Reading this first chapter of Jacob really does give us some interesting insights in to Nephi and Nephite tradition. A few things that caught my attention:
v.3 – why are these things handed down through Jacob’s line? Was Nephi’s line not quite as faithful? Did Nephi not have any sons? Or, by handing the plates to Jacob was Nephi able to leave it in someone’s hands who had been there from the beginning and who would have the same perspective (more or less) as Nephi?
v.5 – revelations concerning their future come “because of faith and great anxiety.” Great anxiety? I never noticed this here before. The first time I read it today I misread anxiety as “mercy” out of habit. That is interesting that they had such anxiety about their future! But also interesting that this is one of the reasons God gave them their revelations. Whatever the reason they came, however, Jacob’s stated purpose is to preserve them.
v.6 “spirit of much prophecy” – awkwardly worded? not much of the spirit of prophecy, but the spirit of “much prophecy”
v. 7 – wow, I never caught this clear reference to Moses before. See D&C 84 for lots of details, such as “But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.”
v.9 – Nephi anoints “a man” – not one of his sons, but just “a man”
v.11 – it almost sounds like Jacob has lived through several kings, but maybe he is just giving us the formula even though the people are only on the second king?
v. 5,6,7,8 all use the word “we” when talking about revelations and teaching the Nephites. Was he talking about himself and Nephi? (and Joseph?) or does “we” refer to those like himself and Joseph who are teaching the people well after Nephi’s death? Are their continual revelations concerning the future of the people, or did Nephi and Jacob have those revelations?
v.4-5: connection here is different than I first thought. He should record any great teaching, preaching, prophesying etc not necessarily because they are continuing to have great revelations, but because in early revelation they know the serious and tragic outcome. Jacob should record whatever he can to help them. Verse 4: “And if there were preaching which was sacred, or revelation which was great, or prophesying, that I should engraven the heads of them upon these plates, and touch upon them as much as it were possible, for Christ’s sake, and for the sake of our people.” For the sake of our people – because we (Nephi and Jacob) have been very worried about them. We were so worried that we have received greater understanding of their future and what we can do to teach and help them. We write because of that knowledge we have received – that might be what Jacob is saying here.
If that is the case, that Nephi and Jacob have seen much that sets up their relation to the record and to the people, rather than continual revelations about the future of the people, then I can see why Nephi would want to pass the record to Jacob! His understanding of the importance of the record would be the same as Nephi’s.
Interesting still though that it not only goes to Jacob, but to Jacob’s seed. Sam is told by Lehi that his posterity will be numbered with Nephi – but there isn’t any connection between Jacob and Nephi’s seeds.
All for now.. More later perhaps?