1 Nephi Chapter 13


thekabalist

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This was actually 9 pages long so I really hope you find it useful:

1 And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld many nations and kingdoms.

2 And the angel said unto me: What beholdest thou? And I said: I behold many nations and kingdoms.

Many nations and kingdoms: This expression should not be taken lightly. The reference to “many nations” likely implies that these are descendants of Abraham for it is written in Genesis 17:4: “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be the father of a multitude of nations.”

The word kingdom in Hebrew could be ממלכה (mamlachah) or מלכות (malchut). This mentioning of Nephi would have great relevance in ancient Kabbalah. Because Malchut represents the lowest form of manifestation of G-d’s attributes. That is those manifestations that are visible to us in the form of those who choose to live his kingdom.

Rabbi Yosef Caro says thus: “Malchut represents the authority of G-d, and dedicating oneself to malchut means accepting upon oneself the Yoke of Heaven.”

So Malchut represents committing yourself to serving G-d. Think of this as an entry level: When one says something like: “OK, there’s a G-d above me and I will follow Him.” This doesn’t mean the person has achieved any higher spiritual maturity yet.

So when Nephi says that there were many kingdoms this spiritually would be interpreted as meaning that each group of people were following their own interests and were failing to even acknowledge G-d. As descendants of Abraham this would have been the minimum expected of them and yet they were failing.

3 And he said unto me: These are the nations and kingdoms of the Gentiles.

4 And it came to pass that I saw among the nations of the Gentiles the formation of a great church.

Considering that the word “church” usually refers to an assembly there are several possible Hebrew words that could be underlying such an expression. But considering that this is a “great” church there is one that catches our attention.

This seems to be a counterfeit form of the Great Assembly (כנסת הגדולה‎ - Knesset haGedolah) which Ezra organized to reestablish the Jewish faith after the exile.

The Mishnah tells us that the prophets of old passed on the knowledge of the traditions of Israel to the Men of the Great Assembly.

Whereas the purpose of the Great Assembly was to preserve the laws of G-d after captivity the purpose of this counterfeit Great Assembly seems the very opposite: To forward abomination and to bring the people into captivity.

5 And the angel said unto me: Behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God, yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity.

Yoke of iron: Iron in Jewish thought represents destruction and shortening of life. So a yoke of iron would represent that this church would impose on the people the burden of constantly persecuting and destroying their lives.

6 And it came to pass that I beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it.

Again we should remember how the word שעיר (seir - “devil”) in Hebrew literature is connected with demons that promote idol worship. Please see earlier commentaries for further information. But it is important to notice that a 600BC Israelite would understand the expression very differently from a 21st century Christian. Abomination is also most commonly used in the Jewish Bible with connection to idolatry. Therefore an abominable assembly founded by the devil would be understood as a group of people that practiced idol worshipping rather heavily.

7 And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots.

8 And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and the fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church.

Garments: In Jewish though one’s garments are related to how one chooses to live his life. In Chassidut the garments of the soul are considered to be thought, speech and action. So what one chooses to think or how one chooses to talk or even how one acts these are all the garments of his soul.

The Zohar speaks of the garments as a reflection of one’s deeds:

“It follows from this that it is a person's bad deeds that make the filthy garments for him. "And he said to him, 'Behold I have caused your iniquity to pass from you; and I clothe you in festive garments'. For they clothed him in other more suitable garments, in which a person may observe the splendor of his Master's honor.” (Zohar Pinchas 7:25)

So it is important that we analyze what the garments of this group of abominable people represent so that we may understand their deeds.

Gold and silver and silk: This to a Jewish reader would be understood as the garments of kings. The Zohar for example says:

“The “best clothes" means kingly garments of silk and gold, and it is the custom of the world to store them in spices and scents, because of the preciousness of the garments.” (Zohar Bo 7:153)

So the idea that they were wearing such precious clothing as Nephi says is that these people gathering for idolatry would be associated with the kingship of the kingdoms that Nephi saw before. If this refers to a religious group then it certainly means that the group enjoyed great political power.

Scarlet: As explained before it is a Jewish tradition based on Isaiah 1:18 that the color scarlet represents stains of sin. Therefore this group dressing in scarlet would represent that they were guilty of several great sins.

Fine-twined linen: As we have already seen linen was symbolic of purity. There is however an important word-play because in Hebrew the verb לפתול (liftol – to twine) can also mean “to distort”. Therefore this group of people were likely distorting the purity of faith to fit their own interests.

