Saturday, August 22, 2020

Seers, Seer Stones and The Mystery of Gazelem

The topic of seers and seer stones is one of much debate between Mormons and Christians.  Because of ignorance, cultural, and religious bias many gentile Christians and some Mormons relegate the idea of a seer stone to the realms of witchcraft, the occult, or satanism. This bias is unfortunate because it does not take into account the tradition and presence of seers, seer stones, the Ephod (a breastplate of 12 stones) and the Urim and Thummim in Israelite History and Culture. 

The idea of sacred tools and implements seems to be relegated to the "Magic World View" by many Gentiles, but to Jews they are part of the Israelite "Prophetic World View" and are assigned an exalted position. In fact in Jewish history there have been many "seers":

Samuel The Prophet (1 Samuel 9:19)

Zadok the priest (2 Samuel 15:27)

The prophet Gad, David's seer (2 Samuel 24:11)

Heman the king's seer (1 Chronicles 25:5)

Hanani the seer (2 Chronicles 16:7)

Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Horowitz, the Seer of Lublin

(and the list could go on and on)

There are even Jewish traditions that relate that the Prophets Daniel, Ezekiel, and the 3 Hebrew Men carried stones with them from the destroyed altar in Jerusalem whereby they obtained revelations-the stone being a link between Aaronic/Levitical Priestly link to the altar in Israel and the men during their captivity in Babylon.  Whether the traditions are true or not we cannot say, but that there is precedent in Israelite history and culture should give us pause to consider that if these things existed among Israel of old then is it not possible they would also play a role in the restoration of Modern Israel?

THE EXPERIENCE OF SACRED IMPLEMENTS:

There are many in Mormonism who find themselves in a crisis of faith when they discover that Joseph Smith used a Urim and Thummim as well as a seer stone to translate The Book of Mormon.  Their modern greek mindsets explode in cognitive dissonance as they discover Joseph translated the plates through the use of a stone instead of just a mechanical character to word translation.  "Why would he even need the plates?", "Why not just give him the stones?" etc.  The western/linear gentile mind, however, is far removed from the multi-dimensional mind of the Israelite Prophetic tradition. 

When people hear the word translate they often think of the mechanical translation from one language to another.  For example Stone in English is translated from Eben in Hebrew. Seems simple enough, but this form of mechanical translation comprises only one dimension of the Israelite methods of interpretation.  While there is the literal (peshat) level of interpretation there is also remez (metaphors, allegories, etc), drash (philosphical/historical teachings), and the Sod (the mysteries or things related to the upper worlds).  The Book of Mormon as an Israelite record is meant to be read and comprehended on ALL of these levels of interpretation.  There is just one problem.  While teachings and keys can be communicated regarding the lower levels of interpretation and to direct people to the Sod level of interpretation- The Sod level is meant to be experienced-thus the reason for sacred implements (rods, seer stones, ephod, urim and thummim, etc).

In the Israelite prophetic tradition, the translation process not only comprises the mechanical but it must be experienced.  Utilizing the prophetic practices involving sacred implements and objects facilitated the experiential part of the process.  In other words, Joseph Smith not only mechanically viewed the characters he also had to experience the prophetic dimensions those characters contained. As one works in the prophetic traditions, their Nephesh or (spirit/soul) is expanded and they experience the things of the upper worlds. Unlike a common translator who provided a mechanical translation, Joseph Smith as a seer would see the characters and then experience the dimensions those characters were meant to communicate. 

Many ask, "How do we know such things?"  Because in the Israelite Schools of the prophetic the practice and operations of sacred instruments such as the Ephod and the Urim and Thummim (among others) not only contained the mechanical letters as well as the physical stones and frames, but they also lifted and linked the soul to the gates of Wisdom by which revelation is delivered from Heaven and by which the soul ascends to experience the upper worlds- like Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel. 

The resulting translation not only contains a mechanical aspect but also an interpretive dimension that requires the reader to follow in the same path of the seer to ultimately comprehend and experience The Book of Mormon and other sacred records.

GAZELEM AND THE STONE:

The word Gazelem has been discussed and debated in many circles of Mormonism. There are those critics of The Book of Mormon who maintain that many of the words of unknown origin we either made up by Joseph Smith or copied from an unknown source document or documents.  By examining the Hebrew origins of these words we begin to discover that the Jewish Prophet writers of the Book of Mormon display an intricate knowledge and expertise in the Hebrew language, culture, scribal laws, and Israelite prophetic tradition.

There are many words which appear in The Book of Mormon which cause much speculation and debate. I have always maintained that many of the words that appear "strange" to us in the record of The Book of Mormon are actually Hebrew word constructs. The Prophet Alma records: 

"And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover (reveal) unto my people who serve me, that I may discover (reveal) unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations. 

And now, my son, these interpreters were prepared that the word of God might be fulfilled, which he spake, saying: I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations; and except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; and I will bring to light all their secrets and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land." (Alma 37:23-25)

In this passage of scripture, Alma presents the word Gazelem and then proceeds to craft his account to reveal the inner literal, metaphorical, prophetic, and SOD definitions of the word Gazelem. In order to appreciate the intricate Hebrew word picture being painted, it is necessary to examine the various parts of the word using interpretive keys of ancient Israel.

The word Gazelem can be broken down in the following Hebrew words

Gaz - A destroyer

Here the concept of destroyer is not the English idea of one who comes to conquer, but word Gaz is related to the idea of a destroyer as a near kinsman avenger who comes to redeem his brethren.

Elem- young man, something kept hidden or out of sight

The word Elem constitutes the definition of a young man but also someone who is kept hidden or out of sight.

Distilled Meaning:  A Hidden Redeemer- or A Young Man who has been kept out of sight to come forth as a redeemer of his brethren. 

The parent letters and roots may also give us insight into other things as well as we combine the Hebrew Letters to form additional elements of the picture:

GZL: To take off something or someone by force through cutting off

Gimel - Lamed = Something round, a pile of rocks, or stones (I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone)

Gimel - Zayin = to shear, stones that are sheered, to reveal/discover, destroyer (I will destroy them from off the face of the earth)

Zayin- Lamed= to shake/vibrate, to shake out something

Gimel Mem = To gather as in to gather a group of people, ideas, or things.  (...that I may discover (reveal) unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations....I will bring forth out of darkness unto light all their secret works and their abominations)

Relational Meanings:

In addition to concrete and abstract meanings there are also relational meanings that are derived from the numeric value of the word:

Gimel=     03

Zayin=      07

Lamed=    30

Total =      40

The number 40 has great significance throughout the Torah . The number 40 represents transition or change; the concept of renewal or a new beginning. The number 40 also represents a shift from a lower spiritual state to a higher spiritual state. In examining the numerical meanings we find that the numerical meaning of the three letter roots we find the following relations:

gazaz / shear, destroy, cut off, destroyer 

ga'al / redeem

Yehudiy / Jew

kabowd / glory

chabal / destroy

By examining the Hebrew elements of the word Gazelem we can see the picturesque language of the Book of Mormon drawing on its' Hebrew/Jewish Roots.  Gaz-elem (the Hidden or Young Redeemer) 

A Hidden Prophetic Meaning:

To unfold the mystery of Gazelem we must also take a closer look at the phrase, "I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem a stone...".  Encoded into the text is a prophetic picture of this Young, Hidden Redeemer who will come to act as a deliverer to his brethren:

The Hebrew word for stone is the word Ehben (אֶבֶן) which can be broken down into its component parts (ab- Father, Ben- Son of) or a Son of the Father.  But we must also reverse the order of the letters to reveal the root Nun Beth Aleph (Navi- The root for Prophet/Prophesy).

Joseph Smith and Gazelem

It is interesting to note that in the original D&C 78:9 Joseph Smith was referred to by the code word Gazelem. Whether the original intent of Alma 37:23-25 was meant to refer solely to Joseph Smith is certainly a topic for further exploration, but I do find it interesting that the Hebrew word picture presented by the word picture of Gazelem consists of the following images which could easily be applied:

Gazelem- A Hidden Redeemer

A Young Man who has been kept out of sight to come forth as a redeemer of his brethren who is a son of the Father and a Prophet. A stone (son of the father/prophet) who is brought forth to reveal and destroy the secret works of darkness.


**For those so interested- great resources can be found in 

The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of The Bible by Jeff Benner.  

A concise Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament Book- by William Lee Holladay

Hebrew Word Study: Beyond the Lexicon- Book by Chaim Bentorah

Hebrew Word Study: Revealing the Heart of God-Book by Chaim Bentorah

Strong's Hebrew Lexicon


Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Israelite Mystery of Cumorah- A Hebrew Masterpiece

The Book of Mormon is an ancient covenant record written and preserved by a remnant of the House of Israel to come forth to a remnant of their posterity in a future time to prepare them for a Great and Marvelous Work to come forth by the Hand of YHVH (God).  Knowing that their future posterity here in the Americas would be destroyed and scattered by the Goyim (gentiles/nations) who would come upon this continent, God through his prophets here in the Americas preserved this record. This record along with the covenant land grant that we call America is the foundation upon which their scattered posterity (and all those who would associate themselves with them) could once again be restored as a covenant keeping body of the House of Israel.

We are witnessing a falling away by many from a belief in the Book of Mormon at a time when its' teachings could provide us with prophetic and practical instruction for the events we are witnessing in America now.  There are many who oppose The Book of Mormon and the idea of a restoration because it does not conform to their Catholic and Protestant traditions. In other words, they approach The Book of Mormon from a modern Christian paradigm.  The Book of Mormon is a Jewish/Israelite Book written by the descendants of Lehi and his family who were ALL JEWS-meaning they were occupants of the Southern Kingdom of Judah just prior to the Babylonian Captivity.

"I have charity for the Jew—I say Jew, because I mean them from whence I came." (2 Nephi 33:8)

A Jewish Document?  YES!

The writers of the the Book of Mormon were Jews or rather citizens and descendants of the Southern Kingdom of Israel. As such, the record contains many guiding truths and covenant betrothal gifts from God to his people meant to establish them in the land and prepare them for his coming in Glory.  The Book of Mormon is not the property of any religion but is the birthright of the heirs of the remnants of Israel for whom this record was intended.  As the writers were Jewish Prophets and their descendants who were taught the knowledge of Israel and it's ancient prophetic tradition, the record contains the foundational knowledge by which a modern remnant of Jacob, believing Jews, and those believing Gentiles may once again be established as a righteous and covenant keeping people before YHVH (God) on this covenant land grant called America.


Hebrew- Israel's Palette of Paint



Hebrew as a language has ancient roots which it shares with its' sister tongues Aramaic and Arabic. The alphabet consists of 22 letters with many books being written over the centuries about them. Unlike our English/American alphabet, Hebrew letters contain deeper meanings meant to be understood at different levels based on context and form. In some traditions it is said that the letters and words can be understood from 10 different but related dimensions. 

In our western culture, our language is often used to define things in very concrete ways.  In Hebrew, however, words can have concrete meanings and can also serve as the components or colors used to paint pictures on a canvas.  These word pictures are meant to convey literal meanings, allegorical meanings, traditional/theological teachings, and deeper meanings associated with the council of heaven and the eternal worlds (the sod level of meaning).

Unlike the modern English language and alphabet that often focus solely on the concrete meaning of words, Hebrew is inclusive of these other dimensions with all of the meaning/definitions being experienced in relation to each other.  Just as each person "experiences" a piece of artwork both concretely, objectively, abstractly, emotionally etc. so too are the word pictures that are constructed in the Hebrew meant to be experienced.  Imagine looking upon the masterpiece of "The Last Supper".  Concretely we see an image meant to literally portray the Last Supper of Christ.  Objectively we may find ourselves focusing on the different images that compose the painting.  Abstractly we may see hidden meanings woven into the painting by the artist.  Emotionally we may be drawn to experience a connection to the Messiah and his disciples during this epic event.  Which perspective is the right one?  The answer-ALL OF THEM!

The Book of Mormon as a Hebrew/Israelite record is no different. A child who reads the record may experience the literal stories of Nephi obtaining the brass plates from Laban or the story of Helaman and his Stripling Warriors.  An older person may experience the allegorical teachings contained in the record of those literal stories. There are those who may experience the record in relation to other ancient teachings of Israelite prophets, sages, and history.  And there are those who may peer through the windows of Heaven into the Upper Worlds through those same stories. Which one is the right way to relate to the record? The answer-ALL OF THEM!

As we study and contemplate the Book of Mormon as a Hebrew/Israelite text we literally grow with the language.  It changes us mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  It is taught in the Israelite schools of the prophetic that as one reads the words of the scriptures they become infused with the same spirit that infused the prophet that wrote those words-a process called "feasting on the word". In doing so we not only partake of the nourishing fruit of the Spirit of God, but we also ingest the seeds of that fruit whereby we as a tree produce the same fruit.

Hebrew words are  constructed from parent letters and root words that often appear as different expressions but share an underlying relationship meant to take you from the image of a black and white TV to Wide Screen, High Definition TV with surround sound.  These root words are often neutral in their meaning until they have been read in the context of the record or speech they are given in. In other words, the words alone are like the shell of our physical body without the animating life of the spirit. When the life of the spirit or the light of God is infused into these vessels from the varying dimensions, we experience the life in this world as it comes from above. This light is the life of God in its many expressions of the spiritual gifts from God. 


CUMORAH - A Tapestry of Many Colors



In Hebrew not only do words mean things, but parts of words mean things, letters mean things, and letter combinations may reveal things both past, present, and future.  Let's examine the word Cumorah.  

I have always maintained that many of the words that appear "strange" to us in the record of The Book of Mormon are actually Hebrew word constructs.  In other words, a word such as Coriantumr while we may view it as a name may actually be a Hebrew word construct designed to carry with it multiple meanings depending on the context.  The same can be said of the word Cumorah.

Cumorah- (concretely)- The place of the last battle of the Nephites. The place where Moroni deposited the Plates. The place where Joseph Smith (a gentile) retrieved the plates.

Hebrew Letters:   Kuph - Mem - Resh- Hey

Cum - קומ- to arise, stand up, rising up (like a hill our mountain that rises high above the ground)

Ur - flame or light- the verb to give light or shine

Ah- a short form of Yah- meaning "of God" or "From God"

Distilled meaning: The Rising Light of Yah (God), or The Shining Hill of Yah (God)


The Colors of the Palette

The artist or prophet who painted the picture uses the parts of the word like the colors of an artist's pallete to help us to see depth in his painting. The parent letters and roots may also give us insight into other things as well as we combine the Hebrew Letters to form additional elements of the picture:

Kuph Mem- to arise, stand up, rising up (like a hill our mountain that rises high above the ground)

Kuph Resh- A place of gathering- to gather men- a coming together of people

Kuph Hey- something sealed or bound up- an accumulation of things or objects


Mem Resh- head waters- something that is bitter- a place of waters

Mem Hey - something not known or in question; marrow in the bone

Mem Caph- rot, a stinky smell, dried or shriveled grapes


Resh Hey- flowing of words, flowing of water, to quench thirst

Resh Kuph- to draw out, a grassy area,

Resh Mem-high, Exalted, lifted up


Relational Meanings:


In addition to concrete and abstract meanings there are also relational meanings that are derived from the numeric value of the word:

Kuph - 100

Mem - 40

Resh- 300

Hey- 5

Total = 445

Often times we can discover additional relationships with other words that help fill in some of the missing parts of the picture or puzzle that share same numeric value:

techillah-תחלה--  meaning- the beginning or commencement of something

harar / mountain-להררי- 

shaphat / judge-שפטנו-

mishpat/judgment ומשפטי

miqshah / beaten -מקשה- as in a beaten, hammered work of gold Ex. 25:18

nakah / smite - הכיתי - to strike, wound, or slaughter, conquer, 

towdah / thanksgiving - לתודה- a praise and thanksgiving

Examining the Nephite/Hebrew Painting:

Considering the meanings of some of the parent roots and relational associations found in Hebrew let us now examine the picture of Cumorah being painted in The Book of Mormon where the word Cumorah is first mentioned:

"And I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle.

And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites did grant unto me the thing which I desired.

And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites.

And when three hundred and eighty and four years had passed away, we had gathered in all the remainder of our people unto the land of Cumorah.

And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni." (Mormon 6:2-6)

From this scripture we can see the picturesque language of the Book of Mormon drawing on its' Hebrew/Jewish Roots:

Cumorah was a hill. (Kuph Mem- to arise, stand up, rising up (like a hill our mountain that rises high above the ground), harar / mountain-להררי- , Resh Mem-high, Exalted, lifted up.

Cumorah was a place of battle. (nakah / smite - הכיתי - to strike, wound, or slaughter, conquer)

Cumorah was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains (Mem Resh- head waters- something that is bitter- a place of waters)

Cumorah was the place where the plates or records were deposited. (Kuph Hey- something sealed or bound up- an accumulation of things or objects), beaten -מקשה- as in a beaten, hammered work of gold Ex. 25:18).

Cumorah was the place where we see the gathering or coming together of people- whether it be Mormon gathering his people to the hill, the last battle of the Nephites/Lamanites or the Last Battle of the Jaredites (Coriantumr vs. Shiz)- (Kuph Resh- A place of gathering- to gather men- a coming together of people)

"And again, what do we hear? Glad tidings from Cumorah! Moroni, an angel from heaven, declaring the fulfilment of the prophets—the book to be revealed." (D&C 128:20)- (towdah / thanksgiving - לתודה- a praise, good tidings, and thanksgiving"

So what is the meaning of Cumorah?  The Answer: They are all part of a picture meant to be viewed and explored from the various Israelite levels of interpretation and from the vantage points of both the writer, the reader, and Heaven. For me, I like the distilled meaning of The Rising Light of Yah (God), or The Shining Hill of Yah (God) as either evokes an image of the artists purpose in the coming forth of The Book of Mormon and its' message to the world. Whether we examine the pixel or the whole picture we grow in our understanding and depth of perception.

**For those so interested- great resources can be found in 

The Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of The Bible by Jeff Benner.  

A concise Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament Book- by William Lee Holladay

Hebrew Word Study: Beyond the Lexicon- Book by Chaim Bentorah

Hebrew Word Study: Revealing the Heart of God-Book by Chaim Bentorah