Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Value of Omni – Part I

We received a comment in from a reader recently in which we were asked about our opinion of the books of Jarom and Omni, to which the reader thought they were of little value and that we spent far too much time quoting from them, specifically Omni.
Frankly, we found this an interesting opinion, for in our estimation, Omni especially, is one of the more important works for several reasons. First, it gives us a link between Nephi, son of Lehi, and Mormon, the last prophet, as well as bridging that gap from Nephi to King Benjamin. What is a shame is the limited information we have on king Benjaman and his father, Mosiah I—those two men would have made for some very fascinating reading.

As for the Small Plates of Nephi, after he gave the Large Plates to his son, or at least the next king over the Nephites who was called Nephi II (Jacob 1:10-11), we find the plates went:
• Nephi passed them to his brother Jacob (Jacob 1:1-4);
• Jacob passed them to his son Enos (Jacob 7:27);
• Enos passed them to his son Jarom (Jarom 1:1); 

• Jarom passes them to his son Omni;
• Omni passes them to his son Amaron, (Omni 1:3);
• Amaron passes them to his brother Chemish, (Omni 1:8); 
• Chemish passes them to his son Abinadom, (Omni 1:10); 
• Abinadom then passes them to his son Amaleki (Omni 1:10), who, nearing death, gave the records to king Benjamin (WofM 1:10), who already had in his possession, as Mormon tells us, the Large Plates of Nephi (WofM 1:10-11).
Amaleki is not only the last prophet to record events on the Small Plates, but tied in the meeting between the Nephites and the Mulekites, telling us where Mulek landed and settled, rather than the mistaken idea theorists get when reading what Mormon tells us that in Alma 22:30, which has nothing to do with the Mulekites, but is describing the Jaredites, whose records  (Mosiah 28:11) and remains were mistakingly found by Limhi’s 43-man expedition he sent to find Zarahemla.
    Had it not been for the book of Omni, and specifically Amaleki’s writings, we would know almost nothing about the people of Zarahemla, of the culmination of Ether’s prophecy to Coriantumr that he would live to discover the people who would inherit his land after he had stubbornly refused to seek peace in his kingdom and that he would live with them for nine months before dying and be buried by them. 
Zeniff negotiates with the Lamanite king to reacquire a portion of the Land of Nephi a dn the City of Nephi (Lehi-Nephi) 

Amaleki also informs us of what happened during king Benjamin’s early reign when he drove the Lamanites out of the land after several wars. Nor would we know about the large number of Nephites who returned to reclaim their lands around the city of Nephi and the battle that broke out and Zeniff’s role in this, which ultimately led to the second expedition under his leadership that resulted in the Nephites acquiring a portion of their homeland among the Lamanites. And, of course, that initial meeting between the Mulekites and Mosiah’s Nephites, and why Mosiah was elected king, and how glad they were of the Nephites arrival and so willing to become Nephites under Mosiah’s direction—at the same time, while a smaller group, no better equipped than a larger group, rarely acquire dominance over the larger group except by subterfuge and evil acts, we learn here how this came about.
The Book of Omni brings to a close the record of the prophets—from that point onward, the record was kept by the kingship lineage of which there was some mingling of prophets involved, such as Alma, Helaman, and the Disciple Nephi. From First Nephi to the end of Omni, the book is a first person narrative of the writers (although there are many quotations). The book immediately following Omni, the Words of Mormon, is an editorial insertion that explains how the first person narrative came to be inserted into the Book of Mormon and how subsequent narrative will differ, being mostly third person narration by Mormon that summarizes more lengthy accounts taken from the Large Plates of Nephi that were had among the king. This third person record extends from Mosiah to Fourth Nephi. 
We learn from Enos, the grandson of Lehi), who wrestled not with God, but before God in prayer, suggesting a struggle to find and express one's real desires under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, showing us how to come to know God more completely. 
    Through him we find the deterioration of the Lamanites in the short time that in their “evil nature they became wild and ferocious, a bloodthirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness" (Enos 1:20). Enos’ son, Jarom, gives us an accusation that is precise: "They loved murder. . ." A fact that helps us understand even more in later writings how far the Lamanites had fallen from the time of first landing, and understand the hopelessness of later generations and their attitude of calculated wickedness.
Lehi’s grandson, Jacob, giving the plates to his son, Enos, who recorded mighty words upon it of a repentant man and his memory of his father’s teachings 

These are not one-dimensional, false characters, but very real people with distinct  qualities, such as Enos being a caring and deeply inquisitive individual, though his son, Jarom, seems almost detached in his record as he writes efficiently about the events of his day, quite opposite of his father as he tells us that the Nephites “observed to keep the law of Moses and the sabbath day holy unto the Lord” (Jarom 1:5), but needed “persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was” (Jarom 1:11), making it clear that the law of Moses was not only real to them, it was a matter of experience and could be understood in that light. However, the teaching about the Savior in startling contrast was a matter of the future, and require persuasion to be understood. Jarom provides us with an important, albeit brief, insight into a mastery of the language and understanding of his people, not seen in any of the latter writers of these small plates through to Omni, where Jarom also provides us with an insight into the decline of the Nephite Nation and people while a smaller group remains vigilant, prosperous and increases in their performance and lives as those around them become reduced and disrespectful toward God.
    We also see this decline in the lack of written information of several recorders, other than Abinadom, who manages to write a little more than Chemish, his father, with most having almost nothing to say other than fulfilling their predecessor’s command to keep the records. In this unrighteous and unworthy state, each admits to their lack of desire to add to the writings, obvious each feeling uncomfortable with their father’s assignment.
    It seems obvious from all of this that while those in authority may do the right thing in governing and leading amid constant wars with their hereditary enemy, the Lamanites, this continual killing and living in such awful circumstances of defense, hatred and death took their toll on these people, forcing them  into a negative and unrighteous life unlike their predecessors Nephi, Mosiah, Alma, and Helaman, who remained righteous through such experiences.
    It is just as obvious that we learn from these writings that while some are affected quite negatively from contentions and wars, others who are called upon to lead and defend their people during such horrendous times were not robbed of their humanity.
Amaleki was with Mosiah I when he discovered Zarahemla and faithfully recorded the events of the Mulekites 

Not until Amaleki, the last of these writers do we find someone who was willing to tell us the details of the events of his time. Through him we see an end to this downward spiral, holding on to his humanity in the midst of wars and killing going on around him; through him we see a return to the righteousness that the writers in earlier times provided us
(See the next post, “The Value of Omni – Part II,” for more information regarding these oft-skipped over words of men we sometimes think little about and seldom consider the significance of what we can learn from them)

No comments:

Post a Comment