27).

72. The prohibition of consecrating the tithe in the wrong order, Exodus 22:29 (Heb. 28).

73. The prohibition of eating the meat of an animal that was torn by animals, Exodus 22:31 (Heb. 30).

74. The prohibition of listening to a plaintiff when his opponent is not present, Exodus 23:1.

75. The prohibition of accepting the testimony of a sinner, Exodus 23:1.

76. The prohibition of going by a ruling made by the majority (of judges) concerning death penalty, when there is only a one-vote majority, Exodus 23:2.

77. The prohibition of a judge, who from the beginning held firm to the innocence of the accused concerning the death penalty, to later plead for the guilt of the accused, Exodus 23:2.

78. The command to abide by the majority in a court ruling, Exodus 23:2.

79. The prohibition of being merciful to a poor person when he is in a hearing process, Exodus 23:3.

80. The command to lighten the burden of another’s animal, Exodus 23:5.

81. The prohibition of perverting justice for a sinner on account of his evil, Exodus 23:6.

82. The prohibition of making the decision about a death sentence based on a conjecture, Exodus 23:7.

83. The prohibition of a judge receiving bribes, Exodus 23:8.

84. The command not to work the land in Israel during the seventh year (and the command to declare anything that grows on it to be without owner), Exodus 23:11.

85. The command to rest during the Shabbat, Exodus 23:12.

86. The prohibition of swearing by the name of an idol, Exodus 23:13.

87. The prohibition of encouraging an Israelite to idolatry, Exodus 23:13.

88. The command to celebrate the feasts, Exodus 23:14.

89. The prohibition of offering the Pesach sacrifice if there still is chametz in the home, Exodus 23:18.

90. The prohibition of allowing the emurim (the applied parts) of the Pesach sacrifice to remain until the next morning, Exodus 23:18.

91. The command to bring the first fruits from the land of Israel to the temple, Exodus 23:19.

92. The prohibition of boiling meat together with milk, Exodus 23:19.

93. The prohibition of entering into a covenant with the seven nations (born in Kana’an) or with an idolater, Exodus 23:32.

94. The prohibition of allowing an idolater to settle in the land of Israel, Exodus 23:33.

[1]       Strong H4941 mishpâṭ mish-pawt' From H8199; properly a verdict (favorable or unfavorable) pronounced judicially, especially a sentence or formal decree (human or (particularly) divine law, individual or collectively), including the act, the place, the suit, the crime, and the penalty; abstractly justice, including a particular right, or privilege (statutory or customary), or even a style: -  + adversary, ceremony, charge, X crime, custom, desert, determination, discretion, disposing, due, fashion, form, to be judged, judgment, just (-ice, -ly), (manner of) law (-ful), manner, measure, (due) order, ordinance, right, sentence, usest, X worthy, + wrong.

[2]       Strong H8451 tôrâh, to-raw', to-raw', From H3384; a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch: - law.

[3]       Strong H3384 yârâh yârâ', yaw-raw', yaw-raw', A primitive root; properly to flow as water (that is, to rain); transitively to lay or throw (especially an arrow, that is, to shoot); figuratively to point out (as if by aiming the finger), to teach: -  (+) archer, cast, direct, inform, instruct, lay, shew, shoot, teach (-er, -ing), through.

[4]       Strong H4687 mitsvâh, mits-vaw', From H6680; a command, whether human or divine (collectively the Law): - (which was) commanded (-ment), law, ordinance, precept.

[5]       Strong H6680 tsâvâh, tsaw-vaw', A primitive root; (intensively) to constitute, enjoin: - appoint, (for-) bid. (give a) charge, (give a, give in, send with) command (-er, ment), send a messenger, put, (set) in order.

[6]       Strong H4941 mishpâtò, mish-pawt', From H8199; properly a verdict (favorable or unfavorable) pronounced judicially, especially a sentence or formal decree (human or (particularly) divine law, individual or collectively), including the act, the place, the suit, the crime, and the penalty; abstractly justice, including a particular right, or privilege (statutory or customary), or even a style: -  + adversary, ceremony, charge, X crime, custom, desert, determination, discretion, disposing, due, fashion, form, to be judged, judgment, just (-ice, -ly), (manner of) law (-ful), manner, measure, (due) order, ordinance, right, sentence, usest, X worthy, + wrong.

[7]       Strong H8199 shâphat, shaw-fat', A primitive root; to judge, that is, pronounce sentence (for or against); by implication to vindicate or punish; by extension to govern; passively to litigate (literally or figuratively): -  + avenge, X that condemn, contend, defend, execute (judgment), (be a) judge (-ment), X needs, plead, reason, rule.

[8]       Strong H2706 chôq, khoke, From H2710; an enactment; hence an appointment (of time, space, quantity, labor or usage): - appointed, bound, commandment, convenient, custom, decree (-d), due, law, measure, X necessary, ordinance (-nary), portion, set time, statute, task.

[9]       Strong H2710 châqaq, khaw-kak', A primitive root; properly to hack, that is, engrave (Jdg_5:14, to be a scribe simply); by implication to enact (laws being cut in stone or metal tablets in primitive times) or (generally) prescribe: - appoint, decree, governor, grave, lawgiver, note, pourtray, print, set.

[10]      Strong H5713 ‛êdâh, ay-daw', Feminine of H5707 in its technical sense; testimony: - testimony, witness. Compare H5712.

        Strong H5707 ‛êd, ayd, From H5749 contracted; concretely a witness; abstractly testimony; specifically a recorder, that is, prince: - witness.

[11]     Sanhedrín 85b, jfr. Mechiltah och Rashí.

[12]     Sanhedrín 84b, jfr. Mechiltah och Rashí.

[13]     Mishnah Babah Kamah 8:1.

[14]     Babah Kamah 83b-84a.

[15]     Mechiltah, Talmud Babah Kamah 84b and Rashí.

[16]     Rashí and Mechiltah.

[17]     Mechiltah.

[18]     Sanhedrín 72a.

[19]     Hilchot Nearah Betulah, 1:3.

[20]     Babah Metsiah 58b, 59b; Mechiltah and Rashí.

[21]     Strong H430 'ĕlôhîym, el-o-heem', Plural of H433; gods in the ordinary sense; but specifically used (in the plural thus, especially with the article) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: - angels, X exceeding, God (gods) (-dess, -ly), X (very) great, judges, X mighty.

[22]     Strong H2966 erêphâh, ter-ay-faw', Feminine (collectively) of H2964; prey, that is, flocks devoured by animals: - ravin, (that which was) torn (of beasts, in pieces).

[23]     Strong H2964 tòereph, teh'-ref, From H2963; something torn, that is, a fragment, for example a fresh leaf, prey, food: - leaf, meat, prey, spoil.

[24]     Strong H2963 tòâraph, taw-raf', A primitive root; to pluck off or pull to pieces; causatively to supply with food (as in morsels): - catch, X without doubt, feed, ravin, rend in pieces, X surely, tear (in pieces).

[25]     Strong H4225 rê'shîyth, ray-sheeth', From the same as H7218; the first, in place, time, order or rank (specifically a firstfruit): - beginning, chief (-est), first (-fruits, part, time), principal thing.

[26]     Strong H4218 rô'sh, roshe, From an unused root apparently meaning to shake; the head (as most easily shaken), whether literally or figuratively (in many applications, of place, time, rank, etc.): - band, beginning, captain, chapiter, chief (-est place, man, things), company, end, X every [man], excellent, first, forefront, ([be-]) head, height, (on) high (-est part, [priest]), X lead, X poor, principal, ruler, sum, top.

[27]     Aruch’s ethymological dictionary.