Torah Pearls #52 – Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1-31:30)

In this episode of The Original Torah PearlsVayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1-31:30), we discuss traditions we were taught concerning the Torah—a Law so simple ancient Israelites were expected to obey just by hearing it every seven years. They examine how religious traditions can stray from the intent of Torah—to hear, to learn, to fear, and to do. Regarding who “crossed over,” God or Joshua, Gordon discusses the Hebrew concept of dual causality—where the actions of the sender and the messenger are equal—a perk when partnering with the Creator of the universe. Gordon also provides Hebrew word studies that both boggle and thrill the mind—God “puts on” the suit of a man? All nations will be grafted in? The trio concludes by discussing the livability of Torah and the strength and courage required to keep it.

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Transcript

Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1-31:30)

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

Jono: G’day to Sandru in Shalom, India. How about that? India! G’day mate. And I hope I’m pronouncing this right, Jeff. Jeff wrote a comment saying, “I have been so blessed by you three discussing the scriptures. I’ve listened over and over again to all the Torah Pearls posted here for months now, trying to soak it all in and study along with you. My life has truly changed by the insights I’ve been learning. Thank you so much. I hope you guys can either continue for the rest of the Tanakh or go back through the Torah again after you come to the end of Deuteronomy. May Yehovah bless you.” Thank you, Jeff.

Nehemia: Thanks Jeff.

Jono: Appreciate that. Benjamin! Benjamin writes, “Thanks again for polishing the pearls. Nehemia” he writes, “I finished your book that I bought from you in Claremont. It was very well written. I really loved following you through the hikes that you took in the valleys.” Thank you, Benjamin, and as I mentioned it is an excellent book, Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence. You can get it at NehemiasWall.com. Nehemia, spell it for us again.

Nehemia: N-e-h-e-m-i-a-s-w-a-l-l. Nehemia’s wall.com.

Jono: There it is. Pedro. Pedro, G‘day Pedro. Pedro said, “Yono.”

Keith: Wait, wait, wait. I have a question.

Nehemia: Maybe Chono.

Keith: Yono, how do you do the whole rolling of the tongue thing? Do that again.

Jono: You can’t do the rolling of the tongue?

Keith: No!

Nehemia: Pedrrro.

Jono: You mean I’m talking to two guys who can’t roll their r’s?

Nehemia: I can say perro and perra. I had a perra named Georgia.

Jono: Pedro. Pedro said Yono, he knows that there’s no J in Hebrew. “All I can say is, outstanding Torah Pearls. Yehovah hu ha‘Elohim, may our loving Father continue to bless all of you. Please continue to do the work you guys are doing. Shalom.” Thank you, Pedrrrro. Rrrrebecca! Rebecca wrote, “Wow, this is an excellent discussion. All three of you guys are on fire and I want to say thank you for you all being willing to discuss the more controversial aspects of Scripture. Not all of us have friends with whom we can discuss these things and it’s encouraging to hear the different perspectives being addressed with respect. May Yehovah bless you all.” Thank you, Rebecca.

Dan and Heidi. Man, I love Dan. Dan’s the man. Dan sent me a set of Sennheiser headphones that I’ve got on now. I’m wearing them now. They’re, oh... the sound is crystal clear sound. Thank you so much Dan. They’re hugging my head. I feel… truly feel loved. They’re just cushioning my brain. Anyway, he and Heidi, “we love you guys dearly and we’ll see you in Israel. Thank you for your gift of Torah Pearls to us. We cherish it.” Hey, Keith!

Keith: What are you talking about it? They’re coming to Israel with us. Let me say something right now folks. If you have not gone to his hallowednamed.com and gone to the Three T Tour or not gone to TRUTH2U and seen the Three T Tour, you’re missing it. And by the time you listen to this you’ll be able to go to the Three T Tour on either one of those sites and get a whole bunch of information. Yeah, it’s going to be an amazing, amazing time. We’re taking truth to you, to the world from the land of Israel.

Jono: From the land, we’re looking forward to it and can’t wait. My friend, it would be the first time I’ll be there and we’re going to be recording as much as we can and putting it out to you, the dear listeners and thank you dear listeners for being so generous, we very much do appreciate it. LaDonna! LaDonna said “G’day, G’day, G’day! Thank you Jono for not editing out nearly as much as Keith and Nehemia think you do.”

Nehemia: Wait a minute, what?

Jono: Wherever you are around the world, thank you for joining us once again...

Nehemia: What the heck? What’d she say?

Jono: ...it is time for Pearls from the Torah Portion with Keith Johnson and Nehemia Gordon.

Nehemia: Hey look, I’ve got a letter I’d like to read. Can I read a letter? This was sent to me by a man named John and he writes, “I am a Rabbinical Jew who is a student of Karaite tradition and respect their practices. I also look at the Talmud as a guide, not that it supersedes the Torah. I wanted to ask privately to you, why are you seemingly,” and I feel free to now read this publicly by the way, because he’s now posted this on Facebook since, “I wanted to ask privately to you why are you seemingly assisting the Christian faith in promoting their idolatry over Torah observance.” I’m gonna read that again. “Why are you seemingly assisting the Christian faith in promoting their idolatry over Torah observance? I’ve listened to over 200 hours of the TRUTH2U podcasts.” Yeah, that’s impressive. I haven’t even listened to 200 hours. “And though you seem to distance yourself from conversations regarding Christian doctrine, you seem to openly attack Rabbinical Judaism and passively allow Christianity and their evangelism. I’m sure I’m not the only one who asks this question, but I do it out of respect from a Jew to a Jew. I wish to understand your rationale and what is your ultimate goal. With great respect, John.”

I want to answer this question. I think it’s a good question. And you know, if I was him 15 years ago, I was him. If I was him 15 years ago and I was listening to 200 hours of this TRUTH2U stuff, I wouldn’t have been as generous as he was in that letter. I would have been far more critical of this Nehemia Gordon, the wandering Jew in Florida. I would have heard the things that are being spoken here and I... I think what’s happened for me over the years is I feel like I’ve grown from the place where... I came before God many years ago with no humility whatsoever thinking I knew everything and therefore I was able to sit as the judge, jury and executioner of every other human being who passed before for me in my presence. I would say that’s the wrong doctrine you’ve got. No, you’ve got the good doctrine and you’re okay. You’ve got the wrong doctrine. You’re not okay. And you know, over the years I’ve learned humility. I’ve learned that there are things that I don’t know that only Yehovah knows. I pray to Him that he uncover my eyes that I may see those things. And we haven’t done that prayer very recently, have we?

Keith: We do that every week, what are you talking about?

Nehemia: Did we? Okay. What the listeners don’t know is we haven’t recorded an episode in a month because these are all prerecorded.

Keith: You’re not supposed to tell them that, Nehemia.

Nehemia: I revealed it. Anyway, so... but in all seriousness, the question essentially he’s asking is, why is it… and I think we’ve answered the question throughout the program… the question he’s asking is why is it that Nehemia is critical of rabbinical Judaism but not of Christians? Keith is essentially critical of his own tradition and not of Judaism. And it’s exactly that, that what we’ve said throughout the program is that it’s not my place in this program to come as the critic of Christianity because I didn’t come from Christianity. I don’t have that heritage. I don’t have any connection to that. What I can do is look at my own heritage and give my feedback to it; that I feel is a legitimate response, in this context. And I feel, I think that’s what Keith has done as well; he’s reacting to his own heritage and responding. Rather than going and looking at the speck in someone else’s eye, he’s talking about the pole in his own eye. Where did I get that from? I think there was an ancient rabbi who said that. Yeah, I don’t know what you are Jono, that’s why I didn’t say anything. I can never figure you out.

Jono: Whenever we look back on our own experiences and our own tradition, we have a right to be critical of that. And so, you look at your tradition and you did the same in where you came from with a rabbinical background, you have a right to speak in regards to that. But when Keith and I put under the microscope that which we came from, you really don’t have the weight to weigh in there. Right?

Nehemia: Well look, it’s not... I could talk about it like some theoretical thing. Like I’m looking at something... like, I’d be talking about that Aztec celebration with all the skulls, right? Like we talked about... to me it’s a strange, exotic thing. I don’t feel that it’s my place to speak into that. Whereas you who come from that, you have every right to, and really an obligation to, in some respects. And I feel like it’s my obligation to speak about my own tradition that I came from, and that’s why what he’s calling ‘openly critical of rabbinical Judaism’, okay, I accept that. I’m also openly critical of the Karaite movement. There are people in Karaite Judaism who have tried to turn Karaite Judaism into another denomination and other sect; another ism. And that’s really not what it is to me.

What it is to me is an approach to scripture. Karaite means Scripturalist, and as a Karaite Jew, I’m a Scripturalist. I say, what does it say in the word of God? In this case, “Kara” is the Old Testament. What does it say in the Kara, in the Mikrah, in the Tanakh? And I want to live my life according to that, without the obstruction of manmade rules and regulations, without the interference of manmade institutions, but directly interacting with God through His word. That’s what it means to me to be a Karaite Jew. And those who try to make it into a denomination, I’m going to be critical of them because, you know, they’ve hijacked what to me is the true way; for me at least, the true way to approach the word of God. For me to come and be critical of Methodist Christianity, I don’t even know what that’s about. I still can’t figure it out after 10 years of knowing Keith.

Keith: Can I weigh in a little bit? First of all, I want to tell John, if he’s listening, that I was overwhelmed and honored that you spent that much time listening. I don’t know if there are other people who come from my tradition that would actually even have a person like John that would be listening to what we’re talking about. So, I want to tell him thank you for listening to what we’re doing.

Jono: John’s a dedicated listener.

Keith: Second of all, I would like to agree with him that I think it would be hard if I’m him and I’m sitting and listening sometimes for my Jewish brother, for Nehemia, to be able to share with things that may be and are very, very close, near and dear to his heart. In the same way, I think it’s probably hard for some Johns that are not John that are listening to some of the things that I would say or some of the things that Jono would say. And I think what the beauty of this program is, is that we’re all sort of coming together trying to find this common ground and that’s why I hope that the Johns will continue listening both on the Christian, Jewish, Messianic and any other side, especially as we’re talking about the word of God. Because there are some things in the word of God that are going to bring to the forefront Nehemia’s tradition, Jono’s tradition, whatever it might be. Certainly my tradition, and I think all of us at times are going to be sitting here with a little bit of discomfort, and that’s why Torah Pearls is so important and that’s why folks like John, whether they be John the Jew or John the Christian or John the Messianic, I don’t know...

Nehemia: John the Baptist!

Keith: … that those people, the Johns and the Dans would keep listening so that we can work through this. Now, if we get to a situation where all of a sudden my tradition trumps the word of God and we’re on the Torah Pearls for example, and we’re in some portion and I’m like, “Well, I’ve got to protect my tradition at all cost.” I hope that Jono, you would step in, or Nehemia, you would step in and say, “Keith, that right there is contrary to the word of God.”

Now here’s where my liberal friend Nehemia goes a little far sometimes. He is so nice toward all of the Christians and the Messianics, it’s amazing. My friend Michael says he calls him the best friend. And I think if I was John I’d be like, “Well, hey, wait a minute. Why are you being so nice?” Let me say something, and I want to give this to you, Nehemia, as an honor. What I do think has been beautiful Jono, is that Nehemia, when I first met him 10 years ago, and I’ll tell the truth here, he was a bit of a...

Nehemia: I was worse than John, let’s be honest here.

Keith: … John, John, you’d be proud of him. You’d be, I mean, this guy, when we first met, I mean he was as tough as tough can be. And what I think the beauty of what’s happened is there has been a humility, there has been a level of him saying, “You know what? Okay, that’s where you come from. I’m not going to step in and beat you over the head with my Torah scroll. Let’s see if we can find some common ground.” And you know what? It’s working. And it’s working with people on all sides. So, thank you for the people like John that are listening, stay in there with us. And help us keep our feet to the fire on the word of God. Period. Thank you very much.

