Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

Book of Mormon Lessons 12 and 13

Posted by cherylem on April 20, 2008

Because I am behind, I combined #12 and 13 into one lesson (not easy!) These notes are based on the work of Mack Sterling and Ben McGuire, mostly.

Note: the BOM dates Jacob from 544-421 B.C. This date cannot possibly be accurate on the near end. 421 BC (assuming that Lehi leaves Jerusalem about 600 BC) would make Jacob at least 171 years old (born between 600-593 B.C.).

Nature of the writing of the small plates
1. Jacob 1:2 most precious
2. Jacob 1:4 sacred preaching, great revelation, prophesying
3. Jacob 4:1-3 difficult to engrave the plate
Written for their children
Learn joy and not sorrow

Jacob 1-3: Sermon

Jacob 1:7 -> D&C 84:21-25 (see also Deut. 1:29-35; Deut. 18:18-19 Num. 14:22-23, Psalm 95:8)
Some LDS thinkers believe that much of Jacob is based on Psalm 95, which was sung liturgically and interactively as a call to worship during the feast of tabernacles (feast of booths or Sukkot). This leads to the [speculative] conclusion that Jacob is an address given during a feast day (probably Sukkot) at the temple. (see 2:11)
How does one come unto Christ?
What is the rest of God? To come before his presence, into the promised land, come into
a way of life that reflects God’s character.
What was the provocation in the wilderness?

Jacob 1:8 The writings are for Jacob’s people, but there will be other readers.

Lehite tribes (7): Jacob 1:13

Jacob 1:9-14 This desire to name the kings Nephi is a practice that stops almost immediately. Note King MOSIAH, King BENJAMIN. We never actually have another man called King Nephi.

Jacob 1:15-17 The need to which the sermon is responding.
15-16 Deut. 17:17 lists the very same two issues Jacob calls out: many wives; accumulation of
wealth: “Neither shall he multiply awives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall
he greatly bmultiply to himself silver and gold.”

D&C 132:1, 38-39 provides a different perspective and is in conflict with Jacob. One
LDS scholar (Benjamin McGuire) resolves this conflict by suggesting that the Deuteronomy passage was written after David and Solomon had taken their many wives (and in part as a response in particular to Solomon’s response to have taken many wives) and therefore David and Solomon had never read it. But, for Jacob, who accepts the text as historically accurate, it forms a scriptural basis to deal with the Nephites violating a commandment which had been given to them by their patriarch and prophet Lehi (Jacob 2:34).

Responsibility of Prophets/Leaders
Jacob 2:2-5 (Deut. 18:19)
Ezekiel 3:17-21 (but Moroni 7:15-17)
=> some (variable) degree of the accountability of the people would fall on their leaders if the leaders did not give God’s messages to the people.

Jacob 2:6-11: Introduction to the Sermon

Contrasting effects of the word of God: Jacob 2:8-10; Jacob 3:1-2
1. Righteous (pure in heart): word is pleasing, heals the wounded soul. Feast upon the love of God.
2. Wicked: wounds them. See 1 Nephi 16:2-3: cutteth them to the very center

Problem of riches Jacob 2:12-13, 17-19: SOCIAL INEQUALITY
• Relative wealth -> pride
• Should consider people to be like yourself
• Seek the kingdom of God before you seek for riches (NOT: money first, then I will serve God)
• If hope and then seek riches for the right reason => then ye shall obtain
(why? because those who truly have a hope in God will not seek riches unlike God wants them to. And . . . they will seek them for the right reasons!)

Problem of Whoredoms Jacob 2:22-30
• The Nephites are pitting Lehi (and Nephi and Jacob) against the record on the Plates of Brass, as they understand that record.
• A grosser crime than riches/pride
• Excused themselves because of David and Solomon (ignoring Lehi) BUT they were themselves wicked.
• Basic law: one wife
• Exceptions only at God’s express command, if the Lord will “raise up seed” unto himself. “Raise up seed” is a Levirate expression (Gen. 38:8, Matt. 22:24). God can, Jacob is saying, command his people to engage in polygamy if God choose to do so (and which in times past God may well have done). But the command to the Nephites is to avoid polygamy as given through Lehi, and now through Jacob as a prophet of God, speaking the words which God has given him to speak.
• Lamanites more righteous than the Nephites in this matter. See Jacob 3:5, 8-9
• 29: this people . . . my commandments. The people making wrong arguments need to capitulate now. See again Psalm 95 – which is all about wandering in the wilderness. See also Deut. 28:15, 49-53. For a fulfillment of the “curse” or “woe” see Moroni 9:7-9.

Jacob 2:31-35.
• Reiterates the position which the Lord has taken against polygamy in Nephite society.
• 35: emphasizes again Jacob’s (Lehi’s/Nephi’s/Jacob’s) authority: the word of God which cometh against you.

