2010 Fireside on 1 Nephi 8, 11

The text below is the copied-and-pasted content of slide with which I (Dave) gave a fireside about a year and a half ago, about, as the subtitle says, "Apocalyptic, Temple Visions and 1 Nephi 8 and 11".  They're slides, so they're meant to be spoken to, and just not read straight, but for anyone who is trying to follow the blog but didn't attend the fireside and hasn't read my book, these slides may help.  Apologies for formatting weirdness.

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Plain and Precious Things

Apocalyptic, Temple Visions

And 1 Nephi 8 and 11

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Killing the Prophets

  NT: “ye are the children of them which killed the Prophets” (Matt. 23:31)

  BoM: “And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with [Lehi]; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain” (1 Ne. 1:20)

  OT: ?

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Seeing God

    Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.  And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink. (Ex. 24:9-11; cf. D&C 110:2, Ezek. 1:26)

                          BUT --

       Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me and live.  (Ex. 33:20)

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Apostasy and the Exile

   The Old Testament (‘Deuteronomists’) view: idolatry

   Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee.  For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.  When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the Lord thy God, to provoke him to anger: I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.  And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you.  (Deut. 4:23-27)

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Return from Exile

   The Old Testament (Ezra) view: inspired and joyful return

   Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem…  And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia… And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy.  (Ezra 3:5; 6:14,16)

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Apostasy, Exile and Return - the Enochic view

   1 Enoch  has a different view:

   Exile: “After this there will arise a sixth week and all who live in it will become blind, and the hearts of all will stray from wisdom; and in it a man will ascend.  And at its conclusion, the temple of the kingdom will be burned with fire; and in it the whole race of the chosen root will be dispersed.”  (93:8)

   Return: “they began again to build as before and they raised up that tower and it was called the high tower.  And they began again to place a table before the tower, but all the bread on it was polluted and not pure.”  (89:73-74)

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The Bible Has Been Edited by the Establishment(s)

     “they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and so also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away” (1 Ne. 13:26)

     “the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots”  (1 Ne. 13:34)

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The Original Faithful Contrarian

   Jonadab ben Rechab

   2 Kgs. 10: assists King Jehu in an anti-Baal worshipper pogrom

   Jer. 35: the “Rechabites” are held up by Jeremiah as an example of faithful Israelites

   Interesting points

   Rechabites live in tents

   Abstain from wine, like like Aaron and his sons when they enter the Tabernacle (Lev. 10:9)

   “Rechab” = RKB = merkavah, “chariot”

   “Jonadab the son of Rechab shall not want a man to stand before me for ever” (Jer. 35:19)

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Other Antiestablishment Israels

  The Dead Sea Scrolls people (and if different, the Essenes)

  The first Christians

  “Enochic” Judaism

  Lehi and his party

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  “like the Book of Revelation”

  Discovery (1832)

  Rediscovery (1970)

  What is it?

  Dave definition: apocalyptic is a flow of related ideas, beliefs, world views, genres and literary motifs. 

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Apocalyptic: Antecedents and Heirs

   Roots of apocalyptic are pre-exilic.  They may be found in Isaianic circles or in the pre-exilic priesthood.

   Apocalyptic is the hallmark of anti-establishment Israel in the Second Temple period:

   “eschatologically excited” “conventicles”

   “different communities” of a “wider movement”

   “inner-community struggle… between visionary and hierocratic elements”

   “a ‘scribal phenomenon,’ a product of learned activity rather than popular folklore” (cf. 1 Ne. 1:1)

   Heirs include Dead Sea Scrolls people, Christians

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Traits of Apocalyptic Writings: Thought

  Thought world is dominated by dualism

  ethical dualism

  ontological dualism

  eschatological dualism


  Emphasis on God’s plan

  Solar calendar

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Traits of Apocalyptic Writings: Motifs

  Sealing up of books for their preservation

  Stars = angels = priests

  In visions, a man-like figure is commonly an angel

  Heavenly book

  Plant or vine as metaphor for Israel

  Farewell discourse genre

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Traits of Apocalyptic Writings: Visions

   Are described as dreams

   Are allegorical

   An explanation of the dream is given by a mediator, such as an interpreting angel

   Frequently there is a prayer between the vision and its interpretation

   It is characteristic that there is a vision, and then a second vision explaining the first one

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Temple Visions

  The visionary (prophet) reports a visionary experience in which the images in the vision are modeled on the architecture and furniture of Solomon’s Temple.  Usually, the content of the vision is a view of heaven.

