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

Prophet Pearls #21 – Ki Tisa (1 Kings 18:1-39)

Image courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Prophet Pearls Ki Tisa, 1 Kings 18:1-39, 1 kings, ahab, Elijah, elijah confronts ahab, fire from heaven, haftarah, identity of obadiah, jezebel, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, obadiah, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Prophet PearlsThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Ki Tisa covering 1 Kings 18:1-39. True to their word to do “whatever it takes” to complete Prophet Pearls, Gordon and Johnson convene in Jerusalem to examine the brassiest display of prophetic prowess in the Tanakh. We are drawn into Elijah’s confrontation with Ahab as if for the first time. Hebrew word-plays jump off the page and demand attention. Gordon connects puzzle pieces to propose a fascinating and completely plausible reading of Obadiah’s back story. Who was he and what great news for mankind does he represent? Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #20 – Tetzaveh (Ezekiel 43:10-27)

Prophet Pearls Tetzaveh, Ezekiel, ariel, prophecy, zadok, haftarah, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, God’s name, prophets, yehovah, templeThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Tetzaveh covering Ezekiel 43:10-27. In this Portion, Ezekiel describes the sin offering and the building plan for the Temple. Gordon and Johnson consider whether a spiritual or literal interpretation fits best with the minute details of the plan. We learn the iniquity for which Ezekiel’s listeners were (and we are) to be ashamed as well as the literal meanings of “temple” and “synagogue” and that word choice indicates world view. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #19 – Terumah (1 Kings 5:12[26]-6:13)

Prophet Pearls Terumah, 1 Kings, temple, d’veer, haftarah, hewn stones, Keith Johnson, month of ziv, mythical shamir worm, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, prophets, shamir, shamir worm, solomon’s temple, terumah, terumah haftarah, terumah prophets, YehovahThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Terumah covering 1 Kings 5:12[26]-6:13. Gordon and Johnson provide volumes of contextual insight into this seemingly straight-forward “How to Build a Temple” portion. We learn the importance of the “480 years” date given in this passage, that the forced labor used to build Solomon’s Temple compares favorably to modern practices, and how the coloring of the “hewn stones” beautified the Temple. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #18 – Mishpatim (Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26)

Prophet Pearls Mishpatim, Jeremiah, deror liberty, haftarah, haftarah mishpatim, hebrew word play, hebrew word puns, indentured servants tanakh, Keith Johnson, mishpatim prophets, missing verses in Septuagint, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, prophet jeremiah, prophets, slavery in tanakh, spelling Isaac in TanakhThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Mishpatim covering Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26. Ever obedient servants of context, Gordon and Johnson begin at the beginning—with two verses moved to the end of this Portion by the Rabbis.  In these two verses in which the unfailing laws of nature are equated with God’s promises to Israel, Gordon makes a connection between the theories of physicists and the views of pundits regarding the land of Israel.  Gordon and Johnson further explore why these two verses (and eight others) are missing from the Septuagint and why the spelling of Isaac differs here from elsewhere in the Tanakh. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #17 – Yitro (Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-6)

Prophet Pearls Yitro, Isaiah, haftarah, kadosh kodesh kadish kiddush, Keith Johnson, masoretic notes, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, prophets, yitro, portionThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Yitro covering Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-6. Gordon compares Isaiah’s succinct vision of heaven to accounts in Kings, Ezekiel and Daniel. We see a “real” Adonai is this Portion and learn about the importance of the Masoretic notes. Gordon and Johnson tackle the problematic issue of Isaiah actually seeing God and explain where Isaiah got the idea that fire cleanses. Continue reading