JEF Sunday School Lesson 5a

January 29, 2006 | 10 comments
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Lesson 5a: Moses 5-7

I hope this doesn’t come too late to be of use to Sunday School teachers. Once again, there is a tremendous amount of material in the reading for this week, resulting in a very long set of questions. Indeed, I have labeled this lesson 5a because the questions for this lesson are incomplete. I have finished questions only for chapters 5 and 6. I will try to finish the questions for chapter 7 and post them later, though it may be much later.

Obviously no one can use all of this material for a lesson; if you are the teacher, pick and choose using the Spirit to guide you to prepare a lesson appropriate for your class. As always, however, these are questions for studying the reading assigned more than for planning the lesson itself. Even then, you are certainly going to find more questions here than you can deal with in one study session, though not, I think, more than you can deal with in a week.

Chapter 5

Verses 1-2: How do these verses connect to the story we learned in Moses 4? Given what we learned in the last lesson, what is the point of the last sentence of verse 1? Does verse 2 suggest anything about how the Old Testament prophets understand knowledge? They aren’t squeamish about discussing things that we often would rather not talk about, so it is difficult to think that the use of the word “knew” is just a euphemism. But if it isn’t a euphemism, then how did Moses and other writers of the Old Testament understand what it means to know something?

Verse 16: Verses 2 and 12 refer to many children before Moses says anything about Cain. Were there children before Cain and Abel or was Cain the first child of Adam and Eve? If the latter, how do you explain verses 2 and 12? The name “Cain” seems to mean something like “one who makes.” Another translation of what Eve says when she names Cain (Genesis 4:1) is “I have created a man with the Lord.” What is the significance of his name? Does it say anything about what Eve may have learned from her experience in the Garden? What does Cain mean by the word “know” when he asks, “Who is the Lord that I should know him?” How do we know the Lord? How do we refuse to know him?

Verse 17: The name “Abel,” “breath,” is often used to speak of the brevity of life. (See, for example, Psalm 144:4, where it is translated “vanity.”) But what might Eve have meant by using that name? The word she uses here is not the same as the word translate “breath” in Genesis 2:7 (Moses 3:7), but might she have been making a connection anyway? What is significant about the fact that Abel kept sheep and Cain tilled the ground? And, since prior to Noah, people were forbidden to eat meat, why would Abel keep sheep? Is Cain—here—a type of Adam since he tills the ground as Adam was commanded to do?

Verse 18: How does Moses show us that Cain loved Satan more than God? Is the love of God or of Satan something that is only a matter of our inner thoughts and feelings? How do we judge the validity of those thoughts and feelings? Is Cain different than the rest of Adam’s children in this regard? (Compare verse 13.)

Verses 19-20: What does the phrase “in the process of time” tell us? If you look carefully at the way the two offerings are described, do you see any differences between them besides, of course, that they offered different things? Why did the Lord not have regard for Cain’s offering? How does the Lord choosing one offering over the other square with the scriptures that tell us God is no respecter of persons?

Verse 21: How did Cain know that the Lord had no regard for his offering?

Verses 22-25: Is the Lord rebuking Cain in the verse 22 and the first part of 23? What alternative does he lay out for Cain in the beginning of verse 23? Why does he spend so much time expanding on the second alternative? (He explains in in the rest of verse 23, and in verses 24 and 25.) What does it mean to do well? What does it mean to be accepted? What does it mean to say that sin is lying at the door? What does it mean to say that Satan has someone? What does this mean “it shall be unto thee according to his desire”? What does it mean to say that Cain will rule over sin? In what way can Cain be said to be the father of Satan’s lies? Notice that the corresponding verse of Genesis (Genesis 4:7) says that Satan’s desires will be to Cain and Cain will rule over him, echoing the words used to describe the relation of Eve to Adam (Genesis 3:16). What might this parallel indicate to us? The word “perdition” means “utter destruction.” Why does the Lord give Cain that name and why does he add “for thou was also before the world” after giving that name to him? Why is what the Lord describes in verse 25 a curse? What is so bad about having people say, “These abominations were had from Cain”? How can Cain avoid this curse?

Verses 26-28: What do these verses tell us about Adam and Eve? About their family? Do you think that Satan might have believed that his attempt to thwart God’s plan was succeeding? Might he think the same thing today? What reason do we have to believe that he is not succeeding?

