BMGD #14: Enos, Jarom, Omni, Words of Mormon

April 2, 2012 | 3 comments
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Enos

1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—

Cf. 1 Nephi 1:1 (“I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father.”).  Was there something significant to the Nephites about good parents and learning the language?  Do you think Enos is deliberately modeling himself on Nephi?

This verse sets up everything that happens as a result of Enos’ knowledge that his father was “just.”

Is it fair to say that this verse defines “just” as teaching your children the language and of the Lord?  Is that what you would have expected “just” to mean?

Does “just” surprise you?  (As opposed to, say, “faithful,” which might have been expected here.)

I like “nurture” and “admonition”–a nice balance of the positive and the corrective.  What does the combination of nurture and admonition look like in a family?

The only other time that the word “nurture” is used in the scriptures is Ephesians 6:4:  “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”  Why would wrath be opposed with nurture and admonition?

David R. Seely:

The word nurture does not occur elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, but it is possible that the concept Enos refers to with nurture may be found in its English cognate nourish (both of which derive from the Latin root nutrire) which occurs 25 times (in various forms) in the book of Jacob, all but one in the context of the allegory of the olive tree where the term is used in reference to the care the Lord and his servants give to the vineyard. Jacob also applies it to the people in conjunction with hearing the word when he mentions their being “nourished by the good word of God all the day long” (Jacob 6:7). The same concept may also be found in the English cognate nursing which is found in Jacob’s quotation of Isaiah referring to the “nursing fathers” and “nursing mothers” (2 Nephi 6:7). Enos’ use of “nurture of the Lord,” as taught him by his father Jacob, might refer to the Lord’s care for his children as demonstrated by Jacob’s quotations and his discussion of the allegory of the olive trees (Jacob 5–6). Citation

Contrast the very gendered use of the word “nurture” in modern LDS usage (for example, the Family Proclamation:  “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”) with the fact that the only two scriptural uses of “nurture” apply to fathers.  Conclusions?

What work is “of the Lord” doing in this sentence?  By which I mean:  Is “nurture and admonition of the Lord” different from just “nurture and admonition”?

Virtually every parent who has ever lived has taught their language to their children.  Why, then, do Enos (and Nephi) feel the need to mention it?

2 And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.

What does the image of wrestling suggest about repentance?

Does everyone need to wrestle before her/his sins are remitted?

What could you learn from comparing Enos’ wrestle with Jacob’s [remember that Jacob is also Enos’ father’s name] wrestle (Genesis 32:24f)?

NB “you”–direct address in the scriptures is pretty rare.

If you follow the train of thought from v1 and omit the aside, you end up with “knowing my father was a just man, I will tell you of the wrestle . . .”  Do you think this is an error of sorts (we’ve all begun talking about one thing and shifted to another topic mid-sentence), or does Enos deliberately link Jacob’s justness to his (=Enos’) wrestle?  If so, what about Jacob’s justness led Enos to wrestle before God?

Only other BoM use of wrestle is Alma 8:10 (“Nevertheless Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the people who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance.”), but that that is a wrestle “with” God and this is a wrestle “before” God.

“Before” in this context probably means something like “in front of.”  With whom or what is Jacob wrestling, and why is it in front of God?

Note that the “before” in “before I received” is probably temporal, but the “before” in “before God” is probably spatial.  Is the multiple but contrasting use of “before” in such close proximity significant in any way or just an accident of language?

Nephi wrote both “doctrinal” and “personal” materials.  Jacob’s writings were almost entirely “doctrinal” (perhaps the “personal” story about Sherem would be an exception to this); Enos’ writings are almost entirely personal.  What conclusions might you draw from this?

Brant Gardner:

The book of Enos is an important departure from the books of Nephi and Jacob. What is significant is what is not here. Contrasting what we will find in the book of Enos with the material from Nephi and Jacob, what we find absolutely missing is any reference to an official position among the people. There are no recorded public ceremonies of recognition of place. Nephi was made king, and Jacob declared a priest. Enos is a prophet, but the nature of a prophet for the Nephite community during this period of development was much more similar to ancient Israel than modern Mormon norms. Enos is a prophet, but there were many prophets (Enos 1:22). While the last of the book of Jacob saw the redemption of Jacob, it apparently does not create a condition that passes on to his son. Enos does not appear to be a formal priest for the people. He has no public function that can be discerned and the process of marginalization we saw with Jacob becomes more apparent in Enos, and becomes painfully obvious in subsequent small plate writers. Citation

3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

Skousen thinks that the text originally read, “and I remembered the words.”

Skousen thinks that the text originally read, “and the words of my father sunk deep into my heart.”

Is there a link between Enos’ daily work and his spiritual epiphany in this verse?  (I think this is an important idea, perhaps especially for women, who often do ‘daily’ labor and think [incorrectly] that it might isolate them from spiritual experiences.  But as Teresa of Avila said, “The Lord walks among pots and pans.”)

It is perhaps understandable that his father’s teachings about eternal life impacted him, but are you surprised by “the joy of the saints”?

Do you think it would be useful to review Jacob’s teachings and look for teachings about eternal life and the joy of the saints?

I like that he was pondering good stuff (eternal life, joy) and not focusing on negative (fear of hell, etc.).

Considering the evidence in this passage, what kinds of parental teachings are most likely to result in this kind of response from a child?

4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.

Note the powerful verbs in this verse.

How do you move along the continuum from Pro Forma to Really Powerful prayers?  This talk by Wendy Watson Nelson has some great reflections about powerful prayer.

Looking ahead to v5, why do you think the voice did not come to him right away, and what might we learn from this?

“Soul hunger” is an interesting image.  Whether Enos thought soul=spirit or he thought soul=spirit + body, it is normally the case that we associate hunger with physical appetites.  What does Enos accomplish by asking us to think about his soul hungering?  What does the image suggest?  Does your soul hunger?  Should your soul hunger?

Does “reached the heavens” suggest that at this point (but not before it), Enos did something different that allowed his prayers to finally connect with God?  If so, can you determine what he did differently?  If not, then what might this phrase mean?

5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

Was Enos seeking a remission of sins?  (He says that before the event, but he doesn’t say that in v4.  Is v4 another way of asking for remission of sins?  If it is, what about his father’s teachings about eternal life and joy led him to the repentance part?)

6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.

Why does he introduce the idea of God lying here?  (Wouldn’t we all have assumed that?)

