Saturday, November 19, 2011

1 Nephi 21-22

1. I've always sort of read the Isaiah passages by thinking "okay, here's Isaiah," and trying to think back to 8th century Jerusalem -- this time, I want to focus on what Nephi is seeing in the texts he copies.  It's really easy to see Nephi's selt-image in chapter 21.  So much so, I wonder who he thinks of as the prisoners, and those in darkness (v. 9).  His righteous family?  Laman and Lemuel and theirs?  The people "who are in the east" in verse 13 might be all of the above.  The verses about children (19-26) are really poignant.

2. The whole arc 19:22 to 22:1 is another recurrence of the book motif in 1 Nephi.

3. The word "nations" (22:3) appears a lot in the KJV OT.  It almost always translates "goyim", meaning "gentiles".  Makes me wonder about the wonder about the words underlying the "mighty nation among the Gentiles" in verse 7.  "goy mehagoyim", maybe?  "A mighty and most gentilic nation"?  I dunno, but interesting.

4. (The word "wonders" stuck in my head after yesterday's reading.  I looked it up this morning -- it occurs a fair amount in the OT, but the earliest appearances, and many of the later ones, refer specifically to the plagues in Egypt.  See, e.g., Exodus 3:20, 4:21, 7:3, 11:9, 11:10.  This makes 19:13 a terrifically compact verse implicitly comparing the leaders of Lehi's Jerusalem both to the doubting Ahaz who needed a sign from the Virgin and also to the Pharaoh of Egypt from whom Israel fled.  Wow, subtle and spot on.)

5. I wonder what "saith the prophet" means in 22:15?  I don't think this quote exists in the scriptures as we have them -- maybe Nephi's paraphrasing Isaiah, or quoting Zenos or someone.  Idem for verse 17.

6.  It's really interesting to me that Nephi (22:20-21) interprets Moses' prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:15 differently from Jesus (according to John 1:21).  Nephi applies it to Jesus, but Jesus denies that it applies to him.  This bothered someone so much that though they footnoted Deuteronomy in 1 Nephi, they left out John, and in John, they waived footnotes entirely.  It doesn't bother me, though.  A) I've never been an inerrantist, that's a fool's doctrine and one Joseph Smith never taught.  B) One thing we learn from Nephi is that different prophets apply the same scriptural passages different ways.

7. I don't read verses like 22:23 triumphally.  I think those are a warning to us.

8. End on the book motif.

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