Saturday, November 26, 2011

2 Nephi 25-26

1. 25:14 it's interesting that Josephus, in the critical Book 20 of his Antiquities of the Jews, tells that the Jerusalemites were agitated by a number of prophetic characters at the end (before the Romans destroyed it).  In Antiquities 20:6, for instance, Josephus reports that a false prophet out of Egypt told his followers that he would make the walls of Jerusalem fall down.  I wonder if the Egyptian (and Egypt of course reminds us of the brass plates, written in Egyptian, and the Joseph of Egypt book contained therein that didn't survive in out OT, and Nephi's Egyptian name, etc.) might have been looking at one of these books we don't have (Zenos, Zenock, etc.) in making his prophecy and whether that same passage might be something that stood behind 25:14.

2. 25:19 We know prophecies from the OT and elsewhere that identified the time of the coming of the Messiah, and that were understood to apply to Jesus's time (and were probably part of the turbulent atmosphere leading to the sack of Jerusalem), e.g., Daniel 9:24.  I don't know any that predated the Captivity, so Nephi must be quoting something from one of these books we don't have.

3. 25:20 Nephi's oath is both Exodus and temple imagery, and then he says there is no other name given "under heaven" -- remember that heaven is the temple veil, and the name YHWH is only spoken inside the holy of holies, i.e., "above heaven" or "inside heaven".  So he implicitly identifies Jesus as YHWH.

4. 25:22 implicitly connects two "rod" images that Nephi has deployed.  On the one hand, the iron rod is the word of God (and we have seen that that phrase is an Egyptian pun specifying the brass plates), and on the other hand the rod is the instrument of the Lord's judgment (e.g., 2 Nephi 20:24).  Therefore, people are judged by books.

5. 26:7 sounds like Nephi is telling us that this vision of destruction he has is a temple vision, since he is consumed in the "presence of the Lord".

6. 26:9 I like this succinct statement of the atonement -- "he shall heal them".  I think this metaphor explains much of the reporting we have of Jesus' mortal ministry -- healing people, casting out devils, raising the dead, etc., are all vivid, visual lessons to his audience of his real purpose: the atonement, which is harder to understand.

7. Interesting that between 26:19 and 26:20 we transition from future to present tenses.  What is the meaning of this?  Is he making the account more vivid for his ultimate reader, modern Gentiles, telling us that his prophesy refers to us?  Was he talking about the "Gentile" populations with which the Nephites interacted in his day?  Both?

8. 26:22 is Day of Atonement imagery again.  Remember that Azazel, the fallen angel / scapegoat, had a red thread tied around its neck before it was led out into the wilderness and thrown into a pit to die.  Here the devil leads his victims "by the neck with a flaxen cord".

WARNING: the times, they are a-changing.  Beginning maybe as early as Monday, I'm going to stop emailing these updates and instead post them on a blog (not the URL in my signature, a new home to my blog).  Stay tuned for updates.

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