Tag Archives: Book of Mormon

Adam and Eve — first parents

I am looking through the scriptures for references to parents this morning. I know that’s only kind of a successful way to see what the scriptures might teach me about mothering. But, I did have this question come into my mind: What’s the purpose, or benefit, of describing Adam and Eve as “our first parents” rather than “the first people on earth?”

For example, when Alma is teaching his son in Alma chapter 42, he says,

“For behold, after the Lord God sent our first parents forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground, from whence they were taken…”

And Antionah in Alma 12,

“…lest our first parents should enter and partake of the fruit of the tree of life, and live forever?”

And 2 Nephi 2:15

“And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air…”

So seriously, why would they refer to Adam and Eve as the first parents, even “our” first parents, rather than other terms like first man and woman or first people, and so on?

Maybe it’s a Book of Mormon thing:

Mosiah 16:3

“yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents…”

Helaman 16,

“but behold, they were put into the heart of Gadianton by that same being who did entice our first parents to partake of the forbidden fruit—”

2 Nephi 9:9,

“like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents…”

1 Nephi 5:11

“and also of Adam and Eve, who were our first parents…”

Ether 8,

“even that same liar who beguiled our first parents…”

Yep, that’s a Book of Mormon thing. Interesting.

They also refer to Lehi & Sariah as their first parents from Jerusalem, and when learning about the Jaredites, the first parents who came from the tower.

There’s also a bit of debate about how parents’ actions affect children. Lehi asks God that if Laman & Lemuel don’t teach their children about the gospel, that future sins of the kids will be answered on the heads of the parents (2 Nephi 4). Later missionaries to the Lamanites say that the state of the Lamanites is because of the tradition of their fathers (for example, their hatred towards the Nephites). But, of course, they can learn and change and repent. Ideally, this notion would mean that the Lamanites were innocent, while also being in a fallen, God-less state. One of the Nephites-turned-Lamanites argues that this attitude implies that these descendants are guilty, and this is wrong because no child is guilty because of the works of a parent (Alma 30).

So back to my original question, what effect does it have to refer to Adam and Eve as our first parents? Is it because of this question of guilt and tradition? Is it because that is simply how they thought about humanity? They also refer to the first people to leave the tower as parents and the first people to leave Jerusalem as parents. Should this teach us something about how they saw their ancestry — of a male and female, not just of a male? Yet, later accounts of lineage don’t focus on mothers at all (“pure descendant of Nephi,” for example). What can we learn from this language?


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?

Thoughts:

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.