Jono: Amen. Amen. Thank you, John. Thank you for listening and thank you for questions and comments like that. And I’ll also say, and I’m sure John has probably noticed this at least once or twice, but it’s stood out to me on quite a number of occasions that Nehemia, you will say, in our discussions, “Hey, I gotta give credit to the rabbis, Yada, Yada, Yada.” And you’ll go on to say... and how many times does he say, Keith, doesn’t he say, “I’ve got to give credit to the rabbis?”

Nehemia: Amen. All the time.

Jono: And you say, why? And you explain it. And that happens more often than not, I find.

Keith: When’s he going to say, “I’d like to give credit to the Methodist?” That’s what I want to know.

Nehemia: Once I can figure out what they’re all about. Like, what’s the difference? I know you’ve tried to explain this to me, like the difference between the Methodists and the Baptists and the Lutherans. And I still can’t figure that out.

But anyway, I want to answer John’s question in a more direct way, which is, you know, what’s my motivation here? My motivation, I think if I can summarize it in one sentence, is I want to empower Jews and Christians with information about the Hebrew sources of their respective faiths. I think that’s the most important thing. And what I mean by that is, whatever you believe, you need to believe that based on solid information. You know, if you want to believe that the moon is made out of green cheese, knock yourself out, but you owe it to yourself to make that determination based on solid information and go and research that. You know, what information is there about the people who landed on the moon? Did they discover green cheese? Is there any evidence of that?

Really that’s what I’m trying to do; empower people with information about the Hebrew sources of their faith. Judaism, obviously, our primary sources are in Hebrew. Christianity’s original sources were primarily in Hebrew and were Jewish sources originally. If you’re going to be a Christian, then you should know what those sources are and what they say the best you can. You know, I speak to Christians all the time who tell me they believe in Jesus and then, when we get down to the nitty gritty, they don’t know the first thing about what Jesus taught. I mean, this man roamed around the Galilee and Judea for three and a half years, depending on who you ask. Some people say it was less, they said it was one year, whatever. He roamed around as this itinerant preacher and preached all these beautiful, wonderful things. And the people who say they believe in him don’t even know what he really preached. They know a little sound bite here and a sound bite there, and we’ll actually get to one of the things that he did preach maybe later in this Torah portion if we ever actually get to it.

I say the same thing to Jews. We were taught in Exodus 19 that we are to believe in Moses forever. But if we don’t know what Moses said in its original history, language and context, then we’re doing a disservice to ourselves. It’s not for me to judge the Christians and say you believe the wrong things. That’s between that man and God, or that woman and God, to work out for themselves in fear and trembling and with prayer and study. What I can do is I can empower them with information so they can make informed decisions. And look - and maybe this is what makes John so uncomfortable - is that sometimes I’ll give people the information that might not necessarily lead to my belief and to John’s belief. I think that’s okay if the person works it out in fear and trembling with prayer and study and stands before the Creator in truth. You know, there’s this verse that’s so powerful, this verse… and I always think of my friend Reggie White, of blessed memory, whenever I think of this verse. It’s the verse that says, “Karov Yehovah le’chol korav, le’chol asher yikra’uhu ve-emet.” It’s in Psalms. It says, “Yehovah is close to all who call Him, to all who call Him in truth.”

I don’t know if I’ve told the story on the Torah Pearls, but when my friend Reggie White passed away, I spoke to my father and I asked him; here’s this man who was a Christian man and you know, struggling to understand the word of God. He was studying Hebrew so he could get to the Hebrew sources of his faith, the Christian faith. What do you think of this man? Remember, my father was an Orthodox Jew and an Orthodox rabbi. And I asked him what he thought of Reggie and he said... he quoted me that verse; he said it’s not for us to judge this man. You know, Yehovah will judge each and every one of us based on his own considerations and wisdom and faith, His wisdom and our faith, and with mercy. All we can say from Scripture is what he says there, “Yehovah is close to all who call him, to all who call him in truth.”

And that’s why I think it’s important to empower people with information so they can call upon the one true God in truth, and how they do that and how they go about doing that, I really believe that’s between them and their Creator and it’s not for me to judge them. I also want to refer people to something I wrote. It’s on nehemiaswall.com. It’s called the Ass Speaks Out, the Ass Speaks Out. And there I go into a little bit more detail about why am interacting with Christians at all. nehemiaswall.com and also another follow-up is called the Aramaic Letter Exposed. So, check that out, the Ass Speaks Out the Aramaic Letter Exposed, both at nehemiaswall.com.

Keith: Jono?

Jono: So, yes Keith.

Keith: It’s not green cheese. It’s blue cheese and they never went to moon. It was all in a studio. What’s he talking about?

Nehemia: It was a studio! There are people who believe that.

Jono: Thank you to John. Look, I really do appreciate listeners who listen intently like that and critique what we do. We would benefit from even more listeners like that. So, I really do appreciate that, John.

Now today we are in “VaYelech,” Deuteronomy 31:1 to 31:30 and it begins like this, are you ready?

Keith: Yes, sir.

Jono: “Then Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. And he said to them, ‘I am one hundred and twenty years old today.’” Today. There we go, it’s his birthday, it’s Moses’ birthday whenever this was. “I can no longer go out and come in.”

Nehemia: I don’t think it literally means that.

Jono: What do you mean? It’s what he says! He says, “I’m 120 years old today.”

Nehemia: Right… that doesn’t mean that I have become 121 years old today. It’s like me saying I’m 39 years old today, but I’ve been 39 years old for like 10 months.

Keith: Can we give Moses his birthday party?

Jono: It’s Moses’ birthday, leave the poor man alone. “I can no longer go out and come in. Also, Yehovah has said to me, ‘You shall not cross over this Jordan.’” Let’s not go there again. “Yehovah your God himself crosses over before you. He will destroy these nations from before you and you shall dispossess them. Joshua himself crosses over before you, just as Yehovah said, and Yehovah will do it to them as He did to Sihon and Og the kings of the Amorites.”

Nehemia: Can we stop in verse 3? Because there’s something really exciting to me in verse 3. So, we have what seems like kind of a strange thing. It says “Yehovah, your God, He is the one who will pass before you.” That’s the literal translation. And then later in the verse it says, “Joshua, he is the one who will pass before you as Yehovah has spoken.” So, who’s the one? Who’s the one who’s going to pass before them and defeat the nations? Is it Yehovah or Joshua?

An untrained reader might look at this and say, “Wow, it says ‘Yehovah your God is the one who will pass before you. Yehoshua is the one who will pass before you.’” They might say, “Hey, Yehoshua is Yehovah.” They might come to that conclusion, but certainly they would be confused even if they didn’t because why is it saying it this way? That Yehovah is the one who’s going to pass before you and Joshua is the one who’s going to pass before you?

The answer is a concept in Hebrew that maybe we’ve spoken about on the show before. Maybe we haven’t, I’m not sure. But it’s something called dual causality, and that’s the concept that the actions of the... when there’s a messenger, the actions of the sender and the actions of the messenger are often described in the same way. Even to the point where the actions of the messenger are sometimes described as if the sender is doing it himself.

In this case, Yehovah is the sender and Yehoshua, Joshua, is the messenger. And so Yehovah is going to pass before you and Joshua is the one who’s going to actually pass before you. Yehovah may be there as well, but the one who is going to be the physical agent on earth of carrying out Yehovah’s actions and will is going to be Joshua.

I want to bring a classic example of dual causality, which is really from the book of Judges. Before that, I want to read Isaiah 45:21. It says, “Tell ye and bring them near, yea, let them take council together. Who has declared this from ancient times, who has told it from that time, have not I, Yehovah? And there is no God else besides me, a just God and a savior. There is none besides me.”

So, if you read this verse, it says very clearly there’s no other God and there’s no other savior. Yehovah is the only savior. Now why do I bring that up? Because if you go to Judges, and I’m going to ask you to turn to Judges too, Jono. I’m going to read it from the Hebrew and then ask you to read it from the English. Judges Chapter 2, verses 16 to 18 is an example of dual causality, where the same action is attributed both to the sender and the messenger, and specifically the action of salvation; of being the savior.

So, it says in verse 16, “And Yehovah set up, or established, judges, and they saved them.” They saved Israel from the hands of their oppressors. Okay? So, who’s the they? They is the judges; the judges saved Israel. And then in verse 18, it says, “For Yehovah set up for them judges and it came to pass that Yehovah was in the judge and He saved them from the hands of their enemies all the days of the judge.” So, who’s the “he” in verse 18?

Jono: That would be Yehovah.

Nehemia: Yehovah is the savior. And this is something... it’s not just this passage; throughout judges you’ll see Samson saving Israel. One of the great examples is Judges 6, where Gideon speaks about Yehovah saving Israel by his hand, by the hand of Gideon. He’s saying, “You will save Israel by my hand.” What we’re seeing here is that both Gideon is a savior and Yehovah is a savior. And that’s not a contradiction; that’s simply the concept of dual causality. Gideon is the agent. He is the Joshua. In that case, the Yehoshua, the one who was sent to do the salvation, and Yehovah does it through him.

Keith: You know, it’s interesting, in Deuteronomy, just to kind of follow up on that, this whole issue of Deuteronomy 31, talking about Sihon the king, or Sihon the king, depending on how you want to say it. If you go to Deuteronomy chapter 2:26, it’s really interesting because what we know is, Yehovah says, “I’m going to deliver this king into your hands.” And then this interesting thing happens. Moses says in Deuteronomy 2:26… we talked about this, “So I sent messengers from the wilderness to this king with words of peace saying, ‘Let me pass through your land. I will travel only on the highway. I will not turn aside to the right or the left.’” Here’s the offer. The offer is, “Okay. I want to pass through.”

Then what I love is this. It says, it says here in verse 2:30, “But the king of Heshbon, Sihon King of Heshbon was not willing for us to pass through his land, for Yehovah your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate in order to deliver him into your hand as he is today.” But then what it says is at verse 32 of Deuteronomy 2, 2:32 it says, “Then Sihon, with all of his people, came out to meet us in battle.”

Now, why am I bringing this up? Because we have this issue of dual causality. You’ve got Joshua and you’ve got Yehovah; who’s going to do what? We know who’s behind this whole thing. But what it doesn’t do is it doesn’t remove the responsibility for the people to go out and do the work. It’s like a really amazing thing because we do believe that he is the one that led them into this battle. But yet they still had to take up arms. They still had to go into battle formation. They still had to confront the situation. They had to deal with their fears. They had to deal with their concerns. They had danger. There was even danger. Are you kidding me? So, I mean, here they are. They’re going there. He’s saying, “I’m going to deliver them in your hands, but you’re going to do the work.” That’s a pretty amazing issue. I mean, at times they must’ve been thinking, “So what if I just sit in my tent? Does that mean He delivered them into our hands, or sitting in my tent doesn’t deliver him into our hands?” Rather, He’s using us to go forward with his blessing and His hand upon us as we do what we do. So anyway...

Nehemia: And in some sense it’s sort of a partnership. And that Yehovah has given this mission to people to carry out.

Keith: Exactly.

Nehemia: And they’re His agents, but then they’ve got to actually carry it out and sometimes it’s not so pleasant. Sometimes things don’t go as well as they would like. I love the example in the Book of Chronicles, where we have a prophet named... and he’s actually the high priest as well. He’s named Zaharia Ben Yehoyada, if I’m not mistaken. He’s Zachariah the son Joyadah. That is in 2 Chronicles verse 24, 2:24. It talks about this high priest who is standing in the Temple. And then it says something really radical in verse 20 of 2 Chronicles 24, it says, “Ve’ruach Elohim lavsha et Zacharia Ben Yehohada El Cohen”, “And the spirit...” can you read me in your translation, Jono? 2 Chronicles 24:20. I’ll tell you what it really says in Hebrew.

