Monday, November 21, 2011

2 Nephi 5-8

1. 5:5 Nephi repeats the Lehi maneuver in all respects.  They even take "tents" (v. 7) and "seed" (v. 11).  One really gets the impression that Nephi's (and Lehi's?) background must have been in metallurgy (2:14-15).

2. 5:6 Those who flee are again those who believe in "revelations" (the "visionary men" and "prophets") (v. 6).  Does this mean the Laman-Lemuel group is dominated by the Deuteronomists?  Is that where Sherem and his doctrine might have come from?  Does Nephi hasten to tell us that his people keep the law of Moses because the Laman-Lemuel group accuse him otherwise (v. 10)?

3. After all the temple imagery so far, it should now be no surprise at all that Nephi is quick to tell us he built a temple (5:16).

4. Nephi tells us that Laman and Lemuel were cut off from the Lord's presence in 5:20, right after he tells us that he built a temple (5:16) and he acted as king (5:18).  This makes PERFECT sense in terms of ancient Israelite ideas -- the presence of YHWH was in the temple, and king and high priests were both "anointed", i.e., "Messiahs", because they were / represented YHWH.  Check out Psalm 2:7, in which the King is the Lord's begotten.

5. A discussion of the fate of the Lamanites' culture follows.  We talked in class about the Egyptian pun built into the Lamanites becoming "black" as opposed to the "Nephites" (nfrw?) being "fair"... now we see that fate being tied into covenants and explicitly to the possession or non-possession of a temple.  Those having a temple are fair, washed white in the blood of the Lamb, encircled in the robe of the Lord's righteousness -- those not having a temple and having rejected revelation have "skins of blackness".  I think it's unwarranted to infer that this is a record of people in the Americas actually physically changing color.

6. Jacob's speech in 2 Nephi 6:2-4 starts out all temply, too.  He refers to the order of his priesthood, Nephi's kingship and all the things he's taught, "from the creation of the world", things which are to come, the great temple-prophet Isaiah, "learning" God's name (which can only be spoken in the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement) and "glorifying" it ("glory" being a phenomenon of the Holy of Holies).  What is the context of this talk?  Much of the speech is reminiscent of Nephi's Day of Atonement vision and preaching in 1 Nephi 11-15 -- is this a Day of Atonement address?

7. We probably read 6:6-7 as verses being fulfilled in modern days, or yet to be fulfilled.  I wonder if Jacob read them to encourage his people with respect to their relationships with the (unnamed to us) populations around them?  Maybe the Nephi party received help from an indigenous population (remember "corn"?  doesn't exist in the wild, so someone taught the Nephites to cultivate it...), and Jacob taught them to read Isaiah as a prophecy of the help they received, and to welcome them into the church (vv. 12-13)?

8. Again, I am trying to read the Isaiah passages (2 Nephi 7-8) as Nephite self-image.  I think they fit very, very well.  Chapter 7: God has not set the Nephites aside, despite the persecutions they have suffered.  Chapter 8: take comfort from Abraham and God's covenants with you, God will comfort and rescue, etc.  I wonder if the Nephites had any thoughts about who the two sons were (8:19-20)?  Nephi and Jacob, maybe?

9. 2 Nephi 8 has lots of temple imagery, appropriately for a Day of Atonement address.  Covenants, cosmic structure, creation, putting on garments, arising from the dust.

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