Tuesday, November 22, 2011

2 Nephi 9-10

1. Same speech continues, and we are still on temple themes.  The exit of the high priest from the temple before Israel, on the Day of Atonement, fully garbed in ritual clothing, is/represents the bodily appearance of the Lord (vv.4-5), as the death of the YHWH goat is the Lord's death (v. 5).  I think this speech would be most effective if Joseph gave it as the officiating high priest, exiting the temple on the Day of Atonement -- that would make phrases like being "cut off from the presence of the Lord" (v.6) very vivid.  The atonement, v.7.  The fallen angel = Azazel = the scapegoat, v.8-9.

2. Remember that the Day of Atonement is 10 days after the New Year, and that those ten days are a probationary period during which people scramble to try to repent, because their names will be written either in the Book of Life or in the Book of Death at the end of the ten days -- compare that to vv. 11-15, about spirits coming forth to resurrection and final judgment.  this whole two ways (two books) theme dominates the middle section of the chapter, goes away, and then comes back at the end.  very Day of Atonement-y.

3. Strait gate, knocking and entering, garments clean of blood, shaking off chains, the waters = all temple images we've seen before.  And this chapter ends on "remember how great the covenants of the Lord, and how great his condescensions", reminding me of 1 Nephi 11:16ff, where the "condescension of God" is explained visually as the tree who is the Virgin, and the child who is the Son of God, the Son of God going forth being of course a Day of Atonement vision, per below.

4. 10:3 is a bit mysterious... did the angel tell Jacob the syllable "Christ", or did he tell him that the Lord in flesh would be known as the Messiah?  dunno.

5. 10:3ff again.  remember that Jacob grew up in the wilderness raised by a father who had been persecuted and driven from his homeland by the Jews (Judahites) who ruled Jerusalem.  I think this is who Jacob is thinking about, and the context in which he knows them, and we don't need to imagine that the Book of Mormon teaches that the Jews are or were actually the most wicked people in the world.

6. 10:10-14... this is the sort of stuff that makes me scratch my head about the "Limited Geography" which situates all the BoM action in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.  I mean, maybe, but this doesn't really seem to describe Guatemala to me.  so I hold out a secret suspicion that the Nephites might have been in the Ohio Valley somewhere... Cahokia, etc.  again, I wonder how much this imagery might have resonated with the experience the Nephites were having at the time with the indigenous people they encountered.

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