Prophet Pearls #42 – Matot (Jeremiah 1:1-2:3)

Almond branch in the Valley of Elah. Photo by Nehemia Gordon. In this episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Matot, covering Jeremiah 1:1-2:3. Gordon and Johnson provide copious context for the life and times of Jeremiah and the heart-wrenching message he delivered to Jerusalem. The word-of-the-week is “shoked” (shin, qoof, dalet). Its expressions of “almond branch” and “diligence” provide a lesson in creative destruction and an example of a classic Hebrew word pun. Gordon closes with a prayer based on the last verse of the portion—thanking Yehovah for protecting the first fruits of his harvest in Jerusalem, in Israel, and throughout the world.

Photo by Nehemia Gordon.

"The word of Yehovah came to me: What do you see, Jeremiah? I replied: I see a branch of an almond tree." Jeremiah 1:11

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Prophet Pearls #42 - Matot (Jeremiah 1:1-2:3)

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 back to Prophet Pearls, this is Keith Johnson with Nehemia Gordon on a 2-part series! That’s right folks, this week and next week they didn’t mess around, they gave us the entire passage in context! We are in the book of Jeremiah, and I love it when you can start not only at the beginning of a chapter, but the beginning of a book.

So there’s no way we’re going to talk about this session without giving some context. Nehemia, we’re in the land of the prophets. Jeremiah didn’t live far from here, he actually walked these streets where we’ve been. Boy oh boy, let’s get right into this, but before we start, I’m going to put you on the… You’re from the Hebrew University, I’m sure you must’ve studied - what’s Jeremiah’s name? What does his name mean? Where does he come from? What’s the context? What time of the history is Jeremiah in? Come on! I’m asking you to do it.

Nehemia: We talked about what his name means, I’m sure we did. Yermiyahu is, “Yehovah will lift up”. Yarim-yahu. Yermiyahu is “Yehovah will lift up”. And actually there was a king of Israel, wasn’t there, who had a similar name? Who had the name Yehoram, which is… actually there were two kings. One of Israel and one of Judah, named Joram, or Yehoram, which is the same name as Jeremiah, just backwards.

You know, when you have that Yud-Hei-Vav of God’s name at the beginning it’s always Yeho, and at the end of a name it’s always yahu, of these compound names. So Yehoram and Yermiyahu are the same exact name - Yehovah will lift up.

And where was he from? I don’t need to go to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to know where he’s from. It says in the words of Yermiyahu the son of Hilkiyahu from the kohanim, from the priests who were in Anatot, in the land of Benjamin. Where is Anatot? That’s in modern-day Israel... Actually, today it’s a neighborhood in Jerusalem called Pisgat Ze’ev.

Keith: Pisgat Ze’ev!

Nehemia: And inside, or within the area next to that, part of that is a place called Anata, is the modern name of Anatot, so it’s actually about 5 kilometers, or 3 miles from ancient Jerusalem, but it’s actually within the borders of modern day Jerusalem, Anatot, in the land of Benjamin. And I’m pretty sure we talked about how there was a priest in the time of David, who then under Solomon went and supported Solomon’s brother Adoniyahu, his name was Evyatar, and he was a descendant of Eli, the priest from Shilo, and so Evyatar was banished to Anatot rather than serving in the Temple.

And so perhaps Yermiyahu, or Jeremiah, is a descendant of Eli and Evyatar, we don't know. But he definitely is from the same town as the kohanim who are in Anatot in the land of Benjamin. And ancient Jerusalem actually was on the border between Judah and Benjamin, so modern-day Jerusalem - a large part of it - is in the land of Benjamin.

In what period did he prophesy? Again, I don’t need to go to the Hebrew University to know that it was in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the 13th year of his reign. So I could tell you from my… and also in the days of Yehoyakim the son of Yoshiyahu, of Josiah, until the 12th year of Tzidkiyahu. So basically, Josiah, who was the king, his famous action was around the year 621 BCE. I don’t know where they get that 621 BCE, but that's what the scholars assigned it to. They call this the reform of Josiah. Josiah was the king who discovered, or his high priest, named Hilkiyahu or Hilkiah, hence the name of my publisher, Hilkiah Press. Hilkiah discovered this Torah in the Temple after Josiah had ordered for the Temple to be renovated, and then he hears the Torah read and he tears his clothes and he says, “Wait, we’ve been sinning, we didn’t know we were sinning.”

So it’s during the reign of this same Josiah that Jeremiah starts to prophesy, and he continues into the reign of Josiah’s son… two of his sons Yehoyakim and Tzidkiyahu. And actually, interestingly in this introduction here in the first 3 verses of Jeremiah there's someone who I just am noticing for the first time is not mentioned, and that is the second-to-last king of Israel, whose name is Yehoyakhin - or was he the third-to-last? I always get that confused. But they are actually not mentioning him, even though he’s mentioned later in the Book of Jeremiah. That's a whole discussion unto itself. So yeah, that’s Jeremiah.

Keith: Well, I want to say this: when I’m reading this, and as we prepare, it’s like I said - one of the things that's a little frustrating about Prophet Pearls is that we’re committed to do the portions that have been selected, and every once in a while Nehemia goes beyond and does a little more, a little after, a little before, and every once in a while I get caught up and say, “Well, we can't talk unless we talk about this…”

But basically it’s a little bit frustrating, because I know there are so many people that are listening. Some of the people who do are very familiar with the Prophets, but there are many people, Nehemia, that aren’t familiar with the Prophets, and a lot of the reasons is that sometimes people read the Prophets but they don't ever go into any depths to kind of find out what is going on.

Well, I think this is just one of those great examples, where we get to understand, though we’ve done several sections in Jeremiah, now we’re going back to the beginning. This is actually the beginning of his process. So talking about him, a son of Hilkiah, and I think about this - I think about what that town must have been like. I don't know if that was the town of the priest, or if there were many priests there, or only priests there, but definitely Jeremiah comes from that household. So think about that. That’s his context.

When you when you talk about your context regarding Rabbinical teaching, it isn’t like you just came along one day and said, “You know, let me tell you what I think about the issue with the rabbis.” You actually grew up in a family with a rabbi. And that, if I can say, has helped inform you on how you have approached Scripture and whatever you’re doing now. The point is, that that’s where you come from, and so when I think about Jeremiah and reading the books like we talk about - language, history and context, there are times when I’m reading in Jeremiah I have to be reminded, this is where he comes from, this is who he is. This is who his father was, and this is the context for which he was prophesying. So I think this is one of the great introductions for Prophets, because it gives you Jeremiah, it gives you his father, it gives you the context of his teaching, it gives you the kings that he was actually under, and you know, wow. I think it’s pretty interesting.

Nehemia: And to me the context here is… There’s something tragic about living in Anatot as a kohen, as a priest. So Anatot is basically like two hills over from the Temple Mount. And imagine if on Yom Kippur… we’re given this description in the writings of the rabbis about the ceremony on Yom Kippur, at least how it was in Second Temple times, where they would have the high priest, and he would come out and pray a certain prayer which was actually based… it wasn’t so much a prayer, it was a recitation of these passages from Leviticus 16. And as a part of the recitation he would proclaim the name of Yehovah ten times.

