Friday, March 20, 2020

The Seed of My Brethren

It is made clear that the seed (descendants) of Nephi were the Nephites, and the seed (descendants) of “my brethren” were the Lamanites, who descended principally from Laban and Lemuel—Nephi’s brother. Consequently, when Nephi tells us of his vision, we get a clear understanding of whom Nephi refers.
    First of all are the actual passages that Nephi wrote: “And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren. And the angel said unto me: Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren. And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land. And I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters. And I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten” (1 Nephi 13:10-14).
    Second, let’s consider the meaning of Nephi’s words in these 12 passages that were italicized in the scriptures cited above:
1. Man among the Gentiles
Columbus before Queen Isabella of Castile and king Ferdinand of Aragon, seeking financial backing for sailing westward to what he thought would be China and Japan

There was only one man who initially visited the area where the seed of Nephi’s brothers were located. That man was Christopher Columbus. Others followed later, but the initial explorer is the one that Nephi singles out. Obviously, Columbus was a Gentile himself and lived among the Gentiles of the Iberian Peninsula in the southwest corner of Europe. 70% to 90% of the DNA haplogroup analysis shows that Spanish and Portuguese populations are most closely related to other populations of western Europe. Truly a man among the Gentiles.
2. Separated from the seed of my brethren
First, Nephi’s brothers were Laman, Lemuel and Sam. Sam’s descendants were linked with those of Nephi (2 Nephi 4:11), and called Nephites. Thus the seed of his brethren (at the time of this vision Jacob and Joseph had not yet been born) would have to be the descendants of Laman and Lemuel, called Lamanites in the scriptural record. As a side note, the sons of Ishmael when in the Land of Promise, were considered sons of Lehi (2 Nephi 1:28).
    Thus, Nephi’s phrase: “the seed of my brethren,” has reference to the descendants of Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael, which were all called Lamanites (Jacob 1:13-14).
3. Many waters
Many means “a multitude, a great number; numerous, comprising a great number.” Thus, the Atlantic Ocean opens into the North Atlantic and the Southern Ocean, the latter part of all oceans, thus “many waters”

This phrase means a large body of water, like an ocean. In this usage, it was the ocean or sea that initially separated the Gentiles from Lehi’s family. That is, Lehi’s Land of Promise was in the Western Hemisphere upon the Americas, while the Gentiles, at this time, were across the Atlantic Ocean in Europe, Asia and elsewhere. When Lehi reached the shore where they would settle while Nephi built his ship, they reached the edge of the Sea of Arabia, which opened into the Indian Ocean, and both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Nephi describes that sea as being “called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters” (1 Nephi 17:5).
    Thus, the many waters that separated the Gentiles from the Lamanites at this time was an ocean—a vast ocean that opened into other oceans.
4. Wrought upon the man
The word “wrought” means “guided, shaped, molded, formed” and is no longer used in English regarding people, though still lingers on in manufacture, such as “wrought iron” is iron that has been worked or molded to form a certain look.
    “Wrought upon” in this case means that the Spirit of God dwelt upon the man and led him to certain action—in this case, to cross the ocean and discover the New World.
5. Went forth upon the many waters
Columbus spent much time working out distances, wind and ocean currents, courses, time and methods of reaching what he thought we be China and Japan. He spent much time seeking financial support from the King and Queen to back his sailing endeavor. Finally, obtaining the means (ships and crews), he set of and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean.
6. Who were in the promised land
Columbus went to the area where the Land of Promise (the land promised to Lehi) was located. First is mentioned the people, that is, he went to the seed (Lamanites) of Nephi’s brothers, and secondly, it is mentioned that Columbus visited the seed of Nephi’s brethren. That is, he reached the land where Lamanites dwelt at the time he sailed and reached them. It might be noted that Columbus only sailed to the Bahamas, lower Central America and South America. He did not land in Mesoamerica nor North America, and had no idea those areas existed.
7. Other Gentiles
Many ships crossed the Atlantic to the New World from Europe, bringing settlers, builders, and entrepreneurs; many others came from Spain for conquest and wealth
These would be people living in Europe, specifically those from England and France as well as those from Spain. The former came to resettle, the latter, for the most part, came seeking wealth and power. Settlements by the former were along the northern coastal areas, from Virginia to Massachusetts. The latter landed in the Caribbean and Central America, then moved southward into the western coastal regions of South America
8. Out of captivity
These Gerntiles left the confines of kings and queens and sailed to a land where they were free of government controls. In fact, thirty-five of the Pilgrims who crossed the Atlantic were members of the radical English Separatist Church, who traveled to America to escape the jurisdiction of the Church of England, which they found corrupt. All the Pilgrims reaching North America came in search of religious freedom—originally escaping England and going to Holland, but persecution there also forced them to flee Holland and sail to the Americas. Sailing for the area of present-day Virginia, they were blown off course and ended up in Massachusetts
9. Many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise
Before long, there were indeed multitudes of Gentiles in the Americas, including English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch explorers claiming lands. This led to suspicion and conflict and finally wars.
10. Wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren
When the Spanish arrived, they first landed in Hispaniola, then spread out into Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and Cuba. Eventually, the Spanish Empire expanded across the Caribbean islands, and into Central America, then southward into Western South America, and northward into Mexico, Florida and the southwestern portion and western coastal region of what is now the United States.  
    In all this expansion, the Spanish from Castile were the most barbaric in their approach to the local indigenous groups, killing and enslaving hundreds of thousands, eliminating an estimated 80% of the population.
11. Scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten
The indigenous population of these areas were driven out of their lands, resettled elsewhere, and outright killed, eliminated through wars, and died of diseases brought by the conquistadors. Those who survived were enslaved under Encomienda, a Spanish labor system that rewarded conquerors with the labor of particular groups of subject people. The conquered indigenous people were enslaved for perpetuity to particular Iberian enomendero and their descendants forever (James Lockhart and Stuart Schwartz, Early Latin America, Cambridge Latin American Studiers No.4, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1983, p138).
12. And were smitten
In 1828, the dictionary definition of the English language as known in New England at the time, shows that the word “smite,” had two meanings: 1)  to kill, to destroy; having the same meaning as slay; 2) to strike, drive or force against one’s will. Both definitions describe what happened to the indigenous population of those living in the New World at the time of the Spanish arrival.
    Thus we see that the scriptural reference in 1 Nephi of his vision, showing the Land of Promise and the Gentile who would visit the seed, or descendants of his brothers—Laman and Lemuel—is perfectly clear.

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