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3 Nephi 19


Covenant Obedience Brings Peace -

 3 Nephi 11 -- Mormon 7      Disobedience Brings Destruction


3 Nephi 19:1 Jesus Had Ascended into Heaven:


     According to the Works of Ixtlilxochitl, "He [Quetzalcoatl] having preached the said things in the majority of the cities of the Ulmecas and Xicalancas and . . . returned through the same part from whence he had come, which was by the orient, disappearing through Coatzalcoalcos." [Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, p. 218]


3 Nephi 19:4 Nephi . . . Jonas . . . Mathoni . . . Kumen . . . Shemnon . . . Zedekiah . . . Isaiah . . . (Names in the Book of Mormon):


     According to Widtsoe and Harris in Seven Claims of the Book of Mormon, in no instance is there a letter "Q", "X", or "W" in an uncorrupted proper name in the translated Nephite records. Nor is one of them in an uncorrupted Hebraic proper name found in the Bible. Not one of these letters occurs in the Hebrew alphabet under any name, and the Nephites as Israelites, or Hebrews, could not therefore make use of them. . . . Furthermore, there are no surnames in the Book of Mormon--a profoundly wise omission, since surnames first came into general use about A.D. 1040. [Quoted in Roy E. Weldon, Book of Mormon Deeps, Vol. III, p. 289]


3 Nephi 19:4 Mathoni, and Mathonihah:


     Mathoni and his brother Mathonihah are listed in the Book of Mormon as two of the twelve disciples chosen by Jesus Christ during His visit to ancient America after his resurrection (3 Nephi 19:4). According to Richardson, Richardson and Bentley, the roots of these names can be found in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. Mathonihah: the first syllable, math, means "an adult," while the second, anaya, means "Jehovah has answered." Combining these two words results in a name which would seem to indicated "a man whose prayers have been answered by Jehovah." Similarly, Mathoni seems to be a combination of math, and adoni, which means "Lord." Putting the two together would represent "a man of the Lord." Both names are fitting for apostles or emissaries of the Lord Jehovah.26 [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. 229]


3 Nephi 19:4 Now these were the names of the disciples whom Jesus had chosen (Illustration): Christ Calls the Twelve [Gary Kapp, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 2]


3 Nephi 19:4 Timothy:


     The name of one of the Lord's disciples listed in 3 Nephi 19:4 -- Timothy -- seems to be Greek in origin. Is there an explanation for the appearance of a Greek name in the Book of Mormon? According to Stephen Ricks, it may be that the name Timothy, as well as other manifestations of Greek influence, were brought to the New World by the Mulekites. The people of Mulek may have made their escape to the New World on a Phoenician ship (see Ross T. Christensen, ed., Transoceanic Crossings to Ancient America, S.E.H.A.) The Phoenicians, whose port cities included Sidon, Acco, and Tyre, were the greatest seamen of the region. They had regular contacts both with Greek speaking merchants and traders and with the Israelites. (See, for example, Judg. 1:31; 2 Sam. 5:11; 1 Kgs. 5:1-12; Matt. 11:21-22; Mark 3:8).

     Perhaps the strongest possibility for the appearance of Timothy in the Book of Mormon, however, is that Greek names were not unknown among the Israelites even before Lehi left Jerusalem. Contacts between the Greeks and the peoples of the eastern Mediterranean -- including the Israelites -- had already begun centuries before Lehi was born. Professor Cyrus H. Gordon, who has studied early evidence of Greek contacts in the ancient Near East, writes in his book The Common Background of Greek and Hebrew Civilization, that trade and other cultural contacts existed between the Greeks and the ancient Near East from the middle of the second millennium B.C.

     Thus, it should not be surprising that names of Greek origin might be found among the peoples of the ancient Near East, including the Hebrews, since names are easily and widely borrowed among people of various cultures. Lehi's tribe, Manasseh, was quite cosmopolitan, so foreign names could well have been in Lehi's genealogy found on the plates of brass (see 1 Nephi 5:14; Alma 10:3). [Stephen D. Ricks, "I Have A Question," The Ensign, Oct. 1992, p. 53]


3 Nephi 19:4 [Nephi's] brother whom he had raised from the dead, whose name was Timothy (Illustration): Nephi Raises Timothy [Steven Lloyd Neal, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 5]


3 Nephi 19:6 And the Twelve Did Teach the Multitude:


     According to Joy Osborn, in Teotihuacan, on one side of the Temple of the Sun stands the Temple of the Moon, and on the other side the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. Jack West says the Indians "tell us the Temple of the Moon was built in honor of the Holy Ghost. The Temple of the Sun to the Father God and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl to the Son-God -- not s-u-n God, but Son-God." The Indians said the twelve small temples or pyramids that surrounded the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl represented the twelve helpers of the Son-God. [Joy M. Osborn, The Book of Mormon -- The Stick of Joseph, p. 151]


3 Nephi 19:10 They Went down unto the Water's Edge:


     After praying with the multitude "that the Holy Ghost should be given unto them [meaning those Jesus had chosen]" (3 Nephi 19:9), the twelve "went down unto the water's edge, and the multitude followed them" (3 Nephi 19:10-11). There they were baptized and filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire.

