Sunday, November 7, 2021

Lehi's First Vision - Symbols of the Mazzoroth.



 "And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem; and he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit and the things which he had seen. And being thus overcome with the Spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God." (1 Nephi 1:7-8)

From its very first chapter, The Book of Mormon carries its readers into the world of the Israelite prophetic traditions. The skill and artistry in which the record is constructed are amazing to behold. With each turning of its pages, the author of this ancient record has encoded ancient wisdom and understanding meant to transform the hearts and minds of its readers by bringing them to the knowledge and covenants God made with the Fathers. The knowledge of the Mazzorth or the Israelite Zodiac is part of this body of ancient wisdom. Mazzoroth is the Hebrew term for the Zodiac or the Constellations:

"Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?

Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?

Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?" 

(Job 38:31-33)


Lehi's First Vision:

After the Prophet Lehi encounters the pillar of fire that comes down and dwells upon the rock. He returns to his home enraptured by the Spirit of God and visions of glory. As he fell to his bed, he was carried away in a vision. He beheld God sitting upon his throne encircled by angels in the attitude of singing and praising God.  Because of our deeply influenced Greek-Western culture, this account often evokes images of a large man with a white beard sitting upon his throne surrounded by white, blond-haired, blue-eyed people in white robes (and sometimes with actual wings) surrounding him while singing and playing musical instruments. 


From the Israelite perspective, the heaven he is beholding is the night sky above.  


The throne of God is the Galactic center, and the stars are the concourses of angels surrounding the throne.

In the Israelite mind, the imagery of God and angels were connected with these astronomical bodies. We find similar knowledge and understanding among its sister cultures of the time where the Egyptians equated the Galactic Center with the eye of Horus:



THE TABERNACLE: THE DESIGN AND SYMBOL OF THE HEAVENS

The tabernacle in the wilderness in ancient Israel was a microcosm of the Heavens above. Whatever its actual design, the tabernacle was a pattern of the cosmos:



As the heavens are opened to Lehi, he sees the visible galactic center with the numberless stars surrounding the Galactic Center (The Throne of Heaven).

Lehi then goes on to record:

"And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day. And he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament." (1 Nephi 1:9-10)

The "One" being referred to here is one of the stars (or stellar bodies) descending from heaven and falling toward the horizon.  The twelve others following him are the constellations of the Zodiac as the stars of the Zodiac are the brightest stars compared to the others that shine in the sky. 

Lehi then continues:

"And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read. And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord."

Here the constellations of the Zodiac begin to fall or "go forth upon the face of the earth" before him. Lehi then is given to understand by revelation that the first constellation that goes down carries a message of judgment upon the earthly city of Jerusalem. 


So what constellation did Lehi See?

As the "One" being referred to in verse 11 is a celestial body, the question we may then ask is which celestial body is "The One." Lehi communicates that this particular celestial body came down before him and gave him a book (revelation). He goes on to declare the words of the book which this particular "One" had given him:

"And he read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations! 

Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem—that it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon.

And it came to pass that when my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord; such as: Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty! Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth; and, because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!

And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God; for his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled, because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shown unto him." (1 Nephi 1: 13-15)

The message being delivered by this One constellation is a message of judgment. If we look to the ancient Israelite Mazzoroth, we can identify two possibilities of the constellations Lehi may have observed:


One possibility is the constellation Libra near the Galactic Center, which was equated with judgment. The celestial bodies surrounding it were identified with the throne of glory, the throne of mercy, and the Throne of Judgment. In the picture above, we see Ophiuchus (identified with the angel Michael-whose name means One Like God or Who is Like God-standing near the galactic center and near Scorpio and Libra.)

Another possibility is the Constellation Orion (Nephil-in Hebrew). If we hold to the Passover themes exhibited in Lehi's Exodus, this "One" constellation could be Orion descending to earth with the constellation Eridanus at his feet (In Ancient Israel, Eridanus is also called The River of the Judge). That Orion's luster was above that of the noonday sun, describing Orion's position to the sun and its heavenly path (the ecliptic). I personally tend toward the latter or an Orion Connection.



Whatever the case may be, we see from the very first chapter of The Book of Mormon much of the ancient astronomical knowledge possessed by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in this very Israelite record.  The record of the Book of Mormon is full of this knowledge that is just waiting to be revealed to our eyes-for those who have eyes to see.


Copyright Robert Kay November 7, 2021








Saturday, November 6, 2021

Horses in The Book of Mormon: A Different View




 "And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land.  

And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. 

And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.  

And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the Wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper." ( 1 Nephi 18:23-25)


The mention of horses in The Book of Mormon has been quite controversial. Over the years many critics of The Book of Mormon have disputed the presence of horses and other animals in the Americas. While some declare the presence of many of these animals in the new world before European incursions, others claim that many of these animals (specifically horses) were not to be found. However, an ancient Israelite approach to this scripture actually reveals something entirely different.


