Hebrew Gospel Pearls #1 – Matthew 1:1-17

Watch the premiere of the first ever episode of Hebrew Gospel Pearls, Matthew 1:1-17! If you would like to see Nehemia Gordon produce more episodes of Hebrew Gospel Pearls, please support his ministry, so he can continue his research and share his teachings.

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Messiah in Hebrew Matthew Study by Nehemia Gordon


Hebrew Gospel Pearls #1 - Matthew 1:1-17

You are listening to Hebrew Gospel Pearls with Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon's Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.

Keith: Welcome, my friends, on this special day of Shavuot/Pentecost, depending on what tradition you come from, to the launch of Hebrew Gospel Pearls, uncovering the pearls of language, history and context of the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew.

Keith: I am here with my friend and Hebrew scholar, Nehemia Gordon. Nehemia, I’ve been waiting 18 years for this. Tell me it’s really happening. Is it really happening?

Nehemia: Well, at least we’re going to do the first episode, and if God graces us with more life, hopefully we’ll continue to do more. This first episode, we’re actually going to just jump into it and do Matthew 1 verses 1 through 17, which is the first section in Hebrew Matthew.

Keith: I hate to interrupt you. I know you’re Nehemia Gordon from the Hebrew University. There’s no 17 in the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. [laughing] It’s a red alert, are you kidding me?!

Nehemia: You know what? There’s no verse 17, okay. So, it’s Matthew 1 verses 1 through 16 in the Hebrew Matthew, verse 17’s actually omitted, but we’ll talk about verse 17 as it appears in the Greek. And I think that’s a great opportunity to explain to people - this is not, at least from my perspective, what I don’t envision us doing is only looking at the Hebrew and ignoring the Greek. On the contrary, the Greek is the basic text, and we’ll be looking at the Hebrew and comparing it. And really, as I prepared this section, Keith, I think a lot of the things we’ll be discussing are bigger issues that don’t even have anything to do… I mean, even if we didn’t have the Hebrew, these would be issues that are worth discussing and worthy of study, just to understand the Gospel of Matthew from a Hebrew perspective, even if we didn’t have the Hebrew Matthew. And even now, more so with the Hebrew Matthew does it shed some more light on it.

Keith: You know, it’s interesting, Nehemia, we did some preparation for this, and it has really, really been exciting. And we’ve been talking about the different things that we were going to bring to bear on this study. Could you give the folks just a few of the sources we’re going to use as we prepare to jump into this?

Nehemia: What I envisioned doing is I would take the 28 manuscripts of Hebrew Matthew that I have on my computer, images of them, and I would compare word by word each verse. And of course, we don’t have 28 for any individual verse. Like for example, chapter 1 - I don’t remember the exact number, I have it here somewhere - but it’s something like maybe 15 manuscripts or something. I can actually look it up here. And so I thought that’s really all that would be involved, and as I studied this, we came upon some incredible sources. And I want to maybe hold some of those in reserve and share later.

Keith: Before you do that, I just want to say one thing, because sometimes you’ll quickly pass over this. And I want people to understand this, because there is some confusion. The 28 manuscripts that you have found – and there are some people that have heard this story, but I want people to understand a little bit about what that process was, Nehemia, because it really is the reason that really, when you went, “Pow, yep, we should do it,” it was because we were dealing with the manuscripts, not just Howard’s manuscripts, which were based on nine manuscripts that he had. But could you give us just a little bit about what that process was?

Nehemia: So Howard had the nine manuscripts that he lists in his book, and what I did is I went to the National Library of Israel, to the Institute of… At the time, it wasn’t the National Library, it was the Jewish National and University Library. And I looked through the catalog of the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts, which attempts to have photographs of every Hebrew manuscript in the world. And I say “attempts to have” because over the last year I’ve learned that that’s not entirely true. They have a large percentage of the Hebrew manuscripts in the world, photographed. And once they had the photographs, then they would catalog them and say, “Okay, we have microfilm number 51023. What’s in there?” And they would write down what was in there.

And sometimes, they’re catalogued in detail, because one of the things that would happen in Hebrew manuscripts is you would have somebody who would order a manuscript from a scribe and he’d say, “You know, I’m a doctor, and so I want something in this manuscript about medicine. But in my spare time I also want to study Maimonides. But I’m also interested in astronomy.” So, you’d have a manuscript that was a collection of like five different things copied from five different sources. And what they did in the Institute of Microfilmed Hebrew Manuscripts is they went through every one of the manuscripts they had photographs for - even some they didn’t have photographs for, they actually went to the library and catalogued it by hand without even bringing photographs back - and they made this database.

And so, I opened up the database and asked the simple question, “First, what are the nine manuscripts that Howard had? I want to see them with my own two eyes, at least the photographs with my own two eyes.”

Keith: That’s important.

Nehemia: Then I said, “What other manuscripts are there?” Howard mentions in the introduction to his book from 1987, The Gospel of Matthew According to a Primitive Hebrew Text, he says, “This is just the foundation.” You know, he explains something there which was really important which is that… Why did Howard do this in the first place? He kind of stumbled upon Hebrew Matthew. Up until Howard, everybody who had discussed Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew had understood it to be the same version that was published in the 1500s by these two priests, one was a Protestant priest named Munster, and the other was a Catholic priest named DuTillet. And each one of them found or said they found a Hebrew manuscript among the writings of the Jews with Matthew in it, and then they published it.

Everyone assumed that Munster and DuTillet’s Matthew was the same as Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew. And Howard, out of curiosity, ordered a copy from the British Library and he immediately saw this is completely different – not completely, 100 percent different, but from the time of Shem Tov through DuTillet, it’s gone through this incredible revision, where it looks much more like the Greek text in DuTillet and Munster. But in the Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew, which is what we’ll be discussing primarily, preserves things that you don’t find in the Greek sometimes. Like verse 17 - the whole verse is omitted.

Keith: Right. Just one little thing he said in there, and this is related to what you’re about to talk about. He says, “When I examined Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew more carefully, I was astounded to discover that its core was an original Hebrew composition, not a translation. Moreover, the kind of Hebrew in which it was written is just what one would expect of a document composed in the 1st century AD and preserved by Jews during the Middle Ages.” That’s a pretty big statement.

Nehemia: It’s an extremely bold statement, and he’s been heavily criticized for it. But it’s very important what he says, if you read his article – and we called upon the people to read the article in preparation for this – he wrote an article in 1986, and I want to read some excerpts. He says, “It is now possible to recover much of the original Hebrew composition from an extant manuscript.” That’s profoundly different from saying, “I have the original written by Matthew in the 1st century.” And he gives the analogy, he talks about Ben Sira, or the Wisdom of Sirach, which is part of the Apocrypha.

So, we have the full Greek text that was preserved by the Christian Church as part of the Septuagint. We have manuscripts from the 3rd century, around the year 300. And in the Wisdom of Sirach or Ben Sira, it says in the introduction that it was translated from Hebrew by the grandson of the author, and he’s writing that around 175 BC, meaning the book itself was written around 200 BC. But we don’t have the Hebrew original, or we didn’t have the Hebrew original. And it was debated for centuries: Is it true that it was written in Hebrew? Or is this just kind of something to give it more credibility? The author claims it was written in Hebrew in give it more spice. People will look at that and say, “Oh, this is a legitimate document.” Because it wasn’t just written in Greek, it was written in Hebrew and translated into Greek. Or was it really written in Hebrew? This was a debate in scholarship for hundreds of years.

And then, in 1896 these two Scottish sisters, Lewis and Gibson, were traveling through Cairo and they came upon the Ben Ezra Synagogue. And in the Ben Ezra Synagogue they found these documents in a closet. And they asked the people there, “Can we have these?” And they bought the documents from the Jews there, and brought them back to Cambridge University to a professor there named Solomon Schechter. And Solomon Schechter immediately recognized one of the documents as the Hebrew text of Ben Sira.

Now, you’d think it would end here. We have the Hebrew text of Ben Sira. However, it was from the Cairo Genizah and dated to around the year 1000. And people said, “Wait a minute. We have Ben Sira from 300 AD in the Greek. That Hebrew text from the year 1000 is 700 years later. It’s probably a translation from Greek.” In other words, they’re saying, “Even if it was written in Hebrew, it was translated into Greek and then translated back into Hebrew.” And this was hotly debated about whether it was even originally written in Hebrew, even after Solomon Schechter published the Hebrew text. And he had multiple manuscripts, as well.

And it wasn’t until Yigal Yadin, the Israeli archaeologist from Hebrew University, went to excavate at Masada, and at Masada they uncovered fragments of the original Hebrew of Ben Sira. And this finally definitively proved that Ben Sira, the Wisdom of Sirach, was originally written in Hebrew, and from there translated into Greek.

Now, what Howard points out is a very important point - if you compare the fragments found by Yigal Yadin on Masada from around the year 0 – there isn’t a year 0, right, but let’s say 100 BC, or 50 BC – so if you compare those to the one from the year 1000, it’s gone through a major change, meaning, as scribes copied the text they would maybe put things into their own language, they would change the wording. Often, it might not be on purpose, it would just be out of habit. There would be a certain term there and they would replace it with a different term they were more familiar with. And so what happened is, we have the full Greek text of Ben Sira, which we know was translated from Hebrew around 175 BC. We have fragments, a verse here and a verse there, in Hebrew, from the 2nd Temple period found at Masada. And then, we have a much fuller text - not the entire text, but most of the text - and a number of manuscripts from the Cairo Genizah.

Now, that doesn’t mean that the Hebrew from the Cairo Genizah is exactly what Ben Sira wrote in 200 BC, because the text went through changes over time. And the point is that Howard compared this to Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew. He said, “Look, these rabbis preserved it. And as they preserved it, they would do things that rabbis would do. For example, if they saw God’s name, Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, there’s no way they would leave that in the Gospel of Matthew. They would replace that with “Hashem”. We know that’s what the Jewish scribes would do.

And so, just as Ben Sira was written in Hebrew, translated into Greek, and we have a Hebrew descendant of that text from the Cairo Genizah, he argued that this Hebrew Matthew text was analogous, that it wasn’t word-for-word what Matthew wrote in the 1st century, but within it, you could recover some of the original text.

Keith: Now, here’s the important part about this, and I think you were uniquely crafted to be able to do this. Howard says that one of the difficulties with these manuscripts is they’re very difficult to decipher. If you look at what’s behind me, this is a page from the manuscript that Howard was looking at, and if you notice the first script that you see, that looks like… that’s something that we could read. But just under that, Nehemia, it’s a different script. Can you explain to people why that is?

Nehemia: So, with respect to Howard, it’s difficult to decipher for someone who’s been trained in Biblical Hebrew, who only knows the square script, but you study the Medieval cursive and semi-cursive and medial, and there are many different Hebrew scripts. Once you get to know those scripts, they’re actually quite easy to read. But some of them are not, to be fair, like the Sephardic cursive from a relatively early period, there are three different forms of Aleph on the same line, sometimes in the same two-word span. So that’s a little bit difficult, but this script is quite easy to read. But if you weren’t trained in how to read this script, it would be difficult for you.

Keith: Let me just say this. You were trained in the ability to do this. And what his point is, he says that people that are interested in it have a difficulty deciphering it.

Nehemia: Actually Keith, I wasn’t trained in this script. So, I was trained in a way, I was prepared. I wasn’t trained.

Keith: You were prepared.

