This week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Va'etchanan covering Isaiah 40:1-26. ”Nachamu, nachamu, / Comfort, comfort ye my people” begins this portion as well as the theme of Haftarah readings for the next seven weeks. Gordon explains the history and symbolism for these “Haftarot of consolation” and why they are read from Tish’ah b’Av (the ninth of Av) until Rosh Hashanah. We also learn the remarkable story of Herbert Samuel—whose reading of this portion at the Hurva Synagogue in 1920 was seen as the official pronouncement of the end of the third exile.
Word studies include: “nacham/comfort,” and “ratzah/accepted.” Gordon explains comma placement in translations from Hebrew and Greek that support the classic image of redemption coming from the wilderness. In closing, Johnson prays, “you are God and there is no other’ and asks for the humility to apply the Word to all aspects of life.
"Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God." Isaiah 40:1
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In this week's episode we spoke about Eliezer Ben Yehudah, who began the process of reviving modern Hebrew. His fascinating story is told in the book Tongue of the Prophets.