Prophet Pearls #25 – Tzav (Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:22-23)

In this episode of Prophet Pearls, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion of Tzav covering Jeremiah 7:21-8:3,  9:22-23. In this portion paralleling the sacrifices in Leviticus, Gordon traipses through millennia to offer explanations for the perplexing statement, “I didn’t command you to bring sacrifices.” So, were sacrifices allowed or commanded? Plan A or plan B? A remedy for idleness or a method for learning principles?

Regarding the “places of Topheth,” Gordon explains how Judaism and Christianity both adopted the “valley of the son of Hinnom” as a metaphor for hell and provides extra-biblical sources from the first and 12th centuries documenting the human sacrifice rituals of the Canaanites. Gordon and Johnson also address the question, “If human sacrifice didn’t cross God’s mind, then why his command to Abraham?” In closing, Hebrew word studies for sakal (sin-chet-lamed) and yada (yud-dalet-ayin) teach us more precisely what qualifies as boast-worthy.

"...let him who glories, glory in this, that he understands and knows Me" (Jeremiah 9:23)

I look forward to reading your comments!

Download Prophet Pearls Tzav

Transcript

Prophet Pearls #25 - Tzav (Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:22-23)

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 NehemiasWall.com.

Nehemia: Shalom and welcome to Prophet Pearls, face-to-face in the city of the prophets, Jerusalem, with Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. I am so excited to be here. Keith, can you say hello to the people?

Keith: I’ve been taken up. [laughing]

Nehemia: You’ve been taken up? I don’t even know what that is.

Keith: Last week the sun turned to darkness.

Nehemia: Wait, so now we’re living in the new heaven and the new earth?

Keith: Yes, that’s right.

Nehemia: Yofi. Well, what I want to do is remind people of why we came to Israel. Because we’re actually recording Prophet Pearls sitting here in a safe house in Jerusalem.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: I just want to remind people… and this is what happened. Previously on Prophet Pearls: “Are you there, Keith? Can you hear me? Hello? [both laughing] Keith! Can you hear me? Keith, you stay alive! You stay alive no matter what occurs. I will find you no matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you, you, you!” And I found him. I brought him all the way from China.

Keith: Not only did you find me, Nehemia, you found this safe house. Folks, I want to let you know, I still don’t have my suitcase. I’m waiting for it. It’s been three days and two nights. Nehemia’s got me here, and he’s over at Bubby Dina’s where he’s eating breakfast. There’s nothing in the refrigerator. I’m locked in this basement apartment, and all he tells me is that I can work on Prophet Pearls. Let me out, Nehemia! [laughing]

Nehemia: Hey, you’re free when I’m at Bubby Dina’s eating the omelet. You can do whatever you want.

Keith: Right. Okay.

Nehemia: All right, we’ve got to talk about, now that we’re done with the Last of the Mohicans, can we talk about Jeremiah?

Keith: Absolutely, we have to talk about him.

Nehemia: This is the second section of the Prophets in the Book of Leviticus, corresponding to the Torah portion of Tzav, Leviticus 6:1 to 8:36. This portion is Jeremiah 7:21 through 8:3. Then it skips two more verses to end on a happy note, 9:22 to 23 in Jeremiah.

Keith: Yes. I want to make a little confession. You talk about different things you’re reading. I used to… when we did the Original Torah Pearls program, I was really nervous. I loved Genesis and I loved Exodus, and I couldn’t wait for Deuteronomy. But Leviticus came and I thought, “What are we going to do?” You know I have to just be honest with you, it was really a delightful surprise that when we started…

Nehemia: What was the problem?

Keith: The problem was that it wasn’t a book that I would normally read, the book of Leviticus. I mean what does that have to do with me? As it is the issue that would be…

Nehemia: Like all the sacrifices, you mean?

Keith: Yes, and all of those things. But really, when we went into and started dealing with that, and I encourage people to listen to the Original Torah Pearls, where we went through all of those sections. It really was surprising to me. I was really excited as we prepared, and then we discussed it, and what came out as a result. So when you get to the Prophets, it’s like the Prophets paralleling Leviticus, it’s like, well, what are they going to talk about? Well, of course, it ends up talking about sacrifices, which is pretty amazing.

Nehemia: I’ve got a confession to make about those Torah portions in Leviticus which deal with the sacrifices. I don’t know if I ever shared this with you, but when I was a kid I went to this Jewish school, and one of the things that they had us do was… there was like a competition to see who could memorize more rules of the sacrifices. I’m talking about, for example, you have…

Keith: You’re kidding me?

Nehemia: No, you have the burnt offering on the third day of [laughing] the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and it has the fourth a quarter of a hin of, for example, wine or oil, or whatever, and then there’s another sacrifice and another. So I was actually the number one kid in my class, and memorized all the sacrifices with all the details. My rabbi was actually really innovative. He made this card game where you would put down the quarter of the hin, and then somebody would have to respond to that by putting which sacrifice… [laughing]

Keith: Why is this not surprising me? Why does this not surprise me?

Nehemia: I love the sacrifices. They’re wonderful with all the details. That’s my bread and butter. I’m a detail guy. I’m the tree guy, not the forest. But actually, this passage here, what we read in Leviticus, that was the trees. Now, we’re going to look at the forest, here in Jeremiah.

Keith: Yes, I like that image that you’re using, Nehemia, because one of the things that I notice in… and I think this is what’s so cool about the Prophets - is that you look at the Torah and you see that this is the rule, this is the way it is, and then you’d see the progression of people’s lives and how the community would change. And then the Yehovah speaks, “Thus sayeth Yehovah, ‘No longer…’” It’s like it brings to the forefront the balance of human life. Here’s the rule. This is what you want to do. Here’s the application of it. Here’s where there can be, what I call, not the alternative, but the shift that takes place.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: So 7:21, “Thus says Yehovah of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat flesh.’”

Nehemia: So what does that mean? So here we have two different types of sacrifice. Each one had a different card in the game as a kid. There’s the korbanal law, the whole burnt offering. There’s the korban zevach, or the zevach shlamim, which is the peace offering, and you eat that. The whole burnt offering you don’t eat of it, you burn the whole thing. What He’s saying is, “Look, don’t even bother burning the burnt offering, just eat it. I don’t even care about any of this.” [Keith laughing] That’s what He’s saying. It’s a pretty awesome image.

Keith: I just have to say, that is so… I don’t even know how to put it. I mean it’s just like, “Here’s the rule, just - you know what? Knock yourself out.”

Nehemia: Right. Well, it’s actually what we could describe as sarcasm.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: God’s being like, “Whatever. You’re not taking this seriously, just eat it. Don’t even bother.”

Keith: So what does it say next, “For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice,’” I love this! “this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk,’” you will function, “you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.” Man, if you only had that verse.

Nehemia: I think we have to spend considerable time talking about this verse, these two verses.

Keith: Yes, we have to.

Nehemia: Look, we could talk about the general principle, which is really clear, which is God wants obedience, not sacrifices. Which is something that’s actually going to come back again and again in Prophet Pearls - this theme of God wants obedience, not sacrifices. But I think we’ve got to talk about what’s specific to this passage, which is the statement, “I didn’t command you in the day that I took you out of Egypt to bring sacrifices,” because the first thing that comes to mind to me is, “Wait a minute, yes You did.”

Keith: Yes, exactly.

Nehemia: So what’s going on? Let’s look at some facts here and try to figure this out. First of all, we’ve got in Exodus, before they even leave Egypt, during the discussions with Pharaoh, Moses says, “We need to go into the desert to bring sacrifices.”

Keith: To do sacrifices.

