Wednesday, August 25, 2010

OT Gospel Doctrine Lesson #32 - I Know my Redeemer Liveth

OT Gospel Doctrine lesson #32 - I Know that my Redeemer Lives

Jehovah and his Adversaries look down upon Job, his wife and friends

It is unknown when Job lived. Certain portions of the book of Job are certainly ancient, such as chapter one. Other portions were possibly written later. Many scholars believe Job, as we now have it, was written as late as the fifth century BC.

The Divine Council of Heaven
Job 1-2

The Divine Council of Heaven - God with his divine Sons

For many people it seems strange that Satan would join the sons of God in meeting with God, just to insist on bringing trials upon the man Job. For many, in fact, it seems strange that Satan would be allowed into God’s presence or to join in any meeting of any kind. Let’s consider these issues.

First, the sons of God (El) as explained in previous lessons are the divine sons of Elohim. Ancient Semitic belief held that Elohim was the Father-God who had divine children. He assigned many of the nations to his divine sons to rule over. The divine son Jehovah was given the yet-to-be-formed nation of Israel as his inheritance. This group formed the ancient “divine council” of gods or divine beings under Elohim, their father.

The term “Satan” or better translated “THE Satan” literally translates to “The Adversary.” This could reference the devil Satan, or it could also reference a son of God who set himself up as an opponent to Jehovah. In LDS theology, we see both these concepts blend together, as in the premortal existence the devil is a divine son of El known as Lucifer. Elohim (God the Father) plans for the earth’s creation and many of his divine children are involved in the planning stages. Near the end of the preparations, God states his plan:

22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever (Abraham 3:22-26).

The earth was created as a testing and experience ground for the children of God. Those who remained faithful in the premortal realm (the first estate) would go down to the earth as mortals (second estate) to be tested. If they proved faithful to God, they would be divine children of God for the eternities. Knowing that many would sin and fall, God prepared the plan of salvation, and wished to provide a Savior for all mankind:

27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.
28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him (Abraham 3:27-28).

The one chosen was Jesus Christ, also known in the premortal existence as Jehovah. The second divine son who was rejected as Savior, became angry because he sought to change God’s plan to fit his own needs:

1 And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
2 But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
3 Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;
4 And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice (Moses 4:1-4).

Note that there was only one plan. Lucifer sought to make drastic changes to the plan, but was rebuffed by God. He took those that followed him and began a war in heaven. He and a third part of the host of heaven were cast down, losing their first estate.

7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him (Revelation 12:7-9).

Isaiah also describes Satan’s desire and his end (he compares the king of Babylon to Lucifer):

12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;
17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?
18 All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.
19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.
20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned (Isaiah 14:12-20).

Lucifer wished to topple God and be the supreme Being in the divine council. He was cast down, and will never experience a burial nor have seed, because he will never obtain the second estate of mortality.

In returning to the story of Job, either Lucifer himself, or another adversary of Jehovah from among the sons of God goes to challenge him. This was a common motif among the ancient Semitic gods of the Divine Council. Jehovah even brags in Isaiah 43:10 that there has been no other God over Israel. Others (like Baal) have tried to topple him, but none have succeeded. He would not be replaced by any other God, as happened occasionally in other Middle Eastern nations.

So, the Adversary went with other sons of God/El to challenge Jehovah for primacy of the nation of Israel. Jehovah accepted the challenge, inviting the divine sons into his chambers. While we can determine that they are wagering over Job’s faithfulness to Jehovah, we do not find out what was the exact wager. We may assume that had Job proved unfaithful, Jehovah would have lost part or all of his earthly kingdom of Israel. We do not know what kingdom(s) or other trophies were offered on the part of the Adversary and his associates.

The goal was to see if Job would abandon Jehovah. His options would have included cursing God and dying, or turning to another god to save him from his trials.

Jobs Resilience
Job 1-2

In the first attack on Job, he easily showed himself still faithful. His children are killed, property and animals all destroyed, Job sits down and states, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

The Adversary and his pals decide to challenge Jehovah yet again. We do not know how much time passed since the previous trial occurred, but it was sufficient enough time to determine that Job would continue happily and faithfully with his life, even in the midst of great economic loss. Jehovah again brags upon Job, but Satan dismisses his claim stating that Job remained faithful because the calamities did not afflict him directly. So, another wager is established between Jehovah and his adversaries.

Job is afflicted with boils upon his body, painful blisters that simply would not go away. Worse, his wife chose at this point in their marriage to nag and tempt him: “why don’t you just curse God and die, so you no longer have to suffer?” A man was considered a good provider if he was able to provide well for his family and raise a strong generation of children. In her eyes, Job had failed miserably. She believed he must have done something wrong, and would be better off dead. Still, Job remained faithful to God, though he cursed his own life.

Job’s "Friends"

Job Accused by his friends

Job’s three friends come onto the scene to mourn with him. David Larsen at Heavenly Ascents gives some keen insight into their makeup and some of the concepts they shared with Job. For seven days they mourned with him. At the end of the week of fasting, they took turns telling Job why it is that he was suffering.

None of them suggested that he suffered because bad things happen to good people. Rather they believed that God only sent such huge curses upon those who had been very evil and deserved the punishment. The only option was to repent and beg for mercy from God. In each case, Job explained to them that he was not at all guilty of any sin nor crime, but that he was an innocent victim of God’s punishment.

Job states:
3 Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!
4 I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.
5 I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto me.
6 Will he plead against me with his great power? No; but he would put strength in me.
7 There the righteous might dispute with him; so should I be delivered for ever from my judge.
8 Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him:
9 On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see him:
10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold (Job 23:3-10).

If Job had his way, he would arguing his case with God, not with his three clueless friends. His problem is that he does not know where to find God or approach him to plead his case. And even if God never hears his plea, Job knows that he shall gain wisdom and experience from his trials. He understands that gold is refined by extreme heat that burns the slag and impurities out.

Still, even with his struggles, Job holds onto hope:

25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me (Job 19:25-27).

Unlike the Preacher in Ecclesiastes who can find no answer whatsoever for the tragedies and struggles in this world, Job knows that in the end he shall resurrect and stand as a living soul upon the earth. He will see Jehovah, who will come to earth and redeem him.

God Answers Job
Job 37

After the long debate between Job and his so-called friends, Jehovah appeared to Job. Jehovah has seen that Job has been faithful, but has not been as humble as he should have been. Job presumed he knew more than he did, and so Jehovah wanted to check his pride by helping him realize just how much Job didn’t know:

1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,
2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.
4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? (Job 38:1-7).

Jehovah chastised Job for presuming to know more than he did. Job presumed to know the whys and wherefores of his trials, and protested his complete innocence. Rather than just patiently bearing the trials and learning humility, Job hardened himself against any attempt for him to begin learning wisdom. He darkened “the counsel by without knowledge.” God then tested Job to show him how little he really knew.

Where was Job when God prepared the heavens and earth? The “morning stars” comes from the term “Lucifer” which was later applied to Satan. Satan was a “morning star” at one point in the premortal existence prior to his rebellion. The morning stars discussed here would have been holy angels or divine beings in the presence of God. Jesus was also called a morning star (Rev 22:16), being one of the divine sons of El who was present in the premortal councils. The sons of God/El is another term for these morning stars, as we see Jehovah used parallelism in his questioning.

Jehovah suggests that while Job may have been present in the divine council, in mortality he would not have remembered it, nor known what occurred there. While God chastised Job, still Job had proven faithful. The Lord chastised his three friends, and Job’s health and riches were restored to him by God.

