Feast upon the Word Blog

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Sunday School #5 “Hearken to the Truth…”

Posted by nhilton on January 27, 2008

1 Nephi 16-22

This section focuses on the “if-then” relationship between ourselves & God, or in otherwords, covenant keeping.  Sometimes it teaches in subtle, symbollic ways.  For example:

Chapter 16:
Glance back at Chapter 15, verse 33-36. Nephi is explaining the “if-then” of wickedness to his rebellious brethren. They respond, “Thou has declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear.” In 16:3 the “if-then” of the righteous is outlined, specifically not murmuring. Ending on a positive note, his brethren “humble themselves before the Lord.”v. 6: Why does Nephi want us to know where he is living, specifically in a tent?v. 7-8: I believe these are two of the most beautiful read-between-the-lines verses in the Book of Mormon. After humbling themselves, eliminating contention and continuing in obedience to the Lord, marriages take place. Culturally, I suppose, the women’s names are sadly omitted and we don’t know about the sons of Ishmael’s marriages here. However, look at Nephi’s words immediately after his marriage: “And thus my father had fulfilled all the commandments of the Lord which had been given unto him. And also, I, Nephi, had been blessed of the Lord exceedingly.” Apparently the Lord had commanded Lehi to marry his children–perhaps only his children are listed, not Ishmael’s, because of this direct commandement link. And this marriage brings Nephi the reason to consider himself exceedingly blessed. Kinda romantic, don’t you think?! )v. 10: Why does the Liahona appear at this moment? Does it relate to v. 8? What can we learn from this? The crossing of the river is a symbolic transition to what? Where else in the scriptures is this metaphore used?
v. 11: What had the Lord given them in the way of provisions?
v. 12-22: How does this exodus mirror the Children of Israel leaving Egypt? Nephi points this out in 17:23-42. When so much has been provided by the Lord, why do the people get angry at a minor set-back such as Nephi’s bow breaking? What does this teach? Why would even Lehi murmur? Where else is food at the heart of the story/lesson in scripture and covenant making? (i.e.,1 Ne. 17:12) Why is food such an object lesson/symbol in God’s efforts to teach us? See D&C 84:44.
v. 23-25: Why would Nephi ask his murmmering father where to find food? Why do the others not take such initiative? What affect did Nephi’s request have on his father? How might this be a model for us in our relationships with others?
v. 26-29: What do you think was written on the Liahona that caused trembling? What “small means” is Nephi citing for bringing about great things? What are the “great things?”
v. 30-32: What does this mountain destination imply? (x 17:7) Why did Nephi go alone? He carried back enough meat for a large group of people, without any help. Why? Has he assumed a position or been called to a position of authority/responsibility? (See v. 37-38.) Is there something that Laman and the others are unaware of regarding Nephi?
v. 34: Visualize this event: Ishmael’s death. What does it mean to the party?
v. 35-36: What power or affect do these women have with the group? How might it have been otherwise?
v. 39: What is the consequence of repentance? Specifically: Food.
Chapter 17:  Throughout this chapter, specifically, and the entire story, how does Nephi typify Moses? (See 18:3.) Why is this parallel made by Nephi? Where else in scripture is this pattern displayed? Why?

v. 1-3: See the blessings of the murmmering, now repentant, women. Nephi states <em>”if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them…” Why is this a recurring theme? This “if-then” theme is repeated several times by Nephi. First, with regard to getting the brass plates (1 Ne. 3:7), Second with regard to their being strengthened while traveling in the wilderness (1 Ne. 17:3) and evidenced in a very practical way in Nephi’s ship building.
v. 4: Why 8 years in the wilderness?
v. 5-6: What are the qualities of Bountiful? Do you live in symbolic “Bountiful?” If not, how and when do you get to live there?
v. 7-12: Nephi has learned the “if-then” principle so thoroughly that he simply asks about finding ore to make tools to build the ship. Where are you in your understanding of the “if-then” principle? Compare this story with Noah in Gen. 6:18-22. We don’t get much information about Noah, except that he and his family are righteous and they obey. I see the ark is a symbol of the covenant between God and Noah. How can we apply this to Nephi’s group? What are the symbols in our life of the covenant between God and us?

