Torah Pearls #48 – Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)

Torah Pearls Shoftim, abominable practices, abominations, atonement ritual, authority, bribes, cities of refuge, forbidden worship, grace, Harry Potter, Hebrew collective singular, Jacob’s pillar, judges, justice, king, Messiah, Pontius Pilate, prophet, prophet like Moses, prophets, rabbinical authority, sacred pillar, shoftim, skiviti, skiviti plaque, standing stone, supernatural, three witnesses, Torah Pearls, two witnessesThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9), begins focusing on judgment and law and Nehemia Gordon shares the origin of the Hebrew word for “grace.” Discussions include: Must we always have two or three witnesses? Who has the authority today? Are we guilty of rejecting Yehovah as King? What of the Harry Potter question and how far do we take Deuteronomy 18:9-14? Who is the prophet likened unto Moses? Was God’s eye sparkling when he accepted Jacob’s pillar—a thing he hates? Who now has the authority to judge difficult things? What first-century Roman is infamous for mocking an atonement ritual? Who’s the original tree-hugger? With differing views, the trio debates whether certain cultural practices are abominations and Gordon provides an eyewitness account of Deuteronomy 19:1. Showing no fear, the trio concludes by examining the weirdest thing in the Bible.

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Torah Pearls #48 - Shoftim (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9)

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

Jono: G'day to Neil in Arizona; Betsy who commented on Facebook saying, “thank you ever so much for the work you guys put into Torah Pearls, they are truly a blessing”; and Sarah in Germany who said, “I love Torah Pearls, thank you.” She goes on to say, “something touched me when Keith sang about the moving cloud in Beha'arochat”.

Keith: There it is.

Jono: Remember that?

Keith: Of course, I remember that. That was my debut.

Jono: That was your debut. That's going to be on your up and coming album, Keith Johnson's up and coming album, ‘Move With the Cloud.’ Is that an old standard or you did you just throw that together…

Keith: What are you talking about? Everyone knows about that song in the church.

Nehemia: Now what is that song? Can you sing it again because I don't remember it.

Keith: The cloud of glory is moving, move with cloud, move with cloud.

Jono: Yeah, no, I remember it when you sang it, but I have never heard it before.

Keith: Yeah.

Jono: Nice. There it is. It is time for Pearls from the Torah Portion with Keith Johnson and Nehemia Gordon. Welcome back, gentlemen. It's good to have you back.

Nehemia: Look, I want to do a shout-out, Jono, to Margaret in Pennsylvania. She actually put on a really amazing conference where Keith and I spoke last year, and I noticed recently that she was sharing the Torah Pearls. Thanks for sharing Margaret. I've got to make a confession to the listeners. I've got to confess something about the last episode. I was sitting here in Jerusalem and it was like a billion degrees outside. Actually, I think it was 38*C or about 100*F. I was sweating bullets, and when we started the program, I had this fan blowing on me and you said, “Nehemia, I'm hearing the fan on the microphone, you've got to do something.” So I bit the bullet and turned it off, and I was actually sitting there the whole time, you'd be reading your ten verses, “And the LORD spoke unto Moses saying,” and I would mute my mic, turn on the fan for 30 seconds and then you would say at the end, “Nehemia, what do you think about that?” And I'd immediately then turn off the fan and turn on my mic and be like, “Yeah, Jono, that is such and such,” and the sweat was like dripping down my face and all over my body. So hot here in Jerusalem.

Keith: Exactly.

Jono: Oh, my goodness. This is the sacrifice you make...

Nehemia: This is what I do for Torah Pearls.

Jono: This is what you do for the Torah Pearls. You’re there in a billion degrees, sweating away and you're not even at home. Tell us where you are at the moment.

Nehemia: I'm actually, for the first time in my adult life, in some kind of sense, homeless. I’m actually heading over to the United States and before I...

Jono: He's on a park bench, Keith. He's living on a park bench.

Nehemia: Actually, confession… time for another confession. Now, I'm almost 40 years old and I am living in my mother's spare bedroom. That’s because I am on my way to the US, and so, I am currently doing this from my mother's spare bedroom.

Jono: It doesn't stop there, because she has a cat, and you are allergic to cats. Right?

Nehemia: Let's be honest here. She has about a dozen cats.

Keith: She's got ones that she officially names and ones that like to come over and visit.

Nehemia: Exactly. She's got the ones that she names, other ones that she feeds and provides medical care to and other things like that, and I'm allergic to cats. So, this is one of the reasons I have the fan blowing on me all the time. I'm trying to get some of the fresh air in to dissipate some of the cat smell, which is making me scratch my head, and my eyes are watering. But Torah Pearls is important, so I am willing to suffer a little bit.

Jono: So in between talking, ladies and gentlemen, he is sweating and sneezing, which you don't hear when he mutes his microphone. Anyway, on the other side of the world, there's Keith Johnson. Actually, before I speak to you can I just tell you... Keith, this morning, I got up, I turned on my computer and there on Facebook was a link to And on that new website, which is looking fabulous by the way, lo and behold, the book that he has been going on about for how many years? He's actually telling people it's up for sale.

Nehemia: I actually did it. It's available. I told you I'd get the book out. Now, what about your little video Keith, “Only Time Will Tell”? Where is that?

Keith: I'm going to wait. I'm waiting on that, ladies and gentlemen. We're just plugging along.

Jono: We are eagerly waiting for that one, but before we talk about that let me just remind the listeners,

Nehemia's Wall. How do we spell it?

Nehemia: Only one “H” in Nehemia.

Jono: You can order the book from there, right?

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: Keith! What is going on? What is the latest with you my friend? We are waiting for, “Time Will Tell,” this video? And all the little tasters that you've given us of what you did when you were over in Rome and you were in Israel.

Keith: Let me say this, I’ve taken the approach to say, "It’s all in the can", like you say. Once you get the video done and you do the writing and all that sort of stuff, now you have to go through what I call the "difficult task" of determining post-production and all that sort of thing. So, what I’m really doing, what I’m really happy about, is that I’ve done my part, which is to organize it, get it all done, do all the writing. Now I gotta go through the other part, which is really quite complicated and difficult. But in the meantime, what I’m going to be doing is this. First of all, I’ve been waiting for this book that Nehemia’s written. I can’t wait for people to get it because I got a chance to read it about ten years ago when he started writing it.

Nehemia: Sounds about right.

Keith: But we’re also in conversations now, and we’re going to be talking about really soon, about where we’re going to go; places to go and share not only that message but the message from the "Time Will Tell" project. Regardless of the video, the experience took place and I think it’s really going to bless people. So, I’m looking forward to it. I know you and I have talked a little bit about maybe getting a chance to share some stuff. Overall, I just think that we are in a great place right now with all of the information that’s now available. We are looking for ways to get it out and not to mention, ladies and gentlemen, there is still room right now to go to Israel with Jono and myself, and Nehemia, who doesn’t realize we are crashing the Aviv search.

Nehemia: About that...

Jono: There will be an all-night party at his mom’s place.

Keith: There will be an all-night party at his mom’s place...

Jono: The cats!

Keith: Anyway, really, there is so much going on: China, Israel, new book, the Time Will Tell project.

Jono: Now by the way, by the time our listeners are listening there may be more information in regard to the video you are working on Time Will Tell. That’s probably going to be on

Keith: Yes, But like I said, I’m going to wait. When I do that it’s going to be good, so we’ll just keep plugging along.

Jono: There we go. Excellent. That’s the latest. Today we are in Shoftim, which is Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9; are you ready?

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Do it.

Jono: This is the way it starts, “You shall appoint judges and officers in your gates which Yehovah your God gives you according to your tribes. And they shall judge the people with justice. You shall not pervert justice. You shall not show partiality nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.”

Nehemia: Can we stop there for a second? That’s a really interesting... seemingly like, what is there to say about this? Obviously, don’t take bribes, right? But there is a really interesting verse in Proverbs 17: 8 which sheds light on something completely different, and actually sheds light on the Priestly Blessing, which is what I wrote the book on, Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence: The Hebrew Power of the Priestly Blessing Unleashed. In that book, one of the things I was looking at is the Hebrew concept of grace, because in the Priestly Blessing it says: “Yivaracha Yehovah Ve”Yishmerecha Yehovah,” “May Yehovah Bless you and keep you.” “Ya”er Yehovah Panav Elecha Ve”YeChoNecha”, “Yehovah shine his face towards you and be gracious towards you.” “Yaseh Yehovah Panav Elecha Ve”YaSem Lecha Shalom,” “Yehovah lifts his face towards you and gives you peace.” So, when he says, "be gracious towards you," I asked the question, what does that mean? What does grace mean in the biblical Tanakh Old Testament, Hebrew Bible sense?

I tried to find what the origin of the Hebrew word for grace is, and the Hebrew word for grace is “Chen”. In Hebrew it’s [spelled] “Chet-Nun,” and one of the key verses was Proverbs 17:8, which talks about bribes. It says as follows, in the Hebrew, and this is usually mistranslated because people were confused by this term for grace, Chen, what they had to do with a stone. It literally says, "the bribe is a sparkling stone in the eyes of its owner wherever he turns to, he"—and then there’s a play on words, which can be translated as, "he succeeds," or, "he fails.” The implication there is that he thinks he succeeds but he ends up failing.

So, what does that mean? "The bribe is a sparkling stone," is the literal translation. That’s actually the concept of “Chen”, of grace. You see this expression all throughout the Hebrew Bible, "to find favor in his eyes.” You’d look up at someone, and you’d find favor in his eyes. The literal meaning there is you’d look up, and you’d see their eyes sparkling. You’d see like a twinkle in their eye. And where that comes from actually is this idea that when a person—and I actually asked my sister, who is an optometrist, and she gave me the whole technical explanation—that when someone expresses great emotion, their pupils dilate and sometimes even a tear will well up in their eyes. And so, we think of someone with big eyes, big pupils with dilated pupils, as loving. The light actually reflects off of those dilated pupils and the tear in their eye. Actually, to the point that, in previous centuries, women who wanted to entice a lover would actually put a poison in their eyes which would cause the pupils to dilate. Men would look at that and think they were beautiful and think, "Oh, this woman must really love me." But they wouldn’t know why; they would just know she looks beautiful. The reason is because, subconsciously they see the dilated pupils with a sparkling light coming off of it as something beautiful. Actually, even cartoon characters, if you look at Tweety, for example, what does Tweety have? Really big eyes. Right? Because we think of that as loving and caring.

And so, when we look up at God and we find favor in His eyes, we’re seeing His - metaphorically speaking, symbolically speaking - His pupils are dilated and He’s looking back at us with this tear in His eyes, and that’s an expression of love. We are seeing the sparkle in His eyes. What all of this has to do with bribery is, that’s the context that unlocks this. There are a number of verses, but one of them is Proverbs 17:8, which says, “The bribe is a sparkling stone in the eye of its owner.” What that means is, with a semiprecious gem, someone looks at that sparkling stone, which is the symbol for the bribe, and says, "Wow, that is something enticing. I can do something with that.” Wherever he turns, he thinks he succeeds, but he fails. So, he is enticed by this sparkle, the sparkle of the stone, the diamond, the gem. And “Chen,” the Hebrew word for grace, that is the sparkle in the eye of our Creator when we look up at Him and He looks down at us lovingly.

Keith: There it is. Well, that’s wonderful.

Jono: Really.

Nehemia: Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence: The Hebrew Power of the Priestly Blessing Unleashed.

Jono: Just about to say that., and if you haven’t gotten it already you need to get it before it sells out. "You shall follow what is altogether just that you may live and inherit the land, which Yehovah your God is giving you. You shall not plant for yourselves any tree as a wooden image...”

Nehemia: I cannot accept that translation. "You shall follow what is altogether just," is that what you’ve got Keith?

Keith: No, "follow justice and justice alone."

Nehemia: So, it says in Hebrew ‘tzedek Tzedek Tirdof.’ Literally, you could translate it, "Justice, justice, you shall pursue."

Keith: There goes the NIV.

Nehemia: This repetition, "Justice, Justice;” it’s like in English where we say “very, very”. In many languages if you repeat something you are emphasizing it. So, "Justice, justice, you shall pursue.” Not just, “You shall…” what was your translation, Jono?

Jono: “You shall follow what is altogether just.”

Nehemia: No, it is much more than follow. You’re going to pursue justice. Actually, when I was reading this earlier, I was thinking of a verse – actually, I hope this is okay - I was thinking of a verse in the New Testament…

Jono: What?!

Nehemia: Sorry, it’s true. It’s in Matthew, chapter 5, in the Sermon on the Mount. There Yeshua, Jesus, says, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Now that’s making peace, not justice. But in the Hebrew version of Matthew it says, “Blessed are those,” or literally, “Happy are those,” who pursue peace. The word here, “pursue,” means to chase after something. We’re not just following it, you know? Yeah, if there’s peace, we’re going to follow peace, or if there’s justice, we’re going to follow justice. We’re pursuing justice. Of course, the thing that Yeshua taught in the Sermon on the Mount is an echo of Psalm 34. In the Hebrew, it is verse 15; maybe you can read that in your translation, 34:15. It might be a different verse in English. It says, “turn from evil and do good.”

Jono: “Depart from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it.”

Nehemia: Okay, so there they translated the word as “pursue”, whereas in Deuteronomy it’s just “follow it.” Follow justice. No! Pursue justice! Pursue peace! That’s one of the interesting things in the Greek; in Greek Matthew, it talks about making peace, and in the Hebrew it talks about pursuing peace, which is, of course, echoed in this verse in Psalm 34, I guess 14 in the English, "seek peace and pursue it." So that’s, I think, much more powerful than to follow justice.

Jono: That’s interesting. Thank you for that. We’re going to be returning to the Sermon on the Mount a little later, believe it or not. So, “You shall not plant for yourselves any tree as a wooden image near the altar which you build for yourself to Yehovah your God. You shall not set up a sacred pillar which Yehovah your God hates.” There we go. “You shall not sacrifice...”

Nehemia: I don’t mean to be a troublemaker here. We’re going to get out of this chapter. It’s a short one. We’re going to finish it. But maybe can Keith, since he’s been quiet, read Genesis 28:18 in the English?

Keith: Genesis 28:18…

Nehemia: The reason that we’re reading this is that the same exact word that they translate here, “A sacred pillar,” appears in Genesis 28:18, and I’ll bet you it has a different translation because they’re not comfortable with…

Keith: 28:18; it says, “Early in the next morning, Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it.”

Nehemia: So, the word they translate as, ‘a pillar’, is the exact same word that appears here in Deuteronomy. “You shall not set up for yourself a matzevah.” Which is kind of really like a standing stone, is what it really means. “Sacred pillar, standing stone,” which Yehovah your God hates. I’m going to throw that out to the group. So, God commands us not to do it, but Jacob did it. It’s the same exact word— “matzevah”—they just added the word sacred to try to, you know, make you not realize that there’s the same thing going on here.

