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

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 pearlsIn this episode of Prophet Pearls,  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.In this episode of Prophet Pearls, on the Prophets portion of 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 Tzav (Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:22-23) with Nehemia Gordon and Keith JohnsonIn this episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion of Tzav 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, portionIn this episode of Prophet Pearls, 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, PekudeiIn this episode of Prophet Pearls, 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 PearlsIn this episode of Prophet Pearls, 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