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

Prophet Pearls #13 – Shemot (Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23)

Jewish exiles returning to the Land of Israel ,Prophet Pearls Shemot, Isaiah, exile, redemption, restoration, haftarah, prophets, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, proof texting, shemot, shofar, tanakh, preceptThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Shemot covering Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23. The theme of exile and restoration in this Prophet’s portion corresponds to the turning point in the Egyptian exile when the midwives were told to murder, the Israelites were told to make bricks without straw and Moses was told, “Now you will see what I will do.” Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #12 – Vayechi (1 Kings 2:1-12)

Prophet Pearls Vayechi, 1 Kings, david, solomon, torah, vayechi, haftarah, hexateuch, Keith Johnson, meod, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, prophets, prophets portionThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Vayechi covering 1 Kings 2:1-12. King David nears death and gives final instructions to Solomon in this portion that parallels the blessings Jacob gave to his sons. David’s “command” to Solomon to “be a man” and to “keep” the “Torah” yields strand after strand of pearls as Gordon teaches on these key words—their  first usage, roots, forms, and the versatile ways in which they are used (and connected) throughout the Tanakh. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #11 – Vayigash (Ezekiel 37:15-28)

Prophet Pearls Vayigash, Ezekiel, Aliyah, tel abib, tel aviv, haftarah, vayigash, Ingathering, Israel, judah, josephus, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, northern kingdom, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, prophets, rabbi akiva, rabbi eliezer, return of exiles, salvation in tanakh, two sticks united

This week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Vayigash, covering Ezekiel 37:15-28. Gordon and Johnson set the stage by describing the pivotal time in the history of Israel and Judah when Ezekiel lived and prophesied. They also share the life-changing encounters they've each had with the writings of this prophet. Word studies include:“son of man,” “join,” the plural of “one,” “settlements,” and the rare context of “save” in this Portion. At center stage are the ten lost tribes of Israel. We learn what Josephus knew about the tribes, as well as the opposing views of Rabbis Akiva and Eliezer regarding their ingathering. Proving one of the rabbis in error, Gordon recounts the day he was driving a tractor on an Israeli kibbutz and witnessed a convoy of Ethiopians traversing the highway—fulfilling Ezekiel’s prophecy as they made Aliyah. Gordon and Johnson close with a prayer that light be shed on all 12 tribes, and that the day soon comes when there is one nation, one temple, and one king. Continue reading