Harlotry: In Jewish literature the term “harlotry” is used to refer to those who exchange G-d for serving foreign gods. This can be seen in Jeremiah 3:6 for example.

9 And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints of God, and bring them down into captivity.

There is a word-play here that should be observed. The Psalms 113 through 118 are actually part of a collection called the הלל (Hallel – which literally means “Praise”). These Psalms are usually recited in the Jewish High Holidays to commemorate that G-d has delivered the Israelites from captivity.

Now re-read the angel’s last sentence and notice how he refers to a “hallel” (praise) of the world for bringing Israelites into captivity. That is the very opposite of what the real “hallel” is supposed to mean and displays the wickedness of this abominable assembly.

10 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren.

11 And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren.

12 And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.

13 And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.

Divided by waters: There are three very important aspects referred to by the waters in Nephi’s vision. First of all it must be understood that waters in Jewish thought are symbolic of concealment. Rabbi Yanki Tauber in his article “Murky Waters” says:

“"Everything that exists on land," says the Talmud, "also exists in the sea." The Kabbalists apply this law in a broader sense as well, explaining that the whole of reality can be divided into two realms: "the revealed worlds" and "the hidden worlds."”

So when Nephi sees the many waters that separated the seed of his brethren then this means that the seed of his brethren would be concealed. A great possibility for this is the fact that the exile would bring assimilation and thus they would lose track of their Israelite origin.

The waters also divided the kingdoms of Israel namely the 10 lost tribes from the remaining of the Israelites. The Midrash says that the 10 lost tribes were separated from the remaining of the Israelites by a great body of water:

“R. Judah b. Simon said: "The tribes of Judah and Benjamin were not exiled to the same place as the ten tribes; for the latter were transported beyond the River Sambation." (Bereshit Rabbah 73)

There have been many legends concerning the River Sambation and the idea that the tribes could have crossed the Atlantic is not an exclusively LDS idea.

The third possible important reference is that the seas are also used in Jewish Apocalyptic literature to refer to the separations in the spirit world. For example the spirit prisons would be separated from the Garden of Eden by a great sea and so would the different levels in heaven. This is seen in the Book of Enoch:

“And such a division has been make (for) the spirits of the righteous, in which there is the bright spring of water. And such has been made for sinners when they die and are buried in the earth and judgement has not been executed on them in their lifetime” (1 Enoch 22:9-11)

14 And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.

15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain.

White: There are several words in Hebrew that can be translated into “white”. Most of them such as צח (tzach), זך (zach), טהור (tahor) and בהיר (bahir) carry a sense of purity. There is therefore no reason to suppose that Nephi’s remark has any racial connotation whatsoever.

16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.

It is interesting that Nephi mentions Gentiles going out of captivity. This could be a reference to the 10 lost tribes which according to Judaism were considered Gentiles because they completely lost their Israelite identity during captivity.

17 And I beheld that their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them.

Upon the waters and upon the land: In ancient Kabbalah as stated before the waters and the land are symbolical of the two realities that we have to deal with: the spiritual world which is concealed and the physical world which is revealed. Rabbi Yanki Tauber (ibid) says about this:

“The sea is the mystical twin of land. The sea has mountains and canyons, rivers and weather systems, and living organisms of every type and form imaginable; but everything is submerged within its watery depths, almost completely hidden from inquisitive eyes (we know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the ocean-floors of our own planet). By the same token, the physical world is mirrored by a hidden spiritual universe, and our conscious mind is but a reflection of the hidden, sub-conscious chambers of our souls.”

So what do we make of this affirmation of Nephi? We can see that the wars against those from among the Gentiles who had turned to G-d would be fought both physically through literal persecution as well as in the spiritual world.

18 And I beheld that the power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.

19 And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations.

20 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that they did prosper in the land; and I beheld a book, and it was carried forth among them.

Once again we have as in the previous chapters a reference to the Jewish Holiday of שמחת תורה (Simchat Torah). As said before, during this Holiday the Torah scrolls paraded among the people representing the prophecy given by Isaiah:

“And many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths." For the law will go forth from Zion And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3)

21 And the angel said unto me: Knowest thou the meaning of the book?

22 And I said unto him: I know not.

23 And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi, beheld it; and he said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles.