Jono: And I do have sacred here in italics. Just curiously Keith, the NIV?

Keith: So, yes, it says “pillar”.

Jono: It doesn’t have sacred?

Keith: No. It says early the next morning...

Jono: Ah! Another point for the NIV!

Nehemia: How about Genesis 31:13, where God refers back to this incident and basically tells us He accepts the pillar?

Jono: Okay, so it says, I’ve got here, “I am God of the Bet-El where you anointed the pillar and where you made a vow to Me. Now arise, get out of this land and return to the land of your family.”

Nehemia: So, He kind of confirms, “you did this pillar thing and all right, I’m okay with that.” I think this is really interesting. On one hand, he’s telling us God hates it. So, what does that mean? Back in the time of the Patriarchs, He didn’t hate it?

Jono: Hmm, Okay.

Nehemia: This isn’t just a ritual thing. He says, “do not set up for yourself a matzevah,” sacred pillar, “which Yehovah your God hates.” And let’s remember, He didn’t tell Jacob to set it up. Jacob set it up, and then He kind of accepted it.

Jono: It’s in comparison, is it not, with a wooden image, or a tree as a wooden image? We’re clearly talking about idolatry.

Nehemia: Okay. So, if I set one up to Yehovah, it’s okay?

Jono: But...

Nehemia: Come on, obviously not.

Jono: But was he setting it up as a marker? Or was he setting it up as an item of worship?

Nehemia: Let’s see what he says. It’s in verse 28:22. “And this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house and of all that you give me, I will give you a tenth.” So, he set that up as essentially representing the House of God.

Jono: So, it’s a memorial, or I mean... we also have with Jacob and Laban, they set up the pile of witnesses, the heap of witnesses...

Nehemia: Okay, and that also is called a matzevah, or pillar. But that’s not an object of... I don’t know what the word is - worship. Whereas clearly, the one in Genesis with Bet-El is.

Jono: You think it is, okay. Well, okay. Hang on, wait a minute. If I’m not mistaken, you brought the example last week of the tribes that built the altar at the Jordan. That too was… now I don’t believe you used the same words, but it was called a memorial or a witness once again.

Nehemia: Okay. So, hold on, let me just check. It doesn’t have the word matzevah there, I just checked. We do have another instance where there is the word matzevah, which is pillar. But once again, it’s not representing anything to do with God, really. It’s God telling them to do it, representing each of the 12 tribes, which I think is quite different. I mean, that’s Exodus 24:4, so it’s not representing God or anything.

And then, by the way, Leviticus 26:1 is the second witness. “Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourself.” Again, in Hebrew it’s matzevah, same exact… so twice, once in Leviticus and a second time in Deuteronomy. So, look, I don’t have the answer. I guess maybe you could say, “well, it was okay when Jacob did it, but it’s not okay if we do it today.” I tend to think that maybe this is God’s grace. We talked about chen, about grace. God was merciful on Jacob. He said, “okay Jacob, you’re just starting out. You haven’t gotten the whole Torah yet. You don’t know all the details. We’re working on it. We’re working on you and your people. I’m going to accept this. This isn’t really what I want. I kind of hate this actually. But you’ve been loyal and faithful…”

Jono: I’m not going to hold this against you.

Nehemia: It’s interesting… you know, because he married two sisters, which is also forbidden later on in the Torah. So, the way I look at it is, the whole revelation hadn’t been revealed yet and God was being merciful.

Jono: Potentially. Keith?

Keith: So, I just think one of the things that really is interesting about this is you have Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, you know, all of these guys coming from this background that they’ve come from. And when we get to this issue of Jacob, and we’ve already talked about him setting up the stone, I think it’s really interesting, in 31:45, where it talked about this. So, he says, “he took a stone and he set up as a pillar and he said to his relatives, ‘gather some stones.’ So, they took stones and piled them as a heap. And they are there by the heap. And Laban called its name. And Jacob called this name.”

And here’s what I think is so interesting is that you’ve got Laban, who comes from where he comes from, acknowledging this. Jacob, who comes from where he’s about to be acknowledging this. And I’m just wondering, and we even see this in the part where Jacob says okay, he’ll give him the money he has everybody give him the gold from their earrings, et cetera. It’s like this is their background. This is the common ground between where he comes from before. And certainly, Laban understood that. So, I wonder if there isn’t this progression of knowledge and progression of information.

It’s like Abraham when we go through and he says, “Abraham kept all of the mitzvot, all of the commandments.” Well, which commandments are we talking about? There’s this process of knowledge and information as he’s going through this progression, and as Jacob’s also going through the progression Yehovah says, “In Deuteronomy we’re going to explain to people that this isn’t something we’re doing. I just haven’t told Jacob that yet.” In other words, He hasn’t commanded Jacob that, but this is what Jacob would do. Now for us when we get to Deuteronomy and now it’s been commanded, we can’t say, “Yeah, but we’re going to do it. Jacob did.” No, we’re going to do what Yehovah has commanded.

Nehemia: Man, isn’t that cool that Yehovah was merciful on Jacob? He didn’t say, “Oh, you didn’t follow it to the letter.” Boom!

Keith: Worse than that, He didn’t give him the letter. He didn’t tell him not to do it. So that’s the point.

Nehemia: Maybe he wasn’t ready for it.

Keith: Maybe he wasn’t ready for it and maybe this is where he came from. Maybe this is his background, who knows? But that’s in this issue of progression. You know, Jono, we’ve talked about this off the air. You’ve gone through a process of progression. Here’s what I have to do with my beard as an example. I look on Facebook also and your beard, where’s your beard?

Jono: It’s still there it’s just shorter! You know what? Actually, we’re in winter now and it’s made a comeback.

Nehemia: You’re on the wrong side of the world. You’re upside down.

Keith: Yeah, so here’s what’s interesting. As you’re going through your process, here’s what He says, He doesn’t say it to you just yet. He hadn’t said it to Jacob just then, but in Deuteronomy, He does say it. So again, I’d like to see where there would be a verse where He would’ve said to Jacob, “now don’t do this.” Jacob does. Exactly. That’s my point. Yeah, that’s my point is that it’s not based on something that He actually told him. It’s something he’s doing maybe from his background, but then once it gets to the fact that he’s told us, what we couldn’t do is go back, yeah, but look...

Jono: Exactly right.

Keith: Exactly.

Jono: Chapter 17: “You shall not sacrifice to Yehovah your God a bull or sheep which has any blemish or defect, that is an abomination to Yehovah your God. If there is found among you, within your gates, which Yehovah your God gives you, a man or a woman who’s been wicked in the sight of the LORD your God and transgressing His covenant, who has gone and served other gods, worshipping them, either the sun or the moon or any of the hosts of the heaven, which I have not commanded, and it is told to you and you hear about it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true in a certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing and you shall stone to death that man or woman with stones. Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses. He shall be not be put to death on the testimony of one.”

Nehemia: So, can we talk about that for a minute? That’s really interesting. So, this is something I’ll hear from a lot of people coming from a New Testament perspective. And I think to a lot of Jews, this is kind of surprising, which is the statement that everything has to be based on two or three witnesses. Everything. We can’t have any kind of discussion unless there are two or three witnesses. They’ll even say, “we need to have two or three verses to talk about it.” You know, I think the more witnesses you have, the better. Obviously, that’s great. But can we look at the verse in the New Testament that is based on this verse? And remember, we’re talking here about capital punishment, about putting someone to death in Deuteronomy 17:6.

Jono: Okay, well what comes to my mind is John chapter 8.

Nehemia: Okay, well, let’s do our little computer thing. Well Keith, where’s the verse?

Jono: Keith, where are we going?

Keith: Where do you wanna go?

Nehemia: The thing with the two witnesses. Ma zeh?

Keith: You guys gotta do your thing with the computer programs. Come on, what are you guys doing?

Nehemia: No, what? You’re a Methodist pastor for God’s sakes!

Jono: So, while you’re figuring out which passage you’re thinking of, Nehemia, I’ll let you figure that out. Keith, let me just bring this up very briefly with you because I’ve often heard it said… in fact, there was a recent comment with somebody saying it’s just as well that we don’t have to follow the Torah to the letter anymore. And I’m paraphrasing, but that Jesus came, and he forgave, Keith. He forgave the adulteress who was brought before Jesus by the Pharisees. It says the Pharisees caught a woman in adultery and they brought her to him to test him, and he says, “now Moses in the law commanded that such should be stoned.” Now, it doesn’t actually say that he references this particular command, but what we do see, and I wonder...

Nehemia: By the way, sorry to interrupt you. But that passage, and I think that’s in John actually, about the adulteress, where he says, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.” So, if you read pretty much any introduction to New Testament manuscript studies, they’ll tell you that that doesn’t appear on the earliest most reliable manuscripts.

Jono: That’s true. That’s true.

Nehemia: Apparently that’s an addition to the New Testament. Jesus probably didn’t do that. So...

Jono: True. From 8 to 12 I believe, is the question mark. But assuming that it happened, let’s assume that it happened. He gets down and he writes something in the sand, so it says. He writes something in the sand and then he says, he who is without sin among you let him throw the first stone at her. In order to throw a stone Keith, you have to be one of the witnesses. It doesn’t say that they brought witnesses. It says that they brought the woman to test him. And I wonder, you know, I do wonder if he got down and he wrote, should the story be true, that he wrote this particular Torah in the sand just to remind them what it says. If you don’t have two or three witnesses specifically in regard to a sin that is deserving of death, then you guys can’t pick up a stone and cast it. Does that make sense? Is that a possibility?

Keith: You know what? I’m going to give you that one. What I’ve actually enjoyed, where I think I do a lot better when it comes to the New Testament is to be able to see where we do have the concrete. Where it’s not a matter whether it’s an early witness or not a witness. When we do have those things that he teaches that we can connect directly to the Torah. I’ve said this over and over again. That’s where I get really, really excited. I’ve kind of left the possibilities on the side trying to figure those out, just because in the end, like you and I could say, “well could it be, could it be, could it be?” but in the end, we can’t say it was. And...

Jono: True.

Keith: … I’ve kind of got to the place where… and I used to be an expert at that, coming up with what could be.

Jono: There’s no end to speculation, is there?

Keith: There’s no end. And then I can’t even really find common ground with people because then we can’t look at a text and deal with the text. So, I’m going to defer to our New Testament scholar Nehemia Gordon on that one.

Nehemia: Well, I think we actually need to jump ahead to Deuteronomy 19:15, where it says, “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity or for any sin in any sin that he sins, at the mouth of two witnesses or the mouth of three witnesses shall the matter be established.” The point is that there are some situations where we’re not dealing with a sin, what we’re dealing with is kind of a dispute. In that instance, you might have a situation where there’s one witness. You might have a situation where... and that’s actually paraphrased in the New Testament in Two Corinthians 13:1 where it says “any charge must be sustained by the evidence of two or three witnesses”, which is true if you’re dealing with a charge of somebody sinning or there’s a crime.

But if you’re dealing with something where, you know, “he lent me money,” or, “I lent him money”, and let’s say I’m the only witness. That’s me and him and it’s he said, she said; well, the passage deals with that later in our Torah portion. In that situation you have the judges investigate the matter and they listen to both sides and they make a decision. They don’t say, “oh, there’s no two witnesses, we’re throwing this out of court.” I don’t think the New Testament is taking it wrongly. I think what people do with that is then misunderstood. They’re misunderstanding the context there, both the New Testament and Deuteronomy 19:15, and this verse here, Deuteronomy 17:6.

Keith: Okay. All right. Well, what I actually wanted to do is just take a little look, Jono, here in Deuteronomy 17, at something that really has caught my attention, and different translations are going to use different phrases, but they kind of all come back to the same thing. And I’ve heard this especially as I’ve been dealing with the issue of time. Let’s go to verse 2 again, “if a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the LORD gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of Yehovah your God in a violation of His covenant and contrary to my command, and has worshipped other gods,” and then there’s this phrase, “bowing down to them,” and then he adds, “or to the sun or the moon or the stars of the sky;” in the NIV, I think it’s “the heavenly host” and in the NSV it might be “the starry host”, in the New King James version, “the host of heaven”. One of the things that really has concerned me deeply over the last several months is just this understanding of how this is actually coming to pass.

And I want to say this carefully, but I found more and more people, as they attempt to try to figure out the times, they get into the situation where they will hold up the hosts of heaven and almost put them in a place of worship. I’ve heard the people that say, “Okay, now we’ve found the secret regarding the stars.” And so, the stars become the focus. And it’s almost, Jono, as if they bow down to them. I’m not saying that they do, but it’s almost as if they bow down to them. They give them this place of great prominence. And this can go to any number of things as we look up into the sky.

And the point is that here Yehovah says to Aaron and Moses, we’ve already gone over this, “And this shall be the beginning of months for you.” They look up, they see the first sliver of the new moon. This should be the beginning of months to you. This is how you count time. And then other folks before Aaron and Moses and since Aaron and Moses look up into the sky and they see the new moon and they see the sun and they see the starry host and the heavenly host, and they start saying, “we’ve got a new way of figuring this out outside of what Yehovah has commanded.” And like I said, what then happens is it’s as if it moves to this place of great prominence to the point that that’s where the truth is. And I wonder if that doesn’t become something like what we’re talking about in Deuteronomy, where they begin to almost worship it, putting it in such prominence in such a place when it becomes an obsession to say it’s all about the stars. It’s all about the stars.

Nehemia: Just to be clear, you say about the stars, you’re talking about astrology, aren’t you?

Keith: He’s turned on his fan.

Nehemia: You don’t know how hot it is here. I could use some stars right now. But when you’re talking about the stars, Keith, you’re talking about people who are using astrology and looking up to the astrological signs and saying, “This is the beginning of the year because we’ve got some astrology thing going on.”

Jono: Well hang on, there’s a difference between astrology and astronomy.

Nehemia: Well, but when you’re talking about the constellations, that is by its nature astrology.

Jono: When a particular constellation appears in the night sky that’s not necessarily astrology, that’s...

Nehemia: No, but if you’re saying the sun’s in the constellation. Okay. I mean, if you look at the constellations, they come from ancient Babylon. The constellations that we know about today come from ancient Babylon and from that they were passed over into ancient Greece. And that’s where you get the Zodiac. We don’t get the Zodiac from the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible.

Jono: True. Absolutely.

Keith: But I just think that this is really interesting you guys, because it becomes an obsession. And again, I wish this was just the lady down the street who reads palms or does astrology. You know, there are these shops in New York City. You go there, you can walk in, she’ll read your palm and she’ll tell you about your sign, even though the science... you know, the dates have changed. But you know, that’s another conversation.

The point being that that has become something that I’ve found is not just on the streets of New York City or on the Internet with Dionne Warwick or whatever her name was, the lady who does that. That’s something that has become quite prominent in different places and part of movements, including the Messianic movement. There are some who have said, “We’re going to look at the astrology issues. We’re going to look at the Zodiac… and what I’m telling you is, this isn’t just simply a point of reference. It becomes a point of prominence, and that prominence is what concerns me to the point that there’s no discussion outside of it.

