Parashah 18: Mishpatim (Rulings)
Exodus 21:1 through 24:18

Parashah 18: Mishpatim (Rulings) - Exodus 21:1 through 24:18.

Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26.

B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): Matthew 5:38-42; 15:1-20; Mark 7:1-23; 10:17-31; Acts 23:1-11; Hebrews 9:15-22; 10:28-39.

Tanach Scriptures are from Stern's Complete Jewish Bible; B'rit Chadash Scriptures from the Aramaic English New Testament.

Welcome "newbies" and "oldies!" As you all know, Torah was written by Moshe (Moses) and consists of the first five Books of the Bible which contain God's original Divine Instructions in Righteousness. Since this is a Netzarim (Nazarene/Messianic) website, we refer to God by His proper Name: Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, transliterated into English as YHWH, and most likely pronounced "Yah-way" (see Exodus 3:13-15). His Son's Name is Y'shua (most likely pronounced "Ye-shoo-ah"). Enjoy this week's Torah portion!

One of the main lessons we learned last week was that YHWH expects His people to be set apart via obedience to Him. There are many passages throughout the Torah where we see YHWH saying words to the effect of: "Be holy because I am holy!"

Exodus 19: 5 Now if you will pay careful attention to what I say and keep my covenant, then you will be my own treasure from among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you will be a kingdom of cohanim for me, a nation set apart.' These are the words you are to speak to the people of Isra'el."

For those who have been Torah observant for awhile, they know that THEY, as grafted in believers, constitute "Israel" - halleluyah! Anyone who has accepted the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is spiritually part of Israel! And that means what? Same God, same rules....

But the question remains: Are we really "set apart" today? Are the Jews "set apart"? No, because many (if not most) seem to be secular, not really serious about being Torah observant, and refusing to accept Yeshua as their Final Sin Offering. Many even participate in eating "unclean" things and are celebrating Christmas and Easter along with the rest of the world.

And as for Christians, many pastors teach that Torah (which they erroneously call "the law") is a curse and that all one has to do to be "saved" is to "believe in Jesus." Somehow, it has totally slipped past most that the death of Jesus never negated the need to obey God's "forever" commands!

Moving on to our parashah, we find many things very hard to understand, and we at The Refiner's Fire can tell you from experience that atheists and the "lukewarm/half-hearted" have a field day with the chapters we have been reading lately! Even some believers have a hard time with some of the commands YHWH gave to Moshe - such as, Exodus 21:7, which says: "If a man sells his daughter as a slave, she is not to go free like the men-slaves." Or 22:1-2 which says: "If a thief caught in the act of breaking in is beaten to death, it is not murder; unless it happens after sunrise, in which case it is murder. Exodus 21:10 says: If he marries another wife, he is not to reduce her food, clothing or marital rights.

Some men have jumped on this particular bandwagon to prove that YHWH condones polygyny. Unbelievers scoff and laugh at the idea of God because commands such as the above sound "crazy" and therefore, God and the Bible must surely "be a myth." Either that, or (as many atheists like to put it), "Your God is pure evil"....

But most believers recognize that customs some 3,000 years ago were a lot different from our customs today and that YHWH was providing many commands pertinent to that particular era - an era when selling one's self into slavery was common because it was the only way some were able to earn their living, and YHWH was forced to hand down certain rules to ensure fair treatment (even though they might sound very strange to our modern understanding).

Be that as it may, YHWH was adamant in handing down His Torah rules to mankind, and poor Moshe was caught in the middle, trying to please YHWH while dealing with approximately two million unruly people!

Last week we saw the Israelites receiving the Ten Commandments verbally. According to Scripture, YHWH gave the Ten Commandments a total of three times.

The first time, it was verbally, with apparently "all the people" experiencing God first-hand. Let's check it out!

Exodus 20: 18 All the people experienced the thunder, the lightning, the sound of the shofar, and the mountain smoking. When the people saw it, they trembled. Standing at a distance, 19 they said to Moshe, "You, speak with us; and we will listen. But don't let God speak with us, or we will die." 20 Moshe answered the people, "Don't be afraid, because God has come only to test you and make you fear him, so that you won't commit sins." 21 So the people stood at a distance, but Moshe approached the thick darkness where God was.

The second time (and YHWH told them He would do this in Ex. 24:12) was in Exodus 31:18 (which we won't get to in our reading for another couple weeks yet), which says: When he had finished speaking with Moshe on Mount Sinai, ADONAI gave him the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.

And the third time in Exodus 34:1, which says: ADONAI said to Moshe, "Cut yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones; and I will inscribe on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke.

In other words, our Creator - our Heavenly Parent - was surely beginning to reach the end of His rope! First, He gives us the Ten Commandments verbally; then He writes them on two tablets of stone and basically hands them to Moshe so he can teach his people. Then He is eventually forced to write them AGAIN because Moshe broke the tablets in a fit of anger (Exodus 32:19-20) when he sees that his people had made a golden calf while he was with YHWH on Mt. Sinai....And after that, YHWH tells Moshe to cut the cotton-pickin' tablets himself and bring them to Him for inscription!

One truly has to wonder at YHWH's amazing patience with mankind! Several scriptures in this week's study reached beyond "Biblical times" to touch us today. One was Exodus 23:12 where YHWH said: "For six days, you are to work. But on the seventh day, you are to rest, so that your ox and donkey can rest, and your slave-girl's son and the foreigner be renewed. After reading this, how can people like the Karaite sect and the "lunar sabbatarians" possibly insist that the Seventh Day Sabbath lands on different days because of the moon cycles? What part of regularly counting to seven is too hard to understand?

YHWH was constantly teaching His people as we can see in the following:

To begin with, in Exodus 21:22 we notice something that many of today's "pro-abortionists" don't and won't recognize: That YHWH considers an unborn fetus a CHILD!

Exodus 21: 22 "If people are fighting with each other and happen to hurt a pregnant woman so badly that her unborn child dies, then, even if no other harm follows, he must be fined. He must pay the amount set by the woman's husband and confirmed by judges.

And here, we see some dire warnings:

Exodus 22: 19 "Whoever has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death. 20 "Anyone who sacrifices to any god other than ADONAI alone is to be completely destroyed.

Exodus 22: 25 "If you loan money to one of my people who is poor, you are not to deal with him as would a creditor; and you are not to charge him interest. 26 If you take your neighbor's coat as collateral, you are to restore it to him by sundown,

Exodus 22: 28 "You are not to curse God, and you are not to curse a leader of your people.

Exodus 23: 1 "You are not to repeat false rumors; do not join hands with the wicked by offering perjured testimony. 2 Do not follow the crowd when it does what is wrong; and don't allow the popular view to sway you into offering testimony for any cause if the effect will be to pervert justice. 3 On the other hand, don't favor a person's lawsuit simply because he is poor.

Referring to the scriptures above, please think about how often we see these types of things in the news! It's all about MONEY, not morality or right or wrong. Many of the Hollywood types are proof of that! Take, for instance, Oprah, who insists "all paths lead to God!" Really? That's not what the Bible says! But yet, Oprah has millions of starry-eyed followers, including many who call themselves Christian.

Instead of shunning and ousting from the industry the "fallen" football or baseball heroes, or the movie and singing stars, etc. who exhibit childish, immoral and decadent anti-social behavior, we are expected to "forgive" and "tolerate" and even laugh at their nonsense, while continuing to view them our "idols"!

Instead of forever shunning those who deliberately break laws and purposely exhibit immoral/ungodly behaviors that influence our young into the wrong direction, "Hollyweird" condones them and even gives them their own "reality shows"! Why? It's all about the money and ratings! It doesn't matter what someone does, as long as the dough keeps rolling in! We are a SICK society!

Moving on:

Exodus 23: 12 "For six days, you are to work. But on the seventh day, you are to rest, so that your ox and donkey can rest, and your slave-girl's son and the foreigner be renewed.

Did Yeshua ever say, "After I die, you can change My Sabbath day"? The answer, of course, is: No, never! Nowhere do we ever see YHWH suggesting the Seventh Day Sabbath rest was to be changed at some point - or that we could do it on any day we please. YHWH commanded the SEVENTH day be set apart!

Exodus 23: 13 "Pay attention to everything I have said to you; do not invoke the names of other gods or even let them be heard crossing your lips.

How many "gods" exist in the world today?

Exodus 23: 14 "Three times a year, you are to observe a festival for me. 15 Keep the festival of matzah: for seven days, as I ordered you, you are to eat matzah at the time determined in the month of Aviv; for it was in that month that you left Egypt. No one is to appear before me empty-handed. 16 Next, the festival of harvest, the firstfruits of your efforts sowing in the field; and last, the festival of ingathering, at the end of the year, when you gather in from the fields the results of your efforts. 17 Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Lord, ADONAI.