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Solomon’s Temple

   Three “rooms”:


   hekal (big house - also name for the whole)

incense altar

table of the shewbread (10?)

lampstand (10?)

this is where the priests do their work


ark (with 2 cherubim on it)

two large cherubim

   The Temple is “up”

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Isaiah 6

       In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.  Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.  And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.  And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.  Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.  Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:  And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.  Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

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Daniel 7

     Daniel spake and said, I saw in my vision by night, and, behold, the four winds of the heaven strove upon the great sea.  And four great beasts came up from the sea, diverse one from another.  [vv. 4-8 describe four strange beasts]  I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire.  A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: [vv. 10-12 describe a great crowd and judgment]  I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Dan. 7:2-14)

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1 Enoch 14 (’ulam)

    Behold, clouds in the vision were summoning me, and mists were crying out to me; and shooting stars and lightning flashes were hastening me and speeding me along; and winds in my vision made me fly up and lifted me upward and brought me to heaven.  And I went in until I drew near to a wall built of hailstones; and tongues of fire were encircling them all around; and they began to frighten me. 

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1 Enoch 14 (hekal)

     And I went into the tongues of fire, and I drew near to a great house built of hail stones; and the walls of this house were like stone slabs; and they were all of snow, and the floor was of snow; And the ceiling was like shooting stars and lightning flashes; and among them were fiery cherubim, and their heaven was water; and a flaming fire encircled all their walls, and the doors blazed with fire.  And I went into that house – hot as fire and cold as snow; and no delight of life was in it.  Fear enveloped me, and trembling seized me; and I was quaking and trembling, and I fell upon my face.

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1 Enoch 14 (debir)

     And I saw in my vision, And behold, another open door before me: and a house greater than the former one, and it was all built of tongues of fire.  And all of it so excelled in glory and splendor and majesty that I am unable to describe for you its glory and majesty.  Its floor was of fire; and its upper part was flashes of lightning and shooting stars; and its ceiling was a flaming fire.  And I was looking, And I saw a lofty throne; and its appearance was like ice; and its wheels were like the shining sun; and its guardians were cherubim; and from beneath the throne issued streams of flaming fire.  And I was unable to see.  And the Great Glory sat upon it; his raiment was like the appearance of the sun and whiter than much snow.  And no angel could enter into this house and behold his face because of the splendor and glory; and no flesh could behold him. (1 Enoch 14:8-21)

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Note: the Mysterious Waters of the Temple

   Visionary accounts of the Temple often include flowing water or fire. 

   Daniel 7 and 1 Enoch 14, fire flows from the throne

   The four rivers of Eden (Genesis 2:10-14)

   Ezekiel 47, four rivers flow from the restored Temple and heal the Dead Sea

   Revelation 22:1, pure water springs from the throne of God

   Psalm 1-2 (by fruitful tree, the king is crowned and becomes the Son, the heathen are broken with a rod of iron)

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1 Nephi 1

       And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen.  And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.  And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day.  And he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament.  And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read.  And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord.  And he read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations! (1 Ne. 1:7-13)

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1 Nephi 8: the ’ulam

   And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood.  And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world.  And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood. (19-21)

   roofless porch

   ’ulam / ‘olam

   Temple entrance

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1 Nephi 8: the hekal

   And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.  And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit. (26-27)

   “any large or imposing dwelling”

   temple is “up”

   “fine” -- 73/103 in Strong’s

   hekal is associated with priests

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1 Nephi 8: incense

     And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost. (23)

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1 Nephi 8: the river

  And as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit. (13)

  cf. the mysterious river in Temple visions

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Excursus: the Lady Who Was the City and the Tree (1)

   “Canaanite” background: Ugarit

   Early in its history, Israel knew a divine family of a father, a mother and a son

   Mother’s name in OT is Asherah

   Great symbol is a tree

   The “Virgin”

   She “is”Jerusalem (“Zion” or the “daughter of Zion”)

   Had a presence in the Temple

   Asherah’s position in Israelite religion is recovered various ways

   Looking at neighbors

   Inscriptions (Kuntillet ’Ajrud, Khirbet el-Qom)

   Careful reading of biblical and extrabiblical texts

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Excursus: the Lady Who Was the City and the Tree (2)

  1 Kgs. 18: the “prophets of the groves” are priests of Asherah -- they do not seem to oppose Elijah and are not killed

  Jer. 44:16-19; 7:18: drink offerings, incense and “cakes” for the “queen of heaven”

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Excursus: the Lady Who Was the City and the Tree (3)

       How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger! … He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire. … The Lord hath purposed to destroy the wall of the daughter of Zion: he hath stretched out a line, he hath not withdrawn his hand from destroying: therefore he made the rampart and the wall to lament; they languished together. … The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the ground, and keep silence: they have cast up dust upon their heads; they have girded themselves with sackcloth: the virgins of Jerusalem hang down their heads to the ground. … What thing shall I take to witness for thee? what thing shall I liken to thee, O daughter of Jerusalem? what shall I equal to thee, that I may comfort thee, O virgin daughter of Zion? for thy breach is great like the sea: who can heal thee?  (Lam. 2:1, 4, 8, 10, 13)

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Excursus: the Lady Who Was the City and the Tree (4)

   Moreover the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.  But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord.  And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?  Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.  (Isa. 7:10-14)

   In both Greek and Hebrew, “the” virgin

   In Great Isaiah Scroll, me’em (M’M) instead of me‘im (M‘M)

* * *

The candle is a tree

       And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.  And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:  Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.  And in the candlestick shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.  And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.  Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.  And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall blight the clamps thereof, that they may give light over against it. (Ex. 25:31-37)

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Bread in the Temple: white and sweet

       And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.  And Moses said, This is the thing which the Lord commandeth, Fill an omer of it to be kept for your generations; that they may see the bread wherewith I have fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you forth from the land of Egypt.  And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations.  (Ex. 16:31-33)

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1 Nephi 8: the tree and the fruit

       And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.  And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.  And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.  (10-12)

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Excursus: Nephi’s Interpretive Vision

  Double visions and interpreting angels are characteristic of apocalyptic

  “Tent” references bracket Lehi’s vision (7:22, 9:1) and Nephi’s (10:16, 16:6)

  Nephi is caught up into an exceedingly high mountain (11:1)

* * *

The Tree that Was a City that Was a Virgin

       And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me: Look! And I looked and beheld a tree; and it was like unto the tree which my father had seen; and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow.  And it came to pass after I had seen the tree, I said unto the Spirit: I behold thou hast shown unto me the tree which is precious above all.  And he said unto me: What desirest thou?  And I said unto him: To know the interpretation thereof… And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look! And I looked as if to look upon him, and I saw him not; for he had gone from before my presence.  And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.  … And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.  (1 Ne. 11:8-13, 20)

* * *

The Bread of Heaven

       They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?  Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.  Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.  Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.  (John 6:30-35)

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In Remembrance of Me

    And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.  And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the pure table before the Lord.  And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the Lord.  Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the Lord continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an everlasting covenant.  And it shall be Aaron’s and his sons’; and they shall eat it in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the offerings of the Lord made by fire by a perpetual statute.  (Lev. 24:5-9)

    And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.  (Luke 22:19)

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So What?

  What are the plain and precious things? (1 Ne. 11:9: the “tree is precious above all”)

  The Book of Mormon is an amazing gift

  Joseph Smith could not have written the Book of Mormon