Book of Mormon Commentary - 3 Nephi 8

by Don R. Hender

Scriptural Text [& Editorial]
Commentary & Explanation
Footnotes ~ References ~ JST
             CHAPTER 8

Tempests, earthquakes, fires, whirlwinds, and physical upheavals attest the crucifixion of Christ—
Many people are destroyed—
Darkness covers the land for three days—Those who remain bemoan their fate. [A.D. 34]

1 AND now it came to pass that according to our record, and we know our record to be atrue, for behold, it was a bjust man who did keep the record—for he truly did cmany dmiracles in the ename of Jesus; and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity—
2 And now it came to pass, if there was no mistake made by this man in the reckoning of our time, the athirty and third year had passed away;

 1a John 21:24
   b 3 Ne. 23:7
   c 3 Ne. 7:20 (19-20)
   d John 6:14; Morm. 9:18 (18-19)
   e Acts 3:6 (6-16); Jacob 4:6
 2a 3 Ne. 2:8
   * [A.D. 33]

~ 34 A.D. ~

    FROM the 1st month and the 4th to the 7th or 8th day was the destrution followed by the voices of the Father and the Son being heard out of heaven. And then followed the 'year' of faith and repentance and the repairing of the city and temple at Bountiful for the personal manifestation of Jesus Christ to the Nephites at Bountiful which would occur following his assension into heaven (Acts 1:9-11) at the ending of the 34th year and into the next time of the passover in the land of Nephi at the temple Bountiful (3 Nephi 10:18 — 3 Nephi 11+).

Jesus spent that year working with his Apostles and follers in the land of Jerusalem from the time of his crusifixion to the time of is assension. Christ would come and go a number of times that year after his resurrection. And until he had complete that time of almost a year with them, and after his assension into heaven, he would then come personally to appear to the Nephites in America.

3 And the people began to look with great earnestness for the sign which had been given by the prophet Samuel, the Lamanite, yea, for the time that there should be adarkness for the space of three days over the face of the land.
4 And there began to be great adoubtings and bdisputations among the people, notwithstanding so many signs had been given.
5 And it came to pass in the athirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the fourth day of the montha, there arose a great bstormb, such an one as never had been known in all the land.

Jesus' Birth and Death 
Now one must consider the implications of the dating of the Nephite calendar. First, depending upon whether theirs was a lunar calendar or not, and second if they did adhere to the yearly established nature of the calendar and exactly when was the beginning and end of their 'fiscal year'. Given that Jesus Christ was born on April 6th in the year of his birth, be it 0 B.C. ~ A.D., then one must be given to understand that the Nephite calendar did begin in the spring of the year coincident with the time of the passover. Now if one would consider that the Nephites had advanced in their calendar to adjust it to a solar rather than lunar calendar, then the 4th of the 34 year from the passover birth of Jesus 34 years prior according to the lunar and solar calendar adjustments, may well yeild that the death date of the Lord's death did also coincide with that of his birth when the lunar calendar is adjusted to the solar calendar, and that it also was upon that same passover celebration upon which it did occur as known and reported in the New Testament. Thus when adjusted to our solar calendar the Lord died on or about the 10th of April, 34 A.D. In any event, this ought to give us a key as to the beginning of the Nephite year, that it was in the spring about the time of the Jewish Passover. And that Jesus was also born and died about that same time of the year, the early spring about the time of the passover.
 5a the first month, on the fourth day of the month Now if the Hebrew calendar were effective, this would have been the equivalent of the 4th of Nisan or Abib. They being two various names for the same month, the first month of the Hebrew calendar. Now we cannot presume an accuracy of the calendar of the Jews and the calendar of the Nephites to precise days since they were some 633+ years separated in time and a hemisphere away, around the world from each other. But certainly the general correlation between the first month of the Nephites being the first month of the Jews and both being the time of the passover and the death of the Messiah cannot be over looked. They would seem but to be within days of each other according to their accuracy of time of year.
 5b there arose a great storm Today Jerusalem is a mere 7 hours ahead in time from Bogota. At the death of the Savior in the afternoon in Jerusalem when the storm darkened the skies there, it would have been the morning of the same day in Colombia when the great storm did arise in the land of the Nephites, America. Here the concept that the effects of the same great storm system or geologic or seismic events being experienced globally cannot be discounted. Today earthquakes are felt and monitored worldwide. Such an earth cataclysmic event which major stike earthquake lasted not for minutes but for three house, and which would change the structure of the continent of North America and much of South America must have been universally felt, even to the rending of the veil of the temple in Jerusalem. America
 3a 1 Ne. 19:10; Hel. 14:27 (20-27);
     3 Ne. 10:9; TG Darkness, Physical
 4a TG Doubt
   b TG Disputations
 5a Hel. 14:20-27; 3 Ne. 11:2
   * [A.D. 34]
   b TG Jesus Christ, Crucifixion of;
     TG Jesus Christ, Death of

6 And there was also a great and terrible tempest; and there was terrible athunder, insomuch that it did bshake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asundera.
7 And there were exceedingly sharp lightnings, such as never had been known in all the land.

