Torah Pearls #51 – Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20)

Torah Pearls Nitzavim, alah, bitterness, choice of life or death, Circumcised, Circumcised flesh, Circumcised heart, Circumcision, covenant, curse, David, Deuteronomy, drunkard, exile, Ingathering, Joshua, kibbutz, mysterious, nehemia gordon, Nitzavim, oath, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, prosperity, repentance and forgiveness, revealed, root, secret, secrets, sober, Torah Pearls, Torah Portion, wormwoodIn this episode of The Original Torah Pearls Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20), we revel in the five verses that sum up the entire Bible - the wonderful and terrible responsibility given to mankind to choose. But what qualifies one to choose the life-giving covenant? Social status? Being in the camp? Does the name of God provide a clue? And how is this covenant sealed—with a kiss or a curse? Is comprehension of the covenant too difficult for stiff-necked mortals? Whose name do we call on for help? Gordon concludes with a Hebrew word study that reveals what true prosperity looks like for those choosing Torah—a radiant bride with a loving and joyful groom.

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Torah Pearls #51 – Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9-30:20)

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: G’day to Ian from Queensland, Mark from Liverpool in New South Wales, Barbara from Florida, John from Oregon, Rachel from Arkansas, Paul from Alabama, David from California, Kelvin from North Carolina. Keith, Eh?

Keith: Hey Kelvin.

Jono: Sandra from Florida.

Nehemia: G’day Kelvin.

Jono: Richard from Arizona, Yvonne from Queensland, Daniel from South Australia and LaDonna in Kansas who commented on Facebook saying, “I found this week and I’ve been so blessed. Thank you so very much.” Well, thank you, LaDonna for leaving the comment. And wherever you may be around the world, thank you for joining us once again. It is of course time for Pearls from the Torah Portion with Keith Johnson and Nehemia Gordon. G’day, gentlemen.

Nehemia: G’day Jono! I am so excited to be here today from Jerusalem, Israel. Wait a minute, I’m not in Jerusalem, Israel. I’m actually… that’s a force of habit. I’ve lived in Jerusalem for the last 19 years, but now I’m talking to you from sunny Florida, not far from Disneyland. So, we’ve actually done this now... before we did an episode where Keith was in Israel, and now I’ve come to his side of the pond and I’m over on the eastern coast of the United States.

Keith: I would like to say to everyone that I’m in North Carolina. I’ve been in New York and in Chicago and roundabouts, and wonderful things have happened, but I can’t believe that we’ve only got a few more of these left for this wonderful experience we’ve been in. So, I’m kind of a little sad about that, I have to say.

Nehemia: Rather than be sad, I think we should be happy because, you know, one of the beautiful things about the Torah portion, or reading the Torah portion weekly, is that it’s a cycle. When we get to the end of the cycle, we get to start again to read the Torah, the word of God, from the beginning; from Bereshit, from in the beginning, from Genesis chapter 1, verse 1. I want to put this out before the people, in front of the people, to invite Keith to join me and Jono to do the second round, which I think we had talked about, how we’re going to do the prophets.

Keith: Jono agreed to this already. What...?

Nehemia: It’s a package deal, Keith!

Jono: Why am I stuck in the middle?

Nehemia: Jono’s going to do his thing with his… you know, he’s got lots of people he does stuff with. It’s our shtick, Keith. Come on, you’ve got to come back.

Jono: This is the pending... this is what we’re waiting for. We’re going to see if we can do the Haftorah. Time will tell, won’t it, Keith?

Nehemia: Or the half Torah, which is the portion of the prophets.

Jono: What did I say?

Nehemia: The Haftorah, which is correct, but some people call it the Half Torah. What that really is… you know, it’s not the Half Torah, it’s simply the portion of the prophets that’s traditionally read in the synagogue on Shabbat after they finished reading the portion of the Torah. So, I’m here in Florida and we’re driving around and there’s this restaurant, and we drive by it and it’s called... I don’t remember what it’s called. It’s called something like the Panda Grill or the Panda... Panda Express is what it’s called! And I’ve never been inside this place but I’m thinking, “Are you kidding me?” So basically, they’ve got this place with the cute little panda on it and it’s a restaurant and so… are they serving panda meat there? Give it to me straight, Keith, this is your country. Is that what they’re doing?

Keith: No, no, they’re not serving panda meat there.

Nehemia: It’s the fast food panda food, is that what it is?

Keith: Chinese food is what it is.

Nehemia: I understand that it’s Chinese because the pandas are from China, like that’s the point. Americans eat pandas; I don’t understand these people. Alright.

Jono: Panda Grill.

Nehemia: I’m going to come to Australia. It’s going to be the Koala, the Koala Barbecue or something.

Jono: That would be a life sentence, I think, if there was a koala barbecue. But they do eat kangaroo here.

Nehemia: Seriously?

Jono: Oh, they eat kangaroo. My goodness, they do. And crocodile is not unusual, and all matter of things anyway.

Nehemia: All the abominations that God said not to eat.

Jono: That’s the one. Deuteronomy 14 and Leviticus 11, right? But today we are in Nitzavim. Deuteronomy 29:9 to 30 verse 20. But this is like, I think 29:9 in the Hebrew. In the English, it’s 29:10. That makes sense. Right? For the English, there is one difference. It begins like this, ready, “All of you...”

Nehemia: All y’all.

Jono: “All y’all stand today before Yehovah your God, your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones and your wives—also the stranger who is within your camp, from the one who cuts the wood and the one who draws the water.” That reminds me of the Gibeonites, right? I mean, that’s who it ended up being.

Nehemia: They were definitely assigned those jobs, and the point is... in ancient Israel that’s the worst job you can get. Cutting, splitting the wood and drawing the water. That’s the worst job you can get. The point is, what it literally says in Hebrew is, “from the cutter of wood to the drawer of water.” Meaning, even those people… it’s your children, the foreigner, the women, everybody is there, even the lowliest of society, the people with the worst jobs of all, even they’re there standing before Yehovah to be part of this covenant.

Jono: It says, “that you may enter into covenant with Yehovah your God and into His oath which Yehovah your God makes with you today, that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be a God to you just as He spoke to you and just as He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”

Nehemia: Can we stop there? Keith, can you read verse 12 in your translation?

Keith: Sure. It says, “You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the LORD your God, a covenant the LORD is making with you this day and sealing with an oath.”

Nehemia: “With an oath.” So, you’ve got oath and Keith has oath. Here’s the really interesting thing; the word in Hebrew is Allah, and Allah means a curse. Now it has to do with an oath because it’s specifically... it’s not just any curse, it’s the curse that is the result of breaking an oath. So, what it literally says in verse 12, in my verse 11 Hebrew, it says, “To pass you in the covenant of Yehovah your God and in his oath.” So, you’re passing through; why does it say passing through? Remember the image we had with Abraham where he split the animals in half and he walked between the two parts, the two halves with animals, and he was passing through the animals of the covenant? That was passing through the covenant. And we see that they did that also in the book of Jeremiah - this is what they would do when they’d make covenants. They’d cut an animal in half and walk between the pieces. Even if they didn’t do that literally, you know, symbolically that’s what happens.

To pass through the covenant of Yehovah your God and through His curse. And the curse here is if you don’t keep the covenant. Now I think it’s really interesting because that exact same word appears later in the Torah portion, and all the translations have it as “curse”. Because they’ve got to, it doesn’t make sense to have it as “oath” later on. If we could just find that, real quick; hold on...

So, this was Deuteronomy 29. Of course, you guys are a verse off. So, in yours, it’s 29:12, and the same thing, same exact word appears in verse 14, where again, it says, like the King James “And neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath.” But again, it’s the covenant and the curse and it’s specifically… it’s a type of curse that’s the result of not keeping an oath. And so, it is related. But then in 29:18 it says, and 19 in the English “And it shall come to pass when he hears the words of this,” it’s the same exact word in Hebrew “of this curse.” Now there, it doesn’t translate the word as oath. It’s the same exact word in Hebrew, “Allah”, which means a curse.

Keith: What’s interesting is… so you’re saying verse 19 in the English. So, what does it say in verse 19 in English, in your version?

Jono: I’ve got, “And so it may not happen when he hears the words of this curse that he blesses himself in his heart.”

Keith: Here’s what’s interesting. So, in the NIV, it says, “When such a person hears the words of this oath…”

Nehemia: Oh! So, they’re consistent. Point for the NIV! Point for the NIV! Now let’s go to the next verse though, Deuteronomy 29:20 in the English, and there it says in the King James, “The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man and all the curses that are written in this book,” same exact word - literally all the oath that is written in this book, but again, it’s the curse that results from the oath. So really, it’s both a curse and an oath, the word there. So, what do you have there, the oath or the curse?

Keith: “All the curses written in this book.”