Jono: Yeah. “The spirit of God came upon Zachariah.”

Nehemia: Came upon Zachariah it says! It says in the Hebrew, “Ve’ruach Elohim lavsha” - “and the spirit of God put on”, and the word “Lavsha” means to put on a garment. He put on a Zachariah suit. The spirit of Yehovah came and put on a Zachariah suit, He put on the garment. “Lavsha et Zacharia Ben Yehohada El Cohen” - He put on, He donned, is the old English word. He donned Zacharia the son of Yehoyada the Cohen, and He stood over the people.

And what goes on later in the story, as we read on, is the people kill Zachariah. Now think about this. Yehovah caused Zachariah to be His agent, to be His messenger, to speak His word and the spirit of Yehovah could come down and put on the Zachariah suit. And then the people come, and they stone Zachariah and they kill him. Now, if I was Zachariah and I didn’t know the Bible well, I would say, “I’ve got the spirit of Yehovah inside me. He’s put me on like a suit of armor. I’m invincible.” But that doesn’t work out that way for Zachariah. He ends up getting killed.

I think that that’s an important concept - that just because Yehovah is with us and just because He’s going to make our way succeed or we’re going to be able to speak His word or He’s going to anoint us with His word, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to get everything that we want and it’s always going to go our way. You know, He gives humans our freedom of choice. Sometimes people make bad choices, and that affects those who are Yehovah’s messengers. That can affect all of us.

Jono: There it is.

Nehemia: Can I get an amen, Johnson?

Keith: Amen. Amen.

Jono: Verse 5, “‘Yehovah will give them over to you, that you may do with them according to every commandment which I have commanded you. Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be afraid of them; for Yehovah your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you’. Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, ‘Be strong and of good courage, you must go with the people to the land which Yehovah has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it. And Yehovah, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.’”

Nehemia: So, we’ve got to talk about this phrase, “be strong and of good courage.” It appears twice in verse 6 and verse 7 and actually appears later on in the Torah portion towards the end as well; a third time. That’s three witnesses. What does it mean, “be strong and of good courage”? What does that mean? Be strong and courageous about what?

Jono: Well, don’t be feeble of the job that you’re about to do. You’re about to go and dispossess. There are nations that are about to be dispossessed; you’re about to go and serve an eviction notice.

Nehemia: There it is. So, he says it three times and you’re saying that each of the three times he’s saying “be strong and encouraged. Don’t be afraid of the enemy.” And you’re not wrong. But can we jump over to Joshua chapter 1 verses 6 to 9? And I know you did a program about Joshua with Yoel.

Jono: Yoel, yeah.

Nehemia: What was that called? Torah... Light of the Prophets!

Jono: Torah Pearls is the one that you and I do.

Keith: Sometimes I’m in that too.

Nehemia: You’re in Light of the Prophets Keith? When do I get to be in Light of the Prophets? Oh, sometimes you’re in Torah Pearls. No, I need to do a cameo in Light of the Prophets. What is this?

So anyway, Joshua chapter 1, verses 6-9. He says in verse 6, “Be strong and courageous, for you will cause this people to inherit the land which I have sworn to their fathers to give them.” So, what you said there is exactly correct. Being strong and courageous is about causing people to inherit the land through the physical war that they’re going to engage in through this battle. But then in verse 7 it says, “only be very strong and courageous,” say ‘very’, “Be very strong and courageous to keep and to diligently do all the Torah which Moses, My servant, has commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left in order that you will succeed in all that you do and all that you go.”

So here, “Be strong and courageous” in verse 7 of Joshua 1 is not about the military things you’ve got to do. That’s in verse 6, and that’s true. You need to be strong and courageous about that but also be strong and courageous about keeping the Torah; about being diligent about keeping the Torah. That’s something we need to be strong and courageous about. Sometimes there are people out there who want to intimidate you, who want to draw you away from keeping the Torah; but be strong and courageous. Be as strong and courageous at keeping the Torah as you are when you face your enemy on the day of battle. That’s a powerful statement. Isn’t that beautiful?

Jono: That is beautiful. Thank you for that pearl. Keith?

Keith: Jono, explain something to me. How many children do you have?

Jono: I’ve got three.

Keith: And are they boys, girls or both?

Jono: One girl. Two boys.

Keith: One girl. Two boys. And so isn’t it an amazing, you know, when you have children, and I happen to have three sons, and one of the things that’s amazing is when you transfer something from the words of old, that get transferred down through generations. And this particular phrase is one of them that I’ve attempted to try to share with my sons. And I’ll tell you why I do this biblically. In Joshua we hear about this being strong and courageous, but then we find it later when David says it to his son, so now it’s not a matter of going into the land - it’s got something else to do... it’s in First Chronicles 28:20. David said unto his son, Solomon, the very same words, the exact same words, be strong and courageous and act. “Do not fear nor be dismayed for Yehovah your God, my God is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work of the service at the house of Yehovah is finished.” Meaning that here you have a work that you’re doing called for by Him. And he’s saying, this is His work. You’re doing it. It’s a vision that God has given, but you’ve gotta be strong and courageous. The reason that I’m bringing this up is that I’ve seen this with my sons. I unfortunately did not have a father who gave me these words. The only way that I ever got these words was through a journey of understanding God as Father through the word of God.

But now as a father, I say, how can I transfer this information now to my sons, and then watch them do the same thing? So, I’m sure for you that that’s the case. It was where you got your children and you’re looking at them, as David looked at Solomon and he says, “Okay, so what words can I give him? I’m going to reach back to what Moses told Joshua, what Yehovah told Joshua. What we’ve told the people of Israel, and now I’m going to tell this to my son. These words – “be strong and courageous.” And being strong and courageous is not only going to be for everything that you don’t think you can’t do or things that you, you know, overwhelming aspects, but just in your heart and in your mind, what does it mean for us to live a life of being strong and being courageous? And I think I love… I love that.

Again, in Second Chronicles 32:7, “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be dismayed because the king of Assyria who’s coming against you and the great horde that’s against you.” And I think there’s probably folks listening who are probably facing that right now, whether it’s the economy, job situations, home situations, family situations. You know what? We can all take this word to be strong and courageous in our situation and really hope and believe that that will be exactly what we...

Jono: Amen.

Nehemia: For me, when I hear the phrase be strong and courageous. What it means to me is, don’t give up and don’t lose hope. Persevere. And for me it’s about tenacity. You know, going to synagogue on Sabbath morning or to church Sunday - I don’t know much about going to church Sunday morning - but going to synagogue Saturday morning, and you make your prayers and then you go home and, you know, I’ve done my religion for the week, and now I can go and lie and cheat and steal and do whatever I want. That’s not being strong and courageous. That’s taking a pot shot at God. To me it’s about tenacity.

I love this story. I’m going to share a quick story, which is a little bit off topic, but it’s a story about the battle of San Simone, which was one of the definitive battles in Israel’s War of Independence. There was this monastery, the monastery of Saint Simon at the top of a hill in a place called Katamon. It was the linchpin of Jerusalem. If the Jews couldn’t hold this monastery, then Jerusalem would collapse and the whole city would be overrun by Arabs. This is in 1948.

So the Jews, they capture the monastery, but they’re not able to hold onto it. In fact, there’s this little alley outside of the monastery, which they keep trying to capture, and it’s called the Alley of Death because the Arabs are sitting at the end of this narrow little alley with this machine gun. And everybody who walks in there dies. Finally, the Jews say, we’ve got to... and I say the Jews, because it was before there was a state of Israel; this was during the War of Independence.

So, the Jews who are in the monastery, they say, “Well, we’re lost. We’ve lost the battle. We’re surrounded, we’ve got to retreat.” So, they prepare to retreat at night. But one of the problems is that half the people have been wounded and they can’t take them with them. They’ve seen in previous battles when Jews surrendered, they were tortured and mutilated. So they decide, “We’re not going to let that happen. We’re not going to fall into the hands of our enemies.” So, they set up two guys. They rigged the whole place with explosives, and they give two guys these dead man triggers so that, you know, the Arabs will come in and shoot them and the whole place will blow up. Then the rest of the people who can walk, they’re going to flee in the middle of the night. They set everything up and they’re about to flee from the San Simone monastery in Katamon in Jerusalem. And they look outside. They were about to flee, and all the Arabs are gone. The principal they derive from this is, whoever holds on one second longer wins. This is what it means to be strong and courageous. Don’t give up. The enemy is trying to get you to give up. He’s trying to get you to let go of that dead man’s trigger, but don’t give up. Hold on. You know, just persevere. Be strong and courageous with keeping the Torah, and really, in everything that you do. Yehovah’s with you and you will succeed in the end. You might get stoned like Zachariah, but you will have success.

Jono: Maybe this is just a spanner in the works of what you’ve just presented, which is just brilliant…

Nehemia: Can you translate that into American English? The “spanner in the works” - is that like a monkey wrench in the works?

Jono: How does what you’ve just described translate to something like Masada, for example?

Nehemia: So, in Masada, they didn’t give up. They did not give up. They held on until the very end and they refused to... why did they all kill themselves at Masada? Because they... and this is the part of the story that’s not often told. If you were to go on my tour, Jono, in Israel, then you would hear this story. But I’m not sure you’re going to hear it on Keith’s tour.

Keith: What are you talking about? We’re going to Masada; I steal all your material. That’s where I got the material.

Nehemia: What really happened at Masada is, when the Jewish revolt started, there was a Roman garrison on top of Masada, a couple dozen soldiers. And the Jews, a thousand Jews, surrounded it. And they said to them, “If you surrender, we’ll let you go.” The Romans surrendered and the Jews butchered them, which was wrong of them to do.

But what happened then, eight years later, is the Romans won the war, and the last bastion to hold out was Masada. And the Jews at the top of Masada, they weren’t the ones who had butchered the Romans eight years earlier, but they knew if they surrendered, they would be blamed for it. What would happen is their women would be raped, men would be sold into slavery or crucified, maybe both. So, if they would surrender, they were going to essentially be murdered. And so, they did actually the same thing as the battle of San Simone. They waited till the last second till the Romans came in, then they refused to be taken alive.

I’m not saying one should never be taken alive in battle. You know, that depends on the circumstances. But I know my people; the Jewish people have often faced enemies that… you don’t want to be taken alive. I know when we fought the Syrians that the Syrians didn’t take prisoners. They usually, if they got prisoners, they either murdered them immediately or they tortured them to death. And the point is, the battle of Masada is exactly the symbol that… don’t give up. Hold on to the last second. I don’t think what they did is giving up. I think what they did is, they denied the enemy the victory that the enemy wanted. The enemy wanted to be able to take the women into the streets of Rome and, in public processions, rape them in front of the Roman population. That’s what they wanted to do. And the people at the top of Masada said, “We’re not going to let that happen. We’re not going to give them the victory that they want. We’re not going to surrender, but we’re going to hold on to the last second.” For me, the symbol of Masada is really about being strong and courageous. Don’t give up. Things may not turn out the way that you want, but that doesn’t mean give up.

Jono: Brilliant. Thank you for that. Thanks for that explanation. Verse 9, “So Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the Ark of the Covenant of Yehovah, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, saying ‘At the end of every seven years, at the appointed time in the year of release, at the Feast of Tabernacles, when all Israel comes to appear before Yehovah your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing.’”

Nehemia: We’ve got to stop there. Let’s stop there and talk about verse 9, and then verses 12 to 13 in a separate discussion. So, this, I think, is one of the most important verses in the Bible.

Jono: Keith, here’s another one.

Nehemia: Oh no, no, it is!

Keith: Everybody, I’ve got a piece of paper here, I’ve counted.

Nehemia: Look the whole thing is important…

Keith: That’s number 17 where he said… I’ve got it written on a piece of paper.

