Torah Pearls #23 – Pekudei (Exodus 38:21-40:38)

Torah Pearls Pekudei, Exodus 38:21-40:38, Aaron, Aaronic, carbuncle, cohen, glory, Kohen, priest, priesthood, Priests, shechinah, Shechinat, shekhinah, Shekinah, Torah PearlsIn this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Pekudeim (Exodus 38:21-40:38), we discuss how should we respond to the replication and/ or fabrication of Tabernacle items in places of meeting today? What on earth is “carbuncle”? The Aaronic Priesthood is the everlasting priesthood, so what exactly is a Kohen and is there another “order” of priests? Where is the “Shekinah Glory” today? All this and more in this week’s Torah Pearls!

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Transcript

Torah Pearls #23 - Pekudei (Exodus 38:21-40:38)

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

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

Jono: G'day to John in Texas, Tim in Ohio, Rob who commented saying “Jono, Keith, and Nehemia, I look forward to your broadcast each week. As we each seek out the truth among the lies of the world, it’s nice to have someone shine a bright light from the Torah to help us find our way.”

Thank you, Rob for your encouragement and your comment. And wherever you may be around the world, it’s good to have your company.

It is time for Pearls from the Torah Portion with Keith Johnson and Nehemia Gordon. G'day, guys.

Nehemia: G'day, Shalom, shout-out to Wendy over on Facebook.

Jono: Hey!

Keith: I’d like to give a shout-out to Hope in Claremont, Florida, and Ralph in Colorado.

Jono: Thanks guys for sharing the program.

All right. Oh dear. G'day, Ralph. It’s good to know that Ralph’s enjoying the program. That’s good.

Nehemia: Hey Ralph! I’m glad you’re listening.

Jono: In Colorado there, I can just see him in front of the fire wrapped up in a blanket just as well.

Okay. Today we are in - that’s a tick next to your name

Keith: Ok. Listen, I…you know, Nehemia, he’s left the farm on me here this morning. But you know one of the things I love about this particular show, what we’re doing is that we have people who listen to us from all over and you know what? They’re not always people that are real happy about what we’re doing. So, I’d like to be able to invite those kinds of people to keep listening because I do think there’s something that we can learn, and they can learn.

Jono: Amen. So true. Amen. And guess what? Guys, we’re right at the end of Exodus, right? This is the last portion of…

Keith: Oh, boy. Oh, my Goodness.

Jono: You know what, I’m gonna mispronounce this again. Is it Pekudi?

Keith: Pekudei.

Jono: Pekudei…why? There’s a ‘yud’ at the end. Why is it “a”? Isn’t it…

Nehemia: Under the 'daled' there's a 'tzerei', which is like “a”, so Pikudei - oh hey.

Jono: Pikudei. Okay. Exodus 38:21-40:38, and it begins like this. Here we go, are you ready?

Keith: Certainly.

Jono: It goes like this, “This is the inventory of the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of the Testimony, which was counted according to the commandment of Moses, for the service of the Levites, by the hand of Ithamar, son of Aaron the priest.”

That’s the way it starts, and it goes on. Now, again, we’re looking at a lot of repetition. We’re looking at a lot of detail. And there is, actually, a summary, and I’m wondering guys if we can sort of head over there. I was wondering if we can pick up from verse 42, in chapter 39, unless there’s anything specific that you’d like to pull out, because there is a summary…

Nehemia: So, we’re jumping to the end?

Jono: No, no, no! We’re not jumping to the end.

Keith: Wait, I wanted to ask just a general question. You know, we spend time in different fellowships and churches and there seems to be more interest – at least I’ve noticed in the last couple of years - of even more interest of sort of trying to replicate what took place, you know, both by color and I mean…that’s just always been the case in some churches where people say, okay, this is the Temple, and then they attempt to have the colors of the curtains and these are all these sorts of things. When I see that, I kind of have two responses: One response is people attempting to recreate this idea of the Temple, and I think their idea is that as they replicate that and have it looks like, smells like, thinks like, feels like, and then somehow that the presence of God would be in there.

I would be interested to know, Nehemia, what your thoughts are when you go into a place, whether it be a messianic congregation, or a church, or wherever there’s these things that attempt to replicate the Temple or the Tent of Meeting. What’s your thought when you see that, like, when you see that, what’s your response?

Nehemia: That’s an interesting question; I’m not sure how to answer that.

Keith: Well, honestly, I guess my…

Nehemia: Well, I think part of it is like, I do find it a little odd that there’s this obsession with this narrow period of the history of Israel. Well, I guess you could argue that that obsession is here in the Torah. The fact that we’ve had so many chapters and pages dealing with this Tabernacle indicates that this is something the Torah wants us to know about. At the same time, you know, there is this concept that we have in the Hebrew Bible that is talked about in Deuteronomy, throughout Deuteronomy, “In the place where Yehovah will cause His name to dwell, the place Yehovah will choose.”

That wasn’t a single place at first; meaning, it was wherever the Tabernacle would stop. We have that description at the end of this Torah portion, at the end of Exodus, where we read that the cloud would descend upon it and then it would rise maybe the next day, or maybe a year later, and it would move and go to the next place. And that was the place Yehovah would choose.

Now in the time of David and Solomon that became a fixed place that no longer was mobile. So, after that, Solomon built the first Temple, and then the second Temple was built, and Ezekiel describes the building of the third Temple. So, it seems to me a little bit strange that they’re focusing all this energy on reconstructing a Tabernacle that, the way I understand it, is never going to be rebuilt. What will be rebuilt, what will be built, will be the Temple.

Ezekiel describes what that Temple will look like. So, it seems to me like, why did they go back, specifically to that period of history, and why aren’t they reconstructing Ezekiel’s Temple, for example? Ezekiel talks about how, in the future era, they will have a priest that will have sacrifices and will have the Temple.

And I actually that’s what we're reading in this Torah Portion that the priesthood is forever; it’s not just a temporary thing and then goes away from the world, but it’s something that will be forever. That’s what Ezekiel is describing; what it will look like in the end. So, it’s not totally crazy because I’ve seen Jews do that, as well. Not so much in…here’s what I haven’t really seen, is, you’ll never go into a synagogue, that I know of, and see full-scale replicas of all the vestments and vessels of the Temple. You know, of the lamp and…you might see these things portrayed in art, but you won’t see it…where you will see that is, there’s like, museums where you’ll see that; there's the Temple Institute, which they usually do for the Temple.

You won’t see the men’s group at the local synagogue decided to recreate The Ark of the Covenant. And maybe that’s a good thing that, you know, we should be emulating. I don’t know.

Keith: Well, I wanted to bring this up; I wanted just to ask you also, Jono, just for you. You mentioned as we talked about the portion earlier that the things that you would do to try to recreate the sound, or you know, making people enter in, and regarding those kinds with music. I guess the issue I wanted to bring up is we have this description that, you know, we’ve done it two or three times. Now we’ve gone to and talked about, as Nehemia said, it’s obviously an important issue. It was specifically for that time. Is there ever a time to attempt to recreate something that happened, or that we see in this place where Yehovah says, “This is where I will meet you?” Because I know that there is an attempt to try to recreate it, and I am assuming that it’s for the purpose of having His presence. Or I’m just wondering if there’s even a connection.

Jono: The only thing that’s going through my mind at the moment for me, Keith, and that is obviously Jeroboam’s attempt to recreate a place of meeting. Bethel and Dan and, in fact, he attempted to recreate a number of things as far as the religion was concerned, is that what you’re alluding to? Or…

Keith: Well, I was hoping somebody was going to throw me that softball, because one of the things that I think that has really been a major stumbling block for people, that don’t have any clue about any of these things, is that there are people, and there are places, and there are situations, where they will take a portion of something that they will find in this…in the Tanach, and then say okay, now we have that, we have that here with us, now let’s recreate this, and as a result of recreating it, they go too far. I’ve seen this happen many, many times, and I don’t want to go into the whole issue of Jeroboam. But I just think…the thing that’s interesting to me as we’ve been reading this portion regarding the incense, and the burnt offering, and the basin for washing, and the materials that are used, is, this was a command that was given by Yehovah for them to create a place. For what purpose? The Tent of Meeting, the place where He was going to be able to come down and meet with them to deal with the people, as a spot where He’s there.

And I think there’s something really powerful about that. My question becomes, and we’re going to talk about it later in the portion here, where can we recreate these types of things, and then when we do recreate these types of things, are they done in integrity? Or are they taking a portion of something, using it for our own purposes, and then is it not something that sort of recreates on man’s agenda, not unlike what Jeroboam did. So, you know, we’ve had some situations that have taken place, where people have taken different things, holy things, ideas, thoughts, etc. and then used them for their own purposes. And then it causes…it really gets quite messy.

Jono: Yeah, that's an appropriate word. But let me bring it a little closer to home for Nehemia. I have read, with regard to Karaite synagogues, some very interesting, can I say, tradition? Can you explain some of that? Is there a uniformity to Karaite synagogues? I’ve read of Karaite synagogues that have a very high expectation; in fact, the same expectation of ritual cleanliness as you would read about for the Tabernacle, for example, for the Temple, for example…

Nehemia: Well, that brings us into a whole issue, but there is a tradition that many Karaite Jews have, that when they enter their synagogues, they try to maintain a state of ritual cleanliness. At the same time, they’re very careful to make it clear that it’s not the Temple. So it actually isn’t the same level of ritual cleanliness because, for example, if you’ve ever touched a dead body in your life, there’s no way to become ritually clean from that, until the Messiah comes, or really, until the high priest is reestablished and brings us the red heifer. Interestingly, there is this verse in Malachi that talks about how God is going to purify the Levites. So, maybe he actually means there that that’s how that’s going to be solved, through some process that, I don’t know exactly what it is. For example, in Malachi, chapter 3, verse 3, it says, “He shall act like a smelter and purger of silver; and he shall purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so they shall present offerings in righteousness…”

And the next verse is one of my favorite verses because it’s telling us what it’s going to be like in the Kingdom when the Messiah is here, “…and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem shall be pleasing to Yehovah, as in days of yore and in the years of old.”

So, we’re going to have this reestablishment of the sacrifices, and it’s going to be preceded by this process where God’s messenger is going to purify the Levites. So presumably this includes the Kohanim, who were among the Levis as the priests.

In any event, we could have a whole discussion about tradition, but that’s really tradition, that’s not scripture. And I’ve got to confess something here…we may need to edit this out afterward, but I need to confess that I actually don’t regularly attend synagogue anymore. The reason I don’t is that I find it dreadfully boring. A lot of it is because it's just layer and layer of tradition; that’s even within the Karaite tradition.

So, it got to a point in my life where I said, "You know what? This isn’t…what is this? Did I leave one set of traditions to go and fall into another set of traditions?" And so maybe in some respect I’m a post-denominational Karaite Jew, if there’s such a thing.

Jono: And actually, that's so relevant Nehemia, if I might say, to the Torah portion, particularly at the end, when we’re going to talk briefly about the Shekhinah and what it was like for them, as opposed to what we are sometimes subject to today. But we might return to that topic a little later.

Keith, as far Messianic congregations are concerned that you have visited, where you see an attempt to recreate something that we’re looking at in this Torah portion, the last Torah portion; how do you get by that?

Keith: Well, more than anything, I think the thing that I’m mostly concerned about is people have their certain traditions, and we’re going to be able to dance like the days of old, we’re going to dress the way we think they did it, we’re going to have the same colors, we’re going to have the script, whatever it is that they want to do, I just wish people would really focus on, if that’s what they’re trying to do, what’s behind it. You know, it’s like saying, "Okay, I’m going to look like this, but what this stands for I’m not going to particularly focus on," and I think it’s beautiful when I read these portions about how He wants this to be a certain way, and this to be a certain way, and this to be a certain way, it isn’t so that you can take a portion of that and say, look, we’re the authentic ones, this is what we do. It’s authentic to the Tent of Meeting, but we don’t really want to meet with God because, if we really meet with God, we’d have to understand that He’s going to speak His word and we really don’t want to speak His word because His word maybe isn’t practical. It isn't any longer applicable to us.

And that’s the reason I kind of brought this up, that sometimes people go to great lengths to try to recreate a portion, but not the whole thing. The portion is, we look like it, but in terms of how we act or whether the word is still applicable, they don’t do that. So, I would hope that people would spend as much time trying to figure out what the purpose of this was, and that was to meet with Him, and in meeting with Him that’s going to mean – His agenda, His word, His way, etc.

Now for Nehemia, who doesn’t presently meet in the synagogue, I think that that’s why I love it when we go to these other places and we get a chance to see what’s going on. And it’s a balance to me, because I really believe that we have an opportunity to assemble together as a people, and I think assembling together as a people is a chance to hear from God. So, I wish there was just more good old-fashioned reading of the word of God and hearing the word of God and interacting with it, versus all of the other things that sort of end up being the case. If you can go to a place for two hours and never hear the word of God really spoken and interacting with it, then that to me is, you know…I’m not saying that’s what happens in the Karaite synagogue, I’m saying I’ve been in churches. I will tell you guys…

Nehemia: That’s something that really happens, yeah.

Keith: Yeah. One thing that I just heard just yesterday, in the midst of some evaluation of this kind of thing, and someone said, “Look, you don’t come to the church to feed on the word of God. You come to the church just for the vision of the pastor.” And I’m like, where is that in the Bible? So, you know, it’s that kind of thing that really concerns me, because that same place would say, now we’re going to have the Levitical dancers, now we’re going to have the incense, we’ve got the anointing oil, we’ve got the…we're at the courtyard, and now we’re in the Holy of Holies. It’s just stuff that concerns me. But I just wanted to see what you all thought about that in terms of people trying to recreate this sort of thing.

Nehemia: In one way I think there is some value in it, in that we read about these things and like, what on earth is it talking about here, you know?

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: Like, until you actually see it it’s really difficult. That’s why Moses had to be shown it; he was not able to make this based just on the verbal description. And that specifically tells us, "like I showed you in the mountain,” and in that respect, maybe there is some value, to give like an artist’s rendition.

But at the same time, it’s important to remember that we don’t actually know what these things looked like, many of them. We don’t even know what the "tachash" is, that was the badgers' skin, or whatever it was, porpoise skin. Right? Maybe a type of goat? So, we don’t even know what some materials are, let alone some of the diagrams and patterns are.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: But I think there is some value. Look, I don’t want to knock it, as long as… it has value in the sense that people are reading this and, “Okay, well what does this look like?” It’s something tangible that they can look at. Where it gets dangerous is when they say, okay, we’re here, we’ve got our Ark and now we’re going to treat it like the Ark in…was in the Tabernacle. And they start treating the entire experience like a Tabernacle between the synagogue and…we’ll leave the Christians out of it…there’s a thin line between synagogue and high place.

Keith: Amen. I think you’re right, Nehemia, I think that’s a great – right up to the edge.

Jono: Makes a point, makes a point. And so, in Torah portions past, we’ve basically been reading, Yehovah’s been saying to Moses, "This is what I want you to do, this is how I want you to do it." And we’ve been reading, just very recently, them actually doing that which Yehovah has said to do; they’re doing it now.

We read in verse 32, of chapter 39, that the work is coming to an end, it’s being completed, and it says, “Thus all the work of the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting was finished; and the children of Israel did according to all that Yehovah had commanded Moses; so they did. And they brought the Tabernacle to Moses, the tent and all the furnishings: its clasps, its boards, its bars, its pillars, its sockets; the covering of ram skins dyed red, the covering of badger skins…” I've got in the New King James, “…and the veil of the covering; the Ark of the Testimony with its poles and its mercy seat…” we’ve covered that…“the table, all its utensils, and the showbread; the pure of gold lampstand, with its lamps, the lamps set in order, all its utensils, and the oil for the light; the gold altar, the anointing oil, the sweet incense, the screen for the Tabernacle door, the bronze altar, the grate of bronze, its poles and its utensils, the laver and its base, the hangings in the court, its pillars and its sockets, the screens for the court gate, its cords, its pegs, all the utensils for the service of the Tabernacle, for the Tent of Meeting, and the garments of ministry to minister in the Holy place, the holy garments for Aaron the Priest and his sons' garments to minister as Priest. According to all that Yehovah had commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did the work.”

“Then, Moses…” now, this is interesting…

Keith: Just a second, Can I slow you down before you get to 40?

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: Okay, so some years ago, when I used to have a process of memorization, and when I would say memorization, I was just fixed on having different verses memorized. I would just want these verses memorized. It was the idea that there was…an old pastor told me some years ago, like twenty years ago, he said, "You know, there’s nothing more powerful than to speak back the very words of God out of your heart." Now I think there’s a scripture in Psalm 119, “How does a young man keep his way pure? By living according to word. I’ve hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Well, I had a pastor who had said to me, “Oh, Keith, I’ve got another whole section,” because I had felt like, oh, I’d memorized this and memorized this. And he said, "I’ve got a whole section of things that I want you to memorize." And in one of the verses that I’ll never forget that he gave me to memorize, which just didn’t fit my Methodists mindset, was this verse in 42 of chapter 39, "The Israelites had done all the work just as the Lord had commanded Moses.” And then the next verse was, “Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded.” So, then it says, “Moses blessed them.” Now for some reason, you all, this was years ago; I’m talking about before I ever went to Israel. I was in the church, I’m doing my Sunday morning thing, and my mentor handed me this verse to memorize. And it stopped me; it slowed me down. And I thought to myself, so what does it look like for the people to do all of the work as the Lord commanded Moses, and what would that look like now? To do all of the work as the Lord commanded Moses, and then for a minute, you all, I’m just telling you, when I just read this I’m like, why are they giving such prominence to Moses? Why does Moses get to be the one that blessed them? What’s this whole Moses thing?

This is me in my Sunday morning pre…you know, Israel experience, and this verse really bothered me. Now as I read it, I think, "This is a really powerful thing." Because this group of people, as he went up to the mountain the first time, this group of Israelites, they didn’t do what they were supposed to do. They were steeped in sin, the golden calf came out, and they were reveling and all this stuff. And over time, now in Exodus 39, this is a really powerful statement about these people, they did all of the work just as the Lord had commanded Moses. And then Moses inspected it, because it wasn’t good enough for them just to say, hey, it’s done and he says, okay, let’s move on. He went and he inspected it.

So, when I hear this list of things, of they had this, and they had this, and they had this…it doesn’t bore me. It makes me think, wow, they did it exactly as God commanded Moses. Moses inspected it and saw they had done it. And so, then what did Moses do? He blessed them.

Jono: He blessed them.

Keith: I’m telling you guys when this verse was in my memory pack I didn’t understand it. But as I’m reading it now it’s really a powerful verse. And what if we had the same attitude today? Everything commanded in Moses, we do it. And isn’t there a blessing.

Nehemia: And then we get the blessing. Is that how you do it to get the blessing? Wait, this is how I get the blessing?

Keith: No, no, no. The point being this: if God commands it, we do it.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: If God commands it, we do it. If God commands it, we do it. And you know, we try to find every way we can not to do it. And I always say this, in closing. It’s not a matter of me doing what God commands, it’s a matter of me having the opportunity, the gift, of being able to enter in where I can, though I’m in exile, though I’m over here in the United States, and I can’t bring the offering, and I can’t do this. But what do I get to do? What do I…where do I get to be invited, into what Yehovah has commanded? It’s just a verse that really is pivotal for me because understanding it is one thing, doing it is something else.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Hey?

Keith: Arguing about it is one thing, and doing it is something else.

Jono: And doing it is something else. Nehemia?

Nehemia: Now can we talk about the carbuncle?

Jono: There’s a carbuncle?

Nehemia: The carbuncle; this is what I’ve been waiting ten chapters to talk about. Exodus 39, verse 10. Can you read it in your translation, Jono?

Jono: Carbuncle…verse 10, it says…

Keith: This is great stuff.

Jono: "And they set in it four rows of stone. A row with sardius, topaz, emeralds was the first row, the second row,” and so on and so forth. Okay.

Nehemia: So, the one they translated as emerald, in other translations some have emerald, some have beryl, some have carbuncle. I’m just going to use carbuncle because I like the way that word bounces.

Here’s actually kind of an embarrassing thing, but important to know, is that we don’t know what all these stones exactly are. How interesting is that? You know, you have a list of twelve stones, and it requires a certain expertise to identify what these stones are. While thousands of years later, how do we really know what it is?

Carbuncle happens to be a stone that can be blue, if I’m not mistaken. In fact, there’s a story of Sherlock Holmes about the blue carbuncle.

Jono: Really?

Nehemia: Yeah, the blue carbuncle. But then emerald's obviously green, and so one possibility is that blue and green are actually kind of close, so maybe it was a blueish-green. You know, like…

Jono: Like an aqua sort of a shade.

Nehemia: Yeah, an aqua-marine type of situation. And we don’t really know, that’s the bottom line.

But why am I talking about carbuncle? Because Keith and I had a really interesting experience, and maybe I’ll let Keith tell the story. Do you want to open the story at least?

Keith: Oh, no, I’ll add to what to you said. I think this really is interesting…

Nehemia: Okay. So, we were engaged in, I guess you could say, a kind of disagreement with some folks who were saying that, "Look, you guys are pronouncing God’s name ‘Yehovah’ based on a Masoretic Text. But those Masoretes, they just pulled those vowels out of their…I guess I’m not allowed to say that word.

Keith: Hey!

Jono: Imagination.

Nehemia: Out of their imagination. They just plucked them out of the air and randomly put in vowels and they just made them up. And so how can you trust the vowels of some person who wasn’t from the time of Ezekiel, and wasn’t from the time of Moses? You know they just put in those vowels, and the vowels weren’t actually even written down until a relatively late period, at least that's the common opinion of scholars. There are other opinions though, but let’s assume that’s the case. So, we went to this expert at the Hebrew University and we asked him about this, and we said, "Those people are saying that they just made the vowels up, that they’re just completely arbitrary, and specifically when it comes to The Aleppo Codex."

We were actually dealing at the time with the story of David and Goliath, and there’s this great image within the story of David and Goliath where David picks up five smooth stones, and he uses one of them to slay Goliath. And we went to this professor, and Keith said to him…I’ll never forget it, it was amazing.

He says to the professor, "We’re having this debate with these people who are saying that the Aleppo Codex is worthless and, you know, those vowels are just made up by those Jewish scribes…"

Keith: Nehemia, before you drop the book. Listen, if he's going to tell the story, Jono we’ve got a few minutes. I’m going to let Nehemia tell that part of the story, but he has to set it up just a little bit better because one of the things that Nehemia and I have a consistent…

Jono: Being diplomatic about.

Keith: No, no, no we have a very consistent argument about, is that I always want to speak Hebrew and Nehemia doesn’t want to speak Hebrew because I’m not a very good Hebrew speaker.

So, he takes me to this man, who clearly says, you know, and he says to us, he says, "I usually…I’ll speak English sometimes, but basically I like speaking Hebrew." Nehemia called him and said, “I’ve got a Methodist. I need to bring him to talk to you.” And the guy’s like, “I don’t want to talk to him. What do I…” and Nehemia’s like, “No, no, no, you’ve got to meet the Methodist. I’m going to bring him to talk to you.” He finally agrees to come and speak to us. So, we’re sitting down with the man and he’s speaking with Nehemia, back-and-forth in Hebrew, and then finally they decide, okay, we'll let the Methodist hear what we’re talking about.

So, he says he’s going to switch into English. Now, Nehemia, tell them what I finally got to say to him in English, and you can continue the story.

Nehemia: Okay, well, Keith says to him, "Professor, I need five smooth stones." And, you know, explains to him what the issue is, and the professor leans back in his chair and he sticks up a finger and he says, "Stone number one." (In heavy Israeli accent)

Jono: Excellent. It was immediately…

Keith: I mean, he was…Jono, I’m telling you the Holy Spirit…I don’t care what anybody says…

Nehemia: Stone number one.

Keith: We’re sitting there together and he’s talking Hebrew, and Nehemia, and I can hear a few words here and there and then he looks at me and leans back, "Stone number one."

Jono: Excellent. It was on cue.

Nehemia: One of the stones was the issue, and particularly when it came to the issue of the vowels, one of the stones was to point out how there are these words that appear throughout the Tanach, throughout the Hebrew Bible, preserved by those Jewish scribes, that are written one way in one section and a different way in a different section with no change in meaning. And the thinking is that, if the scribes were just making up the vowels, what they would’ve done is created uniformity. And what’s an example? He gave us the example of the carbuncle, which in Hebrew is the Hebrew word ‘bareket.’

Nehemia: Say bareket.

Jono: Bareket?

Keith: Bareket.

Nehemia: Bareket. So bareket means carbuncle and appears twice: once in Exodus 28:17, and the other time in Exodus 39:10, both times in the context of the breastplate of judgement. Well, the word carbuncle appears a third time in the book of Ezekiel. And when you look in Ezekiel, it doesn’t say ‘bareket.’ What it says is, ‘barkat.’

Now, here’s the thing, every Jew and his cousin knew the book of Exodus because it was read every year in the synagogue. They read the book of Exodus week after week, just as we’re doing right now. So, they were very familiar with the book of Exodus, and to this day most Jews are more familiar with Exodus than they are with Ezekiel. And it was like that a thousand years ago, and two thousand years ago, and that’s just the way it is in the synagogue.

Well, anyway, so if the scribe was trying to just make up the vowels, what he would’ve done is create uniformity, and you would find ‘bareket’ in Ezekiel. Why ‘bareket’ in Ezekiel and not ‘barkat’ in Exodus? Because what they would do, if they were making up is simple fight of vowels, the simplest thing to do is to bring what everybody is familiar with.

Keith: Right.

Nehemia: Now, this is such an interesting example to me for two reasons: first of all, the difference between ‘bareket’ and ‘barkat’ doesn’t change the meaning, it’s just a difference of pronunciation, and clearly, they knew that in Exodus it has to be pronounced twice ‘bareket’ and once in Ezekiel as ‘barkat.’

Well, they’re not just making up the vowels; this is obviously very great precision. There’s some kind of pronunciation tradition here. And it must be a very ancient pronunciation tradition because it preserves a difference in pronunciation between the time when Exodus was written and the time when Ezekiel was written, which is amazing. That’s a difference of something like a thousand years. And now, two thousand years later or, actually 2,500 years later, there are people who are now finally transcribing this with symbols and they remember that yes, in the time of Moses, it was read as ‘bareket’ but in the time of Ezekiel, when he professed these things, it was ‘barkat.’

I mean, that’s amazing, that level of precision. Now, this is a really interesting example, especially for me as a Jerusalemite, because we have a mayor of Jerusalem whose name is Nir Barkat. Barkat is his last name, and basically his name is Nir Carbuncle.

And he spells his name and pronounces his name based on the way it’s pronounced…bear in mind, actually, the consonants are the exact same consonants ‘bareket’ and ‘barkat’. The difference is the vowels, which is a series of dots and dashes above and below the letters.

The argument of these other people is that, "Well, the Masoretes, these Jewish scribes who preserved the Bible, just made up those dots and dashes in the vowels. So, we can ignore those vowels and just read the consonants any way we want to."

And that’s what a lot of people will do.

So, the mayor of Jerusalem pronounces his name Barkat, the way it’s pronounced in Ezekiel, according to this ancient pronunciation tradition. Most people in Jerusalem that I know will call him Bareket. And why would they call him Bareket? They’ll mispronounce his name. Well, why do they do that? Because they heard in the synagogue that it was ‘Bareket.’ They don’t know what it says in Ezekiel. Who knows Ezekiel, except for scholars? The average person is only familiar with Exodus.

So, to this day there’s this dichotomy between ‘bareket’ and ‘barkat’ based on Exodus vs. Ezekiel. It’s not that they just made this up, they’re actually preserving this ancient pronunciation.

Keith: Well, I think the reason and, again, people will probably…they might think, so? Why is that important? It really is important because, remembering this, and let me just speak to my friends who don’t even know this whole idea of the vowels and the constants. What Nehemia said is, the consonants are the same, so if you go to Israel to this day, you’ll read, and you’ll see consonants and you won’t have little vowel signs.

But yet, when people look at those consonants, they’ll know within the context how it is supposed to be pronounced. Based on what? A pronunciation tradition.

So here we have this professor who’s bringing this, and I think what’s so phenomenal about it is his, “Stone number one.” And what is the context of what he brings? He brings an issue of stones. I mean, the guy…

Jono: That is brilliant.

Keith: It’s brilliant, but again, what was so powerful about it for us, for Nehemia and for me, was here’s a man who doesn’t have a dog in the fight regarding whether he wants to agree with this group or that group. He’s simply looking at the text, understanding the text. He’s made The Aleppo Codex his life; he’s been dealing with it for all this time. He’s one of the world's foremost experts on it. And he brings an example to say, listen, we don’t mess around with the vowel points, as if to say, oh, we’ll just change it based on convenience. This is something that’s lasted for a long, long, long, long time. And that the scribes are attempting to help us for those of us that don’t have the tradition to say it the way the tradition would’ve said it.

So that’s why the vowel points are so important. I mean, it’s not something you just throw out and say, oh, well, that was just added in a thousand A.D. No, this is something that has been going on for however long it’s been so. It really was a powerful example.

Jono: No, I appreciate it. Carbuncle, there you go everyone: carbuncle. Remember that.

Keith: Thank you, Nehemia, for hooking me up with the guy. I’ve got a meeting with him when I’ll be in Jerusalem by myself, you know, I’m going to meet with him by myself.

Jono: Brilliant. We’ll look forward to that story.

All right, so they’re finished, and now the next thing that we read in chapter 40 is the assembling of everything that they have made. "Then Yehovah spoke to Moses saying, 'On the first day of the month you shall set up the Tabernacle. The tent of meeting.'" There it is.

Keith: Stop, stop, stop. So, you mean to say that he says, Yehovah said onto Moses, set up the Tabernacle whenever you want? No. Set up the Tabernacle on the first day of the first month. So, I guess that was September…

Nehemia: That’s January 1st, no?

Keith: Well if it’s September, it must be the Rabbinical tradition of the New Year. Oh, no I’m sorry, this says the first day of the first month. So, it must’ve been January first, right? So, January 1st is why we celebrate…

Jono: At midnight.

Keith: So why is this important, Nehemia and Jono? These are God’s times. I mean you get a time that He told us to set it up…

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: And let me just say, what’s really interesting about this, as you’re listening to this right now, we’re in the process of…I believe, I’m not sure of the exact date, but what I love about one of Nehemia’s ministries is that every year, he goes out with a group of people to try to figure out when is the first day of the first month. And that’s a real powerful thing, so I just wanted to give a shout-out to my Karaite friend who searches for the aviv.

So, we are able to know when the first day of the first month is and we celebrate the new moon, so it’s pretty powerful.

Nehemia: The first day of the first month…what year is it? I mean, how many years after they left?

Jono: Do we know? Is this one full year? I mean…

Nehemia: Well, it couldn’t be the same year in which they brought the first Passover sacrifice when they left Egypt because that was on the 15th of the month.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: So, it had to be at least the second year. What’s interesting is Numbers, chapter nine, opens up, "And Yehovah spoke to Moses in the desert of Sinai in the second…" it says there in the second, "…year of them going out of Egypt in the first month." So, I think that’s kind of interesting that Numbers, chapter nine, is taking place in relation to Exodus. You’d think, well, it’s several books later, it’s got to be many years later, and…well, not necessarily.

Keith: Hmmm.

Jono: So, this would also…it would suggest, as well, wouldn’t it, that this is nine months after the golden calf event? Is that fair? Am I doing the math correctly?

Nehemia: That sounds about right, yeah.

Keith: That’s amazing.

Nehemia: Now here’s another little interesting point, but we’ll save the other interesting point for when we get to Numbers.

Keith: Excellent!

Nehemia: It’s just something to point.

Keith: Yes.

Jono: So, they basically put it all together and then set everything up. But what happens is in verse 10, “You shall anoint the altar with burnt offering and all its utensils and consecrate the altar.” Now the altar must be holy. Again, Nehemia, just to fill us in; how do you consecrate the altar?

Nehemia: Well, the word there in Hebrew is ‘mashachta’ from the word ‘mashach’ ‘mashiach.’ You purify the altar; you pour oil on it, the special anointing oil that he described. So, you could actually say that that altar was the Messiah.

Jono: Sure. The altar is ‘mashiach’.

Nehemia: I’m kind of joking, but it’s also true. Meaning…

Jono: But it’s the word, right? I mean, that’s what it says. In fact, everything is that word, and you should take the anointing oil and there’s a whole lot of stuff that’s anointed here.

And here we are at the altar, "And the altar shall be most holy, and you shall anoint the laver and its base and consecrate it. You shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting and wash them with water. You shall put a holy garment on Aaron, and anoint him, and consecrate him; that he may minister to Me as priest. And you shall bring his sons and clothe them with tunics: And you shall anoint them as you anointed their father; that they may minister to Me as priests. For their anointing,” now I just want to highlight this, “shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations."

Keith, what do you have in your Nearly Inspired version?

Keith: Well, it clearly said…it clearly says here, “Their anointing will be to a priesthood that will continue for all generations to come.” That’s what it says.

Jono: It will continue. Okay. All right. So, this is not in question, right? This is what it says. Nehemia, what is it in the Hebrew, “everlasting priesthood”?

Nehemia: So, it says, “kehunat owlam.” Kehuna or “kehunat” is from the word Kohen, and it means a priesthood.

Jono: Okay. This is, actually, if I’m correct, I think this is the second time that the word ‘priesthood’ is used. The other one is in…the first time, I think, Exodus 29, verse 9, if I remember correctly. And here we are in 40 verse 15 and we have a priesthood. Can I just compare this, while we’re here, can I just jump out of the Torah portion for a second and go over to Psalm 110, verse 4…I guess it talks about…does it talk about another priesthood? Is that what we’re to understand?

It says, “Yehovah has sworn, and will not relent, you are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” I mean it doesn’t say “according to the priesthood of Melchizedek.” But is that what…are these the same words?

Keith: Oh, boy.

Nehemia: No. It says, “at-tah kohen la-olam”, you are a Kohen, priest forever. “al dib-ra-ti malchi-se-deq” according to the divrah of Melchizedek. Now, what is the “divrah of Melchizedek”? There’s a couple of possibilities: One is “divrah” literally means the word of Melchizedek. But it could also mean, and this has to do with the word “davar,” which is a word that has many possible meanings; “davar” could be prophecy, “davar” can be the word of God, “davar” can be…actually it’s the same word as…essentially the same word as we have in the phrase “ten commandments” in Hebrew, it’s actually not ten commandments, it’s ten words or ten matters.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: So, ten issues according to the issue of Melchizedek, that’s another possibility.

Jono: That’s…sure.

Nehemia: So, yeah.

Jono: Well, can I ask you this question? What is, while we’re here, what is the issue of Melchizedek, or what are the words of Melchizedek? Is there any…what do we know about him?

Nehemia: So Malki Tzedek, or Melchizedek, first of all, his name means “my righteous king,” and he’s mentioned in the Tanach, in the Old Testament, he’s really only mentioned elsewhere in Genesis 14, where he has an encounter with Abraham when he’s coming back from chasing the four kings who had invaded Israel and gone on a raid, and then they were running away and they had taken Lot with them, Abraham’s nephew.

Jono: Nephew. Yeah.

Nehemia: So, Abraham went after them, chased them as far as Dan, and brought back the stuff. And on the way back of bringing back the stuff, he runs into two people, Melchizedek and the king of Sodom.

Jono: And he says something, right? He actually does say it. Is it at all possible, I mean you say this is…the word is “devrah” or taken from the root word of “davar” word, isn’t it possible that it’s in reference to the words that he spoke, that Melchizedek spoke?

Nehemia: That’s definitely a possible interpretation.

Jono: So, can I read that verse? This is verse 19 of Genesis 14 where he says, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand."

Is there…I find this interesting because he says, he finishes with that, “He delivered your enemies into your hand.”

And does it not sort of flow nicely in the context of Psalm 110 where we read it, it says, from the beginning, "Yehovah said to my Lord sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool," he says. It goes on to say, "you’ll rule in the midst of your enemies." And it goes on to say that Yehovah will "execute kings in the day of his wrath." And he goes on right to the end about how he will become victorious over the enemies and execute judgment upon the enemies.

The context is there, right? I mean that is certainly a way to understand Psalm 110, verse 4. But is there anything in that verse that suggests a priesthood of Melchizedek as this does in Exodus 40, verse 15?

Nehemia: No, there isn’t the word priesthood of Melchizedek here, it says, "Yehovah swears and he will not repent,” or not change it, “you are a priest forever according to the manner of Melchizedek, or according to the word of Melchizedek."

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: So, it doesn’t actually say priesthood.

Jono: It doesn’t ever mention priesthood. Keith, any thoughts?

Keith: Well I had thought we’d gotten out of that Genesis Exodus unscathed. You brought us back to Genesis with Melchizedek, and now here we’re talking about it again. Now, again, are you asking the question of whether or not the priesthood would continue; that there would be a connection all the way back, Jono? Or, are you asking something else?

Jono: I guess what I’m saying is that the Torah is exceptionally clear that there is a priesthood, which is an everlasting priesthood…

Keith: Right.

Jono: …which will continue throughout the generations of Israel, there’s no doubt about that. We all agree, this is what the Torah says in black and white. We also, as Nehemia, mentioned earlier, it’s mentioned in Ezekiel we see that that priesthood is, again, functioning. We know that will be true, that it’s an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.

And I guess there has been a question in as far as Psalm 110, verse 4, is concerned, where, at least in my tradition, where I’ve come from and maybe you might be able to relate to this, as well, Keith, that the word “order” in verse 4, at least in the English definition, is to be understood as something synonymous with the suffix “hood” as in priesthood. What Nehemia has pointed out is that that word is “devrati,” which is from the root word “davar,” which means word and does not carry the same definition as the word that we see here in priesthood.

Keith: What are you trying to do? Are you trying to take away my connection, my priesthood, what are you…what are you guys?

Nehemia: I'm staying out of this.

Jono: Nehemia's staying out of it.

Nehemia: Actually, can I offer my interpretation?

Jono: Please.

Nehemia: For whatever that’s worth. So, this is an interesting passage here, Psalm 110, and, you know, reading this passage, what is it really talking about? What I think everyone can probably agree it’s talking about is there's some great victory being described here. Verse 5, “The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.” Okay, so there’s some kind of a defeat of enemies here. Okay. So, what does that mean, “He shall judge among the heathen,” this is the King James, whatever that’s worth, “he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.”

All right, I'd say that’s roughly what it says, anyway. So, we have some kind of great defeat of the enemies and so, many people will interpret this as referring to…let’s assume for argument’s sake that that’s correct, well, so this is obviously talking about the Messiah reigning as a flesh and blood king here on earth. I guess because he’s defeating the kings, his enemies, so presumably actually like a king in a very physical sense.

And now what kind of king do we have anywhere in the Tanach which is a priest? That really is for me the question. I don’t know about that Christological stuff. I don’t know anything about that, okay? And I don’t want to know about it is my way of saying I don’t want to deal with that. I’m coming at it purely from the Tanach, and what I ask…the question is, how can you have a king who’s a priest?

And the reason I ask that is that, in the Tanach, the king and the priest are two completely different roles. They’re actually parallel roles, meaning you have the priest who’s anointed, and you have the king who’s anointed. You have the vision… Zachariah talked about this in a previous session, where there’s the Menorah and on two sides of the Menorah there’s the two sons of oil. Didn’t we talk about that? I think we did.

Anyway, the two sons of oil, in my understanding, is it’s the priest; the high priest and the king, both of whom are anointed with oil, and they’re called the two sons of oil. And they stand on either side of Yehovah at His Temple.

Okay. So, what is a king that’s also a priest? I mean that, it’s almost like, you know, like they're two opposite things, you know? So anyway, what is that? And when I look throughout the Tanach I find a really interesting verse…two verses that can help me answer it.

One is that we have this figure of Melchizedek, in fact, Melki Tzedek in Genesis 14, who was a king, and we’re told he’s a “Kohen leh'el el-yon kone shamaym va-aaretz” he’s a priest of the Most-High God creator of heaven and earth.

Keith: Come on.

Nehemia: So, he is a king and he’s a priest at the same time. Now how does that fit in with the Torah system? Because, you know, Melchizedek wasn’t an Israelite, he was before Israel. So, we have an interesting verse in 2 Samuel, chapter 8, verse 18, and I’m going to ask both you and Keith to read it and tell me what it says.

Jono: 2 Samuel, chapter 8:18 says, I’ll tell you what it says in the New King James, “Benaiah the son of Jehoiada…” there’s some guy I can’t pronounce.

Nehemia: Jehoiada. Thank you.

Jono: “…was over both the…” those guys and those guys, “…and David's sons were the chief ministers.”

Nehemia: What do you have there “David's sons,” Keith, “were...”

Keith: “They were royal advisers,” but I have a note that says they were priests.

Nehemia: In Hebrew it says, “U Bnei David Kohanim hayu,” and the sons of David were Kohanim. Now, I don’t think these were Kohanim in the Temple, that these were priests in the Temple, or the Tabernacle, because we know who was serving in that context and we’re told that. We read it in the stories of David, you know, that he had…there are actually two specific people. So, it’s not…they weren’t functioning in that capacity.

And so here Kohen, priest, doesn’t mean Temple priest, it apparently has some other context or some other meaning. If you think about it, a priest of the Most-High God, creator of heaven and earth, and he’s king over what? What is Melchizedek a king over? We’re told the king of Shalem, which is Salem, which most people identify as Jerusalem.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: So, he’s king of Jerusalem, he’s a priest to the Most-High God, creator of heaven and earth, but he doesn’t bring sacrifices in the Temple. Well, that’s what is being described here with David, that his sons were Kohanim. So, think about Solomon, he’s a Kohen to the Most-High God creator of heaven and earth. He’s not usurping the priesthood of Aaron, that’s the priesthood forever, we read that in Exodus. He’s not trying to replace Aaron. But he, in a different sense, is a Kohen, a priest to the Most-High God creator of heaven and earth, and the king over Jerusalem. Can I get an Amen?

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: So, I think that’s what Psalm 110 is saying, that the Messiah, who’s going to be a king, he’s going to be a descendant of David, he’s going to be the priest to the Most-High God creator of heaven and earth. Not after the manner of Aaron, but after the manner of Melchizedek.

Jono: What do you mean by manner?

Nehemia: Ah, well, that’s already a question of interpretation.

Jono: Oh! But the root is “davar,” right?

Nehemia: Exactly. So, you could translate it literally on the word of Melchizedek, I guess.

Jono: Okay.

Keith: May it be, may it be.

Jono: So, can I, while we’re here…

Nehemia: Now there are other possibilities, you're absolutely right, but that's my Karaite take on it.

Jono: Well, there’s some homework for the listener. So just one thing before we move on: Kohen, once again, Kohen; can we define it in a nutshell as one who serves?

Nehemia: Definitely. Kohen means to serve. Absolutely. In a sense, that’s what it means.

Jono: Okay. So, cannot anyone be a Kohen in a sense? I mean does it have to…

Nehemia: You just have to be an Aaronic Kohen. You can’t be a Kohen after the manner of Aaron, only a descendant of Aaron can be after the manner of Aaron.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: We’re told we're a “Bmamlechet Kohanim u goy kadosh,” we're a kingdom of Kohanim and a holy nation. So that doesn’t mean we’re all coming and bringing sacrifices to the Temple. On the contrary, in Leviticus, he says, you know, that the priests have to protect their kehuna, that word that you mentioned before, and it appears in that exact context. If you look, for example, in Numbers, chapter three, verse 10, it says, "and you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest's office.” In Hebrew that’s “kehuna,” same word as in Exodus 40, “And a stranger that comes near shall be put to death.” So, nobody else, besides Aaron and his sons, can serve that function, and if they try to, it’s a capital offense; they’re to be executed. That doesn’t mean that David’s sons were doing that; of course they weren’t. They were Kohen in a different sense; they were serving God in a different way. And I think that’s what the Messiah, descendant of David, will be. He’s not going to usurp the high priest; he’s going to be a parallel different sort of function.

Jono: Hmm.

Nehemia: So, assuming that it is referring to the Messiah, all it’s saying is that the Messiah is going to serve God as a human king.

Jono: Sure. But I guess my curiosity is this; the word “divrati”, it comes from the root word “davar.”

Nehemia: Hmm.

Jono: Can it not simply be in reference to the words he spoke in Genesis, Bereshit 14? Because if you look at the context of 110 it really is talking about gaining victory over the enemies, ruling over the enemies, and crushing the enemy. And really that’s what it says in 14, he says, “Blessed be Abraham of God Most High and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand."

Nehemia: So, it could mean according to the word of Melchizedek, meaning according to the blessing of Melchizedek. That’s possible.

Jono: Sure! Well, I mean, considering the context of his blessing, it’s interesting, because the Christian theology of priesthood, the word “hood,” is synonymous with the word "order" in Psalm 110, verse 4.

Nehemia: Oh, it definitely doesn’t say “order” in Psalm 110.

Jono: It definitely doesn’t say “order,” but what you’re saying…

Nehemia: What would order even be? What would that…

Jono: Well, order in that sense, that what they’re saying is a successive rank or status; categorical class. If it is in regard to the word, the actual words that the Melchizedek spoke, and looking at what he said, and looking at the context of Psalm 110. Because you know, you look at that Psalm 110 and the amount of times that it just mentions…and it begins with, “I will make your enemies your footstool. I will rule in the midst of your enemies.” It goes on to say that “to execute the kings in the day of the wrath,” and so on and so forth. And if you look at what Melchizedek said, "Blessed be Abraham of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand." Does it not flow?

Nehemia: That’s a great interpretation, very possible.

Jono: Okay. Here we have an everlasting priesthood, “Thus Moses did according to all that Yehovah had commanded him, so he did. And it came to pass, in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month, that the Tabernacle was raised up.” So, there we go.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Finally, it was. And so, the Tabernacle…fastened its sockets, the boards, the bars, and the pillars. And spread out the tent over the Tabernacle, the covering and …as Yehovah had commanded Moses; put the Ark in there, inserted the poles through the rings of the Ark in the so-called mercy seat on top of the Ark. And brought the Ark into the Tabernacle, hung up the veil of covering and partitioned off the Ark of the Testimony as Yehovah had commanded Moses. And it goes on as to how it was all assembled. And verse 33 says, “And he raised up the court all around the tabernacle and the altar and hung up the screen of the court gate. So, Moses finished all the work.”

Keith: Amen.

Jono: There it was. Was there a little plaque and a ceremony?

Nehemia: And we have finished all the work of the Torah portions of Exodus.

Jono: There we go.

Nehemia: One thing to point out, which is interesting, is that the word here is “melacha,” the same word where it talks about Shabbat, you shall, you know, not do any melacha; any work. So, what they were doing in the Tabernacle was, in fact, work. And if you’ve ever sewn, which I actually haven’t, but if you’ve ever sewn you know that’s work. And if you’ve…

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: …you know, done all those different things that they were doing, making planks and casting different metals into different shapes and stuff like that. Well, that’s work.

Jono: Sure. There it is.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: So now the Shekhinah. Now, is the word Shekhinah used in the following verses here?

Nehemia: Now when you say Shekhinah, you mean Shekhinah glory! Look, I can’t talk about this unless I get a Shekhinah glory from you.

Keith: No, no.

Nehemia: Keith Johnson, I want a Shekhinah glory!

Keith: No, no. So, listen, are we going to dive into this here?

Jono: Hey! I want to know, I mean…

Nehemia: Because the word Shekhinah does not appear here and, in fact, the word Shekhinah does not appear in the Tanach at all. Shekhinah doesn’t appear…

Keith: See this is the problem.

Jono: Oh, blowing my mind. Are you serious?

Keith: No, no. Right, guys, I got to stop here.

Nehemia: Maybe we should run away from this.

Keith: No, no. Look, I’ve been patient with you, and you guys have been talking and etcetera and etcetera, now…

Jono: It’s your turn.

Keith: It’s my turn here. Look, I grew up hearing, once I became a part of the church, not much in the Methodist church…every once in a while, I would sneak over to the Pentecostals and the Charismatics. Those were where Jono would come from, and they would say that sometimes the Shekhinah glory would fall. And I’m like, what? Wait, how do know? And then they would begin to say that if you speak these certain words and if you do these certain things and if you work up a sweat and if you do these sorts of things, didn’t you experience the Shekhinah glory?

And I’d always be like, well, I don’t understand, where’s this Shekhinah glory? And then after a while, I started thinking, okay, well maybe there is a place where this would happen. And I’m thinking that it was the Charismatics that came up with this idea, “Shekhinah glory”; that they were the ones who came up with this word, looking in the Tanach. Come to find out that wasn’t the case, that there was another group of people. So Nehemia, could you tell us who this group of people are?

Nehemia: Before I get to that, Jono what is…you came from, what is…is that the same thing as the Holy Ghost?

Jono: Well, you know what Nehemia? There was…all I can tell you is that, to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t explain it. I don’t know what it was; I don’t know what it was meant to be. But, boy, we talked about it a lot.

Keith: Yeah.

Nehemia: Wow. Anyway, so Shekhinah, or Shekinah in English, Shekhinah appears in rabbinical sources. They talk all the time about the Shekhinah. And they translate that usually, in English, as the “presence of God.” Now, what does that mean, the “presence of God”? I guess if you ask most Rabbinical Jews, and if you ask me too, it’s a good question. Who knows? It’s a good question.

But here, let me show you where it does appear in the Tanach after all, and that’s Exodus 24, verse 16. It says, “And the glory of the Lord abode upon Mount Sinai.” So “the glory of the Lord,” glory is the Hebrew word “kavod.” Say “kavod.”

Jono: Kavod

Nehemia: Okay. So, you have k'vod Yehovah, the glory of Yehovah, and then “abode”, the Hebrew word is “va-yis-kon”. And “va-yis-kon” actually is from the same root as Shekinah. Now Shekhinah is a certain form of the word that doesn’t appear in the Tanach, but that word appears as a verb, "And Yehovah “Shekhinah'ed” upon the mountain. The glory of the Lord “Shekhinah'ed” upon Mount Sinai; you could legitimately translate it that way. It dwelt, I mean ‘dwelt’ is probably a better translation than ‘abode,’ whatever that means.

Then it says, “…and the cloud covered it for six days.” We have a bunch of places that talk about this. In Exodus 25, verse 8, it says, "And they shall make me a “mikdash”, a sanctuary, or a temple, “v shakhanti btocham”, and I will “shekainah” in their midst; I will dwell among them. I will “shekainah” in their midst.

But what does that mean? And look, there are entire books of both Jewish and Christian theology that have been written trying to define what “Schinah” is. So, I’m not going to attempt to even do that. What I can say is that “Schinah” usually is understood, and I guess in your tradition as well, as some kind of tangible presence of God that can be felt, or the presence of God that could be felt in a way that it’s not normally felt.

That’s certainly what I was always taught; that there’s something about God that you can feel in the Temple. That you couldn’t feel him walking around on the street. And there’s a really beautiful saying of one of the ancient rabbis that talks about, and here I’m going into tradition, okay. So, this statement of one of the rabbis, which I think is beautiful, says that wherever there are two people talking about the Torah, there the Schinah is felt, there the presence of God is felt. But what, really, is this Schinah? So, if we jump over to Deuteronomy, we get a really interesting phrase that appears over and over, and…let me find it for you. Hold on.

So here we have Deuteronomy, chapter 12, verse 5, it says, “But unto the place which Yehovah your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there…” Somebody say, “name.”

Jono: Name.

Keith: Name.

Nehemia: “…shall put His name there even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come.” So, his habitation is “le-shikhno,” and, it’s not the best translation but whatever, close enough, to his Shekhinah. And really if you want to translate it more literally, it’s to place His name there to cause it to dwell; the “it” being His name. So, the Shekhinah there, the dwelling, is the dwelling of His name. Say name.

Jono: Name.

Keith: Name?

Nehemia: Keith, you’re not cooperating.

Keith: No, no, what are you talking about?

Nehemia: No, you’re not working with me.

Keith: This is great stuff. I’m saying, “name.”

Nehemia: Deuteronomy, chapter 12, verse 11, "Then it shall come to pass, the place where Yehovah your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there.” Again, “le-shaken shmo,” to “Shekhinah,” to cause His name to dwell. So, what is this Shekhinah, and Schinah, Shekhinah, if I have to translate it with one word? It would be indwelling. So Schinah is the indwelling of Yehovah’s name. Can I get an Amen now?

Jono: Oh, the indwelling of Yehovah’s name.

Keith: Listen…

Nehemia: …of Yehovah’s name, and repeatedly, I’m not going to read you all these verses, but over and over in Deuteronomy I have this indwelling of Yehovah’s name. Another one is in Deuteronomy 16:2, 16:6; you get the idea. Let’s just jump over to another book. Let’s see, here…so Jeremiah, chapter 7, verse 12, he says, "Go to my place at Shiloh, where I had established my name formerly.” Well, it doesn’t say in the Hebrew “established”. Let’s see what the King James says, “Where I set my name at the first.” In the Hebrew, it is “shikanti shmi,” where I Shekhinah'ed my name there at first. So that was Shiloh, the place of the Tabernacle.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: He Shekhinah'ed his name…whoo!

Keith: I’m telling you right now. Listen, something came from somewhere, and what’s powerful about the whole concept of the Shekhinah glory is that there’d be this dwelling. Now, what’s amazing right now, and I’m going to have to break into the spiritual issues here, is that now we have this concept. We know that this concept exists about Him dwelling, and now we have the information about His name. So, what would it be like for us to say, okay, we want His name to dwell, we want to have this sense of His, if I can, if I’m in the old days, I want the Shekhinah glory. I want to have that sense, I want to be in His presence, and He’s like, OK, here’s my name.

Nehemia: “I will reside among the people of Israel forever. The house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name.” There’s this connection between Shekhinah dwelling, indwelling, and the name of Yehovah; his holy name.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Okay, so this is fascinating, but how do we make the connection with what we read about in the final verses of this Torah portion? I’ll just go through it now, because it’s not just a sense or a realization of His name.

Nehemia: They say it’s a sense because we don’t always see the cloud. He does say in Deuteronomy there’s going to be a place where I cause my name to dwell, and later on we hear about how the place that He chooses for His name, that is Jerusalem for all time. At first, it was Shilo, and then it becomes Jerusalem for all time.

So, they didn’t see a cloud over the Temple perpetually, obviously. Here, for example Nehemiah, chapter 1, verse 9, in the book named after me, “But if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are under the furthest parts of the skies…” and this is actually paraphrasing something in Deuteronomy, “…I will gather them from there and bring them to the place which I have chosen,” now past tense, “to establish my name.” Again, in the Hebrew it’s not to establish, it’s “le-shekan et shmi” to Shekhinah my name, to cause my name to dwell.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: So that is…in Deuteronomy it’s in the future, in Nehemiah he’s talking about in the past tense, and that place is the Temple in Jerusalem, the place of the Temple for all time, he says. So, we don’t see a cloud there, even though He's caused His name to dwell there.

Jono: Sure, sure.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: So that’s why I said I’m not going to go into the whole theological side. People have literally written libraries trying to define what Shekhinah, Schinah, is. But it is some kind of tangible sense of God; that’s my understanding.

Jono: That’s a good way to put it “the tangible sense of God,” whether it be visual, or whether it be something emotional. You feel it, whatever it may be. It’s that tangible sense of God that we seem to be either lacking or fabricating. Generally speaking, and then, doesn’t that take us back to the beginning of our discussion? Is it not why, maybe in many ways, Nehemia, that you don’t attend a Karaite synagogue regularly? Is it not why, I can tell you, it’s why I don’t go into any particular congregation, and haven’t done for a very long time, is because I see a lot of fabricating, and I find that difficult. But if there was this tangible…

Nehemia: You wouldn’t be able to get me out of there if there was a tangible…are you kidding me?

Jono: You’d be on your face, and you’d be there and you’d want to stay there till the end of the days.

Nehemia: You know, it’s interesting that you say fabricating and I never…I’m putting things together now and I’m having…we have the information and the inspiration. What comes next Keith? Is Keith still there? Hello? Johnson…Johnson are you still there?

Keith: Yes, I’m here.

Nehemia: Well, we got the inspiration and then the information and we put it together and what do we get?

Keith: The revelation.

Jono: The revelation.

Nehemia: Whoo! The revelation!

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: I think I'm having a revelation now, because I’m starting to wonder if that isn’t exactly what the golden calf was about. Moses is up there and we’re saying, What? Where’s the Shekhinah? We need the Shekhinah glory! Let’s make one!

Jono: Let’s make one. Give us some sort of experience to continue on so that we feel like we haven’t been left, so that we feel like we’re actually…it’s, you know, it’s all still happening for us, fabricate it for us, so that we still feel good.

Keith: Yeah, so Jono, you have an experience where you’ve seen a lot of fabricating. Nehemia, he has an experience where he’s bored. Let’s just say this…

Nehemia: They don’t even bother to fabricate.

Keith: Yeah, they don’t even bother to fabricate. Let’s just say this; we have an opportunity to take this information and now, this is where we’re going to have to do a prayer because we’re at the end. And I’m going to ask you to do a really radical thing, because sometimes what happens is, we swing to the right and we swing to the left. We want to have a Biblical understanding of what is available to us. So, I think all of us would agree that if there was an opportunity to be in His presence, that there was an opportunity where we wouldn’t have to fabricate, whatever, we would want that. If He would choose to give us that opportunity, we would want that. So, this is radical, no one knows it.

But Jono, it’s your turn to pray. You’re the one who just says the prayer about the fact that we want to have that authentic opportunity, we want to have our eyes open, we want to have our heart soften, we want to have our ears open. If He chooses to dwell with us, we want to be there. So, can you be the one to pray in closing?

Jono: Hmm. Sure, I would love to be. So, let me just say, let me pray this and then I’ll just read those final verses and we’ll be at the end and we’ll have completed Exodus.

Yehovah, Avinu, open my eyes. Open our eyes that we may see, that we may feel, that we may have something tangible of You, in Your name, Father, that may we understand the wondrous things of Your Torah. Amen.

Keith: Amen

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: And so, it says, this is what they had, “Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle of Meeting, and the glory of Yehovah filled the Tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the Tabernacle of Meeting because the cloud rested above it. And the glory of Yehovah filled the Tabernacle. Whenever the cloud was taken up from over the Tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journeys; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of Yehovah was above the Tabernacle by day and fire was over it by night in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: There it is.

Jono: There it is. Listen, thank you guys, thank you, again. You’ve been listening to Pearls from the Torah Portion with Nehemia, and Keith, and, guys, that’s it. We’re on to the next book, and next week we’re going to be in Vayikra; Leviticus, chapter 1, verse 1, till chapter 5, verse 26. And until then dear listeners, be blessed and be set apart by the truth of our Father’s word. Shalom.

You’ve been listening to the original Torah Pearls with Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson and Jono Vandor. Thank you for supporting Nehemia’s ministry, the Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at nehemiaswall.com

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 NehemiasWall.com.

We hope the above transcript has proven to be a helpful resource in your study. While much effort has been taken to provide you with this transcript, it should be noted that the text has not been reviewed by the speakers and its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. If you would like to support our efforts to transcribe the teachings on NehemiasWall.com, please visit our support page. All donations are tax-deductible (501c3) and help us empower people around the world with the Hebrew sources of their faith!

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19 thoughts on “Torah Pearls #23 – Pekudei (Exodus 38:21-40:38)

Please leave a comment.

  1. Dear Nehemiah, (Keith and Jonah also), my husband and I are brand new to Torah observance. After 45 years of enthusiastic Bible study and ministry, we are starting over! It’s nothing short of miraculous, to have scales fall from your eyes and see all things NEW! My son Jesse David, the filmmaker in Lansing, gave us your name and sent a link to your teaching. It’s been just 2 months now and we’ve been listening to you every Sabbath this year! Now, with our coffee cups, notebooks and Bibles open, we feel like we are sitting in the living room just digging into the Word together. THIS is GREAT!

    Though we are isolated in this wilderness of central Massachusetts (still working, teaching others, praying for that to change), GOD opened up an online community and made a way for us to be nourished and inspired. We LOVE the laughter and find your respect for one another totally refreshing. (Don’t stop or stifle the JOY you express–your lovely personalities blend beautifully!) We feel that we are friends and family and we have one heart–to KNOW the living GOD more and more and to REJOICE in every jot and tittle of His LIVING WORD! THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts! BLESS YOU! Karen and Doug

  2. Very worthwhile listen. Thank you all so much. I too was very disappointed when told shekinah was not in the tnk but N.G. did a super job clearing that up. There is the word shakan (shin, cof, nun) which I can find in my Quickverse using Strongs #7931. Biblehub.com is also very helpful. PLEASE keep up the good work, Sorry can’t donate quite yet as deeply in debt.

  3. OH! Nehemia! I am SO glad you mentioned that you don’t go to Synagogue much because of the traditional repetition… I have felt the same way about attending Christian church… it’s all so traditionally repetitive and there seems to be no real meaning to it… no SPIRIT in the place… and so much of traditional Christianity is built on pagan beliefs… it just does not set well with me to attend.
    I do, occasionally, like when the gentleman I am a caregiver to needs me to work on a Sunday and take him.
    I tried a Messianic group within driving distance of where I live but the leader, in conversation about God’s name, went so far as to say God doesn’t really have a name, there are titles we call Him but He has no name! I was too shocked to come back with “what about the NAME that is written 6828 times in the written Word?” I mean… this was the LEADER of the congregation!
    But even then I continued to try attending, but again, as with Christian Churches I was discouraged by the traditional religiosity and rituals with seemingly no movement of The Spirit flowing in and around the dwelling place or the hearts of the people.
    On the other hand, there is something to be said for routine… without routine to keep me in check for morning and evening scripture and devotional reading and my Shabbat time with you three… I would have slacked off it all together and would be further away from God as a result… within the past 10 months I have lost the 2 people who were like Mom and Dad to me… and been estranged from my daughter, depression has had me where my ‘want to’ has faded. I decided just this past week to get antidepressant script from my Dr. to help me over the hump… I experience the same kind of depression 13.5 tears ago when my husband passed away, so I knew what I needed.

    Thank you all for what you do to help us understand scripture better.

    • Dear Sheila, I hope that you see this comment since it has been a year since you posted yours. I want to thank you for writing such an articulate passage about the conflict between attending a congregation or not. I have experienced that same kind of push and pull and have run into those same issues.
      I pray that now, a year later, you are doing better and have experienced healing after the emotionally difficult time in your life. It is my prayer that you are walking in shalom and are in a place of joy. I pray that the relationship with your daughter has been restored.
      My heart reaches out to you sister! May you feel sunshine even though we seem to be in an unending winter!
      With love, Janlyn

      • Sheila, I also just saw this note as I am new to the site, and wanted to reiterate Janlyn’s post and send a virtual hug and prayer for your consolation. I also lost my parents and husband and experienced a wilderness journey of grief, for several years. Over time, I came to appreciate that my pain was also my platform for service, as Joni taught me. The Lord took me to Europe to work with refugees as well as to help start a non-profit here at home, prison ministry, and other things. Hard as the valleys of the shadow of death may be, they develop new muscles and fortitude to scale new mountains, from which we will one day turn and revel in the view, once cast with the light of God’s unfathomable grace. Bless you, sister!

  4. I also really enjoyed the conversation toward the end concerning the Skekinah. Nehemia referenced a phrase from Rabbinical tradition in relation to this topic that triggered another verse for me …
    Matthew 18:20 For where two or three have been gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them.
    The context relating to sin and judgment against one another, yet seemingly implying YHVH’s presence or influence in matters of concern where seeking His “guidance” or even “Torah” in these matters.

    Another point I find interesting is that this verse appears to be a quote. In looking at the previous verse, (Again I say to you, That if two of you will be in full agreement on earth concerning any circumstance that they should request for themselves, it will be done for them by my Father who is in heaven), it seems apparent that Yeshua is quoting in the following verse as from YHVH.

    I am not well enough studied to presume to know where any similar verse can be found in the Torah, yet I can’t help but see the imagery of the Tabernacle / Temple with the gathering of His people in His Name of which anyone might see all throughout scripture. Shalom!

  5. In reference to the earlier portion of the show speaking about the “mmeting places” dressing up portions to resemble the temple, I am reminded of Matthew 23. This whole chapter points out the hypocrisy surrounding creating appearances around the wrong reasons. In all of scripture, YHVH looks upon and seeks after hearts who are true regardless of appearances. Shalom!

  6. WOW……fabricating is perfect…….THE FATHER TOLD ME THE SAME…..its is MANUFACTURED PRESENCE……..awesome jono

    • Cannabis is one of the ingredients in the Holy anointing oil. You don’t have to smoke it to be a pot head, just get anointed.

  7. Shalom youall’! Another great study and I was again considering how blessed these happenings are. Now on past studies, I mentioned about wisdom. Now wisdom in my humble opinion, is taking the seen to see that which is unseen. As President Reagan would say, “theeer you goo again!”, so I will now say to Nehemiah, there you go again taking the fabrication issue and putting it with the desire to feel good or feel something and coming up with possible wisdom. That is talking about what was happening in the unseen aspects of the golden calf incident. Yes! I’m confident that you are on to something in your wise assessment. The assembly was desperately needing a worship party and they were going to have it with or without YHVH though He was very near. Perhaps maybe closer that He has ever been. Now, using what we know, can we also conclude that someone else was very near as well? If you conclude HaSatan, then you are tracken straight according to wisdom. That is, taking what we know to know the unknown! Now consider how this anti god may wish to steal the fight as boxers do. They will wait for the right time and then strike to gain the advantage to make it appear they were winning all along! Deception! Deception! So if this counterfeiting one would wish to counterfeit that which the worshipers were desiring, could he not let the glory fall also? Could this wicked one give all the “party favors” of worship including being directly envolved with Aaron concerning this golden calf object? What I’m driving at here is to use wisdom to desern what folks have been arguing about for millennia and not been able to see. And I think it’s important as Jono was relating to our time. May I suggest something here? Do you really believe that Aaron was trying to deceive Moshea when he said, “I threw it all in and behold this golden calf appeared”? Folks call Aaron an outright lier, NO! I don’t believe it for a second. Nor do I condemn Abraham for saying “she is my sister”! Abraham is not a lier either as this was a very wise thing he did concerning fleshly preservation. Abraham, of course, should have had more faith as we all most likely agree but now let stay with our subject matter. After all that Aaron, the assembly and Moshea had seen and experienced, this was going to be “high level deception” put on by the wicked one. IT HAD TO BE or it wouldn’t have fooled anyone. I am saying that there were supernatural things going on with this incident that can be comprehended if we apply a little bit of wise thought as described in the meaning of wisdom above. HaSatan had his hands in all of this too. You see? No real argument here. Both sides of the issue are correct. Aaron DID carve the thing as mentioned and HaSatan also helped things along as also mentioned. The flesh (Aaron) & the spirit (HaSatan) working together to accomplish a given goal. The deception was so crafty that Aaron actually thought that YHVH was the miracle worker helping him. ReRead the story again with these things in mind. Deception! Deep dark Deception! It was a lesson, a very hard lesson to learn! And we are failing miserably today also as Jono testified because of the utter ignorance evident. In the true God’s absense, we are no match for the dark side! And so it was then and is now. Blessings to all the Father’s children in these troubled times. me

    • Sprinkler,

      You are using the same old blame game “the devil made me do it” a dangerous attitude to embrace because it shirks responsibility for our own actions. Aaron’s actions were due to the fact that his fear for man was greater than his fear for YHVH. Comedian Flip Wilson plays the character “Geraldine” in an effort to highlight the absurdity by being absurd when blaming the devil for our own choices.

      you tube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kaiLcwHXB4&feature=player_detailpage

      As for wisdom, it is an action not an unseen mystery to be unraveled.

      “So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’

  8. “11 And Adonizedek king of Jerusalem, the same was Shem, went out with his men to meet Abram and his people, with bread and wine, and they remained together in the valley of Melech. 12 And Adonizedek blessed Abram, and Abram gave him a tenth from all that he had brought from the spoil of his enemies, for Adonizedek was a priest before God.” (Book of Jasher 16:11-12)

    I thought this was pretty interesting.

  9. Jethro – Priest of Midian
    Melchizedek – King Priest of Salem
    Enoch – walked with YHWH _ [ as a priest who prophesied to his generation]
    Noah – preached and prophesied to his generation [as a priest?]
    Joseph – as the interpreter of dreams to Pharaoh, was not Joseph a priest and prophet unto Egypt even to deliver them?

    Point being before Moses was born his family tree apparently contained priests unto YHWH – without instruction from Moses/ moshe

    • Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. For Melchizedek to receive them he had to be an anointed priest. Conventional wisdom suggests pre Mosaic anointing of a priesthood. [opinion]

      • Dear Orthodox-Jews and Karaites. How do you understand Psalm 110:4?

        נִשְׁבַּע יְהוָה, וְלֹא יִנָּחֵם– אַתָּה-כֹהֵן לְעוֹלָם;
        עַל-דִּבְרָתִי, מַלְכִּי-צֶדֶק.

        YEHOVAH hath sworn, and will not repent: ‘Thou art a priest for ever after the manner of Melchizedek.’

        • YES. In the book of Hebrews, there is another tribe mentioned and that tribe is this one. If you wish to “join up!”, this seems to be a pretty good one as it trumps all others. It’s the one I personally have hitched my wagon to, so to speak.

          • Nehemiah, you have indicated it seems, that you have largely rejected the tribes and tribal worship (customs) that come with them. Perhaps you have also “hitched your wagon” to this tribe that trumps all others. You just haven’t realized it yet!