In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Monday, February 28, 2011

Evidence for authenticity of the Book of Mormon found in Samuel the Lamanites Sermon from on top of the wall

I stumbled across some old notes that I had taken while reading articles by both Kent Brown and David Bokovoy of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute. Especially in Kent Brown’s study of the poetic structures captured in Samuel the Lamanites Lamenting to the Nephites during his teachings or sermon from on top of the wall at Zarahemla. According to Browns assessment, the individual Lament appears in Helaman 13:32-33:

“O that I had repented, and had not killed the prophets, and stoned them and cast them out.”

According to Brown this structure is known as "parallelism of specification" and is a very common form of Biblical poetry. It is evident that Samuel the Lamanite was influenced by the wording of an earlier accounts of Nephi when describing the inhabitants of Jerusalem during his day. The difference is that Nephi’s Lament is a reverse parallel of Samuels. Nephi states that the inhabitants were angry with Lehi;

“yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned and slain.” (1 Nephi 1:20)

Nephi’s description of the crimes committed by the wicked include a three fold intensification reminiscent of biblical story telling. With each act, i.e., casting out, stoning and finally, slaying. The sins described by Nephi become increasingly more grievous. A similar tri-fold intensification appears, for example, in Genesis 12:1, where God commands Abram to sacrifice his country, extended family and finally, immediate family in order to become a great nation (see also the description of Isaac in Genesis 22:2).

In viewing Nephi’s proper order of the events why would Samuel reverse the order? Recently Bible scholars have become more familiar with the reversal as a literary device often times used to draw attention to another source through the use of the reversal of order. For example in Leviticus 26:4 the Lord declared, “and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruits.” When Ezekiel later referred to this promise, he intentionally reversed its original sequence: “and the trees of the field shall yield their fruits, and the land shall yield her increase” (Ezekiel 34:27). Like Kent Brown I believe that Samuel’s reversal of Nephi’s description concerning the inhabitants of Jerusalem was intentional. As a result of their wickedness, Samuel appears to link the Nephites with the very people whom their ancestors left behind in order to worship God in the New World.

This brings us back to the age old question, if the Book of Mormon is somehow produced by Joseph Smith jr. or a product of his imagination how could he with his 3rd grade education have known about an ancient literary device such as reverse parallelism of specification? Answer, he simply couldn’t have known. He simply didn’t produce the Book of Mormon as part of his imagination or some of the other pathetic excuses given for its origin. The truth is that Joseph Smith translated it exactly as he proclaimed and evidence will eventually prove his authenticity the same way it will prove the prophets of old.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sariah and a Jewish Temple not in Jerusalem, Welcome to the Elephantine Papyrus

The next update on the “Voices from the Dust” added insights is a closer focus on the previously mentioned Elephantine Documents or the Elephantine Papyri. These are a collection of Jewish manuscripts that date back to the 5th century BC. They come from a Jewish community in Upper Egypt known as Elephantine Island or Yeb during the 5th century. Elephantine Island is part of the Nile River at the border near Nubia. It turns out that this settlement was probably established as a military settlement around 650 BC which is right around the same time that Lehi and his family as well as many of the Jews who formed this community were fleeing Jerusalem. It goes to show that many who fled Jerusalem fled to the south and then on to Egypt area. Although Lehi and his family and followers didn’t go to Egypt an area that Lehi would have been familiar with, instead they were told to continue in that southern directions thus following parts of the incense trail.

Many interesting things can be found in these Elephantine documents. Hundreds of these papyri were written in hieratic and Demotic Egyptian, Aramaic, Greek, Latin and Coptic. The largest number where written in Aramaic and document the Jewish community among the soldiers stationed at Elephantine under Persian rule. These documents include letters and legal contracts from family and other archives: divorce documents, the manumission of slaves, and other business, and are a valuable source of knowledge about law, society, religion, language and the study of names.

Along with the direction of fleeing Jews the next important insight that we receive from the Elephantine Papyri is the fact that these fleeing Jews built a temple to their God. This is interesting because this has always been a point of conflict between Evangelical scholars and Mormon Apologists. The frame of mind usually held by the scholars was that the Book of Mormon had to be false because no Jew would dare flee Jerusalem and then attempt to build a temple as Nephi and his people did in 2 Nephi 5:16. This would be blasphemous and unheard of.

This thought process was shot to pieces with the finding of these documents because now not only do we know that there was a temple in Elephantine ran by the Jewish community but we even have documents appealing for assistance to rebuild the Jewish temple which had been damaged by an anti-Semitic rampage on the community. In the course of this appeal, the Jewish inhabitants of Elephantine speak of the antiquity of their damaged temple:

“Now our forefathers built this temple in the fortress of Elephantine backing the days of the kingdom of Egypt, and when Cambyses came to Egypt he found it built. They (the Persians) knocked down all the temples of the gods of Egypt, but no one did any damage to this temple.”

Permission was given for the temple to be rebuilt on the spot where it formerly existed.

The next important discovery made with these documents was in the study of names. One of the names that caught much of the LDS community was that of Sariah. The Book of Mormon introduces Sariah, as the wife of Lehi and the mother of Nephi and his brothers and sisters (1 Nephi 2:5).

