"Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." ~ John 5:39
We are commanded to search and study the scriptures by the Lord's own words and by the words of our present day prophet leaders of the church.† And as we search the scriptures we learn of Christ and we find that it is only through Christ that we are saved unto salvation and unto eternal life after all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23).
When Lehi's son's brought back the plates of brass to Lehi in the Valley of Lemuel, Lehi took the time to 'search' the scriptures.† This was no idle review of the plates, but Lehi did read and study them from beginning to end (1 Nephi 5:10-16).† This was a time consuming task for a man who dwelt, meaning to live day in and day out, in a tent in the wilderness.† Lehi had to still do the daily labors required of him to provide a livelihood for his family in a somewhat desolate and arid desert land.† There is great significance relative to Lehi's selection of the seasonally fertile valley Lehi named the Valley of Lemuel as Lehi's family took time to cultivate, plant and harvest in that valley.† When one reads the condensed and abridged verses which present to us Lehi's 'search' of the plates of brass and Lehi's family's stay in the Valley of Lemuel, one is tempted to contrive a few day's perusal or a week or two at most.† But this was not the case.
Consider our own readings of the scriptures, if we do as the Lord commands us.† We are commanded to 'search' and study and read the scriptures daily.† If we follow the Church's study guidelines in our attendance at church and Sunday School, we are taken through the Standard Works of the Church every four years, similar to the four years and courses of our LDS Seminaries.† We are taken through the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, and Church History which includes the Doctrine and Covenants every four years, fitting in the Pearl of Great Price where it does fit.†† Yet not many can quote and recite from the scriptures as did father Lehi, and he did not gain that knowledge in a few short weeks.
Further consider , do you read the Old Testament from beginning to end in that year of its study?† Lehi had no study guide to follow for explanations except God's spirit and perhaps Zoram the keeper of the keys to the treasury of Laban where the record resided.† Of course the very best way to read and learn from the scriptures is by the aid of the promptings of the spirit.† But such spiritually guided learning is not a 'quick' study.† It requires the personal efforts of not only reading plate after plate, page after page as it were.† But it would take time to ponder, consider, thinking things out for ones self and consulting the spirit for confirming understanding and intelligence.† And I would consider that Lehi would reference back and forth through the material as he read it.† The five books of Moses, the writings of the prophets down and until Jeremiah, including all of Isaiah, and also a number of other prophet's writings which did not make it into the Jewish preserved Old Testament; he would read them, study them and often commit part of them to his memory as time would allow.†
As mentioned, Lehi's plates of brass did include at least four additional prophets referenced in the Book of Mormon and likely more beyond those of the Old Testament, namely: Zenock, Zenos. Neum, and Ezias (1 Nephi 19:10 & Helaman 8:19-20).† And they included additional items such as the Prophecies of Joseph of Egypt and the Genealogies of the House of Joseph through which Lehi descended, which are not a part of our Bible record.† This would possibly make the plates of brass and the records of our Old Testament perhaps of equivalent in size.† When is the last time you read the entire Old Testament from beginning to end?† And how long did it take you to do it when you did? And did you to it in a searching, studying mode or was it basically read in a manner to merely accomplish the task?
No, Lehi's search of the scriptures from beginning to end was not a once through 'quick study' of read.† When it came time for Lehi to bless his sons, Lehi could recite and paraphrase the prophecies of Joseph of Egypt to his son Joseph.† And Lehi did so in a manner which not only illustrated that he understood the words he read, but that he knew the details of what the prophecies meant in interpreting them into the future.† Like Nephi, Lehi from his study had obtained the understandings of the mysteries of Isaiah.† And that is not a once over read.† Who has read the book of Isaiah?† Who has even considered in depth Nephi's references and explanations of but a few of its chapters with comprehension and understanding?† Lehi had such depths of understanding from his study of the scriptures, which takes time to obtain, and not just a once over read rescued by the falling to sleep from the mere process of it.† Lehi did not search the plates of brass just to say he had done it.† Lehi 'searched' the scriptures for understanding in depth, taking the time necessary to obtain such levels of intelligence which can result when one does properly 'search the scriptures from beginning to end.'
Now we are to search the scriptures in such a manner, as did Lehi.† As noted in the preface, this text is not designed to be a substitute or replacement for any one's daily, prescribed study of the scriptures.† Thus the design of these references are such as to merely be supplemental studies, not covering more than one chapter's content over an appropriately proposed time period, such as a month.† One should not put down the scriptures just to study and read the content of these volumes.† Their study should only occupy that portion of time, which a person can devote to such beyond normal daily scripture study.† These writings are but a supplement at best to that required and commanded reading.† Thus each chapter of this text is denoted as being a 'Month's Chapter.'
Introduction to These Volumes of Study
"For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:"† ~ (Isaiah 28:10)
These volumes of study deal with various certain perceptions, perspectives and insights into the Book of Mormon.† In the process of reading and studying the Book of Mormon over and over again, there can be a tendency to just relearn and rehash over the same material time after time.† While this repetitive exercise does refresh the mind as to the content of the Book of Mormon, one may begin to consider that they are not really gaining anything new out of the book as it is the same 'old' information over and over again.† And one can settle into an attitude of 'been there, done that, and I know that already.'† Yet, I have not found it so.† Each time I read the Book of Mormon and the scriptures, there are new depths of learning and understanding brought out.† There is new information, precepts, perspectives, and insight, which I had not previously considered.† Often I find reference to such elsewhere that someone else has also obtained that level of understanding.† But upon occasion, I find some 'new' insight that I cannot find presented anywhere else.†
As I study the Book of Mormon, I will tend to consider new perspectives and ways of approaching the information in the book.† I will then find that new and additional information is often formulated under such additional perspectives.† And when additional levels of information and understanding are found and put together, new insights into the book are to be found upon every such reading.† In this small first volume text, I well share a dozen chapters containing such perspectives and insights into the Book of Mormon and their related sets of information which are often rare or may not have been considered before.†
First I well generally preview and introduce you to the topic areas of this text and a few future volume topics, wherein new perspectives and insights will be presented.† And then I will present each set of developed insights, perceptions, and perspectives over the course of this text's twelve chapters in detail, beginning with the first in chapter one following the introduction section.
Preview of Volume One's Coverage
While the text of the Book of Mormon begins with Nephi declaring his birth to be of 'goodly parents,' the lives and times of those of the Book of Mormon did not just begin with Nephi's birth.† There are two historical perspectives from which various insights might be drawn relative to the Book of Mormon's 'pre-history' and 'relative concurrent history.'† The two perspectives are quite interrelated to each other but the one goes quite a ways further back than the other.†
The first perspective is the Eternal Perspective, which is a spiritual perspective.† And that perspective began before the foundations of the world where laid.† It began in the Councils in Heaven, in the Pre-existence of mankind.†
The second perspective is very much a temporal perspective as it deals primarily with mortality and the earth's historical background, which contributes to an understanding of the Book of Mormon from an Earthly, Temporal or Mortal Perspective.† And while Nephi's intent in writing his small plates was to emphasize the spiritual over the temporal,† there is an entirely historical world of information to relate it to from this 'temporal' historical perspective.
