Torah Pearls #4 – Vayeira (Genesis 18:1-22:24)

In The Original Torah Pearls, Vayeira (Genesis 18:1-22:24), the trio sheds light on interpreting the words and actions of “messengers” by comparing the three men who visited Abraham with other examples in scripture. They debate which of the many depravities of Sodom left it covered in salt to this day. With information about Abraham’s place and time, Gordon brings understanding to the more baffling events in this portion—particularly Lot’s approach to hospitality. Other Torah pearls include: the significance of Abraham bargaining with the number ten, Ishmael’s “mocking” of Isaac, and word puns that prove the Creator not only has a keen sense of humor but that he’s willing to work with us.  The trio ends by exploring the “blessing” that Abraham bequeathed to the world—the opportunity to be grafted in.

I look forward to reading your comments!

Download Torah Pearls Vayeira


Torah Pearls #4 - Vayeira (Genesis 18:1-22:24)

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

Jono: G’day to everybody listening around the world and thank you for your company. Joining me this hour once again, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. Now, my friends, if you haven’t got these books already, you really need to get them. Let me just give you the websites once again for Keith’s His Hallowed Name Revealed Again and also the 12-episode DVD series His Hallowed Name is available from

The other books, A Prayer to Our Father. This is the one that Keith and Nehemia co authored, A Prayer to Our Father - the Hebrew Origins of the Lord’s Prayer and that website is And of course, Nehemia’s, The Hebrew Yeshua vs The Greek Jesus, and of course, the live DVD teaching, which is available by the same name. Those are available from and you really must get them if you haven’t got them already. Welcome back to the program, my friends.

Nehemia: Good to be back.

Keith: Here we go.

Jono: Here we go. And this week... Nehemia, how do I pronounce this? Is it Vayeira?

Nehemia: Vayeira, right.

Jono: Vayeira, okay.

Jono: The Bereshit - Genesis 18-22, talking about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the birth of Isaac and the testing of Abraham’s faith with the offering of his son upon the altar. But first, may I just read the first couple of verses? It goes like this, “Then Yehovah appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre as he was sitting in the tent door, in the heat of the day. So he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, three men were standing by him. And when he saw them he ran from the tent’s door to meet them and bowed himself to the ground.” Three men, Keith.

Keith: Yeah, this is interesting stuff. My first thought is how cool it must be for Abram to have this visitation. It’s kind of interesting that it starts out by saying Yehovah - or “the LORD” in English - appeared to Abraham, but then it immediately says after that, it says “He appeared to him”, but then it says, “and Abraham looked up and saw three men.” I think we could take the first verse and set that as a separate issue. That he had a revelation. Is that fair Nehemia?

Nehemia: There are two ways of understanding the passage, even in historical Jewish sources. One is that the entire chapter is a vision - that all of this happened while he was in some kind of a dream or trance state. The other is that only verse 1 is that dream-trance-vision, and that from verse 2 he’s then looking up and he’s awake. That’s why in verse 3 it says, “And he said, ‘Adonai, if I find favor in your eyes, do not pass over from your servant.’”

It’s traditionally understood to be that he’s speaking to God - Adonai. Adonai could also be “my Lords”, and it’s possible he’s speaking to the three men. There are two ways of understanding that.

Keith: What’s the Torah Pearl?

Nehemia: The Torah Pearl is that there are both possibilities here. He could either be speaking to the three men, “Please, if I find favor in your eyes, don’t pass away from your servant,” meaning come and stay at my tent and let me serve you, or he could be saying to God, “God, I need to deal with these three guys so please don’t go away while I go deal with these three guys.”

Those are two possibilities, and I think we should leave it up... I’m fine leaving it up to the reader to decide. I don’t know myself which one it is. Both of those are definitely possibilities.

Jono: He shows some incredible hospitality, and I mean immediately so. He shows some incredible hospitality to these visitors. Nehemia, I’m going to get back to the three men in just a moment when Abraham later intercedes for Sodom, but before we get there, verse 8 - this is what I call the cheeseburger of the Bible.

Can I get you to unpack that a little bit? Because there is an understanding in Rabbinic Judaism...

Nehemia: Cheeseburger of the Bible? [laughter]

Jono: The cheeseburger of the Bible, that you’re not allowed to mix dairy with milk, right?

Nehemia: Right. That’s what the rabbis teach, they based that on the commandment that appears three times, Exodus, 23, 34 and Deuteronomy 14. It says, “Lo tevashel gedi bechalev imo.” Which means you should not boil a kid in its mother’s milk. The rabbis say that means you’re not allowed to eat meat and milk together - not only cook them together but even eat them together if they’re cooked separately. They obviously have a problem here in the passage where it says that Abraham first served beef and then he served also this butter, or possibly some kind of yogurt.

The rabbis came up with the explanation - they say, “Well, they were Angels and they didn’t really eat it, they only appeared to eat it.” Okay, so why did Abraham serve it if this was against God’s commandments? My answer is that “don’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk” means don’t boil a kid in its mother’s milk. Since Abraham wasn’t boiling a kid in its mother’s milk, he was simply, as you say serving a cheeseburger, so to speak, or probably as it were beef with a cream sauce, that was permissible.

Meat and milk are absolutely fine together according to the Torah.

Jono: They’re absolutely delicious together...

Keith: When Nehemia and I come to... Jono, if we come to your house and you decided to kill your goat, will we get a chance to have this cream sauce? That’s the question, also what I want to know is we’re going to be able to...

Jono: Believe me my friend, when you two come, we will definitely be having goat.

Nehemia: I have a great story about that. I was at this restaurant, an Arab restaurant – there’s this little Arab village outside Jerusalem called Abu Ghosh. It’s the only Arab village in all of central Israel that in Israel’s war of independence decided to side with Israel and the Jews against the Arab invaders, even though they’re Muslims. It’s become a popular spot for Israelis to restaurant there.

I was there with a friend who is very particular about what meat he eats. He grilled the chef there - where did they get their meat and how was it slaughtered, he went through interrogation, passed the test. Then what does he order? He orders the steak with the cream sauce. They’re like, “What are you doing? You wanted to know that it was kosher meat and now you’re ordering cream sauce.” How are you going to explain to Muslims that we’re following the Bible, not what the rabbis have taught? We tried to explain that but I’m not sure they quite understood what that meant.

It was a very funny scene there, because they have this conception of Kosher, it means what the Rabbis say it means. Whereas my understanding and my friend’s understanding is Biblical kosher, meaning, what does the Torah actually command us to do and not to do?

Jono: Nehemia, you mentioned two angels. Can I just ask you - this is my point - it goes on to say that the two angels or the two messengers, what is the word in Hebrew?

Nehemia: The word for Angel is malach, but malach also means messenger. In fact, it’s the same exact word, when human messengers are sent, they’re also called malach. The truth is that when we translate the word of angel versus messenger, that’s something that we’re doing in English that doesn’t appear in the Hebrew.

We’re making a theological decision here and saying, “These are spiritual entities and these aren’t physical entities,” but in Hebrew it’s the same exact thing, malach. Sometimes it’s spiritual and sometimes it’s physical – but that you know by the context, but it’s the same exact word.

Jono: This is the thing, this is the context. Is there any reason why it can’t just be three men, three messengers from Yah?

Nehemia: In this passage, it definitely says men, in Genesis 18. Genesis 19 then mentions two messengers, and they specifically mention that they were sent there by Yehovah to save Lot. That’s what the word messenger, malach, really means, it means “one who is sent.” It comes from the word Lamed-Aleph-Kaf which means sent to do a task.

Keith: It might just help, another little Torah Pearl, it might just help people that are reading, and one of the things that I’m doing is, I have my Hebrew Bible here and I have my most popular NIV over in this part of the country, this part of the world, a lot of people read the NIV, many people read the King James Version, but I have both and I’m just wondering for the people that are listening that don’t have access to the Hebrew Bible, because Nehemia as you’re reading, you have just the Hebrew Bible open and the ability to look at English translations, am I correct?

Nehemia: Yes.

Keith: And then Jono, you’ve got both versions open, is that fair?

Jono: Yes, actually, I've got the New King James in front of me at the moment.

Keith: So if I’m here - and I’m not throwing my Methodist brothers and sisters under the bus - but let’s just say that I’m a good Methodist listening to this and I’ve just got my NIV open, and when I’m reading, I’m looking at this and trying to figure out a little bit of what’s going on here. So when it says, verse 10 it says, “And then the LORD said unto Him” and the capital L-O-R-D, which represents the four letters Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey, “And the LORD said to him I will simply... assuredly return to you about this time next year”, speaking about the issue of Sara.

In this transition back and forth, let’s look at the possibility that it’s a vision, then okay, that’s one answer, but let’s say it’s not a vision - that he actually has three men standing in front of him, and then this conversation taking place between him and the LORD. We have other examples where the Lord, L-O-R-D, is used interchangeably with the messengers that are coming. Is that one of the answers for how we can get around this issue? There are examples where the angel of the LORD came and appeared to him and then the conversation is as if he’s speaking directly to Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey.

