• Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

thekabalist's Achievements

  1. Hi folks Though Jasher is not considered Scripture for the Jewish people it is correct to say that Melchizedek is identified as Shem in Judaism. Here's a quote from the Talmud "R. Zechariah said on R. Ishmael's authority: The Holy One, blessed be He, intended to bring forth the priesthood from Shem, as it is written, And he [sc. Melchizedek] was the priest of the most high God." (b. Nedarim 32b)
  2. Hello my friend Can you mizrachim folks really handle tcholent and lechayim altogether? It's not for the weak of stomach you know. I wouldn't dismiss the connection between "moreh" and "mar/mor" so quickly. Hebrew and Aramaic have influenced each other a great deal and let us not forget that in biblical times a teacher was a master. They could even physically punish their students. I will however grant that it is possible that Hebrew influenced Aramaic on this one and not the other way around in this case as you are right about the root meaning teaching. Especially because Aramaic doesn't have many words in connection with the root 'mar' so yes it's possible indeed. However, you say not to be confused with casting and shooting but actually they are one and the same in origin both deriving from "pointing" into a direction. Anyway the main point is that this root can be found in ancient times influencing words like "Moriah" though some say that "mor" would be myrrh but that wasn't brought to that region until much later so much as I like MDB's song which says "al shem hamor hatov" it's rather unlikely such is the reason for the name. :) b'shalom!
  3. I am taking it slow because of my back. But here's a first bit: 1 And it came to pass that we did again take our journey in the wilderness; and we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth. And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness. The Hebrew word for "east" is the word מזרח (mizrach) is also the root for the word להתמזרח (lehitmazreiach) which means to be orientated or guided. Now with that in mind notice how Nephi says that they traveled in such a way from that time forth. In other words from that time forth they were guided by G-d and the rebellious attitude of their party no longer prevented them from keeping on the path. 2 And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings. Raw meat: Why does Nephi seem to say that despite the raw meat they had plenty for their children? It is because in ancient Jewish tradition the only meat that was proper to eat raw was that of kosher birds. For example the Talmud says: "Raba retorted: But that I am a person of importance, would I need a knife on a young dove? surely it is fit for me as raw meat. Thus the reason is because it is fit as raw meat; but if it were not fit as raw meat it might not [be handled]: shall we say that Raba agrees with R. Judah? But surely Raba said to his servant, Roast me a duck and throw its entrails to a cat" (b. Shabbat 142b) Now this is particularly relevant because birds in those times were considered to be the food of the poor. It comes as no surprise that the Torah-Law when listing sacrifices says to us: "But if he is poor and his means are insufficient, then he is to take one male lamb for a guilt offering as a wave offering to make atonement for him, and one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering, and a log of oil, and two turtledoves or two young pigeons which are within his means, the one shall be a sin offering and the other a burnt offering." (Leviticus 14:21-22) So if they were eating raw meat it is likely that they were eating birds. It also makes sense because it would have been the easiest meat to find in such a place. Now if they were eating birds and even without cooking then they were having one of the poorest kinds of meals there is. And even so their women were bearing strong children. Again this indicates that Nephi was indeed living in a Jewish community. It also contains a possible spiritual lesson: That if they had faith then the little they had would amount to much. 3 And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness. 4 And we did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness. Number eight in gematria is particularly relevant because it represents the beginning of a new cycle. Number seven represents a full cycle so eight years means that they completed the cycle that was before them for their spiritual maturity and were ready for a new cycle. In ancient Kabbalah it is also relevant because it is associated with the Messianic Age. While the universe will last for a period of six epochs then the seventh epoch will be the Messianic Age which will be an age of abundance. And if we look at the next verse we see that the land which Nephi finds is exactly that: abundance after a cycle of spiritual trials. 5 And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters. What is interesting about the name "Bountiful" is that in Hebrew it would be שופע (shofeia) which has the gematria value of 456. This is also the gematria value of the biblical name יותם (Yotham - Jotham) which means "The L-rd is perfect". So it could be that the name Nephi gave was intentionally meaning that the place was a reflection of G-d's perfection. Name etymology: Irreantum could come from ירה-אמתם - Ireh (He shall see) - Amtem (their truth/truthfulness). Alternatively, it could also be תם-ים-ירה - Ireh (He shall see) - yam (seas) - tem (end). 6 And it came to pass that we did pitch our tents by the seashore; and notwithstanding we had suffered many afflictions and much difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all, we were exceedingly rejoiced when we came to the seashore; and we called the place Bountiful, because of its much fruit. 7 And it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had been in the land of Bountiful for the space of many days, the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying: Arise, and get thee into the mountain. And it came to pass that I arose and went up into the mountain, and cried unto the Lord. 8 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters. Pitching the tent is a sign of confidence that the place is safe and it was often used in ancient times as an allegorical way of expressing trust. Now what is also important is that Nephi says that they pitched their tents by the seashore. The biblical word for shore is the word שפה (shafah). This word can also mean "voice". Is it then a coincidence that from a deeper level of understanding Nephi's text can be read that they found confidence in the voice of G-d, and then immediately afterwards G-d begins speaking to them? It is also interesting that the word ship in Hebrew is the word (אניה - oniyah) and it has the gematria value of 66 which is also the gematria of the word (גלגל) galgal which appears in Ezekiel 10:13 referring to the chariots of G-d: "The wheels were called in my hearing, the whirling wheels." (Ezekiel 10:13) Now this word also means "cycle" and it is an indication that Nephi's family was about to begin a new cycle just like the number eight mentioned a few verses above. This cannot be a coincidence. 9 And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me? 10 And it came to pass that the Lord told me whither I should go to find ore, that I might make tools. There is more to Nephi's sentence than meets the eye. The Hebrew word for ore is עפרה (afrah). Now the root of this word is עפר (afar) which means dust or dirt. This is a common term for humility in Hebrew thought and a way to say that one is uncapable or unworthy. So Nephi's sentence is more than simply finding the materials. He was anguished because he didn't feel worthy of the task that G-d had laid ahead of him. This is why G-d comforts him and says that he will show him what he needs to find. This Hebrew word-game is naturally lost in the translation process but is nevertheless very interesting. 11 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make a bellows wherewith to blow the fire, of the skins of beasts; and after I had made a bellows, that I might have wherewith to blow the fire, I did smite two stones together that I might make fire. Please refer to our comment on the significance of the word "beasts". Also it is important to understand that if Nephi didn't have much space to write why would he bother giving us the details about how he made fire? And why make a point out of saying that he had two stones? The interesting part of this is that the word "stones" is the Hebrew word אבנים (evanim) which has the gematria value of 169. That is: 13x13. Two very important Hebrew words have the gematria value of 13. One of them is the word אהבה (ahavah) which means love. The other of them is the word אחד (echad) which means one or unity. This shows the great lengths that Nephi was going in order to keep love and unity in the family. But it is also important to notice that we have twice the number 13 and that this would add up to 26 which is the Holy Name of G-d in Judaism that is the Tetragrammation. So Nephi was doing all of this for G-d and through G-d's power. 12 For the Lord had not hitherto suffered that we should make much fire, as we journeyed in the wilderness; for he said: I will make thy food become sweet, that ye cook it not; This is a fantastic verse to prove the Hebrew origin of the text. How come G-d says that their food would become sweet? Raw meat would taste rather strange if it became sweet! But in Hebrew the word for sweet is the word מתוק (matok) which doesn't mean only "sweet" as in having a sugary flavor but it also means "pleasant" or "desireable". So G-d was saying that their food would taste pleasant even though they couldn't cook it. This sentence that may sound a bit odd in English makes absolutely perfect sense in Hebrew which is why it proves its Hebrew origin.
  4. With so many prayers in the Jewish Sidur (book of prayers) why oh why oh why by the long beards of all our sages don't we have one tiny little fragment of a prayer to do away with a back hernia? Anyway just wanted to say that I'm back though I'm taking it slow at the computer because I can't stand the pain of sitting down for too long. Missed you all! b'shalom!
