This week’s Prophet reading—traditionally called the Haftorah—combines two passages and covers 2 Kings 4:42–5:19 and 7:3–20. These Prophet readings accompany the Torah portions Tazria (Leviticus 12:1–13:59) and Metzora (Leviticus 14:1–15:33).
These Haftorahs relate the history of two miracles. The first caused the Syrian general Naaman to declare: “Now I know that there is no God in the whole world except in Israel!” The second was the supernatural rescue of the city of Samaria from a Syrian invasion. Listen to Keith Johnson and Nehemia Gordon as they discover priceless gems in this installment of Prophet Pearls: Exploring Biblical Prophecy for Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.Support the show
Prophet Pearls #28 - Metzora (2 Kings 7:3-20)
You are listening to Prophet Pearls with Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. Exploring biblical prophesy for yesterday, today and tomorrow.
Keith: Welcome back to Prophet Pearls, exploring biblical prophecy for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. This is Keith Johnson along with Nehemia Gordon, face-to-face doing whatever it takes in the Land of Israel! I’m sick, [laughing] but I’m having a great time, Nehemia. I’ll tell you something, I feel terrible, but again, when we start discussing the Word of God, it gets pretty exciting for me. We’re actually going to be exploring something in 2 Kings 7:3, but I’m not going to play by the rules.
Keith: I’m not going to play by the rules, folks. There’s no way we’re going to start in 2 Kings chapter 7 verse 3. Why? You tell me why, Nehemia, because I have to talk about the few verses before! How did they not talk about the context of what Elisha does? So I know officially, folks, and first of all, let me say to our Prophet Pearls partners, the Maccabees – Maccabees, if you’re listening, thank you so much for sponsoring this. We are so thankful for those like you that hang in there with us, and for all of those that are listening and commenting on nehemiaswall.com and BFAinternational.com.
We’re supposed to actually start at 7 verse 3. I won’t allow it. Tradition says that it’s 7:3. I’m going to break tradition, and I want to just read the first few verses of chapter 7, verses 1 and 2. Again, it sets the context. “Elisha said, ‘Hear the word of Yehovah. This is what Yehovah says. About this time tomorrow, a seah of flour will sell for a shekel and two seahs of barley for a shekel at the gate of Samaria.’ The officer on whose arm the king…” and this is why I like this. We talked about the officer who’s king leaned on the arm, and we talked about in the section that we just did.
Keith: Here it’s, “The officer on whose arm the king was leaning said to the man of God, ‘Look, even if Yehovah should open the floodgates of heaven, could this happen?’” And then Elisha says, sticks his chest out, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!” Now, we can start the section. [laughing]
Keith: So there were four men with leprosy at the end…
Nehemia: The reason it’s important to start there is because it’s a prophecy, and the story we’re about to read is a fulfillment of the prophecy.
Keith: How can we know that?
Nehemia: It’s really strange. Here I want to reiterate, these portions are based on certain traditions, and they’re supposed to correspond to different things in the Torah. Obviously, the thing it corresponds to in the Torah here is, we’re in the portion of Metzora, which is Leviticus 14:1 to 15:33, which is about leprosy. Here it’s the story about the lepers at the gates of Samaria during the siege of Samaria by the Arameans, by the Syrians.
Keith: Yes. Can I just stop you and say thanks for taking off that hat? Folks, we’re in the basement of a place here, Nehemia’s got us. It’s freezing outside and he had on this hat that there was no way I was going to make it through Prophet Pearls with that hat. [laughing]
Nehemia: What’s wrong with my hat? I love my hat!
Keith: I wish I could take a picture of you with the hat.
Nehemia: We will take a picture of the hat. I love this hat.
Keith: I want people… anyway. So he took the hat off.
Nehemia: Now, you’ve got to take your hat off.
Keith: Okay. [laughing]
Nehemia: All right. We’re the two baldies, and it’s appropriate because Elisha was a baldy too.
Keith: That’s right.
Nehemia: So now, that we’ve spoken about the hat...
Keith: No, you were talking about the tradition.
Nehemia: Oh. The tradition is to start it in verse 3. One of the things I hear in these… I’ll listen to these debates between the rabbi and the Christian, the rabbi and the pastor, and they’ll be debating the Jewish side and the Christian side. And I came to this conclusion years ago, that truth is not found in these debates because everybody’s objective is “I want to prove my side.”
Nehemia: It’s not about “we’re looking for truth together”, it’s “I want to prove that I’m right and you’re wrong.” So there are many things that a person will not admit or not state because they're trying to prove themselves and not search for the truth. What I want to do is humble myself before the Creator of the universe and come look for truth even if I’m proven wrong, especially if I’m proven wrong because then I’ll have the truth.
One of the things the rabbis will say, rightfully so from my perspective, is “You Christians, you take these verses out of context.” And then here we are doing this Rabbinical tradition of the Prophets, reading the Prophets and trying to understand them in their history, language, and context, and the context of the prophecy is ripped out!
Nehemia: Verses 1 to 2 are key. It’s the prophecy that was fulfilled in verses 3 and on.
Keith: You have to understand it, yes.
Nehemia: So I’m glad you broke with tradition and read the prophecy that now is going to be fulfilled.
Keith: Every once in a while I’m going to do that, Nehemia. But one of the things, folks, we didn’t do this in the last show because we got all fired up and whatever. We didn’t talk about the ministries, and I know there are people who listen to this each time…
Nehemia: Fast forward. [laughing]
Keith: Yes. No, I’ve got to have a Ministry Minute right now.
Nehemia: Go ahead.
Keith: We are in a really significant time. By the time that people are listening to this right now, Nehemia, we will have either determined, it will have been determined whether we’re in the biblical year starting in, I think the date was around March.
Nehemia: March 21.
Keith: Yes, and then of course, by the time they’re listening to this, we would have already celebrated Pesach.
Nehemia: Assuming we find the Aviv, yes.
Keith: Yes. So I guess I don’t know how you want to… you know, we jump right into this and not talk a little bit about what time of year it is. I mean, I was really shocked when you said the date for yet the last deal, and I’m trying to figure out what happened with the days. How did we get into wherever we are in April, and we missed a section or…?
