Prophet Pearls #7 – Vayeitzei (Hosea 12:12-14:9)

Prophet Pearls Vayeitzei (Hosea 12:12-14:9)This week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Vayeitzei, covering Hosea 12:12-14:9. With the ear of the fluent, Gordon informs us of the unique structures and forms of Hebrew used in the northern kingdom, and by its only prophet whose book has survived—Hosea. We learn of Hosea’s penchant for transient imagery, his “Jewish mother” tendencies, and his eight-step prayer. Word studies include: “the shepherd,” “the Leviathan,” “Ephraim,” “sheol,” “moshia,” “kissing calves,” “heal,” and the faulty connection between “bulls” and “fruit.” We also learn that while God prefers mercy over sacrifice, there is one thing for which he shows none. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #6 – Toldot (Malachi 1:1-2:7)

Prophet Pearls Toldot, Malachi, toldot, altarpiece, angel, messenger, haftarah, Keith Johnson, Kohen, Name of God, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, Priests, prophets, Temple Mount, Tetragrammaton, YehovahThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Toldot, covering Malachi 1:1-2:7. If context is key, Gordon and Johnson have opened the door. We learn the exact historical context of Malachi’s message, a specific event at Sinai to which he referred, and the current events on the Temple Mount that prove the Prophet’s words to be as relevant as ever. Gordon tracks down a lost root to clarify the job description of a “messenger” and sets the record straight on “Levites,” “priests” and “cohanim.”  Regarding Malachi’s prophecy, “my name is great among the nations,” Gordon tells of Icelanders and Filipinos who have gathered themselves with Yehovah and encourages listeners to be ready to do likewise. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #5 – Chayei Sarah (1 Kings 1:1-31)

Solomon Crowned King - Prophet Pearls - Chayei Sarah (1 Kings 1:1-31)This week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Chayei Sarah, covering 1 Kings 1:1-31. With clues from Gordon and Johnson, the ancient story of King David’s old age and the ensuing struggle for succession seem as modern as any HBO political drama. The portion opens with a brow-raising account of a woman “warming” the king. But which provides the best explanation—eisegesis or exegesis study methods? The word play between “Adonijah” and “Adonai” provides a virtual romp through the portion, and we learn how Amnon-Absalom-Adonijah and Solomon fit the Hebrew thought pattern of “three and four.” Gordon explains why it’s a big deal to swear by Yehovah as well as why it was dangerous to live in an ancient culture and claim to be a king. Pearls aplenty, but it’s hard to top the one little word that Bathsheba adds when proclaiming l’chaim to King David—“olam.” Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #4 – Vayeira (2 Kings 4:1-37)

Elisha and the Shunnamite's Son by Timothy Welchel, Prophet Pearls Vayeira, 2 Kings 4:1-37, elisha, elijah, keith johnson, nehemia gordon, parsha, prophet, tanakh, resurrection, Shunnamite, yehovah, yhvh, yhwhThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Vayeira covering 2 Kings 4:1-4:37. The miracles of Elisha yield fascinating pearls as Gordon and Johnson discuss the similarities and differences of Elisha’s and Elijah’s stories, the measure of spirit that Elisha really asked for, whether the Shunammite was full of faith or just evasive—and why her travels on Shabbat present problems for both rabbis and Karaites. Gordon looks at other instances of resurrection in the Tanakh and gives chapter and verse explaining how the books of the Tanakh are grouped according to three fields of knowledge. We also learn that whether the prophets are considered “classical” or “literary,” these guys completely expected to be kept in the loop. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #3 – Lech Lecha (Isaiah 40:27-41:16)

Prophet Pearls - Lech Lecha (Isaiah 40:27-41:16)This week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Lech Lecha, covering Isaiah 40:27-41:16. As Isaiah spoke consolation to invaded Israel, Gordon and Johnson console the listener with the deep wells contained in the original Hebrew—nuances that bring even greater comfort from the promises of the Creator. Word studies include: “renewed” strength, “first and last,” “righteousness,” and “eternity”—with the significance of its second root. Gordon and Johnson consider the options concerning “who stirred up from the east” and discuss how the ancient Israelites knew who was speaking in this Portion’s fast-paced dialog. Gordon concludes with the comforting news implied by the winnowing process—not all nations will be carried away. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #2 – Noach (Isaiah 54:1-55:5)