Jono: This is what I’m wondering because I’m wondering is it possible if a man is sent by Yah, then he’s acting under the authority of God, is he not then acting in the name of God, is it not as if... then I’m wondering if when speaking to him it is as if he’s speaking to Yehovah. Is that a possibility Nehemia?

Nehemia: Absolutely, in fact it’s the only way to understand some of these references here. I don’t think we need to get around anything, I think we just have to understand it and its historical and cultural context. Let’s jump ahead, I know Keith doesn’t like doing this, but let’s jump ahead to Exodus 22 verse 15. We read there, in the Hebrew says, “Aycham halach Yehovah leh Avraham”, “and the angel of Yehovah called out to Abraham a second time from the heavens.” Okay?

So the one who’s speaking is this angel - amen?

Keith: Amen.

Nehemia: Okay, then he talks about, in verse 17, he has this whole long speech in verse 17, he says, “For I will surely bless you and I will multiply your seed according like the stars of the heavens and the sand that’s upon the shore of the sea,” et cetera. It says in verse 18, he finishes off, “Because you obeyed My voice.”

Now who does he obey? Did Abraham obey the angel or did he obey Yehovah? It’s clear to me that it’s Yehovah who’s speaking to him. He’s speaking to him through the angel, and the angel speaks the words of the one who sent him. If you look in Exodus... now I’m really jumping ahead, but look at Exodus chapter 3, it’s the key passage where God actually reveals Himself, but what does that mean He reveals himself?

What it actually means - we’re told that men can’t see God and live. We would die if we saw God. When we’re seeing God, we’re actually - or those who see him - he’s actually seeing the angel of Yehovah. That’s in... look in Exodus 3:2, it says, “An angel of Yehovah appeared to him,” to Moses in the vision with the burning bush. Who’s speaking this entire time? It’s Yehovah speaking through the angel that’s in the burning bush.

What Moses sees isn’t actually Yehovah, it’s something that represents Him, that is sent by Him. That’s the core of the word malach. The word malach, angel, is from laacha which means to send. It’s a word we find in sister languages of Hebrew. It simply means to send, so malach is the one who is sent. The one who is sent by Yehovah appeared to him in the burning bush.

Throughout the passage, it’s Yehovah speaking in first person. Verse 6, “I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Is this the angel speaking, or is it Yehovah? It’s clearly the angel speaking, we’re told that at the beginning, through Yehovah.

Another time you see that is in... and this we won’t get I guess in the weekly Torah portion, so we’re allowed to jump here, is Judges chapter 6. We have the scene where the angel appears to Gideon. There’s a really interesting thing here, if you jump ahead to Judges chapter 6. Turn in your Bible, in your New King James, Jono, chapter 6, start reading me verse 11.

Jono: “Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth tree...”

Nehemia: Let’s skip ahead to verse 12.

Jono: “And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, ‘The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor.’”

Nehemia: Every time here you read LORD, it actually says in the Hebrew Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey, Yehovah. The angel of Yehovah appears to him and it says to him in verse 13, Gideon is speaking to him. In verse 14, it says, “And Yehovah turned to him and said.” Now, when Yehovah turned to him, what actually turned to him? Presumably it was the angel of Yehovah that we’re hearing about in the entire passage, in verse 11 and verse 12, that he’s speaking to... You know, in verse 13, he’s speaking to this angel of Yehovah and it’s almost comical because he doesn’t realize, he thinks it’s a regular human being. He doesn’t realize he’s speaking to an angel. In verse 14, the angel of Yehovah turns to him but it doesn’t say that, it says, “And Yehovah turned to him.”

So why does it describe the actions of the angel as the actions of Yehovah? That’s because the angel’s the one that Yehovah sent. Even when a human king sends a human messenger, or malach, same exact word as angel, that messenger also speaks as ‘I’, speaking the words of the king that sent him. That’s perfectly natural in Hebrew to describe the actions of the messenger as the actions of the one who sent him, but they’re still not the same thing - there’s still two distinct entities.

Jono: Sure, but in this case, it would make perfect sense to come to that conclusion. Keith.

Keith: No, I’m just glad that we took the time to go through that, because that’s one of the things that will help folks as they’re reading, and again, everyone not having the ability to look at it. But I can see why when someone’s just reading their NIV and it says “And the LORD said to them”, and the three men, and sometimes the theological issues which I know we’re not going to talk about now, but it is it fair to say that we all three can at least agree, based on the text, that Yehovah Himself does not have to physically be in Abraham’s presence in order for Yehovah to speak?

Jono: Well, it says in Numbers 23, if I remember correctly, “God is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent.”

Nehemia: Or maybe He was lying about that, I don’t know. [laughter] I don’t think so though. I think He was telling the truth. There’s the verse that also talks about a human being can’t see God and live, it can’t be done. At least this is my understanding, maybe I’m wrong.

I ask all the listeners out there to pray for me that the scales fall from my eyes. But to the best of my understanding, whenever it talks about somebody interacting with God and speaking to God, that they are speaking to some type of an intermediary. There’s only one exception. We’re told explicitly what that exception is, that’s Moses - that Moses speaks to God face-to-face, whatever that means. We know he’s not actually looking at His face because there’s a whole scene in Exodus 34 where he says “I want to see your face”, and God says, “You can’t see that, you’re going to see My back as I pass by”, whatever that means. Speaking to Him face to face apparently means that he’s speaking to Him, it says “not in a dream or a vision.”

The ones who are having dreams and visions, those are in these trance states, where they’re not in a full state of really being awake. That’s how they interact with God. Meaning - you’re seeing Him in a dream, that’s not actually a physical thing. But to see in your physical waking universe, the Creator of the universe, according to scripture is impossible, as I understand it.

Keith: That’s why you guys have to be careful who you’re dealing with sometimes, because it says - I know that we don’t like going too far from the Torah Portions - but Hebrews 13:2 says, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers..., some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

In this situation maybe they were entertaining angels and they didn’t know it. I think that’s a great story in Judges, because I just love the fact that in that situation, we don’t have to make it something else. It can be what it is based on the text, and I was only bringing Hebrews 13:2 to you just for fun.

But in a sense, in this situation, Abraham is hosting three men - whether he sees it as a vision or it’s physical - these three men represent the ones who come, and that’s what we find through the stories - that they’re coming with a message and they’re coming to do the will of the One that sent them.

Nehemia: One of the reasons to say that it isn’t a vision is that Sara is actually participating as well. She’s standing there and the boy is helping out.

Keith: That’s the money ball. I was about to bring the money ball. [laughs]

Nehemia: For example, Maimonides, the great 12th century Jewish philosopher argued that no, it has to be a vision because… that’s how he understood it. But I think it could go either way, I tend to think it wasn’t a vision, that the vision stopped in verse...

Keith: I’m going to disagree with Maimonides, and I’m going to… Jono the great prophet of Australia [laughs]

Nehemia: The great 21st century Australian philosopher.

Jono: Personally, I’m inclined to think that it’s not a vision, but because I like to think that they enjoyed their cheeseburger, and I like to think that that happened.

Nehemia: Well, even if it’s a fish, it still raises the question why he’s bringing the meat and milk together. To me, the answer is obvious, that there’s no prohibition to do that.

Jono: Absolutely, so the two messengers continue on to do their work and Abraham engages in a discussion with the man left behind, who is speaking as Yehovah. The verse that really stands out for me is the end of verse 25, “Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” I want to hear how that sounds in Hebrew, Nehemia, will you say that for me?

Nehemia: Sure. “Chalilah lach ha-shofet kol haaretz lo yaaseh mishpat”, which roughly translates as “Heaven forbid”, chalilah lach is an expression that’s difficult to translate but roughly; “Heaven forbid, shall the judge of all the earth not do righteousness”, or “Not do judgments”, mishpat, righteous judgment.

Jono: Beautiful.

Nehemia: The point here is that God doesn’t kill people, doesn’t punish people who don’t deserve it, that would be an injustice. There’s a whole discussion of that in Ezekiel 18:33, where the people didn’t understand that - they thought that if their fathers sinned that they would bear the sins of their fathers.

He says no - if you repent and the sins of your fathers are washed away. It’s only if you continue in that sin that then you get punished for that sin. But if you repent then the sins of your fathers are washed away like they were never there, it says, “they will no longer be remembered.”

The opposite is also true, it says there, that “If you turn to evil, then the righteousness of your fathers doesn’t do you a lick of good” - that also will no longer be remembered.

Jono: Actually just for the listeners, we did go into detail, if listeners click on guests and click on Nehemia’s name, you’ll find a little bit more detail in regards to Ezekiel 18 and 33, and if I remember correctly, 18 finishes with Yehovah saying, “I find no pleasure in the death of the unrighteous.” Have I got that right?

Nehemia: Yes, he talks about that there.

Jono: So here we are, and Abraham is, it seems, like bargaining with God, and I wonder if he had Lot in mind.

Keith: Jono, I must interrupt you. Jono, please.

Jono: Please.

