Tag Archives: Book of Mormon

Nephite relationship with Jews

Question: In the Book of Mormon, I know there are many places where “Jew” is used to mean any and all in the House of Israel. My question is are there places where Nephites don’t use the word that way, but rather in a way that allows them to distinguish themselves as Josephites?


1) The first place I went to look was when the people of Mosiah meet up with the people of Zarahemla. If they are from the tribe of Judah, then we already have a coming together of Judah and Joseph as mentioned in Isaiah, etc. Is this celebrated in the text?

I found these verses that talk about the ancestry of the people of Zarahemla, but none seem to celebrate a reconciliation of Judah and Joseph. Also, I doubled checked on the lineage of Mulek–>Zedekiah–>Josiah–>etc. Josiah was a descendant of Judah, and Zedekiah was a descendant of Josiah. So then these descendants of Mulek should indeed be Jews.

Omni 1:15 Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon.

Mosiah 25:2 Now there were not so many of the children of Nephi, or so many of those who were descendants of Nephi, as there were of the people of Zarahemla, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness.

Helaman 8:21 And now will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem?

2) I also looked at how Nephi talked about the record of the Jews (brass plates). By the time Nephi is telling the story of how they got the bras plates, Nephi knows that his family is from Joseph. He also says that Laban was from Joseph and therefore he had and kept the record. What else does Nephi say about the record in relation to Joseph and Judah?

I Nephi 3:3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.

1 Nephi 5:16 And thus my father, Lehi, did discover the genealogy of his fathers. And Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records.

3) What else does Nephi say about their relationship to Jerusalem, besides just that they lived there and left it?

1 Nephi 1:2 Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.

1 Nephi 1:4 For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.

2 Nephi 30:4 And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews.



Jacob and the Lamanites

Last Friday’s study group was on Jacob 6:9. I could record a hundred little insights, but mostly I want to focus on what we learned about the book of Jacob and how it relates to the Lamanites.

We were looking at why Jacob is talking about “shame” as well as “guilt.” Joe’s philosophical reading defines shame as something you are responsible for, but you aren’t in control of (your mere mortality, weakness, etc., or something you inherited from previous generations, etc.). We came to a point where we wondered if all of chapter 6 was aimed at the (future) Lamanites, rather than his current Nephite brethren. We looked before Chapter 5’s allegory of the olive tree, and found that chapter 4 could be read as written to the future Lamanites. This would mean that chapter 5, though about the Jews, could be “likened” to the Lamanites specifically. That led us to read Chapter 6 as also directed to future Lamanites, so we could read 6:9 as Jacob trying to help the Lamanites not be ashamed of their fathers (and the curse that they inherited from them for a time) and rather receive the covenant that God is extending to them (also because of their fathers). (See Jacob 4:3.)

Beyond this, I suggested that perhaps all of Jacob’s writings could be aimed at softening the blow to the Lamanites so that they would read and accept this book. Joe is often pointing out how Jacob, in chapters 2-3, is criticizing the Nephites for how they are treating the Lamanites. Jacob explains that the Nephites are not keeping certain commandments that the Lamanites are keeping; the Nephites don’t treat their families well and that will have future consequences; the Lamanites behavior was taught them by their parents and they aren’t responsible for much of their tradition, etc. So what if we read all of that as Jacob’s attempt to invite the Lamanites into this book where their people will so often be described in a negative light? What if Jacob is trying to reach out to them through his contribution to this book? What if he wants them to know that the Nephites were often wrong in how they viewed their people? But, none the less, there was a curse brought on by their first parents that did affect them, and necessitated a book being written and brought to them?

We all liked that idea a lot, and thought it made good sense of Jacob 4:2-3:

“but we can write a few words upon plates, which will give our children, and also our beloved brethren, a small degree of knowledge concerning us, or concerning their fathers—

Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents.”

Joe and I summed it up yesterday by saying it’s as if Jacob and Nephi are playing “good cop bad cop” with the Lamanites. 🙂






Don’t they know the wise purpose?

