Hebrew Gospel Pearls #9 (Matthew 4:1-11)

In Hebrew Gospel Pearls #9 (Matthew 4:1-11), Nehemia and Keith discuss the role of Satan in the Tanakh, how the word "the" can completely change the meaning of a Biblical concept, and how this all ties in to the Wuhan Coronavirus and spiritual warfare.

I look forward to reading your feedback in the Comments Section below!

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Hebrew Gospel Pearls #9 (Matthew 4:1-11)

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.

Nehemia: This Christian who was a very learned scholar, he said, “Well, I have the Jewish understanding of Satan, that Satan is one of God’s angels and can’t do anything without His permission and without His authority.” And on the spot, the man was fired - not for denying Jesus, not for denying the Father or the Holy Spirit, but the Christian man was fired for denying Satan.

Keith: Welcome to Hebrew Gospel Pearls, Episode 9. We are looking at Matthew chapter 4, 1 through 11. This is a really, really, really exciting passage that we’re going to be looking at, and I’m pretty convinced that as we get into this, it’s going to go to the depths.

Now Nehemia, before we get started, I have to do something. I have to start with something that your cousin actually wrote. Normally, we don’t do this, folks. Usually, we get into it, we warm up. But there’s going to be so much information. I know that when we push the button…[laughing] Tell me, Nehemia, are you excited for this passage before I get started here?

Nehemia: I’m very excited.

Keith: Excellent.

Nehemia: Yeah, this is a very interesting passage on so many levels.

Keith: Oh, so many, so many levels. So we’re going to try to do what we always do. We’re going to start with the beginning and we’ll see how far we get, and then, of course, we’re going to be in the Plus episode. But the reason I want to start with your cousin is that I did something that we don’t normally do when Nehemia and I are studying. We actually had a little conversation yesterday, I think it was, as we were preparing for this, and I asked him a question, and it’s kind of an obvious question - I guess it’s an obvious question - how the Jewish perspective looks at this issue of what we call “the tempter” or “the devil”. Now, the reason I want to start with this is because I know we’re going to get right into it.

But can I just read the first part, I’m looking at your cousin’s book. If you guys don’t know about the cousin’s book at this point, you need to start over.

Nehemia: Well, let’s just tell people what it is, because there might be people starting here.

Keith: Okay, tell them what it is, Nehemia.

Nehemia: It’s a book called The Bible, the Talmud and the New Testament, written around 1879 by Rabbi Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik. It was just translated into 2019 into English, written in Hebrew, and it is considered the first Jewish commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, or actually on anything in the New Testament.

Keith: Awesome.

Nehemia: He’s literally my second cousin five-times removed. [laughing]

Keith: He’s Nehemia’s cousin. We call it his cousin’s book. And he does something really interesting, okay? Now, usually I ask you to do this. Nehemia, would you be willing to just read the first verse in the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew?

Nehemia: Absolutely.

Keith: Would you just read that for us out loud?

Nehemia:Az lekach Yeshua beRuach Hakodesh lemidbar lehitnasot mehaSatan.”

Keith: Excellent.

Nehemia: Can I translate it?

Keith: Is it fair to say that your cousin is not looking at a Hebrew manuscript when he’s doing this commentary?

Nehemia: Well, that’s interesting. So the translator talks about that in the introduction, and it seems he didn’t know Greek. And so he probably was using a French translation. He did a lot of this work when he was in Paris. He may have also consulted a Yiddish translation. There’s at least one passage that we already saw where he mentions the French translator. So yeah.

Keith: Let me just give you his translation, assuming he’s looking at a translation from Greek. “Then the spirit carried Yeshua into the wilderness so that the Satan could test him.” And the reason I had to stop is he says, “so that the Satan could test him.” And I asked you a question yesterday. I said, “So Nehemia. For me, my background when I’m reading this in the English…” Can I just go real quickly to my English version? The English version, folks, I’ve got all these books here. I want to read this. It says, and I think it’s like 18 words. It says, “Then Jesus was led up by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.”

Now, your cousin is not looking at a Hebrew text, I’m assuming. He’s only looking at a translation that’s from Greek. And even he wouldn’t fall into the trap that our friend Howard fell into. Can I look at Howard?

Nehemia: What did he fall into?

Keith: Let me just read Howard real quick, folks. Matthew 4, “Then Jesus was taken by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by…” drum roll, please, not “the Satan” but by capital S-A-T-A-N. Now, the reason I wanted to bring your cousin, Howard’s translation, certainly Howard is making a decision - as he’s looking at the Hebrew, he’s making an English translation that I personally am not real happy with what he did. But can you tell me why it is that your cousin would immediately see Satan, or the Devil, or whatever you would say that it would be, and he still translates it, he gives it the definite article, “the”? And Howard sees “haSatan” right in the Hebrew, and yet he capitalizes S-A-T-A-N. Now, this is starting controversy right off the top, but I want to ask you about this. What is your thought?

Nehemia: Well, let’s start with what it says in Greek. So Greek has the word “Diabolos”. I’m going to to inform, for those who don’t know what that is, is “Diabolos” means Devil. Even we say in English, “diabolical”, right? We have that same word. And then, both Matthew and Luke have the same exact word. Luke 4:2 has the same thing as Matthew 4:1, that he’s tempted by the Devil, and so it’s interesting here that they translate it as “haSatan”. Now, haSatan - in Hebrew, we have this rule that you cannot identify a personal name by adding Hey to it. It’s called “determination”, that’s the term, “determination”. So personal names are already determined. In other words, the name “Keith”, the name “Nehemia”, the name “John”, the name “Sally”, you can’t say in Hebrew, “the Sally”. I can in English, right? In English I can say, “Which Sally was it? The tall one or the short one?” You’d say, “It was the Sally who is short.” You’d say that in English. In Hebrew I can’t say, “haSally”, “haYeshua”.

And by the way, that’s actually really important when we’re looking at Hebrew manuscripts of the New Testament, of which there are many, a couple of dozen or maybe more. If we ever see something like “haYeshua”, “the Yeshua”, we immediately know this is a translation from Greek, because in Greek you can do that. In Greek you can say… in fact you often would say, “ho Yesus”, “the Jesus”, or “the Yesus”. So the fact that it’s haSatan tells you that Satan is not his name, Satan is his title. All that is to say, Satan is a title if it says, “haSatan” here in the Hebrew.

That’s true in the Tanakh as well. For example, in Job we have a very interesting passage where he’s referred to as “haSatan”, and what’s a bit strange about it for some people is, well, he’s a character who hasn’t been introduced before, right? So often you would identify someone as “the” if they’ve already been introduced in the story. You could say, “An angel came along and he said such…” and you’d say, “the angel,” because he was introduced in an earlier verse.

Well, in Job… maybe we could read that. It says in Job 1:6, this is JPS, “One day, the divine being…” I love that. In the Hebrew, it’s “bnei haElohim,” “the sons of God…” I’ll just read from the Hebrew. “And it came to pass on the day,” and here we have “the day,” which day, right? So it’s the same linguistic phenomenon with haSatan here, as I’ll explain in a minute. “And it came to pass the day, and the sons of Elohim came to stand before Yehovah and also the Satan came among them.” So what is this “the Satan” if you haven’t identified the Satan yet?

So the linguistic explanation - you’ll find this in Gesenius, the Hebrew grammar, Muraoka, which is a wonderful Hebrew grammar also explains this - is that it means “a certain”. If you identify a character with “ha” and he hasn’t been seen before in the story, in the scene, then it means “a certain Satan”, which is how I would translate it here.