Nehemia: So, here’s how I was prepared. My first year at Hebrew University, I probably only understood about 80 percent of what the professors were saying, and I realized if I didn’t get someone’s detailed notes of what was taught, I would fail my tests. And there were these young ladies who were in my classes, and they wrote down everything the professor said, and I mean, everything. This was before people were typing away on the computer. It was written by hand, and literally, the professor would sometimes say, “Okay, this is an administrative matter, don’t write this down,” and they would write that down, too.

So, I went to five different young ladies and I said, “Can I have your notes? Can I photocopy your notes?” and I photocopied them. And then I sat down to prepare for the tests and I opened up the notes and I realized I couldn’t read them. But they were in Hebrew, why couldn’t I read them? Because in kindergarten I was taught to write Hebrew, but I was taught to write Hebrew the way that Diaspora Jews were taught in the 1970s to write Hebrew.

The way they write Hebrew in Israel is different. Not only is it different, within Israel it’s different! So I had five sets of notes, hand-written, and each set of notes used a different alphabet. It was Aleph, Bet, Gimmel, Dalet, Hey, but the Bet of one girl was different from the Bet of another girl, the third girl, who was a Yemenite, she had a different Bet. And I thought, “I’m going to fail the test. What am I going to do?” and I started to panic.

And then I realized, “Okay.” We had a class in Hebrew epigraphy, where you took Paleo-Hebrew and you just sat down and you deciphered it. So, I sat down and I said, “Okay, I know that’s the word ‘et’, because et appears every time there’s a direct object, a determined direct object. So, that’s the Aleph and that’s the Tav. Okay, we’ve got the et. I know that’s a Bet. That’s a Kaf. And literally, it took me probably an hour for each set of notes, and I deciphered what it said. I determined that’s a final Nun, that’s a final Tzadi.[laughing]

Keith: Nehemia, you know you said you weren’t trained and you learned. But guess what? You were in effect.

Nehemia: In a way. So, I did the same thing with this text behind you - I sat down and I learned what the alphabet was. And this alphabet’s frankly a lot easier than the notes I had in my undergrad, because the Aleph looks a lot like an aleph and the hey looks a lot like a cursive Hey. I mean, this was easier.

Keith: Here’s the thing. I just want to establish one thing. Those 28 manuscripts that you scoured the library for, they are in these different types of script. It’s not an easy thing to read. You have learned to read it. So, when were you able to discuss them?

Nehemia: Oh, they’re in a dozen different scripts. They’re not just in the scripts… I wouldn’t say a dozen, there were many different scripts, because they’re from different centuries from different places. Like the one behind you is in Italian, I would call it a “medial script”. You know, those terms are hotly debated. [laughing]

Keith: But here’s the point. You’re about to launch into 1 through 17, 1 through 16 in Hebrew, and you have been able to look at 28, potentially 15, like you said, depending on what we’re reading. I just want to establish the fact that that’s the beauty of the whole thing…

Nehemia: It’s actually 16 manuscripts that preserve chapter 1 verses 1 through 16 of Hebrew Matthew.

Keith: So, I just want to tell folks, this is a gift. I want to thank you. Let’s move into it. Thank you very much for explaining that.

Nehemia: Okay. Wow, there’s so much to talk about here. I want to read a couple more things from Howard’s article. It’s called the Gospel of Matthew Originally Written in Hebrew, or Was the Gospel of Matthew Originally Written in Hebrew? from 1986. He says, “I do not mean to suggest that the Hebrew in Shem Tov’s text is pure 1st century AD Hebrew, for it clearly is not.” And we’ll see an example later, or very soon I think, of that, where it has the Latin word “Christos”. I mean, obviously, that’s not Hebrew 1st century. “The 1st century text must be linguistically excavated, so to speak. Shem Tov’s Matthew is written in Biblical Hebrew with a healthy mixture of Mishnaic Hebrew and later Rabbinic vocabulary and idioms. It also reflects changes by Medieval Jewish scribes, who among other things attempted to make it read more like the Greek.”

In other words, as the scribes copied it, they said, “Wait a minute. Verse 17 is missing.” And some scribes supplied verse 17, meaning there’s some Hebrew Matthew manuscripts that have verse 17, because they said, “That’s missing.” Well, according to Howard it’s missing because it wasn’t originally in that version. “Moreover, the primitive layer of Shem Tov’s Matthew,” Howard says, “is written in an unpolished style and is filled with ungrammatical constructions and Aramaicized forms and idioms,” meaning Aramaic was a predominant language in the 1st century, and even the Jews who spoke Hebrew, it was heavily colored by Aramaic. An analogy would be Tejanos, that is people of Spanish descent in Texas who speak Spanish - I’m not an expert in Spanish, but I’m told their Spanish is not the Spanish they speak in Mexico. It’s heavily colored by English, because they’re surrounded by English speakers.

“In these characteristics, it resembles many of the Dead Sea Scroll fragments and gives the appearance of belonging to the same time frame. Reading Shem Tov’s Matthew,” Howard says, “is often like reading one of the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

Keith: Can I bring one thing about this, just from the issue of perspective? We have said for years, and we’re saying it again, this is not the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew that we believe Matthew penned. This is a witness

Nehemia: Absolutely! Say, “witness”.

Keith: Let me say it again, a witness that we can use when we look at the English and the Greek and the Hebrew and all of these things together, we can come to what we call, “It smells like there’s a taste of the original Hebrew.” There’s some folks that get frustrated, because they say, “I can’t find this word. It’s not in the Tanakh.” That’s because that particular word, whether it was the Mishnaic Hebrew, or in fact maybe even some Yiddish, a little bit, every once in a while…

Nehemia: Yiddish? I’m not aware of any Yiddish in Hebrew Matthew.

Keith: …a couple of things that just are not Biblical Hebrew, is the point.

Nehemia: I don’t think there’s any Yiddish in Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew. [laughing]

Keith: Aramaic. I’m sorry, it’s Aramaic.

Nehemia: Aramaic, and there are Latin words that we’ll see, which are obviously glosses.

Keith: But these words are not all exactly what was, but we have a witness. So, this is why this is so exciting, and this is the first time we’ve had someone looking at all 28 manuscripts that you’ve been about to scour.

Nehemia: I want to read something else Howard wrote, or I’ll explain it. It’s a really important point. So, he brings the analogy first to Ben Sira, right? And what that means is, we know Ben Sira’s written around 200 BC, or we believe now that it was true that it was translated from Hebrew. But the one from the year 1000 isn’t identical word-for-word. It’s been transmitted, and over that period of transmission, sure, things changed. It’s a witness to the original Hebrew that sometimes gets behind some of the problems in the Greek and gives us a better understand than we’d have from the Greek alone, but you have no choice with studying Ben Sira. The Greek is still the primary text.

Keith: There it is.

Nehemia: This whole section’s where there is no Hebrew text, there’s only Greek. That’s with Ben Sira. So, another analogy of Howard, this is really important because people will say, “Nehemia, you’re saying that Matthew was a translation from the Hebrew.” Well, yes and no. Not exactly. So, he brings the analogy of Josephus. Josephus was a Jew from the Galilee who was a general in the army of the Jewish rebels against the Romans. He was captured by the Romans and then remained a prisoner of the Romans for the rest of his life, and he wrote a book called The Jewish War. You could tell just from the name, he wrote it from the Roman perspective, because from the Jewish perspective, it was the Roman war.

So, he wrote this book called The Jewish War, and in the introduction he makes the statement that he has written this in Hebrew. Now, some people say when he says “Hebrew” he means Aramaic. That seems rather unlikely to me. And then later… here let me read it to you, because it’s that important, because here we have… So, it’s Jewish War, it’s the first section. He says, “Whereas the war which the Jews made with the Romans has been the greatest of all those, not only…” So basically, he’s saying, this is the biggest war of his period. This wasn’t some minor skirmish for the Romans, it was a major war.

And he says, “Everybody else is lying about it.” Verse 3 of War, chapter 1 verse 3, “I propose to myself for the sake of such as live under the government of the Romans to translate those books into the Greek tongue, which I formerly composed into the language of our country and sent to the Upper Barbarians.” And by “Upper Barbarians” he means the Jews living the Partheon Empire, that is Babylonia, which today is Iraq and Iran, essentially, and possibly what today is Yemen.

“I Joseph, the son of Matthias, by birth a Hebrew, a priest also and one who has first fought against the Romans myself and was forced to be present at what was then afterwards, am the author of this work.” So, he’s telling you, he first wrote it in Hebrew, or he says, “The language of our country,” and then for those who don’t know Hebrew he translated it into Greek. Now, if you look at the Greek – I’m not a Greek expert to the degree where I can say this, but Greek experts say this – the Greek sure has a flavor of Hebrew, but it also flows pretty well. It’s pretty good in Greek.

And what Howard argues, and others have said, is that it wasn’t that he took it and translated it word-for-word, he essentially rewrote it in Greek. And they describe this as a first recension, the Hebrew recension and the Greek recension. And Howard argued that Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew was simply the Hebrew recension of which the Greek recension was written by Matthew as well. Are you with me on that? That’s a key point.

Keith: A hundred percent.

Nehemia: So, we’re not saying, “Oh, let’s throw away the Greek, it’s just a later Greek translation.” We’re not saying that at all.

Keith: Nehemia?

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: We can’t throw away the Greek. They made me take hours, and hours, and hours.

Nehemia: What was your Greek course called?

Keith: And hours. First one was “Suicide Greek”, then I had to take “Exegesis”. And what I’m telling you is, hours or Greek. And what you did in throwing me the curveball, 18 years, say “18.”

Nehemia: 18.

Keith: 18 years ago, when you said, “The Hebrew Gospel of Matthew”, I will tell you, I’ll confess to the world, the first thing I thought is, “He found the original Matthew! Are you kidding me?!” And over time I learned that we have a witness. But I’ll tell you something, this witness is filled with pearls. So, I want to get into that.

Nehemia: All right, let’s jump right in. I’m not exactly sure how we’re going to do this, because we’ve never done it before, but why don’t we start with… can I read a few verses just in the Hebrew?

Keith: Oh, I would love it if you would do Matthew…

Nehemia: One of the things we did is, we involved a vowel expert who put the vowels in. I could read it without vowels, but for anybody else who wants to read it, it probably would help them if they’re not fluent in Hebrew. “Eleh toldot Yeshua ben David ben Avraham.” “These are the toldot, the generations, of Yeshua, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

Keith: Stop. If that’s as far as we go, this is going to be amazing. Can I please…?

Nehemia: This is a very controversial verse in the Hebrew.

Keith: This verse is huge. I want to tell everyone, when I first read this verse, I was a brand-new person, a brand-new Christian, when I was aged 15 and they handed me a book and they said, “Here’s the book you’re supposed to read.” You may have heard this story before, but I started reading. And in English it says, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”

I can confess to you, I don’t mind saying it, when I first learned the name Jesus Christ, I figured that was a first and a last name. So later, I learned Joseph Christ and Mary Christ. I’m not trying to be funny, they put in here - this is the genealogy, the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ - the son of David and the son of Abraham. And from my perspective, I’m asking a question. “Who’s David, who’s Abraham?” Now, read the first verse again in Hebrew and you find a really major difference.

Nehemia: So, “Eleh toldot Yeshua, “these are the generations of Yeshua,” “ben David”, “the son of David,” “ben Avraham”, “the son of Abraham.”