  5. Hi volgadon (and others who have asked this) When I posted about "mor" being a possible Hebrew root I knew that I was going to get some criticism. First of all let me be the first to admit that this word is of Aramaic influence. Now is it too early in time for it to be able to apply to Nephi and his band? Not at all. The mountain of our Holy Fathers is called מוריה which is actually a compound expression that can be divided in two words: מורי יה (Mori Y-ah) which literally means "My master is Y-ah". Now the word מורה indeed comes from the Aramaic מר (mar or even mor depending on the dialect of Aramaic) which means master. Moreh later became teacher in a more interpretative use of the word just like in English you could call a teacher "master" but the word "master" originally has a different meaning. Even if Moriah meant something else we still have prophet Isaiah making use of the word "moreh" way before Nephi and his band left the land: "Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher." (Isaiah 30:20) The word used for teacher above is the word "moreh" (actually moreicha because it's "your teacher") so this proves that the word was incorporated into Hebrew much earlier than the Galut. It is a mistake to think that Aramaic only influenced Hebrew after the Galut (exile) because even before that there was commerce and there were migrations and contact with people who had already been using Aramaic for ages. Especially in the times of king Solomon blessed be his holy memory. I hope this clarifies where I'm coming from. As for the concept volgadon mentions in literal terms it means "disagreement for the sake of heaven" which is a Jewish concept that controversies are a means to achieve a higher spiritual path. In practical terms it means: "Let's beat each other up but it'll all end up with us eating tcholent and having lechayim cause we're brothers". :) (just kidding) b'shalom!
  6. 21 Now it came to pass that I, Nephi, having been afflicted with my brethren because of the loss of my bow, and their bows having lost their springs, it began to be exceedingly difficult, yea, insomuch that we could obtain no food. 22 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did speak much unto my brethren, because they had hardened their hearts again, even unto complaining against the Lord their God. 23 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food? Wood: Again we see Nephi making use of ancient Israelite imagery. In ancient Kabbalah the wood was symbolic of a righteous priest. The Zohar says the following: “The wood is the wood of Abraham, namely chassadim drawn from the right column, called ‘Abraham’, as written: "And the priest shall burn wood on it every morning," the priest being a man of chesed [lovingkindness].” (Zohar Tzav 10:76) You can see Nephi saying that he would take upon himself all those symbols of the hardship and emptiness of not following G-d which is exactly what you would expect a priest to do. 24 And it came to pass that he did inquire of the Lord, for they had humbled themselves because of my words; for I did say many things unto them in the energy of my soul. 25 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came unto my father; and he was truly chastened because of his murmuring against the Lord, insomuch that he was brought down into the depths of sorrow. Depths of sorrow: The Hebrew word for depth is the word עומק (omek) which also has an idea of inscrutability. So Nephi is saying that his father’s sorrow could not be measured. It is also important because the word depth has the gematria of 216. Some Christians associate this with the Christian number of the beast. After all 216 is 6x6x6. If such assessment is true then it could be that Lehi was desperate in his realization that his very own sons would be following the wicked assembly. 26 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord said unto him: Look upon the ball, and behold the things which are written. 27 And it came to pass that when my father beheld the things which were written upon the ball, he did fear and tremble exceedingly, and also my brethren and the sons of Ishmael and our wives. 28 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them. 29 And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things. This appears to be similar to the Urim and Thummim. The method with which a message appeared in the Urim and then was likely explained or illuminated by the Thummim is explained in the Aramaic Targum called Pseudo-Jonathan to Exodus 28:30: “And thou shalt put upon the breastplate of judgment the Uraia, which illuminate their words, and manifest the hidden things of the house of Israel, and the Tumaia, which fulfil (or perfect) their work to the high priest, who seeketh instruction by them before the Lord; because in them is engraven and expressed the Great and Holy Name by which were created the three hundred and ten worlds, and which was engraven and expressed in the foundation stone wherewith the Lord of the world sealed up the mouth of the great deep at the beginning.” 30 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did go forth up into the top of the mountain, according to the directions which were given upon the ball. 31 And it came to pass that I did slay wild beasts, insomuch that I did obtain food for our families. 32 And it came to pass that I did return to our tents, bearing the beasts which I had slain; and now when they beheld that I had obtained food, how great was their joy! And it came to pass that they did humble themselves before the Lord, and did give thanks unto him. Wild beasts: The Hebrew term for beasts would be בהמות (behemot) which is also the Hebrew form of the name Behemoth. What is important about this is that there is an ancient Israelite tradition which says that the Behemoth was a creature that could only be hunted by the righteous as it was destined to become their feast. Could it be that Nephi is talking about a miracle here? Could it be that G-d fed them with a Behemoth? This would be in line with Israelite tradition. Psalm 50:10 says: “For all the beasts of the forest are Mine, the behemoth of the thousand mountains.” Rashi comments this by saying: “the behemoth of the thousand mountains: That is (the bull) destined for the future feast [of the righteous], which grazes on a thousand mountains daily, and every day they grow back.” 33 And it came to pass that we did again take our journey, traveling nearly the same course as in the beginning; and after we had traveled for the space of many days we did pitch our tents again, that we might tarry for the space of a time. 34 And it came to pass that Ishmael died, and was buried in the place which was called Nahom. 35 And it came to pass that the daughters of Ishmael did mourn exceedingly, because of the loss of their father, and because of their afflictions in the wilderness; and they did murmur against my father, because he had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, saying: Our father is dead; yea, and we have wandered much in the wilderness, and we have suffered much affliction, hunger, thirst, and fatigue; and after all these sufferings we must perish in the wilderness with hunger. 36 And thus they did murmur against my father, and also against me; and they were desirous to return again to Jerusalem. Name etymology: The name Nahom would come from the Hebrew נחום which is the exact same spelling of the name of the prophet Nahum as in Hebrew the letter ו may sound like a “u” or like an “o”. This word literally means “consolation”. Nephi makes a word-play here. Ishmael gets buried in Nahom which means consolation. After that Ishmael’s daughters begin their cry. The name Ishmael as we said means “G-d hears”. So “G-d hears” dies and is left behind at “consolation”. So the daughters of Ishmael begin to act as if G-d no longer hears (notice their mention of their afflictions) and thus become inconsolable. This word-play points to an evident underlying Hebrew thinking. 37 And Laman said unto Lemuel and also unto the sons of Ishmael: Behold, let us slay our father, and also our brother Nephi, who has taken it upon him to be our ruler and our teacher, who are his elder brethren. 38 Now, he says that the Lord has talked with him, and also that angels have ministered unto him. But behold, we know that he lies unto us; and he tells us these things, and he worketh many things by his cunning arts, that he may deceive our eyes, thinking, perhaps, that he may lead us away into some strange wilderness; and after he has led us away, he has thought to make himself a king and a ruler over us, that he may do with us according to his will and pleasure. And after this manner did my brother Laman stir up their hearts to anger. 39 And it came to pass that the Lord was with us, yea, even the voice of the Lord came and did speak many words unto them, and did chasten them exceedingly; and after they were chastened by the voice of the Lord they did turn away their anger, and did repent of their sins, insomuch that the Lord did bless us again with food, that we did not perish. How could Laman and Lemuel plot to kill their own brother and father? What kind of twisted morals did they possess to even think of such an attempt. Ancient Israelite folk tradition still believed that other peoples could make wonders through the use of magic incantations. The accusation of practicing cunning arts was directly tied to an accusation of idol worshipping and thus was very serious. The Talmud gives an example of this: “One day while [R. Joshua] was reciting the Shema', he came before him. His intention was to receive him and he made a sign to him with his hand, but the disciple thought he was repelling him. So he went and set up a brick and worshipped it. [R. Joshua] said to him, 'Repent'; but he answered him, 'Thus have I received from thee that whoever sinned and caused others to sin is deprived of the power of doing penitence'. A Master has said: The disciple practised magic and led Israel astray.” (b. Sotah 47a) The practice of idol worshipping or of consulting with heathen gods in order to make magic required a death penalty according to the Torah-law of G-d. So this accusation was the pretext that they found so that they could believe that they weren’t actually practicing murder.
  7. Here's chapter 16. I was a bit tired today but I still hope you like it despite my shortcomings. 1 And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of speaking to my brethren, behold they said unto me: Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear. Hard things: The Hebrew term for hard is קשה (kasheh) can not only mean severe but also something that is rather cruel or unfair. When we combine this with the rest of their sentence that it was more than they could bear it becomes evident that they felt that they were questioning G-d’s justice. 2 And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center. 3 And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us. Cutting to the very center: Nephi says that truth takes the guilt and cuts it to the very center. What does he mean with such an expression? We must still bear in mind the olive tree imagery that was being used by Nephi up until this point. This imagery is interesting because the Israelites were forbidden of consuming certain kinds of food especially when it came from the mixing with heathen nations. One of the prohibitions stated by the Mishnah and expounded upon by the Gemarah is the fact that if an olive tree belonged to a heathen then the Israelite was only allowed to eat the olive if the kernel didn’t fall from the rest of the olive without being cut. Thus says the Gemarah: “R. JOSE SAYS: THOSE OLIVES HAVING STONES READY TO DROP OUT [sHELAHIN] ARE PROHIBITED. What is to be understood by shelahin! — R. Jose b. Hanina said: Those olives whose kernels drop out as soon as one takes them in his hand.” (b. Avodah Zarah 40b) Cutting to the kernel or to the center as Nephi puts it was a means to ensure that the olive hadn’t suffered any contamination from the inside. Therefore when Nephi uses such imagery he is saying that the truth will do exactly this: When those who are away from G-d hear the truth then the truth cuts through the kernel of the person in an attempt to separate that which is clean from that which is unclean. Just like what happens with the olives whose kernels drop out those who are wicked to their core immediately reveal themselves as such when in contact with the truth. 4 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did exhort my brethren, with all diligence, to keep the commandments of the Lord. 5 And it came to pass that they did humble themselves before the Lord; insomuch that I had joy and great hopes of them, that they would walk in the paths of righteousness. Great hopes: It is interesting to note that Nephi chooses to use the word “hopes” instead of the word “hope” when referring to his brothers. A possible hint as to why he would do that could come from the gematria of the word “hopes”. The numeric value of the word “hopes” (תקוות - tikvot) is 912. This is a very rare number that is also the numeric value of the word האשרות (haasherot). The term “asherah” was used to refer to the idol tree-poles which were greatly involved in the idolatry of Israel. Could it be that Nephi was trying to indicate that the reason he was unsure of their recovery was their previous involvement with idolatry? 6 Now, all these things were said and done as my father dwelt in a tent in the valley which he called Lemuel. 7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, took one of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also, my brethren took of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also Zoram took the eldest daughter of Ishmael to wife. The eldest daughter: Why did Nephi bother to tell us that Zoram took the eldest daughter of Ishmael? This appears to be an encrypted message. We have already seen how name “Zoram” means “strange people” or “foreign people”. Now the term used for “eldest” is the Hebrew בכור (bechor). What is interesting is that the letter ב can also mean the preposition “in”. If we consider it as such we could read this as meaning “b’cur” which would mean “in the furnace”. The name Ishmael also has a special meaning which is “G-d heard”. Now considering the expression “to wife” in Hebrew would be something like “unto him wife”, we have Nephi’s encrypted message revealed: G-d would hear and take unto him his wife which was like a strange people in the furnace. This is way too much in like with Nephi’s message to be coincidental. 8 And thus my father had fulfilled all the commandments of the Lord which had been given unto him. And also, I, Nephi, had been blessed of the Lord exceedingly. 9 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord spake unto my father by night, and commanded him that on the morrow he should take his journey into the wilderness. Journeying on the morrow: Why did the heavenly voice tell Lehi to travel the following day? Why not ask him to travel by night? In ancient Israelite culture the idea of travelling by night was that one was fleeing a place like a fugitive. It was seen as either a sign of desperation or a sign of being put out of a land. The Zohar says the following about this: “He asks: Why did they travel day and night? Let them walk by day, and not by night like people who are fleeing. “ (Zohar Beshalach 4:53) Now consider this: Jerusalem was on the verge of being sieged and soon the people would have to flee from it by day and by night and travelling by night would symbolically mean that they were being driven from the land given their sin. So when the heavenly voice tells Lehi to travel on the morrow it means that Lehi was leaving with his head held high because he was actually being spared for his obedience. 10 And it came to pass that as my father arose in the morning, and went forth to the tent door, to his great astonishment he beheld upon the ground a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness. The brass ball: What’s the spiritual meaning of this object being made like a brass ball? First let us examine the reason for the shape of the object. In ancient Judaism the shape of the ball meant hardships in a peregrination. Because the ball was tossed in many directions. Prophet Isaiah demonstrates this idea “Behold, the LORD will carry thee away with a mighty captivity, and will surely cover thee. He will surely violently turn and toss thee like a ball into a large country: there shalt thou die, and there the chariots of thy glory shall be the shame of thy lord's house.” (Isaiah 22:17-18) But why would the ball be made of brass? Again in ancient Judaism the brass was a color that was connected with nourishment. The Zohar says the following: “In the Book of King Solomon there are high secrets concerning the brass altar as we said. About the earthen altar it is written: "An altar of earth you shall make to Me". This is a regular secret, which is Malchut. When other mountains dominate and Malchut has to nourish them, She becomes colored in this color of brass in order to nourish them. For then Malchut is called ‘the brass altar’ and they are called 'brass mountains'.” (Zohar Terumah 24:237) So when G-d reveals unto them a “brass ball” they would have understood this as symbolically representing the fact that even though their peregrination would be harsh that they could trust that G-d would sustain and nourish them. 11 And it came to pass that we did gather together whatsoever things we should carry into the wilderness, and all the remainder of our provisions which the Lord had given unto us; and we did take seed of every kind that we might carry into the wilderness. Why did Nephi mention the seed of every kind separately from the other things? This is not unintentional. As we have already seen the Hebrew word for seed is זרע (zerah) and it can also mean offspring. The verb to seed is לזרוע (liz’roah) also means to scatter. So when Nephi mentions bringing the seed “into the wilderness” he is saying that he knew that his offspring would be scattered. 12 And it came to pass that we did take our tents and depart into the wilderness, across the river Laman. 13 And it came to pass that we traveled for the space of four days, nearly a south-southeast direction, and we did pitch our tents again; and we did call the name of the place Shazer. We have already seen that the number 4 is very relevant in Jewish thought because it refers to the day in which G-d created the lights that governed the appointed time. So when Nephi says that they traveled for 4 days it means that they traveled during the time appointed by G-d unto them. Name etymology: Shazer. This appears to derive from the verb לשזר (lish’zer) – notice that the first letter ל indicates the infinitive and is not part of the root. This verb means to interweave. In the Torah when the people of israel traveled through the desert every stop has a deep spiritual meaning to it. The same can be assumed here. If we combine this with the verses immediately above we can see that Nephi was concerned that the scattering of his seed would come with the mixing with other nations. It is important to observe however that this isn’t xenophobia as Judaism has always accepted marriage with other people as long as they converted into the House of Israel. So this mixture here would likely mean a scenario without conversion which eventually would lead the people to idolatry. 14 And it came to pass that we did take our bows and our arrows, and go forth into the wilderness to slay food for our families; and after we had slain food for our families we did return again to our families in the wilderness, to the place of Shazer. And we did go forth again in the wilderness, following the same direction, keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, which were in the borders near the Red Sea. Bows and Arrows: Why did Nephi mention that they took their bows and arrows when they went hunting? Once again the answer could be the underlying Hebrew. The Hebrew word for bow is the word קשת (keshet) which can also be translated as hardship or severity. The imagery of an arrow in Israelite thought is that of something that enters and hurts the core. If we combine this with the previous verse we can see how the mixed multitude that would likely arise from Nephi’s brothers brought about hardships that pierced the family in its very heart. Keeping on the fertile parts: The Hebrew word for fertile is the word פורה (poreh) which comes from the word פרי (pri) which means fruit. So Nephi was saying that he was keeping them on the fruitful side of the journey. This could be interpreted spiritually as meaning that as long as his brothers were following the lead of Nephi and his father they were able to produce good spiritual fruit. Once they strayed away they would become spiritually dry. 15 And it came to pass that we did travel for the space of many days, slaying food by the way, with our bows and our arrows and our stones and our slings. Stones and slings: This also has a deep spiritual meaning. Ancient Kabbalah compares the rolling stone coming out of the sling as spiritual hollowness. The stone represents the word of G-d. When the word departs from someone what is left is hollowness: “But if it does not so merit, a number of angels of destruction are directed against it, and push it outside. Woe to that soul that wanders in vain as a stone in the hollow of the sling. This is what was said: "and the souls of your enemies, them shall he sling out, as out of the hollow of a sling" (Zohar Pinchas 4:14_ So when Nephi refers to their stones and slings he is saying that his brethren would become spiritually empty once they abandoned the word of G-d. 16 And we did follow the directions of the ball, which led us in the more fertile parts of the wilderness. 