Prophet Pearls #39 – Chukat (Judges 11:1-33)

In this episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Chukat covering Judges 11:1-33. Gordon and Johnson draw parallels between events in this portion and current diplomatic strategies over the land of Israel. For a clearer understanding of Jephthah, the exiled son of a prostitute who brings deliverance to Israel, Gordon provides a summary of the history, religions, and geography of the Ammonites and Moabites. This portion provides an example of properly translating “malach”—where only context determines if it’s “angel” or “messenger.” Gordon and Johnson point out the striking word play found with the word-of-the-week yihyeh “he will be” (yud-hei-yud-hei). Gordon reads from Deuteronomy concerning the seriousness of vowing to Yehovah and provides rabbinical interpretations of Jephthah’s tragic vow.

Gordon closes by offering Jephthah as a good example of how to talk to pagans—by finding common ground and speaking with empathy. He also notes the power and peace that can be found during conflicts by praying Jephthah’s closing words to the king of the Ammonites, “The Lord, the Judge, decide this day between [us].”

"...we will hold on to everything that Yehovah our God has given us to possess." Judges 11:24

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Prophet Pearls #39 - Chukat (Judges 11:1-33)

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

Nehemia: Shalom and welcome to Prophet Pearls, whatever it takes, recorded live in Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people in the state of Israel. This is Commissioner Jim Gordon, a.k.a. Nehemia, and I am here with none other than the Caped Crusader himself, Bruce Wayne, also known as Keith Johnson. Take it away, Batman.

Keith: Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me. [laughing] So wait, who’s Jim?

Nehemia: Commissioner Jim Gordon, he’s like...

Keith: His name is not Jim. Commissioner Gordon. No one’s ever said his name was Jim. Where did you get that from?

Nehemia: From the TV show, Gotham.

Keith: Oh goodness gracious.

Nehemia: I think he is Jim. I don’t know.

Keith: I don’t think he’s Jim.

Nehemia: But you’re Batman, and I am not Robin. [laughing]

Keith: Yes. No question. Hey, we have good news and bad news. I’m going to give you the good news first.

Nehemia: Yes, what’s the good news?

Keith: The good news is that last week we actually had Prophet Pearls Partners.

Nehemia: We did? I thought you said we weren’t sponsored.

Keith: Roger and Bonnie. Roger and Bonnie, thank you so much for being partners. I was so caught up in what we were doing last week, and I saw something. So the good news is - and I want to say this - it’s always awesome to think about those that have stood with us and come alongside. They actually did sponsor last week’s Prophet Pearls. Roger and Bonnie, thank you so, so much. Now, the bad news.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: We don’t have anyone for this week or next week. [laughing]

Nehemia: Oh, okay. So you thought we were sponsoring last week, and really it’s this week we’re sponsoring.

Keith: Yes, there were two gaps, and these two gaps are this week and next week.

Nehemia: Okay, got it.

Keith: So again, those that are interested, we would love for you to visit us and support us in any way you can, but we’re going to get right into this. This is a story that I do think is interesting the way that they selected it. I want to ask you a question, Nehemia. The Torah portion for this story - and I always ask you about this - you were in the synagogue, and you would be going through every year, you guys were on a one-year cycle or the three-year cycle?

Nehemia: One-year cycle.

Keith: One-year cycle. And so how many times do you think you heard portions? How many years where you able to listen and know - how many times did you hear the Torah portions actually being read in the synagogue?

Nehemia: Oh, I don’t know.

Keith: How many years?

Nehemia: I have no idea.

Keith: Okay. Do you remember when you first…?

Nehemia: Well, I first started going when I was a baby, but I don’t remember that. [laughing]

Keith: Of course. When do you remember how old were you when you started to know…?

Nehemia: I couldn’t tell you. I don’t know.

Keith: Were you seven?

Nehemia: Could be.

Keith: Okay. How many years were you there until you left?

Nehemia: I think I was still going to the synagogue until I was probably around 13 or 14.

Keith: Okay. Awesome. That’s a lot of years.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: All right. Awesome. So anyway, you’re listening to that. There’s a portion that’s connected to this, and what is that portion?

Nehemia: We’ve got to put this into the Batmobile or the Batcave. Actually, we’re in the Batcave, aren’t we?

Keith: We are in the Batcave, literally.

Nehemia: Not literally - we’re buried deep in the heart of the mountain. Or in the side of a mountain, anyway. So yes, the Torah portion here is Balak, which is Numbers 22:2 through 25… No, I’m sorry that’s the wrong one. We’re in Chukat, which is Numbers 19:1 to 21:1.

Keith: So when you hear about that, you’re the person that’s making the connections. Why the connection?

Nehemia: Wait. What do you have?

Keith: So okay.

Nehemia: Well, I’m throwing…

Keith: This is the guy who, for years, he’s listening to these portions. See, for me, this is a new concept.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: The first time that we recorded in 2012, I never remember the year, that was the first time I’d read through the Torah. I’d read through the Bible several times, actually, in my life. But what I’d never done is I’d never gone section by section according to this schedule. And it was really interesting to do that because when we did that the first time, of course, it was just the Torah portion. Now, we’re doing the Prophet’s portion, and I’m not always sure what the connection is or why the connection, and why certain verses are selected. Some are very, very clear and others aren’t.

Nehemia: Well, here it’s pretty clear. It’s that Numbers 21 verse 2, you start having the section there, or 21:1, on making oaths or vows, what we call in Hebrew a “neder.” “Neder” is where you swear to God… you literally make an oath to God that you’re going to offer a sacrifice, you’re going to fast or something like that.

Keith: Well, we’ve got a major problem.

Nehemia: So Numbers 21:2 it says, “And Israel made an oath to Yehovah. And He said, ‘If you…’” Oh, I’m sorry, wait a minute. Yes. Okay. “If you give this people in my hand,” and it’s talking about a battle that they had against the Canaanites here, and so the Israelites made an oath in that context.

Keith: So you’re going to tell me, just to be clear…

Nehemia: And the same thing happened with Jephthah. He made an oath to God. He said, “God if you give me the people I’m fighting in my hand then I’ll sacrifice the first thing that comes.”

Keith: The whole system breaks down.

Nehemia: Why’s that?

Keith: Because if you’re saying that it’s based on an oath, why is it that we don’t get to read about the actual oath being fulfilled in this story? Why does this section shut off…?

Nehemia: Because we have to end on a happy note.

Keith: No, no. You can’t have it both ways. Why did they…?

Nehemia: We have to have that Hollywood happy ending.

Keith: Let me explain to everybody what I’m talking about. So we’re going to go through this section and we’re going to get to 11 verse 33. And then in 11 verse 34 is where the actual application of the oath takes place. And those that picked this section said, “You know what, we’re not going to talk about it; we’re going to cut it off right there.” And you think about this now, “We’re going to pick this story because it’s connected to oaths” - Jephthah makes an oath – “but we’re going to cut the story off, we’ll just leave that to you as homework.” I really think there’s an issue there. And actually, if we have time when we get to the end, I want to give you an opinion on why I think this actually is in Scripture, and why I think this is important that it’s in Scripture.

Nehemia: Okay.

Keith: Because they say, “Let’s stay away from that.” It’s almost like… And again, I don’t know exactly why, but to pick this story but then to not actually have the parallel of the oath itself and not seeing it where it’s clearly in Scripture…

Nehemia: Well, they have the parallel, they just don’t have the fulfillment of it.

Keith: Yes, they don’t have the fulfillment of it, which is a really, really difficult story to read.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: So let’s get started in… this is a tradition you come from where they want to pick and choose sections of Scripture and cut them off and take… You know, the more we go through this, Nehemia, I’m wondering about the agenda. I’m really having a problem here with the agenda of the picking and choosing.

Nehemia: Here would have been the alternative - and nobody did this - would have been to say, “We’re going to take the entire Prophets, we’re going to break it up into a seven-year cycle,” because that’s probably what it would take. I actually did the statistics early on. What we’re reading is 12% of the Prophets. So it might even take more than seven years to get the whole thing really done right. It might be a 10-year cycle. And then over 10 years, every week read a small portion, and eventually, we would read the whole thing. And they could have done that. They didn’t.

Keith: That’s a ridiculous idea.

Nehemia: Why?

Keith: Because seven years… Okay, so you’re saying seven years taking the whole Prophets… so let me ask this question.

Nehemia: Well, to... go ahead. Yes.

Keith: No, no. I think the issue being let’s find a passage that connects to the portion. That’s why I’m bringing it up.

Nehemia: Oh.

Keith: So you’re saying seven years...

Nehemia: Well, you’re always going to miss something.

Keith: Well, this is a pretty big one to miss.

Nehemia: And you’re right, part of their principle is we have to end on a happy note. That’s clearly the principle they were employing. You want people walking out of the synagogue saying, “Oh, yes. Hallelujah. God’s good,” instead of, “Oh, boy, we’re in trouble.”

Keith: Well, I just want to officially say at this point in our process, we’re now probably 38 episodes in - I don’t like the picking and choosing.

Nehemia: Okay.

Keith: I don’t like the picking and choosing!

Nehemia: You heard it here for the first time… You heard it here from Keith Johnson, from the Caped Crusader, next year we will be doing the entire Prophets. No?

Keith: [laughing] With that, let’s continue. “Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a valiant warrior, but he…” But. Here’s that word, “but.”

Nehemia: In Hebrew, it doesn’t say “but,” it says “and.”

Keith: Yes, “and.” Okay.

Nehemia: Which can mean “but.”

Keith: It can mean “but.” “And he was the son of a harlot.” Now, we just did a section not only last week, when we were talking about Rahab, and here, now, we’re again talking about this issue. Well, we’re not really talking about it. They kind of get past it pretty quick.

Nehemia: Well, no, it’s an important point.

Keith: A very important point! But I’m saying how it applies, they get right to that. And it says, “And he was the son of a harlot. And Gilead was the father of Jephthah.” Now, aren’t you supposed to be able to stop and say, they’ve given us the name? They don’t give us the name of his mother. They give us her profession. But then they give us the name of his father. And it’s interesting, Nehemia, when you read through the Torah, the Tanakh, there are many times where you get the mother. Like, you go to a king, and they’ll say, “And this was king so-and-so and his mother’s name was...” And you’re supposed to be able to know this is the father, whatever, but the mother’s name… But anyway, in this situation the mother is not there. “And she bore him sons; and when his wife’s sons grew up…”

Now, so maybe this isn’t... It’s pretty clear. So Gilead has a prostitute who has a son, and Gilead has a wife who also has sons.

Nehemia: Right.

Keith: “And when his wife’s sons grew up, they drove Jephthah out and said to him, ‘You shall not have an inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son,’” and it doesn’t, at this point, say, “you’re the son of a prostitute,” it just says, “for you are the son of another woman.”

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: Is that a nice way of dealing with it?

Nehemia: I mean it’s not consistent with the Torah. They don’t have the right to do that. There’s certainly this right of inheritance in the Torah, and you can’t deny someone a right of inheritance just because they’re from a different mother.

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: And whether she’d been a prostitute or not, they could have had a situation where... In other words, let’s say he married their mother and had children and the mother died, for example, and then he married a second woman - so they’re going to still deny him the inheritance? Like, what? And they’re making this excuse that she’s a prostitute, but that’s not a Torah argument.

Keith: She’s the wife of another…

Nehemia: By the way, there’s some question as to whether his father was actually a man named Gilad.

Keith: Oh.

Nehemia: Because Gilad is the region which he’s from.

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: And so it’s also possible that he is the son of Gilad, not literally of a man named Gilad, but of the district or the region, which is today in Transjordan - it’s the Hashemite occupied east bank of the Jordan River, the Kingdom of Jordan.

Keith: It’s funny when you layout your little statements, “the Hashemite occupied East Bank.”

Nehemia: Right. So the Jordan River has two banks, a West Bank and the East Bank. And the east bank is occupied by this tribe called the Hashemites, who came from Arabia about 100 years ago and basically stole the country from the Jews.

Keith: Impressive.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: So he fled. Now, this is the point. It says in the first part they drove him out. And then in the second part it says he fled. Which one was it? Or was it both?

Nehemia: Presumably was both. If someone’s coming at you with pitchforks, you run.

Keith: Okay. So when they say “drove him out”, it’s like, “Hey, get out of the neighborhood.” It’s a little bit more than just saying “get out of the neighborhood”. That’s what I want to hear.

Nehemia: Oh, no, the word is “legaresh,” “vayegarshu,” it’s “they drove him out”. They’re on his tail.

Keith: Yes. And so he’s like, “Look, you’re not going to take me out here. I’m out of here.” So he leaves. And I love this. I actually have a little story I want to tell about this later. But he says, “and lived in the land of Tob.”

Nehemia: We’ve got to talk about that.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Share your story.

Keith: No, no. The story’s not at this point yet.

Nehemia: Okay.

Keith: And then it says, and that’s what I wanted to find out about this, and then it says, “worthless fellows,” in the NASB.

Nehemia: “Worthless.”

Keith: Some guys.

Nehemia: I accept that translation.

Keith: Do you really?

Nehemia: It literally is “reikim,” empty.

Keith: They’re empty.

Nehemia: Right. Empty people. And really what we have here is a situation where he’s an outlaw. Literally what we would say is he’s outside the law. He’s been driven out of society. He’s living on the fringes of society, basically defending himself, and he’s living off the land, so to speak, and left to his own devices.

And it’s actually a very interesting parallel to what happened with King David. So David is this refugee hiding out from Saul before he’s King - I mean, maybe technically he’s King, but he’s not in practice king - he’s hiding out from Saul in the land of the Gittites, in the land of the Philistines. And we hear about how he attracts this band of merry men, so to speak. Actually I say that on purpose, because Robin Hood was a similar situation. Robin Hood is a story about the man who lives out in the forest and all the outlaws come, and they’re like, “Well, we’ve got to go somewhere, and here’s a guy who we can join up with.” And so they develop these fighting skills, and that’s important for the story because if he was living his cushy life along with the brothers, he wouldn’t have developed the skills that later they need - these skills of self-reliance and survival that then become crucial for him fighting the enemy.

Keith: Okay. Well, you go ahead and jump ahead there. So you’re telling me that there’s basically a connection with the fact that he’s in a difficult situation.

Nehemia: Oh, absolutely. That’s the whole point.

Keith: Let’s get to that point.

Nehemia: Really, it’s one of those situations where like, “Oh, now all of a sudden you need a man like me.” Can you say something about the land of Tob?

Keith: No, I’m not going to say anything about that yet. I have a little shift. So we’ve been going through this thing, we do this thing, and then you tell me, “Read this, and read that, and read this and that,” and then you open up and say I’m Batman. Look, you can’t keep telling me, read, read, read. If you want a verse read, and you really want it read, I want you to read the verse. And why do I want you to read the verse?

Nehemia: Yes, why?

Keith: Because there’s a really cool thing that happens, and I want people to experience this. Nehemia, you’re not looking at the English version in many cases, you’re looking at the Hebrew and then you’re translating. And so what you’ll do is you’ll say, “Read the verse, read the verse… What is that? What is that?” Sometimes I play by the game and I do it. But look, now that you’ve called me Batman I’m not going for it anymore. Plus, after yesterday, when we were out on the street, I was so inspired, so moved by what happened. I’m going to be out of control here these next weeks.

Nehemia: You’ve always been out of control.

Keith: No, I’m not going to be out of control. And actually, this story is part of it. But when we get to a situation where you really want a verse read, I just want you to read it because it’s a really cool exercise. I want people to know again why this is important because we speak the English language. When I say “we,” the high percentage…

Nehemia: Anyone listening to this in English… [laughing]

Keith: No, no. The high percentage of people that are listening that are English speakers, that’s how they understand. So if you sit and you start rattling off Hebrew, they’ll be like, “Quickly, what does that mean?”

Nehemia: All right, I’ll read it.

Nehemia: And my point is it’s a really cool thing though, because what you are needing to do is you’re taking what you’re reading in Hebrew, and you’re saying, “So what would be the best way to translate this?” Actually, you’ve become a liar.

Nehemia: I’m a liar?

Keith: You’re a liar. That’s what translating...

Nehemia: L-Y-R-E?

Keith: That’s what translators are - they’re liars, don’t you know?

Nehemia: Oh! No, the expression is “the translator is a traitor”, not a liar.

Keith: They’re the traitor.

Nehemia: That’s because they say a translator betrays the language that he’s...

Keith: He’s a betrayer.

Nehemia: He betrays the language, and that’s because you can either translate literally, and then you’re translating literally but you lose the flavor, or you translate according to the flavor of the words and you lose the literal meaning. So the translator’s a traitor.

Keith: You know what’s cool to me? I love being a traitor as it pertains this because then I have a choice. You actually have a choice. If you’re looking at it you have a choice, and many people that don’t ever get a chance to have access or information that way, they don’t ever have the choice. So I think it’s a really cool thing. So sometimes you’ll say, “Read it”, and I’ll say, “No”, and then you’ll have to just translate for us.

Nehemia: He says lo rotzeh.

Keith: Lo rotzeh.

Nehemia: “I don’t want.”

Keith: “I don’t want.”

Nehemia: Okay. “I don’t want.”

Keith: Here we go, though. Let’s, we’re in verse 1.

Nehemia: All right. “Vayehi meyamim vayelachamu bnei-Ammon im Israel.” “And it came to pass from days,” or sometime later, years later, perhaps, “the children of Ammon fought with Israel.” “Vayehi ka’asher nilchamu bnei-Ammon im Israel,” “and it came to pass when the sons of Ammon fought with Israel,” “vayelchu ziknei Gilad lakachat et Yiftach me’eretz Tov,” “And the elders of Gilad came,” and there it definitely sounds like it’s the land of Gilad, “came to take Jephthah from the land of good,” from the land of Tov. “Vayomru leYiftach lecha vehayita lanu lekatzin,” “And they said to Yiftach, ‘Go and be for us a katzin’”, “venilchama be’bnei Ammon,” and we will fight with the children of Ammon.” That word katzin is really interesting because… do you have anything to say on katzin?

Keith: Well, no, actually I have something else to say. So here’s a really cool thing that we do. So you do an entire translation... you actually read the entire passage in Hebrew. And you can go to,, we have to say that one first, because you’re the person that’s actually doing this actual passage in Hebrew so that they could actually hear it line-by-line in Hebrew. What I was actually asking you to do was that I wasn’t saying to you not have to do that twice because again…

Nehemia: If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it my way. Or you can do it.

Keith: Continue.

Nehemia: Okay. So I want to talk about katzin, it’s an interesting word. In modern Hebrew, katzin means an officer in the military. In Biblical Hebrew, here, it’s not entirely clear what it means. It definitely is some kind of military leader as well, but it is not that formal role that it has. In other words, you have enlisted men and you have ktzinim, officers, in the modern Israeli army.

The word katzin interestingly, it probably comes from the literal word meaning “judge.” And so for example, the Arabic word - you know, Arabic is a sister language of Hebrew - has the word “qadi,” which is just simply the Arabic pronunciation of katzin, and there it just means a judge, like you go to a regular judge and that’s called a “qadi.”

And so that’s interesting. Here we have this military leadership word, katzin, which somewhere in its background has the connotation of “judge,” at least in other Semitic languages it means “judge.” And then we have these Shoftim, the entire book of Judges, but other than Deborah, Devorah, they’re not actually judging, they’re fighting. And so in Hebrew, there are these two different concepts; to sit in judgment of a trial, and to be a military leader, and they have this connection in the ancient Semitic culture.

Keith: And Deborah is also fighting.

Nehemia: No. She’s sitting under the tree judging.

Keith: Listen to the...

Nehemia: She’s sitting under the tree judging.

Keith: You guys, listen to the Prophet Pearls section on Deborah. I argue that she’s a warrior.

Nehemia: All right, you and your feminist agenda. Let’s go on. Verse 7, “And Jephthah said to the elders of Gilad, ‘Did you not hate me? Did you not drive me out from the house of my father? And why do you come to me now, ka’asher tzar lachem, when there is trouble for you, or there’s an enemy to you?’”

Keith: And now I’m going to answer that.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: So why do they come to him now? And as before we get to the verse, they say, “that you may go with us and fight with us,” yes, okay. But let’s talk about really why they came to him. They weren’t equipped. You talked about this - him being equipped. And actually, I think about something as it pertains to his background. I was actually over in Namibia, and one of the ministry opportunities I had was to go and speak at a ministry of prostitutes.

Nehemia: Seriously?

Keith: No, I’ll tell you something. And so I’m on my way over there, and this is one of the things - I did some work with street children, I went with pastors, I went from the high to the low, you know, politicians, ambassadors to the people on the street. But one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done was to be invited to go speak to women who either were in the process of coming out or had come out of the job of being prostitutes.

And we were on our way to this place and the lady that was having us come stopped at a bridge and she said, “From this bridge forward is the red zone. And in this area, this is where the truckers come,” and all this stuff. And then I was there preparing, and I was preparing, I use this story, Nehemia, because as these women were coming in, they would come in, and then also, they would come in and some of them had children with them. And there was this little boy, he couldn’t have been more than two, and I looked at him, and I called him Jephthah. I said, this little guy, right now, who’s mother basically was out on the street as a prostitute, and the grandmother was bringing the little boy there as I was going through the story, I was saying, “It isn’t often, especially in my background, where we talk about prostitutes - you get past that real quick. Prostitution, you get past it real quick because it’s an uncomfortable topic.”

But in Scripture, we see it over and over again. And in this story we see it, and I would argue that as a result of him coming from such a difficult position, difficult background, that difficulty helped craft him for deliverance. And that there are some times where we have people like that little kid, who’s going to grow up and he’s going to be in difficult situations, but I spoke to them, and I used him and I picked him up, and I said, “You know what? This is a Jephthah right here.”

And now I read this story, I think about him, and I say, “Wow. Look at his background.” Before they say, we need you to come and fight with us. Really? We know that she came from a bad background. We know that your mother was a prostitute. We even drove you out. And so you’ve been out on the street. You’ve been into difficult situations. Now, we’re in trouble and we need somebody who understands trouble and who’s been able to overcome in the midst of trouble to be the one to lead us. And I just think that’s really interesting, because that’s exactly what you said - is that his background is coming to the forefront to be a part of deliverance.

And I want to say something. There are people that are listening who’ve got really difficult backgrounds. There are people listening right now that could be called Jephthahs. They come from difficult circumstances that some people would say, “We don’t even want you around us.” Whether it’s family relations, circumstances, bad things. We’ve got people who have been in prison, we’ve got people who’ve been in homeless situations, and those are the kinds of people sometimes when it’s time to get into the battle, you need some people who have gotten down and dirty in the dust that can rise up and do what we need them to do.

So for the Jephthahs out there, I want to let you know - God is a God of the past, present, and future. He was, He is, and He shall be. And certainly, in this story, Jephthah ends up being a part of the reason that they could fight.

Nehemia: And so to apply it to today, and I hope I’m not stepping out on a limb here - or maybe I am - basically, what you’re saying is somebody who’s lived an easy middle-class life without any kind of trouble and situations, when they get plunged into spiritual warfare, they might not be ready for it. But somebody who comes from a difficult situation may have developed some of those skills of how to deal with temptations and challenges.

Keith: And struggles, survival.

Nehemia: Struggles, survival. Right. But also, both in a physical sense and a spiritual sense, right?

Keith: And I want to say something - not to be argumentative, but there are middle-class folks out there that have as difficult situations as anybody. In other words, it’s not just financial, it’s not just comfort, it can be because of abuse. It can be because of...

Nehemia: Oh, absolutely.

Keith: There are so many things, and the people that are listening...

Nehemia: I said an easy middle-class life.

Keith: No, I know. You’re right. I’m with you.

Nehemia: You only took half of it.

Keith: I’m with you. But there are so many different ways where we have to have that Jephthah background. And in that Jephthah background, it ends up something being used. I think that also is a story about Yehovah’s goodness, in terms of how He uses our past, present, and to be able to deal with us. Anyway.

Nehemia: And I’m reminded reading this story about Jephthah, just to tie it into kind of a modern situation, there’s this movie that I absolutely love with Jack Nicholson, where he is on trial, and it’s called A Few Good Men, and they’re like, “Look, you’re this hard rough guy, and you’ll give us the truth.” And you know, the famous speech, “You can’t handle the truth.” But what he’s basically saying is “Look, you need men like me to be on the wall. We live in a world with walls and you need someone to defend...”

Keith: You’re quoting him. That’s impressive. [laughing]

Nehemia: I’m going to quote him. He’s this rough guy, and I want to quote him exactly here. I have it up here on the website.

Keith: Oh, boy.

Nehemia: He says, “We live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s going to do it? You?” And then he goes on, he says, “You have the luxury of not knowing what I know.” Blah, blah, blah. He says, “And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.” And that to me is the picture of Jephthah. He’s living out in the countryside like a bandit with a bunch of other bandits, and all of a sudden stuff goes wrong, and then they need Jephthah.

Keith: I’m going to tell you something, Nehemia.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: I went over to the Old City of Jerusalem. I’ll put you on the spot. So you can’t bring up that story of this guy and not give the real quote. You can’t bring up that story and not bring in the real quote!

Nehemia: What’s the real quote?

Keith: Because here’s the real quote. He’s going to love me for this. So he says at one point, “You want me on that wall! You need me on that wall!” And Nehemia, you don’t get that? You’re supposed to stop and say it’s time for the Ministry Minute.

Nehemia: Oh, Ministry Minute! Nehemia’s Wall.

Keith: No, I’m on the wall! You’re supposed to say to the people, “If you won’t do it… you, you, you want me on that wall! You need me!” And Nehemia, we need you on the wall. Come on, talk about it. [laughing]

Nehemia: Beseder,, my ministry Makor Hebrew Foundation.

Keith: Can you say that “you want.”

Nehemia: Yes. Well, no. I mean, there’s something to that. So yes, absolutely. Look, I’ve been on that wall, and I’ve been slugging it out with the Hebrew texts and the ancient sources.

Keith: And you’re controversial.

Nehemia: I don’t want to be controversial.

Keith: You are controversial.

Nehemia: But you know what? When you’re on that wall and you’re under spiritual attack, and look, I’ve been in some things in my life spiritually that have prepared me for this - not kind of like what he’s talking about, but in the spiritual side of it, yes. And so you know what? You want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.

Keith: No, he’s not quoting again. I’m going to say it for him. Can I be your voice, like your guy you hired to be your voice? “Nehemia Gordon, from the Torah Stream…” How do you call it again?

Nehemia: Raw Stream of Torah Consciousness.

Keith: Raw Stream. I want to do one that says, “Nehemia Gordon on the wall. We want you on that wall! Nehemia! We need you on that wall!”

Nehemia: Amen. No, that’s it. That’s the line. But really… and the truth is, it’s really easy to sit in your situation there, like the brothers, and say, “Okay, we had this uncomfortable situation, our father went to a prostitute and fathered a son. We want to get rid of that, because that’s a challenge we don’t want to deal with, even though it’s against the Torah. It’s much easier to say, we’re righteous and we live by Torah, but we don’t have to deal with the struggles and the challenges.”

And then meanwhile, Yiftach, Jephthah, he develops those skills. And the image I’ve always had is Nehemiah’s wall, and they’re building the wall, in one hand they’ve got the weapon, in the other hand they’ve got the building tool, and he’s standing there with the trumpeters. And you know what? He’s the guy who’s going to get a lot of the flak. He’s the guy who’s going to be the target. When the enemy comes with their arrows, they’re going to first target the man standing on that wall with the trumpeters. That’s the one you want to go for first because he’s warning the other people.

Keith: Isn’t that something.

Nehemia: And I’ve gotten a lot of arrows in my time.

Keith: You definitely have. Wow.

Nehemia: Yes. So come stand with me on the wall. You may be a target, but in the end, we’re going to fight that spiritual war and we’re going to empower people with information.

Keith: You know it’s interesting, I was looking at this, Nehemia, as we’re reading this story, I was telling you about I had been in Namibia, and I was really inspired when I was there. inspiring people around the world to build a biblical foundation for their faith, and that’s not going to happen by me always sitting behind a computer. Sometimes you have to get out there and get with people, and wherever that might be.

I actually was in Namibia and something happened that I really want to share with folks, and it partly inspired me for what I’m doing right now, is that I ended up meeting with a group of pastors. They said, “Here you are from the United States via China, and we often have people come into Namibia and they come and speak, but you keep doing things that we’ve never seen anyone else do.” The guy said, “When a pastor comes from the United States and he speaks at stadiums and does these kinds of things, he doesn’t go and meet with the homeless. He doesn’t go to the prostitutes’ ministry. He doesn’t go and do these kinds of things.” And they said, “We want to know why. We want to know what it is about your ministry that really sort of has crafted you that way.”

And a lot of things that came out of those meetings is these men really wanted to know what’s behind what they read in English. It really is really phenomenal. They want to know, “So how do we get a chance to interact with the original language of Scripture?” And they are one of the reasons that we started this beginner Biblical Hebrew Course, which is now available on the front of the website If you’re part of the Premium Content Library you can actually go and go through this audio course. Hopefully, after we get through the beginners, we’ll get to the intermediate, and who knows - maybe we’ll get to the advanced, and Nehemia will have to help us.

But in the meantime, we really want to give people access to that information. So go to, you’re going to hear about what happened in Namibia; you’re going to hear about so many things that we’re working on. But one real solid thing is that they said to me, “You’re a little radical, you’re a little different.” And really, for me, it’s all based on getting a chance to encounter the God of creation.

So that’s what I really am about. Thank you so much, Nehemia, for letting me say that quote. I don’t know if I’ll ever stop saying, “We want you on that wall! We need you on that wall!” [laughing]

Nehemia: “You can’t handle the truth!”

Keith: “You can’t handle the truth!”

Nehemia: All right.

Keith: So it says they went and got him. They said, look, he says this, this is really interesting, he says in verse 9, “If you take me back to fight against the sons of Ammon and Yehovah gives them up to me, will I become your head?”

Nehemia: What?

Keith: That’s what it says in English.

Nehemia: Really?

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: It says, “I will be to you a head. I’ll become your head.” It has it as a question there?

Keith: He’s asking, he says, “Now look, when this happens...”

Nehemia: Oh, no. So in the Hebrew it’s a statement. It’s not a question. [laughing]

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia:Anochi eheyeh lachem lerosh,” I will become to you,” or, “I’ll be for you a head.”

Keith: In other words, “This is the deal.”

Nehemia: This is it. You want, you know, take it or leave it.

Keith: Yes. And then again, we get this wonderful statement, Nehemia, in 10, and you can stop if you’d like, but here what it says, and I think it’s a different word you can… verse…

Nehemia: Verse 10.

Keith: No, hold on. Just a second. Yes. Verse 10.

Nehemia: “And the elders of Gilad said to Yiftach, ‘Yehovah ihiyeh shome’ah benotenu,’” Yehovah will be the one who hears between us, “im lo kidvarcha ken na’asseh,” “if we don’t do according to your words.” And this is very interesting. It’s a little unusual when we read this in Hebrew because he should have said “Yehovah yishma benotenu,” Yehovah will hear between us, or, “Yehovah shome’ah benotenu,” Yehovah hears between us. Instead, he said, “Yehovah ihiyeh shome’ah benotenu,” Yehovah will be the one who hears between us. And that “ihiyeh,” “He will be” in Hebrew is kind of extraneous because normally you would say “yishma,” “He will hear.” It’s very interesting. There’s got to be a play on words here with hayah, hoveh, ihiyeh. There’s no question in my mind.

Keith: That’s amazing that you would bring that up, because it’s so funny - in English in the NASB what it says is, “Yehovah is witness,” as if we’re talking about...

Nehemia: Witness?

Keith: That’s what it says.

Nehemia: We had that word last week, “ed.”

Keith: And there’s nowhere...

Nehemia: Do you have the word “ed” in your Hebrew? My Hebrew doesn’t have it.

Keith: Nowhere in the Hebrew.

Nehemia: What?

Keith: But I think it’s so much cooler. It’s so much more amazing what you just brought up, because then you see Yehovah ihiyeh, and then you have Him hearing. It’s like, wow.

Nehemia: Again, so just for those who don’t know, the name Yehovah is a combination of three forms of the Hebrew verb hayah, hoveh, ihiyeh, He was, He is, He will be; He was, He is, He is the one that is to come. And here we have ihiyeh, He will be, He is to come.

Keith: That is so cool.

Nehemia: And clearly, this is… it’s very unusual in Hebrew.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: This jumps off the page, and you have to say, “Why did He add that word in here?” And it’s clearly a wordplay on His name.

Keith: Oh my gosh. I have to stop again. I mean, wouldn’t you – folks, I just want to ask this question.

Nehemia: Vaihiyeh.

Keith: I just want to ask this question, why did He pick that language? Why-ever He picked it, He’s giving it to us… and isn’t it just a great opportunity to look and see that jump off the page? Wow! That’s amazing. People can learn to do that.

Nehemia: Right. And even more so, when they would hear this, you know, they weren’t always reading it. When you hear it, it immediately jumps off. “Yehovah ihiyeh,” oh, wait, that’s the meaning of Yehovah. [laughing]

Keith: Of course, unless you’re hearing it from someone that won’t say Yehovah and just says, Hashem ihiyeh.

Nehemia: Adonai ihiyeh.

Keith: Or, Yahweh ihiyeh. Or, the Lord ihiyeh. Or who knows. I mean, wow. Cool, cool, cool. So we’re to 11. Can we do that?

Nehemia: Sure.

Keith: “Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and chief over them; and Jephthah spoke all his words before Yehovah at Mizpah.” We just saw that word again, “Mizpah.” Wasn’t that just a little while ago we were talking about... oh, we were talking about Samuel who said he was gathering the people, but did he say Mizpah?

Nehemia: I don’t think that’s in the passage that we read.

Keith: It was in the passage, yes.

Nehemia: There are other passages were Mizpah was an important...

Keith: Yes. But this is the place…

Nehemia: You know, gathering point.

Keith: Yes, that’s where he spoke to them. And look at this - here’s a guy who’s driven away from his family, his mother’s a prostitute, he’s got empty worthless men around him, he’s out in the difficulty of life. The next thing you know, he’s before Congress. He’s in front of the leaders of Israel and he’s speaking to them.

Nehemia: He gets a proper invitation to the proper channel…

Keith: It doesn’t matter. He’s there. He’s talking.

Nehemia: He’s there. He’s the one they need.

Keith: Yes. And then what does he do right away? He gets to work.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: I just think this is really cool. I mean right away... We don’t know how long, but it says, “He sent messengers to the king of the sons of Ammon, saying, ‘What is between you and me, that you have come to me to fight against my land?’”

Nehemia: I love that he sends these messengers. In Hebrew, it’s “malachim.” That’s the same word that we translate as “angels”. And really when you read the word in Hebrew, “malach,” there’s no way to know… like, if you didn’t have a context, there’ll be no way to know if that was an angel or if it was a messenger, like a human, flesh and blood messenger. It’s only from the context that we can say, “Oh, that messenger isn’t a human and this messenger is.” By the way, the word in Greek “angel” is “angelos,” which is “messenger.”

Keith: You know what, I made a mistake, Nehemia.

Nehemia: I’m sure you did.

Keith: I did. I really did. I apologize. I want to go back and ask you to do me a favor.

Nehemia: What’s that?

Keith: And I got so excited about Yehovah ihiyeh. Can you actually tell us how many times ihiyeh, in that form, is actually used? Because we talk about this, and wow, I mean who knows – this is why I love Bible study. I love to be able to do this and get it and then go through all those times. I used to get frustrated at you. Early in our process we were going through this…

Nehemia: You don’t anymore?

Keith: Well, not as much anymore. I’d get really frustrated because we’d go through this intense language process and then we’d come across something like this, and it would be “how many times does it show up?” And then we’d find out how many times it’d show up, and I’d say, “Okay, that’s the end of the deal.” And you’d say, “Now, we need to go to each time that it shows up.” And when we would do that, there would always be some amazing revelation.

Nehemia: Oh, well, that’s interesting in that exact form. You’ve got two forms of the future - one as ihiyeh and the other is ihiyi.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Ihiyi is the atid mekutzar, the shortened. So we’ve got to do this a little bit different.

Keith: So while you’re doing that, while you’re looking for that, and this is important, I want to see how many times it shows up just like that.

Nehemia: Okay.

Keith: So he’s there, he goes with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and chief… Oh, and on the way, I wanted to know if, when you did find it, if it would be the Word of the Week? I don’t know if you’d be willing to do that.

Nehemia: Ihiyeh?

Keith: Yes, ihiyeh. I mean come on it’s...

Nehemia: I think we should go and look at every single passage it appears.

Keith: Okay. [laughing]

Nehemia: All 430 of them. Can we do that?

Keith: 430?

Nehemia: Well, 430 times, some of them it’s more than once. For example, the first time it appears is Genesis 1:29, where it says, “lachem ihiyeh le’ochla,” it’s talking about the plants, the trees, and the fruits. It said, “it shall be for you for food.” And then we have the word ihiyeh there. But it’s 430 times.

So you want that to be the Word of the Week? So the word is Yud-Hei-Yud-Hei and ihiyeh. The root is Hei-Yud-Hei. And it means, “he will be.” That’s pretty easy.

Keith: Well, no, not just. It’s really significant.

Nehemia: But it’s the same as the root as Yehovah, and that’s because the word ihiyeh in the future is “he will be,” but in the present, it’s hoveh, and in the past tense it’s hayah. So in that middle form, in the present form, that Yud changes into a Vav, which is extremely common.

Keith: Yes, but in Strong’s Concordance number 5621, it says…

Nehemia: Is it really?

Keith: Hoveh is destruction. So how can that be? Which one is it?

Nehemia: So that’s a different root. That’s Hei-Yud-Hei versus Hei-Vav-Hei.

Keith: Absolutely.

Nehemia: All right.

Keith: Hey, folks, you can learn this information. Let’s continue. “Now Jephthah sent messengers to the king,” oh, he says, “What is between you and me, that you have come to fight against me?” Now, the messengers go.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: And the messengers, do you think they said it just like this?

Nehemia: What’s that?

Keith: That’s what it says? “What is between you and me”? In other words, Jephthah…

Nehemia: Yes, they’re quoting him verbatim.

Keith: Wow.

Nehemia: That’s because in Biblical Hebrew, you don’t have what we call in English indirect speech. In other words, without getting too technical, in English, I can say, “Keith said to me that he is hungry.” So when I say “he,” I’m referring to Keith. Or I could say, “Keith, said to me, ‘I am hungry.’” And when I say Keith said, “I am hungry,” that’s direct speech, I’m quoting your words exactly verbatim. In indirect speech, I’m changing the pronouns to refer back to you. That’s called indirect speech. Biblical Hebrew doesn’t have indirect speech.

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: So if somebody says, “Thus sayeth Jephthah,” he’s got to say, “I am the king and you must listen to me,” or whatever he says. And that’s really important. When we hear, “Thus sayeth Yehovah,” they’re quoting His words. It’s not, “Yehovah says He is very angry.” It’s, “Yehovah says, I am very angry.”

Keith: Now, can we get to the nitty-gritty of this?

Nehemia: Sure.

Keith: Where is modern-day Ammon?

Nehemia: It’s in the occupied East Bank.

Keith: Where is... give me the modern-day Ammon. Give me the name of the modern-day Ammon.

Nehemia: Oh, so the capital in biblical times was called Rabbath Ammon, Rabbah of Ammon. Ammon was the name of the nation, the Ammonites. And today, it’s just called Amman, which is the capital of the Kingdom of Jordan. But in Hebrew, that’s Rabbath Ammon.

Keith: Okay. Rabbath Ammon.

Nehemia: So Ammon is actually the people in Hebrew. Amman is the name of the city in Arabic.

Keith: Can we get to the nitty-gritty on this?

Nehemia: Sure.

Keith: I think we talk about Prophet Pearls, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Okay?

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: “The king of the sons of Ammon said to the messengers of Jephthah…”

Nehemia: What verse are you in?

Keith: 13. What are you talking about? This is it.

Nehemia: Okay. Beseder.

Keith: Come on, “… said to the messengers of Jephthah, ‘Because Israel took away my land when they came up from Egypt…’”

Nehemia: [laughing] Nothing’s changed.

Keith: No, come on now. Help me with this, “from Ammon as far as the Jabbok and the Jordan; therefore, return my land to me now.” Let me continue and then we’re going to go backwards. I’m going to put you on the spot.

Nehemia: Sure.

Keith: “But Jephthah sent messengers again to the king of the sons of Ammon,” he says, listen, “Thus says Jephthah, ‘Israel did not take away the land of Moab nor the land of the sons of Ammon. For when they came up from Egypt, and Israel went through the wilderness to the Red Sea and came to Kadesh, then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, Please let us pass through your…’” I’m thinking he’s going to say something else. This is a curveball. I’m thinking he’s going to just give the general statement, “Look, God gave us the land.” Instead, he does this - this is a homework issue. So what’s Jephthah talking about here, and where do we see this, and how do we see this happening? But he says, “‘Please let us pass through your land,’ but the king of Edom would not listen. And they also sent to the king of Moab…” He’s bringing in all these different kings and areas and geographical areas. And I bet you’re sitting over there like, “Well, yes, it’s obvious.”

Nehemia: So let me summarize… can I summarize what he’s trying to say?

Keith: You want to summarize it? Yes.

Nehemia: Because it is - it’s international diplomacy and conflict. It’s somewhat of a complex situation.

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: So let’s back up.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: We’ve got two nations - Ammon and Moab. Or the Ammonites and the Moabites. They’re both sons of Lot. This is hundreds of years later, but they remember that they’re related. They know they’re related. They know they’re kinsmen. They speak a very similar language. Both their languages, by the way, are very similar to Hebrew, but they’re more similar to each other.

So the Ammonites and the Moabites are both in Transjordan, and they actually worship different gods, which is significant. The god of the Ammonite is called Milcom. And the god of the Moabites is called Chemosh. That’s important for our story. If you didn’t know the background, you’d say, “Well, why are you telling us this?” But it’s important for this story. So the Ammonites come along and they say, “Wait a minute - there is occupied territory.”

Keith: Come on with that.

Nehemia: “We’ve got to liberate the occupied territory of our brothers.” Now, they don’t mention their brothers, they just mention themselves. And they say, “Look, this is our land. It’s our land, you’ve taken it.” And the Israelites say, “Whoa, whoa - we didn’t take this from you. When we came, this belonged to the Canaanites. Now, maybe the Canaanites took it from the Moabites, but we took it from the Canaanites, and that’s legitimate for us.”

And because God gave… and he says, and we’ll read this, “If Chemosh gave you something, wouldn’t that be yours? And Yehovah gave this to us.” And it’s interesting, he says Chemosh, because the Ammonites don’t actually worship Chemosh, they worship Milcom, but the point is that this was taken from the Moabites who do worship Chemosh. It’s somewhat of a complex international intrigue…

Keith: This is at the level of what we’re hearing right now.

Nehemia: And this is why you speak to Israelis, and Europeans will come and say, “You’re a foreign colony. You came from Europe and you stole this land from the Palestinians.” And we’re like, “What are you talking about?”

Keith: Let me tell you what happened.

Nehemia: We found scrolls here from thousands of years ago written in our language, not in Arabic. This is our country.

Keith: So I went to your brother-in-law. This is hilarious, folks.

Nehemia: Oh, yes.

Keith: I got to Nehemia’s brother-in-law. I have to tell you something. One of the real beauties of being here in Israel - and you’ve been really gracious about this - is to be able to actually talk to Israelis beyond Nehemia Gordon. I mean, I love being able to talk to people. There are just so many different perspectives. But this was really hilarious. So I met with your brother-in-law, who lives in Modi’in. And Modi’in is how far, Nehemia?

Nehemia: Are you talking about David? He doesn’t live in Modi’in. He lives in Jerusalem.

Keith: Because I’m not talking about him.

Nehemia: Oh, you’re talking about Rafael.

Keith: I’m talking about Rafael.

Nehemia: When did you speak to Rafael? [laughing]

Keith: No, I spoke to Rafael. So listen. No, what are you talking about?

Nehemia: I wasn’t there.

Keith: No, you were there! You don’t remember this! So listen. I’m talking to him, and it happened to be at one of those intense times where there’s discussion about what’s going on with Israel. And I say to your brother-in-law, “So as it pertains to such-and-such the West Bank.” And he said to me, “What?” I said, “Let me back up. Anyways, as such-and-such is the West Bank.” He said, “What are you saying to me?” I said, “The West Bank.” He says, “What’s that?” And he was not being facetious. His point was… he was like when you bring that up, when you use the words “West Bank,” you’re talking about something that’s been created, and what he was trying to do - and I really appreciated this - what he was trying to do is he says, “Let’s go beyond that. Let’s talk about the real history.” And he went back and started talking about this happened, this happened, this happened. So I’m reading this story...

Nehemia: And just to be clear for people, what they call in America “the West Bank”, that is this artificial term to delegitimize the Jewish claim to that area. Jews refer to that as Yehudah v’Shomron, Judea and Samaria.

Keith: Judea and Samaria.

Nehemia: The southern part is Judea, the northern part is Samaria, and those are the historical names of those places. Now, I think we can legitimately talk about the West Bank, but that West Bank - what is a bank? It’s the bank of a river. Everything west to the Jordan is the West Bank, and everything east is the East Bank. The West Bank has been liberated and the East Bank is still occupied territory occupied by the Hashemites.

Keith: We could talk about this, folks, we really… and I don’t know how we’re going to get out of this, because we’re sitting here in Jerusalem right now, we’ve got things going on around us. We’ve got the nations coming in and saying, “Return to the borders of ‘67.” We’ve got all sorts of things going on.

Nehemia: I mean, isn’t it amazing how modern history parallels ancient history?

Keith: That’s why I’m saying, I’m reading this, and I’m saying, “Prophet Pearls, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”

Nehemia: We’ve got the Syrians coming to us, and the Jordanians saying, “This is our land.” Well, wait a minute. You’ve never been here, what are you talking about?

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: And really, the backstory is they’re saying, “Well, you took it from our brothers.” We didn’t take it from your brothers. Yehovah gave this to us, and we were driven out of our land by the Romans. And now we’ve come back and we’ve restored our land. It’s amazing how this continues and nothing’s changed.

Keith: When you read this story, did you not think about that? I mean it’s like, it just…

Nehemia: Oh, there’s no way any Jew can read this story and not think of what’s going on today.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: And realize we are living biblical prophecy. You know, really there’s no difference between the kind of conversations we’ll have today with the international community and what we read in the time of Jephthah and the king of Ammon.

Keith: And that’s why what I really do want people to do is I would love for people to do this - we can’t do it during this time that we’re here because we’re trying to do this ridiculously crazy, and I’m glad I can put it on you, it was your idea. It’s a ridiculously crazy thing where you say, “Keith, look, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to have to be face-to-face.” You put us in this cave and you say we’ve got to do 31 episodes in two weeks, and we prepared for it.

But something like this comes up, Nehemia, and you can’t prepare for it because it’s so real. I want to challenge people to go through these verses, because we’re going to get to a really important thing I’m going to say that’s controversial. To go through these verses and ask, “Does Jephthah got the history right?” Here’s this guy who’s sending his ambassadors, and you know, sometimes the ambassadors get it wrong, they get the history wrong. In fact, wasn’t it just a couple of days ago that one of the guys over in… they were talking about Netanyahu, you were saying that they had tried to wipe out the Jews. And he said, “No, we actually saved the Jews.” [laughing]

Nehemia: Yes. The Persian foreign minister or whatever. He was claiming that “Oh, we Persians saved the Jews three times.” And wait a minute. No, that’s not the story. You tried to kill us.

Keith: Yes. That’s not the story. So the history gets messed up. And again, I want to challenge people on Jephthah’s history. Nehemia says he can read this and immediately you can’t think anything else. But often, for people who aren’t over here in Israel, they’ll be like, “Oh, well, that’s ancient history.” It really is important.

But I would challenge… I wish we had more leaders that would do what Jephthah did. He did something so, so cool. He says...

Nehemia: And can we read verses 23 to 24 before you run ahead?

Keith: Yes. Go ahead.

Nehemia: It says, “Now, Yehovah, the God of Israel has given an inheritance the Amorites before His people Israel; and shall you inherit it from us?” Yehovah has given it to us, you’re going to go inherit it? And then he says in verse 24, “Halo et asher yorishcha Chemosh elohecha oto tirash,” “Is it not that which Chemosh your god gave you to inherit you will inherit, and all that Yehovah our God has given to inherit before us shall we not inherit?” And really, this is a shocking theological statement. First of all, he’s mentioning the name Chemosh. I know we’ve got some word police out there, where they take the verse in Exodus where it says, “The names of other gods shouldn’t be heard upon your lips,” which I think is talking about praying to those gods. And they say, “Oh, no, we can’t say the name Thursday because Thursday references the god Thor. And we can’t say the name Monday because Monday is turned into a god,” which is true, by the way.

Keith: My ears are plugged listening to you, Nehemia. You’re desecrating the Torah right now.

Nehemia: “We can’t say the name Saturday because that’s the god of Saturn.” I call these people “the word police”, to the point where I can’t speak English to you anymore. Ani yachol ledaber itcha be’ivrit, veledaber al yom chamishi. I can talk to you in Hebrew and say yom chamishi.

Keith: Hem lo mevinim. [laughing]

Nehemia: Yes. Hem lo mevinim. But if you’re going to talk English, talk English. And here’s the amazing thing - he’s speaking to the pagan and he’s got no problem saying Chemosh. And really, for me, the lesson here is, speak to a pagan in his pagan terms. If you’re trying to communicate with the pagans, don’t play word games and say, “The sovereign great one,” instead of where it says in Hebrew, “Lord God.” “Oh, no we can’t say the word ‘Lord’ because Lord was a pagan deity at some point in the past; and ‘God’ was the Gott of the of the Germans.” Really, guys? Come on - if you’re going to speak English, speak English. And also if you’re speaking to a pagan, speak to him in his pagan terms.

To me, that’s what I learned from this passage - that he could have been the word police and he could have said… And also there’s an expression here of empathy. He’s saying, “Look, put yourself in my shoes. My God gave this to me. If your god gave you something wouldn’t you, you know?” He could’ve said, “Oh, no, you’re god’s not real and we’ve got nothing to even talk about.” Instead, he’s trying to find common ground and communicate even with a pagan.

Keith: You know it’s funny, I think about Jephthah’s background, and he’d be like, “Look, do you think, at this point, I care about somebody dealing with the word police? I’m out here I’m dealing with the nuts and bolts. I’m about to get into a battle here. I’m just letting this guy know ahead of time, this is the deal.” I mean it’s like he’s the guy that cusses, and we have big discussions about this. I bet you Jephthah’s the kind of guy that would cuss.

Nehemia: You think he would cuss?

Keith: I think he’d probably cuss. He was around worthless people, he was around these people. I think he’s one of these rough and tumble guys. And he’d probably ride a Harley. And by the way, can I tell some folks what happened?

Nehemia: With the Harley?

Keith: This was so crazy. So we’re on the bus yesterday. Did I talk about this already?

Nehemia: I think you did.

Keith: No, I don’t.

Nehemia: But you can tell… you told my mother this story.

Keith: I told your mother this story.

Nehemia: I don’t know if you told the people.

Keith: No. I think I did. Anyway, the point was this guy gets on the bus and he says, “Why are you guys on the bus instead of a Harley?” Because we can’t afford the Harley. It wasn’t really ours! We borrowed it!

Nehemia: Thanks, Sven.

Keith: Anyways.

Nehemia: One last point here, verse 26, he says, “Look, it’s been 300 years, how come you didn’t come and try to reclaim this territory in the last 300 years?” And that’s actually the first time we have any indication of the chronology. In other words, one of the things we talked about last week, in last week’s episode is that there was this figure, Bedan, who was one of the judges that we don’t hear about in the Book of Judges. What that tells us is we don’t know everything that happened in the period of the judges. Because of that, we cannot reconstruct a clear history in our modern terms of, you know, between 1222 B.C. and 1150. We can’t do that. We don’t have that much information.

Here, for the first time, we’re finding out there’s been 300 years from the time they entered the land until the time of Jephthah. And the next time we’re going to get a clear chronological indication is going to be when Solomon finishes the Temple, which is 480-some years after the Israelites came out of Egypt. So that means for the time of Jephthah - and remember it was 40 years they were in the desert - so it’s 440 years. So there’s approximately 140 years from the time of Jephthah until the time of Solomon.

Keith: Wow.

Nehemia: That’s interesting.

Nehemia: That’s really interesting.

Keith: Well, verse 27 is where I said I wish that we had more leaders. In fact, I wish... I don’t know, do you think Netanyahu listens to Prophet Pearls?

Nehemia: I’m sure he does. I have no idea.

Keith: Maybe not him. We don’t know who’s going to be the actual prime minister, the voting goes on after we’re done with this show. We will have taped the show, and by the time that this show is on, it’ll either be a new prime minister, or the old prime minister. But I have to tell you something, this verse, Nehemia, in 27 is really, really strong to me, because what he says is, “I therefore…” In other words, enough history now. Enough history. Who’s who? When did it happen? Who did what? He says, “I therefore have not sinned against you, but you are doing me wrong by making war against me.” Referring back to the fact that Ammon is coming against Israel, and he says, “May Yehovah the Judge, judge today,” he’s calling upon… “May Yehovah the Judge, judge today between the sons of Israel and the sons of Ammon.”

When it really comes down to it, when it really comes down to it - who’s the one that’s got to be the judge? I call Him to be the one to judge on whose land is which, and who’s been given where, and which borders are which borders. When does Israel... and I mean, look, this is not an easy thing. We’re sitting yesterday, Nehemia, in the middle of a place where there’s been a terrorist attack. It is difficult. I talk to people all the time here, and they say, “We’ve got to live and we’ve got to continue to live, but there’s nothing easy about being here.”

And there are some people that would say, “Let’s try to find some false peace. Maybe if we just give some more land. Maybe if we just give... Maybe if we sit and spend more time trying to figure out what they really mean and what they’re really thinking.” And your other brother-in-law, David, said something to me. He said, “You know, sometimes these people have this thought that’s like the enemies of Israel are like bad kids in school - you can’t ever call them bad. You just have to sit down with them, and you got to pat him on the head, and you’ve got to spend more time with them, and they’re going to throw stuff against the wall, but you have to be patient.” And David said, “You know what? That’s not who we’re dealing with. These people want to wipe us out. This is not a sit-down and have…”

Nehemia: These are guys cutting off heads and burning people alive. [laughing]

Keith: It’s not a counseling session! It’s not a counseling session! You know what I’m saying?

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: And honestly, I just have to say - being here really brings to the forefront that what Jephthah ultimately is going to have to do, he’s going to have to fight.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: Go ahead.

Nehemia: I want to talk about this phrase in verse 27, it says, “Yishpot Yehovah hashofet.” So first of all, that’s amazing. He’s saying, “Yehovah the Judge will judge today between the children of Israel and between the children of Ammon.” It’s interesting, because we’re in the Book of Judges, and Jephthah is the judge, but he acknowledges there’s a judge above him.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: It’s a very specific and intentional phraseology he uses. But also this phrase Yehovah is going to judge between two people. So we have this a number of times in the Tanakh. For example, in Genesis Chapter 16 verse 5, “Sarai said to Abram,” you know this is before she’s Sarah and before he’s Abraham. “Sarai said to Abram,” she says, “chamasi alicha,” “my injustice is upon you,” “my chamas is upon you.” “I gave my maidservant in your bosom; and you saw that she gave birth, and I was disgraced in her eyes.” And then she says, “Yishpot Yehovah beini ubeinecha,” “May Yehovah judge between me and you.” Then again, we have this in 1 Samuel Chapter 24 verses 13 to 16, where David is saying to Saul, “Yishpot Yehovah beni ubeinecha,” “May Yehovah judge between me and you.” I’ll skip ahead. People go do your homework and read the rest of this.

Keith: Yes!

Nehemia: 1 Samuel Chapter 24 verses 13 to 16, in the end, he says, “Vahaya Yehovah ledayan vashafat beni ubeinecha.” “May Yehovah be a judge,” another word for judge, dayan, “and judge between me and you.” It’s a beautiful phrase. I absolutely love that phrase. And sometimes I’ll be vexed, I’ll be honest with you - I’ll be in a situation where I want to lash out and scream at someone and respond with great intensity. Instead, I’ll take a deep breath and I’ll say, “May Yehovah judge between me and that person.” Yehovah’s the judge of all the earth. I don’t need to deal with this. I’m putting this into His hands.

Keith: Wow. Amen. May it be.

Nehemia: So this phrase that appears a number of times in the Tanakh, this is really important to me. I love this. It really is an important thing for me.

Keith: Amen. May He be the one that judges.

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: I do think that 28 is a picture from a little bit earlier, and I can tell you why.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: It says, “But the king of the sons of Ammon disregarded,” in English, “disregarded the message,” it says they did not hear.

Nehemia: Did not hear, “lo shamah.”

Keith: Yes. And what did Jephthah ask for Yehovah to be? He said, “Yehovah ihiyeh.”

Nehemia: He will be?

Keith: To listen. No, he’s talking about, “to listen.”

Nehemia:Shome’ah,” “ihiyeh shome’ah,” He will be the one who hears.

Keith: Yes, who hears. Then it says here, “And they said no”. And I have to just bring this to present time again, because ultimately Jephthah can tell them all the truth in the world. Ultimately, the prime minister can stand in front of Congress, he can stand in front of the U.N., he can stand in front of the world and tell them, “Hey, this is an ancient land that we…” you know, he gave…

Nehemia: Netanyahu.

Keith: Netanyahu actually gave Obama an authentic Scroll of Esther.

Nehemia: Did he?

Keith: Yes, two years ago. And he was kind of giving it to him and saying, “Read this.” [laughing] In other words, “You might want to understand before you’re talking about that” But you can do that as much as you want, you can send that message. In the end, the people that are listening have to decide if they’re going to listen. And you know what Ammon said? “You know what? You can give us all the history you want. You can tell us about calling Yehovah to be judge. You know what? We disregard it. We’re not going to listen.” And I think that ultimately that’s what’s happening. All this diplomacy… like, I’ve just got a pet peeve. I’m just going to say this pet peeve. ISIS goes and does this thing.

Nehemia: Which thing?

Keith: They go to a village and they grab the people and they behead them. And then the U.N. says, “We just want to let ISIS know we condemn that act.”

Nehemia: [laughing] What neighborhood do you live in?

Keith: No, Nehemia. They send the message, such-and-such happened. “We condemn the action.” What are you wasting your breath about? What’s the conversation? “We condemn the action.” This false diplomacy, where, “Here’s the truth and here’s this. Well, don’t come and speak to Congress. Speak to Congress.” In the end, they’re either going to listen or not. In the end, what’s going to have to happen? “The Spirit of Yehovah,” it says in 11 verse 29. Now, the Spirit of Yehovah said enough is enough. “The Spirit of Yehovah came upon Jephthah,” and what… I love this verse. I’m sorry. I got a little excited there. 11:29, it says, “The Spirit of Yehovah,” the ru’ach Yehovah, it says, “came upon Jephthah,” and so what happens…

Nehemia: How do you pronounce that name? You’re pronouncing it funny.

Keith: No, I’m reading it the way it’s here in English. Why don’t you give it to us in the… Yiftach?

Nehemia: No, how do you read it in English?

Keith: Jephthah.

Nehemia: Jephthachhh.

Keith: Jephthath. Well, I’m partially a little sick, too.

Nehemia: Jephthath. Is that a lithp? Are you lithping at the end?

Keith: No, Jephthath.

Nehemia: Is there a “th” at the end?

Keith: Jephthah. Well, I didn’t know. Jephthah. No, I’m sorry.

Nehemia: Jephthah, right. In Hebrew, it’s Yiftach.

Keith: Yes. You know what’s really funny, is I’m speaking Henglish. [laughing]

Nehemia: It’s “He will open.” English. Yiftach.

Keith: No, I’m actually speaking Keith’s language with a little bit of...

Nehemia: Namibian. I know it.

Keith: Namibian. Yes, who knows? But no, you can’t take this away. I’m very excited about this. It says, “The Spirit of Yehovah came upon him.”

Nehemia: Yes, “Ru’ach Yehovah.”

Keith: So that what?

Nehemia: Go on.

Keith: So that what? Give it to us...

Nehemia: It says, “And the Spirit of Yehovah was upon him. And he passed through Gilad and Manasseh and he passed through Mizpeh Gilad; and from Mizpeh Gilad,” which is a different Mizpeh than the other story, “he passed to the children of Ammon.” And, yes.

Keith: And here’s the point. So now, when the Spirit of Yehovah comes upon him, he’s supposed to have peace and say, “You know what? Now that the Spirit of Yehovah is upon me, I will have more diplomacy, and we’ll have more peace, and we’ll have more conversations.” No, enough is enough.

Nehemia: That’s not what it’s about.

Keith: The Spirit of Yehovah comes upon him and he’s on his way to fight.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: Then something happens that I say is a game-changer for the entire story. It’s the entire story that your people - as you talk about my people - your people picked this section, and they wanted to connect it with oaths. Now, we get to the oath, and it’s a problem.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: Do you want to lean into it, or do you want to make it as homework? What’s your thought here?

Nehemia: Let’s just present it. So he makes his fight… and people know this story, right?

Keith: No, they don’t know the story.

Nehemia: They don’t? Okay.

Keith: Tell them what it is.

Nehemia:Vayidar Yiftach neder laYehovah,” “And Yiftach vowed a vow to Yehovah. “And he said, ‘Im naton titen et bnei Ammon beyadi,’ ” “If you will surely give the children of Ammon into my hands, it shall come to pass that he that comes out from the doors of my house towards me when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, vehayah leYehovah, and it shall be to Yehovah, vehalitihu olah, and I will offer him up as a sacrifice, as a whole burnt offering.”

Keith: Now, can I read these two verses in English, just so everyone’s really very clear?

Nehemia: Sure. Yes.

Keith: “Jephthah made a vow to Yehovah and said, ‘If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be Yehovah’s.’ ” And then he goes on to say what does it mean it shall be Yehovah’s, “and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.”

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: This is a problem.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: So how do you… maybe there’s some secret, maybe there’s some 13th century commentator, maybe you’re going to come up with some…

Nehemia: And there are. [laughing]

Keith: No, you’re going to come up with some excuse…

Nehemia: There are excuses, but the bottom line is it sounds like he sacrificed his daughter as a burnt offering.

Keith: Wait. We didn’t get to that yet, because they cut that section out, Nehemia.

Nehemia: Right. I mean we’re jumping ahead...

Keith: No, let’s talk about just here.

Nehemia: Verse 39 to 40.

Keith: No, that’s not in the section. I want to talk here about him making the vow.

Nehemia: Yes, okay.

Keith: So let’s just be biblical for a second, how big of a deal is it that he made a vow?

Nehemia: And this is the point - a vow is binding. If you make a vow, it’s binding. And here it was even more binding in his eyes, from his perception, because he made this deal with God. He said, “Look, here’s what I’ll do if You give me victory,” and then God gave him victory. The fear was, “Okay, if I don’t do this, the victory can be very easily reversed. I may have won a battle, but that doesn’t mean I won the war.”

And so he feels bound to keep this vow, and it’s made in the name of the Yehovah. And we have in the Ten Commandments, it says, “Lo tissa et shem Yehovah Elohekha lashav.” “You shall not lift up the name of Yehovah your God falsely or in vain.” And what that was understood to mean, based on the language, history, and context, is “don’t make a false oath or a false vow”.

And so it says “Ki lo yenakkeh Yehovah et asher yissa et shemo lashav.” For Yehovah will not make clean, or innocent, he who takes up His name in vain.” So basically, if he doesn’t sacrifice his daughter, that’s an unforgivable sin because he made this vow. And the point is, be careful what you vow because you could end up making a vow that will cause a lot of damage. And he obviously thought it would be a sheep or goat that came out. But what if it was a dog? He’d be sacrificing a dog?

Keith: Nehemia?

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: What do you mean, “He obviously thought it would be a sheep or a dog?”

Nehemia: He wasn’t planning on sacrificing his daughter!

Keith: What do you mean you think that he thought it was going to be a dog or a sheep that came out?

Nehemia: No, not a dog. A sheep or a goat.

Keith: That’s going to come out of his house to greet him?

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: Okay. I think that when I read this passage, my heart breaks. I begin to shake when I read the rest of the story. And folks, I really do want you to read the rest of the story, because it’s a heartbreaking story. So his daughter comes out and meets him, and so because he’s made this vow to Yehovah - which Yehovah did not require, Yehovah did not ask him to do it, it wasn’t in Yehovah’s mind for him to make that vow. But he got caught up, and as he got caught up in the moment, he got to talking beyond what he... Who knows whether he intended or didn’t intend. In the end, he makes a rash vow. He makes a vow that is life-changing to his entire household.

And you know what? I’ve got to say something. There are people that are listening who’ve actually seen people do this kind of thing, not like this as it pertains to their daughter, but I hear about people that get caught up in their religious zeal, where they say and do things that Yehovah did not require, did not ask of, was not in His mind. But because they get so caught up and so wrapped up and whatever, pretty soon, “And now the Lord said to me that I need to do blah, blah, blah.” And you look at it and you say, “Where is that in Scripture?” What happened here? And this is the downside of Jephthah. This is the part of him that maybe because he is out there, out there in the difficulty of life, or whatever, who knows what is in his mind. All we know is he makes this vow, and as a result of making his vow, the first thing, the it - it’s not a dog, it’s not a sheep, it’s his daughter who comes out, and she even accepts it. She says, “Whatever you vowed. I expect that you’re going to…”

I think that Jephthah is coming while he was away from Israel, while he was out doing whatever, I think he’s out there amongst a bunch of pagan things, and that’s why he does know about Chemosh, and that’s why he does know about these things. That’s my opinion, and it is only my opinion, that Jephthah is mixing some of what’s going on, and this is the fruit of the mixing. The fruit of the mixing is he, maybe in his mind, is like those people who’ve got a little bit of that paganism in them, and thinks that somehow by offering his daughter up… You know, I’m just done with this.

Nehemia: People, read the rest of the story.

Keith: You read the rest of the story. It makes me sick.

Nehemia: Keith is wrong. I want to read Deuteronomy 23 verses 22 to 24, “When you make a vow to Yehovah your God, do not put off fulfilling it, for Yehovah your God will require it of you, and you will have incurred guilt; whereas you incur no guilt if you refrain from vowing. You must fulfill what has crossed your lips and perform what you have voluntarily vowed to Yehovah your God, having made the promise with your own mouth.” So be careful what you say.

Keith: Be careful what you say.

Nehemia: But if you say it, you’ve got to stand by it. And it’s a question to this day - should he have sacrificed his daughter, and even, did he sacrifice his daughter? Meaning, you talk about the medieval Jewish commentaries, what they’ll come along and do is come up with every excuse in the world how he didn’t actually sacrifice his daughter, that he fulfilled his vow in some other way.

Keith: No, he did do it. I believe he did it.

Nehemia: I understand you believe that, and I think you’re right. But the point is, they come up with all kinds of excuses to say, “Well, he didn’t really do it. He fulfilled his vow without killing her. He did something in her place.” I don’t know. It’s a difficult story, and I think the point of the story is, be careful what you say.

It reminds me of the passage, I think it’s in Ecclesiastes, where it talks about basically be really careful what you say before Yehovah. Here - it’s Ecclesiastes chapter 5 verses 3 to 4, which is obviously echoing what we just read. And it says there, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it; for He has no pleasure in fools. What you vow, fulfill. It is better not to vow at all than to vow and not fulfill.”

Keith: Well, I want our friends to read 34, 35, 36, and 37. And tell us what you think.

Nehemia: Just read the whole chapter. Yes.

Keith: Tell us what you think.

Nehemia: Post your comments on,

Keith: Yes. And in the end, read the story - it’s heartbreaking.

Nehemia: It is a heartbreaking story. You know what it reminds me of? I hate to say this, but there’s a fable about this mythical King Midas, who wants gold on whatever he touches, and he touches his daughter and she turns to gold. Almost to the point where I am quite confident that the Greeks took that story from the Bible and twisted it in their own way. And there are actually a bunch of stories that you find in like Aesop’s Fables that are actually taken from the Bible, and I think that’s probably another story they ripped off from the Bible and recast into the Greek culture.

Keith: I can’t wait to hear about that special in Torah Streams of Conscience. You bring this about them taking stories from the Bible - that’s really a phenomenal thought that you’re saying that there were other examples like that. That would be a really phenomenal study.

Nehemia: Well, just quickly about Aesop’s Fables. If you translate “Aesop” back into Hebrew, it’s Assaf, which is the name of one of the Levitical families who are sages. Interesting. Anyway.

Keith: All right. Well, I don’t know whose turn it is to pray. I’m vexed. I think I’d like you...

Nehemia: I think you must pray because you’re so vexed.

Keith: I am vexed.

Nehemia: You need to work out that vexation in prayer.

Keith: Folks, listen, I’ve got three sons - it says here that Jephthah had no other daughter, no other son, it was his only daughter. And she comes out, and he tells her, “Listen, I made this vow.” And she says, “You’ve got to keep your word.I mean this is just… ugh. Anyway. Is there anything you’d like to say before we end?

Nehemia: That’s it.

Keith: Father, thank you for Your Word, and the examples, the good examples and the bad examples, the ones that we should follow and the ones that we must never follow. And I just thank you for this passage, just the opportunity to interact with the ancient Scripture and to see how it really can be brought to our present time and can be applied in our present time. I pray that the people that are listening would be diligent to seek the word, and to seek Your will, and to be open to Your spirit to also come upon them that they would understand and have discernment. Lead us and guide us in truth, and in the end we’ll thank You; give You all the praise, glory, and honor. In Your holy name, Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

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  • Donald Murphy says:

    I know how difficult it is to stop smoking. Been there. Started chewing instead, but finally quit that also. Praise our heavenly Father for strength.

  • In the rich Norwegian fairytails there are a lot of influence from the Bible. The trolls against the “least” person who is friendly and by that gets friends to help him, or more, he is much smarter than his outer appearance shows. Three and seven are numbers used, the good conquers the bad and so forth. Even the Norwegian mythology has many elements, even from the book of Revelation (Ragnarok and the new world f.ex.)

  • aurorekeath says:

    The problem with Jephthah’s mother being a prostitute is, they can’t be sure who the father of her children is. And if they can’t be sure his father is Gilead, then Jephthah has no rightful share in Gilead’s inheritance. That’s why Jephthah’s mother being a prostitute is mentioned and is relevant. If you can’t prove patrimony, then you can’t inherit from the father’s estate. If she was actively engaging in prostitution, there is a valid question as to who the father of her child(ren) is (are). Hence his half-brothers drove him out. They weren’t convinced Jephthah’s father was Gilead.

  • Sarah says:

    David’s oath (1 Samuel 25:22) to shed innocent blood, was not carried out (1 Samuel 25:32-34); I don’t know why Jephthah’s oath to shed innocent blood couldn’t have been nullified. Something doesn’t make sense here.

  • Marion Walsh says:

    Jephthah spoke to the Moabites (Edomites?) about their god, I think in a derisive way. “Having a problem with your god giving you land?” he said, in effect. “We aren’t.” Like that.

    • Lucile says:

      All these Torah portions pearls are really helpful to me. I wish Keith could have allow Nehemia explaining the vow tenets. We know that Yehovah forbade the children of Israel to offer their children as sacrifice. He forbade human sacrifice. I think that Jephthah mixed pagan culture with Yehovah culture. I believe that the spirit realm is real and other spirit can make certain things manifest. I don’t think that Yehovah was pleased with that sacrifice. He cannot go against His own word. I agree with Keith about the vows in our time. It’s a matter of lot of manipulation and may other forces. Shalom

  • Marion Walsh says:

    In USA law, a contract is void if it proposes something illegal. And in Jewish law a father can void his unmarried daughter’s contracts. But beyond that I don’t know of any voiding that can be done. Nehemia probably would have mentioned it.

  • Irene says:

    Also, in regard to making a vow, as a young Christian I read the passage on vowing to Yehovah with its admonition to NOT break the vow for it would be a sin in His sight.
    I was a smoker at the time and on New Year’s eve I wound up in the hospital with the diagnosis of pneumonia. On Jan 1st 1981, I prayed to God to heal my lungs with the vow that I’d never smoke again. I was too afraid to even think of picking up a cigarette, so when the urges started I chewed gum, or hard candy, and prayed until I got through the 3 months of withdrawals.
    I encourage any reader of this note to take His Word seriously for He is worthy of our obedience!

  • Irene says:

    I love it that Nehemia explains what the Hebrew says so that I can correct my Bible!

  • Rochelleb180 says:

    I think that I’m confused. First, blessings to all who brought us this prophet reading. Thank you Nehemia and Keith!!! I am glad this reading was told because it is a great reminder about vowing foolishly. However, my thinking is that a vow would be rendered null and void if it goes against God’s Laws such as sacrificing people, therefore, God would never accept such a vow and/ or sacrifice. Am I right or wrong about this?

  • Ester says:

    What is so enlightening is what Keith said of the “harlot” being of difficult background, ties in with what Mark Call said in his program that “Wisdom arrives through suffering”! Keith, that is such wonderful insight!
    Toda for both you and Nehemia’s Prophet Pearls, which are amazing, very rich.

  • YoAv says:

    As to Keith’s whining about where the portions begin or end, go back to the Torah Portion and the lesson that it is to enhance. Jephthah recounts the events in the Torah Portion and receives victory in battle, by way of Yehovah. Jephthah’s vow would be a distraction to the Torah Portion, as it is here.

    Jephthah made a rash vow that could only be validated if a clean animal were to come out of his house. An unclean animal (dog, cat, pig) would not be acceptable as an offering to Yehovah and certainly not a human soul. If Jephthah had sacrificed his daughter, he would be guilty of murder — and idolatry, if his god would accept human sacrifice or if his god placed such significance upon honoring a vow, as to taking an innocent life for fulfillment.

    Had he sought the council of Yehovah’s Priests in the 60 days of his daughter’s reprieve, he would have learned of his folly. Jephthah was not in a Torah state of mind to even rebuke his daughter’s vow of celibacy.

    Yehovah never acknowledges this vow, yea or nay (from my reading). Had it come to murdering his daughter, I imagine Yehovah would have stepped in. I doubt Yehovah would have given him victory in subsequent battles, had he literally, sacrificed his daughter.

    • Alex says:

      So funny guys, my family is watching “A Few Good Men” while I’m listening to this.

      This story is always so hard for me. I always don’t understand it. Why would Jephthah make such an oath. It’s like you are forcing yourself over a cliff and when you get to the edge there’s no avoiding it.

      And I’m so glad that Keith pointed out sometimes we get caught up in a moment and in that moment what we are exposed to influences (our exposure exposes us) us even if in our heart of hearts we know better.

      This says to me, watch your exposure.

      Thanks, guys, another great session.

      Hey do you have a candle in that cave? LOLz

  • Bonnie Solomon's says:

    What wondrous things in this study! I found the,discussion on making a vow to YHVH so enlightening from what I was always taught about taking YHVH’s name in vain. What richness there is in the Hebrew language and how much we have missed from not knowing the true interpretation of YAH’s Words! What amazed me was how much more understanding that brings to Yeshua’s teaching in Matthew 5:33-37. He is quoting Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30:3;Deuteronomy 23:22-24. Since you studied Shem Tov’s Hebrew Matthew, can you shed further light on this passage in Matthew? Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge of the Tanakh with us. This journey into YAH’s Word is Amazing!

  • I tent to believe that Jephthah only offered his daughter to be single single the rest of her life, otherwise why the Word says that she went to bewailed her virginity on the mountains ” and “she knew no man.”. On the other hand it could be that although Israel worshiped YHWH they also at times served other gods, as Nehemiah has spoken of in the past, and that her father has actually burned her alive. I want to believe that he did not do that.

  • Sharon Mueller says:

    Two questions: I am no Hebrew scholar, however from the studies I have made the word ‘and’ I will offer it up as an olah. The vav can also mean ‘or’? “…or I will offer it as an olah”.

    The second question: Lev. 27:1-5 Would this apply to the vow of Yiptah?
    Leviticus 27:2-5 2 Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: When anyone explicitly vows to YHVH the equivalent for a human being, 3 the following scale shall apply: If it is a male from twenty to sixty years of age, the equivalent is fifty shekels of silver by the sanctuary weight; 4 if it is a female, the equivalent is thirty shekels. 5 If the age is from five years to twenty years, the equivalent is twenty shekels for a male and ten shekels for a female.

    His daughter was Yiptah’s only child. If she was dedicated to YHVH so no marriage, no descendants. She bewailed her maidenhood…she knew no man”. This seems strange information if the girl was to be killed and burned.

    Thanks for all you do.

  • Kevin George says:

    Where verse 27 says “Jehovah, the Judge, be judge “, reenforces what we saw last week in 1 Sam. 12:12,” ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king.” God was (and is) the leader the whole time whether He was recognized as such or not.

  • Lu says:

    Question: When a person makes a “vow” that Yehovah doesn’t require or is contrary to what would seem right, or is in haste, then they “see the error” of that vow, like here: Could that person somehow renounce that vow.??? Repent of making that kind of vow?? Man, he sacrificed his daughter??? Wouldn’t Yehovah have “stepped in” and said “whoa wait a minute, you want to step back and rethink that one”, or “lets think about the consequences and rescind that vow”: I totally understand the but wow, this one is just over the top….

    • Lu says:

      Some of my statement is missing:

      totally understand :be careful with your words, vows etc, but wow this one is just over the top. (okay, now its complete ) (sorry havent figured out how to edit comments)