We do not see the final meeting between Jehovah and his adversaries, but we can imagine that they were forced to admit defeat and pay up on the two wagers they lost.


David Larsen’s Heavenly Ascent lesson #32:

Divine Council website:

Lehi’s Library on the Divine Council:

Wikipedia on Morning Star:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

OT Gospel Doctrine lesson #31 - Happy is the man that findeth Wisdom

OT Gospel Doctrine lesson #31 - Happy is the man that findeth Wisdom
Ecclesiastes and Proverbs

Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are attributed to King Solomon, but were probably written centuries later.

"Vanity of vanities. All is vanity."

The Preacher begins his discourse with a colophon-a self introduction and purpose for his writing. He claims to be the son of King David, presumably Solomon.

Ecclesiastes is usually dated by scholars as being written after the Diaspora (ca 520 BC) and before the 2nd century BC, due to its Aramaic phraseology and possible ties to other philosophic writings.

It is considered similar to the Egyptian Wisdom/Royal Testament rite, where Pharaoh related his earthly wisdom to his son.

Both Greek and Egyptian philosophies were developing before and after the Diaspora. As Greek power ascended in the region, especially under Alexander the Great, its philosophies also spread.

Like the Greeks, the Preacher seeks to find wisdom and truth through observation and reason, rather than through revelation. He sought "what is good for men to do under the heavens during the few days of their lives" (2:3). This was also the chief goal of the major Greek schools of philosophy.

Like the Stoics, the Preaches uses the 4 elements (air, water, fire, earth) in his search for meaning. And as the Stoics determined there really is no true answer.
He comes to realize "there is nothing new under the Sun" ( ). Basically, man is born, he works, then dies. A man can perform what seems to be important, only to have another come along and ruin it. There is nothing eternal. The best we can expect is serve God and do good.

The Preacher often notes the vanity of life. In Hebrew the term for vanity is "hevel." This word does not translate well into English. Other better terms would be: vapor, breath, wind, absurd, unknowable, mysterious.

As Socrates taught we are but "dust in the wind", so the Preacher tells us it is futile to truly try to understand life.

If the Preacher was indeed Solomon, it could represent the changes in his life as he matured. First, as a young king, he experienced revelations via dreams when he asked for wisdom and in dedicating the temple. In his later years, however, he left Jehovah for other gods and philosophies.

The old Preacher does not look to heaven for answers, as did David who knew God would not leave him in hell, or Job who looked forward to the resurrection. Ecclesiastes shows the end state of man when they seek answers to life only through reasoning and philosophy. Still his counsel that we cannot know all things is correct, and he counsels, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13).


Proverbs is a collection of almost random concepts and ideas that focus on a few major concepts. Given my rant against the aged preacher above, the Proverbs of Solomon would come from his earlier life when he sought direction from Jehovah.

1. The wise versus fools. The majority of Proverbs focuses on praising those who seek wisdom, and condemning stupid people. The wise learn from correction, control their emotions and tongue, and seek learning.
Fools fall all over themselves finding trouble. They speak and act before they think. While a few lashes might temporarily get their attentions, they soon fall back into their foolish ways.

2. Trustinq God. Perhaps the best known proverb is:

"Trust in the Lord with all thy heart and lean not unto thy own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths" (Prov 3:4-5).

The older Solomon would have been wise to follow his own counsel. As the Preacher, he leaned solely on his own understanding, worshiping other gods.

3. The virtue and wisdom of good women. We often can hear Proverbs 31:10-31 read on Mother's day in church: "Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies."

Women are compared in Proverbs to God's wife (ancient Hebrews believed God had a wife) . One of her titles is "Wisdom."

In Proverbs 3-4, we learn about her: "happy is the man that finds wisdom....She is more precious than rubies" (3:13-15). When men find a virtuous/wise woman, he is blessed even as God is blessed with his wife Wisdom.

"She is a Tree of Life" (3:18) ties the goddess and man's wife (Eve) to the Garden. In Nephi's Vision of the Tree of Life, he saw the tree represented the mother of God (Mary), and Jesus was her fruit (1 Nephi 11:7-23).

In Proverbs 8, Wisdom speaks directly to us. She is in the high places and in the groves set up at the cities's gates. She is Asherah, the wife of God. "my mouth shall speak truth", "wisdom is better than rubies", "counsel is mine...I am understanding", "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me", "then I was by him (God-in the beginning), as one brought up with him." As Eve with Adam, Wisdom has been God's constant companion.

Other Books of Solomon

There are other ancient books of wisdom attributed to Solomon. Let's look at two of them.

Psalms of Solomon were written about 50 BC, as they detail Pompey's military actions in Judea and his death in 48 BC. It calls the Pharisees the righteous, with the Sadduccees as the sinners. It discusses the sins of the Jews, including adultery and incest. Because of their sins, God sent Pompey to ransack and humble the people. The gathering of Israel from everywhere, including the "isles afar off." He foresees the coming of the Messiah, the "son of David" when he shall destroy the godless nations.

Odes of Solomon contain beautiful songs of peace and joy. There is no major agreement of when it was written, but one possibility is they are songs of praise and prophesy from newly baptized Christians in the 1st century AD.

Ode 3:9-11 states:
"And because I shall love him that is the Son, I shall become a son; for he that is joined to him that is immortal, will also himself become immortal; and he who has pleasure in the Living One shall become living."

This clearly shows a person hoping for eternal life through Christ. Ode 7:5 enhances this concept: "He became like me in order that I may receive Him."

Some odes provide descriptive beauty:
"As the sun is the joy to them that seek for its daybreak, so is my joy the Lord; because he is my sun and his rays have lifted me up; and his light hath dispelled all darkness from my face" (15:1-2).

The editors of The Forgotten Books of Eden noted concerning Ode 23: "The reference to the sealed document sent by God is one of the great mysteries of the collection." Here we will quote it at length in order to show that the Book of Mormon is one possible answer to the mystery.

“5 And His thought was like a letter; His will descended from on high, and it was sent like an arrow which is violently from the bow: 6 And many hands rushed to the letter to seize it and to take and read it: 7 And it escaped their fingers and they were affrighted at it and at the seal that was upon it. 8 Because it was not permitted to them to loose its seal: for the power that was over the seal was greater than they. 9 But those who saw it went after the letter that they might know where it would alight, and who should read it and who should hear it. 10 But a wheel received it and came over it: 11 And there was with it a sign of the Kingdom and of the Government: 12 And everything which tried to move the wheel it mowed and cut down: 13 And it gathered the multitude of adversaries, and bridged the rivers and crossed over and rooted up many forests and made a broad path. 14 The head went down to the feet for down to the feet ran the wheel, and that which was a sign upon it. 15 The letter was one of command, for there were included in it all districts; 16 And there was seen at its head, the head which was revealed even the Son of Truth from the Most High Father, 17 And He inherited and took possession of everything. And the thought of many was brought to nought. 18 And all the apostates hasted and fled away. And those who persecuted and were enraged became extinct, 19 And the letter was a great volume, which was wholly written by the finger of God: 20 And the name of the Father was on it and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, to rule for ever and ever. Hallelujah.”

Here we see a letter or book/volume that is sealed. Some tried to read it, but could not read a sealed book. Still, they sought after it, even as many sought to steal the gold plates from Joseph Smith. A wheel with the sign/authority of God takes it. Like Daniel's stone cut out of the mountain without hands (Daniel 12:44-45), it established the kingdom of God on earth so the Son of Truth could take possession of the earth. The letter is the beginning of God's kingdom leading to his enemies becoming extinct. It signals the Restoration and the beginning of God’s kingdom taking its place on earth. It bears the name of the Godhead, written by God's finger or by his power, even as the Book of Mormon was translated by the power of God. This letter may be the Book of Mormon, some of its plates sealed. The restoration of his kingdom and all ancient things are part and parcel of preparing a kingdom for Christ's 2nd Coming.

