Come Follow Me: Genesis 5-11; Moses 8
President Russell M. Nelson encouraged us in the October 2021 General Conference to seek "pure doctrine, pure truth and pure revelation."
In stating this, it opens up several questions. If there is a pure form of these, are there impure forms? What if our doctrine, truth and revelations are only 75 percent pure? More or less?
Clearly, we seek the pure forms because previous teachings and concepts have occasionally come to us in impure versions, often because the teacher/receiver is not ready for the fullness.
For example, Nephi noted to his brothers that in the Vision of the Tree of Life, Lehi did not notice the filthiness of the waters, because his mind was caught up elsewhere (1 Nephi 15). Our current understanding, our biases, our beliefs can hinder our receiving greater inspiration. Why could God only go to Joseph Smith in the First Vision? Probably because others were already too steeped in traditional Christianity to be able to open their hearts and minds to a radical new revelation.
So it often is with scripture and teachings. In D&C 88:78, we read:
Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed
more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the
gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are
expedient for you to understand...
Here we learn that we must teach and learn doctrine AND theory. It is okay to learn theory. The problem comes when we confuse theory with doctrine. Humans do it all the time. We theorized why there was a priesthood ban, blaming ancient curses (discussed below). We theorized over whether plural marriage is required for exaltation. We theorize over the age of the earth and of creation. We theorize over how the atonement works.
Theorizing is not a problem. The problem lies in moving theories into the pure doctrine category, when they don't belong there. Members, including some past church leaders, are guilty of doing this. Such was very common in the 20th century. The Church has sought to move away from such theory as doctrine, since then.
Latter-day Saint scholar Ben Spackman asks us to consider a road map. You can use it to plan trips across the country, finding interesting stops along the way. Can you use that same map to determine the altitude of a city? The depth and width of a river? How many trees are in a forest, and what type trees are there? No. The map is a representation of the real thing. It isn't the exact same size as reality. It is flat, while the earth is round. It doesn't really show the height of hills or mountains, nor the depth of valleys. There is a purpose for a road map, and as long as we use it for that purpose, it works well.
However, we enter into problems when we use the map for other purposes. A state map will not show you how to cross the country. It also won't show the little streets in a small town. It is a representation of the real thing, but doesn't contain all the information found in reality.
So it is with theory. We use a theory from Newton to figure movement and gravity of normal sized things. We use another theory to determine sub-atomic particles, which are not affected by gravity. Currently, we do not have a theory that fits all things, so we use two different maps, understanding neither is complete.
And in the gospel, we find theory, also. In modern scripture and the temple, there are at least 7 differing Creation stories. In seeing the differences, such as Genesis 1 creates a flat earth and all the universe is tiny; to Abraham's Kolob preceding the creation of the earth and heavens, showing a very expansive universe. Each story is a map to show important things of the reality of God's creations. They are not a scientific explanation of how the earth was created, as science completely disagrees with a young earth creation. The religious map does not include science in it, when it comes to the Creation. Also, ancient Hebrews did not understand history and science as we do today. Noah's flood was about 20 feet deep, which would not begin to cover Mt Everest, the Andes, nor the Rocky Mountains. However, for ancient people whose mountains were only a hundred feet high, perhaps it would seem all could be covered up.
And so there are different theories on Noah's flood, which we'll discuss more below. There is nothing wrong with most of the theories, as long as we recognize they are maps or representations of the real thing, often missing key pieces of information.
Examples of actual pure doctrine: God lives, Jesus is the Christ. Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, the Word of Wisdom.
Examples of theory, sometimes taught as doctrine: How the atonement happened, Joseph Smith and his successors are infallible, Diet Coke is against the Word of Wisdom.
In the end, we find that we have very little pure doctrine, and a lot of theory built up around the doctrine as we attempt to understand it. There's nothing wrong with this, as long as we recognize that theory doesn't equal doctrine, while still being useful as a representation that helps us understand the doctrine.
"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times" or so Charles
Dickens described the circumstances in Europe when one compared London
to Paris. The peaceful and calm order of London seemed preferable to the
chaotic mob violence of revolutionary France. Yet while many fled
France for safer shores, others were drawn to the insanity (Dickens,
Tale of Two Cities).
So it was in
the days of Enoch. Because violent secret combinations were abounding
in the world, many sought safety and refuge in the City of Enoch. Over
several centuries, Enoch's people had refined themselves spiritually.
