Book of Mormon Commentary - Jacob 1

by Don R. Hender

   What the Book of Mormon IS and IS NOT is well presented by Jacob as he sets out his commandment from Nephi what it is that he should write in the small plates of Nephi.


The words of his preaching unto his brethren. He confoundeth a man who seeketh to overthrow the doctrine of Christ. A few words concerning the history of the people of Nephi.

Scriptural Text [& Editorial]
Commentary & Explanation
Footnotes ~ References ~ JST
             CHAPTER 1

Jacob and Joseph seek to persuade men to believe in Christ and keep his commandments—Nephi dies—Wickedness prevails among the Nephites. [Between 544 and 421 B.C.]

Jacob and Joseph, being ordained as priests and teachers of the people seek to persuade men to believe in Christ—Jacob commanded what to write in the small plates—Nephi dies—Wickedness enters among the Nephites

Sacred Preachings
Great Revelations
& Prophecies

1 FOR behold, it came to passa that *fifty and five years had passed away from the time that aLehi left Jerusalem; wherefore, Nephi gave me, Jacob, a acommandment concerning the bsmall plates, upon which these things are engraven.
2 And he gave me, Jacob, a commandment that I should awrite upon bthese plates a few of the things which I consider to be most precious; that I should not touch, save it were lightly, concerning the history of this people which are called the people of Nephia.
3 For he said that the history of his people should be engraven upon his aother plates, and that I should bpreserve these plates and hand them down unto my seed, from generation to generation.

Jacob Is Commanded 
    The Lord gives all of us 'commandments' which we are to diligently strive to keep. Most of these commandments are 'universal' to all of us. Jacob has a very particular 'commandedment' given him by Nephi to not only keep the 'small plates' of Nephi but particularly what is and what is not to be recorded upon them. And these particulars sets out what the Book of Mormon 'IS' and what the Book of Mormon 'IS NOT' (See January 2004 message of the First Presidency in the Ensign magazine). When the Lord gives such a 'charge' by commandment, it is not one which leaves the person unto themselves to fulfill the charge. Jonah could not runway from being the Lord's prophet. Neither could Jacob, Nephi's brother. Jacob not only had this particular 'commandment' directly from the 'prophet' Nephi, but Jacob would also further obtain from the Lord his 'errand', which included being the Lord's prophet and declaring the warning voice unto the people. Our prophet leaders of today have their particular 'errand' from the Lord to deliver to us the Lord's warnings and to lead and direct us in the ways of Christ just as did Jacob and his brother Joseph to the people of Nephi after Nephi's death.

Now to us it should be as an example, that we too should seek after our 'errand' from the Lord, what the Lord would have us do. It might be caring for our family better in relation to teaching them the gospel. It may be seeking out our ancestors and doing temple work. It might be to increase our own level of Godly intelligence by increased scriptural study. It does not have to be great and grand Chruch positions. We should seek what the Lord would have us be and do, not what we'd tell the Lord we want to do.

 1a it came to pass One of the most used phrases in this highly 'abridged' and 'condensed' Book of Mormon record is 'it came to pass'. It refers to the passage of time. To the casual reader they may not grasp that the history of this record is substantially lacking by design and that such a phrase as this may indicated anywhere from a few days to weeks, months and even to years passing away at a single time, leaving much detail out. Those particularly who strive to develop a geography to the Book of Mormon tend to not respect this almost total lack of historical detail required to develop such a geography as they seek. And of recent date, may accordingly build a very 'limited geography model' as they only consider what is in the record and the record is almost totally lacking any such required detail. This has been pointed out by the presiding Church authorities again and again to little avail. The latest such direction was given in the message from the First Presidency of the Chruch as recent as January 2004 in the Ensign magazine. There it states again: "The Book of Mormon is not a geographical primer. It was not written to teach geographical truths. What is told us of the situation of the various lands or cities ... is usually simply an incidental remark connected with the doctrinal or historical portion of the work." And as state here by Jacob as commanded by Nephi, his small plates record was not to touch up the history of the people except as it related to such precious and scared religious matters. Also in that message, which will be missed, purposely skimmed over and/or ignored is the statement that, the Book of Mormon 'is an account taken from the records of people living in the Americas before and after Christ.' 'Americas' is plural and any objected consideration of the 'Americas' would certainly included North, South as well as Central America. Yet many continue to limit themselves to an abridged and condensed land model matching the condensed and abriged book which erroneously portrays to the world the true scope of the Book of Mormon occupancy upon the 'Americas'.
 2a people of Nephi The real qualifying factor in being considered of the people of Nephi is not particularly to be genealogically descended from Nephi but to follow after Nephi's teaching concerning Christ. To be a Nephite is to believe in and follow after Jesus Christ and his gospel doctrine, the 'Doctrine of Christ'. Which doctine is set out in various places throughout the Book of Mormon.
 1* [544 B.C. (600-55=545) or into the 544th
     year as 55 years had passed away.]
 1a 1 Ne. 2:2-4; 1 Ne. 10:4
   a Jacob 7:27; Jarom 1:15 (1-2, 15);
      Omni 1:3; 1 Ne. 19:1 (1-6)
   b 2 Ne. 5:31 (28-33); Jacob 3:13 (13-14)
 2a TG Scribe; TG Scriptures, Writing of
   b 1 Ne. 6:6 (1-6)
 3a 2 Ne. 5:33 (29-33); Jacob 3:13 (13-14)
   b TG Scriptures, Preservatin of

