Iron Rod 064 – Jacob 5-7
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The allegory of the olive tree and Jacob’s encounter with Sherem are the main topics this week.

Isaiah 53:6

2 Nephi 28:14

D&C 33:4

2 Nephi 25:9

2 Nephi 1:10-12

3 Nephi 16:10

D&C 86:1-7

Alma 16:15-17

D&C 88:32, 114

Deuteronomy 13:1-18

Exodus 20:7

Leviticus 24:10-16

Deuteronomy 18:22

Deuteronomy 19:19

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20 comments on “Iron Rod 064 – Jacob 5-7

  1. Thank you, this episode provoked thought on many things I need to listen to it again. One small part of the episode reminded me that in Alma 48:11 we learn that Captain Moroni had a perfect understanding and I compared that to Sherem and his perfect knowledge of the language of the people. It reminded me about the importance of seeking for understanding. And then I wondered why was it that Jacob’s people mourned out their days but the people during Captain Moroni’s time were happy. Both were facing war torn times. I guess things were way worse for Jacob’s people. Thank you for all your efforts on the podcasts.

  2. Thanks for another insightful podcast guys. One thing I was hoping you would mention, but didn’t really elaborate on, is the identity of the servant. To me there are multiple interpretations to parables obviously, but if we look at Jacob 5 as representing the three watches, then is the servant the same in all three watches? And if so, then who is the identity of the servant in the first watch? I think most of us here would agree it’s Joseph in the second and third, but what about the first? I have a theory, but I’m interested in what you all think.

    • The identity of the first watch servant is something I have pondered but I’m not aware of any scriptural clues to help me out. Every analogy breaks down at some point as you keep trying to get more specific. While the allegory describes one servant in all visits, does that have to be the same person in reality? I don’t know. Would John the Baptist be the servant because he prepared the way, or Peter because he implemented the fullness? Or could all the 12 Apostles be represented by the single servant?

      By all means, please share your theory.

      • Yea maybe it’s not the same servant each time, but if Jacob 5 can be read as the three watches. Then to me it makes sense that the servant would be the same. Notice the master himself goes down and labors first in verse 3 = Christ’s ministry. Then it brings forth some good fruit but the main top began to perish. So then the Lord calls the servant for the first time and tells them to graft in wild branches. I think the servant is Paul, I mean I may be biased since he has the best name! But he is known as the apostle to the gentiles. He and Joseph fit together quite well I think. And it’s interesting that he was from the tribe of Benjamin, the other favored son of Jacob, meaning that if I’m right and Paul and Joseph are the same, then first he came from the least of all the tribes, and the tribe Saul was from, hence his original name. Then he came as an Ephramite gentile, and the end times servant is supposed to be a mixture of Ephraim and Judah. Hence all tribes would be represented at one stage or the other. Which I find quite symbolic. Both Paul and Joseph were and are and will continue to be lights to the gentiles, in bringing them to the gospel. Also look at the amount of writings they both produced. Half the new testament is Paul, and add the D&C and other revelations to that and they both brought forth more of the word of God than anyone since Moses that we know of. Paul is also unique in the New Testament, because he wasn’t one of the original 12 and never part of the quorum, nevertheless he was called directly by God himself to do a work and he did, and was martyred for it just like Joseph. That’s my theory at least and I find it quite interesting when you look at the parallels. I also find it interesting that Joseph himself in section 127:2 says, “It all has become a second nature to me; and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation; for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it.”

      • Thirsty Mar 28, 2020

        I actually think that the servant is Elijah/John the Baptist. We have mention of the servant even before the First Watch in verse 7. Elijah was dealing with corrupt branches when he was dealing with the priests of Bale prior to the First Watch. He came in the First Watch, and the Second Watch. And will have a role in the Third Watch.

  3. Ranae Feb 25, 2020

    I am going to take a stab at identifying the time periods referred to in the Jacob 5 allegory.

    If the olive tree is the house of Israel, then it would have waxed old and began to decay by the time the Northern Kingdom was taken and the Kingdom of Judah was being threatened by the Babylonians. We know at this time there were many prophets (1 Ne. 1:4), and there began to be some who believed on their message and repented, including Lehi. Daniel is another example of a “young and tender branch” from this time period and place who was removed to another location. What you might not know is that many major world religions (excluding Islam) trace their origins to approximately 600BC. These religions also teach some form of the Golden Rule.

    Verse 15 tells us “a long time passed away” and also both the Lord of the vineyard and the servant “go down into the vineyard, that [they] may labor in the vineyard.” They first go to where the wild branches are grafted in, and find fruit like the natural fruit. (I would argue that the fruit is not a Zion society, but initially people who demonstrate charity – to love their neighbor as themselves, to care for the poor and needy.) Then they go to the nethermost parts of the vineyard. We know that after the death of Christ, He visited the lost sheep of the House of Israel, consistent with this parable. Christ’s personal ministry and post-resurrection ministry was approximately 600-700 years after the scattering that took place, what might be considered “a long time”.

    Verse 29-30 tells us that again “a long time had passed away” and “the Lord of the vineyard and the servant went down into the vineyard”. At this point, the tree whose branches had been broken off brought forth all sorts of fruit, but none of it was described as good. This could conceivably be identified as the many types of Christianity, and perhaps even the various flavors of Judaism (based on which religions still claim the Bible as the roots of their belief systems.) A discussion occurs about whether to call it quits with trying to get good fruit from this vineyard gone wild, or to give it one final effort. At this stage of the parable, the Lord and servant are only beholding and tasting the fruit. It does not say they are actively working to influence the type of fruit that is growing. They did the same in the nethermost regions. One point of interest to me is that they actually go down into the vineyard. Do you think it possible that Christ and the servant can be in the vineyard between the time Joseph Smith is told to join none of the churches and when the Great and Marvelous Work begins? If so, do you think anyone would know? How else would they taste the results of the various philosophies and religions that are growing wild? If the fruit is charity, the description of “no good fruit” (v.46) matches the description of Psalm 14:2-4, (see JST for an even better description).

    At this point, the options seem to be hewing down all the trees to be burned, or trying to preserve the trees by taking off the most bitter branches and grafting branches between the various trees in an effort to stimulate good growth again. What I see from this plan is not a doomsday scenario, where you have to live in the not-yet-established city of Zion or be destroyed by warfare, famine, and natural disasters, but rather a careful shift in power by taking away the most corrupt influences in society so that there is an environment for people to choose a better, kinder way of living with their neighbors. As the good gains strength, the bad will continue to be cleared until the whole vineyard is preserved. At no time in this scenario do I see safety for only a few, but rather a course where the majority is set free from the oppression of the mighty through the work of the Lord and the servants. This is where I see us today. Bit by bit, the wicked are losing their grasp on power. The tipping point hasn’t come yet, but if Jacob’s prophecy is to be believed, this is how the work will occur, leading to the promised Millennium.

    That’s my timeline. If it is accurate, it also indicates that we might already have access to some of the promised records of the lost tribes, in the form of sacred texts of other religions. I am not saying that a careful study of world religions will lead to a perfect understanding of Christ, but you would not expect to have a perfect understanding of Christ based on our Old Testament or New Testament either. This idea does conform with Alma’s words “the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have” (Alma 29:8). The western individualistic perspective is quite different from the eastern way of seeing relationships and the value of community. There is a lot we can learn from trying to see the world through someone else’s glasses.

  4. Ranae Feb 26, 2020

    A couple points related to the last section on Sherem. I disagree that the definition of the “unpardonable sin” is only someone who has been in the presence of God and willfully rebels. That is not what the gospels teach. They define the unpardonable sin as blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which Sherem is guilty of. Alma agrees with this when he tells his son “if ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you, and ye know that ye deny it, behold, this is a sin which in unpardonable; yea, and whosoever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness”. It is possible that Sherem had previous experience with the Holy Ghost, why else would he be so concerned with the scriptures and trying to correct the doctrinal errors of others? Unfortunately, he lost his way and taught others that a belief in Christ was something to be repented of instead, just like Korihor did later.

