Another observation that I made, while studying chapter two, was while reading, “For behold, as I inquired of the Lord, thus came the word unto me, saying: Jacob, get thou up into the temple on the morrow, and declare the word which I shall give thee unto this people.”1 The day before his sermon he receives the information he’s going to deliver. So I decided to try and decipher when it was Jacob’s voice and when it was the Lord’s voice.

As he begins his message about pride Jacob is speaking for the Lord, but he’s using his own words, “And now behold, my brethren, this is the word which I declare unto you…”2 He continues his message in his own words until he gets to the “grosser crimes” portion of the sermon, where he quotes the Lord directly, “But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord:”

Jacob has switched to using the Lord’s voice directly and the first words clue us in to the timing of when Jacob received these words: “This people begin to wax in iniquity…” This should connect us to two prior statements from Jacob,

“And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son.”3

and then,

“But behold, hearken ye unto me, and know that by the help of the all-powerful Creator of heaven and earth I can tell you concerning your thoughts, how that ye are beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable unto me, yea, and abominable unto God.”4

The iniquity and sin began after Nephi died and is a new malady to the Nephites, the Lord is addressing it immediately to try and prevent destruction of the Nephites. Jacob continues with the Lord’s word, presumably given the day before “as [he] inquired of the Lord…”5

“But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord. Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph. Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.”6

I’m probably not breaking new ground by suggesting that this information was given to Jacob near the time of this sermon. However, in a seamless manner Jacob is now going to comment on what he’s just read by stating “Wherefore, my brethren, hear me…” Like his prophecy in Jacob 6:1, he’s going to use words already given to them to add to this new message from the Lord. “Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord:” Jacob’s response includes a long quote from the Lord, and I believe he’s quoting this statement from Lehi’s record.7

“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; For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts. Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes. 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. For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands. And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts. For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness, save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredoms, like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts.”8

This portion of the sermon contains the commandment given to Lehi, “For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none.” Immediately after quoting Lehi, Jacob states, “ye know that these commandments were given to our father, Lehi; wherefore, ye have known them before;”9

Not only did the Nephites have this commandment, but the Lamanites also had it: “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.”10 However, the Nephites and the Lamanites split up 25 years earlier after Lehi’s death.11 The Lamanites don’t have access to the record, and they live separately from the Nephites in the land of their first inheritance.12

This should suggest to us that the commandment Jacob is reading came from Lehi many years earlier. I would tend to believe it was given near the time that Lehi received the promises of his covenant land. From Lehi’s words in 2 Nephi 1:4–5, he speaks of the destruction in Jerusalem and receiving the covenant land in back to back verses.13 If he’s speaking of these things in a chronological order, this would date the promises made to Lehi around 587 or 586 B.C.14 He could have received these promises even earlier if you consider that he mentions it after Nephi and his brothers get the plates of brass: “But behold, I have obtained a land of promise, in the which things I do rejoice;”15 This is immediately after they leave the land of Jerusalem, the place where God “[had] seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of [his] people.”16

Jacob is delivering his sermon, that includes the commandment regarding marriage, in 544 B.C., a full generation after coming to the Americas. In fact Jacob and Joseph were born just a few years before they reached the promised land and would have been very young children when the commandment was originally given, he’s approximately 47 years old when Nephi dies.17

The Lamanites have been without the scriptures for nearly 25 years and yet they obey the commandment that Jacob reads from Lehi’s record. This is the one thing that will ultimately preserve them in the end. This also tells us that the commandment was given before the family split around 570 B.C. It should be obvious to us that this is from Lehi’s record.

 

Approximate Timeline of Events

  • 600 B.C. – Lehi flees Jerusalem (1 Nephi 2)(2 Nephi 1:3)
  • 591 B.C. – Jacob and Joseph are born. (1 Nephi 18:7)
  • 589 B.C. – Arrive in the promised land. (1 Nephi 18:23)
  • 587 B.C. – Jerusalem is destroyed (2 Nephi 1:4)
  • 586 B.C. – Lehi receives a covenant that includes the promised land. (2 Nephi 1:5)
  • 585 B.C. – Lehi receives the commandment regarding marriage. (Jacob 2:27–33)
  • 570 B.C. – Lehi dies and is buried. (2 Nephi 4:12)
  • 570 B.C. – Nephites and Lamanites separate. (2 Nephi 5:5–6)
  • 544 B.C. – Nephi dies. (Jacob 1:2) I would guess his age is ~ 70-75 years old.
  • 543 B.C. – Nephites begin to wax in iniquity. (Jacob 1:15) Jacob is ~ 47 years old.

We get the commandment of marriage out of order in the Book of Mormon. We lost Lehi’s record as part of the 116 pages. Don Bradley’s book suggests we may have lost two-thirds of the current book we have, some 345 pages.