17 And after we had traveled for the space of many days, we did pitch our tents for the space of a time, that we might again rest ourselves and obtain food for our families. The space of a time: The Hebrew term for time is the word עת (et) which can mean “time” or “era”. It could be that Nephi is referring to the fact that there would come an era in which they would be spiritually stalled until the kingdom of G-d could again be advanced. 18 And it came to pass that as I, Nephi, went forth to slay food, behold, I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel; and after I did break my bow, behold, my brethren were angry with me because of the loss of my bow, for we did obtain no food. Breaking the bow: We have already seen how the bow represented hardships. Now the word to break is the Hebrew word לשבור (lish’bor) which can also mean to quench or to appease. So we can here see Nephi in his priestly role. The idea that his brethren were upset with him “breaking the bow” could spiritually be understood as referring to the fact that they resented his role as an appeaser before G-d of His wrath that incurred upon them because of the sins of his brothers. We can also understand breaking the bow as removing the might because Jeremiah 49:35 says: “So said the Lord of Hosts: Behold I am breaking the bow of Elam, the chief of their might.” To this Rashi interprets: “the bow of Elam: The might of Elam” So we can also understand this as Nephi’s brethren seeing Nephi as a hindrance to their own power. As we can see there are many layers of deep spiritual meaning to the words of Nephi 19 And it came to pass that we did return without food to our families, and being much fatigued, because of their journeying, they did suffer much for the want of food. 20 And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael did begin to murmur exceedingly, because of their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness; and also my father began to murmur against the Lord his God; yea, and they were all exceedingly sorrowful, even that they did murmur against the Lord. Murmuring: It is relevant that Nephi uses the word “murmur” seven times in this chapter. Seven is a very important number in Judaism because it means completeness especially completeness of a time cycle. So when Nephi uses the word “murmur” seven times he is implying that his brethren murmured against G-d during the entire journey.
  8. 30 And I said unto them that our father also saw that the justice of God did also divide the wicked from the righteous; and the brightness thereof was like unto the brightness of a flaming fire, which ascendeth up unto God forever and ever, and hath no end. Flaming fire: There are two very important elements in Nephi’s description of the righteous as flaming fire. The first understanding comes from the Aramaic Targum. In Psalm 104:4 which mentions flaming fire the Targum says: “Who made his messengers as swift as wind; his servants, as strong as burning fire.” So the interpretation of “flaming fire” is something who has spiritual strength. But that is not all: There is an ancient Jewish prophecy that flaming fire running down the sea of Galilee would be an indication of the generation of the coming of Messiah after the exile: “Rabbi Shimon raised his hands in prayer before the Holy One, blessed be He, and prayed. After he recited his prayer, his son, Rabbi Elazar, and Rabbi Aba sat before him. While they were sitting before him, they saw a ray of daylight become dim, and a conduit of flaming fire, that is, a stream of burning fire, sink into the sea of Galilee, and the whole place was agitated. Rabbi Shimon said: Certainly now is the time that the Holy One, blessed be He, remembers His children, and He lowers two tears into the Great Sea. As they descend, they touch this conduit of flaming fire and sink together into the sea, one with the other. Rabbi Shimon wept and the friends wept. Rabbi Shimon said: I have stirred in the secret of the letters of the Holy Name in the secret of the awakening of the Holy One, Blessed Be He, towards His children. But now I may reveal that which was not permitted to any other person to reveal, but the merit of this generation will preserve the world till the King Messiah will come. Rabbi Shimon said to his son Rabbi Elazar and to Rabbi Aba: Get up on your legs. Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Aba got up. Rabbi Shimon wept a second time and said: Oh, who will arise then? For what I see is that the exile will be lengthened. Who will be able to endure?” (Zohar Shemot 15:134-136) So when Nephi says that they would be like flaming fire he is saying that they would be the generation that would rule with Messiah in his kingdom. 31 And they said unto me: Doth this thing mean the torment of the body in the days of probation, or doth it mean the final state of the soul after the death of the temporal body, or doth it speak of the things which are temporal? 32 And it came to pass that I said unto them that it was a representation of things both temporal and spiritual; for the day should come that they must be judged of their works, yea, even the works which were done by the temporal body in their days of probation. We have already talked about the Israelite understanding of retribution. This is how the questions from Nephi’s brothers must be understood: It was a common understanding among some primitive Jewish sects that the judgement we face for the deeds committed in this world would only be executed on this world. Therefore the soul would somehow be protected from this judgement. This idea though was deemed heretical within Judaism because from the times of Abel there has been situations in which a sin was not judged in this life. 33 Wherefore, if they should die in their wickedness they must be cast off also, as to the things which are spiritual, which are pertaining to righteousness; wherefore, they must be brought to stand before God, to be judged of their works; and if their works have been filthiness they must needs be filthy; and if they be filthy it must needs be that they cannot dwell in the kingdom of God; if so, the kingdom of God must be filthy also. 34 But behold, I say unto you, the kingdom of God is not filthy, and there cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God; wherefore there must needs be a place of filthiness prepared for that which is filthy. It is to be understood that the Torah-law has great concern with cleanness and uncleanness. As already stated before the idea of uncleanness was associated with death. Therefore if G-d’s Kingdom were to have uncleanness then it would mean that G-d’s Kingdom would be equivalent to spiritual death. 35 And there is a place prepared, yea, even that awful hell of which I have spoken, and the devil is the preparator of it; wherefore the final state of the souls of men is to dwell in the kingdom of God, or to be cast out because of that justice of which I have spoken. 36 Wherefore, the wicked are rejected from the righteous, and also from that tree of life, whose fruit is most precious and most desirable above all other fruits; yea, and it is the greatest of all the gifts of God. And thus I spake unto my brethren. Amen. Awful hell: Why does Nephi bother to say that hell is awful? Certainly nobody would expect hell to be pleasant. So why does he make use of these words? He’s actually referring to an Israelite concept that the “dread of hell” should serve as an incentive for those who judge not to judge wickedly. So when Nephi says that the “awful hell” is prepared for the wicked he is likely referring to those who thought they could pervert justice, namely those who followed the wicked assembly mentioned earlier, and still get away with it. The Talmud talks about this concept: “R. Samuel b. Nahmani stated in the name of R. Jonathan: A judge should always imagine himself as if [he had] a sword lying between his thighs, and Gehenna was open beneath him; as it is said in Scripture, Behold, it is the couch of Solomon; threescore mighty men are about it, of the mighty men of Israel etc. because of the dread in the night: 'because of the dread of' Gehenna which is like 'the night'.” (b. Yebamot 109b)
  9. Here's chapter 15. Hope you find it useful: 1 And it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had been carried away in the spirit, and seen all these things, I returned to the tent of my father. Return to the tent: In ancient Judaism this would have been understood as a return to the physical world after Nephi had experienced a glimpse of the reality of the spiritual world: “Said Resh Lakish: Come let us render gratitude to our forebears, for had they not sinned, we should not have come to the world, as it is said: I said ye are gods and all of you sons of the Most High; now that you have spoilt your deeds, ye shall indeed die like mortals etc. Are we to understand that if the Israelites had not committed that sin they would not have propagated? Had it not been said, And you, be ye fruitful and multiply? — That refers to those who lived up to the times of Sinai. But of those at Sinai, too, it is said, Go say to them, Return ye to your tents which means to the joy of family life? And is it not also said, that it might be well with them and with their children? — It means to those of their children who stood at Sinai.” (b. Avodah Zarah 5a) 2 And it came to pass that I beheld my brethren, and they were disputing one with another concerning the things which my father had spoken unto them. 3 For he truly spake many great things unto them, which were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord; and they being hard in their hearts, therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought. Nephi seems to be making an allusion to an ancient Israelite proverb which the Zohar preserves and says the following: “If you inquire, inquire" as it is written: "Seek out of the Book of the Lord, and read". You will find there just what your exile and deliverance are dependent on. If you inquire of it, it will say and proclaim you to "return, come" in complete repentance, and immediately you will come and get close to Me.” (Zohar Terumah 10:79) 4 And now I, Nephi, was grieved because of the hardness of their hearts, and also, because of the things which I had seen, and knew they must unavoidably come to pass because of the great wickedness of the children of men. Unavoidably come to pass: We have already seen how the Hebrew term ויהי (vayechi) which is translated as “and it came to pass” is a reference to something that happened given G-d’s own plans. Why then does Nephi bother to apparently in a redundant way say that something would “unavoidably come to pass”? The answer could be in the underlying Hebrew. The term “unavoidable” in Hebrew would be the compound expression בלתי נמנע (bilti nim’nah – literally “that cannot be avoided”). This is particularly relevant because the gematria value of nim’nah is 210. Remember how we’ve already seen Nephi use this number which is the number of years that the sons of Israel remained captive in Egypt. And the word bilti has the gematria value of 442. This is the same gematria of the expression האלות (haalot – literally “the curses”) which appears in Deuteronomy 30:7: “The LORD your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you.” This is exactly what happened after the exile of Egypt. So we can see that Nephi is hinting to the fact that the persecution he was shown would be like the exodus: that eventually G-d would set His people free and bring curses upon their enemies. 