Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mosiah 13

1. We continue the Exodus imagery, explicitly comparing Abinadi to Moses.

2. This idea that Abinadi expresses that things that we do now are a "type and a shadow" of things to come is at the heart of the religion of the visionary men.  This is the lesson of the Small Plates of Nephi: they saw the temple rites that they practiced, which are confused and half-reported in the OT, as foreshadowing the Lord's future incarnations and the redemption of Israel.

3. I like that Abinadi describes the law of Moses as a law of "performances".  It makes me think of a play, and the temple ordinances are all -- and were all -- a kind of prophetic theater.  The performances keep people "in remembrance"(cf. Leviticus 24 and Luke 22).

4. This reads like a thumbnail interpretation of the Day of Atonement rite, except possibly the resurrection of the dead reference.  I'll have to think about that one.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Moving Again!


Our plan is to move to a new blog home this weekend.  The reason is that lots of people have complained that they liked getting the blog content delivered to them by email, and don't read it now that it's in a blog.  The new site will a) be a blog, b) be private and password-protected and c) permit subscription, so posts and/or comments can be emailed directly to you.  We'll try to make this painless.  Stay tuned.

Mosiah 12

1. What kind of disguise is it, when he uses his own name?  Maybe it was like Catholic priests in Tudor England -- he traveled around in disguise, but revealed his identity to the faithful.  In any case, someone heard his preaching who didn't like it.

2. The furnace reference echoes interestingly in the OT: Sodom & Gomorrah, refining by affliction, and the Exodus.  This last is especially interesting in that what follows sounds a lot like the plagues of Egypt.

3. I guess the trap that Noah's priest is laying for Abinadi in vv. 20-24 is that Abinadi's message seems contrary on first reading to Isaiah.  Abinadi is not a messenger who brings good tidings.  So Abinadi has to distinguish himself from what Isaiah was saying, and the priests will be able to accuse him to denying the truth of the prophets.  Abinadi avoids the trap by not answering the question, and blasting the priests instead.

4. One of Abinadi's criticisms of the priests is that they haven't been "wise".

5. I am reminded that the LXX translation of zevach hashelamim ("the sacrifice of peace offerings") in Leviticus 7:11 is thusia soteriou, the "sacrifice of salvation".

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mosiah 11

1. In Lehi-Nephi, too, the King is the head of the church.

2. The description of Noah's building projects and his priests reminds me of the great and spacious building and its occupants in 1 Nephi 8.  Remember that "fine" in the KJV OT is the adjective par excellence that describes things made for use in the temple -- see it occur here three times in succession in vv. 8-10.

3. Both the various references to building in wood (vv. 8-10 again) and the vineyards in this chapter make a Mesoamerican setting challenging to accept.

4. A "fifty" as a military unit recurs (remember that Laban commanded a fifty).

5. Abinadi arrives, and will occupy center stage for the next six chapters.  Unlike Sherem, who "came among" the Nephites, Abinadi "was among" Noah's people.  This sounds to me like he was a local boy upon whom the mantle of prophecy fell.  The people try to arrest and try Abinadi once and he escapes.  Noah hardens his heart against Abinadi, like Pharaoh did against Moses.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mosiah 10

1. P.S. to Mosiah 9.  There's an interesting ambiguity to the two accounts of Zeniff's revolt, in Omni and in Mosiah.  I think the normal way to read them is that Omni's "stiffnecked man" and Mosiah's "austere and bloodthirsty" "ruler" are the same unnamed man, Zeniff's commanding officer.  But this guy isn't identified, and I think there's another way to read these verses: that for Omni, the "stiffnecked" leader is Zeniff, and for Mosiah (Zeniff), the "austere and bloodthirsty" "ruler" is Benjamin.  This gives us more nuanced visions of both Zeniff and Benjamin, and eliminates the need for an unnamed mystery officer in our interpretation, and explains why Omni doesn't have Benjamin comment on or try to help Zeniff's apparently righteous mission, and why Zeniff doesn't say anything about the apparently righteous King Benjamin.

