Jacob 1:1-19

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Verse 1:5: Anxiety

The words great anxiety are surprisingly strong and we may wonder if anxiety at the time the Book of Mormon was translated had less edge than it does today. In fact though Webster's 1828 dictionary definition seems to be just as harsh

concern or solicitude respecting some event, future or uncertain, which disturbs the mind, and keeps it in a state of painful uneasin[ess]. it expresses more than uneasiness or disturbance, and even more than trouble or solicitude. it usually springs from fear or serious apprehension of evil, and involves a suspense respecting an event, and often, a perplexity of mind, to know how to shape our conduct.
Verse 1:7

The text "that they might enter into his rest, lest be any means he should swear in his wrath they should not enter in, as in the provocation in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the wilderness" is an allusion to Ps 95:8-11:

Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways. Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

The meaning suggested by this use of the Old Testament seems to reflect the way that Jacob views the current condition of the Nephites. Shortly after arriving in the New World, the Nephites were forced into the wilderness (2_Ne_5:1-5). This use of the notion of the "rest" of God is also found in Deut 25:19:

Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.

The implication of this and the following narrative suggests that Jacob in his sermon which he is about to deliver is telling the people that they will not be able to return to the land of their inheritance under the present course of their behavior. And even while it talks of the Messianic Christ figure, the implication doesn't seem to move beyond a temporal salvation into the rest of God as a future state of the righteous (as it does in the New Testament).

Verse 1:11

This practice is also described in the Book of Jasher 24:20-21, when Benmalich, son of Abimelech, becomes known as Abimelech himself.


Points to ponder[edit]

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  • Verses 1:1. Why are these plates described as "small"?
  • Verses 1:2. Why is Jacob commanded only to write "a few of the things...considered to be most precious"? What are the limitations on writing in these plates? Is the writing limited by the size of the plates or is there some other consideration?
  • Verses 1:2. Why is Jacob commanded not touch "save it were lightly" the history of the community?
  • Verses 1:2. What do we know about "this people which are called the people of Nephi"? Who are they? Are they only members of Lehi's original party, or are there others included in the group now? Why are they called the "people of Nephi"?
  • Verses 1:3. Why does Nephi command Jacob to maintain this spiritual record within his lineage? What might that indicate about hereditary social roles among the community? Are Jacob's descendants expected to hold the same priestly position within the community as held by Jacob? What might this tell us about the organization of early Nephite society?
  • Verses 1:4. Jacob says that he has been instructed to record the dominant and important parts (heads) of any sacred revelation, preaching, prophecy, etc...He states at the end of the verse that he should do this for the sake of his people (Nephites, I assume) and for Christ's sake. Why does he say that this should be done for Christ's sake, when the Nephites would be the principle beneficiaries of the recorded prophecies?
  • Verses 1:4. What is meant by "heads" here?
  • Verses 1:4. Jacob is commanded to write only "a few" things on these plates (v.2), yet he is also commanded to write "as much as it were possible" about them. How are we to reconcile these commands? What do they mean and what does that tell us about how these teachings were to be valued and recorded?
  • Verses 1:4. How much sacred preaching, revelation, and prophesying is ultimately recorded in these small plates? How well did Jacob's descendants fulfill this commandment?
  • Verses 1:4. What does it mean to "touch upon" sacred things?
  • Verses 1:4. What does Nephi mean when he tells Jacob to record these things "for Christ's sake"? In what ways might recording these things be for or in behalf of Christ?
  • Verses 1:4. How might these records be recorded "for the sake" of the people?
  • Verses 1:4. What is Nephi saying about the community when he refers to it as "our" people? Why doesn't he just say "our family" or "our descendants" or "our seed"? Is this an acknowledgement that there are more lineages incorporated into the community than just the original Lehites?
  • Verses 1:5. Why are Nephi and Jacob so anxious about their people?
  • Verses 1:5. What does anxiety mean in the context of this verse? Is a similar anxiety found in other scriptural accounts where revelation is received?
  • Verses 1:5. Why do Nephi and presumably Jacob have so much anxiety about the future of their people? Is their anxiety for the possible downfall of their people the source of the vision that Nephi recorded about his posterity, or is the vision itself the source of the anxiety?
  • Verses 1:5. Isn't anxiety an expression of fear? If so, how do we reconcile that fear with the faith mentioned here? Was it that faith led to Nephi's original vision, which then brought fear because of what it showed about the future of his posterity?
  • Verses 1:5. Does this anxiety about the future of the people at some point become almost a self-fulfilling prophecy? What is the role of anxiety or fear in motivating spiritual teaching and preaching? Can preaching motivated by fear or anxiety ever transcend that fear?
  • Verses 1:8. Jacob says that he and his people would to God that all would view Christ's death, suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world. How do we do this?
  • Verses 1:9. Why doesn't Jacob give us the name of the man who is anointed king? Why don't we know the name of any of the kings until the time of the first Mosiah?
  • Verses 1:10. Who has Nephi had to fight off by wielding the sword of Laban?
  • Verses 1:10. As far as we can tell, metal weapons were very rare in the Americas during the early Book of Mormon period. How might the sword of Laban, and perhaps other swords fashioned after it, have changed the power dynamics in an area where obsidian and bone weapons may have been prevalent?
  • Verses 1:10. What is the significance of the sword of Laban in Nephite history?
  • Verses 1:10. Could this sword of Laban have been "double-edged," both protecting the early Nephites, while legitimizing military conflict in a society that would ultimately both live and die by the sword?
  • Verses 1:11. Jacob tells us that the kings are named Nephi, but we never hear about another King Nephi. The next king that we hear anything about is not named Nephi, but Mosiah. Why is that? What happened to this practice of naming the kings Nephi? Why does Jacob tell us this bit of information, if it never comes up again in the narrative?
  • Verses 1:11. What has changed by the time of Mosiah and Benjamin that they now go by their own names, instead of being called Nephi? What does that say about their society? What does it say about their connection to the fathers? Does it change when Mosiah leads some people out of the normal Nephite society, and especially when they join with the people of Zarahemla?
  • Verses 1:11. If this change does happen when Mosiah leaves, at what point can this new group justify calling itself Nephites, and what happened to the group they broke off from?
  • Verses 1:15. Was the sin of the Nephites that they had many wives and concubines, or just that they wanted many wives and concubines?
  • Verses 1:15. Does this verse suggest that it was wrong for David to either desire or have many wives and concubines? If so, how do we reconcile that with D&C 132:38. (It doesn't seem like Jacob is referring specifically to Bathseba when he says "wicked practices, such as like unto David ... desiring many wives and concubines.")
  • Verses 1:17. What does it mean that Jacob obtained an errand from the Lord? How does one obtain such an errand?
  • Verses 1:17. Why does Jacob tell us that he taught these things at the temple? What does the location of his teaching add to our understanding of his sermon on chastity and consecration of wealth for the poor?
  • Verses 1:19. What does Jacob mean by magnify?
  • Verses 1:19. Where does Jacob draw on the imagery of blood on garments (cf. Ex 29:21, Lev. 6:25-27, 8:30)? Does the fact that Jacob's sermon was delivered in the temple have any relevance to this imagery?


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Notes[edit]

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