5 And it came to pass that I was overcome because of my afflictions, for I considered that mine afflictions were great above all, because of the destruction of my people, for I had beheld their fall. The Hebrew term for “fall” is ליפול (lifol) which can be used for dying in combat, for disappearing or even for abandoning one’s spiritual path of righteousness for good. It is likely that all these things were true and were grieving Nephi greatly as he knew that whereas a remnant would be saved still many would meet this fate given their disobedience. 6 And it came to pass that after I had received strength I spake unto my brethren, desiring to know of them the cause of their disputations. 7 And they said: Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken concerning the natural branches of the olive-tree, and also concerning the Gentiles. 8 And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord? 9 And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us. The Hebrew word for “natural” is the word טבעי (tibi) which also means “good quality”. This reflects an old and incorrect assumption that the Israelites were somehow superior to other nations. Such a misunderstanding comes from the incorrect comprehension of the election and special mission of Israel. 10 Behold, I said unto them: How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts? 11 Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you. It is interesting that Nephi is making mention of this in connection to a dispute. Psalm 95:8 usually reads as follows: “Harden not your heart, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness.” However if one looks at the ancient Aramaic Targum of the Psalms one will find this interpreted as meaning this: “Do not harden your heart as in the dispute, as on the day you tested God in the wilderness.” Nephi seems to be aware of such a traditional understanding of the text. 12 Behold, I say unto you, that the house of Israel was compared unto an olive-tree, by the Spirit of the Lord which was in our father; and behold are we not broken off from the house of Israel, and are we not a branch of the house of Israel? 13 And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed— The idea of being broken off from the olive-tree would have sounded as quite a shocking imagery to the ancient Israelite. One of the reasons why Israel is compared to the olive-tree is the ancient understanding that the olive-tree is very hard to break. The Zohar cites an ancient understanding: “What is her reward? It is "your children like olive plants." Just as the leaves of the olive plants never fall, but are attached to the tree all the time, so "the children like olive plants round about your table" shall always be attached to you.” (Zohar Vaera 31:432) The misunderstanding of G-d’s promise that Israel would always have their children before them lead some to a false sense of security. It was as if individual deeds didn’t matter as long as the people were as one before G-d. However Nephi teaches them that their attachment to the olive-tree relied on their willingness to obey the commandments of G-d – something they evidently cared very little for. 14 And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him; wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved. The Doctrine of the Redeemer: The Hebrew word used in Scripture for doctrine is the word לקח (lekach) which can mean a “lesson” or a “moral-code”. But what is interesting is that it comes from the root “to acquire”. Rabbi Shlomo Katz explains it as follows: “The Hebrew root which shares the same letters as lekach means, to acquire. One who gives rebuke is referred to as acquiring souls, as we read in Mishlei/Proverbs (11:30), A wise man acquires souls.¨” So when nephi says that they would come to knowledge of the doctrine of the Redeemer the use of the term “Redeemer” is by no means incidental. Nephi is saying that through his teachings of righteousness the Messiah would acquire their souls for G-d. 15 And then at that day will they not rejoice and give praise unto their everlasting God, their rock and their salvation? Yea, at that day, will they not receive the strength and nourishment from the true vine? Yea, will they not come unto the true fold of God? 16 Behold, I say unto you, Yea; they shall be remembered again among the house of Israel; they shall be grafted in, being a natural branch of the olive-tree, into the true olive-tree. Vine and olive-tree: Why does Nephi mention the vine and the olive-tree together? Again, this is no coincidence. We have already seen how the olive-tree was seen as very hard to break. The vine on the other hand was exactly the opposite. Thus the Zohar says: “And so with the trees, no tree is so broken like the vine. In planting, it is hammered, as it has no strength to stand but lay on the ground. Its grapes are broken, crushed under feet. And so the olive is crushed. Israel is compared to them in the exile, as written: "You have brought a vine out of Egypt". And so in the fourth exile, "For the vineyard of the LORD of Hosts is the House of Israel". And likewise Israel is likened to the olive, as it is written, "A green olive tree, fair with goodly fruit". Therefore, it is written, "Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your house: your children like olive plants". They here are side by side, because Israel becomes broken like them in the exile. After the grapes and olives are cleaned from all refuse, they become sanctified for the Temple: wine for libation upon the altar, the olives for kindling the candle, meaning the candles of the lamp. Who merits this? Wine not libated in idolatry. The mixed multitudes are like wine poured for idol worship, among them are apostates and non-believers, that transgress the whole Torah.” (Zohar Mishpatim 18:490-491) Notice how Nephi makes mention of these two kinds: the olives and the vines. The olive is broken because of its stiffneckedness in not following the ways of G-d and in its arrogance. And the vine has its grapes trampled on because it has no strength in the word of G-d and so it offers its grapes to idol worship. However Nephi says that they become the true olive and the true vine. How would that have been interpreted? As seen from above this was imagery that referred to the olive that was used to produce oil for the Menorah and to the vine that was used to produce wine for the libation. In other words these people who were once cut off would then eventually be consecrated unto the holiest service they could possibly have in the Temple of G-d. 17 And this is what our father meaneth; and he meaneth that it will not come to pass until after they are scattered by the Gentiles; and he meaneth that it shall come by way of the Gentiles, that the Lord may show his power unto the Gentiles, for the very cause that he shall be rejected of the Jews, or of the house of Israel. Way of the Gentiles: The use of the term “way” is important. Jewish Kabbalah makes a difference between “way” and “path”. The first refers to a wider acceptance and the latter to a smaller: “He questions: Sometimes it is written, "a way," and sometimes, "a path." What is the difference between them? And answers: "A way," implies a way that all the feet of people tread. "A path," is a recently opened path and has not been trodden long by many people. About this path does the verse say, "But the path of justmen is like the gleam of sunlight, that shines ever more brightly, until the height of noonday"” (Zohar Kedoshim 23:134) So when Nephi says that it should come the way of the Gentiles he is referring to the fact that had he believed Messiah would be rejected by the Jewish people in order to receive a much wider acceptance among the Gentiles. According to Nephi if the Jewish people accepted Messiah then very few would come towards the path of redemption. 18 Wherefore, our father hath not spoken of our seed alone, but also of all the house of Israel, pointing to the covenant which should be fulfilled in the latter days; which covenant the Lord made to our father Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 19 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, spake much unto them concerning these things; yea, I spake unto them concerning the restoration of the Jews in the latter days. Restoration of the Jews: The Biblical word for restoration which is likely the word Nephi had in mind is the word השבה (hashavah) can also be translated as “return” because the words share the same root. It is possible then that Nephi was also giving a prophecy that in the end of times the Jewish people would be returning to the land of Israel. 20 And I did rehearse unto them the words of Isaiah, who spake concerning the restoration of the Jews, or of the house of Israel; and after they were restored they should no more be confounded, neither should they be scattered again. And it came to pass that I did speak many words unto my brethren, that they were pacified and did humble themselves before the Lord. 21 And it came to pass that they did speak unto me again, saying: What meaneth this thing which our father saw in a dream? What meaneth the tree which he saw? 22 And I said unto them: It was a representation of the tree of life. As seen before the tree of life can also be a representation of the Torah-law of G-d or even of the divine attributes which one only gets to understand through the means of abiding to his law and developing a relationship with Him. 23 And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree? 24 And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction. Fiery dart: Nephi mildly rebukes his brethren when he makes use of such an expression because the Hebrew word מסע (masah - dart) also means “quarrel”. The fiery dart would represent an unending quarrel because just like fire passes on from one thing to another so does the spirit of quarrelling pass from one person to another and makes their spirituality perish. 