Mishpatim / Judgements
HafTorah portion Jeremiah 34:8-22
Brit Chadasha Matthew 5:20-42
Mishpatim opens with the instruction regarding the Hebrew servant. If the servant does not wish to go free then the master ‘shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl Then he will be his servant for life.’ Exodus 21:6.This is repeated in Deuteronomy 15:12-17.
The concept of a doorpost and an ear are found throughout Scripture. When we think of doorframes/doorposts in the Bible, we immediately think of these last Torah portions of the Exodus. This was the moment when the Israelites were released from bondage and into freedom to worship God, His way, (from something for something), to enter into a covenant with their God – to follow His commandments. Blood on the doorframe is one of the most famous and visual images of this transfer from slavery into following a new Master in freedom. The blood of the Messiah from His pierced flesh on the stake, the blood of the Passover lamb, and the blood on the doorpost of the slave who for love agrees to serve his master willingly.
This concept of staying with a master must be voluntary. Just like the Exodus, it was voluntary to place blood on the doorposts. Yeshua presents us with that opportunity. He is that portal – He is the door to the Kingdom of Heaven. It is no accident or mere matter of convenience that the servant is brought to a door for this ritual.
John 7:7-9 ‘Then Yeshua said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.’
Why ears? The ears play an important role through-out Scripture, from anointing the priests, to the command to listen/shema.
Exodus 29:20 ‘You shall slaughter the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the lobes of his sons’ right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet, and sprinkle the rest of the blood around on the altar.’
Leviticus 8:23 ‘Moses slaughtered it and took some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear, and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot.’
Isaiah 55:3 ‘Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David.’
Matthew 13:16-17 ‘But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.’
Revelation 3:22 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 ‘“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.’
Exodus 21 continues with laws regarding personal injuries such as scheming to kill, attacks on parents, kidnapping, and injuries due to animals. Exodus 21:17 states: ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ This is the polar opposite of the fifth commandment; ‘Honor your father and your mother so that you may live long in the land the Lord your god is giving you. Exodus 20:12. One is to die, the other is granted long life.
Exodus 22 contains the instructions for protection of property, social responsibility and instructions regarding sorceresses and sacrificing to other gods. Chapter 23 contains laws of justice and mercy, and the importance of Shabbat with clear instruction regarding, again, other gods. ‘Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of otter gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.’ Exodus 23:13.
Exodus 23:14-19 speaks of the three annual festivals; Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering. ‘“Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God.’ Exodus 23:17. These are the shalosh regulim, רגלים שלוש. This is one of the major focal points of the Brit Chadasha. These three pilgrimages bring further clarity and importanct to the city of Jerusalem.
Exodus 23:20 instructs His people to listen and obey the Messenger that He will send. “Behold, I send an Angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. 21 Beware of Him and obey His voice; do not provoke Him, for He will n ot pardon your transgressions; for My name is in Him. 22 But if you indeed obey His voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23 For My Angel will go before you and bring you in to the Amorites and the Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will cut them off. 24 You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their works; but you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars.’ Exodus 23 20-24.
Exodus 23:21 states: ‘Beware of Him/obey His voice/do not provoke…for My Name is in Him.’ The Name Yeshua contains the name of God, and the meaning: salvation from Yah. Yeshua also stated in John 8:58 that ‘He Is’ in that declaration of ‘I Am’. ‘Yehsua said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” This is from Exodus 3:14; ‘And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’
Chapter 23 ends with God again instructing His people the importance of staying set apart. ‘And I will set your bounds from the Red Sea to the sea, Philistia, and from the desert to the River. For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. 32 You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. 33 They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against Me. For if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.” Exodus 23:31-33.
Mishpatim ends with the confirmation of the covenant. In Exodus 24:8, Moshe takes the blood, sprinkles over the people and states that this is the blood of the covenant. How clear this is that Yeshua is the continuing of the covenant of Elohim. He is the voice that we obey and listen to, He is the Great I AM, He is the Living waters and the Living Torah.
Zechariah 9:11 ‘As for you also, because of the blood of My covenant with you, I have set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.’
Matthew 26:28 ‘…for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.
Mark 14:24 ‘And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.’
Luke 22:20 ‘And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the Brit Chadasha in My blood.’
1 Corinthians 11:25 ‘In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the Brit Chadasha in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
Hebrew 13:20 ‘Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Yeshua.’
Mishpatim / Judgments
The Concept of Slavery…
The first few Torah portions of Exodus lead up to the great and awesome departure from bondage in Egypt. We read where God sends the miraculous plagues, leads the Israelites with fire and cloud, parts the great Red Sea and delivers His people from slavery. So, it would assume that slavery is to be abolished. How ironic that Mishpatim does not abolish slavery, but mentions it and then sets in motion a series of fundamental laws that will lead people, however at their own pace, to abolish it of their own accord. Here are the laws:
Exodus 21:2-6 “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything . . . But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.’
Deuteronomy 5:12-14 shows us the concept of slavery release, even if for one day: ‘Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you . . . nor your male or female servant . . . so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. ‘
Mishpatim is an interesting Torah portion in that it continues with slavery right after freeing the people from slavery. We witness slavery, freedom, then slavery again. The Israelites in Numbers 11:5 speak of ‘no cost ‘- “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.” The commentary from Rashi points out, the phrase “at no cost” [chinam] cannot be understood literally. They paid for it with their labor and their lives. “At no cost” means “free of mitzvot,” of commands, obligations, and duties. Freedom carries a highest price, namely, moral responsibility.
In the Brit Chadash we have examples of slavery, servanthood and freedom. Romans 6:15-23 states:
‘What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Yeshua HaMashiach our Lord.’
In this verse, Rabbi Shaul is explaining the two lives that we can choose, the two paths that are open to us. We can be slaves to the sin of disobedience or we can be servants to the obedience of God’s Torah. We can willingly be slaves to sin or we can have freedom and be servants in righteousness. In James 1:1 James refers to himself as a bondservant of Yeshua as he explains who he serves.
Psalm 107:10-16 states it so clearly:
‘Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
Bound in affliction and irons—
11 Because they rebelled against the words of God,
And despised the counsel of the Most High,
12 Therefore He brought down their heart with labor;
They fell down, and there was none to help.
13 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
And broke their chains in pieces.
15 Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness,
And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
16 For He has broken the gates of bronze,
And cut the bars of iron in two.’
What is our bondage? What is the slavery in our lives? Is it sin or is it righteousness? Is our path, our halacha in line with the Torah or is our path our self, our fleshly desires and wants. What have we chosen; cucumbers or the holiness of God?