It's an interpretation, a theory.  I think the accounts can be read either way, and it's not clear to me that Occam's Razor cuts in either direction here.  Personally, I kind of like to think of Benjamin as an amazing man who was not perfect.  But that's me.

2. Mosiah 10 reminds me of 2 Nephi 5, in which Nephi talks about his people in the same place.  Hard to imagine the similarities are accidental -- Zeniff sees himself as the new Nephi.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mosiah 9

1. Unlike everyone else in this period, Zeniff seems to have no problem finding his way around

2. The Lamanites may have handed down the royal name "Laman" like the Nephites handed down "Nephi".

3. It seems important to the Nephite kings to report that they've done things with their own hands.

Monday, December 12, 2011


My weak suit is modern church history, and the D&C.  I had a dim recollection that the appearance of Elijah came on the heels of Joseph and Oliver taking the sacrament within the Kirtland temple, and yesterday, sitting in the back of Primary, I finally took the time to look it up.

D&C 109 and 110 make interesting reading in light of our adventures of the last two years.  In the temple context, we're told to seek wisdom in the best books (see also v. 14).  The temple will be full of glory, because it will house God's presence (cf. Isaiah 6).  Angels are sent out from the temple.  Day of Atonement image.  The church is a woman (like OT Zion).  Joseph and Oliver take the sacrament (in the heading to D&C 110; cf. Leviticus 7:11ff) and then they see the Lord (cf. Exodus 24, with very similar imagery) -- I think this is the first zevach hashelamim (Lev. 7:11) of the Restoration.

Mosiah 8

1. Post-script to Mosiah 7.  Hem is also a name with a royalist echo to it.  It's an Egyptian word that means "person", and means "Majesty" in the expression equivalent to "Your Majesty" (hm.k).  So Ammon is described as a nobleman, and Hem and Amaleki have royalesque names.  And Hem and Ammon both have Egyptian names -- Ammon is a very old name in Egypt, the name of a god, whose position developed into early virtual monotheism.  Don't know about Helem.

2. If Limhi knew Benjamin's last words (presumably because Ammon reported them), then he may have deliberately modeled himself on Benjamin in summoning everyone to the temple.

3. Verse 12 is a sort of verbal pin that ties together a lot of what the Book of Mormon is about through the missions of several men.  Limhi wants to read the record of the destroyed Jaredites, and needs a translator; Mormon is composing the record of the destroyed Nephites, knowing that there will be a future audience who will read it in translation; and Joseph Smith translated the verse of the dead Nephite historian talking about the record of the dead Jaredites.  And why do we want knowledge of these dead people?  To "know the cause of their destruction".  Mormon must have seen the Jaredites as an analog of his people.

4. At this point, verses 19-20 come like a punch in the eye.  "Doubtless a great mystery is contained within these plates", but men "will not seek wisdom, neither do they suffer that she should rule over them!"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mosiah 7

1. Interesting that after two generations the Nephites didn't know how to get back to Lehi-Nephi.  These are record-keeping people; does their ignorance reflect the nature of their flight, hurried and arduous rather than the orderly exodus of 1 Nephi?

2. Of course, forty is a significant number.  It's how long one always spends in the wilderness -- forty years for the Israelites, forty days for Jesus.  It's also how long Jesus taught the disciples after the resurrection, and how long King David reigned, and idem Solomon, et cetera.

3. Amaleki is the first appearance of a triliteral root (M-L-K) name variants of which are going to recur throughout Nephite history, and frequently be associated with dissent.  Amlici, Amalickiah, Amulek, Mulekites, Amalekites, Amalickiahites and even "king men" all have this root in common, this last because melekh in Hebrew (M-L-K) means "king".  Interesting that Amaleki is in the expedition of Ammon, who was a descendant of Zarahemla.  I wonder if he and Ammon were kin -- brothers or cousins.

4. The encounter with Limhi in vv. 7ff looks judicial.  Verb of motion "surrounded", "taken and bound", brought before an authority, the stakes are capital punishment.  It's not identified as a trial, but it's narrated like one.

5. Who built this temple?  It's hard to miss the parallel between Benjamin summoning everyone to the temple in Zarahemla to invite his people to take upon them the name of Christ, and Limhi inviting his people to the temple in Lehi-Nephi to invite them to make a break for it.  Freeing the slaves is one of Isaiah's metaphors for the atonement.

6. Limhi reports Abinadi's prophesy in temple language.  As the Lord created Adam in his image (Genesis), he would take that image on himself.  It's also reminiscent of Lehi's vision (going forth upon the face of the earth).

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mosiah 6

1. Interesting that the account goes out of its way before Benjamin's speech to say they didn't count the crowd, but once the covenant has been entered into, the covenanters' names are collected.  It's almost like it's a deliberate enactment of the Day of Atonement idea of two books -- during the ten days of probation, no one gets recorded, and then he has the covenant people's names written in the Book of Life.

2. As of this moment, the King is the head of the church.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mosiah 5

1. When people cry "with one voice" four paragraphs worth of stuff (5:2-5), it isn't spontaneous.  They're being led through covenant-making language, which is how Benjamin responds to it (5:6ff).

2. Taking upon them the name of Christ is a priestly image.  The plate on the front of the high priest's turban bears the inscription QODESH L'YHWH, "Holiness to the Lord", so the high priest literally had the name of Christ, YHWH, upon him.  I think Benjamin's repeated reference to this "head" in the verse is an allusion to this.  Benjamin is turning the people of Zarahemla into a nation of priests.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mosiah 4

1. In 4:1-2 everyone falls to the ground and asks for the atoning blood to be applied to them.  This is clear Day of Atonement behavior.

2. 4:11-12 is more temple imagery.  Glory is what fills the temple.  Tasting "of" the "love" of God is eating the fruit of the tree, the peace offering.  I like the promise that you can grow in your knowledge of the glory.

3. 4:13 and of course, you will leave "peaceably", "peaceable" being "shalem", also meaning completed, reminding us of Leviticus 7:11 and Matthew 5:48.

4. 4:21 reminds us of the Sermon on the Mount, the triple petition before entering into the strait gate.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mosiah 3

1. 3:1 sounds like there's been a break, something has happened, and Benjamin calls the people's attention back.

2. It's easy to imagine this summons and response in 3:2-3 as a rite.  Of course, he gets the same message as the shepherds in Luke 2.  Like the shepherds, Benjamin is told that all people get the good tidings.  It's interesting to note that shepherd is a traditional imagine in Israelite prophesy for the leaders of the people (see, e.g., Ezekiel 34, Zechariah 10-11), but I don't know what to make of that, that wouldn't be pure speculation.

3. 3:15 -- I'll say!

4. 3:17 -- previously we had Nephi saying that there was "none other name given under Heaven", save Christ (2 Nephi 31:21), and now Benjamin says the same thing, omitting the "under Heaven" bit -- "there shall be no other name given", period, except Christ, who is the Lord Omnipotent (=YHWH).  Nephi separated out Yahweh in Heaven from Christ on Earth, identifying them and also distinguishing them by which side of the temple veil they're on -- Benjamin collapses them together.

5. Put[ting] off the natural man is an undressing / clothes-changing image.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Sword of Laban

I started thinking about the "handed down" and "delivered up" comment in Dave's post about the "Words of Mormon", and ended up on a complete tangent about the Sword of Laban.

The evolution of the Sword of Laban as an object of power is a very interesting one that takes us from the time Nephi and family were still in Jerusalem, all the way to the 19th century, Joseph Smith and the Three Witnesses.

When we first see the sword, it is the sword of a high noblemen of exceedingly fine workmanship. It rests in the hands of Laban who is obviously not favored by the Lord, so much so that Nephi takes the sword and uses it to part Laban from his head as seen in 1 Nephi Chapter 4 starting with verse 9:

"And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel."

At this point it is the weapon of his fallen enemy and becomes the property of Nephi. A common practice that has survived even into modern times whether it be swords, knives, or guns.

