3 Ne 1:27-5:7
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Relationship to Third Nephi. The relationship of Chapters 2-4 to the rest of Third Nephi is discussed at Third Nephi.
Story. Chapters 2-4 consists of ____ major sections:
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 2-4 include:
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- 3 Ne 1:28. This verse tells us that there were many dissenters of the Nephites who went to join the Gadianton robbers. 3 Ne 3:4 tells us that these people believed that they had been wronged by the Nephites, and 3 Ne 3:10 tells us that they believed they had a right to the government. It looks like there was some struggle at this time over who should control the government and that this struggle ultimately lead to these dissenters joining the Gadianton robbers. It is interesting that it was also due to a struggle over who should control the government that gave rise originally to the Gadianton robbers (see Helaman chapters 1 & 2).
- 3 Ne 1:29. Possible interpretations of the phrase "that they became for themselves" include:
- they had reached an age where in their culture they were taken to be completely responsible for their own actions, e.g. something like turning 18 in our culture.
- they no longer listened to their parents.
- 3 Ne 2:15: White. Although many believe the mark of the Lamanites was a darker skin color because of their unrighteousness. However, there is little textual evidence in the Book of Mormon suggesting that skin color is related to righteousness. Here, the change in skin color is listed as a separate event, presumably a result of their intermarrying with the Nephites, than their becoming more righteous. (For more on this see the Tvedtnes article below.)
- 3 Ne 3:19. It is interesting to note that during times of righteous living, the Nephites appointed prophets to be the commanders of their armies. This is not the only place in the scriptures where something like this is mentioned. In Alma 2:16 it talks about how Alma the younger led the army of the Nephites during battle. Also, in Alma 43:23 it mentions that Captain Moroni (although he wasn't the prophet) caused his men to go and ask Alma the younger (the prophet) to inquire of the Lord as to how the Nephites should best defend themselves. Even in times of wickedness, the Nephite armies appointed Mormon to be their leader (see Mormon 2:1). In modern times, this has occurred as well, such as when Joseph Smith was appointed to leadership in the Nauvoo Legion. Wouldn't it be nice if leaders of armies today were prophets or consulted with prophets for guidance?
- 3 Ne 4:1-4. The robbers couldn't provide for themselves. They were dependent upon the Nephites for crops. It is similar to the relationship that a parasite has with its host.
- 3 Ne 4:7-10. Before the ferocious appearance of the Lamanites, the Nephites began to cry unto the Lord for deliverance from their enemies. This however, gives the impression to Giddianhi's armies that the Nephites are terrified and will be an easy victory. But as verse 10 describes, the armies of Giddianhi "were disappointed, for the Nephites did not fear them; but they did fear their God and did supplicate him for protection." The Nephites relied solely on the Lord for their deliverance and conquered the robbers while on the other hand, the robbers relied on their own strength and intimidation in order to try and defeat the Nephites. This shows the importance of trusting the Lord in an hour of need.
- 3 Ne 4:18. In this verse can be seen the power of food storage. When the Nephites gathered together in the lands of Zarahemla and Bountiful, they took with them provisions that would last them seven years (see v. 4). Due to this preparation, the Gadianton robbers were unable to effectively lay siege on the Nephites. And having no provisions themselves, the robbers eventually ended up having to abandon their plan.
- 3 Ne 4:21-25. See Alma 50 for a similar tactic of the Nephites preventing their enemies from fleeing to regroup--Moroni heading off Morianton.
- 3 Ne 4:21-25. We read here how the Nephites attacked thousands and tens of thousands of robbers. The Gadianton Robbers must have been a huge group. Almost its own country.
- 3 Ne 4:30. Note the two conditions that the people identify in their request in this verse for perpetual protection: 1) that the people are righteous--they only ask the Lord to protect them in righteousness; 2) that they continue to ask God for protection.
- 3 Ne 4:31-33. In the KJV the phrase "Most High God" is consistently translated from the Hebrew title El Elyon. Given this, it is likely that the phrase here was translated from this same title. El Elyon refers to Elohim or God the Father, as opposed to Yahweh (Jehovah) who is Jesus Christ..
- The phrase "God Almighty" is probably a translation of the Hebrew title El Shaddai.
- El Elyon and El Shaddai are ancient titles for God closely associated with stories of the Patriarchs--and are appropriately used here where the Nephites are thanking the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see verse 30).
- Curiously, the term shaddai means "female breasts" and some have interpreted this to mean that God is the provider of all that is sufficient, just as a mother's breast provides all that is sufficient for an infant. Others have noted that shaddai has Semitic cognates that refer to mountains--which might indicate that El Shaddai is the God of the Mountain, the [Most High] God that rules from Mount Zion.
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Prompts for further study
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- 3 Ne 1:29: What does the phrase "that they became for themselves" mean?
- 3 Ne 2:8: Why do the people (who seem mainly to not believe in Christ at this time) begin to reckon time from his birth?
- 3 Ne 2:9: It is mentioned that Nephi, who was the father of Nephi, never returned to the land of Zarahemla. Why is this mentioned again in this chapter when it was already mentioned in 3 Ne 1:3? Why is it necessary to mention it again?
- 3 Ne 2:15: This verse tells us that curse of the Lamanites was suddenly removed and that their skin became white like the Nephites. Was this a literal change in their skin color?
- 3 Ne 4:1-5: How can the information in these verses be applied to our struggles with the Adversary?
- 3 Ne 4:4: The Nephites had enough provisions to last them 7 years. How is this similar to the story of Joseph in Egypt?
- 3 Ne 4:6: Why were the Gadianton Robbers afraid to spread themselves out too thin?
- 3 Ne 4:13: Why did the Nephites only pursue the Gadianton Robbers to the border of Nephite territory?
- 3 Ne 4:14: The Gadianton Robbers retreated in such a frenzied way that their leader was caught.
- 3 Ne 4:15: What metaphorical places of safety do we (or should we) retreat to while preparing for assaults on our faith?
- 3 Ne 4:16-20: How was the Gadianton siege poorly planned?
- 3 Ne 4:32: Why the emphasis here on God as the "Most High"? What does that mean?
- 3 Ne 4:33: Why were humility and repentance essential to the Nephite's victory?
- 3 Ne 4:33: This verse tells us that the Nephites knew they were delivered "from an everlasting destruction" because of their repentance and their humility. Does this everlasting destruction refer to the everlasting physical destruction of Nephites? Or is this a reference to the spiritual destruction we all face without repentance and humility? Or, does it refer to both at once?
- 3 Ne 5:1-5: What would happen to the Gadianton Robbers that accepted the gospel and repented?
- 3 Ne 5:1-5: How great was the amount of Nephites that were convinced of the gospel?
- 3 Ne 5:1-5: The prison where the Gadianton Robbers were held is similar to spirit prison in that they are taught the gospel and given a chance to accept it.
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- 3 Ne 2:15: Tvedtnes on racism. See The Charge of "Racism" in the Book of Mormon by John A. Tvedtnes.
- 3 Ne 4:21-25. Why wouldn't Gidgidoni want the Robbers to just run away? Why would he send out his army to attack them? Does this offer a model for how we should deal with evil and temptations that we encounter?
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