Keith: You and Nehemia have done it again. You jumped over a major thing here that we have to discuss for a second.

Jono: Let’s put the brakes on and go back.

Keith: No. You guys want to talk about Ezekiel - we didn’t even get through Sara, the little Torah Pearl here for the people. This is a Torah Pearl for the people.

Jono: Ah, yeah.

Keith: Because Sara, she’s there listening and she’s envisioned.

Jono: You’re absolutely right. We missed that.

Keith: She’s… come on, we’ve got to talk about this. This is the promised seed.

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: Here comes the promise of the one that’s going to come to Sara who is old and Abraham who is old, and the one little Torah Pearl. This is again, I’m just here in my NIV, and I wouldn’t get this, but it says, “Then the LORD said,” in verse 13, “Why did Sara laugh? Will I really have a child now that I am old?” You know the story, that Sara’s there listening to her husband having a conversation and it says, “If anything’s too hard for Yehovah, I will turn to you at the appointed time next year and Sara will have a son, and Sara was afraid, so she lied and said, ‘I did not laugh’, but he said, ‘Yes, you did.’”

Torah Pearl, Torah Pearl! Nehemia, what’s this issue of laughing and this promise of the son Isaac?

Nehemia: What’s the connection between the two, you mean?

Keith: Please. For the NIV readers.

Nehemia: Isn’t it obvious? Because the name Yitzchak - Isaac - comes from the word tzachak, to laugh.

Keith: So that’s obvious to someone who’s reading the NIV?

Nehemia: I don’t know. The NIV doesn’t tell you that? It’s obvious in the Hebrew. It appears a number of times throughout these stories related to Isaac at least five times, just off the top of my head. When Abraham first hears about this promise in the last chapter, in Genesis 17, he laughed and it says, “And therefore you’ll call his name Isaac.”

Then again here, she laughs, and again he called Isaac. The second reason for being called Isaac. Then she says, when the child is born, she says something to the effect of – let’s see if I can find it. That’s in a later chapter in the 20th. Am I allowed to go to 20 or...?

Jono: Yeah, 22, no 20.

Keith: It’s the concept of the Torah Pearl.

Nehemia: No, it’s 21. “And Abraham called the name of his son that was born to him, which Sara bore him, Yitzchak, Isaac,” and then Sara says in verse 6, “And Sara said, ‘God has made laughter for me. All those who hear shall laugh for me.’”

Again, that’s a reconfirmation of his name. Abraham laughed, Sara laughed, they laughed in disbelief or in shock and then people are going to laugh in joy when the child is actually born. That’s the third reason. The fourth reason it mentions is that Ishmael “metzachek”, he is playing around. I don’t know if we’ll get to that and that’s the same word, tzachak.

Then we see another time in a much later chapter, I think it’s 26, that Yitzchak himself is playing around with Rebecca, with Rivkah. So, five times at least, just off the top of my head, where that verb is tied into things that Yitzchak does, Isaac. He Isaac-s and his parents Isaac-ed about him when they heard he was going to be born.

Keith: This is why I wanted to stop, and I’m glad that you said that it’s obvious. It’s obvious, and if you’re reading Hebrew and that’s what you see as obvious, but what I’m saying is there’s two things that’s powerful about it.

One, is it that the Hebrew language continues to make these connections, the word puns and all this wonderful information. But the second thing is it goes to show that God has a sense of humor. That from the time Abraham laughed. “I’m going to call him laugh.” And she laughed and then the root of it is to laugh.

I just think that’s cool that here this promised seed comes but the name of that promised seed is based on this response by the actual people. I thought it was worth at least taking a look at that… the weightier matters... that’s enough.

Jono: No, we had to get it back and do that and I’m glad that you did. Obviously, it goes on and we discover how incredibly depraved Sodom is. The two messengers go in looking for Lot, he finds them, so it seems, and again, we see hospitality extended to the men and he insisted they come back. Now, things get kind of weird here. If you guys want to have a go at this, I don’t know how to explain it.

All the men of the city, it seems, decide that they want to go and they want to have sex with these two men. They go to Lot’s house. [laughs] Sorry Keith. I know the kids are listening. Sorry kids. But this is what it says.

Nehemia: It’s in the Bible.

Jono: It’s in the Bible. They want Lot to bring the two men out so that they can have their way with them. It gets even weirder. Lot goes out there and he says, “Don’t do this terrible, terrible thing.”

Keith: Wait, before you get to the daughters, one of the interpretations I’ve heard about this for some of the more liberal denominations that exist that want to pass over the factors but they want to hold on to the Bible, is that the reason that the men are gathering around the house is that they’re upset that it was not in middle eastern hospitality for Lot to bring them into the house without introducing them to community, and this is why they’re coming to the house. Because they’re saying, “You’ve broken our tradition of introducing the men to the community”, and that’s the only reason that they’re coming. I think they simply want to meet the men, they want to talk to them.

Nehemia: That’s why the angels strike them with blindness.

Jono: No, this is what it says in my Bible. In my Bible, it says... Keith, you could be right here, it says, “Bring them out so that we may know them.” That’s what they wanted to do. “Hey bring them out. Hey, my name’s Jimmy, you’re Fred. This is James over here, and hey, go on, let’s have a barbecue, let’s get a few beers going on.” What do you reckon? I don’t know about that.

Nehemia: Well. That’s know in the “Biblical” sense. Just like Adam knew Eve, his wife. The fact that he says, “know my daughters instead”, tells you what their intention was.

Jono: What does that tell you? Let me say this. If the whole town of Caren, New South Wales came to my place, a bunch of blokes, and started banging on the door saying, “Hey, the Jew and the black guy that came into your house - send them out here because we want to know them”. I can assure you that wouldn’t be happening.

But the other thing that wouldn’t be happening is, I’m not about to offer them my daughter. I wouldn’t even offer them my dog. I’d offer them my chainsaw, perhaps. But I don’t understand it. Where does Lot get this idea?

Nehemia: Well, I think what’s happening is, Lot and the men of Sodom are caricatures, almost the opposite of Abraham. Because Abraham is this righteous man who offers hospitality to three strangers, he doesn’t even know them. They come by in the middle of the desert and he offers them hospitality.

The men of Sodom are the exact opposite - when strangers come to town, nobody takes them in. The one who does take them in, the other people of the town come and want to attack these men. Lot also doesn’t quite understand the idea of hospitality either. He’s taken the idea of hospitality -he’s almost treating it in a legalistic way.

He learned from Abraham about hospitality, so he has got to imitate what Abraham does, but it’s to the point where he’s now harming his own family. Because he’s like, “We’ve got the law of hospitality. We’ve taken in the strangers.” He doesn’t have the righteousness. He’s just imitating, going through the motions. So, he offers his daughters. “Oh, don’t rape these men. Rape my daughters instead.”

He’s almost as wicked as the men of Sodom. Maybe more so in a sense. He definitely didn’t get saved from that situation because he deserved to. It explicitly tells us later in the passage that the only reason Lot was saved was because of Abraham. God was doing Abraham a favor.

Lot himself starts off sort of being righteous, but then he also fails the test. We can’t really talk about the story without mentioning the story, I think in Judges I believe it’s 19 or so.

Jono: The concubine.

Nehemia: The concubine of Gibeah. There it talks about, Judges 19, about almost an identical story but that happened not in Sodom, but in an Israelite city, the city of Gibeah, which is about five miles north of where I am right now. What happened there is that there was a man traveling with his concubine.

They were actually walking by Jerusalem as it was getting dark and they said, “We’re not going to go into a Gentile city. We’re going to continue to an Israelite city to stay the night.” They stayed the night in Gibeah instead of Jerusalem, which at the time was a Jebusite city.

Almost the identical thing happens. The people of the town surround the house where they are staying and demand that the concubine be sent out. She is, and she’s raped to death by the men of Gibeah. The response is a swift and violent response against those people.

Keith: Might I just bring something? Wasn’t it that first they wanted the man to come out and then he gave the concubine instead?

Nehemia: Is that it?

Jono: If I remember correctly, I think that’s...

Keith: In other words, I thought, I thought you were going to make the connection that, the issue being the same, that this man was also hosted and they asked for him...

Nehemia: All right, so he was also hosted. Let’s see.

Keith: I’ve learned from Nehemia that you have to... if you’re going to bring a verse or if you’re going to bring a chapter you have to actually go to it.

Jono: Yes, and we can be specific, I’m looking it up now.

Keith: Yeah, look that up quickly, because I think the real issue being that, like you said Nehemia, they’re going to this Israelite city thinking that there would be safety there, or that that would be a better place, but what chapter is that?

Nehemia: That’s in Judges 19. Let’s see, it’s like around verse 23.

Jono: He was a Levite.

Nehemia: Right. Verse 22, it says, “Bring out the man who has come to you that we may know him.” You’re right it’s 22.

Nehemia: So instead they send out the concubine.

Jono: Yes.

Keith: Exactly. Bring out the man that they might know him, and again the issue being to confirm what we were talking about here regarding “to know” and what the intention was.

Nehemia: Actually he sends out his daughter and the concubine.