The next time we see the sword in 2 Nephi it is being used as an exemplary weapon in the patterning of others. Nephi, who was apparently very good at metal work, used the sword as a model to fashion additional weapons for the Nephite defense against the Lamenites:

"And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us; for I knew their hatred towards me and my children and those who were called my people."

Unless at this point there has already been significant assimilation into the native populations, probably a small number of swords were made by the hand of Nephi. As an aside, it makes one wonder what happened to those original swords of Nephi, and if they might have been handed down among generals. As a double aside, this is the first verse where we see the people identified as Lamanites so called. It makes one wonder if a degree of assimilation had not already occurred by this point with native peoples. Otherwise, why not simply say "the children of my brothers…"

The third time we see the sword is when Jacob, the brother of Nephi, in Jacob 1:10 is conveying the transfer of power to future kings, and mentions the sword as being used by Nephi in the defense of his people:

"The people having loved Nephi exceedingly, he having been a great protector for them, having wielded the sword of Laban in their defence, and having labored in all his days for their welfare—"

At each of these three references so far we see a clear progression in the reverence given to the blade.

The next time it is mentioned is not until the time of King Benjamin in the Words of Mormon where King Benjamin uses it also in the defense of his people, and is where I picked up its trail. At this point it is becoming clear that the blade is being used as a symbol of authority, and a vehicle used in the anointing of the next King:

"And it came to pass also that the armies of the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi, to battle against his people. But behold, king Benjamin gathered together his armies, and he did stand against them; and he did fight with the strength of his own arm, with the sword of Laban."

After King Benjamin's use of the Sword of Laban in the defense of his people, he then passes it on to his son Mosiah in Mosiah 1:16 along with many other objects of power further elevating the status of the sword as a nearly divine tool for defending peace and righteousness:

"And moreover, he also gave him charge concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass; and also the plates of Nephi; and also, the sword of Laban, and the ball or director, which led our fathers through the wilderness, which was prepared by the hand of the Lord that thereby they might be led, every one according to the heed and diligence which they gave unto him."

At this point, despite the many years and dynasties left in the story of the children of Lehi, the sword goes into hiding, and does not reappear until the 19th century when it makes a cameo in the Doctrine and Covenants 17:1 as the promise to the three witnesses along with many other sacred objects. At this point it is again being used as a clear transfer of power directly to Joseph Smith:

"Behold, I say unto you, that you must rely upon my word, which if you do with full purpose of heart, you shall have a view of the plates, and also of the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, which were given to the brother of Jared upon the mount, when he talked with the Lord face to face, and the miraculous directors which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness, on the borders of the Red Sea." 

It is clear that what began it's existence as a sword of fine workmanship evolved through use and the passage of time into an object of power, as well as an object to symbolize the transfer of power.

Mosiah 2

1. 2:1, they're still "going up" to the temple.

2. Does 2:2 mean that on this occasion (a coronation, the farewell of an old King, the Sukkot / Rosh Hashanah / Yom Kippur feast complex) a census was customary and expected, but they just didn't have the resources?  The record says they "did not" number them, not they "could not".

3. The phrase "established peace" in 2:4 now rings differently for me.  Peace on earth, to men of good will.  A quick search shows that "established peace" is a stock phrase in the BoM but not elsewhere in the scriptures.  Here it's paired with "love towards God".

4. The tents in 2:5 are big tents -- these are not nuclear families, they are extended families.

5. Look at 2:9 -- you have to open your "ears to hear", and hearts and mind, to understand the mysteries.  Remember this verse next time you read one of the evangelists saying "let he who has ears, hear"... they're talking about the mysteries, too.

6. Echoes of Isaiah 6:1-3 (et cetera) in 2:19-20 -- praising the heavenly king.

7. 2:25-26 dust, from which Laman and Lemuel did not arise, and in which the serpent crawls, and to which God compared Abraham's promised seed.

8. 2:32 this sounds like a reference to some famous or important discourse that we don't have.  Yet.

9. 2:36-38 echoes 2 Nephi 31:14, and shows us that both verses are references to the temple.  Once you can "speak with the tongue of angels" or are "in wisdom's paths" (think 1 Nephi 8, wisdom = the tree), best not to turn aside.  (I notice with interest that "wisdom's paths" are also referred to in Helaman 12:5 -- can't wait til I get that far in my reading.)

(The hypertext links, by the way, are the result of Ryan Hunt's D&C 121-style leadership, setting a righteous example for me.)

Monday, December 5, 2011


Slightly changed the colors to try to make hypertext links less invisible.  Tell me if I have chosen poorly.

Mosiah 1

1. 1:1 people who "belonged to King Benjamin" is a very feudal, pre-modern formulation.  Sounds like a reference to the multiple ethnicities that make up the kingdom of Zarahemla.

2. 1:2-4 confirms that this is a different line of Lehi's family.  I guess Nephi gave his small plates to Jacob, and the "man" anointed by Nephi to be Nephi II in Jacob 1:9 was some other family member.

3. 1:3 tantalizes with its reference to the "mysteries".  Literally, it seems to say that the brass plates enabled Lehi to preserve temple ritual among his people.  As a prolog to Benjamin's great temple address-farewell sermon, this makes great sense.  This puts a different nuance on Nephi's internal debate over killing Laban in 1 Nephi 4:12-18.

4. 1:5 hits the "mystery" bell again, and seems to say that's specifically the thing the Lamanites have lost.

5. Typo!  My copy has an asterisk in 1:10, with no footnote.  That's what I get for reading closely.  Ha!

6. 1:10ff sounds like court ceremony.  I think it's likely everyone was already gathered for the fall festivals, and this summons (Benjamin "had Mosiah brought before him") was a bit of theater that was part of the prelude to making Mosiah co-king with Benjamin (1:15ff).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Words of Mormon

1. Mormon transitions from Amaron's death farewell (O 30), which lacks the glorious and prophetic quality of Nephi's and Moroni's parallel farewells, nicely into the destruction of the Nephites in his own day.  Then, since the small plates are full of teaching and prophesying about Christ, he notes that in the meantime, Christ has come, and he hopes his son Moroni will be able to write something about him.

2. This is a stark change out of the constant temple imagery of the small plates, other than the sly hint in v. 7 (a "wise purpose").  It's administrative, behind the scenes, explaining what Mormon has been up to.

3. WM 10 here again, it looks like Mosiah took with him the Nephite royal records (and in v. 13, we have the sword of Laban) (cf. 2 Nephi 5:12-14).  So one guesses he was of the royal class or party of the Nephites before he fled, maybe a (more or less distant) cousin of the record-keeping branch of Nephi's descendants.

4. Interesting that plates get "delivered up" (vv. 1, 10) and "handed down" (v. 11).

5. WM 15 it seems that in Benjamin's day, whatsoever a man believed could indeed be a crime.

6. WM 16 the Lamanites might have been barbarians in tents, but there was still something attractive enough about them that they continued to attract Nephite defectors... "many dissensions".  What was it?  A different doctrinal preference?  Maybe not everyone liked Benjamin's reforms and consolidation of power.

Sherem v. Jacob

Here's the outline for today's lesson, for those who can't make it.  It further develops some observations I made in prior posts on this blog.

1)    Who is Sherem? (Jacob 7:1-4, 24)

a)     Come from somewhere else
b)    Learned
c)     Preaches and works hard, has success
d)    Counter-missions?
e)     Content of preaching is Law of Moses and no-Christ

2)    What is the controversy?  Sherem attacks temple doctrines and the visionary men.

a)     What is the doctrine of the Christ?
i)      Angels sing before the Lord in the temple
(1)  2 Nephi 16:1-3
(2)  1 Nephi 1:8
(3)  Luke 2:8-14
ii)    Nephi’s doctrine of the Christ in 2 Nephi 31:2, 13-14, 17-18, is:
(1)  Repentance
(2)  Baptism
(3)  Gift of the Holy Ghost
(4)  Speak/sing with the tongues of angels (13-14) = enter in at the strait gate (17-18)
b)    Sherem sought to “overthrow the doctrine of Christ” (7:2).
i)      There should “be no Christ” (7:2).
ii)    The “right way of God” is the “law of Moses” (7:7).
iii)   Worship of a being to come is “blasphemy” (7:7).
iv)   You “cannot tell of things to come” (7:7).
v)     He hates the things of the temple—prophecy and the worship of the Messiah to come—and wants people to just obey the law of Moses.
c)     After Sherem’s defeat, “peace” and “the love of God” were restored. (7:23)
i)      “peace” is a hot-button temple word
(1)  Christ’s coming is “peace on earth”; Luke 2:13-14, “to men of good will”
(2)  But 1 Nephi 20:22 (Isaiah 48), there is no “peace” for the wicked
(3)  Peace offerings
(a)   Leviticus 7:11-36
(i)    zevach hashelamim; “shalem” is “peaceable” or “complete” (cf. Matthew 5:48, teleioi), so this is the “worship of the initiates”;
(ii)  cf. “shalem”, initiate, and “Sherem”, a close but incorrect substitute;
(iii) LXX is thusias soteriou, sacrifices of salvation
(iv) Peace offerings are a feast in the temple, including an eating of bread.
(b)  Exodus 24:9-11
(c)   Psalm 23 (cf. 1 Nephi 8)
(d)  Luke 14 (esp. 14:15); Matthew 22
(4)  Christ and bread / peace
(a)   Christ identifies himself as the “bread” of “heaven” (John 6:30-35)
(b)  Christ identifies himself with the Shewbread offering (Leviticus 24:7, “memorial”; Luke 22:19, “remembrance”)
(c)   Christ says the spirit gives “remembrance”, Christ brings “peace” (John 14:26-27)
(d)  Plays on disciples’ knowledge of him and peace in Matthew 10:34 (Luke 12:51) – not peace, but a sword
(e)   Paul knows this connection: Romans 5:1, Galatians 5:22, Ephesians 2:13-14; also Hebrews 12:11; also James 3:17-18
(5)  “peace” is the fruit
ii)    “love of God” is the tree in the temple (1 Nephi 11:21-22)
d)    Reminiscent of prior conflicts
i)      Josiah’s reformers:
(1)  Margaret Barker: “One way to reconstruct the religion of Jerusalem before Josiah’s changes is to note how many of the practices forbidden by Deuteronomy are permitted elsewhere in the Old Testament.”  What Did King Josiah Reform? in John W. Welch et al. eds., Glimpses of Lehi’s Jerusalem, Provo: FARMS, 2004.
(2)  Deuteronomy 4:12, you cannot see God; cf. 1 Nephi 1:8
(3)  Deut 4:19, deprecates “stars” and “host of heaven”; cf. 1 Nephi 1:8-10
(4)  Deut 4:5-6, Torah is Wisdom; cf. Mosiah 2:17, wisdom = temple insight
(5)  Deut 29:24-29, stick to the law, no secret things; cf. 1 Nephi 1:1, “mysteries”
(6)  What do the reformers hate?  Not random things, but the plain and precious things of the temple.  The way Nephi front-loads his account with exactly these things, it’s almost like he’s nailing his flag to the mast, proudly shouting from the rooftops all the things the reformers in Jerusalem hated.
ii)    Laman and Lemuel grumble against visions, are pro-Law of Moses and Jerusalemites (1 Nephi 17:19-22)

3)    How does the confrontation go?

a)     Juridical (cf. Jacob v. Laban in Genesis 31)
b)    Process
i)      Sherem “comes unto” Jacob (7:6).
ii)    Sherem presents his case (7:6-7).
iii)   Jacob responds, calling two witnesses (7:8-12).
iv)   Resolution by ordeal/miracle (7:13-15).
v)    Prompt remedy (7:16-20).

Saturday, December 3, 2011


1. Omni tells us up front that he's just keeping track of the chain of custody (O 1).  Did he even understand the record he was keeping?  From O 2, I doubt it.  This reads like a secular intrusion into a profoundly sacred book, with none of the hot buttons words or themes previous recordkeepers have touched on.

2. The series of recordkeepers that follows is interesting.  They are meticulous to record that they were duly given the small plates and kept them (because they were in the family), but none sounds like a temple writer at all, or even very spiritual.  None says he was a priest or talks about his ministry.  Abinadom (O 11) charmingly shrugs that he doesn't know of any revelation or prophecy.  I wonder if these plates were handed down within the family, but the keepers were apostate or "inactive" or just not very inspired men.  I wonder if there were spiritual fireworks, but they were just going off elsewhere, outside the blood descendants of Nephi?

3. When spiritual fireworks do again enter the record, it's with some guy, apparently from another family, named Mosiah (O 12).  Mosiah's in Lehi's mold, flees because he's warned in a dream, then is led by prophesying.  Mosiah flees the Nephites, but he has the brass plates (O 14) -- does that mean he was connected with the royalty of the Nephites?  Did he steal them, like Nephi did?  If Mosiah was already a king, that might help explain his assuming kingship over the combined people of Zarahemla (O 19); he might have seemed the natural choice.

4. O 25 the small plates end on the theme of seed -- I have no more seed, so I'm handing over these plates to someone else.

5. Why does Amaron mention Zeniff's party?  Is it because he had a brother among them, and that brother might have been expected to be the next record keeper, so making mention of him would legitimize the brother if the small plates came into his possession, and he started up with "Now behold, I am Bob, the brother of Amaron..."  Only he never did, and the small plates were finished.

6. Amaron's farewell sounds wholly secular, and tired.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Enos - Jarom

1. E 1 what are the nurture and admonition of the Lord?  If the Lord = the fruit of the tree in 1 Nephi 8 and 11 = the shewbread, isn’t the Lord’s nurture the eating of the fruit?  Admonition is warning… is “nurture” the endowment, the eating of the fruit, and “admonition” the Day of Atonement, the great warning of the Lord’s coming?

2. E 2 the famous Biblical character who wrestled before God was Jacob (Genesis 32); he met an angel and was given a new name, which are temple images.  Genesis Jacob’s first encounter with angels is told in Genesis 28, an episode that is also rife with temple imagery: a dream, a ladder with angels ascending and descending it, the Lord above the ladder, a covenant promise about seed, and look what Genesis Jacob says in verse 17 – the “house of God” and the “gate of heaven”.  Enos is the new Genesis Jacob, the third patriarch in the line (Abraham-Isaac-Genesis Jacob, Nephi-Nephite Jacob-Enos), and here in Enos we similarly have the voice of the Lord making promises about Enos’s seed.

3. E 14  Interesting that the Lamanites want to destroy the Nephite records.  Why?  Because they contained or supported Nephi’s claim to legitimacy as a ruler and teacher?  Because they contained the teachings and writings of the visionary men, whom the Lamanites disliked, and against whom they had sent their missionary Sherem?

4. E 20  Interesting that “dwelling in tents”, which was repeated so often of Lehi, has now become the mark of the Lamanites’ savagery.  Is this a sign they haven’t progressed?  Is it irony – they hate the temple (God’s tent) and stick to their own tents instead?

5. E 22  The heirs to the “prophets” and “visionary men” continue to have “many prophets” among them.  (See also Jarom 4, 10-12.)

6. E 27 is temple imagery.  Enos plans to “put on immortality” (like a garment) and see God’s face.

7. J 1 Jarom is clearly not keeping their “genealogy” in any ordinary sense.  Where are the lateral branches, not to mention the women?  Instead, he’s making a record of who was in the line of keepers of the small plates.

8. J 2 Nephi wrote a book all about the temple, for the benefit of his brothers who rejected the temple.  Jarom finds that Nephi’s explanation is thorough, and has nothing significant to add.

