Torah Pearls #33 – Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34)

The Original Torah Pearls - Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34)In this episode of The Original Torah PearlsBechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34), we discuss the "if"s and "but"s of the blessings and curses, the meaning and gravity of vows and dedications, and how does one redeem their tithe.


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Torah Pearls #33 - Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34)

You are listening to The Original Torah Pearls with Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson, and Jono Vandor. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon's Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.

Jono: G’day wherever you may be around the world, it is good to have your company. It is time for Pearls from the Torah Portion with Keith Johnson and Nehemia Gordon. G’day, fellows.

Keith: G’day, g’day, g’day!

Nehemia: G’day!

Keith: G’day, g’day, g’day!

Nehemia: It’s great to be here from Jerusalem. A shout-out to Rachel Esther Bat Avraham, thanks for listening and sharing on Facebook the Torah Pearls.

Jono: Excellent. Thank you very much for that. And then now listen, fellows, I want to, if it’s okay with you, I just want to read a couple of comments. Can I do that?

Keith: Amen. Wait, we’ve never done that before, we didn’t screen these ahead of time.

Jono: Hey, come on, this is the…the first one is from Daryl. I’ll open this one, this is from Daryl. Daryl says, “I sincerely appreciate this program. As great as it is, I would like to offer the following as constructive criticism.” Are you ready?

Keith: Oh, boy.

Jono: Come on! Are you ready?

Nehemia: What the…

Jono: Okay, it’s like we’re having our own little board meeting here. “Number one: Revealing truth and the contrast between the truth and error will help every listener. While it is useful to point out the errors with certain traditions, it seems counterproductive to belittle or berate those who teach or follow those traditions.”

Nehemia: I do want to point that when we are critical of traditions, I think on this program we’ve tried very carefully, I think for me, not to speak about other people’s traditions, only about the things from my own heritage. If Keith is talking about traditions, he’s not going to be criticizing my tradition, he’s going to be talking about his own tradition, something that he’s speaking about from personal experience.

Keith: And this is where I agree with Nehemia. First of all, we throw our own traditions under the bus.

Jono: Anyway, that’s his first one, but listen, Keith, I think you’re going to like the second one. Alright, are you ready?

Keith: Yeah, I’m ready.

Jono: This is Daryl’s second point: “It seems the program is becoming unbalanced.”

Keith: What?

Jono: Hang on, it goes on, “At times, Keith Johnson is not allowed to make opening remarks and his comments are spoken-over or somewhat belittled.” It goes on, “It might be helpful to keep track of the time given to each of your comments…”

Keith: Now, we’re talking. This is the kind of guy, I want percentages…

Nehemia: What the, wait, what…

Keith: This is perfect.

Jono: I know.

Keith: Thank you, Daryl.

Jono: This is what Daryl’s saying, “…sort of like…”

Nehemia: That’s it; I’m not speaking this whole program.

Jono: “…sort of like more structured debates.”

Keith: And it still won’t balance out.

Nehemia: I think what he’s really trying to say is, Jono is hogging the airtime and not letting Keith or me speak.

Jono: He says, “…sort of like more structured debates, as to be fair, more inclusive, and less rude. Each perspective is equally important…”

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Amen. “…for the format of the program…”

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: “…which is a great part of what makes the program appealing.” Amen, Daryl. I think you’re on to something there in the second one. Alright, he ends saying, “Thanks again for offering such a wealth of information freely. I look forward to hearing more.” Well, thank you, Daryl. Thank you, everyone, who leaves comments.

Now, here’s another one, Keith; this one’s directed at you. Someone contacted me on Facebook, and they said, “I have a request. It seems as of lately Keith has been using the name Jesus far too often.

Keith: No.

Jono: Yes. Stop it, Keith!

Keith: Well, here I want to say something. I was, one of the things about that…

Nehemia: Isn’t there a rule that the Methodist isn’t allowed to say ‘Jesus’?

Jono: No.

Keith: No, one of the reasons that I do that, for those that are a little uncomfortable, is that we’re trying to reach people around the world - and look, now whether we like it or not the folks who normally maybe listen to something like this are beginning to do, and their point of reference happens to be Jesus. Now, some folks would say Yeshua, others would say other names, I’ve got a number of opinions about that. But I think as much as we’re able to reach people across the borders then we should do that. So…

Jono: That’s fair enough. And actually, if I remember correctly, Keith, I think in last week’s program, you said, “I’m using Jesus for my Methodist brothers, I’m using Yeshua for my Messianic brothers, and I’m using what’s his name for those that don’t know what I’m talking about.”

Keith: Exactly.

Jono: There it is. Now, this one…

Nehemia: Did he actually say that?

Jono: Yeah, he did.

Nehemia: That’s funny.

Jono: He was funny.

Keith: No, it was impressive, Nehemia. Are you kidding me?

Nehemia: I don’t remember that, I must’ve been in the bathroom.

Jono: Alright, now this one is great, listen up, guys. We do get comments like this quite often, but this one I really just want to read it out. This is from Tzofiya; she writes, “My family and I really enjoy going over the Torah with you all. We also enjoy and delight in your three different backgrounds and how you all come together in carefully studying the Scripture. And we really enjoy the gentle midrashing going on. We come here because we are so sick of being preached at, and with the wrong stuff, and the typical strict structure that some organizations place on learning Scripture. It’s nice to come to this side and let your hair down…” not that you guys would know anything about that…

Keith: Right.

Jono: “…and just listen to the teachings without having to worry about the structural program. I feel our family benefits from your approach to the scriptures more than any other way. Thanks for doing all that you do and please don’t change the way you do things on this program. We have made your program part of our Shabbat every week and listen as a…

Nehemia: That’s what I’m talking about! Whoo!

Jono: She wrote, “Sometimes our family is spread throughout the world due to work, but we all still listen to your program where ever we all are, and we discuss it. It brings us together and helps us stay focused on the weekly readings. You guys are a great inspiration, and wonderful teachers! May Yehovah bless you three gentlemen and the people who put this program together.” Thank you so much Tzofiya.

Keith: Yes.

Jono: That is just a wonderful comment. And thank you for leaving that in the comments section. We really, really do appreciate it.

Keith: Yeah. Awesome.

Nehemia: If we’re reading comments, I want to read something that was posted on my Facebook page. You can go to facebook.com/NehemiaGordon where I share the Torah portions. On the portion of Kedoshim, which is Leviticus 19 to 20, there was a comment posted by Mark, who lives in Quincy, California. He says, “Sorry, Nehemia, I didn’t enjoy this much. Not on your part; just too much New Testament for me. Blessings to you.” So, then I posted my response to him on Facebook, “LOL.”

Jono: So, you can’t please everybody all the time, can you?

Nehemia: You know what? You can’t. And I think, look, it is Pearls from the Torah Portion, or Torah Pearls, and we do focus on the Torah. From time to time we’ll bring stuff from the prophets and the writings into it. And every once in a while, Keith gets out of control and he brings in the New Testament stuff. But I think that’s okay because there are people listening from all kinds of different perspectives and we want to explore the different facets of it. I think as long as we stay focused on the Torah, which is the topic of the program, I think it’s okay if he brings the New Testament from time to time. So, Mark…

Keith: Well, let me say something.

Nehemia: …it’s time to deal with it.

Keith: I want to say something. And I think everybody, if you were to go back over any of the Torah portions, any of the cool programs that we did, it’s not that we focus on the Torah, it is the Torah; we’re dealing with the Torah. And so, the only reason that we would bring in the New Testament verse isn’t for theological reasons, but to contrast and compare and contrast and to ask the question, whether or not it’s something that fits, and if it doesn’t then we’re willing…I’m willing to throw that under the bus also. So, I really enjoy the fact that both Nehemia and Jono have been willing to venture into those areas. And both of you have even brought it up at different times when it fits with what we’re talking about. Because this is about the Torah; the Torah is the focus.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: The Torah is the basis for why we’re doing this. The New Testament, it may be something that’s commentary on something that we’re talking about. But I really enjoy the fact that the focus has been here, and we haven’t tried to find within every line something from the New Testament, but rather, you know, the other way around. So, pretty cool.

Jono: Sure.

Keith: I appreciate it.

Nehemia: That’s another comment that was posted on my Facebook page, actually not related to the Torah portions, but what I’ve been doing throughout the 50 days to the Counting of the Omer; that’s the 50 days from the Feast of Unleavened Bread, actually, specifically, the Sunday during Chag HaMatzot, the Feast of Unleavened Bread down to Shavuot, is a 50 day count. We’re actually commanded to do that in two places in the Torah, Leviticus 23, and Deuteronomy 16. There’s been a person who’s been posting the last few days on the page in response saying, “Why are you doing this count?” And I explained, “Well, it’s commanded in the Torah.” Then finally she writes, “Well it may be commanded in the Torah, but where’s Jesus in all this?” This person is genuinely confused, and what I tried to explain to her is that I’m a Jew. If you want to find out where Jesus is in it, go ask Johnson.

What I’m trying to do is focus on what the Torah is actually, literally, commanding us. If you want to then apply that figuratively to some theology that you’re bringing to the table, well, that’s between you and your Creator. But I think before you do that, first you need to understand what the plain meaning is. What were the words meant in their context as they were spoken? And I think, Keith, you would agree with that, that first you have to understand it in its language, in its context, in its meaning, and then we can talk about all kinds of parables and theological applications. Can I get an Amen?

Jono: Amen.

Keith: I’ll give an Amen, and I will say to the friend that asked that question, what she doesn’t realize is that Nehemia’s simply falling in line with all the people that are praying during these 50 days between Pesach and Shavuot, and I made this request and of course he wasn’t even here. But here he is counting this, it’s something I learned actually years ago when I first met Nehemia, but one thing I will say about Jesus, Yeshua, or what’s his name, whatever you want to call him, but one of the things he said is, he told the disciples, “stay here during this time and wait for the gift.” And so, he was counting also because the counting that took place would’ve been from Pessach to Shavuot.

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: And he knew that Shavuot was coming based on the counting of the days, the weeks, etcetera. So, I’ll throw that in there for her, so she knows that…

Jono: There you go.

Keith: …Nehemia is counting just the way Yeshua did. Okay, Let’s move on.

Jono: Well done. That’s very valid. Okay. So today we are in Bechukotai. Have I pronounced that right, Nehemia?