Nehemia: I actually counted - he says it ten times. Ten times he mentions “we need to go to bring sacrifices”. Here’s an example from Exodus chapter 10 verses 25-26, I’ll read it from the Hebrew, “Vayomer Moshe,” “Moshe said, ‘You will also,’ to Pharaoh he’s saying, ‘You will also give in our hand peace offerings and burnt offerings, and we will make them for Yehovah our God and also our flocks will go with us. There will not remain a hoof because we will take from it to serve Yehovah our God. And we do not know with what we will serve our God until we come there.’” We’ve talked about in the Original Torah Pearls how there is this issue - is Moses lying here? In a sense, he’s not, because when they get there, they actually do sacrifices.

So in Exodus 24 verse 5, when they go to Mount Sinai, they offered sacrifice. It says, “And he sent the youths of the children of Israel, and they offered up whole burnt offerings and they slaughtered peace offerings to Yehovah out of bulls.” So before they leave Egypt, they say, “We need these animals to offer sacrifices,” when they actually get to Mount Sinai, which is the place they wanted to get to, they offer sacrifices.

Then immediately after the Ten Commandments, they’re commanded to make an earthen or unhewn stone altar for sacrifices. I think we talked about in a different passage, in Exodus 20 verses 25 or 26, it says, “If an altar of stone you will make for Me, do not build it out of hewn stone,” et cetera. Then it talks about not going up on steps to the altar, so that your nakedness not be revealed - because they didn’t wear underwear.

So what’s going on here? So He does talk about sacrifices when they left Egypt, before they left Egypt and after left Egypt. So what’s going on here? It really is a question. I mean, what is your view on this?

Keith: It’s interesting you say that, for He says, “For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When I read it, I think about what was the message? In other words, what was the main message that Yehovah gave to His people, and is the main message about sacrifices or is the main message about following Him?

Nehemia: I agree with you 100%. Meaning, if we take this in a very general sense, we can say, “Yes, this is true.” But if we look more specifically, it’s like, wait a minute, what is He trying to say here?

Keith: Right.

Nehemia: Because He did command them to bring sacrifices. This raises the whole question of, what are sacrifices about? It’s interesting, according to one Jewish explanation, sacrifices were permitted (before the golden calf) but they weren’t required. And that’s actually based on this passage and based on some other verses, they’re trying to say, “Yes, they were allowed to bring sacrifices, just like, who told Cain and Able to bring sacrifices? It wasn’t a commandment. They did it because they felt moved and they wanted to bring the sacrifice, but it wasn’t a commitment.”

So the theory there is that, yes, there was the Passover sacrifice, which was one very specific situation to avoid being killed in the plague of the first-born, but other than that, no - God didn’t command to bring sacrifices; they were allowed. Based on that, sacrifices, and this is a very, I would say, powerful Jewish explanation, meaning this isn’t just some minority opinion, it’s very prominent. According to this idea, sacrifices were never part of God’s divine plan. They existed in the culture and God tolerated them. Yet the golden calf they worshiped Yehovah by sacrificing in the presence of idols, so according to this Jewish explanation, in order to channel this evil energy into something good, God gave them the Tabernacle and the sacrifices as commandments.

But originally, it wasn’t part of God’s plan. It was almost like, “Look, I can see you can’t do without the sacrifices and you’re doing them wrong by sacrificing to a golden calf, so let’s channel that energy into a ritual that’ll keep you so busy.” It’s almost like what Pharaoh said, “You are idle, you are idle,” before he lets us go out of Egypt… “You are idle, you are idle,” therefore you are sacrificing to the idols. That’s actually the explanation for example of RaDaK, who is a very… Rabbi David Kimhi, a famous Jewish Bible commentator. According to him, this commandment about the earthen altar in Exodus 20 became obsolete, because now everything was directed to a specific ritual in a specific place. In other words, the original commandment in Exodus 20, according to this explanation - again, which is one explanation - was that, yes, if you want to make sacrifices you’re allowed to, just here’s how the altar has to be. Here are two options of how to make an altar.

After that, we’ve got the Tabernacle and the Temple, which never had earthen altars, which is interesting. It raises the question, whether these guys are right or not, what is Exodus 20 about? When were they going to build earthen altars if we’re commanded to build a very specific type of altar? Two altars, actually, in the Temple, or in the Tabernacle, and then later in the Temple.

Now, there are some problems with this. The golden calf is in Exodus 32 verse 4. The Tabernacle is first revealed to Moses on the mountain in Exodus 25 to 31, and it specifically refers to the designs of the Tabernacle he was shown on the mountain, but one of the things the rabbis point out correctly is that the Torah is not always in chronological order.

Keith: Right.

Nehemia: I think we talked about that in the original Torah Pearls, for example, Numbers 9 is given a date, and it’s earlier than Numbers 1. Meaning, you can see very specifically it’s not in chronological order. So it’s possible that God showed Moses these designs after the Israelites worshipped the golden calf. Meaning Moses is up there for 40 days and maybe it’s only at day 38 God says, “Oh, man, this is what they’re doing. All right, look, this is what you’re going to make them.” That’s a possibility. It’s definitely possible, and it explains this verse in Jeremiah as basically saying, “Look, I didn’t command you to do this, you were allowed to. But you wanted to do it, so I let you do it. Later, when you worshipped the golden calf, then I commanded it. But originally, it wasn’t about that. Originally, it was about obedience, and since you didn’t have obedience, then I gave you these commandments of the sacrifices. But now you’re missing the point, you’re focusing on the sacrifices and not the obedience.”

Keith: The struggle that I have with that is I’m always reminded of I was, I am, and I shall be. There’s nothing that surprises Him. There’s not anything that just like catches Him off guard. “Oh, my goodness, you mean you guys did this? Oh, I better come up with another plan.” I have a hard time with that. I tend to think more of Yehovah saying, “Yes, this is a part of the plan, but its purpose…” Like when I read, “For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them,” it’s like I’m thinking, “Okay, this is something that they were going to do, this is something that’s a part of the issue, but this is not the main issue.” We find this in the prophets over and over again. It’s not the main issue.

Nehemia: Right. I agree with that.

Keith: The rules and the regulations of this exact… a hin of this, and you won…

Nehemia: I won the competition.

Keith: You won the competition. But I’m telling you, [laughing] it’s not the main thing…

Nehemia: No, I agree with you.

Keith: So that why I kind of have a little bit of an issue regarding, you know…

Nehemia: I hear you. So first of all, as far as this idea that God doesn’t change the commandments… and I want to be really careful here. There are definitely situations in the Torah where God responds to what the people do. For example, we have the manna. He said, “Don’t collect it on Shabbat,” And they went out on Shabbat. Then He says, “Okay, don’t even leave the camp. I will sit each man in his place.”

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: That’s a response to what they did. “You know, look, if you can’t behave, you’ve got to sit in the corner.” So it’s possible. But there’s another rabbi named the Malbim, and he explains that Jeremiah means that… and this is more in line with what you said - Jeremiah means that God didn’t command us bring sacrifices for their own sake…

Keith: When do you get to call me Rabbi Keith? That’s what I wonder.

Nehemia: I’ll call you Rabbi Keith if you want. Rabbi Johnson.

Keith: [laughing] Right.

Nehemia: So basically, what the Malbim says is that Jeremiah means that God didn’t command us to bring sacrifices for their own sake, but so that Yehovah would be our God and we’d walk in His ways, which is what it says.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: The purpose of the sacrifices wasn’t to bring sacrifices, but to be obedient to Yehovah. In other words, the sacrifices in and of themselves have no efficacy whatsoever. Their only value is that God commanded us to do them. If we do them and disobey God then they kind of defeat their own purpose. That’s why it says, according to the Malbim in verse 23, that what God actually commanded us wasn’t sacrifices but obedience. In other words, they have a function; the function is to show you’re obedient. If you’re bringing sacrifices and you’re not obedient then you’re missing the essence of what the sacrifices are about. But you can see clearly in the Jewish sources, they’re struggling with this because they’ve also memorized just like I’ve memorized. [laughing]

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: There are whole tractates and discussions about the rules and regulations. And then Jeremiah comes along and throws a monkey wrench and says, “Look, it’s not really about sacrifice; sacrifices in and of themselves aren’t really that important, it’s about being obedient to God.” Here are three other passages that talk about… I’m going to save these actually when we have another passage that talks about sacrifices.