Keith: When you read that first verse, what jumps off – there’s no Christos there. There’s no Mashiach in that. This must be an anti-Messiah as they’ve made charges against him. This is an anti-Messiah…

Nehemia: So, for those who don’t know, literally… I don’t know how much of this we want to share… Well, I mean, it was a public event. We were speaking, and there was another speaker, and he got up and he pointed at me with spittle coming out of his mouth and he says, “That man wants you to believe this Hebrew Matthew which is anti-Messiah!” And his proof was that in verse 1 of chapter 1 it doesn’t say “Mashiach”, it doesn’t say, “Yeshua haMashaich, which in the Greek is “Yesu Christu,” Yeshua Messiah.” It just says, “Yeshua” and therefore, it’s anti-Messiah.

Keith: And what happened for me as we were studying this…

Nehemia: Anti-Christ.

Keith: As we were studying this.

Nehemia: Anti-Christ Jew!

Keith: I asked a question, “For a new Christian who’s reading this, I need an explanation of who this is, this is in English, Jesus Christ.” But when you as a Jew read the first sentence, isn’t there something also that jumps off the page when you find out, “Son of David”? What does that make you think of?

Nehemia: So, the first thing you hear when you hear “Son of David” is, we’re looking for the son of David. The son of David is another way of saying, “The Messiah”. When you say “Ben David” today, it’s the Messiah, right?

Keith: So, the Greek has to help me.

Nehemia: Especially since he’s not David’s literal son, right? Even by the genealogy, there are multiple generations, right?

Keith: If I don’t know who David and Abraham are, it’s helped me by saying, “Listen, just in case you don’t know about David and Abraham, his name is Yesus Christus, Jesus Christ.” So, immediately I’m supposed to know that. I’ve just prayed this prayer. This is now the Bible verse that’s going to help me understand it. But for you, this is important for people to hear. When you and I talked about this verse, when you read, “Son of David,” you’re not confused.

Nehemia: No, it’s clear. So, what you’re saying is that adding Christ in there or Mashiach could essentially be a gloss for the non-Jewish audience to say, “Oh, ben David, that’s what we mean. That’s Christ.”

Keith: Yes, but in Hebrew it doesn’t have that. We’re going to find later…

Nehemia: So the claim was, when the man accused this of being anti-Messiah, was that nowhere in the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew, in Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew, was Yeshua called “Messiah”. So, I did a systematic study, I want to share this with the people. I’ll make this a PDF available on nehemiaswall.com. So, I went through every time the word “Mashiach” appears in the Hebrew and “Christ” appears in the Greek. Can we go through some of these? It’s a little bit tricky, because Herod says, “Where will the Messiah be born?” So, does that refer to Yeshua? Well, Herod doesn’t know it refers to Yeshua, he just is looking for somebody who’s going to be king in his stead, right? Because Herod was a king of Israel, but he wasn’t an anointed king. A Mashaich means “anointed one”. So, he’s worried, “Okay, there’s a usurper who’s going to take my crown, and he’s an anointed king. Who’s that?” He doesn’t know it’s Yeshua. He has no idea who it is. He doesn’t even ask the name, he just wants to know where it’s going to be. It doesn’t occur to him that somebody would know the name.

Okay, so in Matthew 1:1 we have “Yesu Christu,” Jesus Christ, but in the Hebrew, it’s just “Yeshua”. Does that mean that the Hebrew there is saying Yeshua is not the Messiah? And remember, guys, I’m the Karaite Jew - I’m just studying this text, trying to understand what the text is saying, not what I’m saying, right? So, in Matthew 1:16 it does call him “Mashiach”. Can we read that? That’s in our section, so let’s read that.

So, Matthew 1:16, “Miriam, the mother of Yeshua who was called Mashiach.” And then the Hebrew adds, “uvela’az,” “And in the foreign tongue, Christos.” So, this is a textbook gloss. What is a gloss? A gloss is… They didn’t have hyperlinks back in the old days. So, if there was a word that people wouldn’t understand, they would sometimes write it in the margin. And in this case, they must have written in the margin, “and in the foreign tongue, Christos”. Why would they write that? Because the Jews who were copying this in the time of Shem Tov, the purpose was to debate the Catholics. They were forced into these debates called “The Disputations”. They were forced into these disputations against the Catholics to defend Judaism. And so, in order to do that, they had to read what’s in the New Testament.

And so if you’re debating with the Catholic, calling him “Mashiach” isn’t going to help. You’ve got to know what the Latin word is. And so here it says in the foreign tongue, “Christos”, that’s a later gloss. So, here in verse 16, all you had to do was read 16 verses later. So, in verse 1, you’re right, it doesn’t call him “Yeshua Mashiach”. But all you had to do was read 15 more verses and you would have found that he’s… I mean, it’s almost on the same page. I don’t remember if in Howard’s text if it’s on the same page.

Keith: It’s his bookmark. I mean, you start out with Yeshua and you end with the issue of...

Nehemia: So, here it says, “Yeshua who was called ‘Mashiach.’” So the narrator’s telling you, He’s the one who is called “Mashiach”. So to say that he’s not called “Mashiach” in Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew, I mean, you can’t get out of the first chapter without him being called “Mashiach” in the Hebrew.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: Now here’s the interesting thing. You’d think, “Wait a minute. Why did they remove one from the Hebrew?” Well, maybe they added one to the Greek. One of the things you learn, the most basic idea of New Testament criticism, is about how when the scribes would copy things, they had certain formulas. And then, the formulas they would use in daily speech - these were monks who copied the New Testament - and in daily speech, every time they said “Jesus” they would say, “Christ, our Lord”. And so you find in some of the later Medieval manuscripts… in the earlier Greek texts they’ll just say, “Yesus”, Jesus, but in some of the later ones it’ll say, “Jesus Christ” and then, “Jesus Christ, our Lord”, right? This is basic New Testament Criticism 101, that there was an expansion of that title, because when these priests would talk to each other and they would say the name “Jesus”, they felt it was disrespectful not to say, “Christ, our Lord”. It was just considered a sign of respect, just like Jews today when they say, “Moshe”, or Orthodox Jews, whenever they say, “Moshe”, that is Moses, they’ll say, “Moshe Rabbeinu”, right? They won’t just say, “Moshe”. You can’t have a conversation with Orthodox Jews…

Keith: “Our rabbi.”

Nehemia: …and say, “Moshe”. They’ll say, “Moshe Rabbeinu, our rabbi” So, imagine – and this didn’t happen, as far as I know – but imagine if they’re copying it… Or I’ll give you an example where it did happen. If they were copying it and they put in “Rabbeinu”, and it didn’t happen in the Tanakh, but where it did happen is if you go back like 750 years, one of the common titles for God is “Hakadosh”, “The Holy One”. Now, in daily speech, what Jews would do is whenever they said, “Hakadosh” they would say, “Baruch Hu, Blessed be He, to the point where it’s now almost a single word. You know, American Jews say “Hakadosh Baruch Hu” as if it’s one word, the Holy One Blessed be He. So, what you have in Medieval manuscripts, not in the Tanakh, but of other works, is the original writer wrote, “Hakadosh”, we can see that in the manuscripts, but later when it was printed it became “The Holy one, Blessed be He”. “Blessed be He” was interpolated. It was inserted by the copyists.

And that might be what happened here, right? In other words, two possibilities. One is, the Hebrew omitted accidentally or on purpose the word “Christ”, “Mashiach, and the second possibility is that the Greek expanded it either on purpose, like you said, because the gentile reader might not have known the significance of ben David, or by accident, because it’s just part of his daily speech.

All right, the next one is Matthew 1:17 where the Greek has “Christ”. Well, that verse isn’t in the Hebrew, so it doesn’t tell us anything. Matthew 1:18 has “Jesus Christ”, and in the Hebrew it only has “Yeshua”, It does not have “Mashiach”. So, if you’re looking for places to pin it on Hebrew Matthew and say he took out the word “Mashiach”, that’s a possibility or maybe the Greek added it, right? Or maybe when Matthew wrote it in Hebrew, he didn’t put it in, because the Jews knew who we were talking about, and in the Greek he did put it in, because they needed more information in the Greek.

Matthew 2:4 is Herod, it has it in both. Matthew 11:2 is really interesting, and we’ll get to that. It’s the narrator speaking.

Keith: We’re going to get to 11:2? Somebody say, “amen”.

Nehemia: By the grace of God, we will get to 11:2. But if we don’t, so there it’s talking about John was interested in what’s happening - I’m paraphrasing – with Christ, and in the Hebrew it doesn’t say “Christ”, it says, “Yeshua”. So, there, Yeshua’s in place of Christ. In the other place it had “Jesus Christ”, Yeshua, Christ was omitted but Yeshua was still there. Here, Yeshua’s actually in place of “Mashiach”. That’s interesting, Matthew 11:2.

Matthew 16:16, he’s talking to Peter. And there, it has “Christ” or “Mashiach” in both the Hebrew and the Greek. Matthew 16:20, now this is interesting. Can you read Matthew 16:20? I know we want to get to Matthew 1:1 through 16, but this one’s important. In case we don’t get to Matthew 16, by the grace of God, at least we’ll have talked about every verse in the Book of Matthew where Yeshua is called “Mashiach” in the Hebrew and in the Greek. Can I get an amen?

Keith: Yes. 16:20. “Then he warned the Disciples that they should tell no one that was He was the Christos, the Christ.”

Nehemia: Right. So, Nestle-Aland 28, which is the most recent compilation of all the manuscripts, it’s considered authoritative by scholars, or the most reliable by scholars, has “Christ”. However, the Byzantine text has “Jesus Christ”, which is interesting, that He would not tell them that He was Jesus Christ? Well, everybody knows He’s Jesus, right? [laughing] And the Hebrew has “Mashiach”, so here it’s not that the Hebrew has “Mashiach” and the Greek has “Jesus Christ”, one version of the Greek has “Christos”, another version has “Yesus Christos”, Jesus Christ. So there’s variation within the Greek, as well, and of course, there is variation in some cases, in the Hebrew.

Keith: Nehemia, a lot of people don’t know – I think what is it, approximately 5,000 different Greek manuscripts, New Testament, and many changed differences. This is what’s called “text criticism”, trying to figure out what the original…

Nehemia: This is called the Byzantine Majority Text. Basically, you had these guys, these monks in Byzantine monasteries, let’s say from the 10th to the 15th century, and they’re copying the New Testament, and it’s not always the most accurate copy. And so there they’re definitely… Here’s an example of an expansion, right? You’re going to say, “Christ” without Jesus? I mean, that doesn’t make sense to them, so they added “Jesus” there. Or the Hebrew and the earlier Greek removed it, right? Again, it’s…

Keith: Is it’s fair to say, at least for us… Now again, this is Shavuot. We’re bringing both a Jewish and Gentile perspective to the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. And in that first verse, there’s common ground there. The common ground for me, when I’m first reading it, is they’re explaining to me who this person is called “Jesus”. For you, when you see “Son of David” you’re back in Samuel, you’re in Chronicles about the promise…

Nehemia: I’m in Isaiah chapter 11, “A shoot shall come forth from Jesse,” right? This is ben David.

Keith: But isn’t it interesting, right away in the first verse, instead of something where guys are yelling at you saying, “This is what you’re trying to do,” there is commonality right there, which actually we can source, Nehemia.

