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Vayikra/Leviticus 19:15 You shall do no wrong in judgement
The noun , injustice or unrighteousness (the opposite of , righteousness) is part of the family of words from the root verb , to act wrongfully. Brown-Driver-Briggs suggests meanings that include violent acts of injustice and injustice of speech as well as injustice in general.Rashi applies the instructions to the legal context: "This teaches that a judge who perverts the judgement is called a wrong-doer, hateful and repulsive, banned and an abomination", while Hirsch applies it first to the community: not to misuse the position which the legislature and the judiciary give it over individuals; then to individual judges: demanding absolute equality of treatment of parties at law by the judge; and finally to every individual in their dealings and encounters with each other: to judge one's fellow favourably and to refrain from any form of gossip or slander.
Speaking of Messiah, Isaiah says: "He will not judge by what His eyes see or decide by what His ears hear, but He will judge the impoverished justly, He will decide fairly for the humble of the land" (Isaiah 11:3-4, CJB). The Branch, the Rod of Yishai, will be absolutely righteous in His judgement of rich and poor alike: no-one will be given places of honour or offered a seat while others are made to stand; no-one will be granted favour of given the benefit of the doubt because they can't afford a lawyer; no-one will be convicted or acquitted on the basis of a fine legal quibble. Those who are humble and poor - usually afflicted or oppressed by the strength or schemes of the wicked - will receive justice as ancient wrongs are reviewed and set right by the Judge who knows all things and all the thoughts of mens' hearts. It is partly to this that we allude when hearing of a death and we say the blessing "dayan emet", the True Judge.
Zephaniah prophesied about G-d's people: "But I will leave among you a humble and lowly people, and they will take refuge in the name of the L-rd. The remnant of Israel will do no wrong and tell no lies, nor will a deceitful tongue be found in the mouths" (Zephaniah 3:12-13, NASB). This is a high calling for us today - to walk out this vision - but since the prophet saw it, it must be achievable. It can be done! It is not only judges, leaders and others in positions of authority who are expected to do no wrong, but the whole people of G-d who are called to this high standard. Injustice in any of its forms: violence or oppression, speech or behaviour, discrimination or prejudice, is not to be found in those who are called by His name.
Further Study: Proverbs 10:23-25; Isaiah 53:7-9
Application: Since some level of preparation is usually required in order to avoid "spur of the moment" actions, which can sometimes turn out to be less righteous than we would otherwise want, now is a good time to plan how you can "do no wrong in judgement". Take the choice now, when you have the time to think about it, and your actions should then follow through.
© Jonathan Allen, 2005
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