Pitching Our Tents

"And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land.  "

The phrase "pitch our tents" is an Israelite prophetic marker that is meant to communicate to the reader of the text that the account they are about to read has a connection with Moses Tabernacle in the Wilderness.  The Tabernacle in the Wilderness is the pre-cursor of the physical temple constructed by King Solomon.  The Tabernacle or tent in the Wilderness is a pattern of the astronomical heaven above containing the planets, the constellations, and other celestial signs and markers.  In other words, when we "pitch our tents," the reader is meant to view the text from the context of Temple and the heavens above.




So the question is then asked, "What do the Tent in the Wilderness and Astronomical bodies have to do with horses?"


SeedTime and Harvest:

Nephi's account then goes on to state:

"And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem.  And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance. " 

In ancient Israel, the cycles of the constellations and various stars determined the seasons for seed time, planting, and harvesting.  There are also ancient traditions that planting certain crops under the light of various stars and celestial bodies caused the crops to produce in greater abundance in conjunction with nourishment and influences provided by the sun, moon, moisture, and the soil. 


Again what does this have to do with Horses?


"And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the Wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper." 

Nephi then goes on to describe the beasts of the forests found upon the land of promise as they journeyed in the Wilderness.  While the peshat or literal level of interpretation tells of the story of the animals they found upon the land of promise, the verse is also meant to communicate an astronomical principle.  In the ancient Israelite astronomical view, the land of promise is our viewpoint from the earth as we look into the sky, with the Wilderness being the night sky above with the varying stars and constellations. Thus, the animals that Nephi describes are the symbols of the stellar bodies that they used to determine seedtime and harvest and symbols meant to convey higher teachings.  





the cow= Aldebaran (in some traditions, this gets switched with Taurus as well)

the ox =  Taurus

and the ass  = Issachar- What we call the Constellation Cancer

the horse- asher-  three horse-related constellations were found. Bootes rose in the East, while Scheat and Pegasus, the flying horse, were setting, and Sagittarius, the centaur.

the goat - Naphtali - Capricorn

the wild goat-Aries


But what about the mention of Gold, Silver, and Copper?

"And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper." 

In addition, Nephi also communicates the types of knowledge that they obtained from the signs in the heavens using the following symbols:

Gold:    Knowledge of The Throne of Heaven, The Galactic Center, or Celestial.

Silver: Knowledge of the Creation and the Stars of Creation.

Copper: Knowledge of the Angels and the Earth here below.


We find a second witness of this prophetic pattern regarding the connection between seedtime and harvest and the constellations in Enos:

"And I bear record that the people of Nephi did seek diligently to restore the Lamanites unto the true faith in God. But our labors were vain; their hatred was fixed, and they were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the Wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven; and their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us.

And it came to pass that the people of Nephi did till the land, and raise all manner of grain, and of fruit, and flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats, and also many horses." (Enos 1:20-21)


We also find a third witness of this prophetic pattern in Ether:

"And the Lord warned Omer in a dream that he should depart out of the land; wherefore Omer departed out of the land with his family, and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent, and also his sons and his daughters, and all his household, save it were Jared and his family... And the Lord began again to take the curse from off the land, and the house of Emer did prosper exceedingly under the reign of Emer; and in the space of sixty and two years they had become exceedingly strong, insomuch that they became exceedingly rich--   Having all manner of fruit, and of grain, and of silks, and of fine linen, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things;  And also all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man.  And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms." (Ether 9:3, 16-19)

While there are those who want to argue the zoology of The Book of Mormon.  It may also be prudent to consider these descriptions in light of their cosmological significance. While the mention of cureloms and cumoms gets a laugh from a gentile audience, it might be wise to consider these were also ancient astronomical symbols. Much of the knowledge of the fathers like Abraham has been lost through the millennia, but The Book of Mormon preserves much of this ancient knowledge of the heavens encoded into the text.

Copyright Robert Kay November 5, 2021


Thursday, October 28, 2021

Knowing The God In Whom You Should Trust: Preparing for the Old Testament (The TaNaKh)




"And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles. And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust." (Mormon 9:19-20)


The purpose of the scriptures is to know the God whom we should trust.  In Hebrew, the word for "know" is the word yada, which means not only learning about something or someone but experiencing something or someone. It is not a superficial experience of God but a profoundly intimate experience. In the Israelite worldview, The Old Testament is the foundation of this experience. 

The Book of Mormon as a Jewish/Israelite record heavily depends on the language, customs, and the scriptures of the Jews for correct interpretation.  The heart of all Israelite scripture is the Torah, often called the five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy). Without the Torah and the Heart of the Covenant, people approach the Book of Mormon with their Christian/Pagan Eyeglasses rather than Messiah/Hebrew glasses.  As a result, the covenant message of the Book of Mormon becomes twisted into a pseudo-born again Christian document with weird names and a nice message about Jesus. However, when viewed through an Israelite paradigm and covenant lenses, the message of the Book of Mormon is unveiled as a message to the descendants of the House of Israel, the promises made to them, and their role in bringing forth Zion and the Restoration of All Things.