And we’re told in these writings that the high priest would come out, doing the sacrifice, he would proclaim the name of Yehovah, and it wasn’t just something that went by really quickly and easily. Whenever he would proclaim that name, there was this pause and the entire congregation standing there in the Temple would bow down on their hands and knees and they would proclaim “Baruch shem kevod malkhuto le’olam va’ed”. Blessed is the glorious name of His kingdom, forever.

And imagine - you’re Jeremiah in Anatot, and your family has been banished from serving in the Temple, but on Yom Kippur you could actually hear it. I mean, it would echo through the hills, and it’s far enough away that you can’t be involved, but it’s close enough that you could actually hear it echoing through the hills, and you would hear the congregation proclaiming, “Blessed is the glorious name of His kingdom,” and you know that the priests are there in the Temple offering the service, and you’re sitting there in your exile. You’re in the land, but you’re exiled from service in the Temple because you remember what happened in the time of Eli and his sons, and that whole situation, and with Evyatar and essentially betraying the Messiah, the king of Israel, Solomon. And you backed the wrong Messiah [laughing] so your family was banished to Anatot. Imagine you’re close enough to hear it, but you can’t be involved. There is this tragedy in Jeremiah, even in his past, in his background, and in some respects - wait a minute, this guy comes from Anatot? He’s banished and he shows up in Jerusalem and says, “You guys in the Temple, you’re sinning.”

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: I’ve got a message from the Creator of the universe…

Keith: That is the key…

Nehemia: It doesn’t matter if my family was banished, I’ve got the message because He called me into His presence.

Keith: And you know what’s interesting about that, Nehemia? When we get right into the call of Jeremiah, what you just brought up that I think is so powerful. So by knowing the context, you know Jeremiah… Again, people can just, “Jeremiah the prophet, Jeremiah the prophet.”

Nehemia: “Jeremiah was a bullfrog. He was a good friend of mine.” [laughing]

Keith: Jeremiah was banished, kicked out. You know what I mean? And now he’s going to do this, so before he does it, what does the Father do? This is really interesting to me.

Nehemia: He calls him.

Keith: But how does He call him? He calls him and He gives him what I call… let’s talk about it, let’s get right to it. “The word of Yehovah came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.’”

Now when you read verse 5, at least for me, when I read verse 5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” I immediately think about the Psalms. You know, like this idea of being knit together in the mother’s womb. And He’s coming to him and He’s giving this to Jeremiah, and Jeremiah says this, “Aha!” [laughing]

Nehemia: Alas! Whaat?

Keith: [laughing] Whaat? It says in the English Bible, in the NIV: “‘Ah, Sovereign LORD,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak…’” What does this remind you when you hear that, by the way? “I do not know how to speak”?

Nehemia: It reminds me of Moses.

Keith: Exactly. It reminds me of Moses also. And then he says, “I’m only a child.” Is there any way for us to know what he means by that?

Nehemia: To me it’s clear what he means. Yehovah is saying, “Look, I’ve chosen you as a prophet. Even before you were born, you were the one that I’ve appointed as a prophet to the nations.” And he hears this and he’s like, “Me from Anatot? My family was rejected, and I’m just a kid. There are high priests in Jerusalem, don’t bother me. What are you talking about?” And he’s like, “Look, I don’t know how to go before a crowd and speak, I’m just a little boy.” And it’s interesting, because what does his name mean? It means “Yehovah will lift him up”, and Yehovah is saying, “Look, I’m lifting you up, there’s no getting around this.”

Keith: Do we ever find out anything about Jeremiah’s age?

Nehemia: What do you have? I don’t think so.

Keith: No, we don’t. And so all we know is he says here, “I’m a child,” and then we don’t know what that means really, we don’t know how old he was or anything like that.

Nehemia: Well, he could be 42, and he’s thinking, “Look, there are old men there who are the elders, who am I to come before the elders and tell them they’re sinning, tell them they’re not following the word of God?”

Keith: Wow. And this is where we get into this conversation about the call. [laughing] Here’s what I love about the next verse. So, Yehovah says to him, “Don’t you say to me that you’re only a child!” [laughing]

Nehemia: Is that a quote?

Keith: Yes, it’s a quote.

Nehemia: That’s your paraphrase.

Keith: That’s my paraphrase. No, it’s what He says, “Do not say I am a youth or I am a…” in fact, let’s ask some questions, Nehemia. When Jeremiah says “child”, is it the same word that he uses for “child” here? I’m just throwing this out here.

Nehemia:Al tomar na’ar anokhi”. Don’t say “I’m a na’ar”. He says, “Ki na’ar anokhi.” Surely I’m a child. Same exact phrase. He says, “don’t say”. You know what this reminds me of? This reminds me of Isaiah 56. I know it’s a little off topic, but here is this phrase, “al tomar…” “do not say X, Y, Z.” And then Isaiah 56, we’ve got that passage we’ve both talked about many times.

Keith: [laughing] Here it comes, folks. Here comes Isaiah 56 for about the seventh time.

Nehemia: [laughing] I love this! Here we have a great example. He says in verse 3, “Al yomar ben hanekhar.” “Let not the son of the gentile who joins himself to Yehovah say,” “havdel yavdileni Yehovah me’al amo”, “Surely Yehovah has separated me from His people.” You must not say that if you’re a gentile, because you’re part of Yehovah’s people. Don’t say, “Oh, I’m not really part of God’s people.” That, where he’s saying here “don’t say I’m just a boy”, “Na’ar anokhi.” And that’s exactly what he just said. So He’s saying, “Don’t say that.” Why? “Ki el kol asher eshla’khakha telekh,” “for all that I will send you, you shall go.” “Ve’et kol asher atazvkha tedaber,” “and all that I command you, you will speak.”

Keith: Man, I love that. I love that phrase. I love that phrase! Because he’s saying, “Listen, I’m going to be the one to send you; go. I’m going to be the one to commands you; speak.” Now, here’s the beauty there for me. If He’s the one that’s sending - I’m going. And if He’s giving me a message - I’m speaking. It’s when you don’t feel like He’s the one that sent you, or when you don’t have a message from Him, that’s where I think there is an issue where we should be really careful. But when you know He sent you and when you know He’s giving you the message, He’s saying you’ve got to be able to go forward and speak. And then, when He gets to verse 8, He says – and isn’t this funny? Now is an example of fear versus seeing. Last week we talked about the seeing, and I was trying to bait you, and you wouldn’t be baited. But I was saying, “Look it’s, ‘see’”, here now we see.

Nehemia: By the way, if I want to ignore the vowels in Hebrew… If I want to say, “Oh, those vowels, those Masoretes just made them up,” I could read this and say, “Do not see…” [laughing] It doesn’t make any sense! Because the only difference here… actually the vowels wouldn’t even necessarily be different, it’s that what we call the historical Yud, which tells me that the root of the Yud… it’s a silent Yud, and that tells me that the root Yud-Reish-Alef and not Reish-Alef-Hei. Did we have a Word of the Week last week?

Keith: No, we didn’t have that last week, and I feel very bad about it, after we got done.