Jacob 3:1-4. Who are the pure in heart? The righteous. Those who are on the right path.
Jacob 3:5. Lamanites are more righteous. (pure in heart)
Jacob 3:7 Intimacy in marriage is a good thing, and more likely to happen in monogamy.
Our actions are the most significant issue, not our “status” as a covenant people.
Jacob 3:8-11. The comparison between the Nephites and Lamanites takes its full course. How easy it is to
reverse situations between cursed and uncursed. Children aren’t responsible for teaching parents;
parents are responsible for teaching their children.
Jacob 3:12-14: Jacob moves into summary mode.

Jacob 4
1-2 Apparently Jacob nearing the end of his life. He doesn’t like to write on the plates, but he knows
what he writes will be important. He is going to write what he has saved and treasured for this purpose. This is his final testimony.
3-5 Jacobs asserts and extends his belief to all those before him. He compares keeping the Law of
Moses to Abraham’s being obedient with Isaac. This obedience a) points to Christ and b) is futile in and of itself to save a person. The higher purpose in this obedience is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
6-7 Jacob’s prophetic view: we have 1) prophets we can read and 2) personal revelation. As our
personal revelation confirms and enlightens what we read, our faith is strengthened. Yet we are constantly reminded of our own condition (made humble) so that we continue to search.

The danger: that we quit wandering and searching, and assume we have found truth and there is no more need to search.

9-18 prepares us for Jacob 5.

Introduction to the Olive Tree Allegory: Jacob 5

1. Two questions posed in Jacob 4
a. Why not speak of the atonement of Christ and attain to a perfect knowledge of him? (Jacob 4:12)
b. How is it possible that the Jews after having rejected the sure foundation can ever build on it?
(Jacob 4:17)

2. Zenos
Other book of Mormon texts from Zenos or closely related to him
1 Nephi 19:8-17; 1 Nephi 22:15-17, 23-26 (probable); 2 Nephi 2:30; Alma 33:3-18, 34:7;
Helaman 8:18-19, 15:10-13; 3 Nephi 10:14-16

Possible background:
Probably from northern Kingdom
1 Nephi 19:17 “and as for those at Jerusalem”
3 Nephi 11:16 from the tribe of Joseph -> northern Kingdom
wild olive trees only in the North – not Judah
from tribe of Joseph? (ancestor of Lehi?) brass plates a lineage record of Joseph
probably between 900 and 750 B.C. Probably before Isaiah because Isaiah seems to quote from
killed because he prophesied of Christ

3. Olive Oil and the Holy Ghost
a. Nourishment 2 Nephi 31:20, 32:3,5
b. Light D&C 84:45-46
c. Heal wounds Jacob 2:8
d. Anoint kings 1 John 2:27

4. Similar imagery in Old Testament
a. Exodus 15:17 “plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance”
b. Psalm 52:8,5 “I am like a green olive tree in the house of God”
v. 5: pluck [the wicked] out of dwelling place
c. Psalm 80:8-19 Vine out of Egypt -> planted, deep root, broken hedge, pluck, burned with fire
d. Hosea 14:4-8 roots, branches, olive tree, fruit
e. Isaiah 5:1-7
f. Jeremiah 11:14-17 green olive tree, branches broken, fire
g. Ezekiel 17:1-35; Ezekiel 19:10-14

5. Romans 11 11:16-25 Closely related to Jacob 5
Killed the prophets Rom. 11:3 Jacob 4:14
Darkened eyes/blindness Rom 11:10 Jacob 4:14
Stumble and fall Rom. 11:9,11 Jacob 4:14-15
Don’t counsel God Rom 11:34 Jacob 4:10
Reconciled to Christ Rom. 11:15 Jacob 4:11
No man can find out ways of God Rom. 11:33 Jacob 4:8
Mystery Rom. 11:25 Jacob 4:18
Mercy of God Rom. 11:30-32 Jacob 6:5

Both Romans 11:2 and Jacob 4:16-18 make it clear that the Olive tree allegory makes clear that God has not cast off his people (whom he foreknew!)