    You mention that Sherem might have come from other indigenous people. However, I wonder if he might have been a Lamanite, or someone who was associated with them. After all, you pointed out that the end result was the desire of the Nephites to “restore and reclaim the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth”. We seem to believe that the available scriptures were only on the brass plates, but how else could Sherem (or Jacob’s listeners) have searched the scriptures to believe them? (Maybe they had copies on scrolls as well as plates, which are going to deteriorate over time if they are not continually copied.)

    Is it possible that a large part of the Nephite/Lamanite dispute was a continuation of who had the correct understanding of how to worship God? Lehi’s family were all well-educated, up until the wilderness experience. They could read Egyptian to some extent, and I imagine that their education was highly influenced by Egyptian beliefs and culture. Nephi taught that even though he lived in Jerusalem and understood the things of the Jews, his people did not, because he considered their works to be “works of darkness” and “doings of abominations”. However, Laman and Lemuel considered the people of Jerusalem to be righteous, in which case we can imagine that they taught these things to their children and tried to “immunize” them against Nephi’s corrupt influence through hatred and mistrust.

    Along these same lines, I find it interesting that people like Hugh Nibley have looked at comparisons between the Egyptian religion and our temple ceremonies as an indication that they are inspired of God, as if finding parallels between something new and something ancient is evidence that it is of God. Perhaps the Jews at the time of the conquest were steeped in Egyptian beliefs and practices, particularly in the higher, more educated classes. In which case, there would be a real tension when prophets came to tell them that they were wrong and needed to repent. Interestingly enough, the remnant of the Jews who were left after the Babylonian conquest could have stayed in the land, but they chose to flee to Egypt for safety, dragging Jeremiah with them. (Not really something that concerns Sherem, but an observation that the traditions of our fathers are difficult to break free of, and shape what we understand when we read the scriptures, unless the Holy Ghost reaches through that to speak truth to our hearts.)

    • Re: unpardonable sin. I was not careful with my words when recording. There does seem to be a difference between an unpardonable sin and the unforgivable sin, even though we tend to conflate the two. The sons of perdition deny the Holy Spirit after having received it and there is no forgiveness.

      D&C 76:31-38
      Thus saith the Lord concerning all those who know my power, and have been made partakers thereof, and suffered themselves through the power of the devil to be overcome, and to deny the truth and defy my power—They are they who are the sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born; for they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity; concerning whom I have said there is no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come—having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame. These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels—and the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power; Yea, verily, the only ones who shall not be redeemed in the due time of the Lord, after the sufferings of his wrath.

      To know and be made a partaker in the power of God requires the Melchizedek Priesthood, which includes standing in God’s presence.

      JST Genesis 14:30-32
      For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course; to put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world. And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.

      The Book of Mormon gives us a checkpoint on that.
      Helaman 15:11
      Behold, my brethren, have ye not read that God gave power unto one man, even Moses, to smite upon the waters of the Red Sea, and they parted hither and thither, insomuch that the Israelites, who were our fathers, came through upon dry ground, and the waters closed upon the armies of the Egyptians and swallowed them up?

      We know that Moses held the Melchizedek Priesthood, stood in God’s presence, and had power over the elements. There is no proof that Sherem met that criteria. The scriptures also do not say that Sherem denied the Holy Ghost (or blasphemed against it). It only says he lied unto God and denied the Christ. Jesus made it clear that was forgivable:

      Matthew 12:31-32
      Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

      There is no scriptural evidence that Sherem committed the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.

      Is there a difference between unforgivable and unpardonable? Notice what Alma tells his son in the scripture you quoted:
      Alma 39:6
      For behold, if ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you, and ye know that ye deny it, behold, this is a sin which is unpardonable; yea, and whosoever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness; yea, I say unto you, my son, that it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness.

      Twice he says it is not easy to obtain forgiveness. He doesn’t say it is impossible, just not easy. This unpardonable sin is not the unforgivable sin.

      • Ranae Feb 27, 2020

        I am not sure how you are distinguishing between forgive and pardon. When I look up the Webster’s 1828 dictionary, they are used to define each other. I suppose you could look at pardon, like expunge from the record, like the difference between Presidential pardons and clemency where they are let off the rest of the sentence. But don’t really know how that affects the argument.

        I say that Sherem was guilty of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost because that seems to be the crux of the doctrinal disagreement between Jacob and Sherem. They both are familiar with the scriptures, but Sherem denies they testify of Christ. Jacob on the other hand says the scriptures and prophets all testify of Christ, but it has also been made known to him by the Holy Ghost. After this, Sherem tells Jacob to “show me a sign by this power of the Holy Ghost, in the which ye know so much.” That doesn’t sound like curiosity, it sounds like a challenge, especially where he has already said “no man knoweth…of things to come”.

        We don’t know what happened to Sherem after he fell to the ground. It sounds similar to Alma’s experience, so he may have reason to fear he has committed the unpardonable sin. If he has been teaching people there is no Christ, and to deny the testimony they had received of a Christ to come, that is reason to fear. The sons of Mosiah had a glimpse of the judgment associated with that behavior, and it changed the course of their lives in an effort to be pardoned…”for they were the very vilest of sinners. And the Lord saw fit in his infinite mercy to spare them; nevertheless they suffered much anguish of soul because of their iniquities, suffering much and fearing that they should be cast off forever.”

        I think you are conflating the punishment of the Sons of Perdition who will be cast off forever with the suffering experienced by those who are not covered by the atonement of Christ and must suffer for their own sins. “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit — and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink.” This is the punishment from which we seek forgiveness and pardon. This pardon/forgiveness is not available to those who have been taught about Christ and then reject Him, and more especially to those who have taught others not to believe in Christ. The time for forgiveness or pardon is before the debt has been fully collected.

        • I think we’re both getting at the same idea, but coming at it differently. Correct me if I’m wrong. The unpardonable sin that Alma describes can be forgiven, but not easily. That’s my basis for distinguishing between unpardonable and unforgivable. Alma says the unpardonable sin is still forgivable, so it must be different than the unforgivable sin. That would seem to indicate those people who commit the unpardonable sin will suffer for their own sins, but eventually be released from punishment. The unforgivable sin of the sons of Perdition is both unpardonable and unforgivable, they are not redeemed but go into the lake of fire after the final judgment. If correct, then the $60,000 question is how much more knowledge does one have to have to move from the unpardonable sin to the unforgivable sin.

          • Jonny Mar 2, 2020

            Whether unpardonable, unforgivable, or one in the same, Jacob 7:19 shed light on the topic for me. The sin in question is essentially that of lying, lying to God, lying with full knowledge of the lie. The ultimate lie, like murder (as you both referenced above) is the ultimate killing. Interesting that in describing the atonement and our awful fate without it, 2 Nephi 9:9 reminds us that Satan is the father of lies, referencing the Fall, secret combinations, utter separation from God, etc.

    • re: Lamanites

      The general people didn’t read reformed Egyptian, and the brass plates remained in the possession of the prophetic line, so it seems unavoidable that there were translations on less durable media for the people to use and study. We have no idea if it was the complete text, or just portions of it.

      I don’t think Sherem was a Lamanite for a couple of reasons. First of all, Jacob was the brother of Laman and Lemual, so if Sherem were descended from those two, Jacob would have been Sherem’s uncle or great uncle. There is no indication of any close family relationship or even awareness of each other. That’s not proof, but circumstantial evidence. We have better evidence.

      Alma 3:7-12
      And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women. And this was done that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their destruction. And it came to pass that whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed. Therefore, whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites was called under that head, and there was a mark set upon him. And it came to pass that whosoever would not believe in the tradition of the Lamanites, but believed those records which were brought out of the land of Jerusalem, and also in the tradition of their fathers, which were correct, who believed in the commandments of God and kept them, were called the Nephites, or the people of Nephi, from that time forth—And it is they who have kept the records which are true of their people, and also of the people of the Lamanites.

      It appears that shortly after Nephi and his followers separated from Laman, Lemuel, and their followers, that the Lamanites rejected the law of Moses. They did not believe the records that came from Jerusalem. Enos stated that:
      Enos 1:14-16
      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. 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. 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.

      That ties back to Nephi obtaining the records:
      1 Nephi 4:15-17
      Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law. And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass. And again, I knew that the Lord had delivered Laban into my hands for this cause—that I might obtain the records according to his commandments.

      By the time of Jarom, the Lamanites are drinking animal blood, a violation of the law of Moses (Leviticus 17:13-14), whereas the Nephites are distinguished from the Lamanites by their obedience to the law of Moses.
      Jarom 1:5-6
      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. 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.

      By the time of Mosiah, the Lamanites don’t know the law of Moses:
      Mosiah 24:5
      And they were a people friendly one with another; nevertheless they knew not God; neither did the brethren of Amulon teach them anything concerning the Lord their God, neither the law of Moses; nor did they teach them the words of Abinadi;

      By the time of the sons of Mosiah, the Lamanites don’t even worship YHWH.
      Alma 18:5
      Now this was the tradition of Lamoni, which he had received from his father, that there was a Great Spirit. Notwithstanding they believed in a Great Spirit, they supposed that whatsoever they did was right; nevertheless, Lamoni began to fear exceedingly, with fear lest he had done wrong in slaying his servants;

      It seems inconsistent with the rest of what the Book of Mormon says about the Lamanites for Sherem, who studied and obeyed the law of Moses, to have been a Lamanite. It’s only around the time of Helaman that the Lamanites are taught the law of Moses and become more righteous than the Nephites in obeying it.

      • Ranae Feb 27, 2020

        It seems more likely that Sherem would be associated with the Lamanites and not know Jacob, even if they were related, than that he would be from among the Nephites and not know Jacob. If he came from another group altogether it is unlikely that he could have had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people. There is obviously some contact between the groups to have wars and also to attempt to reclaim the Lamanites to the truth, so why is it unlikely that some Lamanites might also seek peace by trying to convert the Nephites to their belief in religion without a living Christ?

        My comment about the Egyptian was simply to illustrate that Laman and Lemuel probably identified more with the culture of the upper class Jews who were destroyed than Nephi was. They were probably more literate in the Egyptian language and beliefs than their younger brothers were. They also would have taught their children what was important to them. They might have perishable copies of the scriptures which could have still been around when Sherem was studying, which would not have lasted until the later generations if they were not copied by hand. But if Laman and Lemuel rejected the coming of Christ like the Jews in Jerusalem did, they would not have suddenly found that belief in the scriptures, if they read them, any more than most people find things in the scriptures they don’t believe in, unless it is shown them by a believer. I have thought the record the Lamanites wanted to destroy was the record Nephi was saving to convert them later on, not necessarily the brass plates. Possibly because Laman and Lemuel knew they wouldn’t agree with Nephi’s version of their story.

        Imagine if you had to teach your children and grandchildren without the aid of schools, church, or written records. However, you are literate. What would you pass on? How would the stories be shaped? Would you record your favorite memorized scriptures, pass on your favorite holiday traditions? Share stories from your life? Would there be fairy tales, myths, patriotic songs? Whatever was important to you would probably be passed on in some way or another. Sherem would have lived within the first couple generations after leaving Jerusalem, if he was related to Lehi in some way. If he was interested in history and scriptures, there might have been access at this time in ways that were not available later. However, this is all speculation. Sometimes it can be fun to flesh out some details of characters with no history, however I know anything beyond the text is pure speculation.

        • I guess it depends on our starting assumptions. I can see your perspective. I speculate that when Lehi’s party arrived, there was already an indigenous people (obviously more numerous than the 18 adults on the ship). That indigenous people would be non-believers, so the Lamanites would have a natural affiliation with them. The Nephites would have taught and converted some, but would always be the minority. That’s the demographic situation we see throughout the Book of Mormon. That would explain this verse:

          2 Nephi 5:6
          Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words.

          After naming all those family members, who would be left to go with him? I suspect those are indigenous people that had been converted and assimilated into the Nephites. The Lamanites refused to believe and assimilated into the native culture, but assumed the leadership of it. That would give us the large numbers of people necessary for Nephi to say there had already been wars after only 40 years in 2 Nephi 5:34.

          Even the Nephites weren’t a unified culture , as noted by Jacob:

          Jacob 1:13-14
          Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites. But I, Jacob, shall not hereafter distinguish them by these names, but I shall call them Lamanites that seek to destroy the people of Nephi, and those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites, or the people of Nephi, according to the reigns of the kings.

          Notice also that Jacob defines the Lamanites as those who want to destroy the Nephites, not those that are religiously opposed to the Nephites. Anyone who isn’t a Lamanite is by definition a Nephite, even though there are different groups of Nephites. This is during Jacob’s lifetime, so only ~50 years after arrival.

          That gets us to language. Jacob says that Sherem was fluent in the language of the people. If the descendants of Lehi were the minority, they would have adopted the dominant language. That would have put someone like Jacob at a disadvantage, not being a native speaker of the language. Enos, Jacob’s son, comments that he was taught in his father’s language. That seems to hint that his father’s language was different than that of the people. It could be a reference to Reformed Egyptian, but it’s not clear. By the time of Mosiah, we know the Lamanites and Nephites spoke different languages:

          Mosiah 1:4
          And he appointed teachers of the brethren of Amulon in every land which was possessed by his people; and thus the language of Nephi began to be taught among all the people of the Lamanites.

          Again, this is a tangential topic that we can’t answer definitively. But your scenario would mirror what we see during Jesus’ ministry with the majority obeying the law of Moses but missing the whole point. And that should be a warning to all of us today, as well.

          • Ranae Feb 28, 2020

            Good point about what the language of the people might mean. That would explain why Jacob needed the help of the Spirit to assist him in communicating ideas he was so familiar with in a way that would counter Sherem.

            As far as the language difference. Mulek’s people had also lost their ability to use Hebrew by the time of king Benjamin’s father, which is probably 300-400 years after leaving Jerusalem. The loss is attributed to not having any written records. Imagine running into someone who speaks Shakespearean English. You might eventually get the hang of what they are talking about, but the language patterns would be unfamiliar to your ear, especially if you had no previous exposure. We take for granted the standardization of English that has resulted from things like the printing press, dictionaries, and means of mass communication like radio and television to standardize pronunciation as well as spelling. Kind of interesting to realize how much we depend on the progress made by many generations to be where we are today, and how it can all be lost in one generation if we negect to teach the children.

      • While preparing for this week’s podcast, I found a few more scriptures relating to the Lamanites and the law of Moses.
        Enos 1:20
        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.

        The kosher laws contained in the Law of Moses required an animal to both chew the cud and divide the hoof. Only vegetarian animals chew the cud, which meant any beast of prey was unclean and a violation of the law of Moses. (Eating raw meat isn’t a violation, as long as the blood has been removed). That led me back to when the Nephites and Lamanites separated.
        2 Nephi 5:24
        And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.

        So even at the time of the separation, the Lamanites were already violating the kosher laws of the Law of Moses.

        • Ranae Feb 29, 2020

          This is where I wonder how much the Egyptian influence might have had an effect. The Law of Moses was designed to keep the Israelites separate from the dominant culture. I don’t know a lot about the Egyptian religion, but we do know they claimed a false priesthood, and built temples. Did they also believe that you take on the attributes of what you eat?

          Here is a different but maybe relevant example. I was reading a book of Greek myths to my kids. In one, a goddess (in disguise) is working in a household caring for the baby boy. She places him in the fire to imbue him with immortality. The mother walks in and sees what is happening and has a fit. The goddess basically calls her an idiot for not accepting the gift she was bestowing on the little boy, and leaves. Leviticus 18:19 says, “thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech”. Do you see how familiarity with the customs and stories of surrounding cultures can impact the rationale for accepting practices which would otherwise be unthinkable?

          As a well-educated, wealthy family, Lehi’s sons would have access to whatever advantages and education their status would provide, including a familiarity with surrounding cultures. Nephi makes a point of telling us he did not teach his people concerning the manner of the Jews because they were of darkness and abominations. However, he did teach them the Law of Moses. Who knows what Laman and Lemuel were teaching? They did not have any problem with the culture and practices of the people they came from who were about to be destroyed because of what they were doing. I think they just no longer had any restraints on their actions, and did not necessarily need indigenous people to teach them to do things forbidden by the Law of Moses.

          • I’m not saying that the indigenous people taught the Lamanites to do wrong. If anything, the opposite. The Lamanites, as they were rejecting the truth, found an indigenous audience they could teach their false doctrine to, and because of the large numbers of indigenous people, the Lamanites suddenly outnumbered the Nephites, resulting in the Nephites being a minority religion.

            • Jonny Mar 2, 2020

              I LOVE reading you two go back and forth! Whether Sherem was of Lamanite or Mulekite origin, he knew the Law of Moses and believed it, including how it leads Israel to Christ. Such was his deathbed confession.

              Regarding the third possibility of his ancestry, indigenous peoples, I wonder if Jacob 5:40-45 can provide insights. We tend to think of this last tree in good ground, choice above all others, as being the Nephites and Lamanties planted in America. (Please correct if I am assuming too much.) Verse 44 specifically says that before the Lord of the vineyard planted this tree, he “cut down that which cumbered this spot of ground, that I might plant this tree in the stead thereof.” So there must have been peoples in America before the Lehites who were replaced by the Lehites. The Jaredites arrived in America well before the Lehites, but continued to exist until Coriantumr joined the people of Zarahemla. It seems that both groups overlapped the Lehites, perhaps by some hundreds of years, in a location not exactly the Land of Lehi. If that is the case, they were not “cut down” to be replaced by the Lehites.

              So what people was cut down to make a place, in time and location, for the Lehites? Unsure. But whomever they were, Sherem could not have been there descendants, unless the Lord of the vineyard missed some of the old tree cumbering the ground.

              • That’s a good observation. I think the Jaredite culture was what was cut down, but I don’t think that means the entire population had to be eliminated. I suspect that with the Lehites arrival, the pruning of the Jaredites was already in full swing. Indeed, the Lehites have no record of knowledge of the Jaredite culture that worshipped the same God as them until they merged with the people of Zarahemla. So even though they did inhabit the land at the same time, the Jaredite culture had retracted enough that we have no record of them overlapping with the Lehites. Ether 11 talks about how as the Jaredite culture was in decline the prophets taught that others were coming to take their place:
                20 And in the days of Coriantor there also came many prophets, and prophesied of great and marvelous things, and cried repentance unto the people, and except they should repent the Lord God would execute judgment against them to their utter destruction;
                21 And that the Lord God would send or bring forth another people to possess the land, by his power, after the manner by which he brought their fathers.

                During those last years, were there Jaredite groups who were not interested in the bloodshed and warfare and just headed for the hills to live a peaceful life and avoided the final wars of extermination? It’s possible. With the end of the Nephite civilization, not all the Nephites were killed. Mormon 6:15 says some escaped to the south countries, and some had deserted over unto the Lamanites, while the rest were killed. So it doesn’t appear that every soul needs to be killed for the allegory to apply.

                Of course, if later revelation reveals that everyone was indeed killed and the land was entirely desolate, I won’t have a crisis of faith. Given the limited record we do have, I see enough ambiguity that it could go either way, and I have a preference, but it really is tangential to the core message of the gospel.