Nehemia: Uh oh, no, we have to have it. But I know what this week’s Word of the Week is.

Keith: You know, folks, I have to say something. Can I just throw something out to our Prophet Pearls Partners and everyone else? Basically, our Prophet Pearls Partners for this week are the Maccabees. They have already supported us on several occasions. You know, things have changed radically from when we first put this out there, and when we first put it out there we were on tour. We were telling people, “Look, we’re going to be going through these, we want to get your comments.” But I want to say to folks, even if you think, “Oh, I didn’t give my comments”, it’s really important. Can I say it again? It’s really important, when we’re going through these sections and it’s time to have comments, people around the world are reading the comments, so we want to challenge you to put your comments right at the comments of and Many, many, many people are reading those comments and we love to have the communication.

Nehemia: Amen. Join the conversation.

Keith: So do not be afraid of them.

Nehemia: Do not be afraid to post your comments.

Keith: “For I am with you to deliver you,” is what it says here. “‘For I am with you to deliver with you,’ ne’um Yehovah, sayeth Yehovah.” Then comes the fun part. Here comes the demonstration, Nehemia. Can you imagine this, now? Look, can you imagine this? And it says, “And then Yehovah stretched out His hand and touched my mouth.” Where do we get that at? Isaiah…

Nehemia: Which reminds me, yes, but there it was the angel that took the coal and put it on his mouth.

Keith: Exactly, the angel put the coal on his mouth. So he stretches out his hand he touches my mouth, “and Yehovah said to me, ‘now behold. I put My words in your mouth.’” Can you imagine that?

Nehemia: That’s amazing. [laughing] That’s such a powerful image.

Keith: [laughing] What a great image! Like, wait a minute. Hold on. So literally he reaches out? Is this just an image, Nehemia? Did this really happen?

Nehemia: It happened in a vision.

Keith: Where does it say it happened in a vision?

Nehemia: Well, we’re told that a man cannot see Yehovah and live, so I take that to mean this is a vision.

Keith: Folks we’re going to stop the recording here for a minute. Just a second now. No, don’t stop the recording, don’t you dare stop the recording!

Nehemia: So now you’re going to force me to go back to the Book of Numbers…

Keith: I’m going to force you, yes.

Nehemia: And there it says… you know, this is a whole thing where Moses has this interaction with Miriam, and she got the leprosy, remember this?

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: This is really a fundamental principle in the Tanakh. Numbers 12:6, and it says, I’ll read in the JPS and then I’ll go back to the Hebrew. “And He said, ‘Hear these My words. When a prophet of Yehovah arises among you, I make Myself known to him in a vision. I speak with him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses. He is trusted throughout My household, with him I speak mouth to mouth. Plainly and not in riddles, and he holds the likeness of Yehovah. How then did you not shrink from speaking against My servant Moses?’”

So every prophet who ever came or ever will come has an experience which Scripture calls mar’ah, “a vision”. Moses was different, and the difference is that Moses was fully awake. He wasn’t in a trance, he wasn’t asleep, and Yehovah spoke to him face-to-face. I don’t know what that means exactly, but we can take it as something pretty straightforward. He was being fully awake, fully conscious, all the other prophets are in some sort of a trance, some sort of a vision. It doesn’t mean it’s not real, but they’re in this spiritual experience where they’re seeing it. Moses is talking to Him just like I’m talking to you right now, Keith Johnson. Sitting face-to-face, talking to you, so too was Moses speaking to Yehovah; not Jeremiah.

And Jeremiah tells us how he had his visions. He talks about how he would be standing in the council of Yehovah, and he challenges the other prophets. He said, “If you had that kind of vision, tell us about it. But did you hear Yehovah speak those words standing in this heavenly court?” Now, is the heavenly court a physical place? I don’t think so. I don’t know. I don’t know how to understand it as a physical place.

But for example, Jeremiah 23:18… let’s go back and give them the context. Jeremiah 23:16, I’ll start: “Thus says Yehovah of Hosts, ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They are deluding you. The prophecies they speak are from their own minds, not from the mouth of Yehovah. They declare to men who despise Me. Yehovah has said, All shall be well with you.’” Meaning, the prophets are making this stuff up to those who despise Yehovah, “‘All shall be well with you.’ And to all who follow their willful hearts they say, ‘No evil shall befall you.’” You’ve got nothing to worry about, you’re saved, everything is good.

Then He says in verse 18: “But he who has stood in the council of Yehovah,” and that council is this place we see…

Keith: Give them the chapter.

Nehemia: Jeremiah 23:18. “But he who has stood in the council of Yehovah and has seen and heard His word, he who has listened to His word must obey.” So here he’s saying, “Look, they’re just making stuff up, they’re telling you what you want to hear. I actually heard Him speak to His angels!” You know, we have that image in 1 Kings 22 and in the Book of Job and a number of places… we’ve talked about this. There’s this heavenly court, the heavenly council where Yehovah is speaking to the angels, and the prophet is standing there and hearing them speak. And that’s how Jeremiah knows what he knows, he hears these things happening, and he goes on. I’ll skip ahead.

Verse 21: “I did not send those prophets, but they rushed in. I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied.” Verse 22: “If they have stood in My council,” God is saying, the council again is this heavenly court, “let them announce My words to My people and make them turn back from their evil ways and wicked acts.”

Keith: Amen!

Nehemia: So the point here is that Jeremiah stood in the council of Yehovah. I say it’s in a vision because that’s what I read in Numbers. If you want to disagree about that, then alright, we can have that conversation. One more verse, Amos 3:7. It says, “Lord Yehovah will not do any matter except He has revealed His council,” it literally says, same word as in Jeremiah, “to His servants the prophets.” In other words, He’s speaking these things to the angels, the prophets are invited to come in and hear if Yehovah is going to do some major thing.

Keith: Amen. And in this situation, you know, this image of Yehovah stretching out His hand and touching his mouth. Wow.

Nehemia: And that fits perfectly the image of the council, because remember - that’s exactly what Isaiah and Ezekiel describe; they’re standing there, and they see the throne, and they see the different angels around the throne, proclaiming, “Holy holy holy,” et cetera. That’s the council of Yehovah, and Jeremiah is telling us he stood in the same council, and so that’s where I believe this is happening.

Keith: Yeah, awesome. “See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” And before you say anything about this, I just want to give people Jeremiah 18:7-10 Ezekiel 32:18 and 2…

Nehemia: Is that homework?

Keith: Yes, homework. And then also to build and to plant, Isaiah 44:26-28, Jeremiah 24:6, 31:28. These are things that as we’re going through this, but this phrase when he says, “To pluck up and to break down.” Is that fair? Do you like that translation?

Nehemia: I would translate it, “to remove and to tear down, to destroy and demolish, to build and to plant.”

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: And I have two words for this verse - “creative destruction”. We’ve talked about how we have this creative tension.

Keith: My wife Andrea came up with this. The creative tension, she calls it. [laughing]

Nehemia: So what we have in this verse is creative destruction.

Keith: It’s just not destruction, it’s creative destruction.

