Torah Pearls #22 – Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20)

Torah Pearls Vayakhel, Exodus 35:1-38:20, Torah Pearls, torah portion, Nehemia Gordon, tabernacle, wilderness, Jewish, hebrewIn this episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20), we begin with asking what it means to "kindle a fire" on the Sabbath.  Then we ask what it means for someone's heart to be stirred, and how the various traditions understand this, leading to a wonderful discussion on how and why we give to God. There is a fascinating discussion of the nature of Polygamy in the Torah, which leads to an exciting examination of the nature of Paleo-Hebrew.

Looking forward to reading your comments!

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Transcript

Torah Pearls #22 - Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20)

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

Jono: G'day to Tamara in Nebraska. And wherever you may be around the world, thank you for your company. It is time for Pearls from the Torah Portion with Keith Johnson and Nehemiah Gordon. G'day, gentlemen.

Keith: Good day.

Nehemia: Good day! And this is a shout-out to Serena Sorenstein in Longwood, Florida.

Jono: Florida! There we go.

Keith: And I’m giving a shout-out to Andrew.

Jono: G'day, Andrew. Where is Andrew?

Keith: Andrew is my son.

Jono: Hey! And he’s a big fan, right?

Keith: Yes, he is. Absolutely. He’s awesome.

Nehemia: Hey, Andrew!

Jono: Hey, now, listen, now, before we do anything, I should tell you guys that we’ve had a complaint.

Nehemia: Okay.

Jono: Alright, I’m going to tell you what this is.

Keith: Yeah?

Nehemia: That means we’re doing something right.

Jono: No, no, this is from Linda and Phil. And I appreciate comments from our listeners and thank you, Linda and Phil, for your comment. They write, “We have been listening since the beginning, and it seems to us that the quality of the talk is degenerating into jokes and laughter too much. Please listen to your broadcast and hear yourselves. Quit it with all the jokes and laughing and get back to the Bible and the Torah portion, which is the real reason why we are listening.” I’m talking to you, Karaite, so stop being so funny.

Nehemia: There is a way to protect all of us from this issue of the jokes, and that’s if we need to be wrapped in a Torah scroll.

Jono: That’s a joke.

Nehemia: And then nothing can touch us, we're protected.

Jono: Oh, Keith? Keith quick. Damage control.

Keith: Yeah, you know, one of the things that is happening is that we’re actually learning and growing as we’re going, and it really is fun to be here. I mean, we’ve got three different time zones. We’ve got three different people from three different backgrounds trying to have commonality in the Word of God. And the truth is that sometimes, the only way that we can deal with some of the things we deal with is to laugh and to be together. And hopefully those people will understand we take seriously the Word of God, but we also are human and we’re trying to figure this out. And I actually appreciate the fact that as we go along with this, we can bring some of the human side of this into it. I mean, it certainly isn’t some dry opportunity. We’re trying to have some fun while we’re…and I think the Word of God is fun, to be honest with you.

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: So, we’ll keep trying to do what we’re doing and make sure that people can hear what we’re hearing and get the revelation. But I don’t want to tell Nehemia, hey, Nehemia, go back to the way you were ten years ago where I couldn’t crack of smile out of him. I mean, I’d rather have…

Nehemiah: Well, here’s the thing; if they’re not happy with my jokes, they’re entitled to a full refund.

Jono: There you go. That’s very high of you. I should put that on the website, “if you’re not happy, we will give you your money back absolutely.”

Keith: But listen, you know, we are coming to this with integrity and excitement and joy and happiness, and it’s a big deal for us. It’s fun, it’s fun for me to be talking to you Jono and Nehemia. It really is hilarious that it’s midnight for you, and two o’ clock for Nehemia, and seven o’clock for me. People should know, sometimes the phone rings and I’m like, “Oh, what time is it?” And sometimes Nehemia hadn’t had his coffee or had three cups of it. So, I mean…

Jono: Well, that’s good. Now, see, Keith, you are, I just got to say, you are great at damage control. You’re the man!

Keith: It’s not damage control.

Jono: No, it is. No, come on. I mean, I would go so far as to say that this is a skill that you have developed just from having this relationship with Nehemia, right?

Keith: I wouldn’t say.

Jono: It's refined you.

Keith: He’s refined me, yes.

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: I do want to say something though. You know, I asked a question, Jono, and I told Nehemia I’ve been asking this question. I’ve asked the question in the last few weeks from a number of different people. I say, “Tell me where there is a Jew and Gentile working together where the common ground truly is the Word of God, and it’s not about conversion, and it’s not about some peace initiative or it’s not about some fundraising thing, but actually where a Jew and a Gentile come together on the Word of God?” And they couldn’t tell me of anywhere where that was happening, except for what’s happening here on Truth2U, and Pearls from the Torah, where, in integrity, we are taking and really holding an important topic, which is the Bible.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: But, at the same time, what people should get excited about is we’re doing this in a way where we’re not saying, “Nehemiah, you can only say this; Keith, you can only say that; Jono, you can only say this.” And we’re bringing who we are as people to this.

Jono: Yes.

Keith: That’s what I think it’s so cool about it. So, to me, let the fun continue.

Jono: Let the fun continue!

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: We do agree with Linda and Phil that obviously, the Word of God is to be taken seriously, and we do endeavor to take it seriously

Keith: Yes.

Jono: And it’s probably good every now and then to be kept in check. So, what I’m going to do, we’ve already gone from being Rated-M to Rated-PG, now I’m going to move us from the comedy section to the historical documentary section. How is that?

Keith: Okay.

Jono: All right. That’s where we’ll be going on the shelf. Today, we are in…

Nehemia: I didn’t agree to that.

Keith: Okay, go ahead. Go ahead.

Jono: You’ll have to speak to the Censor Board, I think. Today, we are in Vayakhel, Exodus 35:1-38:20, and it begins like this, “Then Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said to them, ‘These are the words which Yehovah has commanded you to do: Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to Yehovah. Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death.’” Full stop, but then in verse 3, “You shall kindle no fire throughout your dwellings on the Sabbath day.” Now, I know we’ve touched on this briefly. Actually, Yoel ben Shlomo and myself, we’ve actually discussed this a couple of times in a little more depth in recent conversation, but do you guys have anything to add to this? It’s verse 3, of 35.

Keith: I know for myself, this is a verse…and you know, it’s really wonderful when we do go through these portions. As we read them, there are certain things that jump off the page as far as remembering. And I remember having this conversation with Nehemia, because for me as a Methodist coming to the Tanakh, I kind of saw the Sabbath as something that was for the Jews, and it’s nice that they have that. But we know eventually, they will come to the light of the knowledge that Sunday is the real day, and that was sort of my thought. From a re-reading of the Tanakh and understanding the significance of the Sabbath itself as a theme that runs throughout the entire Tanakh even into the New Testament, it made me slow down and ask a simple question. So, what does it mean to actually honor the Sabbath?

Well, one of the things that came up, and I remember having this conversation with Nehemia in great depth regarding this idea of fire on the Sabbath. Was it the fire because of the work that you had to go through? Thinking this in my mind: it’s the work; you are dealing with gathering wood. Until we did what he loved to do with me, to go word-by-word, and idea-by-idea, and concept-by-concept, what did the word “work,” mean? And then that’s when the light came on again, and I said, “Ok, so what is this issue of fire?” Nehemia, you probably remember this conversation, and I think you did a phenomenal job of taking it apart and putting it back together again. It’s like having a toy and saying, “Hey, how does this toy work?” “Well, let’s take it apart.” “Oh, but the toy is broken.” “Yeah, but we’re going to put it back together again.” And the Sabbath and the issue of the fire was that kind of thing for me.

So, I think it’s important to know, when He’s talking about the Sabbath here, He’s talking about something, as I mentioned, that’s been consistent as a theme throughout. But then when He specifically says, “Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day”, people have interpreted that to mean so many different things that this could be one of those things that, if we took a moment and I’d ask Nehemia, “In your tradition, what did it mean not to light a fire, and did that include, then, modern times' electricity?” That would be a question that I would ask.

Nehemia: Really it says, “Don’t kindle", or "don’t light a fire,” actually even translating it “Don’t light a fire,” is already gravitating towards one of the interpretations, I guess you have to do. So, this has been interpreted in quite a number of different ways. In fact, there’s a very common Jewish tradition that has its source in this verse as a way of forcing people into one particular interpretation of this verse.

That tradition is, specifically, lighting the Sabbath candles on Friday afternoon just before sunset…this is a rabbinical tradition…and when they light the Sabbath candles, they say, “Bless our Lord, King of the Universe who has sanctified us with His commandments, commanding us to light the Sabbath candle.” So, basically, they’re saying that God has commanded us to light the Sabbath candle and everyone knows that God did not actually command us to light the Sabbath candles. In fact, that’s a rabbinical commandment, a rule that, actually, the rabbis made up, what they call “Takkanot.” It’s an injunction that the Rabbis foisted upon the people, and they actually only did this around the 9th or 10th century.

The context of this particular one of the Takkanot was, that there was a debate between Rabbinical Jews and the Karaite Jews, specifically over this verse. The predominant view of the Karaite Jews at that time was, that not only does this mean not to start a fire, and not only is it not to start and feed a fire, you shouldn’t start a fire, feed a fire, or even have a fire. And they actually translated this verse as, “You shall not cause a fire to burn in all your habitations on the Sabbath Day”, which is a possible translation from the Hebrew; meaning, you could legitimately translate it that way.

There is, actually, I believe the Everett Fox edition, which is one of the translations of the Torah, a rabbinical translation, actually, that translates this as, “You shall not burn a fire in all your habitations on the Sabbath Day.” Well, which one is it? Those are three different interpretations: the actual act of initially starting the fire, the act of initiating it and then also feeding it. Or maintaining it. Those are two different things, right? And the third one is starting it, feeding it, that is maintaining it, and even leaving it from beforehand.

So, the Rabbis stepped in and they said, “You know, a lot of our people are gravitating towards this Karaite position. We’re going to tip the scales by requiring people to light a fire on Friday afternoon, and leave it burning until the Sabbath, and we’re going to make them proclaim that God has given us the authority to do this”. When they say, God has sanctified us with his commandments concerning the Sabbath candle, everyone understood that was actually God, supposedly, giving the Rabbis authority to create new commandments. So, this thing has continued until this day.