Here, let’s read it. “Then Yeshua was taken by the Holy Spirit to the desert to be tested,” it says, and we’ll get to that, “by a certain Satan.” But Satan can’t be his name or you wouldn’t say, “haSatan”. For personal names of people, or individuals, that’s not how it works. So you can do that with geographical names, but you can’t do that with individuals. It’s actually something that was brought up years ago when they discovered this inscription in Sinai at a place called Kuntillet Ajrud. It’s one of the first references to Yehovah outside the Tanakh. It mentions there “Yehovah, ve asher ato,” “and His asherah,” And saying “His” with a suffix is like saying “ha”, “the”. It’s a form of determination.

They concluded from that that it can’t be the name “Asherah”, but ashera there has to be the object, right? There is a Goddess called Asherah, but if you say, “Yehovah and His Asherah,” which of course, is horrible blasphemy, that’s what the inscription says, they’re identifying Yehovah as Baal - Baal has an Asherah - and Asherah’s the pole next to the altar of Yehovah, or altar of Baal, originally.

That’s the pole that Gideon cut down, the “asherah”. So when you say “His asherah”, it’s like saying, “the Satan”. Asherah is not the name, it is the title. Or in that case, it’s the object, the pole. In this case, “haSatan” is his role, his title. He is a certain satan.

Keith: So here’s what happened. Nehemia, in this first verse, I think there are three simple things that I hope we’ll discuss. Three simple things that we’ll discuss that the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew can help us get some clarity on. So just by looking at Hebrew Gospel of Matthew – and I know for a fact that you’re going to be able to bring a lot of other things around this. But just by looking at the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew in the first verse that you just looked at, the first thing that hit me was it was taken and then it says in English here, “by the Holy Spirit.” But the actual form there in the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, when it says, “Holy Spirit”, what do you have? And I don’t know if there are other manuscripts that are different than this…

Nehemia: So the vowel, it’s not vocalized. So it could be read as “beRuach Hakadosh”, “the Spirit of Holiness”, or the “Holy Spirit of Ruach Hakodesh, the Spirit of Holiness”. They’re very similar, it’s two different forms, Kadosh and Kodesh. There are places where this phrase is used in Hebrew Matthew and it’s spelled out with what we call a “plenei”, that is, the full form where it’s Kuf-Vav-Daled-Shin, and that tells you it’s Hakodesh. In this one, it’s ambiguous, at least in the manuscripts that we’re basing it on here.

I want to go back to the Satan thing. There’s a second possible way of reading this. If it says, “haSatan”, it could be like, “haElohim”. When you say, “haElohim”, “the Elohim”, you don’t mean a certain Elohim, a certain God - usually, you might, in some cases - what you mean is, Elohim par excellence, right? You mean the with a capital G, God. And so it could be “the Satan”. In other words, it is possible that the author of this text believed there was a certain angel who was the enemy, because Satan means “enemy” or “adversary”. And that it was Enemy with a capital E, or in the JPS, they’ll often have Adversary with a capital A, “the Adversary”. That is, he is the Satan par excellence. That is a possible interpretation here.

What’s interesting is when he addresses him in verse 10 - and I know I’m jumping ahead - he calls him “haSatan”, right? Satan is still not his name. So whether it’s haSatan, the Satan with a capital S, Satan par excellence, meaning the angel with the title “Satan”, or it’s a certain Satan, because there could be many angels called Satan, or many entities called Satan, that have that title. It’s clearly not his name, which it has become in English, and it became in English probably because interestingly in the Greek they transliterated often. If you look in the Greek text of the New Testament… let’s just do this on the spot here.

So I’m going to pull up my Greek text of the New Testament, Nestle-Aland 28. I’m going to type in, “Greek, Satanas”, and the noun appears 33 times in the New Testament in the Nestle-Aland 28 text, 33 times. And let’s see, interestingly, in Mark 8:33, [laughing] I love that one, we’ll get to that maybe later.

Let’s read it. “But turning and looking at His disciples He rebuked Peter and said to him, ‘Get behind me, Satan.’” Now, is Peter Satan? No, it means, “enemy”. It means “adversary” here. It never loses its literal meaning. Just like the Hebrew word “malach”, “angel”, never loses its literal meaning, as well. Meaning, there are two types of angels in the Tanakh. There’s malach, angel, who is a human like Balak, the King of Midian sends a messenger, and that’s called a “malach”. And in contrast, there’s a malach which is a spiritual entity that disappears in a whisp of smoke in the Book of Judges, right? So that literal meaning is still there. “Satan” here is “the enemy”. Now, whose enemy is he? That’s probably something, I think, Christianity today departs from Judaism. Christianity tends to see Satan as God’s enemy. Here’s the way it was described to me by a gentleman who was a prayer warrior. This was a man who used to travel all over the United States and he would blow his shofar and he would walk and do prayer walks. I said, “What’s the prayer walk, and why are you blowing the shofar?” He would actually go to the highest place in every county in the United States, and go into hundreds of counties and he would blow his shofar. And I said, “What is the function of blowing the shofar there?”

And he explained to me - and I’m not saying all Christians believe this, this is what he believed - he explained to me that Satan is gathering forces for the final showdown with God, and you could be on Satan’s team or you could be on Jesus’ team. You could choose sides. And Satan rules this world. And so as he travels around blowing the shofar and walking in prayer - like he’ll literally map out the streets, make sure he covers every street and pray as he’s praying - and he’s proclaiming that territory for God against Satan, so that when the final showdown comes, God has more territory and more minions, more soldiers. I mean, to me it’s definitely an alien concept, because as I see it in the Tanakh, Satan is not God’s enemy. Satan works for God. You see that in Job.

He appears before God, and of course he’s trying to make trouble. He’s going to and fro on the earth and he’s like, “Well, yeah. Job only listens to you because you’re good to him. Let me harm him.” Right? Satan wants to cause trouble, but he wants to cause trouble to men, not to God, to humans. Can we talk about the first time Satan appears in the Tanakh?

Keith: Absolutely.

Nehemia: Are ready to jump to that? Okay. So the first time Satan appears in the Tanakh is Numbers 22:22. There, it’s really interesting. It’s interesting on so many different levels. I’m sure we talked about it in Torah Pearls, but let’s just briefly look at it again. The first time Satan appears in the Tanakh, that is the word “Satan”, referring to a spiritual entity, because often, Satan is a human, right? It says that God raised up a certain person as a Satan against Solomon. That was an enemy, an actual adversary. But the first spiritual one is Numbers 22:22, “And the anger of God burned because Balaam went and malach Yehovah stood in the way leSatan lo, as a Satan against him.”

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: And some people have said that every time it has the phrase “malach Yehovah” in the Tanakh it’s a specific angel. I won’t get into that right now, that’s what some people have claimed - that it’s a specific angel, because really, you would translate malach Yehovah as “the angel of Yehovah”, or you could translate it also as “a certain angel of Yehovah”, based on the principle we’ve just talked about. But “malach Yehovah” stands as a satan against who? Against Balaam, right? So the one who pulls out the sword and the donkey tries to avoid it and he hits the donkey, that is described as a “satan”. Now, he’s not God’s satan. And then again, in Numbers 22:32 the angel says, “Hinei anochi yatzati lesatan,” “Behold I have gone out as a satan.” So this satan is not God’s enemy, he’s actually man’s enemy. He’s there to test man, to incite man to sin. That’s actually one of the really interesting uses of the word “satan” in the Tanakh, if we can look at that.

Okay, 2 Samuel 24, and there we actually won’t see Satan, interestingly. All right, 24:1, and then we’re going to compare that with 1 Chronicles 21:1, which tell the exact same story about David counting the people of Israel. And in verse 24:1 of 2 Samuel it says, “The anger of Yehovah continued to burn against Israel, and He incited David against them, saying, ‘Go count Israel and Judah.’” Who’s the “He” here? Pretty clear in the context, it’s Yehovah, or you could say it’s the anger of Yehovah maybe, personified. But it’s Yehovah. 1 Chronicles 21:1, you could translate it, “A satan stood against Israel, and he incited David to count Israel.” So who stood against Israel in 1 Chronicles 21:1? Satan. But in 2 Samuel 24:1 it’s Yehovah that is inciting Israel.

And what’s going on here? First of all, it’s a play on words. The word “to incite” is “vayaset”, which is from a different root, but it sounds like “satan”. And so 1 Chronicles 21:1 is explaining to us, essentially, that God tested or incited David, basically put him into a test, because He had this anger against Israel. And how did he do it? He sent his pit bull, a satan, “satan”. We actually have someone we know that this was explained to them, and they misunderstood. They thought, “Is Nehemia saying that Satan is God?” No! [laughing] Satan is God’s angel that He’s using for this particular purpose, to incite Israel. I don’t think that’s contrary to what we read in the Gospel of Matthew, both in Hebrew or Greek, or in Luke, right?

In other words, Satan here isn’t coming, the Devil, the Diabolos, the satan, a satan, whichever one it is, isn’t coming here out of his own power to test Yeshua. Quite the contrary. It says, “Then Yeshua was led out by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.” And then Luke 4:1, “Yeshua followed the Holy Spirit and returned from Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness where for 40 days he was tempted by the Devil.”

So it’s not inconsistent. It’s the same message there, that this is something that the Holy Spirit, that God… You know, I would understand “Holy Spirit” as the way you experience God. Let’s not get into that whole theology for now. We will at some point.

But it’s God Himself who’s bringing Yeshua to be tempted here, or the Holy Spirit that’s bringing Yeshua to be tempted here, by the Devil. So the Devil’s doesn’t have this power independent of God. He does not have that power.

Keith: So can you do us a favor? For those that are listening, this is one of the things I used to love about the tap-tap. I use to love this, Nehemia. Could you do us a favor? Can you take that three-letter root for Satan and give us the first time that those three letters show up in the Tanakh? And I think it’s going to be some time in Genesis, I think around the issue of the well?

Nehemia: Yes, that’s actually really interesting. So we have satan as a verb, satan as a noun, and then we have “sitna”, which can mean “enmity”, or in one case it might mean “accusation”. So there’s this beautiful passage in Genesis 26, and what I love about it, it’s a very mundane passage, right? It’s about a quarrel between Isaac and these Philistine shepherds. And he digs these different wells, and verse 18 says, “Isaac dug anew the wells which had been dug in the days of his father, Abraham, and which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham’s death.” Now, why did they stop them up? Because there was a limited amount of water and a limited amount of grazing area. They don’t want these other sheep coming in and grazing in the same area where they’re grazing.

It goes on, “And he gave them the same names that his father had given them. But when Isaac’s servants digging in the brook found there a well of spring water, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen saying, ‘The water is ours.’ He named that well ‘Essec’, because they contended with him.” In Hebrew it’s a play on words - “essec” because of “hitasku”, “they had contended with him”. So the first one was called “essec”. And when they dug another well, they disputed over that one, also. So he named it Sitna, and it doesn’t tell us why he named it Sitna. It says, “yarivu”, “they quarreled”, they had a dispute with him. They called it Sitna, and “sitna” means “enmity” or “hatred” or “enemy” from the word “enemy, satan. There was a well called Sitna. Is that a well you would have wanted to have a drink from, the well of Sitna? [laughing]

Keith: But why did I ask you to do that? I’m talking about that three-letter root of that word, “sitna”, and the three-letter root of the word “Satan”. The reason I’m asking you that question, to look at that, is I’m still back to starting out when your cousin says, “the Satan”, the understanding of what the word means, being adversary, one who accuses, one who stands against. It seems like that’s certainly the Jewish understanding of who the adversary or what the adversary is.

Nehemia: Well, that’s linguistically what it means. And so imagine this. If you went today and there was a well named Sitna and you knew it was from the root of the word “Satan”, you probably wouldn’t want to drink from it if you were a good Christian, because you might think… I mean, they literally have a phrase, “Speak of the Devil and he will come,” right? And so what we can see here is when he’s calling this well Sitna, there’s no concept in his mind whatsoever that, “Oh, well this will bring a certain angel that causes trouble called Satan.” He’s not afraid of Satan. He’s calling this Sitna not because of something spiritual, but because of something very physical and immediate, that there was a quarrel, a fight, and there was an enmity over this well. Let me just read the last one. “He moved from there and dug yet another well and they did quarrel over it, so he called it “Rekhovot”, which means “broad and wide”, saying, “Now at least Yehovah has granted us ample space to increase in the land,” and really, “He has broadened our space to increase in the land.”

And this isn’t here in the passage, I’m reading now into the passage what the Rabbis read into the passage. They said, “These three wells we could take as a metaphor for the First Temple, for which they fought over us, the Second Temple, which was destroyed by an enemy, and when we build the third one, there’ll be ample space and we’ll increase in the land.”

In fact, the Rabbis would say, “Maybe this is prophetic,” but they understand that’s not the original context and meaning when it was spoken of by Isaac, but it’s a beautiful kind of what we call “drasha” or homily that you can explain or talk about, based on the passage. If you were to say, “Well, this proves there’ll be three Temples!” no, you’ve missed the point. [laughing]

Okay, so getting back to satan, “satan” means “enmity”. We have another use of the word “sitna” which appears in a much later period, and that is in Ezra 4:6. Ezra 4:6, “In the reign of Achashverosh at the start of his reign they drew up a sitna against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.” These are the enemies of Israel. They don’t want the Jews to rebuild the Temple, so they draw up… and it says, “katvu sitna”, “they wrote a sitna”. “Sitna” is a letter of enmity, but it may also at this point have taken on the meaning of “accusation”, or that might be part of the connotation here. Because the letter wasn’t just a letter from an enemy, it was saying, “Hey, these guys - you can’t let them build the Temple, they’ll rebel against you.”

So there’s a connotation here of accusation, and the Rabbis ran with that to the point where they talk about Satan. Satan, they refer to as “katēgōr”, that is the prosecuting attorney. And it literally is the term for a prosecutor. There’s the defense attorney and there’s a prosecutor. And so in Rabbinical thought, satan is not just the enemy, which he is, and an adversary, which he is, but he’s also the prosecutor standing before God and doing kind of what he did in the story of Job saying, “Well, okay, he serves you but you only did good to him. Now, harm him and see what happens.” But katēgōr - and it’s actually a Greek word, it’s the Greek word for “a prosecutor”, it’s like you would say in America, the “District Attorney” - the katēgōr, the enemy. God is sitting on His throne and there are two different angels before Him. There’s the accuser, and then there’s the defense attorney. And we actually have that in Zechariah 3:1, and there, Joshua the High Priest, or Yehoshua, “Then he showed Yehoshua, the High Priest, standing before the malach Yehovah, the angel of Yehovah, and Satan standing at his right hand as an enemy against him, as a satan against him…” which might mean, “as an accuser against him.”