Jono: Can I just highlight again, you know when I brought up John chapter 8 and speculated there, and then asked you “what do you make of that?” And you said, “I no longer want to speculate. There was a time where I would have joined in speculation and we could have speculated on any number of things. We could have elaborated on certain things,” but now you’ve come to a point where you don’t want to elaborate, and I can really appreciate that. And when it comes to these kinds of elaborations and speculations and selective thinking and selective attention there are no ends to that kind of thing when it comes to astronomy or astrology and the stars, the constellations, sun, moon and all that sort of stuff. And particularly when that’s combined, I’ve found, in the Messianic movement with eschatological speculation. Oh, my goodness, the weirdest things I’ve ever heard on my life.

Keith: That’s why for me Jono, I’ve really been quite shocked. I’ve been innocent in this whole issue of saying, “Hey, let’s study the name.” And Nehemia will say, “Are you kidding me? Do you know how controversial that is?” I’m like, “no, I don’t. So, I guess I’ll do it.” Then we get the issue of the time and I’m like, “oh, let’s do this, on time.” “Do you have any idea how controversial that is?” No, I don’t.

And the point is that it really is something that people have put their stake down. And I mean they won’t move. It doesn’t matter what you show him. It’s like, we just won’t move. And so, one of the things I really do love about what we’re reading in Deuteronomy, is Moses is up there preaching. He makes this statement and it’s almost like a casual deal. And he says - and I know this is Yehovah. I mean, he’s speaking as a prophet of the Creator of the universe, he says, “Oh, and by the way, now worshipping other gods, bowing down to them or gods or to the sun or to the moon or to the heavenly hosts, the starry host, the stars of the heavens.” And it’s like, it sounds like a real casual little thing, but this is really a big deal because isn’t that what we’ve been dealing with? Worship of the sun. I mean, come on, we don’t have to speculate. We can show concrete evidence of how the sun has been a place of worship and continues to be, and the moon and the stars. We’re dealing with something that’s not ancient history here. This is happening today.

Nehemia: Can I say something really controversial?

Jono: Go on.

Nehemia: In a lot of Jewish synagogues, one of the things that they’ll have is a certain type of plaque, and they call it the shiviti plaque. Shiviti is actually a Hebrew word that means, “I place.” It comes from a verse in Psalms that says, shiviti Yehovah leNegdi tamid, “I place Yehovah before me always.” The actual verse is Psalms 16, in the Hebrew verse 8, it might be one verse off in the English. Psalms 16:8 says, “I placed Yehovah before me always.” They’ll have this plaque at the front of the synagogue, and it’ll say, in a small word, “I place before me,” and the big word there is, “Yehovah,” the name of our heavenly Father.

One of the really interesting places I’ve seen this… I’ve seen it really in two main places. One is they’ll put it on the ark, which is the special ornate box in the synagogue where they keep the Torah scroll, and they symbolically call it the ark. And why do they put it there? Because I think it’s very tempting for many people to worship the Torah scroll. They’ll see it and say, this is a holy thing. It’s undoubtedly a holy thing, but they’ll turn that into worship, and we’re supposed to worship Yehovah, the one who spoke those words and gave those words to us, not the actual object.

Then another place you’ll see it, in Rabbinical Judaism, is actually at the tombs of the Patriarchs. You’ll go to the tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, or the tomb of Rachel, which is a whole separate discussion, but whatever, and you’ll see the plaque there. Why do they have the plaque there? Because again, it’s very tempting for many people to say, “I’m going to worship this tomb. I’m going to pray to this dead rabbi, I’m going to pray to this dead patriarch.” And the point is the patriarch was important, he’s someone to remember, but we place Yehovah before us always. I think what Keith is getting at is, there are many people who have placed the constellations in front of themselves as a point of worship.

Some people might look at what I do, looking at the new moon and say, “Nehemia’s placed the new moon. He’s worshiping the moon.” I’m not worshiping the moon; I’m following the signs that Yehovah has given me. But before my eyes always is Yehovah. When I look up at the moon and see how beautiful it is, I say “Praise Yehovah, architect, the Creator who created such a beautiful thing.” I don’t worship the moon or focus my worship at the moon.

Jono: Amen. Brilliant.

Keith: And that’s what we wanted to do. Just highlight it. Okay.

Jono: “If a matter arises, which is too hard for you to judge between degrees of guilt of bloodshed between one judgment or another, or between one punishment or another, matters of controversy within your gates, then you shall arise and go up to the place which Yehovah your God chooses. And you shall come to the priests, the Levites and to the judge there in those days and inquire of them. They shall pronounce upon you the sentence of judgment. You shall do according to the sentence which they pronounce upon you. That in the place which Yehovah chooses and you shall be careful to do according to all that they order you according to the sentence of the law in which they instruct you according to the judgment which they tell you, you shall do. You shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left from the sentence which they pronounce upon you. Now, the man who acts presumptuously and will not heed to the priest who stands to minister there before Yehovah your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So, you shall put away the evil from Israel and all the people shall hear and fear and no longer act presumptuously.”

Nehemia: I’m curious. What does this passage say to you Keith, as a Methodist? Is there any significance here? Or maybe there’s not.

Keith: Oh, well, when I read this, and especially when I hear Jono read it, I get so caught up in his voice. I’m going to do a dramatized version with you, Jono. I don’t care what anybody says. I promise you.

Jono: Well look, when I read this, I think to myself, do they get to decide on what they feel like on the day? I mean obviously they’re taking it back as learned men in the Torah; one would hope that they’re making judgments according to the Torah, according to the precepts they find in the written Torah and they hand down the sentence from there, because it used to be that not everyone had a copy of the Torah. Obviously, they would go and hear the Torah read and if a matter arises which was just too hard and they’re not sure exactly what was said and how it should be done, they go to these guys and these guys have a copy, right?

Keith: I will say this, if I was in any sort of level of religious authority, whether it be Judaism or Christianity or anywhere else, this would be the passage I’d use.

Nehemia: This is it.

Keith: This is it. So, this is the passage that I would use, and I would say, “So, you’re trying to tell me you don’t want to go by my days or my time? I’m the judge.” And if I have a whole group of judges, I’d say, “Look, we’ve been put in place for this and this is what we’re going to do to bring down judgment. And I’m going to take you right to the Torah and I’ll show you where this is supposed to happen.”

Jono: The self-appointed judges...

Nehemia: Right. So, this is, I think, the key. There are two issues here, Jono. One is the question of authority and who has this authority. And I think it’s very clear that the one who has this authority is either the priests at the Temple, or it says, the judge who will be in those days. And the other question is, how do those people themselves make the decisions that they make?

And so, for both of those, I look at the precedents in the Bible, and this passage is actually… I’ve got to say, Deuteronomy 17:8-13, in my upbringing, this was the most important passage in the entire Bible in many respects. The reason it was the most important passage, where this was drummed into me over and over and over, is that this is the source of rabbinical authority. This passage, Deuteronomy 17:8 and on; this is talking about the rabbis. That’s what I was taught. And it was quoted to me repeatedly. They would quote me verse 10, “according to all that they teach you,” “you shall diligently do according to all that they teach you.” Who? The rabbis. Then I was told, “and you shall not turn from the matter which they tell you, right or left.” One of the things they taught me is, even if they say right is left and left is right, you still must obey them. You’re allowed to know they’re wrong, but they’ve got the authority. God gave them the authority in this passage, and if you don’t obey them, you are actually subject to the death penalty. This is actually something they said that’s really interesting. They said, “if you violate the Torah, the word of God, you get lashes. If you violate the teachings of the rabbis, you are put to death.” Now, today they don’t put anybody to death, but the principal there is to show you which is more important, which is more severe, what you need to be more careful about.

It’s really interesting. I was watching a documentary last night that my mother told me to watch, and she said, “Nechemia, you’ve got to watch this documentary because it reminds me of you.” It was a documentary on Channel 8, which is the Israeli Discovery Channel, or something like that. She had recorded it for me, and it was called, Trouble in Amish Paradise. It was about this Amish guy who started reading the Bible. And he was shocked to find out that all these rules and regulations they were living their lives based on had nothing to do with the Bible; that God didn’t command them to dress a certain way and not to use technology and all the things that they do. These were interesting cultural things, he said, but this isn’t commanded to us by God, and my salvation isn’t dependent on this.

So, he went to the elders and they said, “it doesn’t matter what the Bible says, you’ve got to obey us.” And my mother made the observation, “this sounds like you, Nechemia, this is what happened to you.” And obviously, I was dealing with different issues than the Amish guy, because he’s dealing with, obviously, the New Testament, and I was coming from the rabbis. But the principle is the same. They’re falling back on it. It’s about authority. It’s not about truth. We’ve got the authority and you’ve got to obey us whether we’re right or wrong, whether we tell you right is left, and left is right. You could be right about that. You’ve got to obey us. It’s not about facts; it’s about our authority.

Jono: I remember a very similar experience myself when I started reading my Bible, Nehemia, and Keith, and I discovered, of course, the truth of Shabbat. And I was so excited, and I went to my pastor at the time. I said, “check it out. Look, Shabbat is actually on the seventh day and we should still be keeping it.” And he basically said to me, “I understand that you’ve come into this truth and if you want to do that, that’s fine, but just keep it to yourself. Don’t tell anyone about it.”

Keith: Oh, my goodness. Wow.

Nehemia: Anyway, so if we look at the biblical precedent of what this is talking about, we’ve got... let’s deal with the phrase, “the judge who will be in those days.” So, we’ve got the example of Moses. He’s the first judge, right? We’ve got the little judges, but there’s the pyramid. We talked about this in the story of Jethro, and then I think earlier in Deuteronomy as well, that there’s this pyramidal system. At the top is the high judge, Moses, and then there’s a judge of the thousands, and the judge of the hundreds, and the 50’s and the tens, et cetera, whatever. And if the lower judges don’t know what to do, then they go up to the higher judge. That’s exactly what it says here, “when a matter’s too difficult for you,” in verse 8.

Now, this is interesting because the word for difficult is the word that we’ve been praying about throughout for months now, which is from the phrase, “Yehovah uncover my eyes that I may see the wonderful hidden things of your Torah.” It’s the same exact word as wonderful hidden: “Yitaleh”. When a matter is too wonderful for you or hidden from you, then you go to the judge and the priests at the Temple and they’ll tell you what to do.

So, we had four, possibly five depending on how you count them, examples where Moses didn’t know what to do, or he was in this exact situation, or the people didn’t know what to do, and they came to Moses as the judge, right? So, we kind of are seeing behind the scenes; the people come to Moses. Moses is a judge. And what does Moses do? Does he lick his finger, stick it up in the air and say, “the wind is blowing east, and therefore such and such?” No. He goes, and he asks Yehovah for the answer. Then we hear about Joshua in Numbers 27. When the authority is handed over to Joshua he’s told specifically, “you’ll go stand before Eleazar who has the Urim and you’ll ask for the judgment of the Urim.” Meaning, when you don’t know what to do, don’t make it up. Ask for the judgment of the Urim and you’ll get the answer from Yehovah.

I think that those precedents… and if you look throughout the Tanakh, we have another example, Ezra 2:63 - we won’t rehash this. We talked about this before. We’ve got the whole book of Judges where we can see what a judge is. The high judge is a prophet. He’s not just making it up. So, I think that’s how this commandment was intended to be fulfilled. That, at the top of the pyramid is the temple priesthood. They have got the urim and the thummim, which is this prophetic device, and you’ve got the high judge who is himself a prophet. And all that they teach you, you’ve got to follow. Don’t turn from the right or left. But if a man teaches you something, you don’t have to obey that. That’s just somebody’s opinion.

Now the question then becomes, what do we do today when we don’t have the high priest and we don’t have the high judge who was a prophet? By the way, the judge is eventually replaced, or not replaced - that role is later fulfilled by the king. For example, when Solomon starts to reign as king, one of the first things he does to show that he’s a king is, he judges. And we’ve got the famous story where he says, cut the child in half to see who really loves the child.

So, the one we’re looking forward to in the future is the Messiah; the King Messiah is going to be the judge who will be in those days. He’s going to be the one, and if we turn away… I want to read a Messianic prophecy: Isaiah 11. Don’t get excited, Keith. This is the famous Messianic prophecy. This is one that, Jews and Christians are not in dispute on. And that’s an issue; sometimes they’ll say it’s Messianic and we’ll say it’s, you know, something from history and vice versa. Isaiah 11:1, “And a shoot shall go forth from Jesse and a branch shall go forth, shall bloom from its roots,” from the root of Jesse that is. And Jesse, the father of David, obviously. “And the spirit of Yehovah shall rest upon him,” in verse 2, of Isaiah 11. “The spirit of wisdom and understanding,” the spirit of advice or wisdom, you could translate, in other words, for wisdom and strength, “and the spirit of knowledge and fear of Yehovah. And he will be, ‘ve”HariCho BiriAt Yehovah’ and he will breathe in him, the fear of Yehovah” - and here’s the key part - “and not according to the seeing of his eyes he will judge. And not according to the hearing of his ears he will rebuke. He shall judge justice for the poor and he shall rebuke rightly for the meek of the earth, et cetera, et cetera.” Here it’s talking about how he’s going to judge through the spirit of Yehovah, the spirit of prophecy. This is not just going to be a guy who says, “oh, it’s three o’clock in the afternoon, so you’re guilty, or you’re innocent, or that’s permissible or that’s forbidden, or I read the verse this way.”

So, the question then, again, is what do we do when we don’t have that today? That’s what makes me a Karaite Jew. The Rabbinical Jews say, you’ve got to listen to the rabbi’s because it’s the closest thing we’ve got. And I say, “wait a minute; I’ve got something closer than the rabbis. I’ve got the word of God. I’ve got the Bible.” And I look to the Bible, the word of God. People will say, “Well, Nehemia, who do you think you are? Where do you get the authority to interpret Scripture for yourself?” And I say, “Do you know what? I’m the one who stands before God on the Day of Judgment. I can’t think of anybody more important to interpret Scripture for me, than me. I’m the one who’s got to answer for that interpretation, and if I go before the creator of the universe and say, ‘well, but Jono told me, or Keith told me,’ that ain’t gonna fly.” That’s like what Adam said, “she gave it to me. Eat, and I ate. And you’re the one who gave her to me.” It didn’t fly. Passing off the blame on somebody else, it doesn’t fly. You’re responsible for your actions. And so, like I said, I can’t think of anybody better to interpret Scripture for me than me. I think everyone has that duty, that responsibility.

Jono: Amen. Amen. Keith?

Keith: Well Jono, Nehemia slipped up there and he gave us a verse and it says that the spirit of God, I think you used the word “breathed”, is that right Nehemia? And, you talked about the spirit of God giving breath?

Nehemia: In verse 3 of Isaiah 11 it says ‘ve”HariCho Bireh’at Yehovah”, “And he will breathe in him the spirit of Yehovah.”

Keith: Amen. This is why… for a second is just this idea of having the word of God and having the gift, God’s gift of his spirit, the “Ruach,” giving us the ability to be led and to be brought into that place in understanding Scripture and being able to see, and I really do believe this. I really do believe that we have these times. There are times where we’ve been praying this, you know, “open our eyes that we might see the difficult, the wonderful and amazing, the marvelous.” These are things that we pray. And why do we pray that? Because when we pray that we’re asking Yehovah to give us the grace, the mercy, and a little help. I mean, give us that part where we can get that help. And I think that what Nehemia’s saying in one sense, he’s saying, “okay, it’s me and I’m going to go to the Scripture, but also Nehemia would say that he’s afraid, and he needs Yehovah’s help…

Nehemia: Oh, he definitely needs Yehovah’s help. Absolutely.

Keith: That’s what he would do; he would ask for that help. And that’s why I really... what I love about the fact that we did incorporate this so early is that all of us, I mean, I think all three of us would say there have been times when we’re reading—like I can’t wait until a section that’s coming. Nehemia’s going to turn on the fan. He’ll turn the fan off and eat while the fan’s off. I’ll start talking while the fan’s on and he’ll say, “wait a minute, this is good.”

But the point is that we have the “Ruach,” the spirit of God, that that opens our eyes and inspires us at times. And, listen, I’ve been... Jono I know you have too, you’re a closet charismatic. Nobody knows it. You know, the bottom line is we both have been in environments where there’s been emotion that’s taken over a revelation or thought or idea or understanding. And I think neither one of us would say that that was comfortable as we’re reading through Scripture and seeing what the Scripture says, neither one of us would say, “Well, let’s just forget about the Scripture and break out into a holy ghost dance.”

But truthfully, in the authenticity of God’s gift, of His “Ruach,” His spirit, that would come and that would lead us and guide us. Man, there’s nothing... I’ll tell you guys this, I’ll say this to the audience. There’s nothing that is more exciting to me than when I’m reading Scripture and I know I got help, and something just comes off the page and I got to get up and walk out the door. And that has happened to me time and time again.

So in this light I want to, I want to pray the prayer, if it’s okay you two, that He would open our eyes because there are some things that are coming that I think are worthy of that sort of help. So, can I do that?

Jono: Keith, can I ask you, can I just add a request to that? Would you do us a favor and read the whole portion of Gimel in Psalm 119 in our translation from verse 17 to 24? Would you do that for us?

Keith: It’s really interesting. One of the things that I’m doing right now, and I did it 10 years ago before I went to Israel, Jono was, I was trying to read Psalm 119 in preparation for my trip to Israel, if you can believe that, and it was interesting because Psalm 119 is the most magnificent psalm for me personally. And one of the reasons that it’s so magnificent is the way that it’s actually laid out. And so, when Jono says, “would you please read the section on Gimel,” what he’s saying is that that particular section in Hebrew, each word for each line of that Psalm starts with a Gimel as it does an Aleph, Bet, Gimel, Daled, Hey. In each of these sections this psalm was laid out that way. And so, when you say that, you know, you say Gimel, so I can look here. But what’s the verse in English? Which we lose. So, let’s see here.

Nehemia: I want to point something out or ask a question. Why, Keith, is it laid out according to the Hebrew alphabet? In other words, you have a whole bunch of sections and each section opens up with... you’ll have a whole bunch of verses where every verse opens with the letter Aleph and the next section, every verse opens with the letter Bet. For example, in our case verses 17 to 24 all open with the letter Gimel. And so, my question is, why? Why is it laid out that way?

Keith: Well I can say this. I believe one of the reasons is so that the psalmist or the person that’s reading it would be able to memorize it. That they would be able to say…

Nehemia: Exactly. So that they can memorize it. Everybody knew the alphabet. They didn’t necessarily know how to read, but everybody knew the alphabet in ancient Israel. And you might not be able to read this from a scroll because you were illiterate, but you can memorize, “okay, we just did our Alephs, now the Bets.”

Jono: It’s memory by association.

Keith: Let me give you an example, Jono. We’ll do the prayer and we’ll get to Gimel, but I’m just going to give you an example. So, when I’m doing Psalm 119, one of the things I’ve decided to do is I’ll say, “okay, I’m just going to do the Aleph section. If I give you the first word of the one, two, three, four, five, six, eight different lines in this psalm, the first one is “Ashrei”, the second one is “Ashrei”, the third one is “Af”, the fourth one is “Ata”, the fifth one is “Achalai”, the sixth one is “Az”, the seventh is “Odecha” and the eighth one is “Et”—the Aleph and the Taph, there‘s the secret. But the point is all of those start out with an Aleph. And so, it isn’t that it would be by association. I would know, for example, “Ashraei tamimei derecho haholechim betorat Yehovah.” I know that when I start that first line, I’m going to be starting with the Aleph and I’m in the Aleph section, and there are eight different verses that start with Aleph. So, when you said go to the Gimel of Psalm 119 my heart kind jumped a little bit, here comes the holy ghost.

So, let me go to the Gimel and it says here, “Do good to your servant and I will live”—and by the way, everyone probably realizes that in Hebrew, if it’s the Gimel section, again, each line would start with a Gimel; in the English we lose that completely, so we don’t know that this is something that we could memorize according to the Hebrew—"Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your Torah. I am a stranger on earth, do not hide your commands from me. My soul is consumed with longing for your Torah at all times. You rebuke the arrogant who are cursed and who stray from your commands. Remove from me scorn and contempt for I keep your statutes, the rulers sit together and slander me. Your servant will meditate on your decrees. Your statutes are my delight. They are my counselors.” Let’s pray.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Yehovah, we thank you so much for just the wonderful, amazing, even difficult, hard to understand, beautiful, wonderful things that are in your Torah. Help us to have our eyes opened. Send your Ruach that our eyes would be open, and our hearts would be softened, and our ears would be unplugged, and our eyes would just be completely clear to see the beautiful, wonderful, amazing things in your Torah. Amen. And with that in mind I’m going to take over the reading. Nehemia, turn on your fan.

Nehemia: Before I turn the fan on, I in humility, want to give Keith credit for something, which is - close your ears Keith - Keith has a saying that I think I finally internalized, which really has impacted me. It has helped me come to terms with this idea, which is that there are really two things that you need; you need to have information and inspiration. For many years I was the information guy. I don’t think anybody had the information like I had it. But every time I would encounter the inspiration, I would shut it down, close the door, walk away. What I have come to terms with is to embrace the inspiration, to look for the inspiration, because without it the information is like a dead vessel.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: And then we’ve got folks like me and Jono, we had the inspiration, but we didn’t have any information. We were on fire with the wrong stuff.

Nehemia: Put those together and that’s dangerous.

Keith: So, I just want to read this section if I can, you guys. We’ve been dealing with this and it says in Deuteronomy chapter 17, which I have to say - sometimes, you know, Moses gets a bad rap. You know, Moses is the law. Moses is the Old Testament. Moses is the guy who put the burden on us. Moses is the guy who was the enforcer of the mean old bad God of the Old Testament. But let me say something about Moses. Moses was a prophet of God. This guy was having meetings face to face with the Creator of the universe.

Jono: Audible conversations, Keith. Audible conversations.

Keith: I mean, yes! They’re having a conversation with the Creator of the universe. So here we get to this section, and this happens a lot in the Torah, but I just want to read a few verses and then share something. It says, “When you enter the land that Yehovah your God has given you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, ‘Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us.’” Now imagine that you’re on the plains there. Okay? Imagine you’re one of those kids who actually was old enough to see the fire come down and old enough to see the sea split. And imagine you’re one of those that said, “Listen, man, I’ve seen the Creator of the universe bring water from a rock. I’ve watched him bring bread from heaven. I am convinced he is God and there is no other,” and you’re sitting there and you’re listening to Moses and Moses says, “Now look, you’re going to go to the land and you’re going to say, ‘Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us.’” And you’re one of those kids saying, “that’ll never happen. Why would we ever do that?” Every reference to a king up to this point -you guys can check it for yourself - every reference to a king up until Deuteronomy chapter 17, it’s going to be one of the kings that were either slaughtered - one situation is Melchizedek, that was a king, but most of most of the kings that you hear about are kings of Bashan, or whatever… are kings that are destroyed. These are kings that were over people.

Nehemia: Now wait a minute. That’s not exactly true. You said to check it. So, I’ve got to challenge you. The first king we have, the first reference to a king, at least in the Hebrew, it might not be in the English, is Exodus chapter 15, verse 18, it says “Yehovah Yimloch Le”Olam Vaed.” So Yehovah is the king.

Keith: Okay. I apologize ladies and gentlemen. I’m reading from my NIV, I’m sorry.

Nehemia: And that begs the question; why would you want to put a king over you if Yehovah is king?

Keith: But what I was doing was going to get up to the money ball, which was going to be...

Nehemia: Did I steal it?

Keith: But that’s okay. It’s all right. So anyway, up to this point, most of what they’re hearing about are the kings that they ended up destroying: Pharaoh was a king, Og, Bashan, et cetera, et cetera. Okay, we’ve got this in Exodus 15. But we get to this Deuteronomy verse, he says, “You’re going to say, ‘let us set a king over us like all the nations around us.’” And I think this is amazing you guys.

Now Jono, go ahead and turn to first Samuel. I believe it is chapter eight; go to first Samuel chapter 8, and I want you to read that section that’s applicable here. Would you do that?

Jono: “Then the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, ‘Look, you’re old. You’re an old guy. Come on, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge like all the nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, give us a king to judge, and so Samuel prayed to Yehovah and Yehovah said to Samuel, ‘Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should reign over them.’”

Nehemia: C’mon with that Samuel!

Keith: Amen. So, here’s where this is so powerful to me. What’s so powerful to me, and again why the Torah is so amazing and the fact that we’re doing these Torah portions is amazing. And look, sometimes we have long, long sessions and sometimes we have shorter sessions and sometimes we laugh and joke and sometimes we promote. There are all sorts of things we do. But the core of what we’re trying to do is to help people to get this Torah, to understand it, to interact with the story.

And here’s a section, you all, that is so powerful because here we hear it. Moses says this is what’s going to happen. You’re going to come to a time where you’re going to say, “Set a king over us.” And sure enough, what happens in First Samuel is they say, “We want a king,” and Nehemia mentioned it earlier. What was the role of that king? It’s like they say, “set a king over us that he might judge.” What does the king end up being? The king ends up being the one who judges. But what’s so powerful to me about this is that Yehovah is there, and I get this picture of our Father in heaven, who says to Samuel, “Look, I’ve done what I’ve done. I brought them out of Egypt. I’ve done this. I’ve done that. But you know what? It’s not you that they’re rejecting, it’s Me.” And I want to say something really, really, really sensitive. I wonder if the Father doesn’t say that today.

Nehemia: Uh, oh.

Keith: Are we still looking for today something we can grab a hold of, put our arms around, do whatever, whatever, that says, ”No, no, no, no it’s too difficult dealing with that fire breathing, God amazing, Shofar blowing, Torah giving God. Give us a king that we can go, ‘Hail, King!’” And the true king, let me just say this—the true king that will reign over us? Guess what that king will do, Nehemia? Guess what that king will do, Jono? Guess why, for me as one who would say I look on to Rabbi Jesus; now I talk about this?

Why do I get excited about his words? Because his words continually remind me of this. He continues to point me to Yehovah. And do you know I have people, you won’t believe this, you two – I’m going to say this on the radio. I have people that get nervous; you’re hanging around with Nehemia too much. You’re hanging around with Jono too much. You’re going to lose your understanding of who Yeshua is. No, I’ve gained understanding.

And I’ll tell you one thing about Yeshua. He did something that I believe ultimately every king should have done. They should point us to the King of Kings, to the one whose name is one, to the Father of heaven, the Creator of the universe. And that’s what I think is so powerful about what Moses is doing. Moses is saying, “Look you guys, here’s what’s going to happen.” We read it First Samuel 8. It’s what they do. And the voice of Yehovah is what convicts me today. Can you read it one more time, Jono? What did Yehovah say to Samuel? Read it nice and slow.

Jono: And if I may, let me read just a little further. It says, “Heed the voice of the people in all they say to you, for they have not rejected you, Samuel, but they have rejected Me that I should reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day, with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods, so they are doing to you also.” And the question you ask Keith, is, is it still happening today?

Keith: And that’s what I want to stop and say. And again, this is probably the most sensitive issue. But what I keep finding over and over and over and over again. And everybody might be making an assumption of what I’m talking about. You all, it’s happening. I’m telling you, I’m confronting this in ways that you just would not believe, where I don’t wonder if our Creator in heaven— and again, going to what Nehemia is going to be doing with his book that’s so powerful with the Priestly Benediction, this idea of our Father, that we’re speaking to Him and that we’re praying and we’re looking to Him and we’re seeing Him, and He’s got that twinkle in His eye that looks down at us.

But I just wonder if His heart isn’t broken, where many, many, many, many religious movements, whether it be the rabbis, whether it be any number of possibilities where we’ve said, “You know what? It just ain’t working so much having You being the king and the one who reigns over us. We need something else.” And I really do believe that that’s presently happening today. And that’s as much as I want to say about it, but I think it’s powerful that Moses is there prophetically speaking about what’s going to happen. And here we’ve got this verse and this story that clearly shows—and the response is what catches my attention more than anything. His response is what catches my attention.

Nehemia: Isn’t it interesting that in Deuteronomy 17 he doesn’t say, “if”? He says, “when”.

Jono: When!

Keith: It’s a prophetic statement. I mean…

Nehemia: It’s definitely prophetic. Interesting.

Jono: But it goes on to say, “You shall surely set a King over you who Yehovah your God chooses, one from among your brethren as you shall set over king of you. You may not set up a foreigner over you or one who is not your brother, but he shall not multiply horses for himself nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to multiply horses. For Yehovah has said to you, you shall not return that way again. Neither shall he multiply wives for himself lest his heart turns away, nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself.” Now those, those little stipulations there, I’ve often heard, are the topic of highly debated conversation. Nehemia, can you shed any light on that? It’s a little bit confusing.

Nehemia: Why talk about horses? Let’s talk about the horses. So, the horse in ancient times, you know, we don’t think of it this way, I think from the European culture, but the horse in biblical times was the essentially the tank of ancient times. Having lots of horses would be like having lots of tanks today. The point is, horses and chariots, the chariot is more like a super tank of some kind.

Anyway, so there’s this really powerful verse that brings it home for me, which is Psalm chapter 20, in the Hebrew it’s verse 8. It says, “Eleh barechev ve’aleh ba’soosim, ve’anachnu, beshem Yehovah eloheinu nazkir.” It says, “these are with riders and these are with horses,” or translated, “these are with chariots and these are with horses. But we will mention the name of Yehovah, our God.” Then the next verse, “they kneel down and fell, and we rose up and were encouraged.” And then he says in verse 10, he ties it in, and the last verse in Psalm 20 says, “Yehovah hosheeya,” or “Yehovah saves”. You know, that’s the same word as where you get the word Yehoshua. “Yehovah hosheeya,” Yehovah saves. And then it says, “HaMelech ya’anaynu”, “Answer us oh king in the day that we call out.” So Yehovah is the king. We don’t need the King Solomon with the horses and the tanks and the nuclear submarines. What we need is Yehovah. He’s the one that’s going to back us up. He’s the one who’s going to save us and He’s going to be the one who is the king who answers us in the day that we call.

Jono: Amen. Amen.

Keith: That’s the one. Those are the horses that we want.

Jono: So, what you think it’s saying is that he shouldn’t have multiplied horses for himself to build himself up as if these are the things that are going to save him? A false security which may be a source of pride. And would you apply that...?

Nehemia: It’s almost like Solomon read this verse and said, “here’s what I need to do to piss God off.”

Jono: Yeah. A whole lot of horses, a whole lot of wives…

Nehemia: I’m gonna meet with the modern Pharaoh and I’m going to make a deal with him to get lots of horses, almost verbatim what it says in Deuteronomy 17, and I’m going to be the most powerful king in the region. What’s interesting is, we talked in the last episode about Joshua’s altar. Well, another thing that you can point to in the Bible, an actual physical structure that was built by people mentioned in the Bible are the, what do you call those? The “Orvot Shlomo,” the stables of Solomon.

Solomon had thousands and thousands of horses, and it talks about this. He built stables for those masses of horses, and the archeologists have uncovered those horses. So, for example, you can go to Tel Meggido, one of the popular tourist attractions, the ancient ruin of Meggido, where Armageddon will take place. You know, Armageddon is Mount Meggido. You go to the mound of Meggido and you can actually see that archeologists have uncovered there the stables that Solomon built. Just like it talks about him multiplying the horses, so he built these stables, and you can see the actual stables. Like I said, it’s almost like he went through Deuteronomy 17 and said, “Okay, lots of wives, I can do that.” So basically, it was almost like there’s a laundry list of things that I’m not supposed to do that I’m going to follow.

Jono: And he kind of waved the red flag in Yehovah’s face, and eventually, it was his downfall, wasn’t it? His wives led him astray.

Nehemia: Yup, exactly.

Jono: Keith, take us from verse 18.

Keith: Okay. Okay. “When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this Torah taken from that of the priests who are Levites. It is to be with him, he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere Yehovah his God and follow carefully all the words in this Torah and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over the kingdom in Israel.”

Jono: That’s interesting. So, in verse 20, “That his heart may not be lifted above his brethren”. And I guess according to what you were saying, Nehemia, that he should not have a false security and be full of pride with God because of all the gold and silver and the horses and the wives and so on and so forth.

Nehemia: Moses… Moses is our example. He’s the picture of the king, of the Messiah.

Jono: The most humble…

Nehemia: He was the most humble man. And I want to say something radical. This verse is still true today. When the Messiah comes and sits on the throne of Israel and we can have debates and discussions and disputations about whether his name will be Yeshua, his name will be something else… well, whoever the Messiah will be when he comes and reigns as king over Israel, he’s going to have a copy of the Torah and he’s going to read it all the days of his life so he can, as it says, “In order that he will learn to fear Yehovah his God, to keep all the words of this Torah and these statutes to do them.” So, it’s not just reading it for some ritual; he’s reading it so he can know how to fulfill it and live it. I think this is a really important passage. This is the Messiah that we’re looking for; that I’m looking for.

Jono: Amen. All right, we’re up to Chapter 18. We have done the portion for the priests and Levites before. Is there anything that you want to touch on with that before we move on to verse 9?

Nehemia: Can we just point out that there’s this interesting phrase that appears both in verse 5 and verse 7? In 5 it’s talking about the priests and in 7 about the Levite who was the assistant to the priests, and both times it talks about, “to serve in the name of Yehovah,” which I think is a powerful phrase.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Amen. And so, it says, “When you come into the land which Yehovah your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire or one who practices witchcraft or a soothsayer or one who interprets omens or a sorcerer or one who conjures spells or a medium or a spiritualist or one who calls up the dead. For all who do those things are an abomination to Yehovah and because of these abominations Yehovah your God drives them out from before you, you shall be blameless before Yehovah your God for all these nations, which you dispossess, listened to soothsayers and diviners but as for you, Yehovah your God has not appointed such for you.”

Keith: Amen. And you know that this is one of those passages… I’m going to keep saying this throughout Deuteronomy. It’s one of those passages again where I just get this image of Moses and he’s like, “Look, I’m going to give you this. I’m going to explain it to you. I’m going to even give you the list. Make sure that this person doesn’t deal with divination, sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft.” I think about the verse… “Immorality, impurity, debauchery, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, factions, dissensions and the like,” in the New Testament where Paul is giving this list, and here’s this list that Moses gives it. And just in case you think it’s just sorcery? No, it’s also witchcraft. You think it’s witchcraft? It’s also omens. Oh. And by the way, as it pertains to divination… so, I mean, again, I get this image where he lays out this list and I don’t think he sat and said it slowly. I think he preached it.

Jono: Oh yeah. This is, fairly exhaustive.

Keith: Exactly.

Jono: Now let me ask you a question Keith, because this is another common question that I often hear getting tossed around. I mean, we’ve also read “You shall not suffer a witch to live.” There are many, many, many books and television series, movies and whatnot that indulge the concepts of witchcraft and things that are in this list. The question is on the minds of so many parents - is it okay for my children or for me to watch and enjoy these, like a movie, or to read a book, Harry Potter, for example?

Keith: The liberal is going to give us the soft side of this. He’s going to give it to us. But what I’m going to say is, I think what’s interesting… let’s be clear about something here. This phrase that Moses, and I want to use my NIV here, and Nehemia I’d love for you to give us the statement there. But specifically, as it pertains to witchcraft, the word that is used here in mine is “engages in witchcraft”. To engage in witchcraft. I’m specifically talking about this list, this laundry list that he has here now.

Let me finish. So, that’s what it says in the NIV. What I would look at from this perspective and kind of take a little peek under it, is that I don’t think there’s anything that’s in it that I’d even want to have any part. Jono, in my household, it’s not happening. It’s just not happening in my house. And so, you know, there’s a lot of folks who would say, yeah, but you can learn a lot by watching this and doing that. I’m not saying that it’s the laundry list. I just don’t understand where it has a place in the same house where I have my Torah. I just don’t, I just don’t personally...

Nehemia: So, you’ve never seen Harry Potter is what you’re trying to tell us.

Keith: I don’t watch Harry Potter. I mean, a commercial might’ve come on. It’s not me saying, “here’s what the rule is and here’s what the regulation is.” What I’m telling you is, there’s no room in my house.

Jono: Keith, there’s difficulty for some people to say, on one hand, “You shall not suffer a witch to live.” However, you over there, can you kind of dress up as a witch and entertain me?

Nehemia: Well, come on. Hold on a second. I don’t know how you can count the two because...

Keith: Here comes the liberal.

Nehemia: No, no, I think you’ve got to distinguish between entertainment… for example, one of my favorite television programs, and I’m going to give some full disclosure here. This is one of my addictions. There are two programs – CSI, all except for CSI Miami which is really just bad acting, but CSI and all the Law and Orders. These are about murderers and rapists and, you know, bank robbers. I don’t endorse murdering and bank robbing; what are you talking about? It’s a fantasy. And in the end, you know, the bad guy always gets caught, you know, 99% of the time. So how can you say that you’re not allowed to be a witch and therefore can’t read entertainment about witches? I mean, come on.

Keith: So Nehemia, what are you saying? You’re telling me that you’ll watch Harry Potter?

Nehemia: So, first of all, I’ve seen the first Harry Potter movie, and then I tried to watch the second one about three or four times and kept falling asleep. So maybe that’s God telling me I shouldn’t be watching it, but I don’t see anything wrong with watching Harry Potter or reading Harry Potter. I think actually you can learn a lot about what not to do as long as it’s put in the right perspective. As long as your filter is always the word of God, I think it can actually be useful.

Because here’s one of the problems you guys don’t know reading this in English. Verses 10 and 11 - we really don’t know what those things are. We know what, “to pass his son and his daughter through fires” is. Okay. But then we’ve got, “Kosem Kesamim” and “me’ohnen” and “menachesh” and “mechosheph” and “Chover Chaver.” Actually, the ones after that we do know, “shoel Ovi VeYedoni” “veDoresh Al HaMetim”. Those are obvious, but we’ve got one, two, three, four, five—five types of witchcraft and divination and some kind of supernatural manipulation. That’s the broadest category. Supernatural manipulation - looking to the supernatural to manipulate God, the universe, or to get information about God in the universe.

Exactly what are these different things? There are commentaries that have long discussions about what these are. One of them has to do with casting bones and the way the bones fall and the way the clouds move. And the bottom line is we don’t really know. We’ve got a few clues, and I want to read one of those clues because some things we do know. We can point to some concrete examples.

For example, if you look at a really interesting passage, Isaiah Chapter 47, which opens up in verse 1, “Come down and sit in the dust oh, virgin daughter of Babylon”, he’s talking to Babylon. The Babylonians were famous for their divination, for looking at the stars and looking at the livers and all those things… reading palms… not exactly that, but that type of thing. Fortune telling and basically looking to the supernatural to find out about the universe, or to manipulate the universe or the supernatural itself.

The verse that I’m looking for specifically is verse 13, and I want to read the context there. Verse 12, He says, “Stand now with your enchantments and the multitude of your sorceries.” This connects us to Deuteronomy 18, because in verse 12 we’ve got “Chavareich”, which is one of these things that we don’t know exactly what it is. It’s in the list in Deuteronomy 18, and “kshafaich” your “Kishoof” is another thing that we don’t know exactly what it is. Witchcraft, something like that.

“Stand with your enchantments in the multitude,”—and so this translation is approximate—"Stand with your enchantments in the multitude of your sorceries in which you have labored from your youth. Perhaps you will be able to profit, perhaps you will prevail.” And then he lists some of the types of enchantments. “You are wearied in the multitude of your councils. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers and the monthly prognosticators stand up and save you from what shall come upon you.”

So, what are the astrologers, the stargazers and monthly prognosticators? What those are, are people who look at the stars, who look at the constellations, and look at the moon and predictions about the moon, and based on those things they say, okay… here’s actually a really big interesting difference between ancient Israel and the ancient Babylonians. They would look at a time of the new moon and they’d say, “That’s a cursed time. So today we’re not going to go out to battle. We’re actually going to take a day off because we’ll lose the battle, or we’re not going to start a business interaction today on the new moon because it’ll go bad because this day is cursed.” So, they would want to predict those things. Because if you’re out in the field with your army and all of a sudden the new moon appears the night before your battle, the battle is called off. Or you go into battle and you’re afraid of losing. So, they want it to prognosticate these things. They want it to predict them.

So here he’s talking about this divination, this magic. And we have these three really interesting types, astrologers, stargazers, and monthly prognosticators. It literally says, “those who inform of the new moon”, but in the sense that they want to know when the new moon is so they could know that this is the cursed day. In other words, in our Bible, in the Hebrew sense it’s a blessed day, the new moon. In their terms, it was cursed because that’s what astrology tells them.

Jono: So, can I just ask a question? The people in this category, would you say they are servants of a false god? Are they engaging as ones who serve a false god? I mean, these are services, right?

Nehemia: I don’t know what you mean by a false god. They’re definitely idolaters, the Babylonians. There is no question about that. Or do you mean somebody who practices divination?

Keith: He’s setting you up Nehemia, listen.

Nehemia: It doesn’t necessarily have to do with a god. For example, somebody who deals with astrology genuinely believes, innocently, that astrology really affects us. That the alignment of the stars and the positions of the constellations and all that type of stuff actually affects… you know the old opening line “what’s your sign”, you know? All right, well that’s what they actually believe - if you have a certain sign, and that’s got nothing to do with gods or anything, they actually believe that that’s a supernatural force in the universe that isn’t God. And that’s the whole point; that affects our lives.

Keith: Let me give the people a secret. Okay. Nehemia’s over there with his fan. He’s burning up, but he’s talking about this. Jono’s in Australia, it’s almost like midnight or something for him and he’s got fire coming through his head, but he won’t let us know. He just says it really nice: “So Nehemia, are you saying that this is the situation?” He’s burning up. I’m sitting over here. I’m not going with the liberal statement here. I want to have a show where we talk about...

Nehemia: Reading Harry Potter books!

Jono: Is that what you want to do? You want to go into detail on this one?

Keith: …but you know what I’m going to do, you guys? Here’s the deal. What I’m gonna do is I’m going to just quietly sit here like Jono and say, “So Nehemia, do you think that these might be God worshipers?” “No, they’re just like us.” They ain’t coming in my house! Bone throwers, witchcraft givers, spell throwers. This ain’t happening! And I’m going to tell you why. This is contrary to the Word of God. I’m telling you what they’re doing…

Jono: It’s that which is considered an abomination, that which is considered contrary to the Word of God, that which is considered a practice of the nations which you dispossess.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: It says, a lot of people will connect from Chapter 18 verse 9 to verse 14 with verses like chapter 7 verse 26, which says, “nor shall you bring an abomination into your house thus you’d be doomed to destruction. You should utterly detest it and utterly abhor it.”

Keith: I’m going to smash it. Break it down. One time my nephew came over and he had one of their little, one of the little… listen, this is me going too far, so I want to be called the radical here. They went too far. So, I was out of town for the weekend and my sister-in-law came over with my niece and my nephew and, and they said, “Oh, we’re going over to the Johnson’s house.” And so, they come, and they brought one of their movies and they accidentally left it and they said, “You know what? When Keith comes home, that movie will be outside the garage,” and guess where it was? In the parking... and they know when you come to my house, it just ain’t happening. I’m just not… let’s move on.

Nehemia: Can I, once again… and you know, you call me the liberal if you want, but I still think there’s a difference between bringing a ouija board, or whatever you call those things, into my house, which is divination and magic, and I don’t even want that in my house. There’s a difference between that and reading a fun little kid’s story that is fantasy.

Keith: You’re teaching kids about ouija boards! What are you talking about Nehemia? This is what they do! This is why this is so powerful. They’re going to the children and they’re saying, “It’s Harry Potter,” and there are 10 series on Harry Potter, and let’s throw spells on people. The parents are out there buying it for their children and bringing it into their house and they’re wondering what’s wrong! You know what’s wrong? They’re teaching the children! We’re supposed to teach the children the Torah, which is to walk on the road. This is when bothers me about the entertainment industry. They’ve taken over the position of the teacher!

Nehemia: Can I… can I put this? I think what you’re really trying to say Keith, is, you don’t want the yotzer Harry Potter, you want the true Potter, the Potter in heaven to be the focus. Can I get an amen?

Jono: Amen. I reckon we can move forward on that.

Nehemia: The Potter who made mankind, he’s the one we should look to! Not the Harry one!

Keith: I promise you, I am…

Jono: We’re going to get some comments on that one. It is a controversial one, and so is the next verse. Now I’m going to read this, and I just want to say something about it. This is chapter 18 verse 15. “Yehovah your God will raise up for you a prophet like me (Moses), from your midst, from your brethren, him you shall hear according to all you desire of Yehovah your God in Horeb, in the day of the assembly saying, ‘let me not hear the voice of Yehovah my God, nor let me see this great fire any more lest I die.’ And Yehovah said to me, ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak them all that I command him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear them, my words, which he speaks in my name, I will require it of him.’”

Okay, so now, stopping there, there’s a couple of common interpretations, there’s a couple of views, Keith, of this one. And it’s interesting because the second view includes the first and the first is... and I tend to gravitate towards this only because of the way that the following book betrays it. But the first is that Yehoshua ben Nun… that Joshua is the prophet, likened unto Moses. The second, Nehemia, correct me if I’m wrong, is that it is prophet-collective, which of course includes Yehoshua…

Nehemia: I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never heard a Jewish source say that this refers to Joshua.

Jono: You’re kidding.

Nehemia: Now there might be non-Jewish sources that say it…

Jono: Oh, I’ve heard a Jewish source. Absolutely.

Nehemia: Really? I’ve never heard that. And it’s possible there are. Every Jewish source I’ve ever checked on this always said that this is what’s called the “collective singular”, and the classic example is that when God created the birds, it actually doesn’t say birds. It says the bird in the singular. And when you express something like that in the singular it’s expressing an entire category. When God brought the frogs upon Egypt it actually says he brought frog upon Egypt, which means frog-kind.

To me, the proof that this is talking about a category is verse 20, which says, “But the prophet who shall presumptuously speak in My name what I have not commanded him to speak or he speaks in the name of other gods, that Prophet shall die.” Now I don’t think there’s anybody who says that this is referring to a specific prophet. Obviously, this is the category of false prophet.

So why would the true prophet be anything but the category of the true prophet? I think the point is… here’s the point in the context: the nations, when they want information, they go to the fortune teller, the soothsayer, the Harry Potter, they even go to Balaam, to Bilaam, who was a magician. It describes that, it uses the word “Kosem” when it describes him in one passage. We looked at that in previous Torah portions. So, they go to their types of people. And he says, “Not for you. For you, you said you didn’t want to hear My voice directly. So, I’m going to raise up the category of the prophet, and whatever those prophets speak to you, you must obey.”

Jono: There would be a succession of prophets after Moses…

Nehemia: I don’t accept that definition. Succession of prophet implies… there’s Joshua, and Joshua handed it off to so and so, who ended up… there is this category of prophets. There may be many prophets. In one period there might be… in the end times we were told that Yehovah will spill out his spirit upon your sons, your daughters, your old men, and your old women. So, there’ll be, you know, numerous prophets perhaps, if they can qualify. Sure. Real quick, then I’ll let you go Keith and we’ll talk about one of the nitty-gritty details. Go ahead, Keith.

Keith: Well, let me just say this. One of the things that I have heard many times is that this verse refers to Yeshua. But let me just say something that I think that that is very powerful, and I want to just throw this out, and context is important. It says two things I want to bring up. First of all, who raises this prophet up? That’s the first question. What would you guys say? “Yehovah your God will raise up for you this prophet like me from among your own brothers, you must listen to him.” Okay, but then it says, “for this is what you asked of Yehovah your God at Horeb on the day of Assembly when you said, let us not hear the voice of Yehovah, nor see the great fire or we will die.” And why did they say that? They wanted to have someone that they could look at it and say, “Okay look, there’s this great God that we can’t see His form, but the manifestation of His form be of fire, be of the sound of shofar, be of lightning. We just, we can’t hear that. Could you just tone it down a little bit? Give us someone from amongst us. Okay, Moses, you be that. And so that was what Moses was. So, then Moses says, “Look, so someone like me,” is what he says, “someone like me is who He’s going to raise up.” And so that is why I would say what I love about… and you guys are always going to hear me say this. When I find those things that are in the New Testament that Yeshua teaches that are directly related to the Torah, the Tanakh, the prophets the writings, I get extremely excited because I do think about this sort of thing, those things that are connected to the Torah. Can I just say that?

Nehemia: Okay. So, I think it’s really interesting if you look at... so you’re talking about how this connects to Jesus. And I think it’s interesting how... you know, look, the people in the first century, they were looking for a prophet, and why were they looking for a prophet? Because by and large, the Jews believed in that period that Malakai had been the last prophet. And so, you’re right, there was a succession, if you want to use that terminology. There was a series of prophets and sometimes many at once. But there was a whole series of prophets, and it ended with Malakai. The people were sitting there in the first century under Roman occupation, languishing as essentially slaves to the Romans, saying, “Where is the prophet that Yehovah will raise up? Where is the one who will sit on the throne of David, who will judge not with his eyes and will rebuke not with his ears, but with the spirit of Yehovah? Where is that prophet?”

And so, I don’t think they were necessarily saying, “This was foretelling the coming of this one prophet and it doesn’t apply to Jeremiah and it doesn’t apply to Isaiah.” I don’t think anybody in Judaism, even the followers of Yeshua, ever said that. I think the point was, they were saying, “Right now we got nothing. Where’s the prophet? Where’s the one Yehovah will raise up like Moses?”

Keith: When you find someone that does do what Moses did, then they would say, could this be? In other words, if they were looking for one, they’d say, “could you be the one we’ve been waiting for?” Right, exactly. Okay.

Nehemia: “You’re the one we’ve been waiting for!”

Keith: Exactly. Right.

Jono: Keith, how shall we know the word which Yehovah has not spoken?

Keith: Let me say this. If someone comes along and says, “Let us go after other gods because now I’ve gotten a revelation that says that it’s okay to go after other gods,” and that doesn’t match with Tanakh, then guess what? That ain’t the prophet, and the list goes on.

Jono: You’ve spoken presumptuously.

Keith: If it doesn’t fit with the Torah, you must acquit.

Jono: If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit! Now it goes on in chapter 19, it talks about...

Nehemia: Woah, woah, woah, we’re just going to drop that?

Jono: Oh, you want to keep going with that? Yeah, then let’s go.

Nehemia: I think there’s actually... look, can we read the last verse of this chapter before I go into my, uh, read verse 22. So, it says “And that which the prophet will speak in the name of Yehovah, and that is the matter which Yehovah has not spoken, the Prophet has spoken it presumptuously and you shall not fear him.” So, if a prophet prophesized something and it doesn’t come to pass, then he’s a false prophet. You don’t listen to him.

But it’s a little bit more complicated than that. And then the reason I say it’s more complicated than that is that we’ve got, really, two verses. Like, if this was the only verse in the Bible, I would have to come to the conclusion that Jonah was a false prophet. And Jonah, this is exactly what he was afraid of. This is why…

Jono: I thought you said “Jono”.

Nehemia: I said “Jonah”.

Jono: I thought he said “Jono.” I thought he said Jono was a false prophet.

Nehemia: Jono’s not a true prophet or a false prophet, it’s just Jono. The prophet Jonah in the Bible, Yonah. The reason Jonah ran away from Nineveh and went in the boat wasn’t because he was afraid that the people of Nineveh would murder him. What he was afraid of is that they would repent, and he would be accused, and he would be seen as a false prophet.

If you read the end of the book that comes out, he was walking through Nineveh for three days and he said 40 days and Nineveh will be overturned. And the people repented and Ninveh wasn’t overturned. It wasn’t destroyed. And so, he was afraid that this would happen, and he would look bad. He didn’t care about Yehovah’s creations and Yehovah’s good name. He was worried about his own reputation. The point is, if a prophet prophesies a message of repentance with a warning, the implication is that if you repent then it can always be turned around, always can be turned around. And we have numerous examples of this in the Tanakh.

Now what can’t be changed is… look at Jeremiah 28 verses 9 to 10, where Jeremiah lays down the rule for the false prophet.

Jono: Jeremiah 28 verses 9 to 10. “As for the prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom Yehovah has truly sent. And then Chanania the prophet took the yoke off the Prophet Jeremiah’s neck and broke it. And Chanania spoke in the presence of all the people saying, ‘Thus says Yehovah. Even so I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years.’ And the Prophet Jeremiah went on his way.”

Nehemia: And it goes on to talk about how this prophecy... so Jeremiah has prophesied doom and gloom. This man Chanania, he’s prophesying peace and tranquility. And Jeremiah says, “Look, the doom and gloom – that’s contingent on repentance. If you repent, it won’t happen. If you don’t repent, it will happen.” But if you prophesize peace and tranquility, that’s got to come true. Because there’s no issue of repentance there. They were sinners to begin with. Everyone’s a sinner, there are always sinners. So, if he’s prophesying something good is going to happen, it’s got to come to pass. And if it doesn’t, you’re a false prophet.

Essentially, Jeremiah is interpreting for us what it says in Deuteronomy 18 at the end of the chapter. That a negative prophecy is conditional, the positive prophecy isn’t conditional because we’re all by definition sinners. And Chanania here prophesied a positive prophecy and it didn’t come to pass. You can read the rest of the story. It’s actually very interesting how it pans out. Jeremiah’s prophecy did come to pass, which was a negative prophecy. There wasn’t repentance, and it happened.

Jono: Excellent example, Jeremiah chapter 28.

Nehemia: So, you know, those prophets we hear about today who are prophesying, “Yes, Jesus will come back on September 21st, such and such a year.” Well, presumably that sounds like a positive prophecy to me. You know, the prophet saying a specific date when the Messiah comes. If it doesn’t come to pass, that’s a false prophet.

Jono: Okay. So, moving on into chapter 19. Nehemia, is there anything you would like to highlight in chapter 19 before we get to the property boundary of verse 14?

Nehemia: Yeah, a couple of little points here. In verse 1 it talks about how Yehovah will cut off the nations that you’re coming into their land, and it says, “You shall inherit them, and you shall dwell in their cities and in their houses.” I think that‘s really interesting because actually the place I live in Jerusalem, or I guess I should say lived until a couple of days ago, down the street from where I lived there were literally houses that, when Israel fought against the Arabs, the Arabs decided to flee the country and abandoned their houses in 1948. Israel just literally moved into those abandoned houses. So, this is a prophecy here in Deuteronomy 19:1 about how God will drive out the nations and we’ll live in their cities and in their houses, and that’s literally been fulfilled in the 20th century and in our times. To me that’s amazing. Then verse 3 is another little interesting thing here, talking about the three cities of refuge. I think most people would gloss over this and not even pay attention to it. But this was actually a pivotal verse in my life, believe it or not. Can you read verse 3, one of you guys in, in the English?

Jono: Verse three says, “You shall prepare roads for yourself and divide into three parts the territory of your land, which Yehovah your God is giving you to inherit, that any manslayer may flee there.”

Nehemia: Now how on earth is this a pivotal verse in my life?

Jono: I don’t know. Are you a manslayer, that you had to flee?

Nehemia: No, not a manslayer. But when I was a young man and I was studying the Talmud, one of the things... all the time I would come across these things that didn’t make any sense to me, and I was told, “well, it might not make sense to you, but this is what was revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. That’s where the rabbis are getting this. They’re not just making it up.” Then I came across this Talmudic discussion of this verse, and one of the things it explains is that it literally says in Hebrew, “And you shall divide the border of your land into three.” The Talmud explained that that was three equal portions. That is, the distance from each of the cities of refuge was the same. Meaning, you’ve got the city in the south and the center and the north; they’re equidistant from each other. Then the ones in Trans-Jordan are also equidistant from each other.

Well, when I read that, I believe I was in seventh grade, I said, “Okay, here’s something I can catch them on. If this isn’t true, the revelation at Sinai, if this is just something they’re making up, just their opinions, I can prove it.” And I went to maps and I started to research, and I found out that the cities of refuge were not equal distance from each other, but that simply was factually untrue. To me, this was like… I caught them with their pants down, to me, and it sounds like a trivial point. Who even cares? But to me at the time, this was a really big deal because I was being told by people who were in positions of authority, “Nehemia, you can have any opinion you want, but this is what God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. So, you think you know better, but actually, they’re the ones who know better. They got the revelation from Sinai. You don’t.” I think in that sense, maybe this is why I have such a profound connection to the geography of the land of Israel and the actual physical place. Because for me it was something that set me free.

Keith: And let me tell you folks, that just wasn’t a glimpse into when this whole thing started. He said seventh grade, seventh grade he’s trying to catch them with their pants down. Are you kidding me?

Nehemia: I actually caught them, finally.

Jono: Brilliant.

Keith: Okay.

Jono: So, it says, “You shall not remove,” this is verse 14, “you shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which men of old have set in your inheritance, which you will inherit in the land that Yehovah your God is giving you to possess.” Now we’ve already discussed the one law… that one witness, rather, shall not rise against a man…

Nehemia: So, this is the verse, I’ve just got to say, that some people will take out of context, and they’ll say this is why we’ve got to follow ancient traditions. They’ll say, our forefathers established these borders and we must not remove the landmark. We’ve got to follow what the ancient ones have established and what it’s actually… like, we have today, and they didn’t have, like, map rooms where they go and say, “okay, your land goes from this plot to that plot, measures 13 feet,” or 13 meters or whatever. They actually had stones out in the fields, and they’d know Nehemia’s field is from that pile of stones over there to the other pile. What somebody might do is come in the middle of the night and move the pile of stones, so he could have a bigger field. That’s what it’s talking about in verse 14.

Jono: Fair enough. Keith, would you go to chapter 19 verse 21. I told you we were going to return to the Sermon on the Mount.

Keith: It says, “And the rest of the people hear of this and will be afraid and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. Show no pity. Life for life, eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

Jono: There it is, and we hear about that, don’t we? Because Yeshua makes reference to that and he quotes that verse in 38 of Matthew 5, in the Sermon on the Mount. “You’ve heard it said, ‘An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth.’” Okay.

Keith: Wow. Contextually, you think that’s what he was talking about Jono?

Jono: I don’t know.

Nehemia: Yeah, but can you read the rest of the context?

Jono: He goes on to say, “I tell you resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” You know it’s an interesting thing, Keith, because someone did slap him on the cheek, and he challenged them. And I remember someone slapped Paul on the cheek and he challenged them as well. Something to think about. Okay. Moving right along.

Nehemia: Well, there are actually three passages, at least off the top of my head, that talk about an eye for an eye. There’s one where, I think in Leviticus, you can actually show that it means monetary compensation. Whereas in the other two, I guess you could definitely argue that it means actually physically knocking out an eye. Well, that’s a matter of interpretation though. I’m not sure how that ties into the Sermon on the Mount though, or why you actually brought that. I think his point in the Sermon on the Mount is, whatever is done to you, that’s the response, you know, and he’s not dealing with whether it’s literal or monetary, but the fact that there’s this reciprocal justice.

Jono: Okay. Chapter 20, just flying through this. I just want to jump to chapter 20 verse 5, and I mean, I find this really interesting. In fact, I’m going to start from the beginning. “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them, for Yehovah your God is with you. Who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, so shall be when you are on the verge of battle that a priest shall approach and speak to the people and he shall say to them, ‘Hear o Israel, today you’re on the verge of battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint nor be afraid and do not tremble nor be terrified because of them for Yehovah your God goes with you to fight for you against your enemies and to save you.’ Then the officers shall speak to the people saying, ‘What man is there who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go, return to his house, lest you die in battle and another man dedicates it. Also, what man is there who has planted a vineyard and has not eaten of it? Let him go and return to his house lest he die in battle and another man eats of it. And what man is there who is betrothed to a woman and has not married her? Let him go and return to his house lest he die in the battle and another man marries her,’ and the officer shall speak further to the people and say, ‘What man is there that is fearful or fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house lest the heart of his brethren faint like his heart.’ And it shall be when the officers have finished speaking to the people that they should make captains of the armies and lead the people into battle.” But, Keith, I find that fascinating that they would say, “Listen, we’re about to go into a serious battle. There’s a possibility you guys may die. Listen, if you’re in this situation, go home; Yehovah is fighting on our behalf. You guys go home if you don’t want to be heading in, hey, even if you’re scared, if you’re fearful. Fine, stay behind, go home. See you later. We’ve got it under control.”

Nehemia: Yeah. I think the last term is kind of, funny because…

Keith: I’m almost sure he said “Keith”.

Nehemia: And it’s interesting he’s ending it with the fear because he’s starting out with the excuses. Yeah, I planted a vineyard. I gotta go deal with my vineyard. And that way they can save face and at the end, he’s like, “Okay, who are we kidding here? If you’re afraid you can go home.”

Keith: What I think is pretty amazing is this idea that you may die in battle. Look, let’s just be honest. Yehovah is our king, He’s our savior. But we’re going to go out and we’re going to fight. And you know what? There are going to be losses. I mean, we’re not going to win every battle where there’s not one person that falls. It just doesn’t happen. I mean, I just think there’s a taste of reality here that is a bit sobering.

Nehemia: You know, in Joshua when they actually go and fight some of these battles, and they’re in the right, people still die.

Keith: That’s what I’m saying.

Nehemia: There’s a profound lesson to that. You know, God’s on my side. I’ve got nothing to fear. Maybe you’ve got nothing to fear, but that doesn’t mean that things might not happen.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: You can trust in Him but that doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed the outcome that you want.

Keith: Don’t you see, we practice this ahead of time, Nehemia, we practice it. Jono was going to say, Keith, and then I was going to say that, and I was going to give points. I’m slaphappy. We’re two hours over you guys. I’m slaphappy.

Jono: So, Judges chapter 7. And I noticed somewhere in Judges chapter 7, I do believe Gideon implemented this. Can we find… the first to find it…

Keith: Listen, you’ve got too many… and actually the difference there is Yehovah says to Gideon, “Listen, there are too many.” So, he keeps honing it down, weighing it down, down further and further until there’s 300 but he gives them… it gives them the option to leave, but the reason that he gives them the option to leave is because he says there are too many. Now, I mean, the result is the same that you get down to that number.

Jono: Ah, there it is, verse 3. “Now, therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people saying, whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead, and 22,000 of the people returned and 10,000 remained. Twenty-two thousand said, “oh no, I don’t reckon this is going to work out.”

Keith: Rightly so. I mean, you saw what they were fighting.

Jono: Man! All Right. Moving along. We’re hammering through this as quickly as possible. Where are we up to?

Keith: That might be the biggest—you’re not telling the truth. We’re not hammering through.

Jono: No, no, we’re not at all. Verse 19—can I jump to verse 19?

Nehemia: What chapter are we in?

Jono: Chapter 20.

Nehemia: There it is. Okay.

Jono: “When you besiege a city for a long time while making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. If you can eat of them do not cut them down and use them for a siege. For the trees of the fields are a man’s food. Only the trees which you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down and build siege works against that city that makes war with you until it is subdued.”

Nehemia: And now I think we can say, God is a tree hugger.

Jono: He’s a Greenie. Oh, come on. He’s a Gardener. We know that right from the very beginning, he’s the master gardener, Keith, right?

Keith: Look, he’s saying this because, once they take the land, these trees are going to be food for them.

Jono: Hey, you know what? And there’s a lot of eucalyptus trees in Israel. I like that.

Nehemia: You can’t eat those, can you?

Jono: Um, unless you’re a koala. So, you can cut those down…

Nehemia: You can cut those down for siege engines and stuff.

Jono: There you go. Eucalyptus, great stuff. Gum tree. All right, now here we’re ending with one of the top weird things in the Bible. For me, this is kind of up there with the law of jealousy, the law of leprosy and things like that. It says, “If anyone has found slain, lying in the fields, in the land which Yehovah your God is giving you to possess,” this is chapter 21, “and it is not known who killed him, then your elders and your judges shall go out and measure the distance from the slain man to the surrounding cities, and it shall be that the elders of the city nearest to the slain man, will take a heifer which has not been worked and which has not pulled a yoke. The elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with flowing water, which is neither plowed nor sown and they shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley. Then the priests, the sons of Levy shall come near, for Yehovah your God has chosen them to minister to Him and to bless in the name of Yehovah by their word…”

Nehemia: C’mon with that! Just like in my book, Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence: The Hebrew Power of the Priestly Blessing Unleashed. The blessing in the name of Yehovah. There it is.

Jono: “By their word, every controversy and every assault shall be settled and all the elders of that city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer, whose neck was broken in the valley, and they shall answer and say, ‘Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen it.’ Provide atonement Yehovah for your people, Israel, whom you have redeemed and do not lay innocent blood to that charge of your people Israel, and atonement shall be provided on their behalf for the blood so you shall put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you when you do what is right in the sight of Yehovah.” That is so weird. What does it mean?

Keith: Nehemia?

Jono: Oh, come on.

Nehemia: Why Nehemia, Keith? What is he talking about?

Keith: I figured I can get in if I say “Nehemia” first. I say, “Jono”, you say, “no it’s Keith.” What I think is so interesting is that there’s this idea of the closest place where his body was found, and you know what? It seems… it’s almost like this idea of community responsibility. It’s like saying, “Okay look, I don’t know who, I don’t know where, I don’t know whatever, but we’re going to measure if its closer to New York than it is to Philadelphia. Hey guys in New York, it’s your responsibility.”

Nehemia: If they tried to implement this today in New York or Philadelphia they’d be doing it like every week.

Jono: And you wouldn’t want to be a heifer that’s for sure.

Keith: Exactly. Sure.

Nehemia: Exactly.

Jono: What is with that, I mean, you break the neck?

Nehemia: It’s mysterious, I’ll give you that. I want to ask a question about verse 7.

Jono: Go on.

Nehemia: Or even verses 6 and 7; they’re washing their hands over the heifer and they’re saying, “Our hands didn’t spill this innocent blood, and our eyes didn’t see it.” What happens if they really did it? Does it work?

Keith: And that’s the whole point. Isn’t the whole point to do this because they’re saying that it wasn’t them? If they did it, they wouldn’t do this.

Nehemia: So, if they’re actually guilty, the ritual is of no effect, is what you’re saying.

Keith: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.

Nehemia: So, I want to try to be really sensitive here, and Jono might need to edit this out. I want to try to be really sensitive here. We have an interesting example in history where somebody did something which I believe was mocking this ritual. He was a Roman and I believe he was mocking this Jewish biblical ritual.

Keith: Absolutely.

Nehemia: He tried to shirk his responsibility from something, and his hands were responsible for that innocent blood. And his eyes did see because he ordered it to happen.

Jono: We’re talking about Pilate, who said, “I wash my hands”?

Nehemia: Pontius Pilate, yeah. He says, “I wash my hands of it. I’m not responsible,” and then he ordered his men to carry it out.

Keith: And I bring up the New Testament, so... alright well, we’re at the end of this. I’d like to say thank you for the opportunity, and we only have a few left.

Jono: That’s right. And we’re up to… oh my goodness Keith, thanks for pointing that out. We’re halfway through chapter 21 yes. And we’re getting towards the end. So, you’ve been listening to the Torah Pearls. Thank you, Keith Johnson and Nehemia Gordon for being once again on Torah Pearls. I love you guys, and this is just such a highlight for me every time I…

Nehemia: We love you too, Jono.

Jono: Every time I get to do this it is just so great, and I know the listeners feel the same way. Next week we are in, I have no idea how to pronounce this. Nehemia is it...

Nehemia:Ki Tetzei”

Jono: Thank you. Deuteronomy 21:10 to 25:19 and until then, dear listeners, be blessed and be set apart by the truth of our Father’s words. 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:

    I don’t like to hear teachings from christainty.

  • Donald Murphy says:

    Isn’t “grace” the name of a “goddess”?? and weren’t we not to have their names in our mouths?

  • daniel says:

    Regarding “eye for eye” judgement and what Yeshua said about it in Matt. 5:39, he’s basically saying ‘do not contend(fight) with another man’, because the ‘eye for eye’ scenario gives us two men contending with each other and an Innocent Bystander is injured – therefore, no fight, no injury, no guilt.

  • Caroline Shemesh says:

    Shalom Nehemiah,
    Thank you for sharing with us your knowledge. I know you through Michael Rood shows. I love hearing your insight in פרשת השבוע.
    Im writing in regards to the meaning of the word ויחונך. You have explained that the meaning of grace comes from the word חן, in which i agree.
    ויחונך in Hebrew comes from the word חנך, to educate, discipline and dedicate. I know that the jewish sages חז’ל say that ויחונך means חן.

    Can you please explain.

    תודה ויברכך יהוה.

  • I agree with Nehemia. Potter schmotter! We’ve got bigger, uglier fish to fry, like those who claim to speak for Yehovah, but utter false prophecies about when the world will end. They proclaim themselves or someone else to be messiah (like those who said Schneerson was the messiah and that he’s rise from the dead, 23 years and he hasn’t budged!), they multiply for themselves horses and cars and private jets and wives (multiple divorces). They defraud the gullible of their money and by their disgraceful deeds and false words cause many to reject Yehovah and His word. They have it pretty cushy in the modern world, but in the old days they would certainly have been stoned to death.

  • jehovajah says:

    As far as ‏מצבה
    Was concerned this refers to things that are stationed or planted like a tree, and it is the purpose to which they are put that Jehovah hates! Yaqob purpose was to make an oath, the pagans put the tree next to the altar to collect the blood of the sacrificed animals so that the so-called spirit of the animals inhabit the tree stop this is what Yehovah detests!

  • jehovajah says:

    You three are like Jobs three friends!??? with regard to Shillong Ecclesiastes explains exactly what he was doing.. It is unfortunate that as he got older He lost clarity because his wife like Cava listening to Nachash , So despite all his great wisdom and faithful acts they will count for nothing if he indeed turned away from Yehovah. .
    Modern science especially physics chemistry and biology is pretty much defined what superstition is in order to eliminate it from the logical process. But despite this most of humanity is still superstitious. . So what we see is that a little superstition lemons the whole lump! It may seem a bit cranky Keith but if you can explain what you’re doing to your family and kids they surely must be able to respect that, just as much as you respect them. I knew Nehemia you respect your fellow Jews wish not to use the name of Yehovah. If you will apply your understanding of the Torah to the reports of the life of Yeshua in the text, and the sayings and explanations regarding you will become automatically a student of Yeshua!
    When you connect the dots on grace, as you have, you will understand Paul and his letters more directly. And when you do that, you will understand the full glory of Yeshua ♥️♥️♥️

  • Jasmin says:

    Shalom from Paraguay ??
    Thank you so much ? being able to listen to these teachings is like finding water in the desert.
    We are so blessed. I hope in the future teachings like these can be available in Spanish too.
    Thank you

  • Mary says:

    Good morning, again.
    according to Scriptures only- which was created first? the Moon or stars? simply according to How it all flows. Evening and morning are the established order— did the Moon come first and how do the moon and sun work for determining the Months, etc? solo Scriptura. Thank YOU!

  • Mary says:

    Hello! thank you for the Insight and mind expansion…would Yeshua writing on the “ground” be worth noticing?/ I thought the Temple was made with stone flooring? literal stones laid on a beautiful design -as posted by Nehemia recently- The Stone floor Lady?? I just wonder if the “finger of Yehaovh” fits here? possibly, maybe?

  • Marta says:

    Greetings, I was hoping to glean more understanding of verse 21. What is the Asherah that they planted? Thanks, Marta

  • Ana Lopes says:

    I would like to give my opinion about the “Harry Potter question”.
    I believe that the reason why sorcery, astrology, and the like are forbidden it’s because theses things doesn’t exist. So, whoever does this is deceiving people.
    This is not the case in Harry Potter and books/movies/cartoons with this theme. In Harry Potter some people are borned with a special ability and they go to a special school to improve their abilities. For me, it’s very similar to X-men. Just in X-men they are called mutants instead of wizards and they have super powers instead of making sorcery.
    But there is a real big problem with these books/movies/cartoons. Some people really begin to search about sorcery after reading these books. And this is very very serious.

    • Dagny Beck says:

      I agree that it is made up and magic or what ever it is called with super heroes is just a way of telling a deeper story. I have the HP books nearly memorized but I was always more interested in the deeper story and not the magic. But late last year I decided I had to take a stand against the false traditions inherited from my parents and stop accepting a little bad with the good. I have not kept Christmas and Easter for most of my life but just understand all the pagan influence in Christianity I have been working to completely scrub it all from my daily life. It is everywhere. I have had to define what I will allow into my home and discipline my thoughts. I still feel the draw to loose my stress in Hogwarts but I find I am now able to do the same thing reading the Tanakh and New Testament, though it does get stressful when there is a lot of killing happening.

  • Sheila Price says:

    Jono, Keith and Nehemia,

    In your discussion of worship Yehovah vs moon, sun, stars… I love clear cloudless nights because it affords me the opportunity to star gaze.. not to worship them because I can never see the stars but that I think of Davids words in
    Psalm 8
    1 “O Lord, our Lord,
    How excellent is Your name in all the earth,
    Who have set Your glory above the heavens!
    2 Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
    You have ordained strength,
    Because of Your enemies,
    That You may silence the enemy and the avenger.
    3 When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
    The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
    4 What is man that You are mindful of him,
    And the son of man that You visit him?”

    And I also think of the many scriptures that speak to Abraham as his descendants being as many as the stars… and it always brings me to praise Yehovah for making the stars and to prayer for ALL Jews around the world, that God’s Will and Truth be in their lives.

  • Gnarlodious says:

    Not the weirdest thing in the Bible, but rather a cleverly obfuscated prophesy of the Moshiach. Deuteronomy 21 starts by using the metaphor חלל באדמה, as to say that becoming “hollow in the flesh” is the result of being anointed by God. This idea is explicated in Zechariah 12:10 where the moshiach is “thrust through”, דקר, translated as ‘pierced’ by Christians who likewise assumed it meant ‘killed’. This supernatural anointing is mentioned often as the Canaanite ritual of “passed through by fire”, a re-enactment of the creation of Moloch (melech).

    The closest town is important because of a prophesy in Micah 5:2 where Moshiach will be anointed at Bethlehem or Efrat, or somewhere in between, a third unknown place. From that place will come a heifer, called העלמה (the secret girl)
    prophesied in Isaiah 7:14, the girl who will carry the “yoke of heaven”. The yoke is important because it is carried on the neck, the expanse between heaven (the head) and earth (the body). This idea of the sacred place where heaven meets earth is mentioned unusually often in the Talmud. The patriarch Jacob is known for carrying the sacred neck, and the pillow he slept on was likewise anointed as the pillar of the stretched neck, making Deuteronomy 21 an explication of Genesis 28:19. Another cryptic anointed neck-rock-pillar prophesy is found in Habakkuk 3:13; “Thou went forth for the salvation of thy people, For the salvation of the anointed; Thou wound the head out of the house of the wicked man, Laying bare the foundation even unto the neck. Selah”. Genesis 49:8 says of Judah; “your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies”. And of course Jews are commanded several times to be “stiff of neck” (קשה ערף), which we try our hardest to obey.

    All this neck preoccupation tells us there is something meaningful about the neck as the organ of redemption, so breaking the heifer’s neck is another example. The neck-breaking process is also mentioned in Exodus 13:13 and Leviticus 5:8 in the context of redemption. This Deuteronomy 21 neck riddle obviously refers to an attribute of the Moshiach, a divine anointing of fire that pierces the body and affects the neck. A supernatural bridge linking above and below, heaven and earth.

  • Janice says:

    Who of us have memorized the Book of Exodus that we have time for Harry Potter; we or our children, the King is coming get ready.

    • Donna Dozier says:

      Deuteronomy 12:30New International Version (NIV)
      30 and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, “How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.”

      I don’t think so….

  • Janice says:

    I agree with Keith. I was born 1949, in 5th grade we had weekly readers, which taught us computors would free us from work, we’ll have more time for play; one of the industries that benefit by this is Disney Land. It is amuzement, look up the word musze, it’s unprofitable down time. It has no real value. Yeshovah gives us much that increases our joy and joy of others. How much time given to Harry Potter when we could have taken uor children to vsit the elderly or sick. There are many Torah books for children that are delightful, and are not on the edge of “majic”. Cartoons, rubish, too much fantacy fed to children, when we should feed their creativity, be involved with music instrument, dance class.The question should be what better activity should we be involved in? We should stay clean of anything that looks like, sounds like, smells like witchcraft, sourcery etc. We and our children don’t need it, we can learn from many other Holy sources.Readying Harry Potter is like eating kosher pork.

  • Jeffrey Manresa says:

    I was taught that when Yeshua was “writing” in the dirt he was point to the sand which was implying that this woman was to be tried with the test where they make a drink with the sand and she must drink it. So he is saying this procedure is illegal.

  • Linda Nadal says:

    Thanks, Keith, for standing against Harry Potter! Appreciate your understanding of this issue.

  • Rod Orr says:

    Shalom Nehemia, Keith, Jono… such fun listening to you…

    Shoftim portion Deut 18.9-14. A couple of the translations I have this section is in quotes, perhaps an indicator that Moses was ‘preaching’ – as Keith said with a smile.

    Comments made by each on this passage were interesting. For years, me and my household do not allow either Harry Potter movies or books or any such like to pass the doors of the house.

    We are of the view when in doubt… DONT… even our grandchildren know what we dont allow in the house. Also of the view that the likes of Harry Potter and others being allowed to be read/viewed by our children is ‘not on’.

    The entertainment industry have behind their purpose a way to expose our children of the works of hasatan and his mob.

    Its a subtle form of exposure that gives the impression that goblins and the like is ok. The time will come when ‘anything goes’, the young have become older and their subjection to the ‘dark side’ having begun at an early age perhaps might make deception[s], started young, easier receive.

    Examples – homosexuality, gay marriage, public correctness

    Cheers n blessings

  • George says:

    Nehemia, one part wasn’t read and that is the one that puzzles me.

    ““The priests, the Lĕwites, all the tribe of Lĕwi, have no part nor inheritance with Yisra’ĕl. They are to eat the offerings of יהוה made by fire, and His inheritance. “But among his brothers Lĕwi has no inheritance. יהוה is his inheritance, as He has spoken to him.

    then he shall serve in the Name of יהוה his Elohim, like all his brothers the Lĕwites, who are standing there before יהוה. “They are to have portion for portion to eat, besides what comes from the sale of his inheritance.”
    ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭18:1-2, 7-8‬

    How to understand that?
    It starts with a clear reference that Levites have no inheritance and repeats it.
    Few verses later, one motivated “Levite”(?) is allowed to come and serve in the temple, like the others. He will share the same portion …
    besides what comes from the sale of his inheritance???
    How can? If he is a Levite, he wouldn’t have one, right?
    Why the distinction “motivated” , “like all his brothers” , etc.?

    Any thoughts?

  • Carol Nakabuye says:

    Guys what do u think of churches doing feet washing 2 times a year and people say they have healing from it plsssssss reply.

  • Carol Nakabuye says:

    Am blessed to be part of you guyz may the name of Yehovah be hallowed all over the world

  • Ezracha Bat EPhrayim says:

    What did Yahushua write in the sand?
    Consider these verses.

    Therefore I have called her “””Rahaḇ-Hĕm-Sheḇeth. “””
    Isa 30:8 And go, write it before them on a tablet, and inscribe it on a scroll, that it is for a latter day, a witness forever:
    Isa 30:9 that this is a rebellious people, lying children, children who refuse to hear the Torah of יהוה,
    Isa 30:10 who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right. Speak to us what is smooth, prophesy deceits.
    Isa 30:11 “Turn aside from the way, swerve from the path, cause the Set-apart One of Yisra’ĕl to cease from before us.”

    One day, Yah showed this to me. What other words could they have heard so internally, so pertinent to the situation, considering the false doctrines of the day?


  • Marty says:

    Reference Deut 18:18-22 concluding with, “If the prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, and the thing does not occur and does not come about, that is the thing the Lord did not speak. The prophet has spoken it wantonly; you shall not be afraid of him.”

    Doesn’t this mean that what the prophet predicts must happen in the prophet’s lifetime since verse 20 says that prophet shall die?

    If so, doesn’t this imply that all the prophets who predicted what we interpret as a moshiach be considered false prophets since it didn’t happen during the prophet’s life?

    For example, Isaiah Ch 11 has not happened, even as the peaceful metaphor by Rambam’s interpretation, so why don’t we consider Isaiah a false prophet? Thank you.

  • Leigh Frost says:

    I will not allow any movie or book in my house that glorifies witchcraft to my children. That is the problem with Harry Potter. It presents witchcraft with a good and evil side. In other words, it glorifies that which is evil in God’s eyes. That is not like CSI. CSI shows that murder and rape is evil and wrong and does not glorify that which is evil in God’s eyes.

  • Erin Hunter says:

    I esteem Elohim YHVH for leaving remnants to be a light through many ages!!!
    Thanks be to YHVH also for all of you, Nehemiah, Keith and Jonah for yielding yourselves to El and serving Him to share with us all. May YHVH hear our heart’s as we surrender to His Will and learn of His intent continually.

    I’d like to say on the matter of Yshvhs response, of what I understand, is the heart of everyone, specifically adulterer here, is known to Yhvh thru Yshvh, so it could very well be she was repentant just as was Rahab in Joshua’s day…

    In reading all SCRIPTURE regularly (I was raised to believe Brit Hadassah was what all live by from now on, one day, 2002, I was searching to find original biblical scripts, and began my journey toward the 1st Covenant books so I’m convinced YHVH has both open to seek His will)
    Now I’m apprehended by all YHVH that HE had sent to us, in e v very generation to believe all have sinned… the repentance perceived can be felt in Nehemiah’s example (prayer of heart conviction) and also how Jeremiah lamented as he obeyed YHVH…for the men of promise, children of Israel, to heed what Adam did not. Obeying with willingness in heart, from conviction of mind is truly learned in my whole being.

    Thank you all for your input as I am truly blessed with unspeakable treasures from above. Bless all who come to Him who has cistern of life living waters forevermore!

    • Erin Hunter says:

      I would like to add that the true witness is Ruach haIrless and as I listen and observe all things set apart spirit corrects the wrong/false teachings which have been passed on from Times past.

  • Sara Miller says:

    It is my understanding that the periscope of the adulteress does not really show up in any manuscript until the 8th century.

  • Eric says:

    In regards to the passage in John about the adulterous woman, putting aside for the moment the varsity of the account, I don’t believe it’s true to say that Yeshua forgave her. He did make her accusers go away, so under Torah, judgement could not be passed. (As you need two or more witnesses). He was not a witness, so he couldn’t accuse her. What he did was give her a second chance, tell her to go and sin no more. Is this not the grace of God, the outrageous favor of of Yehovah? In this passage, I see nothing more than the character of God and the upholding of Torah (The best way to live)

  • David Espenlaub says:

    Hi Nehemia,
    Thank you so much for these teachings. In your commentary on Shoftim, you meantioned that with the (soon) arrival of the Messiah, he would fulfill Deut 17:18-19 (“Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. 19 “It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes)
    I believed that Yeshua fulfilled this already. if you believe that one to come will fulfill this, perhaps again, it seems that this would take a considerable amount of time, to write his own copy in the presence of the priests and to read it every day. It seems like this would require a longer process than the arrival of the Messiah in the end times.

    I would appreciate to hear your comments on this.

    Dallas, Texas

  • Ferd Blom says:

    Thanks Nehemia, Keith and Jono,

    With reference to Deu19:20 / Lev 24:19-20 / Matt 5:38 – I have always had a problem with the phrase “resist not evil” Every other version I have checked has said “resist not evil”. What? Are we not to resist evil? Made no sense to me until I began to study the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew parallel to the KJV. From the Hebrew we find that Yeshua actually said “do not repay evil for evil”. From this we can make good sense of the verses pertaining to “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” …etc. I have found several other instances of misinterpretation compared to Hebrew Matthew. Can you 3 teachers please please do an expository on the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew. Yehovah bless you all,


    Ferd Blom
    Toronto, Canada

    • lonelypilgrim says:

      Dear Ferd,

      Your point on the hebrew Mathew is very enlighting. Thank you for sharing. It goes exactly towards what I was going to share about that section of Mathew 5, and it uterly confirms it.

      The teaching on “resist not evil” starts by stating the just punishment for a crime from Torah: “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”. This just punishment is not the minimum punishment to exact on the criminal, but it is actually the maximum punishment. If the victim or the judge intentionally retributes the criminal beyond what the Torah allows, they have become criminals themselves. It is a profound thought about justice that many seem to forget.

      Yeshua was making very clear that actually forgiving someone for personal ofenses like slapping and small, non-life threatening crimes, like the use of foreign laws against you, is the way of holy mercy, just like our God YHWH forgive our transgressions.

      It is an expounding of the Our Father prayer about forgiveness and shows how to practice mercy towards our adversaries, people that wish us evil.

      The Yeshua clearly follows teaching to “bless those that curse us and do good to those that despise us. Pray for those that mistreat and persecute. So that you are sons of your Father that are in heaven.” – Mathew 8:44 (paraphrasing)

      Again, the reference to “your Father in heaven”, ‘Avikha Shabashamayim’ No doubt he is refering to the prayer and explaining what it means to be forgiven as we forgive those that transgress against us.

      And the last verse of the section is a clear paraphrase from the Torah: “Be holy like thy YHWH is Holy”, and intertwining YHWH with Avikha shaba shamayim.

      The whole section is to show the true Torah, not the one that the Perushim and false priests. The wicked twisted and hid the Torah and made acretions and subtractions. They commited crimes when they caught criminals and their sentences were wicked.

      They became criminals in the eye of YHWH our God, because they inflicted suffering well beyond the Torah sentences. They did things like the idolaters do, cut someone’s hand for thievery, or their ears for lying. Maybe not those literaly, but Yeshua pointed out how they twisted vows and the Shabat rest, making people sin and suffer.



  • victoria loyd says:

    I agree with Keith about the harry potter movies they are trying ti teach the children that this is acceptable.none in my house either Go Keith!………………..

  • Mandy Smith says:

    Dear Nehemia, Jono and Keith,
    I hope this e-mail finds at least One of you, as I don’t know Where to send an e-mail to that’s meant for you three guys. I live in South Africa, and I was soooo pleased to “meet” Nehemia and Keith on Michael Rood’s channel. That was the one where only the three of you were left after old Harold Camping’s “Rapture” happened. What a joke!
    Now, I would like to tell you, that I don’t see you three guys as the “Three Stooges”, but rather as the “Three Musketeers”, you know, ‘All for ONE, and ONE for All’ (the ONE being Yehovah) because that is exactly what I think of you. Then, your sense of humour, is the weekly highlight of my life that I look forward to. Michael Rood and his crew also seem to have this sense of humour, it’s encouraging to see and listen to, and watch Believers like all of you. I only wish that I can not only listen to, but actually Watch your “Torah Pearls” episodes. Thank you for lightening my weeks every week. Please don’t stop! Now, You, Nehemia, I’ve heard you tell the story of the little old Southern Lady telling you “Nehemiah, you’re going to hell” before you mentioned it on “To Hell and Back”. I don’t remember whether it was on one of Michael’s shows or whether it was when you were talking to Christine Darg, but the first time I heard that one, I hosed myself. I still giggle out loud when I hear it and if anybody heard me, they would think I’m Nuts. Now, if people tell you that again, I think I might have a tip for you. You then tell them: “Madam/ Sir, I’m one of the 144,000 that the Book of Revelation talks about…” isn’t that a good answer? Let me know what you think about that one, ok?
    PS. This is my favourite Portion of Scripture, and always makes me cry, when I hear it:
    The Priestly Blessing
    Numbers 6:22-27
    22 “Then YEHOVAH spoke to Moses, saying: 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: 24 “YEHOVAH bless you and keep you; 25 YEHOVAH make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; 26 YEHOVAH lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”‘ 27 “So they shall put My Name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”
    I read this every day, sometimes more than once. Shalom! And Yehovah’s Blessings on All of you.
    PPS. Please tell Keith I would also like some of Nehemia’s books but cannot find them in my country.
    Kind regards,
    Republic of South Africa