Now, what I see many Karaite Jews from my camp doing is they get very reactionary. They say, “Well, if the Rabbis are lighting the Sabbath candles because they knew that it was forbidden based on the Karaite interpretation, then we’re going to stick to that interpretation and not even listen to what the other possibilities are.” And I think that’s a mistake. I think what we really should do is say, here are all the possibilities; I’m not going to be pushed into one box or another box. You could appreciate that, Keith. I don’t want to be pushed into one box or another box just because some group did something a thousand years ago. What does that have to do with me? I want to understand the Word of God as it was intended. Now, how do we do that? That’s not so easy. Remember, I said, that was the predominant position of the Karaites a thousand years ago.

Jono: Yes.

Nehemia: There are actually other positions. And really, all three of those positions that I mentioned: starting the fire, starting and feeding, starting, feeding and having, you could find those among different Karaites. Then, for example, one Karaite, about a hundred years ago pointed out and said, “Look, today we can just press a button. How can you tell me that that’s work on the Sabbath, pressing a button to start a fire”?

In the old days what they would do is they’d take two pieces of flint, or they’d take actually a piece of iron and flint, and then it sparks, and there was a whole process of building a fire. Today, when you press a button and, for example, turn on your car, and you say, “Well, what does a car have to do with fire?” A car has an internal combustion engine. Every time you step on the gas, you are feeding fire to the car. When you turn it on initially, you are actually starting a fire.

So, for example, Orthodox Jews won’t use a car on Shabbat, and most Karaite Jews that I know won’t use a car on Shabbat. And the question really is, and I’m not going to answer this for the people because my motto as a Karaite Jew is, search well the Scripture and don’t rely blindly on anyone’s opinion.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: You know, work it out for yourselves. But really, you have to ask the question, “What is this commandment about?” If the commandment is about work, about labor, then it does have to do with the labor involved in starting it. The counterargument to that is well, it doesn’t say the word “labor” in verse 3, “labor” is mentioned in verse 2. Okay, so you could argue that. So, there are all these considerations out there, and I think it’s something that people have to stop and say, okay, I need to study this; to ask God to give me guidance and to open my eyes. I think maybe this is a good time for Keith to say our weekly prayer.

Jono: Hey, there it is.

Keith: Uh.

Jono: Psalm 119 verse 18, and Keith’s going to say it. He’s just…

Keith: This is always what Nehemia does. Well, let me say this, I’m actually appreciating this. I happen to be in a situation now where, like I mentioned to you and Jono earlier, one of the things that feel to me when we get to the Tanakh is the chance to hide a little bit in the Word of God, and while we are in the Word of God, we get such an amazing perspective. So, let me just say this prayer for all those that are simply needing this. Father, we want to thank you for this chance to be on this communication ability, we’re able to communicate around the world. And right now, as we are in the Word of God, we ask that you would open our eyes, and that we might see the wonderful things that are hidden in Your Torah, including the things that we don’t understand. And so, in this situation, we thank You in advance that, in the end, we will have drawn closer to You by simply approaching the Scripture with integrity and asking, what does it mean for us now? In Your Name, Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: So, one of the things I want to say, Jono and Nehemia, regarding this verse is, it was a bit of a rabbit hole, because what I wanted to ask was, what would be the significance of fire beyond the idea of lighting it? So, from a practical standpoint, I wanted to ask a question. When I was over in Israel, I would see people have this whole idea of lights on and lights off. So, if you turn the light on, one friend of mine said, well, if I turn the light on before Shabbat, and I don’t turn it off, then I can keep the light on, but I believe that the light is fire or something like that. So, my question Nehemia is…

Nehemiah: Actually, that doesn’t have to do with fire. That has to do with something else.

Keith: That has to do with something else.

Nehemia: Because most Jews don’t connect electricity to fire.

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: They are actually two different forces. So, I don’t really think that has to do with fire. That has to do with the concept that when electricity, electrical lights especially, came into vogue, the rabbinical authorities, or the people who call themselves the rabbinical authorities, asked the question: “Is this something that we want to be doing on Shabbat, turning on and off the lights?” And, for a variety of reasons, they decided, if you leave it on from before the Sabbath, you can have it on, but you can’t turn it on and off. And, if you leave it on, you’ve got to leave it on and if you leave it off, you’ve got to leave it off. Then, there’ll be ridiculous situations that happen. I remember growing up, everyone would be, on Friday night, at the Shabbat table, and the circuit breaker would jump, or actually back then, I’m that old, the fuse would blow.

Keith: Yeah, I remember that.

Nehemia: Back when there were actually physical fuses. And I grew up Orthodox, so the belief was that we’ve got to wait until after Shabbat to fix it. So, we’d be sitting there, as Orthodox Jews, sitting in the dark on a Friday night, without light, without any electricity, and the food in the refrigerator, in the freezer going bad, and that’s just how it was. Then I had friends growing up who would say, “Well, that’s caused by demons, the demons coming to destroy the circuit so that you’ll suffer on Shabbat.” Which, you know, I thought was utterly ridiculous, but who knows, right?

So anyway, that actually doesn’t have to do necessarily with fire, or they don’t connect it to fire directly. The issue with fire really plays out when it comes to something like a car. A car does produce electricity, and so if you take this to mean that you’re not allowed to start a fire or feed a fire, and that it has nothing to do with the labor involved, then you can’t use a car on Shabbat. Now, why would there be a commandment like that? That’s the question you’re asking. And the truth is, we can ask that for a lot of commandments.

There’s the commandment about not mixing wool and linen; so, what’s the reason for that commandment? Or the classic example they ask is, why do we, for purification from the dead, why do they bring a red heifer; why isn’t it a black heifer or a blue heifer, right? So, the tendency in the Jewish tradition is to say, well, “kacha,” it’s just an arbitrary thing, or maybe it’s not arbitrary, but we don’t know because God didn’t tell us.

Really, how you keep this commandment has to do with how you understand that. I mean, if you say, well, this is about labor, then that already will influence how you keep this commandment. If you say, well, it’s just some arbitrary thing and I don’t know why, or some people will say, everything in the universe that has to do with creation is connected to fire. You know, the first thing God said was, “Let there be light” and the people who said this assumed that that had something to do with fire, and so fire is creation and we shouldn’t have to do with creation.

So, there’s all kinds of different opinions out there about what exactly this means and, therefore, what the application is. I was thinking about this recently; there was this movement, like almost two thousand years ago, called the Gnostics. They believed that you have to have a certain knowledge in order to get salvation. If you didn’t have that exact secret knowledge then you were going to burn in the fires of Hell forever, except for maybe not on Shabbat because there’s no fire, right? That was a joke.

Keith: Mhm.

Nehemia: “Mhm,” he’s not laughing. What’s going on here?

Keith: No, no…

Jono: He’s doesn’t laugh because we already said we’re not going to be funny. What are you talking about?

Keith: OK. Go ahead.

Nehemia: OK. Well, you said you were not going to be funny. I can’t…

Keith: OK.

Nehemia: Anyway, so I don’t think this is about Gnosis, about having secret knowledge. I don’t think you need to interpret this the correct way in order to be right with God. The way I look at it, when the Messiah comes, He’ll tell us what the true interpretation is.

Keith: Can I give a…

Nehemia: What we have to do until then is do the best that we can. I believe that the process of going through that, of saying, God, give me guidance and help me understand how to keep this commandment, and even if you get it wrong, you’ve done your best. I think that is having the relationship with God, as opposed to getting up and just saying, “Okay, well, this is what my people told me to do so I’m going to follow that.” Well, then you are following the commandment of men, not the commandment of God. Even if they happen to have the right secret knowledge, that’s not you having a relationship with God.

Jono: You need to own it for yourself.

Nehemia: You need to own it for yourself. I think that’s more important than if you happen to get the right interpretation. I’ll give you from my own experience, I’ve actually run the entire gamut on this verse throughout my years. There was a time when on Shabbat, basically, I sat throughout the entire Shabbat without any electricity, any lights, and basically had nothing on Shabbat because I was thinking…I won’t go into the whole complicated thing. Basically, I’ve looked at all the different understandings of this, and throughout my years, I feel like I’ve grown, and evolved, and maybe some people think I devolved. But I think it’s more important that I have that relationship with God than that I stick to a tradition that I have come to believe is wrong. And there I’ll let Keith talk; I’ve got nothing more to say.

Jono: Keith?

Keith: Well, no, all I was going to say is that one of the things that I’ve decided to do here in our household is, I took the idea of dwelling where I live and the idea of whether I would be lighting a fire…not whether I’d have lights on and circuits on or those kinds of things. But basically, the overall riding idea that I’ve taken is, what does it mean for my house to rest? What does it mean for me to take a time that’s different during that 24-hour period of time; that’s not like the other six days?

And so, and you know, this is another discussion. I tell the oven, “Hey, oven, rest,” and the other things, let’s all rest together and just have an enjoyable time during Shabbat, and it makes that day different than any other day without making judgment about anyone else and how the details of it work out. I just don’t light a fire. It’s as simple as that for me.

Jono: Sure. There it is.

Keith: So anyway.

Jono: Yeah, no, that’s good, I’m glad we touched on that. “And Moses spoke to all the congregation of Israel and the children of Israel, saying, “This is the thing which Yehovah commanded, saying: ‘Take from among you an offering to Yehovah. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to Yehovah: gold, silver, bronze; blue, purple, scarlet thread, fine linen, goats’ hair, ram skin dyed red badger skins…” Now, I think we’ve touched on this, didn’t we?

Nehemia: Yeah, we talked about that.

Jono: Talked about that one. Okay.

Nehemia: Yeah.

Jono: “…and acacia wood; oil for the light, spices of anointing oil, sweet incense, onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod in the breastplates.” Now, a lot of this stuff, just to let everybody know, there’s a lot of repetition and stuff that we have actually covered, but I do want to point something out here. It goes on about the anointing oil and the hangings and the sockets and the pillars and the garments, and so on and so forth.

