Talk:Jacob 1:1-19

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Verse 5: Anxiety[edit]

I think anxiety in verse 5 is best thought of as care for, or, as Merriam-Webster indicates for anxious, ardently or earnestly wishing. Jacob, like Nephi in 1 Nephi 10:17 and the beginning of 1 Nephi 11, had strong desires to know the things of the Lord; he also desired to know, like many prophets, what would become of the people he loved--his people. Jacob's sermons indicate that he was successful in learning truths about the creation, the fall and the atonement.

Hi, In verse when Jacob says "because of faith and great anxiety" do you think Jacob is referring to his own faith and anxiety? --Matthew Faulconer 07:00, 14 Apr 2005 (CEST)

You raise a good question. Jacob clearly states that the resultant manifestations were made to us (some plural group), "because of faith and great anxiety." Jacob in 2 Ne 6:3 makes clear that he had great anxiety for his people. However, I think your question clarifies the situation. It seems similar to Enos' experience in praying that the records would be preserved and brought to the Lamanites Enos 1:16; he was told that this was the same desire his fathers had and that their faith was great, like his own. Did the Lord previously promise the preservation of the records, or did Enos' request push it over the top (so to speak). The situation with Jacob may have been similar; it may have been the collective faith and anxiety of those spiritually responsible for the people (Lehi, Nephi, Jacob) that led to the manifestation. It still seems like I am missing an important application or insight from these verses. -- 06:33, 14 Apr 2005 (CEST)

I wonder if part of what Jacob is doing is explaining why the Nephites have a better understanding of what is going to happen to them than did those in Jerusalem they left behind. Take each group's relative knowledge of the coming of Christ as an example. It is hard to know exactly how much those in Jerusalem at that time knew about Jesus, but it is clear (isn't it?) that they knew then far less than what Nephi & Jacob know at this point in the Book of Mormon.
>It still seems like I am missing an important application or insight from these verses.
Like you I assume that the "faith and anxiety" was something that Lehi, Nephi and Jacob had had. So, in that case, I think there is an insight here for leaders. The insight would be that leaders can receive miraculous knowledge about the people they are responsible for, even to knowing something of their future (at least collectively), if they have great faith and "anxiety." Also I think a note on the meaning of "anxiety" in the lexical notes section would be interesting. It would be interesting to see the dictionary definition contemporaneous with when Joseph Smith wrote the Book of Mormon.
--Matthew Faulconer 08:34, 19 Apr 2005 (CEST)

Verse 6: Rest[edit]

Ben, welcome to the site. I think you're right that there's an important physical connotation to the use of "rest" in this verse, though I still wonder if there aren't spritual connotations. Regardless, what I think is particularly interesting is the way that "rest" seems to acquire more spiritual and individual connotations in Alma (e.g Alma 12:34ff). It seems to me that in the Old Testament, the shift from the physical and community connotations of "rest" to the spiritual and individual connotations is somewhat dramatic with the coming of Christ, whereas it's much more gradual and nuanced in the BOM. But I haven't thought about this much in the Old Testament, can we see more of a gradual development of this idea in the OT?

Also, I think D&C 84:23ff should be considered here. There it seems that the connotation of "rest" is not physical but spiritual. Of course this raises all sorts of hermeneutic questions, but I think this passage at least forces us to consider the possibility that there is both a physical and spiritual connotation in mind here. Thoughts? --RobertC 19:24, 12 March 2007 (CET)

I've spent some time with Jacob, but never enough. This whole question is worth considering quite carefully. And I must confess I'm not quite sure how to think about it yet. It seems that there are a lot of trajectories crossing each other here. For example, the D&C 84 x-ref is helpful because Jacob is about to give a temple sermon. The Moses situation is vivid, because Jacob regards the Nephites as cast out, wandering in a strange land. The Psalm as quoted is fascinating, since the small plates seem to have cultic functions in Nephite society. Etc. And there are other trajectories that force us to regard these in other ways still: Jacob is in these verses trying to link up his own book with Nephi's, and his own work with Nephi's, and how might that affect any reading here? Etc. Interesting questions. I'd like to think about this more. --Joe Spencer 15:12, 13 March 2007 (CET)

David Bokovoy and I had a long discussion about this issue some time ago. Psalm 95 is a fascinating text in its original context (as opposed to the way in which it is used in the New Testament). It is actually alluded to at least a dozen times in Jacob's short text - although this is the one that is the most clearly identifiable. Apart from its use, it also is part of a larger patern of Old Testament usage which isn't indicated by the writers of the Book of Mormon (Jacob doesn't indicate that he is alluding to or referring to the Old Testament).