Indeed this prophecy came true as the Jewish Bible known as the תנך – Tanach – which is the short form of Torah (law) Neviim (prophets) and Ketuvim (writings). This corresponds to the Old Testament section of the Bible and is in great part responsible for the spreading of Monotheism.

24 And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God.

25 Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God.

26 And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away.

Covenants taken away: Although I will refrain from commenting on the portion which refers to taking away from the gospel which I understand to mean the New Testament, I would like to comment on the taking away of the covenants. This in part reflects a Jewish feeling when Christianity takes several prophecies and promises that were made to Israel and make it apply to Christianity itself and yet is unwilling to take upon itself the same covenant of obedience unto the Torah-law that the Jewish people has taken. Israel has suffered greatly because of the preservation of the Torah. Theology aside when Christians apply such promises to themselves without the same level of commitment it feels to the Jewish people like an attempt to have only the good part of the covenant.

27 And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men.

28 Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God.

Plain things taken away: This is expression is very Jewish in its nature. Jewish hermeneutics is called the “Pardes” system which is an acronym for the number of levels in which Scripture is to be interpreted. These are the levels:

Peshat: Literally the “plain” or “simple” meaning of Scripture. This would be the literal reading of the message.

Remez: Literally means “hint”. Think of this as the signs given by small things such as the gematria (numeric value) of the words as well as the number of times a word is repeated or even an alternative spelling done on purpose. These are the keys to messages that require a more profound study than simply reading the plain text.

Drash: Literally means “allegory”. This is when you use a passage of the Bible allegorically to reach a more profound level of meaning. Most of the commentaries to Scripture found in the caves of Qumran are drashic prophecies for example.

Sod: Literally means “secret”. This is the deeper spiritual reality of the text. It is mostly what Kabbalah occupies itself with.

Why is this so important? Because the most basic rule of Jewish hermeneutics is that no interpretation can take away from the Peshat. For example if the Torah says that Moses ordered the burning of the Red Heifer we cannot use the other levels to explain away the fact. In other words “the plain meaning cannot be taken away.” Jewish people have always known that if you “taking away the plain (Peshat)” is the key to heresy.

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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.

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10 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren.

11 And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren.

12 And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.

13 And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.

Divided by waters: There are three very important aspects referred to by the waters in Nephi’s vision. First of all it must be understood that waters in Jewish thought are symbolic of concealment. Rabbi Yanki Tauber in his article “Murky Waters” says:

“"Everything that exists on land," says the Talmud, "also exists in the sea." The Kabbalists apply this law in a broader sense as well, explaining that the whole of reality can be divided into two realms: "the revealed worlds" and "the hidden worlds."”

So when Nephi sees the many waters that separated the seed of his brethren then this means that the seed of his brethren would be concealed. A great possibility for this is the fact that the exile would bring assimilation and thus they would lose track of their Israelite origin.

The waters also divided the kingdoms of Israel namely the 10 lost tribes from the remaining of the Israelites. The Midrash says that the 10 lost tribes were separated from the remaining of the Israelites by a great body of water:

“R. Judah b. Simon said: "The tribes of Judah and Benjamin were not exiled to the same place as the ten tribes; for the latter were transported beyond the River Sambation." (Bereshit Rabbah 73)

There have been many legends concerning the River Sambation and the idea that the tribes could have crossed the Atlantic is not an exclusively LDS idea.

The third possible important reference is that the seas are also used in Jewish Apocalyptic literature to refer to the separations in the spirit world. For example the spirit prisons would be separated from the Garden of Eden by a great sea and so would the different levels in heaven. This is seen in the Book of Enoch:

One of our modern prophets, Gordon B. Hinkley, while still a counselor in the First Presidency made the following remark.

In my private commemoration of this event, I have read and reread one important and prophetic verse from the Book of Mormon, and also a very long biography of Christopher Columbus.

That verse from Nephi’s vision states: “And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.” (1 Ne. 13:12.)

We interpret that to refer to Columbus. It is interesting to note that the Spirit of God wrought upon him. After reading that long biography, a Pulitzer winner of forty years ago, titled Admiral of the Ocean Sea—I have no doubt that Christopher Columbus was a man of faith, as well as a man of indomitable determination.

I recognize that in this anniversary year a host of critics have spoken out against him. I do not dispute that there were others who came to this Western Hemisphere before him. But it was he who in faith lighted a lamp to look for a new way to China and who in the process discovered America. His was an awesome undertaking—to sail west across the unknown seas farther than any before him of his generation. He it was who, in spite of the terror of the unknown and the complaints and near mutiny of his crew, sailed on with frequent prayers to the Almighty for guidance. In his reports to the sovereigns of Spain, Columbus repeatedly asserted that his voyage was for the glory of God and the spread of the Christian faith. Properly do we honor him for his unyielding strength in the face of uncertainty and danger.