So, the JPS and the NIV both translate “to accuse him.” That is a possibility here, that it means “enemy,” but it also means “accuser”. And in Matthew 4 and Luke 4 we’re not seeing it in the sense of accuser, I think we’re seeing it in the sense of he’s coming to do the test, similar to what we saw in 1 Chronicles 21. But there is that understanding in Judaism, and it comes from this place in the Tanakh, that satan is not only an enemy, he can also be an accuser, just as we have a letter of accusation by the enemies of Israel.

In Zechariah 3:2 it goes on, it says, “Yehovah said to Satan,‘Yehovah rebuke you, Satan. Yehovah has chosen Jerusalem. Rebuke you. Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?’” And the image we have there is that Satan comes as the accuser, as the enemy to say, “Hey, you’ve got to punish Jerusalem.” And who stands in Israel’s defense? Yehovah does.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: There’s no intercessor there. There’s no intermediary. Yehovah stands up and He says, “I rebuke you, Satan. You’re accusing, I’m going to defend Israel. The Judge Himself defends Israel.” So this whole scene with Satan is absolutely fascinating, what we have in Matthew. We didn’t get past verse 1. [laughing]

Keith: No, no, no. Wait, I’ve got three things in verse 1, and the next one’s going to cause there to be a short circuit for you. Your cousin caught it, and I don’t know if you caught it. So we went to the end of the verse, talking about the personification of the Satan. Excellent information. I don’t know, just before I go on, do we want to do anything regarding sort of how that began to grow, and how, in Christianity today, we have this idea that you mentioned earlier, but biblically, where do we get this idea of God and Satan being in a war against each other? In other words, is there something that we can go to that would give confirmation for the idea that there’s a battle between the two?

Nehemia: Look, I’ll state the obvious, the elephant in the room. There was a religion at the time called Zoroastrianism.

Keith: There it is.

Nehemia: And the Zoroastrians, they traced themselves back to a man named Zoroaster who they believed was a prophet, some time around 600 BC, some people say 1000 BC. We don’t really know. Zoroaster founded this religion which says there are two powers in the universe, a good god and an evil god. The good god was called Ahura Mazda, and the evil god was called Angra Mainyu, and at the beginning of existence, the two didn’t know each other existed. One was in the realm above and one was in the realm below. Obviously, the evil one was in the realm below. I say “obviously”, because some of that’s carried over. And each one is gathering followers so that they could have a final battle, and some scholars today say that Zoroastrianism isn’t a dualistic religion, as I would say, that there’s two gods. They say, “No, there’s only one god,” because in the end, in the final days, Ahura Mazda, the good god will defeat Angra Mainyu, the evil god.” You know, it’s like in that movie back from the 80s, “There will be only one! [laughing] Only one will remain.”

And so there’s the good god and the evil god, and the good god controls over the realm of the spirit, and the evil god is below, in hell, and they’re both trying to gather followers, and this is referred to in the Tanakh. Most people don’t realize, but the Tanakh actually talks about this.

By the way, we talked about this in our book, “A Prayer to Our Father,” when we were dealing… I don’t remember what the context was.

Keith: We were dealing with it as it pertains to, “Lead us not into the hands of a test.”

Nehemia: Ah, okay.

Keith: Yeah.

Nehemia: So Isaiah 45:1 says, “Thus says Yehovah to His anointed,” that is, “His Mashiach,” it says there, “to Cyrus.” Who was Cyrus? Cyrus is a Persian King who, sometime around 538 BC, or maybe 516 BC, issued a decree saying that the Jews could go back to the land of Israel and rebuild the Temple. So Isaiah lives around 700 BC, around 140 years before Cyrus, before this particular event of Cyrus. Cyrus hasn’t even been born, his father hasn’t been born, his grandfather probably hasn’t been born. “Thus says Yehovah to His anointed,” to Cyrus, “whose right hand He has grasped, treading down nations before him.” So basically, it’s saying here that God is going to give an empire to Cyrus. He’s going to give an empire with treasures and wealth. And He says in verse 3… Why is He doing this? Why is He giving an empire to Cyrus? Which He does; the Persian Empire under Cyrus conquers the Babylonian Empire. “So that you may know that it is I, Yehovah, the God of Israel who call you by name.”

This is actually an incredible scene here. Isaiah is speaking a prophesy 140 years approximately before it will be fulfilled, calling a specific person in the future by name, and telling him, “The proof that Yehovah is the true God is that He foretold the coming of this man by name.” He says, “So that you may know that it is I, Yehovah, the God of Israel who call you by name.” Not for you, because you’re a righteous man. But why? Verse 4, “For the sake of My servant Jacob, Israel, My chosen one, I call you by name. I hail you by title, though you have not known Me.”

What does it mean, “he has not known Him?” Isn’t Cyrus a good Jew, or a convert, or a follower of the God of Israel? No, Cyrus doesn’t even know who God is. He believes in Ahura Mazda, whose enemy is Angra Mainyu. He believes in the good god, who’s the enemy of the bad god. He believes in the bad god, he just doesn’t follow him.

Verse 5, “I am Yehovah and there is none else. Besides Me, there is no Elohim, there is no God.” Why is He telling this to Cyrus? Because Cyrus believes there are two gods. “I gird you,” meaning, “I put armor on you,” “though you have not known Me.” And then He says, “so that they may know from the east to the west,” and literally it says, “from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting, that there is none but Me. I am Yehovah and there is none else.”

And then, this is one of the most important passages in the Tanakh, and we have to understand it in the Zoroastrian context. They believed all the good in the universe came from Ahura Mazda, the good god, and all the evil, all the suffering, all the starvation, all the envy, everything bad in the universe was created by Angra Mainyu, the evil god.

And here, in direct response to that, Yehovah says, “I form light…” I’ll read it in Hebrew. “Yotzer ohr,” “I am He who creates light,” “uvoreh choshesh,” “who forms light and creates darkness.” “Oseh shalom,” “who makes peace” “uvoreh ra,” “and He who creates evil.” It says in Isaiah 45:7 in the Hebrew that Yehovah creates evil and He says, “Ani Yehovah oseh khol eleh,” “I am Yehovah who does all these things.”

Why is He telling Cyrus that? Because Cyrus believes all of the suffering and evil and mean-spiritedness and everything bad in the universe is not the creation of the good god, it’s the creation of the bad god. And Yehovah says, “I create everything.”

Keith: So Nehemia, one of the things that was so powerful about us doing that book together was when we got to the section, this idea of God’s kingdom. And we’ll get to that later, hopefully if we get to pass the pilot episodes. But the thing that changes it for me - and it changed me radically - was when I first became a part of the Christian understanding, I understood that there was the one that was going to tempt me, he was called “the Devil”, and the one that was going to bless me, and that was God.

And then I get to this passage in Matthew, and of course, as I was saying earlier, there are some things that change. One of the things that changes is, what is the role of the Satan? Is this like a movie where, “Co-starring Yehovah and Satan, also starring Yeshua”?

Nehemia: Well, it’s interesting that you say “co-starring”, because our format for movies and for television is, you have the protagonist and the antagonist. The protagonist is good, and the antagonist is bad. And then they have this sub-genre where sometimes the protagonist is the bad guy, right? But what you’re saying is, that format is the way that many people look at God’s role in history, that God is the good one, and then there’s an evil one, there’s the antagonist.