The conjectural Hebrew spelling of Sariah would be s´ryh and would be pronounced something like Sar-yah. Evangelical scholars may suggest that this name was an invention of Joseph Smiths imagination since Sariah doesn’t appear in the Bible as a female personal name. However, in a significant historical parallel to the Book of Mormon, the Hebrew name Sariah, spelled sryh, has been discovered as the name of a Jewish woman living at Elephantine in Upper Egypt during the fifth century B.C.The reference of Sariah of Elephantine is found in Aramaic Papyrus #22 (also called Cowley #22 or C-22) and according to A.E. Cowley the names are in fact Hebrew.

So what did this Sariah of Elephantine do that was so note worth for these papyruses?
According to C-22 Line 1 she made a contribution to Yahu Elaha, “the Lord God”. And while the purpose of the monetary offering is not explained, Cowley believes that it was for the expenses of the Jewish temple on Elephantine Island. He also dates the donation and writing to the year 419 B.C. The complete text of Line 4 indicates that Sariah had donated two sheqels of silver (KSF), a generous subscription given the generally high value of silver in ancient Egypt.

So once again we see how these voices from the dust not only confirm truths proclaimed loud and clear in the Book of Mormon but they also give added insight to the time period, society beliefs and the culture as a whole.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Jeffrey R Holland Book of Mormon LDS Conference Talk Oct 2009 179 HD (2/2)

I decided to post this portion of Jeffrey R. Hollands Oct 2009 General Conference address entitled "Safety for my Soul". This is only a portion of from the point that he really starts addressing the Book of Mormon. This is one of my all time favorite talks and everytime I listen to it (because I have it on my ipod) it just gives me chills. President Holland bears his testimony so elligantly and powerfully that I just had to share it....enjoy!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Hopi-Tewa First Mesa Migration History Parallels Nephi and Lehies Migration Story

In a book I recently stumbled across while searching the dusty shelves of a downtown Mesa, AZ bookstore I was surprised to find some interesting and unexpected parallels between the migration stories of the Tewa-Hopi First Mesa people and our migration stories found in 1Nephi. The Book is called"Big Falling Snow, A Tewa-Hopi Indian's Life and Times and the History and Traditions of His People". It is by Albert Yava a Tewa-Hopi and member of the One Horned Society. Alberts father was also a member of the One Horned Society and through this society Albert learned much about the history and traditions of the Hopi and Tewa migrations. Alberts mother was Tewa and his father was Hopi but it wasn't his fathers Hopi bloodline that made Albert full Hopi, it was his initiation into the One Horned Society. Its these societies that qualify a Hopi to become a "true Hopi". While explaining the migration of all the different clans and the First Mesa understanding of these stories Albert stated the following about the Hopi Water Clan,

"In Hopi the Water Clan is called Patkiwoema. That can be translated as Dwelling on Water, or Houseboat, Clan, as I mentioned before, and this refers to their tradition that sometime after they left the place of emergence they made a long journey across a large expanse of water in boats with dwellings constructed on them. The body of water is believed to be the ocean, but just what part of the ocean it was we do not know. It seems that the Water Clan had a big village somewhere before Palatkwa, but corruption and evil set in and they had to leave. That is when they made the ocean voyage. Palatkwa was their next big village. One thing you hear from the Patki people is that in ancient times they were white, not Indian color. They say, "My ancestors had white skins, but because of evil things that happened, we lost all that." They also say,"The Patki people are the ones who are supposed to teach the Hopis good moral values, how to lead good lives."

As can be seen by this traditional migration story the Tewa-Hopi Water Clan and the story shared by Nephi in the book of 1Nephi have many parallels. As seen in 1Nephi 17:8 which states,

"And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee that I may carry thy people across these waters."

So Nephi through the help of the Lord and his family were able to construct just that, a large houseboat able to carry Lehi and Sariah and their young sons Jacob and Joseph and Nephi and his family Laman and Lemuel and their families Sam and his family and Zoram and his family and Ishmael's family (although Ishmael himself passed away and was burried at Nahom earlier in their journey). They would have also included Ishmaels daughters and sons and their families although most of them through marriage would have already been included with the sons and daughters of Lehi and their new friend Zoram as part of their families.

In many other Hopi migration stories they speak of traveling over "many waters". I find this interesting because upon Nephi's migrating to a land they called Bountiful (probabley on the coast of Saudi Arabia near Yeman or modern day Wadi Sayq) he spoke of Bountiful having much fruit and wild honey and also of a sea which they called Irreantum, which being interpreted, is many waters.

When Albert notes that the Water Clan had a big village somewhere before Palatkwa this would more than likely be referring to none other than Jerusalem. This would place Palatkwa as more than likely Zarahemla according to Hugh Nibley or according to other Hopi historians this may be Teotihuacan also known as an ancient red city in the south.

The above story also relates to something I posted on in a previous post as well. The change in skin color. According to the Tewa predecessors the Patki they once had white skin but because of evil things that happened they lost it....this sounds like the sign of the curse that was placed upon the Lamanites for more information on this please feel free to read my previous post entitled,"Genetic traits possible link between Hopi and converted Lamanites (Anti-Nephi Lehies)? ".

The above related migration story by Albert Yava just goes to show the many parallels between the Hopi and Tewa and those of the Book of Mormon. I don't find these correlations as a mear coincodence, as a matter of fact it is these stories handed down through generations that bring the Book of Mormon to life.