Saturday, April 12, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part XIII

Here are more comments, questions and criticisms that have been sent in from readers of our blog, along with our responses. 
    Comment #1: “You have claimed that the Lamanites did not move to the south because there was a south sea blocking their path; however, while to the south were areas now known as El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and even Panama, some researchers have speculated that the inhabitants of some of those areas were more belligerent and hostile than even the Lamanites, so, rather than contend with those peoples, it was easier to fight with and encroach upon the more peaceful Nephites to the north, to which they already had an undying hatred.  Other researchers have also speculated that until the change in topography at the time of the Savior’s crucifixion, the lowlands of Nicaragua were such that there was a fairly wide and deep channel of water, essentially affirming Mormon’s comment that the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water (Alma 22:32)” Kane J.
The “nearly surrounded by water” comment had to do with the narrow neck of land between the Land Southward and the Land Northward, as shown in this example of such a land
    Response: First of all, Mormon’s description of the land in Alma Chapter 22 mentions nothing south of the Land of Nephi, or south of the area of first landing (Alma 22:27-34), or any obstruction to nearly being surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land. Secondly, there is no geological evidence that the areas to the south of Honduras were larger, smaller, strips of land or mostly water. It is fine to write about something, but there needs to be geological evidence of such a thing, not just a writer’s speculation. Some people claim Lake Nicaragua was open to the Gulf, however, there is no geologic proof of that—only some wishful thinking. It is possible it was open to the Pacific, and its saltwater fauna seem to suggest such a thing, but the point is, if the Land of Promise was, in fact, in Mesoamerica, certainly the Lamanites could have expanded into the southern area; however, there is no indication that they did.
    On the other hand, the scriptural record tells us that they followed the Nephites to the north, and continued to do so until in 385 A.D., they conquered and controlled all the Land of Promise. And the reason their undying hatred was over the fact that the Nephites had taken control of the government of the people when it should have been, according to Laman and Lemuel, which is what they taught their children, that is, it was their right to rule over the people; it was also due to the fact that the Nephites had taken control over most of the Land of Promise, an area the Lamanites believed should have been given to Laman and Lemuel and passed down to them. In fact, the argument between the Arabs and Israel is over two such points of view today, and date back to Ishmael and Isaac.
    However, there seems little reason why later generations of Lamanites would continue to hate the Nephites and desire to annihilate them if they had another area they could rule over themselves, such as the huge land mass to the south that exists in Mesoamerica. But, being on an island (2 Nephi 10:20), would certainly thwart such a thing and turn their attention northward.
    Lastly, it is always interesting that, though this land was reserved by the Lord after the Flood (Ether 13:20; 2:7), that writers want to fill it up with other people without any regard to how they got there after the Universal Flood. Why would there be thousands to millions of other people in the area of the Land of Promise? Why were they in this land the Lord had reserved, and why is there no mention of a single person, let alone a people, let alone several countries of people as you are claiming that in “El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and even Panama…inhabitants of some of those areas were more belligerent and hostile than even the Lamanites.”
Speculation is not fact, and speculation about the scriptural record is really unacceptable. Do we say, “There were really 15 Commandments, not 10, and the other five are….” We have no knowledge that any other people existed in or even around the Land of Promise other than those outlined in the scriptural record. To add people is to add to the scriptures—not something within our purview. As Peter said, “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20).
    Question #2: “Certainly the Brass Plates must have been very important to Jewish History, so why is there no mention of the existence or disappearance of the brass plates in the Old Testament? And why did Laban have them and not King Zedekiah?” Carolyn W.
    Response: Why should there be a mention of the Brass Plates in the Bible? Do you find anywhere in the Bible where the writers say what they are writing on? Or who had the previous records, or what happened to the writing of any individual or collection of writers? We know from the Book of Mormon that not only Lehi, but also Jeremiah, recorded their records on these Brass Plates. Besides the five books of Moses, which gave an account of the creation of the world, and also of Adam and Eve, and also a record of the Jews from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, they contained the prophecies of all the holy prophets down to Zedekiah (1 Nephi 5:11-13). These records also revealed that both Lehi and Laban were descendants of Joseph who was sold into Egypt (1 Nephi 5:14,16), and that all things concerning the prophets of old were written on them (1 Nephi 19:21). The plates also contained the prophecies of Joseph concerning the descendants of Lehi (2 Nephi 4:1-3), and Alma repeats that they contained the holy scriptures and the genealogy of their forefathers “even from the beginning” (Alma 37:3).
The Brass Plates retrieved from Laban contained not only all the prophets and prophecies from Adam down to Jeremiah, but four prophets previously unknown: Zenos, Zenock, Neum and Ezias (above)
    In fact, these plates contained many more scriptures than have come down to us in the Bible. They held the words of four great prophets that are not mentioned in the Hebrew scriptures of today–Zenos, Zenock, Neum and Ezias. We are told that Zenos lived after the days of Abraham and died as a martyr (Helaman 8:19), that same Zenos who is the author of the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees that was related by Jacob (Jacob 5), which comprise the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon. Nephi informs us in 1 Nephi 13:23 that the “record of the Jews” or the Bible contains “many of the prophecies of the holy prophets…save there are not so many” as in the Brass Plates. He also stated that “many parts which are plain and most precious” had been removed from the Bible (1 Nephi 13:26).
    It is quite possible that the record on the Brass Plates was the original record of the scriptures. It is also possible that the original scriptures were written, not in Hebrew, but in Egyptian. After all, Moses, who wrote the first five books of the Bible, was himself an Egyptian. After fleeing from Egypt at age 40, he went to Midian where he learned and spoke Arabic for the next 40 years. When the Lord called him to lead the Children out of Israel, he demurred, saying: “but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue” (Exodus 4:10). Many have interpreted that phrase to indicate that Moses had a speech problem, but that was not the case. We read in Acts 7:22 22 that Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. Obviously, he was not as fluent in Arabic as he was in Egyptian.
So the Hebrew scriptures that have come down to us have in all probability been translations, perhaps book by book, of parts of the original scriptures that were written in Egyptian. There were undoubtedly numbers of records of the holy scriptures extant during the Old Testament times. Numbers of books are mentioned in the Bible that are not found in the Bible. Among them are mentioned the Book of Jasher (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18); the book of Gad the seer, (1 Chronicles 29:29); the book of Nathan, the prophet (2 Chronicles 9:29); the book of Shemaiah, the prophet (2 Chronicles 12:15); a writing from Elijah, the prophet (2 Chronicle 21:12); the writing of Hezekiah, king of Judah (Isaiah 38:9); and the book of the words of Esaias, the prophet (Malachi 3:16).
    Flavius Josephus, born in 35 AD, wrote a book in 93-94 AD called The Antiquities of the Jews. This book was written in Greek as a text to inform the Romans in his day of the history of the Jewish nation. He took his narrative principally from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, made in Alexandria, Egypt sometime between the 3rd and 1st century BC. However, Josephus refers repeatedly to other sacred books or sacred records that he also used as sources for his narrative.    Each of the books that are in our present Bible was written as a separate document for a specific purpose, and there is no reason why any of them should have mentioned the Brass Plates by that name. They were probably not even called the “Brass Plates” except by the Nephites, who took them from their keeper, Laban. In addition, there were only three of the Old Testament books that were written after 600 BC– Haggai, 520 BC, Zechariah, 530 BC, and Malachi, 397 BC.
You also asked why did Laban have the Brass Plates rather than King Zedekiah, who was a king, not a prophet, and not a very righteous king, at that. Of course Laban was not a prophet either, but Laban’s genealogy, as was Lehi’s, was recorded on the Brass Plates. We know very little about Laban, but he could have held the plates in some official capacity. We know that he kept them in his treasury (probably because of their great value) and took them with his guard to the Sanhedrin from time to time to be read among the Elders of the Jews. Certainly, Zedekiah would not have been the holder of the sacred records, even an important copy of them. More likely they were handed down through Laban’s family and into his hands, and just as likely, he kept them because of their value.

No comments:

Post a Comment