2 Nephi 2

 

A Covenant Plan of Salvation

      (2 Nephi--Enos)


 

 

2 Nephi 2:1 [Jacob] Thou Art My First-born in the Days of My Tribulation in the Wilderness:

 

     According to John Tvedtnes, Lehi apparently named his sons Jacob and Joseph after their distant ancestors Jacob and Joseph. Lehi called Jacob "my first-born in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness" (2 Nephi 2:1-1). These tribulations were brought on principally by the disobedience of Laman and Lemuel. The use of the term firstborn implies that Lehi may have considered Jacob to be a replacement for these sons. We have a parallel to this situation in Genesis 48:5,16, where Jacob adopted Joseph's sons Manasseh and Ephraim in place of Reuben and Simeon, who had sinned (see Genesis 34:30; 35:22; 49:3-5).

     The name Jacob is explained as "supplanter" in the King James Bible of Genesis 27:36 (compare Genesis 25:23-26), but could just as easily be read "successor" or "replacement," since Jacob replaced Esau as firstborn and received the birthright and the blessing (see Genesis 25:29-34; 27:22-40). Esau was unfit to serve as firstborn. In Hebrews 12:16, Esau is called a "fornicator" and a "profane person." He sought Jacob's life, waiting only for the death of his father to proceed with his plan (see Genesis 27:41). Similarly, after the death of Lehi, Laman and Lemuel sought the life of their brother Nephi [and possibly the life of Jacob and Joseph]. Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, along with others were forced to flee to the land of Nephi.

     While Lehi may have considered Jacob and Joseph to be replacements for the fallen Laman and Lemuel, he did not give the right of the firstborn to Jacob. That blessing fell to Nephi, to whom Jacob and Joseph were to look for leadership (see 1 Nephi 2:21-22; 3:29; 2 Nephi 2:3; 3:25; 5:19-20). [John A. Tvedtnes, "Firstborn in the Wilderness," in Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., 1999, pp. 63-65; see also Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 3/1 (1994): 207-209] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 3:2]

     Note* One of the most striking voids in Nephi's account is the absence of his patriarchal blessing. Perhaps we find pieces of it in the blessings to Jacob and Joseph (as well as the others), where the historical parallels could be better illustrated. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

2 Nephi 2:1 In Thy Childhood Thou (Jacob) Has Suffered Afflictions and Much Sorrow, Because of the Rudeness of Thy Brethren:

 

     When Lehi blessed Jacob, he mentioned that, "in thy childhood thou [Jacob] hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren" (2 Nephi 2:1). Robert Matthews writes that the tone of these verses suggests that certainly Jacob and possibly Joseph were old enough to remember their parents’ suffering, the rebellion of Laman and Lemuel, and the goodness of Nephi while they were in the wilderness. Hence they would not have been mere infants at the time all of this was happening. Such evidence argues for Jacob's having been born during the early part of the wilderness journey, and therefore being at least seven and possibly as many as ten years old when they arrived in the promised land. [Robert Matthews, "Jacob: Prophet, Theologian, Historian," in The Book of Mormon: Jacob through Words of Mormon, To Learn with Joy, p. 35]

 

2 Nephi 2:1 The Rudeness of Thy Brethren:

 

     John Tvedtnes indicates that though the word "rude" has come to mean "impolite" in twentieth-century English, at the time Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon it meant "wild" or "savage." Lehi made a point of mentioning the effect of "the rudeness" of Laman and Lemuel on Jacob (2 Nephi 2:1). [John A. Tvedtnes, "My First-Born in the Wilderness," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Spring 1994, F.A.R.M.S., p. 208]

 

2 Nephi 2:3 Thy Days Shall Be Spent in the Service of Thy God:

 

     According to John Welch, when Lehi dedicated his son Jacob to spend all his days "in the service of thy God" (2 Nephi 2:3), it seems likely that he was prophesying of Jacob's consecration as a priest (see 2 Nephi 5:26) and of his future temple service, for the Hebrew words for service (avodah, sharat) often appear in phrases such as "the service of the tabernacle" (Exodus 30:16), "service in the holy place" (Exodus 39:1), and the "work of the service of the house of God" (1 Chronicles 9:13). In addition, by calling Jacob his "firstborn" in the wilderness (2 Nephi 2:1-2,11), Lehi appears to allude to another aspect of the law of Moses: "The firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me" (Exodus 22:29). [John W. Welch, "The Temple in the Book of Mormon," in Temples of the Ancient World, pp. 321-322]

 

2 Nephi 2:4 The Way Is Prepared from the Fall of Man:

 

     Gerald Lund writes that one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted doctrines in all of Christianity is the doctrine of the fall of Adam. Elder James E. Talmage said,

           It has become a common practice with mankind to heap reproaches upon the progenitors of the family, and to picture the supposedly blessed state in which we would be living but for the fall; whereas our first parents are entitled to our deepest gratitude for their legacy to posterity--the means of winning title to glory, exaltation and eternal lives. (Articles of Faith, p. 70)

 

     Lehi's great blessing to his son Jacob is so full of doctrine and profound meaning on the "fall of man" (2 Nephi 2:4) that virtually every sentence and, in some cases, every word takes on great significance. In this regard, Lehi's speech, although doctrinal, takes on the added effect of being a literary proof of the Book of Mormon. An explanation is in order not only because of this speech's succinctness, but because it's ordered reasoning explains the fall in a manner even many Latter-day Saints fail to comprehend.

     According to Lund, Lehi first outlines 5 important points that must be understood before he can discuss the Fall and the redemption of man.

     Fundamental 1: "The Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever" (2 Nephi 2:4). This is a significant point, especially for the so-called Christian world. It means the Atonement is retroactive, or omni-directional, that it doesn't matter when one is born, the redemptive power works in one's behalf.

     Fundamental 2: "The way is prepared from the fall of man" (2 Nephi 2:4). Lehi reminds his son that the plan to redeem men from the Fall was laid from the very beginning (see D&C 124:33, 41; 128:5; 130:20). It implies a pre-existence. When Adam fell there was not a mad scramble in heaven to determine what to do.

     Fundamental 3: "Salvation is free" (2 Nephi 2:4). Such a profound statement in three simple words.

     Fundamental 4: "Men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil" (2 Nephi 2:5) Moroni, citing the words of his father, Mormon, said,

           For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God (Moroni 7:16).

 

     Fundamental 5: "By the law no flesh is justified" (2 Nephi 2:5). In this simple statement lies the primary reason that there must be a redeemer. According to the law of justice, for every obedience to the law there is a blessing; however for every violation of the law there is a punishment. Because all men sin, they must be "cut off" temporally and must "perish" spiritually.

 

     Principle of Redemption: "Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah" (2 Nephi 2:6) The five principles lead the reader to a principle, which stands apart. Very simply put, Lehi states that men are condemned by the law but redeemed by the Messiah. Lehi's qualifying statement about the Messiah is interesting in and of itself; he adds "for he is full of grace and truth." In the LDS Bible Dictionary we find the following definition for "grace":

           The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ. . . . This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts. (p. 697)

 

Lehi's point is that if Christ were not full of this grace or "enabling power," he could not possibly redeem man.

     Lehi's next statement is that the Holy Messiah offers himself as "a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law" (2 Nephi 2:7). Going back to the law of justice, one could say that there are only two ways to satisfy the demands of that law. The first is to keep the law perfectly, the second would be to pay the penalty for any violations of it. Christ kept the law perfectly. Not once in his entire mortal life did Jesus violate the law in any way. But Christ did more than this. Adding to what his father taught, Jacob declares in 2 Nephi 9:21: "Behold, he suffereth the pains of all men, yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam." Thus Christ satisfied the law of justice in both dimensions.

     Lehi also indicates in verse 7 that the sacrifice answered the ends of the law only for those who have "a broken heart and a contrite spirit." Then he added, "unto none else" will that be done. To better understand why Lehi makes this statement and what it fully means for us, let us examine the doctrine of grace and works.

     Protestants, especially Evangelical Christians, cite several references from the writings of Paul to indicate that a man is saved by grace (see Acts 16:31; Romans 3:28; 10:13; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). In order to counter this argument, many Mormons have reasoned as follows. On the cross, the Savior gave up his life and overcame physical death through the resurrection, which gift he gives freely to all, an unconditional blessing which explains how we are "saved by grace" without any works on our part. But there is a second spiritual part of the redemption which was done in the Garden of Gethsemane. Here the Savior took upon himself the sins of the world and suffered for all mankind. This suffering redeems the soul from hell, but this gift is not unconditional. Here men must do certain things to have this redemption operate in their behalf--thus exaltation by our works. Thus, one is saved (resurrected) by grace but we are exalted (redeemed) by our works.

     According to Lund, the only problem with the above argument is that it contains four major doctrinal errors:

     (1) The first error lies in the assumption that somehow salvation is different from exaltation. With very few exceptions, the scriptures almost always use the word salvation as synonymous with exaltation (see D&C 6:13 for example). To imply that salvation means only resurrection cannot be supported by scripture.

     (2) The second doctrinal error lies in the idea that the suffering and death on the cross covered only the effects of physical death, and that the suffering in the Garden covered only the effects of spiritual death. Such an explanation is not justified by scripture either, nowhere do we find even any indications. The agony in the Garden and the suffering on the cross were both integral parts of the atoning sacrifice.

     (3) The third error is that our works exalt us. One of Lehi's fundamental points is that no man can be justified, or saved, on the basis of works alone. It is by the merits, mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah (see 2 Nephi 2:8) that we are saved. We are exalted by righteous works, but they are the Savior's works, not our own. This is what Nephi meant when he said "for we know that it is by grace [which quality the Messiah is filled with--see 2 Nephi 2:6] we are saved, after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23).

     (4) The fourth error is the idea that coming back into the presence of God (overcoming spiritual death) is conditional upon how we live. If men are to be "punished for their own sins and not for Adam's transgression" (2nd Article of Faith), and if our separation from God was originally caused by the fall of Adam, then we can't be punished (or separated from God) according to how we live.

 

     The fall of Adam did bring two deaths into the world--physical death and spiritual death. But as far as it applies to Adam's fall, Christ's redemption is unconditional and applies to all. In other words, since we did nothing to be under the effects of the Fall, except come through the lineage of Adam, it is not just that we should have to meet any condition to have those effects taken away from us. Accordingly, in verse 10, Lehi says, "And because of [Christ's] intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him"

     So now we must reconsider Lehi's fourth fundamental point, that all men "are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil" (v. 5). If we know good from evil and then sin, then we must talk about a second fall. This is not the fall of Adam. This is one's own personal fall. Once a person reaches the age of accountability and sins, unless something happens to change him, when he is brought back into God's presence at the judgment, he will not be allowed to stay. This is what Lehi meant when he said that the sacrifice which the Messiah offered to satisfy the ends of the law is viable only for those with "a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (v. 7). This condition comes through faith and godly sorrow (see 2 Corinthians 7:9-10) and is called repentance. It brings one to participate in the redemptive covenant ordinances--baptism, confirmation, receiving the priesthood and the temple ordinances. Those who refuse to make this "new sacrifice" (3 Nephi 9:20) are characterized in the scriptures as having hard hearts and proud spirits. These are conditions that lead some to reject the workings of the covenant ordinances, even though, in some cases, the outward ordinances may have been performed.

     According to the illustration (see chart below) those who do meet the conditions of a broken heart and a contrite spirit are eligible for the "mediation" and "intercession" (2 Nephi 2:9-10, 27) of the Messiah. In Lehi's words, Christ's life and death serve as a "sacrifice for sin" (see v. 7). Thus the demands of the law are met and justice is paid--not robbed (see Alma 42:25). For those who do not meet the basic requirement of having broken hearts and contrite spirits, Christ's redemption becomes inoperative. They must pay the price themselves (see D&C 19:4, 15-17).

     Principle of the Fall: So why the Fall? Lehi proceeds to answer this question with a marvelous chain of logical reasoning. His linchpin argument is summarized in 2 Nephi 2:11: "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. The rest of verse 11 and all of verses 12-15 explain the reason there must needs be opposition (see illustration below). In summary, God could not bring about his purposes with mankind (their immortality and eternal life) without opposition or opposing alternatives, for without them, there would be no accountability. So opposition is necessary to man's progression, but God could not create it. Lehi explains how this was resolved:

     1. Opposition is necessary for man's progression (v. 11).

     2. The Lord set up opposing choices (v. 15).

     3. He gave man his agency (v. 16).

     4. In order to make that agency operative, both choices had to be enticing (v. 16; see also D&C 29:39).

     5. God allowed Satan to operate in the Garden and in this world to allow the negative option to be enticing in opposition to the positive one (vv. 17-18).

 

     When Lehi had established the reason for the Fall, he discussed the results of it for us. He pointed out that once the Fall had taken place and men were born into the world under its effects, this life became a state of probation or a time for man to prove themselves. He indicated that the days of the children of men were prolonged so they might repent and thus begin to bring into operation the plan of redemption (12 Nephi 2:21). As he did this, Lehi further emphasized the importance of the Fall by pointing out what would have happened had the Fall never taken place (see vv. 22-23). When one examines the conditions that resulted from the Fall, it becomes evident that all of them are necessary for the progression of mankind toward Godhood, for them to prove themselves and to become accountable before God.

     Lehi ends by noting that all alternatives for man boil down to one simple ultimate choice:

           Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil (2 Nephi 2:27). Lehi witnesses that he has "chosen the good part" (v. 30).

 

[Gerald N. Lund, "The Fall of Man and His Redemption," in The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, The Doctrinal Structure, pp. 83-106]

   

2 Nephi 2:4 The way is prepared from the fall of man (Illustration #1): He Offereth Himself unto Those with a Broken Heart. [Gerald N. Lund, "The Fall of Man and His Redemption," in The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, The Doctrinal Structure, p. 98]

 

2 Nephi 2:4 The way is prepared from the fall of man (Illustration #2): Lehi's Chain of Reasoning. [Gerald N. Lund, "The Fall of Man and His Redemption," in The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, The Doctrinal Structure, pp. 100-101]

 

2 Nephi 2:8 How Great the Importance to Make These Things Known unto the Inhabitants of the Earth:

 

     According to Robert Matthews, it is interesting that of the blessings Lehi gave to his sons, that which he gave to Jacob is the most philosophical in content (2 Nephi 2). The blessing fits the mind and disposition of Jacob. Jacob is the outstanding doctrinal teacher of the Book of Mormon. He well follows the admonition given to him by his father Lehi, "how great the importance to make these things known unto the children of the earth" (2 Nephi 2:8). [Robert J. Matthews, Who's Who in the Book of Mormon, p. 63]

 

2 Nephi 2:9 Wherefore, He Is the Firstfruits unto God:

 

     In Lehi's sermon to Jacob on the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation, he declares that Christ is "the firstfruits unto God" (2 Nephi 2:9). According to Hugh Nibley, the image of "the firstfruits" is an image that the Jews all understood. It means the best you have--the best and most beloved. It is the prize. It couldn't be anything less, you see. Nothing less than the supreme sacrifice could be made. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, p. 266]

 

2 Nephi 2:11 For It Must Needs Be, That There Is an Opposition in All Things:

 

     In the middle of Lehi's blessing upon his son Jacob, we find the words "for it must needs be that there is an opposition in all things" (2 Nephi 2:11). Concerning this statement, Marilyn Arnold makes the following commentary:

           Unlike the scientist of faith, who studies the work of the Creator every time he or she enters the laboratory or the field, the English teacher studies the product of the human mind, relentlessly pursuing meaning and delight in the written word. To the onlooker there may seem to be little connection between literary studies and religious faith; but to me there is an almost inseparable bond. In fact, it was not until I began to read sacred texts with the skills I had acquired in studying nonsacred texts that the eyes of my understanding truly began to open. . . .

           Perhaps I can illustrate briefly how my academic preparation translates into "seeing." . . . readers might not notice the aptness in the positioning of Lehi's discourse [on opposition and the plan of salvation]; it is delivered in the patriarchal blessing pronounced upon Jacob, a younger son who has painfully witnessed firsthand the opposition between Nephi and his older brothers. Indeed, Jacob's whole existence has been marked by opposition; I think Lehi wants him to understand that, despite its concomitant pain, opposition makes possible the exercise of agency and is therefore a vital aspect of the plan of salvation. [Marilyn Arnold, "Unlocking the Sacred Text," in Susan E. Black ed. Expressions of Faith: Testimonies of Latter-Day Scholars, pp. 193, 196-197]

 

2 Nephi 2:11 Neither Wickedness, Neither Holiness nor Misery:

 

     According to Donald Parry, the prevalent poetic form of the canon of scripture is not the ode, the lamentation, nor the psalm, but parallelism. . . ."Parallelism is universally recognized as the characteristic feature of biblical Hebrew poetry."

     Repetition may be classified as a subcategory of the poetic forms called "parallelism." Repetitive forms are considered a parallelism because, by their unusual repetition of identical words within a short span, it creates a series of thoughts being parallel or connected one to another.

     One type of parallelism, the repetition of the disjunctives "either" and "or" or "neither" and "nor" at the beginning of successive sentences is called paradiastole. . . . Ironically, by using disjunctions, the inspired writers caused a junction (rather than a disjunction) or linkage between each succeeding phrase, thus creating parallel lines. . . . Note the use of the disjunctives "neither" and "nor" in 2 Nephi 2:11:

     If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass,

     neither wickedness

     neither holiness

     nor misery,

     neither good

     nor bad

     Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life

     neither death

     nor corruption

     nor incorruption, happiness

     nor misery,

     neither sense

     nor insensibility

[Donald W. Parry, The Book of Mormon Text Reformatted according to Parallelistic Patterns, F.A.R.M.S., pp. i, xxxv, xxxix]

 

2 Nephi 2:14 There Is a God, and He Hath Created All Things, Both the Heavens and the Earth, and All Things That in Them Are:

 

     According to George Stuart, on Stela 1 at the ruins of Coba in Quintana Roo appears the rare expanded date for the Mayan creation, which is so phenomenally large that 40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000 years--that is 40 octillion years--would have to pass away before the cycle would come around again. This interval is approximately equal to the fifteen-billion-year span that separates us from the cosmic "big bang" multiplied almost 3,000,000,000,000,000,000 times! [George E. Stuart, "The Calendar," in Gene S. Stuart and George E. Stuart, Lost Kingdoms of the Maya (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1993), p. 177.]3      

 

2 Nephi 2:15 After He Had Created Our First Parents, and the Beasts of the Field and the Fowls of the Air:

 

     According to David Bokovoy, when the Book of Mormon appeared in 1830, the Western world had only a limited knowledge of the literary techniques utilized by Semitic authors. One such discovery came to light in 1955 when a scholar named Seidel published a study on parallel statements in Psalms and Isaiah.4 His work prepared the way for further analysis of what has come to be called "inverted quotations" in the Bible5, and today scholars refer to such inverted quotations of earlier sources as an example of Seidel's law.

     The Bible contains many examples of inverted quotations.6 For example, in Leviticus 26:4 the Lord declared," and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruits." When Ezekiel later referred to this promise, he intentionally reversed its original sequence: "and the trees of the field shall yield their fruits, and the land shall yield her increase" (Ezekiel 34:27).7

     Another example is found in Deuteronomy 4:15-19:

           Take good heed lest ye make the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, the likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the water beneath the earth: and lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, should be driven to worship them."

 

Here Moses essentially reverses the sequence of the Creation as described in Genesis 1:14-27.

     In a sermon to his son Jacob, Lehi also reversed the elements of creation: "And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be there was an opposition" (2 Nephi 2:15). But after listing the final three elements in the creation, Lehi, unlike Moses, summarized the earlier components with the inclusive statement "and in fine, all things which are created." One possible explanation for this synopsis is that while Moses apparently felt the need to thoroughly categorize every example of graven images whose worship would lead Israel into apostasy, Lehi's citation served a different purpose. His pivotal statement concerning the existence of and need for opposition is strengthened because opposition itself is presented as a divinely ordained aspect of creation.

     Since Bible scholars in Joseph Smith's day had not yet recognized the existence of Seidel's law, its attestation in 2 Nephi 2:15 and elsewhere in the Book of Mormon (e.g., Alma 5:19; compare Psalm 24:4) provides additional evidence that the Book of Mormon is an authentic record of ancient origin. [David Bokovoy, "Inverted Quotations in the Book of Mormon" in FARMS Update, Number 139, in Insights, October 2000, p. 2] [See the commentary on Alma 5:19]

 

2 Nephi 2:17 I, Lehi, according to the Things Which I Have Read:

 

     In 2 Nephi 2:17, Lehi clearly states:

           according to the things which I have read, I must need suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God. And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies . . ."

 

     Lehi's scriptural quotes or information most probably came from the brass plates but from whose writings? In our present book of Isaiah we find the following:

           How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground . . . For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God . . . I will be like the most High. . . thou art cast out (Isaiah 14:12-14, 19--see 2 Nephi 24:12-14, 19)

 

     It is not clear from our present Old Testament record what Lehi might have been reading. The specifics of an angel referred to as a "fallen angel," "that old serpent," and "the devil" do not appear in our present Bible until the New Testament book of Revelation:

           And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 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)

 

     However, nowhere in the Bible do we find the title "father of all lies." Yet in John 8:44 we find the following: "Ye are of your father the devil . . . When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." What is interesting is that Jacob uses the title "father of lies" in speaking about the Atonement and how it overcomes the effects of the Fall (see 2 Nephi 9:9). This comes in the text just after Jacob has quoted Isaiah extensively. But more to the point, Jacob states that the Lord has spoken of these things "by the mouth of his holy prophets, even from the beginning down" (2 Nephi 9:2).

     So perhaps part of Lehi's information came from Isaiah, and perhaps part from Zenos, or Zenock, or the writings of other prophets recorded on the brass plates "even from the beginning." [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Vol. 6, Appendix C]

 

2 Nephi 2:17 An Angel . . . Had Fallen from Heaven; Wherefore, He Became a Devil:

 

     Richardson, Richardson and Bentley note that another evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon is the fact that the equivalent of the biblical Satan is found therein (1 Nephi 12:17-19; 22:15; 2 Nephi 2:17-19) as well as in Mesoamerican belief.

     Dee F. Green says the following:

           Among the pantheon of gods credited to the Toltecs is found one called Tezcatlipoca. He was the god of war, pestilence, darkness, and the underworld. Numerous references by early native and Spanish authors such as Ixtlilxochitl, Sahagun, and Torquemada describe him as ferocious, wicked, and the author of wars and destruction among the people. One of his titles was "Sower of Discord."

           Originally, he was the twin brother of Quetzalcoatl, but opposes him in all things. They are eternal enemies, and several interesting legends are told about the history of their feud.

           An early account says that ". . . one day Quetzalcoatl hit him on the head with a club and Tezcatlipoca was knocked down from his throne up in the sky. As he fell down to the earth, he was transformed into a vicious jaguar that haunted the world, devouring people, nearly wiping out an entire generation. . ." Later, Quetzalcoatl was defeated and killed in battle by Tezcatlipoca. Quetzalcoatl, however, regained his life and then taught the Toltecs their religion, art, and culture.

           Sometime thereafter, a great religious war occurred in which Tezcatlipoca defeated the Toltec followers of the god Quetzalcoatl. It is said that Tezcatlipoca used magic and tricks to defeat and kill them and that he will reign on the earth until the return of Quetzalcoatl.

           The resemblances of both these gods to Christian concepts of Christ and Satan are curious indeed.

[Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 82]

 

2 Nephi 2:19 Adam:

 

     In Lehi's discussion of the Fall to his son Jacob, "Adam" is mentioned (2 Nephi 2:19). According to Arthur Bailey, in Hebrew, Adam, means "man" or "mankind"; the scriptures provide the following meanings of the name--"first man" (D&C 84:16), "man" (Moses 1:34), and "first father" (Abraham 1:3), all denoting his historical role as the grand progenitor of the entire human family. Michael, meaning "who is like God" (Bible Dictionary, s.v. "Michael"), is also identified as the archangel (see D&C 29:"26). [Arthur A. Bailey, "What Modern Revelation Teaches About Adam," in The Ensign, January 1998, p. 27]

 

2 Nephi 2:19 Adam and Eve . . . were driven out of the Garden of Eden (Illustration): Leaving the Garden of Eden. Artist: Joseph Brickey. [LDS Church, The Ensign, January 1998, p. 17]

 

2 Nephi 2:19 Adam and Eve (Illustration): Chart: A Latter-Day Saint View of Adam. [Arthur A. Bailey, "What Modern Revelation Teaches About Adam," in The Ensign, January 1998, pp. 20-27

 

2 Nephi 2:24 All Things Have Been Done in the Wisdom of Him Who Knoweth All Things. Adam Fell:

 

     The Book of Mormon teaches that the fall of Adam was no surprise to the Lord, but was actually expected according to the fore-knowledge of God, and was part of his original plan (see 2 Nephi 2:22-25). In 2 Nephi 2:24-26 we find that, "all things have been done in the wisdom of Him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are that they might have joy. And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall."

     Richardson, Richardson and Bentley write that many churches teach that the fall of Adam was a surprise to God--a terrible blunder that disrupted his plans and sent him searching for a solution of redemption for all mankind. Some of these churches are critical of the LDS Church for its stand on the Fall. It is ironic that Bible-believing Christians would believe notions which are contrary to the Bible. The Bible teaches that as the fall was anticipated, likewise, the atonement of Christ was planned from the beginning. In Revelation 13:8, the apostle John speaks of the "Lamb slain before the foundation of the world." This means that the atonement was anticipated even before the world was created. Clearly, if the atonement was anticipated, the reason for the atonement or the fall was also anticipated.

     It is interesting that according to ancient texts, the early Christians in the Old World looked upon the fall of Adam as a great blessing. If it was to be considered by some to be iniquity, they preferred to call it "blessed iniquity." (Seaich, Ancient Texts and Mormonism, p. 41.)8 [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 40]

 

2 Nephi 2:25 Adam Fell:

 

     John Tvedtnes has some interesting commentary regarding the fall of Adam (2 Nephi 2:25). He writes that according to Jewish tradition, after the fall of Adam the Lord provided garments of skin to Adam and Eve: "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21). However, according to the Midrash Rabbah, Rabbi Meir's copy of the Torah or Law of Moses indicated that Adam and Eve received garments of light, not of skin.9 Just why some traditions have the garments of the first couple made of light, while others of skin might be related to the fact that the two Hebrew words for "light" and "skin" differ in but the initial letters, and are pronounced alike in modern Hebrew.

     Tradition usually indicates that Adam and Eve were given garments of light before the fall.10 When they sinned, God stripped them of the garment of light.11 Abkir commented, "God made the high-priestly garments for Adam which were like those of the angels; but when he sinned, God took them away from him."12 . . . The garment of light, according to some accounts, was replaced by its earthly symbol, a garment of skin, after the fall.13 By this reckoning, the garment of skin given to the first human couple was their own skin, not that of animals.

     The Book of the Rolls informs us that when Adam was created, "his body was bright and brilliant like the well-known stars in the crystal."14 When Adam and Eve were placed on earth, "God clothed them with glory and splendour. They outvied one another in the glory with which they were clothed."15 At the time of the fall, "they were bereft of their glory, and their splendour was taken from them, and they were stripped of the light with which they had been clothed . . . They were naked of the grace which they had worn . . . they made to themselves aprons of fig-leaves, and covered themselves therewith."16

     If one follows the reasoning of these stories, the serpent was the cause of Adam and Eve's becoming naked,17 and their "nakedness" was the loss of their premortal glory. For example, in one account, Eve says: "And at that very moment my eyes were opened and I knew that I was naked of the righteousness with which I had been clothed. And I wept saying, "Why have you done this to me, that I have been estranged from my glory with which I was clothed?"18 From this account, the "nakedness" of Adam and Eve was spiritual in nature, that is, they lost their special covering of light (also termed "glory" and "righteousness"), which was subsequently replaced by the garments of skin. . . . This makes sense when one considers that the Hebrew root for "nakedness" ('rh) may be related to the word for "skin" ('or). . . .

     This connection of "nakedness" with the absence of glory is reflected in the story of Zosimus. Arriving in a distant land to which he had been miraculously conveyed, Zosimus encounters a Rechabite [see the commentary on 1 Nephi 2:5] and asks him, "Why are you naked?"19 The man replies, "You are he [who is] naked, and you do not discern that your garment is corrupt, but my own garment is not corrupted."20

           But we are naked not as you suppose, for we are covered with a covering of glory; and we do not show each other the private parts of our bodies. But we are covered with a stole of glory [similar to that] which clothed Adam and Eve before they sinned.21

 

[John A. Tvedtnes, "Priestly Clothing in Bible Times," in Temples of the Ancient World, pp. 649-654] [See the commentary on "skin of blackness" in 2 Nephi 5:21; see also the commentary on Rechabites in 1 Nephi 2:5]

 

2 Nephi 2:25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy (Illustration): Adam and Eve Kneeling at an Altar. Adam and Eve carried out an important part of God's plan. If they had remained in the Garden of Eden they would not have progressed and Heavenly Father would not have been able to send His spirit children to the earth. That is why Lehi said, "Adam fell that men might be." Artist: Del Parson. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 76]

 

2 Nephi 2:25: Adam Fell:

 

     According to an article by Bruce Pritchett, though the Old Testament never refers to Adam's sin by using the word fall, it does teach or reflect the following basic elements of this doctrine in various scriptures: (1) that Adam's sin resulted in a metamorphosis from immortality to mortality; (2) that mankind inherited its mortal state from Adam; (3) that all mankind has fallen into sin; and (4) that evil and suffering in the world could be for man's benefit as well as his punishment. These doctrines were brought together by the Prophet Lehi in one of the most complete discourses on the fall recorded. Some authors have claimed that Lehi's teachings on the fall of Adam are so similar to teachings prevalent in nineteenth-century America that they must be the source for 2 Nephi 2. However, evidence can be established that the bulk of well-recognized scholarly authority attributes teachings very similar to those in 2 Nephi 2 to preexilic and exilic biblical writers such as Hosea and Ezekiel. Thus, Lehi's teachings are more consistent with a preexilic/exilic Israelite context than a nineteenth-century American context. [Bruce M. Pritchett, Jr., "Lehi's Theology of the Fall in Its Preexilic/Exilic Context," in the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Fall 1994, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 49, 77]

 

2 Nephi 2:25 Adam fell that men might be (Illustration): Adam & Eve "Adam Fell That Men Might Be" [Del Parson, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 1]