Prophet Pearls #13 – Shemot (Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23)


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By Nehemia Gordon. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Jewish exiles returning to the Land of Israel ,Prophet Pearls Shemot, Isaiah, exile, redemption, restoration, haftarah, prophets, Keith Johnson, nehemia gordon, parashah, Parsha, parshas, parshat, proof texting, shemot, shofar, tanakh, preceptIn this episode of Prophet Pearls, Shemot (Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23), Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson discuss the theme of exile and restoration as this Prophet’s portion corresponds to the turning point in the Egyptian exile when the midwives were told to commit murder, the Israelites were told to make bricks without straw, and Moses was told “Now you will see what I will do".

The Portion begins with a translation quandary (“those that come” versus “days to come”) and Gordon relates how sages have interpreted this passage through the centuries. We learn the different purposes of the shofar in the Tanakh and Gordon explains how this portion’s simple instruction to “give rest to the weary” has morphed into more than 600 commandments. Regarding the “here a little, there a little” passage: Gordon and Johnson discuss whether this means we should piece together God’s word or understand it in context. Word studies include: “fruit/tenuvah,” “smite/lehakot” “atone/kaper,” “line/qav,” and “sanctify/qadesh.” In closing, we are challenged to learn that sanctifying God’s name is a call to action and comforted to learn that whatever an “east wind” may scatter, Yehovah will glean “one by one.”

"And they shall come who are lost in the land of Assyria and those cast off in the land of Egypt" (Isaiah 27:13)

I look forward to reading your comments! Download Prophet Pearls Shemot Transcript
Prophet Pearls #13 - Shemot (Isaiah 27:6-28:13; 29:22-23)

You are listening to Prophet Pearls with Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon's Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at

Keith: Well folks, this is Keith Johnson along with Nehemia Gordon. We have made it through the Book of Genesis in English. What do we call it in Hebrew, Nehemia? I think it’s Bereshit. Am I right?

Nehemia: Yes. The Book of Bereshit - in the beginning.

Keith: Now we are starting something brand new. That’s right. It’s the beginning of a new calendar year. The Gregorian Year, of course not according to the biblical year, but we are now in Shemot. Nehemia, welcome back. Folks, welcome back. I got to say, welcome back to myself.

Nehemia: Welcome back, Keith!

Keith: We are getting back to dive right in. We’re back. So let’s get started, Nehemia. Do you have anything you want to say before we get started?

Nehemia: Yes, so I have a confession to make to the people. The confession is… first of all, let’s tell the people what we’re talking about. So, we’re doing the Prophet Pearls, and we’re doing the portion on the section… you know, there’s a Torah portion which begins Exodus chapter 1, verse 1, the first few chapters of Exodus that’s called the section, the book is called Shemot, which means “names” - in English is Exodus in Hebrew it’s Shemot - and the portion is also called Shemot, the portion of Shemot.

We were supposed to record this - you know, we’re pre-recording this - but we were supposed to record this a few days ago, and I sat down to read the portion and I said, “No, I need more time. It wouldn’t be responsible for me to jump right in and do this without giving us a little bit more time than I’ve given really any of the other sections.” That’s because there are some verses in this passage, particularly the opening verses, which I can say about those verses - I don’t know. That’s actually a really important statement, to be able to look at something in the Bible and say, “I don’t know.” There’s this attitude that I have to have all the answers. I’m the Bible answer man with all the answers. Generally, somebody with all the answers usually doesn’t know all that much. He thinks he does, but he doesn’t. The real challenge is to know what you don’t know.

And as I was reading these verses, especially the first two and a half verses, I said to myself, “I have no clue what these verses mean.” It was just really interesting. One of my favorite books is a book called Freakonomics. I don’t know if people have heard of that. If you haven’t, go out and buy this book, Freakonomics. I didn’t write it, Keith didn’t write it. It’s written by these economists and they’re looking at all these different things, I won’t get into it. But one of the things they say is that to gain knowledge, to learn, you first need to be able to make the statement, “I don’t know”. They did these experiments with children and asked them questions that there’s no way that children could have known. The children just made something up. And they said to the children, you could say “I don’t know,” but they wouldn’t. They just would make things up.

And I find that in Bible a lot of people are children. To be an adult, to be a man, to be a woman - I don’t know about being a woman - to be a man in the study of Scripture, you need to be able to stand before Yehovah and say “Yehovah, Father of creation, there are things that I don’t know, I’m humble enough to admit that before You and before other people.” And that’s what happened with these first couple of verses, and we can talk about that. It’s pretty, pretty interesting.

It’s also interesting that this is the first section we’ve had which is not a continuous section. It starts in Isaiah 27 verse 6, goes to 28:13 and then it tacks on two more verses - chapter 29 verses 22 to 23 – and you have to wonder, “Where did that come from?” I think the answer is that it just wanted to end on a happy note and not on a sad note.

Keith: Well, you know what really what I like about this section - and this is part of the reason that we invited people to become partners with us is to get other perspectives. And we actually have two folks, Ernesto and Kelly, who were very gracious to jump ahead as far as our scheduling. As Nehemia mentioned, we have to get ahead. And partly because of technology, partly because of travel, things are just happening constantly. I know for you they are, certainly for me, where we’re not always sure exactly where we’re going to be when that week is coming. So we called our partners ahead of time and asked them to give us some perspective. And I was really thankful for Ernesto and Kelly, who gave us some thoughts about this - as you say, the first two and a half verses, but really the whole section - and so I’ll bring a little bit of that later, but I want to say thank you to them as Prophet Pearl Partners, Ernesto and Kelly, thank you so much for adjusting. Thank you for getting ready. And really for everybody that’s listening, we take this as a really serious thing. This isn’t about us spewing knowledge. It’s about us exploring the pearls that are in the Prophets. And you know, sometimes as Nehemia mentioned, you get to some and you just think, “Wow”, you scratch your head. And that’s okay. You know, we don’t have to have all the answers, but the process is what I really enjoy, and that’s what we’re going to get right into in this section, in Isaiah chapter 27 verse 6 through 28, 6 through 28, and then verse… 27:6 to 28:13 and then 29 verses 22 and 23. So people, open your Bibles right now. We’re going to jump right into this. Is that all right, Nehemia?

Nehemia: Let’s do it.

Keith: Let’s get right into it. Why don’t you start, give us those… I want you to read those first two-and-a- half verses that basically set us four or five days behind. I want you to read those two verses in English… Okay, go ahead.

Nehemia: I’m going to read it from the Hebrew. I’m going to read the direct literal translation from Hebrew, and people will understand why this was so difficult. So here’s the literal translation of verse 6. It says, “Those that come, Jacob, shall strike roots,” but it could also be translated, “Jacob will uproot.” “He shall bloom and flower and… Israel shall bloom and flower and the whole earth will be filled with,” well, “he shall fill the whole earth with fruit.” And then it says, according to verse…

Keith: Well, before you go to the next verse, I know you’re going to read the second verse. Let’s have you do the same thing for the second verse, because I don’t want to go… since these are what you said, you cut your teeth on that first verse of the translation.

Nehemia: Okay, cut my teeth?

Keith: I’m actually glad you did it that way, Nehemia, and I really appreciate the fact, not only that you said you needed some more time, but just…

Nehemia: Well, so verse 6, the words weren’t a problem. I could tell you what every word means. Like for example, I said it really means to uproot, but uproot doesn’t make any sense. So we’re going to say “strike roots” even though that’s not what the word means. We have to… it doesn’t make any sense. And who are these that are coming? What is this about? Haba’im, those that come, those that enter, that’s a really easy word. That’s one of the first words you learn in the Hebrew language. But in this context, it doesn’t make any sense.

And then, to complicate matters… so we’ve talked about how the chapters were made up in the 13th century by the Archbishop of Canterbury. They’re not an original part of the text, not a part of the original part of the Hebrew text. In the Hebrew we have these spaces that delineate different sections, and verse 6 is the end of a section. So just from that, it’s like, “Well, wait a minute, I can’t read verse 6 by itself. That’s taking it out of context.” The section starts in verse 2, where it says, and it says, “On that day,” et cetera. So, what? Like, verse 6 by itself isolated is completely nonsensical, and it should be. Meaning, it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense. Frankly, it doesn’t even make sense in its context, which is probably why the rabbis, or whoever made up this traditional division, felt comfortable putting verse 6 there at the beginning of the portion, because even in its context, it’s not entirely clear what this is talking about. I could tell you how it was traditionally interpreted, and that explains what it’s doing in the portion. Unless you have something to add to it.

Keith: No. You know, one of the things that was interesting to me when I was reading this verse, I got to the end and for me, I will tell you what my confession is. My confession is that sometimes I can get caught up in every little word, and in every little word I want to ask myself how is that connected, and that sort of thing. But what I really did kind of like is that when I read the English versions and then I open up the Hebrew Bible, and you see these compare and contrast is, which I do a lot, there are little things that come up.

And so just one little thing I wanted to bring up to you, and this is actually connected to Israel, and it says… let me read it from the NAS. Actually, the NAS is my favorite English version for lots of reasons. But I always like to look at, you know, the NIV, the KJV, the JPS and anything else that’s available. But here’s how it’s translated in the NAS: “In the days to come, Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout.” And then it says, “And they will fill the whole world with fruit.” And there were two things that actually caught my attention. One is the word that they were using for “the world”. But then the other one, Nehemia, you can help me with this, is it says, “and they will fill the whole world with fruit.” But then the word is ‘tenuva.’ Isn’t there a company that’s in Israel?

Nehemia: Yes! The Israeli milk company is called ‘Tnuva’.

Keith: No. So let me tell you before you go, I see something funny. So I’m reading this verse, and I’m thinking it’s going to be, if I’m looking at English, I’m thinking it’s going to be like the word ‘pri’ for fruit. Then I see that, and then I went to go and took some kind of checking as far as how that word is used. And really, it’s much more than fruit. It’s produce, et cetera. And then there’s this milk company, and I don’t know if you remember this, we’ve had many times that we’ve gone to Israel together and we’ve traveled and we’ve talked and we spend a lot of time in the car getting from… you know, you’ll say, “We’ve got to see this specific spot.” And I’ll say, “Well, is it close yet?” “It’s not that far.” And eight hours later, you know...

Nehemia: Keith, I’m in Texas. I spent 45 minutes going to the corner grocery store.

Keith: Okay, well anyway, at one point I saw this - I don’t remember where we were, where this company is, Nehemia, but I saw this company.

Nehemia: Oh, they’re everywhere.

Keith: Yeah. So tell me about this company.

Nehemia: So Israel… I don’t know if I want to talk about this company but, okay. Tnuva or Tenuva.

Keith: Well, because of the word...

Nehemia: So anyway, they… up until recently they had a monopoly on the dairy industry in Israel, and Israelis really like dairy. So this was a multi multi-billion dollar company. They had so much money, they actually did a television commercial on the Mir space station years ago, back when that was a much bigger deal than it is now, having the Russian cosmonauts squirting out the milk, which forms these droplets in the space and they’ve got to drink it. That’s how much money they have. In recent years, some of their monopoly power has been broken, but they’re evil enough where there have been nationwide protests against the persecutory prices that they have, which I wouldn’t have a problem with except de facto they still have kind of a monopoly. So the government, on the one hand, gives them the monopoly, and then they abuse it by charging prices for basic goods that people need.

I don’t know why the people want to hear this, I mean… Did you know that when the Arabs were having the Arab Spring a few years back, in Israel, there was what they were calling the Israeli Spring? It was over the price of cottage cheese, but from Tenuva, and I’m not joking, there were people in the streets protesting the price of Tenuva’s cottage cheese.

Keith: Well, here’s what’s interesting. So cottage cheese… Tenuva. Obviously, when they were thinking about this, they weren’t thinking simply about fruit. They were thinking about something bigger than that, in the broadest sense. Also, they obviously are pretty powerful; they’re talking about the space station. So they must have looked at the word for earth and thought it was a bigger issue.

Nehemia: We will fill the whole earth, the whole planet.

Keith: Anyway, that’s what I wanted to talk about. Go ahead. Go ahead.

Nehemia: Well, so what is this doing here? What is this about? So, we know what all these words mean, but what is it even talking about? And so what happened is, ancient Jews read this and they said, “We don’t know what this is talking about either, so we’re going to make something up.” And what they made up was that they said, “Oh, those that come.” And it’s so much easier in the English; what you read, there’s no problem. It’s so clear what it means. It’s, “Days are coming,” meaning the future time of God, of the end times, but it doesn’t say anything about days in Hebrew. It says, “those that come”. And the ancient Jews who read this, they immediately recognized, “Oh, those that come” and it’s talking about Israel. This is the opening verse of Exodus Chapter 1 verse 1 and it says, “These are the names of the sons of Israel who came,” literally, “who are coming”, “to Egypt. Jacob, the man and his house, they came.” The word for “they are coming” or “they came” is haba’im, the exact word that appears in Isaiah 27:6. So they read Isaiah 27:6,8. They said, “We have no clue what this is talking about, but this must be a reference.” And prophecy is often very poetical and can have these veiled sort-of references. They said, “This must be a veiled reference to the Israelites coming into Egypt.” And then they proceeded to interpret the entire passage that way, which I find fascinating. Of course, other Jews later on, who were trying to understand it in its context, for example, Ibn Ezra, who was a rabbi in the Middle Ages, he interprets it as referring to the ingathering of the exiles. So those that are coming are coming back to Israel, and they’re striking roots in the land, and they’re flourishing and they’re filling up the whole world, or the whole earth, the whole land of Israel.

Keith: Well, I certainly looked at it that way. I mean, it was one of those things where I saw it, and when I thought about that company, that wasn’t the politics of it, but rather the idea that there would be those kinds of things that are there, they’re rooted, that are getting bigger and they’re growing, the people know about them. Like, “we’re here.”

Nehemia: But I think it’s interesting, the ancient rabbinical interpretation is just talking about the Jews arriving in Goshen in Egypt and flourishing in Goshen, and the medieval interpretation, which fits better, frankly, even though… it’s not as obscure, is that no, it’s not, “they’re coming from the exile, not into exile” and they’re flourishing in the land, not in the exile. So I thought that’s really interesting. It’s two diametrically opposed interpretations.

