Torah Pearls #13 – Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1)

Torah Pearls Shemot, Exodus 1:1-6:1, burning, burning bush, bush, Egypt, Exodus, Moses, moshe, Nile, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Pharaoh, shemati, slavery, Tetragrammaton, Torah PearlsThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Shemot (Exodus 1:1-6:1). From the supposedly “well-known” stories in this portion, Gordon and Johnson clear away centuries of clutter left by mistranslations, Halacha, and Cecil B. DeMille’s version of events. In the spotlight is the burning bush scene where very clearly God revealed his one and only name to Moses. With instructions for present and future use, he left no room for misunderstanding. Gordon and Johnson explain how we got so messed up and what to do about it. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #12 – Vayechi (1 Kings 2:1-12)

Prophet Pearls Vayechi, 1 Kings, david, solomon, torah, vayechi, haftarah, hexateuch, Keith Johnson, meod, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, prophets, prophets portionThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Vayechi covering 1 Kings 2:1-12. King David nears death and gives final instructions to Solomon in this portion that parallels the blessings Jacob gave to his sons. David’s “command” to Solomon to “be a man” and to “keep” the “Torah” yields strand after strand of pearls as Gordon teaches on these key words—their  first usage, roots, forms, and the versatile ways in which they are used (and connected) throughout the Tanakh. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #12 – Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26)

Torah Pearls Vayechi, Genesis 47:28-50:26, biblical poetry, blessing, blessing Ephraim and Manasseh, blessing Jacob’s sons, blessing twelve tribes, blessings, Double portion, Ephraim, Hebrew poetry, Jacob, Manasseh, Menasheh, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Shechem, Shiloh, swear by God’s name, Torah Pearls, Torah Portion, vayechiThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Vayechi (Genesis 47:28-50:26). In the final Genesis portion, Gordon provides the cultural and geographical significance of the blessings to the 12 tribes. We learn the special inheritance given to the Levites, why their descendants are still traceable, why Reuben’s portion went to Joseph’s sons, and the significance of the “right hand.” From Jacob’s insistence that Joseph “swear” to him, we learn that the patriarchs knew God’s name and how to use it. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #11 – Vayigash (Ezekiel 37:15-28)

Prophet Pearls Vayigash, Ezekiel, Aliyah, tel abib, tel aviv, haftarah, vayigash, Ingathering, Israel, judah, josephus, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, northern kingdom, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, prophets, rabbi akiva, rabbi eliezer, return of exiles, salvation in tanakh, two sticks united

This week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Vayigash, covering Ezekiel 37:15-28. Gordon and Johnson set the stage by describing the pivotal time in the history of Israel and Judah when Ezekiel lived and prophesied. They also share the life-changing encounters they've each had with the writings of this prophet. Word studies include:“son of man,” “join,” the plural of “one,” “settlements,” and the rare context of “save” in this Portion. At center stage are the ten lost tribes of Israel. We learn what Josephus knew about the tribes, as well as the opposing views of Rabbis Akiva and Eliezer regarding their ingathering. Proving one of the rabbis in error, Gordon recounts the day he was driving a tractor on an Israeli kibbutz and witnessed a convoy of Ethiopians traversing the highway—fulfilling Ezekiel’s prophecy as they made Aliyah. Gordon and Johnson close with a prayer that light be shed on all 12 tribes, and that the day soon comes when there is one nation, one temple, and one king. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #11 – Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)

Torah Pearls Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27)This episode of The Original Torah Pearls is on the Torah portion of Vayigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27). In this climactic Portion in which Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, Gordon critically examines the Midrashic explanation for Jacob’s spirit reviving upon seeing the wagons Joseph sent for him. Does this benign example of Talmudic gymnastics portend other dangers of not being rooted solely in the word of God? The trio debate why Jacob described his 130 years on earth as “few and evil” and parse the following words and phrases: “the one you sold,” “made a father to Pharaoh,” “seventy,” “shepherds,” “silver” and “servants.” In closing, the trio rejoice that their disparate paths led to common ground and a place to witness the worldwide revival of people waking up to the truth and joining themselves to the preserved remnant. Continue reading

Hebrew Voices #33 – The Lost Book of Jasher

The Lost Book of Jasher - Page ImageThis is a special preview of an upcoming Hebrew Voices episode on The Lost Book of Jasher. The Tanakh mentions a book called Sepher Ha-Yashar, which seemingly disappeared off the face of the Earth thousands of years ago. An English translation of Jasher then showed up in 1840 claiming to be this lost Biblical book. If this is the original Jasher mentioned in Joshua and 2 Samuel, it would be more important than the Dead Sea Scrolls! I tracked down the world's foremost expert on the Book of Jasher, Joseph Dan, a retired professor from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Prof. Dan is a winner of the Israel Prize, the equivalent of the Noble Prize for Jewish Studies. If you ever wondered about the lost Book of Jasher mentioned in the Bible, you will want to listen to my interview with Professor Dan. Please leave your comments below. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #10 – Mikeitz (1 Kings 3:15-4:1)

Prophet Pearls Mikeitz (1 Kings 3:15-4:1)This week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Mikeitz, covering 1 Kings 3:15-4:1. Gordon and Johnson provide context, past and present, for the quintessential wisdom-of-Solomon story where a birth mother is determined faster than you can say DNA. “Deeply stirred” like the mother in the story, Johnson compares the fight-at-any-cost spirit to the battles for the Land today—where a two-baby solution is still no solution. To have a clearer understanding of the gift of divine wisdom, Gordon compares the Chronicles version of Solomon’s dream with this Portion’s account. We learn the divisions of knowledge in the Tanakh and in what section the writings of Solomon appear. We learn the main function of the ancient kings of Israel and that you don’t have to be perfect for Yehovah to call you friend. Gordon closes with a prayer that God’s chosen son, the Messiah King of Israel, soon will bring an end to fighting—peace to Israel and the world. Continue reading