Nehemia: I want to hold that, because I want to go through every verse. We’re almost done. I’ll do this quickly, and I’ll put up the PDF on nehemiaswall.com. Matthew 22:42, Yeshua is speaking and He uses the word “Christos” in the Greek, “Mashiach” in the Hebrew. 23:8 is really interesting. In 23:8, in the standard Greek text, the word “Christos” doesn’t appear, but it does appear in the Byzantine Majority Text. So, are you going to say that the Nestle-Aland 28 text and the earliest manuscripts of Matthew are anti-Messiah because they take out Christ from Matthew 23:8? No, it’s just a textual variant, right? Somebody was copying it, and somebody either made a mistake by omitting it or by adding it, right? And which one is a matter of interpretation. The Hebrew doesn’t have “Mashiach” there either, but in 23:10 both of them have “Mashiach”, and Yeshua is referring to the Messiah as an institution. I suppose it’s alluded to that it’s referring to Him in those verses; he doesn’t explicitly say, “Hey, I’m the one I’m talking about.” But He says, “You’re supposed to obey the Mashiach” in Matthew 23:10 and in both the Hebrew and the Greek, right? So, to say that it doesn’t call him “Mashiach” in the Hebrew Matthew, that’s just not true.

Keith: That’s very helpful.

Nehemia: It’s just misunderstanding. All right, there’s a bunch more but I’m going to put those up on the PDF. You wanted to bring something else, and I’m going to toss the ball over to you.

Keith: No, well actually, this is where it got very interesting to me, and when I started to go through the first chapter I wanted to skip it. After I learned about the first things Jesus Christ, they started talking about these names, and names that I could hardly pronounce, names that were in this list. And I’m like, “What’s the big deal? What’s this genealogy thing?”

Nehemia: Can we be honest? Most people, I think, when they read Genesis, they get to Genesis 10 with this flood of names, and they probably read the first name and the last name and they skip everything in-between.

Keith: What I did is, I started out okay, the first verse was important and I wanted to get down to the Christmas story. This was what it was about for me. Where am I going to hear about the kings and all of that? So again, for me, what’s so amazing about this study that we’re doing is that through the process of looking at the Greek and looking at the Hebrew, some amazing things, some really powerful things come out, which have been problems, at least for me, and for many of my friends who’ve been reading this. Until I got the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, some of this just couldn’t be… how can I say? It just didn’t fit.

And so, we dove into that, so hopefully we’re going to talk a little bit about the genealogies and how those genealogies were related to something else that’s going on. [laughing]

Nehemia: So, what’s really interesting in Matthew 1:1, if you take this really literally, Matthew 1:1 contradicts verses 2 through 17. And what do I mean by that? It says, “These are the generations of Yeshua, the Messiah, the son of David, and the son of Abraham.” So, is He the son of David? First of all, leave Yeshua aside here for a moment. David’s not the son of Abraham, right? David is a descendant of Abraham, not the son of Abraham. And then Yeshua is not the son of David, according to the description here, and how exactly is kind of complicated when we bring Luke into it, which we will later.

But Yeshua is not the son of David. According to this he’s a descendant of David. So what’s interesting is, I wanted to bring other sources, not just our opinions, but to see what other people had to say about this as we were studying this. And I stumbled upon, I think, three really important sources. The first one that I don’t think we’re going to get to today, because we won’t have time, but there’s a translation from the 19th century by C.D. Ginsburg, it’s called The Salkinson-Ginsburg Translation, and then a similar related translation is the Delitzsch Translation. Those are two translations from the Greek into Hebrew, and I think it can be very instructive to compare what we find in our Hebrew Matthew with what’s in Ginsburg and Delitzsch’s translation, because they tell us they’re translated from Greek. And we also know they’re translating for the purpose of converting Jews, so that’s interesting.

Here, they tell you up front what their agenda is and why they translated it in a certain way overall, and then to see how that compares with what’s in Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew could be really interesting. I don’t think we’ll get to that today.

Another source I asked you to look at, Keith, and we’ll be referring to throughout this study, is a book called The Jewish Annotated New Testament. This was a book that was published a number of years ago in Jerusalem, or it was at least launched in Jerusalem, I was there for the launch. And it’s Jewish scholars who are commenting on the New Testament. And the question was raised, this was in Jerusalem…

Keith: I was there with you, Nehemia.

Nehemia: You were there with me?

Keith: And the guy came in and he said, “I want to understand why they didn’t include me in the…”

Nehemia: Oh, you were there, I forgot about that! Do you know where that took place?

Keith: What do you mean, you forgot?

Nehemia: I forgot that you were there. So, do you know what that building was where that was launched? That was the Orthodox Union. The Orthodox Union is an international organization. If you look on cream cheese, for example, in an American supermarket, it has a little U with an O around it, and that’s the symbol of the Orthodox Union. That means there’s a rabbi at the plant who made sure that that cream cheese was given the stamp of approval, that there’s no pork milk in there, whatever, right? That’s the OU, Orthodox Union. So, the Orthodox Union had a session on the Jewish annotated New Testament, and one of the speakers there was Avigdor Shinan, a professor at Hebrew University, and he got up and he said, “You know what? We’re not doing this for the Christians, we’re doing this for us. Because as Jews, this is a primary source for understanding Second Temple Judaism out of which Judaism today evolved.”

And he brought the example of the Haftara. We did an entire series called “Prophet Pearls”, where we went through the Haftara portions read every week in different synagogues. And this professor from Hebrew University gets up and he says, “Do you know, the first reference we have in historical documents to the Haftara is in the New Testament.” And that’s in Luke, when Yeshua gets up in the synagogue and He opens up and He reads from the Book of Isaiah. That’s the first reference we have to the Haftara, or the Haftorah.

Keith: That’s right.

Nehemia: So, he says, “This isn’t for the Christians. You know, Christians can benefit from this. But this is for Jews to understand this document. Jews need to understand it in and of itself as a source of Jewish history.”

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: And tell us then, Keith, who else got up who wasn’t a speaker.

Keith: Listen, I want to get to this. I mean, listen…

Nehemia: Okay, we’ll skip it. All right.

Keith: What’s most important is, I remember him saying this.

Nehemia: It was a heckler who got up.

Keith: I remember him saying this, and this was the feeling of what he was saying. He was saying, “This is our book too,” meaning our book…

Nehemia: That’s absolutely what he says.

Keith: …a text. And so, that’s really important. Those are the two sources that we’re looking at.

Nehemia: Now, the third source is one that… when we talked about doing this - oh man, in 2015 we talked about doing this - and I think The Jewish Annotated New Testament, I actually have one signed by the author, or one of the authors, because there’s a bunch of authors. And what year did it come out? Oh, 2011, yeah, okay. All right, so in 2015 we discussed doing Hebrew Gospel Pearls. I remember thinking, “That’s a source that we should look at, the Jewish Annotated New Testament.”

Keith: We will do.

Nehemia: We don’t have to agree with it, but we should at least hear what they have to say. What I had no inkling of, I didn’t even know about, was a book written…

Keith: The third source.

Nehemia: The third source. And this was a book called… Well, it was a book originally called “Kol Koreh”, A Voice Crying Out in the Wilderness, which is really interesting. The Voice Crying Out. It’s obviously the phrase from Isaiah, and it’s quoted in the New Testament.

Keith: You weren’t going to have this source. You got an email from someone.

Nehemia: And then I got an email, and I want to read this email. So, this book Kol Koreh was written by a Rabbi in the 19th century. I’d never heard of this book. And I get this email, and this was after we’d already discussed, we were talking about possibly doing something on Matthew. And somebody wrote to me, his name is Yosef. And he says, “Heard you were going to discuss the Gospels. I found an interesting commentary from a rabbi in the 1800s who had a similar idea, and he was very much into creating a dialog between the Christian and the Jew through comparative study of oral traditions, the Tanakh, and the things found in the New Testament. In his opinion, they were perfectly compatible rather than juxtaposed. You may be interested in his transcripts.”

He writes, “I’m an Orthodox Jew and I found it a fascinating read,” and he gives me the name of this book. And he writes, “Anyway, I’m a proud Support Team member and I appreciate you, a seeker and lover of Torah. I hope you do a show on this rabbi. I actually learned something from him very unexpected.”

Just as a segue there, this Orthodox Jew is mentioning in the email that he’s a Support Team member. Support Team members are people who support Makor Hebrew Foundation, which is my 501 (c)(3) that allows me to be sitting here after dozens of hours of preparation and study, putting out these teachings, editing these videos, putting them out in nehemiaswall.com. People who donate to Makor Hebrew Foundation get access to teachings that I put out. Most of the stuff I put out is for everybody, but if you want to kind of go deeper, that is the Support Team that I do. And this gentleman, this Orthodox Jew, is a member of the Support Team, which I think is pretty cool. Keith, don’t you have something like that, as well?

Keith: I’ll tell you what. I’m not going to talk about that, because you’re in the zone.

Nehemia: Okay, all right.

Keith: Talk about…

Nehemia: So, he tells me about this book, and the English translation is, The Bible, the Talmud and the New Testament, but the original name is, Kol Koreh, A Voice Calling Out. And you can put in brackets, “In the Wilderness”. And it’s written by a Rabbi named Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik. And I hear that name, and I’m like, “Soloveitchik? I know that name.” So, I immediately go onto Amazon, order the book, it arrived a few days ago, and I call you up with my mouth dropped.

Keith: Well, you say what you called me about.

Nehemia: Yeah.

Keith: This is, can I say, from a source that you would not expect, to be talking about, in fact it’s my understanding – correct me if I’m wrong – that he was the first, or one of the first…

Nehemia: He is the first Jew ever to write a commentary on the New Testament.

Keith: So, stop just for a second. Guys, now I want everyone, it’s Shavuot, okay? We’re here, doing the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. We’ve got our sources. We were at our meeting together, though Nehemia forgot about the meeting, we were in Jerusalem. We’ve got Delitzsch, we’ve got the Hebrew Gospel, we’ve got the 28 manuscripts. And then, just recently, the third source comes from a man who is writing about the connection between the Bible, the Tanakh, the Talmud, and the New Testament. As someone would say, “Things stopped.”

Nehemia: Everything stopped. No, so it’s incredible here. So, in the introduction they’re explaining, these scholars are explaining, he’s the first Jew to write a commentary on the New Testament. And there are Jews who write about the New Testament before that, but they were Jews who were in debates, and as part of the debates they were saying, “We could use this argument. We could use that argument.” They weren’t trying to understand the New Testament in and of itself, they were criticizing the New Testament. And here’s a rabbi who comes along and he’s actually saying, “No, I want to understand what this book means.”

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: So, this rabbi, Eliyahu Zvi Soloveitchik, he was born in 1805 and died in 1881 at the age of around 75 or 76, and I opened this up and it was confirmed in the first few pages what I suspected, because I know the name Soloveitchik. Soloveitchik - that’s a family of famous rabbis who are cousins of my family. And I wasn’t sure, is this the same Soloveitchik? I open up the book and I see yes, this man is my cousin.

Keith: [laughing] You call me and you say, “Keith, everything changes!”

Nehemia: So, he’s my cousin, and in fact, I could tell you exactly how he’s my cousin! So, there’s a website, geni.com and I go there, and my genealogy, I put that in there a few years ago. I found death certificates and birth certificates and all kinds of documents and tax records from Russia, and so I was able to race my lineage in there. And it’s interesting, we’re talking about tracing lineage - one of the questions that was asked, I was discussing with T-Bone this whole section of Matthew 1:1 through 17 and he asked a question I didn’t think about much. He said, “Where did they get this information?” Where did they get...?