And both of these perspectives are interwoven, as the planning of the pre-existence is put into operation by the lives that are lived by mortal man and his relationship to God.† And as has been stated, all things to God are spiritual, even the temporal relates.† Thus the one is not without the other, and both are needed in coming to an understanding of the things of God.
It is stated in the scriptures, that a number of pre-existent spirits where chosen to be and perform various callings and duties here upon the earth in relation to God's eternal plan.† One such group of chosen spirits where those whom God would call to be his Prophets upon the earth, and their heavenly foreordination would be reflective of what their calling was to be during their life upon earth.† Now not only were the Prophets pre-selected, but many others were also pre-selected to perform various other roles of significance in this temporal mortality such as the Mother of Christ and the Lord's earthly father Joseph.† Also amongst these were various 'Rulers' of man.† One such grand and goodly spirit who was pre-selected would have been the good King Josiah of Lehi's youth.† Josiah's pre-selection is most assuredly established by the fact that many years before he was even born, he was prophesied by name.† This is found in 1 Kings chapter 13, particularly verse 2.† Josiah was foreordained to be the very 'select' King of Judah at precisely the time when Lehi would be growing up to be affected by the righteous rule of that most Righteous King Josiah.
This eternal perspective is very significant to the Book of Mormon.† Lehi was of the tribe of Joseph, the selected son of Israel through whom many promises were made in conjunction with the carrying forth of the Plan of Exaltation as set out in the Pre-existence.† It was Lehi's calling that his posterity would be the means of bring forth of that protion of the Stick of Joseph, which we refer the Book of Mormon as being.† The last Book of Mormon Prophet, a descendent of Lehi, is Moroni.† Moroni held/holds the keys to the bring forth of the Book of Mormon as a part of the Stick of Ephraim as stated in the Doctrine and Covenants 27:5.† Yet the Stick of Joseph is much more than just the Book of Mormon.† And that will be one of the topics covered later in this twelve-chapter presentation.† It is essential in gaining the most understanding possible out of the Book of Mormon to understand and appreciate all that its Eternal Historical Perspective brings to the book.† Without that eternal perspective much is lost in understanding just what all the Book of Mormon has to offer and what it contains.
Now in relation to the temporal history of this earth, as it relates to the Book of Mormon, we would have to begin with Adam and the promises that the Lord made to Adam concerning his posterity here upon this earth.† Those promises evolve out of the Plan of Salvation, which was established in the pre-existence.† Adam fell that man might be. And as in Adam we all die, even so in Christ shall we all be made alive again.† And thus man is that he might have joy and not live in mortal misery all his life with the end of death ever looming before him.† The scriptural truths of the Book of Mormon go hand in hand with the scriptural truths of the Bible.† Each personifies and further clarifies and enlightens the understanding set out by the other.† The Book of Mormon is Another Witness of Christ, his ministry, and God's Plan of Exaltation.† Without that eternal perspective tied together with the temporal history of mankind, much of what is in the Book of Mormon would be lost upon deaf ears.
Lehi was of the tribe of Joseph, a descendant of Joseph's son Manasseh.† As such Lehi had the rights to inherit many of the blessing set out upon the head of Joseph, the chosen son of Jacob.† And in the same instance, one must consider that Lehi, while a descendant from Joseph, was not the chosen son of Joseph to whom many other blessings of responsibility would fall, that is upon those who are descendants of Ephraim.† This aids in comprehending what the Book of Mormon is, and what it is not.
Lehi's temporal history and background would have been affected by Lehi's immediate ancestors.† The fact that Lehi's genealogy was found in the Brass Plates being kept in the Treasury of Laban would indicate that Laban and Lehi where of the same family.† This fact can further be used to assess just what the Brass Plates were which will be done in a later chapter.† Lehi's ancestors may or may not have once lived in the lands of the northern ten tribes of Israel.† And if they did live in the northern land of Israel at some juncture they would have had to relocate to the greater area of the city of Jerusalem in order to become so well established.† Lehi was a wealthy man and one who had inherited much property holdings in the land of Jerusalem, and such holdings are by the Law of Moses passed down chiefly by and within 'the family'.† This will be discussed further in relation to Lehi in the next chapter as Lehi's life and that foundation of the Book of Mormon is put together.
In addition to the Life of Lehi and assessing what the Brass Plates are, there will be other such topics put together considering these two perspectives of background and origin. †These other topics will include such things as just what Lehi's profession and life was like, both in Jerusalem and as a Prophet of God chosen to bring a portion of the remnant of Israel to the Promised land of America.† And of consideration will be both Lehi's and Nephi's sojourn from the circumstances of leaving Jerusalem to their arrival in the land of Promise.† Nephi's life will be placed into historical perspective and a number of insights will be presented which only a correlation between the Biblical history, the Book of Mormon history and other historical perspectives can yield.†
In addition to Lehi and Nephi, others will be presented such as Laban and Zoram, as insights and historical perspectives bring much to light concerning them.†
The Law of Moses will be particularly considered in relation to the historical perspectives of the Book of Mormon and the Bible days of Josiah, Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, and Jeremiah.† A telling insight will be presented which blends the history of the Book of Mormon together in a new light which has not here to fore been widely established if ever established.†
Included with the people considered during the historical perspectives of the Book of Mormon, Mulek's history and perspectives will be considered with additional insights.† A candid look into the voyages and landing sites of both Lehi and Mulek will be considered and addressed with new insights from historical and logically dissected perspectives presented.†
And a new timeline will be presented to the opening two books of the Book of Mormon, which has here-to-fore not been widely established.† But the current levels of understanding practically dictate the necessity of such to be established.
All of these perspectives of consideration and their newly evolved insights to the Book of Mormon and its understanding are quite interrelated.† Often one cannot be discussed without reference to another, which may not be fully presented and developed until a later presentation.† Patience in understanding and a certain level of trust is therefore requested.† When it is stated that a new initial timeline will be presented, give a little trust that such will be well established and be completely consistent with what the Book of Mormon and even the Church would logically allow.†
In some cases a departure from various sectarian and traditional concepts and beliefs is needed to gain an appreciation of these newly presented insights.† Once these are fully presented over the course of these twelve presentations, it is fully expected that a fuller appreciation of what is being conveyed will be solidly established in fact and not in fiction or mere assumption.† Patience is asked for.† And understanding is needful for the worth of these presentations to be appreciated.† And one topic yet to be stated and included in this current presentation is of a critical nature.† And I will present that now.
Obviously all of life's occurrences cannot be contained in a book, history or scriptural record.† No one would have the time to read such a record.† Thus all such records and histories are selectively condensed as to what is considered significant.† Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon from this very perspective are therefore writers', transcribers', editors', translators', and abridgers' 'digested versions' of what has happened before.† The Bible's first five books and the first five books of the 'Brass Plates' are originally one man's digested and abridged version of what has gone on before.† That one man of course was Moses.