Nehemia: I said, “one of”. One of the most important. “And Moshe wrote this Torah.” He didn’t write some other Torah. He wrote this Torah, the one you’re reading right now, “and he gave it to the Kohanim, the sons of Levi who bear the Ark of the Covenant of Yehovah and to all the elders of Israel.” And then this is repeated later in the Torah portion, so we’ll kill two birds with one stone and that is... verse 24, “And it came to pass when Moses finished writing the words of this Torah upon a book,” he didn’t just write them on the wall or in the sand. He wrote them on a book. “Ad tumam” - “until their completion”, is what it says in Hebrew. “And Moses commanded the Levites to bear the Ark of the Covenant of Yehovah saying, ‘Take this book of the Torah and place it on the side of the Ark of the covenant of Yehovah your God and it shall be there for you as a testimony, as a witness.’”

So, this is a key passage here. Deuteronomy 31 and verses... what verse did we just read? That was 24 and 25 and then earlier it was whatever that verse was, verse 9. Because this is actually talking about that Moses is the one who wrote the Torah, and that’s key. It’s key because this is what it said, and I don’t know if we talked about this when we did, we probably did, it was so long ago, who remembers. But there’s this really important passage, one of the most important passages in the Bible in fact, and... But seriously, it’s Exodus 19 verse 9, “And Yehovah spoke to Moses saying, ‘Behold, I come before you in the thick of the cloud in order that the people will hear when I speak with you.’” That’s profound because what that’s saying is the reason that God revealed himself at Mount Sinai to 3 million people is so that they would actually hear that He was speaking to Moses. He wasn’t really speaking to every one of those people. He was, but He was primarily speaking to Moses and wanted them to hear that He was speaking to Moses. And then it says, “In order that the people will hear that I am speaking with you and that they will believe in you forever.” Now, I bet you, in your English translation it doesn’t say that.

Jono: We did talk about that.

Nehemia: I’m sure we did.

Jono: Because at least in mine, in the New King James it says, “And believe you forever.”

Nehemia: And what it says is “Believe in you forever” - “becha” - “in you” forever. So how does this tie into Deuteronomy 31? Because Yehovah revealed Himself to 3 million Israelites, 600,000 men and all the women and children in order at Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments in order that they would hear that He was speaking to Moses and believe in Moses. The significance of believing in Moses is to know that the rest of the revelation that they wouldn’t hear for themselves, they would only hear through Moses, that that was a true revelation. Moses wrote down that revelation upon the book. That’s what we’re hearing in Deuteronomy 31.

Then that’s reiterated in Joshua chapter 8 in the verse that I argue is one of the most important verses of the Bible. But, in all seriousness it really is. Joshua 8, because there it’s reiterated that Moses is the one who wrote this Torah. Joshua 8:34 says “And afterwards, he, Joshua read all the words of the Torah, the blessing and the curse according to all that was written in the book of the Torah. There was not one word,” say “one word”, “from all that Moses commanded. There was not a word from all that Moses commanded, that Joshua did not read before all the congregation of Israel and the women and the children and the sojourners who walk among them.”

Here it’s saying, every single word that God commanded through Moses was written in the Torah, and that was read by Joshua. To me that’s extremely significant because this is what it comes down to; if Moses didn’t write the Torah, if the Torah was made up 400 or 800 years later by a bunch of men in different scribal groups who were fighting with each other, then this is all a lie. It’s a lie, if Moses didn’t write the Torah. Because that’s why God revealed himself at Mount Sinai, in order that we would believe the rest of the revelation to Moses.

Why do I say this? Because what I was taught at the Hebrew University by the great professors and scholars is that the Torah wasn’t written by Moses. I talk about this in my book, Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence; there’s a chapter where I briefly talk about this. But I was taught that, “We know better now. We know it was written by Ezra and by the priestly group, and by all these different groups.” If that’s true, then the whole thing’s a lie. And I don’t believe that it’s a lie. I believe that the Creator of the universe has spoken to an entire nation that He took. And He did that so that they would know that the rest of the Torah was revealed to Moses.

You know, I believe that the testimony of history bears this out. I believe the history of my people of Israel shows that there is this relationship between the God of Israel and the people of Israel, and that it’s meant to be a light unto the nations. The nations are meant to look at that and say, “There is a God who chose Israel, who took them out of Egypt, who revealed himself before the entire nation and who then spoke to His servant Moses, this word.” So that’s why I say this is one of the most important passages in the Bible. It’s not the most important. I’ll stipulate that the most important passage is Deuteronomy 6 where it says, “Shema Yisrael Yehovah Eloheinu Yehovah echad” “Hear O Israel, Yehovah is our God, Yehovah is one.” But this is definitely in the top 18 verses.

Keith: Can we give him the unedited version of what I said about Deuteronomy 6?

Nehemia: No, no, no, no, John will not like that. You’re going to get me in trouble with John.

Keith: I’d like to spend a card here, Jono, in this verse that Nehemia talks about being so important. And this is something that really radically changed my entire life regarding the Torah, this verse that we’re talking about here where it says, “And Moses commanded them at the end of every seven years in the year for canceling debts during the Feast of Tabernacles.” Now of course, I think, Jono, in your version, and I’m sure some of the folks that are listening it might say something like “feast of booths”. I’m not sure if it says that or not. And I think 10 times that shows up in the English Bible, in the NASB, a feast of booths is actually used which is the “hag”. It’s actually, you know, one of the pilgrimage feasts where they actually go to the land of Israel. And what I love about this and why it so radically changed my entire view of the Torah is that up until that time, having been... you know Nehemia says, “When I was at the Hebrew University, you know...” so I also went to the university...

Nehemia: I got my master’s degree.

Keith: “I got my master’s degree.” Okay. So Jono, they make fun. You know, people make fun of a seminary, they’d call it the cemetery. But let me say something. When I was in seminary, I was there for three years and it was by far the most amazing experience I could have had because for me, Jono and Nehemia, I didn’t come from the church. I grew up on the streets of South Minneapolis. I did not go to church as a little boy. All I knew about church is that once a year my mom got us new clothes, new hats, new shirts and new shoes. And it was called Easter. That’s all I knew about church. Something about Easter bunny rabbits and the time that you got new clothes.

So other than that, there was no experience with the church. So when I finally got... 10 years ago when we really started this process of digging into the Torah, I have to say it was a bit overwhelming for me because, “Nehemia Gordon from the Hebrew University” had me doing… and all of these different languages and all of these notes and letters and I’m thinking, “I could never learn this. I could never understand this.” Well then when I got to this verse, it changed everything. And I want folks to slow down with me on this because, imagine this - when I read this verse, come to find out that Yehovah tells Moses… Moses tells the people that once every seven years at the feast of booths, you come and they will read this Torah for you.

I’m thinking, wait a minute. Don’t they have a computer program like Nehemia in their tents where they can go for every little phrase and every little line? And don’t they have a book in the bathroom like many Christians do? You know they put the Bible in their bathroom, Jono, where you can sit and read the Bible. Don’t they have it on there? Don’t they go every week and have you-- come to find out that for these folks, these ancient Israelites, they didn’t have a Torah scroll in their house. They didn’t have a computer program. They didn’t have a Bible there. So for them, Moses says, “Once every seven years, come and listen to this Torah.”

This changed everything for me because I’m thinking… so if I’m an ancient Israelite and I hear the Torah once every seven years, what am I going to walk away with? What am I going to walk away with and remember? And you know what’s amazing about the Torah folks? Is that if you read through the Torah and imagine it being listened to and you hear it, there’s a wonderful message that comes out. And you know what? You might not catch every verb phrase. You might not catch every masoretic issue. You may not catch all of this, which is very important. Let me say it. It’s very important because it helps us while in exile to understand Torah. We are not like the ancient Israelites that can go once every seven years and hear it and live it and we’re in the land of Israel. So it’s important that we do what we’re doing now.

But imagine originally, Jono, what it was like. You and your kids and Chanie, once every seven years you walk across the Australian whatever you call that, the backpack, outback… and you go there on Sukkot, the feast of booths and you’re sitting there with your daughter and your two sons and your wife and someone is standing up reading the Torah and you walk away saying, that’s the word of God. Isn’t that amazing? That is what the understanding was back then. You’d hear it once every seven years and you’d live it. You’d live the Torah; you would apply it.

Now for us, I want to say, and I’m taking a long time here... for me, I never understood that the Torah was something that you had to live or that you would live. It wasn’t something that you applied, you just used it every once in a while. Come to find out this is the living word of God and that it was intended that we would hear it, understand it, and live it. Is that not amazing? That’s just amazing to me. Anyway. Okay. Now move on, that was my preaching sermon.

Jono: No, I appreciate that Keith. Actually kind of reminds me of something else and it does have to do with verse 12, and Nehemia, actually you read in Joshua 8:35 that it says, “There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded, which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel with the women and the little ones and the strangers who were living among them.” And, of course in verse 12 it says, “Gather the people together, men and women and little ones and the stranger who is within your gates.” Obviously, the stranger who is within your gates is the stranger who is living among them.

Now, when I was going, Keith, when I was at Bible College and I had woken up to the fact that the Torah is the living, breathing word of God and that it’s not a history book that’s become irrelevant, it’s actually part of instruction that we should be obeying. And I’m coming to terms with all of this, and I wanted to be true to my faith. And Keith, it turned out in my zeal that I ended up as one of those guys on the street corner, scaring the hell out of people. Literally scaring the hell out of them. I was that guy for a while, believe it or not. But here, here we have gathered the people together, “The men and the women, the little ones and the stranger who is within your gates so that they may hear and learn to fear Yehovah your God and carefully observe all the words of this law.” And so Nehemia, let me just ask you, is there, in the Jewish tradition, is there even a commandment in the Torah to go out and tell the nations to obey Yehovah?

Nehemia: I wouldn’t say there’s a commandment to go out and tell the nations, but we are taught to be a light unto the nations. If you go all the way back to Genesis chapter, I believe it’s 12 or maybe 15... I think it’s 12… where God makes his original covenant to Abraham. He says... here, let’s read it rather than quoting these things out of context. He says in verse 3 of Genesis 12, “And I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.” And then He says, “and in you will be blessed all the nations of the earth.” And that word “blessed” is a really interesting word. My friend Ira, who I believe does a program with you, Jono, doesn’t he?

Jono: Ira does Treasures from the Tanakh.

Nehemia: Treasures from the Tanakh. Although I told him, you should call it the Kvetching Jew because he’s reading about Job, and it kind of applies to him too. But that’ll be my show. “And in you will be blessed all the nations of the earth.” So, he pointed out to me something which, when I first heard this I said, that’s utter nonsense; that can’t be true. And I went and checked it and it is true, that the word blessed can also mean grafted. You could legitimately translate this, and this is how some of the rabbis in the Talmud would interpret this, as “And in you will be grafted all the families of the earth.”

So how were the nations blessed in Abraham? In that he spreads this message to them. He makes them aware of the message and they get grafted into him. Now, what’s interesting is that this is the phrase, “and they will be grafted into you”. It doesn’t say “you will graft them into you”. It’s not something that Abraham is commanded to force them to do, or induce them to do, or push or pressure them to do, or give them free food when they’re starving, so that they get grafted into him. What his job to do is to walk out the Torah and walk with the Creator of the universe, and by being a good example, the nations will look and say, there is a god in Israel. There, there is a true God.

There was a rabbi 2000 years ago who put this best when he said, “You’ll know him by his fruits.” That really is what I believe God is saying here to Abraham. And that actually ties into the whole image of the tree. They’ll see the fruit and they’ll say, “we want to be grafted into that tree.” So, our obligation… as for me, my obligation is to empower people with information and show them through my actions what it means to live according to the Torah. And look, I’ll be the first one to admit that I often fall short, and I’m sometimes... serve just like my Israelite ancestors as a bad example rather than as a good example.