But Keith, it talks about the offering, and I’m particularly interested in the offering because something very interesting happens here. “All the congregation of the children of Israel departed from the presence of Moses. Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought Yehovah offering for the work of the Tabernacle of Meeting, for all its service, and for its holy garments. They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and they brought their earrings and nose rings, their rings, their necklaces, the jewelry of gold, that every man who made an offering of gold to Yehovah. And every man, with whom was found blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine linen…”

And basically, they brought it all; and they were very willing. It’s interesting; in verse 26, it says, “And the women whose hearts stirred with wisdom spun yarn of goats’ hair. And the rulers brought onyx stones,” and all of this stuff, and all of a sudden we read in verse 29, “The children of Israel brought a freewill offering to Yehovah, and all the men and women whose hearts were willing to bring material for all kinds of work which Yehovah, by the hand of Moses, had commanded to be done.” So, the call went out. They said, “This is what we need; those of you whose hearts have stirred to give, those of you who are willing, please come forward and give a freewill offering to Yehovah for the service of the temple and materials for the temple.” And there was an overwhelming response.

Nehemia: I think that was a very interesting translation, like in verse 21 you read it something like "his heart was stirred," or something like that. But what it actually says…how did it translate that in verse 21?

Jono: In verse 21, “Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought Yehovah offering for the tabernacle.”

Nehemia: Okay. So, what it says in Hebrew is, “And they came, every man whose heart lifted him up, and everyone who his spirit,” and this is funny to translate, “his spirit caused him to give freely.” So here it’s not…what it literally says in Hebrew isn’t passive, it’s actually an action that, “his heart lifted him up and his spirit caused him to give freely.” Later, in verse 26, it says, “And all the women who their hearts, or their heart, lifted them up with wisdom.” And then again in verse 29, “every man and woman who their heart caused them to give freely.” So, it’s really interesting that the heart and the spirit are described as doing this in the Hebrew. In the English, it’s translated into passive action; it just happened somehow, and I think that’s interesting.

Jono: It’s fascinating. Verse 31, says, and it’s talking of…actually, let’s just start from verse 30, “And Moses said to the children of Israel, “See, Yehovah has called by name…” is that Beazel?

Nehemia: Betz-alel.

Jono: Bezalel, the son of Uri.

Nehemia: So, can we talk about him for a second?

Jono: Please.

Nehemia: You know, Hebrew names are short sentences very often, and Betzalel, his name…you can actually translate it in a couple of different ways. This is one of, I suppose, the embarrassing things…we don’t always know what the reason for the name is. Take a name like Aaron; we don’t actually know for sure what that name means. “Betzalel”, there’s actually two big possibilities. One is that it’s from the two words “bazal,” and “El,” which means, “the onion of God.”

Jono: The what? “The onion of God”? Is that what you said?

Nehemia: The onion of God, right. And the onions they had were probably more like scallions because those are the ones that are indigenous to this region. So, “the scallion of God.” I mean, and that’s a possibility, that that was simply what his name meant, and for whatever reason. The other possibility is that his name means “the shadow of God.” That’s the other possibility, “Betzel-El”.

Jono: Okay. I think I like the shadow.

Nehemia: Yeah. Although the truth is…

Keith: I like both of them.

Jono: You like both of them?

Keith: I like both of them.

Jono: “The onion of God”?

Keith: And I’ll tell you why, the first one…

Nehemia: The scallion and the shadow.

Jono: Keith?

Keith: Well, no I want to back up one second. So, one of the things that’s always a really big tension, and it really is a tension regarding this whole issue of ministry and money. And this idea, when I read this story, how powerful it is that there was a vision and then there was the provision. But what happened was for the provision to meet the vision, there had to be something internal to the people; something had to happen. I think that humanly, short of something happening, it’s always, like, well, what’s the least amount that I can do and get away with it.

And what’s so powerful about this particular story, and what gives me great hope, is that when He determined, when the Father determined, we’re going to bring forth this amazing place where I’m going to come and dwell and speak, and it’s going to be a picture of my presence on earth, if I can say this, he could’ve snapped his fingers and let something fall from Heaven and there it was. But instead, what happened is the people’s spirits were stirred; they came willingly.

And it’s interesting, Moses didn’t stand up and say, “Okay, now, who will give the fifty; who will give the hundred; who will give the thousand; how can I play the right music; how can I give you the right message; what video can I play?”

Jono: “How can I get the lighting just right, and the music just right to stir you?”

Keith: Yeah. But what I want to say about this, and I guess, I’ve come to this place as a result of reading this, is I’m no longer afraid to address this issue because of the nonsense that takes place regarding resources. When there is a vision that people believe in, what I always pray for is that they would have the experience like they had back then: that their hearts would be stirred, that their minds would be moved, whether they’re stirred in the night or in the day or whatever that says, “You know what, this is important.”

I’ll give you an example, and I’m just going to use you as an example, Jono. You’ll say at the end of the program, “And if this program has helped you, please consider donating.” You know, you never talk about it too much, but you know what? One of the things that I pray is that people would be stirred, and they would be moved, and they would say, “Hey, Jono, this is an amazing thing that you’re doing there, how can we help you? How can we support you?”

And those people out there do have something…learn some information, get some inspiration, get some revelation. I don’t mind saying today, where I wouldn’t have said it last year, but I will say it today: there is a place in our lives, where, when He moves us to bring provision around a vision, that we should have joy and excitement about it, it takes no manipulation, but sometimes people don’t even know the need.

And I want to tell you that I am appreciating now that we can begin to say: Here’s what the vision is; here’s what we’re going to do, and if you’re stirred, we’d love for you to be a part of it. But here’s the difference: you bring it, we’re not going to receive it. You bring it; you feel led to bring it. We’re not going to manipulate, call and make you feel guilty for not. That’s between you and God. So, I wanted to say that, it’s powerful.

Now, about my friend who has the two different meanings of the name, let me be a preacher for a second. I’m thinking, well, if he’s the onion of God, God had to peel him and make the people weep and then Lord, the deeper he got to the core of who he was; the people begin to weep and that’s what the…

Nehemia: That’s joking, got to stop.

Keith: No, I’m not joking. I mean, listen…

Nehemia: Well, that was too funny.

Keith: Listen, it's the shadow of God, it's the reflection…you know, there are so many powerful things. Sometimes, you guys, what I do when I do study the Tanakh, I literally have to get up from my table and walk away.

Nehemia: That’s how you do it.

Keith: Because of the depth that could be there and the depth that is there. So, I like both options.

Jono: So, I’m putting a tick against both of your names for being funny. There it is.

Keith: No, no.

Nehemia: Going back to the issue of what you said, Keith, about how, I guess, especially in your tradition, there’s the idea of getting the music just right and the lighting just right. What they’re trying to do is they’re trying to stir people’s hearts and what it says. And maybe that’s the significance of it in verse 21…

Keith: Yeah.

Nehemia: …where it says, “And they came, every man who his heart stirred him and everyone who his spirit caused him to give freely.” So rather than this being an outside force, this was something that came from within them…

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: …and stirred them, and uplifted them…

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: …to then go and give.

Jono: So, it wasn’t a matter of being manipulated or influenced into a particular emotion. Let me tell you from my experience. For many, many years, I was a guitarist in what was called the Ministry Team, the Music Ministry Team, and that’s specifically what we aimed to do, I don’t mind telling you. We arranged the order of songs to progress in a particular direction emotionally. I mean I’ll tell you, one of my favorite bands, when I was younger, was Pink Floyd, because I loved the way that they could manipulate the crowd with emotion, and I just found that to be such a powerful thing. And we used to do that in church. We would play in a certain way, and manipulate the song even, to bring about emotion, and people would love to get wrapped up in it, and then that’s called the Holy Spirit. It was just the way we worked, and it worked, and that’s why we did it. So, you know, it’s chapters like this that I really do appreciate. That Yehovah says, “Hey, freewill offering if you are stirred, by all means, bring in this of what need to do.” And the people were stirred, and Nehemia, as you said, their hearts lifted them up and their spirit moved them to, and they gave so, and I want to come back in this in just a minute, but they gave so much. That we read over in verse 6 of chapter 36, where it says, and in fact let me go back to verse 5, it says, “and they spoke to Moses, saying,” this are the workers; these are the people, the artists, the trained workers, the craftsmen. They said, “The people bring much more than enough.” Much more than enough; not just that they've brought enough, it’s not just they brought more than enough; they brought much more than enough, “for the service of the work which Yehovah commanded us to do.” So, Moses gave a commandment,” Keith, he gave a commandment, “and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, “Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.” And the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done; indeed, too much.” Now, you know, these days, if something like that happened, they’d be saying, “Moses, you could’ve had a private jet. You don’t have a private jet in there. Do you have a private jet? You could have done it, and you told them to stop bringing and you could’ve, you know, keep it on.”

Nehemia: They don’t do that a lot in you guys’ tradition? Where they tell people, look, we built the building we don’t need any more money. We have the money to pay for it and everything, so stop bringing. They don’t do that, is what you’re telling me?

Jono: They, not in…

Keith: I want to say this. One of the things that’s hard about this particular concept, for me, anyway, is that there’s work to be done.

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: And when there’s work to be done, you’d love to be able to have that problem. The problem that I have is that, as I do go to different places and I do see different things, and whether I turn on the television or whether it’s the radio or whether I’m reading the newspaper or simply traveling, and I’m on my way to go and share with Nehemia on some concept that we’re dealing with that’s a Biblical concept, and we drive by ten churches that have 20,000 square feet and all these buildings. And I think to myself, “So, what is the actual work that’s being done, and when do you have enough for the work, versus when do you have enough to meet all the other desires and wants?” What’s the work versus the want or the desire? To be honest with you, I don’t know, for example, some of the places that I’ve been, I don’t know if it’s necessary to have gold-plated toilet handles versus not having an…

Nehemia: What do you mean? The pastor needs to have…you want them to touch brass? What’s wrong with you?

Keith: No, no. What I’m saying is when the need may be right around the corner for people, you know, widows and orphans, and people that need food or people…you know, we live in a society right now…let me start where I live, where there are a lot of people that are just struggling to make the minutiae, the small things happen. So, one of the things when I read this, and I appreciate you taking the time and slowing down on it, is enough for the work versus enough for what I want. And I believe there’s a lot of work that’s to be done, and I’m still praying that people’s hearts are stirred and their minds are stirred to say, “What is the work and how can we support it?”

