1 Nephi Chapter 14


thekabalist

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Here's chapter 14. This was quite interesting and very Jewish in its content. I hope you like it.

1 And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks—

2 And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity; and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded.

Stumbling blocks: This expression comes from the Torah-law which says in Leviticus 19:14:

“You shall not curse a deaf person. You shall not place a stumbling block before a blind person, and you shall fear your God. I am the Lord.”

What does it mean to put a stumbling block before a blind person? It means to make use of the person’s ignorance to cause them to do something bad. Rashi thus comments on this verse:

“You shall not place a stumbling block before a blind person: Before a person who is “blind” regarding a matter, you shall not give advice that is improper for him. [For instance,] do not say to someone,“ Sell your field and buy a donkey [with the proceeds], ”while [in truth,] you plan to cheat him since you yourself will take it from him [by lending him money and taking the donkey as collateral. He will not be able to take the field because a previous creditor has a lien on it.] - [Torat Kohanim 19:34]”

According to the Talmud this also involves causing a person to sin due to her ignorance:

“How do we know that one should not hold out a cup of wine to a Nazirite or a limb from a living animal to a Noachide? From Scripture, which says, Thou shalt not put a stumbling block before the blind.” (b. Avodah Zarah 6b.)

In both situations a stumbling block means that someone with knowledge willfully makes someone with less knowledge do something bad for themselves or even sin.

So how do we understand Nephi’s sentence? From the previous chapter we understood that there was an assembly of wicked leaders who willfully perverted the religious practices of the nations leading them to idolatry. So when Nephi says that the Lamb of G-d would take away the stumbling blocks he means that by the power of the Messiah the nations would eventually see clearly that which they were doing in ignorance.

This explains the hardening of hearts referred to in the following verse: a hardened heart is a stubborn heart. Therefore this supposes that eventually they will have the knowledge necessary to make a conscious decision.

3 And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God; not the destruction of the soul, save it be the casting of it into that hell which hath no end.

The Pit: In Jewish imagery the pit is associated with the sins of the mouth, such as slander and blasphemes. It is understood that just like the mouth widens itself to promote evil thus will the pit open its wide mouth to engulf such sinners. This can be seen in the Talmud as follows:

“Rabbah b. Shila said in R. Hisda's name: He who puts his mouth to folly, Gehenna is made deep for him, as it is said, A deep pit is for the mouth [that speaketh] perversity. R. Nahman b. Isaac said, Also [for] one who hears and is silent, for it is said, he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein.” (b. Shabbat 33a)

Notice that Gehenna is the Aramaic form of Gehinom and also refers to hell. So we can understand from Nephi’s words that even after receiving the knowledge of G-d these people will blaspheme against Him willfully.

There is also a very similar passage concerning the fate of unrepentant idol-worshipers in the Zohar. You can see from the imagery presented in the Talmud and in the Zohar the Jewishness of the words of Nephi:

“There is an opening that leads down to the gates of Gehinom. From there, the converts look at all the evil ones, the idol worshipers, those who have not converted and thus have not entered the holy covenant. They are chased away by the angels of destruction with fire, and the converts see this, rejoicing that they have converted and are thus spared such a harsh judgement” (Zohar Bereshit 2:11)

4 For behold, this is according to the captivity of the devil, and also according to the justice of God, upon all those who will work wickedness and abomination before him.

Captivity and justice: Here we can see a feature of Hebrew language called Antithetic Parallelism. In such structure you have one phrase followed by its exact opposite. In this case, the captivity of the devil is used as the exact opposite of the justice of G-d.

5 And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, Nephi, saying: Thou hast beheld that if the Gentiles repent it shall be well with them; and thou also knowest concerning the covenants of the Lord unto the house of Israel; and thou also hast heard that whoso repenteth not must perish.

6 Therefore, wo be unto the Gentiles if it so be that they harden their hearts against the Lamb of God.

There’s an interesting clue in the gematria about the sentence above. The gematria value for the Hebrew expression “lamb of G-d” (שה האלהים – seh haElohim) is the same as the expression הישועה (hayeshuah – literally “the salvation”). So essentially Nephi is telling us that these people were indeed willfully rejecting the salvation of G-d.

7 For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and marvelous work among the children of men; a work which shall be everlasting, either on the one hand or on the other—either to the convincing of them unto peace and life eternal, or unto the deliverance of them to the hardness of their hearts and the blindness of their minds unto their being brought down into captivity, and also into destruction, both temporally and spiritually, according to the captivity of the devil, of which I have spoken.