The Plates of Laban – The TaNaKh

The Torah contains God’s laws and instructions given to all Israel as a roadmap for a Zion (a marked or set apart) people.  As a result of Israel disregarding the commandments of God, the people continually fell into a state of iniquity (lawlessness).   The importance of the Torah cannot be overstated to an Israelite because it contains the Heart of the Covenant Relationship between God and his people Israel.  Without this Heart, the life-giving blood of the Spirit of God cannot flow to the body of his people. 

When God commanded Lehi to send his sons to obtain the Plates of Laban, he did so knowing that the plates of Laban contained the Torah (Five Books of Moses), the writings of the Prophets (Neviim), and other historical writings such as the Psalm, Proverbs, etc. (Ketuvim):

“And after they had given thanks unto the God of Israel, my father, Lehi, took the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, and he did search them from the beginning. And he beheld that they did contain the five books of Moses, which gave an account of the creation of the world, and also of Adam and Eve, who were our first parents; And also a record of the Jews from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah;  And also the prophecies of the holy prophets, from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah; and also many prophecies which have been spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah.” (1 Nephi 5:10-13)


THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS


"Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil; For verily I say unto you, one jot nor one tittle hath not passed away from the law, but in me it hath all been fulfilled." (3 Nephi 12: 17-18)

We often hear the phrase "The Law and The Prophets) quoted throughout the scriptures.  In Hebrew, The Law is called The Torah, which is composed of the 5 Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).  While the word Torah is translated as "THE LAW" throughout the scriptures, it is more accurately translated a Instructions- as in a Father's instructions to his Children and often likened to the decrees of the King. As a body of scripture, The Torah is the foundational document that established The House of Israel in a similar way that The Constitution established The United States of America.

The term Prophets (Nevi'im) is referring to to the records of varying prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, etc. The words of the prophets contain divine messages and instructions to teach God's people how to "fulfill" (a Hebrew Idiomatic expression meaning to correctly interpret and carry out) God's instructions. The writings of the Prophets also give prophetic warnings and contain sealed (or encrypted) teachings intended for those who diligently seek after the greater things of God.

In Israel, the Plates of Laban would then fall under a Hebrew called Tanakh. This acronym breaks down as follows:

T = Torah – First Five Books of Moses

N = Neviim – The Prophets/Writings of the Prophets

K= Ketuvim- Historical Records such as Kings, Chronicles, and writings like Psalms, Proverbs, etc.

The importance of these brass plates cannot be overemphasized.  The Torah and the writings of the prophets contained on these plates allowed them to preserve their language, history, and laws. But, more importantly, it maintained the foundation upon which God established his covenant and the principles that enabled the Nephites to obtain the blessings of God’s covenant.

The Old Testament As A Multi-Dimensional Record

The language of Hebrew captures and embodies multi-dimensional aspects of the word of God.  As a functional language, it is designed to be uttered by our physical tongue but embedded in this language are principles of astronomy, mathematics, geometry, chemistry, physics, grammar, etc. This knowledge was passed down from Adam through the hands of the patriarchs such as Enoch, Noah, and Melchizedek. From there, it was transmitted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) down to the tribes of Israel and their descendants.

The scriptures from the House of Israel are like a winding staircase or a divine helix of DNA that contains the essential building blocks of creation.  Our ascent through the four worlds or dimensions of scripture is taught to this day in Israel through a system of interpretation called PaRDeS.  PaRDeS is an acronym formed from the initials of the four levels or approaches to understanding the revelations of God:


1. Peshat – The simple, literal meaning of the word or account.

2. Remez – The allegorical or symbolic meaning of the word or account.

3. Deresh – A comparative meaning as compared to similar occurrences, accounts, or teachings.

4. Sod (pronounced with a long O sound)– The secret, esoteric, or mystical meaning


Peshat:

To demonstrate and apply this science of ancient Israel, let us examine the following scripture: “And my father dwelt in a tent” (1 Nephi 2:15).  As we discussed earlier, sometimes, the greatest of truths are hidden in plain sight.  How many times have you as a reader read through the Book of Mormon and simply passed over this one sentence verse, “And my father dwelt in a tent.”  The verse looks pretty straightforward, simple, and literal.  Reading this verse may draw images of desert Bedouins living in their tents in a desert wilderness surrounded by camels and stock.  This verse's simple and literal (Peshat) reading is that Lehi literally dwelt in a tent. Yet, to the initiated mind of an Israelite, this verse reveals so much more about the man Lehi and lends itself to a great truth of this hidden science.

Remez:

This dimension comprises allusion using allegorical, metaphoric, and symbolic words and imagery.  In this dimension, an Israelite begins to ask, “Where has God revealed these things in the covenant God made with the Fathers”: (The TaNaKh – The Torah –Five Books of Moses, The Neviim –the Prophets, or the Ketuvim – the Writings). The verse, “And my father dwelt in a tent,” directs the Israelite mind to the Mishkan or “tent of dwelling,” often called the “tabernacle in the wilderness” or the “tabernacle of Moses.”