Fine, up until Shealtiel, Salathiel, if I’m not pronouncing that correctly in English, up until Salathiel, those are all names that appear in the Tanakh, right? Matthew is not telling us any name we can’t find in the Tanakh up until Salathiel. The names that appear after that don’t appear anywhere in the Tanakh. They don’t appear in any other Jewish sources. They don’t appear in the Talmud. Where did Matthew get them? And here we are, and I thought, “Okay, well a few years ago I went and I dug through tax records and I found birth certificates and death certificates, and I found the community ledger written by the rabbi in 1846 from my great-great… Let’s see, he’s my second great-grandfather, Rabbi Baruch Nesanel Nevadel. So, imagine this. We’re in 2020 and the document still exists after the Holocaust and the burning of Eastern Europe! The document from 1846 still exists with the handwriting of the rabbi, and I was able to order a photograph of it from the National Archives of Lithuania.

So, what we’re doing today, they could have done in the time of Yeshua, meaning, documents existed at the time.

Keith: So, as we’re asking the question, we’re still in Matthew chapter 1, folks. Believe us, we’re still in Matthew chapter 1.

Nehemia: I think we’re still on verse 1. [laughing]

Keith: The three sources we’re going to use as we go through this study: Delitzsch, The Annotated Jewish New Testament, and then this particular book by Nehemia’s cousin. [laughing]

Nehemia: And so specifically, he’s my second cousin five times removed.

Keith: Five times removed.

Nehemia: So, I was able to look up on geni.com, and it shows you how… because I don’t know how to calculate those times removed and stuff like that.

Keith: Can I really…?

Nehemia: He’s my second cousin!

Keith: Please, everyone, if you would just understand the significance of this and why it was so significant to me, specifically for Shavuot. I did something, Nehemia, a few days ago. I actually ordered the book, too. We both read the beginning of the book. I didn’t even get to the issue of the commentary, of 1:1 through 16, step 16. But he says some things that really caught both of our attentions, and you called me with one of them. Can you read that? I mean, it’s…

Nehemia: Before we get to that, I want to just explain to people how radical this was. I think he wrote this around 1878, or he published a first draft around 1878, how radical this was for an ultra-Orthodox… I’m a Karaite Jew. For many Jews, I’m a heretic to begin with. For an ultra-Orthodox Jew to write a commentary on the New Testament, and it’s not a criticism of how horrible the New Testament is, it’s saying, “What is the New Testament trying to say?” Honestly, what he did in some ways, is more radical than what I’m doing.

And by the way, the fourth most obvious source we have, which is zero, right? It’s before the first, second and third source, is the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew itself with the manuscripts, right?

Keith: Yeah.

Nehemia: So, you can call this the “fourth source.” So, what he did was so radical, because he was an ultra-Orthodox Jew. He was not a Jewish convert to Christianity. There were Jews who converted to Christianity who wrote commentaries. He’s the first Jew who remained a Jew and in fact, an ultra-Orthodox Jew, writing a commentary. And let me read you something that he said which just blew me away.

Before I get to that, just to give an idea of who this Soloveitchik is, the founder of modern Orthodox Judaism in America is a rabbi named Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik. American Orthodox Jews refer to him as “The Rav”, which means “The Rabbi”. If you say, “The Rav” and you don’t say who you’re talking about in American Judaism, you mean the great, great, great nephew… I don’t know how many greats, of the man who wrote this commentary on the New Testament. Eliyahu Zvi Soloveitchik was the brother of the ancestor of the Rav. I mean, that’s a big deal in itself!

The brother of the Rav lived around the corner from where I grew up, and my father used to take me over to his house on Shabbat, and my father’s best friend was the nephew of the Rav, the son of the man that we used to visit. And the synagogue we used to go, I used to go to, growing up, was Moshe Soloveitchik’s shul. It was the synagogue where the rabbi was essentially like a great, great, great, great nephew of this rabbi who wrote the commentary on the New Testament. [laughing]

Now, in the introduction to the book, anybody can buy this on Amazon, it’s called, The Bible, the Talmud and the New Testament. In the introduction, the scholar who translates it explains that another scholar went and asked a family member - because this is a very prominent family - and they asked him about different members of the family. “Oh, we have a family story about Rav Chaim Brisker. We have a family story about Rav Yosef Dov. We have a family story about the Beis HaLevi.” They’ve stories that go on generation after generation about these different famous rabbis. And then they ask him about Rav Eliyahu Zvi Soloveitchik, who wrote the commentary on the New Testament. And what were they told? [laughing] “We don’t talk about him.”

So, I want to read to you what Rabbi Eliyahu Zvi, Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik, writes in the introduction to his book. Keith, if we do nothing else, if we don’t even touch a single Hebrew Matthew manuscript, if we do nothing else but go through and discuss the comments of Rav Eliyahu Zvi Soloveitchik, I think this will be an extremely important series, something that’s never been done. A Jew and a Christian are coming together to discuss what the first Jewish commentary on the New Testament talked about.

Do you know why I didn’t know about this book, Keith? I guess you could say I was ignorant of it, right? I’ve said there’s libraries full of books I don’t know about. But in fact, this book only came out in 2019. It was published originally like around 1878, 1879. As far as I know, there’s one copy in Hebrew at the National Library of Israel, which I haven’t seen yet. I’m trying to get a hold of it, but the Library’s closed. Hopefully, it’ll open up very soon and I’ll get a scan of that.

And the only thing that’s survived other than that, and there might be one copy in Paris as well, is the French translation. So, it wasn’t translated into English, and it still isn’t available in Hebrew, as far as I can tell – at least, not anywhere I… You know, there’s a website called hebrewbooks.org. They purport to have every book written by rabbis, or they’re trying to have every book written by rabbis, that was ever printed – not manuscripts, but printed books. And this book, surprisingly, is not there. So it wasn’t until last year that the English translation was available and the Hebrew original’s still not available, to me, at least. Hopefully it will be soon.

All right, so this is what Rabbi Eliyahu Zvi Soloveitchik wrote in 1879 in the introduction to the first Hebrew edition. And I have to say, I got a little bit emotional when I read this. This is my second cousin five times removed, writing the first Jewish commentary from a Jew who didn’t convert to Christianity, on the New Testament. He says, “I know that I will not escape from the criticism of both sides, Jews and Christians. My Hebrew brethren will say, ‘What happened to Reb Eliyahu? Yesterday, he was one of us and today he was filled with a new spirit.’” New said sarcastically.

“And my Christian brethren will say, ‘This one who is a Jew comes to reveal to us the secrets of the Gospels? How can we accept that he speaks correctly, and a true spirit dwells within him?’” He says, “These two extremes are really saying one thing, that is, it cannot be that what he is speaking with his mouth is what he believes in his heart. On this criticism, my soul weeps uncontrollably. Only God knows and God is my witness that in this, I am free of sin.”

Keith, these are words that I’ve prayed in my heart on many occasions, because I have the Christians out there, some of the Hebrew Roots folks who say, “Nehemia is a secret missionary. His goal is to convert us to Judaism.” And I have the Christians out there, some of them, Hebrew Roots people as well, “Nehemia is the anti-Christ Jew.” I mean, my second cousin - I guess it runs in the family. And the fact that today, they talk about all the rabbis and their lineage but they don’t talk about him. He’s the black sheep of the family.

Keith: Can I also read something from this book that was inspiring to me?

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: At the end of his introduction, he says this. He’s actually talking about how he’s being attacked from both sides. He says, “May I succeed in this venture. May the favor of Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey…” he puts “Y-H-W-H”, “…descend upon my work so that it may produce in the hearts of those who read it abundant and beneficial proofs that with a unanimous spirit they will embrace the worship of one God, and that through my humble intervention, the words of the Prophet…” and I love the verse, because you and I talked about it many times as we travelled the world, “…that the words of the Prophet will come through, Zephaniah 3:9. Then I will make the peoples pure of speech so that they all will invoke Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey by name and serve Him with one accord, with one shoulder.” And when I read this, I did something really radical. I made a phone call.

I got on the phone and I called the grandson of Eliezer ben Yehudah, Rabbi Eliezer ben Yehudah, the grandson of the man who actually… When we read that verse in Zephaniah 3:9 about a pure language, you can do your research on Eliezer ben Yehudah, his grandson. I called him, Rabbi Eliezer ben Yehudah and I told him, I said, “Listen. Have you ever heard of this book?” He says, “I’ve heard of this person, but I haven’t heard of the book.” I said, “Can I send it to you?” He said, “Yes, you could send it to me.” And as I was talking to him, he said something, Nehemia, that I want to share in the spirit of Shavuot, because he is also a man who has done much in terms of reaching beyond his own place of belief, but staying where he believes. He’s not a Messianic, he is an Orthodox rabbi in the lineage of Eliezer ben Yehudah. I mean, this is no small thing.

Nehemia: Eliezer ben Yehudah, for those who don’t know, was the Jewish scholar who in 1880 moved to Israel and began the process of reviving Hebrew as a spoken language. Up until then, it had been a literary language, it had even been revived as a secular literary language, but he revived it as a daily, spoken language.

Keith: So, Rabbi Eliezer ben Yehudah actually came to Charlotte, and we did a conference together called Return of the Book. It’s available on BFA International. But I want to show you what he said. He said, Nehemia, “One of the things that I live by is a quote from Rudyard Kipling, a poem published in 1889. It says this. ‘Oh, East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet. Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat. But there is neither East nor West, Border nor Breed nor Birth, when two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth.’” And when I thought about that, I thought about you. I thought about me. I thought about the many people that still are saying, “There’s gotta be some common ground,” and I think we’ve found it in the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew.

I really do believe that coming face to face, we can go into this text and we can study it in-depth. And so, you talked about the sources, you talked about the first verse, can we at least do something just as a compromise, because you keep talking about, “We’re running out of time.”

But Nehemia, there is a game-changing pearl verse in 1:16 that you must share with the people. And then, I’m going to do something to bolster it. Here’s what I’d like to do. Here’s what I’d like to offer. I’d like to offer a Hebrew-English interlinear of 1 through 16 made at BFAinternational.com on the front page. It’ll be a PDF there. If you want the study Nehemia just talked about, go to nehemiaswall.com.

Nehemia: Nehemiaswall.com.

Keith: And you’re going to get the PDF. You’re going to get an interlinear Hebrew-English using the tool that we have, vowel pointed of all the words with English. But this last verse, Nehemia, I’m not letting you off until you talk about it.

Nehemia: Oh no, Keith. I don’t want to bring it yet. There’s so much more I want to talk about that is I think even more radical than what we have in verse 16. There’s a lot of stuff here. I don’t think it’s fair to the people to just jump to verse 16.

Keith: So are you saying you’re going to agree to continue to do the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew? I mean, you can say it right now.

Nehemia: No, I think we’ll continue right now. If you have the energy and the strength, do you have it? I think we’re going to have to go into the after game, into… What do they call that? Extra innings?

Keith: You’re saying we’re going to go ahead and continue to the best of our ability, with the sources we have. Can I name them again for everybody?

Nehemia: Sure.

Keith: Delitzsch, I have a copy there.

Nehemia: Delitzsch/Ginsburg, those are two different Hebrew translations.

Keith: Delitzsch/Ginsburg, okay. The Annotated Jewish…

Nehemia: New Testament.

Keith: New Testament. The Bible, the Talmud and the New Testament by your cousin, and the 28 manuscripts of the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. Those are going to be our sources. We’re launching on Shavuot in the spirit of your cousin. [laughing]

Nehemia: Yeah.

Keith: I mean, this is a big deal.

Nehemia: This is a big deal. Keith, I think we’re going to have to do like where you add innings. So, can we do a Hebrew Gospels Plus for people, can we do it now?

Keith: You know what? Look, this is happening as we’re speaking, right?

Nehemia: Yeah. [laughing]

Keith: This is happening right now. So you’re saying that if anyone really wants to get further into the actual verses, we can have a Hebrew Gospel Plus. This is something that’s done out in the world, where you…

Nehemia: This is a very common model out there, that people will do like a podcast, it’ll be an hour, and they say, “Hey, if you want more, come over and subscribe.” And in this case, we’re not talking about subscribing, we’re talking about supporting the ministries. We’ve talked about how we need your support. And so, for those who support nehemiaswall.com and bfainternational.com, I think we should do the Hebrew Gospel Pearls Plus.

Keith: So, in other words, we get into the nitty gritty, because I guess in one sense, what you’re saying is a person’s gotta be pretty serious if they really want to get into this. You’ve gotta know.

Nehemia: And look, this might be enough for some people, right? We’ve just spoken for an hour, and there’s one more thing before we get into the Plus section - if you agree to do that - that I want to share with everybody, because we’re launching this on Shavuot, and the connection here to Shavuot is, people don’t realize how powerful the connection is. [laughing]

Keith: In 2002 I met you on Shavuot. I won’t bore the people, go ahead, tell them, tell them.

Nehemia: So I mentioned before, Genesis chapter 10, how there’s this flood of names. And no pun intended, because this is right after the flood, right? But you read these names and you’re like, “Why do we have all these names?” And it says, “And from there, they separated out to the languages of the nations.” So if you count those names, there are 70 names. I mean, look, we’re dealing here with a bunch of names, and you count the names in Matthew chapter 1 verses 1 through 17 or 16, and you find out - wow, there’s actually a plan here to the names, especially in the Greek version, we see the 14, 14, 14. And when we get to verse 16, we’ll share some really powerful stuff. That’ll have to be in the Hebrew Gospel Pearls Plus, at this rate.

So, when you count the names in Genesis 10 you get 70 names. And then in Deuteronomy 32, in the Song of Moses, he says he divided up the nations according to the number of the children of Israel. In the Septuagint they didn’t understand what that meant, and so they translated it according to the number of the angels of God. And there’s a Dead Sea Scroll that seems to reflect that understanding as well.

But what is the number of the children of Israel? How many Israelites came down from Egypt? 70. So, there are 70 nations in Genesis 10 and 70 Israelites are counted coming down to Egypt, so he divided up the nations into languages based on the 70, the number of the children… In other words, what Deuteronomy 32 is telling us is that this number 70 is important, that there are 70 nations and 70 children of Israel who came down to Egypt.

And he’s tying the two in, and what he’s telling you is, “When I give you a bunch of names it’s not some trivial, unimportant information. You might not immediately understand the significance of the information, but it’s important.” And we’ll get into some of the importance in Hebrew Gospel Pearls Plus in a few minutes. Keith, so I think what we’re going to have to do, so it’s going to be available to the Support Team and the BFA International… what do you call your…?

Keith: I guess the best thing… And folks, you’re with us in the moment. The best way to do this, I think, so that there’s support of both ministries, we have a Premium Content Library, it’s $9.99 a month, and what that allows you to have is access to everything - Biblical Hebrew course, everything that we do. And I think if we have people that are Premium Content Library members and Support Team members of Nehemia’s Wall, that if that’s where we have the Plus, that would give them a chance to do what we have actually been calling people to do, which is to support both ministries.

And why is that important? One, it’s the spirit of Jew and Gentile coming together. But two, the truth is, this does take time, energy and resource, and I think, Nehemia, we have certainly at nehemiaswall.com and we at bfainternational.com have more than enough things that are free. Free, say, “Free, free, free, free, free.” The Red Letter Series - free, free, free, free, free. All the things. Prophet Pearls - free, free, free. What this would allow us to do is to get a group of people that are ready to go deeper, can I say this, in joint study with us. In other words, Hebrew Gospel Pearls Plus, we’d give you some homework, we’d give you some extra resources, we’d give you some things that you can dive in with us as we go deeper into the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. So, it’s…

Nehemia: It’s the first one… so here’s my idea here.

Keith: What do you think?

Nehemia: I think what we should do is - I mean, we’re coming up with some of this in the moment – is, we’ll alternate. One week, they have got to go over to bfainternational.com and become a member over there. And the next week, they come over to nehemiaswall.com and support Makor Hebrew Foundation. And if anybody wants to get all 115… I mean, I hope there’ll be 115, then they’ll have to support both ministries, is what we talked about.

So, the first one is going to be over on bfainternational.com. Go over there, join the Premium Content Library and you’ll get the Hebrew Gospel Pearls Plus.

Keith: That’s what you’re going to get. When you do that, when you go there, you’re going to have Hebrew Gospel Pearls Plus. You’re going to have a translation of 1 through 17, the Hebrew-English transliteration along with the tool that you’ve given us.

Nehemia: Oh, you’ve got a transliteration?

Keith: Yeah, a transliteration… Interlinear, I’m sorry.

Nehemia: Interlinear, oh, okay.

Keith: It’s going to be an interlinear. And we can add even more. But here’s the exciting thing about this. So we cast lots and let me tell you what you did. Folks, I want to tell you what Nehemia did. This was his idea, and he said, “Keith, to show you that the idea works, I’d like your ministry to be first.” “It’s supposed to be the Jew first, then the Gentile.” But he said, “No, let’s have you do it first, so that if it doesn’t work, it’s on you.” [laughing]

Nehemia: Well, it might not work and we might decide after two weeks, “Hey, we’re going to limit it to 30 minutes every week, and whatever we get to, we get to,” right?

Keith: So what we’ll do is, we’re going to switch into the Hebrew Gospel Pearls Plus. That’s going to be available if you’re a Premium Member. It’s very, very, very, very inexpensive. You can be there and you can have access from that point on as a Premium Content Library member. And then next week we’ll be at… tell them again.

Nehemia: Nehemiaswall.com.

Keith: And what’s going to happen there, they’re going to become Support Team…

Nehemia: Support Team members. You support Makor Hebrew Foundation, that’s the 501 (c)(3) and you get added automatically as a Support Team member.

Keith: Half of these are going to be at BFA and half of these are going to be at Nehemia’s Wall, as many as we do, and that will be the case so that we’re going to both places.

Nehemia: Oh, and maybe we’ll only do one. We’ll see how this goes. [laughing] For those who don’t know, there’s 115 sections of the Gospel of Matthew. In other words, we have 28 chapters in the English but in the Hebrew it’s broken into 115 sections, and the idea that we had was we’ll do the 115, one per episode. I don’t know that we expected to talk an hour on verse 1 of chapter 1.

Keith: Well, this was a Shavuot celebration.

Nehemia: That’s true. So, just in the spirit of Shavuot, we talked about Genesis 10 has 70 nations, both later in Genesis - I think it’s 46 - and in Exodus we have 70 Israelites coming down to Egypt. So 70 nations, 70 Israelites, Deuteronomy 32 ties them together. He divided up the nations according to the number of the children of Israel. Now, that’s Biblical text, right? You read Genesis 32, you need to have remembered and counted, paid attention enough to count, that there were 70 nations in Genesis 10. And it’s not just in Genesis 10, that was the ancient concept - that there were 70 nations in the world. Genesis 10 just tell us what those 70 nations are in the known world at the time. And you have 70 Israelites that came down to Egypt.

Now, you have those two numbers, they’re tied together in Deuteronomy 32 in the Song of Moses. That’s all Biblical, Tanakh stuff. In Jewish tradition, there’s a discussion about the Ten Commandments. Now, I have a teaching called Shavuot Feast of Oaths over on nehemiaswall.com as one of the Support Team Studies, and what I show there is that Shavuot is the only feast day for which a date is not given. We know it’s in the third month, 50 days after the beginning of the counting of the Omer. But the range of dates can be anywhere from the 4th of the third Hebrew month to the 15th of the third Hebrew month. That’s quite a range. And the date is intentionally not given, because it’s based on the Sunday during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, during what we call colloquially, “Passover”.

Now, Shavuot is in the beginning of the third Hebrew month. Every one of the feasts has a historical event assigned to it, as well as an agricultural event. So the agricultural event of Passover is the barley harvest, the beginning of the barley harvest. The one for Sukkot, the third feast, is the ingathering of the crops from the field and from the processing of the crops from the field. And for Shavuot, it’s the wheat harvest. So we’ve got barley, wheat and fully processing the grains. Those are the three feasts.

The historical event is obvious for a feast of unleavened bread, right? It’s that they had unleavened bread when they left Egypt because they were in a hurry. For Sukkot it is that they dwelt in booths. What about Shavuot? So the historical event tied to Shavuot is never explicitly stated, but from the earliest Jewish sources we are told that it is the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. When did that take place? If you read, it’s very clear in Exodus, it took place in the beginning of the third Hebrew month. What date? We’re not told. We’re told about the third Hebrew month and then we count three days. But we don’t really even know what date in the third Hebrew month. So some time earlier in the third Hebrew month is when God reveals His word on Mount Sinai, apparently at Shavuot, Shavuot then is understood then to remember that. At very least, you can’t dispute that the two coincide as being early in the third Hebrew month without a definitive date. And it might be that that’s why we don’t have this definitive date for the revelation at Sinai, because it would be tied to Shavuot, which doesn’t have a definitive date.

Keith: Well, if you’re going to do that, you’re making that available on Shavuot. I have a Countdown to Reconnection, which also talks about that. It launches the Ten Commandments Series, which…

Nehemia: Oh, beautiful.

Keith: So, Shavuot today, I’ll make it available. We’ll do that, Nehemia. Let me ask a question.

Nehemia: Wait, wait. I didn’t get to the best part. No, this is all introduction. And then we’ll end with this for the Hebrew Gospel Pearls, and then we’ll launch immediately for those who want to continue into Hebrew Gospel Pearls Plus over on bfainternational.com. So here’s the important part. All that’s important, right?

But here is the tie-in. So, Jewish tradition said, “A mixed multitude left Egypt.” When they heard God speak at Mount Sinai, what if they didn’t speak Hebrew? The whole thing is the entire congregation of Israel, not just the children of Israel, the entire congregation of Israel heard God with their own ears. So Jewish tradition extrapolates and they say, “Well, if you were a Canaanite and you heard the Ten Commandments, you must have heard it in your own language.”

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: And if you were a Philistine, one of the mixed multitudes who left Egypt, and you heard the Ten Commandments, you must have heard it in the Philistine language. And if you were a Libyan, and you heard the Ten Commandments, you must have heard it in your own language. And if you were a Kushite, a Nubian, and you heard the Ten Commandments, you must have heard it in your own language.

So what essentially Jewish tradition is doing is extrapolating based on the idea that we’re told the whole congregation of Israel heard it. And how could it be that God spoke in Hebrew, but the Nubian heard it in his language? Because it’s God speaking. He can do miracles.

So the tradition says that God spoke these words and they were heard in 70 different languages. Now, Acts chapter 2…

Keith: Beautiful.

Nehemia: …describes an event in the history of the Church, in the history of the Yeshua movement, where the people come together on what Jewish festival?

Keith: Shavuot.

Nehemia: Shavuot. And what happens? People start speaking in different languages. And these weren’t gibberish languages, these were languages that people understood. And why were they doing that? Because there were Jewish people from the Diaspora who came from Rome, who didn’t understand Hebrew. They were Jewish people from the Diaspora who came from Tarsis, who maybe didn’t understand Hebrew. They were Jewish people from the Diaspora who came from Yemen, who maybe didn’t understand Hebrew. This was the Feast of Weeks. People came from all over the Jewish Diaspora, and instead of just speaking in Hebrew, or possibly Aramaic, they were able to somehow, according to the Book of Acts, they had the Pentecostal event or experience speaking in tongues, which at that time meant speaking in the language which each person could understand, just like at Mount Sinai.

So whether you believe that happened or not, Yosef, the Orthodox Jew who wrote to me, maybe he doesn’t believe that happened. That’s okay. My question isn’t what happened in the 1st century in this case, my question is, what is the Book of Acts trying to communicate? And I have no doubt in my mind that the Book of Acts is trying to communicate that this was a Mount Sinai-type event, that just as God revealed the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai, now a message was being revealed that would be understood by all the nations of the world.

Keith: [laughing] So, here we are on Shavuot…

Nehemia: In their own language.

Keith: Listen, first of all, you’re rushing us off here. Nehemia - people are celebrating, they’re sitting here with us. I want to thank you for spending the time that we’re spending doing this. And I also want to thank you for, I think, inspiration. You’re giving us inspiration on this information back to Genesis 10, to Exodus and Deuteronomy, all the way through into Acts. And here, you’ve done it again. We’re combining these two things to try to find commonality, and you’ve just found commonality through what you just talked about.

But I want to say something, and this hit me and I want to know if I can speak through you…

Nehemia: Please.

Keith: …here for a moment. I’ve really been touched by studying the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, and I’ve been touched by it because it’s giving me a sense of a deeper connection. And I really want to encourage people. If you’re serious about having a Bible study adventure, this Hebrew Gospels Plus… We called it, Hebrew Gospel Pearls Plus, is that what you call it?

Nehemia: Yeah.

Keith: Hebrew Gospel Pearls…

Nehemia: I just came up with that.

Keith: I loved it. Hebrew Gospel Pearls Plus is going to allow people who want to go deeper. And again, that may not be for everybody. But for me, it’s changed my life, and I want to tell you, Nehemia, it’s 18 years as of today, that I met you in 2002 at the time of Shavuot when I was called there, and the process that we’ve been in has brought us to this place. And I just believe that this is an invitation for people that are serious about wanting to understand more language, history and context of the Gospel of Matthew in its Hebrew form.

Nehemia: Amen. Do you want to say some final words before we end?

Keith: I think we should pray for everyone, pray for this process together, if we can. And then I’m going to invite people to episode 1, Hebrew Gospel Pearls Plus at the bfainternational.com. And next week we’re going to be at nehemiaswall.com for episode 2, and we’re going to try to go back and forth, and hopefully you all will join in with us. Let’s pray.

Nehemia: Yehovah, thank you for bringing us together to discuss this document and its connections to your Tanakh, to Your Holy word. We’re looking here in Matthew, it brings us back to things in the Tanakh that we can then maybe understand in new ways we didn’t understand. Yehovah, give us wisdom. Uncover our eyes that we may see the wonderful hidden things in Your Torah and Your prophets and Your writings. And also, in this Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew and in Greek, give us wisdom to understand.

And Yehovah, just as You spoke to Israel, Your actual words they heard on Shavuot, that first Shavuot, Yehovah, continue to speak to people in every language and every way that they could understand in their hearts, and come before You, Amen.

Keith: Father, I want to thank you for a lineage that Nehemia has uncovered as we discussed the genealogies and all of this, Father, it’s just not a coincidence to me that he’s found a great cousin, a great-great-great cousin, Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik… I can’t even say it [laughing]. But it is exciting, Father, and I want to thank You for the work, the family, the heritage.

I want to thank You also for what we’re studying as we find this genealogy, and so much that comes out of it, regarding the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew and the first chapter. I want to thank You for both ministries. I pray that You give us wisdom, discernment, help it to be a smooth process for people. Help people to just get onboard with what we’re trying to do, and supporting one another, and being able to come together in common ground, lifting up Your name.

Thank You so much for this study that we now have before us. We ask for blessing and protection over it in Your name. Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

You have been listening to Hebrew Gospel Pearls with Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon’s Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.

We hope the above transcript has proven to be a helpful resource in your study. While much effort has been taken to provide you with this transcript, it should be noted that the text has not been reviewed by the speakers and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. If you would like to support our efforts to transcribe the teachings on NehemiasWall.com, please visit our support page. All donations are tax-deductible (501c3) and help us empower people around the world with the Hebrew sources of their faith!

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  • grace yow says:

    i read that the source of matthew’s & luke’s genealogies were the temple records. i also read that “son of” in hebrew can mean “descendant of” or “of the nature of.”

    when reading the holy writings, it is good to keep in mind that these writings have cultural under pinnings to understand what the writer’s message was and how it was understood by his audience.

    also, it is helpful to be familiar if not know deeply the entirety of the holy writings as the real meaning of. a passage or word can be gleaned from how it is used in the rest of it. for example, it is clear in the holy writings that “son of david” is a title of THE prophesied anointed one of god.

  • grace yow says:

    in all of the holy writings, “tongues” refer to specific languages not gibberish. that acts 2 event made it miraculous that one who is not schooled in a language could speak such but would not understand it so someone else could interpret/translate it in a language spoken by the hearers. the same thing is true of speaking in tongues written about in the rest of the holy writings in greek.

  • Phillip Bradshaw says:

    Is it possible that the mistake in translating “father” into “husband” in Matt. 1: 16 is similar to the mistake in translating “brother” in-law into “father” in-law in Judges 4: 11? We find the true identity of Chobab in Numbers 10: 29.

  • davidheilbronprice says:

    Matt 1 is clearly a king list in three sections of 14. The middle section covers King David to the Babylonian captivity. Judah was promised the kingship in the time of Moses — Gen 49:10. He was to have the sceptre and be the lawgiver.
    Why did Israel have to wait until David’s tIme for him to become king of Judah and then Israel? Because his ancestor Judah had sexual relations with his daughter in law, Tamar. This incest meant that Jews, the offspring of this relationship, were banned from the Temple/ Congregation of Israel for ten inclusive generations as mamzer or illegitimate. If a son cannot enter the congregation then anointing and crowning cannot take place.
    Count ten generation inclusively from Pharez son of Judah and you come to David. He was the first to be anointed to show firstly he could enter the congregation, secondly to be king of Judah in the priestly city of Hebron and then to be king of Israel.
    A similar situation must have arisen at the Babylonian captivity because no kings were allowed to be anointed and crowned. Coniah and his sons were counted ‘arir’ that is without honor (misleadingly translated ‘childless in KJV).
    After the 10 generations, Joseph is referred to as a Son of David, but the autocratic rule of the Romans and Herod made a royal crowning not possible. The genealogy of Jesus proved to the Romans, like Pilate, that legally Jesus was ‘King of the Jews’. He was anointed (Christos, Messiah). Joseph was registered in Bethlehem, according to Hebrew and Roman law, as a son of David and potential claimant to the throne.
    (shortened version of earlier submission.)

    • Lois wairimu Magua says:

      i understand from other sources that the Joseph of Matthew 1::16 is Mary’s father and not Joseph the husband because then the generations would be 13 and not 14.

  • Brett Hooper says:

    Hi Nehemia, I have a question for you regarding the genealogy of Yeshua.

    I know you and Michael Rood are pushing the idea that the Genealogy in Matthew is Mary’s and the one in Luke is Joseph’s.

    I have listened to both your teachings on this, but I think an important question is left unanswered for this theory.

    If Matthews account is Mary’s line, why bother to present the stepfather’s line at all, why is it even worth mentioning?

    But if Matthews account is Joseph’s genealogy, to me this makes more logical sense. Under this theory, Joseph’s genealogy is important as this is Yeshua’s claim to the kingship of David through the line of kings. And Luke’s account makes sense as it is Yeshua’s bloodline to David.

    In the Gospel of Luke, Yeshua keeps referring to Himself as the Son of Man, but we can deduce from this, that what he is saying in Hebrew is that He is the Son of Adam, right? I would suggest that the genealogy in Luke as well as proving Yeshua as the blood descendant of David, also proves that He is the blood descendant of Adam, hence He is the second Adam, biologically the “Son of Adam,” giving Him the right to redeem Adamkind (the kinsman redeemer), right?

    Also in Luke 2:4 it says that Joseph was of the house and line of David. What does house and line mean, it’s almost as if this verse is repeating itself unless it’s effectively saying that Joseph was of the family and royal line of David.

    Also in Isaiah 11:1, he speaks of a branch growing out of the roots of Jessie. If Yeshua is descended by blood from the kings of Judah, this doesn’t fit this imagery. The imagery here is of the tree being cut down and a shoot bypassing the main stump, which fits with the Joseph/Matthew theory, but not the Mary/Matthew theory.

    Also, the prophecy in Jeremiah doesn’t seem to work with the Mary/Matthew theory:

    Thus says Yehovah: ‘Write this man down childless, a man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah.’ ” (Jeremiah 22:30)

    Just wondering if you have any thoughts on this Nehemia? The Mary/Matthew theory is interesting, but I think it has problems which need to be addressed.

    I’m also wondering, in your opinion can Yeshua inherit the kingship from David through His stepfather? I don’t see a problem with this, but I know Michael Rood seems to think this is an insurmountable issue. Is there any Jewish background regarding the right of a stepson to inherit?

    Thanks Nehemia, Brett

    • David Price says:

      Jeremiah 22. The word translated ‘childless’ is Hebrew ‘arir’. It has the significance of ‘deserted or emptied of honor’. It has this sense in Lev 20:20-21. The context and connotation is adultery and incest. Children of incest were not able to enter the Temple until the tenth inclusive generation. In Jeremiah 22 it obviously does not mean childless as the ‘descendants’ are spoken of in the same verse! Jeconiah had many sons. However these descendants would have to show themselves to be faithful for those ten generations before any son could sit on the throne of David. David himself was the tenth generation from the incest of Judah with Tamar, his daughter-in-law. Judah was promised this royal scepter in Gen 49:10 and it was fulfilled in David. That’s really some prophetic power as this long trial of faithfulness was necessary before Jesus the Messiah could be proclaimed Son of David. What man could forecast these ten generations of righteousness? Moses’s prayer. Deut 33:7. It is worthwhile counting ten generations inclusively from Jeconiah in Matthew’s genealogical table, part three!

      • Brett Hooper says:

        Hi David, thanks for taking the time to reply to my post mate.

        Your comments are interesting, I haven’t heard this theory before. I guess when I am considering this issue, I’m not just looking at one point, I’m looking at the arguments for both sides to see which theory has the most weight. I am open to the idea that Matthew’s account is Mary’s line, but I think the proponents of that view need to deal with the issue of why we have Luke’s account for Joseph at all? If he’s just the stepfather and brings nothing to the party, then why is his genealogy presented?

        I also find it compelling that Yeshua calls himself the “son of Adam” all the way through Luke’s gospel, and that the genealogy in Luke presents him literally as Adams son.

        The Hebrew word ‘arir’ clearly does mean childless when it is used in other parts of the Old Testament, this is clear when you perform a word study of its usages. But you’re right, Jeconiah had sons, but rather than trying to change the meaning of this word, I’m looking at this as a prophetic statement, rather than an immediate one.

        • LG says:

          Hey Brett, I actually had a dialogue over this issue over at BFA in the plus episode. I had it with Tina Brown and Sven Brown. You might want to check it out.

  • Eileen Rene Van de Reede says:

    Nehemia, I love your teachings, I have bought most of your books. I also have Keith’s book. I want to say thank you for all your hard work researching the Word to open it all up to others from the Hebrew perspective. However, I was disappointed at not being able to hear the full teaching of Hebrew Matthew chapter 1 and to realise I wouldn’t be able to enjoy any of what I voted for. I acknowledge that it is hard work researching these topics, but not everyone is able to financially support others but they are hungry to learn about Yehovah and to find the Truth. Even I who lives in a different country would not be able to support either of you every month, but I am very interested in the depth of the Word. Please take into consideration not everybody’s situation is the same, yet everyone needs salvation.
    In saying that, I continue to pray for you both, and wish Yehova’s richest blessings upon you.

    Kind Regards
    Eileen Rene Van de Reede
    New Zealand

  • TOBY (Torah Obedient Believer in Yeshua) says:

    Not found in scripture, but is it possible that Mary’s (Miriam) father Joseph had no sons and Mary received the paternal inheritance and blessing? This would then cause Mary’s inheritance and blessing to pass to her first-born son, Yeshua. If Yeshua’s earthly lineage through Mary to David is important, wouldn’t Yeshua need to have the paternal inheritance and blessing pass to him? Just something to think about.

    Numbers 27:1-8 (KJV)
    1 Then came the daughters of Zelophehad, the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, of the families of Manasseh the son of Joseph: and these are the names of his daughters; Mahlah, Noah, and Hoglah, and Milcah, and Tirzah.
    2 And they stood before Moses, and before Eleazar the priest, and before the princes and all the congregation, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying,
    3 Our father died in the wilderness, and he was not in the company of them that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah; but died in his own sin, and had no sons.
    4 Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he hath no son? Give unto us therefore a possession among the brethren of our father.
    5 And Moses brought their cause before the Lord.
    6 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
    7 The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them.
    8 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.

  • Deborah Girdner says:

    Unexpected names and their connections to oaths:

    1) Tamar’s mother-in-law was a “bath shua,” (1 Chr. 2:3). Bathshua was also the birth name of Bathsheba (1 Chr. 3:5). “Bathsheba” means “daughter of an oath.” Although the passage doesn’t say that Judah made an oath with Tamar, he did tell her to live in her father’s house until his son Shelah was grown up- thus implying that he would give her in marriage to Shelah in accordance with the Law (Gen. 38:11; Deut. 25:5-10).
    2) Rahab pleaded with the two spies for the lives of herself and her family and requested they swear an oath in Yehovah’s Name (Josh. 2:12-21).
    3) As discussed in the Hebrew Gospels Plus section, Ruth made a vow to her mother-in-law (Ruth 1:16) and thus joined herself to Israel and Yehovah. Boaz, in turn, made a vow to Ruth invoking the Name, Yehovah (Ruth 3:13).
    4) God promised David that one of his sons would build his house (2 Sam. 7:11-16). David made a vow to Bathsheba in the Name, Yehovah, that Solomon would be king (1 Kin. 1:29-30).

    Thank you so much, Keith and Nehemiah, for this teaching! Who could have ever guessed that a genealogy could be so good?!

  • Gail Williams says:

    How do you get the ‘plus’ of the Hebrew Gospels? There is no clear link for it.

    • Deborah Girdner says:

      Support Keith Johnson’s ministry, BFA International, and you will gain access to the Hebrew Gospels Plus sections.

    • Devorah says:

      Hi Gail, the Plus is on Keith’s website for Hebrew Gospel Pearls #1. The next one will be on the this website in the Support Team area for Hebrew Gospel Pearls #2. The guys will alternate like that going forward.

  • Pam Burt says:

    I cannot see the Hebrew Gospel pearl plus on Nehemiahs wall? Im a support team member already. Can anybody else see it?

    • Susan Lein says:

      Episode one of HGP+ is just on the BFA website; the next episode of HGP+ will be hosted here under the support team section.

  • Neville Newman says:

    I have a question about the short video “Joseph, the Father of Mary (Hebrew Matthew 1:16)”.

    Are the two Hebrew Matthew manuscripts mentioned determined to be from different manuscript families?

    Do we know with some certainty whether one is or is not a derivative of the other, or whether they both have a near ancestor that (logically, must not) have this same reading (“father of Miriam”)?

  • Veronica Martinez says:

    Can you please provide the source link for Clement of Alexandria saying Matthew’s genealogy was Mary’s? Thank you.

  • I really enjoy these teachings, I started listening to Prophet Pearls. I was sick and out of work when I found your teachings and I learned so much and was excited to get into this study. I understand about getting monetary support, but I cannot pay for both ministries much less one, and this makes me sad.

    • Alison Bond says:

      Yehovah always provides and blesses especially when you support those who spend hundreds of hours researching, studying, and preparing for those of us who can not devote that much time to study. I prefer to look at it that I can’t afford NOT to pay such a small amount to learn. You are ultimately investing in yourself! These teachings could never be shared if it wasn’t for support of friends like you. It is worth the investment. Don’t miss out. Where there is a will there is a way.

      • Thank you for taking the time to write. I understand about giving and I already give where God has me to give. And I have given to Nehemia over the years many times. I just can’t do it more regular. For you it may not be much, but right now it is for me. Also I am not saying they are not worth it, I am grateful for what I have learned from them. You are right if there is a way God will help me find it. I think I was just sad that I won’t be able to hear more on the subject. I still will listen to other podcasts.

        • Patricia Palinski says:

          Hi sylvias.treasures,
          The first episode of this series is up on BFA International, the second will be on here, the third will be on BFA International, and so on. If you are already a support team member of Nehemia’s Wall, then you will be able to listen to the even numbered episodes on here. It is my understanding that a one-time donation is enough to grant you membership for life, so you can listen to half the episodes as I plan to do. Becoming a member of BFA International requires a monthly donation of $9.99. Like you, I can’t afford that either so I have accepted the fact that for at least now I can listen only to the even-numbered episodes (I’m hoping the policy of this site doesn’t change and I won’t be required to be a member of both ministries to continue be a member of this one.) Likewise I would love to read the book The Bible, The Talmud and the New Testament, but since it’s $77 on Amazon and $86 from Thrift Books it’s not likely I’ll be reading it anytime soon either.

    • graftedinto says:

      Sylvia, Both Keith and Nehemia explained in Episode #3 how to be granted scholarship into the member sections. Follow up!

  • Anita Burke says:

    Yo hablo Tex Mex. Y soy fluente en Google Translate

  • Susan Lein says:

    Can you write down the names of the other references you mentions you were going to us, like the name of your cousin’s book and the Hebrew translations by Christian’s? We’d love to get copies for ourselves if possible.

    • daniel says:

      Same here – ‘The Bible, Talmud and NT’ (Kol Korei) looks like a great companion book to this series.

  • James Hewitt says:

    Great work. I loved it. Cant waite to hear the next one.

  • Rick & Edith Carter says:

    We are very excited about Gospel Pearls! Thank you for following through on YeHoVaH’s call on your life!

  • Gail Williams says:

    How do you become a member of Nehemiah’s Wall?

    • graftedinto says:

      Gail, Commit financially to the ministry. Same for BFA. In episode #3 Keith and Nehemia explain how to apply for a scholarship, grant a scholarship, or contribute in non-financial ways so that you can get to HGP+ if you are not financially able.

  • davedivesin says:

    I find it fascinated that Kieth is related to one freeing slaves who didn’t know free and Nehemiah is also related to one whose calling was to enter a world between worlds of tradition, as well as, his 11 generations back conspirator in hiding Yehovah’s name. Bless ya both and ENTER THE GREAT BETWEEN!

  • Leslee Simler says:

    I just finished listening to the Hebrew Matthew Pearls Plus at BFA International and came into your Support Team area to find the documents you mentioned that you will post for us here.

    I additionally want to mention that you say “husband” at 51:43-44 and at 52:32 when you meant to say “father”. This is a seemingly small mistake, but crucial to correct for all the naysayers who are out there hoping to dispute this work. CAN YOU EDIT? Or can you put the “correction: father” in print on the screen at these two points. This really needs to be corrected in the presentation, or in the next presentation, so that the proper explanation is presented. Toda, toda, toda raba, for this crucial, critical study!

    • Hi Leslee, Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We went ahead and “corrected” my error through some modern editing techniques, something the Greek copyists didn’t have the luxury of doing!

      • graftedinto says:

        And oh WOW as we listened to Episode #3 on Sabbath and heard your amazing announcement about accomplishing this. What a wonderful team you have that could do this! Brachot l’kol!

  • Viktor says:

    Nehemia, are you sure, they didn’t know how to translate “Sons of Israel” for the Septuagint?
    Are you aware of Hebrew manuscripts, that have “benei Elohim” in Deut 32:8?
    How can we find those and how would you rate them from a scolarly perspective?

  • Mark says:

    “It was after this nezer that the village of Nazareth was apparently named. According to the author Julius Africanus (ca. A.D. 220) of Emmaus (modern-day Latrun), these descendants of David lived in villages bearing messianic names such as Nazara (“village of the branch”) and Cochaba (“village of the star”; cf. Num 24:17 [כּוֹכָב]) (Eusebius, HE 1.7.14f.). A village of the latter name existed north of Nazareth, and there was a second one in the Bashan region, a short walking distance from Bethsaida. (1) There, according to Africanus, the Davidic family kept the genealogical records used to prove its royal descent. In this way the Nazoreans lived in the pious expectation that one day the Anointed of Israel, the Messiah, would arise from their midst.”

    “Paths of the Messiah”, Pixner, Bargil. (2010), Ignatius Press, p.3

    (1) “Cf. B. PIXNER and R. RIESNER, “Kochaba”, in GBL, 2nd ed. (1990), 2:801f., and chapter 13 below, “Batanea as a Jewish Settlement Area” (pp. 169-76, esp. pp. 173-75).

  • David Castellanos says:

    Thank you for your endless strive to learn the pure truth to share to all mankind, God bless you

  • Gregg W says:

    Nehemia, First of all, you are SO funny. I love the way you and Keith interact and joke back and forth. It makes me laugh out loud.
    I really enjoyed this episode and learned a lot as I always do from you. How you planned to be talking about the toldot of Yeshua and ended up with some of your own generations was amazing.
    I think this was just one of the many examples of Yehovah touching the things you are doing with little “coincidences” or experiences. From reading and listening to you and Keith over the years, I’m reminded of several. You both are so real, honest and down to earth. I love you both as my brothers. Please continue with this great work. Yehovah bless you both as you bless us with these ‘pearls’. Shalom.

  • Rae Lloyd-Jones says:

    This was phenomenal Nehemia & Keith! WOW!!! Just blown away by all YHVH is doing bringing all this together. Nehemia, can you provide a link to the two manuscripts mentioned with “Avi” in Matt.1:16 – NYJTS MS2460-F.189R and Oxford AdQU111-F.77b? I can’t find the pictures anywhere…..

  • Johannes Koornstra says:

    Shalom Nehemia,

    May YeHoVaH bless Keith and you in this endevour. Please continue with your work, for this is very important for many of us. We are praying for y’all.

    Are you working also on a transcript version, combining the different Hebrew texts you found?

    Can you please publish a link of the actual Hebrew Manuscripts if they are online?

    Thanks very much in advance.


    Johannes from the Netherlands

  • Hiltona Castleberry says:

    Oh my goodness. Just listened to episode #1. My head is swimming. It’s like a nonstop fire hose coming on full force listening to you two wonderful servants of YeHoVah. I’ve long thought that Pentecost happened at Mt. Sinai AND as outlined in Acts. I have tried to learn a bit of Hebrew but at my age, it is not so easy. I’ve given it over to the Father and know (as they knew in the past) that when I need to understand, I will indeed understand. I look forward to the new series and pray for you both. Continued blessings!

  • Mari Silver says:

    Great first episode. Great content. I have two books from Amazon Smile on order.