thekabalist

1 Nephi Chapter 1

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Hi forum,

This is something Vanhin had asked me to do a while ago in the last forum. As I am beginning to read the BoM at last, I am also taking notes for myself. I then decided to share with you some Jewish comments on the narrative. Please tell me what you think. :)

1 I, NEPHI, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.

Name etymology: Nefi - possible from the Hebrew נפל (Nefil) which means "tall one".

Nephi the scribe: In ancient Israel a scribe was an office of high prestige. Being a scribe meant that one was well instructed in the Torah-Law of Israel. Being a scribe, Nephi was certainly a prestigious member of his society. In the Jerusalem Targum, Moses and Aaron are called the scribes of Israel. Judaism mantains that Moses began a school of prominently faithful israelites who would have the mission of transmitting the teachings of the law. Nephi would have been a member of such ancient scribal school.

Mysteries of G-d: There is a word-play between the word ספר (sofer - scribe) and the ספירות (sefirot) which account in Judaism for the mysterious nature of G-d. Nephi was therefore very knowledgeable in the higher truths of Judaism.

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

Part of the role of a scribe was also to translate the Torah-law into other languages so that the laymen in exile would understand it. The greatest known literature in Judaism are the Targums in Aramaic and the Samaritan Targum in Arabic. This role of scribe seems to be fulfilled when Nephi writes in the Egyptian language.

3 And I know that the record which I make is true; and I make it with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge.

In Judaism, hands were used in connection to oaths. See for example. Gen. 24:2 By emphasizing that the writing is of his own hand Nephi is taking an oath concerning its truthfulness.

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

Repent: The word in Hebrew for this is the word שוב (shuv) which quite literally means to return. Nephi's warnings were that the people had strayed from the Torah-Law of G-d. Repenting in Judaism is more than a feeling. It is seeking the original way. Two schools of thought within Judaism defined such repentance: Some say repentance is to seek the state of the Sinai. Others define it as seeking the state of our primary existence as it was in the Garden of Eden.

5 Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people.

Name etymology: Lehi (לחי) means "jaw".

Prayed with all his heart: The heart in Jewish culture meant the center of one's spirituality, whether good or bad. The Jewish Midrash in Bereshit Rabbah 67 says:

"The wicked are in the power of their heart, but the righteous have their heart in their power."

The meaning idea of Lehi praying with all his heart meant that no evil was to be found in his heart for he had overcome it.

6 And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much; and because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly.

In ancient Jewish tradition the pillar of fire symbolizes the power of G-d's word to transform. It is said that Onkelos converted many into Judaism by narrating how G-d is the pillar of fire before Israel.

7 And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen.

8 And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God.

9 And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day.

From Nephi's description of the angels seen by Lehi we can be sure that Lehi saw cherubim (כרובים) – which in Hebrew means "the near ones".

In the ancient wisdom of Kabalah (Zohar Terumah 2:176a), the cherubim represented the closeness between G-d and Israel. When Israel was in connection with G-d the cherubim turned unto G-d for praise. When Israel strayed away the cherubim would rebuke the Jewish people. It comes as no surprise that it is the cherubim who send the message to Lehi.

10 And he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament.

Jewish tradition mantains that the stars are governed by the angels of heaven. The 12 cherubim mentioned by Lehi are also cited in the Book of Enoch:

"Its ceiling was like the path of stars and lightning, and between them were 12 fiery

cherubim, and their skies were as waters."

Like what is inferred from Enoch, Lehi's vision shows that such angels ruled above the stars of heaven. This is particularly revelant as Babylonian culture of Lehi's time would see the stars as governing the fate of mankind. In Lehi's vision G-d shows him how he is above and in control of the fate of Jerusalem.

11 And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read.

Another possible word-play between ספיר (sapir - brightness) and ספר (sefer - book). In Judaism, it is said that the heavens contain the records of what will become of the world. Therefore this again indicates a revelation of the fate of Jerusalem.