Many times in the Book of Mormon, the authors say that God has commanded them to write their book for a wise purpose, which only God knows. And yet, other times in the book they seem to know exactly what the purpose is, that is, to convert future generations to God and that they can know of the covenants that God has made with Israel.

Mormon, for example, in Words of Mormon verse 7-8 says,

7 And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.

8 And my prayer to God is concerning my brethren, that they may once again come to the knowledge of God, yea, the redemption of Christ; that they may once again be a delightsome people.

It’s as if he hopes that the purpose is to restore the Lamanites, but he isn’t sure enough to declare what God has in mind.

But then Mormon himself says, in 3 Nephi 5: 14-15,

14 And it hath become expedient that I, according to the will of God, that the prayers of those who have gone hence, who were the holy ones, should be fulfilled according to their faith, should make a record of these things which have been done—

15 Yea, a small record of that which hath taken place from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem, even down until the present time.

And there are several places in the book where it’s laid out clearly that the prophets, or the fathers, had asked God to preserve their record and send it to the Lamanites when the time was right (see, for example, Enos verses 16-18). And it seems that Mormon is very aware of these verses, or at least of this promise.

So why the confusion? Why is Mormon unsure of the wise purpose that God has? Why is Nephi sometimes unsure? Is it simply that they know there might be other reasons? Has God communicated to them that there are other reasons? But then also, Nephi and Mormon seem to hope that the purpose is to restore their brothers. So sometimes it seems like they aren’t sure that that actually is a purpose, or something they just desperately hope will be a purpose.

So I remain a bit confused.

Verses about wisdom and brass plates, other plates

Also verses about the brass plates:

1 Nephi 3:19
19 And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers;

1 Nephi 5:22
22 Wherefore, it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry them with us, as we journeyed in the wilderness towards the land of promise.

  • Mosiah 1:3

    3 And he also taught them concerning the recordswhich were engraven on the plates of brass, saying: My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God.

  • Mosiah 8:19

    19 And now, when Ammon had made an end of speaking these words the king rejoiced exceedingly, and gave thanks to God, saying: Doubtless a great mystery is contained within these plates, and these interpreters were doubtless prepared for the purpose of unfolding all such mysteries to the children of men.

    • Alma 37:8

      8 And now, it has hitherto been wisdom in God that these things should be preserved; for behold, they have enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways, and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls.

    • Alma 37:12

      12 And it may suffice if I only say they are preserved for a wise purpose, which purpose is known unto God; for he doth counsel in wisdom over all his works, and his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.

Verses about wisdom, covenant, and the Book of Mormon

I’ve searched: wise purpose, plates, wisdom, wise, and record:

  • The Book of Mormon

    —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—

  • 1 Nephi 9:5

    5 Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not.

  • 1 Nephi 19:3

    3 And after I had made these plates by way of commandment, I, Nephi, received a commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these plates; and that the things which were written should be kept for the instruction of my people, who should possess the land, and also for other wise purposes, which purposes are known unto the Lord.

  • 2 Nephi 3:19

    19 And the words which he shall write shall be the words which are expedient in my wisdom should go forth unto the fruit of thy loins. And it shall be as if the fruit of thy loins had cried unto them from the dust; for I know their faith.

  • 2 Nephi 25:18

    18 Wherefore, he shall bring forth his words unto them, which words shall judge them at the last day, for they shall be given them for the purposeof convincing them of the true Messiah, who was rejected by them; and unto the convincing of them that they need not look forward any more for a Messiah to come, for there should not any come, save it should be a false Messiah which should deceive the people; for there is save one Messiah spoken of by the prophets, and that Messiah is he who should be rejected of the Jews.

  • 2 Nephi 27:22

    22 Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men.

  • Jacob 5:53

    53 And this will I do that the tree may not perish, that, perhaps, I may preserve unto myself the roots thereof for mine own purpose.

