Prophet Pearls #21 – Ki Tisa (1 Kings 18:1-39)

Image courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Prophet Pearls Ki Tisa, 1 Kings 18:1-39, 1 kings, ahab, Elijah, elijah confronts ahab, fire from heaven, haftarah, identity of obadiah, jezebel, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, obadiah, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Prophet PearlsIn this episode of Prophet Pearls, Ki Tisa (1 Kings 18:1-39), Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson convene in Jerusalem to examine the brassiest display of prophetic prowess in the Tanakh. We are drawn into Elijah’s confrontation with Ahab as if for the first time. Hebrew word-plays jump off the page and demand attention. Gordon connects puzzle pieces to propose a fascinating and completely plausible reading of Obadiah’s back story. Who was he and what great news for mankind does he represent?

Gordon closes in a prayer of consecration to Yehovah—the one who in unfailing mercy redeems the hearts of unworthy men.

"you call on the name of your gods,
and I will call on the name of Yehovah" (1 Kings 18:24)

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Prophet Pearls #21 - Ki Tisa (1 Kings 18:1-39)

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

Keith: Welcome to Prophet Pearls face-to-face. This is Keith Johnson, along with my friend Nehemia Gordon. We’re now going to call this Prophet Pearls Whatever It Takes. We are together in the Land of Israel. I just flew in late last night. You’ve been here for a few days. Nehemia, welcome to the Land of Israel.

Nehemia: Shalom, Keith. Welcome. I picked you up last night from the airport.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Outside of Tel Aviv, and we drove into Jerusalem. I’m just so blessed to be here in the Land of the Prophets, speaking about the Prophets. It’s just amazing. I love it.

Keith: We’ll set a little context. You have found a place for us. We're calling it “the safe house.” Nehemia, it’s in the basement. Where are we?

Nehemia: We’re actually in the second sub-basement of this building, which is built into the side of a mountain. We were looking for a place to record, and here’s a place where on one side is a mountain; the other side is a valley. So our hope, at least, is that there won’t be too many noise distractions. Jerusalem can sometimes be a very noisy city, and we were trying to look for a quiet place to record Prophet Pearls.

Keith: We were looking for a quiet place. Why? Because we were trying to record across the world. I was in one part of the world, you were in another part of the world; we were dealing with a number of issues, technology issues, et cetera. We just released a couple… just in the last 24 hours, a little promotional video about what we were willing to do - whatever it takes. We even got on a Harley Davidson.

Nehemia: He made me ride on the back of a Harley. I’ve never been on a motorcycle.

Keith: I just have to say, it really is an interesting process. I’ve been sick the last few days, and then I got here and my luggage didn’t make it with me, and so I’m here without my luggage. But I did something, Nehemia. It was really interesting. I’ve been traveling to a few different places, but one thing I do is I take my Hebrew Bible out and I carry it with me. It’s kind of interesting - my other Bibles are in my suitcase, I’ve got my Hebrew Bible, I’m in the Land of the Prophets, I’m here with you, we’re about to record this section. I just have to say, I really think your idea - and I’ve got to give you a lot of credit for this - it was your idea that we go ahead and do the Amos 3:3 approach together. Can you tell the people a little bit… I know we’ve talked about it, tell them a little bit about that and why this is so significant.

Nehemia: Yes. We were actually just this morning at my mother’s apartment here in Jerusalem, and I was sharing this with her. Amos 3:3 is a verse that says in the Hebrew, “Hayelchu shnayim yachdav bilti im no’adu.” In the common English translation, it’s “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” People take that to mean, “Well, I can’t walk in faith with another person unless we completely agree, we have the same doctrine, create the same theology, otherwise, we can't walk together.” That’s not at all what it says. When I said it to my mother in Hebrew, she immediately recognized in the word, “bilti im no’adu” the word “mo’ed,” which is the appointed time when people come together. What it literally means, what it says in Hebrew is, “Can two walk together without having met one another?” First, you need to meet each other on common ground and then you can walk together. What we decided to do is meet each other in the common ground of the Word of God and walk together in faith before the Creator of the universe. What we tried to do, the first number of episodes we were together sitting next to each other…

Keith: Yes, in Charlotte.

Nehemia: Yes, at your house in Charlotte and it was wonderful. Then you flew off to China and I was in the United States and we tried doing this…

Keith: You were in a few places, weren’t you?

Nehemia: I was in a few places. I think I was mostly in the U.S. at the time. I would call you up on Skype over in China, and sometimes it would work, sometimes it wouldn’t work. Really, for me, the straw that broke the camel’s back was when we had an episode that should have taken an hour to record. It should have been one easy thing to do. Instead, we were disconnected seven separate times, which means we had eight files of recording, and I believe our editor did a really good job so that people didn’t notice that, but they realized something was going on. I realized at that point… I mean literally, I would be in the middle of talking and then I’d say, “Isn’t that amazing Keith?” and I felt like Keith was completely flabbergasted by what I said because he was in complete silence.

Keith: And I didn’t hear it. I had no idea what you were talking about.

Nehemia: We were completely disconnected. The call had hung up, and it didn’t even tell me that. It was very frustrating and we realized we’ve got to come together. Actually, this is such a blessing, because Keith, you had a tour over here with the Biblical Foundations Academy, and I came over here for my ministry, Makor Hebrew Foundation, to work on the Aviv Search. So what we decided to do was to come a few weeks early so that we could record these episodes face-to-face, sitting next to each other. We’re here in this apartment. Can I tell the people, can I describe…?

Keith: Absolutely. They’ve got to know where we’re at.

Nehemia: We’re sitting here at a plastic table and we’ve put two towels over the table - like bath towels - to absorb some of the shock, so when I go like this and I’m tapping you don’t hear it in the microphone. Then we hung… yesterday I was with the person who owns this apartment and she helped me hang a bed sheet across the wall. This is like a makeshift studio, so it absorbs some of the sound. Look, we’re really high tech. This is a professional operation.

Keith: Exactly. This is a professional operation.

Nehemia: But we do have this really fancy microphone that… Keith made fun of me. But this is actually a microphone professionals use.

Keith: No, it really is. And actually…

Nehemia: It works.

Keith: It works. I just have to say, I will just start out by saying I’ve been sick the last week, and it wasn’t a hundred percent sure I was going to be able to convince the airline that I can get here. I flew with El Al. There’s a bunch of stuff right now, depending on where you’ve been, they ask you questions about if you’d been in certain parts of the country and if you’ve got a fever and all that sort of thing. I was able to say that I didn’t have a fever, but I did get here, you got me to a pharmacy, Nehemia, and I slept last night.

Nehemia: You had China-itis. Or you have China-itis, don’t you? I had that when I first got back from China, and you’ve got that now.

Keith: Yes. It’s just basically what happens is the pollution ends up getting into your system, your blood system, and it’s actually a bit serious. But after those first couple days, I then transitioned to where I’m just dealing with congestion and that sort of thing. Got a chance to get some of the famous Bubby Dina’s chicken soup today.

Nehemia: That’s my mom. The best chicken soup in the world.

Keith: I am excited to get it started. We’re going to get started in 1 Kings 18. I just have to say we’ve had Prophet Pearls Partners who have been very wonderful and patient. But we had to make a huge shift, which is that we had to do everything now in the next couple of weeks. And so I’m going to mention the people that are the partners, I’m going to suggest to them, everyone that’s listening, that you would take advantage of bringing your comments to,, and let your comments be right there. For those who didn’t send them in an advance, we really do appreciate everything that you write. And again, I think the last few weeks, Nehemia, we’ve been inviting people to make comments, and they have been doing that, so that’s awesome.

Nehemia: Oh, yes.

Keith: We’re actually going to be going here - the Sioux Falls group is actually responsible for this week, our Prophet Pearls Partners from Sioux Falls. We’re in the 1 Kings chapter 18, one of the most wonderful passages, you and I have had some experiences with this passage. Maybe you don’t remember, we’ve done so many things. But we’re going to talk about 1 Kings chapter 18, starting in verse…?

Nehemia: Verse 1.

Keith: Verse 1. We’re going to go back and forth as far as reading. I don’t have my English Bible with me, but I do have my computer. I’ve got my Hebrew Bible. You’ve got the computer, and of course whatever’s in your mind and memory, and of course, we have prepared ahead of time.

So let’s get started, 1 Kings chapter 18 verse 1, it says, “Now it happened after many days that the word of Yehovah came to Elijah,” and then right away it starts, “in the third year.” What third year? What are we talking about here? What’s the third year? Third year, who? Third year of what? What does the third year mean, Nehemia?

Nehemia: So there’s this drought, and it was a punishment to King Ahab and the Kingdom of Israel. This is the third year of the drought. Imagine that. Israel is not a country that has major rivers - our major river is smaller than some… Actually, I’ll tell you something. I was over in China, and I literally saw open sewers that were bigger than the Jordan River, and it really puts things in perspective. I drive around the U.S. lately, and I’ll come across a river that doesn’t even have a name and it’s bigger than the Jordan River. It’s like some tributary of a tributary of some minor river, and it’s bigger than the Jordan. So imagine, if there’s no rain for three years there’s not enough water to survive.

Keith: No rain, you’ve got problems.

Nehemia: This was a really big deal - three years of drought.

Keith: The word comes and says, and I think this is nothing small, “Go, show yourself to your enemy,” basically. Go show yourself to the guy that’s trying to take your head off. It says, “Go, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth.” When I see that phrase, Nehemia, I see two things. One, “Go, show yourself to Ahab,” that’s the bad news. The good news, I’m about to send rain on the face of the earth. I mean be Elijah there for a second. I’m going to be Elijah like, “But why don’t you just send the rain?”

Nehemia: Here I have a little bit of an issue, which is that I wouldn’t translate it as, “Go, show yourself.” I would translate it as, “Go, appear.”

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: It’s the same word that we actually see… for example, we had a Torah portion called “Vayeira,” “And He appeared,” “And God appeared to Abraham,” and it’s the same word. So it doesn’t translate, “And He showed himself.” It’s, “And He appeared.” That might sound like a really subtle difference. In Hebrew, it’s the difference between an active verb and a passive verb, or actually a causative verb, “to show yourself,” and a passive verb, “to appear.” I don’t know that it makes a difference in the sense of the sentence, but it’s slightly different, “Go appear to Ahab.” It’s almost like Elijah is… and we have that verse where God says to Moses, “You will be a god to Pharaoh, and Aaron will be your prophet.” “You will be Elohim to Pharaoh.” So in some instances, the prophet represents God, and he can appear to people just like God can appear to people, speaking His word.

Keith: Well, then it says, what does it say in chapter 18 verse 2? It says, “So Elijah did just that. He went to appear,” “He went to show himself,” in the NIV here it says that “To show himself,” or to appear, “to Ahab.” And then it says, “just as a reminder that the famine was severe.” I mean it’s three years, how much more severe? In other words, it’s repeating the obvious, there’s no rain…

Nehemia: Well, it’s not necessarily obvious. Maybe in Egypt they had seven years of food stored. But in this case, they didn’t.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: So they were in trouble, after two years of drought, they were in trouble.

Keith: Then comes the verse, and again, I don’t know what word you want to deal with here, but I love it anytime you get a chance to…

Nehemia: Oh, the Word of the Week, I’ve got that already.