If you look at King David, often he served as a good example, but more often than not, he served as a bad example of what not to do. But it’s not my job to try to convert anybody or change anybody. Only the creator of the universe can change people and convert people. I can’t cause any… a single human being to have a conversion. Only the Father of creation can do that. What I can do is empower them with information, and they can do with that information whatever they choose to do. I really see it as Ezekiel 34, I believe it is, the passage where he talks about the watchman. You know, the watchman’s job is to stand at the top of the tower, on the wall, and blow the shofar so the people will hear. After they hear, they can say, “I’m going to ignore him. I don’t care what he says.” Or they could say, “I’m going to heed the warning.” You know, the idea of… we’ve got to go and force people to convert or... “I converted 50 people. I’m going to get a throne room in heaven.” You know, that’s not a biblical… or that’s not a Tanakh idea, I should say.

Jono: Sure. And I’ll add to that, I really appreciate your answer there. I had a desire to share as I was learning, which we all know can be a very dangerous stage of life.

Keith: It’s a dangerous stage of life.

Jono: It really, really is. But Yehovah directed me into radio and this is what I like to think that we’re doing is that we’re offering information, freely offering information for those who don’t know, all the Torah Pearls are available free to download. And it really does encourage me that so many people write in saying that it is a life changing experience and that they’re gaining so much from these programs. So, thank you so much to the listeners. Keith?

Keith: I just want to say, we have this other little phrase here that I have to just bring up right now and I’ll tell everybody ahead of time - this is a commercial. And the reason this is a commercial is that I have been waiting to make this announcement. And so now I know that when this show airs, you will be able to get some information regarding this issue of him saying, “at the end of every seven years”. At the end of every seven years, at the year of canceling debts during the Feast of Tabernacles. Now, if they were living in Dan, which we’re going to visit when we go to Israel, we’re going to go all the way north to Dan. And then it says, they’re going to go to the place that I choose, which happens to be to the south of Dan in Jerusalem. And they say, “Okay, now I’m supposed to go to this feast.” How would they know when to get to the feast? I mean, Moses is writing this... it says in the Torah now. So if you’re a Torah observant person and you’re saying, “Okay look, it’s been year one, year two, year three, year four, year five, year six, year seven - this year when we go to the feast, because we go every year, I don’t know if you know that or not. Every single year they go. This year it’s going to be the seventh year and we’re going to hear. Now if they were to go by some people’s reckoning of time, they would miss the feast all together. If they go by some people’s reckoning of time, like Pope Gregory’s reckoning of time, they would miss the feast all together. If they look at the calendar, oftentimes Gregory’s calendar, the calendar that we live by right now, and they had that up on their refrigerator, which they didn’t have and they said, “Okay, this year it’s going to be the feast of Tabernacles. It’s going to be on this date,” and they go by that calendar, it’s very possible they’d miss it.

Can I be really radical? If they go with the Rabbinic calendar, there would be sometimes when they’d miss it, or portions of it. But if they go by God’s calendar, His clock, that He said to Moses, “This is the beginning of the month for you. This is beginning of years for you and this is how you’d know according to the sighting of the new moon and the Aviv,” and by the way, by the time you hear this Nehemia and I will be by faith where we would have cited the seventh month new moon and they would count, here’s Yom Taruah and then they’d go to Yom Kippur and then they would go to Sukkot.

Well, here’s the point. There is a way for us to understand God’s clock, and unfortunately today - I know you know this Jono and Nehemia - I’m sure you know this also. There are many agendas out there on how to know what time it is. Here’s the great news, ladies and gentlemen, as a result of a horrendous and amazing visit to Israel and beyond, I’ve been able to put together information that’s going to help people understand what time it is, so all I want to say is this Jono and Nehemia, at the time that you hear this, you can go to TimeWillTell.

Jono: Nehemia, he’s been teasing us with this for how long?

Keith: It’s like Nehemia with his book for two years. I’m telling you... TimeWillTell.TV

Nehemia: I just went to TimeWillTell.com, and it didn’t come up.

Keith: No, no, no. Of course not. Because we’re taping in advance, you’re telling people the secret, Nehemia.

Jono: Hang on! You’re telling me there’s a website for this? It’s timewilltell.tv.

Keith: By the time this comes up you will go to www.TimeWillTell.TV and we are on the road. We are pushing. We are doing stuff that is amazing. Yes, so ladies and gentlemen, by the time that you’ll be able to go there and there will be some information there that will get you started, but the reason I want to bring this up is that it was an experience, Jono, that literally changed my life again. Three T’s – Time, Torah, Tetragramaton. Tetragramaton - the four letters, the Torah - we’re doing that right now, but time - I have to say we saved the best for last because it really gives a chance for people to come together in a way that I think is really quite amazing around God’s clock and His calendar. Amen.

Jono: Amen. Amen. I am looking forward... you know, I’ve been looking forward to this for so long Keith...

Keith: You’ll be the first person to get it. I’m going to send it to you.

Jono: You’ve been talking about it for ages and I’m continually on the edge of my seat with you guys. But Nehemia’s book eventually came out, so I guess TimeWillTell will be there eventually.

Nehemia: There it is. Time will tell if TimeWillTell will come out. Hey guys, I want to go back to something that you both glossed over, both of you. I don’t know if you realized this. You said almost the exact same thing as if you were reading from a script and I happen to know this show is not scripted, and so because you both said the same thing, I’ve got to go back to this.

I’m going to ask John to turn off the radio, pause his podcast, because he’s not gonna like what I’m going to say. I want to read what you just said. I wrote it down as you both said it. Jono said, “The Torah is the living, breathing word of God.” And Keith said, “The Torah is the living word of God.” Those are the exact words - you can go back, listen for yourself, people. I think it’s really fascinating that you both said that, and the reason I think it’s fascinating is, I think it’s fascinating. You definitely won’t find anywhere in Tanakh the statement that the Torah is the breathing word of God.

Jono: Do you want me to elaborate?

Nehemia: Absolutely.

Keith: Please, Keith do you want to let us know what you mean when you say that?

Keith: I have my arms crossed right now. I want to know why you want to take away my phrase, “the living word of God.”

Jono: Okay, no, I’m going to tell you what I mean by that, because Nehemia, you’ve got to understand where I came from, at least, in my tradition, honestly, it was all done away with. The Old Testament served for, you know, there’s some good principles in there and there’s some history there, and yeah, it’s got some background to it, and you got to know some stuff. But really, you know, all of the good stuff, all the meat is in the back of the book, right? And that’s where I came from. And you don’t have to do any of that anymore. And if you do try and do that, that’s bad. And so on and so forth.

But what I mean when I say that the word of God, when the Tanakh, is the living, breathing word of God. I mean, it’s not dead. It’s still speaks to us today. And these are things that we are to live by and to act upon and to be obedient to so that we may be blessed. And to me when I realized that it was a massive, massive thing, it exploded. The light went on and all of a sudden it became the living, breathing book that you could interact with and live. It was... that’s what I mean by it.

Keith: My reason is evangelism.

Nehemia: Okay. So, I want to point out, first of all the phrase… actually can you read me Jeremiah 21:36 in your translation, Jono? Because I bet you it doesn’t say that in English.

Jono: It says, “And the oracle of Yehovah you shall mention no more, for every man’s word will be his oracle, for you have perverted the words of the living God Yehovah of hosts, our God.”

Nehemia: So that phrase, “the words of the Living God”, it could also be translated… I think is a more accurate translation as, “the living words of God”. What the prophecy is saying is, “You’re no longer going to be speaking the prophecy because you’ve turned your own words into your prophecies and you’ve therefore perverted the words of the living God, or the living words of God.” Now there it’s plural, “words”, but here we have this idea that the word of Yehovah is living, and if you pervert that word you will no longer be the recipient of that word. You’ll only be the recipient of your own word. I think it’s an interesting idea.

So, I want to say something really controversial. Can I be really controversial? And maybe I’m going to contradict everything we said at the beginning here. I want to throw out this idea, because Christians will often talk about the living word of God and what they’re talking about, I believe, is a concept that appears in the gospel of John and specifically...

Keith: No, Jono.

Nehemia: Am I allowed to read from the gospel? I’ve officially been censored.

Keith: We’re censoring him, right now. Jono, we’re not letting him do this. No. I’m not letting him do it. I’m off the show right now.

Nehemia: John 1:14. Wait a second.

Jono: No, I’m going there now, John 1:14, my curiosity is... “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us. And we beheld His glory and the Glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Nehemia: Now, if you go read the writings of Philo of Alexandria, who was a Jew in the first century, who actually lived over in Alexanderia in the first century, he talks about this idea of the word, of the Logos… famous what he says about that. Basically, he had this idea that came from Plato that God is actually this infinite being and we as finite beings can’t interact directly with Him, so there has to be this intermediary. The intermediary, according to Philo of Alexandria, was something he called the Logos; the word. And why did he say that? Because God speaks, and what we hear is not actually God; we hear his speech, his logos. But that’s philosophy. I’m gonna leave philosophy to the philosophers. What John talks about is this word, this logos has become flesh. So, I think a lot of times when Christians talk about the living word of God, they’re not necessarily saying exactly what Jeremiah said, although maybe that’s where they’re getting it from. But they’re talking about how the word became flesh, that you had this word, this Torah, and that Torah actually came down to the earth in the form of a man. I want to rebuke those Christians because those Christians claim to believe in the word, which the gospel of John said became flesh. But if they really believed in that word that became flesh, wouldn’t they want to live by that word? And here’s something I can say as a Karaite Jew - this is the controversial part… this is the controversial... but maybe we should stop. Go on.

Jono: You can’t get to this point and then...

Nehemia: I believe in that word, which the gospel of John said became flesh. And because I believe in that word, I dedicate my life to live according to that word. Now listen carefully to what I said. I didn’t say I believe that word became flesh. That’s obviously the Christian ideology and theology. I’m a Karaite Jew. I don’t adhere to that. But I believe in that word. I believe in that word. The Torah, you know, and in Jewish mystical sources it talks about... and Ira could talk more about this with you, he’s the mystic... but in Jewish mystical sources, it talks about how Yehovah looked into the Torah and He created the world. In other words, the Torah was His blueprint for creation. Actually, that’s not such a radical idea. That actually comes from Proverbs, chapter 8, which talks about wisdom, which ancient Jewish sources identify as the Torah, at least in abstract terms.

So, there was this pre-existent wisdom that was there before creation and God used that wisdom to create the universe. Look at modern day physics and you’ll see that that’s very clearly the case, that the world is not a bunch of random happenstance ideas, but the world is created according to some kind of order and wisdom. And that wisdom was then written down in the form of the Torah. It was manifested, in a sense, in the parchment that Moses wrote down and gave before the Levites that was kept next to the Ark of the Covenant. I believe in that word. I believe in that wisdom and I believe in that word. Now whether it became flesh or not, that already goes into theology, and I try to stay out of theology.

Keith: No, no, no. Don’t say you’re out of theology.

Jono: It’s not that simple is it Keith?

Nehemia: You all know… so obviously we Jews say, or I do say that we don’t accept that idea that it became flesh as a living human being. But we believe in that same word which the gospel of John... and I would venture to say all Jews believe in the word, which the gospel of John said became flesh.

Keith: We’re having the short little Torah Pearls section. I’m going to ask Nehemia a very simple question because it’s been 10 years now and I said I would live by the rule that no conversion; he doesn’t convert me, I don’t convert him. However, he has now opened the door for something that I will have to now ask him to answer. Nehemia, is there any time in the Tanakh, or in your Jewish tradition, sources of Jewish tradition, where the word of God becomes seen as a human being, man, anything like that? Is there any time where the word of God is interchanged with a “him”?

Nehemia: That’s an interesting question.

Keith: Answer the question.

Nehemia: So if we go back to Proverbs…

Keith: Yes.

Nehemia: So, if we go back to Proverbs 8, this divine wisdom, which is then manifested in the Torah, is definitely anthropomorphized. What I mean by that is it’s described in human terms, in the sense of, you know, it’s the caretaker, the nurse, and God is playing with it. So, it’s anthropomorphized. And here maybe is the crux, the key difference between the Jews and the Christians. Jews look at that and we say, that’s a metaphor, it’s not to be taken literally... you know, this is a symbol for us to understand. And Christians of course take that literally and say there was an actual flesh and blood man who came down to earth and you know, woke up in the morning and, I won’t be graphic...

Keith: Hold on just a second. So, you’re saying that there is a time in the Tanakh where the word of God is anthropomorphized. You would say that? Okay, and tell me about Ben Sira. Has he ever said anything about the word of God being a “him”? Certainly, you know the quote, “If you leave him for one day, he will leave you for two days.” And he’s speaking about the word of God.

Nehemia: So that’s actually a quote from Ben Sira that appears in the writings of the early rabbis. And it’s interesting, they quote Ben Sira as if it were Scripture in a number of places because it was considered such an honor. They didn’t consider it Scripture, but they considered it such an important book of Jewish wisdom. It was a book written about 200 BC. It’s been preserved in a Greek version. And then they actually found the Hebrew version in the Cairo Geniza of Ben Sira, or it’s sometimes called the Wisdom of Syrah.

And you’re right, Ben Sira says of the Torah, and sometimes it’s masculine, sometimes it’s feminine - he says, “If you leave him for one day, he’ll leave you for two days,” about the Torah. And that actually is an idea he gets from the same passage in Joshua 8 that we read before and I didn’t get to the end of it. Joshua 1, verse 8, says, “And the book of this Torah shall not be removed from your mouth. You will...” “Vehagita bo yomam velaila”, “You meditate upon it upon it day and night in order that you will diligently keep all that is written in it.” This is the key for us, for from the Jewish perspective, you know, our belief in the Torah and our meditating upon the Torah isn’t just this abstract idea. The purpose of that is in order to diligently do all that’s in it...

Keith: Here’s the moneyball question, Jono. Nehemia I ask this question, Jono, and you can certainly referee this. So then, Nehemia, then this one that we call Yeshua for the Messianics and Jesus for the others - if he were to be one that were to perfectly walk out the Torah, that which he says, that would be Torah. You would have no problem with following what he would say - if it’s in line with Torah.

Nehemia: Let’s go back to what John said earlier. We read this letter from John, and we kind of glossed over this part, okay? And maybe this is too controversial. Maybe we should drop this.

Jono: There’s no way we can drop this.

Nehemia: All right. If King David were to perfectly walk out the Torah, or Keith Johnson, or Jesus of Nazareth were to perfectly walk out the Torah, I would say, “There is somebody who you should look to and you should obviously follow their example. And when they sin, don’t follow their example. When David commits adultery, don’t follow the example.”

Where we are getting to a problem between the Jews and the Christians is obviously there’s this idea in Christianity where... so they say the Torah is anthropomorphized. I don’t even have such a problem with that, you know, if that’s symbolic or literal, you know, we could discuss that. You know, the book of Job, which I believe you’re doing a program on, Jono, called “Treasures from the Tanakh with Rabbi Ira”.

All right, so in Job, some of the Jews have said that Job was actually a metaphor, a metaphor or an allegory - that Job never existed as a literal human being, that he’s just an allegory. And whether he did or didn’t doesn’t make a difference to me. I still look to Job and learn the lesson of Job. I happen to believe he did exist, but it doesn’t make a difference. The point would be if I were to say, “Job has taught me this message, now I’m going to worship Job as God.” And that’s where the Jews have a problem.

Keith: Hold on... and I’m not even saying that. I really don’t want to get into that part. I want to ask this simple question, Jono, and then I guess I’ll leave this alone. So Nehemia, when the gospel of John speaks of the word becoming flesh...

Nehemia: I’d say all Jews believe in the word. And where we disagree is about it literally becoming flesh and in the form of this specific human being who lived 2,000 years ago.

Keith: That’s what you believe in - you believe in the word. Now, how that word is applied...

Nehemia: Since we’re talking about… we’re quoting Proverbs 8, can we read that? We’ve got to read it because people are like, “What are they talking about, Proverbs 8?” And throughout Proverbs 1 through 11 you have this whole section that talks about wisdom, very often in anthropomorphic terms. Specifically, you’ll hear wisdom talked about as this righteous woman. And then the opposite of wisdom, wickedness, is the foreign woman, the prostitute, the seductress.

Okay. So, we’ll read the whole section. “Is wisdom calling, understanding, raising her voice? She takes her stand at the top-most heights by the wayside at the crossroads.” So here, that’s this anthropomorphized wisdom, which is the Torah. And that’s the connection by the way, that it’s made in Ben Sira as well, 200 BC. “She takes her stand at the top-most heights by the wayside at the crossroads near the gates at the city entrance, at the entranceway. She shouts, ‘Oh man, I call to you. My cry is to all mankind.’” So, the Torah is calling out to all mankind. Can I get an amen, Keith Johnson?

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Amen. Amen.

Nehemia: “Oh, simple ones, learn shrewdness, oh dullards instruct your minds.” This is the JPS translation. “Listen for I speak noble things… upright comes my lips, my mouth.” Can I do it in Australian accent? “All my words are just, none of them are perverse or crooked.”

Jono: That’s not bad, actually.

Nehemia: “All is straightforward to the intelligent man and right to those...”

Jono: Hang on, hang on. You’re cutting in and out. Let me read it for you. “Listen, for I will speak of excellent things, and from the opening of my lips will come right things; For my mouth will speak truth; Wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are righteousness; Nothing crooked or perverse is in them. They are all plain to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge. Receive my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her. I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion. The fear of Yehovah is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate. Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength. By me kings reign and rulers decree justice. By me, princes rule and nobles, all the judges of the earth. I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me. Riches and honor are with me, enduring riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver. I traverse the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice, that I may cause those who love me to inherit wealth, that I may fill their treasuries. Yehovah possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old.” Verse 22, let’s read that again. What does it say in the Hebrew?

Nehemia: It says “Yehovah created me at the beginning of His way.”

Jono: Wow.

Nehemia: That is what it says. For example, the JPS says, “The LORD created me at the beginning of His course as the first of His works of old.” And that’s actually the same word that they’re translating as “possessed me” is the same word... What’s his name? Melchizedek, he refers to God as “El elyon… shamaim va‘aretz.” “God, possessor of heaven and earth.”

Jono: Okay, Nehemia, I don’t know if you moved, or...

Keith: Clearly where it’s two hours past... because he’s cut off.

Jono: You’re running out of batteries.

Nehemia: So, you can’t hear me?

Jono: You keep cutting in and out, you keep cutting in and out.

Nehemia: Ma zeh? Hold on. Let me reboot.

Jono: You go and reboot and while you’re rebooting, I’ll keep reading. Go on don’t worry about it. Let me read it to the people.

Nehemia: What are you talking about?

Keith: ...Nehemia - you go reboot and let Jono keep reading.

Jono: You know the bits you want to highlight. Go on, reboot. Off you go. Ok Keith, you ready? He’s gone.

Keith: Continue reading Jono.

Jono: Let me make sure I’m still recording. Yeah, it’s still recording, Keith - it’s you and me, how about that? This is brilliant. Okay. “I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth.” Wow about that? Now who is this again? This is personified as a woman?

Keith: This is the whole idea – that we’re speaking of the word of God. This is wisdom, this is the one who calls us, this is the one who’s holding us accountable.

Jono: It’s a she. Verse 2. “She takes a stand on the top of the high hill,” and what she, wisdom, is saying is that “Yehovah created me at the beginning of his way before his work of old. I have been established from everlasting, from the beginning, before there was ever an earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth. When there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I was brought forth; While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, or the primal dust of the world...” Oh wait, he’s back. He’s back. I’m up to verse 27.

Keith: Continue, Jono! Hurry up! Hurry up!

Nehemia: Alright, go on.

Jono: “When He prepared the heavens, I was there. When He drew a circle on the face of the deep, when He established the clouds above, when He strengthened the fountains of the deep, when He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters could not transgress His command, when He marked out the fountains of the earth, then I was beside Him as a master craftsman.” She was a master craftsman. How do I understand that?

Nehemia: Well, that’s actually a play on words because the word that means master craftsmen can also mean a nurse, that is like a nanny, and so on the one hand she was essentially the blueprint of the architect of the universe. That’s where the rabbis got the idea God looked at Torah and used that as a blueprint for creating the world… from that verse. But the same word could also be... She, he’s the one who… God created mankind and then turned us over to her. She was the one who raised us up so that we could learn how to become men. She’s our nursemaid.

Keith: Like Paul saying there’s a school master. I’m telling you this is where he got that.

Nehemia: So actually, you say that, maybe jokingly...

Jono: Are you serious?

Nehemia: So, three times the book of Galatians references this verse, and in some Bibles you’ll even see that in the notes, that this is the verse that references back to.

Jono: I didn’t know that.

Keith: This is good stuff here.

Nehemia: This verse in the same way as having both meanings, sometimes you have that. It’s called...

Jono: He’s cutting in and out again Keith.

Keith: He’s out again.

Jono: He’s out again. He’s cutting... I’m going to keep reading. “And I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, rejoicing in His inhabited world, and my delight was with the sons of men. Now therefore, listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise...”

Nehemia: [inaudible]

Jono: “Now therefore listen to me, my children, for blessed are those who keep my ways.”

Nehemia: [inaudible]

Jono: No, you’re cutting in and out. No one can hear you. “Hear instruction and be wise and do not...”

Keith: There is something wrong... and folks that are listening will know this is true. You’re going like this.

Nehemia: I’m going to reboot the whole computer. Back in a few minutes.

Jono: Didn’t he just do that?

Keith: Continue reading.

Jono: I thought he already rebooted his computer. Okay. “Hear instruction and be wise, and do not disdain it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors for whoever finds me finds life...”

Keith: Jono, where’s the “listening to me” come from? The word of God. It ties into this whole thing we’re talking about - coming once every seven years. The word of God when Moses stands up and says, “Hear the word of Yehovah,” the prophet says, “Hear the word of Yehovah.” This is the word of God. This is an amazing, it’s an amazing picture and what I was trying to get Nehemia on really wasn’t so much of the issue of evangelism regarding Yeshua. It really had little to do with that. It had to do with the image that John was speaking about regarding the word of God being flesh. He wasn’t the first in bringing that up. We see that way back in Proverbs, that the word of God has become flesh. Meaning it’s calling forth the people, it’s calling the people to be exactly who they’re to be according to the word of God. So that’s why this is such an important discussion.

Jono: This is awesome, Keith. I’m really glad that… I’m glad we’re taking the time to do this. I mean, I’ve never connected that before. And the final two verses, “So whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from Yehovah; but he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.”

Keith: And who hate me hate the word of God. And you know what Jono, as we’re here waiting for Nehemia to reboot, this is really interesting because isn’t that what we’re dealing with? Why do we do this program? We want people to again, be able to embrace, to understand, to grab a hold of the word of God and to make the word of God what it’s supposed to be in their lives. That’s what Proverbs 8 is calling people to. And I would go so far as to say that that’s what John and the image John has in his mind is the word of God becoming flesh, meaning that the word of God would be able to call us back. And to be honest, what is exciting about this, when I do read Yeshua saying, “Those who love me, love the father, follow the commands,” those are things that don’t get preached as often. We don’t hear about following the word of God, meaning the word that you and I and are trying to give people access to. So, it’s pretty exciting.

Jono: Amen. Thank you, Keith.

Nehemia: G’day!

Jono: All right, well good.

Keith: Nehemia’s back!

Jono: So Nehemia is back on!

Nehemia: Did you guys finish Proverbs 8? Did I miss it?

Jono: Yeah, we read all the way through Proverbs 8. What do you want to highlight?

Nehemia: Proverbs 8, verse 22, and what it literally says in Hebrew... you read it as “Yehovah possessed me,” or something like that. What it literally says is, “Yehovah created me at the beginning of His way.” And so really there’s this idea that the first thing He created was this word, was this wisdom, and that is identified, as I said, with the Torah, and actually throughout Proverbs is identified with the Torah. So, here’s this really radical idea that there’s this Torah that exists, this word that exists before the creation of the world, and Yehovah uses that word to create the world, uses that wisdom, that Torah to create the world. That’s where the rabbis get the idea that God looked into wisdom and created the world, or looked into the Torah and created the world. In verse 30... read verse 30 again.

Jono: So, verse 30, “When I was beside him as a master craftsman…”

Nehemia: Is that what you’ve got in your translation, Keith?

Keith: And let’s see here. Hold on, I already moved on. We were actually talking about Deuteronomy 31 while you were gone.

Nehemia: What? No you weren’t! Are you serious? I missed the boat.

Keith: Let’s see here, one second folks. “Then I was the craftsman at His side. I was filled with light day after day endorsing always in His presence.”

Nehemia: Okay, so that word they translate as the craftsman, or the artisan, it could also be translated, can also mean a nurse maid, or a nanny, and/or a schoolteacher. In effect, this is “Ammon,” is the...

Jono: This is unbelievable, Keith. Everytime he tries to make this point he keeps cutting in and out.

Nehemia: Wait, I’m seriously cutting in and out? This is a sign that God doesn’t want me... let’s move on.

Keith: Okay, let’s move on.

Nehemia: I’ve got to share this. What are you talking about? This is golden stuff. It’s golden, Jerry. I’m gonna try one more time.

Jono: Try again.

Nehemia: Proverbs 8. In any event, Proverbs 8, in your translation it describes the Torah, this wisdom, this preexistent wisdom as the master craftsman, but that same word can also be a teacher or a caretaker. And literally, in a sense, a nurse and the one that raises up the child. Actually, it’s been pointed out by number of historical scholars that when Paul wrote the book of Galatians, Epistles to the Galatians, when he actually talks about...

Keith: That’s my money ball. I just brought that up. Why are you...?

Nehemia: No, so they actually pointed out that he’s referencing this verse when he talks about the, you know, the Torah as a caretaker, as a teacher. And essentially the idea there in Proverbs 8 is that Yehovah created the universe through this Torah, through this wisdom, through this word, you know, and then turned mankind over into the hands of that word to teach us how to become men. Just like you’d turn your child over into the hands of the nanny and the nanny would raise up the child to be an adult. So, we’ve been turned over into the hands of the Torah. The difference like I said, between Judaism and Christianity is that Jews say that’s a metaphor, a symbol, and that the Torah isn’t literally a woman. Obviously in Christianity when it talks about, in John, and saying the word became flesh, that’s not just a symbol. I would say for most Christians that they literally believe that. But we both believe in the same word. And that’s what excites me about the common ground.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: This has been an amazing two hours.

Jono: Incredible. Proverbs Chapter 8 - who would have thought? So much in there. All right, moving on...

Nehemia: Did we do 12 and 13? We’ve got to go back to 12 and 13, because there it talks about the entire nation gathering every 7 years. And I talk about this in my video that people can see...

Keith: What are you talking about? I just did 12 and 13 about the seven years.

Nehemia: When I was away? What? All right. But I want to give my take on it...

Jono: I don’t know what’s going on with your signal Nehemia, but she’s no good today.

Keith: I can’t even hear him.

Jono: He’s gone.

Keith: Ladies and gentlemen... no, seriously, something’s wrong... Nehemia...

Nehemia: So, can I talk about Deuteronomy 31, 12 to 13, people?

Jono: Okay, now you sound clear - go for it.

Nehemia: Excellent. So, I’m going to say this real quick before I get cut off again. Deuteronomy 31, 12 to 13, is one of the 19 most important passages in the entire Bible, 20 most important passages in the entire Bible. Because here it describes every seventh year the entire nation, men, women, and children would come and hear the Torah. For me this was really important, in my upbringing, because I was always taught that we can’t understand the Torah by ourselves, that we have to have a rabbi explain it to us, that we have to go through the intermediary of the oral law in order to understand it. A normal ancient Israelite who was hearing the Torah wouldn’t understand what it meant. And that’s why we needed to have this oral law, this oral Torah that I was taught about being raised as an Orthodox Jew.

I couldn’t accept this. And when I came to this passage, it proved to me that this isn’t how the Torah was intended to be understood. The way it was intended to be understood is that a simple ancient Israelite would hear the Torah once every seven years and know how to learn to keep it. And verse 12 says, “Gather the nation, the men, the women, the children, and the sojourner who is in your gates in order that they will hear, in order that they will learn, and fear Yehovah your God, and diligently do all the words of this Torah.” So, there’s four things here - hear, learn, fear, and diligently do.

And then verse 13 says, “And their children, who did not know...” these children who have never heard the Torah before, they’re eight years old, nine years old, they were two the last time the Torah was read where they’ve never heard it before! “They will hear, and they will learn to fear Yehovah your God all the days which you live upon the land which you are passing over the Jordan there to inherit.”

So, these children have never heard of it before. They can’t even keep it. They’re too young to keep it. But they’ll hear it and by hearing it, they’ll learn it and they’ll know to fear and when they’re old enough to keep it, then they’ll be able to keep it. And this is key to me. This is a key passage because this shows me how the Torah was intended, by the author, how he intended this book to be understood and read. He didn’t intend us to take the word and break it down into its numerical value and say, “Ah, you know, the word ‘people’ has such and such a value and therefore...” No. He wanted us to hear it, and by hearing the words in their original history, language and context as they were standing there once every seven years, they would learn it and they would learn to fear, and they would diligently keep the Torah. Keep this living, breathing word. Can I get an amen?

Keith: Amen. Amen. That’s it. That’s awesome.

Jono: Brilliant. Now, Keith, in verses 1 and 2, we already established that it’s Moses’ birthday. But here in verse 14, “Yehovah said to Moses, behold, the days are approaching when you must die. Call Joshua and present yourself in the Tabernacle of Meeting and that I may inaugurate him. So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the Tabernacle of Meeting. Now Yehovah appeared in the Tabernacle in a pillar of cloud. And the pillar of cloud stood above the door of the Tabernacle and Yehovah said to Moses, ‘Behold, you will rest with your fathers and this people will rise and play the harlot with other gods of the foreigner of the land where they go to be among them and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I made with them. Then My anger will be aroused against them in that day and I will forsake them and I will hide my face from them and they shall be devoured and many evils and troubles shall befall them so that they will say in that day, Have not these evils come upon us, but because our God is not among us? And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil which they have done in that they have turned to other gods.’”

Nehemia: We’ve got to talk about that verse there where it talks about breaking the covenant. Can you read that verse, Keith?

Keith: Which verse?

Jono: 16?

Nehemia: Yeah, is that 16?

Keith: “And the LORD said unto Moses, you are going to rest with your fathers and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they’re entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them.”

Nehemia: “And break the covenant.” And you had… what did you have?

Jono: I’ve got “break the covenant which I have made with them,” yeah.

Nehemia: Okay. So, the word there is more specific than just break the covenant. It says, “veheffer.” That root there, “lehaffer”, “heffer”, means not just to break the covenant, but to invalidate the covenant; essentially to make it null and void. The example is of how that word is used is in Proverbs 30, verse 9, and there it’s talking about the vow. We did this in an earlier portion. It talks about how the husband has this ability to invalidate his wife’s vow, and can you read that in your translation, Jono?

Jono: Yep. What was the reference again?

Nehemia: Uh, sorry. Numbers 30, verse 9. I’m still in Proverbs.

Keith: Don’t go there.

Jono: “But if her husband overrules her on the day that he hears it, he shall make void her vow.”

Nehemia: “He shall make void her vow.” And that’s the same exact word as in Deuteronomy 31, verse 16 - to make void her vow. And here, “veheffer et liti,” “and he will make void My covenant.” He will invalidate My covenant.

So, it isn’t just that they slipped up and they messed up and they had a ham sandwich. We’re talking about them saying, “You can eat ham sandwiches now. That covenant is null and void.” That’s what he’s talking about in Deuteronomy 31, verse 16, and the reason I think that’s so interesting is when I read that verse 31:16, and I thought of the connotation here in Numbers 30 - I guess that’s verse 8 in English - about a husband who makes null and void his wife’s vow, the association for me that came up is from a different book, which I hope I’m allowed to quote. It’s from the gospel of Matthew. Can I quote that here? Are we allowed to talk about that?

Jono: This is the second… Keith, what’s going on?

Nehemia: Look, I can’t help it!

Jono: He can’t help it Keith!

Nehemia: It’s Matthew, chapter 5, verse 17. And the reason I have the association is that in the Hebrew version of the gospel of Matthew, it uses the same exact word as in Numbers 30, verse 8, and as in Deuteronomy 31, verse 16, which is to make void the covenant.

Jono: “And do not think that I came to make void the law. Do not think I came to make it void the Torah or the prophets, I did not come to make void but to fulfill.” Is that what you’re saying?

Nehemia: That’s what it says in the Hebrew Matthew. It says, literally, “At that time Yeshua said to his disciples, ‘Do not think that I came to make void the Torah,’” which I think is pretty cool. So, it talks here about... Deuteronomy 31:16 talks about, “The nation will leave me, and he shall make void my covenant.” We see the meaning of that term is, you have this vow that you’ve made, this commitment you’ve made, and you say that commitment is now null and void, it no longer stands. And he’s accusing Israel that one day they will do that. Here, this man who has been accused by many, many people of doing that, this rabbi who lived 2,000 years ago, he specifically says, “Don’t think that I have come to make void the Torah. I’m not coming to make void this covenant of yours.”

Jono: There it is. “Now therefore write down this song for yourselves and teach it to the children of Israel.”

Nehemia: Whoa, whoa. Verses 17 to 18. We’ve got to talk about that. And maybe I’ll just refer people to my book, Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence, the Hebrew Power of the Priestly Blessing Unleashed, because verses 17 to 18 of Deuteronomy 31 talk about Yehovah hiding His face, which is a very prominent concept in the Tanakh. This idea of Yehovah hiding his face when Israel sins. Let me just read a few verses that… I talk about this, like I said, in more detail in Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence, the Hebrew Power of the Priestly Blessing Unleashed, which you can get from Nehemiaswall.com.

But for those who haven’t had a chance to read the book, Isaiah 45:15, “Verily thou art God, thou art a God, that hidest thyself, oh god of Israel, the savior.” So, what does it mean that He hides Himself? What that means is that, essentially, when we sin, Yehovah goes behind the scenes. He stops looking at us and giving us the type of miracles that we’ve kind of come to expect from the first four books of the Torah. And He says, “Okay, you’re sinning, I’m going to hide myself. I’ll still interfere and intervene with your lives, but it’s going to be from behind the scenes.”

And then Isaiah 54:8, “‘In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,’ says Yehovah your redeemer.” Isaiah 64:7, “No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you...” I’ve got to read that again. “No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of You for You have hidden Your face from us and made us waste because of our sins.” Wow. Doesn’t that ring true today? Ezekiel 39:29, “Neither will I hide My face anymore from them.” Wow, I can’t wait till that comes to pass. “‘Neither will I hide My face anymore from them for I have poured out My spirit upon the house of Israel,’ says Lord Yehovah.” And may that day come soon.

Jono: Amen. Amen.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: Okay, here we go. We’re going to hammer through this Keith, you’ve got to help me out here. “Now therefore, write down this song for yourselves to teach it to the children of Israel to put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel. When I have brought them to the land flowing with milk and honey, of which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and filled themselves and grown fat, then they shall turn to other gods and serve them; and they shall provoke Me and break My covenant.” Is it the same there?

Nehemia: It’s the same word “Lehaffer et briti.” So, it’s not just breaking the covenant, it’s saying now the covenant is null and void. We don’t have to keep doing this. We can bow down to the idols at Dan and Bethel. We can bring offerings on every high hill and under every leafy tree, that isn’t really forbidden in the Torah, making void the covenant. Not just, you screw up, you know, you mess up in a moment of weakness. This is talking about...

Jono: Throw the baby out with the bath water because there is no more covenant. No more commandments. “Then it shall be, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify against them as a witness; for it will not be forgotten in the mouths of their descendants.” Is that true Nehemia?

Nehemia: Um, that’s a commandment! I would say in a sentence, not forgotten because, you know, it’s written down in the book and you know, every year, Jews around the world when they get to this Torah portion, read this in the synagogue. So now what my understanding from this passage is that we’re actually supposed to memorize this. Now most Jews don’t memorize it. And I’ll admit to you that I struggle to be able to recite this by heart. I think part of the reason for that is they’ve actually done these studies – anthropologists have gone and studied societies where people don’t have writing. What they found is that in illiterate societies or preliterate societies, that the people have much greater memories because they’ve got to remember things. Whereas, one of the things I was always taught is, don’t memorize scripture. Let me repeat that. I was taught that it’s forbidden to memorize scripture. That scripture always has to be read out of the book. The reason I was taught that is they said - this is the Orthodox upbringing - they said the oral law, that was meant to be memorized. The written scripture has to be written. The reason is that the oral law, if you quote it exactly or not exactly, wasn’t that important. You could get the word slightly different. It didn’t change the essential meaning. But every single letter of the Torah, of the written Scripture, is the word of God, the letters of God, and therefore you must not recite it by heart because you might misquote it. You might change one of the letters or one of the words when you’re quoting it by heart, and therefore you must read it out of the book. Now, I’m not saying this is true, I’m just saying this is what I was taught growing up.

So, it’s interesting. I’ll meet Christians who will start reciting for me entire chapters of the book of Zachariah or entire chapters of the various Epistles in the New Testament, and to me that’s this interesting novelty because I was taught, “Don’t memorize scripture, it’s unrighteous to memorize scripture because you’ll end up changing it.” But I do think that testifies to how seriously my people, the people of Israel, the Jewish people, have taken the word of God.

Jono: True.

Nehemia: But it shows that they definitely took it very seriously in preserving every single letter.

Jono: “...and not forgotten in the mouths of their descendants, for I know the inclination of their behavior today, even before I have brought them into the land of which I swore to give them. Therefore, Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the children of Israel. Then He inaugurated Joshua the son of Nun, and said, ‘Be strong and of good courage; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land of which I swore to them, and I will be with you.’ And so it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, then they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the Ark of the Covenant of Yehovah, saying, ‘Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the Ark of the Covenant of Yehovah your God, that it may be there as a witness against you; for I know your rebellion and your stiff neck. If today, while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against Yehovah, then how much more after my death? Gather to me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call heaven and earth as witnesses against them. For I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you, and evil will befall you in the latter days, because you will do evil in the sight of Yehovah to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands.’ And then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song until they were ended.” We’re going to hear Nehemia Gordon sing that song next week.

Nehemia: We are?

Jono: Yeah.

Keith: Oh no, no, no.

Jono: Maybe Keith; you know it, surely.

Keith: No.

Nehemia: That might not be a good idea.

Jono: One of us is going to sing it next week. Is there anything in those closing verses that we want to highlight?

Nehemia: Oh, absolutely. I want to go back to verse 24 and 25 just really briefly and here it talks about, “and it came to pass...” and we talked about this just briefly before, “And it came to pass when Moses finished writing the words of this Torah upon a book,” and it’s literally says in Hebrew “ad tumam,” until their completion.

Jono: Listen, you know what we haven’t done?

Keith: Our prayer.

Jono: Keith, would you?

Keith: Yes. Father, thank you so much for this chance to open up Your word. Thank you so much that we also want You to open up our eyes, our hearts, our minds that we might see the wonderful and most amazing and beautiful things in Your Torah. Amen.

Jono: Amen. Amen. Thank you, Keith Johnson and Nehemia Gordon. You’ve been listening to Torah Pearls. Next week we are in “Ha‘azinu”, Deuteronomy 32:1 to 32:52, it is the Song of Moses, and until then, dear listeners, be blessed and be set apart by the truth of our Father’s word, Shalom.

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

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19 thoughts on “Torah Pearls #52 – Vayelech (Deuteronomy 31:1-31:30)

  1. JW Library by Jehovah’s Witnesses
    This version is often overlooked and vilified. HoweverYehovah has had me use it for years and I standby it as equal to any other version.
    This Torah pearls has been so enjoyable, with Yehovah spirit interfering with Nehemia! . I know, Nehemia, Yehovah s spirit invigorate you, and I know that you are a better follower of Yeshua many Christians, so called. Keep doing what you’re doing For it is Yehovah that opens the eye, it is Yehovah that puts on the Nehemia suit! ♥️♥️
    The male and female metaphors for Yehovah Are missed just as much as the male and female metaphors for the Torah. And of course the metaphor of flesh is also missed. This is why Joshua said unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you not have life into the ages!. Is powerful metaphors are used to conceal his face from those who do not want to return to him . 😎😎

  2. I was raised up in the church, and was taught pretty much the same things everyone else was taught, celebrated all man’s holidays, Jesus was the only one we had to listen to. I always knew something was wrong, my life was EMPTY, I craved something I wasn’t getting. When I was introduced to THE TRUTH, it was done slowly, I was being baited, which made me want more. The first thing I was educated on was the Hebrew alphabet, no J in the Hebrew alphabet, and then I learned HIS name was Yeshua, not Jesus. I had to know more, because I had learned it was always Hebrew from the beginning of THE WORD. I didn’t even hesitate, or tried to defend all the lies I had been taught, I went for it, and still am. I am 63 years old, and I started getting THE TRUTH around 2005, and I am so amazed at how I can be showed something one day, and YEHOVAH show’s me a different understanding of it later down the line. I think sometimes we need time for it to sink in, and then when we finally understand what HE has shown us, HE gives us more. All of you fellows are such a BLESSING, your studies have helped me to understand SCRIPTURE much more clearly, most of us don’t have the resources that you have, Thank You YEHOVAH for YOUR TRUTH!

  3. Shalom Nehemiah,

    I have head this Torah Pearl episode previously at the 1hr. & 10min mark where your internet connection prevents you from being Heard.

    And once again I am left with the Thirst in my Soul to know what thoughts you as One Who Walks for The Most High Sender El Elion our Elohim, The Only Eternal One Yehovah would have us Hear to help us all follow The Most High.

    Can you please expand in a article on the Topics you would have spoken on.

    Yehovah shine his face over you Nehemiah
    Alberto Trevino
    Standing on the wall

  4. Keith,

    I have been called a Torah teacher, a title which I feel to bold before YAHWAH to put on. With scepticism, I met Nehemia in 2011. I am very critical of those of us who present and comment on the word of YAHWAH. Not understanding what Karite meant, I was prepared to rebuff any Judaic manipulations he may present from “A Prayer to Our Father”, which I bought afertward. Though I don’t personally know him, I found him to be my friend/brother in the searching out of our Father’s word and have listened to what he has to say concerning it. I am content with what The Lord has given me though I must admit that I have been a bit envious of your close friendship. I have come to concider you to be my friend and brother in the same way, though alittle closer to my “tradition” as I was raised in, but found I had to leave, the Church of Christ. As I was preparing this week’s Torah portion for presentation to the group I meet with (Hebraic Roots Felowship of Bozeman, Mt.) I heared and was impressed, despite my jealousy, by an insight of yours which illuminated an aspect of YAHWAH’s word that was very helpful.

    Thank-you,

    John Duncan

  5. Thank you for another great episode of Torah Pearls. Wish I would have found you sooner…Nehemiah, you said that some say you mustn’t recite Torah by heart. I have heard the very opposite, that from a young age, especially boys were supposed to memorize and I assume recite scripture in order to prove they had memorized it. If you didn’t, you couldn’t “climb the ladder” and continue studying Torah in order to teach it, but would learn your father’s trade. Any comment?

  6. Shalom… I have a question… Is it really possible to read the whole Torah during Sukkot, I mean out loud to the congregation? Was it the whole Torah or parts of it, and if so, what parts? How was it done, really?

  7. Thank you, Nehemia, for explaining “Blessed” can also mean “grafted” because I have struggled with understanding how I will ever be a part of this wonderful offer of joining the people of Yehovah and not just someone on the outside looking in. When you said blessed can also mean grafted in, my heart burst and tears spilled. Those words were the ones missing to bring the promise to reality for me.

  8. Shalom Nehemia! At the end of this week’s Torah portion you attempted twice to expound on the words עד תמם. Could you explain the concept here please? I would like very much to know what you were about to say! Toda raba.

  9. Shalom brothers. This concept of “duel causality”. I’ve written in the margin “The blending of spirit and flesh as expressed in words and deeds”. Would this be an acceptable and accurate summation? as pertains to Deut. 31:3 and Judges 2:16-18 anyways? Blessings to all!!!

  10. I have a quick question; in my notes I wrote that you said that Gen 12:3 could be translated grafted, yet when I looked it up in my Strong’s that wasn’t an option. Please, share what source you used to confirm that. I think that is very cool!
    Thank you,
    Kari

      • No, I won’t find that in Strong’s! Your answer has put me on the right track, though, thank you:)
        I’m not sure where in the world you are, but I noticed the time stamp of your response. I pray you are a “late-nighter” like me and it’s not because you are having trouble sleeping…
        Thank you for being so generous with your time and knowledge!
        May YaHoVaH bless you in an unexpected way, so much so it leaves you awestruck!!
        ~Kari

  11. Nehemia,

    I understand your desire to keep your faith a true faith free from tradition and not becoming a denomination. As a non-traditional follower of Yeshua (i.e. “Christian”?) living in Vietnam, I worship, praise, and pray to Yehovah alone. I don’t fit into any church here, nor the Chabad House synagogue here. I am utterly alone. But Yehovah is my rock; He is with me wherever I go.

    Shalom.

  12. Nehemia,

    I very much appreciate your publicly and openly sharing your growth experience. I’m currently, unfortunately, on the judge end of that spectrum, and have recently been praying on this very matter. I would also like to thank you for sharing the very personal story of your conversation with your father following the passing of your dear friend. I imagine that I am not the only person who has been helped through your decision to share.

  13. praise yahshua nehemia,
    there are so many things that have been such a blessing. talmud does not out weigh the torah nothing does. (brit chadesha) heaven and earth will pass away but the word of elohim alone will stand. well with heaven and earth passing away so will mans doctrine. the remnant that will be saved from the two sticks will be those that stand on the word of elohim alone and rid themselves of mans doctrine. you have been a blessing in many ways may yahshua bless and keep both you and your family. be blessed. shalom my brother.

  14. Try Aviv Moon. Their number is 010 5916830. Only place in South Africa that I know of that stocks Hebrew root related books.

  15. Dear Nehemia, I noticed that you said you need other people to report the sighting of the New Moon next month. I’m not in Israel but in Johannesburg RSA, and I sighted the New Moon this month at 6:30pm already. We’re on GMT and I think only an hour ahead of Israel, although Aliza Abramowitz at Israel365 assured me that we are currently on the same time. I think it has to do with ‘Daylight Savings Time’ which we don’t have in South Africa. It’s now still Winter and the sky is mostly clear at night, due to the fact that it’s our windy month (August and September – sometimes into October) getting ready for Spring. It is bitterly cold some days, and then other days it’s like and Indian Summer. Let me know whether you can use my help? Regards, Mandy Smith. PS: Have you asked Keith about the books, where I can get them here, or can you help me? (As most of them are the books you have written) Thank you.

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