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Hispanic American and Justice (mishpat)  

"The theme of justice (mishpat) played a key role in prophetic proclamations and denunciations. Western and Greek conceptions of justice fall short of the depth, the scope, and the value of the prophetic preaching of mishpat. Amos, the sheepherder from Tekoa, petitioned for justice (mishpat) to 'roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream.' 5:24). He gave charge that mishpat be established in the gates, the provincial courts (5:15). Hosea, the son of Beeri, admonished Ephraim and Judah to 'observe kindness and justice' (12:6). Isaiah, the son of Amoz, defined justice in concrete terms as the reproving of the ruthless, the defending of the orphan, and the pleading for the widow (1:17). He portrayed justice as an attribute of Yahweh (30:18). Micah insisted on the doing of justice as the center of the cultus (6:8). ...(40)

The term mishpat occurs first, in the book of Micah, in chapter three. This chapter contains three strophes of four verses each (vv. 1-4, 5-8, 9-12). Mishpat is the key word in each strophe (vv. 1, 8, and 9). Micah denounced the public leaders for disregarding the implementation of justice. The duty of the public officials was to know the right juridical decision and to implement justice (3:1). ...(41)

Micah was empowered by a sense of justice, a discernment for what is right engendered by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. The sense of justice enabled the prophet to make known the sins of the nation's political leaders. Likewise, Hispanic Americans, empowered by a sense for what is just, will be able to develop a political consciousness and take political action to institute reforms, and denounce the wicked power structures that discriminate against the Spanish speaking people and do not give them a voice in the decision-making process." (43)

Michael Candelaria in Voces edited by Justo L. Gonzalez, Abington, 1992. Candelaria is Professor of Religious Studies at University of New Mexico.

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