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

Prophet Pearls #16 – Beshalach (Judges 4:4-5:31)

Prophet Pearls Beshalach, Judges 4:4-5:31, devorah, israel, judges, torah portion, deborah, barak, jael, prophet, haftarah, jezreel valley, sisera, yehovah, yhvhThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Beshalach covering Judges 4:4-5:31. Although not a “military commander” like the other judges, Deborah coolly commands the military in this portion’s reading—and then writes a lovely song about it to boot. We learn the context of her years as a judge and prophetess and how her administration fits into the life cycle of ancient Israel. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #15 – Bo (Jeremiah 46:13-28)

Prophet Pearls Bo, Jeremiah 46:13-28, egypt, jeremiah, torah portion, prophet, nations, yehovah, yhvh, haftarah, nehemia gordon, keith johnson, parsha, boThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Bo covering Jeremiah 46:13-28. Jeremiah, the prophet to the nations, foretells another “smiting” for Egypt—providing the connection to the Torah portion where the Lord, with a strong hand, brought his people out of Egypt. This time though, the smiting is at the hand of the Babylonians—a fact that provides another glimpse into the ways and means of Yehovah. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #14 – Vaeira (Ezekiel 28:25-29:21)

Prophet Pearls Vaeira, Ezekiel, Yehovah, vaeira, Egypt, Exodus, haftarah, ingathering of exiles, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, Pharaoh, prophets, tsemachThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Vaeira covering Ezekiel 28:25-29:21. This portion reveals Yehovah as maestro—orchestrating kings, nations and events to further the day when the house of Israel, and all mankind, will know who he is. Ezekiel’s prophecy that a revelation of God would result from the ingathering can be witnessed today. However, not all who see believe, and Gordon draws an ominous parallel between Pharaoh claiming the Nile as his own and those who boast about modern-day Israel without giving credit to Yehovah. Continue reading