Nehemia: You sure did. Hallelujah.

Jono: Ah, that’s so cool.

Keith: You think you didn’t?

Jono: And it is Leviticus 26, verse 3, to 27:34, and it begins like this; “If,” is the word that it begins with, Keith. “If,” now Keith?

Nehemia: Say, “If.”

Jono: If.

Keith: Yes. Amen.

Jono: I want you to come and sit down here in the limelight on the stage here Keith, because this one, you have to make up for all the times that we talk over you, interrupt and all of that. So, this is…

Nehemia: And in fairness, can I point out that this is actually a core part of Israeli culture? If you ever watch an Israeli talk show program, what you’ll see is like five or ten guys sitting around the table, and they’re each interrupting and talking over the other person. I think a lot of Westerners see that and they say, “Wow, how rude.” But in the Israeli culture, we’re programmed, that if you don’t do that, you never get heard. So, I apologize for me being an Israeli and speaking over Keith. But you know, Keith, it’s survival of the fittest, if you…

Keith: Shut up Nehemia. Shut up.

Nehemia: …push me out and speak over me. And go ahead.

Keith: Okay. So…

Nehemia: I’ll be quiet this program.

Keith: So, let’s go on to our portions. I think it’s an important word, and it’s something that is throughout Scripture, “If.”

Jono: “If.” Amen. And so, this is now, by the way, this is the final Torah portion for Leviticus, “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them…”

Keith: Yes.

Jono: “…then I will give you rain in its season, and the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last until the time of vintage,” is what I’ve got, “and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. I will give you peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid. I will rid the land of evil beasts.” Boy, I like the sound of that. I’ll tell you what, here in Australia we have got some evil beasts, we’ve got the…

Nehemia: Snakes?

Jono: We’ve got the brown snakes; we’ve got the funnel-web spider, we’ve got the redback spider, we’ve got the bunyip, and we’ve got drop bears. Boy.

Nehemia: The bunyip? What’s a bunyip?

Jono: You don’t know what the bunyip is?

Nehemia: No

Jono: Oh, just pray you never find out

Nehemia: Is that a marsupial or something like that?

Jono: No one’s really sure, and in fact, I’m not really certain anyone’s seen one. Nehemia, while we’re on it, what are the evil beasts of the land of Israel?

Nehemia: Well, in ancient times, of course, there were lions and there were bears. You know, David talks about how lions and bears attacked his flocks and he was able to kill them. I would think those are the worst but then also, we do have snakes. We’ve got the viper, which is a very deadly snake, and all kinds of…

Jono: Scorpions.

Nehemia: Ah, there are scorpions of course, yeah. Scorpions everywhere.

Jono: So, there’s a few evil beasts around and it goes on to say, “And the sword will not go through your land. You will chase your enemy, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase one hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you. For I will look on you favorably and I will make you fruitful and multiply you and confirm My covenant with you. You shall eat the old harvest and clear out the old because of the new. I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. I am Yehovah your Elohim, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright. But,” verse 14…

Keith: Hold on, hold on, I mean let’s just get this…

Nehemia: There’s always a “But.”

Jono: Always a “But.”

Keith: No, there’s always a “But.” Before we get to the ‘but,’ I think it’s amazing that we’re reading in Leviticus and, look, I have to say this to my sisters and brothers that are listening; if there was a book that you wouldn’t read, and throughout my tradition, one that you would say, “Okay we’ll throw this one out,” Leviticus is one that I would’ve thrown out.

Why? Because I’m like, “What does this Leviticus have to do with anything in my life?” And this was all the way up until literally, even though I would read the “Old Testament,” when you get to Leviticus, you kind of just peruse it, look it over a little bit and move on. That’s why I didn’t know about Leviticus 19, about where this whole idea of loving your neighbor, which, you know, I’d heard and thought it was just a New Testament concept.

But when you read a passage like this in Leviticus 26, when I read Leviticus 26, here’s what I see. When I see him say, “I will look on you with favor,” I’m sorry, it says, “Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand,” immediately I start thinking about the stories, the accounts in Scripture, where this very thing happened. Where there’s a few Israelites and they end up putting how many to flight? And then I think about the story, what Nehemia’s testified to, which has been one of the most powerful stories about the Yom Kippur War, and what happened with a few tanks and the many, and all I think about is Leviticus. He says, this is what I’ll do, and sure enough, we’ve seen both ancient and modern examples of that very thing happening. So, it’s just amazing to me that right in Leviticus, in the book that I would’ve thought, “Ah, how does that apply to us?” There it is.

Jono: There it is. “‘But if you do not obey Me, and you do not observe all these commandments…”

Keith: And Jono, look, this is not going to work. Jono, this is not going to work. Nehemia, you’re trying to be quiet the whole time, OK.

Jono: Have you noticed this? Have you noticed?

Keith: What are you talking about?

Nehemia: He loves it.

Keith: Ladies and gentlemen, look, come on, do your thing; interrupt me. Come on. Hit me, this is not Torah Pearls.

Nehemia: Well, since you asked…so I want to comment on verse 4. It says, “And I’ll give you rains in their time.” That’s an important thing, because we just want to pray for rain and have rain all the time.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: But it’s actually a curse to have rain in the time of harvest in the land of Israel because it will come down and it can damage the crops, specifically if you’re talking about a wheat or a barley crop. It’ll cause the grain to shatter. There’s actually a story in the book of Samuel about how there was rain in the time of harvest, and that was a curse. So, rain in its time; that’s what’s crucial. What you want is rain just after Sukkot, just after the Feast of Tabernacles, because that’s the planting time. And then the planting time, after that, you need to have rain all the way up until close to the time of harvest, and then once you begin harvest, it needs to be bone dry. Then after that, in the summer, then you have the vintage where you are harvesting the grapes. We actually have a reference there in verse 5, it’s saying how the period of threshing is going to overtake into the time of vintage, and the time of vintage that’ll overtake into the time of planting. What were distinct periods in the agricultural cycle of the year…it’s going to take so long, is the point. Because there’s going to be so much of abundance; that’s what’s going to be the blessing. There’s a blessing of abundance here, if you are obedient to the commandments of the Creator. Which I think is an amazing thing; I mean, what a beautiful blessing.

Keith talked about verse 8, where it’s says, “Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred will chase ten thousand.” Those things have literally happened in my lifetime, in modern times, where we’ve seen that. Where Israel, which is a country today of 7 million people, and it’s surrounded by 150 million hostile enemies, people that want to wipe us off the map…actually, depending on how you count, you could say there’s over a billion hostile people who want to wipe us off the map. We’re able to stand before them and survive in a very hostile environment with very small numbers, and that is a blessing. I think that goes to what we read at the end, which I’m going to wait for, it’s at the end of this chapter, that for me is the money ball; that for me is the bottom line.

Keith: Yes. So, you are waiting in the bushes.

Nehemia: I’m going to hold off on that one…

Jono: You’re going to hold off, so let’s move forward…

Nehemia: I do want to make one quick comment in verse 10. Read me verse 10 in your translation, Keith. So that…

Keith: Let’s see…

Nehemia: …and by the way, whatever you’re reading I’m counting that towards your quota of words.

Keith: Okay. So…

Nehemia: So that comes off your time.

Keith: Okay. So, it says, “You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new.”

Nehemia: It’s so weird when I first read that because, if you go and research about the food that we eat, we’re eating wheat that was…here in Israel we’re eating wheat that was grown in the Ukraine or in Kansas ten years ago, literally. They were living at a subsistence level, and you harvested in the spring, and you brought in your crop all the way into the early summer. Basically, in the dry season, you’re harvesting your crop and, April, May…around that time, give or take, depending on the year seasons. But basically, in what we call today spring, and that’s got to last you all the way until the following spring, and that in Hebrew is called the “yashan,” the old. So, it literally says, “You will eat the old as old and you will remove the old because of the new.” The new grain that we read about in Scripture is the grain that you then harvest in the following year. So, what I harvested this April and this March, some of it, that’s going to be the new grain…

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: …and there’s actually a commandment not to eat the new grain until you bring the wave-sheaf offering, which is during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Here it’s saying that you’re going to have to get rid of the old grain because you’re going to have so much new grain, you’re not going to even have room for it. If you think about it in the terms that, He’s speaking to the ancient Israelites, that’s like a mindboggling thing because they’re living on subsistence level. They’re eating the pre-ripe grain because they don’t have enough to keep them through to the harvest. They’re taking the grain before it’s even ripe and roasting it in fire and eating it. And here He’s saying, “You’re going to have to get rid of your old grain because there’s going to be so much new grain.” That’s an image of super abundance.

Jono: Uber abundance, over abundance.

Nehemia: Over abundance. You got so much food, and that’s a blessing. I look forward to that blessing when it’s fulfilled. We have people in this day and age, in the 21st century, who are still starving in the world

Jono: True. So, in those days a lot of happy chickens will be eating the old grain. But verse 14, “But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments, but break My covenant, I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease…”

Keith: Could we just skip over this part, Jono?

Jono: You don’t want to know about the bad stuff?

Keith: Could we just not hear…

Nehemia: We all want to hear about the blessing.

Jono: You know, you just want to hear about the blessings…

Keith: Do we really have to go through this? I mean, this is hard stuff to hear, this stuff. I mean, this is real. When you read this you just think, “Boy, do you have to talk about this?” But guess what, it’s a part of the whole, so…

Jono: It’s a part of the…

Keith: I’m actually just kidding.

Jono: Let’s milk it for all it’s worth because this is the last part of Leviticus and it says, “I will appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of the heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set My face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you. And after all of this, if you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more.” And this is a theme in this part of the chapter…

Keith: Okay. One second here, Jono, one second. So it’s almost like He’s saying here, and please correct me if I’m wrong, so he’s saying here, “Now here’s what’s going to happen, I’m going to bring this upon you, this is going to happen, this is going to happen,” verse 17, “I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.” And then He says, “Now, listen, if that doesn’t catch your attention,” so let’s just say that at that point they say, “Okay, enough.” But then if they don’t, then He says, I’m going to add more. I mean it’s almost like, and we see this over and over again in Scripture also, something will come, there will be the point of accountability. “Hey, now, look, did I get your attention?”