Most Precious Part 
After establishing his people in the promised land, the Lord commanded Nephi to make a second set of plates (2 Nephi 5:29-33) upon which was to only be the more sacred writings of the people, there revelations and spiritually uplifting events. The history of the people was kept upon Nephites first set of plates known as the 'large plates', they being larger for the contained the more particular parts of the history of the people. These 'small plates' of sacred writings ment to bring men to Christ rather than give a history are what replaced the lost 116 pages of Joseph Smith's translation from Mormon's abridgment of the large plates which was known as the Book of Lehi.

Now even the Old Testament of the Bible is but a representative compilation with much missing and much abridged. But how tedious most of us consider it to be to read little alone study the Old Testament. Thus, it is but the Lord's mercy to give us such a highly abridged and 'most plain' a record as what the Book of Mormon is. And yet there are many who do not even read that highly abridged and condensed record the way they should. Many clamore for more, the lost 116 pages, the lost books of the scriptures, the sealed portion of the golden plates, the rest of the records of the Nephites, the records of Adam, Abraham, Joseph and so on and so forth. But have they properly read, studied and utilized the scriptural records that we have got? And then there are even those who 'demand' that they have 'no more' revealed scriptural records as they have their 'Bible' and they want no more 'Bible'. As they find even that overwhelming to them and do not seek diligently after the Lord for more.

4 And if there were preaching which was asacred, or revelation which was great, or prophesying, that I should engraven the bheads of them upon these plates, and touch upon them as much as it were possible, for Christ's sakea, and for the sake of our peopleb.
5 For because of faith and great anxiety, it truly had been made manifest unto us concerning our people, what things should ahappen unto them.
6 And we also had many revelations, and the spirit of much prophecy; wherefore, we knew of aChrist and his kingdom, which should come.
 4a for Christ's sake Why was it important for the 'benefit' or 'sake' of Christ for sacred preachings, great revelations and prophecies be recorded in the small plates of Nephi?
 4b for the sake of our people What the benefit to the Book of Mormon people would such a record be is more directly evident for theirs, as is our own salvation is dependant upon Christ, that is to have an active faith in Him to do all that He bids us to do in following him, living His commandments and keeping his ordiances.
 4a TG Sacred
   b IE the dominant, important items
 5a See 1 Nephi, chapters 12-15.;
      1 Ne. 22:7 (7-8); 2 Ne. 1:9 (5-10);
     2 Ne. 4:7 (7-11); 2 Ne. 30:3 (3-6)
 6a 1 Ne. 10:4 (4-11); 1 Ne. 19:8 (8-14)

Small Plates Contents 
There are three things set out which the small plates are to contain. They are to contain 1) Sacred Preaching, 2) Great Revelations, and 3) Prophecies.
7 Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to acome unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of Goda, that they might enter into his brest, lest by any means he should swear in his wrath they should not center in, as in the dprovocation in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the ewilderness.
8 Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men anot to rebel against God, to bprovoke him to anger, but that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his ccross and bear the shame of the world; wherefore, I, Jacob, take it upon me to fulfil the commandment of my brother Nephi.
 7a partake of the goodness of God  7a 2 Ne. 9:41 (41, 45, 51);
      Omni 1:26 (25-26)
   b TG Rest
   c Num. 14:23; Deut. 1:35-37;
      D&C 84:24 (23-25)
   d Heb. 3:8
   e Num. 26:65; 1 Ne. 17:31 (23-31)
 8a TG Loyalty; TG Rebellion
   b Num. 14:11-12; 1 Kings 16:33
      1 Ne. 17:30 (23-31);
      Alma 12:37 (36-37); Hel. 7:18
   c Luke 14:27

