Parshat Mishpatim. Exodus chs. 21, 22, 23, 24.
The Parashah of "Mishpatim" ("Judgements") goes from Exodus 21:1 to the end of Chapter 24 (24:18).
This section deals with different Judgements and Rulings.
Nachmanides said that non-Jewish adjudicators should study these and use them toÂ base their own laws upon them. Others disagreed.
For an overview of the Biblical Message and for Instruction in general these rulings in our time are worth knowing about.
In Biblical Times there were two kinds of slaves:
1. Indentitured Servititude involving fellow Hebrews.
2. Slavery of foreigners.
Exodus 21: 1-7
1. Indentitured Servititude
"Eved Ivri" literally a "Hebrew Servant," was actually similar to an "indentured servant," as existed a few hundred years ago.
Indentured Servants In The U.S.
Indentured servants first arrived in America in the decade following the settlement of Jamestown by the Virginia Company in 1607.
Servants typically worked four to seven years in exchange for passage, room, board, lodging and freedom dues. While the life of an indentured servant was harsh and restrictive, it wasn't slavery. There were laws that protected some of their rights. But their life was not an easy one, and the punishments meted out to people who wronged were harsher than those for non-servants. An indentured servant's contract could be extended as punishment for breaking a law, such as running away, or in the case of female servants, becoming pregnant.
For those that survived the work and received their freedom package, many historians argue that they were better off than those new immigrants who came freely to the country. Their contract may have included at least 25 acres of land, a year's worth of corn, arms, a cow and new clothes. ...
In 1619 the first black Africans came to Virginia. With no slave laws in place, they were initially treated as indentured servants, and given the same opportunities for freedom dues as whites. However, slave laws were soon passed in Massachusetts in 1641 and Virginia in 1661 and any small freedoms that might have existed for blacks were taken away.
Between one-half and two-thirds of white immigrants to the American colonies between the 1630s and American Revolution had come under indentures.Â
Anyway, A Hebrew Servant had to work for 7 years. One became a Hebrew servant for selling oneself for debt or being caught stealing and not being able to pay the necessary fine.
Other wise a Hebrew servant had most of the rights and obligations of an ordinary Israelite.
2. "Eved Canaani" i.e. Slavery of foreigners. These were slaves captured in warfare or bought from foreign nations.
It was forbidden to physically mistreat them.
In principle setting them free was not encouraged but if it occurred they automatically became full-fledged Israelites.
The followingÂ passages in Exodus ch. 21 list different prohibitions and their punishments.
There are laws against violence and against damaging the property of others. If such damages are committed then compensation had to be made (Exodus ch.22).
Pre-marital sex was forbidden.
Responsibility was primarily on the male. A large fine had to be paid for seducing a virgin unless the seduction was followed by marriage.
Sorcery and witchcraft were strictly forbidden.
The rights of foreign sojourners had to be respected.
21 You must neither wrong a foreigner nor oppress him, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.
22 You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. 23 If you afflict them in any way and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry. 24 And My anger will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives will become widows, and your children fatherless.
Laws of Justice and Mercy
Giving false witness was forbidden.
1 You must not give a false report. Do not join your hand with the wicked to be a malicious witness.
A person had to stand up for the rights of the poor and not to be afraid of the crowd or of public opinion.
2 You must not follow the masses to do evil, and do not testify in a dispute that agrees with the crowd to pervert justice. 3 You must not show partiality to a poor man in his dispute.
6 You shall not turn justice away from your poor in his dispute. 7 Keep far away from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and the righteous, for I will not justify the wicked.
The expression in Exodus 23:7 translated asÂ "Keep far away from a false charge" actually literally says, "Keep away from aÂ false matter."
We need to tell the truth and acknowledge the truth when we come across it.
Land which was farmed in the Land of Israel had to lie fallow for a year every 7 years. 23:10
There were Three Main feasts every year. In these feasts every adult male had to go up to the Chosen Place, e.g. Jerusalem, to sacrifice at the Tabernacles i.e. the Temple.
The Israelites were coming into the Land to inherit it. They were exhorted not to go in the way of the pagan peoples they were coming to conquer.
20 Indeed, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. 21 Be on guard before him and obey his voice. Do not provoke him, for he will not pardon your transgressions, for My name is in him. 22 But if you diligently obey his voice and do all that I say, 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 to the Amorites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I will completely destroy them. 24 You must not bow down to their gods, or serve them, or do according to their practices, but you shall utterly overthrow them and break down their images in pieces. 25 You shall serve the LORD your God, and He shall bless your bread and your water, and I will remove sickness from your midst. 26 No one shall be miscarrying or be barren in your land. I will fulfill the number of your days.
27 I will send My fear before you, and I will throw into panic all the people to whom you shall come. I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28 I will send hornets before you which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you. 29 I will not drive them out before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beasts of the field multiply against you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out before you, until you become fruitful and inherit the land.
The Promised Land stretched from the Nile River to Euphrates River.
Exodus 23: 31 I will set your boundaries from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the desert to the River; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you. 32 You must not make a covenant with them or with their gods. 33 They shall not live in your land, lest they cause you to sin against Me, for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.
Moses went up to the Mountain of Sinai to receive the rest of the Law.
He was there for 40 days and 40 nights.