12 And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord.

Usually the term in Hebrew for filled in this case is מלא (maleh) which means not only to fill, but also to confirm.

There is a fascinating word-play here with מלא (fill) and מלאך (malach - angel). The only difference between the two words is the letter כ in its final form. This is also the first letter of the word cherub as well as the word star (כוכב - cochav). It seems therefore that the spirit-filling of Lehi comes as a second witness to the message of the angels, as demanded by Torah-Law which requires two witnesses to establish truth.

13 And he read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations! Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem—that it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon.

14 And it came to pass that when my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord; such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth; and, because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!

It may sound odd to the reader that Lehi rejoiced over such news. However in Judaism it's a rather common attitude. Ancient kabalah believes that when something evil befalls Israel it means that it's in fact such a highly elevated goodness that this world cannot comprehend it. This is why the prophets often rejoiced over that which would ultimately save Israel even if it meant suffering for a while.

15 And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God; for his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled, because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shown unto him.

16 And now I, Nephi, do not make a full account of the things which my father hath written, for he hath written many things which he saw in visions and in dreams; and he also hath written many things which he prophesied and spake unto his children, of which I shall not make a full account.

The Talmud in tractate Avodah Zarah states that dreams are 1/60th of a prophecy. Rambam (Moses Ben Maimon) in Moreh Nevuchim states that in order to achieve the level of the prophets one must at least speak to an angel in a dream. The highest level one can achieve within prophecy without actual involvement in the prophetic events is to rebuke the people in the name of G-d. This shows how Lehi was a prominent prophet in his time.

17 But I shall make an account of my proceedings in my days. Behold, I make an aabridgment of the record of my father, upon plates which I have made with mine own hands; wherefore, after I have abridged the record of my dfather then will I make an account of mine own life.

Given that a scroll can wear out, in Judaism plates are considered to be a means in which one would only record the most sacred or precious information. To this very day Jewish prayer books are often covered by engraved plates for that very reason. An important example is the Copper Scroll from the Dead Sea Scrolls which contained the location of several treasures from the Temple of Jerusalem.

18 Therefore, I would that ye should know, that after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard.

19 And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.

There's a clear word-play between גילויה (giluyah - manifestation) and גאולה (geulah - redemption). Thus Nephi seems to indicate that the manifestation of Messiah would mean the redemption of the world.

It may almost go unnoticed to the reader that one of the reasons why the Jewish people of Lehi's time may have become upset is because at the time the idea of a global redemption was not yet unanimous in Judaism. Many thought that only Israel would be redeemd and the other nations would serve them.

20 And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.

There is an ancient Jewish proverb that is likely to have been known by Nephi which says:

"Pray to God for mercy until the last shovelful of earth is cast upon thy grave."

Nephi's words seem to be an answer to such a proverb by turning it around and stating clearly that he would not take his prayers to his grave.

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I also want to know if you will be doing more of this with your reading? I sincerely would like to read more. Knowing the Jewish history and understanding side helps me to understand my own reading of the Book of Mormon.

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I also want to know if you will be doing more of this with your reading? I sincerely would like to read more. Knowing the Jewish history and understanding side helps me to understand my own reading of the Book of Mormon.

I could keep on sharing my notes if you find them useful. :)

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I thought I would add something I have found in my studies. The first three verses of 1Nephi are similar to format of the ancient Egyptian colophon of the time of Lehi. Nephi tells us that knowledge of Egyptian literature influenced his work. Nephi follows the colophon example in the famous Bremer-Rhind Papyrus as follows:

1. The date or place in time

2. The titles of Nasium, the author

3. The names of his parents and a word in the praise of their virtues.

4. A curse against anyone who might “take away” the literary works to follow.

The Traveler

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Very interesting ! I wonder if you ahve heard of Kerry Shirts from Idaho BYU... he ahs some really interesting youtube videos about the Jewish language, traditions - The Book of Mormon. YouTube - TheBackyardProfessor's Channel

This is his commentary on video where he uses a lot of books to do it as you may see on teh video. He explains some judishms in BoM in this serie. I cant recall which video had more of the jewish tradition - BoM, he has so many videoes.... anyway if you ask him he usually answers. :D

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Ok I was told it is better to have the comments here so her they come:

1 Nefi 1

Nefil=tall… I have understood that Nefi was a big man so Tall could be a good name for him.