  • Enos 1:13-16

    13 And now behold, this was the desire which I desired of him—that if it should so be, that my people, the Nephites, should fall into transgression, and by any means be destroyed, and the Lamanites should not be destroyed, that the Lord God would preserve a record of my people, the Nephites; even if it so be by the power of his holy arm, that it might be brought forth at some future day unto the Lamanites, that, perhaps, they might be brought unto salvation— [READ THROUGH VERSE 16]

  • Words of Mormon 1:7

    7 And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.

  • Alma 37:2

    2 And I also command you that ye keep a record of this people, according as I have done, upon the plates of Nephi, and keep all these things sacred which I have kept, even as I have kept them; for it is for a wise purpose that they are kept.

  • Alma 37:8

    8 And now, it has hitherto been wisdom in God that these things should be preserved; for behold, they have enlarged the memory of this people, yea, and convinced many of the error of their ways, and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls.

  • Alma 37:12

    12 And it may suffice if I only say they are preserved for a wise purpose, which purpose is known unto God; for he doth counsel in wisdom over all his works, and his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round.

  • Alma 37:14

    14 And now remember, my son, that God has entrusted you with these things, which are sacred, which he has kept sacred, and also which he will keep and preserve for a wise purpose in him, that he may show forth his power unto future generations.

  • Alma 37:18

    18 For he promised unto them that he would preserve these things for a wise purpose in him, that he might show forth his power unto future generations.

  • Alma 37:19

    19 And now behold, one purpose hath he fulfilled, even to the restoration of many thousands of the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth; and he hath shown forth his power in them, and he will also still show forth his power in them unto future generations; therefore they shall be preserved.

  • Alma 42:26

    26 And thus God bringeth about his great and eternal purposes, which were prepared from the foundation of the world. And thus cometh about the salvation and the redemption of men, and also their destruction and misery.

  • 3 Nephi 5:14

    14 And it hath become expedient that I, according to the will of God, that the prayers of those who have gone hence, who were the holy ones, should be fulfilled according to their faith, should make a record of these things which have been done—

  • 3 Nephi 5:25

    25 And as he hath covenanted with all the house of Jacob, even so shall the covenant wherewith he hath covenanted with the house of Jacob be fulfilled in his own due time, unto the restoring all the house of Jacob unto the knowledge of the covenant that he hath covenanted with them.

  • 3 Nephi 21:6-7

    Verily, verily, I say unto you, when these things shall be made known unto them of the Father, and shall come forth of the Father, from them unto you;

     For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth from them unto a remnant of your seed, that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled which he hath covenanted with his people, O house of Israel;

  • 3 Nephi 21:10
  • 3 Nephi 26:2
  • 3 Nephi 29:1

    1 And now behold, I say unto you that when the Lord shall see fit, in his wisdom, that these sayings shall come unto the Gentiles according to his word, then ye may know that the covenant which the Father hath made with the children of Israel, concerning their restoration to the lands of their inheritance, is already beginning to be fulfilled.

  • Mormon 2:17, also 6:6 and 8:4 (hiding plates)

    17 And now, the city of Jashon was near the land where Ammaron had deposited the records unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed.

  • Mormon 5:13-14

    14 And behold, they shall go unto the unbelieving of the Jews; and for this intent shall they go—that they may be persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; that the Father may bring about, through his most Beloved, his great and eternal purpose, in restoring the Jews, or all the house of Israel, to the land of their inheritance, which the Lord their God hath given them, unto the fulfilling of his covenant;

  • Mormon 8:14 also 8:5, intent already written

    14 And I am the same who hideth up this record unto the Lord; the plates thereof are of no worth, because of the commandment of the Lord. For he truly saith that no one shall have them to get gain; but the record thereof is of great worth; and whoso shall bring it to light, him will the Lord bless.

