Torah Pearls #9 – Vayeishev (Genesis 37:1-40:23)

Torah Pearls Vayeishev, Genesis 37:1-40:23, Torah Pearls, Nehemia Gordon, torah portion, torah, Joseph, Jacob, twelve tribes, egyptIn this episode of The Original Torah PearlsVayeishev (Genesis 37:1-40:23), The trio examine Joseph's dreams, Judah's indiscretions, and a selective translation agenda that would send the patriarch Jacob down into the pit of Hell. Qadry wrote: “Boy this is a strong one Nehemia! I'm definitely humbled by the real understanding of YHVH's Torah.”

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Torah Pearls #9 - Vayeishev (Genesis 37:1-40:23)

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 Ken and Jill listening in Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma. Is that right Keith?

Keith: Yeah you got it right. You're really close.

Jono: And everybody listening wherever you may be around the world. Thank you for your company. It is time for Pearls from the Torah Portion with Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. Keith is the author of His Hallowed Name Revealed Again and the 12 episode DVD series also, the co-author with Nehemia Gordon of the book A Prayer to Our Father: The Hebrew Origins of the Lord's Prayer, which is available in a three-part DVD series now, and Nehemia is also the author of The Hebrew Yeshua Versus the Greek Jesus, likewise available in a live DVD teaching from Gentlemen welcome back.

Nehemia: Thank you, it's great to be back.

Jono: It's great having you here.

Keith: It is awesome to be back.

Jono: I've got to say, I look forward to this every single week. I really, really do. And I'm just rapt that here we are at this time of the week again. And again, thank you to the listeners who have written in and said so many positive things, and I'm so glad that you are blessed by this. It really makes it worthwhile.

This week we are in Vayeishev, Bereishit 37, chapter 37 to 40. And it begins like this. Now, "Jacob dwelt in the land where his father was a stranger in the land of Canaan. This is the history of Jacob. Joseph being 17 years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than all of his children because he was the son of his old age. He also made him a tunic of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loves him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him." Well, that's no fun. Sounds like he was the favorite.

Keith: You know it's interesting. One thing I do like about it, which isn't always the case when we're reading the Tanakh, I like when they actually give the actual age of the person. Like, you know with David, it doesn't say the exact age or with Isaac it doesn't say his exact age when he was with his father going to the mountain, you have to do a lot of figuring. But I did like the fact that right away it lets us know that he's a teenager, and that kind of gives context to what we're talking about. Not necessarily that I know what it meant to be a teenager in those days, but to be 17 years old, it kind of sets the context right now of what we're talking about.

Jono: It goes on to say that "he had a dream and he told it to his brothers," which didn't do him any favors. "They hated him even more. And so he said to them, 'Please hear my dream, which I have dreamed. We were binding sheaves in the field. And behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright. And indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.' And his brothers said to him…" Now this is interesting. I find this is interesting because they instantly know the interpretation of the dream. I mean, I guess it's a no brainer. “They said to him, 'Shall you indeed reign over us or shall you indeed have dominion over us?' So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words." Nehemia, do we see such an emphasis on dreams as we do in this Torah portion anywhere else in the Bible, as far as you know?

Nehemia: That's an interesting question. You definitely have references to dreams. I would say here, there's probably a disproportionate focus. You know, you have a reference in Numbers about how the prophethood of Moses, or the prophecy of Moses, was unique and that God spoke to him face to face, and all the other prophets God spoke to in visions and dreams. And visions, as I understand it, refers to… they're in some sort of a trance, or in a dream they're actually asleep. And the difference is that Moses was fully awake and conscious as he was hearing the voice of God and it was not dreaming. Now, as far as dreams are concerned, I really need to defer that to Keith, because Keith is the expert on the dreams.

Jono: You're the dream man!

Nehemia: Keith is a dreamer of dreams. He’s a latter-day Joseph.

Keith: Here's what's really interesting about this. We can maybe take a moment and maybe come up with some sort of Torah Pearl with this. But It's interesting that Joseph decided to go and tell his brothers the dream. In other words, I wonder if there's not a concept there. God clearly gave him the dream. But does everything He gives you mean that you're supposed to go and share it with everyone? I mean, I don't know. But certainly, the response of his brothers, when they heard the dream, I mean immediately… Well, it already set the context saying that they didn't like him. They felt the father loved him more, et cetera. And then he comes at 17 and says, "By the way, I had a dream."

Nehemia: I think the moral of this story is he should've kept his mouth shut.

Jono: Yeah, well it might've gone better for him, but I guess in any case, he goes on, he said, "'Then I dreamed still another dream.' And he told it to his brothers and he said, 'Look, I have dreamed another dream and this time the sun, the moon, and 11 stars bowed down to me.' And he told this to his father and his brothers, and his father rebuked him and said to him, 'Listen, sunshine, what do you think we're all going to bow down to you? What is this dream you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come and bow down to the earth before you?' And his brothers envied him. But his father kept the matter in mind." So he didn't write it off.

So there was obviously some sort of validity to significant dreams. So we always kind of dream, but we don't... moments after we wake up, we've forgotten them. Sometimes we have very, very vivid dreams, and passages like this get people wondering how seriously should we be taking these dreams? Should we be reading into them some sort of meaning? Are they sort of prophetic in some way, I mean, Keith, what do you think?

Keith: Well, the only thing that I just for myself I talk about this a lot. You know, sometimes you have bad pizza, and who knows what happened. Where I get attention regarding dreams is when those dreams line up somehow with something in scripture or something that God has given us in the word that has been given and some other form that matches it. So for me, anyway, when I have those kinds of dreams, I tend to stand up and listen. So for me, I get kind of excited when I hear about this, because we also know that, you know, in the last days of, according to Joel... there are going to be dreams and there are going to be visions. And I don't know if we're in those days or not, but certainly, it captured my attention when those, like I said, when those dreams match.

Jono: Certainly in the book A Prayer to Our Father you talk about the dream that you had that eventually led you to the Israel, that eventually led you to buy...

Keith: Look, it was a dream that… without the dream, we're not on the radio right now. Without the dream, I don't know Nehemia Gordon. Without the dream, I don't know about His name. Without the dream, I don't have a Torah scroll. Without the dream, I don't learn Hebrew.

It was a dream for me that got my attention. And that dream was very clear. It was like I like to say - it was like 3D HD. I mean, the dream was clear and the voice was clear. That told me to be there for the time of Shavuot, which is a great example because it's not like a dream said you're one of the witnesses and what you're supposed to do is go and find Nehemia Gordon and declare to him at the Cheese gate that…

Nehemia: Wait, what was this, now?

Keith: You know what I mean? But the dream was, you know, go and be in My city for My time. And that matched with the word of God. And that was the thing that Nehemia said to me many years later, when he heard what it was that I was called to do, he began to ask the question, "Okay, so why would it be during this time?" And we talk lot about that in the book and certainly, there've been testimonies about it. But again, it's just something that catches my attention when someone has a dream that matches the word of God, and I get kind of excited about that.

Nehemia: And of course, what Keith is saying that has to line up with the word of God, that's something we see very clearly in Deuteronomy 13. There it talks about if a dreamer of dreams comes to you and he gives you even a sign, performs some kind of miracle to back up his dream, or he predicts something that then happens through his dream. But he then says to you, let us worship other gods. And the exact previous verse there talks about also adding and taking away from the Torah. That's the context. So you're not to listen to that dreamer of dreams or that prophet.

So I think the lesson for me here, my takeaway principle here, is that when we look at dreams they have to line up with Scripture, and we can't use dreams to force Scripture into the box of the dream. It's the other way around. We have to use Scripture as the filter with which to understand the dream. And if something doesn't line up, then we've got to throw it away.