In some of the odes we learn about the early Christian belief in deification, or becoming like God. Ode 36 states:

“1 I rested in the Spirit of the Lord: and the Spirit raised me on high: 2 And made me stand on my feet in the height of the Lord, before His perfection and His glory, while I was praising Him by the composition of His songs. 3 The Spirit brought me forth before the face of the Lord: and, although a son of man, I was named the Illuminate, the Son of God: 4 While I praised amongst the praising ones, and great was I amongst the mighty ones. 5 For according to the greatness of the Most High, so He made me: and like His own newness He renewed me; and He anointed me from His own perfection: 6 And I became one of His Neighbours; and my mouth was opened; like a cloud of dew; 7 And my heart poured out as it were a gushing stream of righteousness, 8 And my access to Him was in peace; and I was established by the Spirit of His government. Hallelujah.”

Converts become "illuminates" or mirror images of the Son of God. As Jesus said that if we see him we see the Father, so we see Christ reflected in the illuminate. We are made "as great as the Most High." We are Anointed (hebrew: Messiah, greek: Christ) from his perfection. We become neighbors or friends of God. Paul called us "heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ."
While many modern Christians recoil at the thought, ancient Christians believed Jesus came to make us divine.


The writings attributed to Solomon, both in the Bible and outside the canon, have a lot of wonderful thoughts and concepts to offer us. As we gain wisdom by using our reasoning, and then add revelation upon it, we can gain even greater insights into the workings of God and his dealings with mankind on earth.


David Larsen’s Heavenly Ascent Blog on lesson 31. He shares more on the concept of Wisdom being God’s wife:

Odes of Solomon:

Psalms of Solomon:

Daniel Peterson, “Nephi’s Asherah”:

“Ecclesiastes: the traditional Hebrew text with the new JPS translation” By Michael V. Fox

Monday, August 16, 2010

Addendum to OT Lesson #28 on Elijah's sacrifice

Discussing Elijah's story last night with my wife, Ramona, we were discussing the symbolism of the items involved in Elijah's sacrifice in his battle with the 450 prophets of Baal.

We read that the 12 stones of the altar that Elijah reconstructed, represented the 12 tribes of Israel. We see that God accepted the sacrifice of Elijah, slaying his enemy Baal, and rescuing his wife and children from Baal (Asherah and Israel). Not only that, but we also see that Elijah bathes the altar in water, and then the Lord consumes everything with fire. Here we see a symbolic baptism of water and fire for all that is on the altar (and the altar itself). Asherah and Israel, God's wife and children, are cleansed and purified by water and fire. So too, when we truly offer ourselves upon the altar of God, we are cleansed and baptized by water and fire (Spirit).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

OT Gospel Doctrine Lesson #30 - Come to the House of the Lord

OT Gospel Doctrine Lesson #30 - Come to the House of the Lord
2 Chronicles 29-34

Sargon II, King of Assyria

The nations of Judah and Israel never reunite, even though they occasionally are close allies. Both struggle with wicked kings, however a righteous king occasionally appeared in Judah, as in the case of Jehoshaphat.

Israel’s Destruction

Israel’s sins continued, as they embraced Baal and other gods rather than Jehovah. Eventually, their sins caught up to them, and Israel was ripened in iniquity. In 721 BC, King Sargon II of Assyria and his son, Sennacherib, overran the nation of Israel and carried them off. Assyria was the new major power in the area. Their major rival was Egypt, and the land of Canaan, which included Israel and Judah, lay in between. The conquest of Canaan (also known as the Levant) also provided direct access to the spice trade route and the riches it held by taxing those who journeyed through the land. Sargon’s invasion was so intense that he was able to not only take Israel, but most of the land of Judah. Only Jerusalem and the land around it were spared. Later, Josiah would regain much of the land, including part of the land of Israel, reuniting the nations for a few decades.

The fall of Israel is not directly explained in the Bible. After the stories of Elijah and Elisha, we do not hear much about Israel’s history. However, Isaiah and others foresaw Israel’s downfall. Sargon II carried them off to other areas of the Assyrian Empire, and brought others to dwell in Israel and Samaria, its capitol.

Where did the Lost Ten Tribes go?

According to the Jewish historian Josephus, the Israelites remained in the lands of the Assyrians and continued to his day in those lands (Antiquity of the Jews, Book 11, Chapter V, Section 2). We do not know where he may have received his information.

[39] And as for your seeing him gather to himself another multitude that was peaceable,
[40] these are the ten tribes which were led away from their own land into captivity in the days of King Hoshea, whom Shalmaneser the king of the Assyrians led captive; he took them across the river, and they were taken into another land.
[41] But they formed this plan for themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the nations and go to a more distant region, where mankind had never lived,
[42] that there at least they might keep their statutes which they had not kept in their own land.
[43] And they went in by the narrow passages of the Euphrates river.
[44] For at that time the Most High performed signs for them, and stopped the channels of the river until they had passed over.
[45] Through that region there was a long way to go, a journey of a year and a half; and that country is called Arzareth.
[46] "Then they dwelt there until the last times; and now, when they are about to come again,
[47] the Most High will stop the channels of the river again, so that they may be able to pass over. Therefore you saw the multitude gathered together in peace. (2 Esdras 13:39-47)

Esdras is supposed to be the same Ezra we find in the Bible, though the Apocryphal books accorded to him probably were written much later. According to the above, many of the 10 Tribes of Israel organized themselves and did an Exodus to the north country. Where that northern country is, we do not know. Some speculate it may be in the lands of Russia and Europe. However, Benjamin Franklin Johnson, a good friend of Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, wrote in his journal that Joseph taught him:

“I can now see, as President George A. Smith afterwards said, that I was then really "the bosom friend and companion of the Prophet Joseph." I was as welcome at the Mansion as at my own house, and on one occasion when at a full table of his family and chosen friends, he placed me at his right hand and introduced me as his "friend, Brother B. F. Johnson, at whose house he sat at a better table than his own." Sometimes when at my house I asked him questions relating to past, present and future; some of his answers were taken by Brother William Clayton....Other questions were asked when Brother Clayton was not present, one of which I will relate: I asked where the nine and a half tribes of Israel were. "Well," said he, "you remember the old caldron or potash kettle you used to boil maple sap in for sugar, don't you?" I said yes. "Well," said he, "they are in the north pole in a concave just the shape of that kettle. And John the Revelator is with them, preparing them for their return." (Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life’s Review, pg 93)

Others gave other responses as to where they may possibly be. One story purported to President David O. McKay occured when asked by reporters if he knew where the Lost Tribes were, President David O. McKay answered he did. “They’re lost.” When the reporters pressed him further he told them that if he knew where they were, they wouldn’t be lost.

That the tribes will someday return is prophesied in ancient and modern revelation. In the Doctrine and Covenants 133, we read:

“26 And they who are in the north countries shall come in remembrance before the Lord; and their prophets shall hear his voice, and shall no longer stay themselves; and they shall smite the rocks, and the ice shall flow down at their presence.
27 And an highway shall be cast up in the midst of the great deep.
28 Their enemies shall become a prey unto them,
29 And in the barren deserts there shall come forth pools of living water; and the parched ground shall no longer be a thirsty land.
30 And they shall bring forth their rich treasures unto the children of Ephraim, my servants.
31 And the boundaries of the everlasting hills shall tremble at their presence.
32 And there shall they fall down and be crowned with glory, even in Zion, by the hands of the servants of the Lord, even the children of Ephraim.
33 And they shall be filled with songs of everlasting joy.
34 Behold, this is the blessing of the everlasting God upon the tribes of Israel, and the richer blessing upon the head of Ephraim and his fellows.
35 And they also of the tribe of Judah, after their pain, shall be sanctified in holiness before the Lord, to dwell in his presence day and night, forever and ever.”

