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Jamie123

The "Molten Sea"

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I can remember coming across references to "the sea" in Solomon's temple before, but I only recently discovered what this actually was...

757c404268479ca9e66cbcd6cc7f482a.gif

...which is very obviously the model for the baptismal fonts the LDS use today in their temples:

SLC_Temple_Baptistry.jpg

Previously I had vaguely imagined that this was a Mormon invention, but I'm sure I must have seen pictures of Solomon's "sea" at some time in the past because the thing always struck me as rather Jewish-looking.

A lot of questions spring to mind though: I wonder...

  1. Why didn't the "new" temple have one of these? (Or did it? I can't find any reference to it having one.)
  2. Was the washing of the priests in "the sea" really the precursor to Christian baptism? (I believe the Jews at Qumran practiced a form of baptism by full immersion - did they perhaps preserve an older tradition that the priests in Jerusalem had discarded?)

On the other hand 2 Chronicles does mention that there were a lot of smaller washing vessels as well: you can see them in this picture...

Solomon's_Temple_Jerusalem.jpg

Did equivalents to these exist in the temple of Jesus' time, and were they used for baptisms by the Jewish priesthood? If so, how did that "baptism" (if indeed that's what it was) differ from John's baptism?

I'm always astonished by what I never knew I never knew.

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In lieu of (or at least in anticipation of) a knowledgeable response, here's mine.

Baptism greatly predated Jesus, and appears to have been a known practice to the Jews. Note that the Bible mentions John as "the Baptist", but doesn't make a big deal about this weird baptism thing he was doing. My own supposition is that with the fulfillment of the law of Moses and its associated ritual washings, certain elements (e.g. the "molten sea") were incorporated into the ordinances that did continue. So while I don't think that the "molten sea" was necessarily ever used for baptisms of the living or for the dead by proxy, I do believe that our modern LDS baptismal fonts in temples are based directly on that "molten sea".

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I'm not certain baptism was as universal as we might think.

Quote

21 And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven.

22 And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize. And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you.

-- 3 Ne 11:21-22

37 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things.

38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

-- 3 Ne 11: 37-38

And it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words unto Nephi, and to those who had been called, (now the number of them who had been called, and received power and authority to baptize, was twelve) and behold, he stretched forth his hand unto the multitude, and cried unto them, saying: Blessed are ye if ye shall give heed unto the words of these twelve whom I have chosen from among you to minister unto you, and to be your servants; and unto them I have given power that they may baptize you with water; and after that ye are baptized with water, behold, I will baptize you with fire and with the Holy Ghost; therefore blessed are ye if ye shall believe in me and be baptized, after that ye have seen me and know that I am.

-- 3 Ne 12:1

Nephi had the Sealing Power, yet he did not have authority to baptize?  And the twelve?

Why did He tell the people that they needed to be baptized?  The survivors were the righteous people.  Yet they barely even knew who Jesus Christ was.  Were they not baptized?

It seems that even such a simple blessing as baptism was taken away from the covenant people for a time.  Moses broke the tablets.

Edited by Carborendum

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6 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

I'm not certain baptism is as ubiquitous as we might think.

 

Nephi had the Sealing Power, yet he did not have authority to baptize?  And the twelve?

Why did He tell the people that they needed to be baptized?  The survivors were the righteous people.  Yet they barely even knew who Jesus Christ was.  Were they not baptized?

It seems that even such a simple blessing as baptism was taken away from the covenant people for a time.  Moses broke the tablets.

The notion that you could only be baptized once is very much a 20th-century development, FWIW.

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1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

I don't quite follow.  What's the issue?

Jesus gave them power to baptize.  As the prophet, one would think that Nephi, himself, held the Melchizedek priesthood.  Why did the Lord give him power to baptize if he already held the M.P.?  Was he ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood AFTER he held the Melchizedek?

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3 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

Jesus gave them power to baptize.  As the prophet, one would think that Nephi, himself, held the Melchizedek priesthood.  Why did the Lord give him power to baptize if he already held the M.P.?  Was he ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood AFTER he held the Melchizedek?

For that matter, what happened between the ministry of Alma the Elder and the resurrection of Christ that (hypothetically) resulted in the Nephites' losing the power to baptize?

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5 minutes ago, Carborendum said:

Jesus gave them power to baptize.  As the prophet, one would think that Nephi, himself, held the Melchizedek priesthood.  Why did the Lord give him power to baptize if he already held the M.P.?  Was he ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood AFTER he held the Melchizedek?

Not seeing the problem. Holding the Priesthood per se doesn't give anyone the power to do any ordinance. That must always be approved by those who hold the keys to that work. Christ was simply authorizing baptism to take place, not necessarily instating a brand new, never-before-imagined practice.

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5 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

For that matter, what happened between the ministry of Alma the Elder and the resurrection of Christ that (hypothetically) resulted in the Nephites' losing the power to baptize?

I had theorized that the Nephites had become so corrupt that baptism was no longer allowed for many years.  It is speculation based only on circumstantial evidence and lack of any other explanation.  But it's what I'm going with for now.

Hence, I believe there were many periods in the Old World where they did not have baptism available.