Nehemia: Well, it is, because the end is to build and to plant. So first, things need to be torn down, I have to call on the nations… Again, I love this, again - he has the word goyim here, “the nations”. It’s interesting, because I think of the Prophets as maybe from… I’ll call it like it is. It’s an Israelocentric way of reading Scripture, I’ll admit that. There’s a Judeocentric way of reading Scripture that is my heritage, and I read this, and this is a prophecy to the nations. It’s to the goyim.

Keith: Well, what I have to say to you, Nehemia, what you were talking about earlier about the trance that Jeremiah is in, in verse 11, is where it gets really interesting, because I think that shows the picture of what you’re saying exactly. “Word of Yehovah came to him saying, ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’”

This has been one of these passages, I have to say, as it goes through here, where I really, really, really love this. I love that He puts him through what I call “the test”. Some people talk about the sniff test, the see test. He says, “What do you see Jeremiah?” And Jeremiah says, “I see a rod of an almond tree.” Now think about this. He could’ve said, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And we could have cut to the end and gone right to what the application is of what he sees. Instead, He takes him through the process. Then Yehovah says to him, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.”

Nehemia: What’s the connection…?

Keith: Hold on, I’m asking the question! “I see a rod of an almond tree,” that’s what it says in English.

Nehemia: So I actually bring this as an example of a Hebrew word pun in my book The Hebrew Yeshua Versus the Greek Jesus.

Keith: Are you going to read?

Nehemia: No, I’m not going to read.

Keith: By the way, I want to say I’m not making fun, Nehemia, I thought that was beautiful that you read.

Nehemia: So it’s in the book The Hebrew Yeshua Versus the Greek Jesus, and in the DVD…

Keith: You’ve got to get that book.

Nehemia: You can also watch the DVD on YouTube. So here is a classic Hebrew word pun which is an integral part of the prophecy; in the English it makes no sense. I don’t know how you could read that and make any sense of it. He says, “What do you see?”, and he says “Makel shaked ani ro’eh,” I see a shaked branch. And then he says oh, “ki shoked ani dvari la’asoto,” for I am watchful, I would translate - diligent over my work to do it. And it’s interesting. He uses this verb again and… you’ve got to read this, which is Jeremiah 31:28, which I think that was in your homework, wasn’t it, what you just gave?

Keith: Yup.

Nehemia: It says, “It shall come to pass,” “shakadeti alehem,” “I shall be diligent over them.” “Lintosh velintotz, vela’haros veleha’avid uleh’hare’ah,” same series of verbs that we just read - to remove and to tear down, to destroy…

Keith: That’s it, I’m going to ask you a question.

Nehemia: No, no, hold on, He says, “Ken eshkod aleyhem livnot velinto’a,” “‘So too will I be diligent, or watchful, over them to build and to plant’ sayeth Yehovah.” And interestingly here the context in Jeremiah 31:28 is the brit chadasha, the Renewed Covenant. So He’s saying, “I will be just as shoked, just as almond-branchy, just as watchful to build as I was to tear down.” I mean, this clearly is a continuation…

Keith: Can I slow down and say something so that they understand? Because I want to slow down and I want you guys to understand this as you’re listening. You talked about a Hebrew word pun, and so again - in English, in the NIV for example, or the NASB I’m reading, it says, “What do you see Jeremiah?” And he says, “I see a rod of an almond tree,” Okay? And the word “almond tree” here is shaked.

Then Yehovah says to me, “You have seen well, for I am shoked.” That’s the word pun. Now, I want to stop for a second. Nehemia, why would anyone want to… what is all this Hebrew back and forth… the ancient Hebrew sources, and Hebrew this and Hebrew that? Let’s stop for a second.

When I hear that verse and I look at English and look at my Hebrew side-by-side and see those words jump off the page, I get excited. Why Hebrew? What is it about Hebrew? What is it about the language that allows… And I’m just asking you this question. I mean, he could’ve picked any language, what is it about Hebrew?

Nehemia: If we read Genesis chapters 1 through 10 we see there are all these Hebrew names, and they only make sense in Hebrew, and it seems that Hebrew was the language before God mixed up the languages. The original language, it’s a language that in Zephaniah 3:9 He talks about, “I will give them a pure language, they’ll all call upon My name, Yehovah, with one accord.” So Hebrew is the language in which God spoke the world into existence. He created the world through the Hebrew language, and the Hebrew language has a certain characteristic, which is that it’s a verb-based language, an action-based language, and the nouns are often derived from these verbs, and sometimes vice versa. And so here you have this word shaked, which is an almond branch, and you have shoked, which means to be watchful or diligent, and in Hebrew you hear that and there is an immediate association, immediate connection. And there are a lot of entire passages in the Bible that are built on some verb or some action that then becomes a central concept, that appears again and again, I can give you a million examples…

Keith: But here’s what’s powerful about that; I could read this verse 57 different times in the NASB and never catch that.

Nehemia: Yes, and in the Hebrew it’s immediately obvious. In fact, it’s the whole point of it. It’s the central point.

Keith: Exactly. So be Jeremiah. You think Jeremiah didn’t make the connection between the two? [laughing] I mean, Jeremiah clearly understands that that’s what He’s talking about. I mean, I just…

Nehemia: So that the almond branch symbolizes God’s diligence to do His word, it also reminds you of the event that happened with Aaron, with the almond branch, and the flowering, and being put in the presence of the Ark, not inside the Ark. So there’s this series of associations when you say- “Oh, I see an almond branch, I’m diligent,” and then he kind of revisits that theme, meaning Jeremiah 31:28 is a reminder, “‘It shall come to pass that as I watched over, shoked, over them to pluck up, to break down to throw down, to destroy and to afflict, so I will shakad, I will watch over them to build and to plant’ sayeth Yehovah.”

Keith: This could be someone’s morning devotion, just these two verses, verses 1:11 and 1:12, and just getting a chance to see those words jump off the page like that, and why he said to see it, and it gets better because the next verse says this...

Nehemia: No, I’m not letting you go to the next verse. I’m going to bring something a little off topic. It’s not in one of the Prophet portions, but it has our word, and it’s Jeremiah 44:26-27, and there we have that word shoked, which is the exact same word, so can I read these two verses?

Keith: Please.

Nehemia: Really quickly, so we can go on. 44:26-27, I’m going to read it to you in the JPS, Jewish Publication Society translation. “Yet hear the word of Yehovah, all Judeans who dwell in the land of Egypt”. This is interesting, because Jeremiah starts out in Anatot, he migrates to Jerusalem where he prophesies, and then he ends up being taken as a prisoner to Egypt by the Jews who survived the destruction of the Temple. “Yet hear the word of Yehovah, all Judeans who dwell in the land of Egypt, ‘Lo I swear by My great name,’ said Yehovah, ‘that none of the men of Judah in all the land of Egypt should ever again invoke My name, saying, ‘as Yehovah lives’. I will be shoked, I will be almond branch, I will be diligent, watchful over them to their hurt, not to their benefit. All the men of Judah in the land of Egypt should be consumed by sword and by famine until they cease to be.’”