Nehemia: No, no. We just did a lot of episodes. [laughing]
Keith: We just did a lot of episodes, okay. So people…
Nehemia: I think this is our 27th or 28th episode.
Nehemia: This is our 28th episode we’re doing today. Yes.
Keith: Yes. So one of the things that’s been really interesting is actually being in the Land of Israel. I call it God’s clock headquarters, where we get a chance to see both in heaven and earth the connection and understanding of what time it is. You will have by now, we’ll already have searched and gone through the process of seeing whether the barley is Aviv and celebrating the beginning of the month and new moon. And then by the time we’re doing this, we would actually be after the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Am I correct in that?
Nehemia: Yes. That sounds right. By the way, just to invite people to go do some homework and read the full context here, which actually begins in 2 Kings chapter 6 verses 24 through 33, is setting up the siege of Samaria. Then the prophecy of Elisha appears in chapter 7 verses 1 to 2, which is in the context of the siege has already begun, and it’s really in a bad place. The people are on the verge of starvation. In fact, some of them have gone over the verge of starvation, they’re eating their children. That’s how bad things are.
Keith: Yes. Well, the reason I brought this up as far as the time is that there’s an entire series that we have at BFAinternational.com. It’s actually in the Premium Content Library. It’s called “Time Will Tell.” What I like about that series, it’s really been played all over the world and been on international television, and now it’s in our Premium Content Library for people who really want to understand how it is that we came to the place where we are understanding what time it is according to biblical reckoning of time versus, how can I say it, the many other possibilities and ways that people keep time.
But what I love about that series is actually letting people see with their own eyes the process. One of the most favorite episodes of the ten was the actual episode where we went and looked for the barley, and understanding how that works and knowing what time it is and being able to see with my own two eyes, and people seeing with their own two eyes, and opening their Bible and understanding why this is. This isn’t something that’s been created by some group of people who say, “Hey, let’s come up with a new way to determine what time it is.” It’s rather taking the text, understanding the text, and then applying it.
So I want to encourage people to do that and go to BFAinternational.com, and on the first front page, you actually can watch the first episode of every single series that’s there. You can just watch that whole thing and discern for yourself. But that’s just one of the things I wanted to lift up to people, is that this is a time of year where understanding what time it is important, and that’s the series that really can help people do that. So go to BFAinternational.com, front page, and you get a chance to see that information.
Nehemia: Yes. My ministry is Makor Hebrew Foundation. You can go and find out about my teachings at nehemiaswall.com, that’s nehemiaswall.com. Don’t forget to sign up for my free newsletter to get your regular updates. I just want to give a shout-out to all the people who… and I’m saying this by faith because we’re prerecording it... [both laughing] I’m recording this before the Aviv search, but I want to shout-out for all the people who supported the Aviv search and made it possible and gave donations and support through prayer and through finances that allowed us to be able to go out and look at the barley and examine it and do it in a proper way.
You started off reading in verse 1, it talked about the prices here, it was a shekel of flour, which actually there in Hebrew it’s the wheat flour… sorry, a seah of flour for a shekel and two seah of barley for a shekel. What you see is the price of barley, even when it was at its very cheapest, was 50% of the price of wheat.
Nehemia: That’s because barley was less valuable in ancient times, and that’s because the barley was... it’s actually a technical reason that it’s difficult to remove the shell from the barley in some… and so you’re getting like a lot what you might call...
Keith: It’s coarse.
Nehemia: It’s very coarse, right, the way they ate it in ancient times, to the point where some people say where it speaks about “bread of affliction” in Scripture, that it’s not just unleavened but it actually was made from barley.
Nehemia: That that was implied in that phrase “bread of affliction” because it’s less edible, less yummy.
Anyway, so thank you to all you people who have stood with me on the wall and helped me empower people with information by going out there and finding out what the barley is and it’s because of you. I’m able to do this because of you, and so I want to just say thank you.
Keith: Awesome. Awesome. And that’s why when I see the word barley, I’m like, we’ve got to at least… We’re so fast in doing this, and really, it isn’t speed study, but it definitely is speed production. You know we had to do a lot of pre-work in order to be able to do this, but we’re really trying to...
Nehemia: I don’t know about you, but I spent quite a bit of time...
Keith: Oh, my goodness.
Nehemia: Preparing each section, knowing that when we came here in Jerusalem, we’d have a short time to record it. So everything that went into it had to be done beforehand.
Keith: Absolutely. Let me say this, there are so many people that are a part of what we’re doing. Both the folks that do the editing, people that help us prepare, people that help us look through what’s going on. You know, folks that are doing artwork. I mean, I just have to say this whole Prophet Pearls process with the partners, the people that are behind the scenes, everything that’s happening, I don’t know how many people if we were to count it, but it really is an amazing and humbling experience to have so many people put their hands to the plow so that we can do this work. So thanks to everybody. Again, when I saw the word barley, I thought we had to at least address the time of year.
So now, let’s go to the section that’s out of context. “Now there were four men with leprosy at the entrance of the gate.” Now, let me stop real quick and ask a simple question. Oftentimes, people are going to have a note in the English Bible that’s going to give a note about the word leprosy, and I just want to go ahead and have you do me a favor and check on the computer on this, Nehemia. For example, I’m looking at the NIV here and it says, “There were four men with leprosy,” and it goes down to the letter C. It says, “The Hebrew word was used for various diseases affecting the skin, not necessarily leprosy.” Also, in verse 8. So when they say that, the first thing you want to do is find out what word are we talking about. Since leprosy happens to be the issue that we are dealing with in the previous section and this section, I would just ask you a question. Is the leprosy of the last section the same word that we’re using here for these men?
Nehemia: In the Hebrew, it’s the same word. The name of the disease is “tsara’at.” Someone who has tsara’at is called a metzora, and plural is metzora’im. So these are metzora’im. These are people who have tsara’at.
Nehemia: What is a tsara’at? When we say leprosy in English, we’re referring to a very specific disease, which I forget what it’s - is that Hansen’s disease or something like that? It’s one of those things.