Religious records where made from the very beginning.† In the days and times of Adam a record was kept in the language of Adam and written by the spirit of inspiration (Moses 6:5).†† It was referred to as 'a book of remembrance.'† Of course today in the Church's world of genealogy, this name has been borrowed and has become associated with genealogy more than 'scriptural' records.† Yet both are very closely related and have many similar aspects in the most correct use and meaning of what 'a book of remembrance' should be.
Similar to one of the important uses of the Brass Plates among the Nephites, the Book of Remembrance in the time of Adam was used to preserve the pure and undefiled language of Adam as the children were taught to read and write using the Book of Remembrance (Moses 6:6).† The book contained prophecies of Adam according as he spoke as moved upon by the Holy Ghost.† And a 'genealogy was kept of the children of God.'† A sample of what that record spoke of and said is:† "In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; in the image of his own body, male and female, created he them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created and became living souls in the land upon the footstool of God." (see Moses 6:6-9)
Now Moses obtained some of his information, as did Joseph Smith, by the inspiration and revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost and God as recorded in the book of Moses of the Pearl of Great Price.† And Moses likely also had other sources of information from the very records written by his fathers and the previous prophets when he wrote his single book of Genesis.† The single book of Genesis was his 'abridgement' of the history of the world from the time of the council in heaven through the creation of the earth, the days of Adams and all the fathers down to Moses' own time.
In a parallel manner, Moses was to the first book of the Bible as Mormon was to the Book of Mormon.† In fact Lehi's own prophecy about his seed states that Mormon was like Moses and would have a spokesman like Moses did.† That is covered in Appendix III where an analysis of Lehi's reference to the prophecies of Joseph which he had from the Brass Plates is compared to Moses' account of those prophecies as revealed by Joseph Smith's Inspired Translation of the Bible.† This parallel between Mormon and Moses will also be part of a further detailed chapter in another future volume.
Certainly Moses did not give a full account of the pre-existence, the contents of Adam's 'Book of Remembrance,' or even all the other religious histories and records from which he compiled the book of Genesis.† And as some do with the Book of Mormon, they tend to fail to see the 'whole vast picture' of the book of Genesis.† A number of scholars, both religious and non-religious, like to make of the flood of Noah a local Mesopotamian flood between the two rivers of the Fertile Crescent.†† So likewise scholars and men of today tend to minimize and limit the scope of the contents of the Book of Mormon.† I call it the 'Condensation Error.'† This error is like eating 'condensed or freeze dried soup' before it has been fully reconstituted.†† This will now be more fully discussed
The Book of Mormon Is an Abridgement
Again it seems to be stating the obvious, that the Book of Mormon is an abridgement, but it is a matter of not seeing the forest because of the trees that is of issue here.† The first 116 page of the Book of Mormon were lost.† That has been referred to as the 'Book of Lehi' though it was Mormon's abridgement of such Nephite records taken from the Large Plates of Nephi.† When Joseph Smith began his translation again, instead of repeating the same translation over again, the Lord had him use the Small Plates of Nephi, which was Nephi's highly religious abridgement of approximately that period of time lost in the 116 pages.† This avoided many problems, including the simple fact that no person could realistically translate over 100 pages and then go back months later and be expected to translate it exactly the same word for word.
Thus the first six books of the Book of Mormon are actually Nephi's small plates which concentrated on the more religious aspects in that highly abridged portion of the Book of Mormon.† Then Mormon's abridgement is used for nearly all of the next seven books, including the transitional Words of Mormon, which make up the largest portion of the Book of Mormon.† Moroni writes the last two chapters in his father Mormon's own personal book within the single book of Mormon.† And then Moroni adds a very highly abridge record of his own translation of the small abridged record of the Jaredites.† Moroni then adds his own very short book, which contained two letters of Mormon to Moroni, to end the record of the Golden Plates, which make up the Book of Mormon.
Often the reader of the Book of Mormon will read the history, which involves time, distance, events, size, and others matters being of a condensed nature, but they will not consider the 'condensation' in their comprehension or even attempt to 'reconstitute' the book.† That person, while perhaps having a mental note recorded somewhere in the back of their mind that the Book of Mormon is an abridged record, will not apply nor realize in their reading of the book that much of the story is being left out. They often take only what is written as being a complete story of the matter and never pursue what else is implied or must be considered as 'the rest of the story' for much is just not included in the highly condensed abridgment before them.†
It is like seeing the movie first without ever having read the book.† It is similar to the relationship of a 90-minute movie to an involved and detailed work of literature.† Much is missed, skimmed over, and written out of the movie presentation that was included in the book.† And often to make the 'condensation' or movie flow, certain adjustments are made in just how the abridged version is actually presented by the abridger.† Thus it is in the Book of Mormon.†
One Percent or Less
In fact, one must consider from our initial point that a totally complete history in real time is not possible to record and that what Mormon was reading and abridging had already left out much from the perspective of those initial writers who Mormon further condensed.† And Mormon, the book's abridger states that the abridgement is but a hundredth part of those records of the 'whole' story.†† Listen to Mormon's words as he states the extent of just how abridged the Book of Mormon really is:
"But behold, a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, yea, the account of the Lamanites and of the Nephites, and their wars, and contentions, and dissensions, and their preaching, and their prophecies, and their shipping and their building of ships, and their building of temples, and of synagogues and their sanctuaries, and their righteousness, and their wickedness, and their murders, and their robbings, and their plundering, and all manner of abominations and whoredoms, cannot be contained in this work.† But behold, there are many books and many records of every kind, and they have been kept chiefly by the Nephites.† And they have been handed down from one generation to another by the Nephites, even until they have fallen into transgression and have been murdered, plundered, and hunted, and driven forth, and slain, and scattered upon the face of the earth, and mixed with the Lamanites until they are no more called the Nephites, becoming wicked, and wild, and ferocious, yea, even becoming Lamanites." (Helaman 3:14-16)
Now just how much reliability on individual interpretations can one depend when 99% of the history is missing?† And most all readers, including myself, do not comprehend what small portion of information we have and they do not allow for such a great amount of condensation.†† The graphic on this page pictures what a hundredth part of something is.† And it isn't very much compared to the volume, which is not know or included in the Book of Mormon record.† Yet we attempt to comprehend the whole of the matter from such a one-percent 'sampling', thinking as it were that we do know and understand more that it is actually possible for us to so do.
The nature of the normal mind seeks for some continuity of a 'completed' story form and it is trying to compile it from such an 'incomplete' record?† Thus it is that many a reader does not allow for a realistic 'reconstitution' of the highly condensed abridged record, which the Book of Mormon is.† As related by President Brigham Young, the room to which Joseph and Oliver returned the Book of Mormon's golden plates† was literally filled with the records of the Nephites (Journal of Discourses Volume 19 ~ talk begins on page 36).† Much is just not there in our abridged Book of Mormon.† Yet we still proceed to read it as if it tells the whole story, much the same way we view a movie and think we know all from that 90-minute exposure. Such a 'movie' exposure or a 1% exposure is but an incomplete 'tunnel vision' of the whole, very myopic as though wearing a pair of a horse's 'blinders'. Much of the whole of the Nephite world is just not opened to our view and truely we cannot from that perspective think to 'know it all'.