Verses 29-30: Why does Satan have Cain swear by his throat? Why do his brothers swear by their heads? Why does Satan have Cain and his brothers swear “by the living God”? What is Satan imitating? Why? Notice that Satan is always imitating God. We saw his imitation of God in the story of the temptation and fall. And we see it here: In the Garden, knowledge brought death; here too knowledge (revealing these things) brings death. But the death brought is different in each case, as is the knowledge. The former is a knowledge of good and evil; Satan gives them only a knowledge of evil. From whom does Satan want to keep these oaths secret? Why? Why is “I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands” a promise that can tempt Cain? What does it show us about Cain?

Verse 31: Why is the fact that one can get gain by murder a “great secret”? Isn’t it an obvious fact of the world that we can, if we wish, get gain by murder? What does it mean to be the master of a secret? The footnote suggests that the word “Mahan” may mean “mind,” “destroyer,” or “great one,” but I couldn’t find anything to support that other than the footnote. The closest thing I could find that might be relevant was “macha,” meaning “to strike,” or “machah,” meaning “to wipe out, destroy.” However, I think that the absence of the final consonant, “n,” is a significant obstacle for believing that either of those tells us something about this name. Of what is murdering for gain a type? What are some of the ways we participate in this type, even though few of us murder in a literal sense?

Verses 32-33: Why does Moses say “Abel, his brother” when we already know that Abel is Cain’s brother? What does Cain mean when he says “I am free”? Free from what? Free to do what? What does getting his brother’s flocks have to do with being free? Is his statement in this verse related to what he asked earlier: “Who is the Lord that I should know him?”

Verse 34: Why does the Lord ask Cain where Abel is when he already knows what has happened? How does the Lord’s question in this verse compare to his question in Genesis 3:9 and Moses 4:15? How does Cain’s answer differ from his parent’s answers? The question “Am I my brother’s keeper?” means “Am I supposed to guard him, keep watch over, or care for him?” Is Cain asking whether he is supposed to be, for Abel, a shepherd, as Abel was for his flocks? What is Cain denying with his question?

Verses 35-37: Cain is the first person to be cursed. The serpent was cursed (Moses 4:20) and the ground was cursed (Moses 4:23), but Adam and Eve were not cursed. The word “curse” does not appear in what the Lord says to them, and the language that he uses doesn’t have the form of a curse. How is Cain’s curse—that the earth that has received his brother’s blood will not give its strength to him—different from what the Lord told Adam about the need for him to farm (Moses 4:23-25)? What does it mean that Cain was a fugitive and a vagabond?

Verses 38-41: Is Cain still rebellious in verse 38 or does he recognize the enormity of his sin? Cain blames at least two people. Who are they? Is he telling the truth in either case? In verse 39, why does Cain repeat the curse that the Lord has given? What is he afraid of in verse 39? Why does he add “for these things are not hid from the Lord” at the end of that verse? That clause begins with the word “for,” indicating that the clause explains something. What does it explain? Why would anyone want to kill Cain? Why does the Lord make the promise to Cain that he makes in verse 40? Why does the Lord say he will punish anyone who kills Cain seven times more than he will punish Cain? It doesn’t seem just to punish someone else more for committing the same sin. What does the Lord mean? What does it mean to be shut out from the presence of the Lord? How is what happened to Cain different than what happened to Adam and Eve when they were cast out of the Garden?

Verses 47-55: Why did Lamech kill Irad, his great-grandfather? Why do you think the Lord calls Cain’s secret a “secret combination”? Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines “combination” this way: “intimate union, or association of two or more persons or things, by set purpose or agreement, for effecting some object, by joint operation.” Does that add to your understanding of the phrase “secret combination”? What does it mean to say “they knew every man his brother”? Notice the irony: the secret combination is spread, not only by those who have taken part in that combination, but by busybodies (perhaps Irad?) and by those who despise the combination and its members, by those who do not have compassion on the members of the combination (e.g., by Adah and Zillah). What might this say to us about our own lives?

Verses 56-59, especially 59: What things were confirmed to Adam? In other words, to what does “all these things” refer? How does a holy ordinance confirm such things? If there has been apostasy at various times during the history of the earth, what does it mean to say that it was decreed during the time of Adam that the Gospel should be “in the world, until the end thereof”? Wasn’t the Gospel removed from the earth between the time of the Great Apostasy and the Restoration? What do these verses tell us that we need to know?

