“For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.” 1

If they were a righteous branch,” and considered to be my people as in “God’s people,” then were they commanded to “raise up seed?”

“Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;
 
Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.
 
And now behold, my brethren, ye know that these commandments were given to our father, Lehi; wherefore, ye have known them before; and ye have come unto great condemnation; for ye have done these things which ye ought not to have done.”2

It should be clear that Lehi was given this one wife commandment and told to keep that commandment or else they would suffer a curse. Even though Lehi has been dead for 25 years at this point, Jacob’s audience is familiar with the commandment and Jacob reminds them of their condemnation for ignoring God’s commandments.

 

Commanded to Raise up Seed

The phrase “raise up seed” is used twice in the Book of Mormon, once in the verse below and in Jacob. In textual analysis the best place to look for the meaning of a text is inside the text itself. If we limit ourselves to the Book of Mormon to interpret what it means to “raise up seed,” then we should use this verse to give us context and understanding to its intended meaning in Jacob.

“And now I would that ye might know, that after my father, Lehi, had made an end of prophesying concerning his seed, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto him again, saying that it was not meet for him, Lehi, that he should take his family into the wilderness alone; but that his sons should take daughters to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise.
 
And it came to pass that the Lord commanded him that I, Nephi, and my brethren, should again return unto the land of Jerusalem, and bring down Ishmael and his family into the wilderness.
 
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did again, with my brethren, go forth into the wilderness to go up to Jerusalem.
 
And it came to pass that we went up unto the house of Ishmael, and we did gain favor in the sight of Ishmael, insomuch that we did speak unto him the words of the Lord.
 
And it came to pass that the Lord did soften the heart of Ishmael, and also his household, insomuch that they took their journey with us down into the wilderness to the tent of our father.3

Were they commanded to raise up seed? Yes. Were they given commandments regarding marriage? Yes. If they are “my people” and were “commanded” to “raise up seed,” does Jacob 2:30 apply to Lehi and his seed? Yes.

It should not be overlooked that Lehi’s prophecies about his posterity are immediately followed up by the Lord commanding them to return for companions in marriage.4 The two ideas are intertwined here, God has made promises before they understand how they will be fulfilled, before they are commanded to return for Ishmael and his family. There may have been some time between the commandment for his sons to take wives and the command to return to Jerusalem in order to accomplish it. The Lord can often ask us to do something before he gives us understanding on how it will be accomplished.5

 

Genesis Story

In this story we have Genesis and Exodus playing out in this small family unit. Nephi understands this and adds small phrases to connect the readers mind to the origin stories from the books of Moses. Notice two keywords he uses here, “meet” and “alone.” “the Lord spake unto him again, saying that it was not meet for him, Lehi, that he should take his family into the wilderness alone6 This should draw our minds to the beginning.

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.
 
And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.
 
And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.
 
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
 
And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
 
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
 
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.
 
And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”7

Like the Genesis stories of Adam and Eve and Noah’s family, Lehi and his family start out in monogamist relationships.8 While one is commanded to “multiply and replenish” the other is commanded to “raise up seed.” Yet both commandments relating to posterity are accomplished through monogamy.9

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, took one of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also, my brethren took of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also Zoram took the eldest daughter of Ishmael to wife.”10

From this we can clearly see that Lehi was commanded to “raise up seed” and he was to achieve this through the commandment of “one wife.” The taking of more wives than one was strictly forbidden, eliminating the idea that it can be achieved in some other way. From the information we have inside the Book of Mormon text itself, we can conclude that “raising up seed” has nothing to do with polygamy. Suddenly our conventional interpretation has a major flaw unless we try to force outside ideas into the text rather than relying on the text itself.

 

Father Lehi

All those who receive the Gospel will numbered as Abraham’s seed, and Abraham will be their father: “And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;”11 Notice his seed will “rise up.” If Abraham is the Father of all the righteous, and we know not all of them are literal descendants (or literal seed), then should we expect the Lord in a like manner to “raise up seed” unto Lehi? If mankind can still be “raised up” and be “accounted” as Abraham’s seed, can we also be “numbered among” Lehi’s seed as well?

To Lehi the Lord promised, “Wherefore, I will consecrate this land unto thy seed, and them who shall be numbered among thy seed, forever, for the land of their inheritance.”12 So it is that Lehi’s posterity will include his literal children and another group, those “who shall be numbered among thy seed.” It becomes apparent that we must repent and “rise up” in order to be numbered with Lehi’s seed and inherit this land along with his literal posterity.13

That promise has been extended to us, the Gentiles:

“And it shall come to pass, that if the Gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that he shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power, in very deed, unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks— And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall be numbered among the seed of thy father; yea, they shall be numbered among the house of Israel; and they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever; they shall be no more brought down into captivity; and the house of Israel shall no more be confounded.”14

If we “hearken unto the Lamb of God” “And harden not [our] hearts against the Lamb of God,” then God will manifest himself to us “in word, and also in power, in very deed.” Through this process it will also remove our stumbling blocks. The Jews have had their own stumbling block and the Gentiles have a different stumbling block. Nephi describes the challenge we are facing, “And the Gentiles are lifted up in the pride of their eyes, and have stumbled, because of the greatness of their stumbling block, that they have built up many churches; nevertheless, they put down the power and miracles of God, and preach up unto themselves their own wisdom and their own learning, that they may get gain and grind upon the face of the poor.”15

 

Remnant of the Lamanites

When we read chapter 2 and ignore the words from chapter 3 of Jacob, we miss the promises to the Lamanites who are preserved specifically because they kept the commandment given to Lehi.

Jacob 3:5–8 reveals something very important: “Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them. And now, this commandment they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.”
 
It was the fidelity of the Lamanites to their one wife that saved them. They rejected the prophets, they rejected Nephi, they rejected the gospel, they were loathsome, wild and ferocious, but their fidelity to one wife preserved them. In the eyes of God their faithful marriages were important enough they deserved to be preserved, unlike the Nephites who had the prophets and the gospel.]  
 
“Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and their husbands and their wives love their children; and their unbelief and their hatred towards you is because of the iniquity of their fathers; wherefore, how much better are you than they, in the sight of your great Creator?”
 
This passage in Jacob shows that marriage, above everything else, is the image of God. This is what God intends to preserve into eternity. It is so much easier for God to take people who have this kind of a marriage and preserve them than to take someone who may know all mysteries, but whose marriage is in ruins, and preserve them because they are more godly.”16

The Book of Mormon has so much to say about our day. When all is said and done I believe it will be considered the greatest prophecy ever recorded on earth. Mankind, including the Gentiles who’ve had possession of it for nearly 200 years at this point, will be shocked and amazed at how accurate its prophecies about our day really are. From inside its own pages we’re starting to see how God has and will continue to “raise up seed” unto himself.

Understanding the context that the Book of Mormon through the text itself should help us understand that Monogamy was the command by which Lehi was to achieve the consort command to “raise up seed.” This should clear things up, but there are those who will still be unsatisfied, so we press on and dig deeper.

>>> Part 2.6 | Who’s Voice?

 

Notes & Sources

  1. Jacob 2:30
  2. Jacob 2:27, 29, 34
  3. 1 Nephi 7:1–5
  4. Lehi prophesies concerning his seed in chapter 5, then Nephi interjects in chapter 6, and then we pick back up in 7.

    see, 1 Nephi 5:17–22

  5. “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” 1 Nephi 3:7
  6. 1 Nephi 7:1
  7. Genesis 2:18–25, see also, Moses 3:18–25, Abraham 5:14–19
  8. Gwendolyn Wyne has an excellent video where she breaks down the pairings in Lehi’s and Ishmael’s families into monogamous relationships: Jacob 2:30 | Polygamy: An Enemy Has Done This
  9. This puts D&C 132:63 at odds with all other scriptural accounts in Genesis 1:28, Genesis 9:1, Moses 2:28, Abraham 4:28, and The Book of Mormon in 1 Nephi 16:7.
  10. 1 Nephi 16:7
  11. Abraham 2:20
  12. see 2 Nephi 10:19–22
  13. With all this numbering and counting it should make us ponder over why our Lord, the Good Shepherd, says that those who “hear his voice” will be “numbered among my sheep.” | see Alma 5:57, 3 Nephi 15:24, 3 Nephi 16:3, John 10 and others.
  14. 1 Nephi 14:1–2
  15. 2 Nephi 26:20

    It’s worth studying the difference between the stumbling of the Jews and the stumbling of the Gentiles, see Jacob 4:14–18

  16. Preserving the Restoration, pp. 414-415