We look at Columbus' discovery and the subsequent colonization of America by the Europeans as fulfillment of this prophecy. They found a people already here, which we claim include a remnant of the seed Lehi.

Regards,

Vanhin

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14 And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.

15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain.

White: There are several words in Hebrew that can be translated into “white”. Most of them such as צח (tzach), זך (zach), טהור (tahor) and בהיר (bahir) carry a sense of purity. There is therefore no reason to suppose that Nephi’s remark has any racial connotation whatsoever.

Though I think you are right, that by and large the symbolims of dark and white in the Book of Mormon concern purity, when speaking of the descendants of Nephi and Laman. However, it is important to note that the Book of Mormon seems to be pretty unequivical that there was a difference in the color of their skin. That the descendants of Laman and Lemuel were marked with a skin of darkness, as opposed to the Nephites who appear to have been white in comparison. Nephi is also equating the "Europeans" in his vision to be of the same complexion as his people, who would have been mostly of the tribe of Ephraim and Manasseh. There was also a signifcant representation of Judah (and Benjamin) through the Mulekites as well (which you have not read yet). I have included a few references from later in the Book of Mormon to demonstrate what I mean.

5 Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.

• • •

8 O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.

9 Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers. (Jacob 3:5,8-9)

6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men. (Alma 3:6)

21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. (2 Ne. 5:21)

15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;(3 Ne. 2:15)

Those are just some samples. It is clear that there is an actual skin color involved, for what it's worth. I just don't want you to be too dismayed when we get to those verses. :P

Regards,

Vanhin

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Plain things taken away: This is expression is very Jewish in its nature. Jewish hermeneutics is called the “Pardes” system which is an acronym for the number of levels in which Scripture is to be interpreted. These are the levels:

Peshat: Literally the “plain” or “simple” meaning of Scripture. This would be the literal reading of the message.

Remez: Literally means “hint”. Think of this as the signs given by small things such as the gematria (numeric value) of the words as well as the number of times a word is repeated or even an alternative spelling done on purpose. These are the keys to messages that require a more profound study than simply reading the plain text.

Drash: Literally means “allegory”. This is when you use a passage of the Bible allegorically to reach a more profound level of meaning. Most of the commentaries to Scripture found in the caves of Qumran are drashic prophecies for example.

Sod: Literally means “secret”. This is the deeper spiritual reality of the text. It is mostly what Kabbalah occupies itself with.

Why is this so important? Because the most basic rule of Jewish hermeneutics is that no interpretation can take away from the Peshat. For example if the Torah says that Moses ordered the burning of the Red Heifer we cannot use the other levels to explain away the fact. In other words “the plain meaning cannot be taken away.” Jewish people have always known that if you “taking away the plain (Peshat)” is the key to heresy.

Oh I loved this. This was very revealing, and represents an important thing to bear in mind. So, when God says, "...Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.", it is true that there could be other interpretations to God creating us in "his image and likeness", but they shouldn't take away from the plain meaning. According to LDS doctrine, those verses plainly teach that we look like God, we are in his image - the same species.

This is also true at many other levels in scripture. The plain meaning should matter to us.

Thank you,

Vanhin

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One more thing. Your commentary is great keep it coming!

In Mormonism we value all canonized scripture as authoritative and binding, and we value an authorized living prophet above the scriptures. Through a living prophet, God can reveal new and wonderful things concerning the will of the Lord and his kingdom on earth.

The message in the Book of Mormon makes in plainly clear that it came forth to convince the remnant of the seed of Lehi, the Jews, all of Israel, and the Gentiles that Jesus is the Christ, and that the records of the new testament and the old testament are authoritative from God, and also other books that will come forth. That seems to be the plain point that Nephi is trying to make. It is a prophecy about the restoration of the gospel and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. Nephi also points out that the record of the Jews originally contained the plain and precious points of doctrine, like the Book of Mormon does.

I understand your hesitancy in addressing that topic, I just wanted to point that out from our perspective. I am reminded of the following passages from Jeremiah.

31 ¶ Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:

33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:31-34)

Regards,

Vanhin

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Here is a partial study I did on the garment, which thekabalist has discussed.