Chapter 6

Verse 1: Doesn’t verse 1 fit better as the end of chapter 5 than as the beginning of chapter 6? (The division in Genesis is more like that.) Why or why not? (Remember, however, that the chapter divisions in the Bible don’t denote divisions in the original text. I am not sure what they denote in Moses. In other words, I’m not sure how Joseph Smith dealt with the chapter divisions there when he worked on his inspired revision.)

Verses 2-4: The name “Seth” means “appointed one” or “established one.” How is that relevant in the context of the immediately preceding story of Cain and Abel? Genesis 4:26 tells us “then [at the time of Seth] began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” Verse 4 of this chapter tells us “then began these men to call upon the name of the Lord.” How does the understanding of Moses 6:4 differ from that of Genesis 4:26? So what?

Verses 5-6: The verb “recorded” is transitive, but it isn’t used that way in verse 5. It has no object. What was recorded in Adam’s book of remembrance? Why does the verse specify that the book of remembrance was kept “in the language of Adam”? Was there another language it could have been recorded in? Do we have anything comparable to Adam’s book of remembrance? What does it mean to have a pure and undefiled language? Or, the other way to put the question, what does it mean to have a language that is not pure and undefiled? How might our language be impure or defiled? What would the consequences of the impurity and defilement of language be?

Verses 7: Why does verse 7 refer to “this same Priesthood” when the priesthood has not yet been mentioned? How is the existence of the priesthood in both the beginning and the end of the world relevant to Adam’s book of remembrance, the subject of the previous as well as of the subsequent verses?

Verses 8-9: What prophecy does the beginning of verse 8 refer to? What are we to make of the end of verse 8 and all of verse 9? Is this what the book of remembrance said?

Verses 10-21, 24-25: Why are the facts about how long people lived part of scripture? Is there any way that they can help point us toward belief in Christ and salvation?

Verse 15: How does this verse explain bloodshed and war? When does it say that bloodshed and war began? We can understand how seeking for power causes human beings to kill one another. How do “secret works” do so? Does “secret works” mean the same as “secret combinations,” or does it include more?

Verse 22: We do not accept the Adam-God theory, so how do we explain “Adam, who was the son of God”? How is it relevant that Adam conversed with God? When did those conversations occur?

Verse 23: To whom does “they” refer in the beginning of the verse? What does it mean to say “faith was taught unto the children of men” (my italics)? Why “faith” rather than “the gospel”?

Verses 26-30: In verse 26, what does it mean to say that the Spirit of God abode on Enoch? Consider the metaphors in verse 27: hearts that have waxed (i.e., grown) hard, ears that cannot hear well, nearsighted eyes. Notice that he does not speak of them being completely deaf or blind. What do these three metaphors suggest about the people to whom Enoch has been called to preach? Is the Lord using hyperbole when he says that humanity has gone astray “ever since the day that I created them”? What does “have sought their own counsels in the dark” mean (verse 28, my italics)? What does it mean to foreswear oneself (verse 29)? How have they brought death on themselves? Which death? To what decree is the Lord referring in verse 30?

Verse 31: Enoch has heard the Lord but seems not to have seen him. (However, see verse 42, which suggests he might have.) So what can it mean to say that he “bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord”? What does it mean to be slow of speech? Why would the Lord choose a prophet who is slow of speech when speaking is such an important part of his calling? (Compare Exodus 4:10; 2 Nephi 3:17.) Paraphrased in contemporary English, the last clause of this verse asks, “For what reason am I your servant?” What point is Enoch making with his question? Is it unrighteous of Enoch to argue with God in this way?

Verses 32-34: What does the Lord mean when he promises Enoch “no man shall pierce thee”? Why does the Lord add “for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good” to his promise to fill Enoch’s mouth? Why the emphasis on choice in verse 33? Why refer to the Lord as their Creator rather than, perhaps, their Savior or their Redeemer? In verse 34, what is the Lord promising when he promises to justify Enoch’s words? What is the point of the promise that the mountains will flee and the rivers will turn their courses before Enoch? What does it mean to abide in—to reside in—the Lord? What does it mean for him to abide in us? Given the things that the Lord has just said to Enoch, what is he saying when he commands him, “Walk with me”?

