Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mishpatim

Shemot 21:1 - 24:18

This weeks parasha is titled Mishpatim and its meaning is “Judgments”. At the conclusion of parasha Yitro, HaShem had given the children of Israel the Ten Words, or, Ten commandments along with the commands to construct a proper altar. In this parasha, HaShem continues with the instructions that Moses is to give to Israel. He begins with how we are to treat Hebrew slaves, men and women. How do deal with issues of personal injury caused by humans or animals. The protection of property, social responsibilities and laws concerning justice and mercy. HaShem then begins to introduce His commandments concerning the Sabbath, the Sabbatical year and the three pilgrimage festivals. Only a brief introduction is given here for these commandments, the full explanation will be given to the Israelites later on in their journey.

The partial verse that closes HaShem’s commandments on the festivals is one that I find not only intrigues myself but also many others that study the weekly Torah portions. That verse is Ex 23:19, and it states “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God. Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.”
This commandment about cooking a young goat in its mothers milk is found also in Ex 34:26 and Dut 14:21. The reference in Ex 34:26 is identical to this weeks portion and used in the same context in regard to festivals. The reference in Dut 14:21 is attached to the laws of Kashrut. Tractate “Chullin” in the Talmud gives a very detailed interpretation or revelation that the Sages were given on the performance of this commandment. It primarily consists of food preparation and consumption, basically Kashrut. Do the Sages have the interpretation correct or is there a deeper mystery to this commandment? I personally feel there is a deeper mystery to this due to the fact that it is not only stated in HaShems teaching on Kosher animals but also is integrated into the subject of the festival offerings. This topic has been, continues to be and will continue to be a topic of debate until all mysteries are revealed to us. Who knows, maybe two sets of dishes really is not a bad idea.

HaShem then announces in Ex 23:20-22 that “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay attention to him and listen to what he says. Do not rebel against him; he will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in him. If you listen carefully to what he says, and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you.” This verse can often times be found to allude to the appearance of the preincarnate Yeshua. The designated name ”Angel of the Lord” is used in connection with “the Lord” or “God” in the experience of Moses at the burning bush in Ex 3:2-6. In the verse of Ex 23:21 we see that this “Angel” has the power to forgive sin, a characteristic that belongs to HaShem alone as stated in Mrk 2:7 that says “why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And again in Luke 7:49 states “The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘who is this who even forgives sins?’” And another characteristic given to this “Angel” is that he has the name of HaShem in him. Yeshua does not make a direct connection to HaShem by HaShem placing His name in Him but does make for us the connection that HaShem Himself is in him when he says to Philip in Jn 14:9-10 that “Don’t you know me Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say; Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing His work.” With these scriptural facts, it’s easy to elude that the possibility is very strong that it was the spirit of Yeshua who would lead the children of Israel into the land of Canaan as free redeemed people.

A deeper look into verse 21 we can also learn the seriousness of some of the words that are used. The term to “pay attention” in V.21 is the Hebrew word
“Shamar” and its meaning is “to keep, watch, observe, guard, to be set aside, to be careful, be ware; to cling to; to keep oneself.” This is the same word used in verse 20 that says “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to “guard’ you”. The word “Guard” used here is also “Shamar”. In this context, we are not just to be attentive to the words spoken by the angel, but we are to “keep, watch, observe and guard” to what is spoken. To protect the words that we are entrusted with not to merely “pay attention” to them. Also in V.21 along with being told to “pay attention” we are told to “listen” “Shema”, in the same sense of the meaning of the daily prayer of the “Shema”. Not only to“listen” but also “to do”. The evaluation of this one verse in my westernized bible delivers it to me in a very gentile way. “Pay attention to him and listen to what he says”, but more accurately rendered it might read “Guard and protect what he tells you and be sure you do all that he commands”. This second rendering gives this verse a little bit of a different attitude of how to interpret the direction that had been given.

HaShem continues to tell the people how He will prosper them if they are obedient to Him. The blessings of food and water, of good health and the land of the “ites”. Moses then writes down everything HaShem had said to read to the people. Moses also built an altar and sets up twelve stone pillars where he had, as stated “he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the Lord.” Ex 24:5. The Levite priesthood had not yet been ordained. Moses acting as High Priest collects the blood and after the people respond
“We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.” Ex 24:7, Moses then seals the covenant by sprinkling the blood on the people. Much in the same way Yeshua says in Mat 26:28 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” We can ramez back to Moses when he states in Ex 24:8 when he says “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.” First, the blood of an innocent animal sprinkled on us to bring us into covenant, and ultimately, the blood or our sinless savior Yeshua, to forgive our iniquities while living according to that covenant. Moses then waits on HaShem for six days and on the seventh he enters the cloud on Mount Sinai for the duration of forty days and forty nights.

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