Keith: So Isaiah changes the game for me, when all of a sudden in my English Bible it won’t say, “He creates evil.” In Hebrew it says, “He creates evil.” Now, I don’t know, with the tap-tap, if you can give a couple of English versions, maybe the NIV would be one?

Nehemia: Oh, yeah. They completely whitewash it.

Keith: Could you give us a couple of English versions that take that same phrase that you just gave us, but they change that word “evil” to something else.

Nehemia: Oh, they completely whitewash it, because they don’t want to say that God creates evil. So the JPS from 1985, “I form light and create darkness. I make weal and create woe.” I don’t even know what “weal and woe” are! [laughing] And then here, NIV has, “I bring prosperity.” Whoo, prosperity! He even makes peace, literally. “I bring prosperity and create disaster.” Well, that’s already a little bit more dangerous. God creates disaster? What’s going on there? And the King James says, “I make peace and create evil.” The King James isn’t afraid to say it! It’s saying what is actually there. You know, King James gets a bad rap, sometimes, it’ll have what’s closest to the actual Hebrew.

Keith: Got to like that KJV. [laughing]

Nehemia: Yeah. Well, okay. But the new King James, which is just supposed to be updating the language of the King James, it’s supposed to be doing nothing else. “I make peace and create calamity.” God is Calamity Jane. Like really, what? And then, here the NET says, “The one who brings about peace and creates calamity.” Then they have a long note to say, “Yeah, actually God creates evil.” Wow.

Keith: So here’s what I wanted to bring up. We’re in a world-wide pandemic right now, and still as we watch this episode right now, if you’re in 2020, unless it’s 2050 and you’re watching this, during 2020 we were in a worldwide pandemic. And the first time that this became real to me was when I was in Israel. And what I’ve always said, Nehemia, whenever I go to Israel, I always feel like I’m prepared for what’s coming. This is what’s happened for me every time I go - I learn something in Israel that prepares me for the future.

But the one thing that happened for me when I got to Israel is I felt in my spirit very strongly that this pandemic that’s called the Coronavirus, they say, “We don’t know about this one,” is that this virus that we’re presently living within, it isn’t as if Yehovah is up in heaven and asking the angels to take the virus and to put it in their science lab to figure out what this is. Where did it come from? And we have all sorts of political issues, what we call it. But would it be fair to say that we have examples of pestilence, not coming from some evil source, but that God Himself, Yehovah Himself, sometimes… say, “Sometimes…”

Nehemia: Sometimes.

Keith: …will allow things to happen not so that we get confused about where it comes from, but understanding He is the one, He is the source who not only is aware of it, but He can stop it or allow it. So for me, what happened in Israel was, I said something, and I hope people don’t take this as offensive - this Coronavirus, it’s come from above, it’s here on earth to get people to a place where they will come to God in humility, where they will kneel before Him. He says, “If I should send this, and if I should do that. If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray, turn and seek My face, turn from their evil ways, I will heal.” And so for me, Nehemia, personally, I have had no problem praying to Him to stop this virus, praying to Him to intervene in this virus, and at the same time saying, “Father, I know that any time something like this happens at this level, it’s not something outside of Your will, or something outside of Your ability, it’s something that He will use for His glory.” So that’s about as far as I wanted to say about that.

Nehemia: What you’re actually raising is the question of suffering in the universe - why do bad things happen to good people? It’s what they call “theodicy”, I don’t know that we have to get into that today. I want to read a passage that is quoted by my cousin in the book The Bible, the Talmud and the New Testament, and he’s quoting the Babylonian Talmud, Baba Batra 10A. And it’s this encounter between the Roman Consul, Quintus Tineius Rufus around the year 127 AD, and Rabbi Akiva. He was the Roman ruler or governor over Judah, and they call him in the Talmud, “Turnus Rufus”. It says, “Turnus Rufus asked Rabbi Akiva…” and this is a Greek or Roman, a Latin pagan who doesn’t understand the God of the Jews. He said, “If your God loves the poor, why does he not provide for them?” Rabbi Akiva said to him, “So that through them we will be saved from the punishment of Gehenna.” That itself is profound. I don’t know if we have time to get into it. What he’s basically saying is, by helping the poor, we have an opportunity to do righteousness in the world. I’m not sure I agree with Rabbi Akiva, but let’s read on.

“Turnus Rufus said to him, ‘On the contrary. It is this that condemns you to Gehenna. I will tell you in a parable to what this can be compared. It is like an earthly king who has become angered with his servant and put him in prison, and he commanded that he should not be given food or water. And one man went and gave him food and water. When the king hears, would he not be angry with the man? And you are called servants. It is written, ‘For the children of Israel are my servants.’” So in other words, the king, God in this case, has condemned people to poverty, and by giving them charity, from the Roman perspective, you’re defying the will of the gods. That’s how the Romans thought of giving charity.

The Jewish perspective is, “No, this is righteousness.” “Rabbi Akiva said to him, ‘I will tell you in a parable to what this could be compared. It is like an earthly king who became angered with his son and put him in prison.’” So in Rabbi Akiva’s parable, the poor are like children of God. “And put him in prison and he commanded that he should not be given food or water. And one man went and gave him food and water. When the king heard, would he not send him a present? And we are called sons, as is written, ‘You are the sons of Yehovah, your God,’” Deuteronomy 14:1.

So there we have this very brief historical encounter where they’re struggling with the question of good and evil in the universe. I want to be really careful about saying, “God sent the Coronavirus, for some reason or another.”

Keith: Well, what I said, let me be clear…

Nehemia: Because I don’t know why God does what He does.

Keith: Let me be clear. Not that God sent the Coronavirus, God allowed it. He has control over it.

Nehemia: Absolutely.

Keith: He can do what He wants to do with it. He can use it to His glory. I want to be clear about that. He’s not up in Heaven saying. “What is this virus? Where did this come from?” I mean, that’s my…

Nehemia: Right. In other words, I don’t want to say that, “Well, Satan brought the Coronavirus, and that’s why there’s suffering, and if only God would intervene!” I think I’ve shared this before, but I know this guy who’s a well-known Christian teacher, internationally renowned, and he was once given a job to run a Christian television station, and he loaded up all of his equipment and his possessions and he put them in a trailer. And he and his wife were driving to the headquarters of the station, across the country. And on the way, they had a flat tire. And they call up the station and they say, “We’re going to be late, because we’ve had this damage.” And the people who run the station said, “Well, Satan has foiled your plans, foiled our plans, and he’s prevented you from coming, so let’s pray that God will overpower the will of Satan and change the events here.”

And this Christian, who was a very learned scholar, said, “Well, I have the Jewish understanding of Satan, that Satan is one of God’s angels and can’t do anything without His permission and without His authority.” And on the spot, the man was fired - not for denying Jesus, not for denying the Father or the Holy Spirit, but the Christian man was fired for denying Satan. [laughing] When I heard that I said, “Wow, what a picture of the way at least some Christians, not all, have run with this Satan idea.” And Jews to some extent, right? I mean, I grew up - I’ll save it for when we get to demons - but I grew up in a world surrounded by the belief in demons, and everything happened, “That was a demon who did it. That was shaidim. That was mazikin.” Or maybe just, it was natural circumstances, right?

In other words, there is an element here that we have to say, by definition, that there’s a certain amount of natural circumstances here. If you eat bats and you eat other animals that are surrounded by bats, you’re going to get Coronaviruses eventually, right? [laughing]

Keith: Right.