Keith: Absolutely. Now for the fun verse.

Nehemia: Look, I’ll translate this, but then you’re on your own.

Keith: Okay.

Nehemia: I still don’t know what this is. It literally says, “Did he smite him with the smiting of a smiter? Kill like the killing of his who were killed?” Who’s the “he” and who’s the “him”? Who’s the “killed” and who’s the “killing”? I have no idea what this verse is about. Ani lo yode’a. I don’t know.

Keith: Okay. All right. I want you to get your computer out, because this was, I really thought this was interesting. So when I read the verse, the thing that jumped off for me, and again, this is a computer issue, unless you just got this off the top of your head. Is there another verse? I looked at this, I think there are one, two, three, four, five, seven different words in this one verse. Three of those words are based on one root. Three of those words are based on another root with this little conjunction here, “if, in,” whatever. And I thought to myself… and when I was thinking of this I was thinking of Isaiah, and I was thinking about Isaiah thinking, “He’s putting together this really beautiful verse.”

Nehemia: Well it’s definitely poetical. But it’s so poetical, I don’t know what it’s saying. What’s it talking about?

Keith: Before we get into that, though, I want to know - if you were to ask the question, how would we find out if there is another verse like this, where you’ve got three or basically you’ve got two roots, seven words?

Nehemia: You mean the same roots or different roots?

Keith: Same roots. Yeah, the same roots.

Nehemia: That same root – the root naka and the root harag? Let’s do a little search.

Keith: Now again, I think what I appreciated about it was, okay, we know that we’re talking about something that’s connected, whether it was here, who are what - three things, boom, boom, boom. And then three more things. And I think it’s the word here for “to slaughter or to kill”. In fact, let me ask this question. In the English, I’d say in the JPS, do you happen to have the JPS in front of you?

Nehemia: I can pull it up. Hold on. Can I just read you what I wrote in my notes as I was preparing this? I wrote, and this is just like thinking as I’m reading this, “Who is the hitter, who is the hit? What in tarnation is this talking about? Exclamation.” And that’s why I said I need some more time, and in the end, I still don’t know. So what do you want me to look up now?

Keith: Oh no, no. So I was trying to say, if you were to ask a question again, another verse where you’ve got three of the same root. Well, basically it’s just telling me...

Nehemia: Why don’t you just tell me what are you talking about?

Keith: Well, you’ve got three… No, you got three of the same, the first three words.

Nehemia: You’ve got a verse in mind. Tell us what the verse is.

Keith: I don’t have a verse in mind. I’m asking.

Nehemia: Oh, okay. Three of the same root; of any root? Or just of this root? That’s what I’m not clear on. So as far as I know, I don’t know of any of other verse that has this root three times. In other words, let’s go back to the literal translation. Did he smite him with the smiting of his smiter? So we’ve got this word ‘lehakot’, to hit. You can all say, “did he hit him with the hitting of his hitter?” And then did he - that’s in brackets - did he kill like the killing of those of his who were killed? So we’ve got the word kill three times. We’ve got the word hit, or smite, three times. Where does that appear? I don’t know.

Keith: Okay, well maybe you could… that’s all right. I mean, if we can’t can’t push the computer to quickly find an example like that… I just thought it was really interesting. I mean I thought, “Man, there’s got to be some way to find out.”

Nehemia: So what does it mean?

Keith: I have no idea.

Nehemia: So this is the invitation for the people out there in cyberspace who are listening. Go to and post your thoughts on what this means. This could actually be the founding of a new theology, of a new denomination. Because that’s what I find - the more obscure the verse is, the more likely it is to be the foundation of some doctrine or denomination. And I’m kind of joking, but actually, maybe you’ll come up with something where you’ll explain it and where it will be like, “Oh. Doh! Now we have to re-record this and pretend we do.” You know, I don’t know.

Keith: If they go to, they can put their questions, or they can say this is what they think. If they go to, you’ll get the secret answer. Right! Either way, you got to be able to make comments. We really do want to hear from people. And this is a great opportunity, an invitation, in all seriousness, where we can invite people to go and make comments on either one of the pages where you can say, “I read the verse, here’s what I saw.” In fact, check other people, check other commentators and see…

Nehemia: I can tell you what the commentators say. They say that this is some kind of reciprocal justice. It’s basically asking, “Is not God going to respond to someone the way they behaved and hurt somebody else?” I’ve got to stretch my imagination to be able to see that in the verse. We could read this and replace the “he’s” with “people”. We could say, did Yehovah smite Israel with the smiting of the smiter, meaning the Jews who were persecuting the poor? Did He kill Israel, like the killing of the poor who were killed? But now I’m stretching this, and it could mean that, but I really don’t know.

Keith: Well, one thing I think we can say when you go to the next verse, and again, let’s see if we’re still in the two and a half verses. Why don’t you give us the translation?

Nehemia: No, I’m going to let you do this next verse.

Keith: Okay so 27:8 NASB, “You contended with them by banishing them, by driving them away. With his fierce wind he has expelled them,” or he shouldn’t say actually, them is actually italicized “with his fierce wind he’s expelled on the day of the east wind.”

Nehemia: It’s really just so much easier in the English than what it actually says in Hebrew.

Keith: Hey, it really is.

Nehemia: Can I read you a few different translations and then I’ll be done. So here’s the literal translation, “With about the same se’ah”, which is a measurement “when sending her away into exile, you strive with her or with it.” And I’m only doing the first half of the verse. The second half is pretty easy. In King James, “In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou debate with it.” NASB: “Thou didst contend with them by banishing them, by driving them away.” NIV: “By warfare and exile, you contend with her.” NRSV: “By expulsion, by exile, you struggled against them.”

I mean, think about how profoundly different these verses are – not verses, translations - and I’m like, they don’t know, I certainly don’t know. The second half is pretty easy. “He drove out with a harsh wind on the day of the east wind.” I don’t know what the day of the east wind is, but I guess the day when there was a lot of wind and probably the invasion of the Assyrians or something like that. Or the Babylonians.

Keith: Well, it’s funny, and that’s another example, what you just did. I looked at all of these different translations, and I’m, “Man, can there be that much difference in a verse?”

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: Yeah, definitely, definitely there is. So, now can we go to 9?

Nehemia: I’m going to ask us to do something, which is read 9 through 11, because as I read it, that’s a single unit and we have to understand it that way.

Keith: Okay, go ahead, read it.

Nehemia: So he says, “Therefore, in this shall Jacob’s iniquity be atoned,” is what it literally says, “and this is all the fruit to remove his sin when he places all the stones of the altar as smashed chalk stones,” the asherim, which is the sacred trees of the Ashera goddess, “and the sun idols,” or the sun statues, “will no longer rise up.”

And then verse 10, “For a fortified city alone, a habitation cast away and abandoned like the desert, there shall the calf pasture and there he shall lie down and her branches shall be completely consumed. When her branches dry up, they shall be smashed. Women shall come and burn them.” That is the branches presumably. “For he is not a people of knowledge. Therefore, his maker will not have mercy upon him. The one who fashions him will not have grace towards him.” Wow. What is that talking about?

Keith: I will just tell you this…

Nehemia: This to me was pretty clear, but go ahead. What’s your take on it?