Verses 35-36: What is the relationship between verse 35 and John 9:6-7? What does verse 36 tell us when it says that Enoch “beheld the spirits that God had created”? The spirits of those on the earth with him at that time? Other spirits? How does this verse explain what it means to be a prophet, seer, and revelator? What is the significance of Enoch “standing upon the hills and high places” (verse 37)?

Verse 38: This is a strange verse. Why does it bother to mention the tent-keepers? What do the people mean when they refer to Enoch as a wild man?

Verses 39-40: What do Mahijah’s questions reveal about Enoch?

Verses 41-42: Where was the land of Cainan? From what Enoch says, those in the land of Cainan were not unrighteous. To whom, then, was he preaching?

Verses 43-46: What is the theme of Enoch’s preaching in verses 43-44? Why is that theme an important part of his message? How do you explain verse 45? Surely they know that people die. What does he mean when he says “nevertheless, we know them”? What is it that he cannot deny? What is he telling them when he says that his people know “the first of all, [. . .] even Adam”?

Verse 47: Why would they have been unable to stand in Enoch’s presence?

Verses 48-52: Compare verse 48 to 2 Nephi 2:25. Both agree that Adam’s fall made it possible for us to be, but what they say after that is quite different. What do you make of that difference? Does verse 49 teach us that to be carnal, sensual, and devilish is to worship Satan? Notice that Satan chose to be shut out from the presence of God and he tempts us to make the same choice. The message in verses 50-52 is the familiar message of the gospel: all must repent, turn to God and believe, be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Does anything in this particular version of that message stand out? If so, what does it teach us?

Verse 53: Adam asks why people must be baptized. How is what the Lord says in the second half of the verse an answer to that question?

Verse 54: This verse begins with “hence,” which tells us that what verse 54 tells us about is the result of what we learned in verse 53. Can you explain how the saying that went abroad among the people (concerning the Atonement and the guilt of children) is the result of what we see in verse 53, the Lord forgiving Adam and Eve’s transgression?

Verse 55: Given what we have just seen in the previous verse, what does it mean to say that children are conceived in sin? Of what significance is it that sin conceives in their heart only when they grow up? How do you reconcile being conceived in sin, on the one hand, with conceiving sin in one’s heart only when one begins to grow up? Does this verse teach that we may taste the bitter only if sin has conceived in our hearts?

Verses 56-57: Here is a paraphrase of one theme in these verses: human beings are agents to themselves and I have given them commandment that all people must repent if they wish to inherit the kingdom of God. How are these two connected? Does the “and” in verse 56 suggest a causal connection between the two? How should we understand the statement that the name of the Father is “Man of Holiness”? Is that one of his names or his most important name or something else?

Verses 58-61: Notice that this is one complex sentence. If you have the time and the skill, it would be informative to outline the sentence in some way. (You need not use the outlining system that some were taught in school. All that is necessary is to find some way of showing how the various parts of the sentence are related to each other.) Doing so will help you understand better how its parts relate to one another, and it will allow you to see what the main point of these verses is. Verse 57 and verse 58 begin in essentially the same way. Are they two different ways of saying the same thing, with verse 57 being an overview of verses 58-61? How do you understand the obvious parallel that verse 59 makes between the blood, water, and spirit of birth, on the one hand, and the blood, water, and spirit of rebirth? What kinds of things does that parallel suggest? Grammatically, the phrase, “that ye might be sanctified from sin,” refers back to something that has come before it: “x happens so that you can be sanctified.” Does it refer to “ye must be born again into the kingdom of heaven” or to both that and “by reason of transgression cometh the fall [. . .] and so became of dust a living soul”? How do you explain the content of verse 60? What does it mean to say that we keep the commandment by water? What does it mean to say that we are justified by the Spirit? What is justification? What does it mean to say that we are sanctified by the blood? What is sanctification? To what does “it” refer in the clause “therefore, it is given to abide in you” (verse 61)? Is the semi-colon that follows “abide in you” a mistake? Should it be a colon, with the list of what abides following? What is “the record of heaven” in this context? What are “the peaceable things of immortal glory”? There are two ways to read the phrase “the truth of all things,” as meaning “how all entities are true” or as meaning “the truth that encompasses all things.” Are there other possible meanings? What do you think this phrase means here? Why? How would that truth abide in us? What quickens all things and makes them alive? In fact, in what sense are all things alive? How can what quickens all things abide in us? What does it mean to say that which quickens all things has all wisdom “according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment”?