Wow! So God is saying He is diligent on the Jews of Egypt. It says literally in Hebrew “to do evil”, lera’ah. And it says He swore that they would no longer speak His name, and this meant God was diligently going to do evil on them. Preventing them from speaking His name! If they had called on His name He would have answered their prayers, that’s something we’ve seen before - that when you have a difficult time, that was in the prayer of Solomon, when something is going wrong, you’re attacked by an enemy, call on My name and I’ll answer. So He’s saying to them, “You’ll never say My name again.” He denied them the use of His name so He could diligently carry out their punishment for their sins. And originally, the Jews of Egypt were wiped out till the last man because they couldn’t call the name of Yehovah, that was a curse.

To me that’s - wow! That makes me step back and say, “Uh oh. These people were wiped out?”
And it’s interesting - you can’t show me anywhere a commandment in the Torah, in the Tanakh, anywhere in the Hebrew Bible that says “Don’t speak My name,” the way our modern Rabbinical tradition is taught. And this is the closest thing where God says, “Here is the curse on the Jews of Egypt who took Jeremiah as a prisoner. They are going to be wiped out to the last man because they won’t be able to speak My name.”

And I say, “Wait a minute, I don’t want to be under that curse; I want to call on the name of Yehovah and ask Him for His salvation, for His…” Just like He said to Jeremiah, “I am going to rescue you,” I need to call on that name so He responds. I don’t want to be under the curse of the Jews of Egypt. I want Him to be diligent and respond when I call.

Keith: Amen, may it be.

Nehemia: Verse 13.

Keith: Yes. “The word of Yehovah came unto me a second time saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot facing away from the north.” Then Yehovah said to me, “Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land.” Do we need a word pun, or is that pretty clear?

Nehemia: There is a word pun, but let’s move on. There is a word pun there, because the word for boiling over is… but go on.

Keith: No, no, and actually people can take a look at this…

Nehemia: So the word tipatach and nafu’akh is a word pun there. How is tipatakh translated in yours?

Keith: Break forth?

Nehemia: Break forth, so the word “breaking forth” sounds like it’s actually not from the same root, but it sounds very much like the word for boiling over.

Keith: Amen. “‘For behold I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,’ declares Yehovah, ‘and they will come and they will set each one of his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem and against all its walls around about and against the cities of Judah.’”

Before you go any further, here we are sitting here. So yesterday we had a day off, man. Hey, we had a day off, folks, and the day off I went and spent the time in the Old City half the day, and half the day I went to an Arab village, but the point is I was by the present day walls, which aren’t necessarily the same walls… but basically it says here, “one of his thrones at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem,” and Nehemia we’ve been at some gates…

Nehemia: Some of them are the same gates.

Keith: We went over to one of the gates, and actually sat outside…

Nehemia: And we did an audio blog there, yes. People can subscribe on Nehemia’s Wall, the audio blog, go to iTunes or to your favorite podcast program, type in Nehemia’s Wall, and you’ll find my podcast. Subscribe and you’ll get these updates.

Keith: So here they said, “Each one of these who is speaking at the gates of Jerusalem, and against all its walls around about and against all the cities of Judah.” So they sent each one of his throne at the entrance, or his chair, or is it throne? Basically they’re sitting there.

Nehemia: I want to talk about what this means, what this is referring to. Who is the enemy from the north? And there are two ways of reading this, maybe both are valid. But first of all, we have to ask - when Jeremiah said this, who was he talking about? When Yehovah said this to Jeremiah, clearly He was speaking about the Babylonian invasion. We know that because we read the rest of the book. [laughing] And the Babylonians come and they lay siege to Jerusalem.

But imagine, he’s saying this early on in his ministry, and people are saying, “This guy is crazy, what are you talking about? We’re in with all the right people, we’ve got the alliance with Egypt, we’ve got nothing to fear. What are you talking about? They’re going to come invade? Get out of here.” But this came true.

But then definitely I think there are people who will read this today and say, “Oh, the enemy from the north, that is Russia or that’s the European Union.”

Keith: I was going to get to that…

Nehemia: So can you talk about that?

Keith: No. So they read this and they say this is dealing with present day, so who is in the north now that wasn’t in the north then, and then they name the names of the nations, and depending on the political situation, and this has been historic, that people have done that.

Nehemia: And by the way, Babylon being in the north - it’s actually northeast of Israel, but when you come from Babylon to Israel you can’t go through the Syrian desert, back then, so you traveled through Syria itself, literally coming down from the north. From the perspective of an Israelite, Babylon is due north, meaning you go due north and then you hang a right somewhere and go east. But basically, you come from the north, sweeping down through Damascus and Lebanon.

So who does this refer to? Is this the European Union? Is this Putin? Can we find the word here that based on Gematria is the same numbers as Putin, and maybe if we read it backwards it’s the name Putin, niput? What’s Putin backwards? Nitup?

Keith: [laughing] Nitup. I don’t think so.

Nehemia: Here’s the word nitup, tipatakh mitzafon. Tipatakh is the word “shall break forth”, and that’s Putin. I don’t know. Can we do that? Is that legit?

Keith: Well, I don’t think so.

Nehemia: I don’t know that it’s not legit. Here’s the more fundamental question, and please come to and Keith’s website and share your thoughts on this. Is it legitimate that this could be speaking about the Babylonians in the time of Jeremiah and some future nation that hasn’t even… we don’t even know yet.

Keith: I don’t know why it couldn’t do that…

Nehemia: Yes, dual fulfillment and multiple fulfillment. It is interesting that every single time - go look this up - I think there’s an exception, but pretty much every time that Jerusalem has ever been captured, it was always captured from the north. There’s actually a geographical reason for that - that Mount Scopus overlooks the Old City of Jerusalem, and if you want to capture Jerusalem, first you’ve got to see what’s going on, you’ve got to capture Mount Scopus. Then you know, “Ok, here’s where I attack.” So it’s always been captured from the north.

Keith: Yes, and you look and you see – and this is where they would have come from. Wow. Amazing.

Nehemia: Also, the northern side of the city has the weakest defenses. Because on the other three sides there are these deep gorges, so if you’re going to capture the city, you capture it from the north. Even in 1967, in the Six Day War, they captured it from the north, they went through Lions’ Gate.

Keith: Wow. “So I will pronounce My judgement on them, concerning all their wickedness whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods and worshipped the works of their own hands.” And we’ve talked about this a lot. I don’t want to go ahead if you want to say something about it, the next verse to me is an athlete’s kind of image. “Now gird up your loins and arise…” [laughing]

“and speak to them all which I command you,” because He says earlier, “I’m going to be the one that commands you.” “Do not be dismayed before them…” and I love this!

Nehemia: It says, “do not fear” don’t be afraid, because then I’ll make you afraid.

Keith: Here’s what I love about this, He’s saying, “Look, if you’re going to be afraid before them, then I’m going to make you afraid.”

Nehemia: And the word isn’t just “afraid”. Tekhat, which is like to be terrified. “Don’t be terrified lest I make you terrified before them.”

Keith: Yes. To be terrified. But what I love about it is that He’s basically saying, “Look, don’t be afraid, because if you are going to be afraid I’m going to make you afraid. Just don’t be afraid.” [laughing]

Nehemia: And I love the image in this next verse.

Keith: Come on with it, say it!

