Torah Pearls #21 – Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35)

Torah Pearls Ki Tisa, Exodus 30:11-34:35, Mount Sinai, stone, tablets, Ten Commandments, Torah Pearls, torah portion, Nehemia GordonIn this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35), we begin with a passionate discussion on "Tradition" vs. Scripture, which leads to the golden calf of the Exodus event.  Who was the calf supposed to represent? There follows a fascinating discussion of God's appearance to Moses, and what we can learn about God from it.  Finally, the trio discuss the very sensitive matter of whether or not Jewish people really do have horns.

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Torah Pearls #21 – Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35)

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

Jono: It is time for Pearls from the Torah portion with Keith Johnson and Nehemia Gordon. G'day, gentlemen.

Keith: G'day

Nehemia: G'day! Also, g'day to Julio in Miami. Thanks for listening to the program.

Jono: Julio! G'day, Julio. We don't have a lot of Julios in Australia.

Nehemia: Don’t you?

Jono: No.

Nehemia: You probably call him Julu...

Jono: Maybe we do.

Nehemia: Or Jolo?

Jono: Today, we are in Ki Tisa, Exodus 30, verse 11 to 34:35. This is, really, quite a long one, and we're going to have to fly through it because there's so much in there that has to be addressed. It begins like this. Are you ready? “And then Yehovah spoke to Moses saying, ‘When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself.’” Now, I believe we've addressed this word before. “A ransom for himself, to Yehovah, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them. This is what they are to give,” and it goes on to talk about the half-shekel. They count them from 20 years old and above, and it says in verse 15, the half-shekel is, “when you give an offering to Yehovah, to make atonement for yourselves. And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel and shall appoint it for the service of the Tabernacle of Meeting, that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before Yehovah, to make atonement for yourselves.” Keith?

Keith: All right. Now, when I read this, I'm thinking of the parallel. So, we're going to take up an offering for everybody in the congregation. We're then going to use the offering to maintain the tent of meeting. Is this as simple as that? Am I missing something?

Jono: That's what I understand. That's what I'm understanding. Is that what you’ve got, Nehemia?

Keith: Maybe in a more in-depth reading in the Hebrew, maybe some…

Nehemia: Well, no, my understanding is something a little bit different.

Keith: Oh?

Nehemia: The part of the bigger picture here, for me, is 2 Samuel, chapter 24, where David actually carries out a census…

Jono: Yeah?

Nehemia: …and doesn't do this, and it actually brings a plague upon the people. My understanding here is that, basically, we're not supposed to be counting ourselves; that God gave the blessing to Israel. He said, "You'll be like the sand in the sea and like the stars." To count the nation is kind of saying, "Okay, I don't trust your blessing. I've got to check it out for myself." So, to offset that, he gives us this option of, okay, well, if everybody pays a half a shekel, then you can count up the half shekels. And David doesn't do that. He just counts the people outright because that's easier.

Keith: Wait, wait, wait.

Nehemia: Not everybody necessarily has a half shekel, and so that actually brings a plague on the people. That's a pivotal event in the history of Israel, where the angel comes to bring the plague. And it stops over Jerusalem and he says, "Okay. This is the place that I've chosen to place my name forever," meaning, in the wake of that event.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: So, it's actually kind of significant in the history of Israel.

Keith: Wait, I'm missing something here. If I'm listening, I'm like, "Well, wait. Which one is it?" So, do they count the people or not count the people? It says here, “you count the people and you pay.”

Jono: From 20 years old and above, right?

Keith: So, do you count them, or do you not count them?

Nehemia: They did this in the book of Numbers, as well. They did this in the book of Numbers a couple of times.

Keith: Okay. So, I'm talking about right here, so is this not a command?

Nehemia: Well, I don't know if it's a command, but it starts off saying, “when you count the people,” it's not saying you're required to count them.

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: It’s not saying, "You must count the people so that we get our money." It doesn't say that.

Keith: So, you mean…I was going to be able to use this in offerings. What are you talking about?

Nehemia: I want to know how many are in the church.

Jono: You put your understanding there.

Keith: I’m going to start counting people and I want a half a shekel.

Jono: Yeah. Well, a half a shekel is not cheap, right? And so, this is what I'm wondering, though; the shekel is to make an atonement for yourselves. It's atonement money, right? “To make an atonement for yourselves,” is what it says. How do we understand that, Keith?

Keith: I'll be honest with you, guys. When I read this, and I do know about the passage in Samuel, and so, what I guess the insight is, okay, he counted without asking for the shekel or including the half shekel. You know, I'm still struggling with a little bit of the parallel. So, if I were to read this passage and say, "Okay, look. We're going to count everyone here and everyone is going to give a certain amount," half a shekel according to this, "and here's what that half a shekel is going to do for you." Or, is it the shekel or the counting saying that this is atonement? It's a ransom for his life at the time he's counted, "then no plague will come upon them." And so, it's an offering to Yehovah, but then it is used for the service of the tent of meeting.

Jono: Yes.

Keith: So, let's say there was no counting.

Jono: Then there'd be no shekels.

Keith: There would be no shekels.

Jono: I guess

Nehemia: We better count then.

Jono: I guess we better count. “Atonement money,” there it is. It goes on to talk about the bronze laver. Now, this is basically a bathtub for Aaron, right? I mean, this is where he gets to wash his feet and wash his hands, and it's a statute forever, right?

Nehemia: It’s more like a sink, I’d suppose, or a basin.

Jono: More like a sink, okay.

Nehemia: It's not really a bathtub.

Jono: It's a bronze basin.

Keith: I think one thing that is interesting is verse 20, which says, "Whenever they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die.” And just this idea of, and maybe we can talk a little bit about this. This is just as well to do it here, which I wanted to bring up, just this

idea of the washing that would take place as people were on their way up into the Temple. When I was in Israel 10 years ago, and I don't remember how much earlier it was that it was uncovered, but on the southern side of the wall, Nehemia, is where we kind of had our first, although, I like to call it our "Come to Jesus" meeting.

Jono: Oh, yeah?

Keith: We were walking from the tunnels and then it was time to go to this wonderful excavation on the southern side of the Temple, but one of the things that really is interesting, that really brought a certain level of…I can just say my eyes being opened, were all of these, what I called, whirlpools.

Nehemia: They weren’t whirlpools.

Keith: They were like whirlpools.

Nehemia: Well, they usually call them mikvahs.

Keith: They call them mikvahs, of course.

Nehemia: Because, look, they didn’t really have running water, so if you were going to wash yourself before you went into the Temple, the most convenient place to put a facility would be right outside the Temple. So, there are these steps that lead up to the Temple and literally, on either side and all over the place, are these baths of water where people would go and immerse themselves, dating from the period of the Second Temple. Those weren't necessarily for Aaron, meaning for the Kohanim, for the descendants of Aaron.

Keith: Right.

Nehemia: It was for anybody who was coming to the Temple.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: This facility that we're reading about now, the “kior,” the basin, that was actually directly at the entrance of the Temple itself. Whereas, this was at the entrance of the Temple compound, kind of like the outer wall. So, they would wash themselves, first in the bath outside the outer wall of the Second Temple, and then, when they actually got to the entrance itself, then they would wash their hands and their feet.

Jono: Right

Nehemia: Meaning, it was an extra level of washing.

Jono: Yeah. Okay. And so obviously, the concept of washing in this ritualistic way to make sure that one is clean is extremely important, as you pointed out, Keith, for Aaron, he has to wash in this bowl here, so that he does not die. I mean, that’s like last week; we were talking about the bells that he has to wear when he approaches, and when he leaves, so that they make a sound so that he does not die. There's a small number of things that he wants to get right so that he doesn’t die.

Keith: Yeah. The ones that say, not die, those are the ones that…you might want to highlight those.

Jono: Just go through the list before you go near. The next one is…now this one's interesting to me. This one, in my tradition, where I've come from, I've often encountered claims of this oil. People have made this oil and they have it for sale for various...

Nehemia: What?

Jono: You've never encountered this? Are you serious?

Nehemia: What are you talking about? It says here that you’re not supposed to do that.

Jono: I know what it says. I don't understand it myself. Hang on, no, but are you telling me you've never encountered that, Nehemia?

Nehemia: No, of course not.

Jono: Oh. Keith, have you? Okay, so this is the holy anointing oil.

Keith: I've encountered it. And when Nehemia's sleeping in the hotel room, sometimes I anoint him with this oil, and he just doesn’t know it.

Nehemia: Oy.

Keith: Okay. No, I know about this oil. And I'd never do that. But the thing that's kind of interesting about it, not so much on the issue of the selling of it, but there are people who claim to have the exact mixing of what the anointing oil is like, and then they put different fragrances…you know…this one is for this and this one is for that. And so, I have seen that, and there is something about smelling and having the anointing oil in your hand. And I'm not specifically talking about this, but in my tradition, there definitely would be a time where you would anoint someone with oil. And what kind of oil would you have? You certainly wouldn't go and get Crisco or anything like that. You would want to have something that seemed to be like the anointing oil that they had in the temple. So, I guess, this is where that comes from.

Jono: Yeah. Well, it is interesting because it goes on to outline what the anointing oil is, and in verse 32 and on, “It shall not be poured on man’s flesh; nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. Whosoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.” But…I'm not kidding. I have seen people selling what they claim to be the holy anointing oil according to these ingredients. And it blows my mind.

Keith: I'd like to ask a question if I can, I mean…you have that tradition. For Nehemia, is there any tradition that you are aware of, that you come from, where there's any use of oil?

Nehemia: Use of oil? You mean like for lamps?

Keith: No, no, no, for human beings.

Nehemia: That's the only use of oil. No, not that I’m aware of. No.

Keith: So then, let's just do this for a second, if we can, guys. So, it’s speaking not to use this oil for the body, yet when they would anoint the king, they would then…

Nehemia: Yeah, the king and the high priest, but not for a normal person.

Keith: For the king and the high priest. Okay. So, you don't know of any other time where this…so the New Testament idea of anointing with oil…

Jono: Oh, look, Keith, let me tell you…I mean, I don't know about you, but in the tradition that I came from, we used to have…the pastor would…I'm not kidding, it almost makes me cringe to tell you this on air, but they would put a cross on our forehead, as if that was some sort of mystical… and I think what they used was olive oil…I think. But if there was someone who was not feeling well, they’ve got a cold or there's some sort of issue, then we're going to pray for them, and let's anoint them with oil. They get their thumb, and they dip it in the olive oil, and they make a little T on their forehead as if that was some mystical sort of superstitious kind of…I better not get on a roll, we better move on. Okay.

Keith: Well, the reason I asked Nehemia the question is because, for those of us that do come from that tradition, the idea was that basically…let me just read something here. In James, chapter 5, it says, “Is anyone of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith…"

Jono: And that’s what they based it on, yeah.

Keith: Yeah. So, the reason I asked that question was because, reading backward, you know, like from where I come from, they'd say, "Okay. Here's the important book, the back of the book, learn this first and then apply it where you can in the other part of the book, which is the bigger part of the book, the Old Testament they called it…but, when I read this, going forward, then all of a sudden, I'm asking, "So which one is it?" According to the Tanakh here, the Torah portion that we're in, this anointing oil, this oil that would be used, would not be something that they would say, "Okay, look, we've got some leftover," you know?

Jono: Is anyone sick?

Keith: Someone sick?

Jono: So, what you’re saying, Keith…

Keith: Let’s put some…

Jono: Yeah, “Let’s put some…” So, what you're saying is there's no…Nehemia, as far as we can tell there's no precedent in the Tanakh for such an action?

Nehemia: No, definitely not.

Keith: Wow. Okay.

Jono: Interesting. There's some homework for the listeners. If they're not sure about that one, we'd love to hear from them. But that's very interesting. And then the same applies to the incense. There’s a particular type of incense, full of stuff that I can't pronounce, but in verse 37, it says, "But as for the incense," and it says pretty much the same thing, "you shall not make anything like it for yourselves, according to its composition. It shall be to you holy for Yehovah. Whoever makes it, or even to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people.”

Keith: Now, I want to stop here, again...

Jono: Sure.

Keith: …and just kind of deal with this a little bit in terms of when I visited over in Israel. You know, always the idea is…and I've never, until reading this portion slowly like this, do I get to that last verse that says in verse 38, "Whoever makes anything like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off from the people." And yet, I would find someone who says, "Look, this is the actual smell of the incense that's going to be…so bring it home, and look, this is the actual anointing oil that's made with the exact ingredients from the Temple, and here's how much it is.” And I think the thing that kind of throws me off, again, is not reading from the back to the front, but reading the front going forward, those seem to be pretty serious commands. Whoever makes perfume like it and whoever puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off. “Whoever makes any like it to enjoy its fragrance must be cut off.” I'm like, "Wow."

Jono: That's really serious stuff.

Keith: I mean that's pretty serious stuff there.

Nehemia: You don't want to mess with that stuff.

Jono: No. No, you don't.

Keith: No.

Jono: You really, really don't. And yet, some people seem to be.

Keith: Well, luckily, we don't have the exact stuff. And maybe, that's the deal.

Jono: Perhaps.

Nehemia: Well, what is interesting is what these different ingredients are. And I'm just going to be very brief because we got so much more to talk about in the upcoming chapters and in this portion. I mean, this is one of the “wow, oh, my gosh”. Anyway, what I would do is throw out a challenge to people to verse 23, to go look up what some of those ingredients are. Some of them are obvious like “kinnamon,” which is cinnamon, and “mar” is myrrh. Well, anyway, people should go and look those things up. You'll find it's actually quite interesting what some of the suggestions are for at least one of those ingredients. And I don't need to say anymore.

Jono: Brilliant. Okay, so you've whet their appetite. There's some homework for the listeners. In verse 3 of chapter 31, Yehovah talks about those whom he has appointed, skilled artists for woodcarvings and jewel settings and all sorts of things, and he says, "I have filled them with the Spirit of Elohim in wisdom…”

Nehemia: Whoo! Come on.

Jono: “…and in understanding, in knowledge and in all manner of workmanship.”

Nehemia: Wait. This is the Tanach? Wait, why are you reading for me from the New Testament? What the…? “Filled with the Spirit”?

Jono: Keith?

Nehemia: Are you sure that's in the Old Testament? What?

Jono: There it is.

Keith: I'm telling you. There's something about…

Nehemia: No, I thought you guys…Keith, what’s going on?

Keith: No, it says, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God.” It even capitalizes it in NIV.

Jono: There it is.

Nehemia: Oh, it's capitalized just like in the Hebrew, right?

Keith: Yeah.

Nehemia: And we don’t have capital letters.

Jono: That’s right. But also, it talks about these guys all the way to verse 12, when…and all of a sudden, Keith, His hallowed times, right? The Sabbath Law, “And Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am Yehovah who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death.’” Wow, so for anyone…

Keith: Well, can I do something? I just need to do one thing, guys.

Jono: Yeah?

Keith: If I can just spend a card here, as I like to say. This is a verse that really jumped off the page. I use the word “jumped off the page”, because, as I was thinking about what we discussed in previous portions regarding all of these wonderful things that are going to be created and being shown to Moses, and then he gets to the nitty-gritty, like I like to say, "Okay, who's going to do the work? Who's going to do it?" And there are these two wonderful names of these two people who are going to do it. They're going to have the Spirit of God, as Nehemia just mentioned, and you, Jono. But then, the verse that hit me more than anything is this, “Moreover, I have appointed these two to help him. I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I've commanded you." Now, here's why I had to stop. This is my little Torah Pearl here. So, when he makes the commandment, he then gives the ability to fulfill it.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Like he didn't say, "Hey, go make this, but you don't know how,” "Go do this, but you'll never understand it.” The things that he wants us to do, here in this situation, he says, "Look. I've given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you.” And then I started thinking about some things that I’d just confronted in my own life here in the last couple of weeks, where I called Nehemia and I said, "Hey, Nehemia. Listen, I'm a little overwhelmed about this thing that we're working on, and this thing…" And then, after reading this verse, I realized something different. If we’re being called to a thing, then the one who's calling us will provide us with the ability to do it.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: And that's the thing that kind of jumped off the page for me; that there are people that have been called to do certain things, and when you look at it, it must be overwhelming, but he says, "I'm going to give you that ability." He gave them the ability to meet the commandments. So, may it be in our lives. Amen?

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: And you know what the principle is here; you know how I always like to say, when God provides vision, he always makes provision.

Keith: Ladies and gentlemen, Nehemia has really left the farm. Jono, he's taking my material now. But the truth is, this verse really gives me a confirmation on my little statement, "With vision comes provision," because the vision is the Temple. The provision is, "Here's the gold and the silver," but guess what? I’ve even given some guys the ability to do it exactly the way that I wanted it done.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Amazing.

Nehemia: Wow.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Now, talking about Shabbat, I’ve got to get a little bit technical here. Can we do that?

Jono: Oh, please.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Okay. So, I grew up with this tradition concerning the Sabbath, concerning Shabbat in the Orthodox world, that there are 39 specific actions that are considered labor, that are considered work, and those are the things that you're forbidden to do. For example, one of them is sewing, and then another action is tearing, because part of sewing is that you have to tear. And then this was applied to other situations, not just in our clothing as part of the sewing act, but to tear anything. Quite literally, you're not allowed to tear toilet paper, and the very devout Orthodox Jews will actually…

Jono: Oh, my goodness. They pre-tear?

Nehemia: They'll pre-tear the toilet paper before the Shabbat. In Israel, you can actually buy pre-torn toilet paper. I’m not making this up, and it has a Kosher stamp on it. I'm not making it up. Now, why do I mention this here? Because it all comes from one little word in verse 13, and so I'm going to ask Keith and Jono to each read from their translations verse 13. I’ll stop…just read the beginning of it.

Jono: Hang on. Can I just get this right, Nehemia? What you're about to tell us is why…I mean, I've heard of Messianic people pre-tearing, okay, and it's just…

Nehemia: I don’t know anything about the Messianic. I’m talking about the Orthodox Jews that I grew up with, that we were taught that you're not allowed to tear on Shabbat. Where it comes from, again, is that you're not allowed to sew, and part of sewing is tearing.

Jono: Okay, then.

Nehemia: I don't sew, but that’s what they tell me; that in order to sew, first you have to tear. And so, therefore, you can't tear toilet paper.

Jono: And the secret to this is in verse 13, is what you're telling me, right? Here it comes.

Nehemia: Now the context here is, we just talked about the tabernacle…

Jono: Yes.

Nehemia: …with all those details of how to make the tabernacle.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: What the rabbis say is, in the creation, in the building, in the maintenance of the tabernacle, there were 39 actions that were done. And those were the 39 things forbidden on Shabbat, the 39 things done in the building and the maintenance of the tabernacle. Now, how do they connect the tabernacle to Shabbat? What's the connection? You know, when I read about Shabbat, it says, work six days and rest on the seventh, which I think is kind of intuitive if you actually work. So, what does it mean? And especially…really, if you think about it, up until 200 years ago, 98% of all human beings in every country in the world were farmers. There was an agrarian society before the industrial revolution. Most people in the world were farmers, and so what did it mean not to work? It meant, don't go and plow your fields and all of the things you have to do with maintaining a farm. Well, you're a farmer, aren't you, Jono?

Jono: Oh, kind of.

Nehemia: Of some sorts?

Jono: I'm a hobby farmer of some sort, yeah.

Nehemia: Okay, maybe it doesn’t apply. Well, they weren’t hobby farmers. They were basically living off the land. And what it's telling you is, those chores and all that work that you do during the six days, don't do those on Shabbat. The rabbis took a very technical approach to it. They said no, these 39 actions related to the tabernacle are forbidden and nothing else is, biblically, at least, forbidden. Rabbis may forbid it, but it's not biblically forbidden.

The example I was always given is that, one of the things that's forbidden is you can't carry on the Sabbath. Specifically, you can't carry from a private domain to a public domain; meaning, I can't take a load of things, you know, a backpack on my back, and walk from my house out into the street, which is the private to the public. And it's not just that the backpack that may be heavy; they also then say I can't even carry a key from my house out into the public domain. I remember my father, growing up, what he would do is, he had a key that was actually a piece of jewelry. It was a clip-on on his tie, or it was a pin that he would pin to his shirt, or he would clip it onto his tie, and that's how he was allowed to carry a key. It wasn't there for carrying; he was wearing it. That was the thinking.

Jono: Oh, man.

Nehemia: But you're not allowed to take a handkerchief and stick it in your pocket, because that is work on the Sabbath for a rabbi. However, I was taught that if you have a three-story house, you're allowed to take your couch on your back and carry it up and down the stairs all day long, and that’s not work on Shabbat.

Jono: You are kidding me.

Nehemia: But carrying a handkerchief outside on the street? No, this was the example I was told, that biblically, strictly speaking, you're allowed to do the carrying of the sofa, but not the handkerchief. Now, all of it comes from verse 13.

Jono: All right. Now, I'm just going to read, again, this is the New King James, “Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me…’”

Nehemia: So, “Surely my Sabbaths you shall keep.”

Jono: Very good.

Nehemia: OK. That's a correct translation, by the way. Keith, what do you have?

Keith: “You must observe my Sabbaths.”

Nehemia: Is there a word before “you”?

Keith: No. “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths.’”

Nehemia: Oh. Okay.

Keith: “This will be a sign."

Nehemia: So, here's the literal translation, “And you speak to the children of Israel saying, 'But my Sabbaths you will keep.’” So, the rabbis took that word "but", which is the Hebrew word “ach,” and they said, "Well, ‘but’ is a contrast." What is it contrasting to? It's contrasting to the whole section that came before, which was the whole issue of the tabernacle, the building of the tabernacle and the sacrifice and the maintenance.

Jono: Aha.

Nehemia: So, what that means is, anything that was done in relation to the tabernacle, do, in that context, "but keep my Shabbat," put those actions in the context of Shabbat. That's their explanation. The problem is the word “ach,” Say ach.

Jono: Ach.

Keith: Ach.

Nehemia: Ach. Very good. So “ach,” which means "but," but also means "surely." And so, Jono, your translation is actually correct.

Jono: Woo-hoo!

Nehemia: In the context here, this more likely means "surely" and is not really a contrast, because probably, if it wanted a contrast, it would say “aval”. Anyway, that's a different discussion. The point here is that, even if you say it means "but,” what does that have to do with carrying a handkerchief out onto the street on a Shabbat? I mean, good grief.

Keith: So here let me say this. And one of the things that's been so awesome about doing this with Jono and Nehemia, fans and those who are listening, is that we have these different perspectives. So, this perspective, and Nehemia is just bringing this, you know, which Jono wouldn't have known, I wouldn't have known what the actual application would be. So, here's the issue, and I find this happening all the time. Nehemia will say, "Well, in my tradition, here's what we would do." Now, Jono would say, "Really? You're kidding." And then I might say, "Oh, you're kidding." So, here's where the rub comes. The rub comes…let me use the example of the anointing oil. I have this tradition of the anointing oil. This is what you're supposed to do, and I've gotten it right from the authority of James in the New Testament, where he says if someone's sick, you anoint them with oil. And Nehemia's like, "You're kidding me, right? People actually do this?” So, where the sensitivity has to be, is that the people that are listening…I mean, this is what's so powerful about having these different perspectives. So Nehemia can be the one that can say, "Here's what we experienced", and I'm kind of sitting here and thinking, "Man!" So then, you have these people who make the judgment about the Orthodox because, look at what they're doing et cetera, et cetera, et cetera... But, what's behind it? What's the attempt behind it? And that's just something I'm bringing up because I think there are some parts of this, like, okay, we want to keep the Sabbath and so here's what we've done. Now, regardless of what the end result is, what was the attempt? And I guess that's my point; I want to be sensitive to the attempt, but then I also want to get it right biblically. So, what's the attempt for the anointing oil? We want to help somebody who is sick. But then, what's the biblical issue? What's the attempt for the Shabbat? We don't want to break the Sabbath, and maybe we want to control people. Who knows what the issues are, but, again, we want…

Nehemia: We want to sell toilet paper.

Keith: Exactly. It's a sensitive issue because, when I'm over in Israel, or I'm in an Orthodox community or an Orthodox home and I see people having two different ovens and the meat and the spoon and the milk and all these things, and then I know the biblical issue, being different, there's still this issue of sensitivity because I'm like, what is the attempt? What are they trying to do? And I've got to just bring this example real quick with you guys while we're here. I was meeting, with Nehemia in Jerusalem, with a lady that helped us in the book, “A Prayer to Our Father.” She is a, I guess I could use the word, correct me if I'm wrong, Nehemia, she would come from an Orthodox background, in terms of how she operates within her home.

Nehemia: Ultra-Orthodox.

Jono: Ultra-Orthodox?

Keith: Ultra-Orthodox. Thank you. Okay. So, ultra-Orthodox. And so, she was taking me around, Nehemia left me there for a little while he went to go and do something. I can't remember what it was that he had to go do, but I couldn’t go with him. So, he left me at the apartment, and so I was asking her about her tradition and what she was doing, and she took me into the kitchen. Now, I just want to give you guys this example, and I know that we've got a big, big section here, but she took me into the kitchen, and she started explaining about why there were different ovens and different utensils and all of that. My first response would be, I just wish she knew what the scriptures actually said, and this isn't necessarily necessary. But what I was appreciative about was what she was trying to do. She was giving me a glimpse into her life and her attempt to keep that which she believed to be Scripture.

Jono: Sure.

Keith: And that’s kind of shifted things for me. So, go ahead, Nehemia.

Nehemia: You know, it’s interesting, because I’ve had this conversation with a number of ultra-Orthodox Jews, and what it comes down to is they say, okay, what you're saying may be a correct interpretation, but what they'll say is, rabbis who are far greater than either you or me have interpreted it the way that we do it. And for us, this is about submitting to their authority. We believe God gave them the authority to interpret Scripture and you know, your interpretation may be correct, it may be the literal meaning, the contextual meaning, the historical meaning, but what our rabbis say is what we're bound by. For them, it comes down to a question of authority.

Now, for me, it comes down to a question of authority, but to a question of truth. If I see what I believe to be the truth in the Scripture, I don't care what anybody has to say other than the word of God. And their position is, "Well, that's kind of arrogant of you. We have these great rabbis that tell us that this is what it means, and this is how we're supposed to keep it." So, really, it's a question of authority versus truth, and I can see their perspective. You know, I love this example from the movie, “Fiddler on the Roof.” You know, the movie, “Fiddler on the Roof,” or the musical, is actually metaphor. A fiddler on a roof…it's a very difficult. The roofs were on an angle, and so to balance on top of the roof is a very difficult thing to do. If you're fiddling, it's even more difficult because you're moving all the time, and so you're liable to fall off. And that's a metaphor for what happens when you don't follow the authority and the tradition of the rabbis. You're like a fiddler on the roof. That's actually the origin of the name. So, the point of that metaphor is that you can cast off the chains of tradition, but then you're in a dangerous situation…

Keith: Right.

Nehemia: …because you don't have the tradition to guide you, and I embrace that. I say, "You're right." Okay. I won’t have the tradition to guide me. I'll be just like Abraham who walked down into the desert and didn't know where he was going, didn't have a GPS, didn’t have a map; he just followed the voice of God. Now, look, God isn’t talking to me every single second telling me what to do, but he speaks to me through His word, through His Scripture. I'd rather be guided by Scripture than by the traditions of men. I don't care if I'm out in the desert not knowing what's over the next sand dune. I'm following my map; my GPS is the word of God.

Keith: Now, let me say this…

Jono: Amen.

Keith: No, Jono?

Jono: But there's the sensitivity between the two views, isn't it? Because we want to be true, specifically, to what Scripture says and exercise our understanding as best as we really understand it. But we also want to be sensitive to those who have grown up in a whole lifetime of being told, this is what has to be done and this is our tradition regardless. Keith?

Keith: Let me say where in my tradition, Nehemia could…here's where that same exact thing that Nehemia just said, which is really a powerful thing, but if taken out of context…in my history, in my background, we have the guy who says, I was walking in the street and I heard a voice, and it said to start The Truth of The Word denomination, and I've got myself a corner store. I've opened it up to my church. It's called Truth of the Word, a corner store and a corner church. And then I've got people come in. So, someone says to him, "So tell me, how do you know what the Scripture means?" He says, "The Holy Spirit told me exactly what the Scripture says."

Jono: Oh.

Keith: And I've actually had this happen, where I said to him, "Have you gotten a chance to check what the language, history, and context is?" He says, "I don't need that. I've got the Holy Spirit. I'm filled with the Spirit of God, and this is what it means." And so, what's powerful about what Nehemia is saying is that, some people would take that quote, apply it into the other situation, and say, "Okay. I've heard what the word of God says for me." The thing that's different about my friend, Nehemia, is that he's also asking these questions; what does the language actually say? What is the context? What is the history surrounding it? There are issues that he's bringing to the table so he can say, "Yes, you know, I've heard it for myself and I'm not going with the rabbinical understanding."

But this is also a person who studies to show himself approved regarding dividing the Word of God, understanding the Word of God. And what I struggle with, with the guy on the corner is, he says, "I also have the Spirit and I also have such-and-such. I don't know how to read, and I didn't even know that the Bible wasn’t written in anything other than the King James English. And therefore, I come with the authority of my office and my searching, and here's what the truth is. And now I've got people following me and I'm their rabbi." And see, that's the tension, I think, with this whole issue. So, this is why we pray this prayer every time we get on the radio; that we do want the Spirit of God to open our eyes to see the truth of the Torah. What does it say? So that's why I love having Nehemia be the one to pray that prayer, because we're asking for the inspiration, but we also want the information. And that gives us the revelation; that's me preaching. So Nehemia, can you please…

Jono: Amen.

Keith: …pray the prayer?

Nehemia: Amen. Yehovah, Avinu shebashamayim, gal eneinu ve-nabi-tah niphlaot mi-Torahteha. Yehovah our Father in heaven, uncover our eyes that we may see the wonderful hidden things of your Torah.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: Thank you, Nehemia.

Jono: Amen. Thanks, guys.

Keith: We need that as we go to the next section that’s for sure

Nehemia: Whoa, next section? Whoa.

Jono: Hang on.

Nehemia: Are you kidding me?

Jono: I was going to go to verse…

Nehemia: …what are you talking about?

Jono: …17 and 18. Can I do that? Can I do verse 17 and 18?

Nehemia: Yeah, please, 17 and 18. Absolutely.

Jono: All right. So, “it is a sign,”

Nehemia: Verse 17, anyway.

Jono: “It is a sign,” this is Ezekiel, what’s this, 20 verse 9 and 20 right, as well? “It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days Yehovah made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed,’” I’ve got.

Nehemia: You’ve got to give me the opportunity to preach here for a minute if that's okay?

Jono: Please.

Nehemia: I know we're running out of time.

Keith: Please.

Jono: No, no it's okay. We got time.

Nehemia: We’re in the first chapter and 33 and 34, that's the big stuff. But I've just got to preach here for a minute, because I think this is extremely significant. You know, I was having this discussion with someone, he was actually a Christian, and he was talking to me about how, for his people, the Shabbat was the old law and it's done away with. And I thought, that was really interesting because

Shabbat doesn't actually start at Mount Sinai. Shabbat starts with the creation of the world, and he says that here.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: He says, you just read it, "For in six days Yehovah made the heavens and the earth," and let me read this, an alternative translation here, literally, in verse 17, "Between Me and between the children of Israel,” or the sons of Israel, “it is a sign le-olam,” Now, “le-olam” literally means, or it means forever, but the literal meaning is the word “olam,” which is the universe, for the world. So, you could legitimately translate this, “It is a sign for the world, for in six days Yehovah made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.” What it’s saying, is why it’s a sign for the world, for the universe, because it was made in six days.

So, the Shabbat is not just for Israel, but it's for the entire universe, for the entire world as a sign. There's this great passage in Isaiah, chapter 56, which, I'm going to ask Keith to help me preach this, but in verse 1 Isaiah says, “Thus says Yehovah, keep judgment and do righteousness for my salvation is close to coming and my righteousness to be revealed.” Verse 2, “Blessed is the man who does it, and the son of man who grabs hold of it, who keeps the Shabbat from desecrating it and keeps his hand from doing all evil.” Now, if you're a Jew, an Israelite, and you hear Isaiah preaching these words, you know he's talking to you because, what did we just read? Shabbat, the Sabbath, a sign between me and God, in the context, and his children of Israel. Was that for a temporary period? No. He says in the previous verse, do the Shabbat according to the generations, “brit olam,” an eternal covenant, or a covenant of the world, as well.

But then, in verse 3, Isaiah then addresses the Gentiles. He says, "Let not the son of the Gentile who joins himself to Yehovah say, 'Yehovah has surely separated me from his people,'" meaning the Gentile hears about the Shabbat and he says, "Well, I'm not really connected to that because God has a separate category for me. I'm not really part of that. I may have joined the God of Israel, but I'm not part of the Sabbath, which is the sign between God and His people. I'm not part of that," is what the Gentile would think. And he goes back to the Gentile, in verse 6, and he says, "And the sons of the Gentiles who joined themselves to Yehovah, to serve Him and to love the name of Yehovah…" can I get an Amen, Keith?

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: "…to be his servants. All those who keep the Shabbat from desecrating it and grab hold of my covenant, I will bring them to my holy mountain, and I will make them rejoice in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their peace offerings shall be accepted upon my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples." So here, He's speaking to the Gentiles and He's saying, if you love His name, if you grab hold of His covenant, if you keep the Shabbat and you serve the God of Israel and join yourself to Him, don't say you're not part of His people; don't separate yourself from His people. And he will bring you to His holy mountain and you will have a place there. That's significant, because there's another verse in Leviticus, which some people interpreted, and still do, to mean that the Gentiles can't even bring sacrifices, that they're not even welcome in the temple; another verse in Deuteronomy as well. What he's saying is, if they join Him and grab hold of the Covenant, then they will be welcomed in the temple; in his place.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Amen. And I think that what's powerful about this, for me, is, that's why I become more sensitive. I become more sensitive to the different backgrounds of these different people. And I'm going to use this example because, for me, I don't claim the Jewish bloodline, though some people would say, you're Ephraim, and here's where we think you're from the tribe of whatever. I'm hoping they'll call me from the Tribe of Levi so I can start getting the tithe, but no one's actually made the declaration.

Nehemia: No, I associate financial managers with you. I know you're really Jewish.

Keith: But the point is, what's so beautiful about this was, when we're reading this, and what's beautiful about the Torah portion, and we're dealing with this section of Shabbat; if I would have been reading this 11 years ago, I would rush over this very quickly and say, "that's for the Jew." Now, as a result of having an encounter of these three things: His time, His Torah and His name, this has become a part of my life. This is a part of my family's life. To enjoy the Sabbath, to have permission from the Creator of the universe to say, "Listen. Take a break." I mean, it's overwhelming to even talk about it, but it's amazing that this is what He does, and that I get a chance to do that as a foreigner. I don't have to claim bloodlines to David. I don't have to claim bloodlines to whomever.

Nehemia: Don’t make fun of me.

Keith: No, I’m not making fun of you.

Jono: It’s on his mother’s side; it doesn’t count.

Nehemia: It doesn’t. Okay. So, I got to point out one thing here, which I think is really interesting. In the writings of the early Christians, there's this concept they call Jewish service, and it actually devolves, kind of, into Jewish servitude; that the Jews essentially became slaves of the different Kings of Europe. But the original concept was, and this is from a Christian perspective, obviously, really a Catholic perspective; their position was that the Jews as a people serve a function for them as Christians, and the function that the Jews serve is that, at the time, they were trying to convince all these pagans about their religion.

In the pagan mind, if something wasn't ancient, it couldn't be true. And they would come to the pagans and say, "Well, we believe that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy and that prophecy." And the pagans would say, "What prophecy?" And they'd say, "A prophecy in the ancient writings of the Jews." Well, everybody knew who the Jews were. The very existence, the continuing existence of the Jews proved that these prophecies were ancient. I think there's something to that in the sense that…not related to Catholicism, of course; but in the sense that when God says, it is a sign between me and Israel, a sign forever for the world, that God created the world, I think that there's something really powerful there. The fact that the people of Israel have continued to observe the Shabbat every seven days, every week, going back, you can look at ancient history documents and you find out, going back in an unbroken chain, week after week, year after year, millennia after millennia, every single week, they continue to observe the Shabbat…

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: …in this way or in that way, tearing toilet paper, not tearing toilet paper. That's not really so important for this issue, which is that the continual observance of the Shabbat, whether it's correct according to the nuances or not, is a testimony that Yehovah…

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: …the Creator of the universe, actually did create the universe in six days and rested on the seventh.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: That it’s not just mythology, it's not just a story made up…

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: …like many of the other ancient pagan myths. This isn't like Zeus coming down and having a golden shower on Lydia and creating Hercules. This is genuine history, that God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: The observance of Shabbat by Israel to this very day is testimony to that.

Jono: Yes.

Nehemia: Can I get an Amen?

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Thank you, brother.

Jono: There it is. That's the Sabbath. Now we're arriving at chapter 32. But before we do, the last verse of chapter 31, “Yehovah gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.” Now, we read a little bit later on, there's writing on both sides of each tablet. What is on it, Nehemia?

Nehemia: That's a good question. Well, I mean, we're told what's on it is the Ten Commandments.

Jono: The Ten Words.

Nehemia: Asseret HaDvarim, the Ten Words, the 10 commandments. Actually, the word that we translate as “words,” “davar,” is really the Ten Matters, the Ten Issues. It's not literally Ten Words because obviously, the Ten Commandments are much longer than ten words.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: So truly, the Ten Issues, the Ten Matters, that we translate in English as the Ten Commandments. But let's revisit that when we get to…

Jono: We're going to get to that eventually. “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” And Aaron said to them, “Break off your golden earrings which are in the ears of yourselves, your wives, your sons, your daughters, and bring them to me.”

So, “All the people broke off their golden earrings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf.” There it is. “And they said…” I’ve got, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt! So, when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, Tomorrow is a feast to Yehovah.” He’s attributing it to Yehovah, “Tomorrow is a feast to Yehovah.

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: “Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Man! Oh, man.

Nehemia: Wow.

Keith: Well, let me make a strike at something before Nehemia has his way here. Let me just say something, and I want to put my own situation out on blast here. You know, there's always this thought that, okay, from the beginning when they say, he shouts down the words and the people say, "No. We want to hear from Moses. We don't want to hear from God." And then, Moses becomes the focus, and Moses isn't here and like, okay, so Moses is gone. He's up in the mountain. And so now, he's delayed, so we’ve got to have that thing again, we’ve got to have that connection, and that connection has got to be something we can see, someone we can put it upon, something that we can focus on.

And so, what did they do? They say, "Now we're going to put this upon the golden calf." And then, the transitional line that's so important, Jono, that you stopped at is, I wish that Aaron would have just said this, “When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, ‘Tomorrow we shall have a festival to the calf.’” See, that would be easy. Then we could say, it's the calf. But when we then take all of these human issues, we don't have a person. We need something we can look at. We’ve got to have an icon. We’ve got to have something we can see.

Jono: Something tangible.

Keith: Something tangible that we can hold on to. And then what we're going to do, that's so crazy about it, is we're going to call it Yehovah. We're going to make it be the very one who really brought us out. And that's the part that breaks my heart when I'm reading this; is that the people took that which is real and attempted to…

Jono: Fabricated it.

Keith: Exactly.

Jono: Fabricated it. And it was at that point, and in verse 7, that Yehovah burnt them. “And Yehovah says, 'Go, get down! For your people whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’” And Yehovah said to Moses, 'I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people! Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you,'” he says to Moses, “And I will make of you a great nation.”

Man, how close did it come? I mean, so close that he was just going to wipe them all out. And Moses pleaded with Yehovah, his Elohim, and said, “Yehovah, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember,” to your people, he’s saying, “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self,” he’s reminding him, “and You said, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’ So, Yehovah relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.” Now, it is His people and, boy, it was close, wasn't it?

Nehemia: When I hear the story of the golden calf there’s one thing it reminds me of, which is, you know, later in the Bible, that Jeroboam…

Jono: Yes!

Nehemia: …actually set up two golden calves…

Jono: Yes. Bethel and Dan.

Nehemia: …at the northern end of his kingdom and the other at the southern end of his kingdom, and each of those had a venerable tradition of why he set them up there. First there was a geographical reason, but it was also the reason that Bethel was the place where Jacob had his vision and Dan was a place where there had been an ancient temple, where Moses's grandson had been the priest and his descendants were priests.

So, he sets up the golden calves, and he says word-for-word the exact same thing that was said here, "This is your god, O Israel, who has taken you out of the land of Egypt." Now, he didn't say this is some foreign god, this is the god of Canaanites,” like Jezebel did. He said, "This is Yehovah, the God who has taken you up out of the land of Egypt." They weren't worshiping some foreign god in the desert with that golden calf. They were worshiping the true God in a false way, and that's why the sin of the golden calf was so horrible. And Keith, I think, hit it on the head, hit the nail on the head, although I kind of zoned out when he was talking about it, so I may repeat something he said.

Jono: Did you hear that, Keith? Let me just say that Nehemia's on…you're on heavy medication, right? You've had some serious dental surgery.

Nehemia: I had dental surgery. I took an aspirin and an Advil, and anyway…but really, what they were doing is they were focusing on the cult of the personality and making it all about Moses. And when Moses wasn’t visibly in front of them…

Jono: They panicked.

Nehemia: …they need something else to be visibly in front of them.

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: Yehovah was there all the time. They didn't need some physical image, but this is what idolaters do, they say, I don't want Yehovah directly. He's too holy. I can't interact with Him, the Father of Creation. I need an intermediary, somebody I can talk to, someone I can deal with, a Moses, or a golden calf or some other intermediary for me to speak to and have an interaction with. And that’s the great sin of idolatry. You know, there's really two forms of idolatry. One is where you worship something completely foreign. The other is where you stick an intermediary between you and the Creator of the universe. That's what they were doing here in Israel, in the desert, and that's what Jeroboam did.

Jono: Yes.

Nehemia: Now, why did Jeroboam choose a golden calf? Because there was a tradition, and tradition said we worshiped the golden calf when we came up out of Egypt.

Jono: Do you reckon? Do you think that's what it was?

Nehemia: And if you would bring him the verse…I'm sure it's what it was.

Jono: Are you serious? Because I…

Nehemia: What was he, a moron worshiping a golden calf? Come on.

Jono: Well, I mean…

Nehemia: All you have to do is read this chapter in Exodus.

Jono: But you read it, and it's not as if you can read it and you come to the conclusion that maybe it was a good thing. I mean, surely, he read this, and he knew this, and he was not in ignorance of this. So…

Nehemia: So, he wasn't a moron, he wasn't stupid and ignorant. But it came down to, what's more powerful, Scripture or tradition? Look, we can have the same, and I’m going to do it, I’m going to say it; we can have the same discussion about the Pope.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: The Pope has the same Bible, at least the first four-fifths of it or so, right? He’s got the same Bible, the same Ten Commandments that say not to make an idol. Why is his Vatican full of idols? Is he an idiot? He's not an idiot. He knows exactly what it says in the Ten Commandments. He just doesn't care. You could bring him all the verses in the world. It won't matter because his tradition says to have idols, right?

Jono: Fair enough.

Nehemia: And so, it doesn't make a difference. To Jeroboam, the tradition said, we worshiped Yehovah in the desert a thousand years ago as a golden calf. What better image to choose than the golden calf? And we’ll put it at the two traditional sites, one the descendants of Moses are still priests, the other is where Jacob had his dream. This is perfect. Everyone is happy. I could just imagine the Judean preachers, and some of them were probably just like Keith Johnson coming up into the north into the Kingdom of Israel and saying, "Repent! You're sinning." It says it here in the verse, “How can you worship a golden calf? It was a sin!” And they’d laugh and they'd say, "You fanatics with your verses, you silly little people with your verses in this scroll, get out of here. My tradition…my father worshiped this golden calf, and his father worshiped the golden calf going back a dozen generations. What are you bringing me? Some verse from some scroll that you pulled out of Judea? Get out of here." That would have been the response. And this is why it was such a powerful image, the golden calf, because it has tradition behind it.

Jono: That’s a really…

Keith: Now, look…

Jono: And not only that, but there’s history to Jeroboam's position. I mean, I can just imagine that, now that you've put that thought in my head, Nehemia. I can see them saying, "Don't you know that there were the 12 pieces of cloth? And Jeroboam took 10 pieces and it's changed now. It's all changed now, don't you know? You don't know that?"

Nehemia: Right.

Keith: I mean, Nehemia…

Nehemia: Jeroboam was a legitimate king, to begin with. He was anointed king by Ahijah the Shilonite, who was a true prophet. We're told about it in the Book of Kings; but then he went in the direction that he went. So, you're absolutely right. I mean, look, Jeroboam was a messiah. He was anointed with oil by a prophet. But then, he went off in the wrong direction and told people to worship someone else.

Keith: Well…

Jono: Keith?

Keith: Look, let me just say this. This is why, one day, I'll speak a message called, "If the golden calf could speak." And the reason I think about this is, I think, okay, let's talk about the golden calf for a second. If the golden calf could speak it would say, "Hey, look. I didn't ask for this.”

Jono: Oh, yeah.

Keith: “This isn't what I wanted to do. I mean, they're the ones that are doing this." And I also like to think about this with my tradition, and I've said it publicly before, I think that if the one that we call Yeshua were to walk on the earth on a Sunday morning, he would walk into some of the places that come from my tradition and he'd say, "Wait a minute. I didn't tell you to do this." And the reason I'm bringing this as a parallel is because what we have done with the messengers, or what we have done with the message, or what we have done with the attempt to create comfort for our senses and whatever, sometimes puts more on the calf than the calf ever expected.

Jono: Yes.

Keith: The calf is thinking, "Look. I didn't say that I'm Yehovah."

Jono: “Why me?”

Keith: And my point is…yeah, that's where this thing gets out of control.

Jono: Yes.

Keith: I know this is a touchy issue, but what happened here in 34 in the Torah is something we've seen created throughout history.

Jono: Absolutely, absolutely. And so, verse 15, “And Moses turned and went down from the mountain, and the two tablets of the Testimony were in his hand. And the tablets were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other side they were written. Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets. And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, 'There is a noise of war in the camp.' But he said, 'It is not the noise of a shout of victory, nor is it the cry of defeat, but it is the sound of singing that I hear.' And so, it was as soon as he came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing. So, Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. Then he took the calf which,” as you say, Keith, if it could speak, it would be going, it wasn't my fault. “He took the calf…”

Keith: "I didn't do this."

Jono: "I didn't do it. It wasn't my idea."

Keith: Yes.

Jono: “…that they had made, burned it in the fire, ground it into powder; he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it.” Now, Nehemia, this reminds me of, if I remember correctly, the Spirit of Jealousy comes over a man, and something similar to the words on the page is "ground into water" and the wife is made to drink it, and if the belly swells and the fire wastes away, and so on and so forth, kind of reminds me of that. Is there any connection in this kind of making them drink the golden calf or the water that it’s ground into?

Keith: Hello?

Jono: Hello? Hello, Nehemia?

Keith: Nehemia? Ladies and gentlemen?

Nehemia: Oh, I’m sorry. There’s something wrong with the microphone. So, my answer was yes, I guess there is a connection.

Jono: Alright. Are you okay there?

Keith: I’ll tell you, Jono, I really appreciated you bringing that up because it is funny, there seem to be these issues that will come up. And when you read all of the Torah, and you make these connections, it's almost like you're forced to ask, "Well, this seems like a picture of that. So why is there a connection?” When I think of that, I think of, okay, here's the charge. The charge is that you've now hooked up with another god, and are you guilty or are you not guilty? So, she drinks it and if there is no wasting away, she wasn't guilty and if there is, she was. So, I don't know all the linguistic issues there and I haven't studied it from that standpoint, but I do think it's kind of interesting that you make that connection.

Jono: It is interesting, and in 21, “Moses said to Aaron, ‘What did this people do to you?’” How is that? “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?” Aaron has brought upon. “So, Aaron said, ‘Hey, don’t let your anger burn. It's not my fault, you know. These people, they said I’m evil, they came to me and they said, ‘Make us gods to go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’” And so, they gave it to me, all I did was throw it in the fire, Keith. I just threw it in the fire, and it came out like this.

Keith: Yeah.

Nehemia: He’s shirking responsibility. I mean, because earlier, we read that he actually took the grinding tool and the etching tool, and he made it.

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: And here, it's "I threw it in the fire and this calf came out. I didn't do this. It wasn't my fault." What's funny to me is that, in the rabbinical tradition, I was taught that his excuse was true. The rabbis actually buy his excuse. They believe it. Specifically, there's a legend that, when they carried Joseph's coffin, it was a very heavy coffin, and they have this special bull that had written on it, "Arise, oh bull," because Joseph is likened to a bull in one of the passages of the blessing, or something like that. And so, they would use the golden bull to make the coffin arise, this massive Egyptian coffin, and that's how they carried it in the desert. So, somebody brought that bull to Aaron and handed it to him. He threw it in the fire, along with all the earrings, and the bull magically arose out. Now, this is what I was taught as fact. What a bunch of…

Keith: Now, okay, so is it possible…

Nehemia: Can we respect that tradition, Johnson?

Keith: Let me say one of the things that they may be trying to do, and I'm not saying that I believe that it was the bull.

Nehemia: They’re trying to, literally…

Keith: Let me say this.

Jono: Keith?

Keith: Bevakasha. So, let me say this. As we're reading this, one of the things that I'm thinking, now, if I'm just reading this, I now have a bit of a concern about the integrity of the high priest.

Jono: Yeah?

Keith: In other words, Aaron…

Nehemia: That's an understatement.

Keith: That's an understatement. So, the human side of it says, oh my goodness, now, this is about to be the guy that's going to be the high priest. So, if I really take it for what it is, then I've got some concerns about who he is. Now, if I have to bring validity to what he says, he would never lie, he's the high priest. So, I've got to create a story to match. And again, Nehemia, I'm with you. There's no part of me that believes that the calf just fell out, and I don't think we even have to read it. Like you said, we just read it. It says that Aaron created it, that he used the tool. But the point being, if that line wasn't in there, maybe we don't have the question. But, because it is, the Methodist is reading it and saying, okay, so Aaron got a little afraid and then amidst the pressure, he cracked, and he lied. Well, he's the high priest.

Jono: He’s the high priest.

Keith: We’ve got to make his story real.

Jono: I know.

Keith: So, yeah, that's why we want to keep reading, right?

Jono: Yeah, well, this is…

Nehemia: What they're trying to do is, essentially, they're trying to vindicate Aaron and say it really wasn't his fault.

Keith: Right.

Nehemia: But it clearly was.

Jono: Well, it clearly was, but the interesting thing arises when we get to verse 35, and we're going to get there in a minute. But when Moses - now, this is 25, the verse – this, I don't know what to make of this. "Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies)”. Is that just to say that they were wild? That they were just swinging with wild abandon?

Nehemia: Well, the word “para” means that they were wild, yeah. It's a word that describes often unkempt hair, so literally, you could translate it, "for he was wild for Aaron had made them wild for shame or disrepute amongst those who rise up against them."

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: What that means is that Israel's enemies now would look at this and say, "Okay, we can attack these people. You know, God’s not on their side anymore."

Jono: And in that verse, it's implicating Aaron once again. OK. “So Moses stood at the entrance,” and this results in a two-fold punishment, I suppose. “Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, 'Whoever is on Yehovah’s side, come to me!' And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them,” and this is just so wonderful, “Thus says Yehovah Elohim of Israel, that every man put his sword on his side, go out though the entrance, from entrance to entrance, in and out, throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, every man his neighbor. So, the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses.” I mean, it just sounds like they went, alright, swords on and off we go. “And about three thousand men of the people fell that day. Then Moses said, ‘Consecrate yourselves today to Yehovah, that He may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother.’” What do you think of, Keith, when you read that?

Keith: You know, it's interesting, you guys. One of the things that I do in the morning is, I get up in the morning and I take my time to pray, and one of the first things that I pray about is my family. As you know I've got three sons and my wife. And as I go about my business praying about them, there's this tension, and the tension is, boy, this is my family, but I've got sons and all of them are just about of adult age. One is 26, one is 24, one will soon be 21. And when I think about this, when I read this and this idea that they had to go out and bring judgment against their own blood, I just think, "Man, how difficult would that be?" And yet, at the same time, in comparison to having this relationship with the Creator of the universe who says, "Okay. The line has been drawn in the sand. Choose. Those who are with me and those that are not," and you know what? Can you imagine two brothers standing there? One brother says, "I'm with you," and the other one says, "Hey man, I want to party. Hey, I want to keep doing what I'm doing. I'm going to stand in defiance of the Creator of the universe." And then, the one that chose had to go and…

Jono: Kill him.

Keith: I mean, it really is a very stark picture, a very sobering picture.

Jono: Indeed. And so, it goes on after that. “Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, “You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to Yehovah; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” Perhaps; there’s no guarantee here. Perhaps. “Then Moses returned to Yehovah and said, 'Oh, these people,'" but it goes on and says that…oh, okay, now before we get to 34, I know you want to talk about 34, but it says, "Yet now,” this is in 32, “if You will forgive their sin, but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”

Nehemia: What was really interesting to me here is the word for forgive in verse 32, because the word is “tissah.” Which is from the word “assah,” which is to bear, to carry a burden. So, essentially, if you literally translate it, it says, “and now, if you will bear their…” and you could also translate the word “sin” here, really, literally, as “a mistake,” they're missing the target, “if you will bear their missing the target.” And the image there is, okay, they've sinned. They've missed the target, they’ve misstepped, they made a mistake. Will you take that off of them and carry it? That's what the image there of “tissah” is. I think that's a powerful…significant word for forgive. There are other words for forgive in ancient Hebrew. This word is significant.

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: You know, there's this heavy burden the people are bearing because of their sin, and he's asking Yehovah to take that, to carry that for Israel, to take it off of their shoulders.

Keith: We don't have time, Jono, I know, but I wish we could talk about this a little bit more in terms of this. Maybe there'll be another time to talk about this book that you've written. He said, “blotting me out of the book that you've written;” because, is Moses saying, you know, "I'm written in that book;" is he speaking of himself? Or is he speaking of us? Can I be in that book? Can my name be written in that book? Can I be put in that book? I mean, that's a very important phrase there. And so maybe we’ll have to…

Nehemia: Here's something to point out; that the Hebrew word “sefer,” which means book, really can mean any written document.

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: In Deuteronomy 24, it talks about a certificate of divorce, and the word there is “sefer” as well, “sefer kritut”.

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: So “sefer” is, even a letter is called the “sefer”. There are ancient inscriptions written in Paleo-Hebrew that refer to themselves as “sefer”. So, any written thing can be referred to as a “sefer”. He might not actually be referring to the Torah here, the book that we're reading. He may be referring metaphorically, or maybe literally, to this book in heaven that we read about in, for example, I believe, it’s Malachi, where it talks about, you know, maybe we can read that book. That verse is kind of a cool.

Jono: There’s also a verse in…

Nehemia: It's Malachi 3:16.

Jono: Yes.

Nehemia: "Then they that fear Yehovah spake one often to another, and Yehovah hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for they that feared Yehovah, and that thought upon His name." And can I get an Amen?

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Now, listen…

Jono: Now, I’ve also got in Psalm 87, verse 6, it says, “Yehovah will record, When He registers the peoples. This one was born there.” So, it’s interesting.

Nehemia: Right.

Jono: It’s an interesting thing to consider, right?

Nehemia: Also, there's a vision that Daniel has where he sees the host of heaven surrounding Yehovah, myriads of angels, and they bring out the books to write things down. So, this might not be literally the Torah. This might be some kind of heavenly book that he's referring to.

Keith: And the reason that I do this is for the audience, because I'm trying to engage Nehemia, to give him a softball, and sometimes he’ll hit it and sometimes he won't. That's exactly what I wanted to happen. This issue of the book, sometimes there's some confusion. But if we take all of Scripture, we do get a beautiful picture of the fact that there's this recording that those of us that fear him, that honor him, that are written in this book. I mean, I don't know about you two, but I want to be written in that book.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: I want to be a part of that. Not to be an author, not to be famous, but to be a part of recording that I'm one that would be connected to Him.

Jono: Amen. May it be so.

Keith: So, however and wherever that is, I sure want that to happen. Amen?

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: Okay.

Jono: So, verse 34, “Now, therefore, go and lead the people to the place which I have spoken to you. And behold, My angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in that day when I visit for punishment, I will visit punishment upon them for their sin.” And so, it says in verse 35, “So Yehovah plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made.” But now, do we know what the plague is?

Nehemia: Presumably, people died. I mean, we don’t know exactly.

Jono: But Aaron wasn't one of them, right?

Nehemia: Evidently not. You know, when I look at this, I say, oh, 3,000 died, but there were 600,000, and women and children, right? So how did only 3,000 die? But, if you think about it, 3,000 is the number that died on 9/11. That's not a small number, you know. I mean, you think about the United States, which had at the time, I believe, something like 250 million people, and 3,000 died and how that changed the world. So, imagine if you're in a nation that has 3 million people and 3,000 die, I mean, man, that's a lot of people.

Jono: True.

Nehemia: And on top of that, there was a plague. This was a huge number of people that were dying.

Jono: We're going to jump ahead. How far can we go? Can I go to…

Nehemia: Can we look at a theme here that runs throughout the rest of the section…

Jono: Please.

Nehemia: …which is the angel?

Jono: Yes.

Nehemia: He says, "Behold. My angel will go before you." And then, again, in verse 2 of the next chapter, he says, "And I will send before you the angel." So, the angel becomes a central theme here, that then, it really becomes a big issue later on in chapter 34. Could we jump to that? Or should I hold on and do some stuff?

Keith: Wait, wait. Okay, so I think we should remember…I have a suggestion for our listeners.

Nehemia: Let's remember the angel when we get to chapter 34.

Keith: We'll remember the angel for 34. So, let's do this. If we could do this, could we just go to the section, verse 12? Jono, could you read that, Moses and the glory?

Jono: Verse 12, yeah.

Keith: Yes.

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: Okay.

Jono: And this is…

Keith: And then Nehemia will remind us, yes.

Jono: “Moses said to Yehovah, I see you say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now, therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.' And He said, 'My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.' Then he said to Him, 'If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up out of here. For how then will it be known that Your people have found grace in Your sight, except that You go with us? So, we shall be separate, and the people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.’” So Yehovah said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”

Keith: Oh.

Jono: “And he said, ‘Please, show me Your glory.’” Now, this is incredible, “Then He said,” this is what I’ve got, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of Yehovah before you. And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious,” now, this is the “perhaps” I was talking about. This is the sovereignty of God, right? “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And Yehovah said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on that rock. And it shall be that while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face you shall not see.”

Nehemia: So, we’ve got some major translation issues going on here, which…oh my gosh. All right. I'm not going to ask Keith to read the whole thing in his translation, but, let me point out that in verse…so look. He says, I want to send this angel, I’m going to send the angel. And then Moses says, "Get down to your people.” And Moses says in verse 13, he says, “Look, or see. This is your nation. This nation is yours, your people." So, it's almost like parents saying, you know…

Jono: “He’s your son!”

Nehemia: …you know what your son did! He’s your son. And Moses is like, "No. This is your people." In verse 14, where it says, “presence,” the Hebrew literally says, “And he said, 'My face will go.'" And so, they're translating it in one verse as “presence,” and in another verse they're translating it as “face,” but really, it's the same thing in Hebrew. The way I read it…and look, this is a controversial passage that people have interpreted lots of different ways, so I'm not saying this is the definitive interpretation, even though I'm always right. But the way I read it is that he's saying, "I'm going to send an angel. I'm not going to actually go with you." And this phrase, "My face will go," is a Hebrew idiom. That's what the Jewish commentators point out, the exact same idiom, the same figure of speech appears in 2 Samuel, I believe it's 17:11, where Absalom is talking about, should he hide out in the fortress or should he go out to war? And he gets the advice from his adviser. He says, "Your face has to go out into battle," and everyone translates that as, you yourself has to go out into battle, meaning you, personally, yourself has to go out. The Jewish commentators point out that “my face will go,” means I will go myself, meaning you're saying, you know, I said, “I'm going to send an angel,” and you come to me and you say you don't want an angel. You want, you know, "We want to know you." And then, this is significant; in verse 12, he says, "And you said I have known you by name." Now, what does yours have for that, Keith? Keith, are you still there?

Keith: I'm just kidding.

Nehemia: Mah ze? Mah pitom?

Keith: Okay, give me the verse, Nehemia.

Jono: Oh, dear.

Nehemia: Verse 12, “And you said, ‘I have known you by name.’”

Keith: “But you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’”

Nehemia: So, the way it translates in English, it sounds like God is saying to Moses, "Look, Moses, I know your name; Moses." But what is that? Like, what a strange thing to say? I mean, at least that’s what it sounds like to me in your English translation, isn’t that what we’re getting to?

Jono: That's the impression that I got.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Okay.

Jono: Actually, reading it, yeah.

Nehemia: So, the Jewish commentators point out that this is an expression, again in Hebrew, that means “I'm going to make known my name to you.” And it doesn't mean literally "you're going to know my name is Yehovah." He did that already back in Exodus chapter 3 verse 15. But this ties into Exodus chapter 6, verse 3, where he says, "I didn't make my name known to Abraham, I was known as El Shaddai.” You can also interpret that as a question, you know, "Didn't I make my name known?" But, it's possible there that he's saying, "Look, I didn't reveal myself in that manner of proclaiming my own name before them."

Keith: That what’s the meaning of it.

Nehemia: And that, I think, is what is being described here, I think, is the meaning. And so here he says, "My face will go," and that in the Hebrew idiom means, “I'm going to go myself; it's not going to be an angel. I said it would be an angel. You've asked for me to go personally. It's going to be me.” And then, verse 15 sounds strange because he just said, "My face will go," and then Moses responds. He says, "If your face doesn't go, don't bring us up from here." What do you mean? I just said that my face was going to go.

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: So, verse 15 probably needs to be translated as what's called a pluperfect, or we call in Hebrew, past the past, which is to say, "For he had said to him, if your face doesn't go, don't bring us up from here." In other words, verse 14 is the answer to verse 15 of Moses's request. That's one way of translating it.

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: Now, you don't see that in English. In English, you don't see that possibility. So, in verse 16, he says, "And how, therefore, shall we know that we found favor in your eyes, or that I found favor in your eyes, other than if you go with us?" And so, this is the answer. In verse 14 he says, “Okay, I'm going to go myself,” “panai yelechu,” “My face will go.” I'm going to go myself.

Jono: Right.

Nehemia: And then we have this whole thing about him revealing his name. Now verse 18, he asks to see the glory and he says how he's going to pass by and he's going to cover…what is all that about? To be honest with you, I have no idea, but we see it actually taking place in chapter 34, which is what I wanted to get to the whole time, which is, in verse 5...

Jono: Yes.

Nehemia: …it says, "Yehovah came down in the cloud and he stood there with him, and he called upon the name of Yehovah." Now, who called upon the name of Yehovah? Was it Moses? Or was it Yehovah? And it's not clear.

Jono: Well, it reads in the…

Nehemia: But then, in verse 6…

Jono: …in the English as if Yehovah proclaimed his own name.

Nehemia: Okay. Well, it literally, says, "And he called upon the name of Yehovah." So, it could be Moses calling upon the name. It's not clear, but in verse 6, it's very clear who's speaking, “And Yehovah passed in front of his face and he called out…”

Keith: Hold it. Nehemia, verse 6 you said, "And Yehovah passed." My Bible says, "And he passed."

Nehemia: What do you mean? It doesn't say Yehovah?

Keith: So, it doesn't say Yehovah.

Jono: Really?

Keith: Does it say Yehovah in your verse?

Jono: I don't have italics here, Keith. I don't have italics.

Keith: Does your verse say Yehovah, Nehemia?

Nehemia: It says, “ve-yavor Yehovah al panav,” and “Yehovah passed before...”

Keith: Exactly. And I want you to help people understand in the context, obviously, but basically, the verb itself is referring as him.

Nehemia: Yeah. And he, Yehovah, passed over his face, or before his face.

Keith: I'm trying to help people understand it.

Nehemia: I think Moses’.

Keith: Yes, okay. Go ahead, Jono.

Jono: OK. It’s just in English, it says now, verse 5, "Now Yehovah descended in a cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the name of Yehovah. And Yehovah passed before him and proclaimed, “Yehovah, Yehovah Elohim, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, and forgiving iniquity and transgression, and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” And so, he's echoing here. This is from the Second Commandment, right, in chapter 20?

Nehemia: Right. Exactly. It's actually the abbreviated form because there's a word here that he doesn't bring, which is, “visiting the iniquity of the fathers and the sons and the third and fourth generation.” In the second commandment, it has the missing word, which is “le-sonai,” for those who hate me. The idea there is those who continue to sin against God and continue to hate him, they bear the sins of their fathers. And those who are righteous, they reap the reward of the thousand generations before them who were righteous. But what's powerful here is that Yehovah, it says literally, “that he called upon the name Yehovah,” in verse 5 and it's not clear who, “and Yehovah passed before him and he called 'Yehovah, Yehovah.'" He actually calls out his name, and that's evidently what he means in the previous chapter where he says, "You said that I would know you by name." So “I would know you by name” doesn't mean that Yehovah knows the name of Moses. It means that Yehovah is going to proclaim his own name before Moses. And then Moses had said, "I want to know your ways." What are his ways? His ways are not some mystical thing. His ways are what he says here, "Yehovah, Yehovah." Now, the name Yehovah itself is a sentence in Hebrew. It's from the three Hebrew verbs “hayah,” “hoveh,” “yihyeh,” he who was, he who is, and he who will be.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: So, he says twice "Yehovah, Yehovah." Yehovah, he was, who is, and who will be. Actually, some of the Jewish commentators explain that this is what's called the nominative sentence, which is, you know, Hebrew doesn't…it's a complicated grammatical thing, but basically, you could translate "Yehovah, Yehovah" as, Yehovah is Yehovah. That is, he who was, he who is, and he will be is he who was, he who is and he who will be. Then it goes on and explains “El rahum ve-hanun.” El is God but also Mighty One, a Mighty One who is merciful and gracious. “Erech kapayim,” is long-suffering, that is he is abundantly patient is really what it means. He is great of “chesed,” which is righteousness, “be'emet,” and truth. He keeps righteousness to the thousand generations, he bears iniquity, and “bears,” in the sense of forgives. The same word as we had before that he carries it on his own back. He takes it off ours and carries it for us. “He bears iniquity, transgression and sin. He does not make innocent visiting the iniquity of the father upon the sons,” and et cetera, and it has to do with those who continue to sin. So, if you repent, he'll take that sin right off your shoulders. If you continue in the sin, then you're going to have some problems. I think this is a powerful passage because Moses said, “I want to know your ways," and this is what he reveals. Wow!

Keith: And I’ve got to say…

Nehemia: I think this is the most important passage in the Bible; one of the most important passages in the Bible.

Jono: Indeed.

Keith: I keep writing down what I call Nehemia’s…

Nehemia: Can I have an Amen?

Jono: Amen. Keith?

Keith: I have a book of about 15 different passages where Nehemia says, “this is the most important one,” so I write it down, and…

Nehemia: No, no, but this is one of the top 10.

Keith: …no, and then I write it down, and I write it down.

Nehemia: No, this is in my top 5.

Keith: What I want to say, though, what’s so powerful for of the things that just really has captivated me is this idea of being able to speak back to Yehovah what He tells us about Himself. And so, for me, one of the things that is so powerful about this, and Nehemia, I want you to do me a favor if you would, and just say, le’at le’at, slowly, if you could, in Hebrew, would you be willing to speak this line in Hebrew for the people to hear? Because one of the things that I did, Jono, I know you know this, Nehemia knows it, in the back of the book, “His Hallowed Name,” I put these descriptions, both Yehovah descriptions, and El descriptions…

Jono: Yes.

Keith: …that we find in the Scriptures, and I have people learn to speak this. And it has changed me. And so, I want Nehemia to, if he would, slowly say this line. Because when I first heard this line in Hebrew, I'm like, this is Him telling us who He is, what He is. So, would you do that, Nehemia? And start with “Yehovah, Yehovah”?

Nehemia: Okay. Yeah. And what's interesting is, this verse is paraphrased later in the Bible, and I don't remember the exact number, I think it's like seven times where this phrase is repeated or paraphrased in an abbreviated form, in the Psalms and various other places. “Yehovah, Yehovah, El rahum ve-hanun, erech kapayim, ve-rav chesed ve-emet. Notzer chesed le-alafim, nosseh avon ve-pesha ve-chahta’ah; ve-nake, lo inake poked avon avot al-banim ve’al-benei banim, al shlishim ve-al riva’im.”

Keith: Amen

Jono: Wow. Amen.

Keith: You can learn this by going to the book, “His Hallowed Name”...

Jono: Well, I've got it in front of me. I'm holding it in my hand…

Keith: Wait, is that in Hallowed Name, is that in Keith’s book?

Jono: I'm holding it in my hand, it’s number 36.

Keith: Of course it is.

Jono: It’s number 36.

Keith: Number 36. If he's really good in the editing, he'll actually add it into there in the little line because…I won't tell the story, but there's these people who give testimonies that they begin to speak this and it does something. I'm not trying to be mystical, but just the idea of Moses hearing it and then us being able to repeat it, Nehemia, it's powerful. So, thank you for doing that. We can move on.

Nehemia: So, give us the testimony.

Keith: No, I mean, look, I go to a place and the guy says to me…I get off the airplane and I'm getting picked up in Waynesville, Georgia, getting picked up by a guy, and another guy says, "Can I please ride to the airport with you?" And he says, "Yeah, you can come to the airport with me." So, I get in the car and the guy begins to proclaim just about every single name. There are 80 different names. The name Yehovah with descriptions, or El with descriptions, and this guy says to me he's begun to use this in his life for the last six months. He's used it in testimony. He's memorized the entire list of 80 different names…

Jono: Wow.

Keith: …in the back of the book, and he uses it to share with people about God's name. And the guy gets up in front of the congregation and he spits them up better than I do. I mean, he has them memorized frontwards and backwards. So, it was just an example, just to see how learning who He is, the descriptions of who He is, and this is best one in the entire Bible, in my opinion, the way He tells us who He is. This is what I do, “Yehovah, Yehovah,” and then this beautiful, beautiful, beautiful line. It's just amazing.

Jono: Brilliant.

Nehemia: This is such an important passage. I mean, I actually grew up…and here I have to give credit to the tradition I grew up in, the Orthodox tradition.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: On the High Holidays, they actually recite this verse repeatedly…

Keith: Wow.

Nehemia: …because this is what’s called the “midoth,” the attributes of God. You know, we don't have a picture of God. We don't know that He is such-and-such tall and such-and-such wide and has a beard of such-and-such color like the ancient pagans did. We don't know that about our God. What we know about our God is that He has certain behavioral characteristics.

Keith: Come on.

Nehemia: That's why this is so important. And so, I want to quote the seven passages where this is referred to. Joel 2:13. This is the JPS translation, "For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and renouncing punishment." This is actually a paraphrase of the verse we just read in Exodus 34:6-7. Jonah 4 verse 2, in his prayer he says, "For I know that You are compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in kindness and renouncing punishment."

Again, Psalm 78, verse 38 and the whole verse, “But He, being merciful, forgave iniquity and will not destroy. He restrains His wrath time and again and did not give full vent to His fury.” Some of these are kind of funky translations, but basically, in Hebrew, it says the same thing. Psalm 86, verse 15, "But You are Yehovah our God, compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness." Psalm 103, verse 8, I mean, the fact that this is paraphrased seven times tells you this is important. "Yehovah's passionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love." Psalm 145, verse 8, "Yehovah is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.

Last, but not least, my favorite book of the Bible, the book of Nehemiah, chapter 9, verse 17, the book of Nehemia, "But you, being a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, long-suffering, abounding in faithfulness, did not abandon them." So here we have seven times that this verse is paraphrased and referred to again. That's how important this is. This isn't some little, trivial thing we can rush past. This is a key verse in the Bible.

Jono: It’s a Torah Pearl.

Nehemia: One of the top 10.

Jono: It’s a Torah Pearl.

Nehemia: It’s a Torah Pearl.

Keith: Look, I’ve just figured something out here.

Nehemia: This is a Torah diamond.

Jono: This is a Crown Jewel.

Keith: Jono, I’ve figured something out.

Nehemia: No, this is the Torah diamonds.

Keith: I'm telling you. Nehemia, what he does is he sits there, and he gets these things so he can take more time. That's why he wanted to say awesome. No, I'm really glad he did that.

Nehemia: I skipped all of 33, basically. This was the key thing.

Keith: No, no, Nehemia. I just want to say that what I love about that is that people can actually, I mean, this is a wonderful exercise, Jono, to go to each one of those verses again…

Jono: Yes.

Keith: …contextually, and to see it in the way that it's translated. I have to say thank you to you, again, for that, Nehemia. That’s really brings something.

Jono: Just a reminder to everybody, not only is there 40 names and descriptions of Yehovah, as you mentioned, there are 40 involving the description of El, and in the back of the book, but it's accompanied…this is, of course, His Hallowed Name Revealed Again by Keith Johnson…accompanied with the CD where you pronounce it for us, and it's an excellent way, and it's an easy way, and a very pleasurable way to learn these. It's in the back of the book. If you don't have it already, you need to get it. My friends, dear listeners, you can get it from And so now, Keith, while we're with you, I know it's his time, the Tetragrammaton.

Keith: Time, Torah, and His name.

Jono: Time, Torah… How did we forget that? Isn’t that the Tetragrammaton?

Nehemia: Time, Torah, Tetragrammaton.

Jono: Here we are, and we're in Exodus 34, and here we are dealing with his times. Do you want to work your way through this?

Keith: Well you know, let me just say this. And again, this might break the record for how long we've been doing this.

Jono: And I’ve got one more thing I want to do after you’re done.

Keith: This portion…but I will say something, and I say this all the time and I'm experiencing this, of course, when people are listening at this particular time, it's a project that we're working on it this very moment regarding time, and giving people a chance to have interaction, an encounter with His time. And so, when we're reading here regarding this, this idea that the Creator of the universe has this calendar where he says, "Okay, here are the times that I will meet," and I just have to say to everyone, I've been doing a bit of a survey with different people regarding the importance of God's time.

And one of the things I hear from a lot of my Protestant brothers and sisters, and if I can just bring this up, I'd like to take a moment to do this, they would say this. As I've done some research, they'd say this, "You know, listen. You know, the Jews have their feasts and their holy times. And the Catholics, they've got their feasts and their sacred times. We have our sacred time, and our sacred activity at our sacred time is on the day that we've declared as the most important day, Sunday. And the most important thing we do is preach the Word of God, and that has become our sacred time. So, this thing, the going and understanding God's calendar and what He is and where He is and when He wants to meet - He needs to meet when we want to meet." And literally, I've heard that from people. So, it really concerns me. I'm glad that, obviously, the transition here is when he begins to speak about this idea of meeting the one who just defined what He does and who He is.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: I mean, wouldn't you want to meet with Him? Of course!

Jono: Of course. There it is.

Keith: So, that's all I'll say about that.

Jono: All right. And no doubt we're going to be revisiting many of these things.

Keith: Of course, we will.

Jono: There is the covenant, we just read that again, and we have the Three Festivals by which we are required to go to Jerusalem, and it finishes with, “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.” Now, let's not get into that again. Let me just say again to the listeners…

Nehemia: We’ve got to save that for Deuteronomy 14, the third time it appears.

Jono: …because we’re going to…okay, the third time it appears. But the video, “Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus,” you outlined that beautifully.

Keith: Yes.

Jono: And that is available where? At Hilkiah Press?

Nehemia: Don’t you have that on your website?

Jono: And I’ve got it on my website: I'm just giving everyone the options, depending on what they prefer.

Nehemia: They can also get it on Hilkiah Press, get it on Amazon.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Buy it from Jono, though. Support his ministry.

Keith: Yes.

Jono: You can buy it from me, and if you don't want to, you can watch it on YouTube, but it's a couple of hours long, I think. So, anyhow.

Nehemia: That’s right. Actually, yeah, it is on YouTube. It's a two-hour video. You can watch it for free on YouTube, but support Jono's ministry.

Keith: Yes

Jono: Cheers. Let me just read the last bit. This is the way that it ends, all right? And I'm going to read it from a translated…Keith, I know you're fed up with my translation. I’m going to read this…

Keith: I'd had it with your translations.

Jono: I'm going to read it from a different translation. Are you ready? This is the Latin Vulgate. OK?

Keith: Read the verse, please.

Jono: Are you ready for this?

Nehemia: Uh-Oh.

Jono: This is chapter 34…

Nehemia: It’s very vulgar.

Jono: …this is chapter 34 verse 29 and the last verse onto 35: “And when Moses came down from Mount Sinai, he held the two tablets of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord. And Aaron and the children of Israel, seeing the face of Moses was horned, were afraid to come near. And being called by him, they returned, both Aaron and the rulers of the congregation. And after that he spoke to them. And the children of Israel came to him: and he gave them the commandments and all that he had heard from the Lord on Mount Sinai.”

“And having done speaking, he put a veil on his face. But when he went to the Lord and spoke to him, he took it away and he came forth, and then he spoke to the children of Israel of all the things that had been commanded him. And they saw the face of Moses, and when he came out it was horned, but he covered his face again, if at any time he spoke to them.” He covered his face because he had horns coming out of his face, Keith.

Keith: Well, I mean, I'm going to have to ask Nehemia on that one. I have some thoughts, but I...

Nehemia: Look, I'm not allowed to talk about it. It's very sensitive. Jews have horns. You know, this is actually one of the great anti-Semitic libels against the Jewish people; that we have horns. There's a story that happened to my father, of blessed memory, about 20 or 30 years ago, he was visiting a very rural part of the United States, and I don't know if you know about the…have you ever been to the US, Jono?

Jono: No, I haven't.

Nehemia: Have you ever visited the US?

Jono: I've been to Europe.

Nehemia: Okay. There are some very rural parts to the United States where the people are, well, I guess now it's probably different, but this was before the internet, 20-30 years ago.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: My father was in this motel where they're staying, and he looked like a rabbi. This man walks up to him and he says, "Are you a Jew?" And my father says, "Why? Yes, I am a Jew. I'm Jewish." And the man says to him, "Can I see your horns?" And that's the accent that the gentleman had. My father grabs his big black rabbi hat and he says, "We're not allowed to show them to Gentiles." And this was my father, so he thought that was funny, but it's actually kind of scary that there’s a guy named Billy Bob out there with a shotgun who thinks Jews really do have horns, and he doesn't even know Latin. Evidently, they get this from the Latin Vulgate, and other places as well, but this is one of the anti-Semitic libels. It's actually a great example of a misinterpretation of something that it says in Hebrew because, in Hebrew, the word for shine literally means “to horn”, because a horn sticks out. You know, think of like a horn of a ram.

Jono: It beams.

Nehemia: It beams. It sticks out like a horn.

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: So, the word for horn is “keren,” and that's a noun, “keren,” a horn. And “karan” is he beamed, he shined. So, he shined like a horn. So, it's not that he had a horn. It's that his face was beaming out with a ray of light. In fact, in Modern Hebrew, which takes from this meaning, the word for radiation is “hakranah,” which is to beam out like a horn. It doesn't mean that he has horns.

Jono: Wow.

Nehemia: It means simply that his face was radiating. It was beaming out with light.

Jono: Keith?

Keith: Yes?

Jono: What is he talking about?

Nehemia: So, yeah, I don’t have horns, for the record.

Jono: I mean I've seen pictures.

Keith: Yes.

Jono: Beautiful artwork by Michelangelo with Moses with big impressive horns.

Nehemia: Or, wasn’t it David? Was it?

Keith: Yes. I've actually taken a picture of Nehemia over in Jerusalem and caught him when he's not on tour.

Jono: I've seen that as well.

Keith: Before he shaves his horns.

Nehemia: But that was photoshopped.

Keith: Put that in a presentation. That was his idea by the way. But let me say this in the closing, at least for my section here, that one of the things, Jono…I don't know if you can do this or not, but you know, this idea that, why would Moses be shining? I want to give a little hint. You know, Nehemia talks about this and hopefully folks will hear about his book soon, regarding the idea of God shining upon us.

But the idea that as a result of the Father in heaven speaking to Moses, that it changed his physical appearance; isn't that what we really want? Don't we really want to be changed from the inside out? And maybe you can do this at the end, there's a line in number 36 when we end our show here where you could actually play that line in Hebrew so people could learn it; that's on the CD. Because, again, my argument is going to be one of the reasons that his face was shining was that the shine came upon him and it overtook him. The idea of being able to hear Yehovah call his own name in the description and then, for Moses to be able to come and share that and be a picture of that for people, that's why I believe we're called to be ambassadors. We're going to be the ones to come out and say, "Look. My life is changed. I look different, think different, act different, talk different, walk different, I’ve had an encounter with the Creator of the universe." So, may it be for everyone that they would have that encounter and that we would be like the horn. We would shine the sound of the shofar and the beaming light...

Nehemia: Would you blow the shofar for us, Keith?

Keith: I actually don't have it right here, guys.

Jono: You should always have it in your hand.

Nehemia: It’s important that you have it.

Keith: I'll have it next time, but you definitely do this, Jono.

Jono: Yeah, I will.

Nehemia: Edit it in.

Keith: The sound of the shofar is on the CD.

Jono: There it is.

Keith: Okay. Amen.

Jono: Nehemia?

Nehemia: I've got to say one last thing before we end, which is not a small thing. Chapter 34, verse 27 and verse 28, are some really important verses, because verse 27 says, "And Yehovah said to Moses, write for yourselves these words, for according to these words I have made with you a covenant, and with Israel. And he was there with Yehovah 40 days and 40 nights. Bread, he did not eat and water, he did not drink.”

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: “And he wrote upon the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Words.” Now, what is going on? What are these words? So, in verse 27, what exactly is it referring to? Is it referring to what we call The Ten Commandments? Verse 28 is obviously referring to the Ten Commandments. But is verse 27? Because it says the Ten Things, the Ten Matters, the Asseret HaDvarim. What about verse 27? I would argue that verse 27 is not actually talking about the Ten Commandments; that the words that he made the covenant with, that is the section in Exodus chapter 34, and it's not a coincidence that almost word for word, some parts of Exodus 34 are a repeat of Exodus 23. What happens at the end of Exodus 23, if you remember, he takes out this book called, “Sefer HaBrit,” the Book of the Covenant.

Jono: Oh, yeah.

Nehemia: And he reads it before the people. I don't think that's a coincidence. I think what's happening is that this is a set of things that God is saying, "Okay. This is the core of the covenant. These are the ten things I revealed directly to Israel, but then I continue to speak just to Moses to then convey to Israel. And these things were written in the Book of the Covenant and read before the people.” So, why is he repeating it in Exodus 34? Because Moses goes back up the mountain the second time, and so he ends up repeating it. That's what we have repeated in Exodus 34, almost word for word from Exodus 23. So, I think that verse there, it says, "Write these words because according to them I made the covenant," I think those are key. That's a core part of the covenant of Sinai. And one of those things there, for Keith, is one of his T's, right? It's the time.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: We actually have all three "T's" there. We have time, Torah and Tetragrammaton.

Jono: We do. That's true.

Keith: Amen. Amen.

Nehemia: We do. Amen.

Jono: Key chapter. That's it. I'll tell you what? We've done it, again.

Nehemia: Is this a record?

Jono: Another 2-hour episode. My friends, I just want to thank you guys for being so generous with your time. I just want to say thank you for being so generous with your time because there was so much in here that we had to address…

Keith: Yes.

Jono: …and it's just wonderful that you guys have taken the time to do that. And I appreciate that you don't mind going and doing the longer episodes for the listeners, so that we can get through it all within reason. So, I really appreciate you, guys, once again, coming back on the program, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. And again, yes, their books and DVDs are available at Next week, we are in…now Nehemia, quickly, just explain this, there’s two Torah portions. What's going on?

Nehemia: Right. So basically, what the tradition has done is broken up the Torah into, I believe, it's 54 sections, and then sometimes you'll have as many as…this year, actually, we have five Torah portions for five weeks that are double portions. Actually, in the diaspora it’s five; in Israel, it’s four. I guess we’ll talk about that at a different stage. But basically, there’s a double portion next week and the reason is that this, in the rabbinical reckoning, is not a leap year. In a Hebrew leap year, there is an extra month, and so you have to come up with between four and five extra portions for an extra month.

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: Long story short, because it's not a leap year in the rabbinical reckoning…

Jono: You just have to push them in.

Nehemia: …and probably not in the Biblical one either, you have to push in these extra portions. And that's why we have a double portion next week. So, we're going to be speaking for four hours.

Jono: Four hours.

Nehemia: We ought to break it up into two different episodes, right?

Jono: We will.

Keith: Somebody say double portion!

Jono: It's a double portion.

Nehemia: It's a double portion, double blessing. Oh my God, there’s going to be a lot of coffee.

Keith: Amen. Okay. Thank you, Jono.

Jono: And until then, dear listeners, be blessed and be set apart by the truth of our Father's word. Shalom.

[Shofar blowing]

_ Yehovah “Tsidkeinu,” Yehovah our Righteousness

_ Yehovah “tsuri v'goali,” Yehovah my Rock and my Redeemer

_ Yehovah “uzie u’mageni,” Yehovah my Strength and my Shield

_ Yehovah “igmore be’adi,” Yehovah who completes through me

_ Yehovah "Yir’eh," Yehovah who sees

_ Yehovah, Yehovah, El rahum ve-hanun erech kapayim, ve-rav chesed ve-emet. Yehovah, Yehovah, El compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and great in love and truth.

_ Yehovah “Shofteinu,”

_Yehovah “Mehokekeinu,”

_Yehovah “Malkhenu Hu Yoshu’einu”

_ Yehovah our Judge

_ Yehovah, our Inscriber

_Yehovah our King, He will save us.

You have been 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

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Nehemia Gordon's Teachings on the Name of God

And when Moses came down from the Mount Sinai, he held the two tables of the testimony, and he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation of the Lord. And Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the face of Moses horned, were afraid to come near. – Latin Vulgate – Exodus 34:29-30

Showing off my Jew-horns outside the Old City of Jerusalem (with a little help from Photoshop).

Showing off my Jew-horns outside the Old City of Jerusalem (with a little help from Photoshop).

12 thoughts on “Torah Pearls #21 – Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-34:35)

  1. I cannot help but wonder why YeHoVaH did not immediately strike Aaron dead for making that golden calf, when Aaron had been blessed to become the High Priest of YeHoVaH, even if it was because Moses “pushed” YeHoVah to do so when Moses begged off because of his own shortcomings in speaking. Unless, of course, YeHoVaH considered prohibiting Aaron from entering the Promised Land punishment enough. Grace upon Grace.

  2. Nehemia, when Elohim in verse Exodus 32:10 said that He would make a great nation from Moshe descendants, would that have voilate His word with Abraham, or that fact that Moshe is a descendant of Abraham it would still be consider descendants of Abraham?

  3. The study of ancient NE Covenants, teaches us about renewing a covenant, it’s rituals, and writtings. Is customary to write some of the covenant on to the renewal document, showing continuation. That is to say, this is not brand new, is a continuation of the first writting.

    Why in the world was Aaron in possion of a carving tool? ?? Generation curse frm when Rebecca carried in her father’s idols into Jacob’s tent? That’s what pops up, somethmes the iniquity of the father’s passes down generations and pops up in unexpected places.Since Aaron was not yet ordained.

    This was sooo very good thank you gentlemen!

  4. Nehemia, what is the Jewish believe on the messiah,
    I am aware that most believe the messiah has not yet come. What specifically are they looking for that has not yet been fulfilled? Also, and most importantly, do the Jewish people believe he will be God in the flesh. I.e. ( trinity) or fully flesh with the fullness of Yehovah’s
    Spirit resting on him, or if something different, what? Thank you for all you are doing to educate and grow Our Father’s Kingdom!

  5. Always love hearing the Torah pearls every Shabbat. It brings life to the Scriptures for us. We love and are excited about all the new things we are learning! And if we find ourselves in a down mood, your laughs and good humor always lift our spirits. Thank you all!

  6. Hi, Nehemia:

    I know this is probably out of sync with the Torah Portion for this week.

    I remember that in one of your Torah Portion that Keith and you were talking about Gentiles and you had mentioned a scripture that Keith got really excited that the Gentiles are that attach themselves to the God of Israel that they will be able to choose the land they wish to dwell.

    Could you please show me that scripture and if possible give me the link to the podcast of the Torah Pearl that you, Keith and Jono have done.

    Thank you so much.


  7. Thank you! This Torah Pearls is very insightful. While Jono’s and Kieth’s former religious affiliations were thought to be without Torah-precedent for anointing non-priest believers with oil (Hebrew author James 5:13-16), to which the Hebrew scholar Nehemia concurs–when being contrasted to Exodus 30:25 concerning the holy anointing oil–I understood Kieth’s correct description of starting in the “front of the Book ” [Torah] rather than “in the back of the Book” [‘Christian’ writings, NT]. Even though 1st-Temple period, Hebrew customs ‘in the middle of the Book’ [Tahnak] clearly show customary uses of non-holy anointing oils for medicinal purposes, I suppose the following arrangement of verses will only help those of us who “slow down” in knowing the veracity of those Hebrews in the 1st century C.E. that read Torah and would certainly take issue with the non-Torah-precedent notion about oil.

    Proverbs 27:9 – Ointment and perfume
    Ecc 7:1- precious ointment
    Ecc 9:8 – let thy head lack no ointment
    Isa 1:6 – mollified with ointment
    (Further evidence of customary oil applications found in Hebrew writings: Luke 10:34; Mark 6:13; Matthew 26:7)

    (See related comments on Torah Pearls 1 Kings 18)

  8. I listened to this teaching years ago when first taught. I am sad by the things I missed, feeling such shame realizing things I had continued doing. Because I kept listening and reading, I see that Exodus 34: 6,7 shows me Yahovahs love. Nehemia, Keith and Jona, you’ll never know the depths of appreciation I feel for your studies. You are blessing my soul and spirit with the Truth and someday I believe there will be other who will want to know. Thank you for helping me understand what the Word means and how I can apply in my life and be pleasing too Yahovah. Shalom

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