Weekly Drash - Mishpatim
Compliments of First Fruits of Zion
Mishpatim – משפטים : “Judgments”
Righteousness and Justice
Thought for the Week:
Through the prophet Jeremiah, God promises that He will send the “Branch of David” to execute justice and righteousness on the earth; “In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth.” (Jeremiah 33:15) This is prophecy of Messiah. Messiah is called “Branch of David” because he is a descendent of King David. When He sits upon David’s throne, He will dispense justice and righteousness for all mankind.
The Torah is the standard of righteousness. But it is also the rule of justice (mishpat, משפט). The laws of the Torah are just, and their implementation is the administration of justice. This week’s Torah portion is called mishpatim (משפטים), a word that means “judgments.” It is primarily a list of commandments and guidelines for the exercise of righteousness and justice.
Righteousness can be understood as the fulfillment of all legal and moral obligations. In the juridical sense, it is a state of innocence.
Justice can be understood as the fair administration of authority, rightly deciding between contestants, rightly rewarding and rightly punishing.
The twin concepts of righteousness and justice are at the very center of Torah, Messiah and the Kingdom of Heaven. Abraham was originally chosen because he would teach his children after him in “doing righteousness and justice.” (Genesis 18:19) The Scriptures tell us that God loves righteousness and justice, (Psalm 33:5) that He desires them more than sacrifice (Proverbes 21:3) and that His very throne is founded upon them, for it is written in Psalm 97:2, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne.”
The king’s primary function is to dispense justice and righteousness in Israel. Second Samuel 8:15 tells us, “David reigned over all Israel; and David administered justice and righteousness for all his people.” The Psalmist says, “The strength of the King loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.” (Psalm 99:4) When Israel practiced justice and righteousness, she was blessed, but when she strayed from justice and righteousness under the influence of wicked kings, the prophets rebuked her. “I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the level,” (Isaiah 28:17) the LORD declares through the prophet Isaiah. The Psalmist prays for the Davidic King, saying, “Give the king Your judgments (mishpatim), O God, and Your righteousness to the king’s son. May he judge Your people with righteousness and Your afflicted with justice.” (Psalm 72:1–2) When the Queen of Sheba visits King Solomon, she blesses God with a beracah that would be appropriate to apply to Messiah:
As we grapple with the laws of Torah, we are seeking to understand the foundation of the throne of God. When we read the Torah’s laws, we are reading about the administration of King Messiah, the ultimate champion of justice and righteousness.
Shavuah Tov! Have a Good Week!
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