Saturday, November 30, 2013

An Attempt to Put Other People in the Land of Promise – Part II

Continuing with the comments in a website article one of our readers sent in entitled: “Other Peoples in the Promised Land,” from the "Book of Mormon Resources" website, posted on Friday, April 6, 2012:     
    Comment: “2 Nep. 10:20-22 - Jacob says the Nephites “are upon an isle of the sea.”  (At least it appears to be an island to the Nephites, being surrounded by water.) There are multiple “isles of the sea . . . and they are inhabited also by our brethren.” (Again, not necessarily actual islands.) The Lord has led these other Israelites away from Jerusalem (or Israel/Palestine), possibly to other parts of the New World.”
    Response: Where the Lord has led people, we do not know. Isaiah writes about them and the isles of the sea. On the other hand, Joseph Smith used the term “isle,” and in 1829, the word “isle” only meant a tract of land embosomed in the sea. What we call an island today. The inserted term by the author that "Again, not necessarily actual islands" is not a scholarly approach to a scriptural statement. It is made, since the author's own view does not allow for an island.
However, Jacob said "island" and Joseph Smith translated his word to "isle," which in 1829, meant "island" to us today, since the word "island" in Webster's 1828 dictionary at that time was a non-word, i.e., saying: "island is an absurd compound of isle and land, that is, 'land-in-water land', or 'ieland-land'. There is no such legitimate word in English, and it is found only in books," and defines it as "a tract of land surrounded by water." This, of course, is the language Joseph Smith knew. And to make sure we understand his meaning, Jacob added, “great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren” (2 Nephi 10:21). Jacob is telling us there must be more islands that “this one”—the one they were on—however  he does not use the word “multiple.” After all, an island is an island, and though the vast majority of Theorists want to discount this fact since it does not match their Land of Promise models in the time of the Nephites, Joseph Smith knew what he meant and the Holy Spirit ratified that meaning. So let’s not keep trying to change what the Lord has given us. An isle is an isle, and in our day, it is island!
    Comment: “2 Nep. 29:7, 12-14 - Lord remembers the seed of Abraham and will give his word to them. (Wherever they may be.)” 
    Response: This scripture is part of an overall statement about the Lord knowing where his people are, where he has led them, and the multiple ways in which he is in contact with them: “Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews? Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?” (2 Nephi 29:6-7).
For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written. For behold, I shall speak unto the Jews and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the Nephites and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto the other tribes of the house of Israel, which I have led away, and they shall write it; and I shall also speak unto all nations of the earth and they shall write it. And it shall come to pass that the Jews shall have the words of the Nephites, and the Nephites shall have the words of the Jews; and the Nephites and the Jews shall have the words of the lost tribes of Israel; and the lost tribes of Israel shall have the words of the Nephites and the Jews. And it shall come to pass that my people, which are of the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and my word also shall be gathered in one. And I will show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, who are of the house of Israel, that I am God, and that I covenanted with Abraham that I would remember his seed forever” (2 Nephi 29:11-14). What this has to do with other indigenous people in the Land of Promise contemporary with the Nephites is not known, but since it is part of the article, then it seems curious for the fact that the others the Lord has led away from Israel are herein mentioned as the Lost Ten Tribes—does this author mean to tell us that the Lost Ten Tribes are in the Land of Promise with the Nephites?
    Comment: Jacob 1:14 - People friendly to Nephi are called Nephites; those who want to destroy the people of Nephi are called Lamanites, not necessarily blood descendants on either side.”
    Response: This one is quite disingenuous. First of all, there is no comment made, nor any implied, that this statement had anything to do with “not necessarily blood descendants on either side.” That is an added statement and implies something that is not found in the scriptural record. Secondly, when you show the rest of the scripture, it makes complete sense and has nothing to do with other people. Jacob said, “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” (Jacob 1:13-14).
    Comment: Jacob 3:13 - Nephites had become numerous.  This is a general statement but there is a suggestion that more than direct descendants of the Lehite colony were involved.”
    Response: Another disingenuous statement. This verse, when read in its entirety, shows that Jacob was talking about the proceedings of the people began to be numerous—proceedings are not people, but their activities. Jacob said, “And a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, which now began to be numerous, cannot be written upon these plates; but many of their proceedings are written upon the larger plates, and their wars, and their contentions, and the reigns of their kings.” (Jacob 3:13). There is no implication here that “there is a suggestion that more than direct descendants of the Lehite colony were involved.”
    Comment: “Jacob 7:1-6 - Sherem had never met Jacob even though the direct descendants of Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Jacob, and Joseph were very few in number, less than 80-100.”
Response: First of all, we don’t know how many people were involved in the community at the time Jacob writes about Sherem, but this is not about numbers. Secondly, the scriptural record does not say that Sherem and Jacob (left) did not know each other. All it says about Sherem is, “he sought much opportunity that he might come unto me” (Jacob 1:3). And Sherem, himself, said, “Brother Jacob, I have sough much opportunity that I might speak unto you” (Jacob 1:6). We are not talking about neighbors, but one is the prophet of God and the other “labored diligently that he might lead away the hearts of the people, insomuch that he did lead away many hearts” (Jacob 1:3). There is not much reason Jacob would want to give Sherem audience and legitimize his false teaching, however, it evidently became necessary for him to do so since Sherem was "leading people astray according to the power of the devil” (Jacob 1:4). The question seems to be, did they know of, or about, each other?
    Actually, they were not strangers as is implied by the author of the website. Jacob tells us that Sherem: 1) sought much opportunity to see him, 2) was preaching that there should be no Christ, 3) was going around flattering the people, 4) wanted to see Jacob to shake him from his faith, 5) that he was learned, 6) that he had a perfect knowledge of the language, and 7) knew the people very well. At the same time, Sherem knew that Jacob: 1) had faith in Christ, 2) knew he thought Christ would come, 3) went about preaching to the people, and 4) taught the gospel and doctrine of Christ. In addition, when Sherem “came among them,” it was not meant that he came from some outside place, but that he “came among the people preaching that there should be no Christ” (Jacob 1:1-2). A person can live quietly among a large number of people (80-100) and then one day “go among them” preaching. Obviously, the statement that “they had never met,” might be true but doubtful, and implies a stranger or the lack of contact among a small group of people (80-100). On the other hand, they obviously knew of each other and there is no reason to suggest they had never met. What the verses tell us is the when Sherem wanted to confront Jacob about religion, he had difficulty gaining an audience with the spiritual leader of the colony.
(See the next post, “An Attempt to Put Other People in the Land of Promise – Part III,” for more information on the website article sent to us and whether or not the scriptural record tells us that there were other people in the Land of Promise)

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