Keith: Do you seriously? Have you really?

Nehemia: But that’s later on. Absolutely, I got that. I’m all over that.

Keith: Okay. Awesome, awesome. Let me read this, 18:3, “And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. Now Obadiah feared Yehovah,” it says, “greatly.” I mean it’s a response here. Here’s the man who’s over the household, he’s fearing Yehovah, and then it goes on.

I want to read this and then we can slow down and go back, but I just want to read the next verse. It says, “For when Jezebel…” Now, immediately, when you see something like this you’re reading. If you just read right now and you don’t know before anything, you’re like, “Well, who is this?” “For when Jezebel destroyed the prophets of Yehovah, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave and provided them with bread and with water.” So we’ve got Obadiah; we’ve got Ahab; we’ve got Elijah, and now we’ve got this person Jezebel. So when we read this, obviously those who haven't read forward wouldn't know, but Jezebel is the wife of Ahab.

Nehemia: The queen. The evil queen.

Keith: Yes. She’s the evil queen who’s not real happy about anybody that’s not going to do exactly what she wants them to do. So certainly, the servants of Yehovah, or the prophets of Yehovah, would be on her list of those you’d want to get rid of.

Nehemia: Yes. So, I have some things to say about Obadiah, but I’m going to save that for a little bit later, verse 8, because that's really where we get this new perspective. But just now to say, Obadiah is Hebrew for “Ovadyahu,” which means the servant of yud, hey, vav, hey. The servant of Yehovah, “Ovadyahu.” It’s one of these very common structures which we call a compound name. A compound name is two words together form a name. The first word means servant, you can also translate it as “slave” and “Yahu,” which is the end form. Whenever yud, hey, vav, hey, the name of the Father appears at the end of a name, it’s always “yahu” or “ya,” as in my name Nehemia; “Yeho,” at the beginning. It’s an interesting name, “Ovadyahu,” he is a servant of Yehovah.

So it’s ironic or even telling, I would say, we have Jezebel, who also is a compound name, “I’zevel,” which probably, it’s not entirely clear, but it probably means “man of Zevel,” and that might be a Canaanite word that means the mystical sanctuary where the god lives up in heaven; that’s called “Zevul” in Canaanite literature. So maybe her father named her after the man of Zevel. Or possibly it could even be the coast of Zevel, the coast of this holy sanctuary, because she comes from Sidon, which is on the coast of Lebanon. In Hebrew, it’s immediately obvious that we’re dealing here with a pun that means something else to the Hebrews, because “zevel” means garbage. It means one thing in the Canaanite language, and a slightly different thing in the Hebrew language, even though they’re related languages. So here you have Jezebel, who wants to wipe out the prophets of God, and you have the man whose name is “the servant of Yehovah.” If I were Jezebel, I would have been suspicious of Obadiah.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: From the very outset, like, the guy’s name gives him away. She worships her Baal, and here’s a guy whose name means “servant of Yehovah.”

Keith: Now, let me ask this question. When you see the phrase “destroyed the prophets of Yehovah,” don’t you want to ask yourself where else is that talked about? In other words, this phrase that’s there, it's just there, and it’s almost like it’s just a fact - she’s the one who did this. I’m thinking, but where’s that at? Where else is that discussed?

Nehemia: Actually, it doesn’t say in Hebrew “destroyed.” It says, “Cut off.” Yes. So I don’t know. What’s the answer? What have you got?

Keith: I don’t have an answer for it. I don’t know where else she actually talks about it. I mean, in other words...

Nehemia: Oh, you mean where that incident took place.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Okay. So this is an interesting literary device, you might call it, where it’s referring to something that happened in the past, but it’s the first time we’re hearing about it.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: It reminds me of when Tzipora, the wife of Moshe, Moses, she takes the situation, she throws down in front of him, and she says, “A bridegroom because of blood, and therefore they said bride…” What? Wait, what? What’s this talking about?

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: We’re missing a part of the story. So we actually don’t know what those circumstances were. But it is really interesting here, and we’ll get to this more. I’m going to save it for later. It’s really interesting.

Keith: Awesome. I just thought that that was something, and this happens a lot in Scripture, where you’ll hear something as a matter of fact. “You know, the one who did such and such?” And you’re like, “But where is that?” This is an example.

Nehemia: Where did it come from?

Keith: That’s the question.

Nehemia: No, but I think the answer is it really happened, and it was something that was well known in the time that they were writing about this. So it didn’t need to say, “Hey! By the way…”

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: It’s interesting, you’ll read - and this is actually something as an author I struggle with - how much do you want to explain as the author? I have an editor, you know her, Schiffer, a brilliant woman and she says, “Don’t talk down to the audience when you’re writing. You don’t have to explain the obvious because people will be insulted by that.” But then the challenge is to know what’s obvious to me may not be obvious to them.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: So if I’m writing and I say, “9/11, when 19 terrorists took down the World Trade Center,” like, “Okay, really? We know what that is. What are you talking about?” But then I’ve spoken with young people who actually don’t know what it is. Can you imagine that?

Keith: You know what's interesting? You bring that up, and it’s funny because I’m presently in Shanghai right now, and so many wonderful things that are happening. I know there are people who have questions about what’s going on, but so many wonderful things and doors that are opening. But it’s really interesting about the people that are there, when you think about information that you think that the world knows. So you can say… like what happened at Tiananmen Square.

Nehemia: Oh, they have no idea what that is.

Keith: Well you know this because you’ve asked...

Nehemia: Right. In China, they don’t know.

Keith: Many people don’t have an idea. They have controlled that information, and depending on the generation...

Nehemia: Right. That’s true, as well.

Keith: And generations, what they know. You talk about the great leap forward and you talk about famines, all these different things, different people knowing it. But this statement clearly, when it says this is something that she did, people wouldn’t say, “Now, what was that?” I mean, people knew that’s what she did.

Nehemia: I was going to save this till later, but we’ve got to talk about it. It’s just important. It has to do with… We see this whole series of kings of Israel who are sinners and they’re worshipping false gods and idols, but they don’t wipe out the prophets of Yehovah. They actually manipulate the prophets of Yehovah. They set up false prophets who speak in Yehovah’s name. I compare this passage to another one we have a few chapters later, which I don’t think is in the Prophet Pearls, but it’s one of my favorite passages. I think it was 1 Kings 21 or 22, where we have Micaiah, he’s the prophet and he’s speaking the word, and these 400 other prophets, who are also prophets of Yehovah in His name, but they’re false prophets.

This is a different situation here. She’s attacking anybody who speaks in Yehovah’s name, and that’s because she’s a foreigner. She’s a Sidonian. So what the Israelites did, and we’ll get to this more, is they practiced something called syncretism. They would worship Yehovah as if He was the same thing as Baal. This is a different ballgame, this Sidonian situation. She’s coming in and she’s as zealous for Baal as we are, or as we should be, for Yehovah. She wants to wipe out the worship of Yehovah, not just hijack it and co-opt it, but to completely wipe it out and replace it with something not similar but different, but something completely different. And that’s really important. That’s a very subtle distinction between syncretism, where you have two things together and you make them look like the same, and this situation, where she wants to replace the faith of Israel.

Keith: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, here’s what happens, and I think this phrase is interesting, in 18:5 it says, “Then Ahab said to Obadiah, ‘Go through the land to all the springs of water and to all the valleys; perhaps we will find grass and keep the people alive.’”

Nehemia: No.

Keith: I know. I’m trying to help you, it says, “maybe we’ll keep the people alive.” No, it says...

Nehemia: They don’t care about the people.

Keith: “…and keep the horses and mules alive, and not have to kill some of the cattle.” Now, did that hit you in some way, too?

Nehemia: Here’s what hit me, and I don’t know if you see this in the English, but in the Hebrew the word for “kill the cattle” is the same word that appeared about the prophets of Yehovah, where it says, “hichrit,” it’s the hif’il of “karat”, to cause to be cut off. So literally, in verse 4, “And it came to pass when Jezebel caused the prophets of Yehovah to be cut off.” Here in verse 5, he’s saying, “So that we don’t cause the animals to be cut off,” or, “we don’t cause to be cut off from the animals.” He was concerned about the animals, but he wasn’t concerned about the prophets of Yehovah. The very same word that he’s afraid will happen to the animals is what his wife did to the prophets of Yehovah. That’s not an accident. When you read it in Hebrew, it jumps off the page, and you’re like, “Oh, man, there’s irony here.”

Keith: So then it says, “So they divided the land between them to survey it,” to check it out. “Ahab went one way and Obadiah went another way.” Now, this is Ahab the king; doesn’t Ahab have someone else he could have do this?

Nehemia: I know it’s surprising. Here’s Ahab wandering around the countryside…

Keith: Looking for grass.

Nehemia: …with some mules and horses - like what?

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: Yes. It’s interesting.

Keith: So here it comes.

Nehemia: That’s how lowly they had fallen.

Keith: Yes. Okay. It says in verse 7, “Now as Obadiah was on the way, behold,” here he comes, “Elijah met him,” and it says, “and he recognized him and fell on his face and said, ‘Is this you, Elijah, my master?’” And verse 18:8 says, “And he said to him, ‘It is I. Go, say to your master, ‘Behold, Elijah is here.’’”

Now, two things there. First, in 18:7 he says, “Is that you?” Now, let’s look at the Hebrew here. What does it say in the Hebrew? “Elijah my master.”

Nehemia: Yes. So the word for “master” is “adoni.”

Keith: Okay. And then what does Elijah use when he says, “Now go to your master,” what does it say?

Nehemia: He says, “le’adonecha”, “to your master.”

Keith: So basically, the words are the same. In other words, he’s saying…

Nehemia: Actually, the word for Ahab is a stronger word. It’s what we call the majestic plural, which can be used to describe God or a king. So, literally, if you want to translate it, he says, “Go to your masters and say, ‘Behold Elijah.’” But there’s only one master, who’s Ahab, but it’s the majestic plural. By expressing it with the plural ending, it gives it more majesty, more greatness. So actually, in a way, he’s saying, “You’re calling me adoni, go to your adonim.” That’s interesting.

Keith: So he says, “And he said to him, ‘It is I. Go, say to your master, ‘Behold, Elijah is here.’’” He said, “What sin have I committed that you are giving your servant into the hand of Ahab to put me to death? As Yehovah your God lives.” We’ve got to stop there. Every time I see this phrase, “As Yehovah lives,” I can’t help but just stop, and again be reminded of how important that phrase is.

Nehemia: It’s huge.

Keith: It’s huge!

Nehemia: It’s prophetic.

Keith: It’s prophetic. Oh, man.

Nehemia: So, let me share a few...

Keith: Yes, go ahead.

Nehemia: Actually, can we read the verse and then go back and talk about it?

Keith: Okay. Absolutely. Can you read it there?

Nehemia: No, you go ahead.

Keith: It says, “As Yehovah your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my master has not sent to search for you; and when they said, ‘He is not here,’ he made that kingdom or nation swear that they could not find you.”

Nehemia: Right. Then he goes on and says, “And now you say, ‘Go, and tell your master, ‘Behold, Elijah,’”’ and it shall come to pass that I will go from you and the spirit of Yehovah will lift you up.” Et cetera, et cetera. He’s like saying… well, actually, we’ve got to finish that verse. I’m sorry. It’s important.

“… shall lift you up, to where I do not know. And I will come to say to Ahab, and he will not find you, and he will kill me,” you know - because I am going to go tell him that I found you. “And your servant has feared Yehovah from my youth.” Very interesting. “Has it not been told to my master?” Et cetera.

Let’s go back here. So this is interesting. The word that jumps off the page… well, there are two things that jump off the page in verse 10. One is this phrase “Chai Yehovah,” “As Yehovah lives,” which, as I started to say it appears 44 times in the Tanakh, that phrase. And in Jeremiah 12:16, there’s a prophetic instance of it. God is speaking to the four nations that surround Israel. And it says, “It shall come to pass that they surely learn the ways of My people to swear in My name: ‘As Yehovah lives,’” “Chai Yehovah.”

Keith: When you said Jeremiah, are you talking about Jeremiah 16?

Nehemia: Jeremiah 12:16.

Keith: Oh, 12:16.

Nehemia: Yes. “In My name, ‘As Yehovah lives,’ as they taught My people to swear by Baal; veyivnu betoch ami, and they will be built up in the midst of My people.” So this is a promise to the nations surrounding Israel if they will learn to swear it in the name of the Creator of the universe. Chai Yehovah.

Keith: Chai Yehovah.

Nehemia: Chai Yehovah, “As Yehovah lives.” “As they taught my people to swear Chai,” and then the name Baal, “As Baal lives, and they will be built in the midst of Israel.” So it’s really interesting here. This is a promise to the nations. It’s got nothing to do with me. It’s a promise for the nations of the world who aren’t descendants of Israel to actually be built in the midst of Israel. Isn’t that amazing?

Keith: That’s amazing.

Nehemia: It has to do with this phrase “Chai Yehovah.” It appears 44 times. It’s a common expression. There are other verses where God says, “As I live.” We could talk about that. But what’s interesting to me is what he says here in verse 10, he says, “Chai Yehovah Elohecha.” “As Yehovah your God lives.” Whoa! What do you have to say about that, Keith? That could be nothing, but I don’t think it’s nothing. Why didn’t he say, “Chai Yehovah Elohei Israel.” “As Yehovah lives, the God of Israel.” Or, “Chai Yehovah Elohai.” “As Yehovah my God lives.” Or “Chai Yehovah Eloheinu,” “our God.” Why did he say, “As Yehovah your God lives”?

Keith: Well, I would just say this. One of the things that I think is interesting when I’m reading this is that there’s this thing back and forth between Elijah and Obadiah.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: So he says to him, “El Elijah, my master.” And then he says to him, “Behold, your Adoni.” Like you said, the plural. Then it comes back to him and he says, “What sin have I committed, that you are giving... As Yehovah your God lives.” He’s proclaiming… It’s like he’s saying, he knows the commitment that Elijah has to Yehovah. Maybe Elijah doesn’t know the…

Nehemia: What do you mean? No, he says later on, “It was told to you what I did. I saved the prophets of Yehovah.”

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: So he’s assuming Elijah does know, and if he doesn’t know it he’s telling him, one of those situations. But for example, I want to bring you a couple of examples here of what I’m talking about and this kind of like emphasizes it. This is really strange that he says, “your God.” So we have three places in the Tanakh, out of the 44, where it says, “As Yehovah Elohei Israel,” the God of Israel - 1 Samuel 25:34, 1 Kings 17 1, and 1 Kings 17:12. Three times, three witnesses, where people use this phrase, “As Yehovah lives,” and they say, “As Yehovah the God of Israel lives.” They give him that title. All of a sudden, he says, “As Yehovah your God lives.” So I have a hypothesis. It’s a theory.

Keith: Uh-oh.

Nehemia: I can’t prove it, but I have a suspicion. Here’s what we know: Jezebel was a Sidonian princess. She was a foreigner. She was zealous for the worship of Baal. She came with a whole entourage of people from Sidon when she married the king of Israel. She was actually the daughter of a ruler of Sidon, a man named Ithobaal, which means “with Baal.”

Keith: With Baal.

Nehemia: The alef, tav of Baal. She brings these people with her, and maybe one of those, this is my suggestion, could have been a man named Ovadbaal, and he comes to Israel as a young man and he starts to worship Yehovah and his name is changed to Ovadyahu, Obadiah.

Keith: Are you really going to come up with that theory, Nehemia?

Nehemia: It’s possible.

Keith: You’re not going to give me a verse? You’re not going to say…

Nehemia: Well, here’s where it comes to me. Verse 12.

Keith: Now we’re talking.

Nehemia: He says, “And your servant has feared Yehovah from my youth.” That’s interesting. Now, that could mean, “Look, I’ve done it all my life since I was a baby.” But “from my youth” also might mean, “look, ever since I came from Sidon with the princess, I’ve been zealous for your God.” That fits with him saying, “As Yehovah your God.” “Look, I’ve been built into the midst of your people.” He knows Jeremiah 12:16. Or he knows the concept of Jeremiah 12:16, that if he learns to swear “As Yehovah lives,” as the way they have learned to swear “as Baal lives”, meaning the way Israel learned from the gentiles, then he has the opportunity to be built in the midst of the people.

Keith: Nehemia, you’ve come so far. I’ve known you for how long? How long have I known you?

Nehemia: I don’t know. Thirteen years? Twelve years, something like that.

Keith: Thirteen, fourteen years, or something like that. And the one thing you used to always say is – I used to get frustrated about this. I used to get upset about this. I used to want to strangle you, put my arms around your neck.

Nehemia: You’ve never done it, though.

Keith: No, I haven't done a thing. I’d say, “Nehemia, I’m thinking, one of the things…” and you’d say, “Yes, but where does it say it in Scripture? Where does it say it in Scripture?”

Nehemia: Well, I’m not saying, “This is the doctrine we must accept. And those who don’t adhere to this doctrine shall be cast into the lake of fire and we will not walk together because we are not agreeing…” That’s not what I’m saying at all. What I’m saying here...

Keith: You’re trying to put the pieces together.

Nehemia: I’m trying to put the pieces together, and especially of this very unusual thing, “As Yehovah your God lives.” It’s unique in the Tanakh. Now, we do have other places where people say, “your God,” and especially you’ll find that as a phrase that appears commonly in Deuteronomy, where Moses is speaking to Israel and he says, “your God.” Well, he could have said, “our God.” All right. But here it’s really strange.

Keith: I just wish we could find an example where his name was changed from...

Nehemia: No, we don’t know that. Look, maybe he was called Obadiah and he was born in a little village in Galilee. I don’t know. But it’s possible, since he’s part of this whole world of Ahab and Jezebel; we do know Jezebel came from Sidon and she brought an entourage with her, and they were trying to stamp out the prophets of Yehovah. This actually fits another piece of evidence. How does it come about that Obadiah has the opportunity to save all these prophets of Yehovah, 50, in a cave? Maybe he was the one sent to kill them. And you know that makes a lot of sense, especially when he’s called “asher al habayit,” “that who is over the house.” So now we have to explain to people what that means.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Historically, he who is over the house, He’s not the butler. He’s what we would call today the prime minister. So you had a king of Israel and a queen. And look, the king isn’t involved in every decision. He’s not interested in the small petty affairs of state. He’s going to make the policy and guide things. But he isn’t somebody who makes the day-to-day decisions, that’s the prime minister. In Biblical Hebrew, that’s “he who is over the house.” This is the number two guy in the kingdom. It’s very possible that… who is Jezebel going to trust as a number two guy in the kingdom? One of her cronies from back in Sidon. I’m suggesting this is a possibility, it’s not a doctrine. You can completely reject it if you want. It’s entirely fine.

Keith: I’m going to reject it, but I want to tell you that you opened up the door...

Nehemia: But the fact that he says, “As Yehovah your God lives.” So we say in Hebrew, “zeh omer darsheni,” it says investigate me.

Keith: It’s calling for it.

Nehemia: It’s begging me to investigate it.

Keith: I want to say something. It’s interesting you brought up about that being the prime minister, because you’ve got us in a place, Nehemia, that’s really not far… I can look out the window and the Knesset is not far from here. This morning, early this morning, I woke up…

Nehemia: In fact, literally, you look out the window, we see the Israel Museum, and the next hill over is the Knesset.

Keith: Yes. So I walked over and I looked at the Knesset, and then I walked over to Netanyahu’s house.

Nehemia: You didn’t.

Keith: Yes. I did, I walked over to Netanyahu's house. He wasn’t there.

Nehemia: That’s right.

Keith: He wasn’t there because he’s on his way to the United States. Now, I’ve got to say something about this. You brought up about the prime minister, and I just think it’s really interesting the politics of Israel, you’ve got the king… and now you just brought a really interesting concept - that Obadiah is not like… he’s the servant, meaning he’s the guy that is way down the list.

Nehemia: Well, in general, when it talks about the cup-bearer, it’s not just the guy who holds the cup.

Keith: Yes. He’s got some authority.

Nehemia: He’s actually a minister of state. I think we can maybe look to some modern countries. Let’s take the easiest example, which is a little out of date, but the United Kingdom, or England - they’ve got a queen of England. She doesn’t have any power anymore, but there was a time when the King of England had power, but he still didn’t run the day to day affairs of the state. He had a prime minister. Under the prime minister there was the Minister of Education and the minister of whatever there was, I don’t know, back then. So the point here is in ancient times you had a king, and under the king was “he who is over the house,” the head of all the ministers, and underneath him was the cupbearer and the head baker, but he wasn’t actually just a baker; he was maybe over the finances of the palace, and maybe even over the entire kingdom. So we have these terms that have lost their meaning in modern English. So this guy “who’s over the house,” he’s not sweeping the floors, even though he’s running around with the donkeys.

Keith: You know, it’s interesting though, because the reason I said that, I think that there’s something to what you’re saying is that so I said, “What’s the king doing out walking around?”

Nehemia: Right.

Keith: It’s not like the king and the lowest guy on the totem pole. These two guys...

Nehemia: No. These are the two top guys. That’s how desperate they are.

Keith: That’s what I think is really significant. I mentioned the thing about Netanyahu, of course...

Nehemia: Yes, what’s going on with Netanyahu?

Keith: So he’s on his way to the United States. He’s defied Washington, he’s going to be speaking to Congress there.

Nehemia: Oh, no.

Keith: I went over to see if I could get a hold of him before he went. He left. He’s on his way. I was met with a guard with a gun. The Knesset is here. But also, Nehemia - and we’re going to talk about this just a little bit - about the significance of what Obadiah actually did in terms of saving the prophets. This week, there’s going to be Purim, that’s going to be celebrated. And for people that don’t know, I think it’s a really interesting thing for people to look into. We can talk about it a little bit more. But I just think it’s so interesting we’re here right now.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: We’re actually here at a time... as I was talking to your mother - Bubby Dina is my consultant, folks, when it comes to the politics of Israel and the United States - she talked about the significance of what’s happening in terms of what could happen with Israel. We’re going to talk about this with Jezebel and what happens with Elijah. But I don’t know why, I could read this story, and for some reason, it just feels more… like, I understand the significance of it. I mean, politics and what’s going on in the United States, and what’s going on here, and Iran, and all of this stuff, and Purim…

Nehemia: I think this really ties in. I want to go back to Obadiah, who according to my hypothesis was born a gentile in Sidon as a servant of Baal and he was brought over, and from his youth he feared Yehovah. In my view, in my opinion, he is a picture in the story of the gentile who has joined himself to Yehovah.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: He stands in contrast to the Israelites who are part of the people of Yehovah, and they’re sitting on the fence worshipping both gods. And to me, there’s this contrast, and Obadiah - I think it’s interesting that he’s contrasted. There are two top figures that are looking for the water, and who does this messenger of Yehovah, who comes from Yehovah as Elohim “to appear,” it’s a word that applies to a god appearing. He’s there to appear. He does not appear to the Jew, to Ahab, he appears to the gentile who has joined to the people of Israel and embraced the God of Israel, to Ovadyahu, to Obadiah, and I think that’s really significant.

I think it’s at the one time saying, “look, here’s a hope for the gentiles,” and at the same time, a criticism of Israel, “Get off the fence and embrace the God of Israel. Aren’t you ashamed that God sends his prophet and he’s got to go appear to the gentiles because you’re not ready to accept him?”

Keith: Wow. I will tell you something. We talk about exploring biblical prophecy yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It will be hard for me, for these couple weeks that we’re here, Nehemia, as we’re going through these sections, to always ask the question, “So this is what happened then, but how does it relate to now?”

I think right now we’re in a really, really, and I don’t use the word “interesting”, I say “crucial” time in the world as far as Israel and what’s happening around the world. I mean, it’s sobering to me to come here and to be in this land right now, to read these kinds of stories, and to say we’re not so far off. And we’re going to read many more like it, where there’s so much that’s going on right at right in our midst.

Nehemia: Yes. So let’s go on. But the one thing I just want to emphasize this - that we’re dealing with... Well, let’s go on. We’ve got to get through this story.

Nehemia: Yes, we do.

Nehemia: We’re going to say we don’t have enough time at the end. We got to do this.

Keith: Yes. What verse are we in now?

Nehemia: Verse 14.

Keith: Okay, verse 14, “And now you are saying, ‘Go, say to your master, Behold, Elijah is here, he then will kill me.’” “Elijah said, ‘As Yehovah of hosts lives,’” and then again, we get this phrase, this swearing, this calling as a witness and putting it all on the line. Chai Yehovah, in verse 15, “‘before whom I stand, I will surely show myself to him today.’ So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.”

Nehemia: What does Elijah mean by “stood before him”? That’s really interesting.

Keith: Go ahead.

Nehemia: So one possibility is something we’ve talked about before. Jeremiah speaks about this - he’s challenging the false prophets, and the false prophets are speaking in the name of Yehovah based on a vision they had or something, or some kind of spirit that’s come and spoken to them. Jeremiah says, “The true prophets have stood in the Council of Yehovah in the heavenly court.”

Keith: Amen! Yes.

Nehemia: I believe Elijah here is saying, “I have stood before Yehovah. I was standing there and there He was sitting on His throne and He was surrounded by the angels and speaking.” I mean this is an image we’ve seen before, a picture, and I think this is alluding to that. “I’ve stood before Him.” It’s a very specific phrase.

Keith: Let me ask a question. In yours, do you see this… is this in the past or is it the present? Because it’s interesting, in the NAS what they say is, “Yehovah of hosts lives before whom I stand.”

Nehemia: Oh, no. It’s in the past tense, “asher amadeti.”

Keith: But then, when I’m looking in the Hebrew it says it’s in the past.

Nehemia: Yes. The perfect or past tense.

Keith: It’s something “who I stood.” Yes.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: “So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him; and Ahab went to meet Elijah.” And then comes this phrase - sometimes I want to call you this phrase, Nehemia. No, I’m telling you I want to. He says, and let’s slow down and break this open. It says, “When Ahab saw Elijah, he says unto him, ‘Is this you, you troubler of Israel?’” Do you like that phrase? What do you think that phrase is?

Nehemia: I think it’s ironic that Ahab is calling that to Elijah, because where do we get that phrase? We get it from Joshua chapter 7:24 to 25, and again in 1 Chronicles 2:7, where it’s speaking about this man named Achan, and they make a pun on his name, Achan, because it sounds like “achar,” which is troubler. Then when Achan, you know, he’s the guy who stole the gold from Jericho and they lost the battle because of it and it’s discovered, and he’s called “ocher Israel,” “the troubler of Israel.” That exact phrase appears in 1 Chronicles 2:7.

Keith: Absolutely.

Nehemia: “Ocher Israel,” “the troubler of Israel”, referring to this person who is the bad guy. Here, the king, who is a bad guy, is calling Elijah, who is the good guy, ocher Israel. And that’s, you know, those who call white black and black white; those who call bitter sweet, and sweet bitter; those who say left is right and right is left. The people who are evil and do bad don’t say, “Hey, I’m a bad guy.” Some of them do, but then there’s a certain type of bad person who says, “No, I’m righteous. What I’m doing is good and you’re the bad person,” and in Ahab’s eyes, he’s great. He’s the best thing since sliced bread.

Keith: It’s funny, what does 18:18 say? Basically Elijah comes back and says, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house.”

Nehemia: I’ll be honest with you, in my ministry, Makor Hebrew Foundation, I recently put out this teaching about the name of Yehovah and looking at some of the possible connections between the pronunciation of that name and the name of the Roman god Jupiter. I won’t go into that, it’s a whole discussion. But I’ve had people who have basically written back to me, “O troubler of Israel.”

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: “You’re causing trouble in our congregation because you’re teaching this to people.” I’ve literally had people who say, “We can see that we agree with what you’re saying, but this is just too much trouble. This is going to cause division. We cannot teach this.” I feel like I'm Elijah being called “ocher Israel,” “the troubler of Israel.”

Keith: Yes. Well, I think that’s good...

Nehemia: Look, I mean, it’s burning up deep inside me. I’ve got to speak the truth.

Keith: Nehemia, that’s where the good troubler of Israel phrase comes from. When in fact, if you’re being called a troubler because of bringing forth truth, giving people access to the information…

I want to stop for a second, because we are here, Nehemia, and I know there are so many people that appreciate the work that’s been done through ministry that you’ve been a part of.

Nehemia: Makor Hebrew Foundation.

Keith: And what I’m doing. But it really is not something that’s easy. It’s not something that just...

Nehemia: Oh, no. It’s not.

Keith: And again, I don’t want to overly dramatize it, but to actually even physically be here right now is not an easy process.

Nehemia: Your flight here was free, right?

Keith: Yeah, right. I went to El Al and said, “Listen, I’m about to teach the Word of God.”

Nehemia: “Look, I’ve got some important ministry, give me a free ticket.” How did that work out for you?

Keith: I want to tell you something. It’s really funny. One of the things that people always have this sort of shocking view of me. When I’m waiting in line, you’ve got to go through security. And this actually happened, this happened twice. I wanted to bring people up to date. So I’m waiting to get on the plane from Hong Kong to here...

Nehemia: Where your suitcase currently is.

Keith: Yes, my suitcase is presently in Hong Kong with all my underwear. By the way, do you still have…?

Nehemia: No! I gave the underwear back. I do not have your underwear.

Keith: One of the things that I do, to try to calm things down, is I’ll speak in Hebrew. I’ll say a phrase in Hebrew or something like that. And every time they’ll say to me, “Why are you learning Hebrew?” Here’s this brown-skinned bald-headed guy who’s speaking Hebrew, and they’re looking at me like, “Are you trying to learn it for some other reason?” And I would bring my Bible out, I’d bring my Hebrew Bible, and I say, “Ani rotzhe lehavin.” “I want to understand this book, the most important book.” And you know what, this has been…

Nehemia: Wow. Do they understand that?

Keith: No, they absolutely… Listen, I’ve got to just tell you this. I’ve got to stop. I get into conversations with them, and they’re like, “So you’re from the United States, but you want to learn Hebrew to understand this book that we know to be the Word of God?” And that happened both in Hong Kong and when I got here, because they asked me a question. They said, “Who are you here to see?” And I made a mistake and I said, “Nehemia Gordon.” “You mean that troubler of Israel?!”

Nehemia: They wouldn’t say that today. I’m known in Ben Gurion airport.

Keith: No, but I went to explain to them, they said, “Well, how do you know him? How long have you known him? When did you meet him?” And it’s all around this, Nehemia. It’s all around this. I just have to tell you, it was a witness - when I say this, I say it carefully - a witnessing tool, a chance to just talk about the significance of the Word of God.

And so BFA International, inspiring people to build a biblical foundation for their faith. I’m not only wanting to do that for me, obviously, personally, and what we do corporately, but I think that there’s just a great opportunity with the Word of God, to continue to bring it forward. I’ve appreciated the fact that you - and this is why I was so hard on you - you’ve always said, “We’ve got to find it in here. We’ve got to find it in here.” And there are some things that we can’t find. There are some things that we are not able to come up with an answer, and we do try to come up with different theories. But what I appreciate you saying is, “This is my opinion.”

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: You know, look, I disagree with you on the whole Obadiah thing. I mean I’m thinking this is a guy who’s been there, who knows, he’s been brought in to assist. I still don’t know how he could be in the kingdom, and she’s trying to get rid of the prophets and he’s there saving...

Nehemia: He’s hiding them there.

Keith: So maybe you’re right. There’s got to be something there.

Nehemia: Of course I’m right. All right, let’s go on. Troubler of Israel.

Keith: Yes, you troubler of Israel.

Nehemia: Can I just say one last thing about that?

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: As I was reading this, about the phrase “troubler of Israel,” I was reminded of a phrase that appears in the Talmud, which is “the sinner of Israel.” There is this really mysterious figure in the Talmud called “the Sinner of Israel.” And my father, who is a Rabbi of blessed memory, had a theory about the sinner of Israel, that he was a certain historical figure that lived 2,000 years ago. Isn’t that interesting that, at least according to some rabbis, that Sinner of Israel was that particular person? And here we have the Trouble of Israel. Do they even realize what they were saying? Let’s go on. Let’s move on.

Keith: Let’s move on.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: So it says here… Now, then this is the challenge. I love this. This is getting ready to be where we get to the nitty-gritty. “For he says, ‘Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets,’” he knows the number, “of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” That’s 850 false prophets. I mean what kind of a…?

Nehemia: And they’re not just false prophets. They’re prophets of foreign deities, not just one deity.

Keith: Absolutely.

Nehemia: So I just want to give people a quick rundown on Asherah.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: We hear about her a lot in the Bible, not that much. There are a lot of people who confuse Asherah with Ishtar, or Ashtoreth, which were two different Canaanite goddesses. Ashtoreth, or Ishtar, Easter, was one of the wives of Baal. Asherah, from the best evidence we have from Canaanite sources, was the mother of Baal. Asherah was actually one of the wives of the most-high god, creator of heaven and earth, this is what the Canaanites believed and his son, one of his sons, was Baal.

So here we have this image of the mother and the son, which is an image that you have like Isis and Horus in Egypt. This is kind of a universal theme in many cultures. But we’ve got Asherah, and the classical structure that we see in the Tanakh that it’s speaking against is they would have the altar to Baal, and there would be a tree, or a pole, next to the altar, which was the tree of Asherah. They would be juxtaposed one next to another. There’s even a verse that says, “Do not plant an Asherah next to the altar of Yehovah.” And that’s exactly what Israel did. When it says, “under every leafy tree”, it wasn’t just there for shade, that leafy tree was the tree of Asherah, the sacred tree.

Keith: We won’t go into great detail about this, but one of the things that caught my attention is just Jezebel being a Sidonian, and what the Sidonians were well known for. What was their number one thing that they were well known about, what could they be?

Nehemia: Commerce was their main thing.

Keith: Commerce. What else did they do, that the Sidonians did?

Nehemia: They made purple dye?

Keith: No. What else, Nehemia?

Nehemia: I don’t know. Those are the two things that come to mind.

Keith: They built the tree! They were great craftsmen of the tree. They would cut the tree. This is what Solomon came to when he went to get the Sidonians.

Nehemia: Right, well, because Lebanon is known for its… or it was known for its giant trees.

Keith: Exactly. Yes. What did they do with those trees?

Nehemia: They used them for rafters in the building of the temple.

Keith: Absolutely.

Nehemia: Yes, but the main things they were actually known for was making purple dye. That’s why the Greeks called the Sidonians, “Phoenicians.” Phoenicia means “the land of purple”. But they didn’t call themselves Phoenicians; they called themselves, actually, Canaanites.

Keith: Yes, they were the Canaanites.

Nehemia: They were Canaanites.

Keith: So it says here, he tells the people, Let’s have the deal; go get your 850 people. “So Ahab sent a message among all the sons of Israel and brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel.” The sons of Israel and the prophets.

Nehemia: And the prophets need to choose… or the people of Israel need to choose.

Keith: Yes. So we know the story. We're going to get into this. “Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate?’” And again, we’ve got to go to the Hebrew here because in the English...

Nehemia: Wait. I don’t even know what your English says.

Keith: I’m in verse 20. Hold on, verse 20. “So Ahab sent a message among all the sons of Israel and brought the prophets together at Mount Carmel. Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yehovah is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people did not answer him a word.” Come on now.

Nehemia: Wow. What translation was that?

Keith: That was the NASB.

Nehemia: Okay. Let’s just look at a few translations on my computer here.

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: And the word “hesitate,” I mean, that’s the Word of the Week, but it doesn’t say, “hesitate.” I was thinking, “what’s he reading?”

Keith: Yes. Exactly.

Nehemia: Oh, that’s their translation of 1 Kings 18:21?

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: So the NIV has, “How long will you waiver between two opinions?” The JPS, the Jewish Publication Society, says, “How long will you keep hopping between two opinions?”

Keith: I’m so excited you’re going to use this as the Word of the Week. You’re going to do it, right?

Nehemia: Yes, of course.

Keith: I mean this has got to be the Word of the Week.

Nehemia: Right. And it’s appropriate because we’re facing the Aviv Search, we are probably a few weeks away from Passover, about a month from Passover, which in Hebrew is called Pesach. Pesach comes from the word in Exodus chapter 12 where it says for the plague of the first born, that Yehovah would pass over the houses of the Israelites and not smite the first born there. And that’s the word “pesach.” He would pass over and that’s how we have Passover.

The word here, literally, is, “How long will you pass over the two branches? If Yehovah is God, go after him; and if Baal is god, go after him.” Actually, it could also be translated, as it is in the JPS, to hop back and forth. Because when you think about it, when you hop, you’re passing from one position to another, you’re popping around back and forth. And Yehovah popped over, hopped over the houses of the Israelites. How do we know that? What’s the connection? So to the Hebrew word for “lame”, meaning somebody who has a bad leg, can walk but he’s got a bum leg, that’s called “pise’ach,” which is a hopper, somebody who hops around; doesn’t literally maybe hop around, but he hobbles. So that’s the connection there. And then later we’ll have this word; I guess we’ll bring it now. So later, when they’re performing their ritual… this is in verse 26. Can I jump to verse 26?

Keith: Yes. Go ahead. It’s important

Nehemia: It says, “And they took…” this is the false prophets of Baal and Asherah, or the false prophets of Baal. It says, “And they took the bull which he had given them, and they made it,” or they did it, “and they called in the name of Baal from the morning until the afternoon, saying, ‘Answer us, Baal.’ And there was no voice, and no answer.” And it says, “vayefaschu,” and they “pass-overed the altar which he made.” And that’s interesting in itself. So they hopped back and forth. And one explanation of verse 26 is that they were actually performing a dance.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: That they were dancing around, maybe doing something like, instead of a rain dance, a fire dance for fire to come down from heaven. That they were hopping back and forth around the altar hoping that it would cause the god to answer them. But it’s literally, “And they pass-overed upon the altar which he made.” Who the “he” is, we’ll get that later, if we have time.

So this is not an accident that it has the word passover there. This is alluding back to, in verse 26, it’s alluding back to verse 21 where he’s accusing them. He’s saying, “Look, you guys are hopping back and forth between the two different temples, which branch are you going to be on? Are going to be the branch of the tree of Yehovah? Or this other branch from this other tree? Which one are you going to do?” This is, of course, one of the most famous verses of the Bible. Get off the fence, which one are you…

There’s actually a friend of mine,Jessica Kaye, who’s this wonderful singer who actually sings Hebrew songs with the name of Yehovah. She has a song about this - about jumping back between the two branches, and if Yehovah, go after Him; and if Baal, go after him. People have written songs about this. You can listen to that on YouTube.

So the Word of the Week is pesach. Every word in Hebrew, we’ve said before, has a three-letter root. Here the three-letter root is pei, samech, chet. And pei, samech, chet is the exact same root as Pesach, as Passover, as the holiday. But here it means to hop back and forth. The JPS got it right.

Keith: I have to tell you, when I first got a chance to look at this verse a couple of years ago and saw that word, I thought a lot about the practical position where people do this thing where they change from position to position, from thing to thing.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: We used to talk about, from my heritage, they talked about church-hopping. “This is the theology of the week right now; this group right here has got it right. No, they’re wrong. Now, let’s go to the next one.” I used to watch a movie called The Wizard of Oz. I don’t know if you knew about the Wizard of Oz.

Nehemia: I’ve seen it.

Keith: They had the horses of many colors; the colors would change.

Nehemia: Oh, I don’t remember that.

Keith: So literally, the horse, his color is red. Now, it’s green. Now, it’s yellow. But on a more serious note, one of the things that I think he’s saying that’s so important is to ask this question, “Is Yehovah God?” If Yehovah is God, then follow Him. There’s no sense of having to change any position. There’s no going from place to place. But if not, do this other thing. How long will you say He is, He isn’t. He is, and all through history, all through Israel’s history, you keep seeing this cycle, “Okay, Yehovah, you are God.” “Okay, but now we’re going to go and do this.”

Nehemia: But I do think there’s a difference, and I want to contrast what Elijah’s dealing with versus, for example, in Jeremiah 28 and 1 Kings 22. In Jeremiah 28, we have Jeremiah facing Hananiah, the false prophet. Hananiah claims to be speaking in the name of Yehovah. So there it’s not, “Well, if Yehovah is God, don’t listen to Hananiah.” Well, no, wait a minute, Hananiah claims to believe in Yehovah too, and be speaking for Him. There it gets more complicated.

But in the time of Elijah, we no longer are dealing with syncretism - that’s where you put the two things together - we’re dealing with this Sidonian cultural imperialism, where they’re trying to impose their religion upon us, and the people are saying, “Wow, this is the religion, the faith of the queen.” The queen is the most respectable woman in the entire nation. She’s not only a queen, she’s the daughter of a queen of a great country, of Sidon, which is a great world country. So they see this and they’re challenged by it. He’s saying, “Look, stop being challenged by it; make a choice. If you believe Baal is god, then go worship him. If you believe Yehovah is God, then you don’t need Baal.”

Keith: Amen. You know it’s really interesting. I just came back from a place where there’s a lot of… I was in Africa, in Namibia, and there’s a lot of what they call… what do you call it?

Nehemia: I don’t know. What do they call it?

Keith: What’s the word that they use, like voodoo and things like that, where people use different things.

Nehemia: Folk religion?

Keith: So you’re talking about the hopping, and it says, “they were cutting themselves,” and we’re going to get to this in just a second. But just this idea that there’s this emotional, physical action that’s taking place to kind of build it up, build it up, build it up; in the end, there is no God but Yehovah, but yet these people were willing to do all these things, and we’re going to talk about it in just a second. But it says here, he tells them, he says, “Give us two oxen,” and then he lets them choose.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: You guys go ahead and take the choice. In other words, it’s not going to be a matter of which oxen it is. Go ahead and pick whichever one you want.

Nehemia: Well it’s like, “Pick a card, any card.”

Keith: Pick a card, any card.

Nehemia: I’m not going to pick the card because then you accuse me of palming it and putting my card in.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: You choose the ox, and so you can’t say, “Oh, he had the better ox.” Well, no - you chose the ox.

Keith: “So put no fire under it and I will prepare the other ox and lay it on the wood, and I will not put fire under it.” I think that has added the word “under it”. But then, this is a little peeve that I have, this one little small thing I want to bring up, and this is an English issue, but I want you to challenge me on this. So why is it that we say…

Let me read the verse, first, 18:24, “‘Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD,’” is what it says in English, L-O-R-D, “‘and the God who answers by fire, He is God,’ and all the people said, ‘That is a good idea.’”

Now, let’s back up for a second. You’re going to think I was going to address one thing; I’m going to address something different. 18:24 says, “You call on the name of your god, your Elohim, and I will call upon the name…” And we always use “the name of.” We always say, “the name of.” In other words, in English, “of the Lord” makes sense. But when we say the name Yehovah, why do we add the “of”? I don’t know why this is a pet peeve. It’s my pet peeve. You call upon the name of the Lord, ‘of’?

Nehemia: I’m not sure I understand what you’re...

Keith: But here is what it says.

Nehemia: What’s the issue?

Keith: No, I’m telling you my little pet peeve. You call upon the name of Yehovah, or you call upon the name Yehovah, upon the name Yehovah.

Nehemia: I think in English you have to say “of.”

Keith: I don’t think you have to say “of,” it’s an argument I’m going to make!

Nehemia: I think you do. And then in Hebrew, what we have going on here is what we call “smichut,” or the construct.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: You have two nouns juxtaposed. In English when we translate “smichut,” we translate it as “of.”

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: An example of “smichut,” or construct, is “bnei Israel.” You could translate it, I guess, in English as “children Israel,” but really, it’s “the children of Israel.”

Keith: Let me ask you a question, though. Let’s just say this...

Nehemia: Yes. Or “ruach Elohim,” “the spirit of God.”

Keith: If I said to you if I put this word...

Nehemia: The word “of” isn’t there. But it is in the construct.

Keith: Okay, the name Elijah, “Shem Elijah,” what would you say? You’d call the name Elijah. You wouldn’t say “the name of Elijah.”

Nehemia: Right.

Keith: You wouldn’t! Folks, I’m sorry, I’ve been up all night...

Nehemia: I think you would.

Keith: I don’t think you would, Nehemia!

Nehemia: So I think you would do, “in the name, ‘Elijah’”. Or you would say, “the name of Elijah.”

Keith: Yes. “The name of Elijah”?

