Sunday, January 16, 2022

Come Follow Me: Genesis 5, Moses 6

 Come Follow Me: Genesis 5, Moses 6

Previous Gospel Doctrine lessons I've posted relating to these chapters can be found here:

As we move into Genesis and the 5 books of Moses (also known as the Pentateuch or Torah), it is important we consider some scholarly theory regarding it. Much of the following section comes from college textbooks, such as John Collins, an Introduction to the Hebrew Bible.

Indications of Multiple Authorship

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 Canaanites.

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 before.

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.
Doublets and 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 Mormon).

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 celebrates).

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). 


God Reveals Himself

And God revealed himself unto Seth, and he rebelled not, but offered an acceptable sacrifice, like unto his brother Abel.  (Moses 6:3)

 God sets a pattern in the scriptures. He revealed himself to Adam in the Garden. He revealed himself to Abel, Cain and now Seth. In doing so, God offers mankind the opportunity to return to His Presence and establish a covenant relationship. We will see this pattern continue through the Old Testament, as God continues to establish and reestablish an eternal relationship of Parent/Child.

And He seeks to establish that eternal covenantal relationship with each of us.

The questions are not on God's part of the covenant. It is on our part. Do we embrace the covenant and keep it? Or do we choose to rebel to some extent or another? Do we offer an acceptable sacrifice today? Or, as with Cain, do we love Satan more than God, seeking for another relationship with a different parent?

God reveals himself today. He visits people through scripture, prophets, nature,parents, angels,  and sometimes in personal visitations. All of these visits are accompanied by the Holy Ghost, a member of the Godhead - a personal visit by God.

Names and Places

In today's reading assignment we learn the names of descendants of Adam and Eve. Last week's assignment included those descending from Cain. Comparing the two, you'll note a correlation. Many of the names are the same. Descendants from both Cain and Seth even build a city of Enoch!

Such dualism is a form of ancient Hebrew poetry, allowing us to compare and contrast the two societies. We begin by contrasting Abel/Seth with Cain and continue down to the two cities. Later, we'll compare the city of Enoch with the city of Nimrod, Babylon.

One possible difference is literacy. Seth's descendants kept a book of remembrance and were taught to read and write. Whether God taught them literacy, or whether they may have learned it from other peoples living on the earth at the time (others not descended from Adam), we do not know.

In ancient texts, such as the Book of Jasher, we read that Cain's descendants learned techniques for music, weaponry, etc. These were known as the Watchers. I discuss them in detail in the lesson links at the top. 

What's the difference between the two? Perhaps the reading the book of remembrance, like Lehi reading the Brass Plates, reminded him of the things of God. Meanwhile, the focus for the children of Cain was on the things of this world. Of course, that focus would become one of getting gain through any means necessary, while the children of Adam and Eve would focus on their covenant relationship with God.

In fact, the efforts of the wicked to get gain is described in Moses 6"15,

And the children of men were numerous upon all the face of the land. And in those days Satan had great dominion among men, and raged in their hearts; and from thenceforth came wars and bloodshed; and a man’s hand was against his own brother, in administering death, because of secret works, seeking for power.

 Does God bring peace to our souls, or do we allow Satan to rage in our hearts? When peace is taken from the earth, it isn't just between nations. It is within families. In the Old Testament, as in the Book of Mormon, we will see sibling rivalry again and again, as brothers seek power and advantage over one another.

We find that Enos takes his children to a "land of promise." Later, Enoch will build a land of promise in the City of Zion. Noah's land of promise will be beyond the Flood, as the Jaredite and Nephites find their land of promise in the Americas. Abraham and Israel will find their land of promise in the Middle East. Today, we also seek a land of promise, as we are encouraged and commanded to build and establish Zion and her stakes.

The only thing keeping us from building our own land of promise? Us. We fail to keep our covenantal relationship with God and with each other. Instead, we seek to get gain and power for ourselves, often leading us to justify an often uneasy relationship with Satan. Sometimes that relationship is not uneasy.

God commanded us to "renounce war and proclaim peace" (D&C 98:16). Yes, there are times of defense. However, how often do we choose to declare war, whether as a nation or as a family member? How often do we seek or even applaud violence as a solution to the injustices and problems we see in the world? There are Church members who believe Zion will be defended with guns and tanks. Yet, God has stated often that HE will defend Zion, even if by fire.

We justify our grudges, our hatred, our anger. We fall into Satan's trap when we do so. 

In most of scriptural history, the righteous leave the wicked and find a new land of promise. The wicked force themselves upon others.

And they were preachers of righteousness, and spake and prophesied, and called upon all men, everywhere, to repent; and faith was taught unto the children of men. (Moses 6:23)

Contrast this to the secret combinations taught to Cain's descendants. When God called Enoch to preach repentance, he explained,

And for these many generations, ever since the day that I created them, have they gone astray, and have denied me, and have sought their own counsels in the dark; and in their own abominations have they devised murder, and have not kept the commandments, which I gave unto their father, Adam.

Wherefore, they have foresworn themselves, and, by their oaths, they have brought upon themselves death; and a hell I have prepared for them, if they repent not... (vs 28-29)

We teach righteousness, or we teach evil. This dualism is an important facet in scripture. We see it here in the Book of Moses, in the Book of Mormon, in the story of Moses vs Pharaoh, Abraham vs Pharaoh, Nephi vs Laman, Christ vs Satan.

Zion vs Babylon.

Where do we stand?

For us, a seer is someone who can reveal ancient texts. However, for Enoch, there were no ancient texts. He would write them!  For him to be a seer meant he could see the invisible things: the spirits God had created, the creation, the past and near future of things (like the coming Flood).

Pres Nelson prepared us for the current Covid pandemic by presenting us Come Follow Me, Home centered/Church supported teaching, reorganizing the priesthood, etc.  President Hinckley prepared us for the 2008 Great Recession in a General Conference priesthood talk he gave in Oct 1998. Others have prepared us in many other ways against the deceits and teachings of Satan. These are seers, who see invisible things.

The names Mahujah/Mahijah are very important to this story. They are not found in the Bible. However, in the Dead Sea Scrolls, a fragment of the Book of Enoch contains the name Mahujah. I previously wrote on it in the links at the top.

























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