Torah Pearls #37 – Shlach (Numbers 13:1-15:41)

In this episode of The Original Torah PearlsShlach (Numbers 13:1-15:41),  we discuss what does the name Hoshea mean? Is there Hebrew slang in the Torah? What is God’s perspective of forgiveness? Caleb and Jesus went into the land? What does it mean to sin with an uplifted hand? Also, beware of the tzitzit police!

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Torah Pearls #37 – Shlach (Numbers 13:1-15:41)

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: All right, who’s eating chips?

Keith: No, I think it’s an apple.

Nehemia: Actually, it’s a peach. And it’s the first peach of the year.

Jono: It’s a crunchy peach.

Keith: Yeah, it doesn’t seem very ripe.

Nehemia: It’s a first fruit.

Jono: It’s a first fruit?

Keith: No, it’s not ripe.

Nehemia: This is the peach season, it just started. I was at the shuk today.

Jono: It sounds like...

Nehemia: I got it at the market.

Jono: No, that’s not ripe, that’s definitely not ripe.

Keith: No, that’s not ripe at all. You’ve got to put that back in the ground by the tree.

Nehemia: It’s perfectly ripe.

Jono: No, no.

Keith: Put it back on the tree.

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: No, hook it back up.

Nehemia: It’s supposed to be like this…

Jono: What?

Keith: No.

Jono: It’s supposed to be soft and juicy, what are you talking about?

Jono: G’day to Crystal, who commented saying, “I love this program!” And wherever you may be around the world, it is good to have your company. It is time for Pearls from the Torah Portion with Keith Johnson and Nehemia Gordon. G’day, gentlemen.

Keith: G’day.

Nehemia: G’day Jono. It’s great to be over here in Israel, and I want to do a shout-out to all of our friends who are listening over in China. I actually spoke last night to a group of Chinese folks who came over here to visit, and they taught me a few words in Chinese, so I want to share with the people the full extent of my knowledge of the Chinese language, if I may.

Jono: Go on.

Nehemia: [Speaking Chinese] Nehemia Gordon, [Speaking Chinese]. And that’s about all I know.

Jono: That’s awesome.

Keith: Nice. That’s amazing.

Jono: That sounds very authentic.

Nehemia: I’m learning.

Jono: What does it mean?

Nehemia: It means, “Hello, my name is Nehemia Gordon. I speak a very little bit of Chinese,” or actually, of Cantonese.

Jono: Excellent.

Nehemia: I’m excited because Keith and I are going to be going and speaking over in China.

Jono: Whoo!

Nehemia: We’re almost locking down the dates. We’re in the final negotiations about what those dates are going to be, but it looks like it’s going to be sometime in the fall. So, I’m really excited about that. We’re going to be flying over there and speaking in at least four places, and possibly even more than that.

Jono: Well, that’s exciting, that’s brilliant because I know that “A Prayer to Our Father” has been translated into Chinese.

Keith: Do you think it hasn’t? Because it has!

Jono: Come on, Keith tell us about it.

Nehemia: So, I went to speak to these guys last night, and one guy says to me, “you know I left my copy of A Prayer to Our Father in Chinese back in China.” And I’m like, “Wow! The people have this book. They’ve got the book!”

Keith: Yeah. You know what, it’s amazing, and a shout-out to all the people in different countries and in different languages, but it’s always exciting, Jono, when you actually... at least for me, I’ve always been excited about doing anything that’s international. Like this show, this program right here is international. Nehemia is in Jerusalem, I’m in the United States, and you’re in Australia. The things that we’re doing that way I think are in line with what also the idea of just being a light to the nations is. And so that’s why this is so exciting for me. Nehemia was over there, he was on fire, I mean they asked him if he was a charismatic, I’m being honest with you. Chinese people... what is all this?

Jono: Charismatic Karaite!

Nehemia: No, I shouted, and I’ll tell you why I shouted, because…I was telling them about some of our testimony and some of the things that have happened. Then I stopped and I said, how do you say the name of... I was talking about the Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew. You know, in Hebrew the prayer that Yeshua taught in the Sermon on the Mount. It’s a prayer that, even though I’m a Jew, it’s a prayer that I could actually pray because it’s actually a prayer that’s a perfectly good prayer for Jews. It’s ironic, it’s like the quintessential Christian prayer, but it’s a prayer that Jews are comfortable with, content-wise. It talks about, “Hallowed be Thy name,” which in Hebrew is, “May Your name be sanctified.” And I said, “how do you pronounce the name of the Father, of our Father in Heaven, over in China?” And they said “Yehowah,” and I shouted. I’m like, Whoo!

Jono: Wow.

Nehemia: And I did my dance, I got so excited. I’m like, you people are working with me!

Jono: Yeah!

Nehemia: Okay, my work is done here, you know. They already have got that message, so that’s exciting. They were actually surprised to hear…they didn’t know that Jewish tradition forbids us from speaking the name. They had no idea; they’d never heard that.

Jono: Oh.

Nehemia: So, it’s kind of refreshing to speak to people, where I tell them, we’re supposed to sanctify the name of our heavenly Father. And they said, “Yeah, of course we are. As opposed to what?” So that was exciting. Now, they asked me an interesting question that I... can I share about this, Keith? Or should I…?

Jono: Go on.

Keith: No, you can’t. No.

Nehemia: Okay. All right, so let’s go on, let’s start the program.

Keith: Come on.

Nehemia: This is my favorite Torah portion; let’s do it. So, they asked me an interesting question, because I was talking about the Hebrew version of the Gospel of Matthew. One of the men stood up afterward, and he said, “Okay, so you’ve been talking about what Jesus taught in the Gospel of Matthew. What about where, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is claimed to be the Messiah? What’s your take on that?” And I said to him, “the Messiah I’m looking for, my understanding of the Messiah, my concept is what I understand from the Hebrew Scriptures, which is, someone who will reign as a flesh and blood king over Israel. I think that’s something that most Christians would agree with.”

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: “And the difference is that, I guess, Jews say we’re waiting for him to come, and Christians say we’re waiting for him to come back. But what I can say is, when he reigns as the flesh and blood king over Israel, whatever his name happens to be, we’re going to accept him as the king…”

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: “…because it will be a fact. It won’t just be a matter of faith; it will be a fact.”

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: And I really could have stopped there, but then I said, “One of the prayers that I pray is the prayer of King David. What I was referring to was the prayer that we pray here on the program, the prayer of King David, where he says, ‘Uncover my eyes, that I may see the wonderful hidden things of Your Torah.’” And I said to this man from China, “When I pray that prayer, I pray it with all sincerity.” Now, if you think about the prayer, “Uncover my eyes, that I may see the wonderful, hidden things of Your Torah”, if you’re going to pray that prayer with sincerity, you’ve got to come before the Creator with humility, and say, “Father of Creation, I don’t know everything. Whatever you uncover to me, whatever you reveal to me in Your Word, I will accept it.”

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: And I pray, and I do, and I explained to the man that I pray that prayer with sincerity. Then I asked the people to pray that prayer with me. What I mean by that is, I don’t go into it with these preconditions – “okay, God if you reveal to me these certain things, I’ll accept them, but these other things, if you reveal them to me, I’m going to throw those out the window because they don’t fit my theology and my religious agenda.” No, I say, “Creator, you know better than me.”

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: “Uncover my eyes that I may see the wonderful hidden things of Your Torah.” I asked the people from China to stand up with me and pray that prayer. We all prayed that prayer together, and it was exciting. I know it’s early in the program, but can we open up with the prayer that I prayed with the Chinese people?

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: And last night in Jerusalem, in the Holy City, the place where Yehovah chose to place His name, that prayer was prayed in three languages.

Jono: Oh.

Nehemia: It was prayed first in Hebrew, and then with an English translation, and then with a Chinese translation of the English translation, and actually, there was a fourth language because it was the Cantonese translation of the English, and then, there was a Mandarin translation of the Cantonese…

Jono: Brilliant.

Nehemia: …because there were six folks there who didn’t speak Cantonese, who didn’t understand it, and so it was translated into Mandarin. So, in four languages we prayed that prayer.

Jono: They were speaking in tongues, Keith. There you go.

Nehemia: We were speaking in literal tongues.

Keith: That’s what I was trying to say. They were speaking in tongues. So, let’s pray.

Jono: Let’s open with that.

Nehemia: “Yehovah, avinu shebashamayim, gal eneinu ve-nabi-tah niphlaot mi-Torahteha.” Yehovah, our Father in Heaven, uncover our eyes, that we may see the wonderful hidden things of Your Torah. Whatever those hidden things are, may our eyes open and see them and receive them. Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Amen. What an awesome way to start the show, and before we get really moving, I just had a couple of comments that I want to read out. Are you guys ready?

Nehemia: Here it is.

Jono: Here it is.

Keith: Can I say hello to everybody before we get started?

Jono: Oh, fine, Keith, say hello to everyone.

Keith: Hi.

Jono: This is from Angela.

Keith: I love this program.

Jono: Keith, this is from Angela. Angela says, “I have gotten 20 of the books, His Hallowed Name Revealed Again, and passed them out all over. We’ve even sent them into the prisons here in Oklahoma.” There you go. That’s Angela.

Keith: There you go.

Jono: Well done, Angela. Well done.

Nehemia: There it is.

Jono: And Gavriel, “Shalom Nehemiah, Keith, and Jono. Question for you. Why do you skip or miss chapters when reading Torah? I have always been taught, when reading Torah, always read every verse. Is this because it’s a radio broadcast and not a Sabbath reading being held in a Shul?” Well, Gavriel, yes. That’s really the reason why. Oh, well, look, Keith is always saying, “come on Jono, you’ve got to read every single verse,” and Nehemia says, “and you’ve got to read it in Hebrew.” But we really don’t have the time to do it.

Nehemia: I think both of you guys would agree - this isn’t intended to replace a reading of the Torah portion. What this is intended to do is to supply some understanding and explanations, and it’s not intended to be the final word. I mean, there’s lots of things I want to share every week and there just isn’t time to do it. As it is, we end up speaking for like an hour and a half, two hours.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: So really, we’re kind of relying on people to... we’re not trying to do the thinking for you; you read the Torah portion yourself and then come and listen to this program.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: I want to say something about that too. I think that one of the things that I like about the program, and especially when we get into some of these portions that are very long. There are some people who are listening to this with their children. There’s some people that have different reasons and ways that they do it, and I think we’re trying to give them something that’s palatable, but one of the things that we don’t want to do, and I like what Nehemia said, we don’t want to think for them. But more than that, I just think this idea, it’s like the Bereans who search the Scriptures daily to see if what Jono said was true. The point being the idea that I’m hoping that we...

Nehemia: Wait, that’s not what it said.

Keith: The Bereans were a more noble character, they searched Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Okay, that’s what it says, but I say, Jono... what my point is, is that the idea is that I know that all of us really want people to search the Scriptures and to have their eyes uncovered.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: And in fact, if we could get someone that would comment and say, “I love the Torah portions, I wish that Jono wouldn’t read every single verse.”

Jono: This one is...

Keith: Come on. Look, are you kidding me?

Jono: This one’s from Grover. Grover says, “I love this website, I listen to every show. I clean houses for a living, so I just download the shows and I listen on my mp3 player while I work, and I love it. And don’t let anyone criticize your jokes or laughter, it brightens my day, and I need that.”

Nehemia: Come on with that, Grover!

Jono: Grover says, “it’s only a problem if someone is home when I’m cleaning, and I burst out laughing and there’s no apparent reason.”

Keith: That’s funny.

Jono: Well, good on you, Grover, thank you for listening today.

Nehemia: Come on, Grover.

Jono: Good on you, Grover. We are in Shlach, Numbers 13, verse 1, to 15:41, and it begins like this, are you ready? It says, “And Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them’. So, Moses sent them from the Wilderness of Paran according to the command of Yehovah, all of them men who were heads of the children of Israel. Now these were their names…” Now, let me get you to do this, Nehemia, their names.

Nehemia: “And these are the names: Lemateh Reuven, Shammua ben Zaccur. Lemateh Shimeon, Shaphat ben Hori. Lemateh Yehuda, Caleb ben Jephunneh. Lemateh Issachar, Igal ben Joseph. Lemateh Ephraim, Hoshea ben Nun. Lemateh Benjamin, Palti ben Raphu. Lemateh Zebulun, Gaddiel ben Sodi. Lemateh Joseph, Lemateh Manasseh, Gaddi ben Susi. Lemateh Dan, Ammiel ben Gemalli. Lemateh Asher, Sethur ben Michael. Lemateh Naphtali, Nahbi ben Vophsi.” I love that name, “Nahbi ben Vophsi. Lemateh Gad, Geuel ben Machi.” And those are the names.

Jono: There it is. Now, go back to verse 8, give me verse 8 again.

Nehemia: Verse 8. Okay, before we do verse 8, can we do verse 6?

Jono: Let’s do verse 6.

Nehemia: So, what I love is the opening of this section in verse 3, where it says, “They were all,” it says, literally, in Hebrew, “They were all men.” The implication is that these aren’t just men, they’re “men,” in the old-fashioned sense of the word. And it says, “Heads of the sons of Israel they are.” They’re heads of the sons of Israel. These aren’t just some poor guys they pulled out of a tent in the desert; these are the heads of the people. They’re not the princes - we heard about those in an earlier Torah portion, but they are leaders of their people, and they’re known for their valor.

One of them, in verse 6, for the tribe of Judah, is Caleb the son of Jephunneh. I think we talked about this in an earlier portion, but I’ve just got to revisit it, because here’s where we’re being referred to, really in this role for the first time for Caleb, which is that he’s the representative for the tribe of Judah. What I find interesting about him is that he’s actually not a physical Israelite. We learn about that over in Numbers, chapter 32, verse 12, where it actually refers back to this story, and it refers to Caleb the son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite.

Now, what on earth is a Kenizzite? Joshua 14:6 also refers to him as a Kenizzite, and then in Joshua 14:14. So three times it refers to him as the Kenizzite. Well, the Kenizzites…you can find them over in Genesis 15, verse 19, where it lists ten different tribes that lived in the land of Canaan at the time of Abraham, and one of them was the Kenizzites. So apparently these were Gentiles. These were heathens that at some point ended up in Egypt, and they came out as that mixed multitude, as part of the mixed multitude. They were probably enslaved in Egypt, and they came out. They were part of the covenant that was made at Mount Sinai with the mixed multitude and all of Israel. And now, one of them is being chosen as a head of his people, as a man, a head of his people of the tribe of Judah. And that is this Caleb, the son of Jephunneh. I think it’s telling that he’s one of the two people who remains faithful to Yehovah and trusts in Yehovah when ten of the other people go astray and really speak negatively about Yehovah’s blessing.

Jono: Yeah. We’re going to be getting to that. Keith, Hosea.

Keith: Well, this is fun for me because, when we get to this verse, it’s one of those things... I always look at the Hebrew Bible as a treasure map or something. It will have one line to another line to another line, one dot to another dot to another dot, and this is just one great example, this book of Numbers that many people from my tradition would say, “okay, we don’t need to get into all that with these names.” But what Nehemia just shared is an example of where, if you follow the map, you’ll get to the gold. And that same thing happens there in verse 8 where it says, “Of the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun.” And then what I love about verse 8 is that it leads me to go to the next little dot, the mile marker, which is verse 16.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Which we’re going to get to, and he says, “These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore the land.” And then this wonderful little parenthesis in my English Bible that doesn’t exist in my Hebrew Bible, but it basically says that Moses gave this person, Hoshea, a new name. And the reason that it gets exciting for me, and I actually did a section in the back of the book, His Hallowed Name Revealed Again - the bonus section on the name Jesus, because I had some people when I was having this book read, people from different traditions, there were some people who said, “don’t have that section in the book. Because here you’re talking about the name of the Father, and in the back of the book you’ve got this bonus section on, What About the Name Jesus.” Some people are like, “I don’t want to read about the name, Jesus.” Well, that’s supposed to be that way so that people will open it, and actually, I’ve had testimony of people, Jono, who actually wouldn’t read the book until they read the last section.

Jono: Really?

Keith: No, true story. One of the guys that helped edit it, his daughter didn’t want to read the book because she saw these Hebrew letters. She went to the bonus section where it said, What About the Name Jesus. She read that, which was an introduction for her to say, “I guess I want to understand about this name.” Well, why is this important?

Jono: She started in the back of the book.

Keith: She started in the back of the book.

Jono: There you go.

Keith: But the reason that’s so important is because...

Nehemia: Typical Christian.

Keith: I didn’t say she was a Christian. How did you know if she was a Christian or not? What are you talking about?

Nehemia: She starts in the back of the book.

Keith: No, but here’s what’s exciting about this - not to take too much time - but verse 16, and what’s most exciting about it is that Moses, the one who heard the name Yehovah, who heard the name of our Father, he decided to give a name to someone else. And this man who we call Joshua in English, or Jesus if we were to do a little bit of further searching in the New Testament, that’s another discussion. But the point is...

Nehemia: Wait, I’ve got to stop you there. Are you saying that...

Keith: No, you can’t. No.

Nehemia: …Joshua and Jesus are the same person? What are you saying?

Keith: No. Listen, I don’t want to give it all away.

Nehemia: Is Jesus like 4,000 years old in the New Testament? What are you talking about? You’ve got to explain to the people what you’re talking about.

Keith: No, just a second, now. Let me just do this treasure map. Because the map says that if I start here in Numbers, I find out there’s this man named Hoshea. If I go a few verses later, I find out that Moses looks at him and says, “you know what, for what I think you’re going to do, you’re going to need a new name. So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to do something really, really radical. I’m going to take,” just bear with me now, “I’m going to take a part of the Father’s name, and I’m going to put that at the front of your name. And I’m going to make your name mean that our Father in heaven is the one who saves.”

Wait, that’s a treasure map, because the map says, wait a minute, so you’re telling me, Moses, the one who heard the name, who was supposed to bring the name and explain to the people when they said, “what is His name,” this is His name. He looks at this man named Hoshea and he says, you know what, I think I’m going to call you something else. And he takes the first two syllables “Yeho,” and then he takes the meaning of the word “Shua,” which is to save, and he says, “the one who’s going to save is our Father Yehovah who will save, that’s why we get this name.”

So that by the time we get to the New Testament, some of the translators got a little nervous and they said, “now, wait a minute, we know that his name is Jesus…” and I’m not going to go through the whole thing. I bet Nehemia would love me to go through the whole thing. I don’t want to go through the whole thing but let me just give you the money ball. The money ball is this: when they spoke the name, Jesus, in those days, they would have understood that name to be connected to this very name that we’re looking at here in Numbers. And what’s the connection? There’s only one who saves, and it’s our Father, Yehovah.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: So, to carry that name means that the salvation, the deliverance, the help is going to come from Heaven. So that’s why I think it’s such a powerful chapter, and that’s why I’m glad it’s in the book because it gives people a chance to go through the linguistic treasure hunt to find the gold. And the gold really will make you shout. Even for my Jewish brothers and sisters, who know more about the linguistic basis of the name Jesus than many Christians. So, it’s a pretty cool thing, and I suggest and hope that people will at least look at that.

Jono: Well, let me just say that it is the bonus chapter in his book, His Hallowed Name Revealed Again. It’s well worth getting, and that particular chapter is fascinating. And we do go into some detail, Keith - I don’t even know how long ago it was, a couple of years ago? I don’t know - on the program when we talked even about that bonus chapter, maybe I’ll put a link to that below this post. So, it goes on to say…

Nehemia: Now, that you guys are done with your commercial, can we talk a little talk about…

Jono: What does it mean, Nehemia? Hoshea?

Nehemia: What does it mean? So Hoshea is a Hebrew name from the root yud, shin, ayin, “Yasha,” and Hoshea means, “he saved”. But it’s a very vague name, “he saved.” Well, who saved? So, Moses says, this is my right-hand man, you’ve got to be more specific with his name. And he calls, “he saved”, Yehoshua, which means “Yehovah saved,” Yehovah Yoshea.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: The connection that Keith is making to Jesus, where that comes in, is that Yehoshua is a name that continued to be used. I have a cousin named Yehoshua, but in Second Temple times, the nickname for Yehoshua, the common way of referring to somebody named Yehoshua, was to call him Yeshua.

So, for example, in Nehemiah, I believe it’s chapter 8, verse 8, it mentions “Yeshua, the son of Nun.” In many English translations it translates that correctly as, “Jesus the son of Nun,” because Jesus simply, through a series of steps, goes back to the name Joshua, Yehoshua, through the Second Temple pronunciation Yeshua. So Yeshua is simply a shortened form of Yehoshua, which means, “Yehovah saves.” The first person that we know to be called this is Moses’s disciple Joshua, who’s one of the two people who remain faithful during this period.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: I think his name is important here because, as we read the story, we hear that there really is no dispute about how wonderful and amazing the Land of Canaan is. The dispute comes in when the ten spies say, “well, it’s such a great land, we’ll never be able to wrest this from the hands of the bad guys,” of the giants who lived there. And Caleb and Joshua, they preached the message; Yehoshua, “Yehovah saves.” Trust in Yehovah, and we’ve got nothing to worry about. What you’re saying is a curse is actually Yehovah’s blessing. He’s giving you a wealthy land, a great and luscious land that’s going to sustain us. So that shouldn’t be a curse, that should be a blessing, as long as you trust in Yehovah.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: So, they did, they went, and they spied out the land. They went to see what the inhabitants were like, what the cities were like, what the fruit was like. They found a massive cluster of grapes; they decided to bring that back, and so, they called it, it was called, “the Valley of Eshcol.” What’s that mean, Nehemia?

Nehemia: Eshcol means “cluster…”

Jono: There you go.

Nehemia: …as in a cluster of grapes, and it was called that because they brought back a big cluster.

Jono: Because it says, “Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes.” Now, is that where you are at the moment, Nehemia? I mean, you were just munching on a peach before, is that where…

Nehemia: We’re not at grapes yet, but it will be coming in a couple of months. By the time this should be broadcast it will probably be out. We’re prerecording it.

Jono: Nice.

Nehemia: Because we’re prerecording it.

Jono: There it is.

Keith: One thing I want to say.

Jono: Keith?

Keith: Jono, one of the things… and actually I was… another commercial, I was actually looking at some video of when I was in Israel, just less than a couple of months ago, and one of the really, really cool videos that I happen to have is this beautiful area where the grapes are grown. And it’s like this lush, amazing… it’s breathtaking to sit and look at it. And I think about it, looking through the eyes of the spies when they got to the land. And again, the idea being, “wow, look at this amazing fruit that’s here. Look at this! I mean this is amazing. Now, what do I have to do to get it? Not sure. Not sure I want to go through all that.” But I mean it is amazing to actually look in and see what they saw. I mean that’s what’s so beautiful about Israel - is to actually be there, looking through the eyes of the people that we’re reading about right now. It’s just amazing.

Jono: And so, their eyes of the spies, did return and they said to Moses and Aaron, this is verse 27, “We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless, the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak.” Now, Anak, who… Nehemia?

Nehemia: Anak means “giant.”

Jono: There it is.

Nehemia: So, they saw the descendants of the giant.

Jono: They were there, and the Amalekites.

Nehemia: You have to understand…so we read earlier in verse 23 and 24 that they come to this Valley of Eshcol and they’re bringing…it describes here that they bring this cluster of grapes that’s being carried on a pole between two people. Think about that, “well, a cluster of grapes, I’ll stick that in my bag, like why do I need two people to carry it?” This must have been a really big cluster of grapes. That’s actually, interestingly become the symbol of Israeli Tourism, and that’s actually a modern Hebrew play on words. The ancient Hebrew word “tour” actually means “to spy”.

Jono: That’s cool.

Nehemia: So, these people went on a tour, in ancient Hebrew; that’s what it says in this chapter.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: That’s brilliant.

Nehemia: So, in modern Hebrew, the word “tour” obviously means ‘to tour’, from Indo-European languages, but they take it with a dual meaning. It’s a tour as in seeing the land, but also the symbol has become two men carrying a giant cluster of grapes on a pole over their shoulders...

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: …and it’s so big it requires two men. So that gives you an idea of how big that cluster of grapes was, and I think that probably connects to this idea of the giant. They’re seeing giant fruit and giant men and giant cities and they’re thinking, “we’re a bunch of escaped slaves; we’ve got no chance here.”

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: “We don’t have the equipment to carry on a siege, even of a small city, let alone of these massive walls,” that have been uncovered by archeologists, which really are big walls, by ancient standards they were big walls. In Egypt, they didn’t really have walls like that. Egypt never really experienced sieges like that, in that period, and what they built with was mud in Egypt and in Mesopotamia. But in Israel they built of stone, so they’re seeing these massive stone walls and they’re saying, “well, nothing’s going to be able to break through that, and there’s giants behind them, and look at the size of their fruit, we’ve just got no chance here.”

Jono: That’s what they’re saying, “The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea along the banks of the Jordan. And then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.’ But the men...”

Nehemia: We’ve got to stop here. So, there are a couple of things to look at here, which is, first of all, God starts out way back and says, “I’m going to give you a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: And they come back, and they say, “yes, there’s a land flowing with milk and honey, but there’s people who live there and we’ll never get it from them. And because it’s such a wealthy land, so much milk and honey, that’s the very reason we’ll never get it.” Then when they start listing the inhabitants, who do they open up with in verse 29? The Amalekites. And the people remembered the Amalekites; they didn’t forget. It had only been a little over a year since they had been attacked. They had just come out of Egypt, fresh out of Egypt, and the Amalekites attacked them while they’re still weak from the journey. And they remembered that, and they were like, “oh man, the Amalekites, forget this, we can’t go through that again.” That’s not just some name, that was something that was deeply ingrained, the bitter memory of fighting the Amalekites.

I think that’s why they opened up with the Amalekites because, the Amalekites in the Negev, that’s the least of your worries. They don’t even have fortified cities. How hard is it going to be to conquer them? But he opens up with them because people remembered. Then Caleb is saying, “yeah, okay, everything they’re saying is true, I’m not disputing the facts. There are great, large people there and that’s because the land is flowing with milk and honey, and it sustains such a great people. But with Yehovah’s help, we can do this.”

Jono: Amen. But Keith, the next verse, it starts with “but,” “But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.’”

Keith: You know, it’s interesting, when I look at this verse...

Nehemia: And that’s...

Keith: When I look at the verse that’s before and the verse that’s after, I get this really amazing picture. And the picture is this - and now, Caleb doesn’t say, unless it says something different, Nehemia, you can check the Hebrew, Jono, I’d like to hear what the New King James says. It says, “Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said,” now it says here, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” Now, Nehemia, is there anything in verse 30 that refers to Yehovah?

Nehemia: Not in verse 30, but I’ve read the entire section, so…

Keith: Exactly! So, the reason why this is exciting when I read this, when I read the verse… so Caleb makes this statement, he’s dealing with the practicality; he’s saying we can do it. The next verse says in verse 31, “But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t.” So, the picture that I get is sort of this bottom-up or top-down view. So, the men have what’s called a bottom-up view: we’re just grasshoppers, we’re looking up at the giants. Caleb has a top-down view, he knows how big Yehovah is and he’s saying, “those guys are grasshoppers to Him.”

Jono: Excellent metaphor.

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: And so, verse 30 is the top-down view...

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: …and verse 31 is the bottom-up. But the reason why I wanted to stop here is because I think there are people that are listening, and this is just something for me that I think a lot about - is that most of the things that I’ve experienced in my life have been awesome in terms of what you want to be able to do. But I haven’t found many of those things to be able to happen without a little challenge or a really big challenge. And it’s like this idea that here’s these huge grapes, here’s this amazing milk and this honey, but there’s going to be something you’re going to have to go through. And unfortunately, so many people miss the fruit because they don’t want to go through the labor, especially if the labor looks like it’s overwhelming. So, what do we want to do? We want to learn to be like Caleb, who says, “okay, how does God see this?”

Jono: Amen.

Keith: You think He really looks at it and says, “oh, the size of those Amalekites, oh, my gosh, what am I going to do?” And this is going to be a little bit of a diversion, but it’s like this unfortunate view that we have in the church that God looks at what happens with “the devil,” and then says, “Oh, it’s the devil, what am I going to do? He’s too bad and too evil.” Do you understand that there’s no competition here?

Jono: Amen.

Keith: In other words, when you’re looking at Yehovah, you’re looking at Yehovah as the Creator of everything. He’s the big one, He’s the one that makes...

Jono: Amen.

Keith: So, for me, this is a really powerful parallel between these two verses.

Jono: Amen. Great. “And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. We saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” Oh, boy.

Nehemia: I’ve got to stop you there. Man, that’s profound. It literally says, “and we were in our eyes as grasshoppers and so we were in their eyes.” That is profound. I think the first statement is definitely true, and that was the real problem - that they looked at these big people and they said, “we’re like these little grasshoppers and they’ll step on us and crush us.” Really, what they’re expressing here is their own lack of self-confidence and lack of confidence in the Creator. Because they may have been smaller than the other people, but they weren’t grasshoppers. It was really their own... this is what they call the self-fulfilling prophecy, you know, “we can’t defeat them, we’re so small.” What they should have done is trusted in Yehovah, and if they would have trusted in the Creator, then they would have been as giants in their own eyes…

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: …no matter how big the enemy was.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Now, Jono, this is a big picture, so I want everyone to think big picture for a second. When we’re going through the Torah, and I always find these things and I always get really, really excited. So, this is one of these pearls for me. So, from the beginning of the Torah, all the way through, there are these themes that you’ll find. One theme, for example, one that we’ve talked a lot about is the name. So, for example, you’ll have people attempting to build up their own name, and so what did Yehovah do? The word in Hebrew is “Shem,” so he creates Shem, and from Shem he creates Abraham. Abraham comes from Shem and he says, “I shall make your Shem great.” So that’s a theme.

But this is a theme that’s really, really cool. Because this theme is like the picture of - you can go all the way back at the beginning of Beresheet, where someone will look with their eyes, and from what they see with their own eyes, they’ll make a decision. So, what did Eve do? It says she looked, and she saw. What does Lot do when he’s with Abraham? Abraham picks one area and Lot looks and says, “hey, that looks like a good place over there.” He looks and he sees, and he finds the place that ends up being Sodom and Gomorrah. And the list goes on, where people will use their eyes, they will look, they will see, and make a determination on what they see. Now, what’s our prayer? Our prayer has always been, “Open our eyes that we might see the wonderful things, the hidden things”.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: So here you’ve got this situation where they’re doing just like we see this theme. They’ve looked through their eyes, they’ve seen, and they’ve made their determination. But there’s always a different perspective, and the perspective that we want to have is the perspective that we only get from Him opening our eyes just to see the dimensions, the big, the amazing, the wonderful, powerful perspective that Yehovah has that makes these guys, again, like grasshoppers. So, the eyes, and looking, you’ll see it all through Scripture, they saw it, they made a decision; they saw it, they made a decision. They looked up and they saw, and they made a decision. So, it’s just one of those things if you can see jumps off the page.

Jono: Absolutely, Keith.

Keith: Yeah.

Jono: And yet it seems like the democratic process took place, it was 10 against 2, “And so all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation,” the whole congregation, Keith, “said to them, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has Yehovah brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?’ And so they said to one another…”

Nehemia: We’ve got to stop there.

Jono: Hang on, let me just read this bit. “…they said to one another, ‘Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.’” Nehemia?

Keith: Oh, my goodness.

Jono: I know.

Nehemia: So, Keith, can you read from your translation, verse 3? Because in your translation, Jono, it makes no sense, and it’s not what it says in the Hebrew.

Keith: So why…

Nehemia: In other words, in your translation Jono, I’m left wondering why on earth do they want to die in the desert? Like, at least they’ve got a chance if they go and fight.

Keith: So, it says...

Nehemia: What do you have in verse 3?

Keith: “Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?”

Nehemia: There it is, “our wives and our children will be plundered,” or, “shall be spoiled,” literally what it says in Hebrew. That’s what they were afraid of. You know, if they were going to die, what does it matter if they die in battle against the giants or they die in the desert or in Egypt. But what they’re afraid of is, “wait a minute, not only are we going to die, but they’re going to rape our women and children when they capture them.” That’s what they’re really afraid of here. It becomes about protecting the women and the children.

Keith: How about that NIV, guys, how about the NIV?

Jono: How about that?

Nehemia: There it is.

Jono: There it is.

Nehemia: The NIV got it. Woohoo!

Jono: The NIV, oh my goodness.

Nehemia: The King James dropped the ball.

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: That’s a key point because later on, it becomes - you were worried about the children, they’re the ones who are going to go into the land, and you’re going to die here. You wanted to die, you’re going to get your wish, but the children won’t be spoiled, they’re the ones who are going to go into the land.

Jono: That’s what it said.

Keith: Another one of those themes that jumps off, but that’s, yeah...

Jono: And I mean, you can understand it because of what they said, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.” Oh, my goodness. It’s amazing that...

Nehemia: Because in Egypt we’ll be slaves, but at least the wives and children won’t be raped.

Jono: Yeah. But even after all they went through. Oh, my goodness. Keith?

Keith: No, Jono, I think this point of them saying, “Let’s select a leader…” I mean, isn’t that also - I mean, I don’t want to get too controversial - but isn’t that kind of what ends up happening with politics? We find out what our agenda is and then we find someone that will help us, that will lead us to our agenda. So, first, here’s what we want to do, now let’s find someone that will agree.

Jono: Yeah, that’s right. We see this so often.

Keith: Somebody say Republican; somebody say Democrat; somebody say... In other words, who thinks this way in the party? Let’s find someone that will do that for us.

Jono: That’s right. “Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and spoke to the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: ‘The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If Yehovah delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us - a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against Yehovah, nor fear the people of the land,’” now, it says here, I’ve got, “for they are our bread,” it says, “their protection…”

Nehemia: Yeah, that’s…

Jono: Is that what you’ve got?

Nehemia: They’re our bread.

Jono: They’re our bread.

Nehemia: Yeah, it literally says, “ki lachmenu hem,” – “they’re our bread”. That’s a great example of slang. This is ancient Hebrew slang.

Jono: Nice.

Nehemia: This would be like if we said in American English - I don’t know about Australia - but in American English, we’d say, “we’re going to eat them for breakfast.”

Jono: Right.

Nehemia: You know, that’s what it means. They’re our bread. We’re going to chew these guys up and spit them out.

Jono: Excellent. “Their protection has departed from them, and Yehovah is with us. Do not fear them. And all the congregation,” get this, Keith, “all the congregation said to stone them with stones.”

Nehemia: Oh.

Keith: My version says this, it says, “But the whole assembly talked about it,” so they talked about stoning them. So, in other words, while these guys were giving their speech, it’s like we’re on the radio here, and Jono starts waxing on about something, and then Nehemia and I are on Skype, and we’re typing, saying, we’ve got to shut this down. Or you guys do the same for me. The idea is, I get this picture of these two preaching, I mean they’re on fire, they’re excited, they’re shouting - and the other two, or the rest of them are going to be like, “no way, let’s shut these guys down.”

Jono: And then Keith, and then they get in trouble with Dad, it says, “The glory of Yehovah appeared in the Tabernacle of Meeting before all the children of Israel.”

Nehemia: Whoo, Glory!

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: I want to go back to verse 9 to that slang where he says, “For they’re our bread.” Then he says, literally in Hebrew, “For their shadow has turned away from them.” That’s another example of slang, and there what he’s saying is that their shadow - if you think about it, a person standing up drops a shadow, and when he falls down, he’s got no shadow; when he’s dead, on the ground, there’s no shadow. So, he’s saying their shadow has already turned away from them. So that’s a figure of speech, it’s Hebrew slang. He’s speaking in their language; he’s speaking to the people using this image.

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: He also uses something called “prophetic past,” which in Hebrew is where you say something in the past tense that hasn’t really happened yet, but you’re saying it’s so sure it’s going to happen...

Jono: It’s going to happen, yeah.

Nehemia: …you refer to it in the past tense. “Their shadow has already turned away from them.” Which wasn’t really true. I mean, they’re not dead yet, they’re, you know…

Jono: But it’s as good as done, right?

Nehemia: Which is the whole problem. It’s as good as done, is what he’s basically saying.

Jono: Yeah. How about that?

Keith: Yeah.

Jono: “Then Yehovah said to Moses, how,” now, this is reminiscent of just prior to the golden calf, isn’t that really? “Yehovah said to Moses, ‘How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them? I will strike them with pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they.’” And then, Moses intercedes again.

Keith: Yes, he does. And you got to think to yourself if you’re Moses at this point… I think there’d be some people who would say, “what are you going to call my nation?”

Nehemia: The Mosesaites?

Keith: In other words, when he comes to them and he says, “What’s the name of my nation? What kind of deal do we have here?” Instead, Moses does this wonderful thing, when he says, “but no, the Egyptians will hear about it! By Your power You brought these people up from among them. And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it.” Sorry, Jono, I’m reading. You do it so much better, seriously, as far as the way that it... like when you say…

Jono: Where are you going, Keith?

Keith: No, no, like when you go like this, I thought to myself, “man we’ve to capture this lightning in a bottle,” when you said, “And they yelled, and they screamed, and they shouted...” I’m thinking to myself, “Jono, I’m telling you, you’ve got to do the dramatized version of the Bible.”

But it says, “And they have already heard that You, O Yehovah, O LORD, are with these people and that You, O Yehovah, have been seen face to face, that Your cloud stays over them, and that You go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. If You put these people to death, all at one time,” that’s a little clause, “the nations who have heard this report…” in other words… can I just say something for a second? Now, I want to go from the point of accountability here. I want to be accountable. I want Jono to read this verse, and I want Nehemia to read this verse in Hebrew.

Jono: Yeah, this is verse 15.

Keith: What Moses says.

Jono: Okay, so now, this is what I’ve got Keith, “Now if You kill these people as one man, then the nations which have heard of Your fame will speak, saying…” and on it goes in verse 16.

Keith: Okay, so what does yours say, Nehemia?

Nehemia: It says, “and You will kill, or You will put to death, this people like one man and the nations who have heard Your rumor, or the hearing of You...”

Jono: Oh, okay.

Nehemia: Yeah, the rumor meaning the report, they’ve heard your report…

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: “…they will say, saying.”

Keith: Now, here’s what the NIV does, and this is why as a good Methodist preacher I would look at this and I would say, “Nehemia said it was the prophetic past.” I would say it’s a foreshadowing statement. If I use my NIV, what it says is this, “If you put these people to death,” and then there’s like a little comma, “all at one time.” In other words, over 40 years if You want to get rid of them that’s fine, but don’t do it all at once. So, I would get up on a Sunday morning if I’d preach this, I’d say, “now, Moses is a prophet, he can see the future. He’s telling Yehovah, ‘listen, just take like 10% of them at a time, just don’t do it all at once.’” But that’s not what it says so let’s move on.

Jono: That’s not what it says.

Nehemia: Can I read verses 17-18?

Jono: Please.

Nehemia: I love those verses. He says, “and now…” And in ancient Hebrew, whenever you’ll have a petition or a prayer, you’ll have a whole introduction. But then it’ll say, “and now,” and when it says, “and now,” that means this is the bottom line, here’s what I’m really asking. Up until now, it’s just the introduction. “And now, let the might of the Lord please be magnified,” it actually says Lord in Hebrew, “as you spoke, saying,” and then he quotes, Exodus 34:6-7, where Yehovah appears to Moses and He proclaims His name and His attributes. Remember when we talked about that?

Jono: Yes.

Nehemia: These attributes that are quoted throughout the Bible, something like seven times, I think.

Keith: Wait a minute; hold on, Nehemia, you can’t just...

Nehemia: According to a paraphrase. Here Moses is directly quoting…what?

Keith: You can’t just drop that on the people like that. What are you doing? That’s abusive. You can’t say to the people... now Jono, can I stop this guy for a second? We should turn the radio off. Are you kidding me? He can’t just say to the people, “Now may the Lord – oh, it says Lord in Hebrew,” and move on, what do you mean it says Lord in Hebrew? It doesn’t say Lord in Hebrew.

Jono: Does it say, “Adonai” or what is it?

Keith: What does it say in Hebrew?

Nehemia: It says, “Adonai,” which is Lord.

Keith: But that’s not what you said.

Nehemia: “Adonai” you can translate as...

Keith: Wait, Nehemia.

Nehemia: …actually more accurately as “My great Lord.”

Jono: Okay.

Keith: Okay, so Nehemia, are you telling me, there’s actually some part here in the Torah where it calls our Father by “Lord”? Or are you saying there’s an actual Hebrew word?

Nehemia: No, “Adonai,” “Adonai” appears in the title...

Keith: There is what I’ve been saying.

Nehemia: …in the title of the Creator of the universe and it means, “Lord,” or “my great Lord,” more literally. It appears - I forget the exact number. But it’s over 300 times or something like that. As opposed to the name Yehovah, yud hei vav hei, His actual name, which appears 6,827 times.

Keith: Now, why I had to stop Nehemia, Jono, and I know he’s going to get mad at me after the radio and say, “I was on a roll, why did you stop me?” Because he just had a landmine, but he said “oh, that’s a landmine, don’t worry about it,” and he kept walking. So here you’re telling me, after all of this Yehovah stuff that you guys have been doing - I can’t believe you and Jono, I mean here I’m supposed to be reading from the NIV. I just say Lord, I don’t get into the whole name thing. You two are the name people. But then you say, right here, no, I’m telling you what you did, you’re telling me right here, here’s an example where he’s referred to, as in English, Lord.

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: So, does it have LORD in the New King James? This is my question.

Jono: Okay. In the New King James, I’ve got a capital L and a lower-case “ord.”

Keith: Uh-oh. So then, there it is.

Nehemia: So basically, what that means is that whenever you have LORD in all caps, it in Hebrew actually has Yehovah.

Jono: There it is.

Nehemia: When you have Lord with a capital L but lower case “ord,” then that’s legitimately “Lord”; “Adonai” in Hebrew.

Keith: But here’s what’s funny.

Nehemia: There it is.

Keith: So, then that’s what it says in verse 17. So this is why I wanted to stop, because it says, “Now, may the Lord,” and it doesn’t use capital ORD in the first verse for you. Does it, Jono? “Now may the Lord’s strength…” does it actually use capitals or does it not?

Jono: In 17? No, it doesn’t use capitals, it has lower case.

Keith: That’s why I wanted to stop. Everyone, look at your Bible just for a second. More than likely they’ve been true to the fact that when they came across this word, “Adonai,” they knew, yes, it was referring to Yehovah and so they didn’t put “LORD,” but rather they said, “oh, this is not the name, yud hei vav hei, this is Adonai.” And so Nehemia just quickly rushed over that, dropped it on us and kept running like a hit-and-run. But that was very good; thank you for doing that, Nehemia.

Jono: There it is. Verse 18.

Keith: Now, you can run.

Nehemia: Wait a minute, back to my point.

Keith: Back to 17, what are you talking about?

Nehemia: “And now let the might of Adonai be magnified as you spoke, saying,” and then in verse 18, he quotes Exodus chapter 34, or he paraphrases, Exodus 34:6-7...

Jono: Yep.

Nehemia: …where Yehovah said this. And he says, “Yehovah who is long suffering, great of righteousness, who bears iniquity and transgression and does not make innocent, and then He,” literally, it says, “He remembers the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third generation, the fourth generation,” and that’s just really just a truncated version of what we have in Exodus 34:6 through 7.

But the point here is that Yehovah is a forgiver. If you repent, He’ll forgive you, that’s the message here. And then he says in verse 19, “Forgive please the iniquity of this people, according to the greatness of Your righteousness. And as you bore this people from Egypt until now.” He’s saying, “Okay. You told me these were Your attributes, stand up to what You said You are. This is what You said You are, do it, do what You said You are and forgive this people.”

Jono: Amen. Verse 20.

Keith: Now, Jono, here’s where you’ve got to give us the theology on this verse. This is deep.

Jono: This is the one, and I love this one. “Then Yehovah said, ‘I have pardoned, according to your word.’” What do you do with that? I mean there’s no sacrifice, there’s no… “I have.”

Keith: Yeah. Verse 20… okay… so we could end the sermon right there and move on, and this is why it catches me. Because it says, He says, “I’ve forgiven them.” Now, I’m telling you guys right now, we could do an entire show on what does it mean for Him to forgive them, and yet the next verse says, in the NIV, “Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth, not one of those who saw My glory and the miraculous signs I performed in Egypt and in the desert but who disobeyed Me and tested Me these ten times - not one of them will ever see the land I promised.” In other words, He says this, “Okay, Moses, I’ll forgive them, but they’re not going into the land.” Well, some people would read that verse and say, “well, You didn’t forgive them.”

Jono: Because you forgive and you forget.

Keith: If you forgive and you forget and it’s no big deal and everything’s back to the same as if it never happened. If you take time on this verse, ladies and gentlemen, I’m telling you your mind can go into a warp. It’s powerful, powerful.

Jono: Well, Keith, if we go back to verse 12, “I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make you a nation greater and mightier than they.” But then in verse 20, He says, “okay, all right, I’ve pardoned them, according to your word, but they’re not going into the land.” Now, He has relented, right?

Keith: But this is why it’s a misunderstanding of what it means. So, I want to ask Nehemia, just if he would do for a second, would you give us the word, verse 20, “I have forgiven them”? What is the word in Hebrew?

Nehemia: The word is “salachti,” from the word “salach,” or “slichah,” and it means “to forgive.”

Keith: When you say “slichah,” what does that... do a little linguistic… come on, work with us here, are you kidding me?

Nehemia: So, what’s the origin on the word “salach”? That’s a really good question. That’s a good question that...

Keith: Okay, and the reason…

Nehemia: …we’ll have to wait for the program to... because, look, sometimes it’s obvious what the literal meaning of an ancient Hebrew word is... because, look, forgive is an abstract concept…

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: …and usually there’s a concrete concept behind the abstract one. So, what specifically is the concrete concept behind “salach”? I don’t know off the top of my head, that’s a really good question. Sometimes it’s obvious.

Keith: Sometimes it is.

Nehemia: In this case, it’s definitely not obvious.

Keith: So, here’s the point, why I wanted you to say that, was because he says, “okay, I’ve forgiven them.” Now, maybe they don’t even understand what that means. But He understands what it means. In other words, when He uses those words, He knows exactly what He’s going to do, and He’s not contradicting Himself by saying, “but as it pertains going into the land, they ain’t going.”

Now, again, go forward to where we’re at now. People that would argue the same, they’d say, “well, if He forgave, why didn’t He forget?” We’ve got to understand what His perspective of forgiveness is before we start making the assumption that there’s any contradiction between what He said and what He did.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: That’s why I say this is something that could take some time. But anyway, we can move on.

Jono: Now before we get to verse 24, which I really want to spend some time on - Nehemia, have we been keeping count? Has it been ten times or is this an expression?

Nehemia: Well, I would think it’s an expression, but maybe there were actually ten times. I don’t think it specifically lists ten times. Remember, these aren’t necessarily in chronological order, but I think even if we went through the whole Torah, we’d be hard-pressed to find ten times, so it may just be an expression.

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: But it’s also possible that we don’t know every single time that they tested Him.

Keith: There it is.

Jono: True.

Nehemia: Meaning, it’s possible that we’ll be given examples...

Jono: Yeah.

Nehemia: …they tested him by the water. Well, how many water examples do we really need? Do we need to have the list of all ten?

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: Presumably these were issues that repeated themselves.

Jono: Sure. Verse 24, “But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.” I love that verse.

Nehemia: And that’s key because remember, he’s not a physical descendant of Jacob, and so he’s actually not supposed to get any inheritance of the land. Yehovah is saying, “those other guys aren’t coming in. Caleb’s going to come in, because…”

Jono: I’ll tell you who is.

Nehemia: “…he was totally faithful to Me, and he’s even going to get a piece of the land.”

Jono: You know what, can I share a story, Keith?

Keith: Yes.

Jono: This is just a little off topic, but that verse, I love that verse because it always reminds me of this thing that happened to me once, not so long ago, maybe a couple of years ago. I was living in a little country town in Australia and there were some evangelical fundamentalists, Bible fundamentalists. They were really sort of very keen to study their Bible, and they decided to start a little Bible study, and they invited me, and I thought this was wonderful, some guys that really want to study the Bible, they recognize that I’m really keen on my Bible, as well, and they invited me.

And it didn’t take too long - you know, we met on a weekly basis and we were going through the Bible study - and they kind of started, you could tell, they started to get a little ticked off that I was referring back to the Old Testament. I kept going back to the Old Testament and they didn’t like that. When they said Bible study, they meant the back of the book, Keith. And I remember one time…

Nehemia: Matthew to Mass!

Jono: There it is.

Nehemia: Matthew to Mass.

Jono: And I remember one time that we were talking about success, Nehemia, we were talking about success and how do we achieve success in God and what does it say, and we were doing all this sort of stuff. And I said, “there’s a very specific verse about that, and it’s in the book of Joshua.” And if we go to Joshua, Chapter 1, verses 7 and 8, which I love these verses, and can I just read these out?

Nehemia: Sure.

Jono: It says, “Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

And do you know what happened at that point? When I read that verse, one of the men jumped up from the table at this Bible study - I’m not kidding - jumped up in front of me, pointed his finger at me and stood over me and venomously said, “you have got a different spirit!”

Nehemia: And you said, “Amen, praise God!”

Jono: Amen! Praise God. Another one chimed in and they both got up and they left, and it was pretty much all over from then on, and I thought, “you know what, I think you’re right, I think I do have a different spirit and praise Yah.”

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Wow.

Keith: You know that really is an amazing story because from what I can tell - and you guys can check me on this - it doesn’t seem that the majority often are the ones that are always right. In other words, here you’ve got this story of the 12 and they were only 2. The 10 are the majority and they say, “hey, what’s going on here?” And then it says here, he’s got this whatever you want to call it, the “ru’ach acheret,’ the other spirit. In fact, that phrase is not used anywhere else, but the idea that when you look at Caleb there’s something different about him, there’s something… he’s not the majority, he’s definitely along the minority, but he’s trusting in the One. So, I think that’s pretty cool that it just happened that way.

Jono: And you know what, it just became apparent here - honestly, this just popped into my head right now. His son - the man who jumped up and pointed at me said that his son’s name was Caleb, he had named his son Caleb. Doesn’t that blow your mind?

Nehemia: How appropriate.

Jono: How about that.

Keith: That’s amazing.

Jono: And so, this is now the Death Sentence on the Rebels, this is verse 26 and on, “And Yehovah spoke to Moses and Aaron saying, “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who complain against Me? I have heard the complaints which the children of Israel make against Me. Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says Yehovah, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will do to you. The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to the entire number, from twenty years old and above. Except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun, you shall by no means enter the land which I swore I would make you dwell in. But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in,” that’s exactly what you were…

Nehemia: In Hebrew, it’s “the little ones who you said would be spoils,” is what it says In Hebrew.

Jono: Yeah, so, and, of course, this is exactly what happened.

Keith: So only Caleb and Jesus were the ones who were…

Jono: Caleb and Jesus.

Keith: That’s exactly what it says. If you look in the Septuagint, guess what word they use for Joshua in the Greek Septuagint?

Jono: Oh, I guess it must have been Jesus.

Keith: Absolutely it is.

Jono: There it is.

Nehemia: Okay, now, we’ve got to look it up, hold on.

Jono: Caleb and Jesus went into the land.

Keith: He doesn’t trust me on this one.

Nehemia: Oh, yeah, I don’t believe him.

Keith: He doesn’t believe me

Nehemia: I want to see that if it says “Yesous.”

Keith: Yesous.

Nehemia: I see it in the Septuagint.

Keith: Yeah, the Septuagint.

Nehemia: It says... aha, oh, it has Jesus.

Jono: There it is.

Keith: Oh, wait a minute, the Methodist was right.

Jono: Hey!

Keith: So, here’s the point.

Nehemia: Jesus the son of Nun; “Jesus tou Naue.”

Keith: Yeah, so Jesus made it into the Promised Land along with Caleb.

Jono: Yep.

Keith: And you know what, if I were to do that, if I were to say that every time people would get a bit uncomfortable. Again, not a commercial, but the reason that I added this information is because what we’ve done - and this happens in so many different topics, when we don’t understand any of the linguistic information, any of the historical, cultural, whatever we want to call those things that help us get under what’s going on, we can sort of create this disconnect with the Tanakh. And by understanding some of the information that’s under the linguistic issues - the culture, the language, the history, and the context, it allows us to get a chance to get under it.

And like Nehemia said at the beginning of this program, this is what I loved about what he said. See, if you and I, Jono, from the traditions we come from say this, we’re only willing to go so far. Okay? But He opens your eyes, Jono, and all of a sudden you realize that Methodism really is better than your denomination, and your eyes are open to this. And you see it, because He uncovers your eyes. Or Nehemia finally realizes that you know what? Keith really should take the time in this program and he sees it, and his eyes are opened. But the point is...

Nehemia: There are some things I’m not open to.

Keith: No, but the idea is that, what does it look like for us to really lean against the information, even when it’s not comfortable? That’s what’s so powerful.

Jono: You know what, I’m glad you said that - I still get in trouble from people who write in sometimes, believe it or not, and they kind of convey to me, “you’re spending too much time in the Old Testament.”

Keith: Yeah. Well, it’s a Torah portion. The basis of it is in the “Old Testament,” that’s the whole basis of it. It’s just every once in a while, when Nehemia gets the Holy Ghost, that we move into the New Testament.

Jono: That’s right.

Keith: That’s the only time.

Nehemia: So, what you’re really saying, Keith, is, if I’m understanding... I want to back up here because you threw the Jesus thing at us. I want to understand what we’re talking about. You’re saying, Keith, that if we look in the Greek, in the Septuagint, (that’s the ancient Greek translation of the Tanakh into Greek,) that there’s no way to tell the difference between where it says Joshua and Jesus? That it’s the same word in Greek? Is that what you’re really saying?

Keith: Absolutely, it is. And that’s the same word. And that’s why in the Greek...

Nehemia: So, you’re not saying Jesus of Nazareth is in Numbers 30?

Keith: No, no, no. What I’m saying is that the name Jesus, which is what they translated from Yeshua, which came from... yeah, so that’s what they used in the Greek. And that’s why in the New Testament there are two verses you can look at, and I don’t have them right off the top of my head, in Hebrews and in... shoot, right off the top of my head I don’t have them, but two times, where in the Old King James, it actually is referring to Joshua, but it says, Jesus.

So, for example, in the New Testament, in the Greek, it’s referring to Joshua son of Nun, but in the Old King James, they just couldn’t bring themselves to do it, so they put the name Jesus because they didn’t mind the people making the connection. In the NIV in most translations now, they will, even though the Greek says Jesus; Yesous, it says “Joshua” in English. So, there are two of those examples. I’m sorry, folks, I don’t have it off the top of my head. But the point is, in the Greek Old Testament, Joshua’s name is Jesus. That’s the best way I can say it.

Jono: There it is.

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: I believe that’s in Acts, chapter 7, verse 45, and Hebrews, chapter 4, verse 8.

Keith: Yeah.

Nehemia: Where, in those places it refers to Jesus, but it’s actually Joshua that they’re talking about.

Keith: Absolutely.

Jono: Okay.

Keith: That’s an example of the connection with the Greek in the New Testament and the Greek in the Old Testament. Every time in the Old Testament, it would be the word “Yesous,” where it would say Jesus, and then those two times, folks got a little nervous.

Jono: And the finer details of that study, “His Hallowed Name Revealed Again” by Keith Johnson.

Keith: Yay!

Jono: Alright, now look, verse 39, “Moses told these words to the children of Israel, and the people mourned greatly. And they rose early in the morning and went up to the top of the mountain, saying, ‘Here we are, and we will go up to the place which Yehovah has promised, for we have sinned!’ And Moses says, ‘Now why do you transgress the command of Yehovah? For this will not succeed. Do not go up, lest you be defeated by your enemies, for Yehovah is not among you. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you shall surely fall by the sword; because you have turned away from Yehovah, Yehovah will not be with you.’ But they presumed to go up to the mountain. Nevertheless, neither the Ark of the Covenant of Yehovah nor Moses departed from the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in that mountain came down and attacked them and drove them back as far as Hormah.”

Keith: So, here’s where you can go back to that verse. So if you go back to this idea of top-down versus bottom-up…bottom-up thinking is, “okay, look, it’s going to be us, we’re going to do this thing, we can’t do this thing, whatever - it’s all about us”. Top-down - it’s all about Yehovah. They should have gotten a hint when two things, two witnesses didn’t go with them. Moses stayed in the camp and the Ark, which is called by the name didn’t go. At that point, I ain’t leaving.

Jono: Yeah. That’s right.

Keith: “Come on, you guys, let’s go fight!” No, I’m going to wait. And then we go back to Numbers, where we talked about that - the Ark would be raised up and he said, “listen, now, you go and scatter the enemies.” And that didn’t happen, Moses didn’t give that blessing, that wasn’t what was proclaimed, and the people decided to go anyway. So, I would always argue this - if the cloud doesn’t move, if He doesn’t move, if you’re not led to do it, then you definitely don’t want to battle no giants unless you’re called.

Jono: Amen. Alright, now, fellows, Nehemia, we’re in chapter 15, I feel tempted just to...

Nehemia: Whoa, hold on. We’ve got to stop before we get to chapter 15.

Jono: Oh, okay. Yep.

Nehemia: This is one of the chapters - chapter 14 - where we really can’t read this without looking at the parallel. And the parallel passage, and I don’t want to take too much time because we’ll get to that in the Torah portion, but we’ve got to quickly glance over at Deuteronomy Chapter 1, starting in verse 22, and all the way through verse 46. Don’t worry, we won’t read 24 verses. But I do encourage people to, after you read 13 and 14, go over and read Deuteronomy 1:22-46, because there Moses is retelling the story.

One of the things to look out for are the differences. I think when I talk about this, some people are getting nervous and they’ll say, wait a minute - “differences”, that sounds to us like contradictions. The way that I was taught to study Scripture is that actually you’re supposed to look for the contradictions. Don’t hide from them, because what appears to you to be a contradiction might actually be something that gives you insight that you didn’t have before.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Because basically we have this being retold years later; 39 years or something like that later Moses is retelling the story, and we’re getting details we didn’t have the first time. So, I think it’s really important, whenever you have two different accounts in Scripture, read both of them. Then you’ve got the thesis and the antithesis and put them together as a synthesis. You’ve got the two stories, put them together and then you’ve got the full picture. You get like the 3D, full-color image.

I’m not going to read the whole section, but there’s really two major points that pop out, or three points for me, that pop out in Deuteronomy, that I just want to briefly mention when we compare it with Numbers 13-14. One of them is that in Numbers it’s very clear that it seems like God is the one who tells them to go send the spies. But then you read Deuteronomy, chapter 1, verse 22, it says, “and all of you approached me, and you said, ‘let us send men before us and they will spy out for us the land. And they will return for us the matter of the way that we should go up in it, and the cities that will go to them. And the matter was good in my eyes and I took from you twelve men, one man per tribe,’” etc., etc., so here it’s the people’s idea, and Moses confirms this.

At first glance, maybe, it sounds like a contradiction, but it really isn’t because Yehovah then turned their request into a commandment. Meaning, what they had initiated, Yehovah then says, “okay, go do it.” But you don’t get that unless you read both of the stories together. You read one of them, it sounds like that was just Yehovah’s idea, and then you read the other one and it’s like, that was the people’s idea and Yehovah kind of confirmed it. You really need to get the full picture here.

If you read on, a second thing which is a significant point that we don’t know about from the book of Numbers is in verse 37 of Deuteronomy, Chapter 1. There it says, “And also Yehovah was angry at me because of you, saying you also will not go in there.” That’s implied in Numbers… when Moses hears this in the book of Numbers, “only Joshua and Caleb, no other people are going to go in,” Moses has got to think, “well, He means me, too, right?” But no, Yehovah also meant Moses. Moses also wasn’t going to go in. So that’s a significant point as well; that’s implied in Numbers, but it says it explicitly in Deuteronomy.

The third point, which is really, I think, a beautiful example of when you get the two witnesses, which is that it talks about the children who are below the age of 20 over in Numbers - that those are the ones who will end up going into the land after 40 years. Well, in Deuteronomy, chapter 1, verse 39, it says, “And your children who you said would be for spoils and your sons, who did not know that today good and evil, they will come there and to them, I will give and they will inherit it.” So here it’s got this definition - these people who are under the age of 20 are here being defined as “the sons, or the children who did not know good and evil.” So basically, what that means is they’re not of the age where they can make the decision to know good and evil, and that’s why they were exempt from dying out in the wilderness. They’re not being held legally responsible for their actions.

Now, the reason this is important to me is, I was told that that age is the age of 13 for boys and 12 for girls, that is when you become a bar mitzvah, or for a girl, a bat mitzvah. That is, you become legally responsible, or responsible before the Creator for your actions. And here it’s telling us, if you read the two passages together, that it’s the age of 20, because all the children under the age of 20, they were exempt, and they were the ones who did not know today good and evil, or back then.

Keith: So, I want to give Nehemia some really well-deserved credit on something that’s parallel to what he just talked about. And again, I still say I’m the most honored Methodist in the land, I’ve been around this guy for so long. One of the things that he brought to my attention, which really changed my view on a number of things in Scripture, and again, I’m always going to go back to this one topic, there’s three things I focus on and I’m going to focus on these until my eyes are open to any other topic. And they’re the three T’s, time, Torah, Tetragrammaton. These three T’s for me have changed my life.

Well, one of the things that Nehemia did when we were doing a Torah study together was this idea of parallel passages. So the one that I always remember, the one that changed me, was the whole Ten Commandments issue. Because in Exodus, you’ve got the Ten Commandments and in Deuteronomy, we’re going to talk about this later, and I’m going to put it off until then, you have the Ten Commandments retold, and it’s not word-for-word the way that we understood it in Exodus. But by Moses doing what he does, it just completely opens the door to some things that jump off the page.

So I have to say to him, again, personally, on the show, Nehemia how much I appreciate you having your eyes open and realizing that yes, in fact, you were going to be my friend ten years ago, and you were going to teach me to read my Torah, and I’m just glad that you got it.

Nehemia: It was like the scales fell from my eyes.

Keith: Anyway, I appreciate that. Okay, Jono, we can move on.

Jono: Chapter 15. Now, look, for the sake of time, I feel like I want to sort of jump ahead, is there anything that you want to, Nehemia, do you want to point anything out before we get to verse 15?

Nehemia: Well, what are you talking about? Let’s jump ahead to verse 15, let’s do it.

Keith: I’d like to look at verse 8. “‘When you prepare a young bull as a burnt offering or sacrifice, for a special vow or a fellowship offering to the LORD, bring with the bull a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with half a hin of oil.” Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve got to stop, and I’ve got to talk about this for a minute. We can’t go past this; this is the most important verse in the entire Torah.

Nehemia: Wait, what’s the secret?

Keith: Come on.

Nehemia: I know there’s a secret here, what’s the secret meaning of the three-tenths of an ephah?

Keith: That’s what I...

Nehemia: There’s got to be a secret.

Jono: Come on, Keith, if you look at it in the Hebrew, and you look at the Paleo letters and then you... come on.

Keith: Jono!

Jono: Verse 15. “One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before Yehovah. One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you.’” Obviously, echoing Exodus, chapter 12, verse 49.

“And Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When you come into the land to which I bring to you, then it will be, when you eat of the bread of the land, that you shall offer up a heave offering to Yehovah. You shall offer up the cake of the first of your ground meal as a heave offering; as a heave offering of the threshing floor, so you shall offer up. On the first of your ground meal you shall give to Yehovah a heave offering throughout your generations.’”

Nehemia: What does that mean? But what that’s talking about is that he’s commanding them that, when you make bread - that was the normal thing, people would make bread daily, just in order to eat. From this bread, you’ve got to bring a First Fruits offering. You’ve got to take off a piece of that bread, off that dough, and give it to the Kohen, give it to the priest, give it to Yehovah, as a heave offering. That’s significant, because then what attaches to that is all the rules of ritual purity. If you’re going to be giving something and dedicating it as an offering, you have to be ritually pure when you’re making that bread.

Now, some people take this passage and say, “yeah, every single time you make a new batch of bread, you’ve got to give that to Yehovah… or give a piece of it”. Then that creates a whole issue where, “well, I’ve always got to be ritually clean”, which isn’t really commanded. I think what this is saying is that, every time you have a new harvest and you begin to make bread, and that’s why it talks about the First Fruits here, the first, the “reshit”. That then, out of that, before you eat from that new harvest, give something to the priest, he’s got to get a piece of that. That’s how I understand it.

Jono: “And if you sin,” if, Keith, “‘if you sin unintentionally, and you do not observe these commandments which Yehovah spoke unto Moses— all that Yehovah has commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day Yehovah gave the commandment and onward throughout your generations— then it will be, if it is unintentionally committed, without the knowledge of the congregation, that the whole congregation shall offer one bull as a burnt offering, a sweet aroma to Yehovah, with its grain offering and its drink offering, according to the ordinances, and one kid of the goats as a sin offering.

So the priest shall make atonement for the whole congregation of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them, for it was unintentional; they shall bring an offering, an offering made by fire to Yehovah, and their sin offering before Yehovah, for their unintended sin. It shall be forgiven the whole congregation of the children of Israel and the stranger who dwells among them, because all the people did it unintentionally.”

Nehemia: Wow.

Jono: How about that?

Nehemia: Can we stop here for a minute and talk about this phrase in verse 24? This goes back to what Keith was talking about, “they were grasshoppers in their own eyes.” Here what it literally says - “it shall come to pass, if it was done unintentionally,” literally it says, “from the eyes of the congregation.” In other words, it’s hidden from the eyes of the congregation, the intent. They didn’t realize that what they were doing was wrong, or they didn’t realize they were doing it. Isn’t that exactly what we’ve been talking about in this prayer, “Uncover my eyes that I may see the hidden, wonderful things of your Torah”?

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: To me this is so powerful that Yehovah is telling us, “if your eyes aren’t uncovered, then I’m not going to blame you for it. There’s this mechanism for you, where as soon as you find out, you can repent, and you can get forgiveness.” That’s contrasted then with the next section, which we’ll read about in a minute, where there isn’t this unintentional situation. But I think that’s so beautiful that Yehovah is that merciful. He has that much mercy, that if someone is blinded to some truth, that he’s not going to blame the person for violating that commandment and violating His will, until they have the opportunity, until they know.

Here it’s talking about… this is the entire congregation; they’re blind to something. And you ask yourself, how could that be? God revealed these things to Moses. And the reality is, it happens that people forget, or people don’t understand. They have a misunderstanding or a lack of knowledge, and in that situation, Yehovah will forgive you. Hallelujah. Whoo!

Jono: Amen. Keith?

Keith: I want to say something, Jono. And this is clearly a commercial, so everyone, just know I’m about to give you a commercial. And the reason I want to give you a commercial on this section is because this is so important. So here you have this issue of, now, “if you.” And if I open my Hebrew Bible, versus my NIV, my NIV, until I read a little bit later on, I’m not sure who “you” is. But if I open my Hebrew Bible, I find out that the “you” is actually plural, “you,” “y’all.” Now, context knows that we’re talking about y’all.

But the reason I want to give a commercial is this is a very powerful thing in the New Testament that Yeshua did when he taught this prayer, A Prayer to Our Father. When he taught the prayer, he could have said, “now, when you pray this prayer, it’s just for you, singular.” But rather, he taught it from the plural. The commercial is this: what we’ve been able to do, Jono, that’s been so exciting to me, is that you got the Jew and the Gentile together, the y’all together, teaching a prayer that was y’all focused. And the y’all focused is this idea of community.

So, when I read this passage, I think immediately about the y’all. Again, and when I’m reading my English Bible, I’ve got to eventually find if it’s “you,” singular or “you,” plural, and sometimes, context never lets me know unless I actually look in and see what the words actually say. And that’s why I wanted to stop here and say here - that the prayer itself is so powerful from those first words “Avinu,” “Our Father.”

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Which includes Australia. Yes, that’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the “our” includes Australia.

Jono: Even Tasmania!

Keith: Even Tasmania, okay.

Jono: “But,” here’s the but…

Keith: Here it comes.

Nehemia: There’s always a but...

Jono: There’s a but, verse 30, “But the person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on Yehovah, he shall be cut off from among the people because he has despised the word of Yehovah, and he has broken His commandment. That person shall be completely cut off; his guilt shall be upon him.” Serious stuff.

Nehemia: Keith, can you read your translation of verses 30 and 31, because that’s not quite what it says in my Hebrew.

Jono: Okay.

Keith: Yeah, just so we didn’t miss, we didn’t miss this 27 that basically if just one person sins unintentionally, he must bring a year-old female goat for a sin offering. So, in other words, here’s the y’all up to 26, 27, hey if it’s just you, there’s a way to deal with it. Then when we get to 29, “One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whether he’s a native-born Israelite…” And then verse 30 says, “but anyone who sins defiantly.” Now, that’s what mine says.

Nehemia: So, my Hebrew... what it says in the real Hebrew, it says “biyad ramah,” which means “with an uplifted hand.” Think about that image - the hand is up, there’s a fist up saying, “Yehovah, I don’t care what you say, I’m going to do this anyway.” This isn’t just, you know, “uh-oh, I slipped up, and I made a mistake.” Because if you make a mistake, then there’s the opportunity that you need to bring a sacrifice; it’s not a really big deal, just bring a sacrifice. But here you’ve got the uplifted hand and you’re waving it in the Creator’s face and saying, I’m going to do this. And then it says “et Yehovah hu megadeph,” he blasphemes the name of Yehovah. He blasphemes Yehovah.

Jono: Man, so that’s serious stuff.

Nehemia: That’s serious.

Keith: So, ladies and gentlemen, the clear connection for me when I read that, if I read it in the Hebrew versus in the English, is that, what did it mean to swear in His name, to raise the hand? And this is the image we find throughout the Tanakh, where Yehovah raises His hand, He says, “I swear by myself.” The idea that, okay, I raise my hand, I swear by myself, where do we get this idea when we go into the courts? “Raise your right hand, put your hand on the Bible, now, swear.”

So, imagine this person who’s saying, “look, you know, they’ve raised their hand; they defiantly swear in his name that this is what I’m going to do.” And basically, blasphemes Him, which is sort of the idea of piercing to... I mean this is the person who’s clearly conscious that’s saying this. “Everything I’ve heard, everything I know, everything I’ve learned - it don’t matter, Yehovah. I stand before you, I raise my hand in your face and tell you this is what I’m going to do.” Now, that person becomes dangerous. And why does that person become dangerous? Why would he say, cut that person off?

Jono: Because not only do they endanger themselves, they endanger the children of Israel, right? I mean we have an example of that of Achan, don’t we, in the book of Joshua?

Keith: Well, and that’s a little different because you’re talking about something that someone did privately that affected everyone publicly. We’re talking about someone who says, here’s this defiant, raise my hand in the face of Yehovah, publicly curse and stand against Him, and this person is in the community. I mean, so when I read that…

Nehemia: So...

Keith: Go ahead, Nehemia.

Nehemia: I think the difference here is…look, everybody sins, and we make mistakes. But this person in verses 30-31, he’s making sin into his lifestyle. This isn’t just a slip-up there, you know. I think there was a wise Rabbi who once said that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. And that’s a mistake. You make mistakes and you can repent for that. But this is a person who’s turning sin into his lifestyle, it’s not just a onetime sin.

And for this person, there’s no sacrifice that can atone for you. All the blood in the world can’t wash away that sin. All the animals sacrificed on the altar will not bring forgiveness for this person. He’s going to be cut off. And really, the only thing he can do is to repent and throw himself at the mercy of the Creator.

Jono: The mercy of God, yeah, that’s right.

Keith: And that same Rabbi, Jono, that Nehemia’s referring to, also spoke about a little yeast, you know, in other words, you put a little bit in there and what happens is, he was referring to sin.

Jono: Leavens the whole.

Keith: This idea, exactly, you put a little bit of that in there and the sin begins to spread. So, in this situation, we’ve found this throughout the Torah – “hey, listen, if we find someone who’s got this particular blot, this communicable disease, we’ve got to cut it off.” And this is sort of an image that’s like, “okay, and then in the same way, if we find someone who’s openly walking around with leprosy of sin in their heart and mind and lifestyle, we’ve got to cut it off.”

Jono: Amen.

Keith: If we don’t, it affects the whole community.

Nehemia: And then he brings us an example. I love this.

Keith: He brings an example.

Jono: There it is, and here’s the example, verse 32, “Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation. They put him under guard because,” Nehemia, “it had not been explained what should be done to him.” We explained that in the last Torah portion.

Nehemia: Yeah.

Jono: “Then Yehovah said to Moses, ‘The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.’ So, as Yehovah commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones and he died.”

Nehemia: So, this is a person who evidently has done this sin, not by accident - it’s not that he didn’t know it was a sin. He knew this was a sin and he’s like, “Sabbath? Pfft, forget that. I want to work today.”

Jono: “I need wood.”

Nehemia: “I’ll go out and I’ll do my work today.”

Jono: “Busy doing all the stuff that I had to do during the week, but today I need wood and I was busy, and I know that I’m not supposed to get wood because I need wood for my business, or whatever it is, the cooking, or whatever it is I’m doing, whether the business that I go about, and I need wood. And this is the only day that I don’t care what it says, because I’m busy, I’m going to go out and get wood, damn it, I’m doing it now.”

Keith: Oh, my.

Jono: That’s what he did.

Nehemia: Gosh darn it.

Jono: Gosh darn it. Sorry. Okay.

Nehemia: So he’s lifted up that fist against Yehovah and saying, “I’m going to do this today, no one’s going to stop me,” and he goes out and he does it, not just... he does it in front of everybody, so they can all see the Sabbath doesn’t count. He does it in front of everybody.

Keith: And here’s what I don’t like about the way the Bible studies are usually done, and reading and discussing and making a theological statement, etc. So, somebody will pick this passage out. They will take this passage and explain why today, and they’ll make a connection to a connection to a connection… But again, if we do what we’re trying to do here, where we read context...

Like Nehemia has just said, we read this section about the person who raises their hand up and defiantly does this, and then there’s this picture here. So be the author. Be the one who’s trying to communicate a message. So, what do you do? I always like to do this, explain it, illustrate it and applicate it. So, he explains it, here’s the deal, he illustrates it, here’s an example, and he gives the application, here’s what happens.

But you know, if you pull it out and say, well, let’s get into the exact word of which particular command he broke, he broke gathering the wood and it was a certain amount of wood done within a certain particular place, blah blah blah, and then they come up with an entire theology on it and then that’s where we get problems.

The big picture is real clear. Don’t defy Yehovah. If you defy Yehovah here’s what’s going to happen and here’s the application.

Jono: Amen. Now, Keith, in your tradition...

Keith: Yes?

Jono: …did you have - particularly among the younger people - was there that fad where they were all wearing multicolored, rubber bands around their wrists with the letters WWJD?

Keith: We didn’t have multicolored bands. I’m kind of in the in-between group. I was in a youth pastorate when that started happening, so “What Would Jesus Do?” Yeah.

Jono: What would Jesus do? And kind of a nebulous question, because I mean…

Keith: Thanks for thinking I’m that young, though.

Nehemia: Where did that come from?

Keith: Well, I appreciate that.

Jono: So now there’s a reason why I’m bringing that up, Keith, and it’s because the question is kind of a nebulous one. It asks the question for the individual to decide for themselves, “what do I think He would do if I wanted to be like Him”? But here in verse 37, this is what I’ve got, “Again Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread on the tassels of the corners. And you shall have a tassel that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of Yehovah and do them.” So, it’s not some nebulous, “what do I think Moses would do?” “what do I think Joshua would do?” It’s, “this is what I’ve said to do, remember the things that I’ve told you to do, I’ve put it down in writing, it’s black and white, it cannot be clearer, remember it. And I’ve given you something to remember them by.”

Nehemia: Black and white and blue.

Jono: There it is, black and white and blue.

Keith: Can I testify about this? This was one of these passages that was a game changer, for me, because when I read this, I thought, again, big picture. So, here’s the explanation, the illustration, the application. And so, this idea of the tzitzit, that they would be something that you would be able to look at, that you’d be able to see it and that you would be reminded.

So, for example, I’m looking right now, I’ve got a little prayer shawl over there with tzitzit. When I look at that and I see that... or in the morning, for me, this is just what I happen to do in the morning, I might get up - I do get up - and the idea for me, when I wake up in the morning, is I would take my little tallit with the tzitzit and I would put that on, and I’d look at that thread that has that blue thread in there, and I would think about this portion, and I’d think about what the purpose was. Now, there’s been all sorts of arguments, all sorts of issues: How long are the tzitzit? Where do I put the tzitzit?

Jono: What color of blue? What shade of blue is it?

Keith: What shade is it?

Nehemia: We’ve got the original blue tzitzit, the original ones...

Keith: Those are for $39.95. And the list goes on and on, do you have the little knots that show that it’s 613, you know... Okay, none of that is in here. Okay? So, here’s an example of just getting it down to the basics. For me, the basics are these: “here’s what you’re to look at on the four corners of a garment and it will be reminded of what it means to be My people, so you don’t forget.”

And so for me that’s just one application for me - in the morning that’s just something I do, and it’s funny, because some people would say, you know, you’re just doing it by rote and you’re putting on... and you’re saying, “baruch atah Yehovah eloheinu melech ha'olam asher kidshanu,” okay, you’re saying those words, it doesn’t mean anything. For me, it means something only because of the idea of Him commanding it. What does it mean for me to apply it? What’s the illustration of it? There it is. And then throughout the day, I’m reminded.

Jono: There it is.

Keith: So, it’s kind of a cool thing, you know.

Jono: Well, I’m glad you shared that, Keith. That’s a different way of applying those verses. Can I ask you, Nehemia, how you see these verses?

Nehemia: Well, I mean here’s another example where we’ve got two parallel passages, and again, I don’t think you can take one of the passages by itself, just like the thing with the spies. You would not have really understood the story of the spies, about who initiated the spies and what the consequences were, without reading both passages in Numbers and Deuteronomy.

That’s exactly what we have here, in Numbers 15, verses 37-41. What we just read has a parallel over in Deuteronomy, and specifically, it is Deuteronomy, chapter 22, verse 15. There it says, “gdilim ta’ase lach,” which you could translate roughly as “cords you will make for yourself upon the four corners of the covering, or the garment, which you cover yourself with.” So, we’ve got two issues here - one is just the garment we’re covering ourselves with, and number two is the four corners.

What many Jews have understood from this is that this commandment - certainly the way it’s traditionally been understood - is that this commandment was specific to a four-corner garment. If you look in ancient drawings of the ancient Israelites, actually of reliefs that you find in Assyria, which depict the ancient Israelites, you see that they would wrap themselves essentially with one garment, which was a long, rectangular piece of cloth. And it talks about in a number of passages in Scripture, where, if somebody is a debtor, that you can’t take his garment away because what will he sleep with? I mean, people literally had one piece of garment, one piece of rectangular cloth they would cover themselves with. So, the challenge we’re faced with today is that…well, people don’t dress that way with the rectangular piece of cloth.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: That’s where the prayer shawl comes in. That’s why, what tradition has stepped in and done is said, “okay, well, we don’t dress the way we used to, but let’s not let this commandment fall into oblivion, we want to continue to put it on the four corners of the garment that we cover ourselves with”. And so people still will do what Keith just described - they’ll take the four-cornered garment, that they don’t wear all day, but they’ll put it on, usually during prayer, and the idea is that you’ll give yourself a chance to meditate upon the Creator and His commandments and to be reminded through the blue thread.

So that’s what I do. I’ve got a prayer shawl, a tallit, and I have it with the tzitzit on the tallit, and when I put it on and pray, and I will usually say the Shema, and then combine that with my complaints and requests and praises - mostly requests and complaints, if we’re going to be honest here. So, look, there are other people who say, “no, the shape of the garment isn’t important, what’s important is that you’re wearing them all the time.” I don’t have any complaint against those people. If they want to carry out the commandment that way, I think that’s wonderful, in fact. They can put it on their belt loops, whatever they want to do; I have no problem with that. Where I have a problem is when we get involved with the tzitzit police. Now, do you know about the tzitzit police over there in Australia?

Jono: I have encountered the tzitzit police online, but not in Australia.

Nehemia: Okay. So, I’ve encountered the tzitzit police all over the world. The tzitzit police believe that it’s their job - and we actually have an expression like that in Hebrew. The expression to meddle in someone else’s business, the idiom is, “to check someone’s tzitzit.” That’s what they actually say in modern Hebrew, that “somebody is checking my tzitzit.” Actually, it’s even more specific than that - “he’s checking the fine, minute details of the tzitzit,” that’s the Hebrew idiom of getting involved in someone else’s business.

I don’t like the tzitzit police because really what it does is, I think that’s contrary really to the spirit of this commandment because the commandment here is between me and my Creator. He’s commanded me to do this, and if I’m doing it because you’re going to be checking my tzitzit, then I’m not doing it for my Creator, I’m doing it for you.

What I found is, there becomes a competition of who has the most... and not just, you know, I find this with Jews and certain non-Jews, also, who are trying to keep the Torah - you’ll see that they want to have the most visible tzitzit and the longest tzitzit, and they want to make sure that everybody sees their tzitzit; they’ll make sure everyone sees the tzitzit.

To me that really isn’t what this... I’m not so sure that person’s fulfilling this commandment. Because the commandment isn’t about somebody else seeing your tzitzit, it’s about you seeing the tzitzit. What is the best way for us to do that today? That’s the question I ask myself, and I know for me, the best way to do that is when I’m focusing on my Creator, and I’ve set aside a few minutes for me to pray, and for me, that’s the time to do it.

I want to urge people to search this for yourselves and read the two passages and look at them together and decide how you want to understand and fulfill this commandment. But leave your fellow’s tzitzit alone. You know you don’t have a commandment, “Thou shalt surely check the tzitzit of thy neighbor,” there is no such commandment like that.

Keith: I know a rabbi, Jono, he was pretty wise, and he said that people will go in and they’ll have their tassels, or their long tzitzit, and their prayers are long, and again, the whole idea of public versus private. I do believe that our lives are to display publicly our private commitment to the Creator of the universe. The question is when the external becomes the motivation and the internal is left completely out.

That’s why I love this idea of being able to have this most precious thing called prayer, and then, to have something that reminds me physically that I’ve been made with senses - eyes, and ears and I’m able to hear and see, and there’s so many powerful things in the Torah about this idea - hearing and seeing and being able to grasp His wonderful and beautiful commands in our lives and to find ways to apply it.

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: And that’s where I think it’s an internal thing, first, and externally comes second.

Jono: Amen. I have them on my belt loops, just the blue and white, and I tell you what, my goats they love them.

Nehemia: I’ll bet. So, let me ask you a question, Jono, and I don’t mean to mock, but I am curious.

Jono: Yeah?

Nehemia: So, you’re wearing them on your belt loops, and I don’t want to be crude, but when you go to… the facilities, well, what happens to those tzitzit?

Jono: Right, so I have pockets.

Keith: You’re not asking him this question.

Nehemia: No, I mean this is the reason that I think...

Jono: No, I’m serious. I have pockets.

Nehemia: …most people would be very hesitant to do that is that, they’ll be like, “well, wait a minute, the tzitzit is going to be dragging in the filth.” But okay, so you stick them in your pockets. There it is. That’s the solution.

Jono: There’s the solution - pockets.

Nehemia: There it is.

Jono: Thanks for asking. Okay, so.

Keith: TMI! Okay.

Jono: Alright. Here it is, the last few verses, “And you shall have the tassels, that you may look upon them and remember the commandments of Yehovah to do them, that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember to do all My commandments, and be holy for your God. I am Yehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am Yehovah your God.” Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: And that’s one of my favorite verses in the Torah. I’m telling you, I say it every time on the show. When we see that, boy, that’s supposed to make us remember, “so why am I doing this again?” “I am Yehovah, I’m the one who brought you out.” Why am I doing this again? “I am Yehovah, I’m the one...” What is it that I’m supposed to do again? “I am Yehovah, I’m the one brought you out.”

Jono: Amen.

Keith: So, we can say that today - so why are we doing these Torah portions? Why are we reading the Word of God? Why are we trying to apply it, understand it, illustrate it, applicate it? “I am Yehovah, I’m the one who brought you out of Egypt.”

Jono: Amen.

Keith: So that’s our motivation. He’s the one who is, who was, and shall be, and we’re in relationship with Him.

Jono: Amen. Thank you, Keith Johnson, and Nehemia Gordon. You’ve been listening to Truth2U where you can purchase their books and DVDs, they’re available at the website. And next week we are in Korach, right? Numbers 16, verse 1, to 18:32. And until then dear listeners, be blessed and be set apart by the truth of our Father’s word. Shalom.

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

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  • Donald Murphy says:

    Yehovah, is the only savior.

  • Lucile says:

    I am curious to know if Yeshua was talking about the tsitsit idea when He said that when we want to pray we should go into our closet and talk to our Father and He will answer us. He discouraged the public display of prayer. But what about protestors claiming to be praying? What to make of it?

  • Richard says:

    I’ve got a question that I had never thought of before…While the Children of Israel were traveling in the Negev, having their needs met by mana and water from the rock and various oases. How were they to get the grain offerings and drink offerings they needed to approach the Tabernacle?

    • Lucile says:

      It’s an instruction to be applied after they entered the land.

      • Karen says:

        Reading this reminded me that our Heavenly Father always goes BEFORE us. And these instructions were to be taught to the children who would live on to inherit the promises and carry out all that God intended. A sobering responsibility to be investing in our children and grandchildren! Torah is not just for us, but a treasure to be passed on.

  • Loved this. Learned a lot. I never understood the Tzitzit now I understand what it means very lovely. I didn’t much care for Keith’s emphasis on the Greek but other than that I loved this whole Torah pearls. 🙂

  • auntganny says:

    So thankful for the ‘food’ I am fed from your discussions on Yehovah and His words. May your hearts always be so humble to learn from Yehovah His truths and so willing to share them with His people.