Nehemia: I think so.

Keith: I just don’t think you would. Anyway, it’s a little pet peeve that I have.

Nehemia: I arrest you in the name of the law, right? So you do say that. Or maybe that’s archaic. I don’t know.

Keith: All right. Well, look, folks...

Nehemia: I’m not an English expert.

Keith: But there is another thing that we’re going to get to that this is…

Nehemia: But your point is they’re not just doing it in God’s name.

Keith: That’s what I wanted.

Nehemia: They’re actually calling His name.

Keith: They’re calling His name, calling upon Him.

Nehemia: Right. Here’s the point I would have focused on, when it says, “to call,” it literally says “beshem,” “in the name,” of your God. It says, “ekra beshem Yehovah,” “I will call in the name of Yehovah.” Actually, you could even translate “in” there as “through,” meaning I’m going to speak that name and that’s how I’m going to call.

Yes. But there’s no question that this means to actually speak that name. And look what they did. They didn’t say, “O god of the Sidonians.” No, they said “HaBaal anenu,” “O Baal, answer us.” Isn’t that great?

Keith: “HaBaal answer us.” Amen. Yes.

Nehemia: What a great line in verse 26.

Keith: Now, here’s where I think this is the funny thing. This is from some years ago. I’m going to challenge you again on this. “It came about at noon, Elijah mocked them and said, ‘Call out with a loud voice, for he is a god.’” Here it comes. Here it is in English now, “Either he is occupied or gone aside, or is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and needs to be awakened.”

I’m going to throw you the softball, Nehemia. What’s this phrase, “He’s gone aside, or he’s occupied, or he’s on a journey?” What’s the phrase? What do you think, where does the phrase come from? What’s it really saying in practicality?

Nehemia: I mean, what are you asking?

Keith: I’m handing you the softball. What’s this phrase here… When Elijah’s coming and he’s saying, “Elijah mocked them,” he’s mocking them. Be Elijah for a second.

Nehemia: Look, he’s in the toilet. Is that what you want me to say?

Keith: Does it say that, Nehemia?

Nehemia: That’s apparently what it means.

Keith: No. What phrase are you using here?

Nehemia: I’m not going there.

Keith: You’re just not going to do it?

Nehemia: I’m not going to do it.

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: But I do think it’s significant. Look, in the Israelite mentality, the idea that God is frail and limited, like a human being, it’s just ridiculous. To the point where, literally, he’s making fun of them. But the Canaanites believe their gods had needs and desires just like people; they ate and they got drunk and they slept. One of the examples that comes to mind, for me, is when I studied archaeology, we learned the story of Utnapishtim, and you know that more commonly as the story of Gilgamesh, maybe. It’s the Babylonian flood story. It tells the Babylonian’s flood story… why did the gods destroy the earth with a flood? Because the humans were making too much noise and it bothered them. It distracted them. So they had to get rid of the humans. The true God is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient.

Keith: Come on with that.

Nehemia: He’s everywhere, all-powerful and all-knowing. He doesn’t sleep; He can’t be distracted by a conversation. I say that because one of those words there, si’ach, means he’s in a conversation, or he’s off in the bushes. God, He’s everything. He’s all places, everywhere and all-knowing. So for the Canaanite, God is just ridiculous. It doesn’t matter how much power and what kind of show you put on with your dancing around and you’re cutting yourselves.

No, look, think about it - they’re cutting themselves, they’re showing incredible faith. Let’s give them credit for that. Think about how much faith it takes for you to take a knife, especially back then when they didn’t have tetanus shots, and I’m not joking about that - you could die from a simple cut. So they took a knife and they’d cut themselves and shed blood to show, “Look, we love you. How much do we love you, Baal? I love you this much,” and they’d cut in their own flesh causing themselves to bleed.

Rather than being impressed, Elijah’s looking at this and he’s saying “This is ridiculous. You guys believe in a God who sleeps? You guys believe in a God who eats and drinks and gets drunk? No! God is not like that. He’s not bothered by noise. He’s not distracted. That’s just not how it works. It doesn’t matter how much faith you show in your God, you still have a ridiculous religion. It’s a faith based on lies. And so it doesn’t matter that you have great faith in the lie, it’s still a lie.”

Keith: That’s why I think that Elijah's doing something that’s so interesting, that he basically is going to them and he’s saying - and let me just use the English here since you don’t want to go too far - he’s basically saying, “This is how you see your God. Speak with a louder voice maybe he can’t hear it, maybe he’s occupied or he’s gone aside; maybe he’s on a journey. He’s busy. He can’t be everywhere at one time. Or perhaps he’s asleep. He can’t understand all things. Our Father, our God in heaven doesn’t sleep nor does he slumber.”

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: But basically, Elijah comes at him from that perspective. He’s saying, “Look, this is who your God is? Maybe this is who your God is. He’s this; he's this; he’s this…” So what do they do? They cry with a louder voice, and they cut themselves even more, and they do this until blood gushes out. “When midday was past, they raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice; but there was no voice,” it says, “no one answered, and no one paid attention.”

These three verses - it’s like Elijah is going right at the core. “This is what you believe? Okay, where is this God that you believe? Maybe these are the things that happened. He’s busy. He’s working.” I mean I just think it’s phenomenal the way that he hits them right at the core of who they see their god is.

Nehemia: Right. Despite all that… And look, so in a way, this is actually really significant. There’s this theological battle going on.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: In a way, the Canaanites are saying, “Look, our god’s more real. He’s like us. He feels like us. He bleeds like us. He sleeps like us. He goes through these human frail experiences like we do. Your God, he’s some invisible fantasy that you have in your head.” This is how the Canaanites saw the Israelites. And so he’s saying, “Oh, yes, your god is so much like you? Let’s see him do something. What can he do? If he’s so much like us, let him show himself. Let him show his power.” In the end, he’s just an idea in their heads. They have an idea of him being like this frail human, but he’s not real. It’s only the God of Israel who can do anything.

I want us to make a little side point about the cutting themselves, and I’ve got this study on my website,, about shaving. There’s this passage in Leviticus, which the Rabbis will tell you, “Well, you’re allowed to shave, but only with an electric razor, not like a sharp razor, a straight razor, or a Gillette.” It goes back to this verse that talks about Canaanite mourning practices, that when they were sad they would cut themselves, and this was a ritual cutting.

What’s interesting is that these are Sidonians, the significance of… I called them Canaanites, they actually, in their own literature, refer to themselves as Canaanites. What’s significant about it is the Israelites pretty much conquered the Canaanites and drove them out of Israel, except in Lebanon. Lebanon was this mountain range which was very difficult to get to, and it just wasn’t possible to conquer them. You couldn’t move armies through there. For the Israelites, it wasn’t practical and so they left the Canaanites there. And really, throughout history, the Canaanites were never fully driven out or conquered from Lebanon.

To this very day, there are Canaanites in Lebanon who are called Shiites, which is a sect of Islam. But the Shiites in Lebanon, to this day, will mourn over the death of their founder, who is the grandson of Mohammed, a guy named Hussein, the son of Ali. And they literally will cut themselves with swords. You can look it up online and see it. It’s called the Ashura ceremony. They’re really distressed, they’re sad. When they’re cutting themselves it’s not just a ritual. They’re sad over the death of this man, who they believe was martyred, Hussein. They’re so sad, they show their faith and how deep their faith and commitment is and their sadness by cutting themselves with swords.

The fact that this survived in all places, Lebanon, and now it’s moved to other places as well, because of the spread of Shiism, but to me, that’s astounding - that this ancient Canaanite practice being described in 1 Kings 18, you can go on YouTube and watch it.

Keith: And see it, too.

Nehemia: Imagine that! That’s incredible!

Keith: That’s amazing. Well, here’s what happens, Nehemia, and this is a question.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: This is the question, it says “Elijah took twelve stones,” basically, it’s to have the evening sacrifice, “‘Come near to me.’ All the people came, and he repaired the altar to Yehovah.” Now, it says, “He took twelve stones…”

Nehemia: Whoa.

Keith: I’m going to go back to it. Hold on.

Nehemia: You skipped the last word.

Keith: I’m going to get back to it. “And he repaired the altar to Yehovah which had been torn down.”

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: It says, “Elijah took twelve stones according to the number of tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of Yehovah had come, saying, ‘Israel shall be your name.’” Now, the question becomes, where was this altar? When was this altar? Where does it say to have this altar to Yehovah that was on Mount Carmel? Where did it come from? Do we have another situation where we’re talking about a statement where we don’t know where it was?

Nehemia: Well, there are a couple issues here for me. First of all, the altar has been destroyed.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: It says, literally, “heharus,” “that was destroyed,” or “you have torn down.” So, who destroyed it? One suggestion is that actually in verse 26 it was destroyed by these prophets of Baal. It says, “And they were hopping around the altar which he made.” Usually people understand this to say, “Well, they made this altar for themselves, and they’re hopping around their altar.” But it doesn't say, “which they made,” it says, “which he made.”

Keith: “Which he made.”

Nehemia: Some people have suggested, and I’m pretty sure this is the standard Jewish explanation, that they were doing their dance, and in their dance, they intentionally went and trashed his altar.

Keith: There it is. That’s right.

Nehemia: Which is very possible. But anyway, it still leaves the question, how is it when the Temple is standing in Jerusalem that Elijah has an altar on Mount Carmel? And this goes back to what’s a complicated question…

Keith: Is it fair to say it’s Elijah? In other words, you would say that “he” is Elijah?

Nehemia: Absolutely. Meaning, it doesn’t have to be, but I think it is.

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: Many others have said that too, so I’m not the first one. I think that’s the standard explanation, actually. But going back to verse 30, he's repairing the altar of Yehovah. So what is this altar doing on Mount Carmel?

Keith: That’s what we’re trying to do.

Nehemia: How do you have an altar on Mount Carmel at a time when we have an altar in Jerusalem? If we look at Leviticus 17 and Deuteronomy 12, we’re commanded only to bring sacrifices in the place where Yehovah chooses to put His name.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Specifically in Leviticus 17, and this is significant because we’ve got Passover coming up, and I’ll hear about people who’ll say, “I want to offer my Passover lamb in North Carolina. I want to offer my Passover lamb in my city, in my village, in my country.” We’re told in Deuteronomy 16, specifically in reference to the Passover, it says, “You may not offer it in one of your gates.” Let me read you this verse. This is important in the context, Deuteronomy 16:2 it says, “And you shall slaughter the Passover to Yehovah your God,” et cetera, “in the place which Yehovah will choose to cause His name to dwell there.”

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: Et cetera, et cetera, and skipping to verse 5, “You will not be allowed, you are not permitted to slaughter the Passover in one of your gates which Yehovah your God gives you.” In the book of Deuteronomy, “gates” often means cities, because each city had a major gate, and then they would set up little altars in those gates. He’s saying, “No altars and no gates, you must not do that.” The point is that… the first Passover in Egypt was in everybody’s house, but from Deuteronomy 16 on that would no longer be allowed. It could only be in the one place where Yehovah chose to put His name, which today we call the Temple. There was originally the Tabernacle, and then it was replaced with the Temple in the time of King David. Then from the time of King David on, the only place in the world where someone was allowed to bring a sacrifice was to the Temple.

