Tag Archives: Abraham

Alma 3:14-17 – Nephi’s promise of who will and won’t be called his seed


I was reading through Alma 1-3 this morning, and Alma 3:14-17 felt like it was something I’d never read before. It is a record of a communication between the Lord and Nephi! Stuck here in Alma 3! Here is the passage:

14 Thus the word of God is fulfilled, for these are the words which he said to Nephi: Behold, the Lamanites have I cursed, and I will set a mark on them that they and their seed may be separated from thee and thy seed, from this time henceforth and forever, except they repent of their wickedness and turn to me that I may have mercy upon them.

15 And again: I will set a mark upon him that mingleth his seed with thy brethren, that they may be cursed also.

16 And again: I will set a mark upon him that fighteth against thee and thy seed.

17 And again, I say he that departeth from thee shall no more be called thy seed; and I will bless thee, and whomsoever shall be called thy seed, henceforth and forever; and these were the promises of the Lord unto Nephi and to his seed.

I have no idea why this hasn’t sunk into my head long enough to remember it when I’m reading elsewhere in scripture. This is amazingly like God’s promises to Abraham. Why have I not remembered this passage? And how does Mormon have access to it? Why would this not have been contained on the small plates? What other holy communication to Nephi is on the large plates that is not on the small plates??

Here is the language in Abraham 2 (minus the parenthetical stuff):

10 And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;

11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee and in thy seed, for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.

The concept of being “accounted” as Abraham’s seed, or “called” Nephi’s seed, is fascinating to me. It preserves the idea that God can have a chosen lineage, and yet include anyone at all within it. 🙂 Israel is God’s chosen people, but that doesn’t exclude anyone because everyone who accepts the gospel is counted “as if” they had been born directly into Abraham’s (or here, Nephi’s) family.

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Enoch/Noah and Melchizedek/Abraham


Today’s study in the perpetual quest to understand priesthood, Abrahamic Covenant, and so forth, focused on the phrase “Prince of Peace.”

It only comes up a few times in scripture, and to me, seems to indicate someone who has created or can create peace in a city. Enoch created peace and so created a Zion. Melchizedek created peace and also had a Zion-like city.

The JST of Gen 14:33, 36 talks about Melchizedek being called a Prince of Peace because of the work he did, and so does Alma 13:18.

Several places in scripture also talk about Enoch and those called after his order being given powers over the mountains, rivers, etc. — and Enoch used these powers to defend his Zion city. They didn’t fight; the earth just diverted the opposing army and they didn’t need to fight!

Today, also, I was comparing Enoch’s effect on Noah to Melchizedek’s effect on Abraham. I have noted that Noah’s time was so wicked in part because Enoch had spent over 300 years gathering the righteous into Zion, and by Noah’s time the city had been removed from the earth. So Noah was working with those who were left/descendants of those who were left.

But, Noah needed to stay on the earth, because someone needed to preserve the work of preaching the gospel through the generations. The families of the earth, the generations of the earth, needed someone around! And there was a promise to Enoch that his seed would be the chosen seed, which means that his seed would always been found on the earth until the end of the world.

So, Noah was needed on earth and not in Zion.

If we compare this situation to Abraham, I think we’ll find it similar in many ways. We read in the Bible and in revealed LDS scripture that Abraham and Melchizedek were alive at the same time. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. But we also read that Melchizedek created a Zion-like city. (Alma 13:18 and JST of Genesis 14 are good places to read.) If Abraham was yearning after a new place to live (see Abraham 1), and if he was a righteous man that God approved of, why didn’t Abraham join Melchizedek’s city?

But again, let’s compare this to Noah and Enoch. We don’t read that Melchizedek’s city was taken to heaven, but whether it was or not they were a city separated out from the other nations. Perhaps Abraham’s role was similar to Noah’s — we  need someone to wander about and teach the gospel; we need someone to preserve the gospel for future generations; we need someone to continue to be the chosen seed and bear children of that chosen seed.

So perhaps like Noah, Abraham was needed on earth and not in Zion.

This could be why God says to Abraham: “As it was with Noah, so shall it be with thee” (Ab. 1:18).

In some ways, that also sounds like Adam and Eve. They could have stayed in Eden, but they wouldn’t have born children and had a chance to learn of and preach the gospel. (There are complications there.) But anyway, their work outside Eden is similar to Noah and Abraham. Proclaim the gospel, preserve the gospel to their children, and watch over a chosen seed.