Jono: Amen.

Keith: I want to tell you I appreciated us slowing down about that.

Jono: Amen. So, I’m just going to step back, “Moses said to the children,” this is in verse 30, “Moses said to the children of Israel, ‘See, Yehovah has called by name,” onion-boy, “the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah,” now here it is, “and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in.’” Now, this is something that we read actually over-and-over again that Yehovah…and we commented on this before...

Keith: Right.

Jono: …that he fills them with His Spirit to have the knowledge, the wisdom, the understanding, and it says in 32, “to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship.” Verse 34, “And He has put in his heart the ability to teach.” So not only does Yehovah give them the wisdom, the knowledge, the understanding, the artistic design, the ability to work in this way, but also the ability to teach. Now, I want to stop and stand back and just jump off this for a second because I would say that Yehovah has put into you guys, the ability to teach. How does it feel? Tell us about it.

Keith: I…well, let me say this, Jono…

Jono: I’m serious. I’m absolutely serious because now here we are…

Nehemia: Well, I give credit to Yehovah for everything I do right and take credit for everything I do wrong for myself. No, and I do believe, He’s put in me, in my heart, this ability to teach, and I think that’s an amazing gift that I cherish, and I’m aware of it and I don’t think it’s because I’m really smart or it’s because Keith has this natural talent. I think, in both cases, it’s that God has given us these abilities. I really do; so, thank you, God.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: I agree, because let me just remind the listeners you both wrote “A Prayer to Our Father,” again, I cannot recommend it highly enough. Keith, “His Hallowed Name Revealed Again,” and the teaching DVDs that go along with these books.

Keith: Right.

Jono: They’re so essential. And Nehemia, your new book, which is so close to being put out there, and I can’t tell the listeners how brilliant it is…

Nehemia: In fact, by the time this is broadcast it may already be out there.

Jono: Alright! That’s right, yeah.

Keith: May it be. Well, I will say something. One of the things that is interesting about this is the idea being that the Spirit of God has given this ability to these folks to do His purposes, whether that be teaching…Jono, and I don’t mind saying this, we’ve been on I don’t know many different radio shows, how many different places where we’ve been on, and there’s no offense to anyone else we’ve ever spoken to, but you do a phenomenal job of being able to…

Nehemia: You really do.

Keith: …bring the best out of people that you interview, and that’s a gift. And I think all of this, you know, you say, “how does it feel?” And I could say, well, how does it feel to you? I mean, how does it feel that you’re being used to help people understand the Torah by providing this opportunity for us to come in and to work with you and to bring the best out of what we have. It’s a very natural experience to be here.

But I think all of it focuses on one thing…the vision is X; the provision is, He’s got His people and His opportunities and everything we need to do what He wants us to do, we have. The question is, do we access it? You know, is it inconvenient? Are we afraid? There are all sorts of things that would maybe keep people from not doing it. But we want to keep doing what He’s calling us to do, and being a part of His work here and amongst us. I mean that’s what’s so powerful.

But I do want to ask a question, and I think maybe people should ask this, I almost feel like it’s déjà vu as we’re going through this section because it was just a few chapters earlier where we were talking about, I think it is in chapter 31 if I’m right, you guys can let me know. Yeah, in chapter 31, we were dealing with this, and in chapter 31 it was talking about the Sabbath, and then we had this little interruption of the golden calf.

Jono: Yes.

Keith: And then we went back to this again. So, my question is simply this; if you’re reading this, does it not feel déjà vu to you all?

Nehemia: Oh, yeah.

Keith: You’re reading this about these men; you’re reading about this, and what would be the purpose for this being repeated? Now, I have some thoughts, but I’d like to hear yours, Jono, and Nehemia, and maybe others are asking the same question, we just went through this; am I listening to the same program?

Nehemia: Right. And not only is it repeated, it is repeated in excruciating detail, especially as we get into the later chapters of this portion where it talks about… when you take, for example, the opening verses of chapter 37. I mean, it’s almost word for word, where it says, “And Betzalel made the Ark,” etc. and it mentions the dimensions of the Ark, and it’s almost word for word of the commandment where it was given in an earlier chapter, and what it could’ve done is just said, “And Betzalel made the Ark according to what Moses had commanded, all that Moses had commanded,” and moved on and saved us ten verses. Why did he do that? And I don’t an answer for that, meaning…

Jono: Well, it seems like it was saying, this is what you will do.

Nehemia: Right.

Jono: And then, here it’s saying this is what they did do.

Nehemia: Right. Well, why is there so much detail?

Jono: It’s just the same amount of detail. Yeah, I understand what you’re saying.

Nehemia: There are passages in the Bible where someone is given a very detailed commandment, and then it will say, “And he did according to all that God commanded him.” And it doesn’t repeat the thing in detail, and that’s actually really interesting. We see three patterns; this is significant, I think. We see three patterns; one is this pattern, where the commandment is given in detail and the execution of the commandment is given in detail. The second pattern is where the commandment is given in detail and the execution is stated very concisely, "and he did it".

The third one, which is maybe the most interesting thing, to me, is that sometimes the giving of the commandment is very, I want to say laconic, but in plain English, that means it’s very concise and very, even, mysterious. And then, when they carry out the commandment, then it’s given in the great detail. So that’s something to be aware of; that we do have those three patterns.

You’ll find all three of those throughout the Hebrew Bible. Meaning, sometimes, you will only find out what the details are when they carry it out, when the commandment’s actually given you just get kind of a vague statement, God commanded him concerning such-and-such. And then when he actually carries it out, it’s like, wow, all this detail, I didn’t know that. So, we have those three patterns. I don’t know that there’s a reason, you know, maybe there’s some secret hidden meaning that Keith can help us come up with, and then if we pay him enough money, he’ll give us that secret.

Keith: No, the only thing…I want to say something about this that I think is really interesting. And this is simply a very casual thought, and I just want you all to think about this. So, what’s the difference between what happens in the chapters that we’re in now and the same discussion about this before? What would be the biggest event that took place between these two chapters?

Jono: Well, that would be the golden calf, I suppose.

Keith: Exactly. So, we have the golden calf, and then we have another very important thing that happens in between this…

Nehemia: Or God revealing his attributes. That was also kind of, in Exodus 34.

Keith: Exactly, and the new Stone Tablets. So, one of the things when I was reading this, I keep thinking, one of the most really wonderful concepts that Nehemia and I talked about some years ago, and please bear with me, I’m going back and forth regarding…

Jono: Sure, please.

Keith: …you know, the historical aspect of this. But for me, as a person who is coming to this in a new and fresh way, one of the things that was very interesting for me was the thinking of this concept of being that person who comes and hears this read, not that I’m sitting and reading it verse by verse. And I’ve got Jono there that’s going to help me slow down, and Nehemia that is going to explain it to me, and Keith that’s going to give some crazy Methodist interpretation. I’m just simply coming as an ancient Israelite, and I’m listening to this being read.

So, the overall picture I get as I’m coming and listening to this being read is, here’s what God initially did, here’s what He spoke, here’s what He did, and Moses went up to go out and get this information, and while he did this the people fell into a great sin. And now, this great sin gives us, “We interrupt this program for sin.” The sin comes in, it’s the golden calf, okay, we’ve got to do it again. So, he goes back up to the mountain, and he goes back up to the mountain and he does this, and this time he’s spending the time and he comes down and he’s got the radiant face. Now, we’re going to be able to see it even more clear because now, we’re not dealing about the golden calf. It’s like in the big picture of it, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming. It’s like, here’s what happened, you guys messed it up, here’s what happened.

And when I think about my kids, I think, “Okay, I told you this the first time, hey, when you go to the store, do X thing. You didn’t do that? Okay, now when you go to the store, you’re going to turn to the right, and let me be sure you understand.” And you know, it’s almost like this detail becomes even more clear because we’ve got further revelation, more information, and something that’s happened in between. So, that’s just my little simple talk.

Jono: Sure. And actually in that, Keith, it does make me wonder that the reason why they fell into sin, or one of the reasons why they fell into sin is because Aaron said to them, okay, so break off your rings, your gold, give me the gold, turn it into a golden calf, and I think it says, correct me if I’m wrong, but after that they wore no ornaments to show how sorry they were.

Nehemia: Right.

Jono: And it’s interesting that Yehovah says, "freewill offering if you will give your gold, your jewelry, your silver," whatever, and then went, “Oh, yeah, well let’s get rid of this stuff because it really got us into trouble the first time here. Here it is; I feel bad about it; here it all is, let me want to give it to You.” Do you think possibly that might have be a reason why it was so readily given?

Keith: I’m so glad we’re doing this. I’ve got to spend another card because as you were talking about it, I just think about this. Aaron says, “Give me your gold for the false image.” Yehovah says, “Bring your gold for this work.” And Aaron didn’t tell the people then, “stop giving.”

Jono: No.

Keith: In other words, they gave him what he needed to do that, but when it was time to do the real work, it wasn’t a matter of what they needed to give. They brought it; they were stirred to give it, and there was more than they needed for the good things, for the right thing, for the Biblical thing, for the God thing. And then for the man-made attempts, you know, this is why I think that there are lot of gold image, I said it this weekend in Florida, guys hear this, well, some weekends again is that, the images that are raised up and told, "here’s what you got to do". I mean there’s got to be all kinds of manipulations and confusion, and all this nonsense, it’s just not God. It’s just not God to do that. So, I think when we know that Him stirring people and we see things happen, we should feel like that we are in step with Him. So, that’s all I have to say.

Jono: Amen. And we should. We should feel that we are in step with Him. There’s a lot of people out there, just going back to verse 34, “And He has put in his heart the ability to teach,” there’s a lot of people out there teaching, or say that they are teachers, that they’re teaching, and what they’re saying isn’t what Yehovah…

Keith: Doesn’t match this. Yeah.

Jono: It doesn’t match.

Keith: It doesn’t match His Word.

