Exodus 21:1 - 24:18
Mishpatim means “ordinances” or “right rulings” and is derived from a Hebrew root word meaning “to judge”. It is taken from the first verse of the scriptures above where it states that Yah stated, “these
are the judgments (mishpatim) which you shall set before them”. (NKJV)
In these scriptures we find the beginning of the civil and moral ordinances set before the children of Israel. We find the ordinances concerning servants, violence in various instances, animal control, responsibility for ones' property, moral and ceremonial principles, and justice ordinances. In addition
we find the ordinances concerning the Sabbath, and the three annual feasts.
We find that Yah promises to go before them in the wilderness and commands their obedience. He promises that if they obey that He will indeed bless them richly. If obedience is practiced then He promises to drive out the
inhabitants of the land from before them.
They are told not to make covenants with the people of the land and not to worship their false gods in any shape or form.
If you pay close attention you will find that the discussions of the mishpatim fall under one of the categories of the 10 commandments. This is the way that it works. The10 Commandments are just categories under which the teachings and instructions fall.
Then comes the reading that I would like to focus on. In chapter 24, Moses goes up before the LORD alone, but something significant happened before then. In verses 3-7 we read that the people said that they would do all that Yah commanded. So, upon hearing the ordinances of HaShem the people stated that they would obey and do them all. What's interesting is that the people told Moses this long before they had received any of the ordinances.
In Exodus 19:8 we find them stating that they would obey and do all that Adonai commanded of them. This was when they had first arrived at the foot of Mt. Sinai. No ordinances had been given to them,
yet they are already stating that they will obey.
In the Western mindset, which is a Greek mindset, we tend to want all the details and all the “understanding” before we agree to commit ourselves. The Greek culture, which includes Americans, are the “thinkers”. We like to demand that we understand everything before we can obey. If we don't understand why God instructed us to do something, that doesn't make sense especially, then we have a tendency to say that doesn't apply to me or surely God didn't mean for me to do that; because it doesn't make sense. This is a foreign thought process to an obedient ancient Hebrew. They don't have to understand to obey God. Their love and trust for their God dictates obedience without understanding. That is why in these scriptures they could commit to obey God long before they knew what was going to be required by them.
There are many ordinances that any Orthodox Jew would tell you that he/she does not understand what God meant, but they will obey without believing that they have to “think” and “reason” it out first. In fact, in the Hebrew language, under Jewish law, the ordinances of Yahweh fall into 3 categories: the Mishpatim, the Chukim and Edot.
The mishpatim are ordinances that are easily understood and obvious. The edot can be translated “witnesses” or “testimonies” and they are easily understood and they speak to some specific truth about Yah‘s presence, Sabbaths, or feast days; they speak of a spiritual truth or event. However, the chukim are commandments that man can't seem to understand why God would command such a thing or make such a statement; only God understands why He wants mankind to do these things. To an
obeying ancient Hebrew it made no difference, they obeyed them all.
So, what about us - will we say, “all that You command we will do, whether we understand or not?”
This is TRUE love and trust. Growing up I didn't always understand the decisions that my parents made regarding my choices or actions, but I trusted and loved them enough to obey and know that they had my best interests at heart.
We should be this trusting of our heavenly Father!
For more on this topic please see #jewishlaw