Nehemia: So, there it’s translated as curse. The same exact word, three different contexts, and really, it’s the same thing in all three. It’s the curse that results from not keeping the oath. That’s a mouthful. So, you see why they couldn’t just say every single time, “the curse that results from not keeping the oath, the curse that results from not keeping the oath.” It’s too much to say. So, in some places they translated it as oath and in some places as curse or curses. It’s the same exact word and the same exact concept. I think that’s important because a lot of people, what they want to focus on, “we have the covenant and we get all the blessings,” but you know what? There’s also a curse that results from not keeping the oath.

Keith: Isn’t that the truth…

Jono: And look, thank you for that. Because I have to say, it does add weight to the definition of oath and I also have in verse 20, obviously, “and every curse that is written in this book.”

Nehemia: Also verse 21 is the same exact word according to “all the Allot,” all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law. But again, it’s the same exact word, “Allot,” which is not just any curse. This isn’t the term that was used by Balaam when Bilaam came to curse Israel. That was a completely different word. He actually used two words. The word “Klalah” and the word “Arar,” or “Arur.” This is the word “Allah.” “Allah” here is “curse that results from not keeping an oath”. Completely different word than what Balaam was talking about, that you put yourself under this curse, not somebody else placing it upon you. You put yourself under it by not keeping the word of God.

Jono: So, let me get back to verse 18 if I can. It says, “So that there may be among you not a man or a woman or a family or a tribe whose heart turns away from Yehovah our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood.” Now, that’s a curious phrase. What does it say in Hebrew, Nehemia? Roots bearing bitterness and wormwood?

Nehemia: Yeah. So, it talks about “Rosh ve’la’nah” which you should translate it as gall and wormwood; some kind of bitter liquid and wormwood. Presumably, this refers to something like what we would call vinegar or possibly... because there’s another word for vinegar. So, this is some kind of bitter liquid, basically. We see this as an expression; for example, it says in Jeremiah, Chapter 9, Verse 15, “Therefore, thus says Yehovah of hosts, the God of Israel, behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood and give them the water of gall to drink.” Again, it’s the same exact thing. And there it’s the metaphor for punishment, essentially - that to drink wormwood and gall is to drink the cup, which is the consequences of your actions, as a negative thing. Meaning, there’s a punishment that’s going to come upon you.

In Jeremiah 23:15, “Therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets, ‘Behold, I will feed them with wormwood and make them drink the water of gall; for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land.’” Then Amos 5:7 talks about “Ye who turned judgment to wormwood and leave off righteousness in the earth.” So, it’s this bitter... you know, we talk about, in English, the bitter pill to swallow. But it’s actually some kind of a bitter liquid that they would drink, something similar to vinegar. And then Amos 6:12, “Shall horses run upon the rock? Will one plow there with oxen? For ye have turned judgment into gall and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock.” But in Hebrew it’s the same word that we keep translating as wormwood, “la’anah;” so it’s not hemlock, it’s wormwood. Proverbs 5:4… and I’ve only got a few more here, “But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword,” same exact word. And then Lamentations 3:5 and 3:19 again, “Have this gall and wormwood.” And of course, Keith, you’ve got wormwood in your book over there in the other section, don’t you?

Keith: Well, we say, ‘bitter poison.’

Nehemia: Okay. Bitter poison. But the point is that this word that they translate as wormwood is some kind of bitter liquid that they’re drinking… it appears in Revelation 8:11 over in the New Testament.

Jono: Right, yeah.

Keith: Oh, I’m sorry. You meant that book.

Nehemia: I didn’t mean the NIV.

Jono: Now, Keith!

Keith: Yes.

Jono: Verse 19,

Nehemia: Wait, can we get Keith to read Revelation 8:11?

Jono: Oh, we’re still going on this? Okay. Alright. Come on, Keith, the Karaite is demanding that you read from the New Testament!

Nehemia: I need the Methodist pastor to read what it says! Well, here’s the interesting thing; the Book of Revelation is one of five books in the New Testament that scholars will point to and say, these are clearly translated from Hebrew. Other ones may have been translated as well, but specifically Revelation is one that’s clearly translated from Hebrew. That’s why you have… for example, Abodon is just simply “Avadon”, which means destruction. The Hebrew word in Armageddon, which is “Har Megiddo” and then wormwood, which is a translation of “la’anah”, the same exact term we see here, which again is this poisonous drink, or it’s a bitter drink; that bitter liquid that they would drink symbolically as a punishment for not keeping the Torah. So, what does it say in Revelation 11?

Keith: So 8:10. It says, “The third angel sounded the trumpet and a great star blazing like a torch fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and springs of water. The name of the star is la’anah.”

Nehemia: It says in yours la’anah?

Keith: Well, that’s my translation. I’m sorry. “The name of the star is wormwood.” Yes, and actually there’s a note and it says that that is bitterness.

Nehemia: Okay. There it is.

Jono: So Nehemia, you’re saying that Revelation was likely translated from... it was likely originally written in Hebrew.

Nehemia: So, like I said, the short answer is yes. There are five books in the New Testament that scholars… like really any grammar of New Testament Greek, will say that these are not normal Greek. That these were translated very literally from Hebrew. And some of them will say it’s from Semitic sources; but specifically, Revelation is definitely Hebrew. Some people say, “Well, it’s not the whole book,” that actually just… there were these visions that were written in Hebrew and they were incorporated, so it had Hebrew sources. You know, it’s kind of splitting hairs. But the point is you definitely have these heavy Hebrew-isms in the book of Revelation. That’s why it’s talking about wormwood. People hear that, like, “Well, what’s that?” You’ve got to go back to the Tanakh to find out what wormwood is and when wormwood comes; when you have to deal with wormwood.

Jono: Keith! Okay, here we go. Verse 19.

Nehemia: Wait a second. How did we get to verse 19, are you kidding me? No way. No way, Jose. We can’t go to 19. We’ve gotta go to verse 12, “To pass you through the covenant of Yehovah your God, and through his curse that results for not keeping the oath that Yehovah your God cuts with you today.” Hello people! I’m always hearing people talking about, “Well, we have the first covenant, and that was with the Jews and then there’s...” you know, Christians will talk about this. “There’s the new covenant and that was with Christ and the church.”

Okay, but if you actually look at what you see throughout the Tanakh, and I lost count, but I don’t know how many covenants we’ve made here. We’ve got the covenant of Noah, we’ve got the covenant of Abraham, we’ve got the covenant at Sinai, and then in the beginning of Deuteronomy he reestablishes the covenant, and that’s not a completely new covenant that didn’t exist before, it’s a renewal of the covenant. Remember he said that in Deuteronomy 5, “This isn’t with your aunts, your fathers. This is with you,” which wasn’t true; it was with the fathers. And His point is, I’m renewing it today with you. Your fathers? That was one thing, and now it’s renewed. It’s as if I made it with you. And He says that explicitly here, “I’m making the covenant with you today.”

Jono: And then it goes on to say, “That He may establish you today as a people for Himself...”

Nehemia: Right… he did this 40 years earlier. So, what’s this? What is this? This is the new covenant in the Biblical sense, in the Tanakh sense. Remember this; in the Tanakh, when it has the word “Chadash” that’s the Hebrew word for new. There are some exceptions, but usually, the word “Chadash” means renewal. Just like the new moon. The new moon isn’t new. The moon’s always there. What’s new about it is the renewal of the moon. It’s this full again; it had gone away and it disappeared and now it’s being renewed. This covenant is being renewed with the people of the generation who are about to enter the land, and He’s saying it’s not just with them. This is with even the people who are not here today. I’m renewing it with them.

This is something you see throughout the Tanakh… in Joshua, and in many other places in the Tanakh, you see this renewal of the covenant. You see this in the period of Jeremiah and Nehemiah and many other periods, that the people would get together and say, “God made this covenant at Sinai. It’s time for a new covenant. Not that we’re throwing away the old one. It’s the renewal of the covenant.” And that’s exactly what I’m talking about here. It’s not like there’s one covenant and another covenant and these are different covenants. This is the renewal of that covenant that God made with mankind.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: And let me say this. The thing that strikes me, especially in terms of present-day religion and the way that there’s such a separation of socioeconomic, race, male and female, children versus adults… I think it’s so cool here that it says together, verse 11 in English “with your children and your wives.” Those two definitely are groups that are sort of set aside in many religious denominations, whether it be Jewish or Gentile, sometimes in terms of separation, male and female, depending on what groups you go to “and the aliens living in your camps who chop your wood.” So, these are the people that are the servants.

I just think it’s amazing that He says this covenant is being made with all of these people. He didn’t say, “May all the men stand forward. Leave the women, children, the aliens. Keep them back there. I’m only talking to the men.” He specifically brings the list of these people. So that means the children, the children are in covenant. Is that not amazing?