 6a it did shake the whole earth as if it was about to divide asunder Some, especially those who favor a limited Book of Mormon geography, down play that scriptural fact as stated here that the 'whole earth' shook to the extend as if it was about to divide asunder. The whole earth would mean that the effects of the seismic disturbances and earthquakes were being felt globally. Perhaps not for the full three hour duration as they were being felt at the center in the Americas, but certainly the 'shaking of the whole earth' would indicated that reports of earthquakes should be found around the world along with possible after shocks for the three day period recored in the Book of Mormon. And thus it is so. In Jerusalem, at the death of Christ, that evening there was just such a strong earthquake reported to the extent that it was powerful enough that the strong multi-layered veil of the temple was rend in twain. It was torn apart from top to bottom and when the stone at the Savior's tomb was rolled away, another 'aftershock' quake was felt in Jerusalem (See Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45; Matthew 27:54; Matthew 28:2). And while the darkness across the earth did not last for the three days as it did in the Americas, it was reported from the sixth hour of the day to the ninth hour in Jerusalem (See Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:32-34; Luke 23:44). There is about a 9 hour time difference between South America, Bogata and Lima and Jerusalem. That is, when it is 6 A.M. in South America, Bogata and Lima, it is 3 P.M. in Jerusalem. Just when the 'darkness' initiated in the Americas is not known as it was dark for three days and that darkness in the Americas could have began differently from that in Jerusalem, lasting longer and could have resulted from some such events any where about, Atlatic, Pacific, etc. Thus the correlationis not specifically detailed as to what was happening at each site just when, just that over that space of three days of the Saviors death there was earthquakes over the three days and darkness in each part of the world for some duration of time from 3 hours in Jerusalem to 3 days in the Americas. And while the initial 'big one' in the Americas lasted 3 hours, the earth did not stop moving from the after shocks until the third day (3 Nephi 10:9-10). any time.  6a 1 Ne. 19:11; Hel. 14:21 (20-27)
   b Matt. 27:51 (45, 50-51)

8 And the acity of Zarahemla did take fire.
9 And the city of aMoroni did bsink into the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof were drowned.
10 And the earth was carried up upon the city of aMoronihah that in the place of the city there became a great bmountaina.

 10a in the place of the city there became a great mountain Now I doubt that earth scientists would even agree to were such a 'newly formed' mountain does exist. In their calendar of events, no such mountain merely forms in one day and certainly they would not admit to any such known mountain to be less than 2,000 years old. Geological time of such events just don't happen on such a calendar schedule according to their learned perspective of man's understanding. Yet somewhere in the Americas a 'great mountain' was born being 'carried up upon the city of Moronihah'. If Moronihah were like Moroni, a coastal defensive city attributed to Moronihah the son of Moroni, this might be thought of as a east-northeastern changing coastline effect to the land of Zarahemla.    8a 4 Ne. 1:7-8
   9a Alma 50:13
     b 3 Ne. 9:4-5
 10a 3 Ne. 8:25
     b Hel. 12:17; 3 Ne. 9:8 (6-8)

11 And there was a great and terrible destruction in the land southward.
12 But behold, there was a more great and terrible destruction in the land northward; for behold, the whole face of the land was changeda, because of the tempest and the whirlwinds and the thunderings and the lightnings, and the exceedingly great quaking of the whole earth;
13 And the ahighways were broken up, and the level roads were spoileda, and many smooth places became rough.

 12a a more great and terrible destruction inthe land northward; for behold, the whole face of the land was changed Coast lines, lakes, rivers, mountains, plains, seas, etc., just how great was the change in the land northward? Certainly it must be considered that because king Jacob and the newly formed cult of the secret combinations did move themselves into that land, that parts of that land would be completely destroyed, as they were among the more wicked part of the people who were totally destroyed according to the Book of Mormon. Yet certain aspects of the land north retained their form and nature, such as the hill and the land of Cumorah, which is the same as the land of Ramah.
 13a highways were broken up, and the level roads were spoiled Many straight and level distances became broken up and 'rough'. Mountains were thrown up and valleys appeared where hills and mountains were. It is quite likely that an 8 day journey could have been multiplied when one now has to go over or around a mountain or down into and back up out of a valley where once it was a flat level landscape.
 12a 3 Ne. 11:1
 13a Hel. 14:24; 3 Ne. 6:8

14 And many agreat and notable cities were bsunk, and many were cburned, and many were shaken till the buildings thereof had fallen to the earth, and the inhabitants thereof were slain, and the places were left desolate.
15 And there were some cities which remained; but the damage thereof was exceedingly great, and there were many of them who were slain.
16 And there were some who were carried away in the awhirlwind; and whither they went no man knoweth, save they know that they were carried away.