Why does he mention his guilt now?  (In other words, why isn’t guilt the centerpiece, explicitly, of v4?)

Is guilt a good thing or a bad thing? (My thinking:  guilt that leads to change is a positive force; guilt that doesn’t lead to change and/or isn’t related to a moral issue isn’t helpful.)

Brant Gardner:

It is also interesting that Enos does not feel his sins swept away until he notes that he believes the Lord’s declaration. Citation

7 And I said: Lord, how is it done?

Does this strike you as an odd or inappropriate question?  (Don’t you think gratitude would have been a more expected response?) Does it mean that he doesn’t understand about the atonement?

Wouldn’t you have thought that, as Jacob’s son, Enos would know the answer to this question?

This verse is a testimony that he knows that something has actually happened.

8 And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.

Skousen thinks that “whom thou hast not heard nor seen” is original.  (The current text allows for the interpretation that Enos was currently seeing/hearing Christ; this reading that Skousen suggests does not allow for that reading, so it would require us to reconfigure our understanding of what is happening in this passage.)

Skousen thinks that “go to it” is original.  (That would be quite a significant change–it ruins the parallelism with the NT verses and, I think, is more suggestive of a specific mission.)

What work does “and many years . . . in the flesh” do in this sentence?  Is that information primarily for Enos (and, if so, why does he need to hear that now?) or for the reader?  Either way, how does the “wherefore” relate to what comes before it?  (By which I mean: Is there a relationship to Enos’ faith making him whole and the fact that Christ won’t come in the flesh for many years?)

Does this strike you as interesting given that Enos hasn’t mentioned Christ up to this point, especially in v4?

The phrase “thy faith hath made thee whole” appears three times in the NT (plus parallels):

–Mark 5:34 (bleeding woman)

–Mark 10:52 (blind man received sight)

–Luke 17:19 (thankful leper of ten cleansed)

What do these stories have in common with Enos’?

How does “because of your faith” answer the “how is it done” question from the previous verse?  Does the Lord in fact answer his question?  Might you not have expected the answer to focus more on Christ (by which I mean:  on the atonement) and less on Enos (by which I mean:  on Enos’ faith)?

9 Now, it came to pass that when I had heard these words I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites; wherefore, I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them.

Can you determine what it was about v8 precisely that led to his concern for his brothers and sisters?

What does the image of pouring out a soul suggest?  How does it relate to the hungering soul?  (My thought:  A hungering soul is empty and desiring fulfillment; a pouring-out-soul is full and desiring to share what it has.  Enos’ experience has changed the content of his soul for recipient to giver.)

10 And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying: I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments. I have given unto them this land, and it is a holy land; and I curse it not save it be for the cause of iniquity; wherefore, I will visit thy brethren according as I have said; and their transgressions will I bring down with sorrow upon their own heads.

Is pouring out your soul the same as struggling in spirit?

Does “according to their diligence” imply that Enos’ petition had/has no effect?

“Holy land” is a rare phrase in scripture–only here in the BoM and Zechariah 2:12.

I like the inversion of “joy” above to sorrow here.

Do you think anything in this verse is new information to Enos?  If not, how might it answer his concern from v9?

Boyd K. Packer:

The Lord has many ways of pouring knowledge into our minds to prompt us, to guide us, to teach us, to correct us, to warn us. The Lord said, “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart” (D&C 8:2). And Enos recorded, “While I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again” (Enos 1:10).You can know the things you need to know. Pray that you will learn to receive that inspiration and remain worthy to receive it. Keep that channel—your mind—clean and free from the clutter of the world. Oct 09 GC

Boyd K. Packer:

Enos, who was “struggling in the spirit,” said, “Behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind.” (Enos 1:10; italics added.) While this spiritual communication comes into the mind, it comes more as a feeling, an impression, than simply as a thought. Unless you have experienced it, it is very difficult to describe that delicate process. The witness is not communicated through the intellect alone, however bright the intellect may be. Oct 91 GC

James E. Faust:

How is inspiration received? Enos stated, “And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind” (Enos 1:10). One does not necessarily hear an audible voice. The spirit of revelation comes by divine confirmation. “I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart,” says the Lord in the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 8:2). Apr 1980 GC

Harold B. Lee:

Enos, grandson of Lehi, gives us to understand why some can receive a knowledge of the things of God while others cannot. Enos recounts his struggle to obtain a forgiveness of his sins that he might be worthy of his high calling. He then concludes: “And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying: I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments” (Enos 1:10).There you have, in simple language, a great principle: It isn’t the Lord who withholds himself from us. It is we who withhold ourselves from him because of our failure to keep his commandments. Oct 66 GC

Marion G. Romney:

Another manifestation of revelation is the unspoken word, a good illustration of which is given us by Enos. He says: “. . . while I was thus struggling in the spirit, behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying” (Enos 1:10). Then he tells us what the voice of the Lord put in his mind. This is a very common means of revelation. It comes into one’s mind in words and sentences. With this medium of revelation I am personally well acquainted.  Apr 1964 GC

11 And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and I prayed unto him with many long strugglings for my brethren, the Lamanites.

What about the previous verse would have strengthened his faith?

Consider the relationship to v8–his faith there was enough to effect the remission of his sins, but it had not yet begun to be unshaken.  We see Enos increasing in faith in this chapter, although he has enough faith at the beginning to have his sins forgiven.

Enos’ first concern was himself, his second concern was his brethren the Nephites, and here it is for his brethren the Lamanites.  I believe that his increased spiritual sensitivity causes his sphere of concern to expand and his definition of “brethren” to expand.  The final expansion happens in v15, where he is concerned with people in the future.  David R. Seely writes:

Thus the experience of Enos demonstrates that a consequence of true conversion is the reception of the gift of charity, a gift of the Spirit, through which an individual feels concern for the welfare and the salvation of his brothers, both friends and enemies.  . . . The experience of Enos demonstrates that the result of receiving the word and feeling the promptings of the Holy Ghost is the desire to share it with others. Citation

12 And it came to pass that after I had prayed and labored with all diligence, the Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith.

Here we are introduced to the concern of not just praying, but laboring.  What would labored have meant in this context?  Is it different from praying?

NB the contrast with v10–there he was told that his brethren would be treated according to their obedience, but here, it is according to Enos’ desires.  What accounts for that shift?

