christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

exodus 21:1-24:18, parashah mishpatim (judgments)

I study the Torah every year using the teaching tools of Scripture. (Why?)

Today is the 18th Sabbath of the annual Torah cycle: parashah (Torah portion) Mishpatim / Judgments, Exo 21:1-24:18. Read Exodus 21:1-24:18 at Bible Gateway.

In my Bible, the headings in this part of Exodus say things like Miscellaneous Laws. But God is a God of order! These judgments are here for a reason. Here is my outline of the strong and weak paragraphs:

Exo 21:1-27 p Restitution in cases of slavery, or when a person causes injury or death
Exo 21:1-6 s Conditions for a Hebrew male slave to go out free
Exo 21:7-11 s Conditions for a Hebrew female slave to go out free
Exo 21:12-13 s Manslaughter is not murder
Exo 21:14 s Murder receives the death penalty
Exo 21:15 s Striking father or mother receives the death penalty
Exo 21:16 s Kidnapping receives the death penalty
Exo 21:17 s Cursing father or mother receives the death penalty
Exo 21:18-19 s Assault of a neighbor when he does not die
Exo 21:20-21 s Assault of a male or female slave when he does or does not die
Exo 21: 22-25 s Assault of a woman with child when the child does or does not die
Exo 21:26-27 p Conditions for male or female slaves to go out free
Exo 21:28-22:13 p Restitution when a thing causes injury, death, or loss of property
Exo 21:28-32 s Restitution when an ox gores a person to death
Exo 21:33-34 s Restitution when a pit causes the death of an animal
Exo 21:35-36 s Restitution when an ox causes the death of an animal
Exo 22:1-4 s Restitution when a theft is discovered
Exo 22:5 s Restitution when an animal feeds in another man’s field
Exo 22:6 s Restitution when fire destroys a harvest
Exo 22:7-9 s Restitution when goods are lost from a neighbor’s safe- keeping
Exo 22:10-13 p Restitution when goods are destroyed from a neighbor’s safe- keeping
Exo 22:14-24 p When restitution is not to be made
Exo 22:14-15 s Restitution when goods are borrowed
Exo 22:16-17 s Restitution when a virgin is seduced
Exo 22:18-19 s Sorceress = death penalty + lying with animals = death penalty
Exo 22:20-24 p Idolaters + afflicters of strangers, widows, orphans = utterly destroyed
Exo 22:25-23:19 p Not injuring your neighbor, strangers, the poor, or God
Exo 22:25-27 s Not coveting interest or collateral from your neighbor
Exo 22:28-31 s Not coveting what belongs to God
Exo 23:1-3 s Not bearing false witness
Exo 23:4 s Return your enemy’s ox or donkey
Exo 23:5 s Relieve your enemy’s donkey’s burden
Exo 23:6-19 p Not perverting justice + oppressing strangers + Sabbath rest + not naming other gods + harvest feasts
Exo 23:20-33 p Israel shall make no covenant with the Canaanites or their gods to learn their ways
Exo 23:20-25 s The Angel of YHVH will go before them in the way to Canaan
Exo 23:26-33 p What YHVH will do to bring them in
Exo 24:1-18 p Israel made a covenant with YHVH to walk in His ways
Exo 24:1-11 s Moses ratified the covenant between God and His people
Exo 24:12-18 p Moses went into the cloud to receive the Torah

Now there is deep wisdom in these judgments. When we say, these are just miscellaneous laws, we miss the elegance, beauty, justice, and wisdom of the Lord’s ways in these judgments. When we keep in mind God is a God of order, and begin to search for the common themes, the threads, and try to solve the puzzles God puts in His word (why is not allowing a sorceress to live in the same section as the bride price for a virgin?) then God can begin to reveal His wisdom in these judgments.

So my first task was to outline the parashah looking for the common themes. Then I began working on the chiastic structures. I do not doubt for a moment that the whole parashah makes its own chiastic structure as we have seen the others do. But I am not wise enough to uncover it all. This is what I have found so far:

Exo 22:21-23:19
1a) Exo 22:21-31, Do not afflict disadvantaged + do not revile God + firstfruits + holy to YHVH;
1) Exo 22:21, You shall not oppress a stranger;
2) Exo 22:22-27, You shall not afflict widows or the fatherless + lending to the poor;
3) Exo 22:28, You shall not revile God;
4) Exo 22:29-30, Firstfruits + firstborn;
5) Exo 22:31 (s), You shall be holy to Me + you shall not eat meat torn in the field;
1b) Exo 23:1-2, False report + wicked and unrighteous + enticed to evil + pervert justice;
1c) Exo 23:3 (s), Do not show partiality to the poor;
central axis) Exo 23:4-5 (s+s), “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 one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it;”
2c) Exo 23:6, Do not pervert judgment to the poor;
2b) Exo 23:7-8, False matter + innocent and righteous + bribery + pervert words.
2a) Exo 23:9-19, Do not afflict disadvantaged + Do not bless other gods + firstfruits + holy to YHVH;
1) Exo 23:9, You shall not oppress a stranger;
2) Exo 23:10-12, Sabbatical year + Sabbath rest provides for the poor and disadvantaged;
3) Exo 23:13, Do not bless other gods;
4) Exo 23:14-19a, Firstfruits + firstborn;
5) Exo 23:19b (p), You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.

I know a lot of Christians think it is a waste of time to even read the Law, much less spend any time meditating in it. But I am so in love with YHVH! The beauty of His Word, His Law, His wisdom, and His righteousness just floors me!

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