Nehemia: “And behold, I will make you or place you today as an eer meevtsar, as a fortified city, u’leh’amood barzel, and as an iron pillar, u’lekhomot nekhoshet, as a brass or bronze or copper wall, over all the earth.” Today we hear that and we’re like, “So what’s the significance of it being iron and brass?” That’s because their stuff was made out of stone. The iron and the bronze, those are much stronger materials, but you can never make a wall out of iron or bronze, because they didn’t have much iron or bronze. Your sword is made of iron or bronze, the wall is made of stone.

But imagine if you had enough, and in modern terms what you have to think of is steel. You’re going to make a wall out of steel. Wow, that’s a pretty strong wall versus something made out of plaster or something like that. So this is an image of like, “Wow, God isn’t just going to be our defense, He’s not just going to be our fortress, He’s not just going to defend us. He’s going to be for us this wall of bronze!” Imagine, they come with the battering ram, and instead of it shattering the wall, it just gets absorbed by that bronze. Pretty cool.

Keith: Wow. Go ahead, keep reading.

Nehemia: “For the kings of Judah and for the officers and for the kohanim, her priests, and for the people of the land.”

Keith: And they’re going to fight against you…

Nehemia: But they will not prevail.

Keith: They’re going to fight against you. Look, He doesn’t say, “I’m going to keep you away from the fight.” I talk about this a lot. I really love this. He says, “They’re going to fight against you, you’re going to be in a fight. They’re going to fight against you, but they will not overcome you.” He’s using the word “you will overcome”. They will not… can I say this? They will not be able.

Nehemia: That’s literally what it says in Hebrew. “They will not…”

Keith: Yeah, I got that out of the NASB.

Nehemia: Oh, they got it right.

Keith: I made that up.

Nehemia: Oh, did you get that out of the Hebrew? Are you cheating by looking at the Hebrew?

Keith: Yeah, I’m cheating.

Nehemia: Only I’m allowed to look in Hebrew. You stay in English. I’m kidding.

Keith: Hey, by the way, I want to stop here for a second about that, because I want to have a Ministry Minute about what you just said. There’s been a real issue… I’ve been talking to some people about the series that we’re presently in, if you haven’t heard about it, we’re in a beginning Hebrew course. And you know what? I’ve got to say something, it’s probably going to be the most controversial thing I’m going to say and you’re going to have to balance me out.

You said, “Hey, you’re looking at the Hebrew? I’m the only person that’s supposed to look at the Hebrew.” So I had an interaction a long time ago with a man, he was called a rabbi. He wasn’t a real rabbi, but this guy was called a rabbi, and his whole point was that you must not learn the Hebrew, because if you learn to read the Hebrew… for an entire hour he argued about why you must never learn the Hebrew, because if you learn the Hebrew it will lead you astray, and you get into all sorts of things that are not good for you, et cetera. And his point was, “You don’t need to learn the Hebrew. I’ve got it, so you just learn it from me.” And in all seriousness, this was a challenge for me. This happened, now going on about 12 years, I think it is.

Nehemia: I think it was more than that.

Keith: No, it’s about 12 years, and I’ve always been frustrated by his approach. Because his approach was, “I’ve got the answers. I’ve got the access to the answers,” and what I used to get frustrated about this particular man - I’m not going to talk about him, I’m going to blot his name out of my mouth - he would teach some concept, and he’d have whole sets of videos, and you’d watch the concept and he’d say, “And we believe that and we know that, and the tradition is this, and the Gematria is this, and the hidden meaning is this, and the sod is this, and he would never ever give me the ability to go and find out where it was that he was talking.

Nehemia: So basically, you could never know it without him.

Keith: You could never know it without him - that was a precursor to the Ministry Minute - is that one of the reasons that I’m so convinced that we need to give people the access, like you said, “Keith, you’re looking at the Hebrew too.” And I want to say to people, “You know what? You can look at the Hebrew too.”

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: You can actually learn to be able to use some of the tools regarding this. I will say something, and I want to say this, Nehemia, to give honor to the long process that people have been in, whether it’s how they grew up. You know, you say you went to school as a young child and the first, second and third grade they’re reading Hebrew, and it’s an easy language, and then you go from there and you’re learning from other people, and then you go to school and then you study on your own, it really is a lifelong process. That’s what I would say - Hebrew is a lifelong process.

But learning to be able to know what a word is, and understand that word, some of the grammar around it, that’s really why I created this course. This course is for people who want…

Nehemia: What’s the course called?

Keith: It’s called “Biblical Hebrew Audio Course”. It’s a Scripture Bytes Biblical Hebrew Audio Course, and the reason I’m bringing it up is that you kind of led me to that, you said, “Hey, you’re not supposed to be looking at that,” and there are people that would say, “Don’t you look at it, because it’ll confuse you, who knows, maybe one day you will decide you want to be converted.”

And I want to say something - why should we be afraid of the language that God chose? Why should we be afraid of the language…? Now, all the stuff that comes along with it, I’m not for it. I’m not for all the other bells and whistles that don’t have to do with the text, I’m just not. But I am for people getting a chance to interact with the text, and this is an opportunity for you to do that at a beginner level, and who knows - maybe we’ll go to an intermediate later, but for now giving people a chance to do that so they can know that word.

For example, “They will fight against you but they will not be able,” in English it says “‘to overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,’ declares Yehovah.” They could actually go through that. And let me give you one last thing. At the first lesson, guaranteed at the end of the first lesson, they’ll actually read a verse out of the Hebrew Bible, and know what it means.

Nehemia: Wow.

Keith: Yes. After the first lesson. So anyway, I want to thank you for giving me that softball.

Nehemia: Is this the verse, “And the Lord has spoken to Moses saying…”?

Keith: [laughing] No. But you gave me a softball, and I want to tell you that I really am serious about that, that people should get a chance to have access…

Nehemia: And they could find that on your website

Keith: Yes,, front page.

Nehemia: Awesome. You know, I really appreciate what you said, you’ve told me this before and it really inspires me. In my ministry, Makor Hebrew Foundation, it’s really about empowering people with information, getting them back to the Hebrew sources of their faith so they don’t have to rely on… You used to say this, that there were people out there who would present themselves, maybe they weren’t even Jewish, but they would say, “I’m the Jew with the secret, and you’ve got to pay me the money to get the secret.” And you could never get this information on your own, you always had to pay them and go through their videos and do their teachings. You could never go to the sources yourself and find this out - is that right?

Keith: That’s exactly…!

Nehemia: This really resonates with me, this problem, because when I was growing up, the way I was taught is that you never read a verse by itself - you always read it with the rabbi teaching you what it means. And we would read a verse - I remember, I was this little kid, I was sitting at Telz Yeshiva with a tutor, who was one of the yeshiva’s advanced students, and my father hired him as a tutor, and we would sit there and we would read. And when we read the verse in Genesis, and we’d read what Rashi said, read the verse in Genesis, read what Rashi said, and I remember thinking, “Wow, Rashi is so smart.” He’s a 12th century rabbi. I remember thinking, “I read that verse and I would have never known that. He gives the meaning, and I would have never come to the conclusion that this was the true meaning of the verse, and I remember praying to God, thinking, “God, I want one day to be as smart as Rashi, that I could read that verse and come to the same conclusion as he came to.”

