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

In this episode of Prophet Pearls, 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)

05Prophet 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 episode of 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 this episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion of Beha'alotecha covering 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 episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion of Naso 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

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 episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion of Bamidbar 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 #33 – Bechukotai (Jeremiah 16:19-17:14)

Prophet Pearls - Bechukotai (Jeremiah 16:19-17:14)In this episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion of Bechukotai covering Jeremiah 16:19-17:14. Gordon and Johnson discuss the lies that Jeremiah refers to and who inherited them—including the biggest lie of all—the deception concerning God’s name. Gordon addresses Hebrew plural endings and answers the question of every Hebrew 1 student: Why is “Elohim” not always plural? Continue reading

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

Prophet Pearls - 32 - BeharIn this episode of Prophet Pearls, 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 Emor (Ezekiel 44:15-31) with Nehemia Gordon and Keith JohnsonIn this episode of Prophet Pearls, 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 #30 – Kedoshim (Amos 9:7-15)

Prophet Pearls Kedoshim, Amos 9:7-15, Kedoshim, Amos, cushites, caphtor, fruit, haftarah, Ingathering, israel, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, Yehovah, Tanakh, Leviticus, torahIn this episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion of Kedoshim covering Amos 9:7-15. The nine verses of Kedoshim yield riveting questions for Gordon and Johnson to explore: Why were the Philistines brought from Caphtor? Where is Caphtor? Who is the sinful kingdom? What is David’s fallen booth? What other nations bear the name of Yehovah? And why would God tell his chosen they are the “same to me” as the Cushites? To get closer to understanding this jarring rebuke (or was it a loving affirmation?), Gordon provides biblical references for Cush—from the Tanakh and the New Testament—as well as statements of medieval commentators. Continue reading