Nehemia: Look, we get viruses from cows and from sheep and from goats, which God has given us as clean animals. There’s this amazing book which everyone I think in the Western world needs to read. It’s called, Guns, Germs and Steel. It asks the question, “Why is it that the European world, including the United States, conquered the rest of the world, or particularly conquered North and South America and the Pacific Islands? This doesn’t apply so much to China, or India. And Africa, why did they conquer Africa as well?”

And the answer they come up with - or this biologist comes up with in the book, Guns, Germs and Steel - is that people in Europe and Asia live surrounded by cows for, they say, 10,000 years, and during that time there was wave after wave after wave of pandemic, to the point where by the time you get to what’s called the Age of Exploration or the Age of Imperialism in the 15th century and on, the Europeans and the Asians are immune to these diseases, to these diseases that are just all over the place. Yeah, we get Smallpox but by and large, we have a certain amount of herd immunity. And then they go to America and the North American natives are just wiped out by it. They’re just decimated. Maybe millions die because they’ve never had the common cold that they have over in Europe and Asia. And where do we get these diseases? From clean animals, right?

So I want to be really careful about blaming the pandemic today on unclean animals. I think there’s obviously an element to that. I mean, it came from a bat, as far as we know at this point in history. Maybe indirectly, maybe directly, we don’t know for sure at this point. But the bottom line is, there are things that have come from cows, but we’re now immune to those things.

So there’s a certain amount here that maybe once the population gets to a certain size and you’re constantly interacting with these… You know, it was funny, there was a statement by somebody in the public, I won’t say who, who said that, “Well, they got this from a bat.” Then the people out there said, “We need to fact-check this.” And what they found out is that there are probably millions of people every year who are infected by bats, people who live out in the countryside in China. The bats live in the rafters of their house and drop poop and they get infected. And they get infected so often that there’s a certain amount of herd immunity, and so they can survive it, or if they die from it, it doesn’t spread because so many people have had it or a mild form of it.

So the point here is that I don’t want to blame Satan on this.

I do want to end with something, I want to jump ahead, since we’re talking about Satan, and there’s so much more here we didn’t even get to. To me, the key words in Matthew chapter 4 verse 1, whether it’s in the Hebrew or in the Greek, is that he was led by the Holy Spirit or by the Spirit. This isn’t something that according to Matthew or Luke was outside the control of God, this was something that was under the control - in Mark, as well - under the control of God. And in fact, it was part of God’s plan to lead him to this test. We didn’t even talk about the word “test”. In the Plus episode, we’ll get to test.

Keith: [laughing] I want to ask a question.

Nehemia: Here’s one thing I do want to bring. Go ahead.

Keith: Your cousin did something really interesting, and I actually agree with him, and this is based on our text that we had pointed. Your cousin says…

Nehemia: Is this about tests?

Keith: No. This is not on tests. This is on the Holy Spirit. It says, “After his fast for 40 days, this is what he saw in a prophetic vision, and it seemed to him as if he were brought into the desert, and as if he had fasted for 40 days. The truth is that all these temptations would have lasted for more than an hour or two.” The point being, your cousin is saying, “Okay, Yeshua actually had this happen in the midst of his fasting. After his fasting, he was hungry,” or whatever, “and he had a prophetic vision.”

Now, I want to ask a question. Our pointer, when our pointer went through… For folks who don’t know, we have a Hebrew text that was pointed with vowel points, which helps make it easier for those of us who need helpers to read. I think our pointer said, “beh”, meaning like “in” in Spirit. It’s not “in the Holy Spirit”, it’s like, “in Spirit”, right? If you look at…

Nehemia: No, no, no. It’s “in the Holy Spirit”.

Keith: No, no. I’m saying, what does it…?

Nehemia: We have our case of what’s called “smichut”, of the construct case. And since we have “ha” on the word “Kodesh” or “Kadosh…”. Thus, “the Holy”, that “the” carries over to “ruach”. So it’s “the Holy Spirit”. You can’t say it’s, “a Holy Spirit”.

Keith: Okay, so no, no, not “a”.

Nehemia: It’s “the Holy Spirit”.

Keith: The question is this. Is it possible… so your cousin is saying okay, he had a prophetic vision. Is there anything that we’ve known, that we’ve seen, in terms of the actual construction, “in the Holy Spirit”? Examples, and this is a tap-tap question, I’m telling you, it’s golden.

Nehemia: Oh! Oh, oh, oh.

Keith: It’s a tap-tap question. I’m asking you, you have a situation…

Nehemia: So that’s interesting. So you’re saying, “Okay, so that’s why he’s saying that.” I didn’t catch it either, I’ll be honest with you. Here’s why I thought he said that. The reason I thought that my cousin wrote that this was a prophetic vision is by analogy to Abraham, who according to Jewish tradition, or Jewish interpretation in Genesis 18, that the whole chapter was a vision, that it wasn’t that Abraham actually fed food to three angels, but that the whole thing was a vision. That’s how Maimonides interprets it, for example, that he was drawing an analogy for some reason.

But you’re saying that “then Yeshua was taken by the Holy Spirit,” but that phrase, “by the Holy Spirit”, according to Rabbi Soloveitchik, refers to a vision.

Keith: Or I’m asking this...

Nehemia: I think what Rabbi Soloveitchik…

Keith: Or could it be, “He was taken in the Holy Spirit.” The idea that He was having… We’ll get to this later in the Plus section. I mean, this is going to be phenomenal, when we get to the Plus section. But is it possible that you could interpret this that “in the Holy Spirit”… It’s like when we talk about, “in Spirit”, “in the Spirit”, meaning something that was taking place in the spiritual realm, [laughing] If I can say that?

Nehemia: Here, Ezekiel 11:24, “A Spirit carried me away,” and there it’s “a Spirit.” “A Spirit carried me away and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God to the exiled community in Chaldea.” And it’s there, “beRuach Elohim,” “by the Spirit of God.” In other words, he wasn’t physically carried to see these people, it was a vision. Well, there it uses the word, it says, “in the vision.”

Keith: Can I tell you why I’m bringing this up?

Nehemia: Why?

Keith: You’ll have to go to the Plus section, folks, [laughing] because there’s something in it that just makes me think, “Well, how did this happen?” Well, if it was “in the Holy Spirit,” it would make sense.

Nehemia: Yeah, it’s definitely a possible way to interpret it, based on Matthew, Mark and Luke, that this was a vision. I don’t see why it’s necessary to say it was a vision. It doesn’t sound to me like it was a vision, but okay.

Keith: I’m saying, when we’re reading it, it’s possible. Now, we’re going to go…

Nehemia: What do we gain by saying that it was a vision, versus that it physically happened, or…?

Keith: No, no, no.

Nehemia: I mean, Satan’s not physical anyway, right? [laughing] So…

Keith: So we’re going to go, Nehemia, and I’m hoping that you’re prepared for this, I’m sure that you are. So I went and found a book. This is a book that I got way back in seminary, and it’s called, The Synopsis of the Four Gospels. And I went back to this in seminary in the beginning…

Nehemia: Kurt Aland. I have that book!

Keith: Huh?

Nehemia: Everyone who reads the New Testament needs to have that book!

Keith: They need to have this book. But anyways, in the beginning of it, I’ve put an article. I found this, you guys, listen. I went to seminary in 1991, so how long ago was that?

Nehemia: In a previous century.

