Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Answering Recent Comments – Part XII

Continuing with the comments previously mentioned in the last post, the first forty comments were answered in the previous eleven posts, the forty-first and additional comments are answered beginning below:
Comment #41 Contrary to the Bible prophecy concerning the Lord’s birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), and the fulfillment of that prophecy in Matthew 2:1, the Book of Mormon reads: “And behold, he (Jesus) shall be born of Mary at Jerusalem” (Alma 7:10). The writer of the Book of Mormon was simply wrong.” Carl S.
Response: In Alma’s time (last century B.C.), the Nephites had almost no knowledge of the Jews other than that they were in a distant land called Jerusalem, the area from which their forefathers came. The name of Bethlehem would be unknown to the people to whom Alma was speaking. What was important was Alma’s pronouncement that the Savior of the World would be born. Today, we could say that Christ was born in the Middle East, that he was born in the Fertile Crescent, that he was born in Israel, etc., and each statement would be correct. When Alma declared: “And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers,” he was correctly addressing this exact fact. Christ was to be born of mortal woman, in the land of Jerusalem, from whence their forefathers had come. At the time of this statement there was no Israel--just Jerusalem--that was known to the Nephites.
Comment #42 “I am not a member of your church, but have been reading your blog out of curiosity. However, it seems a major problem for the Book of Mormon is archeology, which many people I know claim is a major embarrassment for the Mormon Church. There are those, yourself included, who continue to claim that the science of archeology substantiates the Book of Mormon, but whether we consider the alleged cities, persons, animals, fabrics, metals, wars and war implements, kings, palaces, or crops, scientists claim that all the evidence points to their nonexistence.” Sage M.
Response: People who criticize historical matters, whether it be archaeology, the Book of Mormon, the Nephites, animals, or other matters, sometimes forget that ancient history is very different than it appears in novels, movies, and even the classroom. Archaeologists have found a great many things that pertain to the events described in the Book of Mormon, specifically in the Andean area of South America. Do the archaeologists know they are the Book of Mormon facts? Of course not. When a piece of pottery, weapon, or other artifact is unearthed, the archaeologist is going to make a guess to whom and when it applies. Since C-14 dating, though widely accepted, is so far off it is almost useless to use, dates, times, even places, are seldom listed properly in the long run. Just to pick a few things—the Book of Mormon describes: 1) ancient cities, palaces, temples, etc., all of which have been found to have existed, and in the same time frame, in the Andean area; 2) ancient roads and highways, which also exist in the Andes, and were so well made, the Spanish marveled at what they saw and compared them favorably with Roman roads; 3) a thousand year development of culture, accomplishment, building, etc., also found to have existed in the Andean area in the same time frame; 4) two animals (cureloms and cumoms) “useful to man” that were unknown in the U.S. in the 1820s, also found in the llama and alpaca of the Andean area; 5) two unknown grains (neas and sheum), found in the Andean area of Peru (quinoa and kwichi). That is, there are all sorts of matches to the Book of Mormon. Obviously, after two thousand years some animals have not been found. But silk has been found in burial clothing, as well as Old World Jewish facts, such as circumcision, etc. You just don’t hear about it since science is not looking to make any matches with the Book of Mormon.
Comment #43 “The Book of Mormon is a fraud! Although the Church denies it, there is little doubt that, given Smith's claims, the Book of Mormon was translated by occult means. Smith put a magical "seer" stone into a hat, and then buried his face in the hat to exclude the light. Next, words in "reformed Egyptian" (no such language is known to exist) magically appeared with their translation, and Smith spoke the translation to a scribe who wrote it down.” Brian.
Response: Granted, there are many things in this world that are fraudulent, but the Book of Mormon is not one of them. As for your comments, in the ancient Israelite religion and culture, the Urim and Thummim is a phrase from the Hebrew Scriptures or Torah associate4d with divination in general, and cleromancy  in particular.
Joseph looked into the darkened interior of the hat and saw written upon the seer stone the symbols off the plates and translated them while the scribe wrote them down
Most scholars suspect that the phrase Urim and Thummim refers to specific objects involved in the divination. Translated as “lights and perfections,” the Urim and Thummim was used in Israel to translate, receive visions, and make inquiries of the Lord. It was, simply put, two stones of some sort connected to the high priest’s breastplate (hoshen). Seer stones are referenced in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible as well, and seem to have been used to receive revelation. The latter part of Esther 1:6 speaks of several types of stone, two of which are called dar and socheret. These are rendered “white” and “black” in the King James Bible, but the real meaning is unknown, since this is the only place the two Hebrew words are used in the Bible. Jewish tradition holds that they were precious stones used for some type of communication with God. There are several stories in the Bible where the Urim and Thummim were used. Joshua, in Numbers 27:21, was commissioned to succeed Moses and was instructed to go before Eleazar, the high priest and to obtain decisions from him by consulting the Urim. Joshua knew when to stay and when to go by consulting the Urim and Thummim. Saul consulted the Urim and Thummim in 1 Samuel 28:6, but he didn’t get the answer he was looking for. Later, David received clear direction after consulting the ephod on attacking the Amalekites (1 Samuel 23:1-2, 9-12 and 1 Samuel 30:1-8). The Urim and Thummim are mentioned in Nehemiah when they were rebuilding the wall and returning to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity. A question arose as to who were eligible to become priests, since all family records had been lost (Nehemiah 7:65 and Ezra 2:63). In these verses the men were told to wait until the priest could use the Urim and Thummim. It is very important to note here that only the high priest was allowed to consult the Urim and Thummim, and only in matters of great concern to the public good, and in instances where men could not possibly know the answer—which was not considered a matter of chance, but God giving his judgment, his decision as to what to do. As for the seer stone in Joseph Smith’s possession, it was placed in a tall hat (the type dress hat worn in that day) in order to block out the ambient light of the room so he could see the words that appeared on the stone. A person can call this magic, occult, or any other term, however, its use as a spiritual and religious method of communicating with God has many thousands of years of history with the Jews in Israel.
The Urim and Thummim was carried in the priest’s breastplate of judgment.  They even received explicit instructions from God regarding who could use them and where they should be placed.
(See the next post, “Answering Recent Comments – Part XIII,” for more comments made about different posts on this website)

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