1 Nephi chapter 8


thekabalist

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Certainly. Judaism believes there are five levels to the soul. I am actually using the word soul rather loosely here because in the Bible a soul is a combination of a spirit with a body. There are not enough or even accurate enough words in the English language to describe the Israelite concept of soul and spirit so the translations are rather loose. Anyway here it is

Nefesh ("soul") - This is the level of our instincts. This is what connects the soul to the body.

Ruach ("wind") - This refers to our emotions.

Neshamah ("breath") - This refers to our mind

Chayah ("life") - This refers roughly to our spirituality and is concealed in the Neshamah. This is what makes us perceive that there is a spiritual reality that transcends our mind and emotions.

Yehidah ("uniqueness") - This refers to the spark of G-d that lives within you. It is associated with the Shechinah and is the part that is responsible for making you become one with G-d if you choose to unite with Him.

This is a basic summary of the five leves of the soul. So you see when we refer to the first three leves we are talking about the non-spiritual reality of the human being. And this is exactly where G-d's laws make themselves manifest. The upper levels of the soul would be capable of directly perceiving that which emanates from G-d. But because the lower levels are not capable of that then the commandments of G-d have to take a more tangible form. The lower levels need something more concrete like "do this" or "don't do that" because without such a form they cannot grasp G-d.

b'shalom!

Thanks.

And once again, very interesting.

:)

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Here's a bit more. Sorry this is taking longer than usual:

20 And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world.

Strait and narrow: A straight and narrow place is an Israelite euphemism for being pressed with persecution. So when Lehi sees a straight and narrow path this means that the path ahead of them would be filled with persecution. This idiom can be seen in the Talmud when it quotes 2 Kings 6:1:

“Others say: He drove the Rabbis away from him , as it is written. And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us;11 proving that till then it was not too narrow.” (b. Sanhedrin 107b)

Spacious field: The world would be likely be understood by a Jew to mean the world to come. But why would Lehi have to see such a path and a field in connection to the world to come? We must understand that in ancient Israelite culture the mere being in the land of Israel was considered to many as a sign that one would have a share in the world to come. This is because the Torah promises that those who are righteous will stay in the land and those who are not will be rooted out. So eventually this led people to believe that just being in the land was a good sign, as can be seen in the Talmud:

“R. Jeremiah b. Abba in the name of R. Johanan, that whoever walks four cubits in the Land of Israel is assured of a place in the world to come. “ (b. Ketubot 111a)

So Lehi was shown that even though he was going away from the land of Israel he was going towards his share in the world to come which was contrary to popular belief. Because Lehi ‘s exile was a calling and not truly an exile. This vision was extremely important because even with all the experience provided by G-d it’s possible that some within his family would still view their exile as a curse. The vision shows it was not.

21 And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood.

Lehi understood that the key to the tree of life was being obedient to the commandments of G-d. The Israelites always understood the tree of life to be the Torah-law:

“But desire fulfilled is a tree of life; and the tree of life is nought but the Torah, as it says, She is a tree of life to them that lay hold on her!” (b. Berachot 32b)

There is an ancient Jewish tradition that says that the nations would complain to G-d because they would desire the blessings contained in the Torah-law but that they would not want to make the same commitment as Israel did. So Lehi’s vision shows that many wanted the tree of life but were unwilling to follow the path of submission unto G-d.

22 And it came to pass that they did come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.

23 And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.

Mist of darkness: This is most likely the Hebrew word ערפל (arafel) which is the same word found in Deuteronomy 4:11 which translates it as “thick darkness”: “And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the heart of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness.”

Arafel is in Jewish tradition known as the name of the first level of heaven. This thick darkness of arafel in Kabbalah is understood to be that which separates us from the infinite light of G-d and conceals his mysteries. So when the people have their ways blocked by arafel this means that they were not found worthy to have the revelation of the mysteries of G-d given unto them. They could not enter even the first heaven.

24 And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.

25 And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed.

Considering what we have already seen from the rod of iron being a semitic idiomatic expression that means “sword” and how it refers to the word of G-d then those who are clinging to it might be a reference to those who followed G-d’s commandments enough to barely make it through to the first level of heaven.