Verse 62: The verse says “this is the plan of salvation.” To what does “this” refer here, something already said or something to come?

Verse 63: What does it mean to say that all things have their likeness? Does this have anything to do with Moses 2:26? Is there perhaps more to the list of “all things” than a poetic expansion of that phrase?

Verses 64-68: How does the phrase “became quickened in the inner man” (verse 65) help us understand what it means to be born of the Spirit? When are we born of the Spirit? Is it always when we are given the Gift of the Holy Ghost? What does it mean to say that Adam’s baptism and birth of the Holy Spirit “is the record of the Father, and the Son” (verse 66)? Is verse 67 a record of Adam’s ordination? What is it that has made Adam one in Father (verse 68)? When we speak of ourselves as sons and daughters of God, do we mean the same thing that is meant here when Adam is called a “son of God”? Why or why not? Verse 68 ends by telling us “thus may all become my sons.” The word “thus” tells us that we have seen how that is possible. It usually refers to something specific. To what in this reading do you think it refers?

10 Responses to JEF Sunday School Lesson 5a

  1. Jonathan Green on January 29, 2006 at 9:36 am

    Jim, “And, since prior to Noah, people were forbidden to eat meat”? I don’t remember that one.

    Thanks for the lesson notes. They’re nice for those of us teaching Primary who wouldn’t get any of Gospel Doctrine otherwise.

  2. Jim F. on January 29, 2006 at 6:59 pm

    Take a look at Moses 2:29, where Adam and Eve are given the herbs and fruit to eat (but not mention is made of flesh–and in verse 30 the animals are also given herbs to eat). Then compare Genesis 9:2-3 where the Lord says that from now on animals will fear human beings and human beings are given moving things to eat, just as they previously had been given herbs.

  3. Bill on January 29, 2006 at 7:18 pm

    Jim, just curious about the references in Genesis 4 to keepers of sheep and of cattle. Were they domesticating animals just for fun? Or excercising a very benevolent dominion?

  4. Jim F. on January 29, 2006 at 7:25 pm

    In reality, I have no clue, but milk and wool production is one possibility. I recognize the oddity of keeping animals but not eating them, but I dont’ see another way of reading the verses in question (and I’m anything but alone in that; I believe that is the standard Jewish interpretation).

  5. Bill on January 29, 2006 at 7:29 pm

    Thanks,

    you learn something new every day

  6. Jonathan Green on January 30, 2006 at 12:04 am

    Thanks from me, too.

  7. jp in lv nv on January 30, 2006 at 2:05 am

    Thanks for your insight Jim, I really appreciate your posts

  8. Christian Y. Cardall on January 31, 2006 at 9:00 am

    Verse 22: We do not accept the Adam-God theory, so how do we explain “Adam, who was the son of God�?

    Jim, I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. It sounds like you’re assuming that someone who rejects the Adam-God theory has difficulty explaining the apparent plain meaning of the verse in its geneaological context: that God procreated Adam’s physical body. But since it would not make sense for Adam to be both God and the son of God, it seems to me that this verse would be more problematic for the acceptance of Adam-God theory than for its rejection.

  9. Jim F. on January 31, 2006 at 12:33 pm

    Christian, very good point. I have to confess two things: first, I’m not sure what I meant when I wrote that; second, I know almost nothing about the Adam-God theory, so I whatever I was thinking when I wrote it, I was out of my league. Thanks for keeping my on my toes.

  10. Christian Y. Cardall on January 31, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    Jim, leaving Adam-God aside, I’m still curious to know how you think this verse should be understood according to the scriptural universe of discourse (or whatever you’d like to call it). Coming as it does in a literal geneaology (Luke 3:38 in the footnote gives a more explicit parallel geneaological structure), would the ancients have understood this as meaning God procreated Adam’s physical body? Should we?

    Also, I wanted to ask in previous lessons how you thought the references to Adam being the “first man” should be understood in scriptural theology (e.g. Moses 1:34, Abraham 1:3, D&C 84:16).