In my search for the expression “great and marvelous” I came across the Hebrew translation of the New Testament, the expression “great and marvelous” is translated as “גדול ונורא” (gadol venorah) which indeed is a very likely translation.

What is relevant about this is that this is the same expression that appears in the book of the prophet Joel chapter 2 (and also chapter 3 in the Jewish Bible counting). For example Joel 2:31 says:

“The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes.”

So the word that is translated as “marvelous” appears to be more in the sense of wonder than as in something that the sons of men would necessarily perceive as enjoyable. This is confirmed by the rest of the verse which says that those who do not turn to G-d will be destroyed. In fact the word נורא (norah) could be translated as cataclysmic or even as catastrophic because the root of the word means “fear”. So it could be that these will be signs of great wrath against the sinners.

It is interesting to understand what the gematria reveals us about these two words. The word gadol has the same numeric value of the word גיל (geil) which means joy. However the word norah has the same numeric value of the word לזכור (lezachor) which means to remember. So to the righteous this work will be a reason of great joy because it will mean that redemption at hand. To the wicked it will be as Nephi discussed earlier: a remembrance of G-d to remove the stumbling blocks. In other words G-d will reveal Himself in his full might.

8 And it came to pass that when the angel had spoken these words, he said unto me: Rememberest thou the covenants of the Father unto the house of Israel? I said unto him, Yea.

9 And it came to pass that he said unto me: Look, and behold that great and abominable church, which is the mother of abominations, whose founder is the devil.

10 And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the bother is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.

Why is it that right after the angel asks if Nephi remembers the covenant of Israel he talks about the abominable assembly? The angel’s question makes use of the Semitic hermeneutic feature called the Remez (hint) as explained before. Let us look into it.

Nephi being an Israelite knows that at the core of the covenant lies the following choice given by G-d in the Torah:

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

About this the Talmud sages comment the following:

“R. Hananel b. Papa said: What is meant by, Hear, for I will speak princely things: why are the words of the Torah compared to a prince? To tell you: just as a prince has power of life and death, so have the words of the Torah [potentialities] of life and death. Thus Raba said; To those who go to the right hand thereof it is a medicine of life; to those who go to the left hand thereof it is a deadly poison. Another interpretation: princely' [denotes] that on every word which went forth from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He, two crowns were set.” (b. Shabbat 88b)

So why is this revelant to us? The angel is revealing to Nephi that it is exactly those who reject the laws of G-d the ones who will fall prey to the wicked assembly and eventually turn to idol-worshiping.

11 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters; and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.

12 And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few, because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters; nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small, because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw.

Sitting upon the waters: In ancient Kabbalah the evil side of the spiritual world is called the Sitra Achra which is the Aramaic for “other side”. The spiritual powers of evil are called the “waters of the Other Side”. This can be seen in the Zohar as follows:

“Happy is Israel who sow their seeds only beside the water, in order to subdue all kinds of water of the other side. As is written: "And they camped there by the water" (Shemot 15:27), MEANING over those waters that were under the branches of the tree of the Holy One, blessed be He, which are the treacherous waters, as is written before us.” (Zohar Beshalach 33:437)

So on a deeper level of understanding this means that this group of leaders of the wicked assembly would establish their reign with the help of evil spiritual powers. It is possible that they would make use of the occult in order to spread their influence.

The parallels between the spiritual war won by the Israelites as described in the Zohar and the prophecy of Nephi are striking. The Israelites who were also small in comparison to the evils that they were facing during the exodus from Egypt are similar to the people who would fight against the wicked assembly.

13 And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God.

14 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb, and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.

Here we have the confirmation that indeed the Remez made by the angel in the verses above is truly what we had interpreted: Those who belonged to the wicked assembly were those who had chosen to reject the covenant of G-d.

15 And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth.

16 And as there began to be wars and rumors of wars among all the nations which belonged to the mother of abominations, the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold, the wrath of God is upon the mother of harlots; and behold, thou seest all these things—

17 And when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots, which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose founder is the devil, then, at that day, the work of the Father shall commence, in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants, which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel.