The Garment of the True Priesthood

The battle between Pharaoh and Abraham is also shown in facsimile No. 1 in a unique, powerful manner. Abraham is shown wearing a full body garment, as is the priest, though his is a different style. On all other lion couches to date, there is none that show the figure on the couch fully clothed in a garment as our facsimile No. 1. They are either mummies, or nude, but none have the garment and slippers as Abraham does.

What is this garment and how does it tie in with our theme? Without it there isn't a battle to be sure! The garment tells it all, showing just who has the true priesthood and who doesn't, who is the covenant person, and who isn't. A Mesopotamian parallel is instructive concerning garments which tie the individual wearer of the garment into the cosmos, and showing garments were definitely associated with kingship and who possessed the real authority.

Leo Oppenheim's excellent study shows that by the end of the first millenium B.C. the kusitu garment "shifted from secular to ceremonial use. From then on, gods, kings, and priests are clad in it... the Neo-Assyrian texts refer to the kusitu as to the exclusive royal dress."[16] Esarhaddon gave his son this garment, showing the people who the future king was to be, "you have girt your son with the kusitu and (thus) you have endowed him with the kingship over Assyria."[17] Alma P. Burton notes that "The words "to endow" (from the Greek enduein), as used in the New Testament, mean to dress, clothe, put on garments, put on attributes, or receive virtue."[18] So this is the idea in facsimile 1. It is interesting that the priesthood of Eanna was threatened, "on repeated royal attempts to induce the priesthood of Eanna to send the kusitu to a rival sanctuary which the collegium refused." The authority over the entire earth as well as sky was at stake, as the garments had stars sewn onto them, especially of the late Assyrian kings, these nalbas same were literally "garment(s) of the sky."[19] Not only the sky, but clouds, stars, and the sun were sewn into the garments, the wearer being called the gallab same, the "shearer of the sky," i.e. "he who cuts off the fleecy clouds." Is it coincidence that this was the garment of Marduk, and that Marduk was equated with Nimrod, the same who sheared the sky with his arrow and claimed he killed God?[20] In the legends, Nimrod shoots an arrow in the sky and it comes down with blood, hence Nimrod claims he killed the God of Abraham so he has the power.[21] Also legendary is Nimrod establishing his priesthood line through the matriarchal line, while Abraham came through the patriarchal line, hence the rivalry.[22] That contest of matriarchy verses patriarchy involving the -archy is noted as "the origin of a quarrel or a murder... command, power, authority, which is what the quarrel is about. The suffix archy means always to be first in order, whether in time or eminence..."[23] Is it coincidence that the stars on the Mesopotamian-Assyrian garments of the kings are connected "with the cult of the foremost goddess of the Mesopotamian pantheon"?[24]

In the Aggadah, Nimrod's hunting prowess came from his skin garment he wore, which he inherited down the line from Adam, it being the same skin garment. When the animals saw him in it, they would lie down for him, so he found easy prey, hence becoming a "mighty hunter" (Hebrew gibbor - "mighty"), or a "war-like giant."[25] Nimrod, again, as the antithesis against Israel and the true priesthood, rivals Esau, another great hunter, and in fact, wants to slay him as he had the garment that belonged to Adam. Another story indicates that Nimrod received the garment from his forefathers, it being Adam's garment, "from Ham, who had stolen them out of the ark of Noah; when Esau saw them, he became jealous because Nimrod's success in hunting was due to the fact that he wore these coats of skin that made the animals prostrate before him. Hence he slew Nimrod."[26]

Hugh Nibley recounts the story that Ham stole the garments from Noah, hence Noah cursed Ham, and it was through his son Cush that Nimrod acquired them.[27] This garment of Adam is said to have been a garment of light.[28] The garment certainly did represent authority of the wearer, and it was passed down from Seth to Noah, and worn by Noah as he sacrificed on the altar.[29] Interestingly, in the story of Esau, who killed Nimrod for the garment, it was this that Esau sold Jacob as his birthright, and also hence why Jacob, in his blindness blessed Jacob who had the garment as it had the fragrence of Paradise. This was later referred to as the coat of many colors of Joseph as well.[30] The idea here is crystal clear. The garment had its origin in the celestial realms, hence garment of light, another tie in with the cosmos, and as such indicated the authority of the wearer. Nimrod, it is said, apparently had this garment at one time. It is most interesting that nimrah according to Jacob of Serug means "tiger," "crown," and "striped garment."[31] We read in the Apocalypse of Abraham that Abraham received the garment after sacrificing as God told him and not falling into temptation with Azazel, the false angel: "For behold, the garment which in heaven was formerly yours has been set aside for him, [Abraham] and the corruption which was on him has gone over to you."[32] John Tvedtnes also traces a tradition which says "the garments though stolen by Ham, were recovered by Shem who, as Melchizedek, gave them to Abraham as his successor. Abraham passed the garments to his son Isaac and he to his eldest son Esau.[33]