Keith: Well, no, when I was reading in verse 9, and again, I looked at a section and then I go back to the verse, but when it says “making his altar stones like pulverized chalk stones,” or how you said that, there’s an image that immediately came to my mind, and the image was at different times in Israel’s history, where there was a king or prophet would call the people to go out to smash, or to take, to get rid of. And the one that really jumps off the page for me is King Josiah in English, and how in that process that was a necessary step in order to get the people to the place where they could even do the next thing. In other words, you couldn’t have the mixing of the asherim and the stone and all the things that were going on. And literally, he went through this process of cleansing. So when I saw this verse, I thought about what he did, and literally pulverizing, smashing, destroying those things that were contrary to Torah, those things that were calling people away from the one true God and those things that were really literally leading people into a place of destruction. And the only way to deal with it was a way of destruction.

So that was what jumped off the page for me is as I just thought about that, and I went back and I read again the whole story of Josiah, and I don’t know, Nehemia, there is just this idea that sometimes, at least, at least from me, we certainly see this sort of attitude, “Like, well, let’s just kind of keep things the way that they are. You know, let’s don’t rock the boat. Let’s not get too radical. Let’s not be too confrontational regarding things that are contrary to the word of God.” But I don’t know - when I read this verse, I just thought sometimes it takes some good old-fashioned smashing.

Nehemia: So you want to smash the ashera trees, which in modern times would be represented by…?

Keith: Oh, I don’t know…

Nehemia: Christmas trees?

Keith: No, I’m saying that the idea here, when I’m reading this and when I think about what happened, that there were times where there was a period of time where things kind of coexisted, and then there was a period of time where there was a need to say enough is enough. And I think, and again, that’s what the verse, that’s what jumped off the page for me.

Nehemia: I want to read these in the JPS, and really, to me these are the key verses in the whole passage. This is actually, you know, I know I say this a lot and you make fun of me about it, but this is one of the most important passages…

Keith: This is one of my favorite verses in all the Bible.

Nehemia: This is really one of the most important passages in the entire Tanakh. If I had to give you the 50 most important passages, this is like the top 20. All right, it says, “Assuredly by this alone,” this is the JPS 27:9 through 11, “assuredly by this alone shall Jacob’s sin be purged away. This is the only price for removing his guilt, that he make all the altar stones like shattered blocks of chalk with no sacred posts left standing, nor any incense altar; thus fortified cities like desolate homesteads, deserted, forsaken, like a wilderness, their calves grazed, there they lay down and consume its bows.” And that’s this classic image in the Tanakh of - Israel goes into exile and the cities are left abandoned and they’re taken over by wild animals and pasture animals.

And verse 11, “When its crown is withered, they break” and, whatever. Okay, we’ll accept that translation, it’s not exactly correct. “Women come and make fires with them,” meaning it’s the crown of the trees, “for they are a people without understanding, that is why their Maker will show them no mercy, their Creator will deny them grace.”

So what on earth is this saying? So here’s my take on it, and here I’m going to say something really controversial. It says, “that he make all the altar stones like shattered blocks of chalk.” So in Hebrew, of course, we don’t have the capital H or the or the lower case H. I think that it’s possible this is Yehovah who’s destroying the altars. Maybe it’s the people, I don’t know, but I believe it’s Yehovah who is sending this east wind, these enemies from the east, from Assyria and Babylon, to destroy Israel. And not only are their cities destroyed and they’re taken into exile, but in the process of their cities being destroyed and taken into exile, their idols are also destroyed. And it’s pretty cool. This is pretty profound. It’s saying, “By this alone shall Jacob’s sin be purged away.” Jacob, Israel, has sinned and there needs to be something for atonement. And the Hebrew word is yechupar, it’s the root of Yom Kippur. It’s the root word that means atonement. So it’s saying in this, this is the manner in which Jacob will get atonement and the only price for removing his guilt.

So what is that? That is, that it’s pretty profound; Israel needs to suffer and go into exile. Their cities need to be destroyed; their idols need to be destroyed. And then verse 11, I’m going to propose an understanding of this, which I’m sure is correct. When it says, “when its crown” or when the top of its trees “are withered, they are smashed or they break, the women come and make fires with them.” What is that talking about? So what I think this is talking about, I think that’s a metaphor. I’m going to argue it’s a metaphor. And the metaphor here is Israel is in exile. In verse 10, the cities are destroyed and they’re cast out into exile. That was even in verse 8, that the east wind… So they’re sent out into exile for their sins, and in exile they’re burned up with fire.

And I hear this, and the first thing I think about is there are people coming to burn up the branches of Israel that have dried out, this nation that’s dried out and withered away, that’s an image in Ezekiel, and the people are burning them. So, you know, I hear about that and I think of the Jews being burned in the Crusades, in the pogroms and the Holocaust, and I think that this is a prophecy about that happening.

So then the next verse is really key. I’m going to jump to that verse, and it says, “And in that day, Yehovah will beat out the peoples like grain from the channel of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt. And you shall be picked up one by one, oh children of Israel.” The Hebrew doesn’t say Euphrates actually, but it’s okay.

What it’s talking about, there’s this image here of all the Israelites who have been scattered into exile, that some of them are going to be brought back. And where am I getting that? So think about the image of grain. The grain is harvested, and mixed in with the grain you have chaff and you have the seed. The chaff is garbage. It gets blown away by the wind. God’s going to beat out that grain and the chaff is going to blow away, and what will remain will be the good grain that He’s going to gather one by one. Think about that - it says, “You shall be picked up one by one.” And the image there is, remember the threshing floor, they didn’t have combines, so they would thresh out the grain and the seed would fall to the ground and then it would also be mixed up with some impurities. And what you could do if you wanted to get every last one is you could pick up each and every last grain of wheat and barley. And it’s saying Yehovah is going to do that. That there is going to be this restoration, this ingathering. And I’m getting that from verse 13 by the way. We’ll read that in a second. And Yehovah - no one’s going to go missing. Every last one, every last grain is going to be gathered in and collected.

And then verse 13, which is, again, one of my favorite verses, and this I put in the top 10, it says… it really is one of the top 10 favorite verses. “It says in that day a great ram’s horn, a great shofar, shall be asounded. And the strayed who are in the land of Assyria,” it literally says the lost. And it’s interesting, when we talk about the 10 lost tribes, it’s the same word here. So I’m going to translate this, “And the lost ones,” that’s the literal translation. “The lost ones who are in the land of Assyria and the castawayed, cast off ones, who are in the land of Egypt shall come and worship Yehovah on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.”

So we have this process. He starts out with the east wind, which is the exile, that’s because the Assyrians, the Babylonians, they came from the east, and they’re scattering Israel and they’re taking Israel and Judah and sending them off into the exile. And then in the exile, their cities are desolate and they’re being burned up literally, not just figuratively. They’re literally being burned up. And then there’ll be survivors. And those survivors, they’re going to hear the shofar on that day, and on that day they’re going to be gathered back from either the literal Assyria or perhaps figuratively, wherever that land is, people who are completely lost to Israel, they’ll be gathered back, every single grain will be gathered by Yehovah, and they will come when they are gathered back to the holy mountain to Jerusalem.

