This analysis of Jarom, which is just fifteen verses, takes twenty-four pages in my exegesis of Jarom, from which this posting is taken. It is more complicated than most realize, but, as you will by reading this posting, this is an important book that deserves more than the quick read most give it.
Jarom, the son of Enos, was righteous, but, unlike his father, his reading of what had been written on the small plates left him with nothing to say, “For what could I write more than my fathers have written?”1Jarom recognized that the writings of his fathers had revealed2the plan of salvation, so he did not feel the need to write more. But what he wrote is as elucidating as any other scripture, and his stylistic preference for allusion and exergasia allows one to expand what Jarom writes and identify the common meaning of important metaphors. Jarom’s writings, then, are a key to understanding writings without the affectation of presentism, but the reader must be aware of Jarom’s skillful use of rhetorical devices to understand his meaning.
Jarom describes himself and others like him as having had many revelations and working among the stiffnecked of his people with, apparently, some success. Indeed, he describes the Nephites as waxing strong, keeping the Sabbath, the law of Moses and neither profaning nor blaspheming. It appears that this redemption or reformation is the result of the preaching done by Jarom and others.
One of the blessings Jarom cites as a result of the righteousness of the people is the ability of the people to prosper temporally, which includes prevailing against the Lamanites. This constitutes an implicit if not express acknowledgment that it was the righteousness of the people that resulted in the technological and scientific advances so important to the independence of the Nephites. The people prospered because of their righteousness, with the prophets and teachers laboring diligently to persuade the people to keep the commandments.
And it came to pass that by so doing they kept them from being destroyed upon the face of the land; for they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance.3
This relationship between keeping the commandments and advances in knowledge and technology—prosperity—is not uncommon in the scriptures and history. Righteousness and peace simply fosters the environment where the Lord is able to bless his children with the creativity and sensitivity to prosper, an environment where enlightenment is possible.4
Notwithstanding the fact that Jarom was a righteous man, he does not seem to been of the spiritual timbre of his father. Certainly, his son, Omni, as a self-professed, wicked man and warrior was further distanced from spirituality. In fact, by the time the sacred records are passed to Omni there are a series of transfers from father to son that are bereft of any attempt to inspire and lead to righteousness.
There is a point to be drawn from the flight of the righteous from wickedness for the sake of preservation. The righteous should eschew wickedness for the sake of preservation.
The book of Jarom is primarily distich verse replete with allusion and exergasia. Both styles are types of parallelisms. Distich verse is comprised of two lines that constitute a sense unit. Allusion is a reference to other things so that the meaning of those other things can be imported into a writing without the necessity of a full exposition. Exergasia is the repetition of one idea different ways. The exergasia present in Jarom involves repetitions of (1) distich strophes, (2) chiasmi, and (3) exergasia. The style invites extrapolation, because it is poetry, to amplify the full intention of Jarom’s writing.
The overall structure of Jarom’s writing can be viewed as a chiasmus that invites comparison of the coordinate analogues to draw conclusions. It is not exactly a chiasmus, but so viewing it helps appreciate the manner of Jarom’s writing, writing that put the his central message in the center. The first and last parts of Jarom are prose. The balance is verse. The general outline of the book is as follows:
I. Prose Introduction
II. Contribution-to-doctrine disclaimer
III. Nephites before re-conversion
IV. Effect of labors by Jarom and other prophets
V. How the prophets taught
VI. Prose Conclusion
This general outline can be expanded as follows. This expanded outline shows why Jarom’s writing is not really a chiasmus, but, again, the most important part is at the middle two sections, parts III and IV.
I. Prose Introduction, at page 550
II. Jarom disclaims any contribution to doctrine, at p. 550
III. Nephites before re-conversion
A. The first strophe
1. The first verse—exergasia of Nephite confirmation bias, at p. 553
2. The second verse—the mercy of God notwithstanding waywardness, at p. 554
B. The second strophe
1. The first verse—the open-minded or prophets among the Nephites, at p. 557
2. The second verse—open-minded have communion with Holy Ghost, at p. 558
IV. Effect of labors by Jarom and other prophets
A. The first strophe—observed the Sabbath, their reverence, at p. 560
B. The second strophe
1. The first verse—the murderous Lamanite condition, at p. 565
2. The second verse—the righteous Nephite condition, at p. 565
3. The third verse—lengthy exergasia of Nephite’s blessings, at p. 565
4. The fourth verse—Nephites ability to withstand Lamanites, at p. 566
V. How the prophets taught
1. The first verse—threatening using the word of God, at p. 567
2. The second verse—long-suffering persuasion, at p. 568
VI. Prose Conclusion, at p. 570
The following is Jarom reformatted to show its poetic structure. The rubrics, of course, and comments following each section are not Jarom’s. The verbatim quotes of Jarom are bolded.