So, the wearer of the garment of the priesthood would certainly have God's authority. And Nimrod's or Pharaoh's actions speak louder than words that he does not have it. So the confrontation is on, and has been from time immemorial, Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, Cain and Abel, Abraham in Egypt, Moses in Egypt, Joseph in Egypt, Daniel and the lion's den, etc. As Hugh Nibley has pointed out "contention is not discussion...war is beyond politics."[34] And that is just the point with our facsimile No. 1. Facsimile No. 1 is indicating that there is a choice, the famous ancient doctrine of the two ways, between light and darkness. Interestingly, this is also indicated by scholars who note that with Abraham and his opponents, the proverb certainly applies: "The wise man, his eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness." This is interpreted as alluding to Abraham and Nimrod. "The element of darkness is reminiscent of Philo's description of Nimrod as the black one who does not participate in the light (and cf. also Gen. Rab. 42.4 where Nimrod is called a Cushite, i.e. Ethiopian, because his father was Cush).[35]

This juxtaposition of light and dark is everywhere throughout the Abraham story, as per the priest in Facsimile No. 1 who is pictured as being black, while Abraham is white, which realistically represents the idea of choosing between the light and dark, the ancient doctrine of the two ways. The Pseudo-Philo says God caused a deep sleep to overcome Abraham which encompassed him with fear because he was set in the place of fire, "and I showed him the torches of fire by which the just who have believed in me will be enlightened."[36] The image of the fiery and smoking furnace is always rearing up, such as in Genesis 15, as well as the Abrahamic lore, and 4 Baruch 6:23, Pseudo-Philo 6:17, etc. In the legends as well, Abraham sees a horror of great darkness (Nimrod himself?), and he further saw the future terror of the nations his people would be in, namely "the horror-awakening Babylon, MedoPersian, Syro-Grecian, and Roman empires."[37]

The smoking furnace of Genesis 15 has been interpreted as the fire of Gehinom, Hell, and then he saw a burning lamp, which was the Law, an interesting contrast of the two ways.[38]

So the themes play themselves out in our Book of Abraham, with Abraham as wearer of the true garment of the Priesthood being opposed in darkness by the false priesthood.

Endnotes

16. A. Leo Oppenheim, "The Golden Garments of the Gods," in Journal of Near Eastern Studies, Vol. 8 (1949), p. 179.

17. Ibid., p. 179.

18. Alma P. Burton, "Endowment," in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, vol. 2. Cf. Blake T. Ostler, "Clothed Upon: A Unique Aspect of Christian Antiquity," in BYU Studies, Vol. 22, (1982) pp. 31-45 for discussion of endowments meaning to clothe with a garment. See also the excellent discussions of John Tvedtnes, "Priestly Clothing in Bible Times," in Donald W. Parry, ed., Temples of the Ancient World, Deseret/FARMS, 1994, pp. 649-704, and Stephen D. Ricks, "The Garment of Adam in Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Tradition," in Ibid., pp. 705-739. Also Hugh Nibley, "Sacred Vestments," in Don E. Norton, ed., Temple and Cosmos, Deseret/FARMS, 1992, pp. 91-138.

19. Oppenheim, Ibid., p. 180, note. also 181.

20. Oppenheim, Ibid., p. 185f, 187 note 25; Toorn & Horst, Ibid., p. 9, though they ultimately abandon the equation of Nimrod=Marduk.

21. Baring-Gould, Ibid., p. 165.

22. Hugh Nibley, Abraham in Egypt, Deseret Book, 1981, pp. 189f.

23. Hugh Nibley, "Patriarchy and Matriarchy," in John Welch, Gary P. Gillum, Don E. Norton, eds., Old Testament and Related Studies, Deseret Book/ FARMS, 1986, p. 95.

24. Oppenhaim, Ibid., p. 191.

25. Encyclopedia Judaica, p. 1167; See also Warren & Tvedtnes, Ibid., pp. 1-2.

26. Toorn & Horst, Ibid., p. 26.

27. Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Deseret; The World of the Jaredites, Bookcraft, 1980, pp. 160-164.