They found that great faith and obedience brought God's protection and
blessings. Finding themselves surrounded by evil men and the Watchers (fallen angels), meant they had to rely on God to survive. Under Enoch's
guidance, they put their enemies to flight, even though they were vastly
outnumbered. Enoch's city eventually became so righteous as to become
Zion, the City of God. In time, Zion was taken from the world, as "God
received it up into his own bosom" (Moses 7:18-21, 64-69), where it
would remain until it returns to earth at the Savior's second coming.
gone, there are few righteous left on earth. Methuselah, Lamech and Noah
preach repentance among the people. As additional people believe on
their words, the Lord either translates them to the city of Enoch, or
allows them to peacefully die prior to the Flood.
Satan doesn't have original ideas. In deceiving the world, he convinces them of the rightness of his methods.
We are told
that there are two people: the sons of God, and the sons of man (vs.
13-14). The sons of God gave heed to the things of God. Meanwhile, the
sons of man focused on the worldly things, such as the physical beauty
of their women. More and more of the sons of God were enticed by the
pretty daughters of worldly men, and left their holy callings to join the
Watchers, fallen sons of God who used holy secrets for wicked purposes.
are mentioned in several ancient writings, including the Dead Sea
Scrolls. The early texts state that the women stayed fair and comely by
taking a potion that terminated pregnancy. For those who did have
children, they bore giants. The writings state they were as tall as a
tree, consuming and destroying as they went forth. In Moses 8:18, we
read that the giants sought to kill Noah. Moses 8 ties in perfectly with
the ancient stories of the Watchers.
always seek to have their methods accepted as part of the norm. They
insist they are just as good as everyone else, and attempt to convince
all to accept their ways. In vs. 21, the apostates begin by proclaiming
they are "sons of God." They have worked hard in order to eat and drink.
They married and had children, seeking to multiply and replenish the
earth. And while their sons were not active priesthood bearers, they
were "mighty men," like the ancient heroes (action figure sold
separately). They were convinced that God accepted them on their terms.
In reality, "God saw that the wickedness of men had become great in the
earth; and every man was lifted up in the imagination of the thoughts of
his heart, being only evil continually (vs. 20-22).
France in its revolution, violence became the norm. Mobs and secret
combinations ruled, many innocent people were falsely accused and
murdered. Spiritual peace was replaced with a frenzied blood lust. God
had no choice but to destroy those who were ripened in iniquity.
Today we see
nations, cultures, religions and people, who believe God will accept
them on their terms. Our nation is obsessed with selfishness, sex and
pills are used to end unwanted pregnancies. Our heroes are mighty men of
renown on the gridiron or on the big screen. You can purchase the
action figure. Spirituality is okay, as long as its rules
and expectations aren't imposed on everyone.
drink, marry and are given in marriage. In fact, when marriage bores us,
society encourages us to divorce and marry several more times. Marriage becomes just one of many forms of relationship.
is no longer a sin, but a freedom of expression. True intimacy is
replaced by a new norm: free sex. It is the norm in media and in most
story of Noah briefly notes the apostate version of marriage and
intimacy, violence is the big focus of concern. Our society is as
addicted to violence as it is to sex. Movie blockbusters are exciting
because of the violence. The biggest video games are based on some level
of violence. Grand Theft Auto and other extremely violent games are
based on glorifying vice and violence.
Our world is quickly resembling Noah's.
Several issues come up when discussing the Flood. We’ll look at several of the issues.
Issue #1: Was it a global flood?
Various Christians, including LDS, are
divided on this topic. The standard is to believe that the flood covered
the entire earth. One of the main reasons for LDS is because it was
the baptism of the earth (which will also be baptized with fire/Spirit
at the last day). Those who have this view see the earth as a sentient
being, taking literally the event in Moses 7, where Enoch sees the earth
languish and speak out against the wickedness of mankind. If the earth
is a sentient being, can think and speak, and requires baptism, then the
world would necessarily have to be fully immersed.
Global flood stories are found all over
the world. One of the earliest stories is the Epic of Gilgamesh. In the
story, Gilgamesh seeks the secrets of happiness. Through his world
travels, he runs across an ancient man, who with his wife survived a
global flood. Among the Inca of South America, the great Flood was a
major event that occurred prior to their peoples being established.
The opposing viewpoint is that the Flood
was a local phenomenon. Several arguments are used. First, there is no
geological evidence for a global flood, at least not in human history.
With a global flood, one should be able to find a very thick layer of
sedimentary rock everywhere in the world dating to the time of Noah
(believed to be around 2500-2000 BC). Geology has used such evidence to
show major asteroid strikes in the past, including one 65 million years
ago that killed off the dinosaurs. This strike left a global layer of
iridium dating to that period. So, where is the flood layer?
Second, would be the problem of
gathering all of the animals into the ark. With the thousands of species
available today, there is no way he could easily have fit them into the
ark. Or feed them for 13 months, for that matter. If we suppose there
were just a few species that evolved later into other species (black
bears into grizzlies, polar bears, etc), then we have a problem with the distribution of animals after the flood. Evolution, according to
science, does occur, but not quite that much in just a few thousand
years. Also, each of these species would somehow have to repopulate the
world, crossing oceans and other barriers. Polar Bears would only go to
the Arctic. Penguins only go to the Southern hemisphere. Animals with
placentas (kangaroo, koala) would go to Australia.
If Noah were to gather up two of every
kind of insect (creeping thing), then the ark would have been filled
with just the insects, which are found in the millions of species. And
how would earth worms crawl from one continent to the next?
Finally, there is archaeological
evidence of civilizations continuing throughout that period. If there
were a global flood, we would not see thousands of human and millions of
animal remains dating to that time period. If only two bears were on
the ark, it would take hundreds of years for them to repopulate even a
small portion of the earth.
So, did the global Flood really occur? Maybe.
It is in issues like this that, at least
for now, we must separate science and religion. When God reveals all
things, we will see the two work hand in hand. With science as
incomplete and religious texts as occasionally literal and occasionally
metaphor, it is difficult to know where the facts end and the
theories/assumptions of either begin.
If we keep an open mind, we can gain
much good from considering any or all theories regarding the Flood (and
other Bible stories). For example, there are scientists and Bible
scholars today, who suggest the Flood may have been a regional, rather
than global, phenomenon. For Noah, such a giant flood would have seemed
to engulf the entire world. Think about the tsunami of 2004, which
inundated coast lines across the ocean, but primarily around Indonesia
and Thailand. Over 100,000 people died that day. For those involved, it
would definitely have seemed that the world was drowning in water.
Issue #2: Was it two or seven animals?
In Genesis 6, God commands Noah that the
ark was to be loaded two by two. In Genesis 7:2, God commands him that 7
clean animals were to be loaded. Then in Genesis 7:9, only two of each
are loaded. So, which is it?
The Documentary Hypothesis, which was discussed in a previous lesson, also applies to the Flood. In his book, Who Wrote the Bible?, scholar
Richard E. Friedman shows that we actually have TWO stories of the
Flood combined in one story. One story, from the ancient author J tells
us that there were two of each animal going aboard the ark, and that
“the flood was upon the earth 40 days” (Gen 7:17). The second story,
from the Priest (P) source, was only interested in boarding the clean
animals, and so updated the story to include 7 clean animals. The
seventh animal was for an animal sacrifice. Meanwhile, P’s story had the
waters “prevailing upon the earth” for 150 days (Genesis 7:24). In
Genesis 8, we see the waters settling both after 150 days (vs. 3) and
after 40 days (vs. 6). One story tells of Noah sending a raven out,
while the other tells of a dove being sent out. Dr Friedman shows how
you can literally pull two separate Flood stories out and have two
perfectly good, but different, Flood stories.
We tend to read the Bible as if it were
written by one person, or a closely knit group of people, who all had
the same information and purpose. According to the Documentary
Hypothesis, the Bible had several editor/authors, who took their
oral/written version of ancient stories and spun them to meet their
religious and political views. As we continue through the Bible, we’ll
see more evidence of the DH and how the political winners tried to
rewrite history. This is perfect evidence of the LDS teaching, “we
believe the Bible to be the word of God as far it is translated
correctly” (Article of Faith 8).
Noah and the Jaredites
If the flood were a regional flood, Noah
would not have to carry thousands of species with him, and then have
them repopulate the entire earth after the Flood. Instead, he would
stock the ark, just as the Jaredites stocked their barges (Ether 2).