Jono: You have to throw it away.

Keith: You know, we've got to stop there, because Nehemia, you just kind of went over what we call one of those…

Nehemia: Torah Pearl! Torah Pearl!

Keith: Not just a Torah Pearl. You know, when we're walking, you and I, when we were going out by the Jordan, we were going to Jordan and they had landmines on both sides. And they said DANGER - stay out of here because of the landmines, but you just went over a landmine there.

Here's why. And this is really important, Jono, I'm really glad that we're taking a moment on this. You know, I think that we have this people, and what's exciting to me - I want to stop and say this. Here I am in the United States, Nehemia is in Israel and you're in Australia. And the common thing that we are coming together on is the very word of God that He revealed from Him, through His word and that which is written.

Now, there's still a lot of controversy going on even now regarding my relationship with Nehemia and Nehemia's relationship with me and other people and you. And where did he come from and what is he talking about? But the bottom line is this: What I really, really want to continue to challenge people to do, and why I want to be a part of this, is what is the Torah portion? The word of God given to the people of God to understand how to live it, how to walk it out.

And so when we talk about something as awesome, and if I can use this word, I guess I can say this, as sexy as a dream. That dream, as sexy as that dream might be regarding the excitement and, "Oh, man, God revealed this to me. He revealed this secret to me…" But if that doesn't line up with the word of God, you can bet that more than likely, that's not something that... Anything that's contrary to the word of God and how would we know what the word of God says we'd have to do exactly what we're doing now. Take the time to read it, interact with it, figure out what it says in its original language, history, and context, and then ask how to apply it. So that's my little speech about why I appreciate the Torah portion.

Jono: Excellent. So if it is not in accordance with the Torah, the Tanakh, then it cannot be relied upon and it should be dismissed. It's that simple, right?

Nehemia: Or as Keith says it, "If it does not fit, you must acquit."

Jono: Nice. Nice. If it does not fit, you must acquit. Okay, moving on. "Then his brothers went to feed their father's flocks in…"

Keith: Jono, sometimes I don't know if he listens to me, but I'm telling you…

Nehemia: Sometimes I do. I'm a good student.

Jono: "And Israel said to Joseph, 'Are not your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.' And so he said, 'Here I am.' And he said, 'Well please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flock and bring word back to me.'" Now, this is not really a short trip. I mean, we're talking maybe 40 miles Nehemia, because they were in the Valley of Hebron.

Nehemia: That's a really interesting question, and I was hoping you weren't going to bring this up. Being a Jerusalemite, I don't want to put down Hebron... but so there is no such thing as the Valley of Hebron. And the question then… because Hebron is a mountain. So maybe this refers to some geographical location that we're not familiar with, but it probably doesn't refer to the Hebron we're thinking of because that's a mountain, not a valley.

Jono: Fair enough.

Keith: Maybe there’s a valley by the mountain.

Nehemia: Well here's the thing. There are different Hebrew words for valley, and what you would have near the mountain is a "nachal" which is kind of like a seasonal creek. What you wouldn't have is the word here, which is Emek. Emek comes from the word amok, which is deep, and it usually refers to something much more significant than you would have in the Hebron area. You know, for example, the Jordan Valley is an emek, and where I live in the Refayim Valley is an emek, which is like a couple of miles across. I guess we could look around the area and maybe find something like that, but it may actually refer to some other location that… possibly even somewhere near Schem.

Now, what's really interesting to me is the next geographical location, and I'm going to just toss this out here, which is, where does he go after Schem, or Shekem? He goes to Dotan or Dotan as you people say. And what else happened in Dotan? We have a story there that Keith and I have been looking at recently, a story that I absolutely love, about a prophet who is in Dotan, the prophet Elisha. And he wakes up in the morning and he's surrounded by the entire army of Syria, by the entire Syrian army of Damascus. And His servant says to him, "We're surrounded, we're done for." And he prays a prayer. And he says, "Yehovah, would you please open my servant's eyes that he can see what I see?" And the servant's eyes are opened and he sees that Dotan, beyond the Syrian army, is then surrounded by another army, the army of angels. That's how they defeat the Syrians. And that also took place at Dotan. I don't know, I'm going to throw this out for Keith, that maybe there is some significance there to that Joseph gets kidnapped and sold into slavery in Dotan, but then later, that's where the angels appear.

Keith: Oh boy. I'm telling you Jono, he's begging for it, but we're not going to start preaching on that.

Keith: Listen, let me just tell everybody this. I was with Nehemia, we'll call this the Haftorah portion. We'll say this is part of the Prophets. Can we do that for a second? You know, what was so powerful is I watched Nehemia take that very same verse regarding the angels and being surrounded, and for the people that are listening right now... You know, there are people that are listening right now that are looking out right now at their circumstances, their situation, and they are surrounded. And you know what, what was so powerful about what Nehemia did is he took this issue of what happened in Dotan, but he made a connection to something else. He said "You know, may their eyes be open. That my servant's eyes be open that he might see the army that's around the chariots of fire."

But Nehemia can you just for one second, share the other verse that really does relate to this idea of the Torah and the things that are in the Torah that we need to see, the Psalm verse that you talked to me about?

Nehemia: No, no, you're dragging me away. I'm not going to Psalm 119 - that's way off track.

Jono: It's too late, you've mentioned it now. Psalm 119.

Nehemia: All right.

Jono: It's everybody's favorite chapter, come on.

Nehemia: It is, I'll tell you in a second… I've got to find it here. So you see how easily I give in to peer pressure?

Keith: While you're looking for it, I want to give context a little bit about what it is that we are looking at. What is it that we do see, and then the things that we can ask God for to help us also see. And I think that's what's cool about this verse. What's cool about what the prophet prayed for his servant. And that's what some people probably need him to do for them now. They need their eyes opened so they can see what? I mean, what is it that we need to see? And it relates to even this idea of dreams and being connected to the word of God. The word of God is our revelation. That's what we got to get. And we get that we can apply it in our lives. So that's the verse. I just want you to bring that as a little pearl.

Nehemia: So that's Psalm 119 verse 18. It's usually translated something to the effect of "Uncover my eyes that I may see the wonderful things of your Torah." But the word that they translate as wonderful, niflaot, that can also be translated as "the hidden things of your Torah". That's actually the same word that you have in Deuteronomy 17. When it says "if a matter is too difficult for you…" what it literally says is "if a matter is hidden from you," meaning you don't understand how to interpret a certain situation, in Deuteronomy 17, so what you do there, it talks about going to the priests of the Temple or the judge that will be in those days.

Well, here David is saying, "Yehovah, would You please uncover my eyes that I may see the hidden things of Your Torah." I don't have access to the judge. I don't have access to the high priest, the Temple's been destroyed. What do we do now? What do we do today? Here's a prayer that he's given us that we can pray to Him and ask Him to uncover my eyes. The way that Elisha prayed that his servant's eyes be uncovered that he see the angels that were surrounding…

Keith: I want to do a radical thing, Jono. I want to do a radical thing right now on the Torah portion. I haven't gotten approval for this. This is radical. Nehemia, would you do a favor for everyone that's listening to this portion? Would you be willing to pray that prayer in Hebrew out of Psalm 119 and then tell people what they would be able to pray that prayer themselves as we go through the Torah portion, that they might be able to see the wonderful, the hidden things of the Torah? Could you just pray that? Can we take a moment and have Nehemia do that? Jono, I'm way off the farm here, but I just have to have him do this.

Nehemia: Okay. It says "Ga'al eiynay ve'abita niflaot mitorateicha", "Yehovah please open our eyes that we may see the hidden things of Your Torah." Amen.

Keith: Jono, let me stop right now. Every single time that we start our Torah portion, we need to have Nehemia pray that prayer in Hebrew, at the beginning of every Torah portion from this day forward…

Jono: All right.

Keith: …as people get on here. No, I'm telling you, Jono, this becomes a part of the Torah portions where Nehemia prays that prayer on behalf of the listeners.

Nehemia: I think we should have Keith do it.

Keith: No, no, no, Nehemia, you've got to pray that in Hebrew. That's a beautiful, beautiful prayer, and I bet you people are going to write in and say, "Jono, please, I want to learn that prayer," so that when they open the Torah portion that they would be able to pray in Hebrew or in English. This is a beautiful thing.

Nehemia: This is awesome.

Keith: Thank you.

Jono: Happy with that. Psalm 119 verse 18, my friends, you can do some homework there. Moving along, we are in the Valley of Hebron… no, we went past there, we were in Dotan. "Now when they saw him afar off," this is verse 18, "even before he came near them they conspired against him to kill him." Now, man, I mean it's not like they were cranky at him. They're not like a little bit jealous. They hated him enough to kill him. "'They said to one another, look, this dreamer is coming. Therefore, let us kill him and cast him into some pit and we shall just say some wild beast has devoured him. Then we shall see what will become of his dreams.' But Reuben heard it…" now Reuben is the oldest. "Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands and he said, 'Let us not kill him.' And Reuben said to them, 'Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit, which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him, that he might deliver him out of their hands and bring him back to his father.'" So he had sort of in mind, I suppose, to teach him a lesson. You know, throw him in the pit for a while and then take him home.

Nehemia: Well, actually we find out later on that Reuben wanted to save him. And so they had already decided they were going to throw him in the pit, and what Reuben was suggesting to them on the surface was, "Yeah, let's throw him in the pit, he'll die of thirst." But his intention really was to come back and later save him. Later he comes back to the pit and finds he's gone - they sold him into slavery.

Keith: I think there's a Torah Pearl here, I want to ask a historical cultural, practical question. Nehemia, when we've talked about this in the past, when it was that they did sell him, what is the significance of the amount that they sold him for here in this section?

Nehemia: The amount that they sold him for?

Keith: How we know the value of money, the value from that, we've discussed it a little bit before...

Jono: What? So we're in verse 28 I'm looking at 20 shekels of silver. Is that what you've got?

Nehemia: It says 20 of silver, presumably of shekels, yeah. Well, I mean that was probably just the going rate. I mean, it was a fluctuating market price, and the Ishmaelites knew how much a slave was worth in Egypt. Ishmaelite was actually their profession, it doesn't mean they were necessarily descended from Ishmael, it refers to anybody who travels in a caravan. And that was actually part of the international caravan route running through that part of Israel, from what's today Iraq, then Mesopotamia, through to Egypt. So they knew; this was their job.

Keith: On the trading market, for the market at that time was 20 shekels.

Nehemia: Well for that strength of slave and for that age, and you know, and for that like, you know, for his skill set they said, okay, 20 shekels of silver. I mean it varied based on all kinds of factors.

Keith: Well the plot continues to thicken, Jono, I mean, they not only first they say, here comes that dreamer, which is, what is it? What are they really offended by? What are they really, really offended by? They're offended by the fact that their father loves him and he's got the coat of many colors. But the thing that ultimately, when you started giving titles to people based on your frustration with them, this is one of the little funny things that myself, one of my friends, we do sometimes, we'll see a person acting a certain way, and then we'll give that person that title. So basically the name is no longer Joseph. Now the name is, here comes the Dreamer.

Jono: So you take whatever you don't like about them and you add an -er to the end. And you use it in a sarcastic sort of way, and that's his name. We see it all the time.

Keith: You know what's funny is, if I didn't know the end of the story, and I'm just reading it along and for the first time that I'm reading, if I'm reading it in the Hebrew Bible, I'm reading in my English Bible, and I'm reading this story and I hear them call him the dreamer, immediately I'm thinking, "That's the very thing that not only are they focusing on, but that's the reason that this is being brought. This dream is going to be significant throughout, so that's just the little indicator for me. If I was sitting there and listening, Nehemia, once every seven years and I had never heard this and they were up there speaking in the Torah and they get to this part and they call Joseph a dreamer, I'm thinking that's a code word. That's something that had been brought for a reason, and that's something that we're going to find that's really significant as we go…

Nehemia: What I think is interesting is by labeling him as the dreamer, Here Comes the Dreamer, they've now put him in a box, and instead of treating him like a human being they're treating him like that labeled boxed character, and then they literally throw him in a pit. I mean talk about putting people in a box. I think this is one of the dangers of putting people in boxes and labels.

Jono: Absolutely. And we see it all the time, and you guys more than most I think. And so they throw him in a box.

Nehemia: There's that Jew!

Jono: There he is! He has no place with us.

Keith: Here comes that Karaite.

Nehemia: They want to throw me in the pit, Keith.

Keith: Yeah. They want to put him in the pit and they're saying, look... And what's funny about it, what's amazing about this is that they're brothers. These are brothers, these are people who have the same father, and we're seeing this happen today in movements all over the world. They put the label, like Nehemia says, and then they say, "Even though you're my brother, I'm going to disassociate with you as my brother. I'm going to give you this other label, and that gives me the freedom to say, I can put you in that pit." Wow.

Jono: Yeah. In any case, "They strip him of his tunic and they killed a goat and dipped the tunic in the blood and then they took the tunic of many colors and brought it to the father and said, 'Hey, we found this is, is this your son's tunic or what?' And he recognized it and he said, 'Oh surely he's been devoured by a wild beast. He's been torn to pieces,’” and he was absolutely destroyed as you would be, “and put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days."

What a horrible, terrible thing. Not only what they have done to Joseph, but also what they've done to their own father. So much so that even though they tried to comfort him, he refused to be comforted, he said, "I'll go down into the grave to my son in mourning." I mean, that is a heavy, heavy thing to say and that's how miserable he was.

Nehemia: There are two pearls here. I'm asking us to back up just a little bit. And I'm going to throw this on you and Keith. I'm going to ask you to look at verse 30. It says, speaking about Reuben, "He returned to his brothers and he said, 'The boy is no more. And where will I go?'" "What am I going to do about this?" Why is Reuben saying that?

Jono: He says, what I've got here in the New King James, "And he returned to his brothers and said, 'The lad is no more and I, where shall I go?'" So he seems kind of anxious.

Nehemia: So why is he so anxious and all the other brothers are sitting there cool as cucumbers?

Jono: Well, I'm guessing… Keith?

Keith: Well, no, I was thinking about it from the standpoint of being the oldest brother.

Nehemia: That's right.

Jono: That's what I thought. Yeah.

Nehemia: He's responsible. He's the oldest brother. And then another thing is when he says, "I'm going to go down to my son mourning to the grave," what does it actually say in Hebrew? Does it say grave or something else in verse 35?

Keith: Read it for us.

Nehemia: "Ki'ered el bnei avel sha'ola" Torah Pearl, Torah Pearl!

Keith: I hear a word.

Jono: Well, what I've got is, "For I shall go down into the grave." What is grave is that sha'ola?

Nehemia: It's sha'ol. Yeah. And sha'ol in the Tanakh it's sometimes translated grave. Sometimes they actually translated it as hell. So they're very selective of how they translate it. Sometimes it'll be one way, sometimes another way. In fact, sha'ol in Hebrew, you can see us in Ecclesiastes chapter 9 clearest, is simply the place where souls go when a person dies. It's the realm of the dead, if you will. So he's saying, "I'm to go down into sha'ol mourning."

Keith: Well folks, if you have not heard the teaching on sha'ol, or The Picnic in Hell, Nehemia did a phenomenal teaching on hell, and I think people would really...

Jono: I don't think I've heard that Keith. Where can I find that?

Keith: Oh well that's actually going to be available soon. It's not available yet. It's going to be available soon. We're in the process of getting it out for the public. ("To Hell and Back" - Open Door series)

Jono: Once again, waiting! All right, well I'm looking forward to hearing that and we'll talk about that when that comes out. "Now the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard." Now I just have to remind everybody it's chapter 38. This is not a rated G program, and as I mentioned last time, just warning everyone. "It came to pass…"

Keith: Wait, wait, wait, wait. Before you start reading, I want to ask an important question just in terms of… as we're reading through the Tanakh, you're reading through the Tanakh and you get to this section about Joseph, and so I'm on the edge of my seat. He's been sold into slavery, and then all of a sudden you have this chapter...

Jono: I know - it comes out of nowhere!

Keith: I want to ask Nehemia, what does that say to you when you see this shift of venue, when you see this shift…

Nehemia: Well, it's a cliffhanger. I mean, it's leaving us wondering what's going to happen to Joseph, and then it brings us into this other story, which is kind of like almost like a sidetrack. Like, why are we being told this? You want to know what happens to Joseph. And there may be something there which you know, in Israel's history we have the northern kingdom and southern kingdom. The southern kingdom is dominated by Judah and the northern kingdom is dominated by Ephraim, which is Joseph. We might have that paradigm here where we're hearing the story of Ephraim through his father Joseph, and then all of a sudden, we're going to leave Joseph aside for a minute. Let's hear about Judah… and go ahead. Sorry.

Keith: No, no, no, no. This is what I want.

Nehemia: So it's giving us some of the story of Judah, and really it had to be here - where else could it have given us this? Because basically, Joseph is... it's actually quite unusual in the entire Tanakh, especially in the Torah, that we have a story about someone that lasts this long is as the Joseph story. I mean, think about it - it starts in, what is it, chapter 37 and it goes all the way to the end of Genesis through chapter 50. I don't know that you can point to another continuous story like that other than this one story. Here's how it's kind of like a side point is brought in, and it's almost like when I talk and you can't get in a word in edgewise and you just kind of have to like push your way in, and so that's kind of what the story of Judah did here. I think.

Jono: So all of the sudden we're getting excited about the story of Joseph. Everyone's nodding their head going, "Oh yeah, I've heard this one. I know this one." And all of a sudden the lights go dim, the sound of the harp is played and they roll the next background curtain and bring the lights back up, and we're somewhere else altogether. Entirely!

Nehemia: When I was in first grade, excuse me, in second grade, we actually read the entire book of Genesis from cover to cover, in Hebrew, verse by verse. And years later when I reread Genesis for myself, I came upon this story and I'm like, "How come I've never heard of this story before?" And that's because they decided to censor the Bible. They decided that a second grader can't understand the story, can't even hear about this story. I was enraged that this story had been kept from me. I felt deprived, I felt lied to. I want to challenge parents to consider whether or not second graders are… don't just take it for granted. You know, especially in today's day and age, your second grader might actually know more than you do about it. So I think that this is the word of God. This Scripture and it shouldn't be censored. We should hear what it has to say.

Jono: Yeah. And I guess you can be choosy about the words that you use when you are explaining it, and so on and so forth, and so I say this is now we're entering into rated PG -parent's guidance recommended. "And so it came to pass at the time that Judah departed from his brothers and visited a certain Adullamite." Is that right?

Nehemia: Adullamite. Adulam is the name of a city in what today is the territory of Judah, and so this was a man from Adulam. Actually right near the Valley of Elah.

Jono: "Whose name was Hirah. And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shula and he married her." There you go. That's nice. "And went into her. And so she conceived and bore a son and he called his name Er." What does that mean?

Nehemia: What does er mean? It's really interesting question. Sometimes it's obvious what a name means. Like, I don't, know Judah or Yohanan or names like that. But then you'll have a name like Er and you're like, well, what exactly does it refer to, and it doesn't tell us. Er could mean awake. Maybe he was very aware of things. But there are other possible meanings. So it's not entirely clear.

Jono: Well, he doesn't last long anyhow. So I guess we don't need to know. "She conceived again and bore son and called his name Onan." What about that one?

Nehemia: That's another one that maybe it comes from the word On, that we saw last week, which could mean strength but could also mean sorrow. But maybe not. Maybe it comes from something else. In modern Hebrew, it has a different meaning, but that meaning's actually drawn from this context, not the other way around.

Jono: He doesn't last long either. "And she conceived again and bore a son and called his name Shelah." Okay.

Nehemia: Shelah means child, offspring.

Jono: That's imaginative. Okay. "She was at Chezib when she bore him. Then Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn. Her name was Tamar, but Judah's firstborn was wicked in the sight of Yehovah and Yehovah killed him." That was it. He lasted all of what, three verses and he's over.

Nehemia: More than I got!

Keith: So here you have this situation taking place. And I know we're building... this is an important part of Scripture because it gives us an indication of other Torah concepts, but just this idea that his firstborn, who obviously, the firstborn was to be a special person, a son, before the Creator of the universe. But it says that he was wicked in his sight. And then there's a little line that we could go over really quickly, but I think it's kind of packed with information. He was wicked in His sight. And then what should happen is we don't hear any more about him, but then there's these words in English that just have to make me slow down. "So the LORD put him to death." That just doesn't fit with my normal Methodist background. There are many people that do bad things and things happen to them. But you mean to tell me that because he was wicked in his sight he put him to death?

Jono: Well, I mean, God is a God of love, right Keith? He loves you and He wants you to repent and He wants to forgive you and He's a God of love and so how do we reconcile this? I mean, doesn't it say in Ezekiel that he does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked? And yet He himself says here killed him and you've got to think to yourself, man, how wicked was this guy? We don't know what he did.

Keith: Yeah. And I guess the reason I'm bringing it up is because this is one of those little verses that in the tradition that I come from they're trying to censor, Nehemia, as you just mentioned. But for a different reason. And when they hear these words, you know, if they were to stand up in some places and they were to read from the lectionary or they were to read the Torah portion, I can guarantee you there aren't many places that would stand up on a Sunday morning and read this verse and leave it there, just right there, I mean, we'd get around it or we'd quickly have to get to something else that says, "But thanks be to God that he's no longer like that because he doesn't deal with wickedness in that way." And so then there's all these theological issues.

But I wanted to just simply sit on the fact that here's a really clear verse in Genesis 38 where it says that he was wicked in His sight and then He did something about it. And I mean, that just gives me reverential fear. In a good way. That the Creator of the universe in all of His power and all of His magnificent, amazing everything about Him that creates the entire universe, as we've gone through these Torah portions, yet He looks down upon the firstborn of Judah, the firstborn of Judah, and he was wicked in God's sight, and then He didn't just say he's wicked in His sight and okay, that's another one that's going to, you know, that the world is wicked in their hearts or what. He does something about it. And I don't know - that's something you guys, that when I read that boy I had to stop, I had to slow down for a minute.

Nehemia: Can I say something?

Jono: Go on.

Nehemia: Okay. I'm thinking out loud here. Maybe I'm going off the reservation. You just pointed out something really profound - that this is the firstborn of Judah. And why would the firstborn of Judah be held to a higher standard than others? Because like you said, there's lots of wicked people in the world. There was Hitler, and God didn't kill Hitler in his youth. Why is the firstborn of Judah being held up to such a high standard that if he's wicked, we can't have him, we've got to dispose of him? Can't let him have offspring.

Keith: Well, you're thinking out loud because I'm trying, I'm giving you a softball, Nehemia.

Nehemia: So who is going to be born from the firstborn of Judah? Now, I'm not going to let the Methodist answer because I'm going to give the Jewish answer; the Messiah.

Keith: Come on!

Nehemia: And maybe God didn't want the Messiah to be born from someone who was so wicked so He said, "Okay, well we can't have it be Er.” And then He tried Onan, "No, Onan's no good either." Okay. Third, third time, "Well, that one is okay. We're going to let him go."

Keith: Torah portion, Torah portion, Torah portion!

Jono: Torah Pearl, Torah Pearl!

Keith: What you and Nehemia do, you want to get to the section about...

Jono: We're only seconds away from it.

Keith: We're so close. But this little phrase, this little line, had to make us stop and say, "so what could this possibly be?" Nehemia, I want to thank you for that. That was a softball and you hit it out of the park. Let's move on.

Jono: Let's move on. And so what happens? "God killed him. And Judah said to Onan, 'Go into your brother's wife and marry her, and raise up an heir to your brother.' But Onan knew that the heir would not be his. And so it came to pass, that when he went into his brother's wife that he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother, and the thing which he did displeased Yehovah."

Nehemia: Wait, can you guys explain that to me? Because I don't quite understand what that means. I'm kidding move on.

Jono: Okay. "Therefore, He killed him also." Now, what specifically was the sin though? Because we'll be talking that he did not fulfill his duty as a brother? Is now this…?

Nehemia: So we've got to explain the cultural background here, and in Hebrew, it uses a word that doesn't appear in the English, it says, "Go into your brother..." Actually, how does it translate verse 8 again? It says, "Go into the wife of your brother," and what's the next word there?

Jono: Okay, so it says, "raise up an heir to your brother."

Nehemia: Right. So it actually says is "yabem ota". The word there is yiboom or yabem as a commanding verb, and yiboom refers to what they usually translate in English as leverate marriage, which like, I mean most people have no idea what that means, and I don't either. I don't know where they get that term. I think it actually comes from Latin. But yiboom in Hebrew refers to when a man dies without children, it's his brother's duty to marry his wife, to raise up an heir, and that heir is not his son, it's his dead brother's son. And that's a really interesting thing because, in Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20, you're actually forbidden from marrying your brother's wife. Even if your brother's dead, you're forbidden from marrying his wife. And so there's an exception to the rule.

The only exception in which you are allowed to marry your brother's wife is if your brother dies without children, then you actually have a duty to do it. And there's a way of getting out of the duty in the Torah; he didn't have that, Onan didn't have that. And so he did this other thing. But really, the sin here is that he's having relations with his brother's wife under the pretense and under the authority of raising up a child for his brother, and he's getting, I'm not sure what I'm allowed to say, in the PG version… He's getting the benefits of that without fulfilling the duties, and that's actually a form of adultery.

Jono: Yeah, that's exactly right. Yeah, I guess that's fair enough to say.

Nehemia: It really makes it incest.

Jono: He wants the fun, but he doesn't want the responsibility, right? We see a lot of that today. All right.

Nehemia: He wants the fun but he won't shoot the gun.

Jono: Well he shot the gun, but he shot it on the ground. He shot it on the ground. And so anyhow, I mean that was serious enough. That was serious enough for Yehovah to kill him. He's gone. "Then Judah said to Tamar, his daughter in law, 'Remain a widow in your father's house until Shelah is grown.' For he said, 'Lest he also die like his brothers.' And Tamar went and dwelt in her father's house. Now in the process of time, the daughter of Shula, Judah's wife died, and Judah was comforted and he went up to his sheepshearers at Timnah. And he and his friend Hirah the Adullamite…"

Nehemia: I've got to stop you. I think there's... you know, you hear about the story and… I think one of the messages here is that Judah was judging Tamar when really it was the fault of his own sons. And so he says, "Well, I can't have Shelah marry her because this woman is a man-eater. You know, every man who marries her dies." But you know what? It wasn't her fault. And in the end, at the end of the story, he says, "You are more righteous than me." And think about that. She pretended to be a prostitute…

Keith: We didn't get to that part!

Nehemia: I'm going to jump ahead. She pretends to be a prostitute, and she does what she does, and still, he says, "You were more righteous than me." And the reason that she was more righteous is that he condemned her to a life of widowhood, of not being able to remarry in that cultural context, and it was because he blamed her rather than taking the responsibility of his own sons, and really to his responsibility to some extent as well. He's trying to pass it off on the woman.

I think there's a message there to not always blame the woman. I mean in his culture that was probably natural, "Oh, something bad happened, we'll blame the woman." In this case, it was the man's fault and he needed to take responsibility.

Jono: So what happens is that she goes out onto the road, she's disguised, he mistakes her for a harlot. He propositions her and she says, "What will you give me?" and there's an exchange that takes place. And of course in a number of months, she's found to be pregnant and they say, "'Oh, look, Tamar your daughter in law has played the harlot. Furthermore, she is with child by harlotry.' So Judah said, 'Bring her out and let her be burned.'" I mean, dude, that's a bit harsh. But this is what he was going to do.

Nehemia: Well why is he saying let her be burned? Because she's committed adultery in their mind. In that culture, in that society, the only person she's allowed to marry is somebody who is a direct relative of her dead husband, and the first candidate really is the son Shelah, who Judah won't let her marry. So, on the one hand, he's saying, well, there's no one for you to marry. On the other hand, when she goes and does what a woman naturally does, he then condemns her as a harlot. And that's why in the end he has to admit, "You know what, you were more righteous. I was wrong here. I was condemning you to this life of widowhood. And I had no right to do that."

And I gotta, I want to comment on verse 15 that you kind of just blurred through, and I want to read what it literally says in Hebrew: "And he thought her to be a prostitute because she covered her face," and that apparently was the practice of the ancient Canaanite prostitutes, that they would stand there on the wayside with their faces covered. And why would they do that? Probably for a couple of reasons. One is it was a really small town and everybody would know she was the prostitute. So she covered her face so they wouldn't recognize her. And number two is when you were having... she isn't just a regular prostitute. Here she is a Kadesha, which is a temple prostitute. And the thinking was that when you were having relations with the Kadesha, you were actually having relations with the goddess and that's how they, and so when they paid the money for the Kadesha, they were actually paying it to the temple, to the Pagan Temple of Easter, of Ashtoret. And so that's really significant here that the reason he assumed her to be a prostitute is she had her face covered. That was the custom.

Jono: Okay, so it wasn't that he didn't recognize her, that she had her face covered, that was the sign…

Nehemia: Well it was also that he didn't recognize her, but think about it today. If you were walking down the road and you saw a woman with her face covered, what would you immediately think? Come on, let's be honest... Are we allowed to say this, or will we get arrested in your country?

Jono: Okay, Muslim, Muslim.

Nehemia: Okay. We need to move on. In ancient Israel, in ancient Canaan, it meant that the person was a prostitute. It didn't mean they were more, what's that word?

Jono: More modest.

Nehemia: Yeah. It wasn't a sign of modesty. It was a signal to people: "Okay, I'm a whore, my services are available." That's what it means in the Hebrew culture, in the ancient culture, to cover your face.

Jono: And there it is.

Keith: I want to say this. I guess the thing that I want to say, and now even further, I want to go back just a little bit about why this chapter is here, why this section is here, because what it is also saying? Here we have Judah who is, you know, he's Judah. And it isn't just - Nehemia you brought this out - even though it later says in verse 21, "He asked the men who lived there, 'Where is the shrine prostitute who is beside the road?' " In other words, here's Judah saying yeah, I went to a shrine prostitute. Okay. Not just a prostitute, I went to a shrine prostitute. And what was the shrine prostitute's job? No, I'm not talking about the physical act. The fact that she was a shrine prostitute added what other aspect? You just brought it Nehemia.

Nehemia: Oh, we have it here… there's both a sexual sin and there's also idolatry.

Keith: Exactly. Exactly. Here we have this right in the midst of this story, and we've got Judah, you know, and we talk about the seed and all these things that are going to happen, but the way this starts out, boy, it's not a very good, it's not a very honoring picture of Judah in the situation. But I think what's also interesting, and I guess we could talk about this even longer, but this is the issue of the two sons that came from Tamar, and who are those two sons?

Jono: Perez and Zerah.

Nehemia: Perez and Zerah. And Perez is the ancestor of who? Come on. Of David, and from David - the Messiah. Who's name is? I don't know.

Keith: That's why this is such an important thing. So when we talk about why is this section here, what are we talking about? This is the first example, the first part that we see the actual root that actually came from Judah himself. Sounds pretty convoluted, pretty messed up. A woman who had to act like she was a shrine prostitute because her husband, her first husband, was so evil that God killed him.

I mean, it becomes really important why we are taking the time to go through this particular section - without this section, what do we think of Judah later as, "Oh he's one of the 12 sons and from Judah we have all this and we have the Jews?" Listen, this is a pretty dark history here that came from Judah, and I think the level of accountability must be pretty darn high, because God clearly sets that standard pretty high. So I just wanted to… we can move on now.

Jono: No, thank you.

Keith: In other words, this becomes a very important chapter in understanding. So as Nehemia's sitting there in second grade, and they say, "Hey listen, we're going to remove chapter 38 because it gets a little graphic," Nehemia doesn't have context of the very name by which he is called today. Are you not called Jewish, Nehemia? And what is that related to?

Nehemia: Judah, this man.

Keith: And so you take out a chapter of his very beginning history, so we don't understand that. I mean, that would be like saying, "Well, we're not going to say where Abraham came from, we're not going to tell you about his wife Sarah. We're not going to tell you about the history about which… We're just going to start with Isaac."

No! We've got to start with Judah. And guess what? God has intervened and the level of interaction and the connection to Judah that apart from this chapter, you don't understand it. We can move on. Thank you very much.

Jono: Meanwhile, back at the farm, "Joseph has been taken down to Egypt and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there." Now what happens is the guy gets blessed. Everything that happens in this guy's household and even in his field, it all goes well while Joseph is in charge of what he gives him to do. And then it says, "Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance," just like me. "And it came to pass after these things his master's wife cast longing eyes on Joseph," you see it's still rated PG. "And she said, 'Lie with me.' But he refused. And he said, 'Look, your husband, he's given me everything. I'm in charge of everything. And the only thing he's withheld from me is you. It's not going to happen.'" He actually says, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against Yehovah?" Sin against God. It's not sin against her, sin against his master or anything like that, sin against himself…

Nehemia: Yeah, because the Egyptians were into that. You know, the Egyptians… we were told that later in Leviticus 18, that the Egyptians were into all kinds of forms of sexual perversion, even to the point where the Pharaoh would often marry his sister. Literally. That was, you know, he's got to marry someone who is a God like him, you know, and so it's very possible that if they would've asked the husband, the husband would've said, "Yeah, sure, go right ahead. I can't do it." And why do I say he can't do it? Because what he's actually called in Hebrew is "Cerise Phar'o," which is the "eunuch of Pharaoh".

Keith: Uh oh!

Jono: Really?

Nehemia: It's possible that he really happily let Joseph be with his wife. And Joseph is saying, "I can't do that. That's a sin against Yehovah. I don't care what your husband says."

Keith: Wait, wait, wait. Torah Pearl! So you're telling me that the wife is simply saying, "Look, my husband is a eunuch.” Is that what you're saying here?

Nehemia: Well that's what it says in verse 1. So…

Jono: Really! So he's unarmed. So, okay. It doesn't say that in my verse 1, but that's what it says in the Hebrew. It's obvious in Hebrew. He hasn't got the goods. And so she's trying…

Keith: Nehemia's casually like, "It's obvious to me. I mean, you should be able to see that. Ask the average person, did you know that his wife had a husband that was a eunuch and…" no one knew that Nehemia. That's a Torah Pearl. You just casually threw that out there.

Nehemia: I just thought everyone knew that.

Keith: Okay, great. Let's move on.

Jono: You know it's interesting. It says that day by day she's begging him, "Come on, let's get it on." But then it so happened that one day, none of the men of the house were inside. So she's obviously doing this even, you know, it's commonplace. Come on, come on. You know. But this time there was no one there. And he left his garment when she grabs it and he fled, garment off him. She's got the garment in the hand and she feels a bit out of place. She feels rejected, I suppose. And she's thinking, "I'm not having any of that. No, no, no sunshine, what happened was you came into here and you begged for it and I refused. And when I screamed, you'd already gotten naked and run away. And here's your garment, man are you in trouble." So she tells it to Potiphar when he returns, and lo and behold, Joseph…

Nehemia: Wait, wait, wait. You can't just skip over verse 14. So she said, "See, he has brought to us this Hebrew man," letzachek banu, “to mock us.” It translates it, usually. But that's the same exact word that described what Ishmael was doing to Isaac and why he got kicked out of the house. There it is again.

Jono: Really! There it is again. How about that.

Nehemia: "To molest us," is what it really means.

Keith: Literally she's saying, "You brought him here and he's molesting me."

Nehemia: Right.

Jono: There it is. Okay. And so this is what she's accusing him of. He finds himself in prison. I think also, this is the first reference to prison in the Torah. And there he gets… Now, I mean, here we read that the guard, the keeper of the prison, all of a sudden all of his work is blessed. Everything becomes easy and rosy for him while Joseph is in charge of his duties. And so who knows what happened to Potiphar at this stage, but it does look good for the keeper of the prison. And he puts him in charge of the butler and the baker, but not the candlestick maker. But the king of Egypt… because they're in there because somehow they offended Pharaoh. Now the butler is the cupbearer, right? I mean, this is…

Nehemia: What it says in Hebrew is the cupbearer, and that's one of the most important jobs in an ancient kingdom. The reason is that they didn't have forensic technologies, and so it would be very easy if you wanted to get rid of the king, is you get in with the cupbearer and convince him to put poison in the cup. And so he is the most trustworthy official in the kingdom. And we see that later, that Nehemiah, in the book of Nehemiah, is the cupbearer of the Persian King, and that's how he gets permission to go and then rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, because he is the most trustworthy person in that kingdom. It's a very important position.

Keith: So Nehemia, Judah being the king, Nehemia, when we go out to eat at Perkins, you know, I'm the cupbearer. So what he'll do is we'll order food and you know, there's certain foods that we can and can't eat. So he'll have me order first, and then whatever I order I have to eat it and then he'll order it. If I fall down… So I'm a cupbearer to the king and I'm telling you it happens all the time.

Nehemia: No you're just the guinea pig taste tester.

Keith: What did you order, what was in there?

Nehemia: And then the baker is obviously important for the same reason.

Jono: So I'm guessing, right, that Pharaoh maybe had a case of food poisoning or something and sent these guys off to prison. In any case...

Nehemia: He had a really bad case of diarrhea.

Jono: He may have done. He may have done. There are only two people responsible for this, and it ain't the candlestick maker so off you guys go. And while they're in there they had some dreams. Joseph comes to do his duties in the morning, he looks at them and says, "Hey, why so glum?" They said, "Well, we've had a dream and there's no one to interpret it." So Joseph said, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me."

Nehemia: Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: And Methodist pastors.

Jono: And so the chief butler, the cupbearer, said, "Behold in my dream was a vine before me and in the vine were three branches, and it was though it budded its blossoms shot forth and its clusters brought forth ripe grapes, then Pharaoh's cup was in my hand. I took the grapes I pressed them into the Pharoah's cup and placed it in his hand, it was all good." Joseph's interpretation was, "Three branches for three days. Now within three days, Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place and you will put Pharoah's cup in his hand according to the former manner," and it's all good. "But remember me," he says, "remember me when it is well with you, please show kindness to me and make mention of me to Pharaoh. Get me out of this place." And he talks a little about that. Now I reckon he probably could have stopped there. I mean, I don't know. He's got three days to live.

Keith: Jono! Jono! We must slow down for a second here. We can't just continue reading.

Jono: All right, let's pause there.

Keith: I've got to put Nehemia on the spot. This is a pretty important verse here. He's probably thinking, what's he going to bring up? But in verse 14, Nehemia, could you just take a look at the Hebrew there? It says, "But when all goes well with me, remember me, show me kindness and mention me." So could you take a moment, Nehemia, and share this idea of remembering and mentioning specifically as it pertains to, do we remember only with our mind or do we also remember with our mouths?

Nehemia: So, in Hebrew remember and mention is the same exact word, slightly different forms of the same exact word, and the concept there is that it's really like to summon something up. When you remember it, in Hebrew it's not just something intellectual, it's something that's actively done, you summon it up in your memory and when you mention it you summon it up in your mouth, you speak it with your mouth versus speaking it with your mind, your brain. So both of them are the same concept. One is done in your mind and the other is done with your mouth. Is that a Torah Pearl?

Jono: That's a Torah Pearl, but I just want to ask a question while we're there, and we'll do this really quickly. In the verse, Keith, that you so often quote, "Where I cause my name to be mentioned," which word are we talking about there?

Keith: The Methodist version is we just simply have to remember his name. If we just remember it and put a memorial to it, that will be fine. I think that's the idea here. Unless we were to read the Hebrew - if we were to read the Hebrew, we'd get the concept that the idea is not just to remember his name, but rather, I believe it is that you're to mention his name.

Nehemia: So the word here, there's actually two words here in verse 14, there's zechar and hizkar, or zechartani and hizkartani, and one of them is "you will remember me" and the other is "you will mention me", but both of them are from the root Zayn-Chaf-Resh, zachar. And the word that appears in Exodus 3:15 is zichri, which is from the same root. Now zichri is "my zecher", which is a noun and zechartani and hizkartani are verbs. But the word zechartani could legitimately also mean "you will mention me", as opposed to "you will remember me", whereas hizkartani could really only mean "you will mention me".

Jono: Thank you for bringing that up.

Keith: That's a Torah Pearl!

Jono: Moving right along. Amen. Let's get to the process of remembering and mentioning, amen. "When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good…" Now see that was his first mistake, "…and he said to Joseph, 'Hey, I also had a dream,’ tell me all the good things ‘and it was a basket on my head’ and so on and so forth. But Joseph answered and said, 'This is the interpretation of it. Three days, the three baskets, three days, within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head from you and hang you on a tree and birds will eat your flesh.'" Oh, nice. Three days. Anyway.

Keith: I want to say something. I mean, we know the interpretation. We know what happened, but I want to ask this question in English, and I want us to just take one second, if I can refer back to what we just talked about. Verse 23 - could it not have been this in English? “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph.” Period. Why does it say…?

Jono: Well, it says in verse 33, "Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him."

Keith: So why both things? What does that verse say in Hebrew, Nehemia?

Nehemia: Verse 23? "Ve lo zachar." Now zachar could be either "he remembered" or it could also be "he mentioned". So you could legitimately translate it, "The chief cupbearer didn't mention Joseph" or "The chief cupbearer didn't remember Joseph." And really they're the same thing.

Keith: What does the next phrase say?

Nehemia: "And he forgot him."

Keith: "And he forgot him." So when I read that - this was just for me - adding "that he forgot him", if he didn't remember him, to me it's like saying, "Okay, he did not mention him, he forgot him."

Nehemia: But in Hebrew the failure to mention, the failure to remember, both of those are the opposite of to forget. Meaning it's forgetting to bring it up in your mind, forgetting to bring it up in your mouth. And really, what was important here wasn't what was in his mind. He might have actually remembered him, but he didn't remember to mention him. He didn't mention him or he didn't bother to mention him.

Keith: That's what's so powerful, because what did he say? Look, he didn't say, "Hey listen, you get back to your job, hold a good thought for me. Think about me every once in a while and pray for me."

Nehemia: Summon me up in your mind and pray about me.

Keith: Pray for me and think about me. No - he says, "Look, when you get out of here go tell somebody, mention to somebody, speak my name." Well, that sounds familiar. "Once you guys get your system all setup and everything's good and you're living good and you're living in your houses and you've got your fine land and all this stuff, mention me." No, we can't even mention you?

Jono: Well, you know what? We've gotten right to the end and I'm really surprised that we managed to get all of that.

Nehemia: Can I point to something in verse 15 before we end? So he says literally in Hebrew, "For I have surely been stolen from the land of the Hebrews, and also here I didn't do anything, for they have placed me in the pit," is what it literally says in Hebrew. What I love about a lot of the biblical stories that very often will use this principle of something having a double meaning, and it's on purpose. And here there's definitely a double meaning. "They put me in the pit." Well, what pit is he talking about? Pit could refer to the dungeon, the prison that he's in, because the word for that in Hebrew is bor, pit. But it could also be the pit that his brothers threw him in. Meaning, you could read it, "For I was stolen from the land of the Hebrews for they put me in the pit, and also here I didn't do anything," and I think he actually meant both of those. There is, I think, an intention there to be ambiguous.

Jono: There it is my friends. Pearls from the Torah Portion, and we managed to finish on time and thank you, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. Hey, next week - Michetz. Is that right? Michetz. Bereishit 41 to 44 verse 17. In the meantime, listeners, be blessed and be set apart by the truth of our Father's word. Shalom.

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  • Sherman Harrington says:

    I pray that God would open the eyes against the traditional belief that Jesus is “God in the flesh”. Jesus is the “shakan”, the dwelling place of God- just as we being in the image of God are the shakan of the Holy Spirit. (Col. 2:9), There are thousands of verses that deny that Christ is ontologically identical with God. As the firstborn of creation, the Father has chosen the physical body of Christ as His dwelling place, His temple. Christ “inherits” the name of God (Heb. 1:4). If one reads 2 Sam. 7:12-15 we see that Christ commits iniquity (but does not sin) and that the Father will not take away the Spirit from Christ like he did to King Saul. This is why Christ indicates that only the Father is good in Matt. 19:17. Imagine that, Christ would not say that he was “good” yet my fellow Christians say that they are “good Christians”. This false doctrine is a great dividing point between Jew and Christian and will not last forever as Christ soon returns. Christ is our mediator of a new and better covenant. As mediator He can not be one of the disputants (God the Father vs. mankind).

  • rajsr1 says:

    Praise to the YHVH for His Love and Faithfulness in giving us Torah Pearls Psalm92

    1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
    And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;

    2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
    And Your faithfulness every night,

    3 On an instrument of ten strings,
    On the lute,
    And on the harp,
    With harmonious sound.

    4 For You, YHVH, have made me glad through Your work;
    I will triumph in the works of Your hands.

    5 YHVH, how great are Your works!
    Your thoughts are very deep.

    6 A senseless man does not know,
    Nor does a fool understand this.

    7 When the wicked spring up like grass,
    And when all the workers of iniquity flourish,
    It is that they may be destroyed forever.

    8 But You, YHVH, are on high forevermore.

    9 For behold, Your enemies, YHVH,
    For behold, Your enemies shall perish;
    All the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.

  • Victor Menagarcia says:

    The valuation of Joseph is equal to the valuation set in Leviticus 27:3

  • Peggy Sanders says:

    So many Pearl’s in one teaching!! These insights bring fresh understanding to the whole Torah, especially the genealogy of Judah. I love too seeing YeHoVaH remove wickedness…. reverance for Him indeed!

  • marietta Lynch says:

    good teaching! I picked up several pearls! thanks.. enjoyed.

  • Jan says:

    If Pharaoh was eunuch, did he leave town to set up Joseph and the wife, so that she’d conceive and Pharough would have a son?

  • Gavriella says:

    Hi Nehemia, and Chag Semeach! So this weeks parshar Gen 37:30 did Ruebens’ younger brothers let him believe Joseph was killed by an animal? And what does that mean when Rueben asks “as for me, where am I to go”? The yellow vs of Joseph is my favorite of all the Torah. So rich with teachings for everyday life, ‘does and don’ts’.
    Thank you soon much for all your sharing to common folk like me. I praise YeHoVaH for you.

  • Nancy Arevalo says:

    My Bible has notes saying that part of the reason for Genesis 38 being smacked into the middle of the Joseph story is to point out that Jacob deceived his father, then Judah deceived his father. This all leads to Judah’s transformation, just as Jacob was also transformed. What do you think?

  • Nancy Arevalo says:

    OK, another comment. In Levitcus 27:5, the amount a person should give to make an special vow to the Lord is 20 shekels for a male from age 5 to 20 years old. So, where does this amount come from? I know you stated it was the going rate. How did it get into Leviticus?

  • Nancy Arevalo says:

    In my Bible notes, it says that Reuben may have wanted to save Joseph (and not kill him) to get back in his father’s good graces after messing up in Genesis 35:22 when he slept with Jacob’s concubine, Bilhah. What significance is there in that? Would looking after Joseph have patched up things with Jacob?

  • Nancy Arevalo says:

    I don’t see anything mentioned about the ‘coat of many colors’. In my Bible notes it says that the Septuagint translates the Hebrew as ‘coat of many colors’ but that others argue the Hebrew really says ‘long coat with sleeves’. What do you say the Hebrew says?

  • Erin Hunter says:

    Very good examination from all you you today!!!

    It is so important to study the WORD OF YHVH, He definitely opens the eyes [perception] of the blind… + drives out the darkness [all that opposes His TRUTH [s] ]

    My eye opener was, ‘Isa 55:8 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD.
    Isa 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.’

    Isa 55:2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your gain for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto Me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Isa 55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto Me; hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

    May YHVH bring us all safely to His plan as one man!!! IN YSHVH the PURE LAMB, slain from the foundation of the earth! Yay!!! YHVH has provided the Lamb from the very start to show us all, TRUTH!
    TS2009 VERSION
    Mat 13:35  so that what was spoken by the prophet might be filled, saying, “I shall open My mouth in parables, I shall pour forth what has been hidden from the foundation of the world.” Psa_78:2. 

    Joh 1:1  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
    Joh 1:2  The same was in the beginning with God. 
    Joh 1:3  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 
    Joh 1:4  In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 
    Joh 1:5  And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. 

    Rev 13:7  And it was given to him to fight with the set-apart ones and to overcome them. And authority was given to him over every tribe and tongue and nation. 
    Rev 13:8  And all those dwelling on the earth, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the slain Lamb, from the foundation of the world shall worship him. 
    Rev 13:9  If anyone has an ear, let him hear. 

    Gen 3:21  And יהוה Elohim made coats of skin for the man and his wife and dressed them. 

    Besides Me There Is No God
    Isa 44:6  Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. 
    Isa 44:7  And who, as I, shall call, and shall declare it, and set it in order for me, since I appointed the ancient people? and the things that are coming, and shall come, let them shew unto them. 
    Isa 44:8  Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.


    Isa 46:8  “Remember this, and show yourselves men; turn it back, you transgressors. 
    Isa 46:9  “Remember the former events of old, for I am Ěl, and there is no one else – Elohim, and there is no one like Me, 
    Isa 46:10  declaring the end from the beginning, and from of old that which has not yet been done, saying, ‘My counsel does stand, and all My delight I do,’ 

    Shalom to all

    • Sarah Yocheved says:

      Was I listening to the same Torah Pearls discussion as Erin Hunter? I don’t get the connection.

      • Reyes Nava says:


        I agree with you there is no connection. The only way to see the connection that Erin sees is to put on “eisegesis” glasses.

        An interpretation, especially of Scripture, that expresses the interpreter’s own ideas, bias, or the like, rather than the meaning of the text.

        Thanks be to Yehovah for removing my eisegesis glasses.

  • Neville says:

    Nehemia, what support do you have for your statement that the scripture forbids a man to marry his brother’s widow? You mentioned Lev. 18 and Lev. 20. Lev 18:16 and :Lev. 20:21 do both say to not marry your brother’s wife.

    Lev 18:18, in instructing not to marry 2 sisters, refers to “while your wife is living.” Is the lack of this phrase in the other two passages the basis of your understanding?

    Is the Hebrew word (eset) rendered wife (in 18:16 and 20:21) also inclusive of widow other than in reference to Nabal’s widow who married David?

    This is very interesting – never heard this before.

  • Kimberly says:

    If Potiphar was a eunuch, why did he have a wife? Was that normal? Seems like eunuchs would have remained unmarried.

  • Janice says:

    Teenager was an invented word in 1940’s; designed by marketers to invent a new economic pool (where to get money); it begins to divide families through culture. The “teen” now needs his own hair, clothing, music styles. Latter down the road they also invented “pre teen”. We also heard the marketing lie “generation gap”. One who is 17 in near east, devoid of modern “western/Gree/Roman/Babylonian culture” may have been mature enough to handle being named “prince in standing”. I would hope that more young males; receive a dream from Yeshovah; and find wise council to put them

    Good Job Men of YeHovah!

  • Nicholas Mansfield says:

    Some fantastic work, primarily by Nehemia exposing our dodgy bible translations. Nehemia’s comments on the caravan seem spot on and in agreement with the Qur’an; 12:19. Again we have the veil controversy. The veil is mentioned at least thrice in the Tanakh, Gen.24:65,38:14-15/19, Isa.3:23. Clearly the veil in Gen.38 is worn in a very different context to Rebekah.
    If I hear right, the panel is agreeing the story of Joseph is a key part of Bereshit. Indeed it is the concluding document, the finale in my view. In the Qur’an it is the entire 12th surah. I have been listening to SpiritualBabies “Passover Lamb or Passover Man?” Jono seems to view Passover as originating in Egypt (Ex.12:3-13). Yet we have a peculiar situation with Jacob’s sons. They ‘paint’ Jospeh’s robes with the blood of a male goat (Gen.37:31) or lamb (apocryphal Islamic account). According to the Qur’an, the brothers vow to walk righteously after their planned evil to Joseph (12:9). Yet Jacob is no fool, he realises the brothers are hiding the full story (12:18). Joseph’s story is highly symbolic on every level. It is as if the blood of the lamb/goat is salvation/scapegoat to the clan of Israel (Surah2:133-4). Jacob is the Father and he overlooks the sin of the clan/nation. Some may find the connections tenuous but read it as you will. The fact is that Judaism, Christianity and Islam have ranked this story very highly.

    • Dori says:

      It looks like it is not the brothers who sell him to the Ishmaelites. They put him in, but it looks in the Hebrew that the Midianites come by, take him out, and sell him.

  • Rachel says:

    Nehemia, in Gen 37:2 : Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.

    Is it mean only Gad, Asher, Dan and Naphtali? Are they who hate Joseph the most?

  • Sunshine says:

    Nehemia could you please write down where to find the prayer to Lord, something like “Jehova, open my eyes so I can see the wonderful things of Torah”?