 


Abraham in Egypt


I was reading through the book of Abraham yesterday and enjoying chapter 1, as usual. As I reviewed the italicized information at the top of the page, it struck me that I’ve never thought to read the book of Abraham as it would sound to someone in Egypt (the italicized information says this was written by Abraham while in Egypt). How would the history of Egypt parts sound? How does this part about them claiming history sound? It’s written for his descendants, so may be that’s not the right question. How would Abraham’s location be influencing what he’s choosing to write about? It would seem rather important for him to differentiate his priesthood from theirs when he’s immersed in their culture, for example. Anyway, a slight twist on the context of the book.

Another thing I thought about was how this fits in with Abraham’s own history. When he goes into Egypt, he has not had any children yet. He and Sarah have to pretend to not be married so that they can have the possibility of having children in the future! As he relates his appointment to the priesthood, and to be a father of many nations, etc., he hasn’t had any children yet. Fascinating! But what’s more, the story of the creation ends with Adam and Eve being together in the garden. I assume there was much more that could have been translated, but in the form we have it that’s rather appropriate. Adam hadn’t had kids yet, and neither had Abraham. Both Eve and Sarah were being created or preserved as a help or partner to their husbands.

Anyway, just a few thoughts that struck me after I reread that introduction.


A few notes from Study Group on D&C 84:39


  • The words “oath” and “covenant” from D&C 84:39 are clearly drawn from Hebrews, as any one in Joseph’s time would have recognized.
  • Note that God made oath and covenant, that it’s His (D&C 84:40). Not actually a covenant we make with God! This is one sided when it is made, and then we are told/asked to receive it.
  • D&C 132:22-25 are very worth looking at, as well as JST Genesis 14!
  • The language of confirmed is related to oaths and covenants in Bible.
  • Where else does “oath and covenant” come up together, as a phrase? In the Book of Mormon! But it always means oaths and covenants of robbers, bad secret society. Is the priesthood meant to be thought of as the “good” secret society? The one that counters the bad?
  • The consequence for breaking an oath or covenant in a bad secret society is usually death! Severe consequence. D&C 84:41 is also severe.
  • Interesting that it’s not about this life, as D&C 132 talks about (hard time this life, ok in next)
  • The good secret society. It is a fundamental change in how we relate to other people. [Tangent here about how even when we as Latter-day Saints don’t understand all that this gospel is or how deep and wonderful the covenants are, there is still a change in how we relate to others. There are all sorts of “fringe benefits”that come even from the watered-down version of things. And the real vision is still buried in there, still being carried along by the church members even though we don’t realize it.
  • Now, some notes/thoughts from what Don shared with us:
  • “According to” usually means we’re referring to something just talked about, or to something clearly established. This “accords” with that previous thing.
  • This seems to accord with Hebrews, which refers back to Psalms
  • But also, look at Gen 14 “order of the covenant” also “oath by himself”
  • JST Hebrews was worked on only 7 months earlier, and Joseph had just gone back through it about this time. So not only would the audience have thought about Hebrews, Joseph was thinking about Hebrews a lot during this time
  • Some sort of “everlasting covenant” talked about in stories of David and others but Hebrews might be only place in NT (Heb 13:20).
  • The JST of Hebrews 9 changes testament to covenant
  • JST Hebrews 7:19 adds “without an oath” Law was administered without an oath
  • JST Deut 10:2 adds “save words of everlasting covenant of priesthood” (second tablets did not have words of the covenant)
  • So with JST changes, Deut says law did not have words of covenant, and Hebrews says law did not have oath
  • D&C 84:25 God took Moses and priesthood out from them (=took words of covenant & no oath?)
  • Similar to 1 Ne 13 – took plain and precious from gospel, even many covenants. Then took from book.
  • D&C 132:19 – what is “it”?  everlasting covenant (later in 19: as hath been sealed upon their heads)
  • b/c everlasting covenant from JST Gen 14 = godhood, this makes sense.
  • D&C 132:19 and JST Gen 14 both use principalities and powers
  • D&C 84:42 “by mine own voice” also in JST Gen 14:29 and Hebrews (and Alma 13 – called)
  • Oaths – Hebrews talks about Abraham’s oath, and Christ’s priesthood oath
  • “confirm” talked about in Hebrews 7 and D&C 84:39-42
  • D&C 132:59 by mine own voice Aaron Hebrews also says called of God
  • back to covenants taken out: Covenant given to Adam etc, then missing until Abraham, then missing until Moses, then missing until Christ, then missing until Joseph Smith
  • covenant is received, as we emphasized earlier. Given by God, oath made by God. Receive covenant, receive oath, over and over. Alma 13, God ordains. God calls. D&C 84:40, D&C 66:  , D&C 132:27.
  • Consequences come after that is clear D&C 132:27, D&C 84:41
  • In 1831 office of high priest given, thought of as sealing lots of things, even sealing up to eternal life
  • D&C 84 was in 1832 developed, but think context of sealing up to eternal life
  • Joseph Smith’s later discourses, Moses’s people won’t accept last stage the gift of eternal life. Why did they reject? don’t know. D&C 84 says same thing didn’t want to enter God’s rest, see face to face. See discourses maybe March 1844
  • Receive everlasting covenant, not obey everlasting covenant.
  • Joseph Smith’s creativity with everything (laws on polygamy, etc.) may reflect his position of receiving this higher law and power, like Nephi (in Helaman), Enoch, etc. They had power to move rivers, mountains, create famines, etc.
  • did Joseph’s confidence come from lost 116 pages? God has many ways of doing His work, He is wise, I can’t ruin it, in for the ride