Nefi as a scribe… interesting. I also heard from … I think it is the CD about Lehis jurney from Jerusalem to where they build the ship… that in Jerusalem there was a school for boys of higher status. I am just thinking that maybe Nefi and his brothers were there together with Daniel, Hananja, Miisaelia and Asarja and the others who were captured and taken to Babylon after Lehi had left. Also it is possible that he met even Jeremia. Maybe Lehi and Jeremia knew each other well!

Wordgames have been noticed by our scholastics and it is fantastic how you can confirm and even show more games than maybe the scholastics have noticed. I also wonder about the special form of writing, a Jewish one called … uh … ok not finding the word now… ( chiasmus.. doh!) anyway it is as if you start in one point go on and return the same bath back…

Translation as a scribes work is interesting and can explain many textual things.

Hands are also important to early Christians just look at all the old paintings and the hands in them… deep metaphorical meenings.

1.Nefi 1:6. Interesting about the firepilar… I would like to hear more about that. Is it to be undertod plainly as a metafora or real thing? What makes it mean change?

Edited by Maya

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12 And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord.

Usually the term in Hebrew for filled in this case is מלא (maleh) which means not only to fill, but also to confirm.

There is a fascinating word-play here with מלא (fill) and מלאך (malach - angel). The only difference between the two words is the letter כ in its final form. This is also the first letter of the word cherub as well as the word star (כוכב - cochav). It seems therefore that the spirit-filling of Lehi comes as a second witness to the message of the angels, as demanded by Torah-Law which requires two witnesses to establish truth.

I found this particularly interesting. We believe the Book of Mormon to be a second witness to Christ. And what sprang immediately to my mind was the First Vision where both the Father and the Son appear as witnesses to Joseph. I wonder how often through the scriptures, especially those associated with dreams and visits by angels, that we find evidence of this double witness present?

:)

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I could keep on sharing my notes if you find them useful. :)

Don't you even pretend you are going to stop sharing pal - GRIN! I have also made 73 videos on my Book of Mormon Commentary where I am showing the historical and archaeological insights of the Book of Mormon on my Backyard Professor You Tube Channel. It's on a Playlist so it's easy to find if anyone is interested in viewing them. There are some seriously ***powerful*** evidences for the Book of Mormon.

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Very interesting ! I wonder if you ahve heard of Kerry Shirts from Idaho BYU... he ahs some really interesting youtube videos about the Jewish language, traditions - The Book of Mormon. YouTube - TheBackyardProfessor's Channel

This is his commentary on video where he uses a lot of books to do it as you may see on teh video. He explains some judishms in BoM in this serie. I cant recall which video had more of the jewish tradition - BoM, he has so many videoes.... anyway if you ask him he usually answers. :D

Oh my! I didn't see this before posting about my commentaries. Thanks for noting them and posting the link. Sheesh, I guess I ought to read first and post second....:D

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Welcome Kerry... keep your shirt on this will be an interesting journey, good you have it in plural, might miss a few on the way. :P

Seriosly these comments are so interesting and extraordinary. I hope you guys can take it as it is and just enjoy the comments... I suppose we get in a bit more scolastic views, than what we are able to even understand so please be kind to us common people and try to keep it understandabel.:D

Where I am around you always from time to time will find your videoes posted. You are getting equally hated by my mavolent stalkers as Jeff Lindsay, that is pretty well done. LDSML

Enjoy!

