Prophet Pearls #1 – Bereshit (Isaiah 42:5-43:10)

Prophet Pearls Bereshit (Isaiah 42:5-43:10)This week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Bereshit covering Isaiah 42:5-43:10. After a quick tutorial on the origin of the Haftarah, we learn that the Prophets aren't the golden oldies; their writings are as relevant as ever and more current than our news feeds. Gordon and Johnson explore the original context in which this portion was written, followed by the context in 168 BCE when this passage was first read aloud in the synagogue, and finally the context in September 2014 when Netanyahu spoke the holy words of Isaiah to the United Nations. In addition to parsing key words from the portion, Gordon and Johnson answer the following: What service did the Jews provide to the ancient Roman Empire? And since the Creator refers to himself in so many wonderful ways, would he really name himself, “Lord”? In closing, Gordon and Johnson remind us that while God’s one and only name may have been lost for generations, he did not lose ours—he calls every one of his covenant people by name. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #51 – Nitzavim (Isaiah 61:10-63:9)

Prophet Pearls Nitzavim, angel of his presence, Elijah, haftarah, Isaiah 61:10-63:9, Keith Johnson, Metatron Enoch, nehemia gordon, Nitzavim, Nitzavim haftarah, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Prophecy, Prophet Pearls, prophets, prophets portion, Temple Mount, watchmen walls, watchmen walls jerusalem, Yeshua, yeshua haftarah, yeshua reading synagogueThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Nitzavim which covers Isaiah 61:10-63:9. These watchmen on the walls of Jerusalem recount their most recent visit to the Temple Mount and Gordon gives the historical background of Muslim-control of the only holy site in Judaism.  Gordon and Johnson discuss the Isaiah passage read by Yeshua in the synagogue—which confirms first-century Haftarah readings. We learn statistics on named and unnamed angels in the Tanakh and Gordon provides three rabbinical traditions for the “angel of his presence” mentioned in this passage.  In closing, Gordon asks Yehovah to turn the hearts of those who desecrate the Temple Mount—and to send his messengers to help those on the wall do his work. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #50 – Ki Tavo (Isaiah 60:1-22)

Prophet Pearls Ki Tavo, glory of Israel, haftarah, Isaiah 60:1-22, Keith Johnson, ki tavo, ki tavo haftarah, ki tavo prophets portion, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, Temple MountThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Ki Tavo covering Isaiah 60:1-22. Gordon and Johnson revel in this sixth in a series of seven “Haftarot of Consolation,” as the prophet Isaiah details the future glory of Israel. Gordon and Johnson provide eyewitness accounts of the fulfillment of some of the prophecies—such as walls built by foreigners and the ingathering of exiles. Word studies include uri/wake up, kavod/glory leaving, netzer/branch and hamas/violence. We learn that signs of a hastening are going on right now and that eternal life on Earth is a Jewish concept. In closing, Johnson prays for the day when there are no coups and no confusion and Messiah reigns from Jerusalem. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #45 – Va’etchanan (Isaiah 40:1-26)

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. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #41 – Pinchas (1 Kings 18:46-19:21)

Prophet Pearls Pinchas, 1 Kings 18:46-19:21, 1 Kings, elijag mount horeb, elijah and jezebel, elijah mount carmel, elijah mt carmel, elijah mt horeb, etbaal, haftarah, jezebel baal, jezebel sidonian princess, Keith Johnson, mount horeb, Mt. Horeb, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, prophets, spirit of jezebel, still small voice, this silent voiceThis week, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Pinchas (1 Kings 18:46-19:21). Following the smack-down at Mount Carmel, Elijah flees to the desert. But was he “afraid” or did he just “see” what he needed to do? Gordon parses “ra’ah” (reish, aleph, hei) and explains why this word could be translated “afraid” or “saw.” Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #24 – Vayikra (Isaiah 43:21-44:23)

Prophet Pearls Vayikra, haftarah, isaiah, prophets, jeshurun, israel, poetic name, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, obedience, sacrifice, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, vayikra, portionThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Vayikra covering Isaiah 43:21-44:23. This portion parallels the Torah’s central section on sacrifices. Gordon and Johnson delve deep into the issues of sacrifice, obedience and idolatry.  Word studies include:  “blot out” (with its historical context of a debt certificate), “first father” (with Jewish and Christian perspectives on original sin), and “bow down” (with its exclusive connection to idolatry). Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #19 – Terumah (1 Kings 5:12[26]-6:13)

Prophet Pearls Terumah, 1 Kings, temple, d’veer, haftarah, hewn stones, Keith Johnson, month of ziv, mythical shamir worm, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, prophets, shamir, shamir worm, solomon’s temple, terumah, terumah haftarah, terumah prophets, YehovahThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Terumah covering 1 Kings 5:12[26]-6:13. Gordon and Johnson provide volumes of contextual insight into this seemingly straight-forward “How to Build a Temple” portion. We learn the importance of the “480 years” date given in this passage, that the forced labor used to build Solomon’s Temple compares favorably to modern practices, and how the coloring of the “hewn stones” beautified the Temple. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #17 – Yitro (Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-6)

Prophet Pearls Yitro, Isaiah, haftarah, kadosh kodesh kadish kiddush, Keith Johnson, masoretic notes, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, prophets, yitro, portionThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Yitro covering Isaiah 6:1-7:6; 9:5-6. Gordon compares Isaiah’s succinct vision of heaven to accounts in Kings, Ezekiel and Daniel. We see a “real” Adonai is this Portion and learn about the importance of the Masoretic notes. Gordon and Johnson tackle the problematic issue of Isaiah actually seeing God and explain where Isaiah got the idea that fire cleanses. Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #13 – Shemot (Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23)

Jewish exiles returning to the Land of Israel ,Prophet Pearls Shemot, Isaiah, exile, redemption, restoration, haftarah, prophets, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, proof texting, shemot, shofar, tanakh, preceptThis week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Shemot covering Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23. The theme of exile and restoration in this Prophet’s portion corresponds to the turning point in the Egyptian exile when the midwives were told to murder, the Israelites were told to make bricks without straw and Moses was told, “Now you will see what I will do.” Continue reading

Prophet Pearls #10 – Mikeitz (1 Kings 3:15-4:1)

Prophet Pearls Mikeitz (1 Kings 3:15-4:1)This week Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the Prophets portion for Mikeitz, covering 1 Kings 3:15-4:1. Gordon and Johnson provide context, past and present, for the quintessential wisdom-of-Solomon story where a birth mother is determined faster than you can say DNA. “Deeply stirred” like the mother in the story, Johnson compares the fight-at-any-cost spirit to the battles for the Land today—where a two-baby solution is still no solution. To have a clearer understanding of the gift of divine wisdom, Gordon compares the Chronicles version of Solomon’s dream with this Portion’s account. We learn the divisions of knowledge in the Tanakh and in what section the writings of Solomon appear. We learn the main function of the ancient kings of Israel and that you don’t have to be perfect for Yehovah to call you friend. Gordon closes with a prayer that God’s chosen son, the Messiah King of Israel, soon will bring an end to fighting—peace to Israel and the world. Continue reading