I can only give a few examples of such 'Errors of Condensation' in the chapters and volumes of this text.† But they will illustrate just what such a condensed reading does yield from our everyday reading of the Book of Mormon. And they all follow the same general premise, that is of having 'myopic tunnel vision'. Notice how the 'pie' illustration of one onehundredth provides only one view point into the center of the pie. The myopic tunnel vision of the 'Errors of Condensation' generally follow that pattern. Consider standing down at the end of a long hallway and having but a single open door perspective into a room all the way at the other end of that hallway. This is the myopic tunnel vision porthole view so given in the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon, due to its abridged nature, gives but one view point, one perspective, into the life, times and matters of the people of the Book of Mormon. And Nephi sets down what the basis of that perspective would be, and that was not historical, geographical, or any other such type of perspective; but it was a 'spiritual-gospel' persective of providing those things that would be of greatest worth to the reader from that emphasized perspective. If any other perspective was to be so assertained from the Book of Mormon, additional information and a lot more than a hundredth part of the matters of the Book of Mormon people, would be needed. It is kind of like attempting to read Newton's scientific perspectives and trying to write a history or geography of Europe given only that single perspective. It just is not possible though many attempt the same thing in regards to the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is not a geographical primer of the lands of the Book of Mormon people. It is not written from that limited perspective mentioned. † Yet 'many have' made any number of such conclusions of error due to the book's highly condensed nature.† Now I well particularly give one very particular example in detail in this chapter as noted -next, while others will also be found elsewhere in the other chapters and volumes of this work.
An Example of an 'Error of Condensation'
This first example is the concept of distance and time traveled from Jerusalem to the Valley of Lemuel.† Many a good student of the Book of Mormon will likely most proudly tell you that it was a 'three day journey' from Jerusalem to the Valley of Lemuel.† I was taught that in my Sunday School classes and in my Seminary and Institute courses. And the Book of Mormon says so, doesn't it?
"And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.† And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers, who were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.† And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water." (1 Nephi 2:4-6)
Now let's look closer at this 3 day journey from Jerusalem to the Valley of Lemuel.† The beginning simple question is, 'How far could a family fully packed travel in one day's time?'† They would have had all the necessary items of food, utensils, and provisions to carry on life in a arid wilderness environment for an indefinite period of time.† We are not talking of an overnight backpack.† We are not even speaking of a week's duration list of necessities.† We are speaking of a total removal of living location from the rural suburban agricultural and animal husbandry communities of Jerusalem to a 'wilderness' void of any such communities of civilization, being immediately totally empty of any other people for at least 'three days distance'. And we will deduce just what was three day's travel distance away, and it was not Jerusalem.†
Lehi's first long-term encampment in the Valley of Lemuel would be a test of survival in itself.† How many families that you know of could pack up their 'necessities of life' today and move out to a desert wilderness void of people and the conveniences of civilization and survive?† Lehi's family would have to successfully carry on life and live basicly and almost totally independent from any closely located outside resources, at least 3 days journey away, for a long durations of time.† Just how long, how many years, that duration would be in their first 'new home' in the Valley of Lemuel will be seen later in Chapter 4.
Lehi has moved forever from Jerusalem.† He had taken with him all that was needful from thence forth and forever.† That is with two exceptions, the plates of brass in Laban's treasury and wives for his four sons.† From his city home of comfort and his country lands of inheritance, Lehi would have to 'dwell in the wilderness in a tent,' first in the Valley of Lemuel, † and from that valley until his party's eventual arrival and permanent land of settlement in a promised land many, many thousands of miles, and years removed, a half a world away. †Now how far could such a 'loaded' caravan travel in one day's time?
It would involve daily packing and unpacking, at least the daily needs of living.† It would involve meal preparation, as well as sleeping arragnements, and could have been are children to be considered including some possible unnamed younger sisters.†You might as well inquire just how far the pioneers were able to travel in a day's time under like conditions for a comparison. † And you need to multiply that 'one day' answer by three and compare the reality of distance from Jerusalem to what would then be a considered valley along the eastern shores of the upper eastern arm of the Red Sea.† The disparity in the numbers may just surprise you.
The Three Day Misnomer
When first reading 1 Nephi chapter 2 in the Book of Mormon, it is quickly calculated and stated that Lehiís first permanent long-term encampment in the Valley of Lemuel lay only three days travel from Jerusalem. Dr. Hugh Nibley in his 'An Approach to the Book of Mormon' references the sons of Lehi's two return trips back to Jerusalem as "quick" trips and "quick" visits.† And I have been often taught that the journey from Jerusalem was only a three-day journey, as this is the common 'quick read' and 'quick study' assessment even today.† But this is not the truth and reality of the matter.† Those who have taken time to more thoroughly study the actual measurable distances do surmise and report the distances and times traveled more accurately.† Such is Dr. Sidney B. Sperry's well written assessment given in his book, 'Book of Mormon Compendium' on page 99.† My own assessment fairly well parallels his.
If the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth, as Joseph Smith asserts (History of the Church, Vol 4, page 461), then surely the record does not state that the Valley of Lemuel is 3 days travel from Jerusalem. The reader must read the record properly by reading the relative two verses in their proper perspective to correctly understand what the highly condensed and abridged record is actually saying.†
"And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers, who were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam." (1 Nephi 2:5)
Verse 5 says that Lehi came down by the boarders near the shore of the Red Sea. That was at least a 200 mile journey or greater from Jerusalem, depending upon the route taken. As illustrated in the map on the next page, the two commonly traveled routes usually considered are either south through Hebron and Beersheba, and thence down the Arabah rift to near the famous Old Testament seaport of King Solomon, Ezion-Geber alias Elath or Eloth.† Or they would travel east to Jericho and on around and down the eastern side of the Dead Salt Sea using 'The King's Highway.'† The more direct route would be the first, going directly south to near Ezion-Geber, which is the nearest access to the Red Sea.† A more complete insightful coverage of Lehi's route to the Valley of Lemuel will be the topic of a future chapter in a later volume.
The closest access to the Red Sea is the 'Gulf of Aqaba' or the eastern northern arm of the Red Sea.† As seen on the on the Map on the next page, Ezion-Geber would be approximately where Eilat (Eliat, Eloth, Elath, Elat, etc., as variously spelt) is located.† Today Eilat is an Israeli resort city upon the northern shore of the Gulf of Aqaba, of the Red Sea.†† The Red Sea in 600 BC protruded some miles further north than today. Thus Eilat is not located at the exact same spot as was Ezion-Gaber alias Elath.† And the ancient climate was not quite so arid but similar.†† It would have a 'rainy season' in which the river of the desert would swell and flow for a season with the rains.† And that would be the season for cultivating, planting and then harvesting, as the season would then change into the dryer time of the year.† And though temperature would not be as much a factor.† The lack of moisture would dictate the routine.