An interpretation of Abraham 1:4


I was reviewing Abraham 1 and verse 4 changed for me:

I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed.

Now who knows if this is right, but I read it in a new way this morning. Something like: “I sought for my turn to be ordained to the priesthood, because of the promise of God unto the fathers that their seed would hold the priesthood to bless all the earth.” His immediate fathers had all gone astray worshiping idols, so Abraham even had to seek it. Otherwise it would have been given to him naturally, in the natural course of things. But in his case, he had to learn about it, study it, decide, and seek it. But what he was seeking was something already promised to him, but his immediate family wasn’t going to give to him.

He was supposed to be the next link in the chain, but his father thought that Egypt had the right priesthood authority instead. Remember that the Egyptians fain claimed it from Noah, and Abraham’s father believed him. I wonder when the first weak link happened. Who was the first in Abraham’s family to believe the Egyptians had it? Was it Abraham’s father, grand father, great grand father, or who? Did Melchizedek live a very, very long time since he was king of a Zion city that was translated at some point? Was Melchizedek far back in Abraham’s genealogy?

And why were people so excited to find a priesthood genealogy that went back through Ham? Was it just that the Egyptians had built a giant society so it appeared that they had power and must have the right priesthood? Was it the case that those who didn’t want to live in a Zion way didn’t join Melchizedek, and over time their descendants sought for what looked like the priesthood but without consecration? That’s a harsh thing to say perhaps but it might be human nature?

Anyway, I think it’s worth hanging on to this possible reading from verse 4. What was sought was not just that he could have the promise of God concerning the seed (which is how I had read it before), but what was sought was the priesthood, because he of the promise given to his ancestors concerning their seed.


Fascinating D&C 84…


And the sons of Moses, according to the Holy Priesthood which he received under the hand of his father-in-law, Jethro;

Are they sons according to, or because of, the Holy Priesthood? Being his heir to the priesthood makes you a type of son? Or will the “sons of Moses” do something according to the Holy Priesthood?

Why why why why is there a separate chain of priesthood authority that runs from Abraham’s time to Jethro? That is so fascinating to me! I read the Bible and I assume that all of God’s work was going on through Abraham, Issac, and Jacob’s line. The whole Book of Mormon project is to unite Gentile and Israel – those seem to be the only two groups in the world. But here we have a covenant, non-Israelite group with the priesthood. And not only that, that group has the very Melchizedek priesthood that is passed on to Moses and so forth. Crazy! 🙂 The Bible really is the story of one covenant people!

And Jethro received it under the hand of Caleb; And Caleb received it under the hand of Elihu; And Elihu under the hand of Jeremy; And Jeremy under the hand of Gad; And Gad under the hand of Esaias; And Esaias received it under the hand of God.

Here too, we find that God started a chain of priesthood authority. Esaias was blessed by Abraham (next verse) but he didn’t receive the priesthood from Abraham. Amazing!

Esaias also lived in the days of Abraham, and was blessed of him—

What kind of blessing are we talking about, I wonder?

Which Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek, who received it through the lineage of his fathers, even till Noah; And from Noah till Enoch, through the lineage of their fathers; And from Enoch to Abel, who was slain by the conspiracy of his brother, who received the priesthood by the commandments of God, by the hand of his father Adam, who was the first man—

And this is a detail we don’t get from Genesis or even the Book of Abraham. Abraham was not only blessed by Melchizedek, he received the priesthood from him. And the Bible sees Melchizedek as without father or mother, which, while I assume doesn’t mean literally, I had sometimes taken that to mean that he received the priesthood straight from God and not because of his lineage. But, here it says he did receive it through the lineage of his fathers! Yikes! 🙂 Abraham does say he held the right belonging to the fathers, which came down from the fathers, though his immediate fathers didn’t believe. Maybe he was related to Melchizedek? Or, he wasn’t, but he knew Melchizedek was related to this line of fathers?

