Enos 1:1-27

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Home > The Book of Mormon > Enos
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Relationship to Book of Mormon. The relationship of Enos to the Book of Mormon as a whole is discussed at Book of Mormon: Unities.

Story. Enos consists of ____ major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Enos include:

  • The power of examples
  • The process of personal conversion
  • The acquisition of charity

Historical setting[edit]

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This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Enos: Enos before this experience. If I had an opportunity to chat with Joseph Smith, and the question seemed appropriate, I'd like to ask him what Enos was like before the experience described in this book. For years, I assumed that this was his first religious experience, and that this is his conversion story. But it could also be that we're watching a person of some spiritual maturity -- while it ain't necessarily so, most people who have the privelege of speaking with the Lord have been working on their testimonies for quite a while. I've certainly had experiences where some principle "sinks deep into my soul" and I need to pray and ponder my way to a new level of understanding and/or faithfulness. (Not a *high* level, just new for me. At such times, I sometimes find myself wondering if I understand anything at all.) Any thoughts on this? Or, even better, evidence?
I'm wrestling with this. I don't know whether or not there is textual evidence enough to come to any conclusive decision on the question. But I think you're right that it doesn't seem likely that he would have such an incredible experience without at least some bit of righteousness previous to this experience. I think that this story has to begin with the detail about hunting and how it parallels his own hunger, and from there we can begun to unravel the story. I don't know that I've ever spent much time with Enos though. I'll do some pondering and see what I come up with.
Interesting question, though I agree that to a large degree it's beyond the scope of the text. But what does seem central to the text is the wrestle-struggle-rest thread in verses 2, 10, and 17 respectively. Whatever Enos's previos experience, he hadn't attained the rest that verse 17 describes (and note that rest seems a very important theme in previous and subsequent passages in the BOM...). I've contemplated this before, but hadn't really taken notice much of verse 10. That, I think, is a key verse, and I think it touches on the faith-hope-love theme Joe has been working on in interesting ways. In particular, the hope that Enos obtains here seems inextricably linked to the his people—thus obtaining hope, at least here, is not is a communal concept not just an individual concept (this notion seems to be developed more fully in Mosiah, and perhaps Mosiah cannot be fully understood without understanding how Enos sets the stage in terms of individual vs. communal salvation is concerned...).
Interesting point on rest. As you may remember, one of the ideas on Alma 13:1-5 is that being ordained a high priest (one interpetation of which is that this corresponds to the temple endowment today) is that it is to enter into the rest of the Lord. The whole concept of entering into rest is interesting--especially because as a community we prize work, hard work.
Your connection between this story and Mosiah has fascinated me thoroughly, and I will definitely dedicate some time to this (sorry I didn't get to these things earlier, I was out camping with the young men over the weekend to finish up an eagle project). I have always read the Book of Enos as a sort of last glimmer of hope before the veil of stupidity descended over the Nephites (mostly because we don't have Mormon's parallel text to flesh out the history), but this opens up a rather important aspect of it, as a sort of gigantic historical emphasis. I think, in the end, that such a focus on Enos would answer the question posed above by Rpederse, since there seems to be a sort overcoming of the personal conversion experience, and, then, in a sense, a sort of negation of it? A start, and a direction for me now.
I think you are right to connect this up with Alma 13 as well. Alma 13 plays into Robert's comments in a powerful manner as well. That chapter becomes a radical moment in the development of the Nephite church, since it is clear there that Alma is acquainted with the Melchizedek priesthood as such, and certainly with some important themes of the endowment. Whether that has something to do with the transfer of the plates, etc., to him from the king (who clearly would have been acquainted with both of these things), or whether that has something to do with a broadening of the applicability of these two things, is a question I don't know how to regard yet. But Alma 13 would be, it seems, the other end of a story opened by the Book of Enos. Some major questions concerning the whole of the Book of Mormon open here for me. --Joe Spencer 14:06, 17 Sep 2006 (UTC)
  • Enos 1:1: Admonition. "Gentle reproof; counseling against a fault; instruction in duties; caution; direction" (Websters 1828).
I found your comment on admonition interesting thinking of how admonition and the reproof of D&C 121:43 compare. But I wasn't sure if what Enos is saying that Jacob taught him ("the Lord's admonition") is the same as "reproving betimes with sharpness."
  • Enos 1:2: Wrestling before God. The term wrestle is used five other times in the scriptures. The usage describing the competition between Rachel and Leah to bear sons for their husband Jacob is probably not similar (Gen 30:8). The other four are: (1) in Eph 6:12 when Paul uses wrestle to describe the struggle we face against the evils of this world; (2) when Alma labors in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer (Alma 8:10); and (3-4) twice when Jacob physically wrestles God (Gen 32-24-25).
Here Enos wrestles "before" God, much like the wrestling with evil that Paul describes in Ephesians. Alma, in contrast, wrestles "with" God in mighty prayer. Jacob, in even greater contrast, not only wrestles "with" God, but is described as wrestling with God physically.
Before. Notice there are two definitions for before. One before refers to physical location and the other to chronological location. In this case it seems to mean something like "in front of."
  • Enos 1:4: Hungering. Enos tells us explicitly that he has learned of the Lord from his father. For whatever reason, at this particular time those teachings become pressing, and he apparently feels the need to have a personal experience with the Lord regarding the things he has heard from his father. Enos describes this “hunger in his soul” as the cause or key that led to his powerful experience. Enos does not describe his condition as merely thinking it would be nice to have such a spiritual experience, but rather as hungering in his soul and then having a real struggle before the Lord. Enos speaks of a real desire from the heart of his soul. He didn’t have the experience of Alma the Younger or Joseph Smith- but I get the idea he was required to fight through his “natural man” to his spiritual self. His hunger for the spirit was greater than his hunger for food, for he indicates that he prays throughout a day and a night (I would have been famished). We do not really know with what topics Enos occupied his prayer for that length of time, but it appears from his subsequent statements that it became a time of self-revelation and realization of his standing before God. It certainly became a time of sincere repentance of acting upon the self-revelations he uncovered. This is another personal story from a character we barely get to know in the Book of Mormon; but the lesson he teaches us is invaluable. These are a powerful couple of pages that we can easily apply into our daily lives.
  • Enos 1:5: Thy sins are forgiven thee. The phraseology here emphasizes the act of sin instead of the person sinning. That is, God could have said "Enos, thou art forgiven for thy sins" and emphasized the forgiveness of the person as opposed to forgiveness of the act. Instead, God's emphasis here seems to be on the forgiveness of the sins.
  • Enos 1:6: Wherefore my guilt was swept away. The wherefore in this verse seems to be a result of Enos's knowledge that God cannot lie, in conjunction with God's statement that God cannot lie.
  • Enos 1:7-8: How is it done? After Enos's sins are forgiven (verse 5) and his guilt is swept away (verse 6), Enos asks the Lord "how is it done?" Given that Enos is Jacob's son and has no doubt heard something about what we should do to seek forgiveness, the question is surprising. One way to understand this question is think of it in light of the difference between hearing about forgiveness and experiencing it. Though Jacob no doubt had heard about forgiveness and had learned something about it growing up, it seems that he hadn't experienced it. verse 2 suggests this: Enos describes this story as "the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins". Following this line of thinking then, Enos's question "how is it done" isn't the same type of question he could have asked when hearing from his father or others about repentance upon hearing about repentance. The question is not asking for more details about how forgiveness works. That he could have done. The question is also an expression of wonder and amazement at the miracle of his own changed heart--his guilt swept away. The Lord's answer to Enos's question is brief. He doesn't explain the 8 or 12 steps to forgiveness. The Lord's answer preserves the miracle of forgiveness; he simply says tells Enos that it is because of his faith that he is forgiven. This answer inspires feelings of love for his brothers the Nephites.
Alternatively we might read Enos's question as suggesting that he really didn't understand that it was through faith that we receive remission of sins. That would suggest that it is not necessary to understand a great deal about the nature of the plan of salvation in order to be able to take advantage of it.
  • Enos 1:8: Thy faith hath made thee whole. The phrase "thy faith hath made thee whole" is used here about 500 years before it is used five times in the Gospels:
  1. Matt 9:22 be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.
  2. Mark 5:34 Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.
  3. Mark 10:52 Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole.
  4. Luke 8:48 Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.
  5. Luke 17:19 Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
In each of those cases this statement was made after healing the sick. Here, however, Enos was not ill with physical ailments, and was in fact hunting. But Enos was suffering from a lack of spiritual whole-ness, and the Lord spoke the same important words in this circumstance as he later would in circumstances of sickness. The use of this phrase here can thus be seen as drawing a connection between physical healing and spiritual growth or healing.
  • Enos 1:20. Verse 20 describes the Lamanites as "wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness." It seems that Enos makes these disparaging remarks about the character of the Lamanites in order to explain the Nephite's lack of success in preaching to them. Enos also tells us that the Lamanites dwelled in tents, wandered around in the wilderness, and that many of them ate only raw meat. It sounds like the Lamanites were hunters and the Nephites farmers (see verse 21). Enos's comments on the Lamanite culture probably suggest differences with the Lamanite culture. (If the Nephites also had slept in tents, it seems that Enos would be less likely to mention this as a trait of the Lamanites.) Enos also comments on the Lamanite clothing. Again, this probably suggests that the Nephites didn't wear the same type of clothing. It is interesting that Enos makes note of these cultural differences in the same verse that he explains the Nephite's lack of success in preaching to the Lamanites. It may be that the cultural divide between the Nephites (as farmers) and the Lamanites (as hunters) was a contributing factor in the lack of success the Nephites had in preaching to the Lamanites.
  • Enos 1:23-24: Pride leading to warfare. Because the people became stiffnecked and did not heed unto the words of the many prophets which were among them there began the be wars between the Nephites and the Lamanites. We see this as a direct result of the wickedness of the people. Verse 24 tells us that there were wars among the Nephites and Lamanites. In verse 23 Enos tells us that it was only by, among other things, continually prophesying of wars that the Nephites were kept from "going down speedily to destruction." It may be that these wars were necessary in order to remind the Nephites of their dependence on the Lord. See 1 Ne 2:23-24.
  • Verse 1:25: 179 years. One hundred and seventy nine years seems like a long time to have passed between the time Lehi left Jerusalem and Enos is about to die. See here a short article on this from Farms.
  • Enos 1:27: Mansions. While we can't be sure of the exact word translated in verse 27 as "mansions", the King James Version of the Bible only uses the word "mansions" once, in John 14:2 where Christ says "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you." The Greek word translated here as "mansions" is the noun mone, which is later translated as "abode" in John 14:23. Rather than implying that Christ has prepared spacious homes for us in heaven, a modern interpretation of the word "mansion", the original Greek seems to imply that Christ has created dwelling places for us there. In Latter-day Scriptures, the word mansion is used in reference to dwelling places in the presence of God here in Enos, three times in Moroni's discourse on faith in Ether 12 (Ether 12:32, Ether 12:34, and Ether 12:37), and seven times in the Doctrine and Covenants.

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  • Enos 1:4: Reached the heavens. "And when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens." Did Enos do something differently in his prayer style at night that finally he 'reached the heavens' that he wasn't doing during his earlier daytime 'mighty prayer and supplication?'
  • Enos 1:8: Faith in Christ. What does it mean to have faith in Christ? Does it imply that we have faith that Christ can save us from our sins? If so, how is it that Enos, when forgiven, ask Christ how that is done?
  • Enos 1:11-15: God basically tells Enos here that he could have anything his heart desired. Why does Enos immediately think of the records they had been keeping? Why did he think those records would have a greater effect in the conversion of the Lamanites than the ministering of the Nephites?
  • Enos 1:16-20: Could it be that the coming forth of the Book of Mormon itself is the result of this prayer and the covenant God made with Enos here?
  • Enos 1:16-20: This covenant seems essentially different than other covenants. What is that difference?
  • Enos 1:20: Is Enos merely pointing out cultural differences here? Certainly some of these descriptions are bad, such as "blood-thirsty", "idolatry", "seeking to destroy us" etc. But some of these other things - "dwelling in tents", "wandering about in the wilderness", eating raw meat - recall Lehi's path through the wilderness. Furthermore, dwelling in tents is usually seen as a good thing in the Old Testament. What do we make of this description by Enos? What's his point?


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Previous editions.

Related passages that interpret or shed light on Enos.

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Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.

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