26 And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.

The Flying Building Dilemma: In Jewish imagery a flying tower consists of a great dilemma. Rashi tells us that in ancient times those who practiced incantations would raise houses from the air just to defy the laws of nature. These were people who believed that they had the power to reach the heavens by themselves without any help from G-d.

The Torah has may laws concerning one's house. When one raised a house from ground in order to boast that they could defy G-d's commandments it would become a problem to the sages. It is considered a dilemma because our sages for many times tried to apply the laws of the Torah to the case of such houses and couldn't. The Talmud says the following about this:

"R. Isaac said: What is meant by the verse, Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? The goodness of God endureth continually?... Where is he who enumerated all the letters of the Torah? Where is he who weighed all the light and heavy [precepts] of the Torah? Where is he that counted the towers — who counted three hundred fixed laws on a 'tower flying in the air.' R. Ammi said: Doeg and Ahitophel propounded four hundred problems with respect to a tower flying in the air, and not one was solved."

(b. Sanhedrin 106b)

So if the problem of the flying towers could not be resolved this could be understood as the fact that if one boasts against G-d's commandments then there is no hope for them in G-d's word.

Edited by thekabalist
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There is an ancient Jewish tradition that says that the nations would complain to G-d because they would desire the blessings contained in the Torah-law but that they would not want to make the same commitment as Israel did. So Lehi’s vision shows that many wanted the tree of life but were unwilling to follow the path of submission unto G-d.

I can see that as being very true even in today's world. People want the blessings of properity, of good life, and the blessings of heaven..some actually even expect it as if it is owed to them but will do nothing themselves to work towards this.

Arafel is in Jewish tradition known as the name of the first level of heaven. This thick darkness of arafel in Kabbalah is understood to be that which separates us from the infinite light of G-d and conceals his mysteries. So when the people have their ways blocked by arafel this means that they were not found worthy to have the revelation of the mysteries of G-d given unto them. They could not enter even the first heaven.

Again I see a parallel to LDS beliefs. Those not found worthy to reach the highest glory of heaven will be assigned to a lesser kingdom and will not receive all the blessings and knowledge awarded to those that reach the celestial (highest) kingdom.

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Here's a bit more. Sorry this is taking longer than usual:

No Problem - Take your time. I enjoy your insights and analysis so far. It's great.

26 And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.

This is also an ancient Jewish belief: That the Temple of the Messianic Age is awaiting in the heavens to descend upon the land of Israel. About this the Lubavitcher Rebbe says in Likkutei Sichos:

“Rashi, by contrast, explains that the Temple has already been constructed by G-d and exists in the heavenly realms, waiting for the time when it will descend to the earth. For the Third Temple will be "the Sanctuary of G-d, established by Your hands." When the setting within the world is appropriate, this heavenly structure will descend and become an actual reality within our material world.”

So Lehi was likely given this vision of the heavenly Temple.

Everything you have written so far has been so great and so spot-on. As you'll see in Chapter 11, the "Great and Spacious Building" is not a vision of the Holy Temple, but represents the pride of the world. It represents a group of people who mock those who are trying to keep the commandments and they are built upon a house with no foundation.

Thekabalist, thank you so much for your analysis. It's greatly appreciated.

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All this knowledge of the Jewish understanding of scriptures.... I feel so humble... what great knowledge!

Quote: So Lehi was shown that even though he was going away from the land of Israel he was going towards his share in the world to come which was contrary to popular belief. Because Lehi ‘s exile was a calling and not truly an exile. This vision was extremely important because even with all the experience provided by G-d it’s possible that some within his family would still view their exile as a curse. The vision shows it was not.

So many important messages for Lehis family. Yes without the knowledge of the vision they would consider the leaving from Jerusalema a curse. Later this happened with Lamannities who did not have the scriptures and did not study them. So this part of the scriptures was very important for Hephities to understand the truth about leaving Jerusalem.

Just a tought came in to my mind... I wonder if there stil is among some indians some knowledge of this Jewish way of tolking writtings......

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When I hear the word exile used in this context I don't take it as a negative thing as many might take it. Lehi and his family were following what the Lord requested of them. Now some were not happy about it, but they still went. In fact we know that Laman and Lemuel murmured constantly against their father for it.

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20 And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world.

Strait and narrow: A straight and narrow place is an Israelite euphemism for being pressed with persecution. So when Lehi sees a straight and narrow path this means that the path ahead of them would be filled with persecution. This idiom can be seen in the Talmud when it quotes 2 Kings 6:1:

“Others say: He drove the Rabbis away from him , as it is written. And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us;11 proving that till then it was not too narrow.” (b. Sanhedrin 107b)

Spacious field: The world would be likely be understood by a Jew to mean the world to come. But why would Lehi have to see such a path and a field in connection to the world to come? We must understand that in ancient Israelite culture the mere being in the land of Israel was considered to many as a sign that one would have a share in the world to come. This is because the Torah promises that those who are righteous will stay in the land and those who are not will be rooted out. So eventually this led people to believe that just being in the land was a good sign, as can be seen in the Talmud:

“R. Jeremiah b. Abba in the name of R. Johanan, that whoever walks four cubits in the Land of Israel is assured of a place in the world to come. “ (b. Ketubot 111a)

So Lehi was shown that even though he was going away from the land of Israel he was going towards his share in the world to come which was contrary to popular belief. Because Lehi ‘s exile was a calling and not truly an exile. This vision was extremely important because even with all the experience provided by G-d it’s possible that some within his family would still view their exile as a curse. The vision shows it was not.

I really like this commentary. Not only did this dream indicate to Lehi the fate of his own family in the future, it also is by interpretation a vision of the last days. In that sense the "spacious field" is the world, in the last days. The world to come, and how to safely navigate through the mist of darkness, would be to hold on to the Iron Rod, which is the word of God as you pointed out.

Here is an artist's rendition of the vision.

Posted Image

Regards,

Vanhin

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No Problem - Take your time. I enjoy your insights and analysis so far. It's great.

Everything you have written so far has been so great and so spot-on. As you'll see in Chapter 11, the "Great and Spacious Building" is not a vision of the Holy Temple, but represents the pride of the world. It represents a group of people who mock those who are trying to keep the commandments and they are built upon a house with no foundation.

Thekabalist, thank you so much for your analysis. It's greatly appreciated.

This has by far been the greatest contribution. Thank you! As I am reading 1st Nephi for the first time I didn't know that this had been a negative revelation. I managed to find great information about this bit of Lehi's vision in Jewish tradition.

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Here's some more but before you read it make sure you check the update on verse 26. I'm sorry this is taking a bit long:

27 And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.

Why were they pointing their fingers while mocking at those who partook of the fruit? The act of pointing your finger to the law of G-d is a very old Jewish custom. In a religious service where the scroll of the Torah is open the Israelites will point to the Torah as an act of recognition that this is the word of G-d.

A Midrash says that this is because when the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea they pointed towards G-d at the words “this is my G-d” and since then there is such a habit. So when we think of people who were pointing fingers downwards in mockery it would be like saying “I have no G-d” and it would have been understood at the times of Lehi as an act of great blasphemy. Much greater than most would realize by reading the passage nowadays.

28 And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.

There is a fantastic word-play here that only makes sense in Hebrew. Lehi says that those who fell away did so into “forbidden” paths. The Hebrew word for “forbidden” is the word אסור (Asur). Now the word for Assyria is the word אשור (Ashur). What had Lehi’s family fled from a few centuries before? The Assyrian captivity that befell upon the Northern kingdom of Israel.

So Lehi’s word-play is an indication that those of Judah who mocked the laws of G-d would fall into the same kind of captivity as the other tribes before them.

29 And now I, Nephi, do not speak all the words of my father.

30 But, to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward; and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.

Our sages have always stated that Israel would become like multitudes in the exile. So these multitudes likely refers to those of the lost tribes of Israel who would one day return as said in Isaiah 27:13: “And it shall come to pass on that day, that a great shofar shall be sounded, and those lost in the land of Assyria and those exiled in the land of Egypt shall come and they shall prostrate themselves before the Lord on the holy mount in Jerusalem.”

