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Exodus 21-24Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Parashah 18: Mishpatim (Rulings) 21:1–24:18

21 “These are the rulings you are to present to them:

“If you purchase a Hebrew slave, he is to work six years; but in the seventh, he is to be given his freedom without having to pay anything. If he came single, he is to leave single; if he was married when he came, his wife is to go with him when he leaves. But if his master gave him a wife, and she bore him sons or daughters, then the wife and her children will belong to her master, and he will leave by himself. Nevertheless, if the slave declares, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children, so I don’t want to go free,’ then his master is to bring him before God; and there at the door or doorpost, his master is to pierce his ear with an awl; and the man will be his slave for life.

“If a man sells his daughter as a slave, she is not to go free like the men-slaves. If her master married her but decides she no longer pleases him, then he is to allow her to be redeemed. He is not allowed to sell her to a foreign people, because he has treated her unfairly. If he has her marry his son, then he is to treat her like a daughter. 10 If he marries another wife, he is not to reduce her food, clothing or marital rights. 11 If he fails to provide her with these three things, she is to be given her freedom without having to pay anything.

12 “Whoever attacks a person and causes his death must be put to death. 13 If it was not premeditated but an act of God, then I will designate for you a place to which he can flee. 14 But if someone willfully kills another after deliberate planning, you are to take him even from my altar and put him to death.

15 “Whoever attacks his father or mother must be put to death.

16 “Whoever kidnaps someone must be put to death, regardless of whether he has already sold him or the person is found still in his possession.

17 “Whoever curses his father or mother must be put to death.

18 “If two people fight, and one hits the other with a stone or with his fist, and the injured party doesn’t die but is confined to his bed; 19 then, if he recovers enough to be able to walk around outside, even if with a cane, the attacker will be free of liability, except to compensate him for his loss of time and take responsibility for his care until his recovery is complete.

(ii) 20 “If a person beats his male or female slave with a stick so severely that he dies, he is to be punished; 21 except that if the slave lives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his property.

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. 23 But if any harm follows, then you are to give life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound and bruise for bruise.

26 “If a person hits his male or female slave’s eye and destroys it, he must let him go free in compensation for his eye. 27 If he knocks out his male or female slave’s tooth, he must let him go free in compensation for his tooth.

28 “If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox is to be stoned and its flesh not eaten, but the owner of the ox will have no further liability. 29 However, if the ox was in the habit of goring in the past, and the owner was warned but did not confine it, so that it ended up killing a man or a woman; then the ox is to be stoned, and its owner too is to be put to death. 30 However, a ransom may be imposed on him; and the death penalty will be commuted if he pays the amount imposed. 31 If the ox gores a son or daughter, the same rule applies. 32 If the ox gores a male or female slave, its owner must give their master twelve ounces of silver; and the ox is to be stoned to death.

33 “If someone removes the cover from a cistern or digs one and fails to cover it, and an ox or donkey falls in, 34 the owner of the cistern must make good the loss by compensating the animal’s owner; but the dead animal will be his.

35 “If one person’s ox hurts another’s, so that it dies, they are to sell the live ox and divide the revenue from the sale; and they are also to divide the dead animal. 36 But if it is known that the ox was in the habit of goring in the past, and the owner did not confine it; he must pay ox for ox, but the dead animal will be his.

37 (22:1) “If someone steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters or sells it, he is to pay five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep.

22 (2) “If a thief caught in the act of breaking in is beaten to death, it is not murder; (3) unless it happens after sunrise, in which case it is murder. A thief must make restitution; so if he has nothing, he himself is to be sold to make good the loss from the theft. (4) If what he stole is found alive in his possession, he is to pay double, no matter whether it is an ox, a donkey or a sheep.

(iii) (5) “If a person causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over or lets his animal loose to graze in someone else’s field, he is to make restitution from the best produce of his own field and vineyard.

(6) “If a fire is started and spreads to thorns, so that stacked grain, standing grain or a field is destroyed, the person who lit it must make restitution.

(7) “If a person entrusts a neighbor with money or goods, and they are stolen from the trustee’s house, then, if the thief is found, he must pay double. (8) But if the thief is not found, then the trustee must state before God that he did not take the person’s goods himself. (9) In every case of dispute over ownership, whether of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, clothing, or any missing property, where one person says, ‘This is mine,’ both parties are to come before God; and the one whom God condemns must pay the other one double.

(10) “If a person trusts a neighbor to look after a donkey, ox, sheep or any animal, and it dies, is injured or is driven away unseen, 10 (11) then the neighbor’s oath before Adonai that he has not taken the goods will settle the matter between them — the owner is to accept it without the neighbor’s making restitution. 11 (12) But if it was stolen from the neighbor, he must make restitution to the owner. 12 (13) If it was torn to pieces by an animal, the neighbor must bring it as evidence, and then he doesn’t need to make good the loss.

13 (14) “If someone borrows something from his neighbor, and it gets injured or dies with the owner not present, he must make restitution. 14 (15) If the owner was present, he need not make good the loss. If the owner hired it out, the loss is covered by the hiring fee.

15 (16) “If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged to be married and sleeps with her, he must pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. 16 (17) But if her father refuses to give her to him, he must pay a sum equivalent to the bride-price for virgins.

17 (18) “You are not to permit a sorceress to live.

18 (19) “Whoever has sexual relations with an animal must be put to death.

19 (20) “Anyone who sacrifices to any god other than Adonai alone is to be completely destroyed.

20 (21) “You must neither wrong nor oppress a foreigner living among you, for you yourselves were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

21 (22) “You are not to abuse any widow or orphan. 22 (23) If you do abuse them in any way, and they cry to me, I will certainly heed their cry. 23 (24) My anger will burn, and I will kill you with the sword — your own wives will be widows and your own children fatherless.

24 (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. 25 (26) If you take your neighbor’s coat as collateral, you are to restore it to him by sundown, 26 (27) because it is his only garment — he needs it to wrap his body; what else does he have in which to sleep? Moreover, if he cries out to me, I will listen; because I am compassionate.

(iv) 27 (28) “You are not to curse God, and you are not to curse a leader of your people.

28 (29) “You are not to delay offering from your harvest of grain, olive oil or wine.

“The firstborn of your sons you are to give to me. 29 (30) You are to do the same with your oxen and your sheep — it is to stay with its mother seven days, and on the eighth day you are to give it to me.

30 (31) “You are to be my specially separated people. Therefore you are not to eat any flesh torn by wild animals in the countryside; rather, throw it out for the dogs.

23 “You are not to repeat false rumors; do not join hands with the wicked by offering perjured testimony. 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. On the other hand, don’t favor a person’s lawsuit simply because he is poor.

“If you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey straying, you must return it to him. If you see the donkey which belongs to someone who hates you lying down helpless under its load, you are not to pass him by but to go and help him free it.

(v) “Do not deny anyone justice in his lawsuit simply because he is poor. Keep away from fraud, and do not cause the death of the innocent and righteous; for I will not justify the wicked. You are not to receive a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clearsighted and subverts the cause of the righteous.

“You are not to oppress a foreigner, for you know how a foreigner feels, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

10 “For six years, you are to sow your land with seed and gather in its harvest. 11 But the seventh year, you are to let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor among your people can eat; and what they leave, the wild animals in the countryside can eat. Do the same with your vineyard and olive grove.

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.

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.

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.

18 “You are not to offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread, nor is the fat of my festival to remain all night until morning.

19 “You are to bring the best firstfruits of your land into the house of Adonai your God.

“You are not to boil a young animal in its mother’s milk.

(vi) 20 “I am sending an angel 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 angel 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. (vii) 26 In your land your women will not miscarry or be barren, and you will live out the full span of your lives. 27 I will send terror of me ahead of you, throwing into confusion all the people to whom you come; and I will make all your enemies turn their backs on you. 28 I will send hornets ahead of you to drive out the Hivi, Kena‘ani and Hitti from before you. 29 I will not drive them out from before you in one year, which would cause the land to become desolate and the wild animals too many for you. 30 I will drive them out from before you gradually, until you have grown in number and can take possession of the land. 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.”

24 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, while Moshe alone approaches Adonai — the others are not to approach, and the people are not to go up with him.” 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.”

Moshe wrote down all the words of Adonai. 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. He sent the young men of the people of Isra’el to offer burnt offerings and sacrifice peace offerings of oxen to Adonai. Moshe took half of the blood and put it in basins; the other half of the blood he splashed against the altar. 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.” 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.”

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.

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.” (S: Maftir) 15 Moshe went up onto the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. (A: Maftir) 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 Mishpatim: Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 34:8–22; 33:25–26

B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah Mishpatim: Mattityahu (Matthew) 5:38–42; 15:1–20; Mark 7:1–23; Acts 23:1–11; Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 9:15–22; 10:28–39

Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)

Copyright © 1998 by David H. Stern. All rights reserved.

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