I. PROSE INTRODUCTION
Now behold, I, Jarom, write a few words according to the commandment of my father, Enos, that our genealogy may be kept And as these plates are small, and as these things are written for the intent of the benefit of our brethren the Lamanites, wherefore, it must needs be that I write a little; 5
II. CONTRIBUTION-TO-DOCTRINE DISCLAIMER STROPHE
Jarom’s prose introduction is followed by a contribution-to-doctrine disclaimer that parallels Jarom’s description about how he and other prophets working with him taught the people. So this disclaimer applies to the methodology of their teaching, perhaps. They taught them by threatening them. which may or may not be a revealed way of teaching because of this disclaimer.
Saying that this section of Jarom is a disclaimer as to new doctrine is, perhaps, not the right way to characterize what Jarom wrote because it invites a discussion about what is and is not doctrine. The plan of salvation is central to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and Jarom does not write anything about that. Instead, his writing centers on the condition of the people and what he and other prophets like him did to return those people the path that adheres to the plan of salvation. The ministering of the prophets, which included Jarom, is not the doctrine of Christ as explained by Nephi in 2 Nephi 33. Hence, Jarom’s disclaimer. He says he does not include is prophesying or revelations because the plan of salvation because his fathers had already written about the doctrine of Christ.
but I shall not write the things of my prophesying,
nor of my revelations.
For what could I write more than my fathers have written?
For have not they revealed the plan of salvation?
I say unto you, Yea;
and this sufficeth me.6
These three distich verses are typical. The second line of each verse repeats the sense of the first line. As with many distich verses, the second lines of each verse can be omitted when read because reading the first lines together make sense without the second lines. However, reading the second lines without the first is nonsensical because the second line elucidates the first, which is paradigmatic of distich verse.
Distich verse lends itself to a qinah rhythm typical of a dirge or lament among the Hebrews. So the reader should have the voice trail off when reading the second line. This means that the third verse in this reformatted presentation is incorrectly punctuated.7 The word yea in the first line of the third verse should not be capitalized and ought to be followed with a question mark to signal a rising voice for this rhetorical question followed by the falling voice for the second line. Making the first line of he third verse a rising rhetorical question allows this third line to make sense when read with only the first lines of the other two verses; perhaps, the yea in the third verse is equivalent to the modern-day word rhetorical use of the word right when the word is used like this, right?
The point of this parsing? It is a demonstration of the skill of the writer. This is not slapdash writing. Reading the first line of each verse without the qinah-like lamentation of the second line makes complete sense.
but I shall not write the things of my prophesying,
. . .
For what could I write more than my fathers have written?
. . .
I say unto you, Yea [?}
. . .
The word yea is not common in today’s speech patterns, so the last phrase could be recast to a modern form by replacing yea with right, “I say unto you, [right]?”
The repetition of the first-person singular pronoun in each first line of these three verses is akin to an anaphora. It has rhetorical impact. A reader presenting these verses orally must emphasize this device, each I in each verse should be said with greater emphasis than the other words. And, of course, the concluding rhetorical question ought to be accompanied by a hand gesture, both hands stretched forward, palms up, in a questioning manner with the head nodding, leaving the mouth slightly open after saying the word yea or right..
Jarom’s contribution-to-doctrine disclaimer underscores the importance of what had been written on the small plates by his fathers and the other scriptures to which he alludes. He is saying that nothing more, really, needs be said because what was written on the small plates of Nephi by his ancestors revealed the plan of salvation. Today’s reader, therefore, ought to be a student of the plan of salvation as found in the preceding parts of the small plates of Nephi: 1 Nephi through Enos. What does each of the preceding books in the Book of Mormon contribute to one’s understanding of the revealed plan of salvation? Does the visit of the Savior to the Nephites following his resurrection add to what Jarom’s fathers had said about the plan of salvation. Is there something about the plan of salvation in 3 Nephi that is not found in the first books of the Book of Mormon?