Also, I can’t understand why this chain goes back to Abel, when the Book of Moses suggests that Seth became the new priesthood line. But I don’t think there are enough details to riddle that out, so I’ll let that one go.

Which priesthood continueth in the church of God in all generations, and is without beginning of days or end of years.

Two thoughts here. One, the description of the priesthood being without beginning of days or end of years is similar to Kim’s discussion of priesthood in the Alma 13 posts. Two, what do we make of the priesthood that continues in the church of God in all generations? Is the emphasis on “in the church” or “in all generations”? Whenever there is a church, then there is priesthood? and this is true in every generation in which there is a church established? Or, somewhere on the earth there is always a church established in which the priesthood can be preserved? Jethro is an interesting example of that, perhaps. As well as the Nephities having the priesthood at times when those in the Old World did not (it seems). Other thoughts on this?

And the Lord confirmed a priesthood also upon Aaron and his seed, throughout all their generations, which priesthood also continueth and abideth forever with the priesthood which is after the holiest order of God.

The impression I’ve gotten in the past is that the Lord came up with the idea to invent a “lesser” priesthood when the Israelites rejected the higher priesthood. I think before that it was all just “priesthood” in a full, sealing-power-and-all sense. Israel rejects this, but at the same time is a covenant people with the possibility of working on the Abrahamic Covenant again, and God finds a way to keep them a covenant people even in their weakness. I don’t know if that’s at all right, but it’s the sense I’ve had in the past.

Verse 18 here may or may not challenge that reading. We have “confirmed a priesthood” on Aaron, but there’s nothing that gives me a sense whether this is a new idea or a priesthood order that has always existed. That’s a good way to put it — the priesthood power had always been there, and the ordinances, but the sense I’ve had in the past was that a new order was created with certain responsibilities.

This verse does point out the existence of this order going forward: “continueth and abideth forever.” Whether it’s absorbed into the higher priesthood at some point is just pure speculation, as far as I have come across.

If I’m correct (that’s a big “if”), then we have a  “new” but “forever” scenario, which is similar to the phrase the “new and everlasting covenant.” I’m not suggesting that they are the same thing at all, but I’m curious about a similar construction. I’ve wondered about those words “new” but “everlasting.” I suppose I should have thought about this as I do the Aaronic priesthood: created at a certain point but going on forever. But as I’ve studied the new and everlasting covenant it seems to me that it is a restoration of the covenants given to Abraham. So it’s not a new thing, is it? Maybe it’s a new embodiment of those covenants? Later in D&C 84 we’ll get a phrase I really like — “covenant which he has renewed and confirmed upon you.” It isn’t a covenant that has been newly created, but newly made again. It’s like renewing the loan of a library book — things are back as if you had just checked it out for the first time. That’s the way I personally like to think of the phrase “new and everlasting covenant.”

But coming back to Aaron and his sons: from what you’ve read in scripture and elsewhere, do you think that the Aaronic priesthood order was created new at that time, or that it was already in existence?

 

(Similar post & thoughts on these same verses here: https://whatimthinkingabout.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/initial-reactions-to-dc-84-6-18/#comments)


Two random notes from Abraham 1


I’ve always liked and wondered about verse 19. Why will Abraham be like Noah? I’ve assumed it primarily meant that he will be a sort of dispensation head, a new beginning. I also thought about how Noah’s immediate fathers weren’t so righteous, just like Abraham. Yesterday I was looking through some of the verses that follow and I remembered again that Noah comes up several times in the discussion of Pharaoh and priesthood. I think verse 19 might be saying, “You will actually be like Noah, whereas the Egyptians ‘fain claim’ they are like Noah.” (See verse 27). I like that reading for now.

—-

I’ve also wondered about this little genealogy lesson about Egyptus and Ham and this woman and Pharaoh. It never seems to work out — it sounds like Egyptus is both Ham’s wife and daughter, and somehow the blood of the Canaanites is preserved through all of this? Fortunately Joe has lots of books on scripture so I looked through the textual history book with all the variants from journals, newspapers, etc. I couldn’t believe how many different sources we have available! Most of them do not differ significantly, but it was fun to look at. In one of these the genealogy problem was simplified, but only in one of them. But it did make me think that maybe “daughter of Ham” could mostly be read “female descendant of Ham” and that would solve part of that problem already. 

Joe told me to also look at the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, and also at Hugh Nibley’s many books (particularly Abraham in Egypt and his Pearl of Great Price lectures). I’m always happy and a bit disappointed when I find out there are resources to go and work on. 🙂 I don’t have the research drive that Joe and Kim have, but I am thrilled to know there is more information to work with.