6. Olive Tree and Lehi’s Dream Tree
a. juxtaposition 1 Ne. 8 to 1 Ne 10
1 Ne. 11-14 and 1 Ne. 15
b. Fruit described similarly 1 Ne 15:36; Jacob 5:61
c. Both trees represent Christ
1 Ne. 11:20-21, 25, 24 -> 1 Ne. 8:30 Jer. 2:13
1 Ne. 10:14 grafted in = knowledge of true Messiah
1 Ne. 15:13-16 grafted in = knowledge of true Messiah = nourishment from true vine
d Preface to D&C 88

7. Multilayered meanings of the symbols
Tree: Christ, House of Israel, Groups of People, Individuals
(Therefore, the allegory represents both group and individual salvation)
Roots: Christ, blood of Israel, Gospel – Word of God, Covenant
Fruit: most precious = individuals who have qualified for eternal life
Moisture of root: nourishment -> word of God, Jacob 6:2,7
God’s absences: Desired by the people, NOT God. Jacob 4:14
Prune/Pluck: removed wicked or sanctification
Dig, dung, nourish: feed tree

Allegory of the Olive Tree
1. Founding and aging of the house of Israel v. 3 (1300 – 580 b.c.)
Exodus 15:17, planted
2. Scattering of the House of Israel v. 4-14
3. Dispensation of the meridian of time v. 15-28
4. Great apostasy v. 29-49
5. Gathering of Israel v. 50-74
6. Millennium v. 75-76
7. End of the vineyard v. 77

Jacob 6

More on Hell
Jacob 3:11 awake from slumber of death – pains of hell NOW
or angels to devil = 2nd death = Lake of Fire and Brimstone LATER
Jacob 6:8-10 reject word of prophets
-> shame of guilt before bar of God
-> justice demands lake of fire and brimstone which is endless torment

More on gate and path: Jacob 6:11
(Concepts in Jacob 6:8-10 and 6:11 are side by side, just like in Lehi’s dream)

More on the Light of Day Jacob 6:5-6
1. Time between restoration of gospel and 2nd coming during which a) Israel (Jacob 6:4) and b) the Gentiles (2 Nephi 28:32) can accept the Gospel and escape temporal and spiritual destruction.
2. Individual probationary period: Jacob 6:5-7 (see Alma 34:31-34)

(6:13 farewell by Jacob -> implies that Sherem was an experience late in life that Jacob decided to include.

Jacob 7: Sherem the Anti-Christ
Anti-Christ = 1 John 4:3, 1 John 2:22-23
• Those who ultimately know better and therefore lie saying that Jesus is not the Christ or there will be no Christ, attempting to persuade others
• Usually use logic/reason to exploit the one logical weakness of Christianity: the need for a redeemer.

v. 2-4 should be no Christ . . . flattered people . . . sought to debate Jacob . . . learned . . .
knowledge of language
v. 5 Jacob’s security: strong spiritual experiences
v. 6-7 Sherem’s fundamental argument
• Jacob perverts the truth: the law of Moses
• Jacob warships a mythical future being – no one can tell the future
v. 10-12 Jacob’s response
• All prophets testify of Christ
• I personally testify of Christ
v. 13-15 Sherem demands and receive a sign. “nourished” for many days
v. 18-19 Final confession – deceived by Devil
• Lied unto God, scriptures DO testify of Christ
• Fear of eternal hell, awful case, unpardonable sin
To think about: Was Sherem a son of perdition? (wicked man v. 23)

3 Responses to “Book of Mormon Lessons 12 and 13”

  1. JennyW said

    Thanks Cherylem—I’ve been thinking about “trees” since last night when Elder Kikuchi spoke at the adult session of our stake conference. He spent a lot of time working through D&C 97, and focused on v. 9 which reads “For I, the Lord, will cause them to bring forth as a very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit.” He interpreted this scripture as talking about temple worship, and described the temple as fertile soil in which we may plant ourselves both so that we may partake of the tree of life and so that we may ourselves bring forth precious fruit.

    The talk was really interesting, and it was helpful to read over my notes in light of your notes on trees above. I especially liked the comparison between olive oil and the Holy Ghost—in light of Elder Kikuchi’s talk, it made me think about the Holy Ghost as the gift that comes from/through the precious fruits of the tree of life. I need to play around with the image a bit, because I haven’t thought it through clearly yet, but your comments are helping me to think about the Holy Ghost from a new perspective, which I appreciate.

  2. JennyW said

    As an afterthought, here’s the quote from Elder Kikuchi commenting on D&C 97:9 that I’ve been mulling over, just in case anyone’s interested:

    “As we partake of the tree of life in the house of the Lord—as we come to ourselves in his holy bosom—as we serve—then we can drink from the fountains of the living waters or the tree of life, just as we partake of the sacrament (the love, the blood)—then we can bring forth precious fruits.”

  3. Ben McGuire said

    By the way, it has occured to me in times past that one resolution to the dating issue is to make Jacob 6 and Jacob 7 have different authors (albeit of the same name). If Jacob the son of Jacob concludes the Book of Jacob, then the dating for Enos as the son of Jacob Jr. isn’t quite so bad, and it deals with the end of Chapter 6 (which reads like the closing of a book) and the beginning of Chapter 7, which otherwise would have to be a postscript.

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