  • Mormon 8:21-26

    21 And he that shall breathe out wrath and strifes against the work of the Lord, and against the covenant people of the Lord who are the house of Israel, and shall say: We will destroy the work of the Lord, and the Lord will not remember his covenant which he hath made unto the house of Israel—the same is in danger to be hewn down and cast into the fire;

     22 For the eternal purposes of the Lord shall roll on, until all his promises shall be fulfilled.

     23 Search the prophecies of Isaiah. Behold, I cannot write them. Yea, behold I say unto you, that those saints who have gone before me, who have possessed this land, shall cry, yea, even from the dust will they cry unto the Lord; and as the Lord liveth he will remember the covenant which he hath made with them.

     24 And he knoweth their prayers, that they were in behalf of their brethren. And he knoweth their faith, for in his name could they remove mountains; and in his name could they cause the earth to shake; and by the power of his word did they cause prisons to tumble to the earth; yea, even the fiery furnace could not harm them, neither wild beasts nor poisonous serpents, because of the power of his word.

     25 And behold, their prayers were also in behalf of him that the Lord should suffer to bring these things forth.

     26 And no one need say they shall not come, for they surely shall, for the Lord hath spoken it; for out of the earth shall they come, by the hand of the Lord, and none can stay it; and it shall come in a day when it shall be said that miracles are done away; and it shall come even as if one should speak from the dead.

  • Ether 5:1 when it’s wisdom to translate…
  • Ether 8:23
  • Moroni 10:3
  • Doctrine and Covenants 3:19(20 too)

    19 And for this very purpose are these plates preserved, which contain these records—that the promises of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to his people;

  • Doctrine and Covenants 5:9

    9 Behold, verily I say unto you, I have reserved those things which I have entrusted unto you, my servant Joseph, for a wise purpose in me, and it shall be made known unto future generations;

  • Doctrine and Covenants 10:40 (lots in section 10)

    40 And now, because the account which is engraven upon the plates of Nephi is more particular concerning the things which, in my wisdom, I would bring to the knowledge of the people in this account—

  • Doctrine and Covenants 10:43

    43 I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.

  • Doctrine and Covenants 10:45

    45 Behold, there are many things engraven upon the plates of Nephi which do throw greater views upon my gospel; therefore, it is wisdom in me that you should translate this first part of the engravings of Nephi, and send forth in this work.

  • Doctrine and Covenants 10:48

    48 Yea, and this was their faith—that my gospel, which I gave unto them that they might preach in their days, might come unto their brethren the Lamanites, and also all that had become Lamanites because of their dissensions.

D&C 3 and the purpose of the Book of Mormon (similar to “wise purpose” elsewhere)

I have been looking at the “wise purposes” mentioned in the Book of Mormon and in D&C 10. This is similar but just doesn’t use the word “wise.” But in other passages and this one, the purpose is to fulfill God’s promise to bring the words of the Nephite prophets to the descendants of Lehi.

16 Nevertheless, my work shall go forth, for inasmuch as the knowledge of a Savior has come unto the world, through the testimony of the Jews, even so shall the knowledge of a Savior come unto my people—

 17 And to the Nephites, and the Jacobites, and the Josephites, and the Zoramites, through the testimony of their fathers—

 18 And this testimony shall come to the knowledge of the Lamanites, and the Lemuelites, and the Ishmaelites, who dwindled in unbelief because of the iniquity of their fathers, whom the Lord has suffered to destroy their brethren the Nephites, because of their iniquities and their abominations.

 19 And for this very purpose are these plates preserved, which contain these records—that the promises of the Lord might be fulfilled, which he made to his people;

 20 And that the Lamanites might come to the knowledge of their fathers, and that they might know the promises of the Lord, and that they may believe the gospel and rely upon the merits of Jesus Christ, and be glorified through faith in his name, and that through their repentance they might be saved. Amen.

Granite Vault

I’m really good at liking a topic for a few days, then being distracted by other things, and then losing the fire for what was so interesting in that topic. And/or, coming back to that topic later and basically rediscovering what I’d discovered, and never really progressing beyond that.

I think I want to write about wisdom in D&C 10 and Words of Mormon, in part as a chance to finally write-up my ideas about Words of Mormon. But that basically means I’m done researching and I just need to write up my thoughts. But then, I don’t feel like I’m done thinking about wisdom at all, so I feel like that’s cheating a bit, so I put things off. 🙂

Well, whether I’m doing that today or not, I’m not sure. But in thinking about what I’d like to say about the wisdom of Mormon making an abridgment, or the wisdom in Nephi et al making the small plates, the image I have in my head this morning is the Granite Vault that the Church keeps for genealogical records. It’s still pretty astounding to me that those are kept as they are – in a huge granite room in the mountainside! But it’s a testament to just how vital we think genealogical records are. It’s a massive back-up system, put in the earth, in a stone box, just in case our other records fail us.

That seems to me to be what Mormon’s abridgment was about too. He knew that the Lamanites would destroy any records they found. Ammaron had hidden the records in the earth and told Mormon where to find them. Later, Mormon went to that hill, and added his own account of the people’s history onto the plates. Later still, Mormon used those records to make an abridgment of the Nephite’s history that could be carried around and not left in that same hill – a history he could pass on to Moroni after he died. Moroni carries that record around [and adds to it, so was he carrying all of the other records? Did he sneak back to the hill to read? Did he receive the 24 plates when Mormon gave him the abridgment?] knowing that if the Lamanites found him, they would destroy that abridgment (though, hopefully the original documents would be safe in the hill). That is, the information in the plates was so important that it was wise to have a second copy just in case something happened.

Then Moroni, knowing that what was on the abridgment was so important — the most important parts of the story — he also hid that up in a stone box in a hill as our back up copy, and here we are hundreds of years later using the information from that hill to inform and restore our understanding of human history.

The other original documents still exist somewhere else. (Much like the original documents from libraries and churches and cemeteries and government offices all over the world.) But this back-up copy worked; it survived.

(There’s a story on the family search website about the records in the Vault restoring genealogical information that was lost in a storm in the Pacific islands. https://familysearch.org/archives/about-granite-mountain/)

But in addition to all of this, it seems that Nephi’s two plates also served this purpose! In part, there were two records in order that one had historical details and the other had spiritual details. We latter-day Saints usually note that but say that really he made two documents so that we could have the first half of the story when Martin Harris lost the 116 pages. So which is it? A back-up copy meant to restore information, or a separate document with a different purpose?

Great question.

What I want to mention here, and in the paper I hopefully write, is that Mormon, at least, saw this as a back-up copy. Or, he saw it as wise to have a second copy of the history focused mainly on the spiritual. Nephi may have as well. Why else would he have spent so long giving us the history of how they got to the new world, etc.? Why not just jump to the visions?

Also, does Nephi include so much Isaiah also as a back-up copy, just in case something happens to his people’s copy of the brass plates? Or just in case something happens to our latter-day copy of the Bible? (I don’t mean to fix little words here and there in Isaiah, for multiple reasons. But what if he thought whole chapters would be missing?)

The big insight that I want to write up somewhere is that I think Mormon sees the small plates as a back-up copy of sorts. When he adds his part through the Words of Mormon, I think that he adds much more than what we have there. I think that he adds an abridged abridgment, focused on prophecies and their fulfillments, of Nephite history from Benjamin on down to his own life. (I have an argument for this that I’ve written up on this blog elsewhere, and that would be the main thing I need to write up in a paper!) But if Mormon does do that as I suggest, then it seems that Mormon saw the Small Plates as another back up copy.

But he did put them with his other copy, so maybe not a back up copy. Or at least ,not a back up copy that would be safe if the Lamanites found the first copy. So a back up for what? A back up for our understanding, in case we missed the point of the first abridgment?

Hm. Gotta keep thinking about this way of framing things…