Jono: Ay, carumba!

Nehemia: In verse 24. Yes, he’s kind of like a latter-day Lot.

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: Meaning that the men wanted to know the man, I mean we’re dealing with this issue that no one wants to talk about here.

Nehemia: What’s that?

Keith: We’re dealing with an abomination and homosexuality...

Nehemia: Okay, we’re going to have to edit out this portion.


Keith: No you can’t edit out this portion.

Nehemia: No, no, no.

Keith: What I don’t understand is... for people that are listening, the thing that I struggle with most is, okay so we come upon a part of the text that is obvious - obviously what we’re dealing with here is that these men in Sodom want to have sex with other men.

So what people do is they do all these gymnastics to get around it. Now, like I said, some of the liberal denominations they will say, “No, it had nothing to do with sex, it had to do with an issue of hospitality.”

The Judges chapter that Nehemia just brought up, which is a great example, there’s no question there, you want to ravage the man. The man instead sends out his concubine and you ravage the concubine. We know what happens there, but again, it’s the depth of immorality, and impurity, and debauchery that’s happening in the situation.

Now, people can then make judgments about why I’m bringing this up, this is what we’re reading. Like I say, what I struggle with is, then a certain agenda will come and say, “Well, because we’re a homosexual community, we need to not have this passage be in the Bible, because we want the Bible - we want the good, we want the part that’s promise, and love and care, we don’t want anything as far as a picture that there’s judgment as a result of this act of sin - and that’s exactly...

Nehemia: Well, to play the devil’s advocate, this isn’t really about homosexuality per se, really it’s about rape.

Jono: Yes. I was about to say it is...

Nehemia: The men, both of Sodom and Gibeah, preferred to rape a man, but they’re willing to rape a woman if that’s all that’s offered to them.

Jono: You bring up the point, is it not then a possibility - at least a possibility - that they offered them the women...?

Nehemia: No, I think they offered the women because they were misogynists and didn’t value women. They valued women, but not as much as they valued men.

Jono: So it’s not to stop them from committing the acts of the abomination...

Nehemia: No, they were going to commit a heinous act either way.

Jono: True.

Nehemia: The question is, who were they going to commit it on.

Keith: Let me be clear.

Nehemia: In their society, they valued men more than they valued women. That’s part of their perversion. That every human being is of equal value and they should have fought to the death to stop anybody from being raped.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: That’s what they should have done.

Keith: They decide they don’t want the women, so Lot offers his daughters. They don’t want the daughters, they want the men. So what was going in Sodom...?

Nehemia: But the men of Gibeah were willing to take the women.

Keith: No, I’m not talking about Gibeah, I’m talking about this portion now. What was the sin in Sodom? Where do we get the idea of Sodom? What was the sin in Sodom?

Nehemia: That when visitors come to the city they would want to rape them - that’s the sin of Sodom. The fact that it’s a homosexual rape is, I think, incidental, because it’s a horrible disgusting violent act either way.

I just don’t think that’s the issue... I mean the Bible is very clear on what it says in Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20. I’m no liberal, but let’s not confuse the issues here. There’s...

Keith: What does it say in Leviticus 18 and 20?

Nehemia: Why don’t you read it?

Keith: You brought the verse. Here’s why I’m bringing this up - the reason I’m bringing it up, and I can be the Methodist to bring it up. Here’s what’s happening in my denomination right now – in my denomination they are doing gymnastics and finding different ways to say, “It doesn’t matter what God says regarding these issues, a man can marry a man, a woman can marry a woman, it’s no big deal, let’s just ordain the pastors to be man to man, woman to woman.”

Again people are listening and people get nervous. We shouldn’t talk about this.

Nehemia: If you can marry a man, does that mean I can adopt a canine as my daughter, is that possible, Georgia?


Nehemia: Anyway, why don’t you go ahead and read Leviticus 18:22 since you...

Keith: I’m staying in the Torah portion right now. I’m just looking at the Torah portion, that’s what I’m doing.

Nehemia: So it... the way it looks to me, is like you’re saying that the liberals in your denomination are doing these mental gymnastics, Scriptural gymnastics to try to explain away what Scripture very clearly says, what Jono’s about to read. To be honest, it sounds to me like you’re doing gymnastics in the other direction - that we want to demonize this action so much that we’re going to force it onto other scriptures as well.

Why can’t we just take what it says, and use common sense here? The crime wasn’t homosexuality in Genesis 18, the crime is that they wanted to rape people. It just seems obvious to me.

Jono: Well, those are the words on the page, but clearly it illustrates - I was going to say implies, but it’s stronger than that - it really does illustrate that they were living in an environment of rape, but also amongst that it was nothing to them to conduct themselves in homosexual rape as well. It seemed like whatever was on the menu, that was what was going to happen. Specifically, Leviticus 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman, it is an abomination.” There it is, it can’t be clearer than that, right?

Nehemia: It actually appears in another passage, while you’re at it, which is Leviticus 20:13.

Jono: Verse 13 says, “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination, they shall surely be put to death, their blood shall be upon them.”

Keith: Just out of interest Nehemia, what do the words Sodom and Gomorrah mean? The Hebrew word Sodom and Gomorrah.

Nehemia: What is Sodom and Gomorrah? I don’t know if those are necessarily Hebrew words. Sdom... as far as I can tell... if they’re Hebrew words, they’re obscure words that wouldn’t be obvious what they mean.

Keith: Okay, so we dealt with that wonderful little situation. These terrible rapists have come to the house, and then the grace comes, right? We get to move to the grace.

Jono: As Nehemia says, they struck them with blindness. They pull Lot back inside, they strike them with blindness so that they cannot find their way around. They can’t get to the door, and then it goes about the sense of urgency, there’s a real sense of urgency. Of course there would be after that -to get me out of there - and of the angels, of the messengers telling them to “get your stuff and get out, and go now”.

There seems to be a little bit of leeway here when dealing with Yehovah. We see that with Abraham, we see it here with Lot, when Lot says to them, “I don’t want to go to the mountains, can I just go to this place over here? There is just a little city”, in fact that’s what it’s called, is that correct Nehemia, its Tzoar.

Nehemia: Mitzar, he says it’s a small city, its Mitzar, and so therefore it’s called Tzoar. Mitzar means small.

Jono: And he agreed.

Nehemia: Also comes to the word tza’ir, which means young.

Jono: He is allowed to go there, and the interesting thing is that the angel says, “Go, go now, I can’t do anything until you get there.” Of course we see in verse 26 after they were told just to “go straight away, don’t turn around, don’t delay,” but his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

Nehemia: Yes. What’s interesting is that the whole area where Sodom and Gomorrah used to be is what today is the Dead Sea, and the region of the Dead Sea. In Hebrew, it’s not called the Dead Sea, it’s called the Salt Sea. There are still areas of the Salt Sea, the Dead Sea, where you’ll find not just pillars of salt, you’ll find mountains of salt.

A lot of it it’s been mined away by these large companies like the Dead Sea Works, but you could still find areas there where you’ll see pillars of salt, and sheets of salt. There’s even one mountain of salt. It’s pretty cool.

Jono: In any case, the cities were utterly destroyed, utterly and completely destroyed, and that was the end of that. Now, it’s not as if we have just got out of the Twilight Zone, because things get a little bit weirder once again, and I’m sorry Keith, but we’re going to be talking about sex still.

Keith: The numerologist in me wants to ask one question. I know we’re going to go and move on to the next subject, but we passed over again. Abraham pleading with Yehovah to rescue Sodom, the community of rapists, and Gomorrah. It says that he asked them for 50, and what about 40, and 30, and I think it’s cool that at the end he says, “if I can simply find 10, will you give grace and mercy to the town?” and He said “yes, for 10.”

After that Abraham ends up at 10. The only reason I think that’s interesting, is I love when I look through and find this idea of the tradition, and the Jewish tradition. I remember sitting with Nehemia and we were discussing when a legitimate group of men can meet for prayer, and there’s always these issues of how many different men or how many different people, men specifically, can be there.

So Nehemia, is there any significance with the number 10 in Scripture regarding the amounts of people or in tradition, in the Jewish tradition, where 10 men have to be in a place.

Nehemia: The tradition, they take the 10 to be an edah, to be a congregation, and where they get that is from the spies - they’re referred to as “This evil congregation.” It’s somewhere in Numbers there, and there were 10 of them, the 10 evil spies, so they say the minimum number for a congregation therefore is 10.

I guess you could say that’s the case here as well - that he’s doing the classic Middle Eastern thing where they’re bargaining, like you would do in a marketplace anywhere in the Middle East to this day. You use the starting price and then you bring it lower and there’s a bare minimum, and the bare minimum here is seems to be ten. If there aren’t ten righteous people in Sodom or actually in the four cities, Sodom and Gomorrah were just the two main cities, Admah and Zeboim and the fifth one, Bela, was saved. But if there weren’t ten righteous men in all four of those cities, cumulatively, then they were going to be destroyed. They couldn’t find them and that really says something - that you can’t find ten righteous men among four cities of thousands, maybe tens of thousands of people, and so they deserved to be destroyed.