Nehemia: I’ll tell you why it’s so amazing. I mean, in that context, as recently as 200 years ago, when the United States established their covenant with themselves, their constitution, if you look at the details, they talked about “We, the people,” but when we get to the nitty-gritty, this is a covenant. This was a covenant originally for the male landowners. If you were a slave or you were a woman or you were a minor, you didn’t really have a say in the covenant. You weren’t really part of it. You were subject to its rules, but you weren’t a full member of the covenant. And here, everybody is a full member of the covenant. Whether you’re a slave, whether you’re a woodcutter, whether you’re a child, whether you’re a woman - every single person has the full rights and responsibilities of being in that covenant.

Jono: That’s brilliant. I’m glad you brought that up, Keith, because I remember in the tradition where I came from, and perhaps it was similar for you, that as a child you were excluded from certain rights, I suppose, certain things because you know, you probably didn’t understand, you weren’t old enough. Until you were old enough then you go through such and such a ritual, and now your kind of in the club. But that doesn’t happen here. Right?

Keith: No. And I think the other thing... you know when I was in Israel, I went to two different synagogues to celebrate Purim. So, one of them was in an Orthodox synagogue and one of them was in a Reform synagogue. And it was amazing to me because I know that we have this sort of underlying in some ways in terms of some of the Christian denominations in terms of male and female, what women can do and not do in terms of whether they can serve, whether they cannot serve, etc. But in this situation, the one synagogue that I went to, on the ground floor was all men and then I never saw a woman until it was time to leave. So, I was facing forward, I was in the back of the synagogue looking forward and you know, they’re celebrating, and I could go on and on about that. But again, I think I’ve mentioned this earlier, but then the women, I never saw them - they were up in a balcony or something like that. But then in the reform synagogue, the women and the children...

Jono: And they’re all together.

Keith: They’re all standing. From what it looks like it doesn’t sound like they have them in a different section, I don’t think.

Jono: For sure.

Nehemia: It certainly doesn’t say they do. So, if you’re going to say they do, you’re reading into the text.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: Hey, we’ve got to read verse 15 because it’s... I don’t know, maybe one of the most powerful verses in the Bible. I know I say that all the time, but it really is!

Jono: Let me go from 14 in the English. “I make this covenant and this oath not with you alone but with him who stands here with us today before Yehovah our God as well as with him who is not here with us today.”

Nehemia: Can we stop for a second?

Jono: Let’s do it.

Nehemia: So, we’ve got to stop and think of this. This is a moment to stop and think and reflect. What the Creator of the universe is saying is that He made this covenant with my ancestor whose name I don’t even know. Somebody from the tribe of Judah or whatever. His name was Shimon or maybe his name was Bill. I don’t know. He was there in the desert and he’s sweating and it’s so hot and God’s saying, “I’m making the covenant with you, Bill of the tribe of Judah, but I’m also making the covenant with the ones who aren’t here today, with Nehemia and with Keith and with Jono and with Ida in Florida and with all the people you did the shout-out to, all those people. I’m making it not only with the ones here today, but this covenant,” the Creator of the universe is saying, “is with everyone who will embrace it. I’m making it with them.” And he knows the future. He knows who’s going to grab hold of the covenant and be part of that covenant. He’s saying the covenant is also with them. Can I get a shout from somebody! That is exciting to me! I’m excited about that and okay…

Jono: Doesn’t that even concrete further the point that you were making earlier on in verse 12?

Nehemia: Absolutely. For sure.

Jono: Keith.

Keith: Yeah. I mean, you know, here’s why I get excited about it. I get excited about it because I think about what’s actually in the verse and if I said to Nehemia, open up your Hebrew Bible and read the verse in Hebrew, how there’d be something that would jump off the page before we get to who are not here today. So, read if you would, verse 15, Nehemia, in Hebrew, or would it be 14 for you or 15?

nehemia: It’s 14 in the Hebrew, 15 in English. “Ki et asher yeshno po eemanu ohmed hayom lifnei Yehovah Aloheinu ve’et asher eyneinu po, emanu hayom.”

Keith: So, when I hear him do that Jono, and I’m hearing him reading and I’ve got my English... one of the things that’s so powerful about the Hebrew language, and especially when we get to His name, is how His name is sometimes rhythmic – it’s Yehovah - so there are three syllables. Now let me just break this down for one second, that excites me about those that are not here today. So historically the idea is that Yehovah, both linguistically in terms of how Moses would have understood it… if we read it today as if, He who was, He who is, He who shall be. The one who is and will continue to be.

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: So, when we say His name, it only makes sense that He’s talking about those that are there, and also those that are in the future. So literally before we even get to the fact that it’s with those who are not here today, when we speak His name, we’re speaking of one of the past, the present, and the future. So like Nehemia said, He knows who is going to be, but just the fact that that’s in the verse points us towards He was. He was, He who is and He who is continuing today and will continue to be.

Jono: Brilliant.

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: That’s what excites me about it - is that every time we say His name... and this is for the people that are listening right now. There are people that are listening right now who are overwhelmed when they’re thinking about their future. Some people listening are really frustrated as they think about their past and there are other people who are listening that are saying, “Man, today can’t get over quick enough. I’m struggling.” But what’s so awesome about Yehovah is He was there when you struggled. He’s there now and He’s going to be with you in the future, and that’s why when we embrace Him in everything that He is, all that He is, all that He says, all that He gives to us, we’re embracing Him in every aspect of our lives, past, present, and future. So that’s a pretty powerful verse.

Nehemia: It’s very powerful. And one of the things that jumps off the page for me is they’re talking about those who are with us here today, and that word in Hebrew with us, “Eemanu.” You know, what it evokes for me is the phrase that God repeatedly says throughout the Bible, throughout the Tanakh. He’s constantly saying to Moses and others, He’s saying, “I will be with you.” And that’s that same word, “Yehovah eemachem.” That’s the greeting they would say in ancient Israel, “Yehovah eemachem” Yehovah be with you. And here it talks about those who are with us and those who are not with us and whether you’re with us here today or you’re not with us here today, Yehovah is with you. He was, He is, and He will be. You might be off in the swamps of Florida or the upside-down kangaroo ridden outback of Australia, and you’re not there in the desert with Israel on the plains of Moab, but Yehovah is with you. That’s a powerful message. He’s everywhere and He’s with all of us. All those who embrace the covenant. He will be with you. That’s a powerful message.

And can I jump ahead? Just real quick, verse 21 where it talks about how things don’t go right. Actually, it’s verse 22 in the English, 21 in the Hebrew. It talks about how He’s going to… verse 21 in English says “Yehovah will divide him for evil.” This is somebody who turns to sin. And then it says in verse 22 in the Hebrew, it says, “And the latter generation of your descendants,” or your sons, “will say, who will rise up after you, will say,” it says, “and the foreigner who will come from a far-off land. And they will see the smitings of that land and its diseases which Yehovah has caused them to have, disease, et cetera, et cetera.” Here’s it’s talking about the punishment that’s going to take place when Israel sins, or some of Israel sin, and there’s two groups of people there. There’s your physical descendants, the people who are there on the plains of Moab and hearing Moses saying this, and he’s telling them, “Guess what? There are going to be other people joining you. It’s going to be the foreigner from the far-off land.” And that’s really exciting to me because if we jump ahead, and I know I’m jumping ahead, but this is a short portion so it’s okay. Can we jump ahead real quick, and we’ll go back to it? Okay. But we’ve got to jump ahead to Chapter 30 because it’s all related. Now in mine it’s verse 3. It might be verse 4 or 2 in yours. What do you have there in verse, I don’t know, verse 3?

Jono: So, verse 3, “Yehovah your God will bring you back from captivity and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where Yehovah your God has scattered you.”

Nehemia: Okay? So kibbitzing is when anybody will stand around… but it’s a Jewish term. To kibbitz is to stand around and we’re just joking about… you know, we’re kibbitzing. But “kibbutzing” is actually a different word and that word is here in verse 3. It says literally, “And Yehovah will return your captivity and He will have mercy on you and He will once again... or He will return and gather you from all the nations,” and the word there is “Kibbetz,” from same word as “Kibbutz.” A kibbutz is a place where people live together in a community in Israel. But what it originally refers to is the term here, “Kibbetz”, to be gathered in.

So originally these communities in Israel, which today we think of as kind of communes, were places where people gathered. And “Kibbutz” literally means to be gathered in. So “He will gather you from all the nations where Yehovah your God has scattered you.” That’s amazing to me because we read there about how they’re going to turn to sin and in the previous chapter, Chapter 29 verse 22, and there’s going to be the foreigner among you as well and he’s going to see also how the bad things, how the punishment happens. And then in verse 3 here, it’s talking about the ingathering. So, you got punished and now Yehovah is going to gather you back. And this just blows my mind.

The reason it blows my mind is, and I know we’ve talked about this before, but we’ve got to jump ahead to Isaiah 56. I mean, we probably… the people are probably thinking again, Nehemia, doing Isaiah 56. I just can’t help it. No, no. It’s amazing here. I mean, it’s such a powerful passage because he ends it in verse 8, he talks about the son of the foreigner who joins himself to Yehovah, in verse 6, to serve Him and to love the name of Yehovah, that name that the rabbis told us not to speak, “To love the name of Yehovah, to be a servant to all those who keep the Shabbat from desecrating it and grab hold of my covenant bring to my holy mountain.” Well, we’ve done this so many times, but what I love here is in verse 8, “Thus says Lord Yehovah, “Adonai Yehovah,” who gathers in the dispersed of Israel,” “Hu mekabetz” same exact word over there in Deuteronomy 30 verse 3. He’s kibbutzing; He’s gathering in the dispersed of Israel. “I will gather others unto those who I have gathered.”

So, this blows my mind. 3,500 years ago, Moses speaks the prophecy in Deuteronomy chapter 30, verse 3. Yehovah is going to kibbutz you. He’s going to gather you in. Isaiah comes along 2,700 years ago and he’s saying, “You know what? Not only will He kibbutz you. He’s gonna kibbutz you, He’s going to gather in others.” There are the ones He’s physically going to gather and the ones He’s going to spiritually gather unto you, the others, those foreigners who are coming and seeing it. That’s Deuteronomy 29. What we saw there in verse 22, it’s already... he’s already talking about that - the foreigner. Isaiah didn’t make this stuff up. Moses spoke about this in Deuteronomy 29:22. Isaiah is reiterating this; Yehovah who gathers in the dispersed of Israel, He will gather others unto those who have gathered.

And one of the really exciting things in reading this Torah portion is the word for the dispersed of Israel there in verse 8. I don’t think I ever realized this before, but that word that means ‘dispersed’ appears in our Torah portion in the sense of “to go astray from the commandments”. So, there’s being physically dispersed, God scatters us among the nations, and there’s also those who are spiritually dispersed. They’ve been essentially cast off from keeping the Torah. Both of those, the ones who are physically dispersed, He’s going to gather in. The ones who are dispersed spiritually, they don’t have the covenant. He’s going to gather them into His covenant. What a powerful image - Yehovah is the one who is going to be kibbutzing us. He’s not going to be kibitzing. He’s kibbutzing us, gathering us in, into His covenant. Both Israelite and non-Israelite, bring them to the covenant of the Creator of the universe. Can I get an amen from somebody?

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: That excites me.

Jono: As one people, right?

Nehemia: As one people! And now I want to read Deuteronomy chapter 30, verse 4, and it says literally…

Keith: Hello!

Nehemia: I’ve got to bring Deuteronomy 30, verse 4, and then I’ll tie it in. And Keith, you can say your peace.

Keith: That’s fine.

Nehemia: But it says here in chapter 30 verse 4, because now we’re back in the Torah portion. “If you will be scattered to the ends of the heavens.” And that’s that word scattered that sometimes means to be in sin and sometimes it means to be physically scattered into exile. So, there’s a physical exile and a spiritual exile. And by the way, Chapter 30, verse 17 has the idea of the spiritual exile - there it’s the same exact word, and it means to go astray after sin. “If you will be scattered,” or going astray, “Even at the ends of the heavens,” it literally says, “from there Yehovah your God will kibbutz you. He will gather you, and from there He will take you.” So, whether you’re physically or spiritually scattered. He’s going to gather you in, He’s going to kibbutz you.

Jono: It doesn’t stop there. Actually, the thing continues in verse 5, “Then Yehovah your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. And He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers.” Alright, now let’s take a step back. Keith, what were you gonna say?

Keith: What excites me about this and everything that Nehemia just talked about, is when I read as it says, right here. Hold on one second. It says in verse 20, “Yehovah will never be willing to forgive him. His wrath and zeal will burn against that man. All the curses written in this book.” So, when you see the words “in this book”, you’re supposed to think, “Okay, now remember now this is a book.” And then it goes a little bit further. It says in verse 21, “Yehovah will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant”, not stopped “written in this book of the Torah.” So first he says in the book, then he says, the book of the Torah.

Then if I read a little bit further and I’m reading a little bit further here, it says here, verse 27, it says, “Therefore Yehovah’s anger burned against this land so that He brought on it all the curses written in this book.” Now we’re back to the book again. Now I’m getting to something very important, which is verse 29, which is just - you guys, this is amazing. “The secret things belong to Yehovah our God, but the things revealed belong to us.” Here it comes, “and to our children forever that we may follow all the words of this Torah.”

Now, if I read just that verse, “all the words of this Torah” and somehow separate it from the fact that the Torah is that which was written, the written is in a book and now the book is available for me to have it, to see it, to read it, to understand it, to be able to listen to it and to be able to embrace it. This is where it gets very simple for me. The secret things - okay. Those are the things that sometimes we can hear about, find out, maybe sometimes we are invited into that place where we get a chance to hear it from the council. The Creator of the universe has this council, and He may give us some revelation, some great, amazing revelation that maybe we wouldn’t normally get. But this revelation that we have in this book, we could spend the rest of our lives, all of our lives together and never be able to go into the depth of just that which is written in the book. So why not stay in the book? Why go to the oral, if we’ve got the book? Why go to traditions if we’ve got the book? Why go to what the sage says if we have the book? Let’s just have the book. Am I making it too simple?

Jono: No!

Keith: It’s right here in the book. What are these secret things that belong to Yehovah our God?

Nehemia: So, this is important - we say this prayer every week where we say, “Uncover my eyes that I might see the wonderful hidden things of Your Torah.” That’s not the word in Chapter 29 verse 29.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: It’s not that word. That word that we’re praying for Yehovah to uncover, that is difficult, that’s something else. That’s a different concept altogether, we’ll get to in Chapter 30, whatever that verse is, in verse 11. But what we’re talking about here is there are certain things that Yehovah has revealed to us in the book and why He revealed them to us. They’re for us and our children. And it’s interesting you said to follow them, to follow all the words of this Torah. What do you have, Jono? Do you have “to follow”?

Jono: I’ve got, let’s see, “For us and our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

Nehemia: “To do” is what it says! To do all the words of this Torah, this instruction. So, what’s the purpose of Him revealing these things to us? So we can do the Torah. He gave us an instruction. He gave us the instruction, not to read about it and say, “Hmm, what an interesting intellectual exercise.” He gave us the Torah and revealed these things to us so we could do these things. And the things that are hidden that He didn’t reveal to us, the secrets… you know, there are a lot of people out there and they’ve got secrets and you can buy the secrets and you can study the secrets and you study the Kabbalah and find out the secret knowledge. There may be secret knowledge. I’m not saying there isn’t. But those secret things belong to Yehovah our God. The revealed things - they’re for us and our children forever to do the words of this Torah.

Keith: Amen. And that’s the point. The point is, this whole idea where you see the word, the book, the book of the law, the book, the book of the law, the book written in the book, written in the book, and then He says, “This is what’s been revealed.” You want revelation? Open the book. If you really want revelation, just open the book.

Jono: Keith, there are those - it has to be acknowledged - there are those who read the Torah. There are those who familiarize themselves with the books and they read it and yet they bless themselves in their heart saying, “I shall have peace even though I follow the dictates of my own heart. As though the drunkard should be included with the sober.” That’s verse 19. How do you see that verse?

Keith: Oh, my goodness. What verse did you just read?

Jono: That’s verse 19 of 29.

Keith: Oh, my goodness. Read that one more time.

Jono: Well, it says, it talks about the curses and the oath as Nehemia pointed out. And it goes onto say “And so it may not happen when he hears the words of this curse that he blesses himself in his heart saying, ‘I shall have peace even though I followed the dictates of my heart as though the drunkard could be included with the sober.’ ”

Nehemia: Is that what you’ve got, “as though the drunkard be included with the sober”?

Keith: No, no, “When such a person hears the words of this oath he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks ‘I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way, this will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.’”

Jono: Wow.

Nehemia: So now we’ve got to admit something here, which translations don’t want to admit. So, there’s this figure of speech that literally says, “In order to add the sated with the thirsty.” Now in Hebrew, I say sated, the word is “Rava” which means satisfied from thirst. So, in order to add the satisfied with thirst to the thirsty. Now what that means, I’ll be honest, I have no idea. It’s a figure of speech. Jono’s translation could be right. The one who is satisfied with thirst, meaning from drinking alcohol, with the one who didn’t even drink. He still thirsty. In Keith’s translation they said, “Oh, satisfied with thirst. That refers to the land that is satisfied with thirst, which is being added onto the land that is thirsty.”

What’s the real meaning? I have no idea. This is a Hebrew expression. It’s a Hebrew figure of speech, of which the exact meaning is lost after all these thousands of years. We know the literal meaning of the words, but the cultural connotation isn’t clear and either of those could be right. We don’t really know what it means, but what’s clear is the first part of the verse. There’s no question there. It literally says, “and it shall come to pass when he hears the words of this curse that results from not keeping the oath, he shall bless himself in his heart saying, ‘Shalom, peace will be to me for I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’”

Jono: That’s what I wanted to ask you, because I’ve got “He follows the dictates of his heart,” but there’s a little asterisk there.

Nehemia: The stubbornness of his heart, it says.

Jono: Yeah, there’s a little asterisk in tiny, tiny, tiny little itsy-bitsy writing that says “stubbornness”.

Nehemia: So, what does this mean? This means the person will hear the Torah and he’ll hear all the curses and the oath, and he’ll say, “I’m okay. I’m gonna do my thing. I’ll be okay. I don’t have to follow that. That law - that’s not important. The curses - I’m not under any curses. I’m going to have peace. I’ll be okay.”

Jono: There it is. Chapter 30. Can I jump to Chapter 30?

Nehemia: Just real quick; verse 19 in Chapter 29 has a beautiful expression we’ve seen several times, where it talks about this person who has heard the Torah and says, “I don’t really have to keep that, I’m going to have peace anyway.” And it says “Umacha Yehovah et shemo mitachat hashamayim” And Yehovah will blot out, erase his name, from under the heaven.” So, this is a curse in Hebrew terminology, to blot out someone’s name, to cause someone’s name to be forgotten. I know I harp on this every week, but we’ve done that. My people have done that. We’ve caused the name of the Creator of the universe, Yehovah, to be forgotten, to be blotted out. We must repent of this. We have to repent of this! This is what He speaks that will happen upon the person who follows the stubbornness of his heart, and that’s what we’re trying to do to our Creator? We need to repent of that.

And then one other point here in Chapter 29 and then we can go to Chapter 30. Well, there’s two things. All right - so verse 22 in the Hebrew, which I guess is 23 in the English, it describes the land being desolate. And what does it say in yours at the beginning of verse 23?

Jono: “The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning, it is not sown, nor does it bear, nor does any grass grow there, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboiim.”

Nehemia: Right. So, I think a lot of people are reading this and think, “Oh, this is some mythological image of a land covered in brimstone and salt, full of burning,” right? You think, “Oh, that’s not a real place.” I’ve been to that place. Keith has been there with me. You go to this day to the place where Sodom and Gomorrah used to be, and you are in a land... you are actually on the saltiest place on earth. It’s called the Dead Sea in English; in Hebrew it’s not called the Dead Sea. It’s called, in Hebrew, it’s called “Yam HaMelach”, the Salt Sea.

And why is it called the salt sea? Because it’s the saltiest place on earth. It’s also the lowest place on earth, by the way, that’s not underwater or underground. And throughout the area, you smell the brimstone. Brimstone is simply what we call in modern English, sulfur. So, sulfur and salt, the whole land will be burning. It shall not be planted. It shall not sprout. And you go to the land to this day - there’s salt, there’s sulfur, and there’s desolation. Just about nothing grows there. And so, this is a real place.

Keith: What’s so interesting about this, you know, and Nehemia is really excellent at this. One of the things that is so powerful about being in land of Israel is again, you know, so we’re sitting here reading this, “And the whole land will be burning waste of salt and sulfur.” We have quick, quick, quick, quick, fast, fast, fast, fast, fast. And then to know that you’re actually gonna see that. Now, like for example, Jono, there’ll be a time where we were going to be down by the Dead Sea when we go on our Three T Tour, but when we go, I mean this is an example that Nehemia, he brings me there. He doesn’t just say, “Okay, here it is.” He’s like “Okay, change your shoes,” and we change our shoes and pretty soon we’re walking and we’re walking up, these... seem to be what we call them hills or slopes Nehemia, and then he would stop and say, “Now, let me get you a little bit of sulfur here.” Digs into the side of the hill and brings out a little sulfur ball. I mean, so talk about having...

Nehemia: The point is, not only do you smell the sulfur, you can actually dig into the ground and pull out a chunk of sulfur.

Keith: And pull it up, pull it out. And again, the point being you’re getting a chance to... again, how important is this book? This book is important. This book is important. This book is important. But then to be able to open the book and then to see the object lesson right in front of your face, it brings the book… it’s amazing what happens when you’re in the land.

Jono: Oh, I can’t wait Keith.

Keith: Really, I’m telling you Jono. And Nehemia is the best at it. I mean, I’ve been to Israel a number of different times and every time I go with him, you know, he’ll always pull another one out of his hat and say, “Oh, we’ve got to stop here. We’ve got to stop there.” And the next thing you know, some amazing object lessons. So, it really is really, really powerful.

Jono: I’m looking forward to it. I really am.

Nehemia: Before we go to the next chapter, so verse 26 in the English...

Jono: Let me go through 24, “All the nations would say, ‘Why has Yehovah done this to the land? What does the heat of His great anger mean?’ Then the people would say, ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of Yehovah God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt. So they went and served other gods and worshipped them, gods they did not know and that He had not given to them. Then the anger of Yehovah...’”

Nehemia: We’ve got to stop there, “And he did not give to them.” What does that mean?

Jono: He had not given these gods to them. What...?

Nehemia: Okay, you know what? I’m going to save this for when we get to Deuteronomy 32, which is two Torah portions from now, because we’ve got a lot more to do. We didn’t get to Chapter 30 really. But I want people to remember this verse, “That he did not give to them,” some translations, that He did not allow them or something like that. But there’s a powerful message here that’s been completely distorted by some people and even in ancient times it was completely distorted. We’ll get back to it when we get to Deuteronomy 32.

Jono: Put an asterisk next to that verse. 27, “Then the anger of Yehovah was aroused against the land, to bring on it every curse that is written in the book. And Yehovah uprooted them from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.”

Okay, now we did 29. We did verse 29. We’re in chapter 30, “Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where Yehovah your God drives you, and you return to Yehovah your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that Yehovah your God will bring you back from captivity and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where Yehovah your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the furthest parts under heaven, from there Yehovah your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you.” There it is.

Nehemia: He will kibbutz you. I’ve got to talk about something in verses 2-3 that I think is kind of lost in the English, which is that there’s this reciprocity that God’s... it’s a two-way street that’s being described here. The way it’s being described is that you return to Yehovah and Yehovah will return you. So, it’s both directions. You’ve got to do your part and then he’ll bring you back. You’ve got meet him halfway and He’ll bring you the rest of the way. What a powerful image. You’ve got to walk with Him, and He’ll bring you back. You can’t do it by yourself. You can’t. But if you walk towards Him, if you seek Him, you will find Him, and He’ll bring you back with His help. You can do it. What a powerful image there - in the Hebrew, it jumps off because it’s the same word. For you return and He will return you.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: And both of those are words that have to do with repentance. You’ll return to Him in repentance and He will bring you back in repentance, bring you back to the land. It’s powerful.

Jono: Amen. May it be soon.

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: Verse 6 in English, “And Yehovah your God will circumcise your heart and your heart and the heart of your descendants...”

Nehemia: Woah, woah, I’ve got to object here because we said we’re going to do the Torah portion, now you’re reading to me from the New Testament. It’s not okay. Jono, this isn’t what we agreed on. Circumcising the heart? That’s not in the Tanakh.

Jono: “…to love Yehovah your God with all your heart with all your soul, that you may live.”

Nehemia: I’m objecting here.

Keith: You know what? I always love these images that these pictures that are painted in the word, you know, “circumcising your heart”. I mean certainly, what does that mean? I mean, your heart is a heart of stone. If it’s a heart of stone, that means there’s no blood going through it. I mean the pictures, pictures, pictures, pictures, and like, what an amazing picture. What an amazing graphic picture for there to be. I mean when I read this, when I hear that phrase, “That He will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants.” I’m thinking, man, may it be - really?

Jono: And it’s not a foreign verse, is it? We’ve already read it in Deuteronomy Chapter 10 Verse 16, it says, “Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart and be stiff-necked no longer.”

Keith: Exactly. So, the parallel... but I mean I’m just looking at this idea of Him bringing out the scalpel and doing the cutting.

Jono: Ah, you had to do it didn’t you?

Keith: No, I mean for the heart. I mean this idea that sometimes our hearts become hardened, covered over, dull, unable to feel the sense and the thought that He will do the circumcising... Ah, I dunno.

Nehemia: Isn’t that interesting? Because the other verse in Deuteronomy you quoted, he says, “circumcise the foreskin of your hearts,” and here He’s saying “Yehovah will circumcise the foreskin of your heart and the hearts of your descendants.”

Keith: Yeah.

Nehemia: And again, that’s the two-way street. He’s going to circumcise your heart, but you’ve got to circumcise your own heart as well. You’ve got to meet Him halfway. You’ve got to… you’ve got to walk with Him. He’s not just going to carry you like a baby. You’ve got to walk with Him. You can’t do it by yourself. He’s going to help you, but you’ve got to walk with Him and towards Him.

Jono: And it’s equated with the idea of being stiff-necked in Chapter 10.

Nehemia: Think about what stiff neck literally meant in ancient times, right? What? Where did that expression come from? Think about that for a second.

Jono: Stubbornness, right?

Nehemia: It’s stubbornness, but why?

Jono: Because you refuse to turn.

Nehemia: Think about a horse, and the horse has blinders on. If you want a horse with the blinders to turn right, you turn its head right. Pull the reins to the right. If you want the horse to turn left, you pull the reins to the left. It’s pretty much the same thing with the donkey. You know, you pull the animal’s head in the direction you want it to go and the animal walks in the direction its head is facing. It’s as simple as they don’t have peripheral vision. They walk in the direction they’re facing. So, the image of stiff necked came from animals that refuse to turn in the direction to the right or to the left. Yehovah is trying to turn us to the right, and I say, “I know this is reciprocal Yehovah. You move me in repentance, and I need to walk with You, but I’m not moving. I’m not moving my neck in that direction. I’m going with the stubbornness my neck. My neck is going to go straight even though You’re trying to pull me to the right or You’re trying to pull me to the left. I’m walking in my path. The one I’ve created for myself. I don’t need Your path, Yehovah.”

Jono: You’re following the stubbornness of your heart.

Nehemia: The direction He’s trying to turn you. Exactly. I’m like that ass, that mule, that refuses to turn its neck to the right and then walk in that direction. I’m walking my way. I’m stubborn. That’s where it comes from. Do we have time to do Jeremiah? Did we ever do Jeremiah 9:24 to 25 in the Torah Pearls? I’m sure we’ve talked about it Jono. So, we’ve got to do it. I don’t know that we can do it quickly. Keith can you open up...

Keith: Just a second. Before we do that, I just want to be clear about one thing in this verse where he says, “He will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants.” And the point being that, so when that happens, is it because He’s cruel? Is it because He just wants to mess with our minds or our hearts? No, and there’s a “so that,” and I love the “so that’s” in English. You know, whenever you see a “so that” you slow down and you say, “Okay, so that what?” So that you may love Him. And then how will I love Him? With all my heart, all of my soul. And then when I do that, there’s something that happens. Two little words, Nehemia and Jono. Just two little words at the end of my English version, “and live.”

Nehemia: Come on with that! Whoo!

Keith: If I go to the end of the verse and I say, I want to live; how do I live? With my whole heart and my whole soul, I love Him. And why is it that I’m able to love Him? Because my heart has been circumcised. I mean, if you go backward sometimes it just gives you a sense - yeah, I want to live. And you know, there are so many people right now that aren’t living. They’re really not living. They’re not living the full life that He has for them, and many of the ways that they’re choosing to live is so opposite. And you wonder, “Oh man, that person is not living. They’re not wanting their heart circumcised. They don’t want to love Him. They don’t want to know what it means to be a part of His covenant.”

So, I think it’s pretty amazing. I mean, it’s just the end of the verse says to live. How do I live? By my heart being circumcised so that I love Him with my whole heart and with all my soul.

Jono: Amen

Keith: Okay. Now we can go to Jeremiah.

Nehemia: Jeremiah 9 - in your English it’s actually 25 to 26, and the Hebrew is 24 to 25. So read for me, Johnson, verses 25 to 26 in Jeremiah 9.

Keith: Okay. “‘The days are coming,’ declares Yehovah, ‘when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh - Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab and all who live in the desert in distant places, for all these nations are really uncircumcised and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.’”

Jono: Now I remember we did talk about this because in my New King James it says, “‘Behold the days are coming,’ says Yehovah, ‘that I will punish all who are circumcised with the uncircumcised - Egypt, Judah, Edom and the people of Ammon, Moab and all who were in the furthest corners, who dwell in the wilderness, for all these nations are uncircumcised and the House of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.’” All who are circumcised with the uncircumcised. Give it to us again, Nehemia.

Nehemia: Okay, so what translation was that Jono?

Jono: The New King James.

Nehemia: So, the New King James… if I read just the New King James, I would say, “You know what? There’s really no advantage to being circumcised either in the heart or in the flesh. I’m getting punished either way. I might as well be stubborn both in my flesh and with my heart because there’s really nothing. I’m going to get punished either way.” But what it literally says is, “behold, days are coming, says Yehovah, I will remember, I will punish, every circumcised with foreskin.” That’s what it literally says, “every circumcised with foreskin.” And you read that, and Jeremiah’s people hearing this must have said, “Well, that doesn’t make sense - if you’re circumcised, you don’t have a foreskin.” So He explains who’s going to be punished - Egypt and Judah and Edom and the sons of Ammon and Moab and all those with cut sides who dwell in the desert “for all the nations are uncircumcised and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised of heart,” and so, what’s His point?

He’s saying there are people out there who are circumcised, but they still have a foreskin. They might be circumcised in the heart, but they’re uncircumcised in the flesh or they might be circumcised in the flesh, but they’re uncircumcised of heart. So, if you’re circumcised, either in the heart or the flesh, but you still have a foreskin in the heart or the flesh, you’re not in the right place. He wants you to have both. That’s what He’s saying here in Jeremiah.

Keith: Yes, Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: No, that has to be edited out. Can we leave that in?

Jono: We have to leave that in. That makes perfect sense. What are you talking about?

Nehemia: It’s what it says in the Hebrew. That’s what it says. Now you understand why they needed to mistranslate it. What’s interesting is almost every translation I’ve found has mistranslated it. And why did they mistranslate it? Because it didn’t make sense to them, so they had to twist it. They said, “Okay, well the prophet’s talking here about something that’s paradoxical. You’re circumcised, but with foreskin? What does that mean? How can you be circumcised if you have a foreskin?” And he explains it; some people are circumcised physically, and some people are circumcised, or uncircumcised physically and some people are uncircumcised in heart, and you need to have both.

Jono: You know it’s interesting because If I go down and I read the study notes, this is what it says, for verses 25 and 26 in my New King James Study Bible. It says, “God would punish or visit Judah among them with it’s uncircumcised, neighboring nations. Circumcision, the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham was meaningless without a heart faithfully devoted to God.”

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: Yes.

Jono: Moving on. “Also”, this is verse 7, “Also Yehovah your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecute you. And you will again obey the voice of Yehovah and do all His commandments which I command you today. Yehovah your God will make you abound in all the work of your hand and the fruit of your body, increase your livestock and produce of your land for good, for Yehovah will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers, if you obey the voice of Yehovah your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in the Book of the Law, the Book of the Torah, and if you turn to Yehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Keith: You know what? I think it’s so amazing when it says... and there’s a lot of, you know this Jono, and Nehemia I’m not sure how you experience this over in Israel, but we have what’s called a prosperity Gospel.

Jono: I’m familiar with that.

Keith: Prosperity is...

Nehemia: Tell me about that.

Keith: a really, really, really big deal. I mean, it’s one plus one is two. If you do this, do that, and if you wave your hand and if you give this amount, if you do this thing, you will be prosperous according to the word of God. And different verses are sometimes taken out of context. But here I just want to give the prosperity theologians out there a little something they can be blessed with here. It says, “Yehovah will again delight,” and in yours, I think it says rejoice, “Yehovah will again rejoice in you and make you prosperous.” Now let’s take a stop here and just make sure...

Nehemia: What verse are you in exactly?

Keith: We’re in verse 9. I want to see if we can get a little balance here. I want you to go to the Hebrew verse 9 of our 9 in English, 30 verse 9, and see what it says and whether that could be translated correctly, “That Yehovah will again delight in you and rejoice in you and make you,” and the word that’s used here is “prosperous.”

Nehemia: I mean, what it says is, “Ki yashuv Yehovah lasus aleichah le’tov.” “For Yehovah will once again rejoice over you for good as he rejoiced over your fathers.” Actually, doesn’t say anything about prosperity.

Keith: That’s the point.

Jono: Interesting.

Keith: I’m trying to give you a softball.

Nehemia: What’s interesting is that word “rejoice” is a word that appears later in the Prophets, and we see the context. There are lots of Hebrew words for joy and rejoicing and many different Hebrew words. This specific word often has the connotation of a groom rejoicing over the bride. If you read the Prophecies, they talk about that, actually... they compare Yehovah… Isaiah Chapter 62, Verse five is an example. It says, “As youth espouses a maiden your son shall espouse you, and as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.” So, as a bridegroom, meaning the groom in modern English, rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. And that’s the same exact word as appears in Deuteronomy. This is a terminology of Yehovah is going to be, you know, you’ve been rebellious, and you turned away from Him, and you went, and you whored after other gods. Now there’s going to be the reunification. Yehovah is gonna rejoice over His bride when He is reunified with the bride who comes back to Him.

Jono: Amen. Here we are in verse 11. Nehemia, this is a big one. Verse 11, do you want to read this out for us?

Nehemia: “For this commandment which I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you. It is not far away. It is not in heaven that you have to say, ‘Who will go up for us to the heavens and take it,’ literally, ‘and take it for us and make us hear it, that we may do it?’ It is not beyond the sea, saying, ‘Who will go across the sea for us and take it for us and make us hear that we may do it?’ For it is close to you, this matter. In your mouth and in your heart to do it.”

Now, what just happened here is they just heard it from Moses. There are no excuses. We’ve got to have somebody go up to heaven and get it for us. We’ve got to have someone go across the sea and get it for us. He’s saying, no, I just gave you these commandments. You know what to do. You understand the words I’ve spoken to you. They’re in your mouth and in your heart... and what does that mean, ‘in your mouth’?

Jono: Just before you tell us what it means, just going back in verse 11, “It’s not too difficult” is what you said. I’ve got “it’s not too mysterious”. What do you have? Keith?

Nehemia: Okay. And that’s not wrong either.

Jono: That’s not wrong? What do you have Keith?

Keith: Yup. It says here, “today it’s not too difficult for you.”

Nehemia: Now the word we’re talking about is the same exact word we’ve been praying every week. Yehovah, uncover my eyes that I may see the wonderful... the “Niflaot,” the wonderful hidden things of the Torah. Now, what are “Niflaot”? We find out in Deuteronomy 17, verse 8, which I’m sure we did this verse, but I’ll read it again. It says when a matter is “Yipaleh” when it’s “Niflah” when a matter is too difficult for you, now you could translate that as ‘when a matter is too mysterious for you’. It doesn’t change the meaning fundamentally, meaning when something you don’t understand, you don’t know what to do, if your eyes are hidden from the understanding of this, then it talks about you will go up and you will go to the place that Yehovah chooses and you will come to the Levitical priests and to the judge, et cetera who will be in those days and he will tell you. That’s Deuteronomy 17 verses 8 and on through, really around verse 13. So, the word is “Yipaleh”, “Niflah” same exact word. “Niflaot” is the plural, things that are mysterious or hidden.

What Deuteronomy 30 verse 11 is saying, the commandment that I am giving to you is not “Nifleti,” it’s not difficult for you. Now, another place we see that, by the way, this is a famous passage where, these are the parents of Samson - and I’m sure we talked about this verse - the parents of Samson want to know the name of the angel. And why do they want to know the name of the angel? So, they could pray to the angel, right? Because that’s how you pray. You call upon the name and the angel of Yehovah says in verse 18 of Judges 13, “Why do you ask my name? It is ‘Peli’, it is hidden. It is mysterious. You don’t need to know my name. Don’t pray to me. Pray to the one who sent me. Pray to the Creator of the universe. I’m just here to bring a message.” He’s a “malach,” he’s an angel.

So, what it’s saying here is, the Torah is not hidden. It’s not hidden like the name of the angel, which you don’t need to know, and you never need to know. And it’s not something that’s too difficult. You know how to do it. It’s not mysterious to you. Now, why does David nevertheless pray, “Uncover my eyes that I may see the wonderful hidden things of your Torah?” Because of all those centuries of sin and iniquity. Even in David’s time there were things that people just didn’t understand anymore. They had been so far removed from the time of Moses.

We know this because we read, for example, in the time of Josiah, they keep the Passover sacrifice in Jerusalem. Hundreds of thousands of people are keeping it, and it says, “They had not kept the Passover like that with so many people in the chosen place since the time of Joshua.” Now, what happened between Joshua and Josiah? David’s there, smack in the center. There are things that are hidden from David. There are things that are difficult for David. They’re mysterious to David and he’s saying, “Yehovah bring me back to that time in the desert when You, through Moses, had revealed the Torah, uncover my eyes. You can do it. I can’t do it through my own study. I can’t do it through my own wisdom and knowledge. I need You to bring me back and uncover my eyes that I may see the wonderful hidden things of Your Torah.”

Keith: Amen. Pray your prayer Nehemia.

Nehemia: “Yehovah Eloheinu ve Elohei avoteinu Alohei Avraham Yitzchak ve’Yaakov, avinu sheh bashamayim, ana Yehovah, ga’al eyenai ve’eynai kol banecha shebarata niflaot mitorateicha” “Yehovah our God, the God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, our Father in heaven, uncover my eyes and the eyes of all your children whom You have created that we may see the wonderful hidden things of Your Torah.”

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: Coming back to verse 14 before we jump off this, “But the word is very near you in your mouth and in your heart that you may do it.” You were going to elaborate on “mouth”.

Nehemia: Yeah. So, for a word to be in your mouth in ancient Hebrew means you know it by heart. You know, we actually… think about this. We say in English, “to know something by heart”. And in Hebrew, they say “Ba’al peh” - to know it by mouth. So, when He says it’s in your mouth, what that means is, “You know these things, I spoke them to you, you’re speaking them to each other. You know... this isn’t some secret; we don’t have to go look this up in a book. You know these things. You know it by heart.”

And what’s really powerful is He then teaches Israel - this is in the next chapter - he teaches Israel a poem that they’re commanded to know on their mouth, in their mouth. They’re commanded to know it by heart, the entire poem, which is Deuteronomy 32. He’s saying the commandments, you know, these things, you don’t need someone to read you these things from a book. Reading from a book is important to remind you every seven years, but you know these things. I’ve just revealed them to you. They’re not across the sea or up in heaven that you need someone to go, you can do them. And I think this is a really powerful passage because He wasn’t just speaking to the people of that time. I think this is the way this applies to us... because let’s be honest, there’s a lot of people today, and I’m one of them, who don’t know it by heart and there’s plenty of things that no matter how much you study, it might as well be up in heaven. I don’t understand this, God. I’ve read this passage 50 times, a thousand times. I still don’t understand it.

Keith: But you’re supposed to know Deuteronomy 32 by heart, Nehemia.

Nehemia: Let’s save that for next week. Let me get my point. Keith, the point here is He’s saying about the entire Torah - you may have read it 50 times, a thousand times and no matter if you know the entire spectrum of all Hebrew knowledge, there are still things today that you will not understand. I’m telling you that as a fact. When I was 17, I knew everything. I was the wisest man in the world. I knew everything and then I went to the university and I did real study and I found out there are literally libraries full of information that I don’t know, and that made me humble. I thought I knew everything, is what it really means… when I was 17, and then when I got real knowledge, I found out there’s a lot I don’t know.

You know, they make fun of… there was the American vice president whose name escapes me, but he made a famous speech where he said, “There are things that we know we know and there’s things that we know we don’t know, but then there are things that we don’t know that we don’t know,” and people laughed at him for this. But it’s profound what he said, because that’s really the situation we’re in now. There are things in the Torah that I know, and I know I know them. There are other things in the Torah that, I read them, and I read them a thousand times and I say, “I have no idea what this is talking about.” Genesis Chapter 6, this is an example of it. I’ve read it a million times. I have no idea what it’s talking about. The sons of God. I really don’t know what...

Keith: I’ve written a commentary on Genesis 6 and I’ll be talking to Jono about that.

Nehemia: Then we need Keith’s revelation to tell us what it means. I can read every book in the world and if I’m honest with myself, I don’t know what it means, and it’s not about that I’m missing a piece - and maybe I am missing piece of the Hebrew knowledge, but I don’t know what that piece is. I don’t even know what the missing piece is. So there’s things I know and there’s things that I know I don’t know and there’s things I don’t know that I don’t know and the things I don’t know that I don’t know, I don’t even realize I’m missing the knowledge. That’s what makes me really humble, because I’ve got to be humble. I come before Yehovah and I say, “Yehovah, I’m not going to bring an excuse. I’m going to do the best I can. It might be up in heaven or across the sea, but I’m going to do the best I can with what I have. And I’ll go across the sea myself if I’ve got to, but I’m going to do the best that I can to live according to Your word and I’m going to pray the prayer of David, ‘Yehovah uncover my eyes that I may see the wonderful, mysterious hidden things of your Torah.’” Because there are things like that today, and the point is you can’t bring excuses. Don’t come in with excuses. Do the best that you can. Continually strive to know more and to grow in your walk with the Creator of the universe. Can I get an amen, Keith Johnson?

Keith: Amen. Amen. Amen.

Jono: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.”

Nehemia: Wow.

Jono: Now verse 15, one of the most important verses in the whole Bible according to the Nehemia Gordon… tell us why.

Nehemia: So, look, he has the contrast. There’s, you know, there’s a contrast here. He says, “look, I give before you, I place before you today life and good and death and evil.” And I mean, this is almost like, not almost like, there’s the choice between life and death and between good and evil. And then He explains what He means and that’s what’s so powerful about it. And what is He telling you to do? In the end, He tells you, choose life that you may live. I mean Wow! That’s amazing!

Keith: Well, you know what, it is amazing. And what I think is if I can say the application of it, is verse 17.

Nehemia: Amen. So read that.

Keith: Because it says, “But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient,” but if your heart turns away and you’re not obedient, He could have stopped there. He says, “and if you’re drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them.” Man!

Nehemia: By the way, that word that you have translated as “drawn away”, that’s the same exact word in Isaiah 56 that described the dispersed of Israel. “He who gathered...”

Keith: Tell us about Isaiah 56.

Nehemia: We talked about Isaiah 56, that Yehovah gathers the dispersed of Israel. Here it is, the word for dispersed is the same word here as to be drawn away. So, there’s to be dispersed physically, which means to be scattered among the nations, and there’s the dispersed spiritually, where you go and you worship other Gods and you disobey the commands. Can we read all of 15 through 20?

Jono: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love Yehovah your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His judgements, His statutes, His commandments, that you may live and multiply; and Yehovah your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go and possess. I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life...”

Nehmia: Come on!

Jono: “...that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love Yehovah your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which Yehovah swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

Nehemia: So, we’ve got, on the one hand, life, good and blessing, and what’s the opposite? The opposite is death, evil and curse, and what is the way for life? It says in verse 20, “Love Yehovah your God, obey His voice and cling to Him for He is your life and length of days.” That sums up in 5 verses, for me, the entire Bible.

Keith: Well, I think when it says, ‘for He is your life’, I mean that to me is just as clean and clear as it gets. You want life. He is your life.

Jono: He is your life. And He is the length of your days. How about that?

Nehemia: Wow. Choose life that you may live.

Jono: There it is. That’s our Torah Portion fellas.

Keith: Well, let me just give a secret to the people. So, sometimes, you all, those that are listening, sometimes we try to do two Torah portions. And the reason we will try to do two is because, “Oh yes, it’s going to be short.” And so Nehemia said this is going to be a short one. I said Nehemia, it won’t be. Oh yes. Forty-five minutes. We’ll be able to do two. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we may have broken another record.

Nehemia: I don’t think we did. It’s under two hours.

Jono: It’s under three hours. I think we’ve broken the three hours somewhere along the line. Definitely going to be doing the next Torah portion sometime later this week. We’ll be recording it for you, dear listeners, but you have been listening to Torah Pearls. Thank you, Keith Johnson and Nehemia Gordon. Next week we will be doing...


Jono: So next week we are in Deuteronomy 31, verse one, to 31, verse 30. Keith, it’s only one chapter. It’s got to be less than an hour, for sure, come on.

Nehemia: Can I tell you something really interesting? So, the third Torah portion we did is Lech Lecha, which means from the word “Lech,” “Halach,” go for yourself, God’s speaking to Moses. Excuse me, God spoke to Abraham, and here it’s third from the end, and it’s “Va’yelech”, which means, and he went, he walked.

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

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  • donald murphy says:

    don’t believe that purim is scriptural feast day, is it?

  • daniel says:

    Thanks, guys! What a blessing(as always), and just amazed at how many of the hidden things(from me) that you can uncover in a relatively short time. By the by, it was Sec. of Def. Donald Rumsfeld(under G.W. Bush) that talked about ‘what we don’t know we don’t know, etc..’ and I think he wrote a book with that in the title… Nehemiah expressed puzzlement regarding the Nephaliim(I think), additionally, I’d like to know just who in the world the People of the Land of Nod were. At any rate, YHVH bless you all!

  • Amber says:

    My favorite Torah portion! Until I became Karaite I believed that YHVH gave us laws that were too difficult for us. I used to wonder – Was it a mistake on His part? No, He doesn’t make mistakes. Then it must have been intentional, which would be abuse. No, He is loving. – It didn’t make sense and it cast a shadow on my relationship with Him. Now I know that it was a misunderstanding on my part. Torah is not too difficult, nor is it too mysterious, and His love is much clearer to me now!

  • Dawn Marie says:

    I was baptized into a Christian church well over 20 years ago, but Yehovah has led me to where I am today, spending more wonderful, blessed time in what Keith calls “The Big Book.” Since being introduced to the teachings of Keith Johnson & Nehemia Gordon last year, the truth that I felt I was desperate to encounter has finally been uncovered. I now read the “The Little Book” in light of the the Big Book instead of the other way around & spend a good amount of my time being overwhelmed by what I have missed & frankly, what has been stolen from all of us who call ourselves Christian.

    Which brings me to this week’s Torah portion. Thank you so very much for spending all that time on who Yehovah made His covenant with. Years ago I read words in the “Old Testament” concerning foreigners worshiping with Israelites & was awed by the fact that I was one of those foreigners who would someday worship on Mount Zion with God’s chosen people. When I read 29:10 – 15 this week I cried, literally. What beautiful knowledge for me to have & I’ve missed it for 20+ years. To hear Nehemia spend all that time on those verses & link them to Isaiah 56 (I had done the same) confirmed that my tears of joy & sadness were not wasted. Certain things that I have believed for years are finally being confirmed, all because I now know that I’ve been reading backwards all these years & I’m not doing that anymore.

    May Yehovah continue to bless you all. May He continue to give you the information, inspiration, & the open doors to give that information & inspiration to people like me, the blind & the deaf but searching to see & hear.

  • Ernest Hays says:

    I thought it interesting that the word “alah” (From אָלָה (H422)) means a curse or cursed due to not keeping the covenant…..I reckon that is why Satan allows himself to be called allah by Muslims sine it is a covenant breaking false god and certainly is cursed!

  • Bonnie Solomon's says:

    Wow….I am overwhelmed by the wondrous things that YAH has revealed thru your discussion on this Torah portion . I am in awe of the richness of His Word. Thank you for sharing.

  • Erin Hunter says:

    In my heart YHVH called me to search out and examine myself all things. He is The TRUE aspect of all things. Too many teachings, YSHVH told all to follow HIM as HE and YHVH are ONE, so no division can be in His Camp of dwelling souls.

    Study to show thyself APPROVED UNTO YHVH!!!

    He NEVER CHANGES, NOR DOES HE RETURN VOID… His answer has been accomplished and will be until…
    He will bring all people to where He chooses/Chose/continues!

  • Joost says:

    What’s the nature of the word “Egypt”?

  • If we could really circumcise our own hearts and walk freely from sin, then why the need for an atonement sacrifice year after year? Yes, we are commanded to walk according to the covenant and yes, we are commanded to offer sacrifices for sin but why would there continue to be sin if we were really able to fulfill the original instruction?
    My point is that the sacrificial system DOES NOT remove sin from us. It is simply a picture of what was to come. The blood of animals makes no atonement hence the person standing there that day would have been cleansed, not to sin again. But that didn’t happen.
    We are to bring this dilemma to the Father. How can we possibly walk according to this covenant when there is no cleansing from the blood of animals? The answer is in the perfect spotless blood of the lamb of YHVH. Even if you do not want to make the connection, you are denying the dilemma and denying the answer to the dilemma.
    YHVH WILL DO THE CIRCUMCISING….so that we can walk according to the covenant with freedom and cleansing. Only this remedy will save and redeem us from the captivity of sin.
    Every man must reconcile this dilemma.

  • kris says:

    Deuteronomy 29:19b “for I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to add the satisfied from thirst to the thirsty” -translation by Nehemia Gordon

    Satisfied from thirst = a soul that shall be as a watered garden (see Isaiah 58:11 and Jeremiah 31:12, 17:7-8).

    Thirsty = the opposite! perhaps a soul that shall be as a dry wasteland (by supposition, via considering the opposite). Also see Isaiah 29:8, 32:6, 44:12; Jeremiah 2:25,17:5-6, 23:10-11; Hosea 2:3.

    Also, something about Deuteronomy 29:19 reminds me of Deuteronomy 8:15.

    the rock of flint…
    [filled with water; representing salvation (Deut 32:15), God]

    thirsty ground…
    [filled with thirst, fiery serpents, scorpions; representing rebellion (Ezekiel 2:6), wickedness (Psalm 107:33-34)]

  • JAKE says:

    Greetings Nehemia,

    Concerning your excitement when discussing Deu 30:1-4, and Isa 56:6-8, about the gathering in, the ingathering by Yehovah, how about also including Isa 66:18-22? Also, please consider the following when getting excited about the wonderful information Yehovah has given in these verses: What is the title commonly used by most folks for the third feast of Yehovah? What is the first title Yehovah gave for that feast? What is the common activity Yehovah is accomplishing in all three of His feasts?

    Yarah Shalam,

  • LJ says:

    About the circumcision… In my deepest heart of hearts, Yah deal with me if I am wrong. It is my understanding that YHWH Himself was circumcised “when His beloved Son was cut off. ” This is something I hope everyone will consider, and this is of the circumcision of His heart and flesh. The Bible says that Yahushua was circumcised, and if we love him, we will follow his works and do what he does.

    I haven’t heard anyone else share this, but Abba has put this in my circumcised heart.

    The Bible says that Yahushua suffered in all things that man can suffer from. When he hanged there on the Roman execution stake, he knew he was a dead man and it was his MISERY to be separated from his Abba YAH if only for a second. Consider this too.

    It is my understanding that YHWH Himself knows suffering, and all the things we mere men and women suffer in this life. Even though we are just a small speck in the universe, YHWH is with His people, and knows our sufferings personally.

    Thanks you men of Yah for your wonderful Torah Pearls!
    Laurie Jo

  • Mimi says:

    thank you! You’re all awesome. Loved this episode. Choose life!
    Mimi and family from Queensland