But just for this week, I’m going to invite people to go look up three passages, Micah Chapter 6 verses 7-8. 1 Samuel Chapter 15:22, and Jeremiah Chapter 7 verse 10. These are other verses that talk about focusing on God, on the obedience, and not the sacrifices. But we’ll have an opportunity to talk about this in the future when we get to some of the sections.

Keith: I don’t want to make this so human-focused. But it’s not unlike you’re dealing with your children. You know, here’s what we do. Here’s how we do what we do, and then all of a sudden they say, “Okay, yes we’re going to do it, but the spirit by which we do it is not.” So, we clean on Tuesdays because this is what we do, and then all the sudden they add a bunch of other issues. Then as the parent, you come and you say, “Okay, what’s the real issue here? What is the real issue that we’re focusing on?” When I read this I think about God saying “It’s about my relationship with you. You’re My children, I’m your Father. Here’s what I want you to do. Here’s how I want you to listen to My voice, and listening to My voice includes, these are the things that you do.”

Nehemia: Right.

Keith: So again, I don’t think He gets surprised by anything. I don’t think there’s anything that He’s like, “Oh, boy, crap. They’re down there sacrificing.” We only had one argument during Torah Pearls. I told you, the big argument about whether Moses was… you remember the whole issue about him going into the land or not going into the land, big psychological conversation? [laughing]

Nehemia: I don’t remember.

Keith: So in this one, I just say I don’t think there’s a part where God says, “Since you guys won’t do this, I’m going to do this.” It almost seems like He’d be responding. That’s all I’m saying.

Nehemia: Right. This is the point, to me, and this is actually a really profound concept beyond this particular passage, which is, I think what Jeremiah is saying… let me back up. So we’ve got specific commandments that are often examples, or there’s a principle to learn from those commandments.

Keith: There it is. Yes.

Nehemia: I think the point of Jeremiah is that the principle behind the commandment is more important than the commandment itself. A famous example is that God says, “When you have a roof, you’re to build a parapet around the roof,” that’s like a little fence, “so that people don’t fall off and get killed.” Well, what’s the principle there? The principle there is if you have a situation where you set up, where there’s danger, then you, as the property owner, have a responsibility to make sure somebody wandering around there doesn’t get hurt. And what is very easy to do is get so focused on the roof with the parapet and the height of the parapet and the length, that we forget that there is a three-story staircase and there’s no railing then somebody falls off and dies.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: The point of Jeremiah, I believe here, whether the Malbim is right or RaDaK is right, maybe they’re both right, is that the principle behind the commandments is more important than the specifics of the commandment itself, and if we focus so much on those specifics that we forget the principle, then we’re not being obedient to God.

Keith: You know it’s interesting, Nehemia, you think about Abraham and they talk about, “He kept My statues, My judgments, My commands,” and say, “Where were those written and where’s that?” The spirit of Abraham what he did is when he heard from God, he responded. When he heard from God, he responded. So if God would have said, “Sacrifice your son,” Abraham sacrifices his son. In other words, the point is… And what did he do? That’s a great example. Did He really want the sacrifice or was he asking the question…?

Nehemia: Well, clearly He didn’t because He said, “I don’t want to.”

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: We’ll actually talk about that later on in this passage.

Keith: Yes. But that’s the thing, I just I look at it from that perspective.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: All right. You’re going to have to read, because my computer has just about shut down, so you’ve got to keep going.

Nehemia: Your computer has died. Okay. So I love verse 25, and I think we’ll... I just love the phrase. It says, “From the day that your fathers went out from the land of Egypt until today, I said to you all My servants the prophets, yom haskhem veshalo’ach, each day waking up early and sending,” that’s what it literally says. [laughing]

Keith: I love that.

Nehemia: “Ve’lo shamu elay,” “And they didn’t listen to me.” “Ve’lo hitu et oznam,” “and they didn’t incline their ear.”

Keith: And they stiffened their necks.

Nehemia: “And they stiffened their necks, here’u me’avotam, and they did even more evil than their fathers.”

Keith: By the way, in the middle of the night I thought about you saying you didn’t understand when I was talking about with neck, and I thought, “Well, how does he not understand what I’m talking about with the body parts?” What word is used here when they said they stiffened their neck?

Nehemia: Right, what does it have to do with arafel?

Keith: No, I’m asking you - what word is used there?

Nehemia: It’s “oref.”

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: Or it’s the same root as the word is arafel, which is a thick darkness.

Keith: Eventually, he’s going to get this. He’s going to understand this.

Nehemia: I don’t know what the picture is of God’s in the...

Keith: Don’t you know about the shoulders? You have the shoulders.

Nehemia: Is this the Temple being the image of a man or something?

Keith: No, no. It’s much deeper than that. But we’ll deal with it. [laughing]

Nehemia: God’s in the neck? I don’t know what you’re talking about. These allegories… All right. Et cetera, et cetera. I think we can skip ahead. I want to skip ahead to verse 30.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: It says, “‘For the children of Israel did evil in My eyes,’ says Yehovah, ‘samu shikutzehem babayit, they put their abominations in my house, which My name is called upon it to desecrate it.’” What’s that talking about?

Keith: Wow.

Nehemia: That means there were actual idols in the Temple in Jerusalem itself. We actually see that in the time of Josiah - I love this story of Josiah where they find the Torah in the Temple, and he hears in the Torah you’re not supposed to have idols. And it’s amazing, because he starts out as this righteous king. He wants to do right but he doesn’t know what right is. So he orders for the Temple to be renovated. He thinks, “Okay, the Temple of God, Temple of Yehovah, let’s renovate it, that’ll make me righteous.”

They find this book in the Temple, which is read to him, and he realizes, “Uh-oh, we’ve been renovating the Temple, but it’s full of idols.” So the second thing he does is commands for the idols to be removed. Which is amazing. Like, wait a minute, you’re renovating the Temple, but you didn’t know you have to take the idols out? That’s what Jeremiah is talking about here - that there are idols, abominations in the Temple.

Verse 31 says, “And they built the high places of the Topheth, which is in Gey Ben Hinnom, the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in fire, which I did not command.” And it says, “velo alta al libi,” “and it didn’t even come upon My heart,” literally “to go up upon my heart.”

Keith: That is such an interesting phrase. That’s one of those phrases that when you read it, the second part of it just literally jumps off the page.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: “Look, not only did I not command it, I never even thought about it. Wasn’t even something that entered my mind.”

Nehemia: “It didn’t even occur to me that you should sacrifice your children.”

Keith: “It didn’t even occur to me that you would do that.” Now, let me say something.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: We could talk about this, and folks, I’m going to try to encourage Nehemia to get you to watch this, one of the great teachings that he’s done. It’s actually in the Open Door Series.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: I think that the phrase itself - what was the phrase of the title?

Nehemia: “To Hell and Back.”

Keith: Yes, “To Hell and Back.” A great controversy.

Nehemia: It’s also in my book Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence, it talks about that in more detail.

Keith: Yes, it’s also in that book there. But one of the things about it that I’m struggling with, I’m struggling with in this little apartment you have me in. Now, this morning I’ll give you an example, it took everything in me not to send you a note and ask you what time you were coming, so I could get on a bus so I could go visit hell. Why did I want to go and visit hell? Because there…

Nehemia: Because yesterday I said you go to hell? [laughing]

Keith: [laughing] No, no!

Nehemia: No, I didn’t say.

Keith: No, you didn’t say that. Because here I am, within ten minutes…

Nehemia: Wait, what do you mean hell? Tell people what you mean.

Keith: No, I’m going to tell them. Within 10 minutes, where I can actually physically go to the place that Jeremiah is referring to. Where I can physically go and look at that place.