     Geographically speaking, one might conclude that if the "water's edge" was immediately adjacent to where the multitude heard the Savior at the temple in the land of Bountiful, then water may have been a feature of the landscape (maybe a river, considering the near coastal setting of the land of Bountiful).


3 Nephi 19:25 The Light of His Countenance Did Shine upon Them and Behold They Were As White As the Countenance and Also the Garments of Jesus:


     According to Joseph Allen, there is substantial historical evidence that Quetzalcoatl taught the gospel in an ancient Mexican city named Tula. Tula was linguistically correlated with Bountiful decades ago by the late Dr. M. Wells Jakeman. He pointed out that Tula literally means "place of the abundant [or bountiful] reeds." In other words, Quetzalcoatl is associated with Tula just like Christ is associated with Bountiful. Unfortunately, the ancient city of Tula has never been unequivocally identified. Although there is an archaeological site by that name today, it was given that name by the archaeologists that excavated it--not because they knew for sure that they had uncovered the original Tula.27

     With this in mind, the tradition of the "white god' concept may have come about as a result of an experience recorded in 3 Nephi 19:25. Indeed, the "white" associated with both Christ and Quetzalcoatl may in truth have more to do with the brightness of his countenance, than the color of his skin:

           And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them [his 12 disciples], as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them and behold they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon the earth so white as the whiteness thereof. (3 Nephi 19:25)


     Is it any wonder that the tradition of the "white god" would continue for 2000 years? [Joseph L. Allen, "Quetzalcoatl, The White God," in Jace Willard ed. The Book of Mormon Archaeological Digest, Volume II, Issue III. Orem: Book of Mormon Tours, 1999, pp. 7, 11]


3 Nephi 19:25 His Countenance Did Shine . . . Yea, Even There Could Be Nothing upon Earth So White:


     According to Warren and Ferguson, Juan de Cordova, a Spanish friar in Oaxaca, recorded an account just a few years after the coming of Cortes. As part of a discussion of one of the day signs in the ritual calendar of ancient Mesoamerica, he describes the eighteenth one, a flint blade which is sometimes called the solar beam. In Tony Shearer's Beneath the Moon and Under the Sun, he says that it is one of the strangest glyphs among the twenty. . . . The Tenochs [a term which refers to the Aztecs] thought it came from the sun. Earlier uses of it suggest that it came from the northern sky, perhaps from the northeastern sky, and could be seen in broad daylight; so the story goes:

     "On the day we call Tecpatl [the Aztec name for the day sign flint knife] a great light came from the northeastern sky. It glowed for four days in the sky, then lowered itself to the rock; the rock can still be seen at Tenochtitlan de Valle in Oaxaca. From the light there came a great, very powerful being, who stood on the very top of the rock and glowed like the sun in the sky. There he stood for all to see, shining day and night. Then he spoke, his voice was like thunder, booming across the valley. Our old men and women, the astronomers and astrologists, could understand him and he could understand them. He (the solar beam) told us how to pray and fixed for us days of fast and days of feasting. He then balanced the 'Book of Days' (sacred calendar) and left vowing that he would always watch down upon us his beloved people." (71-72) [Bruce W. Warren and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, The Messiah in Ancient America, p. 2]


3 Nephi 19:27 [He] went a little way off and bowed himself to the earth (Illustration): Christ Praying for the Nephites. "Jesus departed out of the midst of them, and went a little way off from them and bowed himself to the earth." Artist: Gary Kapp. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 550]


3 Nephi 19:30 He Did Smile upon Them Again, and Behold They Were White Even As Jesus:


     In 3 Nephi 19;30 we find that "when Jesus had spoken these words he came again unto his disciples; and behold they did pray steadfastly, without ceasing, unto him; and he did smile upon them again; and behold they were white, even as Jesus" (3 Nephi 19:30).

     Catherine Thomas asks, What does the shining, smiling face of God signify? The smile reflects the joy in God's nature and his giving of that joy to his receptive children. Elder Melvin J. Ballard experienced that divine smile:

           As I entered the door, I saw, seated on a raised platform, the most glorious Being my eyes have ever beheld or that I ever conceived existed in all the eternal worlds. As I approached to be introduced, he arose and stepped towards me with extended arms, and he smiled as he softly spoke my name. If I shall live to be a million years old, I shall never forget that smile. He took me into his arms and kissed me, pressed me to his bosom, and blessed me, until the marrow of my bones seemed to melt! When he had finished, I knelt at his feet, and as I bathed them with my tears and kisses, I saw the prints of the nails in the feet of the Redeemer of the world. The feeling that I had in the presence of him who hath all things in his hands, to have his love, his affection, and his blessing was such that if I ever can receive that of which I had but a foretaste, I would give all that I am, all that I ever hope to be, to feel what I then felt.28


[Catherine Thomas, "Theophany," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 2, pp. 180-181]


3 Nephi 19:34 So great and marvelous were the words which he prayed that they cannot be written (Illustration): "Words That Cannot Be Written." Artist: Gary L. Kapp. Courtesy of David Larsen. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Ensign, January 2000, Front cover]