As previously alluded to, Lehi, being a possesser of lands of inheritance and of great wealth, was more after the manner of Boaz than a wandering goods merchant.† This is consistent with what the Lord would require of Lehi in survivor skills in a new world as well as on an extended wilderness habitation and travel over a goodly sum of years.† The Jaredites traveled vast distances building barges to cross numerous waters, likely not yet fully abated from off the land from the flood of Noah, before they even reached the great Ocean dividing the western hemisphere from the eastern hemisphere.† And then they lived in tents upon the seashore for 4 years in a place they called Moriancumer after Jaredís brother before the Lord called them to repent and build the submersible sea crafts needed to cross the Ocean (see Ether 2:1-17).† The point is that it takes time, skills and effort to move a party of people over the earthís surface.
As will be further discussed and established in a later chapter, Lehi and his sons where skilled agriculturalist, horticulturalist, and had whatever Ďsmithí skills it takes to outfit, run and maintain a very successful and productive use of their lands of inheritance.† In the seasonally arid wilderness, Lehi would collect seeds of every kind from some source and test them out, irrigating the land from the river of Laman.†
Now productive crop seeds just do not grow on trees in such a desert wilderness as the Valley of Lemuel.† Lehi would have brought some of his immediate seed from his own lands of inheritance.† But the gathering and testing of seeds of Ďevery kindí during Lehiís stay in the Valley of Lemuel, which they would need to bring to the land of promise, required further additional resources.† Lehiís party was only 3 days journey from the Kingís Highway and the port city of Ezion-Gerber, now likely occupied and ran by the Moab Arabs under the Babylonian Empire.† As will also be discussed in yet another later chapter, Lehiís family would have made use of such an access over the years they would spend in the Valley of Lemuel.
Such topics are not isolated in building an understandable portrayal of what Lehiís partyís life of existence would have really been.† And while such inter-related topics will as stated be discussed more fully at a later time, they are mentioned here to give added dimension and reality to Lehiís extended family and their existence in the Ďwildernessí.† They did not just suddenly begin to live like the North American Indian image of hunters and gathers.† They were Hebrews from the city of Jerusalem in the tradition of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.† But for now back to our topic at hand.
An estimated guess of the distance traveled by a fully laden small caravan,† as Lehi's would have been, is about 20 miles per day or less considering Lehi's group being a family with young children.† It was not just a straight direct route, as an air flight would be as conceptually drawn in the graphic map at the left.† You cannot travel by land in a direct straight line.† You have to travel the roads and the geographic terrain of the land involved.† On your journey, you would likely stop at, travel through or travel near to the cities or towns along the way which would lie upon the traveled roads.†† You would have unload the pack animals to rest them and to set up camp each night and in the morning you would 'brake camp' and 'reload' the animals for that day's journey.† And during the day there would be rest stops for various reasons, along the way with a mid-day's meal to account for.† At such a rate of travel, the 200 some miles involved just to get to the Red Sea area would take a couple of weeks allowing for no seventh day travel.†† Remember these are 'Jews' who do not travel on the Sabbath.†† Thus a 12 day journey covering 200 miles would be a very respectable distance covering about 16-17 miles per day.† Thus when the Book of Mormon says,† 'Lehi traveled in the wilderness for 3 days' (1 Nephi 2:6), what three days and what wilderness is being spoken of?
Visually we will now eliminate the misnomer that the Vallley of Lemuel could have been a 3-day distance from Jerusalem.† This will be done by the use of the map at the right.† On this map we will utilize a generous pioneer's travel distance of almost 20 miles per day, that's a good day's distance.† The map presumes this daily radius from Jerusalem set out in increments of nearly 20 miles in a direction toward the Red Sea.† As you can see, that would only allow Lehi's journey to have progressed to within the general area of the southern reaches of the Dead Sea in three days.† And that is still many days and many miles away from the Red Sea, little alone the Valley of Lemuel.
The wilderness that Lehi traveled in during those 'last 3 days', was the wilderness in those boarders that were nearer the Red Sea. It did not include the time and distance from Jerusalem to Ezion-Geber/Eliat required to first reach the Red Sea area using some established route covering that first 200 miles. † Verse 6 of 1 Nephi chapter 2 merely clarifies that it was three days traveled in the wilderness in the borders of the Red Sea.†† From Jerusalem there had been established roads and routes to travel through 'civilized' populated areas down to the seaport town of Ezion-Gerber since the time that King Solomon had sailed his ships from that port to retrieve the gold of Ophir.† And King Jehosaphat had his ships destroyed at that seaport.† It was a part of the 'trade routes' and one of the sites which would 'ship' goods in addition to and in connection with the land based trade routes. In Lehi's day, which was near to the time the Bible was actually edited and compiled during the Babylonia captivity, that port city was stated to still be ran by Assyrians, though likely under the rule and charge of the Babylonian Empire. † Today the Seaport City of Eliat, Israel stands near what use to be the port city of Ezion-Gerber or Elath.
Thus Lehiís journey from Jerusalem to the Valley of Lemuel is traveled in two phases. The first phase of the journey was from Jerusalem to near 'Ezion-Geber' and the borders near the shore of the Red Sea, likely upon 'civilized' known travel routes. The first map showed that. This part of the journey was possibly traveled on the common and known merchant roads such as 'The King's Highway', and such roads would 'not' be considered as 'wilderness void of people'. And this was all the way to near the port city of Ezion-Geber.† Perhaps Lehi's little party had joined a larger caravan of a traveling merchant with whom Lehi was acquainted and trusted. It wasnít until Lehiís party reached near the Red Sea, approaching Elath, that Lehi veered off the Ďbeatení track and ventured into the unknown and little traveled wilderness where no established roads or paths were to be found. How many days it took from Jerusalem to reach the Red Sea just isnít supplied as part of Nephiís abridged record.
Further verse 5 of 1 Nephi chapter 2 stipulates that the party consisted of Lehi, Nephiís mother Sariah, and Nephi's three elder brothers, Laman, Lemuel, and Sam along with Nephi. Six people in all.† And it has been further speculated that Lehi's party may have included others. Some younger sisters could have been a part of the party as well, although not being mentioned due to Hebrew custom.† In Hebrew writings children and often women are left out of their written descriptions. When Ishmael's family is brought back, the children of the two families of the sons of Ishmael are implied but numbers and names are not given (1 Nephi 7:6).† It merely references their 'families.'† Others also may include servants in Lehi's party. But I will address that topic in a couple of later chapters in a manner that tends to dispel that conclusion.
