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Relationship to Helaman. The relationship of Chapters 7-12 to the rest of Helaman is addressed at Helaman.
Story. Chapters 7-12 consists of ____ major sections:
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Helaman 7-12 include:
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- Hel 7:1-5. The apostate state of the Nephites was growing worse as time went on. The government was corrupt and it seems that there were fewer and fewer righteous individuals.
- Hel 7:6-10. It's interesting that Nephi would want to live at another time in history. I suppose that we tend do that ourselves whenever the world seems to be in a bad state.
- Hel 8:15. In other scriptures describing the typology of the brazen serpent, looking to Christ and being healed is described as simple (1 Ne 17:41) and easy (Alma 37:46). However, v. 15 qualifies the conditions of looking: faith and a contrite spirit are also required to obtain eternal life. This is consistent with other scriptures that teach that simply believing in God is not sufficient (see James 2:17-26). Still, because of the atonement, it is relatively easy for us to obtain eternal life. Although we might not always consider the requirement of nurturing faith and developing a contrite heart easy, we do not have to pay the price that Christ did (cf. D&C 19:16-19). Moreover, Prov 13:15 and Alma 41:10 teach us that the sinner's path is hard and unhappy, presumably much harder than having faith and a contrite heart.
- Hel 8:16-20. Nephi defends the words of Christ by speaking of other prophets and how they were also called to speak his words.
- Hel 8:21. It appears that Mulek and his followers left Jerusalem after it was destroyed, and thus became witnesses to the descendants of Lehi, who left before Jerusalem's destruction.
- Hel 8:23. This sounds like the Second Comforter.
- Hel 8:25. "Laying up treasures in heaven" must not refer to the idea of good works earning exaltation, but of earning blessings while in the heavenly kingdoms of glory.
- Hel 8:26. The imagery "ripening for destruction" occurs several times in the Book of Mormon. Today we typically use the word ripe with positive connotations. It seems the same was true at the time the Book of Mormon was translated into English (see Webster's 1828 definition). In contrast to that, ripen is consistenly used negatively in the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. Ripen there is consistently paired up with something negative (e.g. "in iniquity" or, as here, "for destruction")--see 1 Ne 17:43, Hel 5:2, Hel 6:40, Hel 8:26, Hel 11:37, Ether 2:9, Ether 9:20, D&C 18:6, D&C 61:31.
- Hel 8:26. Anything that is allowed to ripen for too long will eventually spoil.
- Hel 8:26. In verse six, Nephi states that the wicked people of Zarahemla are "ripening, because of [their] wickedness... for everlasting destruction; yea, and except [they] repent it will come unto [them] soon." As noted above in the lexical notes, ripening is used in the Book of Mormon consistently in relation to the bad--who, when ripe, will be destroyed. Similar imagery is used in relation to the good. In the allegory in Jacob 5 talks of good fruit which at the right time, God lays up. In both cases, the idea that a time is given to reach maturity--either fully wicked or fully good.
- Hel 8:26. The point of Nephi saying that the people of Zarahemla are ripening for descruction is to 1) explain why God hasn't already punished the wicked--because he is waiting for them to fully show their wickedness (see Alma 14:11), and 2) to warn them. When the time is right, the ripe piece of fruit will get picked. Likewise, God's day of judgment and punishment will one day come to the wicked if they do not first repent.
- Hel 9:2. It seems doubtful they would have believed when faced with the proof they sought. They didn't seem to have a sincere desire coupled with real intent. They seemed to be saying "I'll believe it when I see it," rather than "I'll see it when I believe it."
- Hel 9:4. These five men "had not believed the words which Nephi had spoken concerning the chief judge." They had probably not even hoped that Nephi's words were true. Most likely they just wondered about the truthfulness of Nephi's words or wanted to use them against him.
- Hel 9:5. These men apparently clung to their fear of man (Nephi) after Nephi helped the multitude to start fearing God rather than man in Hel 8:10-11.
- Hel 9:5. The fact that "they did quake" seems to imply that they had fear.
- Hel 9:6. garb = disguise
- Hel 9:8. In both verses 1 and 8, people who did not have the full truth were left on their own to figure things out according to what "they said among themselves." This insular approach may have prevented some groups from sharing their information with other groups.
- Hel 9:8. It appears that "the multitude who had gathered together at the garden of Nephi" were not the same as or seen by "the people [who] did gather themselves together unto the place of the judgment-seat" (vs. 7). In other words, the former group heard Nephi prophesy of the murder, but it was the latter group who received "the servants [who] ran and told the people, raising the cry of murder among them" (vs. 6). Support for this distinction comes from the fact that Nephi's preaching "was upon a tower, which in the garden of Nephi, which by the highway which led to the chief market, which was in the city of Zarahemla" (Hel 7:10). So it seems that Nephi preached to the multitude on the outskirts of the city, away from the main body of the people. Moreover, the five who went to check on the murder could not have merely walked across the street. Instead, they "ran in their might, and came in unto the judgment-seat" (vs. 3).
- Hel 9:20. Confederate = in league with (Webster's 1828). Given the fact that in this case the people are charging Nephi with being in league with a murder, we might interpret this as "You are an accomplice."
- Hel 9:21. Uncircumcised hearts are mentioned five times in the King James Bible (Lev 26:41, Jer 9:26, Ezek 44:7, Ezek 44:9, Acts 7:51). In the Bible, uncircumcised hearts appear to refer to those who may be outwardly circumcised in the flesh, but have broken the covenant of circumcision. Circumcision, as a sign of the Abrahamic covenant, also became a sign of purity, giving the connotation that uncircumcised hearts are impure (cf. uncircumcised lips Ex 6:12).
- Hel 11:4. Even though he had been rejected time and again, Nephi pleads to the Lord on behalf of these people (verse 4). This is a good example of charity that many missionaries can relate to and learn from since it is hard to maintain charitable thoughts when people reject and mock precious teachings.
- Hel 12:1-5. Although it sounds like God is trying to curse us because of our wickedness for not keeping the commandments, there is also a point where God rebukes us with "divine curses." In Genesis 3:17 it points out that they are cursed for their sake, and also in Helaman 15:3 the people are chastened. That is usually caused by a trial of our faith or by allowing us to suffer.
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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- Hel 7:1-5: Why couldn't Nephi find any righteous people in the Land Northward?
- Hel 7:1-5: What happened to all the Sons of Helaman and their families who had gone northward 20 years earlier? Why might they have fallen away, rather than remained as righteous as their parents?
- Hel 7:1-5: While we often celebrate the Sons of Helaman for their war exploits, could we be missing the bigger story, that unlike their parents who were willing to be killed rather than kill others, the willingness of these warriors to join the war tradition of the Nephites led to their ultimate downfall and their children's loss of faith?
- Hel 7:6-10: Where was Nephi while he was lamenting the wickedness of the people?
- Hel 8:1-4: What is Nephi's crime that the judges are referring to in v. 1? Is Nephi's crime more than just speaking things the judges and/or people don't want to hear? What is the corruptness of the law referred to in v. 3? Why are the judges afraid to "lay their own hands" upon Nephi in verse 4?
- Hel 8:15: What does it mean to "look upon the Son of God"?
- Hel 8:22: Why does Nephi say that Lehi was "driven out of Jerusalem because he testified of these things"? Does this suggest the people were persecuting him because he spoke of Christ?
- Hel 8:22: Which of the fathers didn't testify of Christ? They didn't write in scripture, did they?
- Hel 8:24: Why is Nephi trying to catch them in a lie?
- Hel 8:25: Does in heaven "where nothing doth corrupt" mean that there the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics won't be in effect?
- Hel 8:26: Does "everlasting destruction" start in Spirit Prison with punishment for sins?
- Hel 8:27: When Satan rewards people with damnation for committing murder through bloodshed, is he intending this to be some sort of twisted substitute for Christ's atonement and sacrifice?
- Hel 8:28: In this life, is Satan not the sole author of sin?
- Hel 8:28: If people are initially and basically good-natured, could the natural man be the receiver and seeker of temptations, and not the initial originator?
- Hel 8:28: How evil did Gadianton become? Did he lose himself in the attempt to serve Satan?
- Hel 9:1: Why didn't everybody else leave as well?
- Hel 9:1: Did Nephi say more things?
- Hel 9:3: Did all people have such easy access to the chambers of the chief judge?
- Hel 9:3: Did they just run in, undeterred by any guards?
- Hel 9:5: How much faith did they have when they saw this scene?
- Hel 9:5: Would their faith endure or would their process of verification leave them lacking enough faith in the end?
- Hel 9:5: Why did these men fall to the earth?
- Hel 9:5: Did the power of God strike them?
- Hel 9:5: Did they faint or try to play dead?
- Hel 9:6: When did the chief judge start having servants?
- Hel 9:6: What does the "cry of murder" sound like?
- Hel 9:7: How many people were suspicious of the story that the chief judge had managed to knock five men unconscious while receiving a fatal stabbing?
- Hel 9:8: Did the people automatically blame the five men and seemingly recognize God's hand in the apprehension because of their spiritual blindness, or were members of the secret band among the people trying to sell them on a lie, in order to protect the dead chief judge's brother?
- Hel 9:9: Were these supposed murders going to receive a fair trial?
- Hel 9:9: Why did these five wake so easily?
- Hel 9:9: Had they been just unconscious, rather than in an unwakeable and deep sleep caused by a spiritual vision, similar to that of Alma the Younger?
- Hel 9:9: Who sent the proclamation out?
- Hel 9:9: Were there government agencies at the time besides the office of the chief judge?
- Hel 9:9: Did the lower judges draft and distribute the proclamation?
- Hel 9:10: Why did the people mourn?
- Hel 9:10: Were they similar in their wickedness to Seezoram?
- Hel 9:10: Did they fear that a new secret band was in town?
- Hel 9:10: Why did they fast?
- Hel 9:10: Was it a carryover of old tradition?
- Hel 9:10: From who were they seeking an answer in finding a new chief judge?
- Hel 9:11: Were these judges supporting Nephi or showing support for Seezoram by attending his funeral?
- Hel 9:11: Was this even a funeral or just a burial?
- Hel 9:14-15: The five that were questioned, what seems to be their thoughts on the events and what Nephi prophesied?
- Hel 9:21: What does it mean to be "uncircumcised of heart"?
- Hel 9:38: Weren't these five already given liberty? (See 9:18.) How do we make sense of these two verses together?
- Hel 10:9: What does the Lord mean when he says to have faith to move mountains? Is this a literal or figurative expression?
- Hel 10:16: Nephi is "conveyed" away from a dangerous crowd. What does this mean? Did he just disappear or was he delivered out of the situation?
- Hel 11:6-10: Why might a famine humble the people more than a bloody war?
- Hel 11:23: What does it mean to have "many revelations daily"? How much revelation should we be seeking and expecting?
- Hel 12:3: God of peace. Several scriptures refer to God as a "God of peace" (Rom 15:23, Rom 16:20, 1 Cor 14:33, 2 Cor 13:11, Philip 4:9, 2 Thes 3:16). Perhaps because of this, many believers often say that God does not cause human suffering, but only allows it. However, the phraseology in v.3 of God visiting his people with death and terror suggests a rather direct involvement on God's part. Does this mean then that God not only allows human suffering but causes it? If not, how else can these verses be understood?
- Hel 12:4: Was the author of this verse urging us to be quick to do good? Can the quickness or slowness of our actions be equated with the rapidity of our response? Is there any danger of acting righteously in an instinctual way, rather than in a deliberative way?
- Hel 12:20-21: Verse 20 explains what happens when the Lord says to someone that they will be accursed forever. Verse 21 explains what happens when the Lord says to someone that they will be cut off from his presence. Is this the same thing repeated twice or is there a difference in the meaning of the two? If there is a difference what is it?
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