And many years later, and now I can say with complete confidence, having a master’s degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, definitely knowing more Hebrew than Rashi knew in the 12th century, because look, things have been discovered that he didn’t know, that he was just making it up. What he would do was read a verse and he would say, “Well, a rabbi said this is what it really means, so let me tell people that’s what it means.” But there is no way you could read that verse and come to that conclusion unless you had that additional information that was made up.

And what I realized is that I want to empower other people with that same sort of information. I don’t want people to say, “Oh, we can never know this unless we listen to what Nehemia has to say, and then when we tell people, this is Nehemia’s secret that we’re now sharing.” That’s not what it’s about for me. What it’s about for me is empowering people with that information so they can own it for themselves, so they can go… I’ll show them the source, they’ll look at the source, they’ll go check if what I said is correct about the source, and they’ll say, “Wow, this has nothing to do with Nehemia. This is what it says in the Aleppo Codex.” “This has nothing to do with Nehemia. This is what it says in the Leningrad Codex.” “This has nothing to do with Keith. This is what it says in this ancient Jewish source, this is what it says in that ancient Jewish source.” And I could look and I can see those three letters of the root myself, and I can see that the word is shaked, Shin-Kuf-Dalet.

Keith: Give them that, slow it down and say it again! Slow down and give them that!

Nehemia: The Word of the Week is shaked, Shin-Kuf-Dalet, which means both almond branch or almond, and also means to be diligent, and you can go look that up for yourself, you don’t need Keith! You don’t need Nehemia! You don’t need some Jew with the secret or some Methodist with a revelation! The revelation is, we’ve got to empower ourselves with this information so we’re not being ruled by these… these people are leading us astray, and there’s no way to check what they said.

Again, that was your experience with this pseudo rabbi, and that was my experience with this genuine rabbi, Rashi, in the 12th century, and my feeling was, “Wait a minute, I don't want to ever have to read the verse and feel like I’m an idiot because I don’t see what it says, even though I know Hebrew better than the guy who wrote it.” That’s what I want to empower people with. That it’s not because Nehemia said it, but I was able to interact with this ancient word of God myself, in the original Hebrew language, and maybe you don’t have time to go study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but that’s what my ministry is. To empower you with that information even if you don’t have that time. With whatever you can do, the best that you can do to give you those tools that you can go and interact with the original language history in context.

Keith: And I want to make a confession. Here’s the temptation. The temptation has always been for me, because of where I come from, when I run across some of the things that I see, they are so compelling and they are so amazing and there are those opportunities where you can really go further, and I want to say something to many of my friends that are rabbis, that I’ve gotten a chance to know, that really do have amazing insights, partially because of where they come from and are constantly dealing with the Hebrew text. And I’m not talking about outside of Scripture, that there are many men that have done a really beautiful job of explaining things, but I always want to be able to check it for myself.

If there’s anything we say [laughing] more than anything, you must check it for yourself. And how do you check it for yourself? And this is where I want to throw a little something out there. There’s some effort to seeking and finding and learning, and you know, I found so many people in these different movements that take the shortcuts. And the shortcuts are often the things that are more appealing. “Here is the quick shortcut, here is the answer, and I’m not going to tell you where I got it, because if you got it you might go further.”

But I think what we’ve always tried to ask each other, and we’ve done this in our own studies, is, we’ll look at a passage together and we’ll go back and forth, “Where do you get that?” And we’ll go back and forth, back and forth, and that really started, Nehemia, because of the information in Jerusalem. We were walking in the Old City of Jerusalem, we’re walking along and I’ve got my Bible and you’ve got your Bible, and they actually look alike from the outside. You know, I haven’t seen you with that Bible forever.

Nehemia: Because I have a phone now, and a computer. [laughing]

Keith: And I absolutely hate that, folks, and I’ve hated it the whole time. He had this little Bible…

Nehemia: I still have the little Bible, but I'm getting older, and now I can make the font as big as I want, on my iPad, on my tablet… [laughing]

Keith: I've talked about this several times and I’ll end with this. So many times where I would see that Bible that would be worn, that you had, and my Bible that was worn, and that you were literally reading it like reading it in its context, and that’s been a lifelong process for me…

Nehemia: I’m doing that now on my screen.

Keith: I hate the computer, folks. And yet I love what the computer can do! I’m sitting here, Nehemia has got his computer, maybe I should send a picture to people – he’s got his computer, and I’ve got 2 books open and then I’ve got my computer. [laughing] I just can’t study the Bible without looking in a book! I just love it! It’s my tradition.

Nehemia: You mean a printed book.

Keith: A printed book, exactly. Anyway, folks, be encouraged, because you can learn some of this information and so that you can begin to understand it for yourself. I don’t remember where we’re at...

Nehemia: Look, we’re out of time, I’m going to skip to chapter 2:3 and I’m going to pray.

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: It says, “Kodesh Yisra’el le’Yehovah”, Israel is holy to Yehovah, “reshit tevu’ato”, the first fruits of His harvest, of His produce. “Kol okhlav ye’eshamu”, all those who eat it, who eat Israel, who consume Israel, will be guilty. “Ra’ah tavo aley’hem”, evil will come upon them, “ne’um Yehovah”, sayeth Yehovah. “Yehovah go’alenu”, Yehovah our redeemer, I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to study Your word in the original language, history and context. For all of my complaints of things that I was presented that weren’t true, at least I had the opportunity to learn in the original language, to then know eventually that what was true and what was not, that You gave me the discernment to be able to read Your word and to love Your word. And years later, after that head knowledge, You then wrote it on my heart, Yehovah. And Yehovah, that was so painful, and it continues to be painful in some ways. But it’s forced open my heart to You, and forced me to get down on my face and come before You in humility, Yehovah, and You continue to shape me and to fashion me. And, Yehovah, Your people Israel as You say here, they’re the first fruit of Your harvest, and I ask for protection upon the first fruit. The birds of prey want to swoop down on the first fruit and the enemy wants to come and steal the first fruit and make it their own, and, Yehovah, You protect it. It’s only through You that it could be protected, Yehovah. Yehovah, protect Your first fruit, all Your people here in Your holy city Jerusalem, and in Israel, and all those who call upon Your name throughout the world. Yehovah, put Your protection upon all those first fruit of Yours and all of Your harvest. All those who eat it, who attack it, they will be guilty, evil will come upon them, Yehovah, and so I ask that You protect Your people and protect those who want to attack Your people from their own evil. Turn their hearts to good, that they repent. And if they don’t repent, Yehovah, I know that You can protect Your people. And, Yehovah, continue to give Keith and me this ability to explore Your word together, and make us not like Jeremiah in Anatot, who heard Your word being proclaimed, who heard Your name being proclaimed and the people shouting over it miles away in Jerusalem, let us stand before You in Your holy courts in the day when the high priest stands in the rebuilt Temple and proclaims Your name, Yehovah, and let us be among those who say “Baruckh shem kevod malkhuto le’olam va’ed”, blessed is the glorious name of His kingdom forever. Amen.