 14a 3 Ne. 9:12; 3 Ne. 10:4
     b 1 Ne. 12:4
     c 2 Ne. 26:4; 3 Ne. 9:3-9
 16a Dan. 11:40; 3 Ne. 10:13-14

17 And thus the face of the whole earth became deformeda, because of the tempests, and the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the quaking of the earth.
18 And behold, the rocks were rent in twain; they were broken up upon the face of the whole earth, insomuch that they were afound in broken fragments, and in seams and in cracks, upon all the face of the land.
19 And it came to pass that when the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the storm, and the tempest, and the quakings of the earth did cease—for behold, they did last for about the space of athree bhours; and it was said by some that the time was greater; nevertheless, all these great and terrible things were done in about the space of three hours—and then behold, there was cdarkness upon the face of the land.

The Whole Earth Broken
Fragments, Seams & Cracks 
"The 'rocks' which are upon the face of this earth, which are both above the earth and beneath, which ye know at this time are solid, or the more part of it is one solid mass, shall be broken up; yea, they shall be rent in twain, and shall ever after be found in seams and in cracks, and in broken fragments upon the face of the whole earth, yea, both above the earth and beneath." (Helaman 14:21-22). This is something to consider, that the whole of the face of the earth, the more part a solid mass, was broken up at the time of this destruction. It sounds like the description of the 'shattering' of a large rock into fragments and pieces. Now one can attempt to diminish the words of the Book of Mormon and make them conform to the 'science' and understanding of men. And thus might also one erase from the pages of the Bible the flood of Noah and the days of Peleg. Or one can accept the words of the Book of Mormon and adjust men's understanding to comprehend just what monumental smashing forces for the plates of continents to so break up must have occurred.
 17a the face of the whole earth became deformed Often we read but do not understand or comprehend. Though certain aspects of the land could still be recognized, such as certain city sites, the narrow neck of land, the land and hill of Cumorah. For the most part, 'the whole earth became deformed'. That is 'deformed', distorted, bent, buckled, collapsed, misshapenned, warped, twisted, bowed; and any number of other words which reflect great raising up of the land in certain places and entire collapsing and disappearing of the land elsewhere. What could have caused such vast changes in contenintal structures in such a compacted event? This was no mere hurricane or single earthquake or even a mere volcano eruption. The whole of the face of the earth was changed and deformed. The only thing that comes to my mind which would have such effects would be a 'continental collision'. The Bible teaches that in the days of Peleg the earth was divided some 2,000 years before Christ. Now 2,000 years after Christ, the continents of the world seem to be fairly stable and moving rather slowly compared to the rate they must have moved when first divided. The Doctrine & Covenants teaches that the land will be turned back and become one again. This division and collapsing of the land might hold a consideration that when one divides the land which was once one, at some point the divided parts will have to have moved far enough apart that the divided parts will 'collide' about half way around the world from whence they were divided when the 'back- sides' of those divided lands do meet again. That is an over simplification of the mater, But consider the Bible to be true, that 2,000 years before Christ the earth was divided, and that the Book of Mormon is true, that after 2,000 years a resulting 'continental collision' took place where the 'islands' of America did converge causing such a cataclysmic event, such a catastrophic, tremendous, earth-shattering, devastating, disastrous and monumental occurance of the deforming and changing the face of entire continents.  18a Hel. 14:22 (21-22)
 19a Luke. 23:44-45
     b Alma 18:14
     c 1 Ne. 19:10; 3 Ne. 10:9

20 And it came to pass that there was thick darkness upon all the face of the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof who had not fallen could afeel the bvapor of darkness;
21 And there could be no light, because of the darkness, neither candles, neither torches; neither could there be fire kindled with their fine and exceedingly dry wood, so that there could not be any light at all;
22 And there was not any light seen, neither fire, nor glimmer, neither the sun, nor the moon, nor the stars, for so great were the mists of darkness which were upon the face of the land.

 20a Ex. 10:21
     b 1 Ne. 12:5; 1 Ne. 19:11

23 And it came to pass that it did last for the space of three days that there was no light seen; and there was great mourning and ahowling and weeping among all the people continually; yea, great were the groanings of the people, because of the darkness and the great destruction which had come upon them.
24 And in one place they were heard to cry, saying: O that we had repented abefore this great and terrible day, and then would our brethren have been spared, and they would not have been bburned in that great city Zarahemla.
25 And in another place they were heard to cry and mourn, saying: O that we had repented before this great and terrible day, and had not killed and stoned the prophets, and cast them out; then would our mothers and our fair daughters, and our children have been spared, and not have been buried up in that great city aMoronihah. And thus were the howlings of the people great and terrible.

 23a 3 Ne. 10:8 (2, 8)
 24a TG Procrastination
     b Hel. 13:12; 3 Ne. 9:3
 25a 3 Ne. 8:10; 3 Ne. 9:5

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