37:16-20: Sticks of Judah and Joseph
I've heard criticisms of the traditional Mormon interpretation of this, but I can't really remember the details. I'd like to look into this more because it seems possibly related to the way that Nephi talks about Judah (the Jews?) and Joseph (the BOM frequently refers to the Nephites and Lamanites as "a remnant of the house of Israel" and even from the tribe of Joseph in Alma 46:24; cf. Alma 10:3; User:Matthewfaulconer/Jew and Gentile) in 1 Ne 13ff. --RobertC 14:50, 4 Oct 2006 (UTC)
- Woah, I didn't even see this until I had just posted my suggestion that we look at this passage! See my comments on the discussion page of 1 Ne 10:11. I think this is a major question, but I think Nephi reads this more profoundly than Latter-day Saints do. Let's get this underway here. --Joe Spencer 16:37, 4 Oct 2006 (UTC)
I think an important preliminary question to address (at least for the relevance to Nephi) is to what extent Nephi had access to Ezekiel's writings. My very rough sense is that scholars think Ezekiel did his preaching (or writing?) during King Jeconiah's reign who reigned before Hezekiah which is when Lehi left Jerusalem (right?)—so it seems possible, I just don't have a sense of how probable this would've been. Thoughts? --RobertC 02:05, 5 Oct 2006 (UTC)
- I suppose I should clarify my interest in Ezekiel's revelation here. I don't think there is any likelihood whatsoever that Nephi had access to it--it was clearly received in Babylon, whether or not it was received before Nephi and his family would have left Jerusalem. The connection between the two is not, I think, lateral. That is, I think that both Nephi and Ezekiel are harking back to a rather ancient theme: the theme of two trees. As Lehi makes quite clear in 2 Ne 2, the theme runs right back to the oldest stories of Adam and Eve. That Lehi and Ezekiel are receiving revelations based on the two-tree theme at about the same time and from two radically different perspectives is what is interesting to me, and I think that some side-by-side study would open up Lehi's revelations and written in Nephi precisely because of these differences, not because of the similarities. Ezekiel will read the two-tree business from the perspective of the collapsing Davidic covenant, from the perspective of the captivity in Babylon, from the perspective of a temple priest. Lehi will read the two-tree business from the perspective of the re-opening Abrahamic covenant, from the perspective of the scattering of Israel, from the perspective of a Northern Kingdom refugee.
- There is another reason, however, to look at how Ezekiel comes up against the Book of Mormon. D&C 27:5 presents Moroni as holding "the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim," and these seem in that section to be keys parallel to other keys held by other great prophets, all of which have something to do with the gathering of Israel and the fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant. If the "stick of Ephraim" is the Book of Mormon, then there is need to study this chapter quite carefully anyway. The connection to the two-tree visions of the Book of Mormon would simply help to define the borders of interpretation here. At any rate, there is obviously some need to look at this question. --Joe Spencer 13:23, 6 Oct 2006 (UTC)
I found the two tree exegesis interesting. A bit of an aside--the tree of life in the story of creation seems to not have a complete role. Or in other words, it seems like more is going on in the story than is clear from the story. As if the people hearing the story were drawing on an understanding of the opposition of those two trees that didn't need to be made explicit. I would be interested in hearing more on "two trees." --Matthew Faulconer 03:39, 7 Oct 2006 (UTC)
- I'm curious to where Joe goes with this. It's hard for me to see any parallel with the two trees of Lehi (Joe, do you mean the tree of life in 1 Ne 8 and the olive tree in 1 Ne 10?). On the other hand, I just read this article by Jim F. and the part about Adam and Eve being commanded to cleave to one another (but initially not doing this by playing the blame game) reminds me of the unifying of the two trees here. So one approach might be to think about a sort of dual spearation-atonement motif: if the tree of life represents God, Man separated himself by partaking of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and then further separated himself by the representative split in the olive tree between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. God's miraculous work then is reuniting/grafting together the olive tree and then reuniting us to the tree of life (i.e. Atonement).
37:16-20: Sticks as idolotry
John F. Kutsko (Between Heaven and Earth) makes an interesting point about the possible reference of the wood here to the heavy idolotry theme throughout the book (notice also the tall trees representing pride in other Ezekiel passages...). I'll try to post some of the main ideas as I have time, but in case it takes me a bit to get to this, I thought I'd mention it now. --RobertC 12:55, 7 Oct 2006 (UTC)