Psalm 95 isn't one of the more popular Pslams to discuss, but it is one of the Royal Psalms, and it would have been part of the temple liturgy (whether or not it was a performance is probably debatable, but if it is, the first part was sung by the congregation of Israel, and the last part by whoever was leading them - or a priestly choir or some such). In other words, assuming that the temple liturgy was remotely similar for the Nephites at their temple to the liturgy which was used back in Palestine before Lehi leaves, it is quite possible that the congregation would have sung this hymn prior to Jacob's sermon. And Jacob isn't just alluding to this text for us, what we see is him describing his rhetorical purposes. This explicit description is quite similar to what was described by Paul V. Hilaire in his article "Exodus-Deuteronomy as Discourse: Models, Distancing, Provocation, Paraenesis" in JSOT 85 (1999):

2.5.1. The main function of these rebellion stories is provocation. By depicting the people as provoking God, the text provokes the present assembly, frustrating them to say: ‘How could a people be so stiffnecked? Is there a covenant or not?’ Then follows the embarrassing realization that ‘we are that stiff-necked people’. This sets the stage for paraenesis, by creating a present moment of discontinuity and decision, of old and new. I noted above several prototypical ‘present moments’. This point is explicit in Psalm 95 and some prophetic texts (§4.1.2).

And who can argue that this is going on? As one of the Royal Psalms, it seems to suggest two reasonable possibilites for me in terms of the context of Jacob's sermon. One would be the conclusion of the Feast of Booths. The "rest" then also refers to the Sabbath, and the Feast itself commemorates the wandering in the wilderness (the rest then emphasizing again the end to the wandering). It is quite some time chronologically before we start seeing the Nephites discussing where they are as a land of inheritance - distinguishing it from the land of their first inheritance - although this could be a lack of text for the time between Jacob and the first Mosiah), and the other would be either an enthronement ceremony (I think this would be the less likely of the two options, although the text isn't so clear as I would like in terms of chronology). Han Joachim Kraus went further than this in his suggestion that the Psalm refers to a sacred procession in which "the whole community assembled in the holy place solemly moves in procession into the area of God's presence where the climax of this procession is reached in prostration before Yahweh" (Psalms 60-150, p. 246) and that this was a "regularly recurring cultic-liturgical observance".

Instead of the kind of rhetoric we see in Hebrews (or Alma) the passage seemes to be used in a very Deuteronomistic fashion. And part of the signification of the "rest" of God is dwelling in the land of your inheritance, not being set upon by your enemies, and so on. (This ties into eschatalogical themes of the larger picture of the restoration of the Jews and the Tribes of Israel).

And I agree that by Alma, we have this shift to a more spiritual sense (but remember that is a significant gap in terms of time and culture). But by then we also have the statements of King Benjamin and others, and a growing Messianic expectation.

Now, there is clearly a spiritual element here, and perhaps I played that down too much - it just isn't the same emphasis that we see in Hebrews. There is no doubt that we are talking about righteousness, and keeping the commandments and worshipping God, and so on. But there is a certain sense that I get (and maybe this is just me) that Jacob views their wickedness in the wilderness as being part of the reason why they continue to struggle in their "promised land" and what keeps them from the land of their inheritance, and a certain sense of instability. (And I note as an afterthought that there is also this same pattern in modern LDS thought as the saints left Missouri to head into the wilderness - over time they too stopped seeing Missouri as the Land of Inheritance - although this language still exists in our scripture and in the rarely referenced material about a return there.)--Benjamin McGuire 15:43, 14 March 2007 (CET)