Prophet Pearls - Noach (Isaiah 54:1-55:5)This week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Noach covering Isaiah 54:1-55:5Gordon and Johnson revel in the glorious promises to Israel and explore the various ways the Tanakh allegorizes her: as a barren and abandoned woman, a maidservant, a slave, an owned animal, and yet, wholly and eternally a beloved wife. Original language brings insight to the following words: “foaming” anger, Yehovah of “hosts,” mercy, kibbutz, and “brief” moment. Despite differing views on some issues, Gordon and Johnson stand firmly on common ground concerning the messianic promise as Yehovah connects his eternal covenant with Israel to the seed of David. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #1 – Bereshit (Isaiah 42:5-43:10)

Prophet Pearls Bereshit (Isaiah 42:5-43:10)This week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Bereshit covering Isaiah 42:5-43:10. After a quick tutorial on the origin of the Haftarah, we learn that the Prophets aren't the golden oldies; their writings are as relevant as ever and more current than our news feeds. Gordon and Johnson explore the original context in which this portion was written, followed by the context in 168 BCE when this passage was first read aloud in the synagogue, and finally the context in September 2014 when Netanyahu spoke the holy words of Isaiah to the United Nations. In addition to parsing key words from the portion, Gordon and Johnson answer the following: What service did the Jews provide to the ancient Roman Empire? And since the Creator refers to himself in so many wonderful ways, would he really name himself, “Lord”? In closing, Gordon and Johnson remind us that while God’s one and only name may have been lost for generations, he did not lose ours—he calls every one of his covenant people by name. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #53 – Ha’azinu (2 Samuel 22:1-51)

Prophet Pearls - Ha'azinu (2 Samuel 22:1-51)This week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Haazinu which covers 2 Samuel 22:1-51. As Gordon and Johnson compare this portion to its parallel in Psalm 18, we learn more about the contexts of these living, breathing prayers and prophecies and the families of Levites who read and sang them in the Temple and in synagogues. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #52 – Vayelech (Isaiah 55:6-56:8)

Prophet Pearls Vayelech, everlasting name, everlasting name not cut off, foreigners israel, isaiah, Isaiah 55:6-56:8, jewish soul, joined to israel, Keith Johnson, lavah joined, nehemia gordon, outcasts of israel, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Prophecy, Prophet Pearls, prophets, Vayelech, Vayelech haftarah, vayelech prophets, yad vashemThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Vayelech covering Isaiah 55:6-56:8. Gordon and Johnson rejoice in this portion that heralds good news for the wicked, the unrighteous, the outcasts of Israel, the eunuch and the foreigner. And if none of these describe you, feel free to check “other.” Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #51 – Nitzavim (Isaiah 61:10-63:9)

Prophet Pearls Nitzavim, angel of his presence, Elijah, haftarah, Isaiah 61:10-63:9, Keith Johnson, Metatron Enoch, nehemia gordon, Nitzavim, Nitzavim haftarah, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Prophecy, Prophet Pearls, prophets, prophets portion, Temple Mount, watchmen walls, watchmen walls jerusalem, Yeshua, yeshua haftarah, yeshua reading synagogueThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Nitzavim which covers Isaiah 61:10-63:9. These watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem recount their most recent visit to the Temple Mount and Gordon gives the historical background of Muslim-control of the only holy site in Judaism.  Gordon and Johnson discuss the Isaiah passage read by Yeshua in the synagogue—which confirms first-century Haftarah readings. We learn statistics on named and unnamed angels in the Tanakh and Gordon provides three rabbinical traditions for the “angel of his presence” mentioned in this passage.  In closing, Gordon asks Yehovah to turn the hearts of those who desecrate the Temple Mount—and to send his messengers to help those on the wall do his work. Continue reading