Jarom does more than allude to what was written on the small plates of Nephi. He, also, alludes to Isaiah’s writings, which were among the writings on the brass plates taken from Laban.
III. NEPHITES BEFORE RE-CONVERSION
The next part of Jarom’s writing describes a condition of the Nephites during Jarom’s time by allusion to the people in Jerusalem and the attitudes of Laman and Lemuel. This is a condition that was changed by Jarom and the other prophets and revelators of his day who got the people to repent, which is described in Part IV of Jarom, infra. Jarom’s record is somewhat like Jacob 7 where Jacob counteracted the effects of Sherem’s teachings. Indeed, the perceptive reader will identify the allusion to the Jacob/Sherem debates. Like Jacob’s experience, the story played out at Jerusalem, which led to the Diaspora, does not play out among the people during Jarom’s day.
There are two strophes to this part of Jarom’s work that are very compact because Jarom figures of speech that must be expanded to be understood. The first strophe has two verses that describe the wayward condition of the people. The second strophe, like the first, has two verses. These verse explain why the outcome among the Nephites at Jarom’s day was different than the destruction of the Jews at Jerusalem.
A. The First Strophe
1. The first verse. The first verse has a four-part exergasia8 that repeats the confirmation bias of the Nephites four ways using four metaphors that mean close-minded or so suffering confirmation bias that their opinions were set. They were unteachable because they were unwilling to listen. Intolerant. Unbelieving. There is nothing in Jarom’s exergasia that relates to emotions or feelings. Instead, he is talking about being unthoughtful. He refers to the thick-headed mental condition of this people, meaning the Nephites among whom he had work to do.
Jarom’s frame of reference for the thick-headed condition of the Nephites is his allusion9 to what is found in 1 Nephi. The effectiveness of Jarom’s allusion, like any allusion depends on the body of knowledge share by the writer and the reader. Of course, the reader needs to recognize the allusion to import into the writing the resonating effect of what is already in the mind of the reader. What should be in the mind of the reader reading Jarom is how Nephi referred to Laman and Lemuel as stiffnecked and hard-hearted
Now this [Lehi] spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel . . . .they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them. Neither did they believe that Jerusalem . . . could be destroyed . . . . But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my [Nephi’s] words; and [I was] grieved because of the hardness of their hearts . . . .10
Nephi, also, called his brothers hard-hearted, blind in their minds, and unwilling to hear the word of the Lord, which should, also, resonate when the reader reads Jarom’s writing:
[Laman and Lemuel] were desirous to return unto the land of Jerusalem. [So] I [Nephi] spake unto . . . Laman and unto Lemuel:
Behold ye are mine elder brethren, and how is it that ye are so hard in your hearts, and so blind in your minds, that ye have need that I, your younger brother, should speak unto you, yea, and set an example for you? How is it that ye have not hearkened unto the word of the Lord?11
Thus, the exergasia in Jarom’s first verse of this strophe finds its predicates in what Nephi wrote about his brothers, who were quintessential examples of the attitudes of condition of he Nephites during Jarom’s time. Jarom uses his allusion to Nephi’s characterization of his brothers to describe Jarom’s contemporaries.
2. The second verse. The second verse of the condition-of-the-people strophe is a single distich couplet showing the mercy of God notwithstanding the waywardness of the Nephites. Like the exergasia in the first verse, this distich is compacted because of its allusion to what had written by Jarom’s forefathers: about the mercy of the Lord by way of prophets foretelling their destruction if they did not repent. Which they did not. But the condition of the Nephites was heading toward the same consequence without repentance. The verse reads.
nevertheless, God is exceedingly merciful unto them,
and has not as yet swept them off from the face of the land.[efn_note]Jarom 1:3b. [/efn_note]
This is an allusion to Nephi’s description of the people at Jerusalem before the Diaspora. The mercy of God described by Jarom is the preaching of prophets, like Jarom and others with him, which is the same mercy God showed to the inhabitants at Jerusalem, albeit with a different result because those in Jerusalem were mostly massacred with a few swept off into captivity in Babylon. So the foregoing distich verse—this allusion—requires the reader to review what Jarom’s forefathers said about the Lord’s mercy; otherwise, the reader or glosses over this verse will not understand that this allusion carries all of the following written by Nephi and read by Jarom:
For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah . . . there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed. 5Wherefore . . . Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord with all his heart, in behalf of his people.
. . . .
[B]ecause thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!
. . . .
[Lehi]went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard. And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world. And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away.
. . . .
And [Lehi said] how merciful the Lord had been in warning us that we should flee out of . . . Jerusalem . . . . that Jerusalem is destroyed; and had we remained in Jerusalem we should also have perished.”12
Of course, there is more to the Lord’s mercy than merely the foregoing in what Nephi, Jacob, and Enos wrote, so today’s reader who wants to know what the Lord’s mercy is should read and find out.
Jarom’s metaphorical explanation of the effect of God’s mercy—not being swept off the land—is a figure of speech he uses in verse seven to describe how the Nephites dealt with the attacking Lamanites and verse ten to warn of the consequences to the Nephites if they fell into transgression. This warning to the Nephites is more than the sweeping of the Nephites off the land. It is destruction at the hands of the Lamanites. After all, the Lord’s hand was a necessary guard for the outnumbered Nephites. The wicked Jews in Jerusalem claimed they would be protected by the Lord’s hand before the Diaspora, but their wickedness turned them away, as Ezekiel describes it, from the Lord’s help.13
B. The Second Strophe
The second strophe, like the first, has two verses. These verses are allusive to the Jacob/Sherem debates and explain why the outcome among the Nephites at Jarom’s day was like Jacob’s day rather than the destruction of the Jews at Jerusalem. Jarom’s allusion to the Jacob/Sherem debates imports what one learns about the nature of the Nephite condition during the time of Jacob/Sherem into the situat6ion Jarom describes.
Nephite condition during Jarom’s day. The reader can conclude, therefore, that the Nephites both then and during Jarom’s day were struggling with the same issue: the future advent of Christ.
1. The first verse. The first is a single distich about the many revelators or prophets among the Nephites. In other words, the cure for infection during Jarom’s day was the same as the cure during the Jacob/Sherem debates.
And there are many among us who have many revelations,
for they are not all stiffnecked.14
More than just an explanation of the openness of the people to revelation, this verse explains what is required for revelation. Not being stiffnecked, or applying the effect of the exergasia Jarom used in the first strophe, being open-minded. Having adjustable opinions. Being teachable. Willing to listen. Tolerating other views. The enlightenment that can only happen once one has more information from which to draw conclusions: what revelation is. Like the amplifying exergasia in the first strophe, there is nothing in this distich verse that relates to emotions or feelings; rather it says revelation is a mental exercise.
Viewing revelation as a mental experience, what happens when one connects the dots of information one’s head, is consistent with how revelation was explained to Joseph Smith on numerous occasions and confirmed by other modern-day prophets.15
2. The second verse. The second verse of the second strophe16 addressing the condition of the Nephites during Jarom’s day and the prophets and revelators among them is as follows:
This is a chiasmus in sense. The bookends are about having faithful minds rather than stiffnecked and faithless minds. Faithful and faithless here are directed at learning with an open mind—not stiffnecked and have faith—which is the same connotation to be given faith in the closing bookend. The faith part of an open mind is the prism that sorts knowledge for a purposeful end so that the learner is not “[e]ver learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”17 Learning with an eternal perspective.
Sir Francis Bacon warned of the dangers of learning without the “corrective spice” of knowledge with an eternal perspective.
This corrective spice, the mixture whereof maketh knowledge so soverign, is charity, which the Apostle immediately addeth to the former clause: for so he saith, “Knowledge bloweth up, but charity buildeth up,” not unlike unto that whe he deliveredth in another ploace: “If I spake,” saith he, “with the tongues of men and angels, and had not charity, it were but a tinkling cymbal”; not but that it is an excellent thing to speak with the tongues of men and angels, but because, if it be severed from charity, and not referred to the good men and mankind, it hath rather a sounding an unworthy glory, than a meriting and substantial virtue.18
Sir Francis than proceeds to list discredits that often plague the learned who do have a vision of eternity. Learning for learning’s sake that advances learning above eternity.
Jarom’s use of the words faith at the bookends of this verse gives purpose to learning. The purpose is fulfilled when the learned keeps eternity in focus. This is the sense Jarom meant when he used Holy Spirit and maketh manifest, which is the office of the Holy Ghost, as the turning point of this chiasmus. The modern-day reader should reflect on the relationship between learning and knowledge with man and eternity.
Taken together, the two verses of this strophe equate revelation with communion with the Holy Spirit because the Holy Ghost makes manifest the what the stiffnecked will not see. It is appropriate to consider the Holy Ghost’s function as similar to turning on a light in a darkened room so that what is in the room is plain to see, manifest, but that mixes the stiffnecked metaphor being used here. Here it is better to say the Holy Ghost makes a noise that cause those who are not stiffnecked to turn their head to what the Holy Ghost manifests.
IV. THE EFFECT OF LABORS BY JAROM AND OTHER PROPHETS
After beginning is writing by observing all of the work that had to be done by those among the Nephites who were not sitffnecked and had many revelations, Jarom turns to the condition of the people after the work had been done. The conclusion that he writes about the condition of the people after the work of the ministry had been done is because of his comparison and contrast of the Nephites with the Lamanites. There are five strophes to this comparison, but there is a short introduction to the strophes that sets the time:
And now, behold, two hundred years had passed away, 19
This time marker seems to imply that some time had transpired between the commencement of the preaching and ministering by Jarom and the other prophets who had many revelations. It was a result of this teaching, of course, that Jarom can then draw compare and contrast the condition of the Nephites vis-à-vis the Lamanites, the subject of the following strophes.
A. The First Strophe
The first strophe describes the effect upon the Nephites of the ministering done by Jarom and his fellows. The returned to the Lord, the turning point of the three distich verses at the center of this strophe, which had resulted in the Lord’s blessings that allowed them to prosper temporally.
This strophe is presented below as a chiasmus even though some would say does not fit the strict definition in their mind of a chiasmus. But otherwise it is not understandable. After all, level b looks like a fragment unless it is read together with level B. The laws of the land in a theocracy at this time would be the law of Moses, and the strictness by which they kept of the law is conveyed by their observance of the Sabbath.
This strophe has a central exergasia that describes the righteousness or faith of he Nephites. Profanity marks the central part and is sandwiched between the strictness of the law, meaning the law of Moses, which was the law of the land. But law of Moses is used as a figure of speech to embrace faithfulness to the Lord.
The faithfulness to the lord is expressed in the three distich verses, levels B-b and C-c, that form an exergasia between levels A-a, which describes the effect of being faithful. The faithfulness or righteousness of the people is described generally, not specifically, by using the singular thing that sets the true follower of the Lord apart from others: observance of the Sabbath, which is akin to neither profaning nor blaspheming, the turning point of these three verses. The turning point aptly describes reverance. These distich verses provide a gauge for modern-day readers to assess whether they are like these people. Like the Lord’s people.
Jarom’s choice of the Sabbath day for level B-b was thoughtful. It is an allusion to the teachings of Isaiah who, also, described those who kept the Sabbath as blessed by being gathered by the Lord to His holy mountain where he resides. So Jarom’s is a particularly potent allusion because it imports into Jarom’s writings all that Isaiah said.
Nephi quoted extensively from Isaiah in his two books in support of Nephi’s theme about the gospel of Jesus Christ. But Nephi did not mention the Sabbath observance as the litmus test for faithfulness Isaiah makes it. Indeed, the word Sabbath does not appear in any of the writings on the small plates other than Jarom’s.20 And the reference in Jarom is the only place in the Book of Mormon where the litmus-test nature of the Sabbath is made.21Moreover, Jarom, like Isaiah, proceeds to list blessings the Nephites enjoyed because they were strict to observe the Sabbath, the point that is made by level b of the foregoing chiasmus.
Isaiah’s declaration of blessings for those of the Lord’s people who do not pollute the Sabbath is expanded by a three-part exergasia that makes it clear that the Lord’s people includes more than just the Chosen People: it includes converts and those unmarried or without children (eunuchs), as well. This message is as timely today as then. Isaiah says,
[Addressing the Lord’s people as Sabbath-keepers:]
1Thus saith the Lord, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. 2Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.
3Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the Lord, speak, saying, The Lord hath utterly separated me from his people:
[Including those without children:]
neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree. 4For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; 5Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.
[Including the converts:]
6Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;
[The Lord’s blessing for Sabbath-keepers:]
7Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people. 8The Lord GOD which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him.22
Another Isaiah scripture23 captures the same sense:
The difference between the blessings Isaiah and Jarom see so far as Sabbath observance is concerned is the difference between general and specific statements. Isaiah, like Nephi,24 is general in his association of blessings with Sabbath observance, but Jarom uses exergasia of specific blessings to accomplish what Isaiah and Nephi did less poetically. But first, Jarom poetically describes the condition of the Lamanites, the second strophe describing the effect of Jarom’s teachings on the Nephites.
B. The Second Strophe
The second strophe has four verses. The first verse describes the blood-thirsty Lamanites who sought battle against the Nephites. The second verse explains the reason the Nephites were able to withstand the forays of he Lamanites. The third verse describes the Nephites’ temporal well-being, and verse four concludes with an affirmation of the truth of prophecies. The thread tying these verses together is the faithfulness of he Nephites that provides, as prophesied, the bulwark of their protection.
1. The first verse. The first verse25 is a description of the Lamanites using an anaphora (each line begins with and they) signaling more meant than said by the three descriptions of the Lamanites, an exergasia. This description of the Lamanites is in general terms, how they were must be understood from what is unspoken by these words. This is a simile for the people. The meaning of the first line of this strophe comes from what immediately precedes, the Nephites were scattered across the land,
2. The second verse. The second verse describes the Nephites with more particularity. It is a description of the faithfulness to the Lord of the kings and leaders that enabled the Nephites to prevail against the Lamanites. This, again, affirms the reason the Lamanites could not overwhelm the fewer-in-number Nephites.
3. The third verse. The third vers is more specific about the blessings the Nephites enjoyed because of their faithfulness. In fact, Jarom’s lists are the most extensive exergasia anywhere in the scriptures, the two exergasias describe their temporal wealth and their military weaponry. The exergasias26 give the sense of their well-being, not a complete description.
4. The fourth verse. The fourth verse returns is a summary. The preparation of the Nephites, occasioned by their righteousness, showed the fulfillment of prophecy..27
The specifics listed in the first three verses are insightful but not as applicable to people today as the last verse. The fulfilled prophecy then can be a fulfilled prophecy today. Or not. Depending on the righteous of the today’s people.
The fulfillment-of-prophecy acknowledgment can be viewed as a segue to the last part of Jarom’s writings, Part V.
V. HOW THE PROPHETS TAUGHT THE NEPHITES
The analogue to this penultimate part of Jarom’s writing is Jarom’s contribution-to-doctrine disclaimer. The chiastic structure of Jarom’s writing militates in favor of concluding that the methodology employed by Jarom and the other prophets may not be doctrinal. No doubt this methodology was the result of revelation and included prophesying, and the two verses at this level of Jarom’s writing does describe in a general way the what would happen to them if they did not keep the commandments, prophesying, and what should be the focus of their lives, the doctrine of Christ. So the analogue to this level of Jarom’s writing is not altogether apt. It is apt, perhaps, to the methodology of their teaching.
Another way to view Jarom’s disclaimer and this level of his writing is to construe this level as the exception to his disclaimer. After all, those who know better need reproof. So teaching them by threatening them was what was required for this people. Some may think threats are antithetical to their perception of the gospel as a gospel of love, but people who know better require reproof.28
One thing is clear. This part V, like the fourth verse of part IV, is as apropos today as then. Jarom describes the teachings he and the other prophets/revelators used to keep the people from wickedness.
1 The first verse. The first verse29 describes threats used to teach the people. Some might characterize such threats as coercive and inconsistent with a gospel of love. Threatening seems like a different way to spread the gospel; on the other hand, implicit in a conversion to the gospel is a recognition of the threat implicit in the gospel message. A judgment awaits according to the word of God.
The they in the last lines of verse two refer to the Nephites. It seems that, typical of the chosen people in Palestine, suffer more at the hands of the Lord for their wickedness than those who destroy them.30 The conclusion has to be that more onus is upon those acquainted with the gospel than those who are not. Thus, threats may be altogether appropriate for those converted who are wayward.31
2. The second verse. The second verse seems to mediate the nature of the threats used by the prophets who taught the people. These prophets were not prophets in the sense most think of prophets today; rather, the term prophet as used in the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon refers to ordinary people who know the scriptures and can explain them to others.32So what these prophets did to threaten the people was their long-suffering persuasion involving the purpose of the law of Moses and the advent of Christ. They reasoned with them.33 They persuaded them of the truths in which they should believe.
Another notable point in this verse34 is important. The priesthood in the Book of Mormon involves priests and teachers. It does not include prophets. Presentism makes today’s reader assume that a prophet in Jarom’s day was a priesthood holder. It was not so in the Old Testament, and it is not so in the Book of Mormon.35
VI. JAROM’S CONCLUSION
The overall structure of Jarom makes this colophon-like ending of Jarom a conclusion.
Like the introduction, this conclusion36 is prose. Jarom did not work as hard on either the introduction or the conclusion as he did the rest of his writing because it is not as complex. There are no literary devices at play. Neither of these prose parts required the planning evidence by the structure of the rest of his work. These parts are more or less mechanical recitations of facts.
- Jarom 2.
- Jarom 2.
- Jarom 12.
- The Book of Mormon, itself, recounts on numerous occasions that the wicked, the Lamanites had become an indolent people living like savages, a stark contrast to the circumstances of the righteous Nephites. Indeed, as the righteous were annihilated, the level of civilization, education, progress, etc., deteriorated rapidly. There, also, seems to be a relationship between this righteousness and certain remarkable advances in science and knowledge.
- Jarom 1:2
- Jarom 1:2b.
- It must be remembered that the translation manuscript was ot punctuated. The printer added the punctuation, and many of the changes to the Book of Mormon since its original publication have been to the punctuation and capitalization of many words. Frequently, for example, the word spirit has been changed form the lowercase word to an initial capital letter, from spirit to Spirit, entirely hanging the meaning in most instances.
- Jarom 1:3a.
- Jarom’s allusion to what his fathers had written is explicit in Jarom 2, “For what could I write more than my fathers have written?” He had read what Nephi had written, so he knew about the condition of the people at Jerusalem, so his allusion is plain.
- 1 Nephi 2:11–18.
- 1 Nephi 7:7b–9 (emphasis added).
- 1 Nephi 1:4, 5, 14b, 18b–20a; 2:3, 4b;
- Ezekiel ch. 8–ch.11; cf. Deuteronomy 28:15ff (the source of the Greek word diaspora.
- Ezekiel ch. 8–ch.11; cf. Deuteronomy 28:15ff (the source of the Greek word diaspora.
- The mental-exercise nature of revelation is discussed at length in the author’s postings at “Operations of the Spirit: Part 9(a), Isaiah 11,” https://studyitout.com/operations-of-the-spirit-part-9a-isaiah-11/ “Operations of the Spirit: Part 7a of 12, The Oliver Cowdery Revelations, D&C 6, 8, and 9,” https://studyitout.com/operations-of-the-spirit-part-7a-of-12-the-oliver-cowdery-revelations-dc-6-8-and-9/ “Operations of the Spirit: Part 7b of 12, The Oliver Cowdery Revelations, D&C 6, 8, and 9,” https://studyitout.com/operations-of-the-spirit-part-7b-of-12-the-oliver-cowdery-revelations-dc-6-8-and-9/ “Operations of the Spirit: Part 7c of as, The Oliver Cowdery Revelations, D&C 6, 8, and 9,” https://studyitout.com/operations-of-the-spirit-part-7c-of-12-the-oliver-cowdery-revelations-dc-6-8-and-9/, and “Operations of the Spirit: Part 8, Other Modern-day Revelations, D&C 11, 50, https://studyitout.com/operations-of-the-spirit-part-8-other-modern-day-revelations-dc-11-50/.