Nehemia: Five minutes by car without traffic. [laughing]

Keith: We talk a lot about being in the Land of Israel and being in the Land of the Prophets, but one of the things that’s so amazing to me, and I just have to slow down and tell people about this, that I just think is amazing, is that I can read this section and I don’t have to imagine what Jeremiah is trying to get the people to see. They didn’t have to imagine what he’s trying to get them to see. They know this physical place is there. They actually saw these things taking place, where people were actually sacrificing their children in the fire down in that particular valley.

For me, Nehemia, why this is such a powerful experience is because again, I’m 10 minutes away. So when I open the Bible, I’ve seen this place and I’m looking at this place. Again, what Jeremiah is bringing to mind where Yehovah says, “I didn’t command it. It did not come into My mind.” He also sees the picture of them doing this, taking the child, their child, and sacrificing them to the false god.

And again, you see this over and over in Israel. We can go 10 minutes away and walk to another place and see where this thing took place. I mean it just it’s amazing.

Nehemia: Yes. It’s amazing. I love Israel. I want to back up for those who aren’t familiar with this human sacrifice situation. First of all, let’s just be really clear - there’s a place outside of the Old City of Jerusalem. It was outside of Jerusalem back in the time of Jeremiah, in a valley called The Valley of the Sons of Hinnom, or The Valley of the Son of Hinnom, which in Hebrew is Gey Ben Hinnom.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: It’s from the phrase Gey Ben Hinnom that you get if you dropped the word “Ben,” which is “Son,” you “Gey Hinnom,” and “Gehinnom” is the Hebrew word for “hell.” Meaning in later sources, after the Tanakh, they talk about “Gehinnom.” I grew up being taught about if you’re not good you’ll go to “Gehinnom,” which is hell. So in rabbinical sources “Gehinnom” becomes a term for hell.

In Greek, it became Gehenna and in English it’s “hell.” Why was this an image of hell? Because it was the place where there was fire and they were sacrificing children. We’ll see in a minute - I won’t go in the whole thing - but we’ll see in a minute that this actually comes from the Book of Isaiah, the rabbis didn’t make it up and the Christians didn’t make it up. It’s actually an image that comes from Isaiah.

But first, I want to talk about the human sacrifice. This is such a big issue that this actually is forbidden specifically in the Torah. Leviticus 18:21 says, “Do not allow any of your offspring to be offered up to Molech,” Molech was the main god of the Ammonites.

Keith: That’s right.

Nehemia: “… and do not profane the name of your God: I am Yehovah.” Then Leviticus 20 verses 2 to 5, maybe I won’t read the whole thing, it says, “Say further to the Israelite people, ‘Anyone among the Israelites, or among the strangers residing in Israel, who gives any of his offspring to Molech shall be put to death; the people of the land shall pelt him with stones.’” This is the JPS. “And I will set My face against that man and will cut him off from among the people because he gave of his offspring to Molech and so defiled My sanctuary and profaned My holy name. And if the people of the land should shut their eyes to that man when he gives of his offspring to Molech, and should not put him to death, I Myself will set My face against that man and his kin, and I will cut off from among their people both him and all who follow him in going astray after Molech.”

So twice, Leviticus 18, Leviticus 20. Third witness - Deuteronomy 18:10, says, “Let no one be found among you who consigns his son or daughter to the fire.” In the context, everybody knew what that meant –literally it’s to pass his son or his daughter through the fire. What does that mean to pass his son or his daughter through the fire? Here’s a really interesting example where we can look in ancient sources outside of the Tanakh and get an understanding of what it means, because these pagan practices weren’t unique to the Ammonites; they were very widespread among the Canaanites.

What’s shocking to me is you’ve got a temple in Jerusalem in a time where there are prophets, and somebody decides, “I’m going to set up a temple to Molech outside the city and I’m going to perform human sacrifice.” It’s hard to wrap my head around that, because that’s not the image I was taught of what ancient Israel was like. I was taught there were these rabbis and there was the Sanhedrin and everyone was sitting in a yeshiva studying Talmud during the time of the prophets. What I find out is that, in fact, they’re burning their children to Molech, which is unbelievable. Actually, in Jerusalem, at the time the Temple stood, there was a second temple just outside the city where they would burn their children. I’ve actually been to that spot, the exact spot as far as we know, according to the sources, where they burned their children to Molech. It’s amazing that you can actually go to that place, I actually think I showed pictures of that, of the site today, of what it looks like, in the Open Door Series. Actually, on the website, I’m going to include a photo of that.

So I want to quote a Roman source. Why Romans? Because you had these people - this city called Carthage, and Carthage was settled by the people from Tyre. Remember we said in a previous episode that Hiram was tired? [laughing]

Keith: Yes. We were tired.

Nehemia: I was tired. I was so tired I said Hiram of Tyre was from Sidon. But those are cities next to each other in Syria. So the Carthaginian were Canaanites from Tyre. They were called Phoenicians by the Greeks, because Phoenicia means land of purple - they made purple dye - and they were called Punic people in Latin, which is just the Latin pronunciation of Phoenicians, Puna, Punic. That’s why we have, for example, the first Punic War.

The first Punic War took place in the years 264 to 241 B.C. between Rome and Carthage, and Diodorus Siculus who is first century B.C., active around 60 to 30 B.C., he writes in book 20 Section 14 about Carthage, which is a Canaanite city. It’s amazing that we have these descriptions; even after Jeremiah for a thousand years they continue to do these things. It says, “In former times they had been accustomed to sacrifice to Moloch,” or Cronus, he calls him in Latin, “the noblest of their sons,” meaning they take the noblest sons. It says, “In their zeal to make amends for their omission, they selected two hundred of the noblest children and sacrificed them publicly.” That’s amazing. In other words, the Canaanites believed that through the human sacrifice of the firstborn son you could then atone for your sins.

“There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus, extending its hands, palms up and sloping down to the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire.” So imagine - you’ve got this statue and he’s putting his arms out, and if you hand your child into the hands of the statue, actually the child will burn and then fall into a pit of fire underneath, it’s heating up this bronze statue.

Rashi, who is a rabbi who lived a thousand years after Diodorus Siculus, describes almost the exact same thing, which is amazing. Meaning, people remembered what happened. Commenting on this verse, Rashi says, “That is the Molech that was made out of bronze and they would heat up under it; and its hands were stretched out and they would become heated and they would put the child upon its hands and it would burn and it would moan, the child, and the dark priests of Molech they would beat drums so that the father would not hear the sounds of the son, so that his mercy would be ignited.” Meaning they would drown out the sounds of the dying child with the sounds of the...

Keith: Of the drum.

Nehemia: That actually appears in some other sources. He says that’s why it was called Tophet. The Hebrew word for “drum” is “toph.” You might say, wait a minute, this is a Canaanite god, not a Hebrew god; but the Canaanites spoke the language almost identical to Hebrew. So Tophet would, in Canaanite, also mean the place of the drum beating. The purpose of the drum beating is so that you don’t hear the sounds of the crying child. Which is like, oh, my gosh, that’s incredible.

Plutarch, who’s another Roman historian, he writes sometime between the year 46 and 120 A.D. He says, “And the whole area before the statue was filled with a loud noise of flutes and drums so that the cries of the wailing should not reach the ears of the people.” This amazes me - to see something in Rashi in the 12th century and a Roman source in the 1st century tells me they’re both going back to the common source, which is these things actually happened and people remembered it.

1 Kings chapter 11 verse 7, Solomon builds an altar to Molech, which is called the Tophet, the place of the drum beating. 2 Kings 16:3, Ahaz, who is King of Israel, Ahaz who is the same Ahaz we talked about in Isaiah chapter 7 that the sign was given to him. He passes his son through the fire, “according to the abominations of the nations.”

Keith: That’s crazy.

Nehemia: I mean, this is the same Ahaz that was given the sign of the young woman in Isaiah 7, and he’s passing his son through fire? Somebody say grace. Wow. 2 King 23:10, Josiah finally destroys the Tophet. Up until then, this Tophet was - up until the time of Josiah sometime around they say 650, or some people say 621 B.C. - I don’t know how they get that exact date; that’s a guess I think - but sometime around 621 B.C. perhaps, Josiah orders that the Tophet be destroyed, and this was a big thing. This continued among the Canaanites for hundreds of years, maybe a thousand years after Josiah.

But the point is that human sacrifice – well, let’s read Jeremiah 32:35, it says, “And they built bamot haBaal,” the high places of Baal, “which is in the Valley of the sons of Hinnom,” which is in Gehenna, hell, “to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which asher lo tzivitim, which I did not command, Velo alta al libi, And it did not even go upon my heart to do these abominations in order to cause Judah to sin.” The message here is human sacrifice is an abomination to Yehovah and doesn’t even cross His mind, or literally, in Hebrew, go up upon His heart.

Keith: It’s something. He’s talking about this human sacrifice, and I know that there must be people who wonder, “Well, then what was it that was going on with Abraham? Where He said, ‘Sacrifice your son.’” Again, that wasn’t the same thing. That wasn’t even offering his...

Nehemia: Well, it’s a valid question, though.

Keith: It’s a valid question.

Nehemia: Because based on what God commanded, it is the same thing. But the point is, at the last minute God said don’t do it.

Keith: Okay, but I’m going to tell you why it’s not the same thing.

Nehemia: Why is that?

Keith: Because first of all, what you’re talking about, these sacrifices here, you’re talking of sacrificing to a false god.

Nehemia: Wait, so sacrificing to the true God is okay?

Keith: No, no. What I’m saying...

Nehemia: It says, “Didn’t even go upon his heart.”

Keith: It didn’t even go upon his heart. What is it that they were doing?

Nehemia: I think it’s human sacrifice, that’s the message.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: I think that was the point of the commandment… And look, I think the common Jewish view, and I could be wrong, but the common Jewish understanding is, why did God command Abraham? Because the nations around looked at Abraham and said, “Yes, you’re worshipping that invisible God. Big deal. We sacrifice our children. You have no faith. We show true faith, and you don’t even sacrifice your child.”

Keith: It tells us why he did this.

Nehemia: That’s the point. He tested him to see, “Okay, you say you worship Me? Prove it.”

Keith: That was the key. He tested him.

Nehemia: But it was a test from the very beginning. He didn’t want the human sacrifice.

Keith: Yes. Exactly.

Nehemia: Because human sacrifice is an abomination to Yehovah. But it raises the question - how is it that both Judaism and Christianity adopted the idolatrous Tophet as a symbol of God’s wrath? I explain this in my book Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence, it comes from Isaiah Chapter 30 verse 33, where the Tophet is actually a metaphor, which is something everybody knew about. It was this valley, this place filled with the screaming of children and the fire. So it was the worst image of suffering, and so Isaiah uses it as a metaphor. It says, “For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the King of Assyria it is prepared. He has made it deep and large,” which is interesting, because Diodorus Siculus, the Roman, describes it as, “a gaping pit filled with fire.” Here he says, “deep and large.” “The pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of Yehovah, like a stream of brimstone, does kindle it.”

So here it’s saying, metaphorically, God’s going to burn up the King of Assyria the way the Tophet, that idolatrous thing everybody knows about, burns up the children; not to say that that’s a legitimate place for sacrifice, but that's a metaphor.

Matthew chapter 5:22 speaks about hellfire, and there the word in Greek is Gehenna, or Gehennan, Gehenna, the Valley of Hinnom. So it’s a metaphor. Not that it’s a legitimate thing, but it could be used metaphorically as an image of great suffering.

Keith: Now, tell me this, because I really do want to get to this verse. What verse are you on there? I’m struggling without my computer. I’ve got my Bible…

Nehemia: So now we’re in verse 32.

Keith: On 32. So wait. Hold on here, 32.

Nehemia: “‘Behold days are coming’, says Yehovah, ‘it shall no longer be said the Tophet and the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom or the Son of Hinnom, but rather the valley of killing, the valley of slaughter, and they shall bury in the Tophet for a lack of place.’” Which is really interesting. That’s interesting to… or would you have any thoughts on that?

Keith: No, go ahead.

Nehemia: So what’s interesting to me about that is that in Second Temple times there was - and this is actually mentioned in the New Testament - that there was a place where they would bury poor people, it was called the potter’s field.

Keith: The potter’s field.

Nehemia: It was on the site of the Tophet, according to some of the ancient sources. Later on, the Crusaders set up a tomb there called the charnel house, where anybody who was coming on pilgrimage and was too poor to own… who was a foreigner in a foreign land, he would die; people died in traveling…

Keith: That’s what they did.

Nehemia: … they got sick and they’d bury these poor people in the charnel house, and I actually went there and found bones there, found the bones, possibly, of these child victims. That’s what I talk about in “To Hell and Back.” It’s amazing that here he’s talking about this prophecy, it’ll be a place where they bury because of the lack of place, and they decide that’s where we’re going to bury the poor people. You can actually see the Second Temple tomb there to this very day. So we know pretty much exactly where this Tophet took place. That’s unbelievable.

Keith: I’m telling you, I don’t know why we’re not there recording this. I just don’t understand. You got us in this basement instead of us… we’re 10 minutes away! We could be there recording it right now. [laughing]

Nehemia: Let’s go.

Keith: Yes, right. So I want to read 8:1 is that okay?

Nehemia: Yes, sure.

Keith: Okay. “‘At that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘they will bring out the bones of the kings of Judah and the bones of its princes, and the bones of the priests and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem from their graves. They will,’” and this is the verse where it sounds, you know, if you’re reading it and you’re thinking about it from then, but I actually see some of this for now, “and they will spread them out to the sun, the moon and to all the hosts of heaven which they have loved and which they have served and which they have gone after and which they have sought and which they have,” and here comes the word, “worshipped.”

I think that this is the challenge, Nehemia. We talked about it last week, and it’s still the issue now, is that sometimes in the majesty of the sun and the moon and the stars and all of those things that we look up to, historically people have looked up to those things, and they’re so magnificent and so amazing and so beautiful, they say, “Look, let’s bow down and let’s worship these things.” That’s where I think the tension comes in. We want to understand God’s creation, but when people take that creation and it becomes the focus, and that’s exactly what I think happens, it becomes the focus. And so the sun...

Nehemia: Just to be clear, what becomes the focus?

Keith: The sun, the moon, the hosts of heaven, these things become the focus. They become the focus of people’s… Like here it’s talking about them actually bowing down and worshipping them. But again, those things become the focus, and they no longer become… The Creator who created them becomes the created thing, and the created thing becomes the issue that people focus on.

So in this situation, it’s saying that this is what they did - they spread these out to the sun, to the moon, to the hosts of heaven. Even yesterday, I was looking at what was going on during the time of when the Roman influence was here, and what happened with the people of Israel. You know, first century, second century, and beyond. They begin to connect what they’re focusing on, which is the sun and the moon and the stars, and they say, “Now it’s the sun and the moon and the stars,” and pretty soon, again, it becomes the creation and not the Creator. I think that’s also connected to what’s going on with the four blood moons, that’s just my opinion. I’d throw the four blood moons…

Nehemia: [laughing] How’d you get to the four blood moons? No one’s bowing down to the four blood moons.

Keith: What are you talking about? The focus becomes, okay, here becomes the issue…

Nehemia: I think that’s a cheap shot.

Keith: No, I’m not… I’m telling you! You can ask people right now. They will say, “Oh, because of this pattern, this becomes the focus.” And I think, why is the focus the pattern rather than the pattern maker? That’s all I’m saying. Someone created the pattern. The pattern was created by the Creator, and he has a whole system in place where we can look at those things and say, “Yes, this is what He’s done.” But again, I think that becomes the focus, and that’s where people get led astray. So anyway.

Nehemia: Yes… about that. Okay. All right. Go on.

Keith: No, that’s it.

Nehemia: So can you read verse 3?

Keith: No, I can’t.

Nehemia: You can’t?

Keith: I don’t have it.

Nehemia: All right. I got to read verse 3.

Keith: Go ahead. [laughing]

Nehemia: So Jeremiah Chapter 8 verse 3 is the last verse until we jump...

Keith: Until tonight.

Nehemia: Until two more verses.

Keith: Oh, “And death is chosen rather than life…”

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: “‘… by all the remnant that remains of the evil family, that remains in all the places to which I have driven them,’ declares the LORD,” And can you not use the word “remain” and “remains” and “remnant”? Did you see that?

Nehemia: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Keith: No, it says here in English, “And death will be chosen rather than life by all the remnant that remains of this evil family, that remains in all the places to which I have driven them.”

Nehemia: So what does that mean, “Death will be chosen more than life”?

Keith: You tell me.

Nehemia: Life will be so miserable, they’ll prefer to die. That’s one possibility.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: But it really is a strange phrase. When I hear, “Death will be chosen rather than life,” the first thing that comes to mind for me is Deuteronomy chapter 30 verses 15 and 19. He says, “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.” He goes on in verse 16, it says, “In that I command thee this day to love Yehovah your God, to walk in His ways, and keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and Yehovah your God shall bless you in the land where you go to possess it. But if your heart turns away, so that you will not hear, but shall be drawn away and worship other gods to serve them...” verse 18, “I denounce unto you this day, that you shall surely perish, and that you shall not prolong your days upon the land, whether you pass over the Jordan to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life, that you and your seed may live, that you may love Yehovah your God, and you may obey His voice, and that you may cleave unto Him, for He is your life, and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which Yehovah swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

I think it’s really interesting - here we have the exact opposite. God is saying in Deuteronomy 13 and 15 through around 20, there, He’s saying, “I’ve set before you life and death - choose life, don’t choose death.” Here it’s saying, “They’re going to choose death, these evil people are going to be scattered out of the land, and they’re going to choose death.” It’s interesting, what is He referring to? When did Israel choose death over life?

What comes to mind for me is something that you hear from… you actually hear this from the Muslims, and specifically, I encounter this from Hamas. Hamas have a bunch of famous leaders who got up and they say, “We love death more than the Jews love life, and that’s why we, the Muslims, are going to win.” It’s true the Jews love life. We’re commanded in the Torah to choose life. Yehovah is our life. We don’t love death. They love death.

Here it’s really interesting, and I’m going to say something very controversial, some people are going to be upset. These guys choose death; does that have anything to do with this verse? I wonder if this verse isn’t prophetic, because one of the things some historians have pointed out is that you had these Jews in the Land of Israel, and the Muslims conquered the land, and those Jews either willingly or forcibly were converted to Islam. It’s very possible that some, maybe not all, but some of the Palestinian Arabs today are descended from Israelites. Maybe some of them are that remnant that has chosen death over life, and maybe that’s what Jeremiah’s talking about. I think we need to go back to Deuteronomy and choose life, Yehovah is our life. We don’t want the god of death.

Keith: Okay. You said it.

Nehemia: There it is. I’m going to let you talk about the last two verses in Jeremiah.

Keith: I want to talk, and actually for a time, can I slow down and just talk about the very last verse? Would you be willing to let me do that?

Nehemia: The last two verses or just the last one?

Keith: The last verse is what I want to talk about.

Nehemia: Can you read 9:22-23?

Keith: Yes. “Speak, Thus says Yehovah, The corpses of men will fall like dung on the open field, and like the sheaves…”

Nehemia: No, Jeremiah 9:22 through 23.

Keith: No, this is Jeremiah 9:22-23 in the English. So 9:22, 9:21 in the Hebrew...

Nehemia: What? Oh, it’s different verses in the English?

Keith: Yes, exactly.

Nehemia: Hold on a second. So in Hebrew it’s 9:22-23, it’s 23-24 in the King James Version.

Keith: Okay, read that.

Nehemia: So can you read 22 through 23?

Keith: I can’t because I’ve only got…

Nehemia: Ugh! I’ll read the King James. “Thus sayeth the LORD,” in Hebrew, it’s caps so the LORD, Yehovah. “Thus saith the LORD, ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches, but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the LORD,’” or Yehovah in the Hebrew, “‘which exercise loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight,’ says the LORD,” says Yehovah. Wow. I love that.

Keith: Yes. I want to say something about this that really has been a long-term process for me. Actually, what I do like, as I’m reading through that in verses 22 and 23, there’s a phrase, and it’s different in 23, versus 22 in Hebrew. In 22, it says, “Do not let them boast,” I think it’s like saying, “Do not let them praise.”

Nehemia: I would translate it as “to praise yourself.” “Don’t praise yourself.”

Keith: Exactly. And so when I’m reading this, and I'm thinking about, you know, we talk about Halleluyah, praise, praise Yah. In this situation, it’s like…

Nehemia: It’s the same word.

Keith: It’s the exact same word.

Nehemia: But it’s “yitalel.”

Keith: Exactly. So when I see that word, and I’m thinking a lot about this, and I think a lot about this from the perspective of what happens in the world that we’re in today. Actually, I’m presently - for those that don’t know - I’m presently actually over in China with my wife, Andrea, and my son Andrew.

Nehemia: Actually, presently you’re in Jerusalem. But you mean…

Keith: No, presently, by the time they listen to this, I’ll be on my way back. [laughing]

Nehemia: Oh, okay. You’ll be back in time.

Keith: No, what I want to say is that being there, one of the things that’s really interesting is - and you know about the culture - different things become important. In the United States, what becomes important is let the one who’s got the most money talk about how he’s got the most money. In fact, I just read an article today, it says presently, before this time, I’m a little bit in a time warp...

Nehemia: I’m so confused.

Keith: There’s a little bit of a time warp.

Nehemia: When this is being broadcast?

Keith: When this is being broadcast, I actually did it earlier, and they talk about how every year they have the Forbes richest people come out, and that’s increased by something like 12 some percent. They say that the one percent, a year from now, will actually have more resources than all the 99 percent combined. That the numbers are increasing that way. This is what’s given as sort of the praise - who’s got the most money? Who’s number one? Bill Gates is number one. Who’s number two? The guy from somewhere over in some other part of the world. And who’s number three? Warren Buffett is number three. It looks like his… and they’re talking about the new people who’ve made it to this list. This becomes the place of praise. Did you make the list? Did you make the billionaire list? Seventeen new people, presently, Nehemia…

Nehemia: Are in what? On the billionaire list?

Keith: They’re on the billionaire list. And presently they’re saying that there are about 1,800 people, 1,800 people that are the one percent. The idea is to boast. Let not the one who’s rich boast? No, absolutely let’s boast. And that’s exactly what it’s talking about here is, let not the one who’s rich boast in his riches. And that’s exactly what they do; they boast in the riches.

This verse has always been important to me, because I go through each of these things. So wisdom, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom.” Might, “Let not the strong man boast in his strength.” Riches, “Let not the rich man boast in his riches.” But if you want to praise something, if you really want to boast about something, let them boast in this - that they understand and know Me. Wow! [laughing] I think that is the whole issue, is that, “I am Yehovah who exercises loving kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, and I delight in these things.” What things? Loving kindness, justice and righteousness. Which is the exact opposite of what our present world is always pushing - it’s pushing for the strength and it’s pushing for the riches, and that becomes the issue. If you have that, you're on top. When in fact, what He says is, “If you want to boast about something, boast that you understand and know Me.” And I’ve always looked at this verse as something that I want - I don’t even want to boast in it, but it’s something I want to pursue. I want to pursue understanding who He is, what it means to be in a relationship with Him, and that really becomes it for me. So this has been a verse I actually memorized a long time ago.

Nehemia: Really?

Keith: I didn’t memorized it in Hebrew, I memorized it in English. Now, when I looked at it in Hebrew, the word that’s used, this word to praise, “Halleluyah.” You know, halleluyah, praise Him, and don’t let there be a praising of the person.

Nehemia: Yes, okay. Wow.

Keith: Pretty powerful.

Nehemia: I do have to say something in defense of Warren Buffett. He’s actually a really humble guy and gives…

Keith: What are you talking about he’s a…?

Nehemia: He gives like literally billions of dollars to charity. Billions! So you’re saying to boast about righteousness, and I agree with you…

Keith: I don’t know anything about what he gives. I’m talking about why he’s on the Forbes list.

Nehemia: He didn’t put himself on the Forbes list. The guy worked hard and he’s very successful, and I don’t think he should be ashamed of that. There’s nothing wrong with that whatsoever.

Keith: Listen to the recording, did I say anything to be ashamed…?

Nehemia: I want to challenge you on something else. You say they’re going up 12 percent between last year, are they taking that 12 percent from the other 99 percent of the people? In other words, those 1,800 people - are they taking money from you and me, and that’s why they’re getting rich? Or are they creating more wealth?

Keith: You’re talking about something completely different. I’m talking about the fact that…

Nehemia: He’s a Keynesian, and I know he is.

Keith: [laughing] I’m talking about the fact that this is what people boast in.

Nehemia: I believe in Hayek.

Keith: They boast in their riches.

Nehemia: I agree.

Keith: They boast in their strength, they boast…

Nehemia: We should be boasting in Yehovah. I agree with you on that.

Keith: Exactly. Yes. And Warren Buffett, he hasn’t given to the BFA, so as far as I’m concerned he doesn’t count. [laughing]

Nehemia: “You don’t count, Warren.”

Keith: “You don’t count, Warren.”

Nehemia: Well, I think he does count.

Keith: But I want to say…

Nehemia: I think he’s a righteous man, from what I know.

Keith: Wow. I mean...

Nehemia: I mean I don’t know the guy, but from what I’ve read. I don’t want to bash him just because he’s rich. I think he should not be ashamed of being rich, because he worked really hard.

Keith: Yehovah would say to him, “Don’t boast in that, though. If you want to boast in something, boast in understanding…”

Nehemia: What I love about this passage is that this is… I don’t know if you can tell this in English, but in Hebrew, it’s very clear, it jumps off the page, that this is what we call a proverb. It’s in the style of proverbs. There are actually two proverbs that appear in the Tanakh that are very reminiscent - they’re talking about other things, but they’re very reminiscent of that - one is in 1 Kings chapter 20 verse 11, it says, “The king of Israel replied,” it says, and he’s speaking, I think, to the King of Aramia or Syria, if I recall correctly, he says, “Tell him, ‘Let not him who girds on his sword boast like him who takes it off.’”

Keith: “Who takes it off.” Exactly. [laughing]

Nehemia: It’s the same word in Hebrew, “yitalel.” In other words, when you’re going out to war, don’t boast as if you’re coming back from war, because you might not come back.

Keith: Isn’t that something.

Nehemia: That’s great. Then there’s another proverb that this reminds me of, Proverbs 27:1, “Do not boast of tomorrow,” same word. “Do not boast of tomorrow, for you do not know what the day will bring.” I love this. “Don’t boast in yourself, boast in Yehovah.”

It’s interesting, there are two things here that we can boast in or praise ourselves in, maybe praise Him through our experience here. One is “haskel,” which is to understand, and the other is “yado’a,” to know. You might think, well, that’s the same thing, but in Hebrew I read this, and it’s obvious to me that “yado’a,” to know, is in the biblical sense of we have this idea in the Tanakh “to know God” isn’t to have intellectual knowledge. We have the verse, “Adam knew Eve,” which didn’t mean he actually knew her name, he had an intimate interaction with her. There’s this idea in Hebrew that knowing isn’t just an intellectual thing, it’s an experiential thing, and it’s an intimate experience. So to understand and to know in Hebrew is really what we’ve talked about, what you’ve talked about is information and inspiration. Meaning, it’s to know intimately, to experience God. I think that’s really powerful. What should you boast in? Boast in knowing Me and experiencing Me. To know intimately, “For I am Yehovah who does chesed,” I love that word, “chesed” is a really hard word - they translate it as “loving kindness.” It’s a hard word to translate. We could have a whole hour-long discussion about the word “chesed.” I think we should do that. “Chesed mishpat u’tzdaka,” “‘judgment and righteousness in the land; these are the things that I desire,’ says Yehovah.”

Keith: Well, I will say this, Nehemia, these first four sessions I’ve been without my folder, my computer’s on the blink. But I’ll tell you what’s so powerful is, I’m here, and I just have to say this before I pray, I feel like I’m here, and I’m here in the place where He gave His word and where His word was brought forth. I just I can’t help but just get excited about that - that really this is an opportunity for those who are listening, for us to get to know Him better. How do we get to know Him better? Through His will, through His word, walking His way. This is an opportunity for us.

I want to challenge people to go back and go through the passages that we talked about, open up your Bibles, get two or three translations, do the kind of compare and contrast, and ask the question, ask for God’s spirit to give you wisdom and understanding. But again, the information is there. Go through this information. Take Torah Pearls. Take Prophet Pearls. Open up your Bible. Have a Bible study. You can have… I call it revival time whenever I study the Word of God.

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: Now to be here to do this at the same time, is amazing. So I appreciate you having to step in. Obviously, not having everything, but being here with you, it just makes it so much better. It just makes the experience so much better, to actually physically be here and to be talking in the Land of the Prophets about the prophets. So I want to pray. Is there anything else you want to say? Are you okay?

Nehemia: I just want to say, Keith, you may not have had all the information, but you had the inspiration. You don’t got the book, but you’ve got the spirit. Praise God. Will you please pray?

Keith: Amen. Father, thank you so much that we do have an opportunity to praise something, or to be able to boast in something, and that is to the fact that You’ve allowed Yourself, You’ve unhidden Yourself, that we get to know you and understand you in a way that is so practical and so purposeful and so amazing. Help us to be people that would continue to trust You completely to know You through Your word and what You’ve shared. Give us the wisdom as we continue to go through Prophet Pearls to find out which things to bring to the forefront. Give us humility. Give us a desire to be able to share this information with the world, but first, to let it be applied into our own personal lives. Thank you for this opportunity to be with Nehemia in the Land of Israel and the Land of the Prophets, and it’s overwhelming to know that we’re so close, to be able to walk down the street as we will today and know that that’s a place that the prophets walked down, and to see the places that they talk about. We don’t take this as a small thing. For all those people that have supported us in our ministries at Makor Hebrew Foundation and BFAinternational.com, we thank You for them and them giving us an opportunity to do this amazing work. We just bless them and we bless You. In Your name, Yehovah. Amen.

Nehemia: 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 NehemiasWall.com.

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

Subscribe to "Nehemia's Wall" on your favorite podcasts app!
iTunes | Android | Spotify | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn

Share This Teaching

Thank you for supporting my research and teachings through my nonprofit, Makor Hebrew Foundation. Together we are empowering people around the world with vital information about the Hebrew sources of their faith!

Related Posts:
The Original Torah Pearls - Tzav (Leviticus 6:1-8:36)
To Hell and Back
Torah and Prophet Pearls
Hebrew Voices Episodes
Nehemia Gordon's Teachings on the Name of God

29 thoughts on “Prophet Pearls #25 – Tzav (Jeremiah 7:21-8:3; 9:22-23)

  1. At least in the Hebrew sacrificial system there is an element of humaneness: the animal is killed before it is burned…as opposed to throwing a fully conscious and sentient creature alive into a fire. Rightly did David it sum it up when, confronted with his sin of taking a census of the people, and told to choose his punishment, he said, “Let me fall into the hands of God, for his mercies are very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.” ‘Nuff said right there.

  2. Thank you, Nehemiah & Keith! I always come away from your broadcasts refreshed & elated with a deeper understanding. Shalom & many blessings!!

  3. I am a bit puzzled, because if the Latin word “CRUX” (which means Wood) appears in the writings of SHEMTOV, being that word (CROSS), the Israelites did not know it? ….. just like the word CRUCIFY, is also not in the Hebrew scriptures ?…

    • Crucifixion is hinted at & described in the Tanakh, not called “cross” or “crucifixion.” Verses such as “Cursed is every man who is hung on a trre,” & the torture verses in Isaiah 53, describe the cross & the Crucifixion method. “By His stripes, we are healed” is a direct reference to flogging. The visions aren’t necessarily comprehendable to the prophet who sees them. Their job is to broadcast the message & record it.

  4. Thank you once again, Nehemia and Keith for your teachings… I always come away having learned more about Hebrew words, customs, and figures of speech and knowing Yehovah just a little bit better… and that is all I could possibly boast in, I am nothing without Him.

  5. Ex 8 – 10. No where does Yehovah say, Let my people go that they may Sacrifice to me. Yehovah says that they worship me. Is assumption this G-d; wants sacrifices like other gods? Worship can mean serve, and serve can mean live in such a way as to reflect My image among the nations.??

    • Centurylink, did you perhaps miss the command that Yehovah gave in Ex. 3:18 when Yehovah revealed Himself to Moses and told him what he was to say to the King of Egypt or Exodus 8:27?

      Exo 3:18
      And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.”
      Exo 8:27
      We will go three days’ journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the LORD our God, as he shall command us.

      The word for sacrifice in both verses is:
      zâbach, zaw-bakh’; a primitive root; to slaughter an animal (usually in sacrifice):—kill, offer, (do) sacrifice, slay.

  6. That was a lesson I would never have gotten in a main stream church. I have to say I had to stop it in Nehemia’s description of child sacrifice several times because I felt my chest filling with anxiety. I read a story today about an abortion doctor talking about slitting the throat of abortion babies so they will not cry. I am not sure how much more wicked this world has to get before the King comes and puts an end to this. So sad.

  7. Could it be that YHVH did not command sacrifices of burnt offerings (don’t eat it but burn it totally) before Sinai and therefore, prior to that, they ate of their sacrifices? Just a thought to try to reconcile apparent contradictions.

    • Or does verse 23 explain verse 22. Doesn’t it have some additional words beyond “but”? “But (“as well”, or “in addition to” or “more”), this thing I commanded……” In other words, I didn’t just command sacrifices, in addition, I commanded obedience.

  8. Dear Nehemia,
    you say that sacrificing animals was never Yehovah’s intention. only afer the golden kalf, he sets the form for offering, because people have an urge to offer, even though god never asks for it.
    my question or thought:
    why will there be sacrifices in the end times, when the messiah is here on earth?
    i assume that god’s plan is to restore everything as he has intended his creation in the beginning.
    for me, the idea of a restored world ‘with’ sacrificial system does not comply with the intended beginning ‘without’ the sacrices

    please help me out, share your thoughts

  9. When Jeremiah 8:1-2 were under discussion, about the sun, moon and stars being loved, served, sought and worshipped, what came to my mind was believing in, and giving heed to astrological signs. Looking to astrology to guide one’s life and making decisions was common then, and is still common today. Some people take astrology seriously, while others might just read their astrocast Online “just for fun.” Even when Ronald Reagen was in the White House, his wife, Nancy was very much involved with astrology–had her own personal astrologist. I remember reading at the time that she was a strong influence on the President. Of course, one can’t believe everything one reads. But that’s what I thought about when you and Keith discussed these verses.

  10. Thank you for the word studies you included in this Prophet Pearls, they give me an better understanding that wouldn’t have been available without them .wonderful

  11. Leaves Heal, while its was said that this place of sacrifice was a metaphor for the image of Hell, nobody on this broadcast said that there were no eternal consequences for sin. You’re making assumptions. Most of the sin in the world doesn’t seem to have “here and now” consequences, in fact the wicked seem to prosper often at the expense of the righteous. If sin has no eternal consequences, the Hitlers, Stalins and Pol Pots of the world get away wither deeds. If sin has no eternal consequences why does it need to be atoned for at all, either by the Levitical system or anything else?

    • I didn’t say “no eternal consequences.” (That’s God’s to manage; not ours.) I said that there’s no evidence in the Elder Testament for eternal torture. Dante’s Inferno (not Scripture) is an illogical and unmerciful form of “eternal consequences.”
      Eternal torture would not produce learning or healing or any other blessing that we see the Almighty continually working toward throughout Scripture.

      • Dante’s book was entitled Divine Comedy…it was a satire, a ridicule of all the Greek ideas of the afterlife. It was not meant to be taken seriously, But unfortunately it was by the Western world and Christianity. And it became the source for the doctrine of Hell & eternal punishing ever since…ridiculous but sad.

  12. Just a few scriptures to add to my last post. Mic2:2 Isa10:1-3 Ecc3:16 5:8 and James 2:6 only a few samples!!! PRAISE YAH FOR HE SHALL DELIVER US and end this worldwide insanity!!!

  13. Leaves Heal Well said!!! See also Psalm 94 where it is mentions the throne of iniquity enacting their evil laws. Is not the whole earth FILLED with thrones of iniquity to rob [plunder] the poor [the weaker] the widows [a widow in beaver county Penna. USA lost her $300k home over 6 dollars and 30 cents the ” judge” justifying it by stating ITS THE LAW!!!] and to rob the fatherless??? I think one could easily cite at least 50 scriptures condemning this worlds so called “justice system” DO WE EVEN BEGIN IMAGINE HOW EVIL THINGS REALLY ARE? I fear we don’t!!! May our DELIVER soon come. Shalom to all who love PEACE

  14. That is my fav verse too, Jer 9:24-boast in your yada relationship with YHWH.
    Todah! for your efforts and sharing these pearls with us. Shalom!

  15. Vomituous ancient picture and practice.
    Good to understand, though. Good to register that the Almighty is not the god of eternal torture we were reared to believe in.
    It messes with some foundational stuff in Chri*tendom, though. If there’s no eternal torment-style “natural consequence for sin,” then why did Je*us die? If the consequences of sin are concrete, here-and-now, life-and-death, but not eternal torture, then we need only the ONE Savior, Yehowah. Yashua becomes only a tool in His hand to deliver TaNaK throughout the world, albeit through the horrors of Chri*tendom.
    You’re messing with foundational stuff, guys. 😉
    Honored to see it.

  16. Hey guys sure was worth listening to. But did you sort of miss step a bit at the end? Did W B and the other 1% become rich via hard work or thru manipulating the FAKE paper money system that we are ALL SLAVES to???

    • Hear that.
      Not only that, but through funding both sides of elections so that corporations “own” the politicians we “elected.” Legislation doesn’t favor the mega-corporation on accident.
      May the idols fall, and may Yehowah have mercy on those who dwell in their shadow. We all belong to Him.

    • “You shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of the just.
      –Exodus 23:8

      Concerning evil, both hands do it well. The prince asks, also the judge, for a bribe, And a great man speaks the desire of his soul; So they weave it together.
      –Micah 7:3

    • You mistake the >$250K/yr 1%-ers with the uber rich 0.1%-ers which most have and are have profiting from the bad banking system and coming economic disaster. The 1% are full of hard-working entrepreneurs that bust their tuchus’ for their $250K+ per yr. Try not to use generalizations if your going to throw stones.

      • Touche.
        0.01% would likely be more accurate.
        Thank you for the correction.
        One for you:
        “you’re” (you are), not “your” (belonging to you)
        There’s nothing wrong with using a tool ($) in your hand for good, if you have it. It’s the twisting of it into “power” (aka “elohim” / “gods”) that becomes unholy.

Please leave a comment.