v. 12-14: These verses are God speaking and they are quite elevated. I am going to attempt to re-write them in poetic form here to better illustrate the message contained:

 

“I will make thy food become sweet, that ye cook it not

And I will also be your light in the wilderness

And I will prepare the way before you

If it so be that ye shall keep my commandments;

Wherefore inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments

Ye shall be led towards the promised land

And ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led

After ye have arrived in the promised land

ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God

And that I, the Lord, did deliver you from destruction

yea, that I did bring you out of the land of Jerusalem.”

                                                                        

This re-formatting of the text of the Lord’s words illustrates the main idea of keeping the commandments and all the forthcoming, cumulating and even enlarging resultant blessings. What do you see as the “if-then” pattern here, beyond deliverance?

v. 15: It’s interesting that Nephi is re-committed at this point–wasn’t he committed before? And this committment compels him to teach others to be faithful and diligent.

v. 19: What is the root of Nephi’s sorrow? How do his brothers interrpret and react to this sorrow?

Chapter 18:

v. 10: Why is the sibling rivalry so strong? Where else in scripture do we see this played out? What is to be learned from this repeated scenario?

v. 17-20: Why didn’t Nephi simply say, “My parents were very upset to the point of dying?” What literary device is Nephi using here and why? I believe Nephi wants you to “be there” as he depicts this scene. How do you feel as he reaches out for your empathy?

v. 21-25:What is Nephi’s point here?

Chapter 19:

Most of us need a refresher on the various plates that combine (and were excluded) to be the Book of Mormon we have today. We have:
1. Plates of Ether - 24 plates (Eth. 1:2) covering more than 2,000 years of history & a large population. In our Book of Mormon we have a brief abridgment of this people who we call the Jaredites comprising 31 pages in our current edition. As far as we know, Joseph Smith never had the plates of Ether.
2. Brass Plates of Laban - (1 Ne. 3:12, 24; 4:16,24,38; 5:10, 14; 2 Ne. 5:12) These plates of brass were written in Egyptian (Mos. 1:4) and Lehi could read them. These contained the 5 books of Moses (1 Ne. 5:11) and many other books found in our present Old Testament. Many plain and precious things were taken from this earlier record before it came to us as our present day Bible (1 Ne. 13:20). These include the teachings of Ezias, Neum, Zenos, and Zenock of which we have no other record than that referenced in the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith did not translate directly from these brass plates and we have no evidence that he ever had them in his possession. We have in our present Book of Mormon only those portions of the plates that were quoted by the engravers of the two sets of plates given to Joseph Smith: the small plates of Nephi and the plates of Mormon.
3. Large Plates of Nephi - These plates, started shorted after Lehi left Jerusalem, contained both a religious and a secular history of the members of the Lehite colony and of their descendants. These plates contained a series of books that were named after the authors who wrote on the plates, including Lehi. These plates covered the history of the Lehite people (Nephites) from approx. 600 BC to 400 AD. Mormon abridged these plates in the 4th century AD. This abridgment is what we have in our present day Book of Mormon. These plates contain many things not found in our present book (1 Ne. 9:2; 2 Ne. 4:14; Jacob 1:2-3; 1 Ne. 19:2; 3 Ne. 26:7). We have no evidence that Joseph Smith ever had the large plates of Nephi.
4. Small Plates of Nephi - These plates were started approx. 570 BC and are a religious history of the Lehite people for the first 470 years of its existence (1 Ne. 6:3, 5; 9:4; 19:2-6; 2 Ne. 5:29-32; Jacob 1:4). Some of the teachings found on the brass plates were copied onto these small plates (2 Ne. 4:15). A translation of these plates makes up the first 143 pages of our Book of Mormon, from Nephi to Omni. These are first person accounts, not having been abridged. Joseph Smith had these plates and translated from them.
5. Plates of Mormon – These plates were delivered to the Prophet by Moroni on Sept. 22, 1827. They contain A. an abridgment by Mormon of the books on the large plates of Nephi; B. 1st person accounts by Mormon, including “the Words of Mormon; C. Personal accounts of Moroni; and D. Moroni’s abridgment of Ether. A portion of the plates of Mormon were sealed and have not yet been translated. We don’t know what is on these plates but apparently Moroni was the major writer of this portion (Eth. 4:5). These books, found in our Book of Mormon, are largely an abridgment of the large plates of Nephi (pg. 145-468): Mosiah, Alma, Helaman and 3rd & 4th Nephi. Mormon wrote Mormon 1-7 (Moroni wrote Mormon 8-9). The plates of Mormon also contain Moroni’s abridgment of the plates of Ether & Mormoni’s own writings and one discourse and two letters by Mormon (Moroni 7-9).

I hope you find this information helpful as you read Chapter 19.

Nephi begins to include quotes from Isaiah. Why does he do this?
v. 1-5: What are the various plates Nephi is referring to?
v. 6: What does this teach us about Nephi’s writings?
v. 7-17: A beautiful prophecy and testimony of Jesus Christ.
v. 11: What does it take for us to hear God?
v. 21 & 24: What is the purpose of the plates of brass, or the Bible, for the Lehites? Is the purpose the same of different for us?
v. 22-23: Can you just see Nephi reading the Bible to his rebellious brothers? How did he get them to sit & listen. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall just so that I could mimic him for the benefit of my teenagers during Family Night! I suppose it had a lot to do with the fact that there was no TV and very little else to do for entertainment.

Chapter 20-22:

For your Gee-Whiz collection: There are nearly 21 complete chapters of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon: Isaiah 2-14, 29, 48 – 54. Of 433 verses quoted, 234 are different in the Book of Mormon. “House of Israel” and “Gentile” are used ONLY when quoting Isaiah.

Read Chapters 20-22 and ask, “Why did Nephi include these words on his plates, especially if he knew we would have them in the Bible?” Consider 1 Ne. 22:26; 22:31 in your answer. Note the differences between the Bible & the Book of Mormon in these quotations. To begin, in verse 2 “not” is NOT in the Bible. How does this change the meaning of the verse?

Don’t miss reading 21:8-18,25. aloud, hearing the voice of the Lord and His love for you.

22:1: Wow! They were listening! May we rejoice over the questions your students ask and be as forgiving and loving a teacher as Nephi!

2 Responses to “Sunday School #5 “Hearken to the Truth…””

  1. NoCoolName_Tom said

    Re: the 234 out of 433 changed Isaiah verses:

    I don’t have the book with me right now (I’ve lent it to my father), but there is an article by Dr. Royal Skousen in the FARMS collection “Isaiah in the Book of Mormon” (ed. Parry and Welch) that discusses the history of the Isaiah chapters from both of the handwritten Book of Mormon manuscripts (original and printer’s) to the early Church Book of Mormon publications (e.g., the 1844 Nauvoo edition). The essay is extremely interesting (and extremely statistical) and if anyone has a copy it’d be great to post a summary here. Basically, the majority of the changes appear to come from scribal mistakes from manuscript to manuscript, but there are, of course, some intentional changes (I don’t, unfortunately, remember if he lists which might be which).

  2. nhilton said

    Thanks, Tom #1, for your suggestion. Additionally, there are several LDS books on this subject of Isaiah found in the Book of Mormon. You may be interested in these two:

    Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, Parry/Welch at http://deseretbook.com/store/product?sku=3596290

    The Legacy of the Brass Plates of Laban: A Comparison of Biblical & Book of Mormon Isaiah Texts, Gorton at http://deseretbook.com/store/product?sku=2817665

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