Gordon B. Hinckley, then head of the Church, was asked how revelation came by a newspaper reported. Hinckley described the revelatory process he enjoyed as the president, prophet, seer, and revelator of the Church in terms of Elijah’s still small voice, but he said it was the consensus of thought native to him and his counselors, not a voice. When asked what revelation was, “how that works. How . . . you receive divine revelation,” he said, “Now, if a problem should arise on which we [the leadership of the Church] don’t have an answer, we pray about it, we may fast about it, and it comes. Quietly. Usually no voice of any kind, but just a perception in the mind. I liken it to Elijah’s experience.”Don Lattin, “Musings of the Main Man,” San Francisco Chronicle (April 13, 1997). http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/SUNDAY-INTERVIEW-Musings-of-the-Main-Mormon-2846138.php.
A few months later, Gordon B. Hinckley was asked the same question by an Australian television interviewer, and he gave the same answer, using the metaphor but not explaining it. He said,
Now we don’t need a lot for continuing revelation. We have a great, basic reservoir of revelation. But if a problem arises, as it does occasionally, a vexatious thing with which we have to deal, we go to the Lord in prayer. We discuss it as a First Presidency and as a Council of the Twelve Apostles. We pray about it and then comes the whisperings of a still small voice. And we know the direction we should proceed. . . . This is revelation. . . . I feel satisfied that in some circumstances we’ve had such a revelation.
“Compass” interview (ABC News) with President Gordon B. Hinckley conducted by David Ranson. Aired November 9, 1997. http://www.abc.net.au/compass/intervs/hinckley.htm (accessed February 3, 2016) “Compass” is an ABC TV program in Australia that explores faith, belief and values in Australia and around the world.
- Jarom 1:4b.
- 2 Timothy 3:7.
- Sir Francis Bacon, On the Proficience and Advancement of Learning, Divine and Humane, bk. 1, § 1, ¶ 3 (1605).
- Jarom 1:a.
- The word sabbath is used only five times in the Book of Mormon, six times if you see the assumed use of it in level b of the chiasmus here at Jarom 1:5c. The other instances are three times in Mosiah 13 where the Ten Commandments are restated, so sabbath appears at verse sixteen, eighteen, and nineteen. Then Alma the Elder commands those he had baptized at the Waters of Mormon “[to] observe the sabbath day, and keep it holy.” Mosiah 18:23.
- Alma the Elder’s command to observe the Sabbath is not the same litmus-test measure Jarom describes.
- Isaiah 56:1–8.
- Isaiah 58:13–14.
- Nephi refers to blessings only generally. “And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands” 1 Nephi 2:20. “I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise..” 1 Nephi 4:14b. “Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land . . . .” 2 Nephi 1:9a. “For the Lord God hath said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; and inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.” 2 Nephi 4:4. The closest Nephi comes to specific blessings is when he wrote,
And the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly; for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance. And we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind. . . . we began to prosper exceedingly, and to multiply in the land.
- Jarom 1:6b–7a.
- These two exergasia are, perhaps, the lengthiest in the Book of Mormon.
- This promise as recorded before the time of Omni is recorded at 1 Nephi 4:14; 2 Nephi 1:20; 2 Nephi 4:4; Jarom 1:9. It occurs more than a dozen times after Omini’s day.
- Cp. D&C 121:43.
- Jarom 1:10.
- Cf. James 4:17 (“to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin”); Genesis 7:4 addresses the flood, “and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.” The promise that the Lord would never again destroy the earth must exempt only those who do not know better.
- The Lord told Joseph Smith that reasoning with people sometimes required sharp reproof. D&C 121:43. Indeed, the reasoning by long suffering with sharp reproof described in D&C 121:41–43 may be exactly what was required for the Nephite’s in Jarom’s day.
- A discussion of the meaning of the word prophet is discussed supra at 178.
- Persuasion is a mental experience. It is not a feeling or sense. The greatest missionary at the time of Christ was Paul. Paul did his missionary work by reasoning with his listeners out of he scriptures.
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. . . .
And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. . . .
Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
Acts 17:1–3, 10–12, 16–17.
Speaking of the power and influence of the Melchizedek Priesthood, Joseph Smith said there was none because of the Priesthood, the only way to convert being “by persuasion, by long-suffering . . .and pure knowledge.” D&C 121:41–42.
- Jarom 1:11–12
- The meaning of the word prophet is considered in a prior posting on this website, https://studyitout.com/1-nephi-1/
- Jarom 1:13–15