“Emer Harris’s report that his brother scribe for “nearly 200 pages” makes perfect sense in relation to all the evidence cited above. In addition, the pages recorded by four scribes previous to Martin could conceivably have rivaled Martin’s output of nearly 200 pages, which means that Joseph’s total lost translation could have pushed 400 pages-three and a half times the traditional 116 page enumeration! This is not to say that the lost manuscript was 400 pages long, but to say that it plausibly could have been. However, if we assume that the work of Emma and the other earlier scribes lasted nearly half as long as Martin’s and thus reasonably producing about half as much text (or something approaching 100 pages), the initial manuscript would have still totaled a little under 300 manuscript pages. This would equate to nearly 345 printed pages in our present Book of Mormon text and would mean that the lost part of the Book of Mormon was about two-thirds the length of the text we now have. For a comparison, if you imagine that we had lost everything from 1 Nephi through nearly the end of the book of Alma, then you will have a pretty good idea of how much text we would then be missing.”18

That would mean we have the “lesser” portion of the “lesser things,” making three degrees of separation.19 The series, “Greater Things” helps us to understand how to receive the greater things that the Lord is offering.

 

 

Remember Their Words

Jacob is honoring his father and using the Lord’s words given to Lehi to remind the Nephites of the commandments given to them. The custom of treasuring up and reading the words of their forefathers was common among the House of Israel as Hugh Nibley points out:

“This concept was equally at home in Israel. An Interesting passage from the Book of Jubliees [a text unknown before 1850] recounts that Joseph while living in Egypt “remembered the Lord and the words which Jacob, his father, used to read from amongst the words of Abraham.” Here is a clear statement that “the words of Abraham” were handed down in written form from generation to generation, and were the subject of serious study in the family circle. The same source informs us that when Israel died and was buried in Canaan, “he gave all his books and the books of his fathers to Levi his son that he might preserve them and renew them for his children until this day.” Here “the books of the fathers” including “the words of Abraham” have been preserved for later generations by a process of renewal. [Joseph’s own books were, of course, Egyptian books.]”20

This tradition of treasuring up the words of their fathers continued throughout the Book of Mormon as Helaman stated,

“Behold, my sons, I desire that ye should remember to keep the commandments of God; and I would that ye should declare unto the people these words. Behold, I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good. Therefore, my sons, I would that ye should do that which is good, that it may be said of you, and also written, even as it has been said and written of them.”21

I believe this commandment of “one wife” along with the conditions of Lehi’s covenant would have been read during their gatherings and feasts. They would have been very familiar with the conditions given by the Lord including this commandment, as Jacob reminds them once again. In fact King Benjamin seems to confirm that the records were used to “know concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers” and to “have his commandments always before our eyes.”22 Lehi would be one of those “fathers” who also received “commandments” and indeed he “prophecies” as we’ll see.

Part 2.7 | Jacob’s Prophecy

 

Notes & Sources

  1. Jacob 2:11
  2. Jacob 2:12
  3. Jacob 1:15
  4. Jacob 2:5
  5. Jacob 2:11
  6. Jacob 2:23–26
  7. Like Nephi, Jacob is known for using the words of prophets who came before him in order to deliver his message. see Jacob 5:1 & Jacob 6:1, also 2 Nephi 6:4
  8. Jacob 2:27–33
  9. Jacob 2:34
  10. Jacob 3:5
  11. 2 Nephi 4:12, 2 Nephi 5:5–8
  12. The Lamanites hatred toward the Nephites included the tradition that Nephi robbed them of the plates of brass, “they were wroth with him because he departed into the wilderness as the Lord had commanded him, and took the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, for they said that he robbed them.” Mosiah 10:16, see Mosiah 10:11–17

    Nephi was warned of the Lord to flee and he took the plates with him after Lehi died around 570 B.C. 2 Nephi 5:5,12

    It’s no wonder God gave Laman the first shot in obtaining the plates, then all of the brothers tried for the second attempt, but in God’s wisdom Nephi alone obtained them along with the sword of Laban. Nephi alone had the right to the plates and the sword.

  13. “4 For, behold, said he, I have seen a vision, in which I know that Jerusalem is destroyed; and had we remained in Jerusalem we should also have perished.

    5 But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.” – 2 Nephi 1:4–5

  14. Siege of Jerusalem
  15. 1 Nephi 5:5, see also, 1 Nephi 13:30.

    Pinpointing when Lehi received this commandment from the Lord depends on how you interpret the timing of this statement, “And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem,” in Jacob 2:32. Does that mean “out of the land,” but on the same continent, or is it referring to “out of the land,” and on the new continent?

  16. Jacob 2:31
  17. 1 Nephi 18:7, Jacob 1:12
  18. The Lost 116 Pages: Reconstructing the Book of Mormon’s Missing Stories, p. 103

    see, Printer’s Manuscript of the Book of Mormon, p. 117. This is where we pick up in Mosiah 1. Some believe we are missing one or two chapters of the book of Mosiah.

    I highly recommend Don’s book!

  19. I’m basing it off of what we could have if we hadn’t lost the 116 pages, obviously 531 is greater than 345. We could have 876 pages. If we add the two-thirds greater part, that’s 2,628 possible pages, nearly 5x greater.

    “And these things have I written, which are a lesser part of the things which he taught the people… And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them. And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.”3 Nephi 26:8–10

  20. Abraham in Egypt, Hugh Nibley, p. 6
  21. Helaman 5:6–7
  22. “And it came to pass that he had three sons; and he called their names Mosiah, and Helorum, and Helaman. And he caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers, that thereby they might become men of understanding; and that they might know concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers, which were delivered them by the hand of the Lord.
     
    And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, saying: My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God.
     
    For it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children, that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time.
     
    I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have dwindled in unbelief, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.” – Mosiah 1:2–5