This matches the word-play that Lehi made earlier and it would mean that some of those would eventually find their way back to the law of G-d which is the tree of life.

31 And he also saw other multitudes feeling their way towards that great and spacious building.

32 And it came to pass that many were drowned in the depths of the fountain; and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads.

The sea: In Hebrew the word for depth is עומק (omek) which literally means “an empty hole that descends into the earth. So we can understand that Lehi believes that it is their own emptiness as they were lacking in the word of G-d that was responsible for drowning. The depths can also be associated with graves as the Talmud says:

“Whosoever departs from the words of the Torah falls into Gehenna, for it is said: The man that strayeth out of the way of understanding shall rest in the congregation of the shades;10 and the shades must be synonymous with Gehenna for it is said: But he knoweth not that the shades are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol” (b. Bava Batra 79a)

One question the reader may have refers to why would people see others drowning and attempt to cross the river anyway? The Talmud explains that there was a foolish superstition among the people that those who drowned would attain life:

“Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel, or it may be R. Ammi, or as some say it was taught in a Baraitha; On one occasion four hundred boys and girls were carried off for immoral purposes. They divined what they were wanted for and said to themselves, If we drown in the sea we shall attain the life of the future world. The eldest among them expounded the verse, The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring again from the depths of the sea.19 'I will bring again from Bashan,' from between the lions' teeth.20 'I will bring again from the depths of the sea,' those who drown in the sea. When the girls heard this they all leaped into the sea. The boys then drew the moral for themselves, saying, If these for whom this is natural act so, shall not we, for whom it is unnatural? They also leaped into the sea. Of them the text says, Yea, for thy sake we are killed all the day long, we are counted as sheep for the slaughter.” (b. Gittin 57b)

Strange roads: To the reader the idea of “strange roads” can be rather “strange” in English. But in Hebrew it makes perfect sense. The expression “strange” in Hebrew is זר (zar) which is used in connection to idolatry. In fact in Jewish literature idolatry is called עבודה זרה (avodah zarah – strange service). So a “strange road” would be a road that led to idolatry.

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Much greater than most would realize by reading the passage nowadays.

Definitely gives it greater significance then the 'neener-neener' interpertation which I imagine those of us without much knowledge of Jewish culture and customs are thinking of.

Strange roads: To the reader the idea of “strange roads” can be rather “strange” in English. But in Hebrew it makes perfect sense. The expression “strange” in Hebrew is זר (zar) which is used in connection to idolatry. In fact in Jewish literature idolatry is called עבודה זרה (avodah zarah – strange service). So a “strange road” would be a road that led to idolatry.

Much like how Aaron's sons offered strange fire unto the Lord? Using the KJV has some advantages I guess. :)

Edited by Dravin
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Yes. Hybridism (mixing seeds) is strictly forbidden by the Torah-Law. Some Jewish rabbis believe that mankind is bringing great evil into the world by attempting to create hybrids. They are not the way G-d created things.

There was a lot of debate in mishnaic and talmudic times as to just what seeds could or couldn't be mixed. They would not have mixed them anyway, because you would want to know what, where and when you were planting. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that it did not matter at that early of a stage in jewish history what you did with the seeds before planting them.

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Here's a bit more. Sorry this is taking longer than usual:

20 And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world.

Strait and narrow: A straight and narrow place is an Israelite euphemism for being pressed with persecution. So when Lehi sees a straight and narrow path this means that the path ahead of them would be filled with persecution. This idiom can be seen in the Talmud when it quotes 2 Kings 6:1:

“Others say: He drove the Rabbis away from him , as it is written. And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us;11 proving that till then it was not too narrow.” (b. Sanhedrin 107b)

Are you sure? I look at the peshat in the Bible and it means that the place they were camping at was crowded, so they chopped down some trees. I read the talmud quote and it doesn't seem to be talking about persecution, but about bridging gaps and schisms. It continues to say forever let the left arm push away but the right one welcome, and then brings up the unfortunate incident of Yehoshua ben Farhaya who drove away Yeshu the heretic, who became a great idolator.