Jono: It doesn’t match the Torah. That’s right; doesn’t match His Word.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: To add another aspect to that, the word for “teach,” “horot,” is from the same root as the word “Torah,” which really means “teaching,” or “instruction”. In this case, presumably, it’s not just to teach Torah; it’s to teach these different aspects of, instruct in these different aspects of, working gold, and metal, and wood, etc...

Keith: And let me say something…

Nehemia: …but it also has that connotation as well. Go on.

Keith: You guys are going to make me say this, so I’m going to say it. One of the things that I’m struggling with, just at this particular time, and by the time people are listening to this, is that I feel so concerned about this whole idea of Torah teacher. I’m a Torah teacher; you know, I’m going to teach Torah, that’s what I do. I’m a Hebrew-roots-of-your-faith, and I teach the Torah, and yet not actually opening-up the Torah and taking the time to try to understand it or interact with its language, its history, its context.

I don’t know how you can consider yourself a Torah teacher if you’re not actually interacting with Torah, unless you’re just using the Torah as a marketing tool because that’s the hot thing or that’s the thing that people are interested in or that’s the thing that I can give you the secret with. That’s what is frustrating to me. I really believe that if we’re going to open up the Tanakh and hey, I don’t care how much Hebrew Nehemia knows, or how much Methodist whatever I know, or how much you know Jono, we have to be brought into this opportunity with a heart and a spirit and a mind that gives glory to Him and to truly want to understand it the way that it was. We don’t have all the answers, but approaching it is interacting with it. And I don’t know how you can consider yourself a Torah teacher if you’re not interacting with the Torah itself.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: The concept of Torah is not good enough. It’s not good enough just to deal with the concept. You know, it’s a great word right now. No, it’s got to be the Torah itself. So, anyway…

Jono: Amen. And so, I mean, when you turn the question back to me, Keith, how does it feel to be the host of Truth2U Radio? I can tell you this, and this is how I’ve answered it before, I feel like it is entirely my privilege that Yehovah would let me be involved in some way. And I’ll add to that; that it is an incredible blessing for me, and I know it is for so many listeners, but I’m certainly one of them, it’s an incredible blessing for me to be able to discuss Torah in such depth, but also in a light-hearted manner, but in such depth with men that I very much respect. And I appreciate the knowledge that you guys bring and the wisdom that we see within the Word and the discussion that goes on. I just want to take the opportunity to really thank you guys for what it is you do on the program. It is very much appreciated, and it is very much a blessing.

Nehemia: Well, I want to thank you Jono, because I don’t know if people realize how much time you spend afterward editing out half my jokes. Not just the jokes, but really, one of the reasons Keith and I had talked about doing something like this for years, and frankly the reason we didn’t, is that neither of us has the skill to really edit something like this. And so, I want to give a round of applause.

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: Everyone sitting in their living room and in their cars driving, take your hands off the wheel right now and give a round of applause for Jono.

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: In all seriousness, it really is a big deal. I don’t think people appreciate how big a deal that is, and you do a masterful job of it. Not just of that, of course, but also of…I was talking to someone who you had invited on the program and this person said to me, “I don’t know what to say,” and I said, “Don’t worry, Jono will draw it out of you. That’s his amazing skill that he has.” So, you really do have a skill.

Keith: Let me say this, though, I will be offering for $19.95, that which is on the editing floor, folks, if some of the stuff that Nehemia has said that you think he’s funny now, you should see what you haven’t…

Nehemia: No! No bloopers!

Keith: No, no, I’m going to be…$19.95, I’m going to be providing it after the Torah portions are over. And I’ve been keeping all of them, so it’s going to be hilarious.

Jono: The title of the CD will be, “You Gotta Edit That Out.”

Keith: No, it’s called, X-Boy…

Jono: Baby-X.

Keith: Baby? Baby-X.

Jono: Baby-X and The Editing Room Floor.

Keith: Okay. I’m sorry.

Nehemia: Got to go through the editing process, yeah.

Keith: Yeah.

Jono: Alright. Now listen, it goes on okay…building the tabernacle, building the Ark of the Testimony, making the table for the showbread, making the golden lampstand, the altar of incense, the anointing oil and the incense, the altar for burnt offering, the bronze basin, which we were talking about as well, and the Court of the Tabernacle. There it is in a nutshell. Believe me, right now, we’re not going to go through it all in detail. Is there anything, Nehemia, that you want to pull out?

Nehemia: Not really. We’ve already talked about these things, and frankly, it was kind of boring the first time. Let’s be honest, it’s a description of a structure that is never going to be built again. And look, I know every word is important, but I’ll be honest with you, I’ve read this many, many, many times, and I struggle with it because it’s like those lists of names, and here it’s even worse because a list of names…okay, that’s our heritage. So that’s why I think a lot of people will look at this and they’ll say, “Okay, well, this has a secret meaning, and the reason this is read is because it represents the blood of something, and the reason that…” you know, that’s what they come up with. Alright, that’s their approach. Trying to understand the plain meaning…like I said, I do struggle with it. But here is what I think is a Torah Pearl, but it’s a controversial topic. Can I talk about something very controversial?

Jono: Please.

Nehemia: Maybe the most controversial thing?

Jono: Ooh!

Nehemia: There are some people out there who are turning to Torah and trying to live by the Torah, and I don’t want to be judgmental, but they’re just kind of whacked out. What they’re doing is they see that Abraham had multiple wives, and Jacob had multiple wives, and Hannah, Channah, in the book of Samuel, she was part of a multiple wife situation. They’re going out and they’re practicing polygamy, and I just think they are insane, frankly.

But I want to look at the Biblical side of it and forget my own personal beliefs thinking that they’re meshugganers. So, in this description, and I’ll jump back to Exodus 26, it’s repeated here in Exodus 38 or whatever, but I want to go to the original verse because it has a certain wording there that’s very significant. And can you read for me, Jono, Exodus chapter 26, verse 3? I’m going to ask Keith to read it too. So, flip to your pages or to your computer program if you have…

Jono: Chapter 26, verse 3, “Five curtains shall be coupled with one another.”

Nehemia: Come on! Preach it!

Jono: I’m so…

Nehemia: Alright, so I’m going to ask you to…

Jono: I’m so intrigued where you’re going with this.

Nehemia: So, what on earth does this have to do with polygamy? Five curtains! Someone say five.

Jono: Five?

Nehemia: So why is this important? Because in Hebrew, when it says, “coupled with one another,” the Hebrew phrase literally says, “isha el achotah,” which translates as “a woman unto her sister.” Now, when you read this verse…and why does it say, “a woman unto her sister”? Because the Hebrew word for “curtain” is feminine. And so, five of these curtains are being attached, a woman unto her sister. Well, why is that important, you ask? Because if we jump over, and I’m bringing this now because when we get to Leviticus 18, I know we’re not going to have time to talk about it because there’s so many other things.

But if you go to Leviticus 18, verse 18, it says, “And a woman unto her sister, you will not take.” Now, what does that mean? Now, some people have taken this literally and say, “Well, you’re just not allowed to marry Rachel and Leah. That’s forbidden because they’re sisters.” And by the way, Jacob doing that, that was before the Torah was given. Abraham married his half-sister, his own half-sister. So, let’s not look to Abraham and Jacob for our marital model.

“And a woman unto her sister, you shall not take.” Now, it talked about the curtains obviously, the one curtain wasn’t a literal sister of the other, really it’s a Hebrew idiom that means, one and another one of the same type. So “a woman under her sister” doesn’t necessarily mean a literal sister, it means two women.

Jono: Oh.

Nehemia: And then it goes on and it says, and this is the proof, in my opinion, the next word is “litzror.” Say “litzror.”

Jono: Litzror?

Nehemia: “Litzror,” means to trouble her or to vex her, “to uncover her nakedness with her in her lifetime.” So, when the first woman is dead, then you can take her sister. Now, whether that’s a literal sister or not a literal sister, that’s what we’re going to discuss right now. But you can take the sister when the first one is dead, but if it’s in her lifetime, you can’t. Now, why do I say it’s not a literal sister? For a number of reasons, but the main one is that word, to "vex", to trouble; the Hebrew word for sister-wife. And they did have sister-wives.

Jono: Sure.

Nehemia: Hagar was the sister-wife of Sarah, and Rachel was literally the sister- wife, in two ways, of Leah. But then so were Bilhah and Zilpah, those other two wives, they were sister-wives, even though they weren’t biological sisters, they were sister-wives. Now, the Hebrew word for sister-wife is “tzarah,” and “tzarah,” means a vexer or a troubler. Now just there you've got to know this is not something Scripture’s recommending. The fact that the Biblical Hebrew word for a second wife is a troubler, a vexer, tells you that this is not an ideal situation.

And if you look at every example of it in the Tanakh, it’s always some extreme situation…usually, I should say; Jacob's is a special situation, I suppose. But with Abraham and with Channah, there were situations where there was barrenness and the other wife was taken to bear children, sort of a surrogate as we have in modern times, but with a level of technology they had back then, and I noticed Keith is completely silent.

Keith: Because I have no idea how we got to this. From, we were talking…

Nehemia: So, in any event

Jono: I’ll tell you what, Keith, Keith is furiously scribbling down notes…

Keith: I’m waiting for him to bring the money ball here. What? Go ahead.

Nehemia: Okay. So the money ball here is, the punch line is, that you could legitimately translate Leviticus 18:18…and I didn’t make this up, this is the way that some traditional Jewish commentators, not all, but some have interpreted this, “a woman and her sister-wife,” meaning not her literal sister, “but a woman and her sister-wife you shall not take to vex her, to trouble her,” meaning to be a second wife, “to uncover her nakedness upon her during her lifetime.”

What that means, according to this interpretation I’m proposing, is that it’s actually forbidden to take a second wife. That is a vexation, a troubling, to the first wife. The only context in which that was even considered in ancient times, and it still caused trouble, is when there was a woman who is completely barren and they desperately wanted to have children, and so it was the woman who initiated and said, “Okay, let’s do a whole surrogate situation where you have a child through this woman that I’m giving you to take.” But this whole idea of, “I don’t like my first wife; I’m going to take a second wife,” which is what some of these whacked out people are doing out there, who are claiming to be trying to

follow Torah. What they’re really doing, frankly, and I’m going to say something really controversial…I won’t even say it. Okay.

Keith: Can I have a second…

Nehemia: No, I’ll say it. What they’re doing is they’re looking at other religions, I won’t mention what those religions are, they are not looking at the Tanakh. Because in the Tanakh, a sister-wife is called a troubler, a vexer; it’s not something that’s recommended, and it’s only even considered under those extreme situations, and under normal circumstances, it’s completely forbidden. There.

Jono: That is an absolute bombshell. Keith, have you got your sandpaper? Can you sand this; can you just smooth this over?

Keith: No, I don’t want to smooth it over. I think it’s really powerful. Okay, so we’re not doing this portion anymore.

Jono: Now, we bounced off…just to remind everyone, we did…alright, so we jumped from the curtains, “one to another,” which is mentioned in chapter 26, also repeated in chapter 38, is that right Nehemia? Okay, Nehemia has passed out. What’s happened to the program? Keith, your turn, is there anything…do you have a grenade you want to throw into the room and run away?

Keith: No, but really in this section, we’re basically repeating.

Jono: Yep, we’re basically repeating. So, we’re going to move on, because actually this week the reason why this one’s out early is because this is a week with a double Torah portion. There are various reasons for that. But next week, sorry, no, later this week, we are in Exodus chapter 38, verse 1, to 40, verse 38. So that’s in a couple of days that one will be out, because it’s a double portion this week.

And so, thank you. I think we’re done. Thank you, Nehemia Gordon, and Keith Johnson. I want to take the opportunity, or, well, I should say their books and DVDs are available on the website. And Truth2U has just started a newsletter. But I just want to remind the listeners that if they go to truth2u.org, you can you sign up and register for the newsletter. So again, thank you, Nehemia Gordon, Keith Johnson. Nehemia are you back?

Keith: I don’t know where he went.

Jono: I’m telling you, Keith, he threw a grenade into the room and then he ran away.

Keith: Where is he?

Nehemia: Can you hear me?

Jono: Oh, now you’re there. What happened?

Keith: Nehemia, tell me you didn’t do that on purpose.

Nehemia: Wait, you seriously didn’t hear me?

Keith: No.

Jono: I couldn’t hear anything you were saying…

Keith: No, Nehemia, I’m telling you.

Jono: …throughout that whole time.

Nehemia: I kept saying there’s actually two more points I want to talk about.

Keith: No…can I actually, honestly…

Nehemia: Did you seriously not hear that?

Keith: Listen, I want to tell you what I honestly thought happened, and I’m dead serious, and Jono you tell me if you felt the same way…that you just got mad or something and hung up the phone.

Nehemia: No, and I keep saying, “Wait, just two more points,” and Jono’s like, “Okay, and that’s all there is,” and I’m like, “What?”

Keith: No because the silence…

Nehemia: So, you couldn’t hear that.

Jono: Oh, man.

Keith: Actually, we were trying to fix it, and my heart started beating because I’m like, “He’s mad, or something." I’m like, what happened to the guy?

Nehemia: No, I was interacting with you and I’m like…

Jono: Didn’t hear any of it.

Nehemia: Huh.

Jono: The grenade exploded, and it was as if…

Keith: It exploded on the meshugganah, and then you left.

Nehemia: I was here the whole time.

Keith: No, Nehemia, no one heard a word.

Nehemia: I was talking.

Keith: And the funniest thing was, Jono said, “So, Nehemia, do you have anything to say?” Complete silence.

Nehemia: No, but I said something.

Keith: No, no one heard a word.

Nehemia: I said something.

Keith: No one heard a word, and so we’re like, Jono was like, “Well, thank you very much for Truth2U.” That will go down in history.

Nehemia: No, I thought you guys were messing with me.

Jono: I’m taking us off the historical documentaries; I’m putting us back into the comedy section. This is just…

Keith: Can we do this? Nehemia, okay, so…I don’t know how you’re going to edit this. So Nehemia, when you said, “Let’s go to Exodus 26 and talk about the coupling,” what was the Exodus 26 issue? Was the Exodus 26 issue…

Nehemia: Oh, so Exodus, I don’t know if it was…and I can find you the verse in a second, while I’m here, so that exact thing from Exodus 26 verse 3, I believe is repeated in Exodus 36 in verse 10.

Keith: Ah!

Nehemia: And there it uses actually a different expression. It says, “And he coupled the five curtains one to another,” and there the expression is “echad el echad,” one-to-one. Well, the expression, the figure of speech in Exodus 26:3 is “isha el achotah,” a woman to her sister. Well, no one in their right mind would think it literally means a sister. Obviously, it means, “one to another.” So that’s the figure of speech, the expression that appears in other places in the Bible as well. So, I wanted to talk about that when we did Exodus 26, but we went on for two hours, and so I thought okay, we’ll do it when they actually, you know, that’s the commandment when it’s carried out, that will be the opportunity to then talk about that.

Keith: Okay. Awesome.

Nehemia: There are a few interesting little points that I just want to really quickly…so verse 20 of Exodus 36 talks about the material, and this has been mentioned before. So, the material is the acacia wood. And one of the things you’ll see when you come to southern Israel and go around the Negev, or in the Sinai Desert in Egypt, is that there are acacia trees all over the place, and they’re really kind of tiny wimpy trees. And that explains one of the reasons why I think the tabernacle is modular. It was made of these planks that were, like, attached. If you look in verse 24, they were basically attached very similar in the way that Legos work, and I don’t know how it’s translated in verse 24, but the way it says it in Hebrew is there are two prongs, and you have these clasps that could connect the two prongs on each plank, so basically it’s connecting kind of like Lego. The reason for that is that acacia trees are not very large. Also, I guess it makes it portable. So that’s one thing I wanted to mention. The other one is in verse 33. Can you read verse 33 for us, Jono?

Jono: Verse 33 says, “And he made the middle bar to pass through the boards from one end to the other.”

Nehemia: Right. So, the way the Rabbis interpret this is, that this was a great miracle because when it says, “from one end to the other,” they say, well, the tabernacle was shaped like a “cheth,” sort of like an English "U", and so it must have gone, “one to the other.” Literally, means it went through the middle of the boards, down one side, around the corner, and then out around the other corner and then out the other end. And so, they say, that was one of the great miracles of the tabernacle. I think…

Jono: Well, hang on, wait a minute; hang on. Let me just picture this in my head. And he made the middle bar to pass through the boards from one end to the other.” So, are they suggesting that the board sort of made a U-turn and went…

Nehemia: Yeah.

Jono: Really? Ok.

Nehemia: …and that was a miracle because it was wood coated over with gold, so that can’t happen naturally. I think that that’s probably not what it means. I think what it simply means is that there was a hole in the middle of the boards, and it simply, on each side, went through.

Jono: Okay.

Nehemia: But anyway.

Keith: Wow.

Nehemia: So that’s one little interesting point, and then the other one which may be not a quick thing, but can we do this anyway?

Jono: Sure, please.

Nehemia: So, one of the really big things you’ll hear people talking about is the Paleo-Hebrew. The Paleo-Hebrew is the original Hebrew Script, as far as we know. It’s possible that there was some other script before that, but of what we know, the Paleo-Hebrew seems to be the original Hebrew Script. It predates the current script we use, which is called the Assyrian Script; it was originally used to write Aramaic. And, of course, Aramaic is this bastardized form of Hebrew that was created at the Tower of Babylon.

So really, Aramaic, if you think about it, is confused Hebrew; it’s Babel-Hebrew. Unfortunately, that’s the script that we use today. But the original Paleo-Hebrew Script is preserved in some ancient inscriptions. There’s actually some of the earliest Dead Sea Scrolls, for example, the Paleo-Leviticus Scroll, written in the Paleo-Hebrew Script. So, the Rabbis, around the third or fourth century C.E., were having a discussion trying to figure out what was the original script. Was it, Paleo-Hebrew, or our current Assyrian Script, the Aramaic Script? And they didn’t know the answer because they didn’t know what the Paleo-Hebrew Script looked like anymore. They just knew there had been a thing like that in the past.

So, they came to the conclusion, based on Exodus chapter 38, verse 10, that the Assyrian Script was the original Hebrew Script, not the Paleo-Hebrew. And the reason they came to that conclusion is, it talks about the pillars, and it talks about the hooks of the pillars, and they quote this verse. The Hebrew word for “hook” is “vav.” Now, “vav” is the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Jono: Yes.

Nehemia: They looked at the later Hebrew “vav,” the one that we use today, and they said, “Well, that kind of looks like a hook.” So, the original Hebrew Script has to be the Assyrian Script, not the Paleo-Hebrew, which just on the surface sounds ridiculous.

Jono: Wow.

Nehemia: There’s a really interesting story, where a Rabbi named Nachmanides was involved in this disputation in the year 1263. He was forced to debate with this Jewish convert to Christianity, Pablo Christiani.

Jono: Pablo Christiani, yeah.

Nehemia: There’s actually a great video you can get, they have it on Amazon. Actually, you can see it on YouTube, but if you want good quality, go to Amazon. It’s called “The Disputation,” which tells this story. Well, at the end of the story, Nachmanides wins the disputation and he’s forced to flee from Spain to save his life. So, he won the disputation, but he basically lost because he had to leave the land where he was born. So, he decides, he’s going to go to the land of Israel, and he arrives in Akko. Which is the major port on the coast of Israel, or it was back then; now, you know, it only has small fishing boats, but back then, that was the size of the boats. He arrives at Akko and he finds an ancient Hebrew coin with Paleo-Hebrew writing on it.

When he’s in Israel, he writes a commentary on the Torah, and he says in his commentary on the Torah, “When I got to Akko and saw that coin, I realized our sages in the Talmud were wrong.” They were wrong about the Paleo-Hebrew because he could see a Paleo-Hebrew “vav” on the ancient coin, and it looked like a hook. From that, he concluded that the Assyrian Script was not the original script. I mean, today we know that for a fact, but I think it’s so interesting how this Rabbi arrives in Israel and finds an ancient coin, and based on that he realizes that, yeah, our sages were wrong, and the Paleo-Hebrew must be the original script. Not the script that we call…like, it’s called “the Assyrian,” so obviously it’s not ancient Hebrew. And that’s the interesting thing; the Paleo-Hebrew “vav” is actually shaped like a hook. When you look at the Paleo-Hebrew “vav,” and you look at verse 10, you’re like, “Oh, that’s what was on the top of the pillar, that sort of hooked-shaped thing. So, that’s pretty cool.

Keith: There it is.

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: That is awesome.

Jono: Brilliant.

Keith: Okay. Now, we feel better. Ladies and gentlemen, you may not realize, but we thought that Nehemia had left the farm, and he was talking and we couldn’t hear him.

Jono: We couldn’t.

Keith: And so now, he’s talking, and we can hear him, and we’re now very appreciative of the fact that he is still with us on the program.

Jono: Very glad to have you back, Nehemia Gordon.

Keith: We thought we lost him.

Jono: So, before we close…

Nehemia: No, that was a technology challenge, so…

Keith: Okay.

Jono: Before we close for the second time, Keith is there anything else you want to pull out of the Torah portion?

Keith: No, I would just like to say, that this has been one of the most interesting Torah portions, for me…

Jono: Yes.

Keith: …and I look forward to ending it quickly.

Jono: Okay. Let it be known, we did try, initially; we tried very hard not to be funny…

Keith: Yes.

Jono: …so my apologies to everyone.

Nehemia: No, we can’t help it. We’re just funny guys.

Keith: Yes.

Jono: We’re funny guys. Alright, dear me, once again, later this week, Nehemia, is that right, Pikudi?

Nehemia: Pekudei.

Jono: Pikudei?

Nehemia: Pekudei.

Jono: There it is. Exodus 38 verse 1.

Keith: A pickle and an onion. Okay.

Nehemia: What?

Jono: Verse 38. And until then, dear listeners, be blessed and be set apart by the truth of our Father’s Word. Amen?

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: Amen. 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 NehemiasWall.com.

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

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36 thoughts on “Torah Pearls #22 – Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20)

  1. Nehemia,

    Is the Hebrew word used in 35:21 for stirred, or lifted him up, not the same word as used in Ex 20:7 in reference to taking the LORD’s name in vain?

    Thanks,
    J.W.

  2. As for me, I’m not unhappy that you are laughing and having a good time, as, on occasion, the laughter drowns out the words being said, and sometimes we miss what we feel may be an important point. When that happens, we sometimes play back, replay 3-4 times before we realize that we just have to accept that we will never know what point being made. That is what is frustrating. Otherwise, good job

  3. Hi, Nehemiah,

    Many thanks for the insights! We only found your studies recently but listen weekly now as we prepare for our shabbat gathering discussion on the parsha. We especially got some insight on the idea of polygamy. Altho this portion was also about the construction and layout of the tabernacle, my question is relating to something said last time that there really isn’t any reason behind the specific construction. Have you ever read/heard of Judson Cornwall’s book, “Let us draw near”? It has some eye-opening thoughts about why each piece was made and fit together in Jehovah’s plan.

    May Jehovah bless you.

  4. I always enjoy what I can glean from Prophet Pearls and Torah Pearls, but my personality is such that all the joking around gets in the way for me. I love the transcript because I can just scroll down when it gets to be too much and pick up when you get back on task.

    I have complained to my husband (and he agrees with me) that there is too much “filler” (laughing, joking, carrying on, interrupting each other) for our taste. As you know, we are all different. This transcript solves the problem.

  5. In the MEV you shall not kindle a fire in all your dwellings on the Sabbath. At face value to me You shall not start a fire in your dwelling on Sabbath. So I can light a fire before the Sabbath but I can feed it to keep it going because it is already kindled. Only seems to be one restriction to me.

  6. Thanks for the transcripts! Great idea. I’ve been reading along while listening and they are very accurate. I like to be able to go back on the reading and learn the Hebrew words…I couldn’t do that before as easily.

  7. Nehemia, your comments on the polygamy thing made so much sense! I have noticed that at no time did Y’hovah ever tell people they should do this, or give his blessing to such situations. It seemed to be something people decided to do on their own and it never seemed to work out well. There always seemed to be jealousy, resentment and general unhappiness as the end result. One person who practiced this after the Torah was given was Solomon and he was negatively influenced by these wives’ and concubines’ worship of alien gods and in the Book of Ecclesiastes he didn’t sound at all happy!

  8. Fire,sex and smoke on Shabbat,

    My personal thoughts on the fire issue relate to starting a fire on Shabbat. I find it an act of creating, which Yehovah completed and rested from. I think of Him creating the very first LIGHT from the darkness. I picture Him sitting on a knoll when He was finished and it was ‘very good’, and Him calling Adam over to Him to sit with Him to contemplate and admire all perfection that had been made. Perhaps He rested an arm over Adam’s shoulder as He drew him close to explain some of the secrets of the stars or the sea creatures.
    To take it further, I contemplated the thoughts of whether or not sex is appropriate on Shabbat as some of my Jewish roots friends believe is positively yes. However, I see this as creation again as its purpose was intended for propagation. (Gen 1:27-28) What makes the connection is that Israel was supposed to go to the mishkan where Yehovah’s presence dwelt except if they were defiled …sex being one way. So how do we set aside Shabbat to rest in the presence of our Father if we are intentionally defiled on His day?
    One more point I think about is that Yehovah’s Presence in the mishkan was in a pillar of fire and a cloud of smoke. Should we be (creating) these false pictures in our homes…?
    All this makes me question our need to have a clear picture of reverencing Yehovah”s creative plan as compared to our own paltry imitations; and our selfish desires to explain away that which could draw us closer if we tried to understand His ways better.
    These are just some thoughts of mine for me on these things. I so thank Nehemia and friends for these friendly and joyful and sometimes funny studies to keep me thinking and God focused; thankyou.

  9. I have yet another question that may only be confusing because the English Translations may not be the same as the Hebrew. As the scriptures SEEM to say, that Israel was to keep the Passover lamb until the 14th DAY of the month, and they were to kill the lamb between the evenings. Then they were tp roast, and eat that evening. Since the lambs were killed on the DAY of the 14th, and God starts the day with evening, the eve of the 14th would have occurred before the lambs were slain, and there is no command to slay on the 13th, then would not Passover coincide with , and be eaten on the First Day (eve) of Unleavened Bread? In other words, was the Passover meal to be eaten as the eve of 15th was beginning? Ithe night of the 14th after slaying on the 14th?) Now the 15th or first day of Unleavened Bread is an annual holy day, Feast of Trumpets is a Sabbath per Leviticus 23:24, Day of Atonement in Levitcius 23:32 is also referred to as a Sabbath, so the holy eve/day of Unleavened Bread is likely also considered a Sabbath. hHw could Israel burn any leftover lamb with fire the next day if any of the lamb were not eaten by morning? Remember, they were not supposed to kindle or feed a fire on the Sabbath, and if the morning/day after Passover/Unleavened Bread is a Sabbath Day, how could they burn the remains and not kindle or feed a fire on the Sabbath?

  10. You guys got off the topic of fire rather quickly, b t my question was, “What did they do when it was a cold night, such as during winter? If they were not allowed to feed the fire, how did they stay warm on a wintery Sabbath night? It would be rather difficult to consider the Sabbath a blessing, a delight, and a joyous day if one was expected to sit and shiver from the cold. By the same token, a man was put to death for gathering sticks on the Sabbath. So how did God expect His people to stay warm on the Sabbath Day/night? (cause it does get cold at night even in the desert,) I know of no scriptures that say anything like God miraculously provided heat like he did the manna. HELP!

  11. Just absolutely love “watching” your different personalities that Yehovah created, interacting together as you feast on the words of Yehovah, and search out the treasures that He has hidden in his scriptures He has to be smiling, too. And another point…you can’t have an Aspergers person in a group without a lot of reactions from the group resulting in amused chuckles. Aspergers are dead serious from the depths of their hearts about what they believe and say, as well as clueless as to how most people will perceive it, though they have their own brand of humor, too, but most everyone else get tickled at their serious way of thinking or their passion about everything they talk about. It seems like they live continually in the immediate present in one sense. Thankfully, Yehovah gave us the ability to get tickled, too, at the ones laughing at us.

    So all that to say, I absolutely LOVE watching how Yehovah has made us so different, and it is a beautiful thing to see it all working together to glorify Him on this program. And Nehemia, I am so thankful that you are so passionate about teaching only what Yehovah has spoken in His Word even though there is still the question on Yehoshua. May our dear Father bring the answer soon to your seeking heart. When it becomes clear what Yehovah did in coming to us in the body of His Messiah, Yehoshua, the hearts burst with love and gratitude and awe. Yehovah is our Saviour and Creator and Redeemer and has always been. There is no other and there will be no other. My deep gratitude to Keith and the other brother for everything that you all bring to this program, too.

    • Oh, and I am glad that you lay out more than one view of certain scriptures instead of only pushing one view. Very grateful for that!
      And there should be a ‘period’ before “He has to be smiling, too!”

  12. I can’t thank you all enough for what you do in your weekly Torah Pearls. Your insights and Hebrew expertise has become a major source of learning for us and several of the families in our fellowship group. You bring Zechariah 8:23 to life as we, members of the nations, grab hold of the robe of a Jew and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” You are all an inspiration and a blessing to us.

  13. I am so happy to hear the expounding here.
    Nehemiah is such a eye opener on the perspective of the Jewish side…

    I ponder on the fact that being learned by several religious [denominations] aspects of faith here in America, we all have so many divided beliefs in the WHOLE of Scripture.

    I ask YHWH to aid me in seeing things as He does after all in Him is no deceit and only Truth. With everyone talking on the matters of faith, not sitting in judgment here but questioning human kind and the thoughts passed on to us.

    All through the Old Testament [Torah and the Prophets] YHWH is reprimanding the nation of Israel by their religious doings…

    YSHWH, YHWH’s gift to us in redemptive power by Ruach haQodesh also reprimands the Jewish religion so why can we all not discuss this as a point of serious concern.

    Shalom to all as we endeavor to work out our own salvation with REVERENCE AND TREMBLING.

  14. Kindle a fire” is T’va’aru in Exodus 35:3, whose root word is ba`ar (בָּעַר) and throughout scripture we see this word connected to; strife;evil;lashonhara;jealousy; anger. I believe this has to do with ‘anger’ on the Shabbat and not a literal ‘fire’ otherwise I would freeze on Shabbats and wish it were over so I could warm myself again as the wood stove is all I have for heat and so then how could I call Shabbat a delight? Shabbat Shalom

    • Yes! I love this! It immediately reminded me of Proverbs 26:20: Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth. (KJV) What a warm and sensible connection! On the other hand, considering the heart of Yahovah and the spirit of the Sabbath, it also makes perfect sense to have the wood chopped and stacked nearby to maintain any necessary fires needed to keep your family from freezing.

  15. I have an interesting perspective about kindling a fire on Sabbath. If the correct understanding is that firewood should not be sought out and gathered, or if the understanding is that fire is not to be started, or if the understanding is fire that has been started should not be fed…..and any or all of those things are a violation of the Sabbath, then why did Moses have to go ask YHVH anything? Why seek out the answer to whether this man violated the command when its an obvious violation?
    My point is that maybe all along, the violation of the Sabbath command is solely about the kind of work that results in provision or livelihood. Isn’t the command to Sabbath (rest) all about allowing our Father to have a day, we rest from providing and trust He will not only make up that provision for that day but exponentially provide beyond what we could have worked to do for ourselves anyway?
    Therefore, the reason Moses had to inquire from YHVH was to assess the man’s motives. If his motive was to keep warm or cook a meal (certainly allowed on Sabbath as stated during a Feast) then this is not the work of provision. But if he was gathering wood to do his “work”, Moses would not know this without YHVH’s council. YHVH knows the heart and would be the only One to assess the answer.
    Kindling a fire in Ex 35 would then relate to kindling a fire for the purpose of the work one does during the week for his livelihood…..and not simply keeping warm in the middle of winter in case his fire went out or warming his soup or baking some matzah.

    • Your post is where I have pitched my tent on this matter. I believe Shabbat is a “Date with Dad” and He doesn’t like me staring at my Smartphone while He’s seated across the table desiring dialogue.I do better with interpreting matters of Shabbat from that perspective. Thank you for such a thoughtful post.

    • … some understandings tie kindling a fire to the man who was killed for gathering wood on Shabbat as he was doing work.

      Numbers 15:32-35
      And while the children of Yisra’ĕl were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Mosheh and to Aharon, and to all the congregation. And they put him in under guard, because it had not been declared what should be done to him. And יהוה said to Mosheh, “The man shall certainly be put to death, all the congregation stoning him with stones outside the camp.”

      How does Scripture define work? If we are to look at the Word in context, then we should also be looking at verse 2.

      Exodus 35:2
      Work is done for six days, but on the seventh day it shall be set-apart to you, a Sabbath of rest to יהוה. Anyone doing work on it is put to death.

      It’s understandable why these two can seem to be related. The man was gathering wood on the Sabbath – he must have been working, right? but for now we submit that the two are not related. Why?

      Jeremiah 7:18
      The children are gathering wood, the fathers are lighting the fire, and the women are kneading their dough, to make cakes for the sovereigness of the heavens, and to pour out drink offerings to other mighty ones, to provoke Me.

  16. On the Fire issue, I used to take a casual approach on Shabbat, but after going thru Firefighting Academy and agreeing with the instructors; Fire is a living, breathing organism that can turn into a monster. Scripture regards fire as something special. In short; DON’T PLAY WITH FIRE(especially on the Sabbath). Regarding the humor, you guys are obviously happy to be here and enjoying what you do. Levity and word-plays often arise, and those of us with a sense of humor can identify, and sometimes even learn from it. What we file away in the ‘trivia box’ today, may one day be the answer to ‘Final Jeopardy’.

  17. Nehemia, thank you for being ‘controversial’!!!! This topic/issue of the multiple wives has been a hot one with my husband and me (guess who’s for it, lol). He really won’t see my point because it’s coming from ME, a woman (so OF COURSE I would be against it he says). I love the Torah Pearls and Prophet Pearls, they are a HUGE blessing to me. Praise Yah!

  18. On the subject of the sabbath, work to be more exact, clearly it talks about fire. The subject of electricity is brought up and whether or not to flip on a light, but my question is even if you leave a light on during the sabbath or only benefit from air conditioning, should we be enjoying such things like electricity on a day we should not be working yet someone else has to for us to have it? Is this being hypocritical to say that we should not work but benefit from the work of others? And dont stop the jokes, it keeps our attention.

  19. Around 12:30 in this discussion, (I believe it was Nehemiah’s voice) it was stated that “work” was mentioned in verse 2, where kindling was mentioned in verse 3.

    When were the separations of sentences (with numbers) implemented? And why would one want to ignore a statement in a previous sentence as having nothing to do with the following sentence?

    Is every single thought its own unique paragraph, never to be confused with nor expanded upon by any other thoughts?

    your servant… again
    Don

  20. The humor is greatly enjoyed. I can only imagine the pure laughter with which The Most High God freely expresses Himself. I am sorry that Phil and Linda (?) or anyone desires a dry reading only, BUT, such brethren are crucially invaluable to take and maintain precise accountings… a necessity that they themselves derive great enjoyment from, while those whose joy is overflowing, would find excruciatingly tenuous.

    I find your laughter to be healing.

    your servant,
    Don

  21. Dear Nehemia;

    looking at ex 35:3, I wonder if all traditions are not missing the point, but that it is a simple prohibition against burning the trash on shabbath? This speculation is based on an apparent piel form of baar rather than hiphil, and the shared meaning of “baar” between burn, remove completely, and be stupid. It seems to me possible the word “th’vaaru” might be translatable as “incinerate”, a specific type of burning that requires little intelligence, and has the one purpose of removing completely. Your thoughts?

    • Spot-on Walter!
      We saw this as a possible meaning quite some time ago but ‘left it on the shelf’ until other witnesses were found (or not…).

      As in all study of scripture, CONTEXT is all-important in setting the scene for delving into the meaning of any passage; the context here is clearly the building of the Tabernacle, for which detailed instructions were about to be given. The people were enthusiastic for the task and it would have been easy to get carried away and work ceaselessly seven days a week because this was clearly ‘God’s work’. As any good trainer would do today, YHVH first prefaced his instructions with the important reminders:- that the task was NOT to be worked on on Shabbat but He also gave a reminder of what else wasn’t to be done. Given that He knew what time and effort was required to complete the task, the priority of keeping the Shabbat was simply re-stated as it is many, many times in His instructions – it is one of the key markers for who His people are, He wants us to rest with Him on this day.
      Interestingly, to our knowledge, this is the ONLY place in scripture where the prohibition on kindling (or ‘consuming’) with fire is given; here your word study makes great sense… Was YHVH simply instructing Israel that He didn’t want the aroma of burning rubbish to be wafting around the camp and up His ‘nostrils’ on Shabbat because the people took a break from Tabernacle building on that day and may use the day off to burn the trash that accumulated over the week?
      So pleased that there is at least one other who has been lead to see that this understanding is possibly the intent. There are many winter Shabbats where the lack of a fire to heat the home or food makes for a truly miserable and uncomfortable day – not restful at all. For some of our people living in extreme climatic zones this could even be damaging to health. Maybe the distinction is being drawn between using fire for necessary things versus using it for work-related activities, burning trash kind of sits in the middle of these two?
      As in all things however, we must continue to prayerfully seek the truthful understanding of scripture – this one is pretty radical and has potential to be divisive through argument of “right and wrong”. I really appreciated Nehemiah’s point that the process of seeking truth is the most important and gives honour to YHVH; knowing the truth will have to wait until one who has the authority given by YHVH can teach us…

      Many blessings in your search for things that please our Father, shalom, shalom…

      • Thanks Alan & Kathryn; it is great to know I am not all alone on this one. And yet there are cases like this, where literally NO translation follows the base language text. Keeps us amateur translators hopeful that we too can contribute to Yah’s work. Even if they did not have much noxious plastic in those days, it would have been a needless effort and risk to neighbors to have a “dumb” fire burning on into the shabbath.

      • the root word for kindle/burn is Baár and throughout scripture it is linked to:evil; jealousy; strife; lashonhara; anger etc, and the man gathering wood was killed/stoned NOT for working on the Shabbat but for making offerings to other gods…
        Jeremiah 7:18
        The children are GATHERING WOOD, the fathers are LIGHTING THE FIRE, and the women are kneading their dough, to make cakes for the sovereigness of the heavens, and to pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke Me.

        We see here the children GATHERING WOOD for the purpose of making offerings to other gods, and this provokes YHVH’s anger (or kindles his fire/Baar). Following Numbers 15 what do we read in Ch. 16? Korah’s rebellion.

        During the winter I light my wood burning stove every day including Shabbat as it is the only heating source I have in my home here in Colorado, if I’m freezing to death on the Shabbat, how can I call Shabbat a delight? LOL

  22. Shalom! i would like to thank you again for the get insight in these Torah portions and special thanks for the Prohet pearls that have given us a push to study the prophets as we go along their Torahporton parallels. It is so sad-you-see (sadducees) that imposters are trying to spoil this great assignment! and we at Beit Midrash Nissi continue to support and encourage in this work The LORD Yehovah poured his spirit upon you two, a Karaite and a Methodist to bless His Name, let no imposter pull you down!
    1) what day is Passover 2015? we want you with Keith Johnson to teach us how we should celebrate Passover!
    Basing on your discussion Exo. 35:3 “Ye shall not kindleI no fire…” is it ok to light candles on Erev Sabbath?

  23. My understanding, Stephen, is that these things were brought from Egypt where it is written in the Torah that God told the Hebrews to ask of the Egyptians to give them gold, silver, clothing, etc. and that the Egyptians gave so much it was written that the Hebrews “plundered” the wealth of Egypt.

  24. Hi Nehemia,

    First, let me say I like your show very much and listen to your Torah portions almost every Shabbat.

    Since this week Torah portion is Vayakhel which talks about contributing materials of all sorts (except the gold & silver) for building the ‘Tent of Meeting’. My question to you is, “Where did these people get all the materials from since they all lived in the desert of Mount Sinai at that time which was a barren place all around?” If you would elaborate on it, much appreciated!

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