In this episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Shoftim covering Isaiah 51:12-52:12. Gordon and Johnson begin with the elephant in the room: Why does Shoftim (and Ki Teitzei following) decisively leapfrog over Isaiah 52:13-53:12? Was the omission of this key prophetic passage for Christians and Messianics a conspiracy or did the Rabbis just not consider it comforting? Continue reading
This episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9), begins focusing on judgment and law and Nehemia Gordon shares the origin of the Hebrew word for “grace.” Discussions include: Must we always have two or three witnesses? Who has the authority today? Are we guilty of rejecting Yehovah as King? What of the Harry Potter question and how far do we take Deuteronomy 18:9-14? Who is the prophet likened unto Moses? Was God’s eye sparkling when he accepted Jacob’s pillar—a thing he hates? Who now has the authority to judge difficult things? What first-century Roman is infamous for mocking an atonement ritual? Who’s the original tree-hugger? With differing views, the trio debates whether certain cultural practices are abominations and Gordon provides an eyewitness account of Deuteronomy 19:1. Showing no fear, the trio concludes by examining the weirdest thing in the Bible. Continue reading
Thank you for standing with me on the Wall! To record this latest support team study, I went to Samaria to see a genuine “high place” on a slope of Mount Ephraim. It was a chilling experience to be able to touch the remains of this place that represents not only the sins of my ancestors, but the failing in us all – the itch to follow tradition—the desire to do what we want.
I’ll share with you the biblical history of these “high places” as well as an extra-biblical account about them. I want to help you see the cultural and spiritual reasons these places were so persistent. I’ll also draw some similarities between Hezekiah’s destruction of the high places with Henry VIII’s role in the Protestant Reformation. And finally, join me on Mount Ephraim as I compare the high places that dotted the hillsides of Samaria to the high places that are still entrenched throughout the world today.
In this episode of Hebrew Voices, Adventures in Hebrew Typesetting, Nehemia Gordon chats with Raphael Freeman, world-class typesetter and Founder of Renana Publishers in Modiin, Israel. Gordon and Freeman discuss the special challenges of Hebrew typesetting from the letterpress era to the digital age. With its consonants, vowels, dagesh, two sets of accent marks, and myriads of combinations, creating fonts for Hebrew is considered by Microsoft to be more complicated than for Chinese. Continue reading
This bonus episode of Prophet Pearls looks at Isaiah 66:1-24, which is read in synagogues around the world whenever the weekly Sabbath coincides with Rosh Chodesh (New Moon Day). Join Nehemia Gordon and Yoel Halevi of Hebrew in Israel, for a riveting discussion about what Isaiah has to say concerning Resurrection of the Dead, God's role as our Heavenly Mother, and eternal Hell-fire. Continue reading
In this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Re'eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17), We focus on Moses’ command to “see”—to clearly understand that life gives us only two choices—to create a god from our own hearts or to obey and worship the true God—His place, His time, His way. The trio explores the following questions: Where did God choose to place his name and can a GPS get you there? What’s the biblical way to dispose of an idol? What does it mean to be without the yoke of the Torah and does the New Testament refer to this malady? What’s an “evil eye”? Why were Jews in the Middle Ages forced to choose between begging and banking? Who are the sons of Yehovah? Do some translations attempt to make bacon kosher? What’s at the heart of the issue of boiling a kid in its mother’s milk? What’s so dangerous about high mountains and green trees? Ten times three equals thirty... right? Is night time the right time for a Passover sacrifice? In addition to many other insights into the original Hebrew language and context, Gordon provides an example of the meticulousness of the scribes who preserved for us an imaginary bird that we couldn't eat even if we tried. Can one worship the true God without adhering to His commandments? What of the altars other than the altar? Who exactly were the corrupt men of “beliya’al”? Where is the son of God mentioned in the Old Testament? What kind of birds are the Ra’ah & the Da’ah? How can we possibly understand the deep & complex riddle, “Do not boil a kid in it’s mother’s milk”? Are there three tithes or only one? When did the Israelites leave Egypt, by day or by night? Continue reading
In this episode of Hebrew Voices, A Physicist on the Nature of God, Nehemia Gordon explores the connection between science and the Bible with orthodox Jewish physicist Dr. Gerald Schroeder. According to Schroeder, there is no conflict between Torah and “teva” (nature), as the two complete one another. Schroeder explains the tradition that Moses was given only part of the Torah, the other part being hidden in nature, an idea introduced in the 12th century by Maimonides in “Guide to the Perplexed.” Continue reading
In this episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Eikev covering Isaiah 49:14-51:3. The gender rules of Hebrew grammar are explored in this portion as well as Isaiah’s (and Moses’) metaphorical references to God as a mother. We learn that the suffering servant’s message is one of great hope—that we can fully trust and lean on God. In addition to grammar goodies, word studies include “gather/kibbutz”—as we see nations gathering in the Land—fulfilling God’s word to Isaiah. Continue reading
In this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25), using language, history, context and common sense, Nehemia Gordon provides insight into Hebrew slang as well as certain words from the portion, including “because,” “disease,” and “hornet.” The question of when to say grace leads the trio to discuss the powerful implications of lifelong learning—“little by little.” Johnson relates how Jesus’ intimacy with the books of Moses draws him to the Torah. The trio answers: What Hebrew word describes both “God” and “desert?” Does God set time limits on wickedness? What things are abominable? What is the danger of arrogance? Who hewed? And who wrote? Gordon discusses the irony that scripture and Jewish tradition consider the blotting out of a name to be a curse. And in contrast to the practice of only using the Tetragrammaton, Gordon reads Deuteronomy 10:17 in Hebrew to reveal the alliterative beauty of the verse and the power unleashed when the great, mighty and awesome name is spoken. Continue reading
Popular legend has it that the Karaites, and the Sadducees before them, interpreted the words "and they shall be for Totafot between your eyes" literally, and as a result wore Tefillin (Phylacteries) right above their noses. One version of the story claims that the Sadducees were wiped out because of this practice. The legend goes that they kept bumping into walls and since their Tefillin were between their eyes (instead of on their foreheads), their noses were sent shattering into their brains, killing them instantly. The Karaites and other deniers of the "Oral Law" are portrayed as bumbling idiots who through their foolish practices wiped themselves out. The message of this story is that it is impossible to live (literally) as a Karaite, and therefore we need the "Oral Law" to save us from this savage extinction. Continue reading