For us LDS it is like the instructions in the D&C to rebuke betimes with sharpness but to show an increase of love afterwards.

Spacious field: The world would be likely be understood by a Jew to mean the world to come. But why would Lehi have to see such a path and a field in connection to the world to come? We must understand that in ancient Israelite culture the mere being in the land of Israel was considered to many as a sign that one would have a share in the world to come. This is because the Torah promises that those who are righteous will stay in the land and those who are not will be rooted out. So eventually this led people to believe that just being in the land was a good sign, as can be seen in the Talmud:

“R. Jeremiah b. Abba in the name of R. Johanan, that whoever walks four cubits in the Land of Israel is assured of a place in the world to come. “ (b. Ketubot 111a)

So Lehi was shown that even though he was going away from the land of Israel he was going towards his share in the world to come which was contrary to popular belief. Because Lehi ‘s exile was a calling and not truly an exile. This vision was extremely important because even with all the experience provided by G-d it’s possible that some within his family would still view their exile as a curse. The vision shows it was not.

I agree with you about the field being the world to come, but the talmud quote shouldn't be used in trying to understand Lehi's vision, as the quote is from a time after 3 disastrous revolts, when there was a wide-spread phenomenom of people leaving the land of Israel. R. Yochnan's statm,ent is a bit of positive propoganda and does not necessarily reflect older POVs.

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There was a lot of debate in mishnaic and talmudic times as to just what seeds could or couldn't be mixed. They would not have mixed them anyway, because you would want to know what, where and when you were planting. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that it did not matter at that early of a stage in jewish history what you did with the seeds before planting them.

The problem my friend is not what you did with the seeds before planting. What I was attempting to say is this: Imagine the amount of seeds one would have to handle in order to get all such plants into a foreign land. Evidently they didn't take one sample of each as that would have been risky. We are talking about a massive amount of seeds. Now you wouldn't want to accidentally mix those seeds not because the mixing of seeds before planting would be a problem but because you could end up accidentally planting them together. Do you understand my point?

b'shalom!

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Are you sure? I look at the peshat in the Bible and it means that the place they were camping at was crowded, so they chopped down some trees. I read the talmud quote and it doesn't seem to be talking about persecution, but about bridging gaps and schisms. It continues to say forever let the left arm push away but the right one welcome, and then brings up the unfortunate incident of Yehoshua ben Farhaya who drove away Yeshu the heretic, who became a great idolator.

For us LDS it is like the instructions in the D&C to rebuke betimes with sharpness but to show an increase of love afterwards.

Yes, I'm sure. Firstly because the Talmud at this point is evidently making a Remez and not using the Peshat. This is why I quoted the Talmud and not the Tanach because the Remez is what would indicate the allegorical use I was refering to. And secondly because whereas you are correct in your assessment that the context talks about briding schisms but here's the paragraph:

GEHAZI, as it is written, And Elisha came to Damascus:9 whither did he go? — R. Johanan said: He went to bring Gehazi back to repentance, but he would not repent. 'Repent thee,' he urged. He replied, 'I have thus learnt from thee: He who sins and causes the multitude to sin is not afforded the means of repentance.' What had he done? — Some say: He hung a loadstone above Jeroboam's sin [i.e., the Golden Calf], and thus suspended it between heaven and earth [by its magnetism]. Others maintain: He engraved the Divine Name in its [sc. the calf's] mouth, whereupon it [continually] proclaimed, 'I [am the Lord thy God],' and 'Thou shalt have no [other] gods before me.' Others say: He drove the Rabbis away from him [sc. Elisha], as it is written. And the sons of the prophets said unto Elisha, Behold now, the place where we dwell with thee is too strait for us; proving that till then it was not too narrow.

As you can see he is talking about about the sins of Gehazi at this point. And one of the sins was to "drive the Rabbis away" (ie. persecute them) which they indicate the Remez in the Tanach was hinting at by such an expression. Do you see how we derive the allegory?