Keith: How many do we need to finally grab a hold of the skirt of the Jew?

Nehemia: Ten it says. Zechariah 8:23. He’s going to do the numbers preaching.

Jono: He’s the numbers man again.

Nehemia: He’s the numbers man.

Keith: Let’s move on. How many do we have at the mountains?

Nehemia: How many tribes were lost that need to be returned?

Nehemia: Ten.

Jono: There it is. How many commandments do we have?

Nehemia: Ten.

Jono: How many fingers and toes do we have?


Keith: Anyway, I know you guys want to move on to the more juicy stuff. I just thought we could stop for a minute for a Torah Pearl, but let’s go on - Lot and his daughters.

Jono: In any case, there’s not ten, the place is destroyed, only four escape, and one of those turns into a pillar of salt. Lo and behold they find themselves, the two daughters, going hey, “We’re just going to die out here. We don’t have anyone. Are we the last people here on the earth? What’s going on?”

The solution to the problem was to get dad really drunk and take advantage of him I guess. Nehemia do you want shed some light on this?

Nehemia: Whatever you guess, it’s very clear - they raped their father.

Jono: I guess they did.

Nehemia: He offered them up to be raped and so they rape him. These are messed up people. These are people you would have on Jerry Springer.

Jono: I think it’s fair to say that this is a dysfunctional family. What seems to happen is that they get him so drunk, obviously he’s still able to perform but he can’t remember it the next day, I think we can move on. But the descendants - who are the descendants of Lot?

Nehemia: You have Ammon and Moav, you have the Ammonites and the Moabites, who were Israel’s neighbors. We’re actually commanded not to conquer their lands because they are descendants of Abraham but they’re obviously quite perverse. The Ammonites end up worshiping a god called Molech which is a god that the Israelites had emulated. That was the main god of the Ammonites who were descended from Lot and his daughter raping him. Molech - they would burn the children in fire to Molech - that was the way... They started off with a perverse family and continued in a perverse tradition.

Jono: Continued on in that tradition. I want to ask you about that again when we get to the chapter 22. Keith.

Keith: And so then did Ruth come from the Moabites?

Nehemia: Ruth is a descendant from a Moabite. She’s a Moabitess, absolutely.

Keith: It’s amazing, there seems to be still this issue of you find one or two or whoever it is in the midst of our people and God is able to do something with them.

Nehemia: What it shows is that a person can overcome their heritage. That even if they do come from the most perverse abominable nation on earth, they still can choose to do good, not do evil and end up being a righteous person and having righteous people descend from them. Obviously, King David and the future Messiah are both descendants of Ruth the Moabitess.

Jono: The next thing that happens here is something that has happened before, obviously, this is Abraham and Abimelech, we may, for the sake of time, skip over that one unless... Keith is there a...

Nehemia: Let’s jump ahead to the binding of Isaac.

Jono: The birth of Isaac, and so chapter 21, “Yehovah visited Sara as He had said, and Yehovah did for Sara as he had spoken. And Sara conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the set time which God had spoken to him.” There we go. Named him Isaac. Amen.

Jono: Then, of course, he was circumcised as we read here in chapter 4. He was circumcised on the eighth day. Beautiful.

Nehemia: Then there is a story there, we mentioned the verb tzachak, to laugh, but another form of the verb is metzachek, which means to play around. There is actually one context that was very clear where it has a sexual connotation, “to fool around” as we would say in English. The reason that’s significant is we’re talking - I guess the whole subject this week - was sexual perversions.

Jono: [laughs].

Nehemia: If you look at verse 9 of chapter 21, you see what Ishmael was doing. I’ll let you read that.

Jono: “And Sara saw the son of Hagar, the Egyptian, whom she had born to Abraham, scoffing.”

Keith: My NIV says mocking, Nehemia. Now what are you trying to say?

Nehemia: The Hebrew metzachek means fooling around. Yet the same exact word in Genesis 26, where Isaac and his wife are also doing the exact same thing, metzachek. There’s a sexual connotation here, because if he’s just mocking her, playing around her, why would they kick him out of the house?

But apparently, Sara saw Ishmael doing stuff he should not have been doing - apparently, Sara saw Ishmael fooling around with her son Isaac, and that’s why Ishmael got kicked out of the house.

Jono: Whoa, hang on a second, Karaite, I need to...

Keith: Torah Pearl, Torah Pearl, Torah Pearl. Do you hear that?

Jono: [laughs].

Nehemia: That’s the meaning of the word, metzachek… scoffing and mocking, that’s not really the meaning of that word. The meaning of that word, you can see in Genesis 26, it’s what Isaac does with Rivka. Ishmael was molesting Isaac, and that’s why Ishmael got kicked out of the house. That’s what it says in verse 9.

Jono: Keith’s speechless [laughs].

Nehemia: That’s actually not... I didn’t come up with that. That’s actually the traditional understanding of this verse.

Jono: Is it really?

Keith: Just so everyone knows, the reason I’m also asking the question is that, when the Torah Pearl that we were talking about regarding his name, laughter, and, what do you want to call it, a variation Nehemia?

Nehemia: Well, this is a different conjugation, different usage of the word.

Keith: Right, the root of the word, though.

Nehemia: It’s from the same root though, yeah.

Keith: It’s from the same root, and again, I was giving the softball and Nehemia would hit it out of the park, is that, that’s exactly what is happening. How can I put this? The meaning of words and how those words are used. One of the most frustrating things that I used to have to do, and I used to get mad at Nehemia about this because we would be doing something and then come across the word, and he’d say, “There’s no way of getting around this, you have to see how this word is used every single time.”

Of course, when we get to this word ‘mocking’ in my NIV, and I find out what that word actually is and how it’s used every single time, you find out that that’s exactly what’s happening. I think that that’s an important concept. Of course, this word is a juicy issue that we can bring up to discuss, but the approach is to find out how a word is used, and that’s kind of what I want to bring out.

Because we see this word, and no one argues that that word being used with Isaac and his wife isn’t that they’re playing tic tac toe [laughter], but that they knew that if they look at them and saw them caressing or doing what they were doing, they said, “oh, they must be married.” That’s the point. I’m actually glad that you brought that up. Thank you Nehemia, we can now move on.

Jono: That’s amazing, I had absolutely no idea about that one. I’m going to have to read through that one again.

Keith: That’s a Torah Pearl.

Jono: Torah Pearl! We are going to have to jump ahead for the sake of time, I’m going straight to chapter 22, if that’s okay with you guys. “And now it came to pass after these things, that God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son, Isaac,’” now that’s interesting, “your only son and go to the land of Moriah and offer there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’”

Now this is an incredible passage, but I just want to bring you back, Nehemia, you made reference to Molech, the god of the Moabites, and how they used to offer their...

Nehemia: Ammonites, yeah.

Jono: The Ammonites? Offer their children; make their children pass through the fire, as it says in Deuteronomy. Clearly, Yehovah does not condone human sacrifice. How are we to understand this?

Nehemia: The way I understand it is that if God had not asked Abraham to do this, that the nations would’ve all looked at Israel and said, “Yeah, okay, you guys do that because it’s easy. You’ve chosen the easiest god to follow, he doesn’t really ask you to do all that much. We actually sacrifice our children to our gods.”

Abraham had to prove that he was willing to do that. But when the actual moment came, God stopped him, because God does not want human sacrifice. Human sacrifice is an abomination to God. He says that very clearly in a number of passages.

Keith: I think it’s also really important that we as the reader, we know that there’s a test, but Abraham doesn’t know it’s a test. We’re reading Genesis 22, that says “sometime later God tested Abraham”, okay that’s for the reader. God doesn’t say to Abraham, “Hey Abraham, listen, I’m about to put you to a test here just to see whether you’ll do this.” Abraham doesn’t know it, and again, we have the same thing happening in Genesis 12. God speaks to Abraham, what does Abraham do? He does it. God says to Abraham, “Abraham,” he says hineni, “Here I am”, and God says, “Take your son.” And then He doesn’t even tell him. He says, “Go to the place that I will tell you about as you go.”

That statement, that we’ve mentioned earlier in our Torah portion in Genesis 12, Abraham is still living that way at what age is he now, 99?

Jono: He’s old. [chuckles]

Keith: He’s older, 25 years later, he’s still walking with God, and he’s still listening, and he’s still hearing, and he’s still doing it. Again, we know it’s a test, Abraham doesn’t know it’s a test, and Abraham is still walking that way. I think that’s a pretty powerful statement within itself, that he didn’t know, he’s doing it from...

Jono: It’s exceptionally powerful. Not only is he still walking with God, but he is a hundred years old and he’s walking up a mountain to do what Yehovah’s instructed him to do. But in verse 10, “And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son, but the angel of Yehovah called to him from the heavens and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham.’ And so he said, ‘Here I am.’ And he said, ‘Do not lay your hands on the lad or do anything to him for now I know that you fear God since you have not withheld your son, your only son from me.’” My goodness.

Nehemia: That’s profound, because we talked about Abraham having faith but this… He said, “Now, I know you really have faith.” Up until now, you know, yes, okay, you said you fear God, you love God, you believed in God, but this showed that that was really true. Your actions showed it. That’s a theme throughout the Tanakh - that faith without action is meaningless. It’s not real faith.

Keith: Also, the first time He says, “Abraham” once, he says, “Here I am”. The second time He catches him, He says, “Abraham, Abraham”, and he still says, “Here I am.” It’s interesting to me, being that I believe that Yehovah is all knowing, that He knows what the issue is, but this is for Abraham. Like Abraham, when he says, “Now, I know” it can also be for Abraham. Abraham, now you know that you’re willing to do anything that I ask you to do and call you to do. That’s the way I want my life to be.

I want to be able to know for myself. I know that God knows but I want to be able to know for myself. In the midst of me doing something, when God says, “Okay, I know”, Abraham could have said, “No, You said it the first time, I’m going to follow through and kill the kid.” No, He spoke to him, still he has his ear tuned to God. In the midst of everything, he still has his ear tuned, and I think that’s pretty significant.

Jono: Yes. Wrapping this up, I just want to read these verses here. Keith, if I can get your thoughts on this, because this is certainly a Torah Pearl, if ever there was. This is from 15 to 18, “Then the angel of Yehovah called to Abraham a second time out of the heavens and said, ‘By myself, I’ve sworn,’ says Yehovah, ‘because you have done this thing and have not withhold your son, your only son. Blessing, I will bless you and multiplying, I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore, and your descendants shall possess the gates of their enemies and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed because you have obeyed my voice.’” Keith.

Keith: May it be that... I just think it’s interesting to read. What catches me is whenever you see those words, “I swear by myself” or “By... I swear”, it’s like Yehovah saying, “Regardless of what you see, anyone else making a promise, when I swear by Myself, when I make this promise, you can take it to the bank.”

He’s lifting up His hand and saying, “I’m the one you can count on. I’m the one that’s saying this.” So, when we hear that, when He says, “I swear” then we can know that that’s something, and of course, Abraham can know that God is putting it on him, and He doesn’t lie.

Jono: Absolutely. Nehemia.

Nehemia: Verse 18 has a little bit of a pearl that I’ll just quickly mention. It says, “And in your seed shall be blessed all the nations of the earth.” That’s something that appears a number of times throughout Genesis, referring to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The word there in “they will be blessed,” the root is barach, which means “to bless.” It really raises the question, how are the nations of the earth blessed in Abraham’s seed? What exactly does that mean?

The rabbis talk about this in some of their ancient writings and they point out that the word “blessed” could also mean “to graft”. The reason it means that is that the core word there means “knee”, like the knee on your leg. One of the ways of grafting is you lop off half of a branch and you stick another branch onto that piece at a right angle, or even shave off the top of the branch and stick another branch there at a right angle and it forms a knee.

What they explain is that what this means - this is the ancient rabbis saying this - they say what this really means is, “In your seed, all the nations of the earth will be grafted,” which is pretty cool.

Jono: Which is pretty cool, and if I understand that correctly what that means...

Nehemia: That’s how they’re blessed, by being joined into Israel.

Jono: ...anybody of the nations can be joined into Israel, can enter into the covenant and be recipients of the promise - is that fair to say?

Nehemia: That’s exactly what it’s saying.

Jono: So the word “in”, in the English, is absolutely essential to these statements. Let me just finish with this because Keith, you’ve got the NIV in front of you, right?

Keith: Yes.

Jono: If we look at “Blessing I will bless you.”

Nehemia: Verse 18.

Jono: Verse 18.

Keith: “And through your offspring, all nations on earth will be blessed.”

Jono: What happened to “in”?

Nehemia: They didn’t like “in” and so they changed it. [laughs]

Jono: They didn’t like “in,” so they changed it. You’ll find that in verse 12:3 and you’ll find everywhere where it says “in” they changed it to “through”, and I’ll let the listeners think about that and come to your own conclusion as to what difference that makes, but when you really think about it, it makes a very big difference.

There it is my friends, there is the Torah portion, we’ve run out of time. Thank you, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson for coming back onto Pearls of the Torah Portion, my friends, thank you very much.

Nehemia: Thank you. Shalom.

Keith: Thanks for having us.

Jono: Thanks for coming back on. Next week, the life of Sara, chapters 23 to 25. In the meantime, listeners be blessed and be set apart by the truth of our Father’s word. Shalom.

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

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, 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!

Makor Hebrew Foundation is a 501c3 tax-deductible not for profit organization.

Subscribe to "Nehemia's Wall" on your favorite podcasts app!
iTunes | Android | Spotify | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn

Share this Teaching on Social Media

Related Posts:
Prophet Pearls - Vayeira (2 Kings 4:1-4:37)
The Ways of the Lord Are Not Fair (Ezekiel 18 & 33)
Torah and Prophet Pearls
Hebrew Voices Episodes
Support Team Studies
Nehemia Gordon's Teachings on the Name of God

  • Elisabeth says:

    I respectfully suggest that Avraham did indeed know that the command of God to sacrifice his son, was a test. Here is why.
    1. SEVEN distinctly different times Yehovah appeared to Avraham and made a covenant regarding Avraham and “your descendants,” “from your body” (Gen 12:2-3; 12:7; 13:15-16; 15:4-6; 15:13-16; 15: 18–19; and 17:2-14).
    2. SEVEN times during the encounter of Gen 17:2–14, Yehovah refers to “your descendants.”
    3. THREE distinctly different times Yehovah appeared to Avraham and said SPECIFICALLY that the covenant and promises would be fulfilled “WITH and THROUGH Isaac.”
    4. Significantly, in Gen 15:4–6 when Yehovah says “from your body,” it is reported that “Avraham BELIEVED…and it was credited it to him as righteousness.”
    Since he BELIEVED:
    5. Avraham confidently told the servants, “I and the boy will go… and will RETURN to you.”
    6. Avraham confidently told Isaac, on the way up the mountain, that “Yehovah would provide himself a LAMB for the sacrifice.”
    7. In light of all this, Avraham had to be aware that to “the God who doesn’t change” (Num 23:19; Mal 3:6) human sacrifices of the surrounding nations were detestable. (“a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, NOR DID IT EVER ENTER MY MIND.” (Jer 7:31; 19:5)

    Thus, it seems, Avraham KNEW it was a TEST. However, that didn’t make the test any easier. Avraham (and Isaac) didn’t know at what point the lamb would be provided. If the promises and covenant were to be fulfilled through Isaac: would the lamb be provided BEFORE Avraham had to kill Isaac, or would he have to kill Isaac, and THEN Yehovah would RAISE him from the dead?
    I think the final and greatest test of all: was Avraham and Isaac’s belief and trust in the covenants and promises of Yehovah great enough to trust that, if Avraham really did end up having to kill Isaac, Yehovah would indeed raise him to life again? … and before Avraham had to face Sarah?

  • Leilani says:

    So, this is our 3rd time going through the Torah portion with these guys. Always get something new!
    We’ve heard the tradition, not just from Nehemia, that says Ishmael was “sporting” with his brother.

    However today we noticed that the context gives us the reason Sarah wanted Ishmael gone, “…the son of this bondwoman must not inherit with my son with Isaac.” Then when we were looking at the Hebrew (we are just learning to read and understand Hebrew) we noticed in the QBible that maybe there is a Hebrew word pun in play.

    “And the child grew, and was weaned,—and Abraham made a great banquet, on the day of the weaning of Isaac/yitz’chaq.
    And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian woman whom she had borne to Abraham laughing/m’tzacheq!
    So she said to Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son,—for the son of this bondwoman must not inherit with my son with Isaac/yitz’chaq.” (Gen 21:8-10)

    Could it just have been a mocking laugh? Sarah had issues with Hagar from the moment she gave her to Abraham, Gen 16:5. Ishmael was 1st born and all that goes with that. Maybe Sarah was like a lot of wives and mothers, wanting the best for her son, she also had the promise from Jehovah that Isaac would be the inheritor. Maybe it was a lot of little things, building up over the years that caused her to demand he be sent away.

    • Neville Newman says:

      Leilan, I believe you may be right. When the word usage was first pointed out to me, I presumed it was used here in the same way as with Isaac/Rebecca and with Joseph and Potiphar’s wife.

      However, I have had a hard time understanding how Sarah could have such a subdued reaction to seeing her son being sexually violated. It is hard to imagine any mother not rushing to grab up her young son to protect him, or demanding that her husband do so.

      As you pointed out, the word is more rich than that. While the context of the Joseph story is quite clear and we are on safe ground treating the word there as overt physical sexual gratification, it need not be so in the Isaac/Rebecca example.

      Abimelech need not have witnessed them having sex. There are things we might see opposite-gender grownups doing that would imply such a relationship but between children would just be normal and acceptable activities (e.g. play wrestling).

      Even given your posited extreme of just laughing, there is plenty of room for innocent laughter and interplay between children that in adults would be considered suggestive of a completely different kind of intimate relationship.

      • Leilani says:

        I appreciate your comments Neville. I do thind Ishmael was mocking Isaac, maybe suggesting that they would inherit together, see v10. Maybe that Isaac would need his counsel to carry out the promise. I do think Sarah saw something in Hagar and Ishmael that she felt threatened, and therefore was protecting Isaac from them.

  • Donald Murphy says:

    If the Law wasn’t written down or known, how was Abram a righteous man.

    • Neville Newman says:

      Clearly, *something* was known (whether written down or not). Are we to believe that Yehovah wiped out almost the entire population of the world (the Flood) for evil/sin that they were unaware was sin? That God held them accountable for something he had never told them about?

      We see the same thing with the people(s) of Canaan. Scripture tells us that they were vomited out of the land for the very sins that are commanded to/through Moses.

      I don’t understand God as an entity who would say “Ugh! I thought they would figure out this sin thing on their own, but they didn’t, so I’m going to kill them all off.

  • Andries Louw says:

    Never knew that Ismael was a pedophile with his brother.

  • Gregory Irby says:

    Interesting what was pointed out concerning GOD using intermediaries. Nowhere in the New Testament did Yeshua claim to be GOD! But he is said to be the 1st of many to be granted immortality. These days, one might even say of him that he is a sin eater! ? I love getting the Jewish perspective on these ancient Scriptures. (Shame on Ishmael! that dessert dog!) Thanks for all your insight guys! Shalom. ✡️

    • ScottinTexas says:

      What translation are you reading? Many misunderstand His distinguishing Himself from the “Father” (an important metaphor) as not being Elohim. This is only lack of understanding Elohim. Only God Himself is the “I Am,” Creator, Redeemer, Savior, Rock, King of Kings, and First and Last, (all of which can be traced to YHVH), yet He claimed and we are told He is all of these in the Apostolic Scriptures (NT). What did they charge and find Him guilty of – blasphemy, or equating Himself with God. You also seem to misunderstand the word malak, or messenger. There are numerous passages wherein “the messenger of YHVH” is worshipped and He does not stop the person)s) from doing so, yet mere “angels” or “a messenger of YHVH” always tells people not to do so because they are not to be worshipped. There are many other clues to Yeshua’s identity as Elohim incarnate, if one cares to see them (wrestling with Jacob, meeting with Abraham, Moses seeing Him yet not able to see Him or die, etc.). Study it out specifically after prayer for the Spirit to reveal this to you.

  • Yes Nehemia love that you pointed out how they didn’t value women! Thank you for pointing out the atrocity of the act of rape regardless of who it is perpetrated on. I was so happy that you said that!

  • Jael Turner says:

    Don’t you think that you need to consider the situation of Sodom in light of what occurred to Sodom in previous chapters? The people had been taken away by the 4 kings. They may have been betrayed by visitors to their city at that time. Now, they are wanting to dominate anyone who comes to them to feel secure. Rape is definitely not about having sexual pleasure. It is about domination and humiliation. These men were indeed violating the code of hospitality. They perverted that code. Abraham showed the righteous form of hospitality. Lot exhibited a mixture of the righteous with the perverted unrighteous.

  • JW Brakebill says:

    Nehemia, Keith, Jonah – You didn;’t say anything about this. Is it “possible” that the Abraham/Isaac sacrifice was a foreshadow of what was to come? The Father sending Yeshua to be offered up for the sins of mankind? After all, since Abraham proved Himself willing to go all the way, how could the Father not be willing to? Man cannot ever prove himself greater than God.

  • JW Brakebill says:

    I was curious about the 2 interpretations of early Gen 18, when Nehemia commented the 2nd way to look at it, that Abraham may have told the LORD, “Don’t go away, while I deal with these other two or three guys.

    I found that interpretation rather peculiar, curious, and somewhat funny. Let’s say Yehovah called us on the telephone, and someone else was ringing/calling in, who among us is going to tell Yehovah, “hang on for a moment please. Someone else is trying to get through.” That’s basically what my mind thought when I heard this interpretation.

    I, myself, would hope to be smart enough to IGNORE anything and anybody else, figuring that what the Master of Universe had to say, IF He was going to speak to me, HAD to galaxies more important that what anyone else had to say. While caring for others is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT, shame on me if I thought God should be put on hold while I tended to the needs of others.

  • Gary S Robison says:

    I thought Moses asks to see Yehovah”s “glory”, not His face

  • Nancy Bradshaw says:

    I heard a reporter’s testimony on The Prophesy Club which stated That God told him He would not let man see His face because He is Pure Love and He would not let that happen because to see His face would make that person fall so deeply in love with Him that to go away from Him would BREAK that person’s heart so bad that he would not be able to live bring separated from Him , So He would not break a persons heart that way . He said That God told Him when a man refuses Him and stands in the judgement that the man will fall so deeply in love with Him He will never want to depart from His presence and when He tells that person he cannot be with Him and has to depart then that mans torment will start for His heart will be so broken because he will have to depart from the one who he just fell so deeply in love with
    That is so sad when He gives man EVERY opportunity to believe Him love Him live for
    Him and give themselves to Him and they refuse and are told to depart
    We are His creation !!!!!!!
    What Creator does not love His Creation ??????

  • Joy Mathew says:

    I think the major difference between Abraham and Lot is found in Genesis 18 : 17 – 19 :

    17And Yehovah said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;
    18Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?
    19For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of Yehovah , to do justice and judgment; that Yehovah may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

    When Abraham pleaded for non destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah if ten righteous men are found there , he would have assumed that Lot would have imbibed into his household to keep the way of Yehovah . Lot allowed his family to be sycrentised into the way of Sodom and Gomorrah instead of imbibing into them the way of Yehovah . Personally Lot was a righteous person but he was unable to command his children or household : This becomes obivioys when we read Genesis 19 : 14

    – 14¶And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.

    Rahab the Whore from Jericho was able to command her household to come into beer house to escape the destruction of Jerico.

  • HerbB52 says:

    Is it possible that you are making more to Ishmael’s “mocking” than really exists. Isn’t Isaac’s name from the same root? He was named that, because Sarah and Abraham laughed at God’s promise. Certainly Sarah’s laughing was not of a sexual connotation?

    • Cambra says:

      What kind of embarrasment do you suppose Sarah was experiencing in that laugh; or Avraham, when he fell on his face and laughed! (I tend to think that it was “nervous laughter” with regard for the One who was promising it. Seems He is known for being serious about His Word and promises.) Isaac was not named laughter because he was a joke; moreover because he was a “miracle”! Think it through all the way and it won’t seem that we’re making too much out of it; probably the contrary.

    • JW Brakebill says:

      Oddly, the Book of Jasher, (mentioned in Josh 10:13 and 2Sam 1:18,) though considered Jewish “legend,” claims that Ishmael sat across from Isaac and was going to kill Isaac with his bow and arrow. Jasher 21: 13-15

      13 And when Isaac was five years old he was sitting with Ishmael at the door of the tent.

      14 And Ishmael came to Isaac and seated himself opposite to him, and he took the bow and drew it and put the arrow in it, and intended to slay Isaac

      15 And Sarah saw the act which Ishmael desired to do to her son Isaac, and it grieved her exceedingly on account of her son, and she sent for Abraham, and said to him, Cast out this bondwoman and her son, for her son shall not be heir with my son, for thus did he seek to do unto him this day.

      Since Ishmael was 14 when Isaac was born, he would have been 19 when Isaac was just 5.

      Like any other teen caught doing something like this, Ishmael likely said, “I was just fooling around.” Could this be the actual definition of “mocking.” in this instance?

  • Joy Mathew says:

    May Yehovah bless you three for your wonderful insights of the scripture .
    May He bless also all those who took time out to listen to this .
    Personally my preparation for Sabbath is listening to the Torah pearls and prophet pearls on the afternoon of Friday before Sabbath . Yehovah has blessed me most wonderfully from the time I started keeping the Sabbath . I may not be keeping the Sabbath perfectly but am enabled to do it to the best of my ability .


  • Angela&Dale Adams says:

    This study of the parasha with Nehemia and the 2 Christian Pastors is a blessing to us. We have learned so much. Thank you for doing this The Eternal Father continúe blessing you ,Nehemia!

  • HerbB52 says:

    Ezekiel does not leave Sodom’s sin to our imaginations. He lists them:

    Eze 16:49-50 TLV Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: pride, gluttony, and careless ease—so had she and her daughters—and she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. (50) So they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.

    • JW Brakebill says:

      Amen. I once asked a rabbi about this sin of homosexuality based on the Hebrew word yâda‛ for “know.” Adam yâda‛ his wife and she conceived.and bore Cain; Cain yâda‛ his wife and she conceived and bore. The men of Sodom sought to yâda‛ these angels in the form of men, the Benjaminites wanted to yâda‛ the Levite, etc… The rabbi pointed out that it wasn’t just homosexuality as the sin, but referred me to EZ 16:49-50, as G-d revealed what Sodom’s sin or iniquity was. The abomination of homosexuality was just ONE of the reasons. As I was taught many years ago, let scripture interpret scripture, and I obviously had not done my homework.

  • Forest and Andrea Acker says:

    When Lots daughters slept with their father, it was sick, but to shed some light of sensibility to the issue, this was not just Jerry springer……in Hebrew culture to have your seed cutoff was was sortof a fate worse than death…and so these girls truly seem to have felt that with their mother having been turned to salt and the rest of their family clearly burned up….this was the only way they saw of preserving their Fathers seed, and this is not a defense of course, but just to bring deeper understanding.

    • Neville says:

      I agree with you, except for your use of the word “sick”. Don’t respond too quickly to what I have to say here. Please hear me out. Applying the term “sick” to Lot’s daughters’ liasons with their father is to hold them to a standard of behavior that we know is wrong (from the Leviticus 18) but they might not have been subject to that law.

      It seems clear to me that there was definitely some understanding of sin (vs. righteousness) prior to the Great Flood, as I do not believe Yehovah would condemn the people of the world for doing what they did not know was sin. I also assume that Noah and (at least some of) his family passed that information along to their descendants. But we have no proof from the Tanakh that anyone was given the spirit, letter, or gist of Lev. 18 until Yehovah had Moses write it down.

      Ham or Canaan may have violated 18:7-8, Abram appears to have violated 18:6(probably),9,&11 , and Jacob violated 18:18 . Lot may have (unwittingly) violated 18:6, as it would seem that they were pretty “near kin”.

      However, not a single one of these unions was ever condemned in the scripture’s original telling of their stories or the myriad later references. Thus, I would say that referring to Lot’s (apparently unwitting) unions with his daughters as “sick” is a case of applying our own cultural norms to people who had seem to have had no reason to abide by our norms.

    • Neville says:

      Also, keep in mind that Yehovah carved out land for the children of Lot (Moabites and Ammonites) right smack in the middle of the land that He had promised Abraham, even though they had no “legal” claim on it, as they were not Abraham’s descendants. That would be at least a bit surprising if they (the descendants of Lot) were the spawn of an abomination.

  • Is it possible that Lot knew the guys would not accept his daughters and that is the only reason he made the offer? Basically to diffuse the situation rather than to give his children as another possibility? I mean if the problem(sin) of Sodom is “rape”, then the men would have been willing to rape anyone wouldn’t they? Therefore they would have accepted the daughters.

    • If you believe Peter (a Jew), his perspective of Lot is that he is righteous. Therefore, Lot either knew the men of Sodom would not accept his daughters or the messengers could and would intervene if they did, just like the messengers intervened anyway.

    • Forest and Andrea Acker says:

      The true sin was how they witheld and illtreated ‘tourists’ so to speak, the book of Jasher, authentic or not, gives greater detail about this. Rape is seldom about the sex it is almost always a dominance thing. They literally wanted to dominate these ‘strangers’ As for Lot offering his daughters, in middle eastern culture by offering accomnodation, and esp. food to a traveler, you are also offering your protection, and it would actually be a huge disgrace for such invited guests to be raped, but certainly it seems Lot knew the issue was not that this mob of perverts wanted sex, he thus offered his daughters to (ironicallly) display his good character to these messengers. He was showing them his commitment to protecting them, on his honor.

      • Forest and Andrea Acker says:

        and incidentally, as Nehemia pointed out, the society was very mysoginistic at the time, and the women were not as valuable to them, sadly…..again reflecting the true sin being how they treated others, patrticularly those who were weaker or in need. Anoher interesting point to be raised about the concubine in Judges 19 is she has fled in the first place because she had obstensibly committed adultery, so she was a woman, a concubine (versus a legal wife) and an adulteress as well so 3 strikes agsinst her there…..

        • Joseph says:

          A hidden gem in judges 19 verse 27:
          “And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold.“
          “ with her hands on the threshold”.
          The woman is telling the master of the house, shame on you… violated our ancient tradition (Threshold Covenant) and did not protect me,

  • Janice says:

    Lot was like a prodical son, who took his inheritance and sqandered it in the ,big city where there is always more graft and corruption. However, we don’t see he ever realized his error and repented, He choose to be assimulated, was kidnapped, and rescued by Abraham. Even then we do not hear any admission of error to Abraham, and we do not see him in the TaNaK ever again. Perhaps he turned away again. He brought shame on his uncle/father the family and Yehovah.

  • Naomi says:

    The people of Soddom was interested in the messengers that was Lot. Although Lot offered his daughters, the Soddomites didn’t show interest in them.

    The Scriptures are clear regarding perversion. The Soddomites displayed one version of perversion, and Lot another.

  • Joy Mathew says:

    When Abraham served the guests why he did not serve the cakes made by Sarah ? Genesis 18. : 6 ?

  • Sarah says:

    What was the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah? Their sexual perversion is what always comes to mind. Yet in Ezekiel 16:49-50 NKJV, Yehovah says, “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: she and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit.”

    That could probably be said of most, if not all, of our big cities today.

    • Forest and Andrea Acker says:

      Amen!!! They were patricularly creul to anyone in need, esp strangers passing thru!!!

  • Travis Reed says:

    Is it possible there are 4 persons. Yehovah then 3 men standing by him. but then why only 2 went to Sodom. but here it says 3 men. then says 2 angles. so that is not same men.

  • Travis Reed says:

    Thank all of you. Love listening to the conversation makes me want to get friends together and people I may not see as friends but study the word to build closer relationships as we all grow closer to our Father. love the insite that you Nehemia bring with meaning of the words we just read over with preconceived ideas and never really understood what was really going on. The way im looking at scripture is so different now. now when something just don’t seem right or why. I look up words in concordance. Im limited to what study helps I have and using strongs but not satisfied. Just llke word for mocking. In strongs doesn’t give good definition but you can see it is same word used later and can see there is more to what is happening. If not for your ministry I would have never known or looked at it like that. Just like with Ham and Noach. who would ever thought but makes sense. Where that is what happened or not it is awesome to have been given a new way to look and search for truth in Torah. Thank you and Keith and others that have worked with you. awesome to hear as I watch and listen to you both grow closer as friends. Can hear it in the way you talk to each other. its amazing. I thank Yehovah our Father in heaven for you and your ministry and ministry partners. Thank you for our obedient service so we all can grow as Yehovah uses you to give us wisdom revelation and knowledge of our Fathers will and ways.

  • Virgil says:

    I’ve just started listening to these, and I’m enjoying them. I’ve found many pearls just within the 1st 4 broadcasts.

    Specifically in this broadcast, the point that has caused me to offer a comment is the sacrifice test of Abraham. My mom and I study on Shabbat frequently, and have both tried to understand the reason that YHWH would ask such a thing when it is completely wrong. We’ve even said to ourselves that if this was to be something we would here (today), we would think it is from “The Adversary”, which though we both differ on who/what “The Adversary” is, we both do not apply the typical view we find in Christian churches. We ourselves don’t claim to be Christian, but that point is digressing.

    In trying to understand this verse, until it was explained in this broadcast, the ONLY way I could reconcile this was to say that Abraham, being in the midst of nations that offered their children in the fire, misunderstood the command from YHWH. I could ONLY reconcile by understanding that to offer a child in sacrifice is basically committing them completely in the service to YHWH, and it seems to me there are stories in the Tanakh that give that impression/understanding of the text.

    The other question that has come up between my mom and me is, if YHWH knows all, then why does it say, “And know I know…” Gen 22:12. This has caused my mom to believe YHWH does not know everything.

  • Janice says:

    I very much appreciate the lovely art work shown. Thank you. Also Why do we only look for one sin? Would Yehova wipe out entire cities for one sin? So even if Ishmael were the 1st born, both his mom and he, violated covenant behavior and disualified; like Reuven from being the inherited one.

    • Neville says:

      Janice, you wrote: “So even if Ishmael were the 1st born, both his mom and he, violated covenant behavior and disqualified”.

      Can you explain what these violations were? I don’t follow you.

  • Eva Bernal says:

    Hello Nehemina, its Eva from Hesperia I love your teaching. I love the way you teach keep up the good work and know you’re in my prayers. Many many blessing to you and all you do!!!:)

  • Janice says:

    It is interesting that this Torah Portion sometimes comes the week of Haloween; so these sodomites come to Lot’s home, knock on the door, and say” trick or treat”.

  • Daw McPherson says:

    Nehemia and I disagree on the possible motive of Lot in this commentary. I am wondering if Lot didm’t understand the importance of these 3 men and was willing to sacrifice his daughters to protect them.

    Any other ideas/comments/suggestions?

    I also wanted to mention that in 2 Peter Lot was called Righteous and also that he met these messengers at the gate of the city and bowed postdate to them… definitely a sign he know these guys were special. All times men see angels scripturally, they seem to bow to them…

  • Diane Dornberger says:

    Excellent!! I am delighted to find this. I had really missed Torah Pearls. So wonderful that I can list to both now.

  • gary robison says:

    This isn’t an angel is it?
    *[[Exo 24:10]] KJV* And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.