Dallin H. Oaks:

Note the three essentials that preceded the promised blessing: desire, labor, and faith. Apr 2011 GC

13 And now behold, this was the desire which I desired of him—that if it should so be, that my people, the Nephites, should fall into transgression, and by any means be destroyed, and the Lamanites should not be destroyed, that the Lord God would preserve a record of my people, the Nephites; even if it so be by the power of his holy arm, that it might be brought forth at some future day unto the Lamanites, that, perhaps, they might be brought unto salvation—

I think it would behoove us to stop and think about how very, very weird this desire is:  Most of us, rubbing the lamp and seeing the genie appear, would be asking for world peace, or the salvation of our children, or a salami sandwich.  We would not be asking that IF our descendants become unrighteous and IF they are then destroyed that God would preserve our journal so that in the future it would be given to our enemies so they might be saved.  First off, that’s a lot of conditions.  Second, it is . . . just weird.  Why does Enos make this request?  What does it teach us about him?

14 For at the present our strugglings were vain in restoring them to the true faith. And they swore in their wrath that, if it were possible, they would destroy our records and us, and also all the traditions of our fathers.

Is the word strugglings in this verse related to the use of that word in his prayers?

I think this is the first we hear of efforts to restore Lamanites to faith.  (It might be interesting to think of Enos’ struggling in prayer and the Nephites’ struggling in missionary work as implying that the conversion of oneself is roughly as hard as converting someone else.)

NB the Lamanite desire to destroy records.  Why would they have wanted to do this?  Is this reference to destroying records relevant to our day?

15 Wherefore, I knowing that the Lord God was able to preserve our records, I cried unto him continually, for he had said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it.

Boyd K. Packer:

No message appears in scripture more times, in more ways than, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” (Matt. 21:22; James 4:3; 1 Jn. 3:22; 1 Ne. 15:11; Enos 1:15; Mosiah 4:21; D&C 4:7; and Moses 6:52 are examples.) While we may invite this communication, it can never be forced! If we try to force it, we may be deceived. Oct 91 GC

16 And I had faith, and I did cry unto God that he would preserve the records; and he covenanted with me that he would bring them forth unto the Lamanites in his own due time.

Are you surprised by the idea of covenanting in this verse?

17 And I, Enos, knew it would be according to the covenant which he had made; wherefore my soul did rest.

18 And the Lord said unto me: Thy fathers have also required of me this thing; and it shall be done unto them according to their faith; for their faith was like unto thine.

Can people require things of the Lord?

Compare this with v16:  if the Lord had already covenanted to do this with Enos’ fathers, then why does Enos feel the need to have this promise, and why would the Lord “re-promise”?

19 And now it came to pass that I, Enos, went about among the people of Nephi, prophesying of things to come, and testifying of the things which I had heard and seen.

20 And I bear record that the people of Nephi did seek diligently to restore the Lamanites unto the true faith in God. But our labors were vain; their hatred was fixed, and they were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven; and their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us.

Skousen thinks “girded” instead of “girdle” is original.

Did the Lamanites really have “evil nature[s]”, or is this just boilerplate?  (Remember that “the Lamanites” means “Enos’ uncles and their families.”)

I think this is the first we hear of idolatry in the BoM?

In the second sentence, is everything named evil, or at some point (what point?) is it just descriptive?  (In other words, is it evil to have good cimeter skills?  Eat raw meat?  Some of the items on this list, like eating raw meat, are things that Lehi’s people did in the wilderness.)

If we placed this text into modern times, we’d probably end up accusing Enos of repeating the worst sorts of stereotypes about his enemies (who are supposed to be his beloved brethren now that he’s had this spiritual experience anyway).  Further, we frequently hear in the BoM that the Lamanites believed the false traditions of their fathers concerning the Nephites, and yet here is a Nephite presenting a definitely unflattering (if not entirely false) picture of the Lamanites. What sense can you make of Enos’ description of the Lamanites in this verse?

Thinking about my previous two paragraphs, is the point just that there was a huge cultural divide between the Nephites and the Lamanites and that divide made it very difficult–if not impossible–to preach successfully to the Lamanites?  If that is the case, then does Enos’ desire for the preservation of the plates take on a different nuance?  How might we read the plates as capable of bridging a cultural divide? (I get into this idea more with the next verse, but I am wondering if Enos’ own position as a hunter of beasts was perhaps deliberate to position him as someone culturally similar to the Lamanites.)

21 And it came to pass that the people of Nephi did till the land, and raise all manner of grain, and of fruit, and flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats, and also many horses.

Re-read v20-21.  Would you not have expected an explicitly spiritual contrast between the two groups (“And the Nephites did pray oft, but the Lamanites . . .”)?  Why do you think Enos provides cultural information instead? Is this just a factual contrast, or is there something more righteous about the Nephites’ lifestyle as described in this verse?  (If you want to go in that direction, I’m thinking about the difference between Cain and Abel . . .)

NB that the Lamanites hunt “beasts of prey” (v20) while the Nephites raise flocks.  We know that Nephi hunted (remember the bow?), so I suspect that Enos’ goal is to show that the Nephite culture has advanced (except of course that Enos himself is hunting beasts in this very story!) while the Lamanites have either stayed the same or regressed.  Having said that, I think it is problematic to couch societal advancement (nomadic, agricultural, advanced agricultural, industrial, etc.) in terms of righteousness, which is what he seems to be doing here, but which is complicated by the fact that he has this major epiphany while hunting beasts (v3).  What do you think Enos intended to convey by including this cultural explanation?

22 And there were exceedingly many prophets among us. And the people were a stiffnecked people, hard to understand.

What is the relationship between the two sentences in this verse?

Does this mean that Enos could not understand the people (that is, the people were hard to understand) or that the people could not understand the prophets (that is, the people were hard[hearted] and couldn’t understand)?  Are there other ways to read it?

It seems more common in the OT and BoM to have multiple simultaneous prophets, as opposed to how it works in the Church today.  What do you make of this difference?

23 And there was nothing save it was exceeding harshness, preaching and prophesying of wars, and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity, and the judgments and the power of God, and all these things—stirring them up continually to keep them in the fear of the Lord. I say there was nothing short of these things, and exceedingly great plainness of speech, would keep them from going down speedily to destruction. And after this manner do I write concerning them.

I’m not sure how to read this–is he saying “there was nothing save . . .” and this was a bad thing, or a good thing?