Nehemia: This is a great story. There’s actually a place in Jerusalem, I don’t know if you’ve ever been there.
Keith: Yes, it’s not far from here, actually.
Nehemia: Yes. Where they had lepers who were living there. I’m talking about in the 20th century.
Nehemia: It was a communicable disease and there was no cure. So the government of Israel made a deal with them. They deprived them of their freedom - and these guys didn’t have a choice - they said, “We’re going to give you a place to live for the rest of your life and a monthly salary, but you have to agree never to leave this place. If you don’t agree, it’s too bad, we’re going to lock the gates.” And since then, what we call in the Western world leprosy has been healed, and those people still live in that place for free, and this is prime real estate in Israel. [laughing] They still get their monthly check because they said they accepted the deal.
But back then, whether leprosy is Hansen’s disease or something else it’s hard to say. But it definitely is this word tsara’at. It was understood definitely as not just a physical ailment, but a spiritual ailment. Where we can see that is where... and I think, I’m sure we talked about this the Original Torah Pearls, where we can see that is that Moses sticks his hand into his cloak and he takes it out and it’s white and full of leprosy. Then we hear about Naaman who has leprosy and he’s healed by dipping himself seven times in the Jordan River.
Keith: And Miriam.
Nehemia: And Miriam had leprosy when she sinned. So we’ve got a bunch of references to leprosy. What exactly is it… it’s hard to believe it’s just a physical disease because if that were the case what would be the significance of all these rituals of spiritual purification that we read about in Leviticus. Yes.
Keith: So I encourage people to make sure that they go to the Original Torah Pearls, both sites have a connection there. We did that over two...
Nehemia: nehemiaswall.com, and BFAinternational.com.
Keith: Yes, we did that over… it took a full year. I have to say again, what’s really nice about this is that it’s taken a huge effort to get these done. But once they’re done and once they’re edited and once they’re up, people can actually use this on a regular basis - they can go to the Torah Pearls, they can go to Prophet Pearls, and between the two you have over three hours, probably about three hours of information that people can go through and look through.
Nehemia: By the way, the fact that they’re lepers is significant, because that’s why they’re outside the gates. Lepers were ritually unclean and would not have been allowed inside of the city because they would have… We think in modern times, oh, they would have spread the disease. But the thinking back then was this isn’t exactly a physical disease, it’s a spiritual disease, and when you’re ritually unclean then you’re not going to come into contact with someone who’s going to make you ritually unclean, especially in this leprosy case, where it can spread.
Keith: Right. And it’s interesting, the first paragraph here we don’t, like you said, we’re trying not to go verse-by-verse, but the overall idea is that these guys are in a pretty hopeless, helpless situation, where they’re saying, “Look, we’ve got leprosy, we’re outside the gate, there’s famine on the inside of the gate, there’s no food. We’re going to die. Let’s just go ahead and take our chances and go over to the Arameans and if we go to the Arameans and surrender, if they spare us, man, we’re better off. They’ve at least got food.”
Nehemia: “What do we have to lose? We’re dead anyway.”
Keith: Yes. But if they kill us, we die, it’s over. And so in verse 5, it says, “At dusk,” why at dusk? “they got up and went to the camp of the Arameans.”
Nehemia: Yours says, “at dusk”?
Keith: That’s what it says, “at dusk.”
Nehemia: So the word in Hebrew is “neshef,” and neshef means early in the morning before sunrise when it’s still dark but there’s already a little bit of light. That’s neshef.
Keith: But why do you think they did it at dusk? Come on you know the answer.
Nehemia: You tell me. I don’t know the answer.
Keith: You can’t do it out in daylight, that they’re going over to the Arameans.
Nehemia: Why not? Oh, because they’ll get shot by their own people.
Keith: Yes. They’ve got to sneak over there. [laughing]
Nehemia: Okay. Maybe. But it’s early in the morning.
Keith: Yes, it’s early in the morning. “When they reached the edge of the camp, not a man was there,” and this is where the revival music comes in, “for Yehovah had caused the Arameans to hear the sound of chariots and horses and a great army, so that they said to one another, ‘Look, the king of Israel has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to attack us!’ So they got up and fled in the dusk,” early in the morning, “and abandoned their tents and their horses and donkeys. They left the camp as it was and ran for their lives.”
When I read that, I think, why did they say the Hittites and the Egyptians that they went and hired them? We have examples where they went to different places and said, “Can you help us fight here? Can you help us fight there?” And sometimes, I have to say, it’s really been interesting to try to figure out geopolitically what’s happening at a specific time.
Nehemia: Right. Aram, or today Syria, Aram Damesek, was sandwiched between the Hittite Empire and the Egyptian Empire. So these are the big guys on the block that they’re afraid of. They’re not afraid, “Oh, the king of Judah is going to come and attack us.”
Keith: “Who cares about that?”
Nehemia: “We’ll beat them.”
Nehemia: Or, “Oh, but the Ammonites are coming.” No, they’re not concerned with that, but they are concerned, they’re terrified, of Egypt and the Hittites. I think it’s really interesting. Here’s the question I ask myself when I read something like this. So the lepers go into the camp, how do they know this? How did they know that… why the Arameans, why the Syrians fled? I think the answer is very clear - they don’t know this. This is information the narrator is providing. In other words, the prophet who’s recording this information for us and presenting it to us, he’s telling us the lepers knew that the Arameans had fled but they didn’t know why, and here’s why. The reason why is because Yehovah performed this miracle, He caused this sound to take place. He caused them to hear the sound of chariots and horses, and they said, “Wow, this must be some big army.” Look, this actually reminds me of the story of the Assyrians.
Nehemia: So that’s in 1 Kings 19:35 and Isaiah 37:36, go look those up, please, and read those stories. It’s a story about the Assyrians being camped against Jerusalem, and they wake up in the morning and everybody’s gone and there are 185,000 who are dead or something. Here, let me read the verse, 2 Kings 19:35 says, “And it came to pass at that night, an angel of Yehovah went out and he smote the camp of Assyria a hundred and eighty-five thousand. And they woke up early in the morning and behold there were all dead corpses.” The same thing appears in Isaiah 37:36.