9 Now Nephi began to be old, and he saw that he must soon adie; wherefore, he banointed a man to be a king and a ruler over his people now, according to the reigns of the ckings.
10 The people having loved Nephi exceedingly, he having been a great protector for them, having wielded the asword of Laban in their defence, and having labored in all his days for their welfare—
11 Wherefore, the people were desirous to retain in remembrance his name. And whoso should reign in his stead were called by the people, second Nephi, third Nephi, and so forth, according to the reigns of the kings; and thus they were called by the people, let them be of whatever name they would.
12 And it came to pass that Nephi dieda.
 12a Nephi died With no exact dates of birth given, the life and age of Nephi must be 'roughed out' at best. There are hints to be picked up on whih allow 'age mile stones' to be suggested and marked out in Nephi's life. About the time that Lehi's party first departs Jerusalem, Nephi reports himself as being 'exceedingly young', which could well indicate that Nephi was still younger than the age of becoming a 'son of commandment' or bar/bat mitzvah meaning they are now under the responcibility of living according to the Law of Israel, the Law of Moses, the Law of God—:'an agent who is subject to the law' meaning of course the Law if Israel. A round age of about 10 years would surfice for speculation and ease of calculation. Nephi would have been born about 610 B.C. in that case.

But then some events in Nephi's life occur in that first two to three years in the valley of Lemuel. Nephi reaches the appropriate age of turning unto God of about 12 years comparable to the age that Jesus was at when he was found teaching in the temple. Though the 'bar mitzvah' is normally just the initial turning to God, various 'children' will take to it more seriously than others. Nephi's own history of his turning to God and actually having very personal experiences with the Lord seem to come at this point and at a very important point in the delvelopment of Lehi's party. Consider a 'young man' coming of the age of receiving the Aaronic Priesthood today. In many ways in the 'Jewish' world, such a 'young man' has begun his journey into manhood and Nephi's journey was going to sweep him to full bloom in the events of that time.

As the Lord was personally preparing Nephi in various visitation, far beyond those that obviously had been had by Nephi's older brethren, the Lord also commanded Lehi to have his sons return to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass as kept by Laban as Laban was the 'authorized' keeper of the records of Joseph. When Lehi had approached his elder sons, they did not respond to wanting to go and do the thing. But fully charge Nephi had been prepared and if Lehi had not realized which of his sons had been chosen to lead the family by then, when Nephi gave his answer, Lehi would have become convienced, especially when Nephi produced the results.

As for Nephi, he soon had the full realization that he was now 'a man' in Israel. He had put aside his childish things. He had fulfilled the commandments of God even unto slaying a man in the name of God. And Nephi then states that he was a 'man of large statue'. Ever see a six foot tall 12 or 13 year old? For Nephi was fully the size of captain Laban in his full suit of armor and sword.

From this consideration when Jacob has taken over the writing of the small plates, now of Jacob, about 544 B.C., King Nephi would have been about age 66 (610-544). As of that date Jacob reports that Nephi was getting old and soon after Jacob further reports that Nephi had died, perhaps before age 70. Certainly Nephi had lived a hard and trying life, though he doesn't linger upon it in its telling of it. With all the events put together one cannot but come to that conclusion.

