Monday, January 29, 2018


The Book of Mormon Remnants Conference 4
Ascending the Mountain of the Lord
in the Promised Land

Israel and the Torah are the Keys to Unsealing the Book of Mormon.The Book of Mormon contains the Knowledge of the Fathers in a manner that is meant to reveal and conceal. We hope you will join us for this time of exploration and discovery!

Thursday, January 25, 2018


In response to the article that I wrote entitled "Was Zoram a Levite?" I have had several emails asking me to explain how Jacob and Joseph, the sons of Lehi, who were not Levites or descendants of Aaron could be set apart as Priests.  Often when we think of the word 'priest" images of Catholic priests, etc come to mind.  The idea of priest in the Israelite mind had more to do with function and service rather than just an office.

Traditionally in many sects of Judaism it has been maintained that for a person to be a priest (Kohen) they must therefore be a Levite or more particularly a descendant of Aaron the brother of Moses.  In regard to specific civil and religious service (example Service at the Temple/Tabernacle in the Wilderness) this would be true. However, the word Kohen does not specifically refer to just Levites or descendants of Aaron.  While the the word Kohen is translated as Priest it is not necessarily synonymous with descendants of Levi or Aaron.  In particular the word Kohen while translated into the English word as Priest more accurately could be translated as officiator.  For example

"And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest (kohen) of the most high God." (Genesis 14:18)

"And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest (kohen) of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt." (Genesis 41:45)

"When Jethro, the priest (kohen) of Midian, Moses' father in law, heard of all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt" (Exodus 18:1)

"Only the land of the priests (kohanim) bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands."

Melchizedek predated Levi as it was he to whom Abraham, the great grandfather of Levi, paid tithes.   The word used to describe Melchizedek as a "priest" is kohen and yet Melchizedek was not a descendant of Levi.  The same usage of  the term kohen can be seen in relation to Potipherah who was the priest (kohen) of On as well as Jethro the priest (kohen) of Midian.

So while tradition has come to equate the words kohen with a Levite or descendant of Aaron, the more accurate usage of the word in the Torah was much broader in application with the term kohen more accurately being defined as officiator who engaged in a particular type of service.  Hebrew is a highly "functional language" in that instead of just describing something in mechanical, concrete terms it is also  describes things in terms of their function.  In our western minds we often equate the term priest with a specific "office" or station, but in Hebrew the word priest (kohen) more specifically delineates function.  As such, in the Israelite mind the word kohen is more connected to a function or type of service.

Melchizedek as Priest

In Alma we encounter the idea of the "Holy Order" of God.  Over the years, I have heard many attempt to equate the expression "Holy Order" with a special club or elite group.  In the Israelite mind the word order is more accurately translated as 'manner' or 'pattern'.  For example:

"The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest (kohen) for ever after the order of Melchizedek." (Psalms 110:4)

Here the word 'order' is the Hebrew word dibrah meaning manner or cause.  Instead of the word order being seen as an order say like a club or elite groups (say like the Order of the Elks, etc) it is describing a type of function.  In further examining Alma, we see this same idea:

"And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests (kohanim), after his holy order (manner), which was after the order (manner) of his Son, to teach these things unto the people." (Alma 13:1)

But wait there's more!

In true Israelite fashion, Alma gives us the definition of "order" in a Hebrew parallelism that he crafts in the next two verses:

"And those priests were ordained after the order (dibrah) of his Son, in a manner (dibrah) that thereby the people might know in what manner (dibrah) to look forward to his Son for redemption.
And this is the manner (dibrah) after which they were ordained..." (Alma 13:2-3)

Hebrew is an amazing.language and culture.  Alma in true prophetic and poetic Hebrew fashion draws upon the Holy Writings of Israel such as Psalms and then weaves his intended meaning in a Hebrew word play in his next few verses.  Alma equates the word 'order' with the word 'manner'.  This 'manner' is referring to a function, manner, or type of service.

What type of Manner or Service?