28. Stephen D. Ricks, "The Garment of Adam in Jewish, Muslim, and Christian Tradition," in Parry, Ibid., p. 707f.

29. Ricks, Ibid., p. 711.

30. Ricks, Ibid., pp. 711f. Cf. John Tvedtnes, "Priestly Clothing in Bible Times," in Parry, Ibid., pp. 658f. Tvedtnes extends his ideas on the passing down of the garment to Moses, Joshua, Elijah and Elias, p. 662; Baring-Gould, Ibid., p. 164.

31. Ricks, Ibid., p. 729, n 41. The Light Garment in Egypt is also associated with the Wedjat-Eye, in J. Zandee, "Sargetexte, Spruch 75," in Zeitschrift f�r �gyptische Sprache, 1972, p. 55.

32. Charlesworth, Ibid., Vol. 1, Apocalypse of Abraham 13:14, p. 695.

33. Tvedtnes, Ibid., p. 657; Also see Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book, 1978, pp. 177-179, for the story of the torn garment of Joseph from the Medieval Tha' labi.

34. Hugh Nibley, "Beyond Politics," in Nibley on the Timely and Timeless, Truman G. Madsen, ed., Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1978, pp. 290f.

35. Toorn & Horst, Ibid., p. 28.

36. Pseudo-Philo 23:6, in Charlesworth, Ibid., vol. 2, p. 333.

37. Baring-Gould, Ibid., p. 185.

38. Baring-Gould, Ibid., p. 186. Hugh Nibley has discussed this doctrine of the two ways, in "The Expanding Gospel," in Temple and Cosmos, Norton, ed., pp. 195-199.

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So obviosly the garment.. Adams garment was detroyed by Josephs older brothers as they tore it adn shed blood on it. That was a shame, no more scent of paradise or easy hunting...

I also enjoyed a lot your video about the quontum physics... especially the part of the light and dark particles. I think that many of these dark/black referals in scriptures have nothiong to do with the skinn colour, but this attraction of diferent light according to ones set of mind. I seen peoples beeing become dark of anger and I can see the darkness sometimes.

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  • 2 years later...

Thekabalist, I'm reading with great interest your perspectives on the Book of Mormon. Thank you for your insights. This chapter dealing with the prophecy relating to the seed of the brethren of Nephi holds particular significance to me. Where I come from, we have memory of an ancient prophecy that was foretold of our downfall. Understand that none of what we remember was not written, but passed down through oral tradition. That being said, the story as told to me by my father goes like this...

Jealousy, greed, and suspicion possessed the people until each man's hand was lifted against his neighbor and the land became one vast battlefield. And he said that the Great Father-of-all looked upon His children with sadness and the prophecy was given:

"This is my fair land. With my hands and my heart have I made it and it is dearer to me than all the lands of earth. If you cannot live by my laws, sharing in the gifts that I have given, then I will cause such enemies as you have never seen to come upon you, and they will put their feet upon your necks and grind your faces in the dust."

My father said a promise was also given.

"Some far day you will begin to lift your heads, and you will climb to the mountain and lift your arms saying as one voice, 'Father, we are here!' And I will remember."

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I do not get on here much, but I wanted to know if the long quotes that the Kabalist (sp?) quotes from are from a book that I could buy? I do not always have internet access :( plus I have other responsibilities and wish I could pursue this when I have more time. (I didn't get to read it all right now, and I want to study it more!)

Were some of the remarks by the Jewish member on here? So interesting, and should not just be read fast! : /

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I do not get on here much, but I wanted to know if the long quotes that the Kabalist (sp?) quotes from are from a book that I could buy? I do not always have internet access :( plus I have other responsibilities and wish I could pursue this when I have more time. (I didn't get to read it all right now, and I want to study it more!)

Were some of the remarks by the Jewish member on here? So interesting, and should not just be read fast! : /

The commentary was his original work. There is no book that you can buy, but, thekabalist did have a desire to compile a manuscript on his commentary about the Book of Mormon using the stuff he was writing out here. A couple of us were enlisted to help him, and we got started. However, it doesn't appear that this will ever be finished since he's been gone for a while now. I think he has passed away, but I keep hoping that I am wrong.

Maybe I should at least finish compiling what we do have out here.

I miss Aharon.

Vanhin

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