Very interesting thoughts, Ben. Studying this a bit more, I wonder if Deut 12:8-9 might be in mind here (of course this assumes Deuteronomy would've been part of the Nephite records--any thoughts on this? are there other passages from Deuteronomy quoted anywhere? this would run counter to most views of the documentary hypothesis, no?). In particular, I think the rebelliousness discussed in verese 8 (here in Jacob 1) seems to reflect the "whatever is right in his own eyes" of Deut 12:8.... --RobertC 15:55, 15 March 2007 (CET)
Yes, Deuteronomy is quoted (at least portions of it) quite a bit in the earlier parts of the Book of Mormon (at least by my interpretation). In Jacob 2, for example, we get the condemation of the polygamy of David and Solomon. The phrasing seems to be taken straight from the kingship codes of Deuteronomy 17:17. If this is the case, the problem of David and Solomon's polygamy is dealt with in a way not entirely unique to the Book of Mormon (it is also dealt with in some of the sectarian writings in the Dead Sea Scrolls texts). There is also a parallel text from Deut. 18 which is quoted in a fashion more easy to identify. Deut. 18:15 reads: "The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;" Which is then seen in 1 Nephi 22:20 (and later in 3 Ne. 20:23). In Deut. 17:17 there is a special restriction placed on the king: "He [the king] must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold." This became quite a topic under late rabbinic Judaism, particularly as it served as part of the basis for Gershom's ban on polygamy among Ashkenazic Jewry. However, there can be little doubt (as Jacob puts it) that David and Solomon truly had many wives - thus Jacob can justify calling the practice (by David and Solomon) an abomination. Later Judaism would address this same issue (although they wanted to protect David) so we read this in the Damascus Document:
"As to the prince it is written, "He shall not multiply wives unto himself" But David read not in the Book of the Law that was sealed, which was in the Ark. For it was not opened in Israel from the day of the Death of Eleazar and Joshua and the Elders who worshipped Ashtareth. And it was hidden and was not discovered until Zadok arose. But they concealed the deeds of David save only the blood of Uriah."
So, this sounds startlingly like the begging of section 132 IIRC (which is also critical of the Uriah thing). In any case, there are a number of features from Deuteronomy which seem to be alluded to or quoted in the Book of Mormon. The concern that this usually raises is over the late date of authorship for Deuteronomy. But ... current scholarship suggests that Deuteronomy was preceded by something - exactly what isn't know, but there is a lot of good speculation. While Deuteronomy quotes Jeremiah (an indicator of the later creation of some of it), Jeremiah also quotes Deuteronomy (an indication that at least part of it preceded Jeremiah). And these earlier parts of Deuteronomy (including at least substantial portions of Dt. 17 and 18) are then deemed to be a part of a proto-Deuteronomy - which would have existed at the time of Lehi and presumably been included on the Brass Plates. In any case, once we get to king Noah (who is the quintessential wicked king of the Nephites), we get a list of sins which is also remarkably similar to the kingship code in Deuteronomy (with the notable exception of the collecting of horses).
As far as Dt. 12:8-9 goes, this is a much more complex issue. This reflects quite possibly the Josian reform (which predates Lehi), and deals notably with a couple of issues - among them the centralization of worship at the temple in Jerusalem (a notion really only conceivable within the tiny city state that exists prior to the Babylonian captivity), and the eviction of the Asherah, and the destruction of the High Places. I have to note that most of the high places that were destroyed in the Josian reform were probably devoted to the worship of El/YHWH. And in Jeremiah, we see the people - fleeing Palestine for Egypt (and dragging Jeremiah with them) complaining that it was the eviction of the Asherah which set up the fall of Jerusalem. Because of this (and there is a fair amount of speculation that Lehi was not a fan of the Josian reform - as were many of the Israelites), it becomes a much more involved discussion. Although whether or not it applies to this Book of Mormon passage, it does seem to reflect the same kind of mentality relative to the meaning of God's rest as an objective seen in peace and territory, obtained in mortality.
For references and discussion on Proto-Deuteronomy, probably a good place to start is Holladay, W.L., "Elusive Deuteronomists, Jeremiah, and Proto-Deuteronomy," CBQ 66 (2004), 55-77.--Benjamin McGuire 14:06, 19 March 2007 (CET)
Thank you Ben, these are great thoughts, I'm anxious to look up the reference and study this more. --RobertC 15:59, 19 March 2007 (CET)

Many wives[edit]

On this question:

Was the sin of the Nephites that they had many wives and concubines, or just that they wanted many wives and concubines?

As I read verse 15 it says that they didn't just have this desire, they also indulged somewhat in it. --Matthew Faulconer 08:46, 6 Jan 2006 (UTC)

Regarding David and D&C 132:38, I'd love hear more thoughts on this, as it's a question I've had for a long time. It seems one way to reconcile the apparent contradiction between these verses is to argue that v. 15 here is not directly equating wicked practices with David and Solomon's desiring many wives and concubines (only that it would be a wicked practice for the Nephites to do so). Another (probably more promising) way is to put to reconcile this is to put the emphasis on desiring: it wasn't that that they had the many wives and concubines that God had given them that was wrong, but that they desired others that God had not given them. --RobertC 12:04, 6 Jan 2006 (UTC)