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

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Nehemia Gordon's Teachings on the Name of God

  • Donald Murphy says:

    been great and thoughtful letters in this episode.

  • Ted Craven says:

    Jeremiah 1:18 is interesting in that Yehovah says he will make Jeremiah “an iron pillar and brasen walls” against Judah. In Daniel’s interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream image, brass is associated with Greece and subsequent history seems to associate the iron legs with Rome. And these two empires did ultimately inflict great suffering upon Judah.

    So I wouldn’t write a prophecy off because it has been fulfilled once. Biblical prophecies seem to be more like patterns that can recur throughout history. As an example, consider Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a great tree in Daniel 4. Daniel interprets it as a prediction of Nebuchadnezzar’s temporary madness as a judgement for his pride. And the prophecy was fulfilled just as Daniel said. But I think there is much more to the prophecy than that. Nebuchadnezzar seems to be a type of Satan and the tree seems to be a type of Satan’s kingdom. It seems to be predicting that Satan’s kingdom will suffer a major setback and then recover. And Satan’s kingdom is protected by a band of iron and brass which seems to be another reference to Greece and Rome.

    It is interesting that after Babylon fell, the Babylonian priesthood had a falling out with the Persians and fled to the city Greek city of Pergamos. Later in 133 BCE, the ruler Attalus III died without an heir and willed the country to Rome and the Babylonian priesthood eventually moved to Rome. The prophecy seems to predict that Satan’s kingdom will be protected by Greece and Rome. Dan 4:11 says: “The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached unto heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of all the earth:”, indicating Satan’s empire will become immensely powerful. Then it will be cut down and Satan’s influence will be checked “till seven times pass over him” and then he will be let loose again. So it seems to be a prophecy of the millennial reign of Yeshua where Satan is bound for 1000 years.

    The Daniel 4 prophecy also seems connected to the mustard seed parable of Matthew 13:31-32 (which is also related in Mark 4:31-32 and Luke 13:19). But these passages relate to the Church, so this suggests that Satan’s kingdom may be connected with the apostate Church.

    • Jonah says:

      .. and with the rise of antisemitism. Rev 2,13-14 says: And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges, I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is..

      Altar devoted to Zeus, the chief god of Greeks, was built on the hilltop in Pergamon by a friend of Antiochus who desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem, short after its renovation. Burnt offerings (holokautoma) were brought in there, also human.. Exacavations of this altar started in the same year (1878) when Josif Stalin, then called Josif Jughashvilli, was born. Its reconstruction begun in Berlin, Germany, when Adolph Hitler was born. It was shown to public in Berlin´s Pergamon Museum when the Nazi party took over the power in Germany. The platform for Hitler´s rallies in Nuremberg, wherefrom he addressed the world with his antisemitic propaganda, was built according to the Pergamon´s altar. Nuremberg laws started holocaust of 6 million of Jews and 60 million of others.. one of the last burnt offering was that of Hitler who ordered removal of his body by cremation. German officials were then judged in Nuremberg trials.. Due to the enormous loss of Jewish people, many of which returned to YHWH in their last days, the independent jewish state of Israel came into existence and many end-time biblical prophecies became fulfilled. Jehovah is always in control, the final judgement and victory is His, halelujah!

  • Melissa A. Reid says:

    Love your videos and am learning to appreciate Keith Johnson’s videos too. As a Jehovah’s Witness I so enjoy how you love God’s name. I look forward to the time in the future when the knowledge of Yehovah will cover the earth like the waters of the seas one thing I am confused about Steve Katsaras says that Hebrew scholars say that God’s name means He was, he is , he is to come but you say it means He is, he was, he is to be. Which one is it?

  • Bernardo says:

    There is a movie with Patrick Dempsey as Jeremiah by Lux films, I like it but there it shows his father passing on the prophet “position” to him in the Temple which makes no sense if they were exiled in Anathoth and Hilkiah (Hilkyahu?) was banned from the Temple right? Or did I misunderstand?

  • Janice says:

    It is less offensive and yet still honest to say “I have been taught in error and ignorance rather than lies” Lies is legal accusation, that must be accompanied by 2-3 witnesses in court of law.

    Young Jeremiah’s experience when Yehovah calls him is like Moses.

    • Reyes Nava says:

      Jeremiah 16:19 would disagree, Yehovah is not concerned with offending anyone when the truth goes forth from His mouth.

      “O Yehovah, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the gentiles shall come unto you from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.”

      The Hebrew word used for lies is “sheqer” and means lie, deception or falsehood. The fact that they are inherited from the fathers means that they have been taught or passed down through example. So yes according to Yehovah we have been lied to. Sanitizing the word of God is a lie in itself.

  • Darlene DeSilva says:

    Thank you, thank you! My life has been filled with lies…from school history books to Sunday School doctrine. Your broadcasts are like water to my soul and my daily bread. Everyday when I wake up I grab my coffee and search for His truths that were meant for all of us. My eyes have been open and I can’t get enough truth fast enough into brain. I feel like a starved child being led to a smorgasbord. Praise Yahova for gathering His people…Jew and Gentile…bringing truth to us all. My life has been forever changed.

  • jeffrey says:

    I am earnestly seeking the truth and it is earnestly being given. I thank Him with all I am and ask Him to continue with His glorious blessings. His Love gives Life! Hallelujah! Thank you Keith and Nehemia!

  • Hiltona Castleberry says:

    When we hear “the word of God” coming to speak to His prophets, is it possible this is Messiah coming and speaking with the prophets? I’ve heard this in various circles. Then in New Testament, John 1:1 addresses the Word becoming flesh and coming to live with man. That’s definitely Messiah!

  • Laurie says:

    I love the Hebrew language. I took one course in the synagogue I was attending, and I found it made more sense to me than the english language. To me all the letters are clean. It’s a clear and clean language. I’m going to check out BFA Keith about your courses. I haven’t been able to attend synagogue in years and I really miss learning. I have a question about the meaning of “gird up your loins” this always made me giggle when I read this. Thank you for your time. Blessings to you. Shalom Shalom

  • Kevin George says:

    Let me add my voice in encouraging people to learn Hebrew. It is a lot of work, but the rewards are tremendous! In every chapter, I find something that would be difficult or (more often) impossible to understand from the English.
    I started learning it about 4 years ago. After about a year, friends from my church kept asking me to teach them, so I started a class. As long as I was a few chapters ahead of them, I had something of value to offer them, and it forced me to learn it better too. Last fall I set a goal to read through the Torah in Hebrew. I’ve met that goal and am continuing through the rest of the Tanach.
    People learn in different ways. If you find a textbook more suitable for you than Keith’s online course, I recommend The First Hebrew Primer from EKS Publishing. It is more methodical and less overwhelming than others I have seen.

  • Neville says:

    If Hilkiah (Jeremiah’s father) was part of the family rejected/banned from temple service, would that not have precluded him from serving King Josiah in the temple during the renovation?

  • Carolyn Priebe says:

    Aaron’s Almond Rod that budded – Numbers 17:5-10
    Hope that you find this interesting too.

  • Lee Larkan says:

    Thank y’all so much for providing this for us. It is greatly appreciated. Happy happy joy joy!!