Did Yeshua ever say, "After I die, the feast days will be rendered moot and pointless and you can make up your own holy days from that day on"? Again, the answer is a resounding NO!

Now take a look at the following passage that causes us to stop in our tracks and think:

Exodus 23: 20 "I am sending a messenger ahead of you to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. 21 Pay attention to him, listen to what he says and do not rebel against him; because he will not forgive any wrongdoing of yours, since my name resides in him. 22 But if you listen to what he says and do everything I tell you, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes. 23 When my messenger goes ahead of you and brings you to the Emori, Hitti, P'rizi, Kena'ani, Hivi and Y'vusi, I will make an end of them. 24 You are not to worship their gods, serve them or follow their practices; rather, you are to demolish them completely and smash their standing-stones to pieces. 25 "You are to serve ADONAI your God; and he will bless your food and water. I will take sickness away from among you.

This cannot be just any "messenger"; it has to be Y'shua! Why? Because only Y'shua can "forgive" and only Y'shua has His Father's NAME residing within His own Name! Y'shua means "YHWH is Salvation"! Y'shua is the ONLY heavenly Being who has the Name of YHWH within His own Name! All the other heavenly beings (angels.messengers) contain only the TITLE of Elohim:

The next scripture that "reached through the ages" was in Exodus 23 as it transcends Time into our world today:

Exodus 23: 31 I will set your boundaries from the Sea of Suf to the sea of the P'lishtim and from the desert to the [Euphrates] River, for I will hand the inhabitants of the land over to you, and you will drive them out from before you. 32 You are not to make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 They are not to live in your land; otherwise they will make you sin against me by ensnaring you to serve their gods."

The Land of Israel is in the shape it's in today because God's Chosen have allowed "other gods" into their midst! (So has the rest of the world wherever supposed "believers" reside!) One example is the abomination of the Muslim mosque perched like a huge ugly, infested boil on the face of the Temple Mount. On the other hand, we have Torah-less Christian churches telling Yeshua-less Jewish synagogues to get themselves right with God or risk ending up in hell....

Moving on, it must truly have been an awesome feeling to be in the Presence of YHWH at Mt. Sinai! Just take a look at the following scriptures and try to picture yourself there:

Exodus 24: 1 To Moshe [ADONAI] said, "Come up to ADONAI -you, Aharon, Nadav, Avihu, and seventy of the leaders of Isra'el. Prostrate yourselves at a distance, 2 while Moshe alone approaches ADONAI -the others are not to approach, and the people are not to go up with him." 3 Moshe came and told the people everything ADONAI had said, including all the rulings. The people answered with one voice: "We will obey every word ADONAI has spoken." 4 Moshe wrote down all the words of ADONAI.

Man, of course, as a "short memory" because, as we see throughout the Torah and the rest of the Tanach, Israel's obedience ebbed and waned. And today, the Land of Israel teems with "other gods" and religions that are there in direct violation of YHWH's command for HIS PEOPLE to remain "set apart"....

Exodus 24: 4 He rose early in the morning, built an altar at the base of the mountain and set upright twelve large stones to represent the twelve tribes of Isra'el. 5 He sent the young men of the people of Isra'el to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings of oxen to ADONAI. 6 Moshe took half of the blood and put it in basins; the other half of the blood he splashed against the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it aloud, so that the people could hear; and they responded, "Everything that ADONAI has spoken, we will do and obey." 8 Moshe took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, "This is the blood of the covenant which ADONAI has made with you in accordance with all these words."

Exodus 24: 9 Moshe, Aharon, Nadav, Avihu and seventy of the leaders went up; 10 and they saw the God of Isra'el. Under his feet was something like a sapphire stone pavement as clear as the sky itself. 11 He did not reach out his hand against these notables of Isra'el; on the contrary, they saw God, even as they were eating and drinking.

As indicated in Exodus 33 in a future parashah, humans cannot look upon God without dying. Therefore, it surely must have been Yeshua they saw!

Exodus 33: 20 But my face," he continued, "you cannot see, because a human being cannot look at me and remain alive. 21 Here," he said, "is a place near me; stand on the rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you inside a crevice in the rock and cover you with my hand, until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand, and you will see my back, but my face is not to be seen."

Okay, continuing with "humans cannot look upon God" - Note that the 70 men mentioned including Aharon, Nadav, and Avihu actually got to SEE YHWH, presumably in the same way Moshe got to see Him! This was usually only reserved for Moshe! But look at the rest of the verse: "Under his feet was something like a sapphire stone pavement"... then in verse 12, YHWH says he will give Moshe the stone tablet ("Come up to me on the mountain, and stay there. I will give you the stone tablets with the Torah and the mitzvot I have written on them") - this is why the sages think the 10 Commandments tablets were sapphire!

