Prophet Pearls #3 – Lech Lecha (Isaiah 40:27-41:16)

In this episode of Prophet Pearls, Lech Lecha (Isaiah 40:27-41:16), as Isaiah spoke consolation to invaded Israel, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson console the listener with the deep wells contained in the original Hebrew—nuances that bring even greater comfort from the promises of the Creator. Word studies include: “renewed” strength, “first and last,” “righteousness,” and “eternity”—with the significance of its second root. Gordon and Johnson consider the options concerning “who stirred up from the east” and discuss how the ancient Israelites knew who was speaking in this Portion’s fast-paced dialog. Gordon concludes with the comforting news implied by the winnowing process—not all nations will be carried away. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #3 – Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1-17:27)

In The Original Torah Pearls, Lech Lecha (Genesis 12:1-17:27), we revel in the extraordinary drama of Abraham’s epic: a call from heaven, famine, war, plagues, dreadful and great darkness, bisected animals, flaming torches, battles with vultures, sister wives and kings. Then the cliffhanger—the God-who-sees promises to make an everlasting covenant with a yet-to-be-conceived son, and to make him the father of 12 princes. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #2 – Noach (Isaiah 54:1-55:5)

In this episode of Prophet Pearls, Isaiah 54:1-55:5, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson revel in the glorious promises to Israel and explore the various ways the Tanakh allegorizes her: as a barren and abandoned woman, a maidservant, a slave, an owned animal, and yet, wholly and eternally a beloved wife. Original language brings insight to the following words: “foaming” anger, Yehovah of “hosts,” mercy, kibbutz, and “brief” moment. Despite differing views on some issues, Gordon and Johnson stand firmly on common ground concerning the messianic promise as Yehovah connects his eternal covenant with Israel to the seed of David. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #2 – Noach (Genesis 6:9-11:32)

In this episode of The Original Torah Pearls,   Noach (6:9-11:32), the trio discusses the following questions and more: While Noah was a righteous man—relatively speaking—what spiritual disease was the rest of the world infected with?  Is doing what comes naturally the best answer for our bad selves? Does the post-flood diet really include the “all”-you-care-to eat buffet?  What was the sign of the curse and what is the sign of the covenant? When the whole earth spoke one language, what language was it? What are the implications of the 70 nations that sprung from Noah’s three sons? In closing, Gordon discusses the belief that Adam was a Talmudic scholar as well as other historical views concerning what we knew and when we knew it. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #1 – Bereshit (Isaiah 42:5-43:10)

Prophet Pearls Bereshit (Isaiah 42:5-43:10)In this episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Bereshit covering Isaiah 42:5-43:10. After a quick tutorial on the origin of the Haftarah, we learn that the Prophets aren't the golden oldies; their writings are as relevant as ever and more current than our news feeds. Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson explore the original context in which this portion was written, followed by the context in 168 BCE when this passage was first read aloud in the synagogue, and finally the context in September 2014 when Netanyahu spoke the holy words of Isaiah to the United Nations. In addition to parsing key words from the portion, Gordon and Johnson answer the following: What service did the Jews provide to the ancient Roman Empire? And since the Creator refers to himself in so many wonderful ways, would he really name himself, “Lord”? In closing, Gordon and Johnson remind us that while God’s one and only name may have been lost for generations, he did not lose ours—he calls every one of his covenant people by name. Continue reading

Torah Pearls #1 – Bereshit (Genesis 1:1-6:8)

Torah Pearls Bereshit (Genesis 1:1-6:8)This inaugural episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Bereshit (Genesis 1:1-6:8), kicks off with a “Portion101” and then game on. Gap theory, hyper-literalism, parallelism, something from nothing or something from something? Old earth or young earth? Cosmic battle or crafty animal just doing his thing? What hovered . . . an angel, wind, the “Holy Spirit”? Interpretations abound, but to Gordon, sometimes an “et” is just an “et.” What was hot-wired into the sun and moon on the fourth day? Despite chapter manipulations by an Archbishop of Canterbury what climaxes the creation story—mankind or Shabbat? Moving away from theories and interpretations, Johnson shares his own take on the creation story—where the original language speaks to him in such a way that he sees and feels the darkness flee and the light be. Continue reading

Hebrew Voices #103 – A Jerusalem Sukkot Encampment

Nehemia Gordon with David and Emily Verela discussing the laws of Sukkot in Jerusalem.In this episode of Hebrew Voices, A Jerusalem Sukkot Encampment, Nehemia Gordon speaks with an American couple who sparked a worldwide Sukkot-movement by pitching a tent in Jerusalem with their seven children. They share the story of their humble beginnings studying the Bible, which led them to discovering the name of God and forgoing pagan holidays. Years later and hundreds of people, from all over the world, join them in fulfillment of prophecy of Zechariah 14:16 about the nations of the world celebrating the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem. Continue reading