Posted by: isaiahsfan | May 1, 2007

What was on the Brass Plates?

posted by Isaiah’s Fan

Brass Plates

In 1 Nephi 5:11-16 we are given a tantalizing glimpse of the contents of the Brass Plates.  There are a few other places in the Book of Mormon which describe what is found written upon these plates, namely 1 Ne 13:23,  1 Ne 22:1, 2 Ne 4:1-2, Alma 37:3-5, 3 Ne 10:17, and others.  The Brass Plates contained:

  • The five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy)
  • A record of the Jews from the beginning down to the reign of Zedekiah
  • Prophecies of the Holy Prophets, including the prophecies of Joseph, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zenos, Zenoch, Ezias, and Neum
  • Genealogical records connecting Lehi to Joseph
  • Testimony of the remnant of the seed of Joseph
  • The mysteries of God

An angel told Nephi that the Bible was very similar to the plates of brass, in that they both contained the covenants of the Lord and the prophecies of the holy prophets.  The angel also said that there were not as many records in the Bible as there were upon the brass plates.  Book of Mormon scholars postulate that the Brass Plates are related to one of the sources from which the Bible came.  It is clear that the Bible and the Brass Plates differed in many respects.  Some of the prophets mentioned in the Book of Mormon when quoting the Brass Plates do not appear in the Bible. 

With the information that Lehi descended from Joseph comes a connection to the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  This Kingdom consisted of ten tribes, headed by the tribe of Joseph.  The capital of the Northern Kingdom was Samaria.  The tribe of Judah was the leader and major tribe of the Southern Kingdom, with their capital in Jerusalem.  When the Northern Kingdom was carried away captive by the invading Assyrian army in 721 BC, portions of each of the tribes fled south to Jerusalem, bringing their sacred records with them.  It is postulated that the Brass Plates belong to this scriptural tradition.  The prophetic books mentioned above were perhaps written by prophets who directed their teachings to the Northern Kingdom.  The genealogical records would focus more on Joseph’s lineage than those in the Bible, which was primarily a record for the Southern Kingdom.

The connection of the Brass Plates to Joseph of Egypt and the Northern Kingdom might also explain why the record was written in “reformed Egyptian.”  It also identifies the Brass Plates as the beginnings of the “Stick of Joseph” which is continued in the Book of Mormon and complements the Bible, the “Stick of Judah.”

Finally, this information gives credence to modern Biblical scholarship which describes separate scriptural records maintained by the Northern and Southern Kingdoms (the J and E sources).  Our modern day Bible, they explain, was taken from several different sources.  The scriptural record which the Ten Tribes took with them when they were carried away captive was most likely the very same record Lehi and his sons obtained from Laban and brought with them to the New World.

Further information on this subject can be found in the following articles:

The Brass Plates and Biblical Scholarship, John L. Sorenson

The Book of Mormon Brass Plates and their Prophets, Richard G. Grant

The Divided Kingdom of Israel

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posted by cheryljunegirl

This is nothing new to us,  but I wanted to add it anyway.  Sometimes the obvious can get overlooked.  I was in a Stake Primary meeting yesterday and it brought up that we need to actually open up our scriptures in Primary more.  It is not enough to just tell the stories.  This morning I decided to read chapter five again and vs. 21-22 just jumped out at me.  Kelly mentioned earlier how blessed we are to have the scriptures and how blessed that we are encouraged to read them.  This is so true.  It is after Lehi searches the plates of brass from the beginning that he was filled with the Spirit and began to prophesy concerning his seed.   It seems that the scriptures can answer questions we need answers to and perhaps answer questions and enlighten us concerning our posterity and ourselves without even knowing we had questions to be answered.  I hope that makes sense.  Have any of you ever had an experience that you were filled with the Spirit after reading the scriptures and received revelation about your family or you and you weren’t necessarily even pondering that before reading?  The more we start to understand the “it is wisdom that we should carry the scriptures with us as we journey in the wilderness toward the land of promise”,  the more filled with the Spirit we can be.  We did an exercise in Primary yesterday that I think probably made a greater impact on me than it did the children.  We had a series of questions that we hid in the Primary room.  One child was asked to leave the room and a question was hidden while they were out.  Before they left the room, however, they were designated a helper that they could ask direction from and were told that no matter what they could trust the helper and that helper would always tell them the truth.  When they came back in the room, everyone in the room was telling them conflicting things about where to go to find the question.  Some true, some not.  Truly chaotic.  The first child came back in the room and you could just see the frustration and confusion on their face.  In all the chaos, they had forgotten about the helper.  I gently reminded them that their helper would tell them the truth.  You could see the sense of relief come across their face.  Huge smiles came when they found the question.  This happened in both Jr. and Sr. Primary.  The second child to go out had a much easier time and remembered to use the helper.  One child commented after this.  That was so easy!  In all the confusion and different voices of the world, we like the first child sometimes forget all the helpers the Lord has given us that will always tell us the truth.  If we remember to turn to these helps, scriptures being one of them, it makes things so much easier.  So, even though this is nothing new, a gentle little reminder that we have a “helper” in this world is welcome.

Posted by: cheryljunegirl | April 16, 2007

What can we learn from Sariah? 1 Nephi 5

Posted by cheryljunegirl 

There is so much information to cover in this chapter, but I would like to discuss Sariah to start.  There are not a lot of women specifically mentioned by name in the Book of Mormon, so to have Nephi devote almost half a chapter to his mother is noteworthy in my opinion.  One of the first things we learn about and from Sariah is the devotion of a ‘goodly’ mother.  In verse one we read that “Sariah, was exceedingly glad, [upon the return of her sons] for she had truly mourned because of us.”  In verse two we further read that “she had supposed that we had perished in the wilderness; and she also had complained against my father, telling him that he was a visionary man; saying:  Behold thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness.  Verse three again states that she “complained against my father”.  I found the following information about Sariah’s “complaint” at FARMS.  I think it is very interesting:

At first glance,  we might want to dismiss this part of the story as a negative image, since it depicts Sariah as “complaining”.  But in structuring the account, Nephi starts with the end, highlighting her gladness and joy in contrast to her mourning over her sons and sacrifices.  This shows the focus is not on the fact that she complained, but rather on the outcome of the experience.  Nephi recognized the validity of both her fear and her joy.  Of all the stories he could tell about his mother, why does he choose this one?  In it we hear an echo of the account of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath.  Like the widow, Sariah had been asked by a servant of God to sacrifice all her material goods and seems to have lost her son[s].  She too complains and the prophet recognizes the validity of her concerns.  He offers no rebuke; instead Elijah prays to the Lord on her behalf.  Lehi’s response to Sariah is just as exemplary.

Lehi comforts Sariah, he does not belittle or dismiss her concerns.  The comparison to the story of Elijah is confirmed on comparing Sariah’s response to the delivery of her sons and the restoration of the widow’s son.  Sariah spake saying, ” Now I know of a surety that the Lord has commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord had commanded them.”  The widow says, ” Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and the word of the Lord in thy mouth is true.” The comparison makes Lehi and Elijah in the same way that biblical stories of Elisha parallel Elijah’s acts and demonstrate that Elisha was Elijah’s successor.  So, of all the stories Nephi could choose to tell about his mother, he chooses one that likens her to an exemplary woman in the scriptures.   Kevin and Shauna Christensen, “Nephite Feminism Revisited:  Thoughts on Carol Lynn Pearson’s View of Women in the Book of Mormon” in FARMS Review of Books, Volume 10, Number 2, 1998, pp. 21-22

One question that I have is what is the difference between a complaint and murmuring?  In my mind, before reading this chapter again, I had always thought of Sariah as murmuring here, but Nephi does not use that word for her, like he did for his brothers.  This makes me think there is somehow a difference between the two.  What do you all think?

I have a great deal of admiration for Sariah.  It can not have been easy to follow her husband into the wilderness, leaving all the comforts of her home and all of her associations.  It does not say that she ever murmured about that when the family first left Jerusalem.  To follow the words of a prophet it a remarkable thing and I think somehow even more remarkable when that prophet is your husband.  Emma Smith comes to mind here.  To be the wife of a prophet would be a very hard role, I think.

I’ll stop here for now.  I would love to hear some ideas on what you think of Sariah.  I will add more later in the week about some of the other topics covered in chapter 5.

Posted by: isaiahsfan | April 2, 2007

1 Nephi 4 — Life Lessons

posted by marilyninhouston

I have learned so many life’s lessons from studying Chapter 4.    The first one comes from Nephi trying to persuade his brothers to follow the Lord’s commandment to obtain the plates.    Laman and Lemuel wanted to take the easy way out and quit.  Even divine intervention (the angel) wasn’t enough to soften their hearts – they saw the angel with their eyes, but still murmured and complained and wanted to go home.   What Nephi does in vs. 2 is to quote scripture to them.   He went to the story of Moses and the Children of Israel, a story Laman and Lemuel knew to be true, and likened the scriptures to their current situation.  He also bore his testimony to them, and asked them “Wherefore can ye doubt?”  Because of this, they listened to their younger brother (which is unusual) and they followed him.   Likening this to my life, trying to persuade my children to keep the commandments of the Lord when their desires might possibly be to take the (temporary) easier road, reading scriptures can strengthen them and help them to follow through with what they know in their heart to be right.

The next lesson comes from vs. 6.  “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.  Nevertheless, I went forth…..”   What a lesson in pure faith.  How many times does fear of the unknown keep us from going forth.  I’m sure Nephi didn’t particularly want to go forth, not knowing where to go or what to do.   He did, however, want to be obedient.   He wanted to do what the Lord wanted him to do, so he needed to put one foot in front of the other and go forth.    My daughter, Jessica, who would like to be married, often tells me, “the Lord can’t guide a parked car.”  Even though she doesn’t particularly like some of the Singles activities, she would still go to put herself in a position where she can be guided.  I didn’t particularly want to teach piano lessons, but I felt guided into that direction.   Thank goodness I went down that path.   My family’s life, as well as my own, is immensely better because I teach piano. 

What we learn from Nephi killing Laban is that having faith and going forth does not make the task easy, just possible to accomplish.   Killing Laban is possibly the hardest thing Nephi had to do in his life.   However, it made obtaining the plates possible.   I don’t have an accurate reference source, but in my notes it says that according to the law at the time of Nephi, a life can be taken if 1)  it is self defense, 2)  a Commandment was broken,  3)  your property was taken.   1)  Laban tried to kill Nephi and his brothers   2)  The Lord had commanded the brothers to obtain  the plates and Laban would not obey  3)  He stole their property.  Legally (and morally) Nephi was justified in taking Laban’s life.

In vs. 18 where Nephi smotes off Laban’s head, the footnote takes us to 1 Sam. 17:51 – the story of David and Goliath.  Goliath, (Laban) being all powerful, and David (Nephi) obtaining power over him against all odds, by relying on the Lord and being on his errand.  I have seen the power of the Lord succeed against seemingly impossible odds, and it awes me everytime I think about it.     Vs. 13, “Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes…..” can be likened to our lives in so many ways.   It is better to offend one friend who doesn’t have righteous desires than to be kind and loving and follow them down the wrong path.  Of course, good judgment must be used here (leaving the 90 and 9, etc.)  

It is obvously a miracle that after Nephi put on Laban’s clothes that he was able to persuade Zoram, in Laban’s voice, to take him to get the plates, and then follow him outside the city walls to his “brethren”.  You can imagine Zoram’s feelings when he found out that Nephi was not Laban.  Of course he wanted to flee.  In vs. 32 Nephi was able to convince Zoram that if he went with them, he would be a free man, and not a servant any more.  He convinced him by swearing “…as the Lord liveth, and as I live, ..”  Back then, a person’s word was very important.   They didn’t have advanced communications, and if someone lied about anything important it could cause needless chaos in a community.   If a person swore on anything that had life to it, the statement took on a greater meaning, and you could believe them for real.  If you swore on your own life, it was even more believable, and if you swore on the Lord’s life, it was iron-clad believable.   Nephi swore on both the Lord’s life, and his own life, so Zoram knew he would be a free man if he chose to go with them.  I would tend to believe that Laban was not a very nice man to work for, and freedom might look very attractive.  (As a side note, the Lord gives his oath to us in D&C 17:6  that the Book of Mormon is true)

I think it is important that Zoram went with them, also, because society would have someone to blame for Laban’s death, and they would not go looking for Nephi and his brothers as murder suspects.  I’m just guessing here, but I think that with Zoram missing, they would think Zoram would be the murderer.  Laban was a pretty important person around Jerusalem and I’ll bet there was a lot of pressure on someone to solve the crime.    Zoram would have been able to stay in the “cavity of the rock” with Nephi and his brothers and wait until the excitement died down before going in the wilderness again back to Lehi’s camp.   I read somewhere (again no reference source I remember) that this was the reason Sariah supposed that her sons perished in the wilderness.   They stayed in the cave for a couple of months or more until it was safe to leave on their journey without being searched.  Also, the symbolism of Christ as the Rock, and this group of men being surrounded by rock as they completed their mission, is fun to think about.  Maybe it was these guys that got bored and drew the pictures on the cave walls. 🙂

Posted by: isaiahsfan | March 30, 2007

General Conference–I Will Go and Do!

In honor of our upcoming General Conference, I’m starting a new thread.  This one is for you to use when you hear instructions this weekend that inspire you to Go and Do!  Make a comment here and let us all know what you heard and how it motivated you.

I have made my Conference Bingo cards and purchased the stickers to put on them.  Most of my children have gotten older, but they still love to play, and take notes on their Bingo games.  Oreos were on sale at Smith’s, ($1.88!) so I bought several packages to munch on while we watch.  We still have no TV, so we’ll set it up on the internet in both rooms, and the sounds of Conference will waft through our home! 

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Posted by: isaiahsfan | March 28, 2007

Casting Lots

Brass PlatesI’d like to quote liberally from Brant Gardner on the subject of Nephi and his brothers casting lots to see who would be the first to go in and ask Laban for the Brass Plates. 

“While modern people might be familiar with casting lots to create a pure chance selection, it would be a disservice to these brothers to assume that the casting of lots was done to create a random assignment. Casting lots in the ancient world assumed that the randomness inherent in the lots opened the door for God to place His hand in the outcome. The casting of lots was used as a means of discovering the will of the Lord.Laman, Lemuel, Nephi, and Sam had been sent on a mission by their father. The mission had been commanded of Lehi in a prophetic vision. Regardless of the feelings that Laman and Lemuel had about their state of affairs in the wilderness, they were familiar with religion, and knew that this was a religiously directed mission. In a more modern story, we might see the four brothers kneeling in prayer to determine who should go to Laban. The casting of lots was essentially the same for them.

Nibley has a fairly long description of ancient divination practices in his Since Cumorah …the casting of lots was an action equivalent to asking the direction of the Lord, which would be consistent with the religious purpose of this quest into Jerusalem…

 The use of the lots to determine who should go up to Laban now raises another question. If the Lord did have a hand in the selection, why was Laman chosen instead of Nephi? Clearly the Lord knew that Nephi would be the successful one. Why was Laman allowed to fail?

There are two issues here. The first is why might Laman be allowed to fail, and the second was why Laman was chosen instead of Nephi. Laman was allowed to fail for the same reason that all of us are allowed to fail at various tasks in this life. Our Agency places us in a position where we must individually do or fail at any number of tasks. Opportunities are placed before us, and we will succeed or not depending upon our developed abilities to handle each situation. There is therefore no surprise that the Lord would allow Laman to fail. In such an important mission, it is likely that the Lord would not let the mission fail, only one of the men who attempted to carry out the mission. Laman’s eventual failure was personal. The goal of the mission was eventually accomplished.

The next question is why the Lord would put Laman in a position where the Lord knew he would fail. The incident of the retrieval of the brass plates comes directly after Nephi’s epiphany wherein the Lord told Nephi that he would ascend over his brothers. While that had occurred in other occasions (Jacob over Esau, Joseph over all his brethren) it was remarkable in its violation of cultural rules. The eldest brother was the one who should have that role.

The incident with the brass plates is a transitional moment where the change in the leadership hierarchies is being established. The Lord uses this incident to provide justification for the ascendency of Nephi as a leader, a process which continues on their journey through the desert. Laman’s attempt and failure was both a recognition of his birthright, and the marking of the passage of the birthright from the inheritor to the more righteous anointed.”

 I think the points made here are very cogent.  I would add that in several cases in the Old Testament where lots were cast, it was to determine the land inheritances of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, as in Joshua 18.  That seems to fit with the idea of Laman receiving the right of first attempt to recover the brass plates.  The Brass Plates were almost a “birthright” for Lehi and his family, containing as they did his genealogy and instructions that the Lord intended them to have in order to teach their descendants.  Laman, the eldest male, failed in this mission and the leadership of the group passed to Nephi. 

One could question why only one brother had to be chosen to approach Laman, rather than the entire group.  It makes sense that this was the method the Lord used to designate the leadership hierarchy. 

Posted by: isaiahsfan | March 24, 2007

I Have Dreamed a Dream

posted by Isaiahsfan

Lehi Jerusalem The Old Testament records that the Lord often chose to give revelation to the faithful through the medium of dreams.  We will speak of symbolic dreams soon, when we discuss Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life.  But some of the dreams which the scriptures describe give specific instructions to the chosen individual.  The accounts of these dreams are often accompanied by the words: “the Lord spake unto me,” or “the Lord commanded me.”  See for example, Abimelech’s dream, the dream of Laban the Syrian, Solomon’s dream and Joseph’s dreams.  These dreams seem not to have been in the form of symbols, which need to be interpreted, but rather accompanied by a spoken voice giving counsel and direction.  Such is the case with the directions given to Nephi in 1 Nephi 2:19-24 and those given to Lehi soon after in 1 Nephi 3.  In both cases, the recipient avows “the Lord spake unto me, saying…” followed by concise information or directives.  Lehi describes his dream to Nephi in this way:

And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold I have dreamed a dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem.

Though I really wish to save our discussion of symbolic dreams for later, I wonder if any of you have had dreams where instructions were given by means of a voice rather than images. 

Now, before I leave this topic, I want to call your attention to the poetic nature of the phrase, “I have dreamed a dream.”  In Hebrew, the words are: “Halamti Halom.” John A. Tvedtnes has identified this as one of the Hebraisms that exist in the Book of Mormon:

There exists in the Semitic languages a construction called the “cognate accusative.” It consists of a verb immediately followed by a noun derived from the same root, and is often used for empahsis. The Book of Mormon has examples of this:

    “they are CURSED with a sore CURSING” Jacob 3:3
    “WORK all manner of fine WORK” Mosiah 11:10
    “and he did JUDGE righteous JUDGMENTS” Mosiah 29:43
    “Behold I have DREAMED a DREAM” 1 Nephi 3:2  

It seems that many artists have sensed the power of this little phrase, Hebraism or no. 

Posted by: grammakelly | March 20, 2007

1Ne3 I Will Go and Do

posted by grammakelly

 

In chapter 3, we halt the exodus and go back to retrieve the plates of brass.  In verse 5 Lehi says, ‘I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord.  Laman and Lemuel will go but they will murmur all the way.  They even think that after two failed attempts, they can beat Nephi and Sam into submission, and return ,without the plates, to the wilderness. Even the appearance of an angel doesn’t keep them on the straight and narrow. The angel does, I believe, give Nephi and Sam the assurance that what they are commanded to do is the Lord’s will and the courage to accomplish the task at hand.

Two things stand out to me for starters:

1.    More than family, provisions, and tents are needed for their/our exodus.  SCRIPTURES!  The written word of God!  They had been taught from them and studied them all their lives.  The plates contained a record of their family and heritage. They needed a ‘hard copy’-so to speak.  It doesn’t seem to matter how well I have memorized a passage of scripture, sooner or later (sometimes days, sometimes weeks) I either forget, or transpose or just leave out a part of the passage.  I am so grateful to have a ‘hard copy’ of the scriptures to refresh my memory or help to find things I’d otherwise forgotten.  The Lord knew that those who would believe in the prophesies and promises on the plates would find strength and courage to continue in their exodus to the promised land.

2.    The Lord will NEVER leave us alone to find our own way.  I’m sure there was great wisdom in placing 1NE3:7 so close to the front of the BoM.  It is one of the greatest and most uplifting promises in the scriptures.  In the church in which I was raised, we were not encouraged to read the scriptures to find the principles and promises on our own.  We were expected to believe and not question what we were taught.  The BoM is the first book of scripture I ever read on my own and finding this promise was huge to me.  I, like Nephi, learned that sometimes it takes more than one effort in order to accomplish the task.  Often the things that are most precious and dear to us, are the things that take the most effort.  Satan, knowing how great this promise can be to us, will do all in his power to deter, dissuade, and discourage us from accomplishing our goals.  He worked on Laman and Lemuel with some degree of success, but wasn’t able to deter Nephi and Sam.

At least 5 times in the first 6 pages of this book we have read the phrase ’keep/ing the commandments’.  Our ability to call upon the blessing and promises from heaven hinge directly on keeping the commandments.  How often have I picked and chosen which commandments to keep today and been disappointed when the Lord did not bless me as I thought fit?

There’s lots more to uncover—dig in!

Posted by: isaiahsfan | March 15, 2007

Poetic Couplet on Laman & Lemuel

Posted by Isaiah’s Fan

Desert river

To me, one of the most beautiful and enchanting parts of the Book of Mormon we have encountered so far has been the poetic couplet Lehi composed to his sons Laman and Lemuel as they came down into the wilderness by the Red Sea. Lehi saw what must have been a scene of great power and beauty in the form of a desert valley by the side of a river of water.  As he gazed upon this scene, his heart yearned for the spiritual wellbeing of his two eldest sons, Laman and Lemuel.  He named the river Laman, and the valley he called Lemuel.  He then admonished first Laman, then Lemuel:

O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!

O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!

To my mind, these verses call up an immediate image of Christ, and I wonder how close the Savior was to Lehi’s mind as he composed these words. Other Biblical authors have likened the Savior unto these two very same figures.  Isaiah says that in Zion “there the glorious LORD will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams; wherein shall go no galley with oars, neither shall gallant ship pass thereby.  For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.” (Is. 33:21-22)  Here Isaiah compares Jehovah to a place of broad rivers and streams.  In another passage Isaiah prophesies of the Messiah saying, “Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you.  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing; for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.” (Is. 35:4-6)  Christ is also compared in many places to a Rock, like the firm and steadfast rocks of the desert valley Lehi named after Lemuel. 

Hugh Nibley has compared these two verses to the poetry of the ancient Near East.  Nibley says that they resemble the poetic form known as Quellenlieder, desert poetry written by the Arabs after having refreshed and washed themselves in some fountain of running water discovered in the course of a long journeying.  They also compare to the Saj, a short, rhythmical appeal with a goal of having two verses perfectly parallel in form and content.  This poetic form was considered a form of revelation, it’s aim being to compel action.  The couplet also contains elements of the Arabic poetic forms qasida and shirat dodi.

I think the poetry of the scriptures is one of the things which brings it so powerfully to the soul of the reader.  I’m pleased to encounter this charming couplet here in Chapter 2, which gives us an insight into the deep emotions of Lehi the parent.

Posted by: isaiahsfan | March 12, 2007

1 Nephi 2: Blessed Art Thou

Ever obedient to the Lord’s call, Lehi heeds the promptings he is given in Chapter 1 to prophesy to the people concerning the destruction of Jerusalem (1:18).  In the first verse of Chapter 2, the Lord speaks to him in a dream.  “Blessed art thou, Lehi,” the Lord says, “because of the things which thou hast done.”  The Lord tells Lehi that because he has been faithful and declared unto the people the things he has been commanded to relate, behold, they seek to take away his life.  One might ask: what kind of a blessing is that?!!  Furthermore, because of his obedience Lehi is told to take his family and leave his comfortable home in the land of Jerusalem to inhabit a tent. He is told to leave behind his gold, silver and precious things, wander around in a desert wilderness, cross a vast and dangerous ocean, and settle a wild and strange new land.  “And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him” (2:3). 

Lehi in the desert

And now let us liken this unto ourselves.  From our perspective, sometimes it seems that the more we strive to faithfully fulfill our callings, the more we are criticized by ward members.   The better we become at keeping commandments, the more we are asked to do, and the less thanks we get.  As we earnestly endeavor to build the kingdom, we are “blessed” with roadblocks. 

BoM Groupies, how shall we respond to these types of “blessings?”  Why does it often seem that our efforts meet with more trials?  How can we avoid the murmuring and stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel?  How can Nephi and Sam’s example motivate us as we toil through the wilderness areas of our lives?  How can the Book of Mormon help us gain an eternal perspective and become more visionary, as was Lehi?

Posted by: isaiahsfan | March 10, 2007

Lehi’s Tent; with Isaiah References

posted by Isaiah’s Fan 

This post is mostly from M&M’s observations about the purposes of Lehi’s tent.  I’ve included some references from the BoM and some from Isaiah.  We will fill these in more as we go.  Click on the scriptures for the full reference.  My suggestion: Take just one of the following points and read the associated scriptures and consider the parallels to Lehi’s tent.  I’m hoping the BoM groupies with our background in Isaiah will be able to make some interesting connections and comments.  As always, visitors are welcome to contribute to this conversation! 

Lehi’s Tent 

–A Standard  

In Bedouin life, “a white flag,” we are told, “is sometimes hoisted above his tent to guide strangers and visitors. All visitors are led directly to the tent of the [sheikh].” (Hugh Nibley) 

Isaiah 49:22; see also D&C 45:9. The Lord extends his everlasting covenant to the Gentiles as a standard, and they in turn become messengers to spread the gospel to the remnant peoples.

1 Ne 22:6-9; 2 Ne 6:5-13.  Nephi and Jacob explain Isaiah’s words as they relate to their people.

 

–Gathering  

The tent is a gathering place, a hub, especially for family but also for those invited to “have place” with the family (1 Ne 4:34; see also D&C 18:25 and Mosiah 26:24)

Isaiah 62.  This short chapter is filled with temple symbolism associated with the gospel standard and the gathering of Israel.

Isaiah 54:2 We are to enlarge the place of our tent (gather others into the gospel).

 

–Temple-related elements

Altars, sacrifice, teaching, in the sense of bridging the gap between heaven and earth.

1 Ne 7:22.  Nephi & co. come to Lehi’s tent, give thanks to the Lord and offer sacrifices.

Isaiah 56:6-8.  All who take hold of the covenant will be brought to the temple and their sacrifices accepted.

 

–Revelation

As the point of contact between the earth and the heavens, the tent is a place where revelation is given.

Isaiah 40:5.  The glory of the Lord shall be revealed.

1 Ne 9:1 Lehi saw, heard, spoke many things which cannot be written as he dwelt in a tent.

Isaiah 29:11-19.  The Book of Mormon to come forth.  In that day, the eyes of mankind will be opened and many things revealed.

 

–Lead to Christ

Here prophets teach of the Atonement and bring the saving and cleansing power of the Atonement into our lives.

1 Ne 10:4-16.  Lehi teaches his family a detailed message about the Messiah. Note connection with the tent in verse 16.

 

–Refuge 

The tent provided both physical and spiritual protection.

Isaiah 4:6.  The tabernacle is a place of refuge.

1 Ne 5:7-9  After her sons return to the tent, Sariah testifies that the Lord has protected them.  They offer sacrifice and give thanks.

 

–Council/Counsel 

The tent is a place where a lot of discussion and decision take place

 

–Family 

The bringing together of Lehi’s family, and the family of God.

1 Ne 2:2,4-5

Posted by: isaiahsfan | March 6, 2007

My Father Dwelt in a Tent

Posted by Isaiahsfan

 

Students of the Book of Mormon have wondered why Nephi so often repeats that “my father dwelt in a tent.”  The exact phrase is found four times in 1 Nephi–  2:15;  9:1;  10:16;  16:6.  Several theories have been advanced for why Nephi might find this fact so significant.

 

1. The phrase is a literary ending point.  The words are used to signal a culmination of one thought or story and the beginning of another.

 

2. Since Lehi was a well-to-do man of some importance in the land of Jerusalem, Nephi was impressed by the fact that he would leave his riches and take nothing into the desert except his family, provisions, and tents.  Living in a tent was a singular thing for a rich man to do.

 

3. It is a note to indicate that they have adopted a nomadic style of life.  This was not simply a temporary situation, but a commitment to leave their permanent home and travel into the unknown.

 

4. It is an expression of the father’s tent as the hub of everything.  It is the official center of all administration and authority and the center of their universe.  1 Nephi 3:1; 4:38; 5:7; 7:5; 7:21-22; 15:1 and 16:10 speak of the tent as the headquarters for all activities, discussions, and decisions.

 

The BoM Groupies have expressed the thought that Lehi’s tent might be symbolic of the temple.  An exploration of this theory reveals that it is quite plausible. 

We have already discussed that Lehi’s departure from the land of Jerusalem is a reenactment of the Exodus under Moses and symbolic of our journey through life and into the “promised land,” or the presence of God.  When Lehi left the things of the world behind, he took with him three things: his family, provisions, and tents.  In our own journey to eternal life, family associations are essential.  In fact, we are told that we may not progress to the farthest level possible without them.  Next, the necessity of fulfilling our basic needs is acknowledged.  We cannot spiritually progress unless our vital physical needs are met.  Lastly, there is the tent, which symbolizes the spiritual protection which is found in the temple.

As we discuss this tent as symbolic of the temple, we should keep in mind the purposes of the Old Testament temple.  The temple at the time of Moses’ exodus was the portable tabernacle.  The tabernacle was the center place of Israel’s worship activities during the wanderings and until the building of the temple in Solomon’s day (see point #4 above).  The LDS Bible Dictionary describes the tabernacle as following:

“Over the tabernacle the tent was spread. Its length was 40 cubits, or 10 cubits longer than the tabernacle. The entrance toward the east was closed by a screen of blue, purple, and scarlet and fine twined linen. Over the tent came the covering of the tent, which consisted of two parts: an inner covering of ramskins dyed red; a covering of badger skins over all (Ex. 26: 14).” 

Nephi mentions specifically that his father (Lehi) dwelt in a tent.  The only person who was designated to go into the most sacred places of the Old Testament temple was the High Priest.  Since Lehi and his people had committed to leave the Old World, they would no longer be under the jurisdiction of the priesthood at the Temple in Jerusalem.  As a group of the covenant people being led away by the Lord, they would need a Prophet and High Priest to guide them.  We will see that after their arrival in the Promised Land they set about building a temple.  Perhaps Lehi’s call as prophet in 1 Nephi 1 included an ordination as High Priest and even an endowment of sorts.

 

The passages in which we find the phrase “my father dwelt in a tent” lend themselves to temple symbolism.  1 Nephi 16 is especially interesting.  Verse 6 reads, “Now all these things were said and done as my father dwelt in a tent in the valley which he called Lemuel.”  Following this verse are four significant things which are reminiscent of temple imagery.  First in verse 8, Lehi fulfills with exactness and honor all the commandments of the Lord which are given unto him.  Next, in verse 10, the Liahona is found, a ball which points out the course that they should go into the wilderness.  Following this in verses 14-21, we are reminded of their need for constant nourishment as we read the story of obtaining food in the wilderness with bows and arrows, stones and slings.  Finally, those who murmur are chastened and humbled in verse 24 and Lehi bows his knee before the Lord and inquires of him once more.  At this time, there appears in the Liahona “a new writing…which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord.”

Posted by: isaiahsfan | March 4, 2007

1 Nephi 2: Lehi and the Exodus

posted by Isaiahsfan 

 

The Exodus pattern in the Book of Mormon intrigues me (and those of you who know my love of the OT will not be surprised by this!)  Several authors have written on this subject, and we are fortunate that their work is available on the internet.  This post will summarize what I find of interest, and I will include links to several authors at the end, if you wish to read about it in more detail. 

 

The Book of Mormon begins with the Exodus of Lehi and his family from Jerusalem. Their exodus is captured in summary in 1 Nephi 2:1-4.  In these few verses, the first four elements of the Exodus pattern are briefly outlined: Lehi’s life is threatened (1) because he has performed his duty as a prophet (2). He is commanded to depart into the wilderness (3) before Jerusalem is destroyed (4).

 

The Exodus Pattern

 

1. Oppression (Ex. 2:23-25; 1 Ne. 1-2)

2. A Prophet Leader is Called (Ex. 3; 1 Ne. 1)

3. A Flight into the Wilderness (Ex. 12-14; 1 Ne 2:1-4)

4. Destruction of Enemies (Ex. 12:29-30, 14:27-28; 1 Ne. 4:10-18, )

5. Wandering in the Wilderness (Ex. 13-17; 1 Ne 16-18)

6. Divine Guidance in the Wilderness (Ex. 13:21; 1 Ne 16:9-10, 1 Ne 17:13)

7. Crossing Water (Ex. 14; 1 Ne 18)

8. Murmurings (Ex. 15:24, 16: 2, 17:2; 1 Ne. 2:12, 3:29-31, 17:17)

9. Manna Provided (Ex. 16; 1 Ne 17:2-3)

10. Entrance into the Promised Land (Joshua 3; 1 Ne 18:23)

 

Other Parallels

 

Besides this basic pattern, there is an extended list of parallels between the experiences of the Israelites and those of Lehi’s family.  Moses’ and Lehi’s prophetic calls were both accompanied by fire (Ex. 3:2–4; 1 Ne. 1:6); aid was requested from both oppressors Pharoah and Laban (Ex 10:3; 1 Ne. 3:12-13); signs and wonders were manifest (Ex. 7-10; 1 Ne 4:20); the despoiling of the Egyptians and the taking of Laban’s possessions (Ex. 12:35–36; 1 Ne. 4:38; 2 Ne. 5:12, 14);  a new law that was to govern the Lord’s people (Ex. 20:2–17; 1 Ne. 2:20–24); transfiguration (1 Ne 17:52; Ex 34:30; burial in the desert (1 Ne 16:34; Joshua 24:32); and others.

 

Nephites’ Awareness of the Reenactment

 

Most Book of Mormon scholars agree that the Nephites were aware that they were reenacting the Exodus.  Some say that Nephi only becomes aware of this gradually, after a period of many years, when he is looking back and writing his history.  However, I think that Lehi and Nephi, as students of Israelite history, were able to recognize the parallels quite soon.  Here in Chapter 2, Nephi is given promises by the Lord that echo those given to Moses and his people:

Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.  And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.  (1 Ne 2:19-20)

I think that this blessing would immediately have called to Nephi’s mind the Promised Land that the Lord had given to the children of Israel.  We will see as we continue through the Book of Mormon that Nephi uses Moses and the Exodus as a lesson and example to his brothers and his people.  Nephi understands that the Exodus is a metaphor which gives spiritual significance to their wanderings.

 

Continuing Exodus in the Book of Mormon

 

There is a continuing pattern of Exodus throughout the pages of the Book of Mormon.  In fact, there are six accounts of a Lehi-type exodus during the following thousand-year  history.  In each, the Lord directs prophets to take their people and depart into the wilderness.  Nephi’s exodus is found quite soon after the arrival in the Promised Land. (2 Nephi 5:1-5). The other exodus accounts are found in Omni 1:13, Mosiah 18:34, Mosiah 22:11, and Alma 27:11-14. Another took place in 2,200 BC (Ether 1:39-42). 

 

A Metaphor for Journey Through Mortality to Eternal Life

 

Because of their Israelite heritage and the records they brought with them (Brass Plates), the Nephites understood the biblical Exodus.  They knew that it was a type and shadow of their own wanderings as well as the spiritual condition of humanity.  We are all wanderers seeking for an inheritance in an eternal Land of Promise. Applying our spiritual situation to the Exodus Pattern can be instructive as we read through this second chapter of First Nephi. 

 

 

References:

Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon by S. Kent Brown

Lehi and his family saw their flight out of Jerusalem as a replication of the Exodus of Israel. 

 

The Exodus of Lehi Revisited by Mark J. Johnson

Additional parallels between the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt and the exodus made by the Lehites from Jerusalem: death and burial in the desert, and transfiguration. 

 

Moses Typology in Lehi’s Farewell Address by Noel B. Reynolds

Lehi’s farewell address used several devices to signal that he had been called and directed of God, as was Moses of old, to lead a branch of
Israel into a new dispensation.
 

 

Wanderers in the Promised Land: A Study of the Exodus Motif in the Book of Mormon and Holy Bible  by Bruce J. Boehm

Lehi’s exodus to the promised land is only the first of a series of exoduses occurring throughout the Book of Mormon.  Continuing exodus is not only a historical fact in the Book of Mormon, but it becomes a metaphor which teaches important doctrines as well.

Posted by: isaiahsfan | March 1, 2007

Nephi and the Mysteries

Posted by Isaiahsfan 

 

I’ve enjoyed taking 2 weeks on the chapter.  I think it will work out well.  I’ve read 1 Nephi 1 every night now for 10 nights and I feel like I almost have it memorized!  One thing that struck me last night was in the very first verse when Nephi says that he is making a record because he has been highly favored of the Lord and because he has had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God.  Nephi seems to be quite interested in the mysteries.  Here’s what he has to say on the subject:

 

1 Ne 1:1—yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.

 

1 Ne 2:16—And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

 

1 Ne 10:17-19—And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision…I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost… For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost.

 

I’ll admit to being a bit curious about the mysteries myself.  In considering some of the mysteries that Nephi was privileged to know, I thought about the following:

 

  1. The Lord speaks to him (1 Ne 2:16)

  2. Visit of an angel (1 Ne 3:29)

  3. He is led by the Spirit (1 Ne 4:6), constrained by the Spirit (1 Ne 4:10)

  4. Vision of the tree of life (1 Ne 11)

  5. Vision of Christ’s birth and ministry (1 Ne 11)

  6. Vision of Latter-day Zion (1 Ne 13)

  7. He is instructed by the Lord on how to find ore to make tools, and to construct a ship (1 Ne 17:9-19)

  8. Confounded his brothers by the Spirit (1 Ne 17:52-55)

  9. Shown “great things.” (1 Ne 18:3; 2 Ne 4:25))

  10. Calms a storm (1 Ne 18:21)

  11. Prophesies (1 Ne 19:1)

  12. Understands Isaiah! (1 Ne 19:23-24; 2 Ne 25:4) 

 

Indeed, Nephi writes about many of the mysteries that he has learned.  Some of the mysteries that Nephi learns are imparted to him because he has a desire to know firsthand what his father has experienced.  Lehi is also a partaker of the mysteries of God.  Here in Chapter 1 of First Nephi we learn a valuable lesson about what Lehi did before he received his vision:

 

1 Ne 1:5—Wherefore, it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people. 

 

It seems to me that both Lehi and Nephi first strongly desired to know of the things of God.  Then, they wished to benefit others with their knowledge.  Later in the Book of Mormon we learn that many may know the mysteries of God, but that they can only impart them to others according to their heed and diligence. (Alma 12:9)  I have concluded that there are many mysteries within the pages of the Book of Mormon which Lehi, Nephi, and others have set out for us, and which we may find through our diligence and willingness to take heed.  In addition, we may desire to know firsthand the things that the writers of the Book of Mormon knew, and we may pray for our own witness as Nephi did.

 

 

Posted by: isaiahsfan | February 26, 2007

More Thoughts on 1 Nephi 1

Posted by Cheryljunegirl

Cheryl, for whatever reason I can’t seem to reply at the blog, so I am just e-mailing you my thoughts about Chapter 1.  will you please post for me.  I was also wondering if maybe we could extend the chapters to a two week period to give people a chance to ask questions and then receive responses from others.  I would love to hear from more of us about Chapter 1 before moving on to the next chapter.  What do you think?

My thoughts on Chapter 1:

After reading both the footnotes and the Bible Dictionary about the representation of the pillar of fire I think in this case it represents the the presence of God. (Remember the Shekina (sp.?) glory) The Bible Dictionary states that fire frequently is used to symbolize the presence of God, revealed either in mercy or in judgement.    I think in Lehi’s case it was both. Mercy to Lehi and the righteous, but the showing of the judgement to come upon Israel.  Although we never are told precisely what this vision was, we are given Lehi’s response which was that he did “quake and tremble exceedingly”. I found it most interesting that the footnote reference takes you to Isaiah’s call to prophecy.  The wording in Isaiah does not use the words “fear and trembling” like you might think from the footnote reference, but does speak of Isaiah’s feelings of unworthiness as he receives this call.  Why would this be the footnote reference?  It makes a case that even though we don’t know exactly what the vision was, that sometime during that vision came the call of Lehi to prophecy.  I think that I would “quake and tremble exceedingly”, also upon receiving that call. In verse 8 we learn that Lehi being overcome with the Spirit cast himself upon his bed and then while in the Spirit received the second vision.  We know that the Spirit can be so strong as to overcome our physical capacities, but I also wonder if Lehi was pondering the enormity of the call while being overcome with the Spirit and received the second vision.  I do think that the rock (along with the pillar of fire) and the bush that could not be consumed are analogous because they both proceeded a call and a plea for help from the Lord.  In Moses’ case the Lord was responding to the the cry and affliction of the people and in Lehi’s case the Lord was responding to the cry of Lehi in behalf of his people.  I would love hear your insights on this Cheryl.  I know they will lead to a process of thought that should be obvious, but I totally missed and then when I read what you say it will be an “aha” moment and I’ll think, “of course!”  Before I move on to the second vision I just want to comment on the whole process of studying the Book of Mormon.  As I was studying Chapter 1 this week, I found the following from “1 Nephi: Study of Book of Mormon” Reviewed by Larry K. Smith, Provo, UT:  Maxwell Institute.  It was under the FARMS studies.  It was pointed out that 1 Nephi 1:1-2 form the following Chiasmas:

           a. knowledge
                    b. record
                            c.  language
                                    d.  learning of the Jews
                            c.  language
                    b. record
             a. knowlege

This would suggest that as we make a study of the Book of Mormon that a key would be the learning of the Jews.  I think all those tools we used to help us with Isaiah will also come in handy as we study the Book of Mormon.  I think I found a thematic Chiasmas for Chapter 1.  Tell me what you think?

          a.  Nephi makes a RECORD (vs. 1-3)* the word RECORD is repeated in
              all three verses, so I think this shows just how important this record is to
              be.  Also it is repeated three times in verse 3 that Nephi is making the
              record so this also must be a very important point.

                    b.  prophets PROPHECY (vs. 4)

                            c.  Lehi prays with all his HEART (vs. 5)

                                  d.  Lehi’s VISIONS (vs. 6- 13)

                             c. Lehi praises the Lord and his whole HEART
                                 is filled (vs. 14-15)

                     b.  Lehi PROPHECIES (vs. 16- 20.5) *verse 17 is problematic, but it is almost as if Nephi is making an aside to again remind us that it is HIS, Nephi’s record, but yet the inclusion of the visions and response to the visions must be extremely important for Nephi to include in his own record.

      a. Nephi to show (through his RECORD) the tender mercies of the Lord.

With the center of the Chiasmas being the visions, we know that this is the heart of this chapter.
So what do we learn from the visions:

A.  Prophets are called
B.  Heavens are opened
C.  Ministering of Angels
D.  Authority of Christ and His Apostles
E.  Wicked will be destroyed, Righteous will prevail and the Lord is
merciful to the Righteous.

This goes right along with what m&m commented (is that Marilyn or Marcie, i’m guessing Marcie because of the double m?).  This is a pretty great way to start the scriptures that were written specifically for the Last Days.

Now to address Cheryl’s question about the book given to Lehi.  I do think it was a specific book, but not necessarily a book that we have as part of our scripture.  I think it was probably the same book that was given to both Ezekiel and John the Revelator.  The response of both Ezekiel and John was that the book was sweet to the mouth.  Lehi does not specifically say this, but he does praise the Lord after reading it and seeing the vision.  In Revelations, John’s response to the book was also that it was bitter to the belly.  I’m sure seeing the destruction of even the wicked, who you would have hoped that at some point would have turned to righteousness would be a “bitter pill to swallow”.  Just a thought.  Anxious to hear all of yours. 

Sorry for the novel, but I have really been enjoying this and can’t wait to
hear everyone else’s insights!

Posted by: isaiahsfan | February 19, 2007

1 Nephi 1

Posted by Isaiahsfan 

 

A quick perusal of the first chapter of First Nephi reveals several directions for further study.  I will mention several that strike me, and ask the rest of you to indicate what interests you.

 

The Egyptian Connection

Verse 2 suggests cultural connections between Israel and Egypt in Lehi and Nephi’s time.  Hugh Nibley has done some work on this, as well as the FARMS group.  For example, the name “Nephi” is authentically Egyptian.  In addition, ancient documents that were discovered many decades after the publication of the Book of Mormon speak of a Jewish woman named “Sariah” who was a member of a Jewish colony in
Elephantine in Upper Egypt.  This colony built a Temple in Elephantine with the written approval of the High Priest at Jerusalem.  There are many other Egyptian connections.

 

Historical and Biblical Background

Verse 4 places Lehi’s ministry as a prophet in the historical period of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah.  This was the year that Nebuchadnezzar subdued Jerusalem and deported many of its citizens to Babylon (598 BC).  Verse 4 states that the same year many prophets were speaking to the people.  One of these prophets was Jeremiah. 

 

Lehi’s Vision

Verses 5-15 give an account of Lehi’s vision.  There are several areas of study we could pursue in connection with this vision.  It has been suggested that the mention of “numberless concourses of angels” fits well with the idea of the Heavenly Council.  Lehi’s call matches the ancient Jewish belief that prophets learned the mysteries of God and validated their authority by participation in the Heavenly Council.

The “Motif of the Heavenly Book” is another theme which appears in the ancient Near East, early Christianity, and early Arab-Islamic lore.  It includes the following elements: (1) A divine being gives a book to a mortal. (2) The mortal is commanded to read the book. (3) He is next told to copy the book. (4) Finally, he is commanded to preach the book’s message or content to other mortals.  It might be interesting to compare and contrast prophets who were given this commission.

 

Tender Mercies

Verse 20 is the first place in the Book of Mormon we read about the tender mercies of the Lord.  Here Nephi tells us that one of the purposes of his abridgement is to show us that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he has chosen.  Since the theme of tender mercies continues at a later place, I think it might be better to save a detailed discussion of this topic until later.

 

Now, some questions for you.  Do you have an interest in learning more about any of the above topics?  Do you have any questions on 1 Nephi 1?  Do you have any insights about this chapter?  What would you like to do some research on?  Please answer in the comments section of this post, and let’s get some discussion going!  Anyone who is reading this is welcome to comment.

Posted by: isaiahsfan | February 17, 2007

The Sealed Book

John W. WelchOn 10 May 1988 John W. Welch, president of FARMS, gave a talk on the Book of Mormon at BYU. In this talk, he called the Book of Mormon “a book sealed by many seals.” He explained this statement by saying,

It is sealed to us by our unfaithfulness and lack of prayer. It is sealed to us by our inattention to detail and background information. It is sealed to us in part by its nature because it is an abridgment. It is sealed further by our failure to listen to the Brethren and to apply the teachings of the Book of Mormon to ourselves daily. It is sealed when we take its divine origins and simple elegance lightly. It is sealed when we fail to see the people of the book as they saw themselves. It is sealed when we don’t blank out our eyes and when we don’t stop hearing what we want to hear. We must sit back and let the Book of Mormon speak to us, instead of us to it. Now the book is supposed to speak from the dust; that doesn’t mean the dust of our bookshelves. All this will take tremendous effort. But the promised rewards are more than worth it.

Brother Welch concluded his talk by speaking of the promises of Isaiah. In the last days, said Isaiah, the Book of Mormon would not be a sealed book. “In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness” (Isaiah 29:18). Then shall the meek increase their joy and the scorners shall be consumed (Isaiah 29:19-20). This will happen, Isaiah says, when they that have erred shall come to understanding, and they that have murmured shall learn doctrine (Isaiah 29:24). Both will be required: correct understanding and devotion to doctrine.

Let’s go forward with our study of the Book of Mormon, attempting to unseal this book by our faith, prayer, and study. Read Chapter 1 of First Nephi, and we’ll start to discuss it on Monday!

Posted by: isaiahsfan | February 11, 2007

Mystery of the Title Page

I thought I’d post some ideas about the Title Page while we wait for our stragglers to come on board. Please post comments!

 Joseph Smith wrote a description of the title page of the Book of Mormon which was published in the Times and Seasons magazine (1842:93):

Title Page--First Edition Book of Mormon

“I wish also to mention here, that the title page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated; the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general; and that, said title page is not by any means a modern composition either of mine or of any other man’s who has lived or does live in this generation. Therefore, in order to correct an error which generally exists concerning it, I give below that part of the title page of the English version of the Book of Mormon, which is a genuine and literal translation of the title page of the Original Book of Mormon, as recorded on the plates…. The remainder of the title page is of course, modern.”

 

Joseph Smith tells us that the Title Page comes directly from the plates, but we are still left to wonder who it is who wrote these words.  The 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon was the first edition to be published.  In this, as well as the 1837 edition, the title page was the first page of the book.  In 1840, a new edition was printed with the title and some publishing information in front of the anciently written title page.  Also, the name “Moroni” was added to the end.  Since Joseph used the original manuscript to make corrections in the 1840 edition, it is possible that Moroni’s name did appear in the original manuscript.  The name “Moroni” continued to appear in the 1874 and 1892 editions.  Thus, many scholars of the Book of Mormon believe that Moroni was the author of this frontspiece. In “Moroni the Lonely: The Story of the Writing of the Title Page to the Book of Mormon” Sidney B. Sperry tells the dramatic and tragic story of Moroni, who wandered alone for sixteen years before adding to his father’s record.  He also wrote the title page to the Book of Mormon on the very last leaf of the plates.

Daniel H. Ludlow, however, has postulated that Mormon wrote the first part of the title page when he abridged the records.  Mormon’s contribution reads:

The Book of Mormon, an account written by the hand of Mormon upon plates taken from the plates of Nephi.  Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof.

The next section of the title page was written by Moroni, which explains the repetition of some of the wording.  Moroni writes:

Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.

Moroni closes his account, then later decides to include the writings of Ether.  He adds the final engraving to what is now the title page: 

An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared, who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven—Which is to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that JESUS is the CHRIST, the ETERNAL God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ. 

For many years I have favored Ludlow’s understanding of the authorship of the Title Page.  But other articles which are available on this subject make some good arguments favoring Sperry’s position.  Shirley R. Heater, writing on “Moroni’s Title Page” shows how the poetic arrangement favors a single author.  Clyde J. Williams in “More Light on Who Wrote the Title Page,” and Brant Gardner, in his article “Title Page,” give textual, authorship, and literary arguments for Moroni as the sole author of the title page.

Posted by: isaiahsfan | February 4, 2007

New Features

I’ve added a meebo feature to our sidebar.  (It’s the little pink box!) You can use this to chat personally with someone on our site who is online.  To use it, go to meebo.com and sign up.  After that, you just log in to meebo and you can send personal messages or “talk” in real time.

Also, enjoy the articles we have listed on our sidebar while you are waiting for February 10th to get here and the real fun begins!

Posted by: isaiahsfan | January 31, 2007

Starting up!

OK everyone, our blog is ready to go.  It might take us awhile figuring this thing out.  I’ll try to get everyone added and you can write a test post.  We will start with Chapter 1 of First Nephi sometime after The Big Event on Feb. 10th.

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