Are you going to tell me this isn’t one of the most important passages in the Bible? It’s about exile and atonement and the suffering in exile and the restoration. Hallelujah. This is amazing.

Keith: Amen. When I was reading through this, the thing that kept jumping off the page for me is just how Yehovah Himself always has a plan. And when you talk about picking up one by one, I think about the remnant of people who even today are being selected one by one.

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: And picked up one by one from all over the earth. And it’s hard for me to get to verse 13 and not have to slow down a little bit. Because I’m really having a bit of a struggle with Israel, and especially as it pertains to the political landscape regarding what’s happening. I think when people like our present leaders who are there, who open the Tanakh, I know many of them will read the Tanakh and read these sections. And sometimes I just wonder if when they’re reading it… I have to be honest Nehemia, there’s a part of me that’s like, “Well, if you have a society that has leaders that are opening the Tanakh and reading verses like this in a section, wouldn’t they eventually just want to say, ‘Look, it’s not going to be about us, it’s going to be about Yehovah Himself doing what he does.’”

So that’s why I have a real struggle when I get to 13, because in 13 it says, this is what’s going to happen. They were scattered and they’re going to come and worship Yehovah in the Holy Mountain, not down at the retaining wall where they say that’s the holy spot for Jews to come and pray, and not the Western Wall, but rather at the place where Yehovah set His name forever, and this has been something for me that this last year has been, in 2014, which was last calendar year, and now in 2015, is something that I really have been struggling with because I am asking the question about the end of the story. The end of the story is, there’s not going to be an issue of who can pray and who can’t pray, it’s going to be a house of prayer for all nations. But in the meantime, this sort of political back-and-forth and what we can do and what we can’t do has really, as you know, caused me a struggle.

So when I read this verse, I get excited about pulling out the big ol’ ram’s horn. I actually have a picture. I have a picture for this verse that I’m going to use. And it’s actually of myself and Yehuda Glick sounding the shofar at the Temple Mount. And it’s really funny - when I say funny, it was actually on Shavuot, but the point is that we couldn’t be in at the Western Wall because you can’t bring shofars in there and you can’t be up on the Temple Mount.

So what did we do? We gathered people from different parts of the world, actually, to where the eastern and the southern walls meet, and there is where the sounding of the shofar took place. In fact, our friends Sven and Tina also came and sounded the shofar. So that’s a picture I want to use, because when I read this verse Nehemia, I think about not only the bad part of it, as you said, we didn’t want to end on a bad note, but I think about the end of the story, and the end of the story is that He’s going to pick them one… I love how you said that. That’s a great picture. Picking them up one by one by one, the image of one by one and gathering them. That’s the remnant that’s going to be gathered. And I believe that… I’ll just say this. I believe that a lot of people that are listening have to get excited about that process of the remnant, that group of people that are kind of the ones that have made it through the difficulty and they’re still standing, and those are the ones He’s bringing back. So, amen.

Nehemia: Well what I would say is that there are people out there all over the world who have this inexplicable urge, this inexplicable burning, and they don’t understand why they’re being drawn to the Torah. I would argue that based on this verse we just read, they are being picked by Yehovah, they’re on the ground and they’re being picked out of the chaff and they… “Wow, what am I doing here? I must have a Jewish soul that was at Mount Sinai. I have to shake the tree and find a Jew.” No, you don’t need to do that. Yehovah has picked you, you personally. You don’t have to make stuff up. This is real. This is Scripture.

And you’re focusing on the end. I want to step back a little bit and focus, not on the end, but what for my people, for 2,000 years was this unbelievable suffering of wandering. You know, I call myself the wandering Jew, and I say it half-jokingly even though I am the wandering Jew. But what that meant for 2,000 years was Jews being cast out into the diaspora and going from country to country. In every country they weren’t citizens, or they were second-class citizens, and they were persecuted and they were robbed and they were killed. And the Gentiles said, “You Jews say you’re God’s chosen people, but all we see is that you’ve been rejected by God, because you’re suffering more than any other nation on earth.” And lo and behold, we read in Isaiah over 700 years before that suffering began, we find out that that was part of God’s plan. It was part of God’s plan of atonement and removing the sin.

I’m going to read that verse one more time. I’m going to read it in a different translation. I read the JPS, you might think there’s some Jewish agenda here. I’m going to read it in the Christian translation, the King James. It says, “By this, therefore, shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged.” You remember the word in Hebrew is atoned, but they say purged. “And this is all the fruit to take away his sin when he makes all the stones of the altar as chalk stone,” et cetera, et cetera. And then it talks about this exile, the cities being desolate, and the boughs being broken and burned.

So we have this process of Israel’s idols being destroyed, cast out into the exile, and then there’s this purging process, this atonement process. And I think that’s the more correct way to look at the history of Israel. It’s not that Israel was rejected. It’s that Israel sinned and needed to go through this process of purging, and maybe - and this is the most radical part - that process of purging isn’t over. And so when I look today and I see the suffering in Israel, I look at this and, in biblical terms, as part of Israel’s process of redemption. This is what Israel needs to go through to get atonement according to the Prophet Isaiah who spoke 2,700 years ago, and that excites me. And the sign that we’re getting towards the end of this, that we’re getting closer and closer to verse 13, is the return of these exiles and these lost people. It literally says “the lost ones” who went on to Assyria, and from Assyria they disappeared. That’s the 10 lost tribes. They’re coming back. And to me, this excites me. This really does excite me. And I’ve got to say one last thing about verse 13, unless you had something else you want to say.

Keith: Well I was going to say before we get to 13, I know we read 13 again, but I really want to… Every time I come up with the Word of the Week and you say, “Why is that the Word of the Week?” So I have a Word of the Week, Nehemia.

Nehemia: What’s your Word of the Week? When do I get to pick one?

Keith: Well I was hoping you would pick this. I’m going to give you, it’s in verse nine 27 verse 9.

Nehemia: I thought you were going to say 13 but okay.

Keith: Okay no go to 13.

Nehemia: It’s fine. Go ahead. What’s your word?

Keith: No, I really, I would like you to pick it.

Nehemia: No, no, you pick it, verse 9. Is it the word yechupar?

Keith: Exactly!

Nehemia: So it’s the third word in verse 9 in the Hebrew, yechupar, and it’s from… remember we said every word in biblical Hebrew has a three-letter root, and the root here is Kaf Pey Resh, which is the same root as the word kippur as in Yom Kippur or Yom HaKippurim, the day of atonement and yechupar means, “he will be atoned”, and it’s speaking about the inequity of Israel being atoned. That could be the Word of the Week.

I’m also going to throw in the word shofar, which we’re about to see in... isn’t that exciting about this shofar that’s going to blow and the exiles are going to return? And I think about the shofar and its significance, and shofar has all these different significances in the Tanakh. I made a list here somewhere. Oh, here it is... oh no, that’s something else. I don’t know that we’re going to get to that. But think about… we’ve got Yom Truah, we’ve got the shofar warning of an enemy coming, we’ve got the shofar that they heard on the day of Mount Sinai when the shofar blew long, that’s when they heard the voice of Yehovah say, “Anochi Yehovah”. Then we’ve got the shofar which is the sounding of repentance. And so we’ve got all these different… and now we finally have here the Shofar of ingathering. Isn’t that amazing? Maybe all of those are combined. I don’t know. That’s really exciting that maybe on Yom Truah, on the day of, of blowing the trumpet, on the day of blowing the shofar, that’s when the exile will begin to be… that will be the final stage of the ingathering. Maybe, I don’t know. I’m just throwing that out there. That excites me.