   9a Gen. 47:29 (28-29); 2 Ne. 1:14
     b TG Anointing
     c 2 Ne. 6:2; Jarom 1:7 (7, 14)
 10a 1 Ne. 4:9; 2 Ne. 5:14; W of M 1:13;
        Mosiah 1:16; D&C 17:1

13 Now the people which were not aLamanites were Nephitesa; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, bZoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites.
14 But I, Jacob, shall not hereafter distinguish athem by these names, but I shall bcall them Lamanites that seek to destroy the people of Nephi, and those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call cNephites, or the dpeople of Nephi, according to the reigns of the kings.
 13a Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites Jacob sets forth well the circumstance of the people in the promised land. All the people who dwelt therein were either clasified as Nephites or Lamanites. That is there were only two groups or societies of which the Book of Mormon since the time of Lehi does ever speak of. They are the Nephites and the Lamanites. There are no other people in the land contrary to the suppositions of come men's contrivances. Yet this is a great simplification as pointed out that it could further be broken out into Nephites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites and Ishmaelites. But it was a needful distinction to keep the message and point of the Book of Mormon clear. It is the same point made by Christ in his time and throughout all time. There are those who are for Christ and believe in him and there are those who oppose Christ and fight against him. Now true, later there will be found the Mulekites who were those who came to this land with Mulek the only known surviving son of King Zedekiah. But according to their own record, they could find only one man other than themselves who was upon the whole of the face of the land and that was the surviving Coriantumr of the Jaredites. Thus to this end the Book of Mormon does testify that the land was vacate of any other people and society other than those who came to it at the time of King Zedekiah and the destruction of Jerusalem at the hand of Babylon.  13a Enos 1:13; Alma 23:17; D&C 3:18
     b 1 Ne. 4:35; Alma 54:23;
        4 Ne. 1:36 (36-37)
 14a W of M 1:16
     b Mosiah 25:12; Alma 2:11;
     c 2 Ne. 4:11
     d 2 Ne. 5:9

15 And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second kinga, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many awives and bconcubines, and also Solomon, his son.
16 Yea, and they also began to search much agold and silver, and began to be lifted up somewhat in pride.
 15a the second king Nephi was their first king. This would be Nephi's successor.  15a Deut. 17:17; 1 Sam. 25:43 (42-43);
        D&C 132:38 (38-39)
     b 1 Sam. 20:3; 1 Chr. 3:9
 16a Mosiah 2:12

17 Wherefore I, Jacob, gave unto them these words as I taught them in the atemplea, having first obtained mine berrand from the Lord.
18 For I, Jacob, and my brother Joseph had been aconsecrated priests and bteachers of this people, by the hand of Nephi.
19 And we did amagnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the bresponsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not cteach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their dblood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day.
 17a I taught them in the temple According to the order of the ancient temple of Moses, Israel and the Jews, that temple after the manner of Soloman was one in which all men could come. It had an outer court like unto Temple Square which is open to all men. And therein did Jacob teach the people. In a similar fashion the dually appointed officials of the church to day have always taught the people in congregations of people gathered to the temple. A tabernacle, the Tabernacle, at Temple Square was so constructed for such purposes of instructing the people. And today we have the Conference Center adjacent to the temple for the same purpose as the congregation had grown to require such. But still our people do gather to the site of the temple for their instruction from their prophet leaders. But this is not all. Further, in the ancient civilizations there were no miracles of mass commuication as there are today. Their form of distributing the teachings of the Gospel was much as it was in the early restored Church. All the people would gather together, in this case to the temple. The temple of Solomon, of Herod, of Moses all provided for a court of general assembly. In our temple square today that would have been the outer court where the assembly hall and the tabernacle were located. In such surroundings the general principles of the gospel are taught opening among all who do so gather. But since all can no longer gather at once together, other means are use to disiminate the teaching throughout the world. Such conferences are televised and broadcasted. They are printed and distributed that all might have access to the teaching of the prophets, the messengers of God.  17a 2 Ne. 5:16; Alma 16:13;
        Hel. 3:14 (9, 14); 3 Ne. 11:1; TG Temple
     b TG Called of God
 18a 2 Ne. 5:26;
        TG Delegatin of Responsibility;
        TG Setting Apart
     b TG Teacher
 19a Jacob 2:2; D&C 24:3; TG Leadership;
        TG Priesthood, Magnifying Callings within
     b Ezek. 34:10; TG Accountability;
        TG Stewardship
     c 1 Sam. 8:9; Moro. 9:6
     d Lev. 20:27; Acts 20:26; 2 Ne. 9:44;
        Mosiah 2:27; D&C 88:85; D&C 112:33

Holy Convocations 
Jacob stepulates that he 'teaches' in the temple. Jesus Christ would teach in the temple. One of the purposes for the temple is to give religious instruction in the forum of a Holy Convocation, a Holy Instructional atmosphere.
* Verse 1 [544 B.C.]    

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