Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Three Days of Darkness on the Isles of the Sea

A friend asked a question about the three days of darkness in the Land of Promise and on the isles of the Sea as opposed to the three hours of darkness in Jerusalem. The point is a valid one:

When Jesus was crucified on Golgotha, there was a three hour period of darkness that settled over the land. Matthew records it as: “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour” (Matthew 27:45). Mark, in his gospel narrative wrote: “And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.” (Mark 15:33), and Luke also wrote: “And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour” (Luke 23:44). Interestingly, John did not record the darkness in his narrative about the Savior’s death.

In the Book of Mormon, Samuel, the Lamanite, upon the walls of the city of Zarahemla, predicted there would be three days of darkness upon the land at the Savior’s death. Of this, Helaman wrote: “And he said unto me that while the thunder and the lightning lasted, and the tempest, that these things should be, and that darkness should cover the face of the whole earth for the space of three days” (Helaman 14:27). People began to look forward to this event in 33 A.D: “And the people began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet Samuel, the Lamanite, yea, for the time that there should be darkness for the space of three days over the face of the land” (3 Nephi 8:3).

Then, a short time later, Samuel’s prediction came true: “And it came to pass that when the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the storm, and the tempest, and the quakings of the earth did cease -- for behold, they did last for about the space of three hours; and it was said by some that the time was greater; nevertheless, all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours -- and then behold, there was darkness upon the face of the land” (3 Nephi 8:19).

Whether this is the same three hours mentioned with darkness in the Bible, the point is, that after these three hours of quakes, storms and tempest, there followed three days of darkness: “And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen could feel the vapor of darkness; And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all; And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land. And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen; and there was great mourning and howling and weeping among all the people continually; yea, great were the groanings of the people, because of the darkness and the great destruction which had come upon them” (3 Nephi 8:20-23).

It was Nephi, son of Lehi, speaking of the Savior, that first predicted the three days of darkness: “the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself, according to the words of the angel, as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos, which he spake concerning the three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel” (1 Nephi 19:10)

The key phrase here is that “three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel,” telling the Nephites that the Angle speaking to Nephi made it clear that those on the isles of the sea would know of Christ’s crucifixion and death through the sign of three days of darkness. Obviously, those at Jerusalem would know of the Savior’s death through first hand knowledge, but those of Israel who had been led to far-off isles of the sea would know of it because of the three days of darkness.

Jacob told these early Nephites they had been led across the Sea and were living on an isle of the Sea (2 Nephi 10:20), but were still known to the Lord. And both Nephi and Samuel the Lamanite confirmed that the Lord would let the Nephites (and others of Israel led off to other isles) know of his death by the three days of darkness.

It is hard to imagine that so many Book of Mormon historians and scholars have missed these oft-repeated concept of the Nephites living on an island in the ocean.


  1. It has recently come to my attention and I post this comment here in relation to the explanation of 3 hours of darkness.

    We all know that when the moon passes between the sun and the earth.. it only takes less than 3 minutes before the light begins to shine again from total darkness. So any solar eclipse.. only has less than 3 minutes of darkness. So how did it become 3 hours?

    As some of you know.. Planet X.. or Planet 9... or Nibiru that Nasa knows about.. is about 10 times the size of planet earth. And since they now believe this planet does indeed revolve around our sun.. if there was to be a solar eclipse with this planet getting in between the sun.. and the earth.. it is predicted it would take about 3 hours for the planet to move from the start to then end of the total blackness.

    Cool eh?

  2. That is cool and could explain why the Judean area experienced 3hrs of darkness. I think it is equally possible for the ring of fire to have its volcanoes erupting, especially after 3hrs of tremors, spewing forth huge plumes of smoke and ash that could have blocked out all light for about 3 days. And since the ring of fire encapsulates most of the islands of the pacific all these islands would be affected as well. Just a wild, but reasonable, speculation on my part.