Now at the risk of being redundant, let me state it all again with figures and from a little bit different frame of reference. As the maps have shown, the nearest arm of the Red Sea to Jerusalem is the eastern arm, which lies at the southern tip of the country of Israel today.† This is over a distance of about 150 miles on a straight line (as the crow flies or on a beeline) traveling almost due south.† But that does not account for the terrain of the land, the various towns that the road would vary to hit on the journey, nor other turns and twists of such roads or pathways.† On a modern map the 'road' distance between the eastern arm at Eilat and Jerusalem is listed as 312 Kilometers which is about 194 miles on today's improved roads (This conversion was made by using the conversion constant of 0.62137 miles per kilometer).† And that is by the 'direct' southern route and not east to Jericho and down the east banks of the Dead Sea, which was the possible King's Highway route back then.† It is highly doubtful that Lehiís little family traveled well over 75 miles a day to make the journey to the Valley of Lemuel from Jerusalem in just three days.
Surely Lehi journeyed and camped along the way from Jerusalem over a period of several days before reaching the borders of the Red Sea near the modern city of Eliat. As previously stated, back in Lehi's day, that equivalent seaport city was Elath or Ezion-Gerber.† There would have been a land-based trade route to that city at least beginning as far back as to the days of King Soloman. Upon arriving near to Ezion-Geber, Lehi may have left the traveled road without entering into that city for security purposes, thus never actually reaching the Red Sea as the Book of Mormon record seems to imply.Then, as this last simple map at the left depicts, the most probable 'three days journey into the wilderness' was just that distance which was along the Red Sea region. Before arriving at 'Ezion-Geber', Lehi would have left the trodden path of the 'Kings Highway' south into the 'wilderness which ran along by the Red Sea.† This would have been to be out and away from any of the common traffic through the area regardless of how scarce it may be.†† Remember Lehi was fleeing for his life.† He was a 'wanted' man.† Lehi was a prophet who the 'Sarim' (defined in Appendix 1) or princes and rulers of Jerusalem would have dead.† And Lehi did not want his little family to be found out and located by anyone for various other safety reasons such as bands of wilderness thieves and such.† All in all, Lehi most certainly established his family in such regions that were not commonly occupied by other people of that date and time.
If Lehi was acquainted with the merchants of the trade route, this would place him within 3 days journey of return to Elath or Ezion-Geber and having access to trade with the merchant caravans for necessities including 'seeds of every kind.'† Now this obvious 'error' of the 'quick read' and 'quick study' is here set out to illustrate the typical type of error which is made while reading an abridged record.† I will refer to these types of errors as 'Errors of Condensation' or 'Condensation Errors.'
Resolving Errors of Condensation
Condensation Errors are easy to make when reading a highly abridged condensation of a 'reader's digest' version of the scriptures.†† The mind tends to seek for continuity completeness of story with the 'lack of interruption' in terms of time, space, events, relationships, distance, and so forth. The mind effectively attempts to conceptualize a continuum of a presented story or history fit into a nicely wrapped package. But seldom is life itself of such a nature. And thus caution needs to be taken in the quick assumptive types of reasoning, neat compact compartmentalization and dissection of the various elements of the Book of Mormon into a simplified completed piece of art or tiddily all inclusive hand held conpendium of the whole of it.†
No truely 'abridged record' by definition yields such. Yet there are some suggestive ways in which one may begin to 'unfold' or 'reconsitute' the condinsation. I recall impaiently preparing and eating a packaged freeze dried and dehydrated potatoe soup product. The length of process of reconsituting the soup was relatively lengthy for my impaitent hunger desire to partake and eat. At about the half way point of the suggested time of preparation to allow for full reconstitution, I was ready to eat. It smelt good and to the my hungry taste it tasted good enough to eat. The potatoe and vegetable were not conpletely softed and restored to their proper reconsituted size, but they were soft enough and tasty enough to me to chew them up and enjoy eating them. And hungry as I was, I ate my fill of the tasty potatoe and vegetable soup. Within about a half hour after eating the soup prematurely the agressively eaten soup which had not had time to fully reconsitute itself inprepartion, had continued to do so within my stomach, enlarging itself about another 50% than the size it was when I ate it. My stomach began to ache and float and feel as though it was going to burst. Thankfully it did not and I painfully lived through the ordeal and did not die. Though I felt at one time that I wouldn't have minded it I had.
Thus I am concerned with a proper reconstitution of a highly condensed product. When I see in a presentatin a hill and land of Cumorah with the same distance from the narrow neck of land as the presented narrow neck of land is wide; a day and a half's journey for a Nephite's travel distance. I am reminded of my condensed soup experience. From the last Lamanite envasion into the land of the Nephites north of the narrow neck that initially reached such as the land of Boaz and which had began to wipe the Nephite nation from off the face of the earth as dew before the rising sun with the Nephites fleeing for life and those who could not retreat fast enough being swallow up in the invation; and that proceeding at a similar pace over the next ten years of Nephite retreat with but the monentary noticed defencse about Jordan, my mind cannot grasp it happening in such a limited area. The condensed soup just begins to swell into a ten year continual picture of retreat ever northward as the Lamanite armies advance and capture and annex into their lands of of possess all those such lands of the Nephites that the Nephites are leaving behind in their 10 year retreat. The Nephite ten year picture of constant retreat just expands out of the context of the abridged story the more I read and become familiar to it. For me to leave it in a 200 mile arena after 10 years of such retreat is to be a grave 'error of condensation'.
Now to avoid such condensation errors of placing great epic events into erroneous overly limited arenas of occurance I have three suggestions on how to avoid these Errors of Condensation.
When possible, it is desirable to place the book into its complete setting of known facts, to go beyond just the internal facts of the presentation of the book when possible.† By this it is meant to place it into its real world setting.† To resolve this first example of a condensation error, that was made.† Since we had available to us the real unabridged geography of the landscape about Jerusalem and the Red Sea, we used it.†† And in so doing, we found what the 'quick read' of the 'condensed version,' seeking for a complete picture of continuity from a fractional part of the facts and what it seemed to say, was not what it was really saying. The three day journey stated in the Book of Mormon was NOT that from Jerusalem to the Valley of Lemuel. When read carefully and placed in it proper geographic reality, it was easy to discern that the 'three day journey mention in the book actually only spoke of that portion of the journey which was from the area of Elath to the Valley of Lemuel parallel to the borders of the Red Sea. It was not speaking of the entire journey from Jerusalem as many 'quick study' and uninformed readers had concluded, they not fully understanding the actual geography of the journey as well set out upon detailed maps of the region envolved. Where possible we need to tatke the time and make to effort to so palce the abriged text of the Book of Mormon into it such 'known factual geography.
Here this first suggestion is redundently stated again: 'Thus one of the ways of trying to avoid limiting the Book of Mormon to a condensed abridged perspective, is to place it back into its real 'known' geography and to read the book in respect to that 'known' extended set of facts.† That is easily done back in the early pages of the Book of Mormon where the geography and the historical settings around Jerusalem is generally known.† But when the transition occurs from the Old World setting to the New World setting, we lose that 'known' set of environmental facts.† And the current position of the LDS Church is that there is no officially accepted geographic map of the Book of Mormon in its new Promised Land setting.