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Welcome Kerry... keep your shirt on this will be an interesting journey, good you have it in plural, might miss a few on the way. :P

Seriosly these comments are so interesting and extraordinary. I hope you guys can take it as it is and just enjoy the comments... I suppose we get in a bit more scolastic views, than what we are able to even understand so please be kind to us common people and try to keep it understandabel.:D

Where I am around you always from time to time will find your videoes posted. You are getting equally hated by my mavolent stalkers as Jeff Lindsay, that is pretty well done. LDSML

Enjoy!

Are you kidding me? I am one of you normal guys and gals. I am no scholar, but I certainly am a student.....I shall try to keep things up to a dull roar, I promise. And questions are ALWAYS welcome. I never mind having to explain what I mean, I do it all the lovin time, I assure you.

And yeah, I have been made aware that I have antagonists. Ah well........ it's because I stand up and teach what I know, believe, and love. If that's a bad thing, count me as bad....GRIN! I ain't a gonna kawit fer nuthin....

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Let's also keep in mind that we set up this forum for the perspectives of thekabalist. I'm not saying others can't join in..but I want to give a friendly reminder of what this forum is all about.

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Are you kidding me? I am one of you normal guys and gals. I am no scholar, but I certainly am a student.....I shall try to keep things up to a dull roar, I promise. And questions are ALWAYS welcome. I never mind having to explain what I mean, I do it all the lovin time, I assure you.

And yeah, I have been made aware that I have antagonists. Ah well........ it's because I stand up and teach what I know, believe, and love. If that's a bad thing, count me as bad....GRIN! I ain't a gonna kawit fer nuthin....

Hmmm one of the best LDS apologists (and loudest) a NORMAL guy ... yeah sure :rolleyes: . Just begin here with tabula rasa ok!? We play very softly here... softball not hard ball ... as those malovent stalkers that play hardball fly out, so we dont need to play hard. thekabalist is not a scolar and I am not sure if he likes questions that much.

You are a great teacher, it is good, but let thekabalist do the teaching on these two threads that ar for him ...:D

I ain't a gonna kawit fer nuthin??? Idahoan?

Dull roar... how about a tiny pip?:P

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Hmmm one of the best LDS apologists (and loudest) a NORMAL guy ... yeah sure :rolleyes: . Just begin here with tabula rasa ok!? We play very softly here... softball not hard ball ... as those malovent stalkers that play hardball fly out, so we dont need to play hard. thekabalist is not a scolar and I am not sure if he likes questions that much.

You are a great teacher, it is good, but let thekabalist do the teaching on these two threads that ar for him ...:D

I ain't a gonna kawit fer nuthin??? Idahoan?

Dull roar... how about a tiny pip?:P

I understand perfectly..... just so he keeps things correct is all...... Not that I am saying I do either however. We learn thorugh questions and disagreeing agreeably. I'm very excited about what he is doing, but I probably will not agree with him totally on it all. Not trying to fight, just understand and learn. But perhaps I shall begin my own threads dealing with the issues he brings up here perhaps?

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I understand perfectly..... just so he keeps things correct is all...... Not that I am saying I do either however. We learn thorugh questions and disagreeing agreeably. I'm very excited about what he is doing, but I probably will not agree with him totally on it all. Not trying to fight, just understand and learn. But perhaps I shall begin my own threads dealing with the issues he brings up here perhaps?

Good. And he keeps things correct. It just may be that we dont know as much about Judaism as we think. Besides he has manay times said this is highly spekulative and should be taken as such. The correctnes of what he writes is up to everyone to pray about, like you said you dont always keep things 100% correct, but he is making a good try to keep it as correct as he understands it ... in jewish way. You guys possibly know a bit too much, but dont forget todays knowledge IS old tomorrow... and the tomorrows knowledge MAY be what thkabalist tells us here today. We just need to humble ourselves and listen.

Vanhin is the moderator in this forum, maybe you can ask him how to deal with questions and where to ask them, PM him. Thekabalist has been quiet since the 16th capitle. I hope he will be back soon....

Edited by pam

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