It is interesting to note:

Exodus 24:9, 10 - The Leaders of the children of Yisra'el were able to see as much of YHWH that He revealed to them - this experience enabled them to have intimate contact with YHWH and solidified their leadership!

Exodus 24:14 - Interesting that Moshe left Aaron and Hur (Hur was Miriam's husband, brother-in-law to Moshe), "in charge" of the elders.

Exodus 24:16 - Note the glory of YHWH rested on Mt. Sinai and covered it for six days, on the seventh day - the Shabbat - YHWH called to Moshe from the midst of the cloud!

Exodus 24:18 - Moshe was taken into the midst of the cloud as he ascended the mountain where he remained for forty days and forty nights - the number 40 is symbolic of probation and testing ending in victory - the children of Yisra'el, during that time were thinking Moshe wasn't returning and we shall see in a later Parashah they built a pagan idol - the golden calf.

The following was borrowed from concerning the description of the two tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments:

The Dimensions:

Tradition tells us that they were thick square blocks of stone, six handbreadths tall, six handbreadths wide, and three handbreadths deep. In modern measurements, that is about 18' × 18' × 9'. The sages of the Talmud demonstrate how tablets of this size-along with a few other relics-fit neatly into the Ark of the Covenant that Moses made as described in Exodus.

It is interesting to note that nowhere is there any mention of them having the rounded tops that are so common in the popular drawings of Moses and the tablets. This design appears to be the invention of non-Jewish artists.

The Material:

The tradition is that both sets of tablets were made of sapphire. After Moses broke the first set, G-d revealed a large deposit of sapphire under Moses' tent. Moses used some of the stone to carve the second tablets, and was permitted to keep the remainder.

The Writing:

The most common understanding is that the first five commandments were written on one tablet, and the other five commandments were on the second. The Torah describes the writing as "inscribed from both their sides; on one side and on the other side they were inscribed."

This means that the inscription was engraved through and through. As such, the words were clearly legible on one side and written in mirror writing on the other. Now there are two Hebrew letters that are closed from all sides. The centers of these letters, Rav Chisda concludes, must have been miraculously suspended in place.

Others teach that the writing was miraculously legible on each side - in other words, although the letters were engraved all the way through, they could nevertheless be read from right to left on both sides. Rabbeinu Bechayei explains that this is because the Torah can be understood on two levels, one revealed and one hidden.

Wrapping up this week's parashah:

Exodus 24: 12 ADONAI said to Moshe, "Come up to me on the mountain, and stay there. I will give you the stone tablets with the Torah and the mitzvot I have written on them, so that you can teach them." 13 Moshe got up, also Y'hoshua his assistant; and Moshe went up onto the mountain of God. 14 To the leaders he said, "Stay here for us, until we come back to you. See, Aharon and Hur are with you; whoever has a problem should turn to them." 15 Moshe went up onto the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of ADONAI stayed on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day he called to Moshe out of the cloud. 17 To the people of Isra'el the glory of ADONAI looked like a raging fire on the top of the mountain. 18 Moshe entered the cloud and went up on the mountain; he was on the mountain forty days and nights.

Haftarah reading:

In this week's Haftarah reading we see YHWH promises of a "new covenant." Many fail to realize that this "new covenant" was NOT made with the Gentiles or the Christians or the Muslims or anyone else except the Torah observant Houses of Israel and Judah!

Jeremiah 31: 31 "Here, the days are coming," says ADONAI, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Isra'el and with the house of Y'hudah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them," says ADONAI. 33 "For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra'el after those days," says ADONAI: "I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, 'Know ADONAI'; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest; because I will forgive their wickednesses and remember their sins no more."

Note YHWH said, "I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people"....One is not born with Torah "written on their hearts"; they must learn it and memorize it, as that is what "written on your heart" means! Torah consists of the first five Books of the Bible and, unless one KNOWS what it says, from start to finish, one CANNOT have "Torah written on their hearts."

