Parshat Mishpatim Summary

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Parshat Mishpatim (Ordinances) is the 6th parsha in Sefer Shemot (also known as Exodus).

This parsha is verses Shemot 21:1 – 24:18, or a total of 118 verses.

Here is a brief summary for each aliyah.

NOTE: This parsha is very difficult to summarize. Included in Mishpatim are many ordinances, some of which are mentioned in just 1 or 2 verses.

With that in mind, let’s dive in.

Aliyah 1: Shemot 21:1 – 21:19, 19 verses

The parsha begins with the civil law concerning a Jew who is sold into servitude. His time of servitude ends after 6 years. There are different rules about a Jewish girl who is in servitude. Also included in this reading are several laws about murder and manslaughter.

Aliyah 2: Shemot 21:20 – 22:3, 21 verses

Next the Torah discusses death and injury caused by:

  • a master to his slave
  • people fighting
  • an animal
  • a pit or other obstacle in a public place

The Torah also describes the status of different thieves.

Aliyah 3: Shemot 22:4 – 22:26, 23 verses

Next the Torah outlines damages caused by livestock or a fire. Then the laws that govern the responsibility of guardians and custodians.

There are several laws about different forms of sexual immorality. This leads to laws about how to treat people who are weak or in financial need.

Parshat Mishpatim civil law

Aliyah 4: Shemot 22:27 – 23:5, 9 verses

We are commanded not to curse God nor to curse a leader of the people.

Related to this, judges are required to treat all litigants equally under the law.

Aliyah 5: Shemot 23:6 – 23:19, 14 verses

Judges are not allowed to accept any bribes.

The concepts of sabbatical year(shemittah) and the weekly sabbath are outlined. Then there is a brief outline of the 3 pilgrimage festivals. In this section they are called:

  • Festival of Matzot (Passover)
  • Festival of the Harvest of the First Fruits (Shavuot)
  • Festival of the Ingathering (Sukkot)

Aliyah 6: Shemot 23:20 – 23:25, 6 verses

God promises that he will bring the Jewish people into the land of Israel and clear out before them the current inhabitants of the land.

Aliyah 7: Shemot 23:26 – 24:18, 25 verses

The final reading continues with how God will bring the Jewish people into the land and the borders of the land.

The last section (verses 24:1-18) recounts God calling Moses up to the top of Mount Sinai. The 70 elders are allowed to go up so far, but only Moses goes all the way up. Moses goes up accompanied (most of the way) by Joshua. He leaves Aaron and Hur in charge of the Jewish camp.

How Many Verses in Parshat Mishpatim?

I wrote above that according to the received tradition there are 118 verse in Parshat MIshpatim. According to the count in our printed books, there are only 117 verses.

I discussed this issue near the end of the Parshat Yitro Summary.

Haftarah Summary

The Haftarah is sefer Jeremiah verses 34:8 – 22 plus 33:25 – 26. That’s right, we go back one chapter for the last 2 verses.

The prophet Jeremiah upbraids the people for their callous treatment of their Jewish slaves. For many years they had refused to set them free at the end of 7 years, as is commanded at the beginning of Parshat Mishpatim. In Jeremiah’s time, they set them free, but then recaptured them and again subjugated them.

Further Reading

I’ve written a couple of other articles about Parshat Mishpatim.