Aviv Barley and the Gold Pandas

Aviv-Barley-and-the-Gold-PandasShalom All Y'all,

With the Aviv Search now over, last night I finally got my first good night of sleep in a week! The intensity of the Aviv Search had me going on adrenalin, coffee and prayers. This year's Aviv Search has been a true cliffhanger. This morning I prayed about it and read over the "other" Aviv reports that are making their way around the internet. It was clear to me that we looked through the very fields where some have claimed to find Aviv. We even shared some of this process as we were doing it in the podcast Proclaiming a Hebrew Leap Year of Faith. I can understand how someone who already decided it was turning into a New Year before his very eyes based on the vineyards, goat utters, and other factors (or is that utter factors?) could climb up one of the hills in that area and be convinced that he is looking at fields of Aviv Barley. On Tuesday March 8 we spent at least 1.5 hours driving through the back roads of those fields with the aid of a new (and very costly) GPS app that provides near-military grade maps, basically the highest you can get without being on an active IDF combat mission. As much as I was expecting to find Aviv, especially based on the exterior appearance of the barley, it just wasn't Aviv yet. We returned to the same area on Thursday March 10, just to give the barley the maximum amount of time to turn Aviv before entering into a new Hebrew month. And it still was not Aviv.

Reading over the "other" reports has removed all doubts I could have possibly had. I didn't really have doubts to begin with, but you know how Ha-Satan works, going to and fro in the Earth, planting his seeds which turn into doubt. Through prayer and study and quite literally fear and trembling in the presence of Yehovah, that seed has now been uprooted and cast out for me. I was in those very same fields and know for certain that it is not Aviv. Yet my heart truly aches for those who weren't with us who may have genuine doubts. Please join me in praying that they too are led to work this out for themselves in fear and trembling with prayer and study before our heavenly Father. When the Temple is rebuilt the High Priest will figure all this stuff out for us. Until then we need to do the best we can with what we have available to us, asking our heavenly Father always to guide us. In the past few years I have been taught humility and come to daily pray:

Trust in Yehovah with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear Yehovah and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8

When I say I was quite literally in fear and trembling, that is because I consider the Aviv Search to be an awesome and truly frightening responsibility. It is a responsibility I never asked for and never wanted. I was out looking at Aviv fields in the early 1990s when it was just me and a handful of Karaite Jews. And nobody knew or cared what we were doing. Now there are a half-dozen different groups out there looking for barley every year, some with different understandings of the term "Aviv." Many are also being guided by what I believe to be non-Torah considerations such as the equinox, wheat, blooming flowers, and even migrating birds! I will never forget one man who spent years working out the calendar with the help of a very complex calculation that he created. When he learned about the Aviv Barley he was so excited, because he was sure it would confirm his life's work. He ended up coming on two or three Aviv Searches and then set out on his own. One year I was in our beloved "Pomelo Field" just south of Beth Shean. He proclaimed that he found Aviv in that very field, an hour after we had examined it and found that it was not Aviv. But he already knew it was Aviv from his calculations and that is what he saw in the field. This has become a familiar story. In some ways it is very frustrating. In other ways, I look at it as a blessing that so many of God's people are yearning to rediscover His truth.

In my recent audio study Aviv Barley and the Spirit of Constantine, I quoted the 9th century quasi-Karaite Mishawayh al Ukbari, who famously said:

“All money is a convenience, so cleave to the counterfeit money in hand."

Mishawayh's point in the 9th century was that there were several different competing calendars, which was just leading to disunity and confusion. From his perspective, without the Temple, any calendar is just a remembrance of what God commanded, so why not use the easiest one. By which, of course, he meant the Hillel II calendar used by most Jews. There was a time when I would have mocked and judged Mishawayh and his followers, but then God humbled me. Today, I say that every one of us needs to work this out through prayer and study in fear and trembling. If that process leads you to follow Hillel II and Mishawayh, then that is between you and the Creator of the universe.

Yesterday morning before Keith left for the airport we were sitting in my living room in Jerusalem discussing Mishawayh and his ancient coin parable. I told Keith that I don't believe the Feasts of Yehovah are just a convenience or that all calendars are counterfeit. There are true appointed times that Yehovah has hard-wired into Creation. We just need to figure out what they are by going out and doing what the ancient Israelites did: looking for the new moon and the Aviv Barley in the Land of Israel.

Now this year something unusual happened that got me thinking about Mishawayh in a whole new light and this is what I was sharing with Keith as he prepared to leave for the airport. The night before, we were standing around in a Jerusalem park, perched on a hillside, looking for the new moon. An Orthodox Jewish couple walked by and were curious why we were staring at the horizon with cameras set up on tripods. They followed the direction that our cameras were pointed and got very excited when they saw the new moon. The man told us that for years his wife had said how wonderful it would be to see the new moon on Rosh Chodesh-the beginning of the Hebrew month. He meant the day that rabbinical Jews observe Rosh Chodesh. This Orthodox Jewish man explained that they never saw the new moon on Rosh Chodesh, and now finally after years of hoping and praying there it was hanging low in the sky over the Israel Museum. What really moved me about this Orthodox Jewish couple is that they were as authentic as can be in their genuine desire to walk in fellowship with the Creator of the universe.

So back to Mishawayh and his counterfeit coin analogy. A few years ago I started researching gold coins. This was when the word on the street was that the US dollar was about to collapse and we all needed to take every last dime and buy physical gold and silver. Back then I learned about the Gold Panda, a coin produced by the government of China. These troy ounces of gold were in high demand, but there was a major problem. On a hunch, one collector sawed open his Gold Pandas and found out some were counterfeit! On the outside they were made of gold, but on the inside he found a cheap metal. What all came together for me as Keith was fixing to leave for the airport, was that our desire to know the true times of the Biblical feasts was like sitting there with a pile of Gold Pandas with the knowledge that some are fake. For years we have been spending all this immense effort to determine which Gold Pandas are real and which are counterfeit. Often this results in intense debates and arguments. In some groups and communities it causes pain and division. What encountering the Orthodox Jewish man and his wife made me realize is that determining which Gold Pandas are real and which are not, should never be an end in itself. The purpose is so that we can use those Gold Pandas to buy bread when the US dollar collapses. Similarly, the purpose of the Aviv Search, New Moon Sightings, and observance of the Appointed Times of Yehovah is not an end in itself. The purpose is to attain that spiritual bread and walk out our covenant relationship with Yehovah the best we can. If that leads to conflict with others who are genuinely trying their best to walk with our heavenly Father, then we need to push aside our pile of Gold Pandas and get back to praying for humility in dealing with our neighbors and the sojourners in our gates.

My prayer is that the Appointed Times of Yehovah will not be a source of doubt and division, but a healing to the souls of those who want to walk in fellowship with Avinu SheBashamayim. I pray that Yehovah grant me the wisdom to trust in Him with all my heart, to not lean on my own understanding, to acknowledge Him in all my ways, so that He may make my paths straight!

Nehemia Gordon
Jerusalem, Israel

  • Shelley says:

    Shabbat Shalom,

    Somehow, what you shared keeps coming up to me in meditations upon “the Donald Trump phenomenon”. I am super glad to hear him say that he does so strongly support Israel, however, I worry that the vast majority are seeing him as some kind of messiah. Oh, how I would like to do so, too, yet upon scrutiny – although there are things to be grateful for, such as his support of a Constitutional Democratic Republic and free trade – there are still many other things in his life and attitudes which do not conform to the godliness of Torah, such as for one, he has other gods displayed prominently in his golden inner sanctum! Other socio-political commentators whom I do also regard with some degree of thankfulness for the information which they do provide in an otherwise corrupt media milieu have similarly disturbing qualities. Scripture tells us that there will be a false prophet and an anti-christ who is inhabited by Satan after 3 1/2 years, so I feel personally responsible to pay attention to these things. Do you see why your aviv barley experience this year feels like a prophetic one to me? The “savior” of the moment does not seem to me to prove True put under the squeeze test! Just thinking’ and a praying’. Thank you SO much for this effort, dear Nehemiah.

  • Andrew Watne says:

    Excellent words from the heart Nehemia! My wife and I relate 100%.

  • Raimund says:

    May Yehovah bless all truth seekers. Just in time for Nehemias article about counterfeit Pandas, Israelnationalnews reports, that an Israeli woman hiking in the Galilee discovered an extremely rare, nearly 2,000-year-old gold coin – only the second such coin ever to be discovered. May such lovely coincidences continue.

  • Kevin and Brenda Paulson says:

    Thank you for your updated response. It was very well written. We appreciate all your diligence. Just a note, a point of agriculture or animal husbandry terminology, goats or livestock have udders spelled with the double d, not double t. Unless you were trying to be “punny” and we missed it! It is “udderly” wonderful that we have eye witnesses, more than two, to give a report from the land! Shalom and blessings.

  • By learning together the “deep truths from the Earth and the Heavens.” I was referring to my favourite passage in Proverbs 25:2-3:

    “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter. The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.”

  • Jenina Conradie says:

    Nehemiah, I am so grateful for you (and Keith!), although I sometimes wonder if I am being influenced by the “real deal” guys. But I have had some encounters that are very real that encourages me to follow what you suggest. The one verse is in Ex 9:31 ..”the barley was in the ear”…that tells me that the barley was ripe and that it was the New year, just before the 1st Pass Over. The other in John 20:17 where He said that Mary should not touch Him..implying that He as the High Priest has not yet presented the first fruit offering. This helps me to understand that the feasts are important, even after the resurrection.
    Thank you for risking your life and taking the time and effort to communicate your findings, so that I too may know.

  • Kitty Corbett says:

    Saw a picture of you on another page, leaping in joy! Don’t you know “white men can’t jump?” It was fun to see. About the gold pandas, there is a way to ascertain authenticity but darned if I know what it is. Something about the ring of the coin if struck; or the weight. Maybe sawing through to the core is the only way if the plating is pure gold. Anyway, I put all my savings in US minted gold coins when Jimmy Carter gave away the Panama Canal, believing then that things would only get worse. Glad I did. But prophecy foretells Israel will eventually win out over all her enemies, and YHVH will fight for her WHEN they call on His name. Do you think the Jews will ever catch on and call on His NAME instead of some euphemism? And do you think, and hope as I do, that the USA will then be the right hand of a Holy God and fight for Israel? If Donald Trump is Commander in Chief, we WILL fight for Israel. There is a reason that Muslims hate America as much as they hate the Jews. I believe we are the progeny of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel, and we will be regathered in The Land after the coming war. Shalom.

  • Ralph says:

    Chayah on March 12, 2016 at 4:48 pm wrote:
    “You are the very reliable source we depend on here in the states,….”

    Not forgetting those of us here in Australia.

  • That was incredibly written! thank you Nehemiah!

  • chris carson says:

    Thank you for all of the effort you go through to bring the truth to those who want it. I know it costs you dearly but Yehovah never forgets those who help.
    I trust Yehovah will continue to greatly bless you. Let all praise Yehovah.

  • I really appreciate the work and diligence that has gone into the Aviv search this year (and past years). After listening to the “Proclaiming a Hebrew Leap Year of Faith” podcast, it is clear to me that there are most certainly some very important things for us to learn with this year’s aviv search. As God’s people, if we are teachable, and as you say, leaning to God’s understanding; seeking wisdom and understanding with all our hearts, yet not leaning to our own wisdom at the same time. I do think it is significant that what was found on the search was that: on the outside the barley appeared aviv, yet upon diligent investigation you found that it was not. I believe this can speak to us about our own conclusions on Spiritual matters: that we need to be willing to humbly put in the prayer and effort to seek wisdom that is above partial information, superficial appearance, (and perhaps personal feelings); in order to come to truth. I think this can be humbling for all of us, and instructive that we do not jump to conclusions, nor assume that things should pan out the way we have predetermined God “should” work in the lives of His people.

    A Passage that has inspired me for many years is found in the beginning of Proverbs 2, speaking of what our role needs to be in relation to seeking truth and God’s response to our efforts:

    “My son, if you receive my words,
    And treasure my commands within you,
    So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
    And apply your heart to understanding;
    Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
    And lift up your voice for understanding,
    If you seek her as silver,
    And search for her as for hidden treasures;
    Then you will understand the fear of Yehovah,
    And find the knowledge of God.
    For Yehovah gives wisdom;
    From His mouth come knowledge and understanding;
    He stores up sound wisdom for the upright;
    He is a shield to those who walk uprightly;
    He guards the paths of justice,
    And preserves the way of His saints.
    Then you will understand righteousness and justice,
    Equity and every good path.” (Prov 2)

    I also know very well, that pursuing truth is often very, very difficult in the face of all kinds of oppositional forces. Yet, I do believe that Yehovah is faithful; and that He will reward those willing to have made it their life’s work to seek truth with everything they have – with His knowledge, and the amazing wisdom that comes from His mouth. It’s not about us being “right”; it’s about us loving our God and His ways; and finding tremendous blessing as we trust in Him.

    Thank you for your work, prayers and thoughts on this matter. Praise Yah, that He is opening up the stores of His truth to those of us who seek – for His lovingkindness endures forever.

  • Wanda says:

    Thank you Nehemia for all the hard work you have done, and in bringing your knowledge and understanding to so many of us seeking Yehovah’s Truth…

    There certainly are many interpretations/teachings out there and it can be confusing at times. But that’s when I cling to Yehovah and the many beautiful re-centering scriptures; and for me Proverbs 3:5-8 is certainly one of them.

    So when it’s all said and done I whole heartedly agree with your last 2 paragraphs here, Beautifully written Nehemia, thank you:)

  • wordslea says:

    your words are sweet and true — humility and love for one another is what we desperately need. Thank you.

  • Nancy Fisher says:

    Thank you for your diligent and loving investigations into The Word and what it means for us.

  • Chayah says:

    Shalom Nechemia & Keith,

    You are the very reliable source we depend on here in the states, for the aviv sightings. Since You Teruah, this past year the new moon sightings have been exactly, as here in Arizona. This excites us as we allow the shofar to announce its’ arrival!

    Many thanks for the studies, diligence and work you continue to do. You are truly loved and appreciated! Good Shabbas!

    Yisrael & Chayah

  • Andrea says:

    Thank you! for all the work that you do. I learned a lot from you. Yehovah keep shinning His face upon you. Our Father has plans for each of us I came from Colombia to USA. I did not know anything about our Father my husband shared your page with me and since them I listen every shabbat.

  • Wilhelm Wolfaardt says:

    Hi Nehemia, thanks for your insughts

  • J. Meyer says:

    Shalom – Thank you for your diligent Aviv search. Praise YHWH that you made it safely and shared the search team’s results. Appreciate your openness and transparency.