"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 Accursed/Consumption/ Setting apart to Destruction:
"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.