Prophet Pearls #34 – Bamidbar (Hosea 1:10-2:20[2:1-22])

Prophet Pearls Bamidbar, betroth, Yehovah, Hosea, Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson, Prophets, Northern Kingdom, Jezreel, Jeroboam, Gomer, prostitute, Lo-ruhamah, Lo-ammi, Israel, syncretism, hishbati, aras, symbolic, spiritual, Torah, torah portion, torah pearlsIn this week's Prophet Pearls Bamidbar, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion covering  Hosea 1:10-2:20 [2:1-22]. Gordon and Johnson begin by establishing a place and time: The Northern Kingdom, its capital Jezreel and the days of Jeroboam II. Enter Hosea, a prophet who offers his whole life as a witnessing tool, his wife Gomer the prostitute, their children: Jezreel, Lo-ruhamah (Not Pitied), and Lo-ammi (Not My People). We learn that the rebuke to Gomer/Israel for “adorning herself with jewelry” is an example of the dangers of syncretism—the spiritual mixing of seed (see link below). Word studies include “hishbati / I will cause to cease” and its root shin-bet-tav and “aras / I will betroth you” with its symbolic spiritual meaning. Gordon and Johnson close by discussing the legalities of betrothal in the Torah as well as the wonderment of being eternally betrothed. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #32 – Behar (Jeremiah 32:6-27)

Prophet Pearls - 32 - BeharThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion of Behar covering Jeremiah 32:6-27. To shed light on Jeremiah’s purchase of a field in this portion, Gordon provides information about archaeological discoveries and how they substantiate and clarify the ancient deeding practices Jeremiah details in this portion.  But of course, the portion isn't solely about the challenges of conducting business while imprisoned in a besieged city; Gordon and Johnson expound on and revel in Jeremiah’s epiphany, “There is nothing too hard for thee.”  (Which brings us to the word-of-the-week: “yipale,” from the root pei-lamed-aleph—that which is wonderful, hidden, or difficult.) The duo debate their differing interpretations of Jeremiah’s catchphrase, “Aha” and Gordon closes in prayer that captives will continue to return to Israel and that rejoicing will increase in the streets of Jerusalem. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #31 – Emor (Ezekiel 44:15-31)

Prophet Pearls EmorIn Prophet Pearls Emor, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion of Emor covering Ezekiel 44:15-31. Apparent contradictions about linen garments, wild hair and blue dye are overshadowed by a more challenging textual variance concerning marriage. But should contradictions (apparent or otherwise) cause divisions, excommunications, or worse—the loss of faith? Despite opposing interpretations, Gordon and Johnson think not, as they settle comfortably with the Jewish method of inquiry where questions are as important as answers and where apparent contradictions only drive understanding. They prove it’s a beautiful thing to interact with the word of God—with the goal of knowing him intimately. That being said, the word-of-the-week is “yarah” (yud-reish-hei). They shall teach. They will torah. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #28 – Metzora (2 Kings 7:3-20)

Prophet Pearls Metzora, 2 Kings 7:3-20, Metzora, 2 Kings, haftarah, Keith Johnson, leprosy, tsara'at, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, two seahs, barley, torah, tanakh, yehovah, prophet pearlsThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion of Metzora covering 2 Kings 7:3-20. The duo strongly connects aspects of this ancient prophecy and its unimaginable fulfillment to 21st century headlines. The names of the cities and rulers have changed, but the themes of social justice, economic theory and crowd control read current. Adding to the hot-off-the-press feel is the fact that the major players (the lepers, the Arameans, and the king) were all just conjecturing. Only the prophet, the one paying closest attention to God, knew what was happening. In addition, Gordon sheds light on the physical and spiritual aspects of leprosy (tsara'at), the value of barley as a commodity, and the nuances of call/proclaim/qara. Gordon closes with a prayer for hearts to accept the word of God—even when its fulfillment is beyond our imaginations. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #26 – Shemini (2 Samuel 6:1-7:17)

Image courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University.This episode of Prophet Pearls is on the Haftorah for Shemini, covering 2 Samuel 6:1-7:17. Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson provide background and insight into this portion focusing on the Ark of the Covenant. Gordon tracks the movements and uses of the Ark from the time of Saul to the last we hear about it, during David’s reign. We learn possible meanings for the unique word “shal” - the reason that Uzzah was slain. Johnson draws prophetic parallels for Obed-edom’s relationship with the Ark and David’s decision to return it to Jerusalem. We learn of  two other instances in the Tanakh where God refers to himself as a father to Solomon, and to Solomon as his son. Gordon closes with a prayer of thankfulness to be in the Land of his fathers and to be part of an era of blessing in which the Torah is going forth from Zion. All this and more in this week's Prophet Pearls! Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #25 – Tzav (Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:22-23)

Prophet Pearls - Haftorah TzavIn this week's Prophet Pearls Tzav, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion covering Jeremiah 7:21-8:3 & 9:22-23. In this portion paralleling the sacrifices in Leviticus, Gordon traipses through millennia to offer explanations for the perplexing statement, “I didn’t command you to bring sacrifices.” So, were sacrifices allowed or commanded? Plan A or plan B? A remedy for idleness or a method for learning principles? Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #24 – Vayikra (Isaiah 43:21-44:23)

Prophet Pearls Vayikra, haftarah, isaiah, prophets, jeshurun, israel, poetic name, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, obedience, sacrifice, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, vayikra, portionThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Vayikra covering Isaiah 43:21-44:23. This portion parallels the Torah’s central section on sacrifices. Gordon and Johnson delve deep into the issues of sacrifice, obedience and idolatry.  Word studies include:  “blot out” (with its historical context of a debt certificate), “first father” (with Jewish and Christian perspectives on original sin), and “bow down” (with its exclusive connection to idolatry). Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #22-23 – Vayakhel Pekudei (1 Kings 7:40-8:21)

Prophet Pearls Vayakhel Pekudei, 1 Kings, arafel, thick darkness, araphel, Beit HaMikdash, haftarah, hiram, Parsha, prophets, portion, torah, solomon’s temple, Yehovah, Vayakhel, PekudeiThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portions for the double portion of Vayakhel-Pekudei covering 1 Kings 7:40-8:21. Gordon and Johnson examine the major concepts in this week’s double-header—primarily what the Tanakh calls the “House of Yehovah” and how history, tradition, and cultures have clouded the world’s view of the place where God chose to put his name forever. Continue reading