Deresh:

Derash is the dimension of understanding the comprises the interpretive meaning of the text. These interpretive teachings can often be found in the teachings of prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, wherein the mind of an Israelite is drawn to examine similar occurrences and teachings.  These occurrences and teachings have historical precedent, legal precedent, and instructional precedent passed down by inspired teachers. In some ways, it is like a sermon or teaching- Jacob's Sermon at the Temple or, say, King Benjamin's Sermon at the Temple. 

Sod:

The sod level of interpretation pertains to the mysteries or hidden things of God.  They pertain to those things of the divine throne or council of heaven.  They are the teachings regarding the journey of the Soul and its ascent from Earth to Heaven. It is what is called the Great and Marvelous teachings.  “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing and the glory of kings to search out a matter!” (Proverb 25:2) As all Israel was called to be a nation of kings and priests to God, then it was the glory of kings to search out the concealed things of God.


Copyright October 28, 2021 - Robert Kay



Sunday, October 10, 2021

What Does It Mean To Pray Always?

 



"Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him." (3 Nephi 18:15)


For years we have heard the admonition to "watch and pray always".  At first glance, it would seem that we are being told to "be on the lookout and pray always" so that you enter not into temptation.  On the surface level, the admonition sounds simple enough, but then arises the question, "How do I watch and pray always?"  I mean, I have to go to work.  Life is busy, and I have things to do. I have children to take care of etc., etc. 

To better understand the admonition and how to "watch and pray always," it is helpful to understand what the words mean from an Israelite perspective.  The word 'watch' is often translated from the Hebrew word shamar .  In context, the word shamar means to guard or observe something and is the same word wherein we get the admonition of "Keep (shamar-guard/observe my commandments).   In the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, we find that this is the word used by the Messiah in his admonition as found in Matthew 26:41, "Watch (shamar-guard/observe) and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

So the question then comes, "How do I Guard/Observe and Pray Always"?  In a cultural context, not only is the phrase connected with the concept of the respective "watches" when guards were placed around strategic areas of the city or temple to alert the city should an enemy approach, but it also became culturally connected with practices of walking with God and "how" we are to pray always:


Practicing The Presence:

One of the first principles of "the watch" was the idea that we are practicing our duties as a "watcher" in the presence of God.  The responsibilities of a watcher entailed not only being physically and mentally prepared but also ever vigilant in their duties to guard the people of God and to be ever ready to carry out the commands of the King. Thus, one of the disciplines taught came to be known in later Jewish circles as "practicing the presence." The Prophets of Israel walked in the discipline of living/practicing the presence of God.  This discipline was taught to their students. In doing so, they began to come out from their spiritual hiding places, experience their nakedness before God, and walk in the path of his presence in this world.  Their acknowledgment of God's presence in their heart (thoughts) and in the world around them was an essential discipline by which they lived. It governed their lives and, in doing so, unleashed a real power of transformation and the utter destruction of doubt/unbelief.

The idea is that God is in all things and through all things-both good and bad. Therefore, it was not sufficient that we simply believe in God.  We must learn to see him and his presence in all things on this earth- both the good and the bad.  In doing so, we begin to come out from our hiding places.  In doing so, we begin to know God.  This is why both in ancient Israel and even in the history of the restoration, men would mark their homes, their tools, their door frames, etc. with the outward phrase, "Holiness To The Lord (YHVH)" or other instruments containing scriptures (i.e., mezuzah) because whether in life or death, sin or obedience, the acknowledgment of the presence of God in all things brought the person out from under the power and shame produced by our adversary and back into the presence of God and the path of true healing and redemption.  By putting up signposts (whether physical or spiritual), we open ourselves to the divine presence- we begin both outwardly and inwardly acknowledge his living presence or eye.  It was not the question of "Why bad things happen to good people" or the declaration that "Prosperity follows the Righteous," but that the presence of God fills the whole earth in the here and now.  In fact, we walk in it daily, and with every breath, we breathe.

In other words, we wake up in the presence of God each morning even as we lie down in his arms each night.  We go to work or school each day as if the presence of God is with us.  We administer to our loved ones and to the stranger on the street as if before the presence of God.  We change diapers, clean toilets, nurse our babies, take out the garbage, etc., etc., all as if we are continually as if God is present in all our thoughts, words, and deeds. In doing so, the spiritual heart of man is revealed even as the carnal man begins to fall away before his all-searching eye.