Keith: [laughing] Anyway, what they had us do - this is really interesting, and this is connected to Matthew 4 - what they had us do is that we would go through and we would actually color-code, and here I have an example of it, we would color-code the Greek. And the reason we would color-code it, it would be red if the exact same Greek word was in another section. And I’m hoping when we go to the Plus section, we’re going to talk just a little bit about the Synoptic Gospel issues regarding this particular passage, because I think it’s phenomenal.

The other thing I want to say as we’re going, is I’ve talked about this before, I call this the “three universal tests”. There are three tests that Yeshua went through, and these tests, I believe that people go through, or are going through, or will go through at some point in their life. So I think that this passage that we’re looking at, Nehemia, is both excellent to study from the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew standpoint, and in terms of practicality, it’s amazing.

Nehemia: There’s one last thing I want to bring, although maybe I’m going to save it for the Plus section, because I feel like we’re running long on time.

Keith: We’ve held you guys long enough. Now, can I give them the invitation?

Nehemia: Please.

Keith: I’d like to hand it off to you. Is there anything you’d like to say before we make this invitation to the Plus section?

Nehemia: Yeah. Look, guys. You know, I really appreciate you supporting what we’re doing. We couldn’t do this without you. It really takes a lot of resources. You know, I’ve had people say, “Well, you should put one new episode a week.” We are struggling at this point to put out what we’re putting out right now, [laughing] every two weeks.

Keith: We’re not going to even tell them what we’ve been dealing with, right?

Nehemia: Yeah.

Keith: We’re just going to keep it positive.

Nehemia: We’ve definitely been dealing with what I think my friend who is the prayer warrior would call “Spiritual Warfare”. And please support us out there by praying, by supporting our ministries. This is not my project that I’m putting out. I’ve gotten a few people, most are like, “Okay, I understand.” But some people, I’ve had a few who have complained and said, you know, “Why should I have to support Keith’s ministry to get part of this?” Well, because I’m not putting it all out. Keith is putting part of it out, too. And I’m sure you’ve gotten the same thing.

And you don’t have to, guys. We just did an hour on basically one verse. If you want another hour, or however long it’ll be, I don’t know, it might be longer or shorter, then that’s part of what we call the Plus episode.

Keith: I want to give people some good news. There’s something that actually I do want to offer to everyone that’s listening, everyone that’s listening right now. You don’t have to go to the Plus section if you don’t want to. If you want to just scratch a little bit of the surface, we did the Red Letter Series, which actually addresses this passage. But we only dealt with it from the perspective of the words of Yeshua, but there’s some amazing things you will learn. Free members, you go to BFA International, front page, Red Letter Series. There are 35 episodes that you can go to for free. But I’ve got to tell you something.

If you want to get to the depth, I want to invite you to the Plus episode. And Nehemia, I will tell everyone that’s listening, there are some people that say to me, “Keith, what are you two doing? How is this working?” Then there are a whole lot of other people, Nehemia, that are saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” I’m on the phone with these people. They’re saying, “Thank you,” and I want to say again, thank you to you, because 18 years I’ve waited for this, and to have you bring the kinds of sources that you’re bringing and the work that you’re doing - folks, I want to say, before you go to the Plus section, support Nehemia’s research. Support Nehemia’s Wall. Go there, become a Support Team member. The information that he’s bringing to us right now, having access to these manuscripts, has not been a cheap issue. It costs him a lot of money.

And I’m sitting here in a home studio - half of the things that I have here are because he’s sent them to me. [laughing] So please, folks, send your money to Nehemia’s Wall. I can’t let him quit this! This is golden! I need him and his people to continue working.

In all seriousness, folks. I think this will be the fifth episode that if you come to the BFA International, go to bfainternational.com, become a Premium member, you will have access to five Plus episodes. This is number nine, but number five of the Plus episodes for BFA International. Once you become a Premium member, not only do you have access to the Plus episodes, you have access to everything at BFA International. And by the time we get to number 9, we’ve got such a goodie for those of you who are Premium members, I don’t even want to talk about it. So be sure that you do that.

But before you become a Premium member, please go over to Nehemia’s Wall, support the work so that this can continue. Because truthfully, Nehemia, is it fair to say as of right now, we have one more episode we’re going to do that will be the end of the pilot series? And at that point…

Nehemia: Yeah, we have talked… Well, what I agreed to is…

Keith: We’re going to need to talk about how this is going. We’re going to have to get into the nitty gritty, how the finances are going, what the numbers are. It’s just practical. As much as I love doing this, we’re going to have to have a serious conversation about how this works, am I right?

Nehemia: Well, and look. We could do a limited run, 10, and we’ve contributed something, I think, to the discussion, and we go our merry way and work on other projects.

Keith: Nehemia, can I say one more thing before we get to number 10?

Nehemia: Sure.

Keith: Can you just let people know, just for the first five, what kind of numbers are we talking about? Not Premium, not Plus, just the people that we’re reaching. What kind of numbers have we been talking about, of the people that we’re reaching?

Nehemia: So the first two episodes were downloaded or viewed more than 100,000 times. That number blew my mind. I’m like, “Is this right?” I had to go back and double-check that. [laughing] And look, I’ve had episodes that were downloaded much more than that. Usually, it’s something with a broader interest than, you know, the Hebrew New Testament. Like I did the episode once where I interviewed the Palestinian bicycle refugees of Norway, and it had, I don’t know 250,000 downloads in a week. But that had a broader interest than this kind of Hebrew information.

Keith: Well, the good news is this - is that through our website, through YouTube, through Facebook, through podcast, we’ve reached a whole lot of people. There’s a remnant of you that are supporting us and we now want to take you over to the Plus section right now so we can give you more on this. And again, these three universal tests, absolutely phenomenal the way that Yeshua addresses His…

Nehemia: Can I tell you what really excites me, Keith?

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: It’s when I get an email from such diverse people. I get an email from someone who is a believer in Yeshua who keeps the Torah. And then, the next day I’ll get an email from someone who tells me, “I love this program. I go to the Catholic church every week, and I was raised in it, my family’s part of it. But now I’m actually getting exposed to something that Yeshua Himself actually taught.”

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: I’ll get an email from Orthodox Jews who say, “Nehemia, we love that you’re doing this, that you’re sharing this information, that you’re giving a Jewish perspective.” Some of it they knew, some of it they didn’t know. They certainly often didn’t know how it applied in this particular situation. I’ll get emails from all kinds of different people from all kinds of diverse backgrounds and faiths, and I think this is wonderful. I think this, to me, is common ground…

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: …that we can come together, and it’s not for the purpose of disputation, it’s not for the purpose of debate, it’s not for the purpose of…

Keith: Conversion.

Nehemia: …conversion, it’s for the purpose of walking together on common ground and understanding the ancient sources of faith. I think that’s a beautiful thing.

Keith: So we’re going to pray, folks. And before we pray, I want to remind you, please go over to Nehemia’s Wall. There’s so much that’s free. Go to bfainternational.com. There’s so much there that’s free. But I’m extremely thankful for those of you that have determined that you want to journey with us into the Plus episodes. Can I pray first, and then you pray? And then we’ll see everyone over at…

Nehemia: Bevakashah.

Keith: Father, thank you so much for these ancient texts. Thank you for much for these principles that we can apply to our lives. Thank you so much for the study, for the time, the energy, the resources. Thank you for our friends who have gotten us to this point. We’re almost up to the end of the pilot episodes, and we don’t take it as a small thing.

We want to be listening to You. We want to know how we should go forward, if we should go forward, the way that we should go forward. I want to thank You for our editors. I want to thank You for the people that are overseeing this whole process, that have put their hands to the plow and have done such a phenomenal job. Thank you for that, Father. Thank you for your goodness and Your grace and the vision and provision in Your name.