Now, that’s only part of the story, because earlier in the story, let’s see, where is this? 2 Kings 19:35… Earlier in the story in 2 Kings 19:9, Rabshakeh, who is the general, he hears a rumor that Tirhakah the King of Kush is on his way to fight, and so he’s under all this pressure to besiege Jerusalem, and during the siege he finally ends up with the angel smiting the camp. But it was a similar sort of thing that they heard this rumor that the enemy’s coming, and so they’ve got either flee or get things done really quickly.
What’s interesting about that story, and I’m going to talk about this just really briefly because we are not going to read that in the Prophet Pearls, but the story in 2 Kings 19 of Rabshakeh and Sennacherib in the siege of Jerusalem, it’s really interesting because that story, in a form, appears in two other major sources. One is alluded to in the Assyrian documents, and in the Assyrian documents, they talk about how they captured all these cities in Israel, in Judah. It says, “And Jerusalem was locked up like a bird in a cage.” Meaning we actually didn’t capture Jerusalem, we just sieged it. He doesn’t mention the defeat because no ancient king and even many modern kings wouldn’t mention that. But they do mention that Jerusalem was besieged. And then it’s mentioned actually by Herodotus, who is a Greek historian, he actually mentions that there is a plague that wiped out the Assyrians. He gets the story a little bit distorted; he thinks it has to do with some pagan deity from Egypt causing it. But that’s pretty cool that here we have the story, it appears in Isaiah and Kings, and then it appears in Assyrian sources in a form, and in a Greek source, in Herodotus. So that’s pretty cool.
Keith: You know it’s funny, when I read this, immediately, it’s like when I think about this… and I’m glad you brought up the issue of the narrator, the person that’s writing this. But one of the things that really came to mind right away is the story in 2 Samuel Chapter 5.
Keith: In 5:23, “When David inquired of Yehovah, He said, ‘You shall not go directly up; circle around behind them and come at them in front of the balsam trees. And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the balsam trees, then you shall act promptly, for then Yehovah will give out before you and strike the army of the Philistines.’”
And it goes on, there’s a parallel with that also in 1 Chronicles 14. But what’s so cool about it is that this idea of Him using the sound of the army. Like in this situation, they heard the sound of this great army, and so they said to one another, “Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us,” and so they hear it. They don’t see it, but they hear it, and as a result, they respond.
Nehemia: We have another story in the stories of Elisha where they actually see the army.
Nehemia: It’s something we’ve talked about before. It’s the army of Yehovah…
Nehemia: That also reminds me, of course, where Joshua’s outside of Jericho and he sees the “Sar tzavah Yehovah,” the officer of the army of Yehovah, basically a general of the angels.
Keith: Yes. So it’s pretty amazing.
Nehemia: This is pretty cool. These armies of angels are something that the Tanakh doesn’t really go into great detail about, but they exist and they’re there.
Keith: So it says, “So they got up and fled in the dusk and abandoned their tents… the men,” This is a story that I don’t want to say it’s kind of funny, but I mean that story is that these men who had leprosy, reached the edge of the camp, entered one of the tents. They go into one of the tents.
Keith: “They eat and they drink. They carry away silver, gold, and clothes, and went off and they hid them.” [both laughing] It’s like the little, what are those little things called that they take the stuff and they go and dig it out and put it in the dirt and hide it?
Nehemia: Oh, like squirrels you mean?
Keith: Like little squirrels or whatever.
Nehemia: Hiding the acorns.
Keith: By the way, you know what, I got to tell you something really interesting. I asked Andrea about this - I’m presently in Shanghai, and I have to say it again, amazing doors are opening for the Word of God. But one of the things that I have a really hard time with there is I never see any animals.
Nehemia: [laughing] They ate them all. It’s no joke.
Keith: Nehemia, hold on. [laughing] Hold on. There’s 26 million people there; I never see a squirrel. I never see a cat. I barely see birds. What’s that about?
Nehemia: They eat them all, it’s not a joke.
Keith: [laughing] So anyway. They go in and they go into the tent, they get this stuff, they take it like a little squirrel, and they hide it. And then it says they came back again, and they went into another tent and took some things from it and then they go, and they hide it again. And then I don’t know if it’s them together as a group, it says they said this to one another, “This is not right. This is a day of good news,” and what word is that?
Keith: “This is a day of good news.”
Nehemia: Right. For those who don’t know, the Hebrew word for gospels is “besorot.”
Keith: Yes! Besorot.
Nehemia: Like one of them is called a besorah, the Besorah of Matthew. It’s good news. It’s a day of good tidings, of a good announcement. That’s what they’re saying.
Keith: This is amazing. And look at it, I mean what’s the great news? The great news is...
Nehemia: These were evangelists, is what we’re trying to say.
Keith: They were about to do their...
Nehemia: To evangelize, by the way, means to announce.
Keith: “Beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news,” they announce.
Nehemia: Right. The word evangelion means good news in Greek.
Nehemia: So these guys were about to evangelize the good news of the defeat of the Assyrians.
Keith: Exactly. “And we’re keeping it to ourselves.” You can’t keep the good news to yourself.
Keith: You can’t keep the good news to yourself! You’ve got to share the good news, Nehemia. And so they’re sharing the good news. They go and they share it. “If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us.” They realize there’s a social responsibility that we not only enjoy it for ourselves, but now there’s more here for us than just… These people are suffering back there, we’ve got to go bring this good news.
Nehemia: Tell me Keith, is this a picture of the church? Are the church a band of lepers who have discovered that there’s the food of God and they’ve got to share it with the world? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?
Keith: No, don’t know anything about… all I know is that there are a few that have all the money, and they’ve got to share it with everybody else. And so this is an example of what’s got to happen. You can’t just have a few, the one percenters, they’ve got to share the 1%. [laughing]
Nehemia: We’re back to the Keynesian agenda. All right.
Keith: You folks, in the midst of Prophet Pearls, we get into these… would you call them creative tension? Or is it discussion?
Nehemia: No, it’s absolutely creative tension.
Keith: It’s creative tension.
Nehemia: Look, I believe in the whole concept of the road to serfdom, and I’m concerned that I don’t want to be a slave of the government. And you think the government should come and redistribute wealth…
Keith: I don’t think that, Nehemia! I’m not saying that. [laughing]
Nehemia: I think the situation here is a little different, because there’s more wealth than they can possibly consume.
Keith: They can’t consume it.
Nehemia: In the meantime, there are people who are starving to death. Actually, this has kind of just fallen to them from nowhere. They didn’t earn this; they didn’t work at it.
Nehemia: They’re saying, “Wait a minute, we’ve got to go tell… There are people starving to death right now.”
Keith: Now. Exactly.
Nehemia: “We have more food than we need. We’ve even squirreled away food for the future. We’ve got to share this with people.”
Keith: Exactly. I think what I really wanted to say about it that I thought was interesting is that they knew that there was something. Look at what they say. It says, “If we wait until daylight,” if we don’t tell about this good news, “punishment will overtake us.”
Nehemia: It actually says in Hebrew, “iniquity will overtake us.” They realize the longer they waited, the more people in the city would starve from the siege.
Keith: I just think that’s amazing. That’s an amazing… that one little verse, that one little phrase.
Nehemia: I agree with you that this is social responsibility, and what I love about it is that these are the people who are deciding, “Hey, wait a minute, we’ve got to do something to help other people.” It’s not that the government said, “Whoa! Whoa! Lepers, you’re not allowed to have that. I’m going to take that from you and give it to somebody else.” These are the people deciding that even a leper who’d been rejected by society, who is left to fend for himself, has the human nature, the innate sense that I’ve got to help other people. I don’t need the government to tell me to do that. I know to do that.
Keith: You know it’s interesting, too, last week we were talking about this slave girl who basically went beyond her place of comfort and shared the good news that there is a prophet in the land - in a bad situation but thinking about others. Here these people are in a bad situation. They were the outcasts. Now they’re going to go and be the ones that bring this great news.
Keith: “So they went and called out to the city gatekeepers and told them, ‘We went into the Aramean camp and not a man was there—not a sound of anyone—only tethered horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.’ The gatekeepers shouted the news, and it was reported within the palace.” I think it’s funny that they didn’t say, “We went into the Aramean camp and not a man was there—not a sound of anyone—and there’s gold and there’s food and there’s clothes.” [laughing]
Nehemia: [laughing] Right.
Keith: They didn’t go too far. Look, they just basically said, “Listen, just want to let you guys know to get it off our conscience, there’s nobody there.” I just think that’s kind of funny.
Keith: So anyway. But then it says, “Then the gatekeepers shouted the news,” what’s the word there, “they shouted the news”?
Nehemia: Which word are you…
Keith: This is what it says in the NASB in verse 11.
Nehemia: Yes, I don’t see anything about “shouting the news.” [laughing]
Keith: You don’t see about “shouting the news”?
Nehemia: No. It says, “Vayikra hasho’arim,” “and the gatekeepers called,” or, “announced,” “Vayagidu beit hamelech pnima,” “And they told it to the house of the king in words,” meaning inside the palace.
Keith: So I tried to slip something by a couple of two witnesses. I got two witnesses that keep me accountable. So I tell these two witnesses, I said, “Do you know where the word “news” comes from?” Do you know where the word “news” comes from?
Nehemia: In English?
Nehemia: Is it something new?
Keith: No. It’s the word “news” represents...
Nehemia: Where does it come from?
Keith: North, east, west, and south. That’s what the word “news” means. In other words, when they came up with the word “news,” it means shouting it to the north, the east, the west, and the south. I ran with this, and you know the two witnesses, they don’t go for this stuff, they like to check stuff. And they checked and come to find out that I was just making up a bunch of hogwash. You know where I heard that from? Someone in China told me about that, and I believed it, Nehemia! [laughing] I was about to do a whole teaching!
Nehemia: You’re a friar.
Keith: I’m a friar.
Nehemia: Always check your sources. Yes.
Keith: Anyway, so they shout, they announced it.
Nehemia: But what I do like is the word here, “Vayikra,” which means, “to call,” “to announce,” but it also means “to proclaim.” What I think when I hear this word, and where you get “shouting good news” is we have in Leviticus 23 we hear about the appointed times, and the word is “mikra kodesh,” which has been translated as “holy convocation.” But really, what it means is “holy proclamation.” How do we know that? It says, “u’kratem,” “and you will proclaim them as holy proclamations.”
So one of the aspects of the feasts of the appointed times in Leviticus 23 is not just to observe them and to keep them, but to proclaim them. So here they’re proclaiming, the gatekeepers are proclaiming, that’s a more literal translation.
Keith: Now, this is just a little simple thing that when I slow down to read it makes me ask another question. In verse 12 it says, “The king got up,” and in my English translation it says, “The king got up in the night and said to his officers…” Now, go back a couple verses earlier. They said, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.” And this is still happening in the darkness or in whatever we said earlier.
Nehemia: Well, no. I don’t think so.
Keith: You think it’s the next day?
Nehemia: I think they spent all day pillaging the camp…
Keith: And they’re there the whole day?
Nehemia: They’re lying there stuffing to their faces, and they’re realizing, “Oh, boy, we better not wait until it’s sunrise.”
Keith: So it’s 24 hours?
Nehemia: Or it’s probably about 12 or 16 hours later. 12 hours later, something like that. I don’t know.
Keith: Wow. Okay. So in the nighttime, after they’ve got their two places where their gold and their silver and everything’s hidden away, the king gets up in the night and says to his officers, “‘I will tell you what the Arameans have done to us. They know we are starving; so they have left the camp; it’s a ruse, it’s a trick, and they’ve hidden in the country, thinking, ‘They will surely come out, and then we will take them alive and get into the city.’ One of the officers answered, ‘Have some men take five of the horses that are left in the city.’” There are still horses left in the city. You know, people are starving.
Keith: “‘…five of the horses that are left in the city. Their plight will be like that of all the Israelites left here—yes, they will only be like all these Israelites who are doomed. So let us send them to find out what happened.’ So they selected…” can I continue on? I have to tell the story.
Keith: “They selected two chariots with their horses, and the king sent them after the Aramean army. He commanded the drivers, ‘Go and find out what happened.’ They followed them as far as the Jordan, and they found the whole road strewn with the clothing and equipment the Arameans had thrown away in their headlong flight. So the messengers returned and reported to the king. Then the people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. So a seah of flour sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley sold for a shekel, as Yehovah had said.”
Now, here’s my point. If we don’t read the first two verses, this verse means nothing. In other words, the prophecy is fulfilled where Elisha said, “This is what’s going to happen.” If we don’t read that, and we just come to this, we just move on. There’s supposed to be excitement right now. This is what the word of Yehovah was, that this was going to actually affect the economy.
Nehemia: Can I ask us to jump back to the previous chapter? I know I assigned this as homework to people.
Keith: You assigned it as homework.
Nehemia: We’ve got to go back to 2 Kings chapter 6 and read the first two verses of the story, which is verses 24 and 25. Can you do that?
Keith: This is so illegal.
Nehemia: I know we’re completely out of this section, but we’ve got to.
Nehemia: We’ve got to. I mean talk about losing the context, if we don’t have these two verses we’re missing a major part of the story. So it’s verses… let’s see is it 24 to 25? Yes. So let me read you from the JPS, it says here, “Sometime later, King Ben-Hadad of Aram mustered his entire army and marched upon Samaria and besieged it.”
Keith: He besieged it.
Nehemia: This is the beginning of the story.
Nehemia: Verse 25, “There was a great famine in Samaria.” Why is there a famine? Because they can’t bring food into the city.
Keith: They can’t bring food into the city.
Nehemia: There’s no commerce. “There was a great famine in Samaria, and the siege continued until a donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels of silver and a quarter of a qab of dove’s dung for five shekels.”
Keith: What do you mean? It says seed pods.
Nehemia: It says what now?
Keith: It says seed pods.
Nehemia: Seed pods?
Keith: “…and a quarter of a qab of seed pods” I don’t know about this...
Nehemia: No, it’s dove poop. So anyway… that’s a different discussion. But here’s an interesting… this is absolutely fascinating - we have an early example here of an awareness of the concept of supply and demand.
Nehemia: Which is a central concept in Western economies. The idea was, because the siege is so bad, people are going to pay 80 shekels for a donkey’s head, a donkey’s head isn’t kosher, it’s not even really anything to eat. I mean a donkey’s head… Not that I’ve tried, but nobody wants to eat a donkey’s head.
Keith: No, I know. Exactly. Nobody eats a donkey’s head.
Nehemia: Not even in China. I don’t think they… you know. Here it’s 80 shekels of silver and a quarter of a qab of something from doves, whatever that is, is five shekels. Like, these are astronomical prices. Why? Because of supply and demand. You can’t eat silver, but you can eat these things. They may not taste good. Then we understand the significance of the prophecy in 2 Kings chapter 7, which is really only a few verses later. He’s saying, “Your prices are so bad.” He’s saying, “Guess what’s going to happen? The prices are going to completely switch to the point where you’re going to get an entire seah of fine flour for a shekel and two seah of barley flour for a shekel in the gates of Samaria.” The guy hears this and he says, “You’re nuts. People are buying a donkey’s head for 80 shekel. You’re telling me we’re going to get a whole qab for one shekel, or a whole seah? That’s impossible.” He doesn’t believe it. The point is if Yehovah says it, you better believe it.
But I think this is fascinating, the whole economic side of it. This idea of supply and demand, supply and demand actually having a function in prophecy. That’s really cool.
Keith: Yes. Well, I don’t know if you know it or not, but I was actually the one that told the folks that oil was going to be at 50 dollars a barrel, below 50 dollars a barrel.
Nehemia: Is that what it is? I don’t even know.
Keith: What do you mean? You don’t know about the whole thing with oil?
Nehemia: How much is oil?
Keith: Oil was over 100… They’re saying oil is going to be as… you don’t know what’s going on with oil?
Nehemia: Tell me what’s going on with oil.
Keith: [laughing] Oil’s going through a crash - oil’s down so low.
Nehemia: Oh, the price is going down?
Keith: In fact, Netanyahu made mention of it, because of oil being where it is in the economy and how that affects Tehran. But really, the point is I really am glad you brought that up because there is this idea that there’s… I mean, I just think it’s amazing that God would have His hands, if I can say this, that the prophecy would affect the economy like that.
Keith: Literally that was the prophecy, it was an economic, I mean...
Nehemia: It’s an economic prophecy!
Keith: It’s an economic prophecy.
Nehemia: That pretty cool.
Keith: It’s like a person standing there saying, “The Dow is going to be at 12,000 such and such and it’s going to…” Of course, I never said that. But the point is that you see that kind of thing. And what’s happening presently, if it’s still happening at the time of the recording here, is it’s been a major economic shift, the amount of money that’s been “lost” in the value of oil. They said that one of the reasons that the king of Saudi Arabia died, they said it was because...
Nehemia: He was heartsick because of the loss of his value?
Keith: No. I mean billions of dollars, literally, the amount of money…
Nehemia: Wow. I had no idea about that, wow.
Keith: How can you not know anything…?
Nehemia: Yes, I don’t listen to the news. [laughing]
Keith: Yeah, okay. [laughing]
Nehemia: It’s all lies, anyway.
Keith: Let’s move on because this...
Nehemia: Well, I just think it’s amazing here. So let’s just state the obvious, and I’m sorry for those who… it’s just so obvious to... But why is there this devaluation so much of… you could say it’s a devaluation of the shekel, or is it the other way around? No, it’s… yes, I’m not an economics person. But basically...
Keith: The supply and demand. The supply has gone up.
Nehemia: Right, so the supply has gone up, and why has it gone up? Because the Arameans abandoned all their stuff.
Nehemia: So anybody who went out could go get as much flour as he wanted. Well, who’s going to buy it if you can get it for free? And maybe there are people who could buy it...
Keith: This also might be obvious, Nehemia. But it’s funny when I read the story and it says that they went into the tents and they got gold and they got silver and they got clothes. You have to think to yourself that obviously that wasn’t how it started. They obviously are on a campaign. They’ve already begun to accumulate, these armies have already accumulated gold and silver from other places. They’re doing their next thing. And instead, they go in and what they’d gotten from somewhere else now they actually left. I mean that’s pretty amazing.
Nehemia: Right. Yes.
Keith: But now, if I can get to this, because it says here… Elisha tells him - I’m glad we went back to that section - tells him this is going to happen. They go and they find out. They select the two chariots. Let me just go to the whole thing. Verse 16, it says in verse 16, “Then the people went out and plundered… The messengers returned and reported to the king.” Then the people said, “Enough is enough.” “The people went out and plundered the camp of the Arameans. So a seah flour sold for a shekel,” again, “two seahs of barley sold for a shekel, as Yehovah had said.” Now, here comes this part.
Nehemia: Verse 17.
Keith: “Now the king had put the officer on whose arm he leaned in charge of the gate.” [laughing] So he tells his officer, “Now, listen, okay, you’re in charge of the gate.” [both laughing] Maybe this is just me, maybe this is just me, but what kind of job is that to give your guy? He put him in charge of the gate. And what happens? No, people don’t understand this. I want to talk about yesterday, today, and tomorrow. You probably don’t know this because of the news, but it says here, “The people trampled him in the gateway, and he died, just as the man of God,” Elisha, “had foretold when he said to the king: “About this time tomorrow, a seah of the finest flour will sell for a shekel,” Basically, Elisha said, “Look, you’re never going to see it. You’re actually going to die in the process of it.”
Nehemia: Well, you’re going to see it, but you won’t benefit from it.
Keith: You won’t benefit from it.
Keith: Now, you know what? Just a couple weeks ago, just about a month-and-a-half ago, Nehemia, this actually happened in China.
Keith: In China, on the New Year, which was the...
Nehemia: The Chinese New Year?
Keith: Not the Chinese New Year.
Nehemia: Oh, the Gregorian New Year.
Keith: The actual Gregorian New Year.
Keith: What happened was they went into Shanghai - there are 26 million people in Shanghai - but they went there for the New Year’s celebration before the Chinese New Year. And the reported number was 35 people, but they say...
Nehemia: That were trampled to death?
Keith: That were trampled to death.
Keith: That, literally, because of the movement of people, people were just crushed. This was like a huge, huge story. In fact, the people that were in charge of the “celebration” were punished by the Chinese government, because these people were there and they didn’t have crowd control. So here the king says to his guy, [both laughing] “You’re in charge of crowd control.” And the crowd trampled him and he died. I mean, it’s just… I don’t know. It’s just amazing to me. But that actually happened in real time, just from human movement, people actually died.
Nehemia: The modern example I think of is - I don’t know about the Chinese example - but the modern example I think of is you have these soccer games, like in Europe this happens and in England, where like they’ll get pushed against the fence and crushed.
Keith: I’m telling you this just happened. You don’t watch the news, Nehemia. This was international news.
Nehemia: Yes. I’ve got no idea. I’m not sure they know about this outside of China.
Keith: But let me tell you what’s not funny. Not what’s funny. So now for the New Year celebration, they actually canceled the public event. They wouldn’t have public fireworks. This is a really big deal.
Nehemia: That is a very big deal in Shanghai.
Keith: For one reason, and one reason only, because of what happened in Shanghai. They shut down the ability… Because the crowds are so many people that the movement you can’t control. And I was not feeling well, I was going to go down there with my camera. [laughing]
Nehemia: Oh, boy.
Keith: I wasn’t there. Anyway. That actually took place.
Keith: So I’m sorry, verse - that was a segue.
Nehemia: That was verse 19.
Keith: Was that 19?
Nehemia: Yes. We finished out with verse… Oh no it was verse 17, 18, something like that.
Keith: Okay. So I want to read 18.
Nehemia: Well, 18 and 19 just repeat what we read at the beginning, which is maybe why they decide to drop it, because they’re like, we don’t need to read this twice.
Keith: Okay. Should I read 19?
Nehemia: Sure, go ahead.
Keith: All right. “The officer had said to the man of God, ‘Look, even if the LORD should open the flood…’” and this is an example of rereading, like you say, it happens and then now we’re back to him talking again? He’s dead.
Nehemia: Yes, we’re reminding… this is what happened.
Keith: “The officer had said to the man of God, ‘Look, even if the LORD should open the floodgates of the heavens, could this happen?’ The man of God had replied, ‘You will see it with your own eyes, but you will not eat any of it!’ And this is exactly what happened to him, for the people trampled him in the gateway, and he died.” Wow.
Nehemia: Yes. Well, I love two things about this prophecy and its fulfillment. First of all, what I love is that this officer, this guy, he can’t imagine how God’s prophecy could be fulfilled. He’s hearing this prophecy, and he’s saying, if we could have all the rain in the world, we’re still going to keep, you know, there’s not going to be...
Keith: The supply and demand is not going to change like that.
Nehemia: No, how could that ever happen? And he can’t imagine it, so he rejects God’s word, because he can’t imagine how it would be fulfilled. To me, that’s so important, because we’ll read these prophecies in Daniel and Isaiah and these end times prophecies, and people will start coming up with all these allegorical symbolic explanations, and they’ll say, “Well, it can’t literally mean Persia because Persia’s some second rate country now. It’s got to be the Soviet Union.” I remember back in the 80s there were discussions like that.
Now, due to the incompetence of the American president, we have Iran perched to be a superpower again. That’s Persia.
But I actually love how this prophecy was fulfilled in such a literal and yet unexpected way. You’ve got so many discussions of prophecy that look for an abstract, or symbolic, fulfillments, and these tend to be like so flexible there’s no way to verify whether the prophet’s speaking truth or not. You know, those prophecies it’s like a moving target, “Oh, that wasn’t fulfilled, now let’s change it to this.” It’s almost like there’s this hole that’s shaped to fit the prophet’s peg. You know he has a prophecy and so they’ll set up some situation where it’s so flimsy, the prophecy will fit their interpretation.
The Torah gives us a standard to test prophecy, and Jeremiah fleshes out some of the details, we’ve talked about that. I think it’s Jeremiah 28:7-9 and Deuteronomy 18:21 to 22. It’s very simple: A good prophecy must come true. A bad prophecy can have reprieve if the people repent. But if there’s a prophecy of something good happening, it has to come true.
So Elisha’s saying that there’s going to be this price situation in the gates of Samaria tomorrow; that had to come true or Elisha would’ve been a false prophet. And you can’t come along and say, “Oh, no, it didn’t mean that. When he spoke about flour, it really meant something else.”
Keith: Just a second. So wait a minute, I just realized something.
Nehemia: What’s that?
Keith: You actually said that there was a prophecy from - not that you said, but that it was written - on March 17 or something like that?
Keith: Now, we’re recording this in advance.
Keith: So if that prophecy comes to pass, people aren’t even going to...
Nehemia: Well, this is the prophecy of these Rabbinic Kabbalists of Rav Kaduri, who said apparently that Lake Michigan would sweep away Chicago with a tsunami and there’d be lots of, what do you call that, earthquakes.
Keith: So if that hasn’t happened while they’re listening...
Nehemia: So if people actually hear this in April then that means these Kabbalists are false prophets. If they don’t hear it because the world has begun the end times, then I guess we were wrong. [laughing]
Keith: What’s really amazing about this is we’re actually recording this in advance so people will still have the ability, if there’s still technology, to listen to this. And who knows? We might be… who knows where we’ll be? We don’t know. I mean, if this is true, what these people say...
Nehemia: You’ll be up in heaven; I’ll be left behind. [both laughing] Here’s what I say, you know what? Rav Kaduri could be telling the truth. Meaning he could be right. I don’t say Yehovah can’t do that. I don’t say, even with the blood moons, I don’t say Yehovah can’t do that.
Nehemia: I just say let’s see if it happens. There’s a prophecy of good happening.
Keith: Let me be clear. The blood moons, they’re going to come and go. They’re going to come and go and then they’re going to have to look for the next thing. Because that’s what people do. They don’t focus on this. And Nehemia, look, we’re going to have an argument about this, but I love the fact that you brought that example. How do you test it?
Keith: How do you test it? You actually can see it with your own eyes and say, did it happen or not? And what I don’t understand about people is how these people can rise up out of the blue and say, “On October 21, such and such and such is going to happen.” And it doesn’t happen. And do you know that the next year that guy will say it again and people will follow him again? This happens over and over and over again. What is it about people’s nature that they’re so… sheeple, following behind… Just read it. If it doesn’t happen then don’t follow that person anymore. How do people do...?
Nehemia: What he really meant when he said, “A seah in the gate of Samaria…”
Keith: Oh, he didn’t mean it. Oh, okay.
Nehemia: He meant thousands of years from… he didn’t mean tomorrow, literally. He meant a thousand years from now because a day with the Lord is a thousand years.
Keith: Oh. Okay. Okay.
Nehemia: And that’s what Elisha really meant… [laughing] No, he says tomorrow; it’s got to be tomorrow.
Keith: Exactly, it’s got to be tomorrow. Yes. Anyway, I want to be sensitive to the people that do kind of find themselves getting caught up in this sort of thing, because there might be that human nature that just says, “I really do want to see that something’s going to change.”
Nehemia: It’s what gives people hope.
Keith: Yes, whatever it is and so I understand that, but…
Nehemia: But is it a false hope?
Keith: Yes. I think in many cases it is. I don’t know why Yehovah would do this, give me two weeks and tell me, “Okay, prepare for this and be sick for the entire time.”
Nehemia: He struck you with Chinaitis because you denied the four moons prophecy. [laughing]
Keith: [laughing] Yes, right. Well, I’ll tell you what. It makes me depend on him. Again, I want to thank you, Nehemia, because you’re here exposed to it. It would be one thing if I’m across the world and you’re across the world, but I’m sitting here talking in the microphone, and all of sudden coughing. So hopefully you don’t get sick. You better put your little hat back on. With that, let’s pray. [laughing]
Nehemia: He’s making of this wonderful hat. Okay. Yehovah, avinu shebashamayim, Yehovah, our Father in heaven. I thank you for giving this opportunity for us to come together in Your holy city, Jerusalem, here in the safe house in the side of the mountain, the place where You put Your name forever in this city, to speak about the prophets.
Nehemia: And Yehovah, I ask You to put in our hearts that when we get the good news, that we don’t keep it to ourselves. That like the lepers we say, Yehovah, we must let people know what that good news is. And let people know truth…
Nehemia: And I love the image, Yehovah, that You’ve given of these lepers, because they don’t force anybody to do anything, Yehovah. They just say, “Here’s what we found out.” And then the people themselves they debate and they struggle with it and they say, “Well, maybe this is true; maybe it’s not true; maybe it’s a trap.” In the end, they decide to step out on faith and go out and see the blessing that You’ve granted to the people. Yehovah, I ask that You put it in my heart to trust in You so I can go out and accept that good news and see what blessing You’ve given for my people, Yehovah. Yehovah, please give us the humility to come before You and read these prophecies and accept them even if they’re beyond our imagination.
Nehemia: When we read about the dead rising and coming back to life, and I know there are people who hear that and they say, “Well, we’ve never seen that. How can that be? Can God really do that?” Yehovah, please give us the humility to come before You and just accept what You’ve said and not allegorize it or turn it into symbology, but just accept what You’ve said and know that You are a true God, that You are the Creator of the universe, and You are the one who has given us the blessing, Yehovah. And Yehovah, bless this endeavor that we’re doing and bless all those who are hearing these words and studying Your Scriptures, in Your holy name, Yehovah, Amen.
Thank you for listening to Prophet Pearls with Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson. For more information, please visit BFAInternational .com.