This discipline of practicing or acknowledging that we live continually in the presence of God is also demonstrated by the teaching of the "eye" of God.  The Prophet Jacob declares:

"O, my beloved brethren, remember my words. Behold, I take off my garments, and I shake them before you; I pray the God of my salvation that he view me with his all-searching eye; wherefore, ye shall know at the last day, when all men shall be judged of their works, that the God of Israel did witness that I shook your iniquities from my soul, and that I stand with brightness before him, and am rid of your blood." (2 Nephi 9:44)

and

"But, notwithstanding the greatness of the task, I must do according to the strict commands of God, and tell you concerning your wickedness and abominations, in the presence of the pure in heart, and the broken heart, and under the glance of the piercing eye of the Almighty God." (Jacob 2:10)

Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Death Of The Chief Judge and The Five Hidden Men


"Behold, now it came to pass that when Nephi had spoken these words, certain men who were among them ran to the judgment-seat; yea, even there were five who went, and they said among themselves, as they went..." (Helaman 9:1)


The Book of Mormon draws upon historical characters and events to communicate deeper teachings. Sometimes some of the greatest teachings are hidden in plain sight. One hidden teaching involves five men who ran to witness the murdered chief judge. The Book of Helaman tells the story of Nephi prophecying the murder of the chief judge:

"25 But behold, ye have rejected the truth, and rebelled against your holy God; and even at this time, instead of laying up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where nothing doth corrupt, and where nothing can come which is unclean, ye are heaping up for yourselves wrath against the day of judgment.  26 Yea, even at this time ye are ripening, because of your murders and your fornication and wickedness, for everlasting destruction; yea, and except ye repent it will come unto you soon.  27 Yea, behold it is now even at your doors; yea, go ye in unto the judgment-seat, and search; and behold, your judge is murdered, and he lieth in his blood; and he hath been murdered by his brother, who seeketh to sit in the judgment-seat.  28 And behold, they both belong to your secret band, whose author is Gadianton and the evil one who seeketh to destroy the souls of men." (Helaman  8:25-28)

In response, five men ran to the judgment seat to find out for themselves whether the words of Nephi were true. The text appears to not disclose the identity of the five men, but if we look at the text as a whole, we find that the author is not only conveying a narrative about a chief judge being killed but a hidden truth regarding the death of the Messiah and the prophets who testified of him. 

These five men ran and found the chief judge killed in the judgment seat, as the story goes. In astonishment, the five men fell to the earth. They were found at the scene of the crime, and it was assumed that they had killed the chief judge whereby they were then thrown into prison. 

The symbolic identities of these five men lead us to a great teaching. Just before announcing the murder of the chief judge, Nephi is in the tower in his Garden and draws his listeners attention to the brazen serpent lifted up by Moses in the Wilderness:

"14 Yea, did he not bear record that the Son of God should come? And as he lifted up the brazen serpent in the wilderness, even so shall he be lifted up who should come.  15 And as many as should look upon that serpent should live, even so as many as should look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, might live, even unto that life which is eternal.  16 And now behold, Moses did not only testify of these things, but also all the holy prophets, from his days even to the days of Abraham." (Helaman 8:14-16)




Nephi then goes on to delineate 5 prophets who testified of the Messiah:

"19 And now I would that ye should know, that even since the days of Abraham there have been many prophets that have testified these things; yea, behold, the prophet Zenos did testify boldly; for the which he was slain.  20 And behold, also Zenock, and also Ezias, and also Isaiah, and Jeremiah, (Jeremiah being that same prophet who testified of the destruction of Jerusalem) and now we know that Jerusalem was destroyed according to the words of Jeremiah. O then why not the Son of God come, according to his prophecy?" (Helaman 8:19-20)

1. Zenos

2. Zenock

3. Ezias

4. Isaiah

5. Jeremiah


Like the 5 certain men who witnessed the death of the chief judge, these 5 prophets bore witness of the death of the true Chief Judge- even Jesus Christ.  As a result of their testimony, these five prophets were either killed or died in their testimony.  

The story then goes on to discuss the liberation of the 5 certain men from prison:

"18 And it came to pass that the five were liberated on the day of the burial. Nevertheless, they did rebuke the judges in the words which they had spoken against Nephi, and did contend with them one by one, insomuch that they did confound them." (Helaman 9:18)

Like the 5 certain men who were liberated on the day of the chief judge's burial, we see a connection being drawn to those souls (among them those 5 prophets) that were resurrected and came forth at the time of the burial of Christ as prophecied by:

Samuel the Lamanite, "25 And many graves shall be opened, and shall yield up many of their dead; and many saints shall appear unto many." (Helaman 14:25)

and witnessed by

3 Nephi:

"9 Verily I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them. And he said unto them: Was it not so?  10 And his disciples answered him and said: Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled." (3 Nephi 23)

and Matthew:

"And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many." (Matthew 27:51-53)


A Little Deeper:

Just as the five certain men were liberated on the day of the chief judge's burial, the prophets Zenos, Zenock, Ezias, Isaiah, and Jeremiah were resurrected on the day of the burial of the real Chief Judge. Not only does the Book of Mormon couch this hidden teaching into the text of Helaman regarding this healing or resurrection from the dead, but it also contains an even deeper teaching regarding the 5 levels of the soul: Nefesh (Life Force), Ruach (spirit), Neshamah (breath of life), Chaya (living one), and Yechidah (oneness).  For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, these are the five points through which we fellowship, connect, or embrace God. 


Copyright August 29, 2021 (Robert Kay)


 







Saturday, August 21, 2021

THE THREE VOICES OF GOD: PAHORAN, PAANCHI, AND PACUMENI

 



"And now behold, it came to pass in the commencement of the fortieth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, there began to be a serious difficulty among the people of the Nephites. For behold, Pahoran had died and gone the way of all the earth; therefore, there began to be a serious contention concerning who should have the judgment seat among the brethren, who were the sons of Pahoran. Now, these are the names who did contend for the judgment seat, who did also cause the people to contend: Pahoran, Paanchi, and Pacumeni. Now, these are not all the sons of Pahoran, (for he had many,) but these are they who did contend for the judgment seat; therefore, they did cause three divisions among the people. Nevertheless, it came to pass that Pahoran was appointed by the voice of the people to be chief judge and a governor over the people of Nephi." (Helaman 1:1-5)

Like other ancient Israelite prophetic works, The Book of Mormon draws upon historical characters and events to communicate deeper teachings. As discussed in my prior post entitled The Hidden Mystery of Hagoth, we learn that sacred engravings (meditations) comprise the record of Helaman. At first glance, this may seem strange to non-Israelite eyes, but the practice is quite common and quite ancient. What appears to be a record involving wars, robbers, fiery revelations, etc., is only the surface level of a quite transformative record.  In other words, there is more than meets the eye. 

THE THREE VOICES: PAHORAN, PAANCHI, AND PACUMENI

The record commences in the 40th year (mem) of the judges. Here we find that the Chief Judge Pahoran had died, leaving three sons Pahoran, Paanchi, and Pacumeni. Contending for the judgment seat, these three sons cause the people to be divided into three divisions. 

The meaning of their names has often eluded Mormon Scholars. But, as I have maintained, The Book of Mormon is full of Hebrew word constructs that can be deciphered using the components of the word and the context in which the word is used.

Let's begin by examining the name Pahoran. The word is constructed as follows:

Peh= Mouth or Voice

Horan= Hills or Mountain

Pahoran = The Voice From the Hills, Mountain

The symbolism behind the Voice from the Mountain is that it is the voice of God, the real Chief Judge. The phrase "Voice from the Mountain" is meant to take the reader back to Exodus 19 and 20, where the voice of God came down from Mount Sinai like a trumpet causing the earth to quake and tremble and the people to stand afar off:

"And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly..." (God speaks the 10 commandments)..."And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die." (Exodus 19:16-18 and Exodus 20:18-19)

Pacumeni= The Voice of Power

Peh = Mouth or Voice

Cum (ani)= Powerful, visualize a mountain rising up, something awesome.


Paanchi = The Voice of Dedication (to Destruction):

Peh = Mouth or Voice

Anchi is related to Hanak (similar to Hanoch or Enoch), meaning dedicated. In this case, anchi meaning dedicated/ set apart to destruction.


The mentioning of these three voices encompasses some of the most ancient teachings of The House of Israel regarding the Three Voices of God (YHVH).  The Book of Mormon itself also provides the meanings of these names.  Unbeknownst to many, Helaman Chapters 1 thru 12 is a continuous record, with 13-16 being added later regarding Samuel the Lamanite.  Helaman Chapter 1 parallels Helaman chapter 12.  By examining the poetic structure of the text, we see this teaching regarding the Three Voices of God displayed:

"5 Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom's paths!  6 Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide." (Helaman 12)

Here the Lord their God (YHVH Elohiym) is being compared to the chief judge who rules over the people.  We see the voice from the Mountain displayed in Helaman 12:7-9 (specifically 9)

"7 O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth.  8 For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God.  9 Yea, behold at his voice do the hills and the mountains tremble and quake."

Here we see the Book of Mormon drawing upon the same language regarding the trembling and quaking of the hills similar to the trembling and quaking of the mountains of Sinai as described above.

We see the Voice of Power displayed in verses 10-17:

"10 And by the power of his voice they are broken up, and become smooth, yea, even like unto a valley.  11 Yea, by the power of his voice doth the whole earth shake;  12 Yea, by the power of his voice, do the foundations rock, even to the very center.  13 Yea, and if he say unto the earth -- Move -- it is moved.  14 Yea, if he say unto the earth -- Thou shalt go back, that it lengthen out the day for many hours -- it is done;  15 And thus, according to his word the earth goeth back, and it appeareth unto man that the sun standeth still; yea, and behold, this is so; for surely it is the earth that moveth and not the sun.  16 And behold, also, if he say unto the waters of the great deep -- Be thou dried up -- it is done.  17 Behold, if he say unto this mountain -- Be thou raised up, and come over and fall upon that city, that it be buried up -- behold it is done." (Helaman 12)

In reviewing Helaman 12, we see the pattern of God as the Chief Judge, with the first two of his voices or sons being displayed. Now comes the third.

The Voice of Dedication:

"18 And behold, if a man hide up a treasure in the earth, and the Lord shall say -- Let it be accursed, because of the iniquity of him who hath hid it up -- behold, it shall be accursed.  19 And if the Lord shall say -- Be thou accursed, that no man shall find thee from this time henceforth and forever -- behold, no man getteth it henceforth and forever.  20 And behold, if the Lord shall say unto a man -- Because of thine iniquities, thou shalt be accursed forever -- it shall be done."

In Hebrew, to be accursed is to be set apart or "dedicated" to destruction. So the voice of dedication (in this case to destruction). 

LITERAL OR FIGURATIVE?

As we discussed initially, The Book of Mormon draws upon historical characters and events to communicate deeper teachings. So one might ask, "What of the story is real and what was symbolic?"

The real or historical part of the story is that there was probably a chief judge in Nephite society who died and left three sons who contended for the judgment seat and divided the people.  Their names are the symbolic part in that their actual names were most likely not Pahoran, Paanchi, and Pacumeni.  The literal story being used to couch a much greater teaching.

The teaching regarding the Three Voices of God is connected to two fundamental teachings regarding mediation and revelation.  The first being the three spirits from which revelation can come.  The second and more ancient being connected to the Prophet Enoch and words of power, which I will not discuss due to the sacredness of the teaching. 




Saturday, August 7, 2021

My Father Dwelt In A Tent- Israelite Interpretive Keys To The Book of Mormon

 


The language of Hebrew captures and embodies multi-dimensional aspects of the word of God.  As a functional language, it is designed to be uttered by our physical tongue but embedded in this language is mathematics, geometry, chemistry, physics, grammar, etc. Knowledge passed down from Adam and the first civilization.  

In a way, the language itself is like a winding staircase or a divine helix of DNA that contains the essential building blocks of creation.  The knowledge of ascent through these dimensions has been preserved and transmitted by the Prophets of Israel.  The ascent through the four worlds or dimensions is taught to this day in Israel through a system of interpretation called PaRDeS.  PaRDeS is an acronym formed from the initials of the four levels or approaches to understanding the revelations of God:

1. Peshat – The simple, literal meaning of the word or account.
2. Remez – The allegorical or symbolic meaning of the word or account.
3. Deresh – A comparative meaning as compared to similar occurrences, accounts, or teachings.
4. Sod (pronounced with a long O sound)– The secret, esoteric, or mystical meaning


For many, the Book of Mormon yet remains a sealed book.  When we think of a sealed book, we often see images of ancient scrolls or plates bound by a material or metal band that forbids a person from opening the book.  While this is one type of seal, in the mind of an Israelite, a sealed record can also be one whose true meaning and interpretation are not yet understood or revealed. The Book of Mormon is such a record. It is a sealed record to many because while the literal (peshat) account is the literal story of Lehi and his descendants, we miss the deeper dimensions of light hidden in plain sight.

Peshat:


To demonstrate and apply this science of ancient Israel, let us examine the following scripture: “And my father dwelt in a tent” (1 Nephi 2:15).  As we discussed earlier, sometimes, the greatest of truths are hidden in plain sight.  How many times have you as a reader read through the Book of Mormon and simply passed over this one sentence verse, “And my father dwelt in a tent.”  The verse seems very straightforward, simple, and literal.  Reading this verse may draw images of desert Bedouins living in their tents in a desert wilderness surrounded by camels and stock.  This verse's very simple and literal (Peshat) reading is that Lehi literally dwelt in a tent.

To the initiated mind of an Israelite, this verse reveals so much more about the man Lehi and lends itself to a great truth of this hidden science.

Remez:


As we increase our awareness, we can begin to make the conscious associations demonstrated by the second dimension or level of interpretation. This dimension comprises allegorical, metaphoric, and symbolic.  In this dimension, an Israelite begins to ask, “Where has God revealed these things in the covenant God made with the Fathers”: (The TaNaKh – The Torah –Five Books of Moses, The Neviim –the Prophets, or the Ketuvim – the Writings). The verse, “And my father dwelt in a tent,” directs the Israelite mind to the Mishkan or “tent of dwelling,” often called the “tabernacle in the wilderness” or the “tabernacle of Moses.”   The parallels in the stories of Lehi leading his family in an Exodus from Jerusalem into the wilderness and Moses leading the children of Israel on their Exodus from Egypt into the wilderness are not accidental.  In fact, in true Israelite fashion, Nephi weaves these parallels into his account to compact great revelations about his Father, His Father’s connection with God, and essential knowledge preserved for his posterity on how they must also walk with the God of their Fathers.

The tabernacle (tent) in the wilderness is the appointed place where God would meet with Moses and Aaron. Here the glory of God (Shekinah) would dwell.  Here Moses would ascend into the presence of God by (1) “The Way” or outer gate of the tabernacle, to pass by the furnishings of (2) the outer court, in preparation to enter the (3) inner court or Holy Place, to then come before (4) The Holy of Holies or Throne of God.  In this tent of dwelling, instructions and decrees were delivered from God to his righteous ones.  In this tent of dwelling, the officiating priests stood as ministering servants or angels to assist in bringing the people into a condition of oneness (at-one-ment) with God.  Here, the earthly journey of ascension began and, as a type, symbolically ended with the reality of heavenly ascension realized.

The tabernacle in the wilderness serves as an allegory that Nephi draws upon. With this ancient connection established between Lehi and Moses, the verse, “And my Father dwelt in a Tent” takes on greater significance. In the world of Israel, this verse communicates that Lehi was a Tsadik (a holy or righteous one) who walked in the same pathway of the Holy Order, such as Moses, Abraham, Noah, Enoch, and Adam.  As he dwelt in a tent in the wilderness, he communed with God.  He received revelations, commandments, and decrees for his people.  In fact, in those places where Nephi relates that his “father dwelt in a tent” such as 1 Nephi 2:15, 9:1, 10:16, and 1 Nephi 16:6 (four distinct instances), we find connected four distinct manifestations of God to both Lehi and Nephi filled with simple commands, ancient allegory, divine instruction, and the hidden/esoteric teachings of ascension in their unadulterated form.

Deresh:


With the new dimension of understanding and consciousness added upon us from Remez, the next or third dimension of understanding begins to unfold.  The mind of an Israelite is then drawn to examine similar occurrences and teachings related to the tabernacle in the wilderness.  These occurrences and teachings have historical precedent, legal precedent, and instructional precedent passed down by inspired teachers. For example, one such ancient teaching associated with concepts of a tabernacle or tent has to do with an ancient teaching regarding prayer.

The concept of dwelling in a tent while foreign to many in the West is commonplace among cultures in the Middle East and Orient.  In Israel, all of God’s people were commanded to be tsaddikim (holy men and women), “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” (Exodus 19:6)  Even as Moses declared, “would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!”

Like ancient Israel camping in tents in the wilderness, a tsaddik or holy man would often be found living outside the bounds of the cities in the caves and tents of the wilderness.  In doing so, these men lead a consecrated or set apart existence similar to Moses dwelling in the Tabernacle enwrapped in the Glory of the Lord (Shekinah).  This set-apart walk with God was embodied with the wearing of the four-cornered garment known as a tallit.








The tallit is a four-cornered garment that serves as a reminder that the wearer is wrapped in the authority of Heaven. It was every man and woman’s private Mishkan or Tabernacle.  It symbolized the righteous dominion and authority of Heaven over the wearer and a place of retreat from the world.  To this day, modern observant Jews are seen in the attitude of prayer under the tallit worshipping in their private tents (tabernacles) the God of Creation.






With this understanding of Israelite culture and teaching, our understanding can then be drawn to great teachings from the Prophets and the Messiah:

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6:5-6, 3 Nephi 13:6

“And when I did turn unto my closet, O Lord, and prayed unto thee, thou didst hear me.” (Alma 33:7)
“But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.” (Alma 34:26)

When we hear these scriptures in our modern tongue, our minds are often drawn to images of going into our bedrooms, going into our literal closets, and closing the door so no one can see us pray.  Whether Nephite or Jews, there was no physical concept of a closet like we think of today in ancient Israel.  The word closet refers to the “secret chambers,” which then brings the mind to the remembrance of the Holy Place and Holy of Holies in the tabernacle.  When a man covers his head with his tallit for prayer, this tent or secret place is what is being referred to as “entering into thy closet” ( i.e., secret chambers/place)- a living witness of a tsaddik or holy man/woman dwelling in a tent and connecting with God.

Sod:


The sod level of interpretation pertains to the mysteries or hidden things of God.  They pertain to those things of the divine throne or council of heaven. In the wisdom of God, great truths have been hidden from the world.  In the preserved science of ancient Israel, we are spiritual beings tabernacled in mortal element in this physical world (Malchut).  “Don’t you know that you yourself are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives within you?” (1 Cor. 3:16)

Just as the Glory of God filled the physical tabernacle in the wilderness, so too do we, as spiritual beings that are part of an eternally connected to God, dwell in physical tabernacles.  In all its physical glory, the temple represents the physical body of man and woman whose spirit has awakened and connected with the temple of God above. It represents the soul of a quickened individual in a state of at-one-ment with God, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing and the glory of kings to search out a matter!” (Proverb 25:2) As all Israel was called to be a nation of kings and priests to God, then it was the glory of kings to search out the concealed things of God. Like Lehi’s tent in the wilderness, we are called to walk the path of the tsaddik (righteous) and enter the tent's gateway and experience true oneness with the God who created us.  We go within the tent to receive wisdom, understanding, mercy, justice, judgment, enduring vitality, glory, and oneness with God.