|Nephi son of Helaman II|
Welch points out that it has been a normal practice of many prophets of old to use some sort of an allegorical example to help the people to whom he is preaching better understand the message. Below are a few examples pointed out by John Welch,
"It was not uncommon for early Israelite prophets to use example. When Jeremiah wanted to impress the people of Jerusalem with his prophecy that they would be yoked into bondage by the Babylonians, he
With these examples in mind Welch then proceeds to point out a number of clues that give the impression that Nephi may have been presenting an allegorical funeral for his sermon. The clues include the following.
1. Nephi was "mourning" and "lamenting" and as pointed out by Welch Nephi was from an aristocratic household so this alone would have caused the passersby to wonder who of the household had passed.
2. Nephi's mourning or mock funeral seemed to last quite a long time. It lasted long enough for passersby to leave to get others to come witness this lamentation and return. This would make sense in the setting of a mock funeral mourning.
3. The lamenting of Nephi seemed to have been quite the spectacle because Welch points out that Nephi advised that the people indeed had "great need to marvel".
4. If Nephi was performing an allegorical funeral he also included the word "murder" a few times and this alone would have drawn a crowd. He then proceeded to include the iniquities of people of Zerahemla which would have worked up the crowd even more. Thus completing his purpose of performing the allegory.
5. The tower Nephi was praying and preaching from more than likely would have been some sort of Mesoamerican pyramid. These pyramids were used for numerous things in Mesoamerica during the times of the great Mayan civilization. One of the main purposes for the pyramid towers was to bury their dead, thus his allegory would have been performed at an actual funeral site.
6. The words and phrases used by Nephi in his sermon were used to predict the eventual death of those at Zerahemla. These phrases include such wording as, "why will ye die" and "everlasting misery" and God will turn them into “meat for dogs and wild beasts".
There are more examples but Welch points out that Nephi finishes by prophesying the death of Chief Judge of Zerahemla thus providing a specific corpse for all his woes. This Chief Judge's death represents the people of Zerahemla for whom the prophecies were given. It was also used to validate Nephi's prophetic words. As John Welch points out there is no way for us to be certain that Nephi was indeed performing an allegorical funeral sermon but this does add a rich, plausible and interesting symbolic meaning to the sermon given by Nephi.
I will also inlcude the link to the actual article by John Welch. See below.