Tag Archives: promise concerning seed

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.

Adam and Eve: coats of skins as a “mark”?

I was thinking today about cursings and marks in scripture. I think it’s a productive reading to assume that those two things go together but are not equivalent. For example, the Lamanites are cursed not with a skin change but with being cut off from the presence of the the Lord. The mark of skin change sets them off as separate from the Nephites. But this isn’t actually to the Nephite’s advantage in the end. The mark shows that the Lamanites have the blessings of God in the long run, because they weren’t taught about the commandments by their fathers, while the Nephites, without that mark, have no such promises because they did know the commandments. The Lamanites will eventually be restored to the presence of God, but the Nephites don’t have that promise in the long-term.

If the curse and the mark are seen two different things, then the mark seems to serve to preserve a people whose parents had a covenant promise. It shows that God is keeping that promise in the long-run by preserving that seed, even though somewhere along the way someone decided to stop keeping and teaching the commandments. The fact that the mark is something genetic is a great clue here: the mark shows that their parents had a promise but misunderstood or left that promise, but that God is still remembering their seed regardless. The Lamanite’s skin color ought not to signal to the Nephites, or to us, that they are an “unfavored” people, but rather a very “favored” and “remembered” people of the Lord! I think this applies clearly to the Lamanites, but also to other people in scripture. I think that the families of Cain, Ham, and others fall into this category.

This morning I was thinking about Adam and Eve. They were cursed too to be cut off from the presence of the Lord, like the Lamanites. Do they have some sort of mark as well? I have played around with the idea that maybe the “coats of skins” (or garments) is a sort of mark. This morning I’m thinking more about that. (Or would the aprons of fig leaves that they make for themselves are more of a mark?) By looking at Genesis 3, I see that God curses the ground for Adam’s sake, that Eve is told she will sorrow too, and these are collectively sometimes called their “cursings” (although I think there is a lot to talk about still there). But if we go with that for now, at least in a broad sense, or if we at least see this as the moment of them being cut of from the presence of the Lord, then I find it cool that right after this is where God make them coats of skins. Perhaps those are a “mark” on their bodies? I know not all of Adam’s children have worn these coats of skins if we think of them as the temple garments, but perhaps we could read it as clothes generally? If a “mark” communicates that God is preserving a people with a covenant, even though their parents have not always kept the commandments, what in that garment communicates that God is preserving people? (I think there are interesting answers to that question for those who have been to the temple!).

There’s a lot to think about (as always) but I like the idea that the garment is a mark showing that God remembers Adam and Eve’s family, and wants them to return to His presence.

Promise concerning the “seed”?

So, I’ve always kind of liked the image of “seed” to describe posterity. We’re like plants; we produce seeds that can grown into their own plants, which can produce not just one seed but many many seeds, each of which grows not just into one, say, apple, but a whole tree of apples all with seeds to produce not just one apple, but a whole tree of apples with many seeds each! The abundance that one seed can produce is extraordinary!

I was thinking today of the phrase from Abraham (and of course elsewhere) where he is seeking after the promise concerning the “seed.” I have lots of things I want to ask here, but for right now I am thinking about that word that he uses there.

I did some research on “seed” in pollination etc. 🙂 But I also did a search on lds.org to see where it was that “seed” was first used to refer to human children rather than plants. It doesn’t take too long: Genesis 3:15. And to my surprise, it wasn’t even a male being addressed! (In all of the technical reproductive definitions I was reading, both human and plant “seed” is the male part of the deal.) It isn’t to Adam, it isn’t to Abraham; the first mention of human seed is to Eve:

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Fascinating, to me. This is hers? Why is it hers, and not Adam and Eve’s collectively? Why is the responsibility or lineage through her? Eve is the “mother of all living” but why isn’t Adam then the “father of all living?” Adam is “earth” or “dirt” or “clay.” Why is he that? Let’s see, dirt/earth/clay is what they were created out of. Adam is the material that is molded into life, but cannot actually give life? I did see that in reproductive definitions, the female egg is “dormant” until the male part wakes up the egg to get going. She already has life in her, but it needs to be awakened/activated. Is this why she is so associated with life? But still, what of Adam being dirt? The earth was created first, then Adam out of earth, but then Eve out of him, but specifically out of a bone, not out of his clay-ness or “earthiness.” Dirt sounds easily moldable; bone does not. Why then is she created out of bone? Is she considered more solid? More protected? Already made? = Already containing life? I’m not sure what to make of it, but I think that it is interesting and I want to keep it in the back of my head.

So, the promise concerning the “seed.” At first, though I love Sister Beck’s applications, I wondered if this actually truly was a male promise. But after thinking about this reference first to Eve, I don’t think I can jump that far to that conclusion. Second, I know that I can’t ignore the idea that there was a chosen seed from Adam on down that was supposed to live as long as the earth will stand. I know that sounds odd, because of course whoever is still alive at the end of the world is going to be related to Adam! 🙂 So there is something more to it. I mean, if you are Noah (pre-flood) or Abraham or someone along the way here, then knowing your seed will last until the end does mean something real. Nephi and Lehi receiving the promise that their seed will be preserved means something. They know very well that their lineage could die out at any point (especially with how the contention is going among them…!) But what of the promise given way back when to Adam? Note here what Eve says: (Eve? Again? this is getting interesting!)

And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.

“Seed” here means something more than just “child.” Cain was still alive; many other children, it appears, where alive. But something was different about Abel. What? I don’t see Genesis explaining it much, but D&C 107 seems to say it was a matter of Priesthood. But why was the Priesthood only for one person in each generation? I don’t know, but here is some of what D&C 107 has to say:

40 The order of this priesthood was confirmed to be handed down from father to son, and rightly belongs to the literal descendants of the chosen seed, to whom the promises were made.

41 This order was instituted in the days of Adam, and came down by lineage in the following manner:

42 From Adam to Seth, who was ordained by Adam at the age of sixty-nine years, and was blessed by him three years previous to his (Adam’s) death, and received the promise of God by his father, that his posterity should be the chosen of the Lord, and that they should be preserved unto the end of the earth; …

There was something about Seth (who replaced Abel) that was different. (Also, why did Adam wait so long to bless Seth? Three years before he died? Could only one person have this promise at a time or something?) So this is where I get the idea that the “chosen seed” means being kept alive and preserved: “that they should be preserved unto the end of the earth.”

But why is this important? From what I can gather from here and Moses 5-6 and elsewhere, it has something to do with a righteous line that would preserve the Priesthood. (That seems to be what Abraham wants to do, to be that link in the chain that keeps his covenants and preserves the Priesthood power on the earth.) (What we do with the “Apostasy” I’m not sure; but of course that could be one reason the Restoration is such a huge event; it not only restored knowledge, it restored the Priesthood lineage that will last until the end of the earth – and, as Abraham is told, it is this lineage that all the other families have to be grafted into in order to be blessed with the gospel blessings..)

Back to Moses 5-6 for a moment. Look at what I just noticed here in Moses 6:2 (!):

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bare a son, and he called his name Seth. And Adam glorified the name of God; for he said: God hath appointed me another seed, instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.

Here it is Adam, not Eve who talks about being appointed another seed. (What do we make of the role women play in Genesis based on this little difference?) Here Adam rejoices in another seed. Either way, of course, it’s the same person and same purpose, but I do think it’s interesting to see the same words spoken by both parents but in different accounts!

A few verses later (verse 7 to be exact), we get this bit of information:

Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.

I tend to hear “Priesthood” and think “power, ability, authority,” etc. But in fairness, the word I think should also be heard “priest”-hood. Like “neighbor” -hood. A neighborhood is where all the neighbors are collected together. So when this verse mentions “Priesthood” it comes just after three generations all being to call upon the name of God, write, etc. There is a group formed at 3, for some reason, and this “priest”-hood will be in the end of the world also. Hmm. Note that it doesn’t say continue uninterrupted, but that it will “be” in the end also. Interesting.

And for some reason, the “seed” here is important. Why? Why can’t God pick anyone on the earth at any time? What is it about the seed? About generations? About lineage? It seems like an unjustified inequality to us, but yet God chose it and sticks to it. Why?

Also, as Abraham is told, it is by this lineage that “all the families of the earth” will be blessed (see Abraham 1 and 2). So, then, God isn’t proposing to only bless or save one family line. There is one family line with Priesthood – one group who calls upon God? – that then has… the work of saving the others? Is it a specific assignment? A call? A job? A responsibility? And still why make it in one family line?

And do we really seal ourselves in our own lines to Adam, or are we sealing ourselves to Abraham’s family? If there is one chosen seed, are we all really sealing ourselves and our ancestors and our posterity into that line? A sort of skeleton on which everyone else can hang on to? A line which is guaranteed to be connected from Adam to the end?

There is something of that, I think. Abraham is told that whoever accepts the gospel will be counted as his seed, right? And there needs to be with “welding link” Joseph says in D&C 128… but it’s not actually sealing, it’s baptism – baptisms for the dead, in D&C 128, that connects generations together. Is he referring less to family “units” but rather to sealing us all to Abraham? Being counted as his seed? Making a welding link to us and to Abraham? Making everyone  thus of the chosen seed? (And only by that do we have any right whatsoever to the Priesthood?)

D&C 128 seems to say some such thing like that. To be bold and half-baked for a moment, could we say that baptisms for us and for the dead put us in Abraham’s family, count us as his seed, open us up to all the blessings of the gospel “even of life eternal” – but, the sealing ordinance is what seals this lineage upon us in such a way that we can then “administer” it to others? (See Abraham 1 again). Abraham wants the promises and he wants to administer them to others. By being sealed, do we become not just a branch on Abraham’s tree, but now a flowering, seed-producing branch that adds to the family? ie, we not only are added, but now we do adding? We do collecting of souls? (Or “winning” of souls? Abraham brings the souls he had “won” with him). Is that the difference, there? Baptism brings us all the blessings of the gospel (we receive them) but sealing makes us like Abraham (we can give them). We become another point on the line that can branch out and include others; we are a grafting point; we are a split off where so many more rely on us as the sure place where they can be hung?

Like I said, bold, and half-baked. But something I’ll also keep around in my mind to see if it sprouts at any point. 🙂