25 Wherefore, I, Nephi, did exhort them to give heed unto the word of the Lord; yea, I did exhort them with all the energies of my soul, and with all the faculty which I possessed, that they would give heed to the word of God and remember to keep his commandments always in all things. Nephi’s energy: The most likely translation for the word “energy” in the context that Nephi uses it would be the word כוח (coach). What is interesting about this word is that it doesn’t only refer to physical strength. It also refers to one’s resources including one’s wealth. So this could mean that Nephi didn’t spare whatever resources he saw fit in his quest to get his brothers to keep the word of G-d. 26 And they said unto me: What meaneth the river of water which our father saw? 27 And I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness; and so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water. Filthiness of the water: How could it be that Lehi would not see the filthiness of the water? After all filthy waters are quite distinguishable from clean ones. This however has to be understood as a word-play used by Nephi. As explained before a source of living water such as river would be considered something not only extremely clean but also with the power to cleanse objects and even people according to Torah-law. So when Nephi speaks of filthy waters he is making reference to that which has the aspect of something clean but is rather unclean. This would likely be a reference to the wicked assembly mentioned earlier by Nephi as something that people would expect to be of great piety but inside would be filled with idolatry. 28 And I said unto them that it was an awful gulf, which separated the wicked from the tree of life, and also from the saints of God. 29 And I said unto them that it was a representation of that awful hell, which the angel said unto me was prepared for the wicked. For explanation on the gulf please see previous commentaries.
  10. Please don't think I'm trying to debate. I'm just stating what could be considered the official position of Judaism. I am aware that there has been criticism on the Zohar. Both positions are well and extensively argued both online and offline. Anyway even if we assumed the Zohar to be a 13th century book it would still be before the BoM was translated and I was merely stating how this interesting prophecy pointed to two books of Scripture becoming one. It was never my intention to promote the Zohar among Christians. Forgive me if this is what it sounded like.
  11. It is almost unanimously accepted in Judaism as the work of Rashbi. The Zohar itself was only compiled in the 13th century from the teachings of Rashbi which doesn't mean the teachings itself are of the 13th century. :)
  12. Hello forum, Since not many of you visit the Jewish Perspective subforum I thought I'd post this here. Perhaps it'll encourage more of you to visit us down there. When commenting on the Scriptures that were given unto Adam (and thus intended for all mankind) the Zohar which is a Kabbalistic work from 2 CE makes the following statement: "And this is a secret we have learned. "This is the Book [given to Adam]," namely there are two books. There is an upper book and there is a lower book. The lower book is called 'the Book of the Remembrance', which means the Book of that Remembrance, which is a certain Righteous one, namely Yesod, called "this (Heb. zeh)." And Malchut is his book. In order not to separate them, since they are always together and form one, it is therefore written: "This (Heb. zeh) is the book" - two levels which are one, the principle of Male and Female. For "this" is masculine, Yesod, and the "Book" is feminine, Malchut." (Zohar Yitro 4:63) Essencially this Kabbalistic commentary interprets Scripture as saying that the Book of the Generations of Adam is actually a reference to the fact that two books were given unto mankind, which complement each other. I'll leave the rest to you. :-) b'shalom!
  13. 18 And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! 19 And I looked and beheld a man, and he was dressed in a white robe. 20 And the angel said unto me: Behold one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The white robe: We saw in the previous chapter how the garments in ancient Kabbalah represent one’s deeds before G-d. Now what does this white robe represent? In Kabbalah, a white robe would be associated with the fact that he was going to reveal to the world a spiritual reality in a way that the world could grasp it. The righteous wearing robes represent the fact that they are able to understand a much greater spiritual reality than the other human beings and are able to translate that reality into words that the world can grasp. Thus the Zohar comments about this: “When she entered in the presence of King Ahasuerus and he saw that robe of light, her form seemed to him like an angel of G-d, and he lost his soul for an instant. Mordechai too was enshrouded in the robes of that world, as is written: "And Mordechai went out from the presence of the king in royal (lit. 'of Malchut') apparel", verily the apparel of Malchut that is the form of that world. Therefore, it is written: "Because the fear of Mordechai had fallen upon them" , the fear of Mordechai and not the fear of Ahasuerus, that is, not because Ahasuerus had made him great, but rather because of his garment of that world. Rabbi Shimon said, How sweet are these matters. Praised is my lot. I am aware that the just in this world get shrouded with that robe that is called the robe of Malchut, and that is definitely so.” (Zohar Shlach Lecha 32:230) 21 Behold, he shall see and write the remainder of these things; yea, and also many things which have been. 22 And he shall also write concerning the end of the world. Based on the spiritual reality revealed in the verses above we can see that the writing about the end of the world would be mostly spiritual, and in a way that the people could somehow grasp the meaning of it. It is also important to understand that the Hebrew word for end is the word סוף (sof) and it can also be translated as ruin. Also bear in mind how the time was counted in Hebrew thought, as we have already seen. The end of the world would mean the end of this age and possibly the beginning of the Messianic Age or of the World to Come. 23 Wherefore, the things which he shall write are just and true; and behold they are written in the book which thou beheld proceeding out of the mouth of the Jew; and at the time they proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, or, at the time the book proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, the things which were written were plain and pure, and most precious and easy to the understanding of all men. Precious and pure: Why does Nephi change the words that he used before? First he speaks of the things being plain and precious. Now he talks about them as being plain and pure. In Hebrew such subtle changes in language can never be taken lightly. If we examine the words that Nephi applied we will find that the word precious in Hebrew is יקר (yakar). Now one of the possible words for pure in Hebrew is the word נקי (naki). Notice the spelling of both words. The word “naki” looks like the word “yakar” spelled backwards! So on a deeper level, Nephi is telling us that the wicked assembly has inverted the words that were given unto the apostle. This can be no coincidence. Also relevant is the change of the letter ר (reish) to the letter נ (nun). In Hebrew the letter reish also means “head” and is associated with the will and intent of G-d. Now the letter nun in Aramaic means “fish” and so is associated in Kabbalah with the spiritual waters. Notice what Nephi is trying to tell us: That the wicked assembly inverted the writings of the apostle in order to replace the will and intent of G-d with the agenda of the very evil spiritual powers that sustain them! As I said before this cannot be a coincidence. 24 And behold, the things which this apostle of the Lamb shall write are many things which thou hast seen; and behold, the remainder shalt thou see. 25 But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them. 26 And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things, and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own due time of the Lord, unto the house of Israel. Why would the words of Nephi be sealed? In ancient Judaism it was common for prophecies to be sealed so that the secrets of G-d would not be revealed unto the ones who practiced idol worship, and that they would be preserved to the righteous. And these are exactly the two groups of people that the message of Nephi has been dealing with all along. The Zohar speaks of this: “"Wine makes glad the heart of man". This is the wine of the Torah, for the numerical value of the letters of the word yain (Eng. 'wine') is the same as the letters of sod (Eng. 'secret'). Just as wine has to be kept sealed so that it should not be used in a libation for idol worship, so also must the secret of the Torah be closed up and sealed, and none of its secrets be disclosed other than to those who fear Him.” (Zohar Pinchas 12:68) 27 And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel. Name Etymology: John: Likely the Hebrew form of this name is יוחנן (Yochanan) which means the L-rd is merciful. It is no coincidence that Nephi reveals this to be the name of the apostle. After all the prophecies of the end of the world according to Nephi are G-d’s final attempt to get the world to turn back to Him. 28 And behold, I, Nephi, am forbidden that I should write the remainder of the things which I saw and heard; wherefore the things which I have written sufficeth me; and I have written but a small part of the things which I saw. 29 And I bear record that I saw the things which my father saw, and the angel of the Lord did make them known unto me. 30 And now I make an end of speaking concerning the things which I saw while I was carried away in the spirit; and if all the things which I saw are not written, the things which I have written are true. And thus it is. Amen. Why does Nephi say this apparently unnecessary sentence saying that the things which he has seen are not written, and the things which he has written are true? This appears to be a word-play in Hebrew. The word written (plural) in Hebrew is the word כתובים (ketuvim). This is also the word used for the section of the Hebrew Bible that refers to the writings. That is the accounts of the people. So when Nephi says that his words are not “ketuvim” but are true this means that his accounts are to be used as a companion to the accounts of the people of Israel in the Bible.
  14. Here's chapter 14. This was quite interesting and very Jewish in its content. I hope you like it. 1 And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks— 2 And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity; and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded. Stumbling blocks: This expression comes from the Torah-law which says in Leviticus 19:14: “You shall not curse a deaf person. You shall not place a stumbling block before a blind person, and you shall fear your God. I am the Lord.” What does it mean to put a stumbling block before a blind person? It means to make use of the person’s ignorance to cause them to do something bad. Rashi thus comments on this verse: “You shall not place a stumbling block before a blind person: Before a person who is “blind” regarding a matter, you shall not give advice that is improper for him. [For instance,] do not say to someone,“ Sell your field and buy a donkey [with the proceeds], ”while [in truth,] you plan to cheat him since you yourself will take it from him [by lending him money and taking the donkey as collateral. He will not be able to take the field because a previous creditor has a lien on it.] - [Torat Kohanim 19:34]” According to the Talmud this also involves causing a person to sin due to her ignorance: “How do we know that one should not hold out a cup of wine to a Nazirite or a limb from a living animal to a Noachide? From Scripture, which says, Thou shalt not put a stumbling block before the blind.” (b. Avodah Zarah 6b.) In both situations a stumbling block means that someone with knowledge willfully makes someone with less knowledge do something bad for themselves or even sin. So how do we understand Nephi’s sentence? From the previous chapter we understood that there was an assembly of wicked leaders who willfully perverted the religious practices of the nations leading them to idolatry. So when Nephi says that the Lamb of G-d would take away the stumbling blocks he means that by the power of the Messiah the nations would eventually see clearly that which they were doing in ignorance. This explains the hardening of hearts referred to in the following verse: a hardened heart is a stubborn heart. Therefore this supposes that eventually they will have the knowledge necessary to make a conscious decision. 3 And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God; not the destruction of the soul, save it be the casting of it into that hell which hath no end. The Pit: In Jewish imagery the pit is associated with the sins of the mouth, such as slander and blasphemes. It is understood that just like the mouth widens itself to promote evil thus will the pit open its wide mouth to engulf such sinners. This can be seen in the Talmud as follows: “Rabbah b. Shila said in R. Hisda's name: He who puts his mouth to folly, Gehenna is made deep for him, as it is said, A deep pit is for the mouth [that speaketh] perversity. R. Nahman b. Isaac said, Also [for] one who hears and is silent, for it is said, he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein.” (b. Shabbat 33a) Notice that Gehenna is the Aramaic form of Gehinom and also refers to hell. So we can understand from Nephi’s words that even after receiving the knowledge of G-d these people will blaspheme against Him willfully. There is also a very similar passage concerning the fate of unrepentant idol-worshipers in the Zohar. You can see from the imagery presented in the Talmud and in the Zohar the Jewishness of the words of Nephi: “There is an opening that leads down to the gates of Gehinom. From there, the converts look at all the evil ones, the idol worshipers, those who have not converted and thus have not entered the holy covenant. They are chased away by the angels of destruction with fire, and the converts see this, rejoicing that they have converted and are thus spared such a harsh judgement” (Zohar Bereshit 2:11) 4 For behold, this is according to the captivity of the devil, and also according to the justice of God, upon all those who will work wickedness and abomination before him. Captivity and justice: Here we can see a feature of Hebrew language called Antithetic Parallelism. In such structure you have one phrase followed by its exact opposite. In this case, the captivity of the devil is used as the exact opposite of the justice of G-d. 5 And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, Nephi, saying: Thou hast beheld that if the Gentiles repent it shall be well with them; and thou also knowest concerning the covenants of the Lord unto the house of Israel; and thou also hast heard that whoso repenteth not must perish. 6 Therefore, wo be unto the Gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God. There’s an interesting clue in the gematria about the sentence above. The gematria value for the Hebrew expression “lamb of G-d” (שה האלהים – seh haElohim) is the same as the expression הישועה (hayeshuah – literally “the salvation”). So essentially Nephi is telling us that these people were indeed willfully rejecting the salvation of G-d. 7 For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other—either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken. In my search for the expression “great and marvelous” I came across the Hebrew translation of the New Testament, the expression “great and marvelous” is translated as “גדול ונורא” (gadol venorah) which indeed is a very likely translation. What is relevant about this is that this is the same expression that appears in the book of the prophet Joel chapter 2 (and also chapter 3 in the Jewish Bible counting). For example Joel 2:31 says: “The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.” So the word that is translated as “marvelous” appears to be more in the sense of wonder than as in something that the sons of men would necessarily perceive as enjoyable. This is confirmed by the rest of the verse which says that those who do not turn to G-d will be destroyed. In fact the word נורא (norah) could be translated as cataclysmic or even as catastrophic because the root of the word means “fear”. So it could be that these will be signs of great wrath against the sinners. It is interesting to understand what the gematria reveals us about these two words. The word gadol has the same numeric value of the word גיל (geil) which means joy. However the word norah has the same numeric value of the word לזכור (lezachor) which means to remember. So to the righteous this work will be a reason of great joy because it will mean that redemption at hand. To the wicked it will be as Nephi discussed earlier: a remembrance of G-d to remove the stumbling blocks. In other words G-d will reveal Himself in his full might. 8 And it came to pass that when the angel had spoken these words, he said unto me: Rememberest thou the covenants of the Father unto the house of Israel? I said unto him, Yea. 9 And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil. 10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the bother is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth. Why is it that right after the angel asks if Nephi remembers the covenant of Israel he talks about the abominable assembly? The angel’s question makes use of the Semitic hermeneutic feature called the Remez (hint) as explained before. Let us look into it. Nephi being an Israelite knows that at the core of the covenant lies the following choice given by G-d in the Torah: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” (Deuteronomy 30:19) About this the Talmud sages comment the following: “R. Hananel b. Papa said: What is meant by, Hear, for I will speak princely things: why are the words of the Torah compared to a prince? To tell you: just as a prince has power of life and death, so have the words of the Torah [potentialities] of life and death. Thus Raba said; To those who go to the right hand thereof it is a medicine of life; to those who go to the left hand thereof it is a deadly poison. Another interpretation: princely' [denotes] that on every word which went forth from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He, two crowns were set.” (b. Shabbat 88b) So why is this revelant to us? The angel is revealing to Nephi that it is exactly those who reject the laws of G-d the ones who will fall prey to the wicked assembly and eventually turn to idol-worshiping. 11 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. 12 And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw. Sitting upon the waters: In ancient Kabbalah the evil side of the spiritual world is called the Sitra Achra which is the Aramaic for “other side”. The spiritual powers of evil are called the “waters of the Other Side”. This can be seen in the Zohar as follows: “Happy is Israel who sow their seeds only beside the water, in order to subdue all kinds of water of the other side. As is written: "And they camped there by the water" (Shemot 15:27), MEANING over those waters that were under the branches of the tree of the Holy One, blessed be He, which are the treacherous waters, as is written before us.” (Zohar Beshalach 33:437) So on a deeper level of understanding this means that this group of leaders of the wicked assembly would establish their reign with the help of evil spiritual powers. It is possible that they would make use of the occult in order to spread their influence. The parallels between the spiritual war won by the Israelites as described in the Zohar and the prophecy of Nephi are striking. The Israelites who were also small in comparison to the evils that they were facing during the exodus from Egypt are similar to the people who would fight against the wicked assembly. 