Thus we cannot always place the Book of Mormon's abridgement back into its total 'real world' setting.† Therefore a second suggestion is to exercise extreme caution not to just assume or presume something based solely on what the Book of Mormon seems to say according to someone's subjective or even presumed objective interpretation when such detailed facts, 99% worth, are lacking.† This is the dangerous world in which those who would provide any such 'unofficial' geographies to the Book of Mormon do venture.† And while it is not totally unproductive to undertake such 'speculations,' one at least needs to be cognizant of the true nature of what they are doing.† And that is, they are creating nothing more than a 'theory.'† And theories, when the facts are only a fractional part of the reality, can provide very distorted and skewed images, which are not the 'whole' truth of the matter.† Yet some do contend and argue the realms of such 'theories' in the manner only befitting absolute facts, which they do not posses.† This tends to 'close the mind' when such an approach to what is mere 'theory' is presented and addressed.† And it becomes the case of the 'tail waging the dog.'† And the Book of Mormon is forced into a theorized setting which can tend to distort other relative facts in the reading of the book, which in turn can also effect conditional perspectives and even effect doctrinal matters.††
Now it is beyond the scope of this small text to go into such matters other than stating the generalized 'caution' against the jumping to such conclusions without having the more complete set of facts upon which to properly conclude upon it.† After all the distortion of placing the Valley of Lemuel to within a three day's journey would have led to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon was in gross error if only one such interpretation or interoperation was forced to be applied. And those who proclaim such 'understanding' by their theorized out burst ought to hold their tongue or at least better so qualify their personal subjective perspecitves upon that matter.† And it would have placed questionable dispersion upon the truth of the entire text to have concluded one thing upon the matter and then later to find, when the reality of its true environment is later found and applied, that such quick assumptive dissections were for the most part or even totally false.
This brings us to a third suggestion in terms of dealing with the potential errors of condensation.† And that is to exercise one's faith.† When one does not have all of the facts of the matter from the mere one-hundredth part of the 'whole' information available from which the Book of Mormon was abridged, then one must often rely upon their faith.† If there seems to be a discrepancy in what the Book of Mormon seems to say due to the 'quick read,' the 'supposed scholarly dissection based on partial facts,' and the tendency to force a picture of continuity upon such a one percent informational type record, have faith.† Have faith that the Book of Mormon is true and we just do not have the 'rest of the story' as of yet.† We just don't have the other 99% which would allow us to fully understand and comprehend the whole truth of the matter.
Another such 'quick read' example is to come, in which just such a 'scholarly dissection upon partial facts' will be presented.† It can be seen as an attempt to 'force continuity upon a reader's digest account.'† This 'scholarly study' has been accepted and placed in the pages of the Book and Mormon.† And it tends to lead some people into believing that there is a gross error of a non reconcilable 'anachronism' in the pages of the Book of Mormon.† Which there is not.† We cover that in chapter four.
Thus in summary, what to do when trying to avoid errors of condensation is that one should:
1. When possible place the Book of Mormon's context back into the known real world perspective.
2. When not possible to place the Book of Mormon back into the real world context due to the lack of available detailed factual information, avoid making assumptions and presumptions which may tend to erroneously skew the Book of Mormon into false conclusions.
3. When the portions of the details are missing, have faith that what the Book of Mormon presents is true and accept it for what it does say.A fourth measure might be included with an added caution. Though the Church does not offically sanction any geographical mapping of the Book of Mormon, various authorities of the Church have from time to time spoken out concerning some of the Book of Mormon's geographical matters. While this may will give some added insights to the Book of Mormon's actual geography, a caution ought to be also given. To some extent these are those authorities 'best calculated' understandings, while in some other instances, they most likely are speaking under some extent of true, factual and inspired perspectives. Thus when considering such 'authoritative' perspectives, even then some caution is suggested. Others may include in their list of such 'authorities', learned scholars of the Book of Mormon. In such cases even more precautions ought to be exercised, as more often than not, the intellectually dissected scholar's view come in direct conflict with what might well be considered an inspired General Authorities statements upon the matter. Such value weighting of God's inspired leaders over man's learned men ought to be practiced in such instances.
Further Examples of Condensation Errors
Two closely related condensation errors when put together have caused, as stated, a gross anachronism in the commonly portrayed story of the Book of Mormon.† But when the fuller truth of the matter is reconstructed around the abridged record, the real facts fully discharge the biased attack upon the Book of Mormon as containing such a non reconcilable anachronism in its history.† These 'condensation errors' are found in the common concept of time of duration spent in the Valley of Lemuel and in the relative time actually time taken to travel the distance from the Valley of Lemuel to the first land of Bountiful.†
Of course, most consider that Lehi could have only spent a couple of years in the Valley of Lemuel at most.† This is because Lehi's party would need the bulk of the seemingly stated '8 years' to travel from the Valley of Lemuel to the first land of Bountiful.† This is according to how the Book of Mormon is currently commonly read by many 'quick readers' of this highly condensed record today.†
And again, the reading of a condensed abridgement has established a dangerously interpreted set of perceived understandings, which just is not the case.† I will address these other two closely related 'errors of condensation' more fully later in Chapter 4.† In that chapter, it will further be demonstrated just how a condensed abridgement has to be reconstituted in order to actually be correct when placed back into the more complete world from which it was extracted and condensed.† Until then I will have to draw on your patience, trust and faith to leave this more involved set of insights until later.† When we do cover them a new Book of Mormon timeline for the initial portion of the Book of Mormon will be developed.
In just such a manner, a number of the other additional presentations will also be involved in this text thus achieving a fuller understanding of what must be done to reconstitute and restore an abridgement back to the reality of the matter of the full history.†† These I will leave to the reader to discover and contemplate, rather than attempting to create a further laundry list upon which pre-proposed arguments of disagreement may be based before even hearing the evidence.†
It is understood that when one attempts to put forth 'insights' of perspective and perception, there will be disagreement.† And as stated in this book's preface, I am not the ordained Prophet of the Church.† I am merely one attempting to share what I have come to understand about the Book of Mormon with interested others.† If found in error, which being human makes possible, I would hope when such fuller details become known and are considered which do ultimately determine the total truth of a it, I would readily 'repent' of any false notions I may have and accept such revealed information.
A Final Note of Summary
While this text will study only the Book of Mormon as a highly condensed resource, one must realize that all scriptural history is of such a nature.† As noted earlier, Moses' first book, Genesis is of such a nature.† Over 2,000 years of scriptural history is compressed into that one book of 50 chapters.† And when God presents his word unto men, it is in layers of depths of understanding.† Thus what is applied here to the Book of Mormon can be applied to the study of all such condensed scriptural and historical records.
The glory of God is intelligence.† And when we are able to attain to additional levels of understanding and intelligence in this life, so much more is it to our advantage in this life and in the world to come.† Knowledge is power.† And the most powerful knowledge is to come to know and understand the things of God, thus the importance of studying the scriptures.
Yet so many of us put up barriers to our learning the things of God.† By our natural, carnal, mortal natures we are lazy and would prefer to seek after the pleasures and things of the world.† And rather than to seek after the 'mysteries of the kingdom of God,' we do tend to excuse ourselves in so many ways.† We will even place the learning and precepts of men ahead of the learning and precepts of God, for they are easier to learn and to mentally handle than to continue to expand our minds to God's level.† And of course learning and the attainment of intelligence 'hurts'—don't it?
Consider some of the Barriers to God's knowledge and ways men do put forth such 'Barriers to Learning'.† There is the 'piousness' and the 'learnedness' of man's pride which does stand in one's way.† It states, 'We are righteous. ~ We need not that any man should teach us. ~ God we already know. ~ A Bible, A Bible, we have a Bible and we need no more Bible. ~ We have the law for our salvation, and that is sufficient for us, we need not delve into the 'mysteries.' ~ I've read the Book of Mormon, I've read it dozens of times and know all there is to know about it, I know it frontward and backward. ~ You can't teach me anything. ~ I already know all there is to know. ~ I already know more than 'others' know about it. ~ There is nothing new under the sun.†
And thus the lack of humility, the pride of the earth, the stiffneckedness of man does set in.† And it does position itself of itself to damn and stop one's own possible progress toward the intelligence levels of God.† And rather than learn, they do use their false levels of knowledge of the precepts of men to make themselves stumble in the way.† They will point out such things as stating that the word 'stiffneckedness' is but an extremely awkward useage and perhaps not even proper English.† But then so are so many of the Old English words used in the King James Version of the Bible.† And so are so many of the words of new innovation of technological advancement, not generally accepted as 'proper English'.† And thus their 'learning' or lack thereof is a stumbling block used against themselves, making themselves suffer from 'stiffneckedness' and guilty of just what the word states them to be. Note: actually the word form 'stiffneckedness' is a Semitic idiom form built from being 'stiffnecked' which Joseph Smith, if writing the book solely of himself would not have used. Using instead such as 'stubborn' or 'inflexible'.
There are also Barriers of laziness represented by such comments as follows. ~ God speaks not to me. ~ It is a hard thing to study and read and knock, and search and ask. ~ It hurts to learn. ~ God speaks with and informs the prophets, but he will not hear us and inform us directly. ~ So why even try?† ~ It is a hard thing to do to search and study and pray and live righteously and all that stuff. ~ It is not worth the effort. ~ And who cares anyway?
Then there are Barriers of disbelief.† ~ It is easier to state disbelief than to put forth the effort to live by high ideals and convictions.† The world is filled with faithless people who deny God and take the broad road to destruction.† Anyone who wants comfort in such a position will certainly find an overwhelming peer group to support them in their disbelief.† The lack of faith seems to temporarily sooth the guilty mind with the reason and logic of the world's men of intellect who teach the precepts of men.
But God presents His Way to His Kingdom, glory and intelligence as stated here in the Joseph Smith inspired translation of the Bible.† In Matthew we read:
"Say unto them, Ask of God; ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.† For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened.†
"And then said his disciples unto him, they will say unto us, We ourselves are righteous, and need not that any man should teach us. God, we know, heard Moses and some of the prophets; but us he will not hear.† And they will say, We have the law for our salvation, and that is sufficient for us.
"Then Jesus answered, and said unto his disciples, thus shall ye say unto them, What man among you, having a son, and he shall be standing out, and shall say, Father, open thy house that I may come in and sup with thee, will not say, Come in, my son; for mine is thine, and thine is mine?" ~ (JOSEPH SMITH TRANSLATION ~ MATTHEW 7: 12-17)
God does answer us in what we seek to know of him.† There are prophets today and God does speak to man through personal revelation unto the needs of that man.† ~ What man among you, having a son and that loved son shall be standing without shall say, 'Father, open thy house that I may come in and sup with thee,' will not you say unto him, 'Come in my son, for mine is thine and thine is mine?'† And this is not so only of the physical needs of man, but of the spiritual and intellectual and emotional and moral character needs of man as well.† The same is true of God, and are we not his loved children?
Thus in relation to the study of the word of God, I would suggest that one immerges themselves in it as much as is possible.† It well act as an armor against wickedness.† It will bring one closer to God and God's ways.† It will provide a useful purpose for those idle wasted hours of one's life.† Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.†
Ask and ye will receive, Seek and ye shall find, Knock and it shall be open unto you. ~ Seek ye wisdom by faith and by learning. ~ Study it out in your hearts, ponder and meditate upon the things of God.† Thus your intelligence will grow and develop line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.† And he will open up unto your mind and being the things of the kingdom.† The wisdom, knowledge and intelligence of God awaits.
'Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me!' Saith the Lord.† Some think it folly of me to put such efforts into the study of the scriptures, to write books about them. But what better use of time is there?† And that idle time we all have is there.
Thus my last words of this chapter is advice as how to study the† 'condensed' Word of God.† An that is to put forth the effort.† Do not be like Oliver Cowdery who considered that it would be given merely by asking (D&C 9:6-8)).† But put in the work, the study, the searching, the seeking and the 'knocking' which will eventuate into far greater levels of knowledge, understanding, and intelligence.† Seek learning even out of the best books, placing the Lord's direction squarely before you (D&C 90:15, 109:;7-14).† Exercise faith in your learning efforts.† And after searching and pondering, seek the promptings of God's messenger.† Ask and by the power of the Holy Ghost you will have gained learning by faith, prayer and inspiration, not only by mortal and mental means, but by Godly means.
Take what I write with that proverbial grain of salt.† After all, I am but who I am.† I am like you.† And my reasoning and logic are thus subject to err.† Consider it to be so.† I've so often read the words of great and grand scholars, and the tendency is to make their words the truth of the matter.† They so often are not.† They are their own words.† Use your own God given intelligence and means of accessing the truth.† Don't believe it just because it is in writing.† Think, study, ponder and above all pray and ask God.† Certainly do this with anything that I write.† Put it to the test.† If I am wrong, I am wrong.† My opinions and dissections are mine. Don't make them yours by default.†
Don't just take a college professor's word or any man's word without testing it out against the Lord's system of obtaining intelligence from the proper source, and that's God's source.† Apply it to all that you learn.† It has the potential to lead you to truths unknown and undiscovered in all the fields of proper learning.† Certainly if you study chemistry, why not seek from the divine chemist of the universe the answers rather than just relying on the text books of men.†
Only a small amount of correct knowledge and learning is in the books of men when compared to God's knowledge and understanding.† Certainly study the textbooks, but understand that God is the ultimate source of all intelligence and learning.† And consider that much of what you do read is likely not correct and is imperfect, as it is tainted with the philosophies and precepts of the men who have written them.† Don't rely on the mere words of men when God is accessible to you.† He is your father.† After doing your part, your homework, knock at his door.† The loving father that he is, if you seek with true intent and upbraideth not, nothing wavering, God doth giveth to men liberally (James 1:5-6).† Put God to the test.† Put yourself to the test of finding it out from Him.† The intelligence of God is waiting for you.† It waits upon you.