Brit Chadashah reading:

Aramaic English New Testament footnotes: (NT) portion, explain the context of some of the "strange" passages contained in our Torah portion:

Matthew 5: 38. You have heard that it has been said that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.[1] 39. But I say to you that you should not stand against evil, [2] but who hits you upon your right cheek, turn also to him the other. 40. And he that desires to go to court with you and take your coat, leave to him also your cloak. 41. He that compels you to go one mile, go two with him. 42. He that asks you to give to him and he desires to borrow from you, you should not deny him. 43. You have heard that it has been said to love your neighbor and hate your enemy.[3]


[1] When Y'shua says, "you have heard it said" he refers to oral tradition; when he says "it is written" he refers to Scripture. The matter of an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth, according to Torah, refers to fair restitution; not literally taking out an eye or tooth. The amount to be restored must be commensurate to the loss; the loss of an eye must be rewarded the value of an eye. See Exodus 21:24; Leviticus 24:20; Deuteronomy 19:21. Torahless ultra-religious judges or pagan cultures opted for barbaric punishment as crime for crime, however this is not a Torah principle.

[2] Do not react with evil towards evil, rather let patience and temperance prevail when accosted by evil doers. Torah instructs the strong to protect the weak, Deut 22:27. Ya'akov teaches to "stand firm" against Satan, James 4:7. Paul teaches to stand against the strategies of the Accuser in Ephesians 6:11; neither does he mince words in Acts 13:10. Isaiah 14:15 states that haSatan will be brought down to hell and a slaughter is prepared for his children (verse 21). Rev 20:10 promises a date for Satan in the lake of fire, in the meantime we are to recognize that our battles are not against flesh and blood, and to act accordingly.

[3] Y'shua says, "You have heard that it has been said," referring to one of the Dead Sea Scrolls in this particular case. Torah (Leviticus 19:18) does NOT teach that anyone should hate their enemy; it teaches "You shall not avenge nor bear any grudge, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself."

Acts 23: 1. And when Paul had looked on the assembly of them, he said: "Men, my Brothers; I have lived in all good conscience before Elohim up to this day." 2. And Khanan-Yah, the priest[1], commanded those who stood by his side, to hit Paul on the mouth. 3. And Paul said to him: "Elohim is from this moment to srike you down, (you) Whited Wall! For, you sit judging me according to Torah, while you transgress Torah and command to beat me?" 4 And those standing by, said to him: "Do you reproach the priest of Elohim!"

5. Paul said to them: "I was not aware, my Brothers, that he was the priest: for it is written, You will not curse the ruler of your people." 6. And, as Paul knew that a part of the people were of the Sadducees, and a part of the Pharisees, he cried out, in the assembly: "Men, my Brothers; I am a Pharisee the son of a Pharisee; and for the hope of the resurrection of the dead, I am judged." 7. And when he had said this, the Pharisees and Sadducees fell upon one another, and the people were divided. 8. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor Messengers, nor a spirit: but the Pharisees confess all these.

9. And there was great shouting. And some scribes of the party of the Pharisees rose up, and contended with them, and said. "We have found nothing evil in this man: For if a Spirit or a Messenger had conversed with him, what is there in that?" 10. And, as there was great commotion among them, the Chief Captain was afraid or else they should tear Paul in pieces. And he sent Romans to go and retrieve him from them, and bring him into the castle. 11. And when night came, our Master appeared to Paul, and said to him: Be strong; for as you have testified of me in Urishlim , so also you are to testify at Rome.

Footnote: Notice that Paul meets up with two men who are both named Khanan-Yah (Yah is our mercy/Yah is merciful). The first Khanan-Yah was fearful of Rav Shaul until the voice of YHWH set him straight; Acts 9:13. The second Khanan-Yah is the high priest who orders his servants to strike Rav Shaul! The irony is that this second Khanan-Yah believes YHWH's mercy resides on his side of the debate against the Netzari/Nazarenes, whereas the first Khanan-Yah was a Netzari. This could also be a word-picture play showing the transferring of YHWH's mercy from one system or group to another.

There is so much more that could be said about today's study, and we wholeheartedly urge you to read the cited scriptures through, if you haven't already done so. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to write! Thank you for reading our Torah study notes for this week, and we pray for you a blessed week ahead, that may you ever grow in your knowledge of YHWH. And, as always, please let us know if you ever see anything in our studies that sounds "off the mark"! Nobody has the market cornered on absolute Truth; we are all learning and obeying to the best of our abilities....

The next parashah reading will be:

Parashah 19: T'rumah (Contribution) - Exodus 25:1 through 27:19.

Haftarah (Writings and Prophets): 1 Kings 5:26 through 6:13.

B'rit Hadasha (New Testament): Hebrews 8:1-6; 9:23-24; 10:1.

Previous Parashah....Next Parashah