9. J 5 This sounds like a defense to me, like the Lamanites in their grudge against the Nephites are at this point still saying that the Nephites had forsaken the law of Moses.  Since the shewbread was eaten on the Sabbath (Leviticus 24:8), and the Nephite endowment appears to contemplate the eating of the shewbread (1 Nephi 8, the bread = the fruit of the tree; remember that Christ is the “bread of heaven”), I wonder if Jarom’s statement in this verse that the Nephites kept the Sabbath day holy is a statement that the Nephites faithfully kept BOTH the law of Moses AND the visionary temple worship (see also verse 11, “the law of Moses and the intent for which it was given”).  Also, did the Lamanites accuse the Nephites of “profanity” or “blasphemy” in their temple rites?

10. J 10-12 are poignant, since they tell us how it might have gone for Jerusalem, if the Jerusalemites had repented.  I think Jarom includes the historical stuff on the temple plates because it’s specifically an account of how many of the temple prophecies about “seed” have been fulfilled.  We still see absolutely nothing of the kings and other secular actors.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jacob 6-7

1. 6:3 "their own place" reminds me of the line from Paradise Lost: "Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven."

2. It seems like all this section (Jacob 4-6) is written and not spoken, and Jacob keeps addressing his "beloved brethren".  Who is talking to?  In light of 4:17, it feels to me like he's addressing "the Jews" in 6:4ff -- God is merciful to all of Israel, root and branch; God is patent (Jacob 5), so repent; will you reject the prophecies you had of Christ?

3. 6:11-13 is a quick dash of temple imagery.  Strait gate; be wise; Day of the Lord.

4. 7:1 Sherem seems to have come from somewhere else.  Is he from the Lamanite / Lemuelite group, bringing their Deuteronomist ideas to the erring Nephites?  If so, his people might have seen him as a missionary (7:3) and a martyr.

5. 7:10-11 tie us back into the previous chapter, 6:8 -- if you read the scriptures and don't see Christ in them, you're missing the point.  Maybe 4-7 is all together one unit, and that's the point.  So maybe Jacob's "beloved brethren" include presumed or actual Lamanite / Lemuelite readers.

6. 7:12 ties together the two great visions of 1 Nephi: if there is no atonement (chapters 11-14), then all men are lost (chapter 8).

7. Remember that on the Day of Atonement, as the Name is pronounced, everyone falls down.  In 7:21, at Sherem's confession, the power of God is made manifest, and it knocks everyone down.

8. 7:23 "peace" and "the love of God" are restored.  Remember that the "love of God" is an image from 1 Nephi 11, and is associated with the tree and the plain and precious things.

"Peace," "shalom" in Hebrew, is an interesting word.  Its three-letter root is SH-L-M, which gives us various words, expressing coming to an end, staying healthy, making amends, repaying or rewarding, and completing or becoming complete.  When Matthew 5:48 urges us to be "perfect", it uses the Greek word "teleioi" for "perfect", a word that embodies many of the same meanings and can specifically refer to someone who is initiated, someone who has been through the mysteries, learned the secret doctrines and is a temple insider (in LDS parlance, "endowed").  "Peaceful" would be a Hebrew-English equivalent, and "peace" would be a word that means something equivalent to "mysteries" or "temple blessings".  In this context, Isaiah 48:22 (there is no "peace" unto the wicked) is interesting, and, in fact, has already been quoted by Nephi (1 Nephi 20) in his temple-rich writings.

So, to recap: Sherem comes seeking to overthrow the "doctrine of Christ", which we've learned from Nephi includes various stages that lead one to speaking with the tongues of angels (2 Nephi 31:2, 13-14), which we know from Isaiah means being in the holy of holies (2 Nephi 16:2-4).  Sherem works hard and has some success (7:3).  After he's defeated and dies, "peace" and "the love of God" return.  Yeah, Joseph Smith stuck his face into a hat and made that up.  Ha!

9. With Sherem's mission having been foiled, Jacob immediately talks about the countermissions he sent back to the Lamanites (7:24).