I agree with you about the field being the world to come, but the talmud quote shouldn't be used in trying to understand Lehi's vision, as the quote is from a time after 3 disastrous revolts, when there was a wide-spread phenomenom of people leaving the land of Israel. R. Yochnan's statm,ent is a bit of positive propoganda and does not necessarily reflect older POVs.

It does reflect older POVs as this feeling has always been the feeling of Israel. The feeling derives from a misunderstanding of the Torah. You see the Torah basically says that if you're good you'll be blessed and stay in the land of Israel and if you're bad you'll be driven away from it. Therefore it was a widespread belief that dying in Israel would mean that you would die in G-d's favor. The quotation was simply meant to give an example of such a sentiment.

b'shalom!

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I have finally finished chapter 8. Yay! :)

33 And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.

Again when we look at the Hebrew meaning of the word “strange” as stated before then this “strange building” could very well mean a house of idolatry.

34 These are the words of my father: For as many as heeded them, had fallen away.

35 And Laman and Lemuel partook not of the fruit, said my father.

36 And it came to pass after my father had spoken all the words of his dream or vision, which were many, he said unto us, because of these things which he saw in a vision, he exceedingly feared for Laman and Lemuel; yea, he feared lest they should be cast off from the presence of the Lord.

Why would Nephi insist that his father spoke many words? If we look at a possible underlying Hebrew the term would be רבים (rabim) which don’t mean only “many” but also “exalted”. This is an interesting word-play because even though the people who were in the lofty building believed they were in a higher spiritual state their words of mockery were coming from a low spiritual level whereas Lehi’s words were the ones truly exalted because they were the words G-d himself revealed to him.

37 And he did exhort them then with all the feeling of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words, that perhaps the Lord would be merciful to them, and not cast them off; yea, my father did preach unto them.

The word that is usually used in the Bible for tender is the word רך (rak). The most curious thing about this word is that it isn’t used only with the meaning of “tender” but also with the meaning of “weak” or “uncapable”. This shows us that Lehi must have suffered from a spiritual and emotional exhaustion by having to try to persuade his sons to follow the ways of G-d.

38 And after he had preached unto them, and also prophesied unto them of many things, he bade them to keep the commandments of the Lord; and he did cease speaking unto them.

A preaching and a prophecy in Judaism have the same objective: To get the people to return to the ways of the law of G-d. However a prophecy is seen as an extreme measure to get people to listen to the ways of G-d. This is why Lehi first preached and then prophesied. It was Lehi’s last resort after this vision. They also understood that not heeding to prophecy is very serious as the Mishnah states:

"He who suppresses his prophecy, or disregards the words of a prophet, or a prophet who transgresses his own word - his death is at the hands of heaven." (b. Sanhedrin 89a)

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And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.

The Flying Building Dilemma: In Jewish imagery a flying tower consists of a great dilemma. Rashi tells us that in ancient times those who practiced incantations would raise houses from the air just to defy the laws of nature. These were people who believed that they had the power to reach the heavens by themselves without any help from G-d.

The Torah has may laws concerning one's house. When one raised a house from ground in order to boast that they could defy G-d's commandments it would become a problem to the sages. It is considered a dilemma because our sages for many times tried to apply the laws of the Torah to the case of such houses and couldn't. The Talmud says the following about this:

"R. Isaac said: What is meant by the verse, Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? The goodness of God endureth continually?... Where is he who enumerated all the letters of the Torah? Where is he who weighed all the light and heavy [precepts] of the Torah? Where is he that counted the towers — who counted three hundred fixed laws on a 'tower flying in the air.' R. Ammi said: Doeg and Ahitophel propounded four hundred problems with respect to a tower flying in the air, and not one was solved."

(b. Sanhedrin 106b)

So if the problem of the flying towers could not be resolved this could be understood as the fact that if one boasts against G-d's commandments then there is no hope for them in G-d's word.

The tower of Babel came to mind too from this commentary. There seems to be a similar idea in some Mormon thought, that rebellion, or defying God's will was the desire in building such a tower.

Regards,

Vanhin

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