Since the Jaredites did not know where they were going, how long they
would be traveling, or if the flora and fauna in their new promised land
would be different than what they were accustomed to; they took
everything in their own locale with them. They took fish and honey bees
with them (vs. 2-3), as well as seeds of plants they were familiar with.
Clearly they took their prophet’s guidance on food storage seriously.
They had prepared their ark, just as Noah’s ark was prepared (Ether
6:7). In fact, according to Hugh Nibley, some ancient texts teach of an
ancient stone/plant, called the Pyrophilus, which shined in the darkness
and was used by Noah (http://emp.byui.edu/MarrottR/NoahsArkShiningStone.pdf)
Whether it was 40 or 150 days, the Flood
eventually receded enough for Noah and the animals to disembark. Noah
makes a sacrifice, obviously from the spare 7th clean animal. Had he
sacrificed one of the two clean animals of J, there would not have been
sufficient to repopulate the world. Of course, in Noah’s day, there was
no separation of clean and unclean animals. The concept of clean and
unclean came with the Mosaic Law, which would not happen for another
thousand years. However, the Priest “P” author(s) who updated the Flood
story, felt it imperative to ensure Noah was kosher in his sacrifices
according to their own laws.
The Lord is pleased by the sacrifice and
promises to never flood the earth by flood again. As a token of this
promise, God places a rainbow in the sky. Some Christians believe this
is the first time a rainbow was ever seen on earth. However, this is an
argument from silence, as there is no evidence that rainbows were not
seen prior to the Flood.
According to Joseph Smith, the bow does
signify a major promise. “I have asked of the Lord concerning His
coming; and while asking the Lord, He gave a sign and said, “In the days
of Noah I set a bow in the heavens as a sign and token that in any year
that the bow should be seen the Lord would not come; but there should
be seed time and harvest during that year; but whenever you see the bow
withdrawn, it shall be a token that there shall be famine, pestilence,
and great distress among the nations, and that the coming of the Messiah
is not far distant” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, section 6,
I have seen a rainbow already this year (2010), so we’re safe for now.
The Noahic Covenant
The covenant of Noah is the covenant
given to the Gentile nations, according to the Jews. It is the covenant
Gentiles are expected to live by, if they wish to have God’s blessings;
while the Jews have the Law of Moses to guide them.
The Noahic Covenant contains the
following agreement: God will bless Noah and his children, and not
destroy them by flood, if they do the following:
1. Be fruitful, multiply, and replenish the earth (Gen 9:1).
2. You can eat meat, but do not eat blood of the animals you kill (9:4).
3. Do not murder (9:5-6).
Each of these commands ties in directly
with the sins of Cain and the wicked, prior to the destruction of the
world by flood. As mentioned above, ancient texts suggest the Watchers
had potions to end pregnancy. The people were not interested in
replenishing the earth. The people had blood lust, and were not
concerned about eating not only the flesh of animals, but also the
blood. And violence and murder had become the norm among mankind.
Curse of Canaan
For many years, traditional Christians
and many Latter-day Saints believed that the Canaanites (Gen 9:18) were black
skinned. This belief added to the concept of the “curse of Cain” being
promulgated through the lineage of Ham (with a black wife descended from
Cain). Archaeology has proven that the Canaanites were a Semitic/white
group, not black. If there ever were a curse given to Canaan by Noah, or
on Cain by God, it was not passed down to black Africans. Sadly,
traditions that are based on speculation often hurt groups of people.
The ban on the priesthood may have been put in place by God and his
prophets, but it had nothing to do with a curse. As mentioned in an
earlier lesson, Pres David O. McKay and other prophets researched the
priesthood ban, and could not find an original commandment or revelation
regarding it. All we know is it took a revelation in 1978 to lift the
ban, and I’m thankful to live in this time when we are beyond the ban
and embracing people of all races as members in full fellowship (see
more at Black LDS Mormons).
The Church has a list of gospel topics, which includes "race and the priesthood." The essay notes that while earlier church members and leaders believed and taught about the curse of Cain, it is not believed nor accepted today. It was an instance of a theory being taught so much that it became doctrine - until modern revelation showed that it wasn't.
So, Noah got drunk and Ham saw him
naked. Why curse Canaan, if Ham saw him naked? Why not curse Ham, or why
curse just one of Ham’s sons, and not all of them?
In the ancient Book of Jasher (Sepir Ha Yasher
or Book of the Upright), we find an interesting reason why this occured.
The tradition had it that Adam’s garment was a special treasure and
keepsake for the sons of God. It was handed down from righteous father
to righteous son (Jasher 7:24). Noah received the garments at the death
of Methuselah and took them into the ark with him. It is possible
Noah used the garment to attract the animals, and to get them into the
ark, just as Adam used them to name the animals in the beginning.
However, some time after leaving the
ark, Ham stole the garment from Noah. It is very likely that Ham stole
it while Noah was drunk in his tent, and the garment of Adam was
replaced with another garment by Shem and Japheth. The Book of Jasher
tells us that Ham gave it to his son, Cush, who passed them down through
his own lineage. Cush gave the garments to Nimrod (the same one
mentioned in the Book of Abraham), who used the garments to create his
hunting prowess and power.
Is it possible that Noah cursed Canaan and the other children of Ham, because of this theft?
Jasher tells us:
And in their going out (of the ark), Ham stole those garments from Noah
his father, and he took them and hid them from his brothers.
28 And when Ham begat his first born Cush, he gave him the garments in secret, and they were with Cush many days.
29 And Cush also concealed them from his
sons and brothers, and when Cush had begotten Nimrod, he gave him those
garments through his love for him, and Nimrod grew up, and when he was
twenty years old he put on those garments.
30 And Nimrod became strong when he put
on the garments, and God gave him might and strength, and he was a
mighty hunter in the earth, yea, he was a mighty hunter in the field,
and he hunted the animals and he built altars, and he offered upon them
the animals before the Lord.
31 And Nimrod strengthened himself, and
he rose up from amongst his brethren, and he fought the battles of his
brethren against all their enemies round about.
32 And the Lord delivered all the
enemies of his brethren in his hands, and God prospered him from time to
time in his battles, and he reigned upon earth.
According to this story, due to his use
of the garment, Nimrod gained control of the world around him. Just like
the Watchers before the Flood, Nimrod was using the powers of heaven
for evil purposes. (See: Book of Jasher 7)
The Tower of Babel
Eventually, Nimrod became powerful enough that he ruled everything. The Book of Jasher states:
Nimrod came up
with the idea of creating a tower (Ziggurat temple) that could reach
heaven. In so doing, he sought to kick God off his throne. Not only did
he wish to rule the world, he also wanted to rule the heavens. How did
Nimrod suppose he could reach heaven if he could not see it?
Or maybe he could see it. According to George Laub’s autobiography, Joseph Smith taught him the following possible theory:
And all nations and tongues heard of his (Nimrod’s) fame, and they
gathered themselves to him, and they bowed down to the earth, and they
brought him offerings, and he became their lord and king, and they all
dwelt with him in the city at Shinar, and Nimrod reigned in the earth
over all the sons of Noah, and they were all under his power and
46And all the earth was of one tongue
and words of union, but Nimrod did not go in the ways of the Lord, and
he was more wicked than all the men that were before him, from the days
of the flood until those days.
Enoch’s city, as
we saw earlier, was taken up to heaven. If George Laub’s account is
correct, it was still in the process of being taken up, probably
floating in the stratosphere. Nimrod could see it. He knew it was
Enoch’s city, as his great-grandfather Noah and grandfather Ham would
have told everyone. This was Nimrod’s chance to overthrow the holy city
and ascend with it into heaven, where he believed he could toss God out
on his ear. After all, Nimrod did possess the powerful garment of Adam,
and had so far been invincible against his enemies.
God had no option but to scatter the
people at the tower, for “nothing will be restrained from them, which
they have imagined to do” (Gen 11:6).
Isaiah would prophesy centuries later
against Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon in 600 BC, who would seek to
restore the glories of Nimrod’s Babylon:
I will tell the story of the designs of building the tower of Babel. It
was designed to go to the city of Enoch for the veil was not yet so
great that it hit it from their sight, so they concluded to go to the
city of Enoch. For God gave him (Enoch) place above the impure air for
he could breathe a pure air and him and his city was taken” (George Laub
Autobiography, pg 14). |
art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning? How art
thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations? For thous
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: I will ascend above the heights
of the clouds; I will be like the Most High (El Elyon). Yet thou shalt
be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit” (Isaiah 14:12-15). |
describes Nimrod, Nebuchadnezzar AND Satan. Each sought to overthrow God
and his kingdom. The stars of God were the divine sons of God. The
“mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north” represented the
divine council in heaven, all divine sons of El Elyon, God Most High. In
overthrowing the city of Enoch, Nimrod sought to do exactly as Satan
tried to do in the Grand Council in heaven. He gathered his strength and
armies, and sought a war in heaven. Only God could end each rebellion.
Once the people at the Tower of Babel
could no longer speak the same language, they were unable to continue in
unity, and dispersed. Nimrod’s hopes of overthrowing Enoch’s city and
the kingdom of Heaven were thwarted.
Nimrod’s power diminishes as his people disperse. But we will see more of Nimrod and Adam’s garment again.
Satan Seeks Continually to Overthrow Heaven
But a few centuries had past after the
destruction of the world by the Flood, and Satan again had created a new
set of Watchers, sons of Adam/Noah, who should have used their power
and responsibility for good purposes, but used them to get gain and
power, instead. Only by a show of great force was God able to thwart
Satan’s efforts to unite the world in overthrowing heaven.
During the Millennium, Satan will be
bound for a season. At the end of the thousand years of heavenly peace
on earth, Satan will be loosed again. He will tempt and sway the sons of
God in that day to reject the heavenly plan, and many will join him in
the last day as Gog and Magog (Ezekiel 38) in a final effort to throw
God out of the earthly “heaven”, and to reestablish it as Satan’s
In the temple, we practice ascending to
the Celestial Kingdom. In our daily walk, do we seek to ascend in the
manner God wants us to, humbly and meekly serving? Or do we seek to gain
power and force our way into heaven?
Indications of Multiple Authorship in the 5 Books of Moses
For many Christians, the idea of multiple authorship of the
Pentateuch/Torah is heresy. Yet, it is clearly illustrated, as they now
exist, the first five books of the Bible were not written by Moses but
by later writers. And while there are many theories that scholars now
have to argue against the Documentary Hypothesis, the idea of multiple
authors isn’t questioned.
Internal evidence begins with verses that easily demonstrate that
portions were written long after Moses’ time. At the end of Deuteronomy,
it talks about the death of Moses – something that would be very
difficult for Moses to write about. The Pentateuch notes that during the
time of Genesis, “Canaanites still dwelt in the land.” Why make such a
statement, if Moses is writing this? Of Course, the Canaanites are still
in the land! Only later, in King David’s time, do we see an end to the
Scholars began to note that there was special use of the two major names
of God: El Elyon and Yahweh/Jehovah. Rarely are they used together in
the Torah, but they still create conflict in scripture. God said to
Moses that he appeared to Abraham as El Shaddai (God of the Mountain),
but never as Yahweh. However, in Gen 4, people are calling upon the name
of Yahweh during the time of Enoch, and the name is used frequently in
regards to Abraham’s time, as well.
Therefore, we can presume that Exodus 6:3 comes from another source that
was not aware of the name Yahweh being used at the time of Abraham and
Richard E Friedman, in Who Wrote the Bible?, explains that El was the
chief God of the Palestine region, ruling over the council of gods. “The
God of Israel was Yahweh. He, too, was male, patriarchal, a ruler, and
not identified with any one force in nature.” We will see that early
Hebrews saw Yahweh as a member of El’s council, assigned Israel as his
kingdom to rule over. Later, the Jews would combine El and Yahweh into
one god and remove God’s consort and the divine council.
triplets are noted in the scripture – where events and sayings are said
twice or even three times. We have Moses receiving the Ten Commandments
on both Mt Sinai and Mt Horeb. Moses twice goes to Meribah and brings
water out of a rock – in one version, the angel of the Lord stands upon
the rock Moses is to strike, while in the other version, Moses is
disobedient to God and ends up losing his right to enter into the
Promised Land (Nephi only notes the first version in the Book of
The story of Noah’s Flood is the perfect example of a doublet that was
combined. We have Noah commanded in one story to build the ark, because a
flood is coming. In one story, he brings in animals two by two, while
in the other, 7 clean animals are brought in (clean/unclean only occurs
in the Mosaic law, and shows a later story line development). One story
gives 40 days and nights for the flood, while the other floods for
almost a year. One has a dove, the other a raven. One story consistently
calls God, Elohim, while the other consistently calls him Yahweh.
So, we end up with scholars, such as Wellhausen, suggesting 4 major
writers for the Pentateuch. Friedman writes, “There was evidence that
the Five Books of Moses had been composed by combining four different
source documents into one continuous history. For working purposes, the
four documents were identified by alphabetic symbols. The document that
was associated with the divine name Yahweh/Jehovh was called J. The
document that was identified as referring to the deity as God (in Hebrew
Elohim) was called E. The third document, by far the largest, included
most of the legal sections and concentrated a great deal on matters
having to do with priests, and so it was called P. And the source that
was found only in the book of Deuteronomy was called D.”
Friedman suggests that J and E were two rival priestly authors. King
David had two priests, Abiathar from the lineage of Moses and keepers of
the tabernacle in Shiloh (northern kingdom), and Zadok, who descended
from Aaron. When Solomon became king, Abiathar had supported Solomon’s
brother, so the new king sent him into exile back to the Northern
Kingdom, and created laws that benefited Judah and the southern kingdom,
while creating bigger burdens on the north. This political division
likely created the sources for J (southern kingdom of Judah) and E
(northern kingdom of 10 tribes).
In Genesis 1 and 2, we get two different creation stories. Genesis 1
calls God, Elohim 35 times. Genesis 2 calls God, Yahweh 11 times. They
get the orders of things different. Genesis 1 has plants, animals then
man and woman. Genesis 2 has man, plants, animals, then woman. While
most now think Genesis 1 was a P document, Friedman suggests it was
inspired by E, while Genesis 2 is agreed to be by J. Later, Friedman
notes that P is clearly influenced by the E source on its writings.
We also see this in the story of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt. For J,
Judah is the hero of the story, stopping his brothers from slaying
Joseph and later offering himself as a slave in the stead of Benjamin.
Judah gets the birthright and kingship. Meanwhile, E has Reuben stop the
slaying, and Joseph is the hero – receiving the birthright and a double
portion (Ephraim and Manasseh) for his inheritance.
Friedman also gives this interesting concept that divides E and J: “In
E, Moses’ faithful assistant is Joshua. Joshua leads the people in the
battle against the Amalekites; he serves as watchman inside the Tent of
Meeting (Tabernacle) whenever Moses is not meeting with the deity there;
he is the only Israelite who is not involved in the golden calf
incident; and he seeks to prevent the misuse of prophecy. In J, on the
other hand, Joshua plays no role. Why the special treatment of Joshua in
E but not in J? Joshua was a northern hero. He is identified as coming
from the tribe of Ephraim….”
E never mentions the ark of the covenant, seeing it as made of gold, and
therefore, against the 10 commandments. J’s version of the 10
commandments states that things of molten gold are prohibited, and so
both the ark and cherubim of the Mercy Seat are allowed, being plated
with gold. However, the Tabernacle IS important to E, as it dwells in
the northern kingdom in the city of Shiloh. For E, the Tabernacle
represents the presence of God.
Meanwhile, J never mentions the Tabernacle. The ark represents God’s
presence. It goes before Israel into battle and while the Tabernacle
remains in Shiloh, the ark is carried to Jerusalem by David (whom J
The Deuteronomists lived during the time of King Josiah. During his
reign, the temple priests "found" the book of the law, while renovating
the temple. This book, Deuteronomy, charged Israel with removing all
altars and places of worship, including any altars to Yahweh, outside
the Temple. So, while Hezekiah removed altars to other gods, leaving any
high places (Bamoth) dedicated to Yahweh, Josiah removes everything.
Josiah's reforms will include changing the Temple, as well. No longer
will it have God's consort, Asherah within it (represented by the Tree
of Life). No angels, no visions, etc. It is now a place for animal
sacrifice, and not much more. Temple centric worship is possibly one of
the major issues brought up by the prophets of Jeremiah's day. Lehi
would go against the Deuteronomists, by building altars in the
wilderness, as will the Rechabites, whom Jeremiah praised.One of Lehi's
major visions, that of the Tree of Life, has the Tree representing the
love of God, which is shown to be the mother of Jesus. The Nephites
understood the importance of God's wife, his Asherah, in the creation of
Life and religion.
These are just a few examples of the religious/political divisions that
occured in Israel. They were written into their earliest memories, as
each side had its heroes and villains, holy laws and beliefs. And this
understanding is important for us to understand conflicting scriptures,
and conflicts between the various factions in Israel, as it shared with
us its story(ies).
Book of Jasher: Book of Jasher 7