Keith: When I see this verse, you know, and it says here, it’s beshofar gadol. It’s a great one.

Nehemia: It’s a big shofar. It’s a kudu, it’s like the one you’ve got.

Keith: It’s a kudu! So I’m going to venture that it’s going to be a kudu shofar.

Nehemia: Here’s what you may not know Keith; one of the most famous songs in Jewish tradition that I grew up singing, maybe the only song I can actually sing, is verse 13. And I apologize to all the music aficionados out there, I’m going to sing this verse. Verse 13, Uvo’u ha’ovdim be’eretz ha’ashur vehanida’achim be’eretz Mitzrayim, ve’yishtachavu le’Yehovah, behar hakodesh ve’yishtachavu le’Yehovah, behar hakodesh be’Yerushalayim. All right I’m going to put up a video with somebody else singing who sings better than me. Ve’Yerushalayim O uvo’u ha’ovdim, everybody! be’eretz ha’ashur vehanida’achim be’eretz Mitzrayim. And it literally is, “And the lost ones will come in the land of Assyria and the castaways in the land of Egypt and they will bow down to Yehovah on the holy mountain in Jerusalem.” Amen, may it be soon. I’m done. We could stop here. Wow.

Keith: Oh no, no, no. Let me, let me just say a couple of things. Small things. One, first of all, I just have to say this. Ernesto and Kelly, when they brought their comments, they were talking just about this idea of judgment and how… how can I say it? Things will be brought to the forefront, and I think I have to say, Nehemia, what I appreciated about this passage is that sometimes we look at the ones that are the ones from the east and the Assyrians and all those people that are the bad ones or whatever. But sometimes we have to look right in our own house in Israel. And you did a beautiful job with this. Just sharing that the judgment there would be for Israel, that Israel itself had fallen prey to the very thing that Yehovah said would happen throughout the Torah, and it’s like looking at your situation… One of the sayings we used to always say, back in the day when I was in my early pastorate, and they’d say, “Judgment starts with the House of God.” In other words, the first ones that are going to go through the process of accountability are the ones that are supposed to be most accountable to Him. And that certainly is what happens.

Nehemia: Now that we understand verses 9 through 12, we can maybe take a better guess at what 7 and 8 are talking about. They’re talking about how - although I still have trouble seeing it - but possibly in those verses when he says, “Did he smite him with the smiting of his smiter?” So the smiter is the persecution of the Jewish leadership, of the poor, of the downtrodden. And because of that, Israel needed to go into exile and suffer. Maybe. That’s a possibility.

Keith: Well, can we do this? This is kind of connected to even a Ministry Minute. Can I go to the section 29:22 and 23?

Nehemia: What about 28?

Keith: No, that’s what I’m saying. 29, 22 no...

Nehemia: You’re skipping 13 verses in chapter 28.

Keith: No, no, no, no, no. 28:13. I’m sorry.

Nehemia: Why don’t we do the Ministry Minute before we transition to chapter 28.

Keith: Okay, go ahead. Go ahead.

Nehemia: So my ministry is the Makor Hebrew Foundation. M-A-K-O-R, and it’s funny, and I don’t blame you for this Keith, but I’ll get people who will say, “I want to support your ministry, Biblical Foundations Academy.” And I’m like, “No, that’s Keith’s ministry. Mine’s the Makor Hebrew Foundation, my website is” I’ve got this thing that’s been going for the last eight months. My support team, those who have supported my ministry, I’ve been sending out these monthly teachings really just to thank them. It’s really, really what it is. There’s been this huge response to the latest one, which was entitled The Ancient Hebrew Roots of Hanukkah. I was really honored. It’s been watched in the last four days, and obviously, we’re pre-recording this... But in the last four days since this video came out, there was a video and an audio recording - and the video is available for everybody - it’s been watched by over 10,000 people, which is no small thing. I was really honored and even touched to see on Facebook that my sister posted a photo of her sitting in front of the computer with my mother, watching this video of me lighting the menorah, a seven-branch menorah, and doing it in defiance of Rabbinical tradition, taking back Hanukkah and the biblical, or the original historical message of Hanukkah, in accordance with the Bible and not in accordance with man-made traditions.

I’ve actually been surprised at the response of this. I put out another Support Team message a few months back called The Fundamental Flaw of Judaism, which I still to this day think is maybe the most important teaching I’ve ever done. I had a huge response to that, and what has surprised me is that The Ancient Hebrew Roots of Hanukkah teaching has had more of a response than even than that one. So I’ve really been humbled by that, and really blessed, and so I want to invite people to come over to, where we have over 200 hours of free teaching, free videos. And also please consider supporting my ministry and joining the Support Team.

The other thing I want to invite people to do is iTunes - iTunes, iTunes, iTunes. There are three things you can do on iTunes that we need you to do to help us. First of all, subscribe to Nehemia’s Wall Podcast on iTunes. The reason to do that is that every week automatically you will get the latest episode of whatever the teaching is - the Prophet Pearls, Torah Pearls and other teachings that I’ll be doing on audio. And then to help other people get access to that, I’m going to ask people to do a review and ratings on iTunes, even if you’re not an iPhone person. I’m not an Apple iPhone person, I’m an Android person, but iTunes is kind of this base that you can give the reviews and the ratings and then it’ll go to the Android devices. I actually have subscribed to the podcast using an app on Android, a Podcast App called Pocket Casts. There are other free ones. So that’s my Ministry Minute.

Keith: Amen. Excellent. Yeah, that’s a good transition. You ready to go to 28:1?

Nehemia: Let’s do it.

Keith: Okay. So 28:1, and we’re going to actually going through verse 13 here. So I want to read the first four verses here, and I’m reading now...

Nehemia: I’m going to propose that you do something else, and obviously you don’t have to.

Keith: What’s that?

Nehemia: Which is that you read as much as you need to through verse 8 because, I’ve got a lot to say about that, but I’m holding my comments for verses 9 through 13, which are one of the most important verses, one of the top 50 most important verses… passages in the Bible, and I kid you not! You’re making fun of me, but it’s true, it really is profound.

Keith: I’m actually going to make it easy for us, and this is one of the things that… I’m glad we started doing this at the beginning of this year, as far as inviting people to read and to comment and to tell us where we’re at. Because the truth is, we said we would do 45 minutes to an hour. It’s been difficult to do anything less than an hour, and even at that we end up going over a little bit. And actually, what I decided to do is at an hour, at 60 minutes, it’s Nehemia’s show. If it’s over 60 minutes and he wants to talk for 30 more well, I just go get a drink of water...

Nehemia: Well why don’t you talk about verses 1-8 and I’ll talk about 9 at 60 minutes. Talk for the next half hour.