And then a person will say, “Okay, yeah.” You know, I think about Jeroboam who had the leprosy, he reaches out as he…and he has leprosy and then he gets healed and then he ends up being even worse. So, it’s almost like this, again, this particular passage shows us, again, we see it happen over and over in Scripture, where He’s like, “Okay, did I get your attention? No? Okay, here comes some more.” And I mean that really is saying something.

Jono: And it’s seven times more. It’s seven times more. “And I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens…”

Nehemia: It was the king Uzziah, not Jeroboam.

Jono: There we are.

Keith: Okay. No, I meant… no, oh, hold on, now, just a second. Don’t…

Nehemia: II Chronicles 26:19.

Jono: Now listen that is…

Keith: No, the other part where Jeroboam, when you go to the part where Jeroboam was the first time, when the man of God came.

Nehemia: The man of God?

Jono: I love that story.

Keith: Yes. It’s a great story.

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: What are you even talking about? That’s what happens…

Jono: He shrivels up his hand, right?

Keith: He gets a…his hand. He reaches out his hand, Jeroboam.

Nehemia: Okay. So, we’re maybe mixing two different stories.

Keith: No, we’re not. And now let everyone open the Bible, I shouldn’t have just…

Nehemia: Now, hold on.

Jono: Alright, we have to go there now.

Nehemia: Now we’ve got to check it out, hold on a second.

Jono: 2 Kings. Honestly, I want to do this because this is one of the greatest stories. I love this story.

Keith: Listen, Jono, this is a very good story. Please, Jono…

Jono: And it begs the question; who is he? Who is this man of God who eventually gets mauled by a lion?

Keith: Exactly.

Jono: But it is a great story.

Keith: It was Isaiah was the forehead, where he had the top of his forehead. But Jeroboam was where he reached out his hand and then…

Jono: It shrivels up.

Keith: Well, leprosy, I think it would…I can’t remember what the technical term is on that.

Jono: We’re going to find out. Okayu, whereabouts is it? Do you know where it is? It’s Kings, right?

Nehemia: It’s interesting because he doesn’t have a name; he’s called “the man of God who came from Judah”, repeatedly.

Keith: Exactly. “The man of God who came,” that’s all he’s called.

Nehemia: Oh, so it’s 1 Kings 13.

Jono: 1 Kings 13, “The Message from the Man of God,” is what I’ve got. Oh, look, do you know what? I love this story.

Keith: It’s an amazing story. This is an amazing story.

Jono: I’m going to have to read it.

Keith: But the reason it’s important…

Nehemia: You’ve got to read it.

Jono: Absolutely.

Keith: It’s based on Leviticus because, in a sense, here’s what’s happening…but anyway, go ahead.

Jono: I’m going to do it because it really is great, and it’s got nothing…I mean it’s…we’re going to do it

Keith: It sure does.

Jono: It sure does. “And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of Yehovah, and Jeroboam stood at the altar to burn incense. And when he cried out against the altar in the word of Yehovah, and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says Yehovah: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense to you, and the men’s bones shall be burned on you.’ And he gave a sign the same day, saying, ‘This is the sign which Yehovah has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it be poured out.’ And so it came to pass when King Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, who cried out against the altar in Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar, saying, ‘Arrest him!’ And then his hand, which he stretched out towards him, withered, so that he could not pull it back to himself.” How about that?

Keith: And then what happens?

Jono: “The altar also was split apart, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of Yehovah. Then the king answered and said to the man of God, ‘Please entreat the favor of Yehovah your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me.’”

Keith: Yes.

Jono: “So the man of God entreated Yehovah, and the king’s hand was restored to him, and became as before. Then the king said to the man of God, ‘Come home with me and refresh yourself, and I will give you a reward.’ But the man of God said to the king, ‘If you were to give me half your house, I would not go with you; nor would I eat bread or drink water in this place. For so it was commanded by the word of Yehovah, saying, ‘You shall not eat bread, or drink water, nor return by the same way you came.’ So, he went another way and did not return by the way he came to Bethel.”

Keith: And verse 31, I think it is 33, “Even after this…” this was the part I was trying to get to, “Even after this, Jeroboam did not change his evil ways, but once more appointed priests for the high places from all sorts of people. Anyone who wanted to become a priest he consecrated for the high places. This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to the downfall and to the destruction from the face of the earth.” Okay. So here he’s got this stuff that happens, you know, here’s a situation that happens, he sees that God is in it, his hand is restored after it’s been shriveled up, and it didn’t cause him to do anything. You could’ve read Leviticus 26 that says, “Now, if you don’t listen after that, here’s more that’s going to come upon you.” And that was kind of what I was trying to get to.

Jono: And even so…no, you’re absolutely right. I mean seriously, if you pointed out and said, “arrest that man,” and your arm shrivels up so that you can’t even draw it back to yourself…

Keith: At that point, you repent!

Jono: And you repent! And he says, “Oh, please ask Yehovah that my hand may be restored,” and then it is. You’d be thinking, “Hey, you know what? I think I’m in trouble. I’m just going to admit that right now and I better repent.”

Keith: Right. But instead…

Jono: But instead! And this is what we see on numerous occasions…

Nehemia: So why didn’t he repent? Can we ask that question?

Jono: Nehemia?

Nehemia: Let’s try to get inside Jeroboam’s head. It’s speculation, we don’t know for sure, but why didn’t he repent? I would venture to say that he didn’t repent because he was probably, you know, on some level, he thought he was doing right. He justified what he was doing; he found ways of twisting Scripture and twisting the word of God to justify what he was doing. So, this prophet comes and rebukes him, and a bad thing happens, and then his hand is restored. But he’s got the goods; he’s got the verses to back himself up. He’s building a high place at Bethel. Well, that’s where Jacob had the vision, and he said, “This is the House of God.” So, you know…and a golden calf, well, that was an ancient tradition; to worship God through a golden calf, going back to the desert. So, you’re bringing some prophecy in Scripture, and he’s got tradition to back him up. And tradition, as we know in reality, always trumps Scripture. It’s not supposed to be that way but that’s the reality of it. That’s how people live their lives, sadly.

Keith: Amen. Well then isn’t it, when it says in verse 21, and this is what you were saying, “If you remain hostile toward Me and refuse to listen to Me, I will then multiply these afflictions.” So again, whether it’s tradition, whether it’s, “the Pope told me to do it,” or whether it’s…

Nehemia: Pope?

Keith: …the Pastor told me to do it, or the Rabbi told me to do it; if that tradition is contrary to Biblical truth, then you know what? And back to the comment that we started out this whole program…so then at that point, do we say, “I’m going to go ahead and go with tradition, or someone, that’s leading me the wrong way?” He says if you continue to do this then I’m going to even bring more upon you. And so I don’t think anyone should be interested in that, not just because of what anyone says, but the fact is that the Creator of the universe has a way that He wants us to live, and if we live contrary to that we should expect that we’re going to be living contrary to Him. And we see here what that looks like, so…

Jono: We do indeed. And it goes on to say, “I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. And your strength shall be spent in vain; and your land shall not yield its produce, nor the trees of the land its fruit. And if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins. I will also send wild beasts among you, which will rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number; and your highways shall be desolate. And if by these things you are not reformed by Me, but walk contrary to Me, I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you seven times more for your sins. And I will bring a sword against you that will execute the vengeance of the covenant when you are gathered together within your cities, and I will send pestilence among you; and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy. And when I have cut off your supply of bread…” now what is this? “When I have cut off your supply of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall bring back your bread by weight, and you shall eat and not be satisfied.” Is that a good translation Nehemia?

Nehemia: It’s a good translation, but it begs the question; why is that a curse? What exactly is the curse here? Presumably, the image is that there isn’t going to be easy access. Not everyone is going to have an oven that they have easy access to.

Keith: Right.

Nehemia: They’re going to have to share an oven that doesn’t belong to them, and they’re going to have to pay for its usage, and that’s a curse. Think about it.

Jono: And so, when it returns to you, “you shall eat and not be satisfied.”

Nehemia: I mean, think about every time you want to eat bread, and bread is what they ate daily. So, every time you want to eat bread you’ve got to go and pay somebody else to bake that bread for you. As it was, they were living on subsistence level, and it’s saying, “the situation is going to be that you’re going to eat and not be satisfied. You’re going to not have…” it’s the opposite of abundance. “You’re going to have scarcity, you’re going to have to pay for that scarcity, and it’s still not going to satisfy.”

Jono: “And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you in fury…” Keith, in fury, “…and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. You shall…” Oh my Goodness, verse 29, Keith, what do you do with it?

Keith: I mean it’s all difficult, I mean it is, “You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters. I will destroy your high places.” Right in the middle of that, these are the kinds of things…and again, I don’t know…when I read this I still imagine being one of those people that’s sitting there, standing there during Sukkot listening to the Torah being read and living - one of those years - living sort of both the blessings and the curses of what’s been heard. I mean, this isn’t Yehovah boasting, saying, “I’m going to do this,” but never does it. “I’m going to…if you don’t do…”. I mean, these are things that we’ve seen happen, and it really is sobering to read this.

Jono: It is. It’s very sobering to read this. “I will destroy your high places, cut down your…”

Nehemia: Wait, can we stop there at that “eating the children?” Because…

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: Because that is, to me, it’s the type of thing that you read in the Bible and you’ve got to ask yourself, “Is this a metaphor? Is this meant literally?” There’s actually an account of this happening, during the siege, and it literally talks about how these two women made a deal where…

Keith: Right.

Nehemia: …where they would…today we’ll eat your son and tomorrow we’ll eat my son. And then she reneges…

Jono: After one of them…

Nehemia: 2 Kings 6:25. Well, it does start in 24, and I’ll let Keith read that; it’ll come out of his time.

Keith: Yep. May I…right, 24, it says…

Nehemia: 2 Kings.

Keith: “Sometime later, Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, mobilized his entire army and marched up and laid siege to Samaria. There was a great famine in the city; the siege lasted so long that a donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a quarter of…” let’s see here, I can’t even read this, “…a cab of seed pods for five shekels. As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, ‘Help me, my lord the king!’ The king replied, ‘If the Lord does not help you, where can I get help for you? From the threshing floor?’” And she goes on to say “‘Give up your son,’ she said the deal was, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him today, and tomorrow we’ll eat my son.’ So, we cooked my son and ate him. The next day I said to her, ‘Give up your son so we may eat him,’ but she had hidden him.”