Wrath of G-d: In ancient Kabbalah the term “wrath of G-d” was used to refer to one of the angels of punishment. And it is exactly the angel that rules over idolatry. The knowledge that Nephi had of ancient Kabbalah is very evident. Thus the Zohar describes the angels of punishment:

“The Faithful Shepherd said, it is written: "turned away My wrath”. What is the meaning of "turned away My wrath?" The answer is that this refers to three officials over Gehinom. One is over bloodshed, another over incest, and the third over idolatry, and they are called 'Destruction', 'Anger' and 'Wrath'. And the latter, Wrath, was flying through the world, and about it is said: "Turned away my wrath." He said, "turned away My wrath from the children of Israel," but He did not say "from the people," which would refer to the mixed multitude. For it is said, "And there fell of the people that day about three thousand men", where the meaning of “the people” is the mixed multitude. But there it does not say ‘turned away my wrath from the people,’ but rather “from the children of Israel.” This is to teach that the wrath was not turned away from the mixed multitude. For this is how we explained it, and we asked the holy luminary, that is, Rabbi Shimon.” (Zohar Pinchas 76:475)

Notice that just like in Nephi’s visionas seen in the previous chapter, in the Zohar the mixed multitude does not get away from the wrath of G-d because of their mixing truth with idolatry.

Nephi’s words also echo the Talmud’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem. In both cases the wrath comes after the people willfully rejected the message of the prophets and of the sages and refused to turn to G-d:

“Rab Judah said: Jerusalem was destroyed only because scholars were despised therein: for it is said, but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and scoffed at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” (b. Shabbat 119b)

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18 And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!

19 And I looked and beheld a man, and he was dressed in a white robe.

20 And the angel said unto me: Behold one of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

The white robe: We saw in the previous chapter how the garments in ancient Kabbalah represent one’s deeds before G-d. Now what does this white robe represent?

In Kabbalah, a white robe would be associated with the fact that he was going to reveal to the world a spiritual reality in a way that the world could grasp it. The righteous wearing robes represent the fact that they are able to understand a much greater spiritual reality than the other human beings and are able to translate that reality into words that the world can grasp. Thus the Zohar comments about this:

“When she entered in the presence of King Ahasuerus and he saw that robe of light, her form seemed to him like an angel of G-d, and he lost his soul for an instant. Mordechai too was enshrouded in the robes of that world, as is written: "And Mordechai went out from the presence of the king in royal (lit. 'of Malchut') apparel", verily the apparel of Malchut that is the form of that world. Therefore, it is written: "Because the fear of Mordechai had fallen upon them" , the fear of Mordechai and not the fear of Ahasuerus, that is, not because Ahasuerus had made him great, but rather because of his garment of that world. Rabbi Shimon said, How sweet are these matters. Praised is my lot. I am aware that the just in this world get shrouded with that robe that is called the robe of Malchut, and that is definitely so.” (Zohar Shlach Lecha 32:230)

21 Behold, he shall see and write the remainder of these things; yea, and also many things which have been.

22 And he shall also write concerning the end of the world.

Based on the spiritual reality revealed in the verses above we can see that the writing about the end of the world would be mostly spiritual, and in a way that the people could somehow grasp the meaning of it. It is also important to understand that the Hebrew word for end is the word סוף (sof) and it can also be translated as ruin. Also bear in mind how the time was counted in Hebrew thought, as we have already seen. The end of the world would mean the end of this age and possibly the beginning of the Messianic Age or of the World to Come.

23 Wherefore, the things which he shall write are just and true; and behold they are written in the book which thou beheld proceeding out of the mouth of the Jew; and at the time they proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, or, at the time the book proceeded out of the mouth of the Jew, the things which were written were plain and pure, and most precious and easy to the understanding of all men.

Precious and pure: Why does Nephi change the words that he used before? First he speaks of the things being plain and precious. Now he talks about them as being plain and pure.

In Hebrew such subtle changes in language can never be taken lightly. If we examine the words that Nephi applied we will find that the word precious in Hebrew is יקר (yakar). Now one of the possible words for pure in Hebrew is the word נקי (naki). Notice the spelling of both words. The word “naki” looks like the word “yakar” spelled backwards! So on a deeper level, Nephi is telling us that the wicked assembly has inverted the words that were given unto the apostle. This can be no coincidence.

Also relevant is the change of the letter ר (reish) to the letter נ (nun). In Hebrew the letter reish also means “head” and is associated with the will and intent of G-d. Now the letter nun in Aramaic means “fish” and so is associated in Kabbalah with the spiritual waters. Notice what Nephi is trying to tell us: That the wicked assembly inverted the writings of the apostle in order to replace the will and intent of G-d with the agenda of the very evil spiritual powers that sustain them! As I said before this cannot be a coincidence.

24 And behold, the things which this apostle of the Lamb shall write are many things which thou hast seen; and behold, the remainder shalt thou see.

25 But the things which thou shalt see hereafter thou shalt not write; for the Lord God hath ordained the apostle of the Lamb of God that he should write them.

26 And also others who have been, to them hath he shown all things, and they have written them; and they are sealed up to come forth in their purity, according to the truth which is in the Lamb, in the own due time of the Lord, unto the house of Israel.

Why would the words of Nephi be sealed? In ancient Judaism it was common for prophecies to be sealed so that the secrets of G-d would not be revealed unto the ones who practiced idol worship, and that they would be preserved to the righteous. And these are exactly the two groups of people that the message of Nephi has been dealing with all along. The Zohar speaks of this:

“"Wine makes glad the heart of man". This is the wine of the Torah, for the numerical value of the letters of the word yain (Eng. 'wine') is the same as the letters of sod (Eng. 'secret'). Just as wine has to be kept sealed so that it should not be used in a libation for idol worship, so also must the secret of the Torah be closed up and sealed, and none of its secrets be disclosed other than to those who fear Him.” (Zohar Pinchas 12:68)

27 And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel.

Name Etymology: John: Likely the Hebrew form of this name is יוחנן (Yochanan) which means the L-rd is merciful. It is no coincidence that Nephi reveals this to be the name of the apostle. After all the prophecies of the end of the world according to Nephi are G-d’s final attempt to get the world to turn back to Him.

28 And behold, I, Nephi, am forbidden that I should write the remainder of the things which I saw and heard; wherefore the things which I have written sufficeth me; and I have written but a small part of the things which I saw.

29 And I bear record that I saw the things which my father saw, and the angel of the Lord did make them known unto me.

30 And now I make an end of speaking concerning the things which I saw while I was carried away in the spirit; and if all the things which I saw are not written, the things which I have written are true. And thus it is. Amen.

Why does Nephi say this apparently unnecessary sentence saying that the things which he has seen are not written, and the things which he has written are true? This appears to be a word-play in Hebrew.

The word written (plural) in Hebrew is the word כתובים (ketuvim). This is also the word used for the section of the Hebrew Bible that refers to the writings. That is the accounts of the people. So when Nephi says that his words are not “ketuvim” but are true this means that his accounts are to be used as a companion to the accounts of the people of Israel in the Bible.

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27 And I, Nephi, heard and bear record, that the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John, according to the word of the angel.

Name Etymology: John: Likely the Hebrew form of this name is יוחנן (Yochanan) which means the L-rd is merciful. It is no coincidence that Nephi reveals this to be the name of the apostle. After all the prophecies of the end of the world according to Nephi are G-d’s final attempt to get the world to turn back to Him.

28 And behold, I, Nephi, am forbidden that I should write the remainder of the things which I saw and heard; wherefore the things which I have written sufficeth me; and I have written but a small part of the things which I saw.

29 And I bear record that I saw the things which my father saw, and the angel of the Lord did make them known unto me.

30 And now I make an end of speaking concerning the things which I saw while I was carried away in the spirit; and if all the things which I saw are not written, the things which I have written are true. And thus it is. Amen.

Why does Nephi say this apparently unnecessary sentence saying that the things which he has seen are not written, and the things which he has written are true? This appears to be a word-play in Hebrew.

The word written (plural) in Hebrew is the word כתובים (ketuvim). This is also the word used for the section of the Hebrew Bible that refers to the writings. That is the accounts of the people. So when Nephi says that his words are not “ketuvim” but are true this means that his accounts are to be used as a companion to the accounts of the people of Israel in the Bible.

This was interesting to me that the name of the apostle who should write these things would be named John and that his name means "the L-rd is merciful". We know of course, that this is all in reference to the book of Revelations in the New Testament. So, basically Nephi is saying, for the rest of what will happen consult the writings of John.

Regards,

Vanhin

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What I continue to be amazed at is the amount of thought that must go into these writings. Using a word, then using what amounts to that word being written backwards to give added significance to the message being written. There is not only the message, but symbolic / imbedded messages that can be gleaned from it as well. Very interesting stuff.

:)

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Good morning thekabalist! I hope you are having a great day.

I wanted to ask for your opinion on something that Nephi stated in the verse below from 1 Nephi 14. I hope you don't mind.

3 And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God; not the destruction of the soul, save it be the casting of it into that hell which hath no end.

I've bolded the point that I wanted to ask about. If you note, Nephi states that those who are disobedient will be utterly destroyed but he makes a point to specify that this doesn't mean it will be "the destruction of the soul." In your opinion, why do you think Nephi emphasises this point? What significance coming from a Jewish perspective, if any, would you place on this thought?

Regards,

Finrock

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