Keith: I’m sure you will. No, I’m going to read from the NIV, and the reason for this is that sometimes I just want to say to people… one of the things I love about studying Scripture, and I mention this a lot, is I like to be able to compare and contrast. So I take the Hebrew and I take a passage in the NAS and the NIV and the JPS and the KJV. But I have to say this and make fun sometimes of what I call it the “Nearly Inspired Version”. And one of the benefits that I have of being able to read the NIV is that I actually like the way the NIV sounds in terms of using the English vernacular and grammar. The advantage that I have is that I can read a verse in the NIV and it can sound a certain way as far as modern-day language, but then I have the opportunity to go in to look and see what it says in the original. The disadvantage to the NIV is that they take so many liberties in terms of translation, and many times regarding theology I really have a problem with the NIV. But what I want to do is just read a little bit, when we used to do this with the Original Torah Pearls - we would have such huge large sections, we would have a section where we would just read, and then obviously we couldn’t comment on every word and every phrase and on every comma, on every question mark and every semicolon, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But we could hear the verse. And so I want to read just a few verses here, if that’s all right, in the NIV.

“Woe to the wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards to the fading flower, the glorious beauty set on the head of a fertile valley - to that city, the pride of those laid low by wine.” And obviously, in this… it’s not hard to say that there’s a connection between what’s going on with these folks in terms of their drinking issue and also in speaking of the wine, obviously, that they’re not just drinking the wine as a way of glad tidings or whatever. They’re obviously going to the place where they are laid waste with their drinking. Would you agree?

Nehemia: Well, yes, this isn’t just about consuming resveratrol - they’re stinking drunk.

Keith: Exactly. You say it in such a clear way. “See Yehovah, the Lord, has one who is powerful and strong like a hailstorm and a destructive wind, like a driving rain and a flooding downpour, He will throw it forcefully to the ground, that wreath the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards will be trampled underfoot.” And thank you again, Ernesto and Kelly, responding to this, “that fading flower, His glorious beauty set on the head of a fertile valley will be like a fig right before harvest. As soon as someone sees it and takes it in his hand, he swallows it.”

Now, in verse 5, “In that day, Yehovah almighty, Yehovah Tzavaot, will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant,” and I love that – “for the remnant of His people.” And again, any time where you’re reading, and as you said, sometimes they might pick a verse that they want to end on a better note, or maybe they didn’t feel comfortable with the way that it was ending, but anytime I see these types of things, these kinds of verses that come up where it says, “And to him who sits in judgment says, it says, “in that day, Yehovah Tzavaot will be a glor…”

Nehemia: Hello...uh-oh. Keith Johnson? Uh-oh. And the day it all crashed and burned. Are you there, Keith? Are you there? You’ve gone. I’m offline. What? Oh boy. Yes, I lost my Internet connection.

Keith: Folks. We’re in the middle of a real issue here. I was reading in my NIV, the internet got cut off, I kept reading, I thought Nehemia was listening. Come to find out, we were completely cut off since that time. It’s been about 30 minutes getting cut off, back and forth. We’re not sure if this is even going to be able to work, but we’re going to try to continue. I’m going to ask you, folks, to read in 28 up until about verse 9. Then we’ve got this special section, verse 9. Nehemia, are you ready for this? Can you now try again? I know you did it before. Can you try again? And go ahead and give a little background why this was a bit of a challenge.

Nehemia: Yes, there’s definitely a challenge because you’re over in China and don’t have the best internet. That’s an understatement. And we are repeatedly getting cut off, and yes... It’s frustrating, I’m pouring out my heart into these verses and then I find out...

Keith: Find out I’m not listening.

Nehemia: Well in mid-sentence finding out it’s not even getting recorded. So that’s extremely frustrating.

Keith: All right, here we go. Let’s try it.

Nehemia: I’m going to try one more time. Isaiah 28 starting in verse 9, and it says, “Whom shall he…” And the reason I’m reading this from the King James is that a number of years ago I encountered some people who had an entire denomination based on this passage and based specifically on the King James version of the passage, Isaiah 28, 9 through 13, which isn’t even what it says in Hebrew. And so it says in the King James, “Whom shall He teach knowledge and whom shall He make to understand doctrine?” That’s the question. And the answer is, “Them that are weaned from the milk and drawn from the breasts.” In other words, those who are like toddlers, they’re the ones that God is speaking to, like the two and three-year-old.

Verse 10, “For precept must be upon precept;” that word, “must”, doesn’t appear in the Hebrew. “Precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little and there a little.” And what these people did from this particular denomination that came along, they said that this is how you’re supposed to interpret Scripture. You’re supposed to read Scripture looking for half a verse here and three verses there. Of course, they didn’t exactly present it that way, but this is what they did. They took this passage and they said, the way to read Scriptures here a little there a little. So, you take a few verses here, a little bit from there and you put it together and you make this mosaic, and I call that proof-texting. And what you end up doing is taking all these things out of context. What you really need to do is understand every verse in its context, and this of all verses needs to be understood in its context because it explains it.

Verse 10 is a statement, “Precept upon precept, line upon line here a little…” well, what is that? It says “For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people to whom He said, this is the rest wherewith you may cause the weary to rest. And this is the refreshing, yet they hear not.” And then verse 13, “But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line here a little there a little that they may go and fall backwards and be broken ensnared and taken.” Let me read you what it really says in the Hebrew. Can I read that?

Keith: Yes, please do that.

Nehemia: So from the Hebrew it says, “Who shall He instruct knowledge and who shall understand the report,” and then this is part of the question, “those that are a weaned from milk, those that are removed from the breasts?” In other words, little babies aren’t going to understand this. It says, “For commandment upon commandment and commandment upon commandment, line upon line, line upon line here a little there a little.” Now what’s a line in Hebrew? You look up this word, kav. It doesn’t mean a line of Scripture. It means a line of measurement. They would have these strings and they have like a weight at the end of the string, a plumb line, and they would build according to the string to keep a straight line in the building. So line upon line, line upon line, what does that mean? He goes on, he says “for with a foreign tongue and with another language He shall speak to this people, that He said to them…” and actually that is best understood as a question - is He speaking to them with a foreign tongue that He said to them, “This is the rest with which you will rest or which you will give rest to the weak or the tired and this is the comfort,” and they didn’t want to hear. In other words, He said something really, really simple.

Let me read verse 12 in the JPS. This is Isaiah 28… hold on a second, starting in verse 9, and it says “To whom would He give instruction? To whom expound a message? To those newly weaned from milk just taken away from the breast? That same…” and then here they translate it, “mutter upon mutter murmur upon murmur, now here, now there,” but actually it says commandment upon commandment, et cetera.

Verse 13 is the one we wanted to get to. “To them the word of Yehovah has become,” is what it says in the Hebrew. “And the word of Yehovah has become to them, commandment upon commandment, commandment upon commandment, line upon line, line upon line, here a little there a little in order that they would go backwards and stumble, or they would go and stumble backward, and they’d be broken and they would fall into the snare.” In other words, because they didn’t want to hear the very simple message… and it’s amazing.

So here’s what this denomination did. They took the verse “here a little, there a little” and they use it as a justification for proof-texting, which really means taking verses out of context. Half a verse here, three verses there. And this is the exact opposite of what the prophet is saying. Literally the exact opposite. And it’s interesting, he’s talking about these children. He’s saying, “Is God speaking to these little children?” And it’s a rhetorical question. Of course, the answer is no. Well, what does that mean?

So I don’t know if you know this, but in psychology, they talk about four cognitive stages of child development, and I’m not a psychologist, I’m not an expert in this, but they say toddlers from ages two to seven perceive the world through what’s called magical thinking. They don’t think logically. And then seven to 12, the child is still unable to think logically. I’m reading from a description, from a psychology description here, and it says, “at age 7 to 12, children begin to understand logical or rational thought, but only concretely in relation to things they can see or touch.” And what that means is, children lack the ability for abstract thought. They only have concrete thought. And that’s key. The prophet understood this, God, of course, understood it. But the people at the time understood it. And that’s what it means when it’s asking the question, is God speaking to these children who are just weaned from the breast? Meaning a two-year-old, a three-year-old, a four-year-old? He’s not speaking to them because they think in concrete terms, not in abstract terms.

How does that then translate in their observance of the commandments? People, who think in these concrete terms without the abstract? Well, what happens is they refuse to listen to God’s simple straight message, and God’s word is turned into a bunch of incoherent commandments. Commandment upon commandment, commandment upon commandment. And then line upon line, which is the line of measurement. So it’s a measurement upon measurement. The simple message was to give rest to the needy, to take care of the weak and the poor and the downtrodden, to be righteous in treating other people. And instead of it being this coherent message, it becomes a series of these individual commandments. They’re obsessed with the individual commandments and with the measurements.

People will ask me, “How many commandments are in the Torah? The rabbis tell us there’s 613.” That’s because the rabbis are being foretold, are being described in this verse. They’ve turned it into commandment upon commandment, line upon line, that is measure upon measure. And you say, “Well, what is the measure upon measure of the rabbis?”

So one of the key concepts in Rabbinical Judaism, that I grew up with, is this idea that everything has to have a measure that the Torah is very vague, and that’s why we need the oral law, and the oral law will have specific measurements for everything. And one of the examples is they’ll say, “We’re commanded for seven days to eat matzah, unleavened bread, but how much unleavened bread?” And so the Talmud, the oral law, comes along and answers that; you need to eat the size of an olive. And apparently, they had giant olives because it’s also described as the size of an egg, which maybe they had really small eggs.

And there’s this story that is both funny and tragic about my father, who had really severe diabetes. He was told by his doctor, you can’t eat matza; it’s just poison for you, the unleavened bread. His response was, “I have to, I’m required to, I have to eat an olive size.” And I’m telling you, this was the biggest olive anyone’s ever seen on planet earth. He would eat like a half a piece of Matzah and it would shoot his blood sugar through the roof. And it really was tragic, he ended up dying of diabetes.

And so what the people were doing, even in Isaiah’s time and all the way down to modern times, is instead of looking at the big picture they look at the commandments and say, “What is the message here? What is the principle here?” And the principle is what it says in verse 12. That’s the principle behind the commandments, and the principle is, “This is the resting place. Let the weary rest. This is the place of repose.” And they refused to listen. In other words, here’s how you should treat your fellow man. Here’s how you should treat your fellow human being. Give him an opportunity to rest and recuperate. Instead, they were persecuting the poor and the weak.

And really, the message here is, because they refuse to hear that, they turned the commandments into, “We’re counting the commandments - here’s the third…” And there are 10 commandments of course, or the 10 matters. You have a teaching on that, I think. But what they’re doing is, “We have 613 commandments. This is number 598,” instead of saying, “Okay, this is what God commanded us to do and let’s understand what the big picture is, not just the individual commandments and not be obsessed with all these measurements.” You know the line upon line, which is, again, what that means in Hebrew. And they end up taking a little bit here, half a verse there and half of verse there. And so it’s the exact opposite of what that particular denomination said. They’ve turned the Torah into precept upon precept and line upon line, here a little there little. And that’s because they refuse to listen. And so God said, “Okay, you want that? I’ll let you have that in order that they will go and they will stumble back.” This is the end of verse 13, “and they will be broken and they will fall into the trap.”

So what we need to do is listen to what Yehovah said and not look at it like children who lack abstract thought and only focus on these concrete individual commandments and individual measurements. But look at the big picture of the Torah.

Keith: Amen. Well, folks, I’ll tell you what, we took a struggle to get that, but it was well worth it. And we actually go to the last two verses, which are 29:22 and 23, and I’m only going to take a second to share that. I also want to say to everyone that’s listening, we really do want you to go and to read this entire passage. Give us your comments,,, just go right to the comments section. But 29, if I can Nehemia, end with these last two verses. 22 it says, “Therefore this is what Yehovah who redeemed Abraham says to the House of Jacob, ‘No longer will Jacob be ashamed, no longer with their faces grow pale; when they see among their children the work of My hands, they shall keep My name holy. They will acknowledge the holiness of the holy one of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.’”

And of course when I read that, Nehemia, I think about this entire work that we did, A Prayer To Our Father: The Hebrew Origins of the Lord’s Prayer, it says, “They will keep My name holy,” and if you would do just one second... when you read that verse, Nehemia, what do you think about? It says, “they will keep My name holy.”

Nehemia: Well it doesn’t say, “they will keep My name holy,” it says, “they will sanctify My name.”

Keith: That’s what I was waiting for. That’s all I wanted…

Nehemia: That’s an active thing to do. Yes.

Keith: Yitkadesh Shimcha, Your name be sanctified. I will say this for my Ministry Minute, that there’s so much that’s happened in this last calendar year and so much we want to do in 2015. We found a way to give people access to see what we’ve done. Actually, there’s now what we call the Premium Content Library, a free trial where people can go in, see what’s there. If they like it, great. There’s no charge, there’s no issue. If after seven days they think it’s good, then they will be supporting us. Really, it’s a minimal, I think it’s $9.99 a month basically, so that we can then work on the things that we have in front of us for this next calendar year.

I do appreciate the many people that have already said yes and supported us. We wanted to reach a goal in December, it doesn’t look like we’re going to get there. So we’ve decided to make it free. Let people see for themselves and if they like it, continue., seven-day free trial. The work that we did on A Prayer To Our Father, and when I saw this phrase, and again I thought about that phrase, ‘Yitkadesh Shimcha’, Your name be sanctified, which is a call to action. And may we be people who continue to sanctify His name through our actions and our thoughts and what we do and what we say and who we are.

Now of course, again, we really have had some technical issues. Hopefully, we’re going to get this resolved. If not, it was another good run. But I will tell you, I really appreciate it, just going in and looking at these passages, studying them, trying to see what they say, and of course getting input from other people. Nehemia, I certainly appreciate all your study… I make fun of you being from the Hebrew University, but you know what? Without having tools that you spent so much time to be able to hone those tools, we’re able to get a peek at some things that I just think are amazing. So I really appreciate that.

If there’s anything else you want to say before we get cut off, I just want to say, everyone, thanks for hanging in there with us. It’s been a struggle for this one. Hopefully, we’ll get some backup systems in place so we can continue to study, continue to read and continue to bring these pearls from the Prophets to you.

Nehemia: Amen.

Keith: Amen.

You have been listening to Prophet Pearls with Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon’s Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at

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