Nehemia: Yeah, so the point is that the king is horrified at this, but you think these things… is this meant literally? It literally happened that the people were starving so badly that they no had choice, they ate their children. These are things that have been repeated throughout the history of Israel.

I know I’m jumping ahead but verse 33 to me is such a powerful verse. It says, “And I will scatter you among the nations,” and the word there for scatter, it’s a powerful word, it’s…anyway, let’s go past that. “And I will empty out after them the sword and their land shall be desolate, and their cities will be destroyed.”

Now think about this; Moses is writing this sometime around 1450 BC, give or take. You know, people have different chronologies, but roughly 1450 BCE he’s writing this. When he’s writing this, they’ve just come back with the report that Israel is so abundant, there’s giants living there. We’ll never conquer it; it’s such a giant and abundant place. And he’s prophesying how, if you sin against Yehovah, He’ll scatter us amongst the nations and the cities will be destroyed. And, like, what are you talking about? We’re about to come into the land; how could that ever happen? How could a scenario like that ever happen that we be scattered among the nations?

That was really something that the Assyrians instituted hundreds of years later. Seven hundred years later the Assyrians came, and they did; they scattered, they exiled the ten tribes. Then nine hundred years later, Nebuchadnezzar came and scattered the two remaining tribes, Judah and Benjamin. Moses is writing this between seven and nine hundred years before these different events happen, and I think that’s amazing; that this is being prophesied and we’re being warned about it. Then it happened a second time, in the time of the Romans, that we were scattered a second time, and we still haven’t repented. And the verse that comes to mind for me is actually in Isaiah, if I can bring a verse. Can I bring a verse from Isaiah?

Jono: Please. Sure.

Nehemia: Chapter 11, verse 11, and it says, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people,” a second time He’s going to gather in the exiles. Now, Isaiah is speaking this at a time when the ten tribes, either they’d already been exiled, or they were about to be exiled. But this was something that was already going on in the world, under the Assyrian threat, that the Assyrians were exiling people.

But he talks here about Israel being gathered in a second time, really before the first exile even happens, which to me is amazing. Let’s get the first exiles back, and you’re talking about the second time. Imagine what that would’ve meant in Isaiah’s day. They might have thought, well, what is he talking about, what does that even mean? And now, we’re in a reality in which that second exile has happened, and we have a promise from the prophet from thousands of years ago that the second exile is being foretold and that it will also end. So, to me this is foretold by Moses in 1450 BC. In 700 BCE Isaiah’s telling us that not only will the first exile end, but the second one, Yehovah is going gather you, and the beginning of that gathering has already happened. That excites me! Can I get an Amen?

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Whoo!

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Amen. Thank you for that.

Nehemia: Hallelujah.

Jono: Thank you for that. And so now, this is the reason why, in verse 34, “Then the land shall enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemy’s land; then the land shall rest and enjoy its Sabbaths as long as it lies desolate it shall rest— for the time it did not rest on your Sabbaths when you dwelt in it.” And we’re obviously talking about the Shemitah year, right?

Nehemia: Amen. True that.

Keith: But I mean, can you imagine, I mean…

Nehemia: And so, it’s saying during exile the land will get a chance to rest.

Keith: So, this is great math work here, again, those that have done it, I mean, we could sit on this verse from now until who knows how long, just trying to figure all of this out. But I just think the fact that it was said and that it happened is amazing, it’s just amazing to me.

Jono: Amen. And it goes on, “For those who are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; the sound of a shaken leaf shall cause them to flee.” Oh, my goodness, can you imagine that? “And they shall flee as though fleeing from the sword, and they shall fall when no one pursues. They shall stumble over one another, as it were a sword, and no one is pursuing,” And so on and so forth, it’s just…my goodness. “But,” verse 40, Keith, “But if.” Here we are…

Keith: Yes, “But if”.

Jono: “But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, and their unfaithfulness…”

Nehemia: I’ve got to stop you.

Jono: There it is.

Nehemia: There’s no “if” in my verse.

Jono: Really?

Nehemia: There’s no “if” in verse 40.

Jono: I mean…

Nehemia: It says “…and they will confess their iniquities and the iniquity of their father, and the transgression which they transgressed against Me…”

Jono: Really?

Nehemia: “…and that also they have walked with Me contrary.” This is a prophecy; this is a prediction. They will repent. It might take a long time. It might take three or four thousand years, but they’re going to repent. They’re going to confess their iniquities.

Keith: Wow.

Nehemia: He’s going to grind us into the dust until we do. It’s almost like…and I hate this analogy, I won’t even…I’m going to bring it…I hate this analogy, but it’s like God is like slapping us, saying, “Repent! Repent!” And we’re like, “Oh, no, we’re doing everything right; I don’t need to repent.” Eventually, we’re going to get slapped so hard, we’re going to repent and confess our sins; it’s going to happen. So, there’s no “if” here; this is going to happen. We’re going to confess our sins.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: That’s interesting.

Nehemia: Do you have “if” in your verse, Keith?

Keith: It does say “if.” “But if they will confess their sins…”

Nehemia: Wow.

Keith: “…and the sins of their fathers, their treachery against Me…”

Nehemia: That just amazes me because it’s not there. Like, they added the word “if” to make it fit their theology. If they repent then okay, then God will take them back, but if they don’t, we’ve got a replacement, we don’t need them. And then look at…

Jono: Oh, my goodness.

Keith: Oh, boy.

Jono: How about that?

Nehemia: This is outright deception.

Jono: There it is.

Nehemia: Now look at the JPS, the Jewish translation. It has, “And they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, in that they trespassed against Me; yea, were hostile to Me.” So, there’s no “if” added there, and that’s because there’s no “if” in the verse.

Jono: Well, I’m glad that you’ve stopped us there because that’s a Torah Pearl.

Keith: Thank you.

Jono: I think Keith, you would agree.

Keith: We’ve got to stop, and he’s got to pray. You’ve got to pray, Nehemia.

Jono: I think we need to go to Psalm 119, verse 18, Nehemia, if you would.

Nehemia: I’m going to let Keith do the prayer.

Jono: Yes. There you go. Oh, my goodness. It’s part of his time.

Keith: Okay. So, I’m going to use the NIV. It says, “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your Torah, in Your law.” And Father, I just want to thank You so much that we can have our eyes opened. Thank You for the perspectives on this phone. Thank You for the ability, the technology, the many, many, many ways that we’re able to dive and to dig and to find the treasures of Your Torah. I pray that all of us that are listening here today and for generations to come, hopefully as this continues until that time where the confession comes forth and there is restoration by You. In the meantime, help us be a people that will continue to have our eyes opened, to see the wonderful things of your Torah and want to live it just the way You meant it. In Your name. Amen.

Jono: Amen. Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: “They will confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me, and that I have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies. If…” Now, Nehemia, here it is, Keith, “If their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt, then,” then we have a ‘then,’ in verse 42, “I will remember My covenant with Jacob, My covenant with Isaac, My covenant with Abraham and I will remember…I will remember the land.”

Keith: Now, does yours actually say ‘if’ on “then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled,” or does it say “if”?

Jono: Yeah, I’ve got, “if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled”.

Keith: Mine says, “then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled”.

Nehemia: Yeah. It says, “then their uncircumcised heart will be humbled”.

Keith: Come on, NIV.

Nehemia: “Then their iniquities…”

Keith: Come on, NIV.

Nehemia: There it is.

Keith: Somebody say, NIV.

Nehemia: You got it this time, there’s no “if” there.

Jono: Oh, my goodness, the NIV wins out over the New King James, again. How about that? Okay.

Keith: Well, it’s...

Jono: There’s some points for the Methodist Bible. And then it goes, 44, “Yet for all of that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away.” Actually, Nehemia, do you want to go it from here? Because these are the verses you wanted to touch on.

Keith: Wait; wait, no, before he does that.

Jono: Yeah, Keith?

Keith: No, just a second before he does that because I do really think that we’re at this verse, actually verse 46, I think is what you’re going to talk about. Is that right, Nehemia?

Nehemia: I’m going to talk about 44 and 45, actually.

Keith: Okay, you go 44 and 45; I’ll talk about verse 46.

Jono: Got it.

Nehemia: No, you go ahead with 43, Jono.

Jono: Okay. You want me to read 43?

Keith: How about if we go to 40?

Jono: “The land shall…”

Keith: Let’s go back to 32, what are you talking about, verse 40?

Nehemia: No, he’s in 43, he’s doing his reading.

Jono: “The land also shall be left empty by them and will enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; they will accept their guilt, because they despised My judgment and because their souls abhorred My statutes. Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, or utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them; for I am Yehovah their Elohim. But for their sake I will remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am Yehovah.”

Nehemia: So, this is really, to me, fascinating; because He’s saying that if you do good, you get the blessing. If you do bad, you’re going to get all of these punishments. They go farther and farther, seven times and another seven times, until finally, you’re crushed to the point that your heart is humbled to repent. But despite all of that, even when you’re in the land of your enemies, it’s says in Hebrew, “lo ma-astim vehlo geh-altim,” I will not reject them, and I will not despise them to completely consume them to violate my covenant with them. No matter what happens, they will continue to be my people, “ki ani Yehovah Elohehem,” for I am Yehovah their God. There the name “Yehovah” comes out in its fullness. “Yehovah,” means the one who was, the one who is, and the one who will be.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: And that’s, I think, coming out here when He says, “For I am the one who was, the one who is, and the one who will be their God.” He is Yehovah, and He is eternal, and when He says it, He does not change. Can I just bring this verse real quick? It’s in the book of Malachi, chapter 3, verse 6, one of the most popular verses in the Bible people, people love to quote this verse. “For I am the LORD, I change not,” and they’re always quoting it in context that is convenient for them. But, if they have a certain doctrine they want to push…very often you’ll hear it from Christians, who want to push a certain agenda from the Old Testament and they’ll say, “well, the LORD doesn’t change.”

But what they sometimes ignore is the second half of the verse, which says, “therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Well, what does He mean by that? What He’s saying is, if I were to change, I’d burn you up in a second. But I made a promise to your fathers and even in the land of your enemies I will not reject you and completely despise you, as He says there in Leviticus.

He goes on in Malachi 3:7, “Even from the days of your fathers you are gone away from mine ordinances and have not kept them.” And then what does He say? “You can’t keep them, just don’t even bother with it, we’re going to go on to something else, forget about it, don’t worry, you haven’t been able to keep them from the days of your father…”

Keith: Forget about it.

