Prophet Pearls #44 – Devarim (Isaiah 1:1-27)

Prophet Pearls Devarim, abominations, abominations to the lord, babylonian talmud, Devarim, haftarah, isaiah, Isaiah 1:1-27, Isaiah 1:18, Isaiah series, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Prophet Pearls, prophets, prophets portion, red ribbon scapegoat, thread of crimson, yoma 39, yoma 39bThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Devarim, covering Isaiah 1:2-27. Devarim kicks off the “Isaiah series” of haftarah readings—the preacher-prophet with a flair for the poetic. Word studies include the pun surrounding “stranger/zareem”; Isaiah’s frequent use of “hoy,” and the word-of-the-week, “HaAdon/the owner-lord-master” (hei,aleph, dalet, vav, nun). Gordon provides three witnesses that the prayers and sacrifices of the wicked are abominable to the Lord—confirming Isaiah’s message that it’s all about obedience. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #43 – Masei (Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4)

Prophet Pearls Masei ,anatot, cisterns in israel, E’evod, Ein Perat, haftarah, jeremiah, Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4, Keith Johnson, makor, makor hebrew foundation, masei, Masei – Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Prophet Pearls, prophets, Qere Ketiv, Tetragrammaton, Yehovah, אעבדThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Masei covering Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4. Gordon gives eyewitness accounts of the springs and cisterns of Israel—springs that are sources and fountains of living water and man-made cisterns that can be rendered worthless. We learn that the “makor” (mem, qoof, reish), the “spring” with which Jeremiah was most familiar, still exists today. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #42 – Matot (Jeremiah 1:1-2:3)

Almond branch in the Valley of Elah. Photo by Nehemia Gordon. This week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Matot, covering Jeremiah 1:1-2:3. Gordon and Johnson provide copious context for the life and times of Jeremiah and the heart-wrenching message he delivered to Jerusalem. The word-of-the-week is “shoked” (shin, qoof, dalet). Its expressions of “almond branch” and “diligence” provide a lesson in creative destruction and an example of a classic Hebrew word pun. Gordon closes with a prayer based on the last verse of the portion—thanking Yehovah for protecting the first fruits of his harvest in Jerusalem, in Israel, and throughout the world. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #41 – Pinchas (1 Kings 18:46-19:21)

Prophet Pearls Pinchas, 1 Kings 18:46-19:21, 1 Kings, elijag mount horeb, elijah and jezebel, elijah mount carmel, elijah mt carmel, elijah mt horeb, etbaal, haftarah, jezebel baal, jezebel sidonian princess, Keith Johnson, mount horeb, Mt. Horeb, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, prophets, spirit of jezebel, still small voice, this silent voiceThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Pinchas (1 Kings 18:46-19:21). Following the smack-down at Mount Carmel, Elijah flees to the desert. But was he “afraid” or did he just “see” what he needed to do? Gordon parses “ra’ah” (reish, aleph, hei) and explains why this word could be translated “afraid” or “saw.” Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #40 – Balak (Micah 5:7[6]-6:8)

Prophet Pearls Balak, Micah 5:7[6]-6:8, balak, biblical idolatry, haftarah, hebrew paragraph divisions, Yehovah, yhvh, Keith Johnson, micah 6:8, nehemia gordon, obedience sacrifice, paragraph divisions, samech pei, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, prophet micah, prophets, remnant, samech pei, what the lord requiresThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Balak (Micah 5:6-6:8). The portion begins with Micah drawing from the song of Moses to illustrate what the remnant of Jacob will look like—“as showers upon grass.” The prophet also provides a list of things that will be cut off “in that day.” And lest we think biblical idolatry is obsolete, Gordon and Johnson provide modern day examples that masquerade as piety. We learn the uses of the paragraph divisions of “samech” and “pei” and Gordon scours the Tanakh for other uses of “in that day.” Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #39 – Chukat (Judges 11:1-33)

Prophet Pearls Chukat, Judges 11:1-33, Ammonites Moabites, chukat, haftarah, Jephthah, Jephthah’s vow, Judges 11:1-33, judges 11:24, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, prophets, religious vows, vow of Jephthah, vowing to God, vowing to Yehovah, Yehovah, yhvhThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Chukat covering Judges 11:1-33. Gordon and Johnson draw parallels between events in this portion and current diplomatic strategies over the land of Israel. For a clearer understanding of Jephthah, the exiled son of a prostitute who brings deliverance to Israel, Gordon provides a summary of the history, religions, and geography of the Ammonites and Moabites. This portion provides an example of properly translating “malach”—where only context determines if it’s “angel” or “messenger.” Gordon and Johnson point out the striking word play found with the word-of-the-week yihyeh “he will be” (yud-hei-yud-hei). Gordon reads from Deuteronomy concerning the seriousness of vowing to Yehovah and provides rabbinical interpretations of Jephthah’s tragic vow. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #38 – Korach (1 Samuel 11:14-12:22)

Prophet Pearls Korach, Samuel, Yehovah, anointed, Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson, Prophets, Gilgal, Torah, biblical, Judges, Jerubbaal, Bedan, Ammonites, Nahash, serpent, witness, Messiah, Saul, mercy, day of wrath, the Name, torah pearls, torah portionThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Korach covering 1 Samuel 11:14-12:22. Gordon and Johnson’s insight into the language, history, and context surrounding Samuel’s trip to Gilgal not only inform the portion at hand, but other passages in the Torah as well as extra-biblical sources from the times of the Judges. Gordon reveals the possible identities of Jerubbaal and Bedan. The name of the king of the Ammonites, Nahash (serpent) illustrates that metaphors need to be studied carefully. The study of the word-of-the-week, “witness/ed” (ayin-dalet), includes an explanation of hollow verbs—where not all letters of the root appear. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #37 – Shlach (Joshua 2:1-24)

Prophet Pearls Shlach, Yehovah, Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson, Prophets portion, Shlach, Joshua, prostitute, Rahab, spies, Jericho, faith, Canaanite, Elohim, Septuagint, rabbis, tikvah, cord, hope, HaTikvah, national anthem, Israel, peace, Jerusalem, torah pearls, torah portion, torah portion shlach, torah pearls shlachIn this week's Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Shlach covering Joshua 2:1-24. In the story of the prostitute Rahab hiding the spies, Gordon and Johnson agree to disagree on their interpretations for Joshua’s motives for sending spies to Jericho. Was it simply prudent reconnaissance, or did it show a lack of faith? And how did a Canaanite prostitute know that Yehovah is Elohim? Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #36 – Beha’alotecha (Zechariah 2:10[2:14]-4:7)

Seven branch menorah.In Prophet Pearls Beha'alotecha, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss Zechariah 2:10[2:14]-4:7. Gordon and Johnson bring their best scholarship along with their best guesses to decipher Joshua’s emotive vision of the angel of the Lord, a satan, a stone with seven eyes, a gold lamp-stand, two olive trees and a brand plucked from fire. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #35 – Naso (Judges 13:2-25)

Prophet Pearls Naso, angel, Yehovah, Judges, Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson, Prophets, Samson, Torah portion, vow, Nazarite, Nazir, unclean, Palestine, Palestinian, hoshiah, to save, Manoah, religious, Zorah, Tanakh, torah pearlsIn this week's Prophet Pearls Naso, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion covering Judges 13:2-25. This portion concerns the birth of Samson and corresponds to the Torah portion which includes the vow of the Nazarite or "Nazir." Gordon explains what made Samson unique as a Nazir as well as different meanings for “unclean.” We learn the history of the name Palestine as well as the “Palestinian” people. Continue reading