Now, the Rabbis struggled with this question, and specifically they struggled with the question of all these stories about people bringing sacrifices in Bethlehem and at Mitzpe. They say, “What’s going on here?” We have the altar at Shiloh and they say, “Well, Shiloh was destroyed, and in that intermediate period where the Tabernacle was destroyed, before the Temple was built, then they were allowed to have high places,” and they actually used that word, the high places were permitted, but when the Temple was built then they were not allowed. This is the rabbinical hypothesis, that then the high places were not allowed.

It still doesn’t explain the Elijah story. And so the Rabbis pull out what we call the rabbinical nuclear option, and they say it’s “hora’at sha’ah.” He did this at the time because it was necessary for the purpose. I think they’re right. Meaning, in a sense, he could have said, “Look, we can’t have a confrontation because we’ve got to go to Jerusalem and there’s another King there and we’ll have to have a war with that King just to be able to have a showdown between the prophets of Baal and the prophets of Yehovah.” He could have done that. But then Yehovah would have never had an opportunity to show the people, “Look, I can do this. I can show you that I’m a real God who has real power.” And so under those circumstances, in a sense, you could say, and I hate to say it, but in a sense, he suspended the laws of the Torah.

Keith: You know we talked about this before, where we’ll see a situation happen, we’ll say, “Wait, why did that happen? That’s outside of what the Torah says.”

Nehemia: Right.

Keith: We talked about it before, I can’t remember off the top of my head which one it was. But when I look at this I think, okay, so we could argue all the way up to the point where it’s time for God to show up.

Nehemia: Right. Exactly.

Keith: We could argue from now until our faces turn purple.

Nehemia: If we had this story and God didn’t show up and send the fire down, we could legitimately ask, “Maybe what Elijah did was wrong.” But the story… it’s game over. If what Elijah did, Yehovah acknowledged it, then it’s true. And look, I want to be really careful here; we have the commandment in Deuteronomy 4 verse 2 and 12:32, “Do not add and do not take away.”

Keith: “Do not take away.”

Nehemia: He’s not adding or taking away, but under these circumstances, to show the power of God, he is essentially doing something that technically is outside of the Torah. It doesn’t dot the I’s and cross the T’s. In that respect, what it tells me is Elijah wasn’t legalistic.

Keith: Well, we were talking, do you remember we were talking…

Nehemia: Can I get an Amen for that?

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: And then the keyword for me is the word, “and he repaired.”

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: We did talk about this, and the word “repaired,” literally in Hebrew is “healed.” We have the same word used in this ritual context, meaning there was a sacrifice that was being done, and it was not being done according to the strict commandments of the Torah, in 2 Chronicles chapter 30 verse 20, and we have that same word, it says, “Yehovah healed Israel’s rebelliousness when they’re offering this…” or that’s actually in Hosea 14:5. It says, “Yehovah heals Israel’s rebelliousness when they offer prayer in place of sacrifices.”

So here we have these different situations where people can fulfill the will of God and the commandments of God, even though it doesn’t technically fulfill all of the rules and stipulations and technicalities of the Torah. But now, we’re in a new situation that the Torah didn’t describe. In this new situation, he’s saying, “In this situation, I’m going to allow it because it glorifies the name of Yehovah and His power.”

Keith: You know it’s something, I would like to challenge people to go through this again. There’s the phrase in 1 Kings 18:31. He says, “He took twelve stones according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of Yehovah had come, saying, ‘Israel shall be your name.’” And it’s like this is just there. It’s like, you can go to that story and you’re like, “Wow.” So what’s the connection between that and what’s happening with Elijah?

Then he goes on, “So with the stones he built an altar in the name Yehovah, and he made a trench around the altar large enough to hold two measures of seed. Then he arranged the wood and cut the ox in pieces and laid it on the wood.” This is going through great detail. Then he said, ‘Fill four pitchers with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.’ And he said, ‘Do it a second time,’ and they did it a second time. And he said, ‘Do it a third time,’ and they did it a third time.” It’s like Elijah’s saying, “look, I’m going to show” - and again, if the argument was “None of this ever happened,” we could say, well, look, Elijah, he’s just doing his own thing here. He’s having his own party. But he’s saying, “Do it a third time.”

And then, “The water flowed around the altar and he also filled the trench with water. And then at the time of the offering of the evening,” oh, it says the evening sacrifice, of the sacrifice we knew earlier was going to be in the evening, “Elijah the prophet came and said, ‘O Yehovah, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things,’” then it says three little things in English, “at Your word.” Now, where did it say… In other words, here’s another example where obviously there’s something going on.

Nehemia: Well, he said, “I stood before Yehovah.”

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: He got these instructions. This wasn’t on his own initiative.

Keith: Exactly. I think that’s the thing that’s so powerful about this story - that Yehovah is speaking… I mean, He loves these people so much. Do you get the picture, Nehemia? 850 prophets of Baal and people that are following the nonsense, and Yehovah goes through all of this for these people? I mean, I don’t know. I mean I read this story, and I just think, “Man, what does this say about His patience, His love, His compassion and His care for His people.”

Nehemia: You know what it tells me? That God is more patient than we are. Because I really could see people reading this story with the legalistic mentality that we have, condemning Elijah and saying, “Elijah was a sinner, he was a false prophet, he built an altar outside of Jerusalem; he sinned against Yehovah, and he’s worthy of death. He should not be listened to as a prophet.” And if you want to go down that route, you’re just missing it. All of that is a bunch of words until the fire comes down and consumes the sacrifice. I just have to read verse 37. Can I do that?

Keith: Please read 37.

Nehemia: He says, “Aneni Yehovah. Aneni.” I love those words. “Answer me, Yehovah. Answer me.” That's exactly what they said to Baal. They said, “HaBaal anenu.” “O Baal, answer us.” He says to Yehovah, “Aneni Yehovah. Aneni, and this people will know that you, Yehovah, are God.” “Ki ata Yehovah haElohim.” “And You have turned their hearts back,” I guess to You. “And a fire of Yehovah fell,” literally is what it says, “and it consumed the burnt offering and the wood…”

Keith: So quickly you go past the last part of that verse?

Nehemia: Which part?

Keith: What do you mean? “You have turned their heart back again.”

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: What does that picture say?

Nehemia: Yehovah had mercy. Yehovah could have just said, “You guys want to worship Baal? I’m out of here. Who cares about you?” Instead, He sent His prophet to turn them back to Him, and He put it in their hearts. He turned their hearts back to Him. That’s grace that Yehovah said, “Look, I love them that much. I can’t just abandon them.”

Keith: You see the picture, though. It says, “And You turn their heart,” It’s like taking their heart and switching…

Nehemia: Yes, turning it back.

Keith: Turning it backward. It’s like physically, He’s going to do this thing where He’s going to write His Torah on their hearts. I mean the picture of what He does.

Nehemia: Come on preach that!

Keith: It’s amazing. But then, of course, here comes the key - well, I think it’s the key - is that then the answer comes, “The fire of Yehovah fell and consumed the offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water,” and what was Baal…

Nehemia: Isn’t that awesome?

Keith: Baal, the big storm god, the water god, doing all this stuff, and Yehovah comes in, just takes all that, gone, it’s just gone. We’re not even addressing that anymore; He just takes it. Then, here comes this phrase, Nehemia. We were on tour three years ago. If you haven’t seen the Open Door Series, folks, please get a chance, you can go, and watch the Open Door Series. There’s this section where we talk about “Yehovah hu HaElohim.” “Yehovah, He is God,” and I just think, wow, what a phrase. What an amazing phrase.

Nehemia: Yes. It’s actually referenced back to something in Deuteronomy, when the Israelite says, “Yehovah hu HaElohim,” “Yehovah, He is God,” that’s the literal translation, it references Deuteronomy chapter 4:35, and then again in 39, where it says in 35, “You have shown to know,” literally it says, “that ki Yehovah hu HaElohim.” “That Yehovah, He is God.” It’s the same phrase there. And then it says, “ein od milvado,” “There is no other besides Him.”

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: Then in verse 39, it jumps ahead, it says, “And you shall know today,” this is in Deuteronomy 4, “and you shall turn back your heart.” Isn’t that interesting? It’s a slightly different word, but it’s the same concept, “that ki Yehovah hu HaElohim.” “That Yehovah, He is God.” “bashamayim mime’al ve’al ha’aretz mitachat,” “In heaven above and in the earth below, ein od, there is no other.”

Keith: There ain’t no other.

Nehemia: So when you say, “Yehovah is God,” there ain’t no other, there is no other. I just want something really quick about “fire from heaven”, and people can do this on their own - go look at three different verses which describe fire coming down from heaven and consuming a sacrifice. One is in the time of Moses, Moshe, Leviticus 9:24. Next, in the time of David, 1 Chronicles 21:26. Finally, in the time of Solomon 2 Chronicles chapter 7 verse 1. In the time of Nechemiah, who I’m named after, Nehemiah in the Bible, there was, according to the Second Book of Maccabees, I have a study about this called, “The Ancient Hebrew Sources of Hanukkah,” where I talked about… in 2 Maccabees it talks about there was sort of a mini-miracle with fire in the time of Nehemiah, but fire didn’t come down from heaven, and they were disappointed.

But this is what happened in these biblical times, in the First Temple times and before, that in these four instances fire came down from heaven, and according to some sources a fifth time, with Cain and Abel, and I think we talked about that once. But clearly four times, explicitly, fire came down from heaven to show that Yehovah has accepted these sacrifices.

Keith: Well, also if people can take a look here at these, just a quick phrase on Yehovah hu HaElohim in Deuteronomy 4:35, 4:39, 2 Chronicles 33:13, 1 Kings 18:39, 1 Kings 8:60, where you’re using this phrase. It’s one of these things that I never get used to being able to say it, Yehovah hu HaElohim. Yehovah, He is God and there is no other. It’s an amazing phrase. It’s an amazing statement of fact. Nehemia, we’re going to try our best over the next… how long is it going to be, two weeks? To do something that’s going to take… You know, we need Yehovah to step in for us.

Nehemia: We absolutely do.

Keith: I want to take a minute. We talked a little bit about this today with your mother, and I was really excited, folks, I was sharing with Nehemia’s mother, when he uses the word “ministry” how sometimes that’s been a word… we kind of say, who owns that word? He did a really phenomenal thing today talking about what the word ministry is. But I think about it as - I always thought about it as the word “service”. I was talking to your mother about if she was aware of how many people around the world actually are now a part of your ministry. When I say “a part of,” they’re reaping the benefits; they’re getting so much from you. So I wanted to take a moment, because we didn’t do this yet, a moment for you to share a little bit about that. I’ll share a little bit, and then we can move on. But we really do...

Nehemia: You can go first.

Keith: Oh, okay. Well, I’ve actually… it’s really something, Nehemia. We were recording Prophet Pearls, and I was saying, “I’m going to go to Africa, and I’ll be back from Africa, and then I’ll be in China.” I just have to say, as I’m sitting here in Israel right now, just how amazing it is, you know we said that we wanted to inspire people around the world to build a biblical foundation for their faith, and now I’m watching this happen in ways that are just absolutely amazing. People can go to our site,, on the front page they can click and go to the blogs where there are a number of updates about what’s going on. They can see the preliminary introductory episodes to... I don’t know how many different series we have.

But there are some things that are going to be announced from Israel that I’m very excited about, so I’m going to hold off on that. I mostly just want people to know that right now it’s working. People around the world are being inspired, and we are able to do everything that we can to help them be inspired to build a biblical foundation for their faith. So I invite you to go to, there’s a bunch of options of things that you can do, but mostly just to go there and to see what’s happening has been humbling. Doors are being opened, literally, in different parts of the world, and it’s just exciting to see God answer our prayer and the vision is coming to pass.

Nehemia: Halleluyah. Yes. What I’ve been doing is, and I call it ministry, and I want to address this to some of my Jewish brothers and sisters, because they hear that word “ministry” and they immediately think, “Oh, that’s a word that we hear Christians use. So ministry means you’re a Christian.” Not at all. So ministry is actually a concept we have in Hebrew. It’s a phrase, “lesharet bakodesh”, which means to perform service in the holy. You’ll read in biblical scholars speaking about the ministry of Elijah, and the ministry of Elisha, and the ministry of Moses. Really, all it means is to serve Yehovah, and to serve Yehovah in a way, for me, that empowers people with information. That’s really what my ministry has been about, is empowering people with information. For me, it’s not about, “I want people to follow me. I want people to listen to me.” It’s not about that at all. I’ve been blessed with information, and I want to share that with others so they can be empowered, and they can follow Yehovah through the knowledge that they gain.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: And encountering His word in the original Hebrew sources in which He revealed Himself. So that’s what my ministry, Makor Hebrew Foundation, is about. The “Makor” is the Hebrew word for “source.” People call it “maker.” I don’t understand that. “Maykor,” “maker,” No. The “Maker” Foundation.

Keith: “Maker.” “Nehemiah.”

Nehemia: “Nehemiah of the ‘Maker’ Foundation.” No, it’s Makor Hebrew Foundation, the Hebrew Source Foundation. Get back to the sources. You can go to, and we’ve got hundreds of hours of free teachings there, and videos, and some really great stuff. I get emails all the time from people who say, “You’ve changed my life. This is wonderful stuff.” That really blesses me. It blesses me because really all I wanted to do was… What that person doesn’t realize is that I didn’t change his life. He changed his life by accepting the information and taking it, and not just saying, “Oh, well, Nehemia said it,” but going and using the tools that I gave him and helped him develop to go check the information for himself and own it for himself. That’s what changed his life. And yes, I helped him with that by presenting him with the sources and helping him understand the sources. But ultimately, you’ve got to do it.

I really want to give a thank you out there. Over the last year my ministry has really flourished and been blessed, and it’s not because of anything I did, it’s because of what all you guys have done out there. I want to thank you for being part of this ministry and blessing me.

Keith: Well, here we are, Nehemia, this is the first of a whole bunch that we’re going to do. We’re here at the secret safe house. We’re going to try our best, if we can stay healthy and stay focused, to just continue to share the Prophet Pearls, exploring biblical prophecy for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Do you have anything else you want to say?

Nehemia: I want to end in prayer. Can I do that?

Keith: Absolutely. You do that.

Nehemia: I want to pray this prayer of Elijah in 1 Kings 18:37. “Anenu Yehovah. Anenu.” “Answer us, Yehovah. Answer us.” “Veyedu ha’am hazeh,” “and let this people know,” “ki ata Yehovah HaElohim.” “For you, Yehovah, are God.” The one and only God. “ein od,” “There is none beside you. “Ein milvadcha,” “There is none but you.” “Ve’ata Yehovah,” turn our hearts around towards You, Yehovah. We need You to do this. We ask You to do this. Yehovah, please be with us here in this room, in the side of this mountain, in the city where You have placed Your name forever.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Please, Yehovah, let us offer these words to You and come before You and speak words that empower people with information so they can come before You and that You can touch their hearts and You can turn their hearts back. Yehovah, please be with Keith and give him healing as he deals with his China Syndrome. Yehovah, please give us safety here in the land and let the fire of Yehovah come down.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: And consume our hearts so that we can offer ourselves up for You, Yehovah.

Keith: Amen.

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

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

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Image courtesy of the Digital Image Archive, Pitts Theology Library, Candler School of Theology, Emory University.

  • Klodjana Keco says:

    Yes, Nehemia- God is using you to change the life of hundreds, even thousands. You are so blessed! I pray that all your publications will be blessed with the spirit of Yehovah!

  • Steve Starr says:

    I would not even thought about this except I listened to someone today who made a big-deal out of the word “dust” (a Rabbinic commentary) in verse 38. So I looked at the Hebrew version and found וְאֶת-הֶעָפָר which my Hebrew-to-English program translated as “and the dirt” rather than dust. Does anyone know what it translates to from Biblical Hebrew?

  • UKJ says:

    Alter and Mount Carmel

    At the time the 10 Northern Tribes had been separated from the House of Judah. May this have been the reason for a separate alter?

  • Mandy Mulick says:

    Could I submit an idea for consideration. The discussion on whether Torah was suspended to allow a sacrifice outside of Torah.
    I wonder if i could be so bold as to submit a question?
    What about if it was judgement time? What about if YHVH showed the people what happens when a sacrifice is made that is not mandated? Nothing can stand. The consuming fire cleanses EVERYTHING that is offered. EVERYTHING is judged, consumed, destroyed. I highly doubt that anything is left behind to fellowship with. There will be no fellowship with YHVH if his prescribed method is not followed to a T. What about if YHVH came in judgment against every authority that raised itself or was raised up above YHVHs statutes and ordinances.?? To me that bears consideration. Love you guys!

  • Janice says:

    ‘In the name of'” (name; meaning the authority, power, essense, character) of Yehovah. Passover the houses, could more culturally mean, passover the threshold of the house, each dwelling place had a threshold with a bowl or SAF, in the threshold, to welcome a guest, we’d go choose an animal, slaughter it, and pour out the blood into the SAFF, and the guest was to step over the threshold to show honor to the house, to tramble the threshold was dishonor.The door posts of Eqypt was covered in symblols of many gods, could call them household gods, those which provided, protected them; so to follow Yehoval, blood from the SAF is used to wipe off the idols of the home, that Yehovah is the ONE True God you are to follow, out the house and to a promomised land.

  • Janice says:

    I once knew a man who said, I don’t know why anyone would choose a peeve for a pet’.

  • walter schwenk says:

    I wish the segment could have covered verse 42, the prayer of eliyah. Since learning to pray as he, with face between knees, bowed to the earth, I have learned what the shalom of Yah is.

  • Cindy says:

    I could see you two as the 2 end time prophets.
    In this day when The False prophet is saying all the gods worshipped by the world are the same god. Your message of THE NAME of THE ONE TRUE ELOHIM is of utmost importance for many will be decieved.

  • David says:

    Your picture of the Ark has the staves in the sides but they should be in the ends. Does God go down the path sideways? Solomon put the Ark in his temple and pulled the staves back so they could not be seen. That can’t be done if the staves are in the sides.

  • Yes I’ll say it too, WOW! This Torah Pearls is “PACKED” full. Definitely going to require listening again.

    I wanted to make a comment about you Nehemiah making plausible conclusions concerning Obadiah’s history. My personal definition of “wisdom” is; “the ability to take that which is seen to see the unseen”. Rom 1:20. Isn’t this an example of what you did with this man Obadiah? You Nehemiah, have the potential to be a very wise man. I believe your level of knowledge with applied heart is something Almighty God can build upon. You also have a wise friend to help. We all need a wise friend. I know it’s scary! I know. Venture in only if you truly believe YHVH wants you to be truely wise. Then you can lean on him to give you “wisdom from above”. There is that which comes from below. That must be made aware of also for juxtaposing without adherence. Yahushuah said to one, “are you a master in Israel and know not these things?” Do you wish to know? Do you want to be wise? Paul the “sent one” was a very wise man of YHVH. Lets see what our God will do with you.

    I’m sorry for all the trouble you two have had as you press through with these Prophet Pearl sections. I am so happy you are. Thanks be to Almighty God and you two men along with the Partners to make it happen. So be it, me

  • Aron Brackeen says:

    Thank you! I was intrigued by Nehemia’s mention of the Talmudic record about a certain 1st century “Sinner” of Israel when discussing the “troubler of Israel” (18:17). In exchange for vestiges of pre-torn toilet paper, and not unlike Elijah’s extra-Torah altar, maybe what Moses hoped for in his day (Numbers 11:26-29) was accomplished by that ‘great sinner’ at another time (Rev 1:5-6; 1 Peter 2:5,9). Thereby it seems perfectly precedented that holy anointing oil of a different mixture be used by, for, and among the holy priesthood mentioned therein. (See related Torah Pearls comment on that page.)

  • Tammi McAfee says:

    Love,love love you all!!!! (((Hugs)))
    Love the pic with your bike!!!!

  • Ben Meleck says:

    Interesting picture you chose. The Altar is made of cut stone. Of course this could be the altar of the priests of Baal.

    • Gary Michaels says:

      It was drawn many centuries after the fact, judging by the look of it. Since they are pouring water on it, I presume that it’s not intended to represent the altar used by the priests of baal. As should be expected, it was created by someone not intimately familiar with the Tanakh.

      Personally, I find the use of such pictures distracting and disturbing since many people give them too much credence. While not technically a ‘graven’ image, the effect is often the same.

  • Daniel Herman says:

    Hey guys, KEEP READING! 1kings 18:40 Then Elijah ordered them,”Seize the prophets of Baal! Do not let even one of them escape.” So they seized them, and Elijah brought them down to the wadi Kishon and slaughtered them there.
    Wow, how does one man kill 850 men by hand? With a NATION standing behind him! I love that Israel stands boldly in DIRECT opposition to the very prophets that they had become subject to, when they witnessed the fire of YHVH! May it be in OUR day, that YHVH emboldens Israel to STAND against the prophets of Baal.
    That was my new all time favorite prophet pearls! Great work guys!

  • Karen Powell says:

    Maybe, An alter of Abraham, Issac,or Jacob. As you see multiple times. They repeatedly built alters and wells in varying places. Before Moses.Just because they don’t name who the he was. At that time, Elijah is rebuilding and the people at that time had a concept of who believed enough to have built it and believed. But watch out for fire coming down again in the future. The Disciples mentioned bringing fire down and they were warned against it. Next, guy who does it is the Wrong Guy! Don’t be deceived by him.

  • Karen Powell says:

    The Livestock are very important.Horses(war)and donkeys(war gear or priest, elderly, food/forage transport-harvest stompers) are very important as elements of war, peace, and survival. The nations physical survival is important and could be dependent on these animals. Humans may be important also but how can you travel vast areas or pull wagons or transport great amounts of food with? Without them the people could be destroyed by war and starvation especially at the time of drought. ox are strong but slow transporters. they are not energy efficient. Man who straddles fence may one day fall and hurt self. The cutting also releases endorphins-which in turn while on the outside might look messy. Will also reducing the actual pain response. (That’s one reason- why the chemical is released for survival to escape a predator during fight and flight).These guys could have been in a form of group hysteria/ecstasy as well. YHVH doesn’t need a grand show.

  • Katrina Rahn says:

    So Fabulous! I THANK YAHOVAH for you all and all your work.

    Are you opposed to doing this very same thing with the Brit Chadashah?