After explaining that there is a holy "manner" or service, Alma then begins to describe their service drawing upon Melchizedek the Kohen of the Most High God.

"Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.

Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness;

But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father." (Alma 13: 16-18)

Melchizedek's manner or "service" was to follow in the path of the Messiah in preaching repentance and establishing covenant peace in his land.  Shalom or 'covenant peace' encompassed not only repentance but re-establishing the presence and society of God among his people.  His function or service had nothing to do with Levitical or Aaronic temple service that existed in the nation of Israel.

Jacob and Joseph - Sons of Lehi

Jacob and Joseph, the sons of Lehi, were set apart as priests (kohanim) and teachers. Their designation as priest (kohen) does not equate with the service of a Levite or descendant of Aaron.  In the Torah (Five Books of Moses) God lays out specific types of service or functions of the both the Levites and the descendents of Aaron in regard to their civil and religious functions in the body of Israel. For example, the descendants of Aaron were responsible for the care and keep of the Temple including its implements. They played particular roles in temple and civil service.

The sons of Lehi were not Levitical priests but they were officiators after a specific manner or type of service. Jacob the son of Lehi gives specific detail into the nature of their priestly service:

"For I, Jacob, and my brother Joseph had been consecrated priests and teachers of this people, by the hand of Nephi. And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day.

For Jacob and Joseph, their priestly service entailed teaching the people the word of God with all diligence and laboring to bring them to a state of cleanliness or repentance.  Their priestly service echoes that of Melchizedek.  Their type of service did not entail the specific temple duties, etc of the Levites as described in the Books of Moses.  Jacob and Joseph's designation as kohanim does not negate or replace the legal service of Levites under the Torah of Moses.  Their order, manner, or type of service as a priest (kohen) was just different.  Zoram as a Levite and most likely a descendant of Aaron, would allow for the Nephites to strictly observe the Law of Moses in accordance with those duties specifically assigned to the sons of Levi being performed by Levites.

We must be careful not to overlay modern ideas regarding priesthood with those of Ancient Israel and the Middle East.  We do not know all the duties that Jacob and Joseph engaged in, but their designation as priest (kohen) was not a violation of Torah or an infringement on the lawful duties of the Levites.  With Zoram as a Levite being present, the strict observance of the Torah of Moses was maintained as all required legal elements would have been present.

Sunday, January 21, 2018


God as a covenant keeping God extended his covenant to Israel as the foundation for Israel to build itself upon.  The Chief and corner-stone of this Kingdom is the pinnacle or Messiah- Jesus Christ.  In placing this stone, he demonstrates that the Messiah himself fulfills (property interprets and performs) the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings of Israel.

When God declared his son to both the Jews in Israel or the Nephites in America, he upheld this same covenant pattern:

"And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased." Luke 3:22)

Understanding Hebrew and the manner of the Jews is showing itself to be very important. First we need to understand the use of 'remez' by the writers in the Gospels. They are actually referring the readers back to two different verses of scripture that declare the Messiah:

1. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (Psalms 2:7)

2. The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable (Isaiah 42:21)

This is normal Hebrew practice to cite part of the scripture to refer the hearer back to the the Prophets and the Writings that declare the King of Israel and the Messiah. Those who heard the Decree by the voice of God knew exactly what was being declared. Attempting to alter the declaration destroys the cultural delivery and message delivered i.e. pretty much Here is the King of Israel and the Messiah. There are distinct reasons why this was recorded the way it was.

The Book of Mormon got it correct:

"Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him."


Behold my Beloved Son -Refers to Psalms 2:7

I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. (Psalms 2:7)


whom I am well please in whom I have glorified my name - Refers to Isaiah 42:21

"The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable" (Isaiah 42:21)

(common Hebrew practice- the Name is the law, the law is the name, etc)


Hear ye Him- Shema Israel- Deuteronomy 6: 4-6

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart..." (Deuteronomy 6:4-6)

God declares his Chosen Son and the King of Israel according to the Torah, The Prophets, and the Writings of Israel.