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5 minutes ago, Vort said:

Not seeing the problem. Holding the Priesthood per se doesn't give anyone the power to do any ordinance. That must always be approved by those who hold the keys to that work. Christ was simply authorizing baptism to take place, not necessarily instating a brand new, never-before-imagined practice.

The principle is true.  And it may very well play right into my theory stated above.

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Just now, Carborendum said:

The principle is true.  And it may very well play right into my theory stated above.

Possibly. Another possibility is that Christ brought the new covenant to the Nephites, and entry into that new covenant was accomplished through baptism -- a new baptism, equivalent to but not identical with the baptism practiced throughout the previous history of the Nephites.

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5 minutes ago, Vort said:

Possibly. Another possibility is that Christ brought the new covenant to the Nephites, and entry into that new covenant was accomplished through baptism -- a new baptism, equivalent to but not identical with the baptism practiced throughout the previous history of the Nephites.

I was kind of going somewhere in that direction.  A lot we don't know.

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I dunno.  IIRC Nephi talks of baptism in roughly 550 BC.  Alma the Elder is practicing it around 100-120 BC.  Nephi son of Helaman is practicing it around 5 BC.  The idea that the authority would have finally disappeared in that last 35-year window seems unlikely to me.  

I rather agree with @Vort that what the Lord authorizes and ordains in 3 Nephi is fundamentally a re-baptism signifying a new dispensation/new covenant/new beginning, not unlike the rebaptisms that early Church members underwent on their arrivals in the Salt Lake Valley.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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According to this website, Herod's temple did have a "sea".

http://www.bible-history.com/jewishtemple/JEWISH_TEMPLEThe_Court_of_the_Priests.htm

Quote

Another fifteen steps led up to the famous Gate of Nicanor, to which Mary had brought the child at the time of his presentation; this led through the Court of the Men to that of the priests, which had in its center the altar for the burnt offerings and to the left of it a large basin called the Brazen Sea resting upon twelve bulls cast in bronze.

 

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14 hours ago, Just_A_Guy said:

I dunno.  IIRC Nephi talks of baptism in roughly 550 BC.  Alma the Elder is practicing it around 100-120 BC.  Nephi son of Helaman is practicing it around 5 BC.  The idea that the authority would have finally disappeared in that last 35-year window seems unlikely to me.  

I rather agree with @Vort that what the Lord authorizes and ordains in 3 Nephi is fundamentally a re-baptism signifying a new dispensation/new covenant/new beginning, not unlike the rebaptisms that early Church members underwent on their arrivals in the Salt Lake Valley.

Why would they need to be ordained for such if they already have the priesthood?  Authorize?  ok.  Keys.   But why ordain?  He "gave" the "power to baptize."  It certainly sounds like they were not allowed for at least some time.

And where do we hear of it in the Old Testament?  It seems to be limited to the temple.  And that is a different baptism than the baptism of John.

Edited by Carborendum

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2 hours ago, Carborendum said:

Why would they need to be ordained for such if they already have the priesthood?  Authorize?  ok.  Keys.   But why ordain?  He "gave" the "power to baptize."  It certainly sounds like they were not allowed for at least some time.

And where do we hear of it in the Old Testament?  It seems to be limited to the temple.  And that is a different baptism than the baptism of John.

Verse 28 (of chapter 11) suggests to me that there had been disagreements amongst the Nephites regarding the mode of baptism.  In that context, I'm inclined to think this is less about giving the Nephites power that was previously unknown among them; and more about showing the masses who had the authority to wield that power in the proper way.

As for the OT:  we know that Moses baptized the children of Israel.  It seems to me there is also a scriptural record of Adam being baptized.  So, this is something that was supposed to be happening all along; not a post-resurrection innovation.

 Religious scholars tell us the Jews practiced mikvot consistently at least from the Babylonian period onwards.  Whether the Lord accepted those as bona fide baptisms, or whether they were merely apostate memorials of something long since corrupted--I don't purport to know.  But the Nephites, at the very least, seem to have had the real thing. 

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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2 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Verse 28 (of chapter 11) suggests to me that there had been disagreements amongst the Nephites regarding the mode of baptism.  In that context, I'm inclined to think this is less about giving the Nephites power that was previously unknown among them; and more about showing the masses who had the authority to wield that power in the proper way.

As for the OT:  we know that Moses baptized the children of Israel.  It seems to me there is also a scriptural record of Adam being baptized.  So, this is something that was supposed to be happening all along; not a post-resurrection innovation.  

Religious scholars tell us thaews practiced mikvot consistently at least from the Babylonian period onwards.  Whether the Lord accepted those as bona fide baptisms, or whether they were merely apostate memorials of something long since corrupted--I don't purport to know.  But the Nephites, at the very least, seem to have had the real thing. 

I think you misunderstood me regarding baptism.

Yes, there were baptisms.  But I believe it is yet another example of things being given and taken away due to unbelief and disobedience.  I see this as something that possibly happened to members of the Church at the time of the Nephites or to the Children of Israel throughout the Old Testament.  On again.  Off again.

We see it happening with higher ordinances today.  But we're still worthy of at least the ordinance of baptism.  Could they (who were even more disobedient) be restricted from the basic ordinance of baptism due to disobedience?

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