Nehemia: Yehovah, Avinu Shebashamayim, as we’re going through this difficult time in the world, this time of this worldwide pandemic, Yehovah, be with the scientists and the doctors who are looking for a way out of this, or looking for a way to treat it. Yehovah, give them wisdom, give wisdom to our leaders. Yehovah, as we’re struggling with other issues going around in society, with all kinds of situations, Yehovah, be with the people and give them the strength to get through these trying times.

Yehovah, I don’t know if this is a test that we’re going through. It certainly feels like a test. Yehovah, if we’ve been led into this test, give us the strength to get through this test in a way that honors You and Your Holy name. Amen.

Keith: Amen.

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  • Frank Carrillo says:

    This reminds of a book written by a deceased Seven Day Adventist, Sammuelle Bacchiochi who wrote a masterful book, From Sabbath to Sunday, on the Catholic change of the Sabbath Day. It just shows how Gentiles had added and subtracted from Abba’s Holy Word.

  • Bill says:

    Considering the concept of accuser, adversary, especially against man, even TORAH,
    and the word TORAH became, YASHUA, in the flesh;
    is it not conceivable that Lucifer, non flesh being, became the ultimate test against YEHOVAH, non flesh being, in the beginning and YEHOVAH reacted in the Spirit of TORAH, His personality,
    and not the letter of the Law of sin and death-legalistic unmerciful TORAH-whereas Lucifer failed and was judged in a legalistic means, burning pit forever? because of the enormity of whom he accused and attacked? Like, “There YEHOVAH what ya gonna do about this”?
    Since fire, REAL OR YEHOVHS SHEKINAH GLORY, not only destroys it also removes impurities so with that in mind and this.
    all souls are mine
    I, YEHOVAH, am not willing then any should perish…
    it would seem possible, out of the box,
    that the fiery pit Lucifer was condemned to, could be removing the iniquitous dross found in him and -way outta the box- be restored to his original or another position even be the Messiah? I am YEHOVAHI am not willing that any should perish
    All-all souls are mine!!!
    My ways are not your ways and My thots and not your thots!
    Not set in concrete nor developing another odd religion just some thots!
    I will have mercy upon whom I will have mercy!!!

  • Jason says:

    Thank you for the research and deep understanding of the Hebrew texts. In terms of the pandemic that looks more and more like a simple power grab, please apply the same critical thinking to the subject as you applying to the Hebrew texts. It is easy to observe see how big portion of the world gets subverted and as a result willingly giving away their freedoms in exchange for questionable security . My recommendation to Keith – read Candace Owens book “Blackout” and Thomas Sowel works as well. To Nehemia – please look at Dennis Prager work – he is one of us – shalom:) . Please guys don’t get subverted . I know it could happened to the best minds of this world .

  • Aimee Bainbridge says:

    I took awhile to write this reply, because I was concerned that I didn’t understand every nuance of the passage. Finally, I feel that it’s right to express what I do understand, and the rest, will be understood with further study.

    The main concept being this: that Satan is testing Yeshua, and through Yeshua, God, and thus the arena of testing is divided between the world that was (the Wilderness), the world that is (the Temple), and the world that is to come (the Mountain). And so follows the test:

    In the wilderness, the satan bids Yeshua to have the stones (the past Israelites) return the bread that God gave them – to revoke the favor God showed them retroactively. Yeshua says that God promised to keep them alive, and refuses. It is a test only God could take, no other being able to change the past.

    At the greatest point of the Temple, the satan says that angels (himself) will keep even God from making a mistake (from throwing Himself from the Temple). The implication being, that in keeping the promise to Israel, God is falling into error. Yeshua tells the satan not to doubt that God is with Israel even now in the present.

    On the Mountain of the world to come, the satan actually makes good on his threat, and interposes himself between the shalom of the future and God, saying, admit that a mistake was made with Israel, give up on them, and this glorious future will come to pass. Yeshua speaks, telling the satan to get out of the way, and that what God has planned will come to pass. Because Yesuah has the authority of God (is God), the satan leaves. Indeed, man will live by everything that comes from the mouth of Yehovah.

    • Aimee Bainbridge says:

      Also it occurs to to me, that the last reply of Yeshua is meant to be the Sh’ma. Yehovah eloheinu Yehovah echad. He defeats the satan by saying the Sh’ma.

    • Bill says:

      Baseline Christianity will never understand this–sad!

  • Jason A Yzaguirre says:

    Mr. Nehemia Gordon,

    I happened to be reading through my 1611 King James Version and I happened to come across the Hebrew script for Yehovah, vowels included on the illustrations. The very first page and the illustration for the New Testament. It’s right at the top center of both. I did not know if you or anyone else noticed this too but I just found it interesting that since the authors of the KJV had removed Yehovahs name but placed it in as an easter egg. If this has already been known and discussed, my apologies but since following your work I thought it was a very neat discovery on my part because I never would have noticed it. Shalom!

    -Jason Y

  • Jennifer Graham says:

    Can someone give me Keiths website please? I am having trouble finding it.

  • Mike says:

    Today I was blessed so much by just waking up this morning. Also listened to Hebrew Gospel Pearls Plus and was just blown away once again by the information that Nehemiah & Keith put out there. They are a true blessing from Yehovah. Looking at every single word and letter, dissecting it like a surgeon for us to be able to uncover what Yehovah wants us all to learn from this ancient text. Our lives are truly being transformed by their work.

  • Mike says:

    Satan’s testing Y’shua, of offering Him the whole world didn’t make sense. So I went back and checked the translation. The high and lofty mountain could have been Mount Moriah. Remember Isaac did not have to die,
    The world was orderly arrangement, that could have been the Aaronic priesthood. Was the test, why die for the Melchizedek Priesthood when you could be king over the Aaronic Priesthood.

  • Huw says:

    The coronavirus “ plague” is surely here as a part of the inevitable curse on humans for disobedience , eating unclean food in this case eating bats

  • Connie Adams says:

    Good stuff! Thank you both!!

  • LG says:

    Great episode. Your conversation regarding “satan” was very thought provoking and I appreciate it, even though I don’t completely agree with all your analysis of “satan.” I definitely agree that a lot of the theology of mainstream Christianity has a distorted view of “satan,” in that he is responsible for everything evil and he operates completely outside of YHVH’s authority. This is not the view of all Christians though. Many Christians do see “satan” as being opposed to YHVH but God restrains “satan” and he can’t do anything outside YHVH’s authority. I agree with this view pretty much but I appreciate different perspectives (also, you shouldn’t fire someone for denying “satan!”).
    I think the NT’s concepts of “satan” should have been looked into more deeply, and maybe you’ll be getting into them in future episodes. Some verses to consider would be Mat. 12:24-28; 25:41; Mark 4:15; Luke 13:16; 22:3, 31; Acts 26:18; 1 Thess. 2:18; Rev. 12:9.
    Finally, I’d like to comment on “satan” in 1 Chr. 21:1, which seems to me to not be referring to “satan,” but perhaps to “an adversary,” a human adversary. Perhaps a foreign king whom YHVH is using to entice David, since there is no definite article attached to the word “satan” (see 1 Kings 11:4 for example).
    Keep up the good work and YeHoVaH bless you.

  • Nic Burn says:

    Looking forward to listening to what you say about verse 4. Reason: had a life changing encounter with Your God – relating to verse 4

  • Dixie Hall says: