Torah Pearls #15 – Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16)


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The Death of the First Born by Sir Lawrence Alma-TademaThis episode of The Original Torah Pearls, Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16), begins with the plague of locusts in Egypt. From the stories of Moses stretching his hands toward Egypt we gain some fascinating insights on the power of prayer. The discussion then moves to the death of the firstborn, and explore some of the amazing acts of The LORD providing for the Hebrew people prior to their departure. The group then speaks at length on the determining of the New Year based on the Hebrew calendar, which allows us to determine when Passover comes. This leads to a wonderful discussion of being humble enough to admit when one is wrong.

I look forward to reading your comments! Download Torah Pearls Bo Transcript
Torah Pearls #15 - Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16)

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

Jono: It's time for the Pearls from the Torah portion with Keith Johnson in Charlotte, Nehemia Gordon in Jerusalem, and myself here in country, New South Wales. Gentlemen, welcome back.

Keith: Good to be back.

Jono: It's wonderful to have you back and I'm excited. This is an exciting Torah portion. But before we begin, I just want to say good day to all the Aussies listening because today is Australia day!

Nehemia: I'm doing a shout out to Cindy on Facebook who shared the program. Keep sharing.

Jono: Yeah, keep sharing. Good day to Cindy and thank you for sharing these on Facebook. We really do appreciate it, getting the word out.

Keith: Jono, before we get started. Come on, it's Aussie Day. So, can't we say, "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi."

Jono: Today we are in Bo, in Exodus 10:1 to 13:16. And it begins like this…

Keith: Before you start, I also wanted to say to you, one of the things that's been really impressive since we started with Bereshit, I've noticed more and more you've been willing to venture out there with what you've been learning in terms of your Hebrew. And I think I'd like to give a shout-out to your teacher Yoel, who has done a phenomenal job of working with you regarding Hebrew. And sometimes you'll read in Hebrew and give different phrases in Hebrew.

I want to say to you, awesome job for stepping out there. And to your Hebrew teacher, Yoel from Jerusalem, I want us to give him a shout-out because he's obviously doing a great job.

Jono: And I will tell you honestly, he's a much better teacher than I am a pupil. Yoel Ben Shlomo, G’day mate! And how appropriate to say good day to Yoel, being such a fine didgeridoo player that he is.

His email, if others are interested in Hebrew lessons as well, is Another very Australian theme is what we're about to read, at least where I come from, and something I could very much relate to, and that is, this Torah portion kicks off with the plague of locusts.

I don't know about you Keith and Nehemia. I'm assuming you've seen some locust plagues, but, man, we've seen some pretty impressive stuff here.

Nehemia: Keith, have you ever seen a locust plague?

Keith: I haven't seen a plague. I've been in a couple of places where there's been a short fly through where there's been a bunch of locusts.

Nehemia: I've only seen it in National Geographic. I've seen individual locusts and they're big and scary, but I've never seen a plague of locusts.

Jono: It reminds me, Yoel and I were conspiring. Was it sometime in the middle of last year? We were going to make you eat some locusts, Nehemia. Do you recall?

Nehemia: I need to eat a locust. That's on my bucket list, to eat a locust, because it's kosher.

Jono: Okay, I’ll remind you, it's going to happen. Let me read. Now, “Yehovah said to Moses, ‘Go unto Pharaoh for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants that I may show these signs of mine before him, and that you may tell,’ this needs to be made note of, here it is, ‘that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and your son's son, the mighty things that I have done in Egypt and my signs which I have done among them that you may know that I am Yehovah.’”

So, Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and they said, "Let us go. We've got to go. If you don't let us go Yehovah is going to bring locusts into your territory and they shall cover the face of the earth so that no one will be able to see the earth." They're going to be that thick. I've seen them that thick before. And it's an incredible sight. It really, really is.

"And they shall eat the residue of what is left." Remember, this is after the hail, of course, that devastated everything. “But anything that's green that is left they will devour.”

I've got stories, by the way, of locusts in that kind of plague numbers that even will eat the green pegs on clothesline. That's what I've heard. “They shall eat everything that remains, every tree which grows up out of the field. They will fill the houses, the houses of the servants and the houses of the Egyptians which neither of your fathers or your father's fathers have seen since the day that they were on the earth until this day. And he turned out and went out from Pharaoh.”

This is great, verse 7. Pharaoh's servants are starting to get ticked off. They've seen what's going on. And they seem to be putting two and two together. And they say to him, "How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the man go that he may go and serve Yehovah, their Elohim. Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?" They’d figured it out.

Keith: It's interesting. I think that someone could probably write an entire book just on this idea of what's happening with Pharaoh, beyond the fact of his heart being hardened, but in terms of negotiating with power.

There's a famous statement, “Power concedes nothing without demand”. And, literally, there's not going to be this idea of Pharaoh giving up. He's not giving it up for nothing. And so, when he comes back the second time he says, "Okay, you're good. But just by the way, who's going to be going?"

I just think that is amazing. And Moses says, "We're going to go with our young and with our old, and with our daughters, and with our flocks, and with our herds because we are to celebrate a festival unto Yehovah. Pharaoh said, Yehovah be with you. If I let you go along with your women and your children clearly you are bent on evil. No. Have only the men go and worship Yehovah."

I'm trying to figure out what's happening in these two sentences. Maybe it's obvious in Hebrew. Maybe Nehemia reads it. But am I correct in saying, it says, “Pharaoh says, Yehovah be with you." Does he not say that?

Jono: I'll tell you what, I've got the New King James here and this is what it says here. In verse 10, “Then he said to them, Yehovah had better be with you when I let you and your little ones go. Beware, for evil is ahead of you. Not so. Go! You go..."

Keith: Hold on. I don't understand. Nehemia, what does your version say?

Nehemia: It says: “Let Yehovah so be with you, when I send with you your babies see that there is evil before your faces. Not so. Go now the men and turn to Yehovah for that's what you're asking.” In other words, he's saying, "I can't send the children. They'll get hurt. I'm just going to send the men. That's really what you want. You want the men to bring sacrifices. You don't really need the children to go.”

And I think what we're dealing with here, until this very day this is how negotiations will often go in the Middle East. You get the other side to agree, and just after he agrees, one last request, and this is one of the things that we've been dealing with, and not to bring politics into it. But one of the things we've been dealing with in the peace negotiations in Israel is that every time we come to an agreement, they have, "Wait, there's one more thing beyond our agreement." And they've got to get that one little thing.

So actually, one of the Israeli tactics in negotiation is to withhold things because they know this is the culture of the Middle East. You’ve got to give that one last thing, so the other side feels not only did I strike a good bargain, but I'm a good negotiator. And so that's part of the culture. One last thing here. You can go, sure, fine. I'm ready to cry uncle. But you can't go with the children. I need you to come back.

Jono: And this is it. Even his servants had said, "Come on. Open your eyes. Check it out. We're all destroyed." He's going, "Okay. I'm going to let them go, but now I'm negotiating on who goes.”

Keith: I say that this is a foreshadowing deal here, because he says here, “Moses answered, we will go with our young, and our old, and with our sons and our daughters, and with our flocks and our herds because we are to celebrate.” And does the word there in Hebrew say chag?

Nehemia: And chag is a festival, a feast, but it’s also a pilgrimage.

Keith: Oh, it’s a pilgrimage. And how many pilgrimages are there, Nehemia, in the biblical feasts?

Nehemia: In the biblical feast here, there are three pilgrimages. There's the feast of unleavened bread which is a chag, there is the feast of Shavuot, which is a chag, and there is Sukkot, which is a chag.

Keith: Awesome. Who's required to go to those festivals?

Nehemia: In the Torah it later says, in Exodus 23:34 and a few other places, that it's only the males.

Keith: Maybe Pharaoh is being prophetic here and looking forward to the festivals that are about to be set-up. And he's saying, "Look, you're only going to need the men."

Nehemia: He's foreshadowing. It's a prefiguration.

Keith: I’m just kidding, go ahead Jono.

Jono: In any case, he doesn't meet the requirements that Moses puts to him. And so, he gets the locusts. There's a wind, Yehovah brings a wind. It's a mesmerizing thing to watch a plague of locusts in the wind. It really, really is, it’s an incredible thing to watch.

“But all evening, and in the morning there they were. And they ate every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left. So there remained nothing green on the trees or on the plants of the field throughout all the land of Egypt."

Then in verse 16, “Pharaoh called to Moses and Aaron in haste and said, “I have sinned. Please forgive my sin only this once. And entreat Yehovah Elohim that He may take away from me this death only."

It's hard to imagine that after things like boils, devastating hail, the plague on the livestock and all these sorts of things, that this could be worse, that this could be upping the ante, so to speak.

But when you start to see your landscape disappearing from a green, lush life-giving landscape, and then all of a sudden, it's just turning brown, disappearing, and is starting to look more and more like deserts and death, it would start very quickly. People would be very, very fearful. And I suspect that's what's going through Pharaoh's mind, and the mind of the servants and the people.

Keith: Every time I read this story, I keep wondering what else is left. And here with the locusts, I can't even imagine the locusts desiring to be in that part of the world at that point. I know Yehovah sent them, but what was left for them to eat?

Jono: After this? Yes, that's right. They were utterly devastated.

Nehemia: There is a really interesting little point in verses 12 and 13, one that is very easy to miss. "And Yehovah said to Moshe, Stretch out your hand upon the land of Egypt." And then in verse 13 it says, "Moshe stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt."

And I'm wondering, maybe I'm reading into this. Because later on in verse 20 and 21 He says, “Stretch out your hand,” and it says, "And Moses stretched out his hand."

Here he's stretching out his staff even though God told him to stretch out the hand. Maybe it's a small little thing. But we're going to see later on that Moses really comes to rely on that staff, and trusts in the staff more than the commandments of God, and that gets him in trouble.

Keith: You’ve got to be kidding me. Ladies and gentlemen, this is an amazing shift here for Nehemia to catch something not only that small and to say, "Is it possible?"

Nehemia, this is amazing. Back in the old days when we would study, I would see something like that and I would say, "Nehemia, is it possible?" And you'd say, "Oh Keith, just let it be what it is." So, this is really cool.

Nehemia: This is the type of thing I would always notice. Basically, there's something in Moses' character here, where he comes to trust in that staff more and more, and maybe forget for a second, or not have enough confidence in Yehovah, who’s giving him the commandment.

When he ends up later taking that staff and hitting the rock instead of talking to the rock, then that's an expression not just of that one stumble, but of something that really had been building up for a long time.

Keith: This is an amazing thing you're saying.

Jono: Let me throw something out on what you're saying. I don't know what quite to make of it. Maybe you have some thoughts. If we jump ahead into next week's Torah portion, let's just do that briefly.

We're in Exodus 17:9. It says, "Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand. So, Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And so, it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands became heavy.” Am I to understand that he's holding the rod?

Nehemia: It seems to be implied. At least he’s got the rod with him. And that's a really interesting story. And I know this is outside the scope of this week's Torah portion, but some of the Jewish commentators looked at that and they said, "What is the significance of Moses holding up his hands, that they're prevailing when the hands are held up and they're losing when the hands are down. It almost sounds like magic.”

The answer that people have come up with is that this was an expression of prayer. He's raising up his hands as an act of prayer. He was praying to God with his hands raised. There was, I guess, a power in that, and Israel was prevailing. And when he got weak, well, maybe that tells us something about the power of prayer.

He definitely was trusting in that rod of his, because it wasn't the rod that caused him to prevail, it was him holding up his hands in prayer. So, there's another example, you're right, of, he's trusting more and more in that rod.

I think there's a significance to that in Hebrew, because the Hebrew word for rod is matteh. And matteh is also the word for tribe, because the one who holds the staff, that's the symbol of a leader. So it becomes the word for an entire tribe, which is led by someone who holds that staff.

This was a symbol of leadership in the ancient Hebrew thinking, and I think Moses was relying on that symbol of leadership more than in the true leader, the one above him, the one giving him the commandments and telling him what he needed to do.

Jono: That is interesting. And we do actually see that later in the Torah, obviously, with Aaron's staff budding. We'll eventually get to that. Anyway, definitely some food for thought.

Keith: I'm fascinated just with the idea that He literally says to him, "Stretch out your hand." We don't have any other information that would tell us that his hand includes his rod. Though I wonder, in the beginning he gives him the rod and says, "This is what you'll do." And that could be implied, but it literally says “hand”, and then Moses stretches out his rod. That's something I'd like to take some time with. I like that.

Jono: “Then Yehovah said to Moses, "Stretch out your hands towards heaven that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt.” How about that? “Thick darkness” it says, and not only thick darkness, but “three days of thick darkness. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings.” This is something that's very difficult to visualize.

Keith: No. There's got to be some hidden thing here. What, did the lights not work in Egypt?

Jono: It actually says in verse 23, "They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days and three nights.”

Nehemia: Are you telling me that they were in darkness and did not rise for three days? Keith you’re not going to run with this? Come on.

Keith: No. What I'm trying to tell you is this. Here you are over in that part of Egypt. You're literally saying to me that in Goshen the Israelites had the ability to light a lamp, but in this part of Egypt they didn't have the ability to light a lamp.

Is it that they were in darkness, meaning there was darkness over that part of the land, but there was light elsewhere? If they wouldn't have said there was light it wouldn't be confusing, but here's what's confusing. Is this darkness, meaning when you have an eclipse that lasts and it’s dark? How far is Goshen from where the darkness was, Nehemia?

Nehemia: Goshen they usually identify as an area in the East Nile Delta. Egypt is actually a really, really long country. Actually, the longest ancient country in the world, but it's very, very narrow. It's only a few miles wide, but hundreds and hundreds of miles of long along the Nile River. And then it spreads out in the delta, which is one specific area of Egypt. Apparently, all of Egypt was dark except for that area of the eastern delta, Goshen.

Jono: I have heard the possibility of a volcanic ash cloud, perhaps, stemming from one particular source and heading in one particular direction. They may have done that for three days. But it's difficult to say that, if Goshen is getting light, that they're not at least getting some light, enough light, to be able to go outside. Then one might ask themselves, maybe He struck them with blindness. But that's not what it says, because if you're blind, you're blind. Maybe if you set up a torch, you're going to know that you're blind if you can’t see the torch. But Keith, maybe it just stops the lights from traveling, I don't know.

Keith: Here's where we've got to stop. We've got to stop here guys, because we need some help. Maybe the folks that are listening would be able to do this and maybe forward a question or some insight. I wonder sometimes if this isn't the sort of darkness that falls over us where we need our eyes to be open. I need my eyes to be opened, Nehemia. I need you to say a prayer for us, because is this not what happens sometimes? As we're reading, we're just not able to see. There's darkness here. We need help from Yehovah to open our eyes that we might be able to see, like those in Goshen that had light. I need light from the Torah.

Nehemia:Yehovah, Avinu Shebashamaim haster et hachoshech hamechaseh et einenu, g’al einenu venabita niflaot mitoratecha.” Yehovah, our Father in heaven, remove the darkness that covers our eyes. Uncover our eyes that we may see the hidden, wonderful things of your Torah, Amen.

Jono: Amen.

Keith: Amen! I'm telling you man, I need that right now.

Nehemia: About the volcanic ash, I really have no problem believing that it could've been. I don't know if that's what it was, but I don't see that as being inconsistent with what the story says, because if you think about it, locusts aren't a supernatural thing in and of themselves. There's nothing supernatural about locusts.

What was supernatural was the exact and precise timing of the locusts. That God brought a wind at that exact time, and it covered that exact country and that exact place. And then as soon as he was ready to get rid of it, it was blown away. It was blown out to sea.

So, it's very possible. I see no contradiction whatsoever to say that it was a volcano with ash. That would actually explain why it says a man could not see his fellow. Let's say if there was an eclipse, or let's say that God suspended the light of the sun for 72 hours from those areas. Why couldn't they light a lamp? Volcanic ash actually would explain it quite well. There could have been some kind of a mist, or haze, or ash, or who knows what. We really don't know. But it does say there was darkness, so dark that they could feel it.

I've been in places that were so dark you can feel the darkness. Really, it's been caves underground. Some of the caves where the ancient Israelites hid out from the foreign invaders. You go down to those caves, and you turn off your flashlight, and you just wait a few minutes for your eyes to adjust. And, man, is it dark. Keith and I had an interesting incident in one of those caves, which I probably won’t share.

Keith: I would like to share it. We were actually in darkness ladies and gentlemen. Nehemia, the great tour guide took me down into these caves, ladies and gentlemen. And I want to tell you something, we experienced the plague of darkness. It's really an amazing experience. I've never done anything like this, Jono. You're deep down in the earth. And so, he did just that. He turned the light off and he's like, “Now I want you to experience the darkness,” he'd say. And so, the darkness came and there was quiet and darkness. And after about 30 seconds we started hearing this scratching. The great, brave and courageous Nehemia Gordon turned on his light. What was it Nehemia? A rat or something was down there.

Nehemia: It was a field mouse. Some kids had been in that cave, I guess, the day before, and left some potato chips or something. And so, a field mouse was working on them. And you have to understand, Jono. We were crawling through these tunnels that you can't stretch your arms out. You're on your stomach and you're actually moving your stomach and your back just to be able to inch forward. It's almost like you're swimming through it. And it's so tight and I'm realizing, if we have to crawl through that tunnel that has the mouse in it, the mouse is going to crawl over me. I'm going to scream like a little girl.

Keith: I just have to tell everyone. We were sitting there in the darkness and finally, enough is enough. And Nehemia says, "Keith, don't be alarmed if I scream like a little girl."

Nehemia: What I did end up doing is making noise and scared the field mouse away. And then I said, Keith first.

Jono: Speaking of sending, we're negotiating again in verse 24. Pharaoh called to Moses and he said, "You can go. You can take your little ones. But let your flocks and your herd be kept back." He's still negotiating. Moses says, no, not doing that. Yehovah hardened Pharaoh's heart and he would not let them go. Then Pharaoh said, "Get away from me. Take heed to yourselves and see my face no more. For in the day you see my face you shall die.” And Moses thought that was a good idea, so he said, fine, have it your way. “We won't speak again I will never see your face again." And here we are knocking on the door of the final plague, and that is of course the death of the first born.

Keith: And here's where I feel like we have to slow down, and I'm sure the folks that are listening are hoping that we'll also slow down because this is such a significant shift that takes place again. There's the shift of, here's what's going to happen to the land, here's what's going to happen to the animals, here's what's going to happen to you. And then it's almost like we start over again. Not saying this specifically, but it's almost outside of them again after the boils. And then we get to this idea that Pharaoh speaks these words of death, and then the next thing that we're dealing with is death. I don't know for you, Nehemia, when you historically read this, or maybe something that changed in terms of a tradition, or something that changes this sort of a story. But this becomes something that for me that I have to slow down. Because I'm like, wait a minute.

It isn't just, we're going to bring forth these plagues to get you out of here. This is something that has ramifications throughout scripture. That's why I want us to slow down a little bit. This is really important.

Jono: There's a lot of gravity to this one, because the previous plagues almost had the comical elements. And I don't mean that it's funny, but it's like, take that, Egyptians. You deserve that.

But this one, it really gets very, very serious. And to imagine if, in all its reality, as I said, it just adds a lot of gravity to the situation. “Yehovah said to Moses, I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt, and afterwards he will let you go from here. And when he lets you go, he will surely drive you out of here altogether. Speak now, in the hearing of the people. Let every man ask his neighbor, and every woman from her neighbor, articles of silver and articles of gold. And Yehovah gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt in the sight of Pharaoh's servants and in the sight of the people. Moses said, thus says Yehovah, about midnight I will go out into the midst of Egypt, and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die. From the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the female servant who's behind the hand mill, and all of the firstborn of the animals. Then there shall be a great cry throughout the land of Egypt such as was not like it before nor shall it ever be again. But against none of the children of Israel." It's interesting. And I'd like to know how you interpret this, Nehemia.

"But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog move its tongue against man or beast, that you may know that Yehovah does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel."

Nehemia: That’s one of my favorite passages, being a big dog fan. It's an interesting phrase, it also appears in the book of Joshua where it talks about the Israelites. When they're conquering the land no one dared to move their tongue against the Israelites. And apparently, it's a figure of speech that expresses, in the case of dogs barking and in the case of people shouting, and essentially barking in their way as well. And what normally happens when a whole group of people, heck, when two or three people walked by my door, my dog Georgia barks. That's normally what dogs do. And you had over a million Israelites leaving the land of Egypt, and the dogs didn't bark at them. That was a sign. The silence of the dogs, the respect of the dogs for God's people was a sign that this isn't just a cosmic coincidence. This is the hand of God.

Keith: Wait, here's the question here. You said there's going to be this loud wailing throughout Egypt. So, this is what's going to happen. There's going to be this loud wailing. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark. So, there's not going to be any sound. There's going to be wailing in this part of Egypt, but amongst the Israelites not even the dogs will say anything. I was expecting instead for it to be like this, this is going to be the firstborn, that's going to happen, but amongst the Israelites no firstborn will die. Then it says, there's going to be this that's going to happen with the firstborn. And there's going to be wailing, but among the Israelites there will be no wailing. Then you will know that there is a distinction. So, I’m thinking, wait a minute. As we read later, we find out that if you don't go by the commands of Yehovah, then you are not going to be safe from this thing that's about to happen. It almost throws me for a little bit of a loop, because I'm thinking he's going to say, I'm going to make a distinction and there's not going to be any death. Rather, he says, there's not going to be any wailing. As I read that, that's the thing that kind of threw me off a little bit. But we can move on.

Jono: It goes on and says in verse 8, "And all of these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me saying, get out and all the people who follow you. After that I will go out. And then he went out from Pharaoh in great anger. But Yehovah said to Moses, Pharaoh will not heed you so that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt. So, Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh. And Yehovah hardened Pharaoh's heart, and he did not let the children of Israel go out of the land.” And here we are in chapter 12, and this is the Passover.

Keith: And here's why I think this is so, so significant. Because here you've got this verse in verse 29, just as you say, Moses replied, I will never appear before you again. Then you have this whole discussion about what's going to happen. And by the way, when you leave get the gold, and get the silver. He's preparing for the Exodus.

And then Moses said, this is what Yehovah says, and he tells him this. And then he says, after that I will leave. “Then Moses, hot with anger,” it says, “he left Pharaoh.”

Finally, Moses is like, look man, this thing has gotten very serious, and he leaves in anger. And then it's like there's a commercial. And I know we've talked about this before, Nehemia, where there are these things that happen. Sometimes in scripture things happen rapid fire. In four sentences it'll go over a two- or three-year period.

Then other times in scripture we will have something that happens, and then it's like there's this commercial, and the commercial that's coming is super significant when we get to chapter 12.

I don't know if that's something you want to talk a little bit about, about how the Hebrew bible is written, but I think this is really interesting. Here’s this and this plague, now we're going to slow down and get a whole bunch more information over a period of time.

Nehemia: Maybe what you're saying is verses 9 and 10 of the last chapter, chapter 11, that's not sequential to what just happened in verse 8. In verse 8 it's essentially Moses standing there, and Pharaoh says, "I'm never going to see you again." And then Moses says, "Yeah, you're never going to see me again."

And Moses has one last prophecy, walks out in anger, and then we get a retrospective describing that whole process that just took place.

Yehovah said to Moses, "The Pharaoh will not listen to you.” Well, when did he say that? “In order that I will multiply my signs in the land of Egypt."

That must have been a long time before Moses walked out, because at that point there was only one more sign, and that was the plague of the firstborn, along with the splitting of the sea, as well.

Presumably, this was something that happened much earlier. And that's something that happens throughout the story. There’re a few details that I’ll point to, if we get to them, if we have time. And one of them was in verse 2 of the last chapter. It says, “Each man will ask from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor vessels of silver and vessels of gold.”

When exactly did that happen? Presumably that was something that was an ongoing process in preparation of these final days, and maybe final weeks of leaving. "Can I borrow that silver platter you have?" This favor was given to the Israelites that the Egyptians said, "Yeah slave, you could have my gold platter, my gold cup. Sure." And I guess the moral of the story is, don't lend stuff to Israelites if you're an Egyptian taskmaster.

And this is how they despoiled Egypt. They just asked the Egyptians for the stuff and the Egyptians gave it to them. And then that's repeated in verse 36. It says, "And Yehovah gave favor of the people in the eyes of Egypt. And they asked of them and they borrowed from them, and they despoiled Egypt."

We're not supposed to understand that verse 36 took place after verse 34, because in verse 34 they've already left the country. This is what you might call retrospective. And that's an important principle in the Torah. In Hebrew we say, eyn mukdam ume'ukhar baTorah. There's no sequential order of the sections in the scripture.

And one of the clear examples of that is where actually a date is given. It is in the book of Numbers chapter 9. It gives a date, and that date is before the date given in Numbers chapter 1. It's not sequential. Within the section, not necessarily.

It's telling the story of these things that happened in the past. But the order in which they happened is not necessarily being laid out by the order of the verses. I think that's the key point.

Keith: Thank you.

Jono: “Yehovah spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying, ‘This shall be your beginning of the months.’” This is significant as well, isn't it? Because if I remember correctly...

Nehemia: It's one of the three T's, Johnson!

Keith: We're going to slow down here, Jono. I'm not going to let you read this too much, because this is really important.

Jono: The year of the Egyptians had already begun. And I think, if I remember correctly, the way they calculated the year was the astronomical event, the sighting of the star on the horizon with an agricultural event, the flooding of the Nile. But Yehovah is correcting them. He's saying, "Now, this is what we're going to do. This is a different thing."

Nehemia: Rising of Sirius, which is a star.

Keith: When is that, Nehemia?

Nehemia: It's an event that happens once a year. They would actually go and observe it. And they would observe Sirius rising, if I'm not mistaken, just before sunrise. They call it the heliacal rising. That would indicate to them that the earth has reached that point in its orbit. They thought it was the sun reaching that point in its orbit around the earth. That's what they thought.

Jono: Did you recall what time of the year that happens?

Nehemia: Not off the top of my head, no. It happens once a solar year.

Keith: Jono and Nehemia, I'd like a card here for a second. I did something really interesting at the beginning of 2012, and I did it on purpose because of my interest this coming year on this issue of time.

I've talked a lot about this, time, Torah, tetragrammaton. Time, Torah, and his name. And I encountered these three things in Israel in 2002, and it reoriented my entire life, my ministry, my family, everything.

When I deal with the issues of God's time, versus the time that we live in, it catches my attention. When we deal with His Torah versus, maybe, the Torah that we're also given and told, this is what we're to live by or His name, these three things are big.

For me, in 2012, I'm focusing on this issue of time. And Nehemia knows that. He makes jokes sometimes about it, but I know he also takes it seriously that if you want to talk to Keith about something that's happening in scripture and we come across something that points to time, Torah, or tetragrammaton, he's going to get excited.

What I did in the beginning of 2012, I went to New York City. Maybe in Australia you guys have cameras that focus in on the fact that in New York City at 12 o'clock, midnight, January 1st, the world puts their cameras in and says, "It's the New Year."

And so, this year I convinced my family, because I've done it one other time about 25 years ago, I went in to Times Square in New York. And the reason I wanted to...

Nehemia: Why is it called Times Square?

Keith: It's actually called Times Square not because of time. It's actually called Times Square because of a newspaper, the New York Times that actually moved their office into Times Square.

But here's what's interesting Nehemia. Most people don't think of Times Square in terms of the newspaper. They think of Times Square because that's where the United States says, it's the beginning of the year. And so, we go to Times Square and a million people make their way into Times Square to do one thing, to watch the ball drop.

Jono: I don't get it.

Keith: I'm telling you, Jono, it's one of the most ridiculous things. I could really go into great depth, but here's why I want to bring this up. We have been conditioned in this part of the world that we're on our time. And the time is set based on the Gregorian calendar, and they tell us on January 1st, it's Happy New Year.

However, when I get to Exodus chapter 12, there's a conflict. Because the conflict is, it seems that for some reason God doesn't want to get on our calendar. He clearly is telling Moses, "Here's your calendar."

If I'm wrong, you guys, please correct me. But it seems as though there is a counting of time that our creator has that, for some reason, based on my new understanding over the last 10 years, doesn't match the biblical time. And so, this causes great concern for me, and I think this verse is where it gets really serious.

It says, "Yehovah said unto Moshe and to Aaron in Egypt, this month is to be for you, the first month." And then he says again, "The first month of your year." Here's your calendar, put it in your Blackberry. Here's what you're going to know, Moses. Here's the time you're supposed to have.

But we've got a problem. Based on this calendar, this calendar doesn't match mine. So which calendar am I to go by? And how am I to know when this first month is? I'm on a search that has got me mesmerized, like it did with the name. And I happen to be friends with Nehemia Gordon who, by the way, in my opinion, is one of the world's foremost experts on God's time according to His calendar and how we figure that out.

Nehemia, you've got to take a moment. Just stick your chest out for a second if you would, and help us understand why this verse is so significant.

Nehemia: The Hebrew word for month, chodesh, is a word that literally means "new moon". And so, you could also legitimately translate this verse, "This new moon is for you, the head of new moons. First it is for you of the new moons of the year." That tells you that the months are going to begin with these new moons.

Keith: Wait a minute, let's stop for a second. This is important, wouldn’t you agree? Can we take a moment?

Jono: Certainly, let's take a moment.

Keith: You're telling me, Nehemia, when you're reading in your Hebrew Bible, you can come to the conclusion that actually he's not speaking of, as I understand, month, but that month is based on the new moon?

Nehemia: Absolutely. The word "month" means new moon. In verse 3, "I'll speak to the entire congregation of Israel saying on the 10th day of this month." It could also be translated, “on the 10th day of this new moon.”

Keith: So then when he says to him this is the...

Nehemia: Of course, they knew what a new moon was.

Keith: Okay. Go ahead, Nehemia.

Nehemia: Which new moon is that? Because in a lunar year you would have only 12 new moons. And Genesis 1, He tells us that He's created the sun also for these times and years. And so, in a solar year you're going to have between 12 and 13 new moons. How do you know which is the new moon that begins the year after you count 12 or 13?

In a Western leap year, you have an extra day, once every four years. That's how the Gregorian calendar works, how they do in it Times Square.

In the Hebrew calendar you have a leap year of an entire new moon, of an entire month. And so, you'll have 12 new moons (or 12 months) in a regular year. In a leap year you'll have 13 new moons, and the leap year happens about every two or three years.

What you look for, for the beginning of the new moon, the new moon that will then begin the year is, they had a couple of weeks before this event. And we saw it. We read it in the last Torah portion, shortly before the new moon they had the barley being aviv, remember we read that “the barley and flax was smitten for the barley was aviv and the flax was giv’ol,” that was the plague of the hail.

And then in Exodus 23, Exodus 34, Deuteronomy 16, it'll connect that Aviv to the timing of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the month of the Aviv. And so, before that month, just as before this event, before you get to that month you have to have the barley being Aviv.

And so, we're going to actually be going and looking for the Aviv this year in the land of Israel. In ancient times farmers would just come to the priest and say, "Hey, my barley's ready. Next new moon we should begin the year."

Today we don't really have people doing that. We're in an industrial society and farmers aren't really interested in that sort of thing. We actually go out and we look at the fields. And we're doing that over in Israel at the end of March, which happens to be the end of the 12th lunar month. And actually, March 23rd is the sighting of the new moon.

So, on the 22nd and 23rd, the last few days of the lunar month, we're going to see, is the barley Aviv, just like it had been during the time of the plague of hail? If it is then the next new moon will be the new moon of the Aviv.

Keith: Jono, the reason I wanted to stop and take a moment on this is because this is so significant. When I first started understanding this as a Methodist, that there's a calendar in the sky that actually I could look at just like Moses and Aaron looked at, it just blew me away. It mesmerized me.

I had never noticed the new moon. I noticed the full moon. I never even knew that the moon disappeared. I didn't know anything about it. So, I started studying this information based on what I was learning.

And then I would read this verse completely different. Because then I'd say to my family, we go outside, that's what Moses and Aaron looked at when Yehovah looked and said, “This shall be for you the beginning of your year.” So, we have Happy New Years here in my house when we get to that time when the barley is Aviv and we get the new moon.

I know that I celebrated this with the world at Times Square, but I don't acknowledge it as God's time. That's our time. There's a different New Year that we all can experience. It really is quite powerful, and I will be with Nehemia looking for the barley, and then sighting the new moon, and shouting “New Year.”

I get to celebrate the real New Year over in Israel, the biblical calendar. It really is a phenomenal thing for families and people to do. It's just like Yehovah said to Moses, it's the beginning of the months.

Jono: So instead of looking at the numbers on the calendar, on a piece of paper, on the fridge, whatever it may be, you go outside and there is the indicator, there's the marker of the calendar date there in the sky. And He's given it to us.

What Nehemia is saying, if I understand correctly, is that to avoid what's called “seasonal drift” there are adjustments made in a month. You can't just rely on the moon solely, because there needs to be something else to anchor to the beginning of the year so that the seasons don't drift.

What he's saying is the barley, an agricultural event, is one such event that people do rely upon. And another one, I know a lot of people also do rely on a solar event, that being the equinox. There are different opinions out there. There’re different understandings.

Nehemia: Aviv actually is a solar cycle. It is a solar event. In the land of Israel, the barley ripens and becomes Aviv always at a certain time of the year based on the lengthening of the days and the change in temperature which has to do, as we know today, with the earth going around the sun, which is a solar event. It's the earth reaching a certain place in its orbit. If you want to say that that's connected to the equinox, I suppose it is in a way.

Jono: I suppose you can say that, but it's manifested in agricultural terms.

Nehemia: Exactly. And what we don't have in biblical times that you can show any kind of ancient source is that people would observe...

Actually, if you think about the equinox, the way they would observe it is they would observe and they would have a pole sticking up and they would look at the shadows that were dropped at high noon by the sun.

And they would track those throughout the year. That's kind of a pretty complicated system, and we don't have any indication that they actually did that.

In the earliest Jewish sources that do talk about the equinox, there are actually two different opinions about how to determine its length from one year to another and the results you would get from those would be vastly different.

There is an ancient source that goes back to the time of the second temple, which says the rabbis would determine the beginning of the year based on three things. They say based on the equinox, based on the Aviv, and based on the fruits of the trees, the ripening of the fruit, also being another agricultural indicator of the earth reaching certain places in its orbit, being at a certain point in the solar cycle.

Then they said, if the Aviv is one of them then everyone's happy. Apparently what they were saying is that these other things are disputable. This one's really not in dispute because it's mentioned expressly in the scripture.

Jono: Actually, I've had this discussion with many people, and so have you, no doubt. And obviously the verse you mentioned before, Genesis 1:14 always comes up. “Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years.” And I was just saying to Keith, if you look up in the sky at night and you see the calendar date displayed in all its glory, God's calendar is there in the moon. But in order to avoid what is called seasonal drift you have to anchor to another event as well for the beginning of the year.

And certainly, the barley serves as an agricultural event, but so does the equinox as well. And quite often both of them were on-site. But in any case...

Keith: If we stay within the pages of Tanakh, based on what Moses and Aaron would've seen, that Yehovah said to him, "Look, this shall be the beginning of the month for you."

And that if we go by their reasoning, in the situation that we're in, we'd have had two witnesses, the month of the Aviv based on the barley, and the siting of a new moon. Later we can also figure out based on astronomy. We can figure out based on the signs and the stars.

But based on what we would have had there within the pages of Tanakh, if I'm an ancient Israelite and I'm there listening to Tanakh once every seven years, and I'm listening to this, what would I have understood to be how I would’ve known what Moses was talking about? Is it fair for me to say that, if I'm an ancient Israelite I would say two things, Aviv, and new moon.

Nehemia: Here's one thing to point out. In Genesis 1:14 when it talks about the thing for signs and for days in the seasons and years. The word “seasons” is moadim, which actually is appointed times. It doesn't mean seasons of the year.

We used the term before chag, the term “feast”, and technically in the scripture there are only three chags, only three chagim, and that's the feast of Unleavened Bread, the feast of Weeks, Shavuot, and the feast of Booths, Sukkot.

But there's other moadim, other appointed times, which it includes those three chagim, but is also the appointed time of Yom Teruah, and the appointed time of Yom HaKipurim, the Day of Atonement.

That appointed time refers to what I would call biblical holidays, some people will call it biblical feasts, but it also includes two days that aren’t actually feasts, simply times that God has appointed for us to have a day of rest, and for other purposes as well, as holy days.

Keith: Everyone, please do me a favor. I want to give out a shout out to the Karaite Korner. Nehemia, would you please just give the URL for that and spell it? Because one of things that you do that is really powerful is that you let us know through Karaite Korner when the new moon is sighted, and also some really important information behind it, like how you determine this idea of chodesh being the moon. Could you just give the information on that and we can move on?

Nehemia: Also, by the way, there's a free newsletter that people can sign up for on the website, Karaite Korner newsletter. And the website is (2019 – this website is no longer available)

I just want to say one last thing, which is that this is not a topic that we should be divisive about. What I've seen, it saddens me to see people who will say, "Before I was in error and now, I found the truth. And only I have the truth and everyone else is in error now."

And they'll focus on this issue of the calendar and they’ll say, "We've got the new moon down, and those other people, they don't have the new moon. They're still following the rabbinical calendar, they're following some other calendar according to some other system which they think is right. But they have scales in their eyes, and we're the only one who's right. They're going to be burning in the pit of hell because they're wrong.”

It really isn't something that should divide people. I think it's something that should unite people. And if I'm observing the feast on the correct day, on Tuesday, and you're observing it on Wednesday a month later, that is really not something that should divide us. I should be big enough where I can come to your home a month later on what you believe is the correct day and happens to be wrong, and break matzah with you and enjoy this festival, because it's not about you and me being right, it's about worshiping the creator of the universe in humility. And I should be humble enough to admit that I'm wrong even though I know for a fact that you're wrong.

Jono: Can I put it this way? I would say, always reserve your right to be wrong, and in doing so you can always extend grace to others who think a little differently than you.

Nehemia: Amen. Absolutely.

Jono: “On the 10th of the month you take yourself a lamb…”, we're going to have to fly through this, we're running out of time. “One lamb per household…”, and there's the details there. “Your lamb should be without blemish, male of the first year. And you take some and you kill it at twilight. And you take some of the blood and you put it on the doorpost.”

And he gives them all the unleavened bread, bitter herbs. You don't eat it raw. Check. The one that I don't understand, that roasted in fire, its head with its legs and its entrails. Why its head and its entrails?

Nehemia: None of it goes to waste. This is a really interesting thing in verse 10. I know we'd want to read the verses, but I guess we are short on time. Verse 10 it says, "Don't leave any of it until morning. And that which is left until the morning shall be burned in the fire," which is really interesting.

That is something that is part of what later on it says, this is a statute for all your generations. But actually, that year in Egypt they didn't even have the opportunity to wait that long until morning because they were kicked out of the country in the middle of the night. They must have had to burn it and get out of there, and they left at night. And it actually reiterates that in Numbers 33:3 and Deuteronomy 16:1, they actually left at night.

Here in verse 11 it says, “thus so you eat it your loins girded”, meaning your belt is on, “you're ready to go, your shoe is on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste for it is the Passover to Yehovah.” And why are they eating it in haste? Because they're going to get kicked out, and that's being anticipated.

On the one hand there's this commandment for all time that when we eat the Passover, we can't leave any of it until morning. We have to burn it. On the other hand, that year they really ate it in haste. And I think every year... Now we can't do the Passover sacrifice later in Deuteronomy 16, and so it has to be brought to the chosen place which becomes Jerusalem. So, we can't actually do it in the Temple anymore.

But I still think when we remember the Passover every year, we should have our belt on or our shoes and be ready to go any minute, not out of Egypt, but out of the spiritual Egypt when the Messiah comes and redeems us from the exile that we're in. And I know Keith is going to say, come back, and we can bicker about that from now until I'm proven that I'm right.

Keith: Nehemia, are you waiting for the Mashiach?

Nehemia: Absolutely. I want the Mashiach to come, and I want to live my life with my shoes on my feet and my belt girded. Ready to go that he may come today. That's my prayer. In fact, I pray that Yehovah sends His Messiah to come today before Jono gets a chance to edit this program. May it be. Amen.

Keith: Amen.

Jono: I’m all for that. “So, this day shall be to you a memorial and you shall keep it as a feast to Yehovah throughout your generations. Throughout your generations you should keep it as an everlasting ordinance.”

But as you said, we read in Deuteronomy 16, that it's only to be done in the Temple. We don't have the Temple. We don't do it.

Having said that, there's all sorts of traditions that people do engage in and call it the Passover. And I've heard the argument, are we creating the religion of Jeroboam by doing that, because this is something we're not supposed to do?

Nehemia: I think that if you bring the sacrifice that definitely makes the religion of Jeroboam. There are people who do that, who say, it's for all generations and I don't read Deuteronomy. And so, they'll slaughter a Passover in their backyard, and eat it, and say, “I've actually fulfilled the Passover”. And if you do that literally I think you're on dangerous ground there.

I just want to point out in a really cool verse here at the end of 12 it says, "Against all the gods of Egypt I will carry out judgment, I am Yehovah."

What they mean by that, the first born, Pharaoh was a god, and his son was a god. And they worshipped sheep, and so we're slaughtering their god. This is really judgment against the gods of Egypt.

Keith: I was going to say again in verse 18, I appreciate, Nehemia, your approach in terms of looking at just where people are in their process and figuring it out. But I do love verse 18 because it says it again. It says in verse 18, "In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast."

There's this idea that, it's time, and it's Torah. Here's the command and here's when you do it. And so, I think one of the things that we do want to do is, we want to do to the best of our ability, search the scriptures for ourselves and try to find what we are able to do.

Not based on the rule and regulation that we can't even keep, but the idea that, while we're in exile, and we are, for us to be able to do, with the best of our ability, to try to find out when is His time, what is His Torah, and how we are to operate in this way. And I just think that's a really powerful experience.

Again, I want to say what's most powerful to me is to be able to walk out in my backyard, find out when the new moon is actually sighted, and think about what Moses and Aaron saw. And to know that, when I look and see that and put that together, that I'm trying to understand His time, separate of the time that I've been given in my tradition.

Nehemia: I know we're out of time. Can I just make one statement about this whole thing of the moon and the sun? I once heard this lecture by this astrophysicist. He said, sometimes you'll see things in astronomy and it looks like a coincidence, and it's hard to believe that there are coincidences.

But then we have a coincidence here on earth that when we look at the sun, when we look at the moon from our perspective, they appear to be the exact same size. And that obviously is a colossal coincidence.

And so even though the sun is immensely larger than the moon, larger than the earth, they appear to be the exact same visible size from our perspective. That's actually part of what creates this whole phenomenon of the new moon. And so that's amazing.

To say that's a colossal coincidence, I don't have enough faith to believe that that's a coincidence. I just don't. One thing I want to point out in this chapter, I know we're just about out of time, and we could probably do a whole session just on the whole issue of leaven. Maybe we have already. I don't know.

We have three different words for leaven, se’or, which refers to yeast, or sourdough back in ancient times. Machmetzet and chametz, which is the actual product of the leaven.

And then we have three terms, Lo Yimatzeh, will not be found. Then it says tashbitu, you will cause it to cease. And then it has Lo Year’eh, it will not be seen. So, it literally means, get rid of all your leaven. It should not be around in your houses.

Jono: And so we did actually do an in-depth discussion on that with Yoel Ben Shlomo, so if people want to know about that they can go to, click on “guests”, click on “Yoel Ben Shlomo” and you'll see a discussion on unleavened bread.

On the 14th we have pesach, and we have unleavened bread of the days of Shabbat, the last days of Shabbat. And they have the blood on the doorposts and so on and so forth.

In verse 29, “It came to pass at midnight that Yehovah struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock.”

“So, the Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt for there was not a house where there was not one dead.”

It goes on to say that he called for Moses and Aaron. He said, "Rise, go out from among my people. Both you and the children go and then serve Yehovah as you have said. Also take your flocks and your herds,” there’s no more negotiating, “as you have said.” Also, get this, “by the way, before you go, bless me also.”

If I can't keep any of you here, if I'm going to let you all go at least give me a blessing before you go.

Nehemia: What don't you understand about unconditional surrender?

Jono: And get this. Here we are, it's what we're referring to before. “And the Egyptians urged the people that they might send them out of the land in haste.” For they said, "We'll all be dead if they stay here any longer."

Eventually, they're saying: "You want our silver, you want gold? Tell us what you want. Here it is. Please take it and just get on your way. Thus, they plundered the Egyptians.” Wow, 600,000 men on foot besides children, a mixed multitude went up with Moses.

Keith: What's obvious is that there are people that are amongst that group. And what I think is so cool is that even in the midst of the discussion of the Passover he says, there's going to be some that are amongst you that are going to be what I think he calls, does he call them aliens?

Jono: Foreigners, aliens, strangers.

Keith: I think it's just amazing that Yehovah, and this event, when it's referred to throughout the scripture, and the prophets are always talking about this amazing thing, that Yehovah with a strong arm took His people out and called them his own, his special possession. And it included those that were willing to also live under the wonderful instructions of Yehovah, that they could also become a part of his people. It's a pretty powerful statement.

Nehemia: Do we have time to do a really quick thing? Three minutes on, and this is I think one of the most important passages in the bible to me. It's Exodus, starts in 43, it goes through verse 47. I'll talk really fast.

This is the statute of Passover. And then if you translate it literally it'll say, kol ben nechar, every son of a Gentile shall not eat it. But then it gives specifics, which are exceptions to that rule. Verse 44, “And every slave who was bought of silver you shall circumcise him and then he may eat of it.” There's an example of a Gentile who is allowed to eat it, an Israelite who has a Gentile slave.

And then verse 45 says, the exception to the exception is toshav ve’sakhir, which is a resident and a hired worker. Those are people who live in the land but aren't Israelites, and they may work for Israelites. They may not eat of it, because they're Gentiles.

“And even though they're in your land they may not eat of it.” Verse 45 goes through some of the rules of the Passover. We can skip that for now. Verse 47, “The entire congregation of Israel shall do it.” And the word “congregation” of Israel is very interesting. They don't have to be physical direct sons of Israel, but they're a part of the congregation of Israel. And then verse 48 explains what that means.

Keith: Wait Nehemia, just a second. You can't go so quickly. This is very important. So, you're saying in verse 47, “the whole community”. Now that's going to be the explanation to verse 48, is that what you're saying?

Nehemia: That's what I'm saying, absolutely. That's a very common thing in the scripture, you have a general statement and then you have the specifics. Just like in verse 43, we had the general statement, “no Gentile may eat of it”. But then there are specifics where there are exceptions to that.

Then in verse 47, general statement, the entire congregation of Israel, they will do it. And then there are specifics. What does it mean the congregation of Israel? And one who sojourns with you, and you shall do the Passover to Yehovah, you shall circumcise for him every male. And then he will approach to do it. And he shall become as a native born of the land. But no uncircumcised may eat of it.

And then he explains, “there will be one Torah for the native born and the sojourner who sojourns among you.” So that sojourner, that non-physical Israelite who gets circumcised, eats of the Passover sacrifice, “…he is then as if he was native born of the land”, as if he was a direct descendant of Jacob. “There's one Torah for him just like there is one Torah for Moses, Aaron, and all the other physical descendants of Israel.”

Keith: The NIV says the same law applies, so I'm assuming it's a law of the Passover. But when you use the word “torah” you’re making that up.

Nehemia: But it says “torah akhat ti’hiyeh,” there will be one Torah “la’ezrakh” for the native-born Israelite. “velager hagar betokhakhem,” and the sojourner who sojourns among you. There's one Torah. There are not two torahs, this applies to the Jew, and this applies to the Gentile. If they get circumcised and eat of the Passover sacrifice, there's one Torah for all of them.

Jono: They've entered into the covenant.

Nehemia: They're a part of the congregation of Israel, the community of Israel, commonwealth, however you want to translate it. They're part of the adat yisrael.

Keith: I was going to say, I was in Israel eating Shabbat dinner with Nehemia and his family. And his father Rabbi Gordon, who has since passed on. We're thankful for all that he put into his son.

But as I was there, I was all excited because Nehemia allowed me to come and eat a Sabbath dinner with his family. This is a wonderful thing and we've talked about it before.

But I had found different times in scripture where there’s sort of the “in” for me as the foreigner by joining myself to Yehovah and grabbing ahold of His covenant and these things.

And so, I was so excited because Rabbi Gordon, and Nehemia please correct me because I want to be sensitive to how he said it. But basically, he said, "It's time for this prayer." And please tell the people what the prayer was.

Nehemia: It's the Birkat Hamazon, the grace after meal. The prayer is made a certain way if you're an individual, but then another way if you have three Jewish males or more.

And so, I was there, and my father was there. And Keith said, "Rabbi Gordon I want to show you these passages which show that, because I accept the God of Israel and believe in the one true God..." How did you put it Keith? I don't remember exactly.

Keith: I'm in the Jewish home, it’s Shabbat. I'm excited. I'm a foreigner, but I'm excited to have joined myself to Yehovah. I have not made any conversion. I don't wear the kippah, I'm not a Karaite. I'm still a good old-fashioned Methodist who's trying to figure out how I can live by God's time, His Torah and under His name.

And so, I went to the great Rabbi Gordon and he said, "We need three males for the prayer." And I'm like, "I'm here. I count. I'm ready. Can I be one?" And what did he say Nehemia?

Nehemia: "You don't count." And I think what Keith was trying to say is, "I'm part of God's people because I accept the God of the Old Testament, the God of scripture."

And my father's way of thinking, my father of blessed memory, the way he saw it is that if you didn't stand before a council of three rabbis and go through this whole procedure of conversion to Judaism, then you don't count.

He literally meant in that context you don't count for the prayer. But I think he also meant you don't count in God's eyes. And I think Keith does count in God's eyes.

Keith: Did you have to bring up that part? But my point is, Jono and Nehemia, as we're reading this and as people are listening, it's such an exciting invitation that Yehovah gives to the foreigner, to the alien. They shook the family tree and no Jews have fallen out.

That's like me, I don't know of any Jewish blood in me, but I do know that the creator of the universe has given an invitation to people like me to join Him and to understand His covenant, and attempt to live by His covenant in a way that glorifies Him.

And it's exciting to me that this is what Yeshua also did. I'm going to bring this for my friends that are listening that read Yeshua and hear what Yeshua says, when he's talking about understanding this Torah, and Moses. That not one jot or one tittle will pass until all be fulfilled, you can't separate this. This is His call. This is our creator's call for us to grab a hold and to understand this, and to live by it. It's not something that you just wave your hand over and say, "I'm good." There's something to it.

And that's why we're going through these Torah portions. I want people to be encouraged. I want Methodist. I want Baptist. I don't care who you are. This is the word of God. Let's grab a hold of it, understand it, and attempt to live by it to give God his glory. And to be blessed by living under His instruction.

That's my little preaching for the day. I thank you all for letting me because I do count.

Jono: Absolutely, you do count. And we all agree, these verses are still valid for today. And if we want to do everything that we can do, that we don't have a Temple, these are the things that we have to take seriously.

Nehemia: What I don't want to get into is, "Do I need to be circumcised to get saved?" Because I think that's a theological question. We're going to leave that to the theologians to work out.

I know what Exodus says. It's pretty clear to me. That if you want to participate in the future Passover sacrifice when the Messiah comes it's clear what you’ve got to do. As far as salvation, things like that, I'm going to leave that to the theologians.

We have Exodus 13, the whole chapter. I think we're out of time. Can I point out something really, really cool in Exodus 13?

Jono: You point out what it is that's really, really cool. But can you also just nutshell the whole concept of the redeeming of the firstborn? Because again, we don't have a Temple. How is that done? Can we nutshell that and point out what it is? That's really, really cool.

Nehemia: I'm going to leave redeeming the firstborn to Keith. One of the things that Keith talks about in his amazing book His Hallowed Name Revealed Again is this amazing discovery that he had personally about finding this missing vowel in the name of the creator.

Jono: Excellent book.

Nehemia: If you haven't read the book you may not know what I'm talking about, but it's really worth a read. In fact, don't even read the book. Go and watch the free videos he's got on his website, It's worth the price.

He found out that the name of the father of creation is actually missing a vowel at almost every time it's written in scriptures 6,828 times. Over 6,000 times it's missing a vowel which makes it unpronounceable.

And it turns out about 50 times in the Leningrad Codex, the scripture, it contains that missing vowel.

That's why in Exodus 13, and I'm going to throw Exodus 14 into that mix, Exodus 13-14:1, it has the name with the missing vowel not missing, seven times. Could I get an Amen?

Keith: It's amazing.

Jono: Before we jump on the redeeming of the firstborn thing, I know we’re going overtime, but how can we not show it? I've got a firstborn son. Keith, you've got a firstborn son. We don't have a Temple, what do we do?

Nehemia: This is tough, and I know people are going to have a hard time with this, but you need to take the sharpest knife you can get, I'm just kidding.

Jono: Because you have to redeem them.

Nehemia: And it says to redeem them with silver, with money. They didn't have coins in ancient times, that meant silver. And literally, the word means “silver”. This is a ceremony that many Jews to this day still do.

They'll take five shekels of silver, or five silver dollars or something like that, and they'll give it to a cohen. A cohen is a priest who is a direct descendant, father to son from Aaron, the brother of Moses. And there's people to this day in the Jewish world who still know that their ancestor was Aaron the high priest through their father's line.

And so, this is something that people can still do. You can still redeem your son by giving the five shekels of silver to the Cohen.

Jono: You can track Cohen?

Nehemia: There are Cohanim all over the place.

Keith: This is my goal. This is awesome. I know we've gone overtime, but I'll tell you something, this is really an important passage, and I hope people will slow down and take the time to read it for themselves.

Send questions to us and make comments. We do want to be able to interact with this information. We're trying to be creative about how we're going to do that, but I'm so excited about the people that are listening. All the people that listen to these programs, it really is an encouragement to us.

But more than that, that I think is so important, it's something that's happening in the world. People are awakening to the importance of God's time, His Torah, and His name. This is just one part of that, that is such an honor for me.

And I want to say thank you to you Jono and to you Nehemia, by you guys letting the Methodist with his NIV here. Though I must tell everyone now that my microphone is clear, I am tempted sometimes not to play the role of the dumb Methodist. But every once in a while, they let me say something that is deep. It's exciting to be with you guys, because you really bring the best out of me and I appreciate it.

Jono: Amen

Nehemia: And I want to give a thanks also to Jono because what people don't know is, that when Keith and I are done with doing this recording with you, and I'm off petting Georgia and Keith is off doing whatever Keith does, blowing his shofar in front of obelisks, Jono is leading the way in his study and editing this program. Painstakingly taking out all the times that I've sniffled and coughed, and all the times that Georgia barked, and all the times that Keith quoted a verse that doesn't actually exist and things like that. I'm just kidding. And so really, can we get a round of applause for Jono?

Jono: It ends with verse 16. And it says, "It shall be a sign on your hand, and as frontlets between your eyes by strength of hand Yehovah brought us out of Egypt." We're going to be revisiting that verse later in the Torah portions in Deuteronomy. Thank you, Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson.

Next week we are in Beshalakh. Exodus 13:17 to chapter 17:16. 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

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