Sunday, January 14, 2018


"And after I had done this, I went forth unto the treasury of Laban. And as I went forth towards the treasury of Laban, behold, I saw the servant of Laban who had the keys of the treasury. And I commanded him in the voice of Laban, that he should go with me into the treasury." (1 Nephi 4:20)

There have been many theories over the years as to the identity of Zoram who was the servant of Laban.  Who was he?  Why was he important?  Over the years I have heard many explanations, but without familiarity with Israelite culture we often pass over (no pun intended) small and simple things which reveal to us the greatest of truths.

First and Foremost it is important to understand that the Nephites were a Torah observant society. This meant that they kept the mitzvot (commandments), Chukkim (statutes), and the judgments (mishpatim) strictly. 

 "And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things, according to the law of Moses." (2 Nephi 5:10)

"And now it came to pass in the eighty and sixth year, the Nephites did still remain in wickedness, yea, in great wickedness, while the Lamanites did observe strictly to keep the commandments of God, according to the law of Moses." (Helaman 13:1

To strictly observe the Torah, however, requires the presence of one tiny detail- the presence of a Levite.  The presence and performances of the Levites were essential for worship and government in an Israelite society.  Without them, the Torah of Moses could not be fully executed as by commandment there were specific functions that only a Levite (and in some cases specifically a descendant of Aaron) could fulfill.

When I have discussed this fact with some, I am often approached with theories regarding priesthood and attempts to assert legal exceptions to God's commandments.  From an Israelite perspective, as God is a covenant keeping God, he cannot and will not break his covenant- commandments and instructions.  This would include the role of the Levites in their roles as priests in the House of Israel.


When people read the account of Nephi and Zoram they often overlook the phrases, "servant of Laban who had the keys of the treasury" and "that he should with me into the treasury".  These phrases lend key details as to the identity of Zoram.

The first thing to note is that Zoram had the "keys of the treasury" and that he could go "into the treasury" with Nephi.  In ancient Israel there were divisions of gatekeepers such as the sons of Korah and the sons of Merari.  The Levites and their tribe had charge of the treasures of the House of God and of the treasures of the dedicated gifts"

"And of the Levites, Ahijah had charge of the treasuries of the house of God and the treasuries of the dedicated gifts." (1 Chronicles 26:20)

The tribe of Levi had no physical land of inheritance in the Land of Israel.  Their inheritance was the House of God and the storehouses where they performed many of their labors but as a tribe they had no physical land of inheritance.  Because they were a set apart house they were commissioned with guarding the holy vessels within the Temple and the treasuries.

That Zoram had the "keys of the treasury" and could go into the treasury tells us he was not an ordinary house slave or a person in bondage.  It was not uncommon for those of wealth and in particular the Sar(s) or Princes of the ruling tribes to have house Levites or priests.  This is demonstrated by the account of Micah in the book of Judges:

"Now there was a young man of Bethlehem in Judah, of the family of Judah, who was a Levite, and he sojourned there. And the man departed from the town of Bethlehem in Judah to sojourn where he could find a place. And as he journeyed, he came to the hill country of Ephraim to the house of Micah.

And Micah said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I am a Levite of Bethlehem in Judah, and I am going to sojourn where I may find a place.”

And Micah said to him, “Stay with me, and be to me a father and a priest, and I will give you ten pieces of silver a year and a suit of clothes and your living.” And the Levite went in. And the Levite was content to dwell with the man, and the young man became to him like one of his sons.

And Micah ordained the Levite, and the young man became his priest, and was in the house of Micah. Then Micah said, “Now I know that the LORD will prosper me, because I have a Levite as priest.” (Judges 17:8-13)

From and Israelite point of view, these apparently small details reveal much regarding Zoram, Laban, and the Nephite Society.  As levitical priest both Zoram and his male descendants could have functioned in their roles as priests as required by God in the Torah of Moses.  That Zoram was a house priest also gives us much information as to the status of Laban as a mighty one, a man of wealth, and most likely the Sar or ruling prince of the Tribe of Manasseh-as Laban had ownership of the tribal record.

No common house servant or common man would have been able to enter the treasury in Jerusalem much less to hold the Keys of the Treasury. With the presence and role of the Levites preserved through Zoram and his descendants we see the foundation of Nephite temple construction and worship established according to the laws of God in the Torah and as would be seen in ancient Israelite Society.

"And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine." (2 Nephi 5:16)

The presence and function of Levites among the Nephites would allow for strict observance of the Torah.  This would include the sacrifices and other temple functions including their roles in the Appointed Times of Israel such as Passover, Shavuot, Sukkot, etc.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Nephi- Lessons From A Tsaddik In Process

“And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers. And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit. And it came to pass that he believed in my words.” (1 Nephi 2:16-17)

Nephi the son of Lehi represents the child of God, the open vessel desiring to be filled to bestow. He is the epitome of the child of God, “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19)

Nephi became a vessel because of his desire to receive from God.  The mysteries of God in an Israelite mind are not just sacred information but more fully the mystery of God is to receive the image of God; his spirit, image, his character and attributes, and his presence.  Having this desire he begins to offer his desire to God and in doing so becomes a vessel for God to fill (i.e. visit me).  In doing so the Lord made his heart (thoughts and emotions) open and submissive to the words of his father that led him to a state of obedience instead of rebellion (ie. willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.) Our desire creates the vessel that the Lord can fill and in receiving the light of God we become submissive to him as our Father to uphold and carryout the things we have been bestowed.  In receiving from God, Nephi then speaks to bestow upon Sam.  The name Sam is an English translation of the Hebrew word Shem meaning name as in the phrase Ha Shem (The name).  His brother Sam or Shem is representative of those who are carry the name of God (i.e. those who believe the word of God or those who are willing to believe the word of God.)  In Israelite thought those who are willing to believe and obey the words of God are those who have taken upon his name (Shem).  This is more fully supported in the Hebrew word play used by Nephi in the phrase, “And I spake unto Sam (Shem-name-those of the name), making known unto him the things which the Lord (YHVH- the name of God) had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit.”

Monday, January 8, 2018


"And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure (white) and a delightsome people." (2 Nephi 30:6)

It still amazes me at how often this subject comes up.  The other day I was talking with a young man who was struggling with certain subjects in regard to the Book of Mormon.  He stated that the Book of Mormon was "racist" and as such, could never believe in a God who is a racist.  In confusion, I asked him why he believed that God is a racist when the scriptures clearly say:

 "For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile." (2 Nephi 26:33)

He stated that the God of the Book of Mormon was racist and that the Book of Mormon was racist because it clearly states that God only favored white people.  He then quoted the often debated phrase, "they shall be a pure/white and delightsome people".  He then proceeded to explain to me that it had been changed to "pure" in modern Books of Mormon to support the current "non-racist" image. Needless to say I was a little shocked.  How do we resolve the statement from God that he forbids none to come to him and then turn around and say that people are cursed with a skin of blackness:

"And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them." (2 Nephi 5:21)

At first glance from examining these scriptures it would appear from a cursory reading that his conclusions were supported. But the Book of Mormon is an Israelite Book and is full of cultural expressions unique to Israel and the Middle East that modern Mormons are not often familiar with. In the United States, we often think in concrete terms of "Black and White" especially when it comes to race.  But our terminology and cultural expression is far from that of ancient Israel and a Torah Observant Culture.

In reading the Book of Mormon, it is helpful to approach the text as an ancient Israelite text.  In other words, we are reading phrases from another culture.  As such, there are many phrases that are common to an Israelite that would be completely foreign to modern Americans.  Let's examine a few:

Like Unto Flint:

At first glance it would appear that God is referring to the Lamanites as being cursed with a black skin.  The cursing of the Lamanites first had to do with iniquity (i.e. lawlessness).  In other words, the Lamanites left the observance of the Torah.  In doing so they, "hardened their hearts" or in other words their thoughts, desires, and works were contrary to God's commandments.  The idea that they had become like unto flint is an expression that can be seen in other references in the Old Testament (TaNaKh)  for example:

"I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed." Isaiah 50:6-7

The expression face like flint and like unto flint is an expression that does not refer to skin color but to their attitude and disposition; in the case of the lamanties their attitude and disposition toward God's laws.  In other words, they became hardened against observing the commandments of God. Part of these commandments given to ancient Israel were in regard to intermarriage with those who did not hold to the God of Israel, "Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly." (Deuteronomy 7:3-4)

The expression "skin of darkness" has two connotations.  In ancient Israel it was an expression that could  relate to one who intermarried with one who did not adhere to God's covenant with Israel. It also had a much more ancient meaning related to an incident in the Garden of Eden, "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them." (Genesis 3:21)  The coats of skins being a reference not only to their covering but specifically being clothed by God-which is also a reference to walking under his dominion and commandments.

That there may have been changes in skin tone through intermarriage with other cultures may have occurred as Israel was scattered to the four corners of the earth and intermingled with all the nations, but the phrases which appear to refer to God turning someone "black" have much less to do with skin tone and much more to do with their observance of his commandments.

White and Delightsome!

This brings us to the phrase "white and delightsome".  At first glance from our culture, it may appear to some that God prefers only those with white skin or that the gates to the New Jerusalem are labeled with "Whites Only!" signs.  This is not the case.

The expression white and delightsome is a Hebrew expression referring to any person's condition. For example:

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)

Here the concept of sins being "white" is in reference to cleanliness or "being made clean" before the Throne of God.  In particular, these are people whose sins have been covered by atonement.  It also has reference to people who lived in a manner of being clean before God with specific reference to the cleanliness laws of Israel (i.e. they didn't drink blood, they didn't eat unclean animals, i.e. they kept Kosher).

The phrase delightsome is an interesting expression but is found with specific reference in the Book of Psalms:

"Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." (Psalms 40:7-8)

The delight of YHVH or to have delight in YHVH was to delight or desire to keep his Law- His Torah.  In other words to be delightsome was to be Torah Observant or Obedient to God's commandments.

Whether the phrase in the original translation was "White and Delightsome" or "Pure and Delightsome" is irrelevant in that the idea being conveyed is the same:

White and Delightsome is to be clean and obedient to God's Commandments or Clean and Torah Observant.

In consideration-- a person with high concentration of melanin may be more "White and Delightsome" than a person with a lower concentration of melanin.  The question we need to ask of any person of any race, color, or language is, "Are you clean before God and do you walk in his commandments?"


Wednesday, January 3, 2018


“And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters. And thus my brethren did complain against me, and were desirous that they might not labor, for they did not believe that I could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was instructed of the Lord.”(1 Nephi17:17-18)

In every journey of ascension the presence of the carnal or natural man is present until the point of separation in the Land of Promise. As the spiritual child of God walks a path of submission to the instructions and doings of God, the carnal or natural man walks the path of suffering or resistance. We often hear the murmuring voice of the natural man, “You cannot do so great a task! It’s impossible! You are not worthy! You cannot repent or ascend!”

The voice of the natural man causes us to withhold our desires to receive to bestow (i.e. to love God and love our neighbor) and replace it with a desire to receive to covet and withhold for ourselves. The natural man/woman views God through his or her own natural eyes. It sees God as a great power who has an end game. In the mind of the natural man God demands through performances and ordinances that we do what he desires. To the natural man, if we do what God desires in form only, in our outward performances, and keep the commandments then we will receive the reward.

Notice how Laman and Lemuel complain along this very sentiment, “we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people”. The natural man is a force of division and seeks to obtain through performance so that it may receive to covet. Its desires remain rough, unrefined, with no real boundaries except the outward boundaries of legal performance that it seeks to manipulate to obtain the things of this world. The natural man cannot comprehend the things of the spirit, the instructions of God, or the great and marvelous works of God—even the building of ship to cross the great deep to reach the mystery of the throne of God or the Land of Promise.

The spiritual man and woman like that is another story!