Nehemia: “…just forget it.” No! He says, “Return unto me, and I will return unto you.”

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Now in the Hebrew the word ‘return’ is from the root word “shuv,” “tshuva,” “teshuva;” it means to repent. So, you can legitimately translate this, “Repent to me, and I will return unto you,” I’ll repent from my ways, if you repent from your ways, “saith Yehovah of hosts.”

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: So here He’s telling them, “you haven’t been doing this from the time of your forefathers, I know how you guys are. Repent already, all you’ve got to do is repent, I’ve been telling you the entire time, since the time you were in Egypt. Repent, it’s time for you to finally repent.” He’s telling us no matter how bad we are, He’s not going to reject us, because Yehovah doesn’t change…

Keith: May it be.

Nehemia: …he has an eternal covenant with His people Israel, and that covenant, He is the one who was, who is, and will be, and as long as he continues to be, that covenant shall remain true.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Whoo!

Keith: All I got to say, Jono, I’m glad I’m in the United States, he’s in Israel, and you’re in Australia, because I’m telling you if we were all sitting together right now that table’s going down. He is preaching, he is banging that table, and this is just awesome because, you know what? It’s true passion, it’s true excitement, it’s true joy. I mean, I’m just imagining Nehemia as I’m sitting here over in the United States, and he’s in Australia, but you’re sitting there and I’ve been where you live, I’ve been to your spot, I’ve been in your neighborhood, I’ve been in your apartment. I mean here you’re in there and you’re surrounded by the people of Israel and isn’t there a part of you, at least for me as I’m listening, a part of you that’s saying, yes, it’s going to happen! I mean there’s the faithfulness of God and the faithfulness of God, He will not change, He will not allow us to be consumed. Yes, you’re a few surrounded by many. Yes, you’ve got enemies around you. Yes, there are these situations, but you live in that situation. And I tell you that’s what makes it so authentic for me. I mean your passion and your excitement is real. This is where you live, you live in this, so I want to tell you how much I appreciate that, and I’m glad that I’m over here because I’m thinking you might start swinging.

Jono: So, this is interesting because, before I was talking to you, I was talking to Yoel Ben Shlomo today and we were reading through Joshua, and this is Joshua, chapter 7, verse 8, and Joshua is pleading before Yehovah. He says, “O Yehovah, what shall I say when Israel turns its back before its enemies? For the Canaanites,” this is verse 9, “and all the inhabitants of the land will hear it, and surround us, and cut off your name from the earth. Then,” and then, “what will You do for Your great name?”

And this is after, of course, someone took some of the banned things from Jericho after it was destroyed, hid it under his tent, and 36-odd people fell in battle against Ai. But here it is, in verse 45, “But for their sake I will remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am Yehovah.” Ah, I love that.

Nehemia: Can I say something really radical?

Keith: You and…

Jono: Go on.

Keith: Go ahead.

Nehemia: Can I say something really radical? I want to translate into plain English what you just read, Jono. Where is that? From Joshua, where?

Jono: Joshua 7, verses 8 and 9 is where I was.

Nehemia: Joshua 7, verses 8 to 9; people, go look it up. What he’s really saying is, “If Israel ceases to exist as a people, I’m a false god; I don’t really exist. As long as they continue to exist, they are a testimony to My name…”

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: “…because I proclaimed this in front of all the nations that Israel will continue to exist as a people.” It amazes me. You know, I love history. I’m a student of history, and I look at all of the ancient nations that existed and all the ancient superpowers and empires and there’s only one that continues to exist, continues to live now, having been returned to its land and revived its ancient language, a people that was literally scattered throughout the entire world, unprecedented in history, and then they were gathered in back, partially so far, but millions of them gathered in now a second time into their land and that is the people of Israel. The people of Israel, for me, is the strongest testimony that the God of Israel is the one who is, the one who was, and the one who will always be. He is Yehovah.

Jono: And isn’t it still the case, though, Nehemia, and throughout modern history as well, that they still surround Israel and seek to cut off their name from the earth?

Keith: Yes.

Jono: And yet, because of Yehovah and because of His great name, they’re still there.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: Amen. “And these are the statutes…”

Nehemia: The promise made all those thousands of years ago is a living testimony being fulfilled today.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Let me say something…

Jono: Keith?

Keith: And Jono, I know you’re about to do your thing where you’re going to read this, and I just want to say one thing about this verse, and I want it to be something that we can talk about…

Jono: Please.

Keith: …as we go into the future portions. But I think this verse is really interesting and I don’t even want us to have to do great in-depth discussion about this verse, but I want people to think about this as they listen to the show. And I know we’re already a bit in on our time, but it says, “These are the decrees, the laws and the regulations that the LORD established on Mount Sinai between himself and the Israelites through Moses.” And it’s almost like when I read that I’m like, “Is that it? Is that the Torah, is it over?” It’s almost like, you know, what we used back in the days of seminary, the seam, you know, the connection. And it’s not at the end of the book of Leviticus, it’s right before this chapter. So, I just wanted to bring it up as something for people to think about. What purpose does this line fulfill? Here it’s not like at the end of the book…

Nehemia: So why does it say that, Keith? What’s the answer?

Keith: Yeah, well, that’s what I want, for people to think about this a little bit. We’re going to answer this as we continue to go about our business.

Nehemia: Well, I think we can answer it now. I mean, we started this section in the previous Torah portion, where it said something like, “…and Yehovah spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai,” and then here is the end of that section…

Keith: Right.

Nehemia: …even though it’s a different Torah portion. That was…remember how we talked about the Torah wasn’t originally one big scroll? It was lots of different scrolls that were sewn together. So that was one scroll. From the time he says “…and Yehovah spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai,” all the way up until here, is a revelation that Moses specifically receives, probably at the foot of Mount Sinai in the Tent of Meeting, and there were a series of these throughout a period of 40 years. One of the dogmas I was taught was, Moses received the entire Torah at Mount Sinai, both the written Torah and the oral Torah, and that’s a lie on both counts.

He didn’t receive the entire written Torah on Mount Sinai; he received the Ten Commandments and certain visual instructions regarding the Tabernacle. The rest of the Torah was revealed throughout a period of 40 years. It’s simply telling us that this particular section was revealed to Moses at Mount Sinai; not necessarily on Mount Sinai, but they were camped at the foot of Mount Sinai. During that encampment they received these chapters. What was it? I don’t even remember where it started, like, chapter 25 or something like that?

Keith: Chapter 25, yeah.

Nehemia: Whatever it was. When you have these preconceptions about who wrote the different books of the Bible, or at least things I was taught…and when I actually read it, I see it’s not supported by the evidence. Like, one of the things I was taught is, David wrote the Psalms. Well, that’s not true. David wrote some of the Psalms, but then if you look at…I’m looking right now at Psalm chapter 73, verse 1. It starts off “A Psalm of Asaph,” and we know from the book of Chronicles that Asaph and his family were a group of singers in the Temple, and so presumably he wrote Psalm 73. We have one of the Psalms that’s actually written by Moses, so they weren’t all written by David. But I want to look, really quickly if we can, it’s a little off topic. But I want to quickly look at chapter 72 in Psalms; in my Hebrew, it’s verse 20. I don’t know what it is in your English, it might be verse 19 or 21. Can you read that for me, Keith?

Keith: One second. Psalms…

Nehemia: Or Jono?

Keith: Jono, go ahead.

Jono: 72, verse?

Nehemia: The last two verses of chapter 72.

Jono: The last two…

Nehemia: The last three verses.

Jono: They say, “Blessed be Yehovah Elohim, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things.” Who only does wondrous things, how about that?

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: “And blessed be his glorious name forever.”

Nehemia: Except, it doesn’t say, “who only does wondrous things.” Sorry, I’ve got to stop you there. It says, “Blessed is Yehovah God, the God of Israel, who does wonderful things by Himself.” There’s a big difference.

Jono: Ah. There is a big difference. I was going to say, “who does wondrous things by Himself.”

Nehemia: There’s a theological translation you got there, Jono.

Keith: Yes.

Jono: Yes. “And blessed be,” oh, let me emphasize that, “Blessed be Yehovah Elohim, the Elohim of Israel,” and in mine…now Keith, I have to ask you, what have you got? I mean mine says, “who only does wondrous things.” What does yours say?

Keith: No, no. The NIV has got it right.

Jono: 72:18.

Keith: It says, “Praise be to Yehovah God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds.”

Jono: Oh, no! Another point for the NIV, is scoring over the New King James over and over again in this program. In verse 19…

Keith: We’re in the zone.

Nehemia: He shoots he scores!

Jono: It says, “And blessed be His glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory; Amen, and Amen. The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.”

Nehemia: What? “The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.”

Jono: That’s what it’s got.

Nehemia: So, what that should mean is, after chapter 72 of Psalms there should be no more Psalms that are attributed to David, that are David’s Psalms. Does that make sense?

Jono: Oh, yeah.

Nehemia: It’s what it sounds like.

Jono: It sounds like that, but…

Nehemia: So, first of all, it completely blows out of the water that David wrote the whole Psalms, obviously.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: Because in 72, it says, “finished are the prayers of David the son of Jesse.” Except if you do a simple Bible search on your quick computer program like I have, then you find out that chapter 86 of Psalm opens up, “A Prayer of David.”

Jono: Aha.

Nehemia: And then we have, let’s see, 101 of David, 103 of David, 108 a Psalm of David, 109, 110…so, what’s going on? What is going on here?

Jono: I don’t know. But let’s hear it.

Nehemia: What’s actually going on is the same exact thing as what’s happened in Leviticus chapter 26, which is that, there it says that these are the commandments that were given at Mount Sinai. Well, that’s the end of that scroll, which now is part of a bigger scroll. That’s exactly what’s happening in Psalms. In fact, in the Hebrew manuscripts, there were five books of Psalms. Did you know that?

Jono: I didn’t know that.

Nehemia: That there were five books of Psalms.

Jono: No, I did not.

Nehemia: Yeah, and one of the books happens to end at the end of chapter 72. That’s why the two verses you read before, you know, “Finished are the prayers of David the son of Jesse,” it ended with a blessing. Each of the five books ends with a blessing. So that blessing, in mine verse 18 and verse 19, isn’t the end of Psalm 72, it’s the end of that book. It’s the end of…and if you look at each of the books, you’ll find a blessing just like that.

So, we have one book of Psalms today. But originally, and still marked in the Hebrew manuscripts, are five books. It’s the same thing like I’m saying with Leviticus. Right now, we have the book of Leviticus, and we have the book of the Torah, but originally it was lots of different scrolls. Simply what we’re seeing at the end of 26 is the end of that scroll. There may be other things that were revealed at Mount Sinai, they were just written in a different scroll.

Jono: Sure, excellent Torah Pearl. Thank you, Nehemia, for that. Keith, listen.

Keith: Yes.

Jono: In recent Torah Pearls, I remember you saying that your job as a Methodist pastor was to baptize, bury, and marry. Was it in that order?

Keith: Yes. The order that we said is marry, bury and baptize.

Jono: Marry, bury and baptize. Did you ever do a dedication?

Keith: Absolutely.

Jono: So, you had that in your tradition. You had dedications as well, right?

Keith: Yes.

Jono: Well, can you tell us about that? What is the deal with that?

Keith: Okay. So, let me just…doing dedications of people’s lives or…?

Jono: Well, no, I remember…let me tell you, in the tradition that I came from it was traditional for a family, you know, the parents would bring the toddler, and the new baby…

Keith: Oh, yes. Yes.

Jono: …come down to the altar and dedicate the child. What exactly are they doing? How…?

Keith: So we used to look at that as…there would be the baptism for children, etcetera, but there were some families that said, “we’re not interested in doing that right now, but we do want to give our child over, we want to dedicate our child to the Lord,” is what they would say. And so, we used to do dedication services, where there wasn’t any water and there was no baptism, it was simply a…

Jono: A dedication service. So, what…in the tradition, your tradition, Keith, what does it mean for parents to say, “we want our child dedicated to the Lord?” What are they actually saying? The thing is, there was a similar thing in my tradition, right? And I’m not even too sure that I understood it, but there was a regular practice of parents who would bring a new baby or a toddler, and there was this ritual, they go down the front and they’re met with the pastor in front of everybody…

Keith: Oh, wait!

Jono: And they would be dedicated, they would dedicate…

Keith: We didn’t read this part yet, Jono. This is chapter 27.

Jono: This is chapter 27. And my question is, in the mind of the parents, what was it that they were achieving in as far as your tradition taught them? What was it that they thought was going on? And what was their understanding of it?

Keith: They were dedicating their child to God, short of having to do a baptism, where the kid doesn’t know anything about what they’re doing. You know, many traditions they have, as if the child is, somehow…certainly in Lutheran tradition the idea is you’re baptized as a baby and that means you’re saved.

Jono: Okay.

Keith: So there are a lot of people that said, “hey, wait a minute, my kid doesn’t know what’s going on here, I want to wait till my kid is at an age that they can confess, make some confessions, so in the meantime I’d like to cover them through dedication.”

Jono: “Cover them through dedication,” and what that means is, should their end come prematurely, that, you know, it’s all covered…

Keith: No. I don’t think they were thinking of it that way. I think they were thinking more…this is a child that’s been given to me, and I want to dedicate this child to God. I don’t think they were thinking theologically, like, if something happens, they’re going to heaven.

Jono: So, they’re dedicating to God, and then what? What have they achieved? I don’t understand. That he’s going to work in the church or that the kid is going to…?

Keith: No.

Jono: What?

Keith: No. I’ve given the child, I mean…God’s given me a child and I’ve dedicated the child…

Nehemia: Now doesn’t that come from the whole thing in the story of Chana where she dedicates…?

Keith: I just brought that up.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: Oh.

Nehemia: I was getting my water when you said that.

Keith: Okay.

Jono: Nehemia, chapter 27.

Nehemia: Yeah.

Jono: Yeah. And we’re talking about, when a man “consecrates by a vow certain persons to Yehovah.” What…I mean, is there…before we actually even go there, is there anything in Judaism that would be similar to the practice that Keith is talking about, a similar practice in my tradition that I was brought up in of dedicating children to Yehovah? Is there anything in Judaism similar to that?

Nehemia: You know what, I think what there are are what they call life-cycle rituals, which are basically little rituals to…basically, it’s a rite of passage. In that respect we do have things like that in Judaism. One of them actually comes from this passage, this along with the passage in Exodus 13, which is when a child is 30 days old, if he’s the firstborn they do the “Pidyon Ha'Ben”. Which is, they give the five shekels of silver to the priest, which we’re commanded to give our firstborn…

Jono: Yes.

Nehemia: …and then we’re told to actually redeem the firstborn over in Exodus. And the way we redeem them…it gives us valuations here. Now it’s talking about the valuations in the context, if you take a vow, if you say an oath essentially, if you say, “I swear that I’m going to dedicate my child,” or something, well, then you can’t actually bring your child as a sacrifice. You’ve got to redeem them. The way you redeem them is you pay this valuation, and so there’s different valuations here. In verse 3 it’s a certain amount for a male and a certain amount for a female. Where they’re getting this from is, if this person were to come…and this, by the way, isn’t to say that men are more valuable than women. The idea is that if this person were to come and work as a slave, then what would he be worth? What is his value on the market? That’s where they’re getting these values.

Jono: Right.

Nehemia: And then men, of course, have stronger upper body strength…

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: …on average, and that’s why the valuation is fifty for a man and thirty for a woman. The woman can do some work, but less. If it’s a child, well, the child can do less work, so the child isn’t worth as much, and the female child is worth even slightly less because she probably has less upper body strength. And if we’re talking about old people, well, old people also have less strength. So that’s where these values are coming from.

So, we do have, in Judaism…we have what’s called, like I said, the Pidyon Ha'Ben for the firstborn, which is the redemption of the firstborn. It’s usually done on the 30th day of the child’s life. That actually comes from verse 6, which says, “From a month old until five years, the value of the male will be worth five shekel.” Then, theoretically, you could do it from before a month, but the thinking is that before a month the child, certainly in the olden days, wasn’t necessarily viable. Meaning, until the child has survived the first 29 days of life, it was considered…there was a 50/50 chance it might not survive.

And anyway, so they do that from the 30th, then they have what’s called the Bar Mitzvah, and for girls the Bat Mitzvah. Now look, those are traditions. Those are kind of parallel to the Christian…or I think the Catholics do something called…don’t they do something called confirmation? Or something like that?

Jono: Yeah, the confirmation. Yeah. Is that right, Keith?

Nehemia: Yeah. Okay. So, is that right, Keith?

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: So, Jews have the Bar Mitzvah and the Bat Mitzvah. At the age of 12 for a girl and 13 for a boy, because, traditionally those are the ages where they reach puberty. But those are traditions; those aren’t actually anything commanded in the Torah. So, we have those traditions, but you know, those are not commandments.

Jono: Okay. So here…

Nehemia: Okay. So, anything parallel to the dedication? No. Because our thinking is, if you dedicated the child, then you either have to send them to work in the Temple or redeem them, or maybe sacrifice them.

Jono: Okay. Now maybe you can help me understand this, and I’m going to jump out of here again into Judges if I may…

Nehemia: There it is.

Jono: Judges chapter 11, verse 29 and on, and it talks about a man by the name of, now how would you pronounce his name in Hebrew?

Nehemia: Yiftach.

Jono: Yiftach. Okay. Now it says in verse 30 that he made a vow to Yehovah, and said, “If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be Yehovah’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” Now, it turns out, we read on from verse 34 onwards, that his daughter is the first out of the doors to greet him. And I mean, is it not a ridiculous and a silly thing for him to say such a thing. But is it possible that he could’ve redeemed her with money?

Nehemia: Well, first of all, the moral of the story is, be careful what you promise to Yehovah because you can’t take it back. That’s definitely the moral of the story. There are a few passages that talk about that; we’re actually not commanded to make a vow. Vows are something that if we want to do, we can do them. But if we make the vow, we’re required to keep the vow. But there’s no commandment to keep the vow…or, excuse me, to make the vow, rather. There’s no commandment to make the vow.

So, he made a vow. That’s actually Deuteronomy 23; let’s see, it’s verse 22. It says, 23 in the Hebrew, it says, “If you refrain from making a vow, there will not be in you sin,” it literally says. So, it’s not a sin. And it says, “Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to Yehovah your God with your own mouth.” So whatever vow you make you’ve got to keep it.

So be careful. There’s no commandment to make a vow; be careful what you make. So he didn’t think before he spoke, apparently, evidently, and he should’ve been more specific; “whatever animals comes first to greet me or whatever animal…” or, what if a donkey had come to greet him? You can’t sacrifice a donkey, and you can’t sacrifice a human as a burnt offering. So, the question is, how did he fulfill this commandment? I mean, he essentially put himself in a situation knowing we’re only allowed to bring certain animals as burnt offerings, as sacrifices. You can only bring a bull, that is, a bull or a cow, a goat, a sheep, and then a turtledove, and a pigeon. Five species; any other thing is an abomination to Yehovah to offer as a sacrifice. We’re specifically not allowed to sacrifice human beings. We read about that in Leviticus, I believe it was 18, and then again in 20, about not passing our children through the fire.

So, what is this? What did he do? It’s not exactly clear. It actually has vague language at the end. It says, “At the end of two months she returned to her father.” It says, “And he…” literally it says, “and he did to her his vow which he vowed.” What does that mean? He sacrificed her? He couldn’t sacrifice her; that wouldn’t be a valid sacrifice.

So, what did he do? Maybe he killed her, I don’t know. We don’t actually know. It didn’t say he offered her up as a sacrifice, as a burnt offering. So, what exactly he did, I don’t know, it’s not very clear. There are different interpretations. Some people say no, he simply redeemed her, paid the, you know, whatever the amount was there, 30 shekel or whatever that was…

Jono: Well, then of course, why would it then go on to say…

Nehemia: Which is definitely a possibility.

Jono: It’s a possibility, but it goes on to say, at least in…

Nehemia: Strictly based on Leviticus, he would’ve had to pay the 30 shekel, depending on her age, something like 30 shekel.

Jono: Okay. So, he could have redeemed…what you’re saying is that he could have redeemed her with money.

Nehemia: He was required to redeem her. What he actually did, I don’t know.

Jono: He was required, well, I mean it goes on to say in this verse, and we’ll move on after this. But it says that, “He carried out his vow with her which he had vowed.” Full stop. “She knew no man.” Full stop. Now if he’d just redeemed her with money, why would you add that?

Nehemia: I don’t know.

Jono: Yeah. It’s a bit of a mystery.

Nehemia: Maybe…it is a mystery. One possibility is she said, “Okay, I’m going to go serve in the Temple now, and I’m not going to marry.” I don’t know, that wouldn’t really beunprecedented, but the whole thing is unprecedented. There’s an interesting verse here, in verse 35, it says, “When it came to pass, when he saw her, he tore his clothes, and said, ‘Aha.’” That’s actually what it says in the Hebrew, “Aha, my daughter! You have…” I guess you translate this, “You have forced me and you have caused me trouble.” And he says, “ve-anochi pitziti pi el Yehovah,” which could be translated, “and I opened my big mouth to Yehovah,” or, “I opened my mouth big to Yehovah, and I can’t take it back,” and I cannot go back. Which is…that’s the lesson. Be careful before you open up your big mouth.

Jono: Amen

Nehemia: And the name Jephthah may actually be a play on words with that because Yiphtach means, “he opens.”

Jono: Oh. Truly? Okay.

Nehemia: So, he’s the one who opened his big mouth, yeah. I don’t know; did he sacrifice her? It’s not clear at all what he did. It’s been interpreted different ways throughout the ages.

Keith: So those parents that do bring their children, for that person that does see their house as a gift, to the person that says, this land has been given to me. Many times, I’ve been able to actually…people will call me, and they’ll say, “Can you come over and can you pray with us about giving honor to this that we’ve received?”

And I do like this idea, this concept of sort of dedicating, and I don’t want to do anything that’s outside of Scripture, but the idea of dedicating…not dedicating in the technical term, but the idea that I’ve been given an opportunity to live in this house. What does it mean for this house to be lived in, in honor to Yehovah? Or, I’ve been given this child, what does it mean for me, to the best of my ability to raise this child in a way that acknowledges that I know who the giver is? And that I want to dedicate this child onto him, not, again, the technical terms of bringing to the Temple and whatever, maybe it should be a different word, but a way of giving honor to the giver of the gift.

Jono: Acknowledging that that is what the best that...

Keith: Right.

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: I think that’s a beautiful thing, and I think the key is all in the wording. I think it’s really a matter of…if you said in your dedication exactly what you said now, then you’ve got no problem. You know, you’ve…

Keith: Right.

Nehemia: …you’ve dedicated. In other words, be careful not to say, “I’m dedicating this to God, or I’m dedicating this to Yehovah.” But make it clear, “I’m dedicating my child to honoring Yehovah and to serving him.”

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Well, that’s totally legitimate. You know, as long as you’re clear about what you want to say. And I’ve got…I know this is a little bit…it’s not really off-topic but it’s jumping from the Torah portion to something else, which is what Ecclesiastes says about this whole matter. It’s Ecclesiastes chapter 5, I think it’s one of the most profound passages in the Bible, in many respects. I love it. It says…or shall I have Keith read it?

Jono: Keith?

Keith: I’d rather…

Nehemia: Chapter 5.

Keith: I’ve already gone over my time. I would like for you to read it from the Hebrew, Nehemia.

Nehemia: Alright. It says, “Do not be quick with your mouth…” I’m going to read it from the NIV, which is your Bible. “Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.” Even in your heart, don’t be hasty to utter something before Yehovah, which even if you don’t speak it, be careful what you wish for. “God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. As dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words. When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it.” Which is essentially what it says in Deuteronomy 23. “He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.”

“Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the messenger, ‘My vow was a mistake.’ Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands?” You know, that’s amazing.

Keith: I think that’s amazing.

Nehemia: “That’s as much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore, stand in awe of God.” So, the point here is…

Keith: And Jono, was it…

Nehemia: …you know, if you, like, for the example that’s brought here is, if you have a bad dream and you say, “okay, I’m going to make this vow to Yehovah, I’m going promise him my sheep, or my cow.” Then you say, well, you know, on the next day, “I kind of need that sheep, I’m not going to give that to Yehovah.” Don’t do it, just don’t do it in the first place and you won’t have a problem.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Keith?

Keith: Amen. No, I was just going to say, isn’t that just sort of the foundation of what’s happening even in this chapter? That whatever it is that you’re going to give to Him; whatever it is that you’re going to dedicate to Him, that that’s something that’s serious, it’s not something that’s to be taken lightly.

Jono: Amen. And that’s in my Bible, it says in Ecclesiastes 5, verse 7, it ends with, “But fear God.” And take that into consideration when you’re making these kinds of statements to Him; do so in fear. And so moving along, as we wrap this up, it kind of takes a bit of a twist here, Nehemia, in verse 30, “And all the tithes of the land, whether the seed of land or the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s and holy to Yehovah. If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it.” I don’t understand that. I mean, maybe math wasn’t my strong point. What does that mean?

Nehemia: So, look, the idea of tithes, as Jews understand it, I should say, based on this passage and similar ones like it, is that the produce of the land of Israel is holy. The idea of the tithe is that you actually…whatever you produce from the land, you have to give 10 percent of that produce to God. If you’re raising animals, then you give one-tenth of your animals to God; one-tenth of those that are born.

So, if you want to, let’s say you have…I don’t know, your prized cow is born, your prized bull, more importantly, because you have like, lots of cows but very few bulls…

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: …and you decide, you say, “I want to keep this one, this is one I’m going to breed, I don’t want to give it to the Temple.”

Jono: Ah.

Nehemia: You’re allowed to keep it…

Jono: So, you have to redeem it.

Nehemia: …but you have to redeem it.

Jono: But you add one-fifth.

Nehemia: So, this tithe is worth 100 shekel? I’ve got to give the 100 shekel plus 20 percent; that’s the fifth. So, I have to redeem this from the Temple, essentially, and instead of giving to the Temple, I give the priest 120 shekel. Now, that raises a really interesting question about tithing money. Scripture doesn’t talk anywhere about tithing money. There is no such concept, and, of course, there’s no such concept in agrarian society…

Keith: Okay. I’m going to ask that we end this program. Are you kidding me? The entire Church is built on this, what are you going to do, take this away from us?

Nehemia: Alright.

Keith: I’ve had it, Nehemia. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the end of Torah Pearls, thank you so much. Hey, let me just say something, I’m just completely kidding. I had a ministry when I was a minister to athletes - listen, at any one time, ladies and gentlemen, I’d have 30 million dollars in the room, and I’m not exaggerating. And when I learned about tithing and the Biblical understanding of tithing, and not only that there wasn’t this issue of tithing money, but just what that tithe actually meant, the most radical thing that happened in the ministry was that I stood before all of those athletes, and many of them had guaranteed contracts, and I said to them, “based on my understanding now of what this actually means, there will not be any required tithing within this ministry.” And I actually had athletes come to me, and say, “Keith, you’re cutting off your hand, you’re cutting off your opportunity.” And you know what? It’s an example where, when I learned the information and understood it, I applied it and it didn’t matter what it meant, but whether a lot of people just thought you’re absolutely nuts, but you know what? I’d rather be…

Nehemia: Now, let me ask you a question, Keith.

Keith: I’d rather be right with Yehovah, so. Yes?

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: So now if someone comes to you and says, “Okay, I understand that scripturally I’m required to tithe produce and animals. But I don’t make a lot of money, and I have some money, and I want to tithe this. I want to give 10 percent to your ministry.” Just like Jacob made a vow where he voluntarily, it wasn’t a commandment, he voluntarily gave 10 percent to God. Would you say to him, in that situation, “No, don’t do a voluntary tithe?” Is that what you’re saying? That it’s forbidden to tithe?

Keith: No. This is what I would say, and you that are listening that might be sitting on about, you know, 10 million dollars and you want to give away some money to Nehemia’s ministry, “Makor Hebrew Foundation,” or Biblical Foundations Academy, I absolutely 100 percent would be joyous and jump through the roof if someone wanted to do that. The only thing I would be clear about is I would want them to understand that as a Levitical tithe given to a Levitical priest, and that whole situation, the technical aspects of it. If someone says that they want to support, give, contribute - man, may it be. I would be honored and blessed for anyone that would take it that way, even if in a spiritual sense that there is an idea of something that they’ve been given from God and they want to give something back to build ministry or to help something take place around the world.

The difference was this - what I used to deal with was I used to take, like I say, all of the Torah’s nailed to the cross except for tithing. Tithing was something that we could continue to talk about because we needed it, and we didn’t care what it meant. So, I think my point was just that, the giving of resources - we certainly see Biblical examples of that outside of the idea of tithing money.

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: I think in some respects it’s a greater challenge to the person. If you come to me and say, “Okay, I’m required to give 10 percent. Okay, I’m just fulfilling my duty, it’s taken off the top, it’s not really even my money.” But here, if it is my money and I’ve got to give that to the purpose of glorifying God…wow, in a way, that’s so much more challenging.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: I think there’s so much more reward for something that is such a great challenge in that way.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Amen. And I want to say, Jono that this, and maybe we can talk about this more at some other time, but this whole issue of money and ministry and that sort of thing, I do want to talk a little bit about that as we go forward because I think there’s a really, really powerful opportunity for us to understand, in the spirit of this chapter - chapter 27 - what does it mean for us to give back to the one who gave? And what does it mean for us to dedicate, now I’m going to use that word again, in honor of what He’s done? I can never match what He has done for me, by anything that I give or dedicate to Him, but that there’s an opportunity for me to have a spirit of sharing and giving and supporting and all of that sort of thing. And that’s what I love. I think the spirit of that is so much more powerful than saying, “Well, I fulfilled my ten percent and that’s it. I’ve got 90.” I say this; 100 percent of it is His, and that’s just the way I look at it.

Jono: Amen

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: So, verse 34, and this is the final verse of Leviticus, the book of Leviticus. Next week we’re going to be in Numbers; but it says, “These are the commandments which Yehovah commanded Moses for the children of Israel on Mount Sinai.” There we are.

Keith: I just want to say, I know we’re at the end of Leviticus right now. This has been so much fun I cannot even believe that we’re continuing on. But I just want to require that in the book of Numbers that Jono read every single…

Jono: Keith, you wait until I read every single word in Hebrew.

Keith: …every single word of every single chapter in Hebrew.

Jono: Every name, from the beginning…

Nehemia: I’m going to throw out the gauntlet and challenge you guys because we are coming up to a lot of sections that’s just a lot of numbers. I want to challenge you guys that we take one of the sections, and I’ll read some in Hebrew, and Keith reads some in Hebrew, and Jono will read some in Hebrew.

Jono: Oh, are you…you’re going to…

Nehemia: Can I get a commitment from you guys?

Jono: You’re going to kill me. You’re going to kill the audience, what are you talking about?

Nehemia: I’m not saying the whole thing, but let’s, like, for example…

Jono: Oh, okay.

Nehemia: …read the first chapter, which is like a billion names. And, I don’t know, take five verses or take a few verses…take two verses.

Jono: Ah.

Nehemia: And Jono, you read some of them, and Keith read a few of them.

Jono: I get to choose, right? I get to choose which one of them I’m doing. Okay.

Nehemia: Beseder, you can choose.

Jono: Boys and girls, you can look forward to that one. Thank you.

Nehemia: Not the whole thing, just a couple of verses.

Jono: Thank you, Keith Johnson and Nehemia Gordon. Next week we are in Bamidbar, is that right?

Nehemia: That’s right.

Jono: Whoo! Numbers 1 verse 1, to chapter 4 verse 20, and until then, dear listeners, be blessed and be set apart by the truth of our Father’s word. Shalom.

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25 thoughts on “Torah Pearls #33 – Bechukotai (Leviticus 26:3-27:34)

  1. I have been studying vows and found this discussion very insightful especially in regards to vows and dedication. What is concerning to me is Yehovah’s perspective in the wedding vows people exchange in Christianity. The vows were initiated in 1549 by the church and they leave no room for divorce. “For better or for worse… until death do us part.” It doesn’t matter how bad things get, people are committed to fulfilling their vows in the eyes of Yehovah until the death of either party. Divorce decrees only address the dissolution of the state license and not the vows exchanged.

    If Yehovah requires us to keep our vows, then it would seem from His perspective that there is a great deal of adultery going on even among followers of Him. Even if one person chooses not to honor the wedding vow, the other person is still required to do so because a vow is not dependent upon the other person keeping their vow.

    If someone could be forgiven for a rash vow, it would have been Jephthah. If his vow had to be fulfilled then the vows spoken on a wedding day between two people need to be fulfilled as well. Otherwise, people are guilty of adultery when they choose to join themselves to someone else who is not their spouse. This is very sobering to say the least.

    If anyone has further insight in regards to this topic, please share. Thank you.

    • i completely agree. This particular style of “wedding vow” is something that must be considered VERY seriously. Regardless of state law, national law, church ordinance, or even if the scripture *allows* divorce, if you actually make a vow to Yehovah that you will take your husband/wife *for life*, then divorce comes off the table, period.

      When my son got married a couple of years ago, he and his bride placed on the wedding announcement, right up front and big letters,
      ” ‘Til death! “. Now, that is taking a stand.

  2. Nehemia, brought out a good point on the word if. When I read 2 Chr 7:14, many translation use the word “IF: my people, I had a problem when it uses “IF” when YeHoVaH is speaking, the question I have does YeHoVaH KNOW whats going to happen or is He taken by surprise when Israel repents, After study the word if if Hebrew is the word (im or eem) it has multiple meanings the one word that fits is WHEN my people who are called by my Name shall, this word WHEN show that Elohim is all knowing.

  3. So let me get this straight. Deciding to organize at a different place than where YHVH put His name (Temple/Jerusalem), is considered to be setting up a high place? Deciding to act out or copy the instructions of the aaronic priests in any of their commanded instructions, will get those people who do so, burned on an altar? Choosing a day that is different than the one YHVH declared by the blowing of the shofar instructions to the Levitical priesthood to gather for appointed days, will get your whole family line wiped out? Hmmmmm……. Seems to me we’ve got some people involved in some huge problems. But will they listen?

    • What you just listed is exactly why I left the Christian church I grew up in. But for all the time I was there I asked for justification for changes from the Old Testament and was told Christ changed it. I never believed it and now know why. It is like freeing a caged bird that is now able to fly. Nehemia opened that cage door for me and I thank him every day for that.

  4. Just wanted to know when did the Rabbinical position of bar/bat mitzvah actually become the official position?

  5. In the New Testament ( Matthew 8:2I-22), I find an interesting similarity revealed in Yeshua’s and Kefa’s dialogue concerning, ” how often shall I forgive my brother “, and Leviticus 26 :14 thru 27 – ” if you don’t listen t me “. The “seven” metric used in meting out judgement in Leviticus 26 is mirrored by Yeshua in Matthew as to the metric for true forgiveness / redemption. In Leviticus we read of a progressive penalty for persistent disobedience and Yeshua seems to be saying in Matthew , ” Look Kefa, do you really want me to send in an auditor to render a number on your / Israel’s offenses ? I’ll tell you what, if you’ll quit counting ( progressively forgive ) your brothers’ offenses, I’ll quit counting yours “. In the end of days we read of Israel being fully restored to the Land and this is achieved by a task that is often ” too hard ” for humankind, ” persistent forgiveness”. Thankfully, Yahovah QUIT COUNTING and thereby reveals his heart for his People to be ONE of unrelenting love and forgiveness. Perhaps we can toss our IOU calculators, yes ?

  6. Thanks for all the revelations you allow Hashem bring through you. But remember, Christ is being worshiped as a God by many. Therefore, its my understanding that as followers of Hashem, we cant mention, with our lips, the name; JESUS, anymore; Cos mentioning names of other Gods is forbidden by God Exo 23:13. However, to refer to him as Christ, is permitted. Please spread this info, so that those who may have stumbled because of your error/followed your bad example in mentioning the name Jesus, would be corrected and come to repentance.

  7. I immediately thought of Isaiah 43 when Nehemia referred to Josh 7:8-9 stating that: “If Israel ceases to exist, then Yehovah would be a false God”. It’s true! Israel is proof that Yehovah is faithful to His promises forever!!! Isaiah 43:7 also speaks of “the Gentiles who are called by My name”.
    Isaiah 43:10…. “You are My witneses”, says Yehovah, And My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me….

  8. Although we are faithless, He remains faithful. All praise, honor, and glory to Yehovah forever!

  9. As I listen to the discussion about Israel being special to God my thoughts are shifted to Yehovah who shows what love is. He made a covenant to Abraham and will keep it although his descendands have been unfaithful. These people have rejected Him so many times yet He is faithful. The focus should not be so much so the people but this God who loves and keep His promises/covenant throughout the ages.

  10. Shabbat Shalom. Thank you for the teaching and my eyes truly became open to day especially the different type of translation. The Tree of Life, we must cling to.
    I must continue to study and seek after truth.

  11. I enjoyed this discussion very much; especially the translation confusion. Keeping with that topic, I noticed that in Lev. 26 the end of verse 41 we have another issue with the translations.
    I don’t read Hebrew very well, but I could see that this portion begins with “im” (If), and so I looked for “im” in verses 40 and 41 and couldn’t find any. (thus, Nehemiah’s point about “not IF, THEN” and him going all prophetic) SO, at the end of verse 41, my christian NKJV says “if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt–” BUT my Jewish Bible says “then at last shall their obdurate heart humble itself, and they shall atone for their iniquity.”
    Is that the real meaning in the Hebrew? If so, I can see why the christians changed that! WHAT? We can atone for our own sins??? 🙂

  12. Hoooo! Hooo!

    Malachi 3:6 6 “I am the Lord. I do not change. That is why I have not destroyed you members of Jacob’s family. 7 You have turned away from my rules. You have not obeyed them. You have lived that way ever since the days of your people long ago. Return to me. Then I will return to you,” says the Lord who rules over all.

    Leviticus 26:44 “‘But even after all of that, I will not say no to you or turn away from you. I will not destroy you completely in the land of your enemies. I will not break my covenant with you. I am the Lord your God. 45 Because of you, I will remember the covenant I made with the people of Israel who lived before you. I brought them out of Egypt to be their God. The nations saw me do it. I am the Lord.’”

    Matthew 12:12 Now when Yeshua heard that John(immerser) had been arrested and put in prison, He withdrew into Galilee.
    13 And leaving Nazareth, He went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the country of Zebulun and Naphtali—

    14 That what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be brought to pass:

    15 The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, in the [h]way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles [of the [i]peoples who are not of Israel]—
    16 The people who sat [j](dwelt enveloped) in darkness have seen a great Light, and for those who sat in the land and shadow of death Light has dawned.

    17 From that time Yeshua began to preach, [k]crying out, Repent ([l]change your mind for the better, heartily amend your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

    Matthew 15:
    21 Leaving that place, Yeshua withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.

    22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

    23 Yeshua did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him,

    24 Yeshua answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

    25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

    26 He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

    27 “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

    28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

  13. In hearing the discussion on Jephtha, who vowed to offer the first thing to come out of his house as a burnt offering, I got to thinking about Abraham who was commanded by YHVH to offer Isaac as a burnt offering. Both events are still confusing, but I’m wondering if there are similarities in terms of the idea of dedicating one’s child, and the requirement to redeem them.

    • I read an interesting article about how in ancient times, the animals lived in the house with the family. Upon entering a home, you were in the “stable”. A person had to ascend a small flight of steps to enter the living quarters of the family. So, for Jephtha to make this vow was not beyond reason. Except for the fact that he must have come later than he had planned and the animals were already outside grazing.
      I like the thought that he redeemed her because obviously he could not sacrifice her.

  14. I am having a hard time accepting that those “teaching” us to do what the TORAH says to do, the same are not. I speak to those saying that the TORAH is the word and command of Elohim. Yet they do as the Sadducees and Pharisees did and speak what should be done but do not do the same. Is Leviticus 21:5 and 19:27 not a command? In 19:27 God is telling the people His command and in 21:5 he is telling priests the same thing. I was thinking at first it was just the priests were to follow this command but I see in the preceding Scripture it is also the people who are under the same command. So now you know and know also a base one has come to you to confound you who would call themselves wise. Do you believe the TORAH or not? You make it a stumbling block to those who see you saying one thing and doing another.

  15. Be careful what you say about baby dedications. Some PROTESTANT churches claim that it cleanses from original sin. Others only have the parents promise to teach the child about God.

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