Wherever they are, if this prophesy is to be literally understood, the Lost Tribes will have to cross the oceans and pass through an area of ice. They will return to the Americas first, where they will come to Ephraim (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and join with them in building Zion. Judah’s return shall occur later in Jerusalem at Jesus’ coming to them in power.

Ahaz’ Wicked Reign
2 Chronicle 28

Judah went through a period of wicked kings. Ahab and Jezebel’s son-in-law previously sat on the throne in Jerusalem and introduced Baal worship to the nation. Hezekiah’s own father, Ahaz, was wicked.

“2 For he (Ahaz) walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim.
3 Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel.
4 He sacrificed also and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree” (2 Chron 28).

The worship of Baalim, or the various incarnations of Baal, included prostitution and grave sexual sin. The worship of the Ammonite god Moloch (known as “the king”) required the passing of one’s children through fire. This could possibly have been to literally cook the children alive, or as a purification ritual where they were briefly passed through and if the child survived the ordeal was blessed by Moloch.

The “high places” were actually altars on mountains and other places that were set aside for sacred worship. This is the form of worship done by Abraham, Jacob, and even Lehi in the wilderness. However, it seems that Judah’s priests would soon seek to destroy these high places in order to focus worship at the central Temple in Jerusalem, where they could maintain control of the religion of Jehovah.

“Under every green tree” denotes worship of Asherah, the consort of Jehovah (also of Baal). In Jehovah worship, she was noted as the goddess of fertility and wisdom, and given deference. However, in Baal worship, she was given greater status for direct worship, and was charged with fertility rites associated with Baal worship.

So was Ahaz and Judah’s wickedness.

The Reign of Hezekiah
2 Chronicles 29-30

Hezekiah was greatly influenced by his mother and the Temple priests. He probably served as co-regent of Judah for a time with his father, and then became king at Ahaz’ death. During his youth, he saw Sargon destroy Israel and take much of the land of Judah. Along with the priests of the temple, he believed it was due to apostasy and heresy that such destruction occurred. Once Ahaz was dead, Hezekiah and the temple priests set out to purify Judah.

The priests sanctified the temple, removing all impurities. This would have included idols set in the temple by Ahaz and other kings.

“1 And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the Lord God of Israel” (2 Chron 30).

This may well be the time when many from Ephraim and Manasseh, stragglers from the assault of Sargon and Sennacherib on Israel, to come to Jerusalem for a Passover, something that had not occurred in decades, if not a century or more. Those of Joseph would have brought with them their sacred records, for safekeeping. It is possible that this was the time when the Plates of Laban, the writings of the tribe of Joseph, made their way down to Jerusalem. It is also the approximate period when many Documentary Hypothesis scholars believe the writings of “E” (the Elohist) were brought to Jerusalem, to later be combined with the sacred writings of “J” that was written in Jerusalem, and incorporated later with other writings by Ezra (the Redactor) into what is now known as the earliest portions of the Bible. In fact, it was proposed by John Sorenson that the Plates of Laban may have been the original source for “E”!

After the Passover feast, the people returned to their own areas with zeal for Jehovah and his temple, destroying the high places and altars in the wilderness.

Sennacherib lays siege to Jerusalem
2 Chronicles 32

Pool of Siloam and Hezekiah’s Tunnel

Sennacherib now sat on his father’s throne in Assyria. The recalcitrant Hezekiah refused to give tribute to Assyria, or turn itself over to them. Instead, Hezekiah made a league with the Egyptians, hoping they would come to Jerusalem’s rescue. However, the Egyptians did not come. Jerusalem would have to face the Assyrians alone.

Hezekiah was a man with great foresight. He learned that the Assyrians besieged cities, starving the people, in order to make them capitulate. It was a patient game of seeing who could out-wait the other. Hezekiah prepared for the upcoming siege. He created one of the greatest waterworks projects of the day. There was water (waters of Gihon/Siloam pool) available just outside the walls of the city, but to get it inside in a manner that would keep the Assyrians from stopping it up meant digging underground. Hezekiah built the 1750 foot long Siloam tunnel to provide water to the people. He had workers digging from both ends, and it is still unknown how they managed to meet in the middle at the same place. The tunnel still exists, and tourists marvel as they walk the full distance through it.

Hezekiah and his prophet, Isaiah, prayed intensely that the Lord would stop the Assyrians. An angel causes discord among the Assyrian generals, and Sennacherib is forced to withdraw. Upon returning to Assyria, he is slain by his sons.

Manasseh reigns in wickedness
2 Chronicles 33

Hezekiah and Manasseh probably reigned together as co-regents for several years. Upon his death, Manasseh became king and drastically changed the order of things. He immediately left behind worshiping Jehovah, and embraced the idols and gods of the Canaanites.

“3 For he (Manasseh) built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them.
4 Also he built altars in the house of the Lord, whereof the Lord had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever.
5 And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.
6 And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger.”

Manasseh placed idols in the temple of Jehovah. No longer was Jehovah the only God of Israel, but he had to share his space with other gods. The “host of heaven” would have been gods to the Sun, Moon and planets - perhaps influenced by the Phoenicians or Egyptians. We’ve mentioned above how Ahaz worshiped Moloch and had the children pass through fire. We now see Manasseh resurrecting the worship of Ahaz, his grandfather.

“9 But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Kings 21).

There is a major difference between 2 Chronicles 33 and 2 Kings 21 in their treatment of Manasseh. Chronicles states that the Assyrians carried him off in chains to Assyria, where he remained a few years until he repented and turned back to God. He then returned to Jerusalem, where he destroyed all the idols and evils in the land, except for the high places built to worship Jehovah.

Meanwhile, 2 Kings does not note his repentance or change of heart. It just states that he sinned all his days, and then slept with his fathers. Jewish tradition says that Jeremiah wrote Kings, and Ezra wrote Chronicles. We get differences here on a few levels. First, one was written before the Diaspora of the Jews, and the other written after their return from Babylon. Second, Jeremiah was not beholden to the Davidic line of kings, as he dealt harshly with Zedekiah and several others of the kings, while Ezra attempted to answer the questions of the remnant on why there was a destruction, but to still hang onto the concept of a royal Davidic line.

We can see an internal problem with 2 Chronicles 33. It claims that the repentant Manasseh destroyed all the images out of Judah, yet when his son, Amon, became king:

“But he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as did Manasseh his father: for Amon sacrificed unto all the carved images which Manasseh his father had made, and served them” (2 Chron 33:22).

How could he worship the images Manasseh had made, if they were all destroyed? Obviously, Manasseh did not destroy all the images of Baal and the hosts of heaven.

Amon did not last long. His evils towards Jehovah and the people, caused the palace servants to assassinate him, opening the door for Josiah.

Josiah the Righteous
2 Chronicles 34-35

“And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father” (2 Chron 34:2-3).

Josiah is the new King David. He can do no wrong in the eyes of the Chronicler. Becoming king at the age of eight, he is handled, managed, and trained by the Temple priests to ensure no more heresy nor apostasy would occur. By the time he was 20, he had retaken much of the lands of Judah and Israel, and went through them purging them of the idols, high places, and Baalim that were found. He slew the priests of Baal and the other gods, desecrating the altars by burning their bones upon them.

His next task was to cleanse and repair the temple. In repairing it after decades of abuse and misuse, we are told that the “book of the law” was found. The book was read to Josiah, who rent his clothes, because he knew the people were not following the laws given by God. This book is now believed to be the Book of Deuteronomy by most scholars. However, most scholars also believe that the Book of Deuteronomy delivered to Josiah was not the original book of Deuteronomy. According to the Documentary Hypothesis, the temple priests took early writings, perhaps found in the temple, and rewrote them. However, they lengthened the book, amplifying many concepts and sections to support their current political stances regarding obedience, the temple and Jehovah. They created a book that seemed to suggest that Moses demanded all sacrifice be performed only at the temple. It established many of the laws we now see as part of the Mosaic Law.

These “Deuteronomists” also reformed the temple rites. According to Margaret Barker and other Biblical scholars, the rites included the Tree of Life representing the consort of God, angels, and miracles. The Deuteronomists removed such things from the temple liturgy. I planned to discuss more on this in-depth, but David Larsen does an excellent discussion on the topic of Hezekiah’s and Josiah’s reformations on his blog, so I’ll refer you there (see bibliography).

One thing we do find is that Josiah was very managed by the temple priests. However, given the circumstances, he sought to diligently follow Jehovah and serve him to the best of his ability. Josiah called for a Passover, and commanded Jews everywhere to attend. It is described as the biggest event in Jewish history to that point. Jeremiah was the chief prophet at the time, and was pleased with the good works that Josiah sought to do.

Interestingly, when the Egyptians finally did show up to fight the Assyrian/Babylonian Empire, Josiah went out to fight the Egyptians! Yet, Pharaoh Necho warned Josiah:

20 After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish (the capitol of the Assyrians) by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him.
21 But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.
22 Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo.
23 And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded.

Necho had permission from God, Jehovah, to fight the Assyrian/Babylonian armies, but Josiah would not believe him. Josiah died, and Jeremiah mourned him, knowing that there would not be another righteous king of Judah, nor a king who would listen to Jeremiah’s counsel.


Hezekiah - Wikipedia:

Isaiah’s prophesy of Israel’s downfall and events leading to it:

2 Esdras (from the Apocrypha):

Moloch in Wikipedia:

The Documentary Hypothesis by Kevin Barney:

Hezekiah’s Tunnel:

David Larsen’s Heavenly Ascents on Josiah’s Reformations:

Margaret Barker on the Josian Reforms:

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

OT Gospel Doctrine Lesson #29 - He Took Up...The Mantle of Elijah

OT Gospel Doctrine Lesson #29 - He took up the mantle of Elijah
2 Kings 2; 5-6


Elijah has been chief prophet of Jehovah in the nation of Israel. He caused a famine for three years in order to humble the people to return to Jehovah, after they turned to worshiping Baal with Jezebel. Upon defeating the priests of Baal, Elijah had them slain - Jehovah’s vengeance for Jezebel slaying the real prophets of Israel. Worn out after years of jealously serving God and hiding from Ahab and Jezebel’s storm troops, Elijah asks the Lord for rest. Jehovah tells him to anoint Jehu as future king of Israel and Elisha to replace him as chief prophet in Israel (1 Kings 19:15-17). Where Elijah made great strides in returning Israel back from apostasy, Elisha and Jehu will continue the trend.

Elijah’s Translation
2 Kings 2

We find a poetic parallelism or chiasm in the story of Elisha following Elijah from place to place. In each place, sons of the prophets warn Elisha of the pending event with Elijah. Elisha acknowledges it, and then insists on following Elijah to the end. Starting in Gilgal, Elijah and Elisha go to Beth-el, Jericho, and then to the Jordan River.

Jericho is just north of the Dead Sea. Gilgal is just north of Jericho.

What was the Lord’s purpose in sending Elijah and Elisha to each of these places? Their starting place, Gilgal, is just north of Jericho and north of the Dead Sea. From here, they traveled west to Beth-el, and then back east to Jericho. Surely, the shortest route would have been to go north to the Jordan River.

It is very probable that Elijah was sent to Beth-el, because it was one of the major worship centers to God in the land of Israel. Elijah went to ensure all things were set in order before his ascension. It may also be that the Lord desired all the sons of the prophets in the land to see Elisha with Elijah, in anticipation of the prophetic mantle being transferred to him. This would have left little doubt as to the proper authority, ensuring the plan to return Israel to Jehovah came about without any delays.

Crossing the Jordan River, Elijah gathered up his mantle (a cloak which symbolized his prophetic power and office), and smote the waters. Just as with Moses as the Red Sea, and Joshua at the Jordan River before him, the waters divided and the two men crossed on dry ground.

Elisha asks for a “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit to be with him. Elijah notes this to be a difficult thing to promise, but states that if Elisha actually sees him ascend, God has granted the request. What was Elijah’s spirit? It was the prophetic mantle of power given to Elijah. It allowed Elijah to seal up the heavens from raining, to cause fire to come down upon his enemies, and to be transported by the Spirit to whichever place the Lord would send him. A “double portion” goes back to the concept of inheritance. All of the sons of the prophets sought to inherit the spirit of Elijah, the gift of prophesy and the power of miracles. Yet, in ancient times, the oldest son received two portions of the inheritance from his father, while the others received a single portion for their inheritance. Elisha knows he is to be the anointed prophet, and wants to ensure he does not have difficulties with any of the sons of the prophets. He wants to be able to perform the miracles that Elijah was able to do, in order to reclaim Israel for Jehovah. In seeing Elijah ascend, and in retrieving the physical mantle of Elijah, Elisha also obtained a vision into heaven, and the spiritual mantle of prophet.

John the Baptist as Elijah

Christ with Elijah and Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration (Transfiguration by Raphael)

In the New Testament, Jews sought the return of Elijah as prophesied by Malachi (Mal 4:5-6) and wondered if John the Baptist was Elijah. While John denied it, Jesus did establish that John was Elias (another form of Elijah - Luke 1:16-17; Matthew 17:10-13). We understand that he was not literally the same Elijah, but that the name Elias/Elijah is also a title. Just as Elisha received a double portion of the spirit of Elijah and took upon himself Elijah’s mantle, so John the Baptist also was an Elias, preparing the way for the coming of the Lord. Elijah’s and John’s lives were similar in many ways. Both lived in the desert/wilderness for years. Both called Israel to repentance from their apostasy. Both opposed the evil king and queen. While Elijah was translated, and John beheaded, both returned in the last days to give priesthood authority and keys to Joseph Smith - preparing the way for the final coming of Jesus Christ.

Traditions concerning Elijah

I’ve heard that there is a Jewish tradition that Elijah’s mantle was later laid in the golden altar of the temple as a national treasure. Some Christians believe that John’s father later removed it and gave it to John the Baptist to wear as part of his mantle of authority, literally making him an Elias. While I’ve heard these things, I’ve yet to read anything authoritative on it, and would appreciate anyone’s help in finding solid evidence, if any.

Of Elijah, Jewish folklore does suggest different things, including he was the long surviving grandson of Aaron, Phinehas. Others believed him to be an angel in human form, perhaps the archangel Sandalphon.

Of course, whenever the dogs are happy for no obvious reason, it is because Elijah is in the neighborhood....

Elisha the Prophet
2 Kings 2

Elisha’s return parallels much of his journey with Elijah. First, he takes the mantle from the ground and smites the Jordan’s waters, crossing again on dry ground. From there, he returned to Jericho for a time, and then passing going back to Beth-el.

He immediately used the power of his mantle to perform miracles. He healed the waters at Jericho, so they again could be used for drinking. As he left the area, teenagers mocked him, and his curse caused them to be mauled by bears who came out of the woods and attacked them. Clearly, Elisha would be no more merciful than Elijah was. Why curse the youth? They mocked the Lord’s anointed prophet, suggesting they were followers of Baal (Jezebel still lived and ruled the land with her son), and Jehovah was out to purify the land. According to the Law of Moses, those who followed after other gods and rejected the Prophet of God merited death. Even in Moses’ accounts, many were killed for rejecting Jehovah and his prophet. Destruction seems cruel, but God is consistent in his dealings with men. He seeks us to repent, but will allow us only so much leeway before allowing nature to take its course and destroy the wicked.

Elisha supports the Kings
2 Kings 3

King Joram of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah become allies. The land of Moab paid tribute to Israel under Ahab. With Ahab’s death, Moab rebelled and Israel was forced to subject them anew. The two kings devised a strategy. They would travel from the south, up through Edom (Esau) with its king and attack from the south. However, a drought occurred and the armies of the kings found themselves in a precarious position.

“10 And the king of Israel said, Alas! that the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab!“

Not a friend of Jehovah, the King of Israel was convinced that the Lord had prepared for their demise. Fortunately for him, Jehoshaphat was a devoted follower of God.

“11 But Jehoshaphat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord, that we may enquire of the Lord by him?“

They went to Elisha, who was just as disgusted with Joram as Elijah had been with Ahab.

“13 And Elisha said unto the king of Israel, What have I to do with thee? get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother. And the king of Israel said unto him, Nay: for the Lord hath called these three kings together, to deliver them into the hand of Moab.
14 And Elisha said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee.
15 But now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the Lord came upon him.
16 And he said, Thus saith the Lord, Make this valley full of ditches.
17 For thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts.
18 And this is but a light thing in the sight of the Lord: he will deliver the Moabites also into your hand.”

Had it not been for the righteous Jehoshaphat, Elisha would have performed no miracle. The armies of Israel and Edom would have died in the desert. Instead, they were to dig ditches, into which water bubbled up from the ground. As the armies drank and revived themselves, the thirsty armies of Moab arrived to the valley. The reflection of the water looked like blood to them, and they were convinced the three kings’ armies had fought amongst themselves. The Moabites expected an easy conquest among those already dead. Instead, they found the armies of Judah and Israel prepared to receive them. The Moabites were slaughtered, and their cities burned.

You would think that Joram would have realized that Jehovah was not the bad guy, but the God who promised to protect and support them if they were obedient. Still, he will continue expecting bad things from God. In Joram and his father, Ahab, we get an interesting contrast with Jehoshaphat. Two kings of the chosen tribes of God, yet only one follows Jehovah in the proper way. Only one demonstrates faith, and sought out the prophet of God when things were going wrong. Jehoshaphat’s righteousness brought Elisha’s and Jehovah’s favor and saved the armies.

The King of Moab, however, was not about to have the three kings wipe his country off the map. He made a desperate attempt to save Moab:

“25 And they beat down the cities, and on every good piece of land cast every man his stone, and filled it; and they stopped all the wells of water, and felled all the good trees: only in Kir-haraseth left they the stones thereof; howbeit the slingers went about it, and smote it.
26 And when the king of Moab saw that the battle was too sore for him, he took with him seven hundred men that drew swords, to break through even unto the king of Edom: but they could not.
27 Then he took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him for a burnt offering upon the wall. And there was great indignation against Israel: and they departed from him, and returned to theirown land.”

While some worshiped Molech, a god who was worshiped by having one’s children pass through fire (sometimes a deadly event), the Moabites generally worshiped Baal. Human sacrifice was such an extreme event, even for those of Judah and Edom, that they realized the destruction had gone far enough and left the battle, returning to their own lands.

Elisha’s miracles continue
2 Kings 4

Elisha’s miracles often paralleled those of Elijah. Again tragedy hits a widow. This time she is the wife of a prophet who died. Creditors are beating at her door, and her sons would be sold into slavery. Elisha has her borrow as many vessels to hold oil as possible, and to pour from her own vessel into them. The oil continued pouring until all the vessels were filled, then sell the oil to pay off the creditors. Again, woman’s son dies, and Elisha (just like Elijah) must use his power to bring the child back to life.

Elisha was able to purify a poisoned stew, and on another occasion fed over 100 people with a little food one of his followers had. Each of these miracles is given as evidence of the power of God to affect individual lives. We’ve seen how God can assist kings and armies by providing water and victory in battle. Now the Lord shows that he has compassion and power to assist the widow, the child, and others who seek after God’s blessing.

Naaman the Leper
2 Kings 5

Leprosy was a deadly and feared disease in ancient days. Thought to be highly contagious, many nations forced lepers to dwell in colonies away from the healthy. According to the Mosaic Law, lepers were considered “unclean” and had to stay apart from the healthy until they became clean and presented themselves before the priest. Other diseases could be mistaken for leprosy, including skin diseases, so it is very possible many were called unclean, who did not have leprosy.

Even today, leprosy is a difficult bacterial disease. In 1995, over 2 million people were permanently disabled because of leprosy. Today we have treatment for it, with 20 million people being cured of it over the past 20 years.

Naaman was a leper. He was also the Syrian king’s chief advisor. It was likely that this man had tried many tonics and methods to get rid of the disease, all to no avail. Only in hearing that a prophet in Israel could heal him, was there a new hope for Naaman. In traveling to Israel and introducing himself to King Joram, the Israelite king was dismayed. He just finished fighting the Moabites, and now feared he would again have to fight against the Syrians if he were not able to heal the leper. Fortunately, Elisha heard of the arrival of Naaman, and sent for him.

Imagine being the second in command of a nation. In traveling, even in ancient days, it was normal and customary for the important people to greet the visitor. Instead, Elisha sends his lowly servant out to greet the Syrian. There are no trumpets. There is no great fanfare. There are no prophets calling forth thunder and lightning from the sky to torch the leprosy from the inflicted’s skin. There is just a small man in ragged clothing standing before Naaman.

“Go wash in the Jordan River seven times.” The simple servant turned around and walked back up the path to the prophet’s house.

Of course Naaman was incensed. This was not the way one treated an emissary from another country! Thankfully, Naaman had good counselors. “If the prophet had shown up with great fanfare and told you to build a temple to Jehovah, would you have done it?” Of course he would have. Why then murmur about such a simple thing? Naaman humbled himself, bathed, and was cleaned.

The story seems so simple today. Anyone could see he should have immediately trusted the prophet. Right? Yet we forget that he had seen many gods come and go in his own land. No doubt he had gone to all their temples and altars, seeking to be cleansed, only to find that none of them had the power to heal him. We often miss out on blessings and the healing power of God in our own lives, simply because we are too proud to do the simple things. If God were to ask us to cross the Great Plains with a handcart, we would quickly jump to the task. Yet when we are asked to pray daily, study our scriptures, or visit the sick and afflicted, we balk at such a simple thing. Yet it is in the simple things that God works some of his greatest works.

“Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise” (Alma 37:6).

Gehazi - seeking wealth

Gehazi was Elisha’s servant. He was the one Elisha sent down to tell Naaman to wash in the filthy waters of Jordan. As Elisha’s servant, he was responsible for handling all tasks and being completely obedient to Elisha and Jehovah. However, greed set in. When Naaman returned to thank the prophet, Elisha refused to take any gifts from the Syrian. Naaman did proclaim his faith in Jehovah, and that he personally would worship no other god, even as he served the Syrian king in his personal worship of his gods. Naaman departed, taking all his treasure with him.

Gehazi felt his master was foolish in not accepting even a little of the treasure:

“But Gehazi, the servant of Elisha the man of God, said, Behold, my master hath spared Naaman this Syrian, in not receiving at his hands that which he brought: but, as the Lord liveth, I will run after him, and take somewhat of him” (2 Kings 5:20).

Gehazi was clearly intent on taking some of the riches, as he swore to do it in God’s name (“as the Lord liveth”). So he devised an excuse and chased after the entourage. Naaman stopped and asked him if all was well with Elisha. Gehazi explained that as soon as he left, Elisha perceived two sons of the prophets were arriving and would need two changes of clothing and a talent of silver. Naaman insisted he take two talents, and Gehazi returned feeling like his future retirement was all set.

But Elisha perceived what occurred, and asked Gehazi, “Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow” 2 Kings 5:26-27).

Alma explained it, “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors” (Alma 34:32). There is plenty of time in the next life to receive great treasures and rewards from God. Here, we need to focus on the works of God, and serving Him. For those who first seek treasure before their reward in heaven, they will find that their treasure will rot and rust away. Gehazi now had his two talents, but no where to spend it easily. As a leper, he would be forced to join the unclean away from the cities of Israel and dwell in sickness and poverty the rest of his life. Though this seems like a terrible curse to place upon a person, perhaps it was Elisha’s way to help Gehazi repent and turn back to God. Just as Elijah brought drought upon Israel in order to humble the people, here was Gehazi’s chance to be humbled and return to God.

So are the trials we are given in life. Sometimes we will face health issues, economic problems, or family struggles. Each of these can be a curse or a blessing in disguise:

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).

Elisha versus the Syrians
2 Kings 6

In this period, the Syrians developed a massive army with thousands of chariots. The king of Syria devised a plan to secretly set up a camp for his army. This camp obviously was in a place that Israel’s King would frequently send his troops, as the Syrians were set in ambush.

Elisha warned Joram to not take his troops to that spot, as the Syrians lay in wait for them and would destroy them. In this instance, Joram wisely listened to the prophet. Instead, he sent his own spies to the area twice, and affirmed that the Syrians were waiting in ambush. When the Syrian king realized that his plan was foiled, he demanded of his counselors which one betrayed Syria:

“Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel? “ (2 Kings 6:11).

They insisted that none of them were traitors, but instead the problem lie with the prophet Elisha. The prophet perceived them, and warned Israel’s king. Syrian spies found the prophet dwelling at Dothan. Dothan was north of Samaria and not far from the Syrian border. The armies of Syria crept through the wilderness and surrounded the town by night. In the morning, Elisha’s servant left the house, only to see thousands of troops and chariots surrounding the village.

“And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
“And he (Elisha) answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kings 6:15-16).

The young man did not understand what Elisha meant, until the veil over his eyes were removed.
“Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (2 Kings 6:17)

The prophet then caused the Syrians to be blinded, and led the army carefully away to Samaria, the Israelite king’s city. Elisha delivered the Syrians to an astonished Joram, who asked Elisha what he should do with them - “My father, shall I smite them? shall I smite them?”. Elisha commanded him to treat them as captives. Feed them and send them humbly back to the king of Syria.

In this we learn that a wise person will follow the counsels of the living prophet. Israel’s armies risked destruction, but were spared because the king listened to the prophet. Perhaps Joram saw how Elisha helped the armies of Israel and Judah against Moab, and knew that God would help them, even if he didn’t always serve the Lord diligently. Joram had put away his parents’ god of Baal, but still worshiped the calves of Jeroboam (which represented El, as I discussed in a previous lesson). He was a heretic, not an apostate.

Next, the servant of Elisha discovered that the angels of God surround the righteous, ready to protect and defend them as necessary. In a recent discussion with someone elsewhere, he struggled with believing in invisible beings causing miracles. His example was that in the Middle Ages, many Christians believed that when one threw a ball into the air, an angel would catch it and hold it up until it let it go. Today, we understand it as a natural force, called gravity. My point was that while many things can be explained in scientific terms, it does not mean there is no God or angels. God may indeed work most things through natural law. But he can also step in and perform miracles on occasion. Natural law could explain all the Syrians being temporarily blinded at once: perhaps a bright flash of light. But it is also possible that angels or priesthood power caused the flash of light which blinded them.

“25 Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing; and thus it was until the coming of Christ.
26 And after that he came men also were saved by faith in his name; and by faith, they become the sons of God. And as surely as Christ liveth he spake these words unto our fathers, saying: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is good, in faith believing that ye shall receive, behold, it shall be done unto you.
27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?....
35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?
36 Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?
37 Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.
38 For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made” (Moroni 7:25-38).

We live in a doubting time. Just as the servant of Elisha was overwhelmed by the Syrian army and his fears shook him, Elisha’s faith revealed the true power and nature of God. Some wonder how we can defeat the powers of evil in our own day, whether radical terrorists or people who promote sin. The answer is in Elisha’s statement, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” The wicked do not outnumber us, even though we may not be able to see all the reinforcements God has ready to send to us. For those who are deceived into believing God is no longer, or that God no longer performs miracles, they are left alone on the battlefield. Many of them will choose to desert to the armies of the Syrians rather than be decimated.

But God will protect his faithful Saints in the last days, even if by power:

“Wherefore, he will preserve the righteous by his power, even if it so be that the fulness of his wrath must come, and the righteous be preserved, even unto the destruction of their enemies by fire. Wherefore, the righteous need not fear; for thus saith the prophet, they shall be saved, even if it so be as by fire.
“Behold, my brethren, I say unto you, that these things must shortly come; yea, even blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke must come; and it must needs be upon the face of this earth; and it cometh unto men according to the flesh if it so be that they will harden their hearts against the Holy One of Israel” (1 Nephi 22:17-18).

This hearkens back to Elijah’s experience. When King Ahaziah (Ahab’s oldest son) sent troops to destroy him, Elijah sent down fire from heaven to destroy them (1 Kings 1). Elijah was one man against all of Israel, including Ahab and Jezebel. Yet, he was able to perform great works that amazed the people, and caused many to return to Jehovah and accept him as the only God. Elisha picked up that mantle of responsibility, authority, and power, and equally did great things for the people and the kings of Israel and Judah.

Samaria Besieged
2 Kings 6-7

Ben-Hadad (Son of Hadad), King of Syria was not pleased to see his armies return to him empty handed. Instead of a ploy of stealth, he directly attacked Samaria and besieged it. Holding a city so that no one can go in or out is a waiting game. It requires patience to see who will blink first. When the Romans besieged Jerusalem in 70 AD for over a year, over a million people starved to death.

In this case, the Samaritans were also starving. Bread was scarce and sold for exorbitant prices. Imagine if the $1 loaf of bread you normally purchase zoomed to $100 a loaf! So intense is the starvation that a woman accosted King Joram, begging for justice. She and another woman each had a child. It was agreed upon that they would kill and eat the one child one day, and when needed would slay the other child. The other woman reneged on the agreement, refusing to kill her child after the first woman cooked hers. So is mass starvation when it occurs. People do horrific things, including cannibalism, when they are desperate and no help is near. It is a sign of the degenerate and destitute spirits of people, as we also see in Mormon’s witness against the Nephite people in their final days (Moroni 9).

The King was shocked and dismayed, renting (tearing off) his clothing and donning sackcloth and ashes as an outward sign of intense mourning and grief. Joram, who had previously called Elisha “father” for saving his armies from the Syrians, now cursed him and swore “God do so and more also to me, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat shall stand on him this day” (2 Kings 6:31). He did not understand that the siege was due to his own sins. He had not turned to Jehovah nor his prophet for deliverance, but chose instead to blame the destruction and cannibalism on Elisha.

Joram comes to the prophet and speaks to Elisha, saying “Behold, this evil is of the Lord; what should I wait for the Lord any longer?” (2 Kings 6:33). Elisha tells him that a little more patience is needed:

“Then Elisha said, Hear ye the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord, To morrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.
“Then a lord on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, Behold, if the Lord would make windows in heaven, might this thing be? And he said, Behold, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eat thereof” (2 Kings 7:1-2).

Four lepers sitting in the cities main gates decide that there’s no reason to starve. If they were to desert to the Syrian army, they would either be fed or killed. Either way, their problems would be over. Upon arriving, they find the army is gone, having left everything behind. We are told that the Syrians heard in the middle of the night the sound of thousands of chariots and soldiers. Believing Israel had the Hittites and Egyptian armies helping them, the Syrians fled in terror. The lepers stuffed their pockets, hid food and treasure for themselves, and then returned to Samaria.

“So they came and called unto the porter of the city: and they told them, saying, We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, neither voice of man, but horses tied, and asses tied, and the tents as they were” (v 10).

Still, Joram did not believe the prophesy of Elisha.

“And the king arose in the night, and said unto his servants, I will now shew you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we be hungry; therefore are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, When they come out of the city, we shall catch them alive, and get into the city” (v 12).

However, in sending a small group to check out the situation, and finding the Syrians did indeed flee, the king tried to establish an orderly march of the people to the site. The lord who mocked Elisha before was placed to regulate movement out of the main city gate. However, once the people heard there was food and treasure outside, they ran through the gates, trampling him. Elisha’s prophesy came true.

Interestingly, Joram and others were ready to blame Jehovah and Elisha for the siege. Would it have lasted as long had the king and people humbly gone before Elisha earlier and prayed for God’s deliverance? Why is it that we often must wait until death looks us straight in the eye before we choose to humble ourselves and obey? We have a similar example in the Book of Mormon. Laman and Lemuel bound Nephi on the ship to the Promised Land. They wanted to party and were tired of his preachings. Storms came in that became worse and worse over a series of days, knocking them off course. The Liahona compass, which they had come to rely upon for directions, did not function. It was not until they realized that destruction was imminent that they humbled themselves enough to untie Nephi and ask the prophet to beseech the Lord for safety (2 Nephi 18).

Jehu Anointed King and Slays Jezebel
2 Kings 9-10

Elisha continues performing works in Israel. He foresees a seven year drought and gives the people a warning regarding it. After the famine, he sees Hazael, a servant of the king of Syria, and weeps. When Hazael asks the prophet why he should weep, Elisha states that he knew Hazael would be the next king of Syria and would slaughter many Israelites. Hazael returns to the Syrian king, assassinates him in his sickbed and takes his place as king.

The kings of Israel and Judah were related. Israel’s King Joram was the son of Ahab. King Ahaziah of Judah was Ahab’s son-in-law. Both were very wicked. In fact, Ahaziah introduced the worship of Baal into Judah. The two went to battle against the new king of Syria. King Hazael defeated the armies of Judah and Israel, wounding Joram in battle. Joram and Ahaziah return to Jezreel, the military capitol of Israel and the home of Jezebel.

Elisha sent one of the sons of the prophets to Jehu and anointed him to be the new king of Israel. Jehu sat with other generals of the Israelite army discussing important issues, possibly regarding the war with Syria and how the kings had failed them, when the prophet arrived.

“5 And when he came, behold, the captains of the host were sitting; and he said, I have an errand to thee, O captain. And Jehu said, Unto which of all us? And he said, To thee, O captain.
6 And he arose, and went into the house; and he poured the oil on his head, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of the Lord, even over Israel.
7 And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel.
8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel:
9 And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah:
10 And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled” (2 Kings 9).

Jehu gathers his men and furiously rides his chariot to Jezreel. Joram sends messengers out to greet Jehu and ask him, “is it peace?” wanting to know if the Syrians declared a truce. Jehu answered each messenger sent with, “What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me”. In succession, several messengers lined up behind Jehu and followed him.

Finally, Kings Joram and Ahaziah climb onto their chariots and go out to meet Jehu.

“22 And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?
23 And Joram turned his hands, and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah.”

Both kings are slain, and Joram’s body tossed upon the field of Naboth. Naboth was an Israelite that owned a field next to the palace in Jezreel. Ahab desired it for a garden and mourned over the field, because Naboth refused to sell it. Jezebel convinced her husband to trump up charges of treason against Naboth and slay him. Ahab then rejoiced in the field he had acquired. This is reminiscent of other women who have tempted their husbands or fathers to do evil in order to get gain (see Ether 8, Mark 6).

This killing of Naboth and his family rested heavily upon Jehu, who said to his men, “Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, saith the Lord; and I will requite thee in this plat, saith the Lord. Now therefore take and cast him into the plat of ground, according to the word of the Lord“ (v 26).

Arriving in Jezreel, Jezebel looked out from her palace window. It was near the gate, which probably faced north towards Syria). Knowing trouble was about, she took the time to paint her face and make herself look queenly. Jehu called to the servants above and told them to toss her down. The horses of Jehu and his soldiers trampled her to death. Going inside to eat, he then commanded that she be buried, being a queen. However, when they returned, all that was left of her were her skull, the palms of her hands and feet. The prophet’s foresaw her death, and that she would not be honored with burial.

“36 Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the Lord, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel:
37 And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel.”

Come with me, and See my Zeal for the Lord
2 Kings 11

In chapter eleven, Jehu commands that the people slay all seventy of the sons of Ahab, ensuring there is no one in the family line to reign again. They send the heads of the men in baskets to Jehu, so he can verify they truly all are dead.

The new king turns to his friend Jonadab and says, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord” (v 16). Jehu then called forth all the priests of Baal and Jezebel in the entire country for a huge feast to Baal.

Publicly, Jehu pronounced: "Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much” (v 18).

Jehu called for all the prophets, servants, and priests of Baal to attend a great sacrifice. He proclaimed that those who did not show up for the sacrifice would not live. Special vestments were made for the worshipers of Baal. They were all gathered into the chief Temple of Baal in Jezreel, filling the place.

“23 And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshippers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the Lord, but the worshippers of Baal only.“

Once there were only the followers of Baal inside, Jehu sent 80 men to kill them all.
“And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them. And they brake down the image of Baal, and brake down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day. Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel” (vs 26-28).

The temple of Baal was turned into a draught house, or tavern.

Still, Jehu turned away from the proper worship of Jehovah, and towards the worship of Jeroboam’s calves (of El). As with others before him, he rejected the complete apostasy of Baal worship, and turned to the heresy of worshiping El without God’s permission to do so, nor the proper order in which to do it.

Because Israel did not fully return to God or give heed to the prophets of God, they fell under the terror of King Hazael of Syria, who crushed the Israelites from the Mediterrannean coast all the way to the east side of the Jordan River.

Both Israel and Judah will continue struggling with apostasy over the years. Israel’s time is numbered before the Assyrians will carry them off. Only Judah will occasionally have a righteous king, one of which we’ll discuss next time.


Elijah - Bible history and traditions: Wikipedia:

Leprosy - Wikipedia:

David Larsen’s lesson #29 on Elisha: