If you’ve ever been to the Middle East, I’m sure you’ve been amazed at the sights and landscapes, the architecture, and the people who make this part of the world home. Kathie Lee Gifford (a woman who cherishes both wine and Jesus, so I feel we are kindred spirits) loves visiting Israel on a regular basis, both to soak up the culture and also to study and learn more about the Bible from where it was written.
A New Book by Kathie Lee Gifford and Rabbi Jason Sobel
Kathie Lee Gifford's newest book, The Rock, The Road, and the
Rabbi, is a treasure-trove of amazing observations about her time in Israel and how the landscape, culture, and Jewish traditions shaped how she perceived and understood the Bible. Written with her friend and Jewish scholar, Rabbi Jason Sobel, this book has continuously blown my mind with some thought-bending knowledge about certain aspects of the Bible that I never knew.
Here are just three things within The Rock, The Road, and the Rabbi
what made me be like whoa…
1. Psalm 23 makes more sense when you see the Judean wilderness.
Many of us have read Psalm 23
multiple times in our lives because, well, it’s beautiful? And comforting? And just amazing poetry? But, let’s face it, most of us don’t currently know many shepherds. Or especially know many shepherds who make their home in the Judean desert.
But back when the Psalm was written, the people reading and studying and using it as worship would have
understood some of these references that might escape us today:
- “He makes me to lie down in green pastures” (Psalm 23: 2) – Forget the illustrations you’ve seen your entire life of lush, rolling green hills. That is decidedly NOT the Judean wilderness. It’s rocky, it’s mostly desert, and frankly, for the most part, not green. Instead of just frolicking through fields upon fields of grassy knolls, the shepherd had to memorize the spots and oases that are spotted infrequently throughout the desert. So, essentially, when the people of Israel were thinking of a shepherd leading their flock to green pastures, he was leading them to respite after a hard day of trekking through some gnarly terrain. The sheep had to trust the shepherd to bring them to these places or else… they were not going to last very long in the barrenness that is the Judean desert.
- “He leads me in the paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23: 3) – This may seem vague since it seems like it’s talking about following a righteous life. But it’s more than that – these “paths of righteousness” were literal paths that snaked throughout the Judean wilderness, paths that would have been memorized by shepherds for their flocks. These paths would have brought them to life-sustaining places, such as springs, shady areas, and grassy spots. Literally, walking in the path of righteousness was the only way you survived through the Judean desert, and the sheep needed the Shepherd to guide them to those paths.
Amazing how imagery can change everything, RIGHT? My mind? Blown.
Color me "mind blown"
2. Living along the coast wasn’t really a luxury in Christ’s day.
Kathie Lee Gifford talks about how she’s shocked that she doesn’t see more development near the coast of the Sea of Galilee while she’s visiting Israel. To this, Rabbi Jason replies:
“All kinds of bad things happened on water: Jonah was in the belly of a fish for three days. Noah and the flood. Storms always came upon the Sea of Galilee. Jews are afraid of what the water represents— the chaos! The list is endless.”
So the fact that Jesus chose a handful of fisherman as his main disciples (men who dealt with “chaos” on a regular basis) has a whole new meaning. He was literally asking the people who dealt with a messy, risky job to be his best friends and students. They didn’t have prestigious jobs, they weren’t fancy-dancy Pharisees. They were the guys doing the job that no one else wanted because um… water can be scary. Jesus was one bold guy, y’all.
3. Jesus wasn’t a carpenter… he was a stone mason.
I know… we’ve been told a couple million times that Jesus was like his earthly father, Joseph: both were carpenters. But the actual word translated is tektōn,
which means “builder.”
See… Israel doesn’t have a ton of foliage that is good for building things. And so the best thing to build with if you don’t have a plethora of wood? Why, stone of course.
Which gives the scripture, “Upon this rock, I will build this house” a whole new meaning. Because Jesus LITERALLY used to build houses out of stone. He was an EXPERT.
I actually got a sneak peek into the audiobook for The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi
, which is fantastic: both Kathie Lee Gifford and Rabbi Jason Sobel narrate the audiobook, so you get to hear their journeys in their own words.
Want to start listening? Just click the play button below and get ready to start learning some amazing facts about the Bible that you thought
you knew, but really
Order your copy at these retailers (or wherever you get your audiobook!)Audible | Christian Audio | Kobo | Google Play | iTunesHarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., operates Page Chaser, the publisher of The Road, The Rock, and the Rabbi.