24 And I saw wars between the Nephites and Lamanites in the course of my days.

25 And it came to pass that I began to be old, and an hundred and seventy and nine years had passed away from the time that our father Lehi left Jerusalem.

Remember that Enos is Lehi’s grandson, and Lehi was not exactly a spring chicken when he left Jrsm.  It seems that too many years have passed for [typical] human life spans.  How do you understand this?

Brant Gardner:

The brevity of Enos’ account contrasts mightily with his longevity. Enos must have live into his 90’s, and have been in charge of the plates from his youth (given the approximately 170+ years that had to be covered by two life spans, with some overlap). Thus we have Enos in charge of the records for somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 years, and we have one specific event, and a brief synopsis of the rest. Perhaps to Enos it was so much of the same thing that condensing it into lots of preaching and lots of wars said it all. Citation

26 And I saw that I must soon go down to my grave, having been wrought upon by the power of God that I must preach and prophesy unto this people, and declare the word according to the truth which is in Christ. And I have declared it in all my days, and have rejoiced in it above that of the world.

The idea of Enos rejoicing (in this verse and also in v27) is a nice bookend to his pondering the joy of the saints that led to his spiritual experience at the beginning of the book (v3).

27 And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen.

Does the “seeing his face”  and “stand before him” in this verse relate to the “wrestle before God” from v2?

I like the contrast between getting to know God wrestling in the forest but winding up in a mansion.

General question about Enos:  some have read Enos as a fairly wicked person who has a major repentance experience in this chapter.  Others have read him as a pretty decent guy (which, I think, is supported by v14’s suggestion that he has, previous to this time, been involved in missionary work to the Lamanites, unless he was speaking there of Nephite efforts generally that may not have involved him).  Which way do you read him, and how then do you interpret this spiritual experience?

Jarom

1 Now behold, I, Jarom, write a few words according to the commandment of my father, Enos, that our genealogy may be kept.

What does “genealogy” mean in this verse?

Nephi and Jacob describe their task as a record (of sacred things), not a genealogy.  Does Jarom have a different task, or does he misunderstand his task?

2 And as these plates are small, and as these things are written for the intent of the benefit of our brethren the Lamanites, wherefore, it must needs be that I write a little; but I shall not write the things of my prophesying, nor of my revelations. For what could I write more than my fathers have written? For have not they revealed the plan of salvation? I say unto you, Yea; and this sufficeth me.

It is very weird to think of this as being written not for himself or his children or us, but for the Lamanites, who are frequently trying to kill him.

The attitude in this verse strikes me as a little off–certain basic messages are frequently repeated in the scriptures.  Why does he hesitate to do so here?

How does this verse relate to our general belief that the BoM was written for our day?

In what way would a Nephite genealogy (see v1) benefit the Lamanites?  (Does this question require us to reconsider what “genealogy” means in v1?)

3 Behold, it is expedient that much should be done among this people, because of the hardness of their hearts, and the deafness of their ears, and the blindness of their minds, and the stiffness of their necks; nevertheless, God is exceedingly merciful unto them, and has not as yet swept them off from the face of the land.

What does the hard/deaf/blind/stiff metaphor suggest about sin?

Is “this people” the Lamanites or the Nephites?

4 And there are many among us who have many revelations, for they are not all stiffnecked. And as many as are not stiffnecked and have faith, have communion with the Holy Spirit, which maketh manifest unto the children of men, according to their faith.

Why “communion”?

V3 made it sound like everyone was wicked, but this verse makes it clear that that is not the case.  It also suggests that Nephite writers are not unfamiliar with the hyperbole or generalizations that some OT/NT writers use.

This verse suggests that we have two categories of Nephites at this point:  the stiffnecked, and the faithful.  Those don’t strike me as precise opposites, partially because one is a metaphorical description and the other a simple factual statement.  Further, I’ve always thought of stiffnecked as having more to do with pride than with lack of faith.  What does the opposition of stiffnecked and faithful teach you about both concepts here?

5 And now, behold, two hundred years had passed away, and the people of Nephi had waxed strong in the land. They observed to keep the law of Moses and the sabbath day holy unto the Lord. And they profaned not; neither did they blaspheme. And the laws of the land were exceedingly strict.

Why do you think the sabbath day gets particular mention here?

What do you take from the note that the laws were very strict?  Does it imply that the laws mirrored (or exceeded?) the law of Moses?

6 And they were scattered upon much of the face of the land, and the Lamanites also. And they were exceedingly more numerous than were they of the Nephites; and they loved murder and would drink the blood of beasts.

Does it surprise you that the Lamanites outnumber the Nephites?

Do you think they really loved murder, or is this the Nephite PR department talking?

Why mention drinking the blood of beasts?  Because it is a violation of the Law of Moses?  (It seems sort of unnecessary after the “love murder” comment.)

Why would it be important to record that both groups were “scattered”?  Does this simply mean that they were spread out (and:  Why mention that?  Because it suggests a peaceful enough existence that they don’t have to huddle together for safety?  But cf. v7.), or does it tap into the spiritualized scatter/gather theme?

7 And it came to pass that they came many times against us, the Nephites, to battle. But our kings and our leaders were mighty men in the faith of the Lord; and they taught the people the ways of the Lord; wherefore, we withstood the Lamanites and swept them away out of our lands, and began to fortify our cities, or whatsoever place of our inheritance.

Does this verse suggest that sometimes they had leaders who were not kings?

This verse suggests a frequent but rarely-believed theme in both the OT and the BoM:  that people will prosper militarily if they are righteous.

Does the idea that they “began” to fortify their cities–coming at the end of the verse–surprise you?

8 And we multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land, and became exceedingly rich in gold, and in silver, and in precious things, and in fine workmanship of wood, in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war—yea, the sharp pointed arrow, and the quiver, and the dart, and the javelin, and all preparations for war.

What do you think machinery meant to them?

It sounds like what Jarom was describing here was a good thing; compare that with Jacob 1:16 (“Yea, and they also began to search much gold and silver, and began to be lifted up somewhat in pride.”)–how do you understand why one seems good and the other does not?

Why would Jarom have thought this cultural information was worth including in his record, which he described as a genealogy?

9 And thus being prepared to meet the Lamanites, they did not prosper against us. But the word of the Lord was verified, which he spake unto our fathers, saying that: Inasmuch as ye will keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land.

I don’t have time to do this, but I think it would be interesting to go through v3-9 and follow the “we” and “they” descriptions and see what Jarom is doing with the back-and-forth between the descriptions of the Nephites and the Lamanites and how they compare.

What does the word “prosper” mean in this sentence, and how might that meaning influence how you interpret the word elsewhere in the BoM?  (What I’m getting at:  clearly it does not mean “had a lot of money” in this verse, but we frequently read “prosper” to mean just that elsewhere.)

10 And it came to pass that the prophets of the Lord did threaten the people of Nephi, according to the word of God, that if they did not keep the commandments, but should fall into transgression, they should be destroyed from off the face of the land.

Why do you think “threaten” was used here?  What does that word suggest that “teach” or “warn” might not?

Do you think this verse is making a distinction between transgression and sin?

11 Wherefore, the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them.

I’m curious about “as though he already was.”  On the one hand, this isn’t 100% true in that they were still keeping the Law of Moses (as this verse itself attests), which they would not have done if he “already was.”  Secondly, it is an interesting idea to think about how it might be relevant to us–how might we choose to live if we were living as if the kingdom of God were already here, or the Second Coming had already happened, or we were already in the celestial kingdom, etc.?

12 And it came to pass that by so doing they kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land; for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance.

What does the image of pricking hearts suggest?

Consider v10-12 as a group:  does it describe several different dynamics, or is one dynamic described several ways?  If you took these verses as a guideline, what would you conclude about what Church leaders should be doing?

13 And it came to pass that two hundred and thirty and eight years had passed away—after the manner of wars, and contentions, and dissensions, for the space of much of the time.

What work is “after the manner of” doing?  (Which means:  How would the verse be different without that phrase, or is it just excess verbiage?)

14 And I, Jarom, do not write more, for the plates are small. But behold, my brethren, ye can go to the other plates of Nephi; for behold, upon them the records of our wars are engraven, according to the writings of the kings, or those which they caused to be written.

15 And I deliver these plates into the hands of my son Omni, that they may be kept according to the commandments of my fathers.

Omni

1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Omni, being commanded by my father, Jarom, that I should write somewhat upon these plates, to preserve our genealogy—

2 Wherefore, in my days, I would that ye should know that I fought much with the sword to preserve my people, the Nephites, from falling into the hands of their enemies, the Lamanites. But behold, I of myself am a wicked man, and I have not kept the statutes and the commandments of the Lord as I ought to have done.

NB that second person “ye” again . . . and note that he wants us to know that he fought much.  Why would he want us to know that?

How wicked can you be if (1) you are aware of your wickedness and willing to admit it and (2) still following your father’s commandments (see v1)?  Should we read this as hyperbole?

Brant Gardner:

It should be very clear that Omni’s use of the term Nephite is absolutely political. That is, he is a Nephite because of his allegiance to his community, not because of his religion.  Citation

John S. Tanner:

Many of Jacob’s less distinguished descendants (most conspicuously Omni and Abinadom) are refreshingly frank about their felt weaknesses. Most of us could learn from their humility and unblinking self-honesty. I note further that none of these authors treats the sacred record cynically—not even the avowedly “wicked” Omni. All, except perhaps Chemish, appear to sense the plates’ power. The very inadequacy that they express suggests that Jacob’s descendants had both read the record and been moved by its power. So it is not entirely fair to dismiss these men as apostate; they are certainly not unre-generate. Their commitment to duty, their humility, their honesty, and their reverence for the sacred—all intimate that Jacob’s legacy was not entirely dissipated in his posterity. His righteous blood still flowed in their veins, his sensitivity still circulated in their souls. Citation

3 And it came to pass that two hundred and seventy and six years had passed away, and we had many seasons of peace; and we had many seasons of serious war and bloodshed. Yea, and in fine, two hundred and eighty and two years had passed away, and I had kept these plates according to the commandments of my fathers; and I conferred them upon my son Amaron. And I make an end.

4 And now I, Amaron, write the things whatsoever I write, which are few, in the book of my father.

5 Behold, it came to pass that three hundred and twenty years had passed away, and the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed.

6 For the Lord would not suffer, after he had led them out of the land of Jerusalem and kept and preserved them from falling into the hands of their enemies, yea, he would not suffer that the words should not be verified, which he spake unto our fathers, saying that: Inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall not prosper in the land.

7 Wherefore, the Lord did visit them in great judgment; nevertheless, he did spare the righteous that they should not perish, but did deliver them out of the hands of their enemies.

8 And it came to pass that I did deliver the plates unto my brother Chemish.

Giving the plates to a brother instead of to a son breaks the pattern (although it is, of course, what Nephi did).

9 Now I, Chemish, write what few things I write, in the same book with my brother; for behold, I saw the last which he wrote, that he wrote it with his own hand; and he wrote it in the day that he delivered them unto me. And after this manner we keep the records, for it is according to the commandments of our fathers. And I make an end.

Why do you think Chemish thought it was important to let us know that his brother wrote with his own hand?  (This might be a given to us, but in the ancient world it was not uncommon to have a scribe write for you–we know that Paul, for example, did this.)

10 Behold, I, Abinadom, am the son of Chemish. Behold, it came to pass that I saw much war and contention between my people, the Nephites, and the Lamanites; and I, with my own sword, have taken the lives of many of the Lamanites in the defence of my brethren.

11 And behold, the record of this people is engraven upon plates which is had by the kings, according to the generations; and I know of no revelation save that which has been written, neither prophecy; wherefore, that which is sufficient is written. And I make an end.

This is interesting–usually, we are told that there were many things that were not written.  I wonder if it is more that he is not in contact with those who are having revelations–I think there is ample evidence in this short book to suggest that Jacob’s descendants end up outside the political and religious power structure of the Nephites.  So maybe other people are having revelations but he just doesn’t know about it.

12 Behold, I am Amaleki, the son of Abinadom. Behold, I will speak unto you somewhat concerning Mosiah, who was made king over the land of Zarahemla; for behold, he being warned of the Lord that he should flee out of the land of Nephi, and as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord should also depart out of the land with him, into the wilderness—

Mosiah’s departure mirrors Nephi’s.

Brant Gardner thinks that Mosiah was not a king in the land of Nephi–note that his name does not follow the naming convention from Jacob 1:11 of 1st Nephi, 2nd Nephi, etc.–but that Mosiah becomes a king after they leave.

This article about the possible Hebrew meaning and use of “mosiah” is particularly interesting given that Mosiah shows up here with no genealogical link to anyone else in the small plates, something unique (I think–did I forget anyone?) in this record.

The fact that Mosiah shows up out of nowhere (by which I mean:  he isn’t linked to any person or institution that comes before him) invites comparison with Melchizedek in Genesis 14, who, as the writer of Hebrews makes a big deal out of in Hebrews 7, was also “without father or mother.”  What can you learn from comparing Mosiah and Melchizedek?

Interesting that this verse tells of a revelation–contrast v11, where there seems to be no new revelation.

13 And it came to pass that he did according as the Lord had commanded him. And they departed out of the land into the wilderness, as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord; and they were led by many preachings and prophesyings. And they were admonished continually by the word of God; and they were led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla.

From Poetic Parallelism in the Book of Mormon:

A Behold, I will speak unto you somewhat concerning Mosiah, who was made
king over the land of Zarahemla;
B for behold, he being warned of the Lord
C that he should flee out of the land of Nephi,
D and as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord
E should also depart out of the land with him, into the wilderness—
F And it came to pass that he did according as the Lord had commanded him.
E And they departed out of the land into the wilderness,
D as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord;
C and they were led by many preachings and prophesyings.
B And they were admonished continually by the word of God; and they were
led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness,
A until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla. Citation

14 And they discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla. Now, there was great rejoicing among the people of Zarahemla; and also Zarahemla did rejoice exceedingly, because the Lord had sent the people of Mosiah with the plates of brass which contained the record of the Jews.

This article explores what we know about the people of Zarahemla (=the Mulekites).

15 Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon.

16 And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth.

So not only does this section feature Mosiah reproducing Nephi’s journey into the wilderness to escape wicked people, but it also has a group of people reproducing Lehi’s journey into the wilderness and across the “great waters.”

17 And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them.

Why do you think they didn’t have records?  (Why would the hand of the Lord bring them, but no records?)

Does it surprise you that they knew the material in v15-16 but forgot their language and their God?  (And note that it is the two items that Nephi and Enos mention by way of introduction–language and God–that are the first to go without records.)

This is a fairly substantial language change if Mosiah can’t understand them–these people haven’t had that many centuries for their language to shift.  Does it suggest intermingling with native people?  (John L. Sorenson suggests that, in addition to mingling with natives, their group may have originally included Phoenicians, Egyptians, etc., and that this polyglot nature is what led to the corruption of their language.)

How is the enormous emphasis on language in the BoM relevant to us today?

18 But it came to pass that Mosiah caused that they should be taught in his language. And it came to pass that after they were taught in the language of Mosiah, Zarahemla gave a genealogy of his fathers, according to his memory; and they are written, but not in these plates.

Interesting that he had an oral tradition of genealogy–and we are finding out about it from a book that is very, very concerned to have a written genealogy.

Given the importance that the BoM places on having a written record (see: Laban’s head), how confident are you that you can trust anything the people of Zarahemla say about their history?  (To make the most extreme case, is it not possible that they were native New Worlders who realized that Mosiah et al would just eat up a story about them having come from the same homeland?  Would this not explain the language difference, the lack of records, the lack of belief in God, etc.?)

19 And it came to pass that the people of Zarahemla, and of Mosiah, did unite together; and Mosiah was appointed to be their king.

I find it curious that we learned just a few verses ago that they denied the Creator.  Here, they are joining with Mosiah but there is no discussion of their religious change of heart (if, indeed, they had one).  Why aren’t they, at the very least, hostile the way that the Lamanites are hostile?

Thinking about v18-v19:  NB that the smaller, ragged, nomadic group (led by Mosiah) becomes the politically (=king) and culturally (=language) dominant group.  This is most unusual.

20 And it came to pass in the days of Mosiah, there was a large stone brought unto him with engravings on it; and he did interpret the engravings by the gift and power of God.

Perhaps this is a stretch, but the moving large stone reminds me of the stone rolled away from the opening of Jesus’ tomb.  This stone has an explicit message (=engravings), but the moved stone has an implicit one (=someone has left the tomb).  Both events happened “by the gift and power of God.”  Further, the story of Coriantumr is, if you will, “resurrected” from the grave by Mosiah (which is, see the link above, perhaps a Hebrew word suggesting a liberator).

21 And they gave an account of one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people. And Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons.

Brant Gardner:

We have our difficulties with the putative “stela of Coriantumr.” Not only is it nearly impossible to find a king who creates a stone monument to the defeat of his people, but we have unanswered the question as to who could have carved the stela if the people of Coriantumr have been vanquished. Carving a stela takes time and the dedication of resources to support the carvers. With the dissolution of the kingdom, Coriantumr would have had no means of providing the support, and would be unlikely to himself have been a carver (not to mention the inexplicable memorialization of his defeat). I can offer only a single suggestion. Since we have the information on Coriantumr through Mosiah’s inspired (perhaps not literal?) reading of the stone, we may have a prophetic/seer “reading” of the stone for information that was not directly written in the text of the stone itself. Mosiah would be using the stone as a base text, but expanding the “text” with the extra information about the end of the Jaredites. Citation

22 It also spake a few words concerning his fathers. And his first parents came out from the tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people; and the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward.

Something ironic about the Zarahemla people not having their own records but then ending up with this record . . .

Again, is “scattered” factual or a link to the scatter/gather theme?

23 Behold, I, Amaleki, was born in the days of Mosiah; and I have lived to see his death; and Benjamin, his son, reigneth in his stead.

Interesting that after Mosiah coming out of nowhere (by which I mean:  no genealogy is given of him) we return to the pattern of identifying relationships with his son.

24 And behold, I have seen, in the days of king Benjamin, a serious war and much bloodshed between the Nephites and the Lamanites. But behold, the Nephites did obtain much advantage over them; yea, insomuch that king Benjamin did drive them out of the land of Zarahemla.
Interesting that the Nephites have moved to a new land but are fighting the same old war.

25 And it came to pass that I began to be old; and, having no seed, and knowing king Benjamin to be a just man before the Lord, wherefore, I shall deliver up these plates unto him, exhorting all men to come unto God, the Holy One of Israel, and believe in prophesying, and in revelations, and in the ministering of angels, and in the gift of speaking with tongues, and in the gift of interpreting languages, and in all things which are good; for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord: and that which is evil cometh from the devil.

It has not been the case that the political leadership and the plates have belonged to the same person since Nephi, but it will be again with Benjamin.  Does this suggest that a comparison of Nephi and Benjamin might be useful?

26 And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.

David A. Bednar:

And after we come out of the waters of baptism, our souls need to be continuously immersed in and saturated with the truth and the light of the Savior’s gospel. Sporadic and shallow dipping in the doctrine of Christ and partial participation in His restored Church cannot produce the spiritual transformation that enables us to walk in a newness of life. Rather, fidelity to covenants, constancy of commitment, and offering our whole soul unto God are required if we are to receive the blessings of eternity. “I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved” (Omni 1:26). Total immersion in and saturation with the Savior’s gospel are essential steps in the process of being born again. Apr 07 GC

27 And now I would speak somewhat concerning a certain number who went up into the wilderness to return to the land of Nephi; for there was a large number who were desirous to possess the land of their inheritance.

Was this desire a righteous desire?  (v28 suggests no, so it is interesting that v27 doesn’t make that explicit.)  A contrast is drawn with v12–where Mosiah was commanded to depart–and this verse, where it appears to be human-initiated action.  I wonder how we might parse the difference between this situation and, say, the counsel in D&C 58:26 (“it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.”) and how we figure out under what circumstances we should act without specific revelation.

Mosiah 9-22 tells more about this expedition.

What motivated them to return?

28 Wherefore, they went up into the wilderness. And their leader being a strong and mighty man, and a stiffnecked man, wherefore he caused a contention among them; and they were all slain, save fifty, in the wilderness, and they returned again to the land of Zarahemla.

Why isn’t the leader named?  Might that be deliberate?

29 And it came to pass that they also took others to a considerable number, and took their journey again into the wilderness.

30 And I, Amaleki, had a brother, who also went with them; and I have not since known concerning them. And I am about to lie down in my grave; and these plates are full. And I make an end of my speaking.

I may be misreading, but this verse sounds to me like he loved his brother very much, and he is mentioning his situation on the incredibly unlikely chance (especially since Amaleki is about to die) that someone might read the plates and be able to reunite him with his brother, or let his brother know what became of him.  I think we read v27-29 differently knowing that the writer’s brother got caught up in this and almost certainly lost his life because of it.

Gary R. Whiting:

Amaleki’s record in the book of Omni is a very important part of the Book of Mormon because the historical information he includes gives insight into and background for the rest of the Book of Mormon account. He speaks of the Nephite people under king Mosiah, of the people of Zarahemla, and of the Jaredites. In a very few words Amaleki adds to our understanding of each of the three major groups of the Book of Mormon record.  Citation

V26 very much has that “this is my conclusion” sound to it.  What, then, do you make of v27-30, which feel like a sidenote story?  Or:  How might this story be more important than it sounds?

Words of Mormon

1 And now I, Mormon, being about to deliver up the record which I have been making into the hands of my son Moroni, behold I have witnessed almost all the destruction of my people, the Nephites.

What effect does it have on the reader of the BoM to have this “flash-forward” in time to Mormon at this point in the Nephite narrative?  My thought:  particularly given the close proximity of this verse to Omni 1:21 (“an account of one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people”), we are being guided to see the patterns in the BoM.  We see the same principle in Omni 1:12, where Mosiah’s escape to the wilderness for safety replays Nephi’s, and they both replay Lehi’s, and all three replay the Exodus.  (It’s like that old saying about how there were really only seven sit-com plots, with endless recycling and tweaking–there are only a few stories in the scriptures . . . ) Another thought:  it gives the reader first-hand experience with the fulfillment of prophecy and a God’s-eye-view (if you will) perspective on events (see v2)–v4 emphasizes this theme.

This is our first introduction to Mormon in the BoM.  What effect does this verse have on the reader who has no idea of how the book ends at this point in her reading?  What does this intro to Mormon do that wouldn’t happen if we didn’t meet him until the very end of the record?

2 And it is many hundred years after the coming of Christ that I deliver these records into the hands of my son; and it supposeth me that he will witness the entire destruction of my people. But may God grant that he may survive them, that he may write somewhat concerning them, and somewhat concerning Christ, that perhaps some day it may profit them.

3 And now, I speak somewhat concerning that which I have written; for after I had made an abridgment from the plates of Nephi, down to the reign of this king Benjamin, of whom Amaleki spake, I searched among the records which had been delivered into my hands, and I found these plates, which contained this small account of the prophets, from Jacob down to the reign of this king Benjamin, and also many of the words of Nephi.

4 And the things which are upon these plates pleasing me, because of the prophecies of the coming of Christ; and my fathers knowing that many of them have been fulfilled; yea, and I also know that as many things as have been prophesied concerning us down to this day have been fulfilled, and as many as go beyond this day must surely come to pass—

5 Wherefore, I chose these things, to finish my record upon them, which remainder of my record I shall take from the plates of Nephi; and I cannot write the hundredth part of the things of my people.

Skousen thinks “choose” instead of “chose” is original.  That would be interesting because Mormon would be writing in the present tense.

Cheryl Brown reminds us that BoM writers frequently let us know that they were extremely choosy about what material they included, due to space limitations:

Elsewhere we read, “And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people” (2 Nephi 33:1); “And a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, which now began to be numerous, cannot be written upon these plates” (Jacob 3:13); “And many more things did king Benjamin teach his sons, which are not written in this book” (Mosiah 1:8; see also 1 Nephi 1:16–17; 9:1–4; 10:1; Mosiah 8:1; Alma 9:34; Hel 3:14; 8:3; 3 Nephi 5:8; 26:6; Ether 15:33). Citation

I’ve said this in previous lessons, but I’ll say it again:  I think we often approach the BoM as a grab bag of random stuff, instead of a carefully refined and organized collection where every word was weighed in the balance and only the most useful included in the final redaction.  (Analogy:  If your grandfather left 34 volumes of journals, you would read those differently than if your grandfather left you a 60-page personal history that, he notes on the first page, he selected items for from his 34 volumes of journals.  Which you don’t have.)

I want to introduce a note of skepticism into the “the plates were so small, I could hardly write anything” meme that we frequently encounter in the BoM. Let’s just remember that the same person who commanded them to write had hauled their ancestors over the wide seas . . . had brought other of their ancestors out of Egypt on dried ground . . . etc.  There’s an argument to be made that the “but the plates were small” story just doesn’t wash – – – if the Lord had thought they needed larger plates, they’d have had them.  (Suggestion:  have one of Nephi’s sisters return to Jrsm and swipe a set of blank plates after killing someone to obtain them.  Problem solved!)  So what might really be going on here?  (Perhaps the paragraph before this one might contain the answer to the problem presented in this paragraph:  maybe the Lord only let them have small plates and difficulty writing to force their hand [ha!] into only including the very most important items in the record.  Kind of like when the bishop reminds people of what time F&T meeting ends before opening it up to testimonies.)

But one more item to consider:  How ticked were all of these BoM writers, with their small plates, weary hands, language problems, etc., when Joseph Smith set the plates aside and translated the BoM into English by looking at a rock in a hat?  (“All that work for nuthin’!” Nephi storms from the other side of the veil.)

This article by Cheryl Brown does a great job of tracing all of the statements about writing the BoM in the BoM and is useful for anyone considering the questions raised above.

6 But behold, I shall take these plates, which contain these prophesyings and revelations, and put them with the remainder of my record, for they are choice unto me; and I know they will be choice unto my brethren.

7 And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the Lord knoweth all things which are to come; wherefore, he worketh in me to do according to his will.

I like the juxtaposition of knowing and not knowing between this verse (not knowing) and v4 (knowing).

Why “whisper”?

I love it when people admit that they don’t understand everything.  Compare 1 Nephi 11:16-17 (“And [the angel] said unto me [=Nephi]: Knowest thou the condescension of God? And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.”) and Moses 5:6 (“And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.”).

8 And my prayer to God is concerning my brethren, that they may once again come to the knowledge of God, yea, the redemption of Christ; that they may once again be a delightsome people.

“Delightsome” (Webster’s 1828:  ‘Very pleasing; delightful.’) strikes me as a very unusual word–wouldn’t we expect something like “faithful” or “covenant-keeping” or something?  Does the “very pleasing” idea put the emphasis on how God views them?  Here’s a link to all of the scriptural uses of “delightsome;” I was struck by how often the land is described that way in the BoM (which raises the question:  What would be the relationship of a delightsome people to a delightsome land?)

9 And now I, Mormon, proceed to finish out my record, which I take from the plates of Nephi; and I make it according to the knowledge and the understanding which God has given me.

10 Wherefore, it came to pass that after Amaleki had delivered up these plates into the hands of king Benjamin, he took them and put them with the other plates, which contained records which had been handed down by the kings, from generation to generation until the days of king Benjamin.

11 And they were handed down from king Benjamin, from generation to generation until they have fallen into my hands. And I, Mormon, pray to God that they may be preserved from this time henceforth. And I know that they will be preserved; for there are great things written upon them, out of which my people and their brethren shall be judged at the great and last day, according to the word of God which is written.

12 And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people.

13 And it came to pass also that the armies of the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi, to battle against his people. But behold, king Benjamin gathered together his armies, and he did stand against them; and he did fight with the strength of his own arm, with the sword of Laban.

14 And in the strength of the Lord they did contend against their enemies, until they had slain many thousands of the Lamanites. And it came to pass that they did contend against the Lamanites until they had driven them out of all the lands of their inheritance.

15 And it came to pass that after there had been false Christs, and their mouths had been shut, and they punished according to their crimes;

16 And after there had been false prophets, and false preachers and teachers among the people, and all these having been punished according to their crimes; and after there having been much contention and many dissensions away unto the Lamanites, behold, it came to pass that king Benjamin, with the assistance of the holy prophets who were among his people—

17 For behold, king Benjamin was a holy man, and he did reign over his people in righteousness; and there were many holy men in the land, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority; and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people—

18 Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.

Additional Resources:

This article by Eldin Ricks is a great summary of the redaction history of the BoM.

General:

John S. Tanner writes:

With Jacob the plates passed out of the royal line (Jacob 1:9). Jacobite authors were not kings; nor, from all we can tell, were they even political or military leaders. This, too, has major consequences for the nature of the record they left. After Nephi, never again did the authors of the small plates also occupy the central position in the government. Always deliberately non-secular anyway (see 1 Nephi 19:1–6; Jacob 1:2), the small plates were inscribed increasingly from the margins of the community’s political life (e.g., Enos 1:24). . . . Jacobite authors eventually passed out of the prophetic line as well. Only Jacob himself appears to have exercised dominant priestly authority, equivalent to that of presiding high priest (Jacob 1:17–19). His son Enos and grandson Jarom each characterizes his position as, at most, but one among many prophets (Enos 1:19, 22; Jarom 1:4). Jarom may not have engaged in a public ministry at all. For, though he refers to “my prophesying” and “my revelations,” Jarom speaks pointedly in the third person of “the prophets, and the priests, and the teachers [who] labor diligently, exhorting . . . the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses” (1:11). Similarly, he writes “our kings and our leaders were mighty men in the faith of the Lord; and they taught the people the ways of the Lord” (1:7; emphasis added). This phrasing sounds like that of a sympathetic bystander, one outside the loop of government power and cultic responsibility as well. By contrast, Jarom refers to Nephite warfare and trade in the first person: “Wherefore, we withstood the Lamanites . . . . And we . . . became exceeding rich in gold, . . . in buildings, and in machinery, and also in iron and copper, and brass and steel, making all manner of tools of every kind to till the ground, and weapons of war” (1:7–8; emphasis added). This shift from prophecy to weapons of war foreshadows things to come for the descendants of Jacob. Jarom’s son Omni fights for the Nephites, but there is no evidence that he does so as a major military leader, nor that he has any prophetic calling. Far from it: he confesses that he is a “wicked man” (1:2). So is it with the other authors of Omni: Abinadom explicitly acknowledges he “knows of no revelation save that which has been written”; Amaleki says that the people “were led by many preachings and prophesyings”—the impersonal, passive construction again implying that he did not himself act as one of the prophets or preachers (1:11–13). Citation

3 Responses to BMGD #14: Enos, Jarom, Omni, Words of Mormon

  1. Athena on April 3, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Thanks for providing such a rich resource.

  2. Corry on April 16, 2012 at 1:14 am

    Re Jarom and the people’s hard hearts, it seems this stems from them believing, like Laman and Lemuel, like Sherem, and like king Noah’s priests, that salvation comes by the law of Moses. This explains why the priests and teachers continually remind them to see the law as pointing to the Messiah.

  3. Ken Lawrence on April 18, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Very good analysis. How could “two hundred and seventy and six years” have passed away if Omni was only 3 generations removed from Jacob who was born in the wilderness?