13 And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God. 14 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory. Here we have the confirmation that indeed the Remez made by the angel in the verses above is truly what we had interpreted: Those who belonged to the wicked assembly were those who had chosen to reject the covenant of G-d. 15 And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth. 16 And as there began to be wars and rumors of wars among all the nations which belonged to the mother of abominations, the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold, the wrath of God is upon the mother of harlots; and behold, thou seest all these things— 17 And when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots, which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose founder is the devil, then, at that day, the work of the Father shall commence, in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel. Wrath of G-d: In ancient Kabbalah the term “wrath of G-d” was used to refer to one of the angels of punishment. And it is exactly the angel that rules over idolatry. The knowledge that Nephi had of ancient Kabbalah is very evident. Thus the Zohar describes the angels of punishment: “The Faithful Shepherd said, it is written: "turned away My wrath”. What is the meaning of "turned away My wrath?" The answer is that this refers to three officials over Gehinom. One is over bloodshed, another over incest, and the third over idolatry, and they are called 'Destruction', 'Anger' and 'Wrath'. And the latter, Wrath, was flying through the world, and about it is said: "Turned away my wrath." He said, "turned away My wrath from the children of Israel," but He did not say "from the people," which would refer to the mixed multitude. For it is said, "And there fell of the people that day about three thousand men", where the meaning of “the people” is the mixed multitude. But there it does not say ‘turned away my wrath from the people,’ but rather “from the children of Israel.” This is to teach that the wrath was not turned away from the mixed multitude. For this is how we explained it, and we asked the holy luminary, that is, Rabbi Shimon.” (Zohar Pinchas 76:475) Notice that just like in Nephi’s visionas seen in the previous chapter, in the Zohar the mixed multitude does not get away from the wrath of G-d because of their mixing truth with idolatry. Nephi’s words also echo the Talmud’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem. In both cases the wrath comes after the people willfully rejected the message of the prophets and of the sages and refused to turn to G-d: “Rab Judah said: Jerusalem was destroyed only because scholars were despised therein: for it is said, but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and scoffed at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” (b. Shabbat 119b)
  15. 29 And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them. 30 Nevertheless, thou beholdest that the Gentiles who have gone forth out of captivity, and have been lifted up by the power of God above all other nations, upon the face of the land which is choice above all other lands, which is the land that the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance; wherefore, thou seest that the Lord God will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed, which are among thy brethren. Mixture of seed: As we have already seen the Torah-law forbid the mixing of seed. See Leviticus 19:19. It is important to understand the the Bible is not being racist. Any person could marry an Israelite as long as they converted to the G-d of Israel. What is forbidden was to marry someone who would not convert. So here when Nephi talks about the destruction of mixed seeds one must understand this as an Israelite that has forsaken his heritage and gotten involved in idolatry. 31 Neither will he suffer that the Gentiles shall destroy the seed of thy brethren. 32 Neither will the Lord God suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that awful state of blindness, which thou beholdest they are in, because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, whose formation thou hast seen. State of blindness: It is interesting because Nephi is citing an ancient Jewish form of understanding that spiritual blindess stems from mixing with idolatry. In its explanation about the passage that says that the eyes of Israel were dim the Zohar goes on to say: “they were defiled among the nations IN EXILE, and did not follow the laws of the Torah as they should have. They sat a long while among the gentiles, generation after generation, and learned their ways” (Zohar Vayechi 14:101) 33 Wherefore saith the Lamb of God: I will be merciful unto the Gentiles, unto the visiting of the remnant of the house of Israel in great judgment. This is similar to Jewish eschatology which says that in the great judgment the Messiah will also reign upon the Gentiles: “Then the seventh window will be opened to the whole world, and its star is the star of Jacob. This is what Bila'am said, "There shall come a star out of Jacob", and this star will illuminate for forty days. When King Messiah will be revealed and all the nations of the world will gather before him, this passage will be fulfilled: "That the root of Yishai, that stands for a banner of the peoples, to it shall the nations seek, and his resting place shall be glorious".” (Zohar Terumah 86:860) 34 And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying: Behold, saith the Lamb of God, after I have visited the remnant of the house of Israel—and this remnant of whom I speak is the seed of thy father—wherefore, after I have visited them in judgment, and smitten them by the hand of the Gentiles, and after the Gentiles do stumble exceedingly, because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb—I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb. 35 For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb. 36 And in them shall be written my agospel, saith the Lamb, and my brock and my salvation. There seems to also be an similar prophecy in the Book of Enoch that in the end of times there would be books which would be found and which would assist in the return of the nations to the ways of G-d: “Then, I know another mystery, that books will be given to the righteous and the 13 wise to become a cause of joy and uprightness and much wisdom. And to them shall the books be given, and they shall believe in them and rejoice over them, and then shall all the righteous who have learnt therefrom all the paths of uprightness be recompensed.'” (1 Enoch 104:12-13) 37 And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be. 38 And it came to pass that I beheld the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the book of the Lamb of God, which had proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew, that it came forth from the Gentiles unto the remnant of the seed of my brethren. It is also important to understand that in Jewish eschatology a book may also refer to the accounts of a person’s deeds as well as the promises and vows one has made unto G-d. The Talmud describes this as follows: “The grandson of R. Jannai the Elder came before him Said he to him, 'Had you known that [when you vow] your ledger is opened [in heaven] and your deeds examined — would you have vowed?” (b. Nedarim 22a) 39 And after it had come forth unto them I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true. Unlike most of Christianity, Judaism doesn’t believe in a notion that the Holy Spirit cannot inspire any additional literature. For instance the commentaries of Rashi are considered to be inspired. The concept of canon in Judaism is much different from the one in Christianity. For example, whereas Christians tend to hold all books as equal in importance Judaism sees the Torah – that is the books of Moses – as bearing the greatest authority. Also whereas Christians mostly believe that the Bible is the only book which is authoritative over the entire people the same is not true with Judaism. Our sages have throughout history ruled that certain writings are authoritative over all Jews. One of the most recent examples is the Tanya which is the central piece of the Chassidic movement. 40 And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved. 41 And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth. And the time cometh that he shall manifest himself unto all nations, both unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles; and after he has manifested himself unto the Jews and also unto the Gentiles, then he shall manifest himself unto the Gentiles and also unto the Jews, and the last shall be first, and the first shall be last. Messiah as the Shepherd: The idea of the Messiah as the shepherd actually predates Christianity. One of the titles of Moses in Jewish Literature is “the faithful shepherd” because he conducted the people to the land of promise. Now because the Messiah is a prophet like Moses then the Messiah also inherits the title of “faithful shepherd” because King Messiah will lead Israel back to living in the promised land forever. The Zohar comments on the Messiah being called “faithful shepherd” by saying: “Until Shiloh comes, where the numerical value of Shiloh is the same as that of Moses, who is the Faithful Shepherd” (Zohar Pinchas 95:651) Considering that Shiloh is the Messiah, the sent one, then the Messiah also has this title.