The sidra contains many mitzvot, of which a selection has been included here. It starts with the laws of a Jewish servant. He is to work for six years, after which he can go free. Alternatively, he can decide to stay on as a servant forever.
The penalties for physically injuring others are listed. An ox that gores a person to death is stoned. One may not dig pits in the public domain. Stealing an animal and then selling or slaughtering it incurs an extra penalty.
The laws governing guardians and borrowers of objects are listed – the level of responsibility for losing or damaging the object varies according to the nature of the contract. Special emphasis is placed on not mistreating a widow or an orphan. It is forbidden to take interest when lending money to the poor.
The mitzvah of pidyon haben (redemption of the first born) is repeated. It is forbidden to eat an animal which died without shechita (kosher slaughter). One must not favour the destitute in court. A stray ox or donkey should be returned to its owner.
A judge has to avoid showing favour or taking bribes. For six years the land is worked; in the seventh year (shemittah) it is prohibited to work the land. The three pilgrim festivals – Pesach, Shavuot and Succot – are listed. There is a mitzvah to bring one’s first fruits (bikurim) to the Temple. It is prohibited to cook meat and milk together.
God said that He will send an angel to guide the nation in their conquest of the Land, helping them to destroy the host nations. They were warned not to emulate the idolatrous ways of those nations.
Moshe built 12 altars at the foot of Mount Sinai, one for each tribe, on which offerings are brought. Moshe sprinkled the blood of the offerings on the people, who famously proclaimed “we will do and we will listen” (na’aseh ve’nishma). Moshe, Aharon, Nadav, Avihu and 70 elders saw a very pure ‘vision’ of God. Moshe remained on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights.