3 Nephi 1

 

The Lord Confirms the Covenant Way

      Alma 45 -- 3 Nephi 10


 

 

 

     3 NEPHI

 

Title of Third Nephi (Origin of the Title "Third Nephi"):

 

     In the first edition of the Book of Mormon, the book which is now known by the title of "Third Nephi" was known as "The Book of Nephi the son of Nephi, which was the son of Helaman." This original title was used until the edition of 1879, when at the recommendation of Orson Pratt the heading "Third Nephi" was added before the title of this book and the words "Fourth Nephi" were added before the title of the book which follows. [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p 252]

 

3 Nephi Heading The book of Nephi, the son of Nephi, who was the son of Helaman (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]

 

3 Nephi--Superscript Lehi, Who Came Out of Jerusalem in the First Year of the Reign of Zedekiah:

 

     According to Randall Spackman, when Mormon abridged the Nephite records, he divided them into various books (see, for example, his comment in Helaman 2:13-14). He gave each of these books a title and a superscription. For the book known today as Third Nephi, Mormon wrote:

           The Book of Nephi, the son of Nephi, who was the son of Helaman. And Helaman was the son of Helaman, who was the son of Alma, who was the son of Alma, being a descendant of Nephi who was the son of Lehi, who came out of Jerusalem in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, the king of Judah. (3 Nephi--Superscript)

 

     This superscript is the only place in the Book of Mormon where Lehi is said to have left Jerusalem in the first year of the reign of Zedekiah. Nephi does not record in his own writings that Lehi left Jerusalem at that time.      Randall Spackman takes the position that writing more than 900 years after Lehi left Jerusalem, Mormon did not have the sources available to enable him to know when Lehi escaped. Because the Hebrew scriptures available to Mormon ended with the commencement of Zedekiah's reign (see 1 Nephi 5:12), his comment seems to have been based on an assumption that Lehi escaped from Jerusalem in the same year that the prophets began calling on the people of Jerusalem to repent (see 1 Nephi 1:4). In regards to Nephi's record, Spackman quotes the prophecy found in 2 Nephi 25:10: "Wherefore, it hath been told them [the Jews at Jerusalem] concerning the destruction which should come upon them, immediately after my father left Jerusalem." Spackman notes that according to 2 Kings 25:2 and generally accepted historical records, Jerusalem was sacked in July 586 B.C., during the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign. Thus, Spackman feels that Mormon's dating of Lehi's departure (as found in the superscript to Third Nephi) appears to be inaccurate and quotes the preface of the Book of Mormon for support: "And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God . . ." [Randall P. Spackman, "The Jewish/Nephite Lunar Calendar," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 7/1, November 1, 1998, p. 59]

     Note* People tend to quote the preface to the Book of Mormon in support of inaccuracies or mistakes in the Book of Mormon. Yet in doing so they tend to ignore Mormon 8:17, which states the following: "And if there be faults they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no fault . . ." To put oneself above both Mormon and Moroni invites skepticism. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

3 Nephi 1:1 It Was Six Hundred Years from the Time That Lehi Left Jerusalem:

 

     In the very beginning of of Book of Mormon story, Nephi recorded the prophecy of his father Lehi that "even six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews--even a Messiah, or in other words, a Savior of the world" (1 Nephi 10:4; see also 2 Nephi 25:19). So the reader should take note here in 3 Nephi 1:1 when Mormon notes that "the ninety first year had passed away and it was six hundred years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem."

     According to Ammon O'Brien, one of the first and oldest of manuscripts from Spanish missionaries which document the ancient history and myth ridden traditions of the Mexicans was called Historia de los Mexicanos por sus Pinturas (Codex Fuenleal) and was written by Andreas de Olmos. For 40 years Olmos lived and worked among the Indians of Mexico and Guatemala as a teacher and friend. He was requested by his superiors to investigate the antiquities of the Mexican people, which resulted in a manuscript completed sometime before 1547, when Ramirez de Fuenleal carried it with him to Spain.

     According to chapter one, Olmos writes that "in their paintings they have the inscription of the (first) 600 years, counting them in units of 20 by the sign that they have that means 20." In chapter two, associated with the consummation or close of this 600 year period, is the appearance of "a medium sun" which did not shine as fully as the normal sun. Furthermore, we learn from chapters 3 and 4 of the codex that this Medium Sun appeared in the sky at night. Chapter 4 carries the following details:

           The figures of counting commence since the first sun (first age) carrying on forward, which designate the other (the first) 600 years in which principally the gods were born. . . . the time that Tezcatlipoca was sun . . . And this appeared in the sky . . . and this is high in the memory of him (Quetzalcoatl-Tezcatlipoca).

 

     Referring back to chapter 2, it says that at the time of the manifestation of the Medium Sun, "all were committed to Quetzalcoatl." . . . The name Quetzalcoatl is a composite of two Nahuatl words, Quetzal and coatl. Quetzal, which happens to be a specie of bird indigenous to Guatemala in this case refers exclusively to the "feathers" of the quetzal bird which are esteemed to be precious and beautiful. Coatl means serpent in Nahuatl. Thus, Quetzal-coatl transcribes as Plumed or feathered Serpent, which meaning and name came to be applied to Jesus Christ. [Ammon O'Brien, Seeing beyond Today with Ancient America, pp. 287-290]

 

3 Nephi 1:1 It Was Six Hundred Years from the Time That Lehi Left Jerusalem:

 

     In 3 Nephi 1:1, Nephi mentions that "it was six hundred years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem" (3 Nephi 1:1). This statement makes reference to a prophecy of Lehi recorded by Nephi in 1 Nephi 10:4:

     "Yea, even six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews--even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world."

 

     According to Randall Spackman, evidently Lehi was not simply approximating the time of the Lord's birth, because the Book of Mormon records that the heavenly signs marking that event appeared after the passage of an even 600 years--that is, in the 601st year, matching the prophesied time frame with precision (see 3 Nephi 1:1,4,21,26). [Randall P. Spackman, "The Jewish/Nephite Lunar Calendar," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 7/1, November 1, 1998, p. 50]

 

3 Nephi 1:1 It Was Six Hundred Years from the Time That Lehi Left Jerusalem:

 

     The reader will note that Nephi mentions that "it was six hundred years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem" (3 Nephi 1:1). This statement makes reference to a prophecy of Lehi recorded by Nephi in 1 Nephi 10:4:

     "Yea, even six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews--even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world."

 

     In order to reconcile the 600 year period alluded to in this prophecy with other scriptural and secular historical references, various theories have been proposed. Because of the various and complicated interpretations involved in those theories, it is strongly recommended that the Book of Mormon student read and study each article before making any conclusions related to the date that Christ was born. The following is a brief review of the main theories that have been proposed:

 

Theory #1: This theory is presented in the following books:

     Book of Mormon (1920-present)

 

   Basic Points of Reference:

     Adherence to the Dionysian calendar

     Lehi left Jerusalem in the year 600 B.C.

     600 B.C. = 1st year of the reign of Zedekiah (1 Nephi 1:4)

     Destruction of Jerusalem = 11th year of the Reign of Zedekiah (2 Ki. 25:1,8; Jer. 52:12) (589 B.C.)

     Calendar Year = 365+ days throughout

     Birth of Christ = April, A.D. 1 (If we assume that the calendar year change in 3 Nephi 2:8 was such

           that the year started on the day that Christ was born, or the sign given, then the reference

           in 3 Nephi 8:5 regarding his death ("in the thirty and fourth year, in the first month, on the

           fourth day of the month") correlates with passover and a 365+ day calendar year.

     Beginning of the Reign of Judges = April (Passover), 91 B.C. (Alma 1:1; 8:3; 14:23)

     Death of Christ = April (Passover), A.D. 34 (3 Nephi 8:5)

 

     According to Joseph Hepworth, the issue of placing the correct year of our Lord's advent undoubtedly seems perplexing to many people; after all, are we not living in the "Christian Era" of our Lord" (Anno Domini or A.D.) and those years prior to his birth recorded as "Before Christ" (B.C.)? This apparently was the intent of Dionysius Exiguus when he introduced our current mode of reckoning year in about the year 525.87 According to Dionysius's calculations, the year of our Lord's birth (A.D. 1) was the year 753 A.U.C. (ab urbe condita, "from the founding of our city," reckoned from the reputed year in which Rome was founded).88 The year of Christ's birth becomes an issue, however, because Dionysius's calculations seem to have been wrong. . . . Most scholars agree that Dionysius was wrong in his calculations, placing Christ's birth too late. [Joseph T. Hepworth, "Dating the Birth of Jesus Christ," Sunstone, Jan.-Feb., p. 10]

 

 

Theory #2: This theory is presented in the following books or articles:

     Joseph L.Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon

     John C. Lefgren, April Sixth

     John Pratt, "Another Eclipse For Herod," reprinted by F.A.R.M.S.

     Sidney B. Sperry, Book of Mormon Chronology

     Bruce Warren, Ancient America Foundation Newsletter, No. 3, December 1994

 

 Note* This theory has been slightly modified in recent years. See the following articles:

     Pratt, John P. "Lehi's 600-year Prophecy of the Birth of Christ," www.meridianmagazine.com/                                                articles/000331sixhundred.html

     Allen, Joseph L. "Zedekiah I," in The Book of Mormon Archaeological Digest, Vol. III, Issue III                  (September 2001), pp. 10-11. [See the commentary on Vol. 1, 1 Nephi 1:4]

 

 Basic Points of Reference:

     601 B.C. = 1st year of Babylonian rule with a treaty that guaranteed peace. Thus: 601 B.C. = 1st

           year of the reign of "Zedekiah" because the title "Zedekiah" had reference to the beginning

           of Babylonian rule (as opposed to Egyptian rule).

     Lehi's Departure = April, 601 B.C. (Passover)

     597 B.C. = 1st year of Mattaniah ("Zedekiah")

     587 B.C. = Destruction of Jerusalem

     Calendar Length = 365+ (Solar) Days throughout

     April 6, 1 B.C. = Birth of Christ

     April 6, 1 B.C. = Birth of Quetzalcoatl

     April 6, A.D. 33 = Resurrection of Christ

 

 

Theory #3: This theory is presented in the following books and articles:

     Jay Huber, "Lehi's 600 Year Prophesy and the Birth of Christ"

     John W. Welch, "Longevity of Book of Mormon People and the "Age of Man"

     Robert F. Smith, "Book of Mormon Event Structure"

 

   Basic Points of Reference:

     597 B.C. = 1st Official Year of "Zedekiah"

     597 B.C. = Lehi's Departure (November)

     586 B.C. = Destruction of Jerusalem

     Lehi's Calendar = 360-Day "TUN" year, 360-day Egyptian year, or 360-day prophesy year of Daniel,

           John, and Exodus.

     Birth of Christ = 5 B.C. (April)

     365+ day Year initiated after Christ's birth (Calendar adjusted A.D. 6)

     Christ's death = April, A.D. 29

 

 

Theory #4: This theory is presented in the following books and articles:

     Randall Spackman, "Lehi's Prophecy of the Messiah's Birth"

     Randall Spackman, "Introduction to Book of Mormon Chronology: The Principal Prophecies,

           Calendars, and Dates," F.A.R.M.S., 1993.

     Randall Spackman, A review article in FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 10/1 1998, pp. 1-11.

     Randall Spackman, "The Jewish/Nephite Lunar Calendar" in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies,

           Vol. 7/1, 1998, pp. 49-59.

   Basic Points of Reference:

     597 B.C. = 1st Official Year of "Zedekiah"

     The Babylonians imposed a siege on Jerusalem in 588 B.C.

     The Babylonians withdrew the siege Jan 7, 587 B.C.

     Lehi departed Jan 25, 587 B.C.

     Nephi returned for plates (March 1--April 1)

     Nephi returned for Ishmael (May 1--June 10)

     Babylonians reimposed the siege June 21, 587 B.C.

     Destruction of Jerusalem 587 B.C. (2 Nephi 25:9-10 says that there was a "destruction (of Jerusalem)

           immediately after Lehi left."

     Lehi's calendar = 354.367 Day Lunar Calendar--Non intercalated

     Birth of Christ = 5 B.C. (March)

     Calendar after sign of Christ = 365 day solar

     Calendar change occurred 9 years after the sign

     Death of Christ = March, A.D. 29

 

Theory #5 This theory is presented in the following books and articles:

     John A. Tvedtnes, "Book Review of Jerald and Sandra Tanner, Covering Up the Black Hole in the Book of Mormon," in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, FARMS, Vol. 3, 1991, p. 199.

 

     According to John Tvedtnes, it is very doubtful that we can take the "600 years" of Nephi's prophecy as literal, since Lehi left Jerusalem no earlier than the first year of Zedekiah (1 Nephi 1:4), which would have been 598 B.C.--already too late for the prophecy to have been fulfilled precisely 600 years later. Thus, Alma (see Alma 3:14-17) could have been aware of Nephi's statement and taken it as an approximation only, rather than as a precise date. It is Mormon's rewriting of the history which has the birth of Christ occurring in the six hundredth year (3 Nephi 1:1). And it was this same Mormon who acknowledged that there could have been errors in the chronology (3 Nephi 8:1-2).

     

  [See the commentary on 3 Nephi 1:13] [See Vol. 1, Appendix A--Chronology]

 

3 Nephi 1:1 Lachoneus:

 

     In 3 Nephi 1:1 it states that "Lachoneus was the chief judge and the governor over the land." According to Stephen Ricks, in addition to Timothy (see the commentary on 3 Nephi 19:4), the name "Lachoneus" may also be a name of Greek origin, deriving from the Greek Lakonios, meaning "Laconian," referring to a people who lived in the southern part of the Greek mainland and who were among the most experienced merchants in Greece, maintaining colonies throughout the ancient Near East. The "ch" in the name Lachoneus is significant, accurately reflecting the tendency in Hebrew to change a "c" or "k" immediately after a vowel into a "ch" (Pronounced as in the name Bach or in the Scottish word loch) [Stephen D. Ricks, "I Have A Question," The Ensign, Oct. 1992, p. 54]

 

3 Nephi 1:1 Lachoneus:

 

     In 3 Nephi 1:1 it says that "Lachoneus was the chief judge and the governor over the land." Hugh Nibley asks, What's the Greek name Lachoneus doing here? Well, where was Laconia? Laconia was in the southeast Peloponnesus. In Lehi's day who ruled Palestine? Necho II of Egypt did. It was a commercial empire, but he kept it in control by mercenaries. He had a whole mercenary army and a mercenary navy of Carian fleets. . . . Along with that, major shipbuilding was along the coast of Laconia, which had wonderful harbors. Laconians--including Lacedamonians that went as far up as Sparta--were the best mercenary soldiers. They were mercenaries because they were not only great fighters, but they lived in a very poor, rocky, mountainous country. The only way they could make ends meet was to hire themselves out.

     So the entire army of the kings of the 26th dynasty were employed Greeks from Laconia and elsewhere, but mostly from there. Both the sailors and soldiers were prime people from Laconia. So the fact that you find the name Lachoneus is certainly to be expected here, because you'd find guys by the name of Lachoneus walking around in Palestine in Lehi's day. They were the troops--not the troops of occupation or anything like that, because the kings were taking the side of Egypt. Remember, they were leaning on Egypt to support them against the threat from Asia, from the Babylonians. So don't be shocked when you see a name like Lachoneus here. It should be here. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 3, pp. 284-285]

 

3 Nephi 1:1 Lachoneus was the chief judge (Nephite Chief Priests) [Illustration]: Nephite Chief Priests. Adapted from [John W. Welch and Morgan A. Ashton, "Charting the Book of Mormon," Packet 1, F.A.R.M.S., 1997]

 

3 Nephi 1:3 Then [Nephi the Son of Helaman] Departed out of the Land, and Whither He Went, No Man Knoweth:

 

     Vicki Alder notes that Nephi, the son of Helaman, was apparently translated. (3 Nephi 1:3; 3 Nephi 2:9) The scriptures record the manner of travel which Nephi used in ministering to all the Nephites:

     But behold, the power of God was with him, and they could not take him to cast him into prison for he was taken by the Spirit and conveyed away out of the midst of them . . . thus he did go forth in the Spirit, from multitude to multitude, declaring the word of God, even until he had declared it unto them all, or sent it forth among all the people." (Helaman 10:16-17) (For a discussion of "in the Spirit," see Vicki Alder, The Signs of the Last Days, pp. 47-51)

[Vicki Alder, Mysteries in the Scriptures: Enlightenment through Ancient Beliefs, p. 272]

 

3 Nephi 1:3 He Departed out of the Land, and Whither He Went, No Man Knoweth:

 

     According to Terrance Szink, the book of Third Nephi begins with an interesting staement about Nephi the son of Helaman. Mormon wrote that he "departed out of the land and whither he went, no man knoweth" (3 Nephi 1:3) and that he "did not return to the land of Zarahemla, and could nowhere be found in all the land" (3 Nephi 2:9). This is reminiscent of a similar passage about Nephi's great-grandfather Alma the younger: "He departed out of the land of Zarahemla . . . and it came to pass that he was never heard of more; as to his death or burial we know not of" (Alma 45:18). Even more intriguing is the fact that other similiarities are noted in the text between the lives of Alma and Nephi. Among other things

     (1) both were judges (Nephi-Helaman 3:37; Alma-Mosiah 29:42-44),

     (2) both gave up their judgeship to devote more time to service in the church (Nephi-Helaman 5:1-4; Alma-Alma 4:20)

     (3) both were thrown into prison because of their preachings but were miraculously delivered (Nephi-Helaman 5:21-44; Alma-Alma 14:22-28),

     (4) both were granted great power (Nephi-Helaman 10:5-10; Alma-Alma 8:31), and

     (5) weary with the wickedness of their people, both wished for something different than the circumstances in which they found themselves: Nephi wanted to live in the days when Lehi and his family left Jerusalem (Helaman 7:7), and Alma wanted to speak with the voice of an angel (Alma 29:1-3).

[Terrence L. Szink, "A Just and a True Record," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 2, pp. 125, 136]

 

3 Nephi 1:8 They Did Watch Steadfastly for That Day and That Night and That Day Which Should Be As One Day:

 

     According to Ammon O'Brien, it is very significant that one of the most profound events which to this day echoes through the fibers of native American legends and culture is the glorious emergence of the "Dawn Star."

     Certain cultural traditions of the Aztecs recall a time when in the remote ancient past, all the people of the nation were in expectation; some went upon house tops, others mounted terraces, while others watched from the windows of their homes, all of them waiting for the sign, by which it would be known that a new age had dawned.

     According to certain Indian legends and writings, the people of all the tribes beheld a tremendous manifestation in conjunction with the appearance of a great star, called in the Quiche language, the great Icoqui, and also Nima Chumil which means "Great Star," which illuminated the skies over America. [Ammon O'Brien, Seeing beyond Today with Ancient America, p. 262]

 

3 Nephi 1:13 The time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given (Illustration): The Time is at Hand [Robert T. Barrett, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 5]

 

3 Nephi 1:13 On the morrow come I into the world (Illustration): The Night Before in America [Robert T. Barrett, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 7]

 

3 Nephi 1:13 The time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given (Illustration): "On the Morrow Come I into the World." Artist: Robert T. Barrett. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 498]

 

3 Nephi 1:13 On this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world (Illustration): Relative positions of the sun, moon, and earth at midnight during the night of Christ's birth. This illustrates that at the time of Christ's birth the eastern hemisphere was dark while the western hemisphere was exposed to the sun. [John C. Lefgren, April Sixth, p. 27]

 

3 Nephi 1:13 On This Night Shall the Sign Be Given, and on the Morrow Come I into the World:

 

     John Lefgren notes that the Midrash Rabbah, a collection of rabbinic writings commenting on the Old Testament,89 indicates that the Messiah would appear on Passover.90 Is it any wonder that Joseph and Mary were unable to find appropriate shelter? Bethlehem is about five miles south of the walls of Jerusalem. The overflow Passover crowds had apparently filled even the city of David. The birth of Christ at the beginning of the Passover feast is of significance. In the reckoning of Deity this was not coincidental. The birth of the Messiah occurred at that time of the year when God's covenant with Israel was most remembered and honored by the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The fixing of the Jewish Passover month to the spring lunar cycle of 1 B.C. shows that Christ came into the world on Nisan 14--the same day, in the Hebrew calendar of the Galileans, in which they were eating the Passover meal and in which Christ's disciples would eventually eat the Last Supper. Nisan 14 was also the same day, in the Hebrew calendar of the Judaeans, on which they would slay the Paschal lamb and on which Christ would eventually be slain. The Gregorian calendar would have identified the night of Christ's birth as April 5-6, 1 B.C. The Julian calendar places the birth on April 7-8, 1 B.C. (See illustration--Table 1, Table 2)

     D&C 20:1 says the following:

           The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being one thousand, eight hundred and thirty years since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh . . . in the fourth month, and on the sixth day of the month which is called April,

 

     If we accept the first verse of the twentieth section of the Doctrine and Covenants as having a specific and literal meaning, then April 6 (and possibly April 6, 1 B.C.) has historic and religious significance as the birthdate of Christ. (See illustration--Table 4) [John C. Lefgren, April Sixth, pp. 14-25]

 

3 Nephi 1:13 On this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world (Illustration): Table 1 Birth of Christ as Observed in Palestine in l B.C. [John C. Lefgren, April Sixth, pp. 22-23]

 

3 Nephi 1:13 On this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world (Illustration): Table 2 Birth of Christ as Observed in America [John C. Lefgren, April Sixth, pp. 28-29]

 

3 Nephi 1:13 On this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world (Illustration): Table 4 Dates of Christ's Birth, Death, and Resurrection, and the Organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. [John C. Lefgren, April Sixth, pp. 61-62]

 

 

     Bruce Warren notes that in 1987, Dennis O. Clawson found that the Olmec-Maya Long Count calendar date for Thursday, 6 April, 1 B.C. correlated with 7.17.17.17.13 1 Ben 6 Mak. The year 1 Ben in Maya is equivalent to 1 Acatl or 1 Reed in the Central Mexican calendars of Mesoamerica. Thus, the birthday of the Man-God aspect of the deity Quetzalcoatl is 1 Ben or 1 Acatl or 1 Reed.

     Another striking thing about the Mesoamerican date of April 6, 1 B.C. is that this calendar round combination can only occur on April 6 once every 1507 years. Interestingly, the Aztecs rebuilt their temple to Quetzalcoatl in A.D. 1507. (Burr Carwright Brundage, A Rain of Darts: The Medica Aztecs. University of Texas Press: Austin, 1972:337.)

     This amazing parallel to the Book of Mormon account of the Messiah in Ancient America and the unique but detailed correlation with both the Olmec-Maya Long count calendar and the Mesoamerican Calendar round is startling to say the least. [Bruce Warren, Ancient America Foundation Newsletter, No. 3 December 1994, pp. 5-7]

 

3 Nephi 1:13 On this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world (Illustration): Table 1: New Calendar. [Bruce Warren, Ancient America Foundation Newsletter, No. 3 December 1994, pp. 8-9]

 

(Illustration): Christ's 14 of Nisan Death Date Possibilities. [Bruce W. Warren, Blaine M. Yorgason and Harold Brown, New Evidences of Christ in Mesoamerica, 1999]

 

3 Nephi 1:13 On this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world (Illustration): Table 2: Christ's Birth and Death Dates [Bruce Warren, Ancient America Foundation Newsletter, No. 3 December 1994, p. 9]

 

3 Nephi 1:13 On This Night Shall the Sign be Given, and on the Morrow Come I into the World:

 

     According to the theory of Randall Spackman, if one assumes that Lehi escaped from Jerusalem as soon after the siege was lifted as possible, then Lehi would have begun his year count with the new moon of January 19 or 25J, 587 B.C.E. (1,507,046). After 600 years, 7,200 moons or 212,620.23 (600 x 354.36705) days had passed away, the 601st year of Lehi's prophetic period would have begun with the new moon of March 8 or 10J, 5 B.C.E. (1,719,666). In the "commencement" of this long-awaited year, the sign of the Messiah's birth was seen in the heavens and He was born at Bethlehem. [Randall P. Spackman, "Introduction to Book of Mormon Chronology: The Principal Prophecies, Calendars, and Dates," F.A.R.M.S., p. 33]

 

3 Nephi 1:13 On this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world (Illustration): Table VIII Summary of the Principal Events, Dates and Calendars. [Randall P. Spackman, "Introduction to Book of Mormon Chronology: The Principal Prophecies, Calendars, and Dates," F.A.R.M.S., p. 71]

 

3 Nephi 1:19 It Was the Day That the Lord Should Be Born:

 

     According to Jewish literature, Isaac, the only son of Abraham and Sarah, was born on the first day of Passover and "at his birth the sun shone with unparalleled splendor, the like of which will only be seen at the time of the Messiah's coming. The suggestion here is that the birth of Isaac was a prototype of the coming of the Messiah. [John C. Lefgren, April Sixth, p. 25]

 

3 Nephi 1:19 There Was No Darkness in All That Night, but It Was As Light As Though It Was Mid-day:

 

     According to John Lefgren, the astronomical full moon was visible over America during the night preceding the birth of Christ (April 6, 1 B.C.) The Book of Mormon states that there were to be "great lights in heaven" (Helaman 14:3) but does not indicate the nature or source of the light.

     Isaiah 30:26 says that "the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun." Jewish tradition has considered these words to be related to the advent of the Messiah. Solomon ben Isaac Rashi, a leading Jewish commentator on the Bible and Talmud in the eleventh century, stated that in the time of the Messiah "there will be in the world only the brilliance of splendour and the sight of the Holy Spirit. In the days of the Messiah the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun. Astronomical calculations indicate that the night before Christ's birth was a night of a full moon, and the Book of Mormon relates that at the setting of the sun in normal course there was yet "no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day" (3 Nephi 1:19). Does this not partially fulfill the Messianic expectations of the Jews? [John C. Lefgren, April Sixth, p. 32]

 

3 Nephi 1:19 There Was No Darkness in All That Night, but It Was As Light As Though It Was Mid-Day:

 

     According to Ammon O'Brien, the Nephite record is clear in stating "there was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day" (3 Nephi 1:19; see also Helaman 14:3). Observing this detail, we may therefore ask, What was the source of that light? Was it the sun? Not according to the Mormon account which in the prophecy of Samuel the Lamanite, declares that the sun would continue on its course as normal: "for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting" (Helaman 14:4). This is confirmed in 3 Nephi 1:15 which states, "for behold, at the going down of the sun there was no darkness."

     So again we ask, What was the cause or source of this light? A plausible answer to this appears in native American Indian legends. The Great Star, which in the Book of Mormon is called the New Star, was apparently the orb of light which banished the darkness from the legendary night of which we speak.

     Bearing in mind the moon's role in all of this, we may observe that while the legends indicate the moon was excessively brilliant on this occasion, it is most probable that the moon itself was actually going about its normal course, just as the sun had gone down over the horizon as normal. My [O'Brien's] hypothesis, is that there was no geo-thermal nor cosmic activity within the moon itself, but its excessive temporary brightness was due entirely to the reflection of the intense light emitted by the "New Star." Thus as the Great Star illuminated the sky, the moon was immersed in that light, and by virtue of its reflective nature which is demonstrated every time we see it shining brightly in the sky off borrowed light, the moon became extremely brilliant in white light for the duration of the effect.

     One prolific source of information on the ancient culture of Mexico is the work of Fray Bernadino de Sahagun. Looking at Book 7 Chapter 2 in his Historia General de las Cosas de Nueva Espana (Florentine Codex) which deals with the cosmology of the Nahuas, we find the legend of a night when the moon appeared in glory. The following words are recorded: "Like the sun he shone, and it was like daytime. It was said, 'It is almost like day; everywhere it is bright. Light is spread everywhere.'" [Ammon O'Brien, Seeing beyond Today with Ancient America, pp. 271, 263-264]

 

3 Nephi 1:19 There was no darkness in all that night, but it was as light as though it was mid-day: The picture [Illustrated] which has developed thus far [from ancient native American Indian legends] indicates that a total of three brilliant orbs were involved in the spectacle. (1) The New Star, or Nanahuatzin which shone "as the sun." (2) The moon which for a time attained "equal brightness" to that of Nanahuatzin. (3) Thirdly, we have the actual sun which also had an integral role in this.

     In normal circumstances, we see that sometimes the moon is still visible in the sky even after the morning sun has come up over the horizon. Imagine then the wondrous sight it would have been at the time when the New Star emerged and shared the sky with the moon, if at dawn the sun began to rise over the horizon while the other two orbs with all their light were still visible in the sky. I [Ammon O'Brien] raise this postulation because of a very peculiar statement in the archaic Quiche manuscript of Don Juan de Torres, grandson of the last Quiche King. It is said that in the ancient time, a certain three fold division of the ancestral kingdom was initiated "in a day when three suns were visible at the same time."91 [Ammon O'Brien, Seeing beyond Today with Ancient America, p. 271]

 

3 Nephi 1:21 A New Star Did Appear:

 

     According to Ammon O'Brien, an abundant source of information relative to the appearance of "a new star" (3 Nephi 1:21) in the Americas is Anales del Museo Nacional de Mexico. The 7 volume work, published in 1902 contains a valuable collection of writings and monographs from various archaeologists and ethnologists concerning the ancient civilizations of Mexico. Several archaic manuscripts written by Spanish clergymen who assisted in the colonization of Nueva Espana are also printed therein, as well as facsimiles and reproductions of certain ancient Mexican codices . . .

     Included in the work is Professor Alfredo Chavero's brilliantly executed monograph entitled La Piedra del Sol (The Stone of the Sun) In his extensive researches into the ancient mythical history of the Mexicans, Chavero continually discerns the meanings of their legends and hieroglyphs to involve some inexplicable cosmic miracle involving a great star, the sun and the moon. Speaking of the cosmology of the ancient American nations referred to as the Nahuas and Toltecas, Chavero writes: "The Nahuas were naturally fond of the symbol Quetzalcoatl-Venus. We see in fact (in the Mexican hieroglyphics) Quetzalcoatl, king and master living in his palace as the Star of the Evening . . ."

     Extracts of Chavero's work (chapters 23 and 26) further demonstrate that in all his observations, the prevailing elements in the Nahua myth structure continually point to some phenomenon involving the Moon, the Sun, the dividing of Day and Night, Venus, and the birth of a star. All of which, is unmistakably linked to Quetzalcoatl. . . . Professor Chavero also states directly that the "Medium Sun" which we have discussed (see the commentary on 3 Nephi 1:1) is Venus.

     Considering the term "new star" (3 Nephi 1:21) as applied to this orb in the Book of Mormon, we must observe that according to man's historical knowledge, Venus was apparently already in its orbit long before the birth of Christ which is when the "new star" is supposed to have arisen. On this premise, for us to recognize Venus as the "new star" we must suspect that the planet underwent some sort of metamorphosis or convulsion at the time of this event, causing it to flare up and become extremely brilliant temporarily.

     A distant voice of support for this idea comes to us through Brasseur de Bourbourg who records a peculiar observation from the astronomer St Augustine, saying that in some remote ancient time, the planet Venus underwent certain changes in size and color.92 [Ammon O'Brien, Seeing beyond Today with Ancient America, pp. 291-293] [See the commentary on 3 Nephi 1:1]

 

3 Nephi 1:21 A new star did appear: A Star of David symbol from Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico about A.D. 1000. [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, p. 173]

 

     Question: If the Star of David represents the Urim and Thummim (two connected triangles); and if the Urim and Thummim represents God revealing himself to man--Does the Star signaling Christ's birth represent the same thing? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

3 Nephi 1:21 A new star did appear according to the word (Illustration): The New Star. "And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word." Artist: Robert T. Barrett. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 500]

 

3 Nephi 1:22 Those Signs and Wonders Which They Had Seen:

 

     In the Book of Mormon, "a new star" along with other "signs and wonders" in the heavens were used to divine the time of Christ's birth (3 Nephi 1:21-22). The Book of Mormon also speaks of other signs and wonders in the heavens (for example, see 2 Nephi 26:8; 23:10; 25:3; Alma 18:30-32; 30:44; Helaman 12:14-15).

     Richardson, Richardson and Bentley write that critics who dismiss the Book of Mormon as occultic literature simply because it mentions prophets of God looking for signs of divine guidance should consult their own Bible. The following passages demonstrate that men of God believed in such forms of divination in biblical times. For an example of biblical aeromancy (seeking for signs in the skies) we can look to the book of Genesis:

           And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations. And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud . . . and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. . . . And I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant. (Genesis 9:12-17)

 

     We also find the following in the book of Matthew:

           "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him." (Matthew 2:1-2)

 

[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, pp. 208-209]

     Note* In the same manner as Noah's "bow," was the "new star" considered a "token" of God's covenant with the people of the earth that God would send his Son as a Redeemer for them? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [For commentary on seeking answers by casting lots, see the commentary on 1 Nephi 3:11]