Thursday, January 27, 2022

"Zion ... shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made"

This post will focus on the final section of Moses 7, verses 58-69, which contains beautiful and powerful promises and prophecies related to Enoch. Much of this will harmonize with other posts from this blog. My hope is to bring together several seemingly unrelated concepts to show how intimately connected they are. This will likely allow other passages to reveal deeper layers of meaning.  That's how this process works. :)

Furthermore, since we've been studying the early chapters of Genesis for Come Follow Me the past few weeks, I've also had the purpose of the creation on my mind. Readers of the blog will recall the connection between creation and creation.  More and more I see covenant as the continuation of the physical creation -- the spiritual creative process made possible by the physical creation.

The title of the post perhaps states it best.  The earth was created in order to allow the celestial heirs of God to "prove themselves" and receive all that God has to give them. The final state of the earth is perfect rest -- total harmony with God's order (see this post) -- but until that day arrives there will be sadness and struggle.

In this post, I will walk through these verses and connect various elements which we've written about previously.


When Shall the Earth Rest?


This is the question on Enoch's mind after seeing Christ's death in vision and the subsequent mourning of "all the creations of God" (Moses 7:56).

There is a follow-up question in verse 59 which gives us an important clue about the connection between Christ's second coming and the earth's long-awaited rest:


59 And Enoch beheld the Son of Man ascend up unto the Father; and he called unto the Lord, saying: Wilt thou not come again upon the earth? Forasmuch as thou art God, and I know thee, and thou hast sworn unto me, and commanded me that I should ask in the name of thine Only Begotten; thou hast made me, and given unto me a right to thy throne, and not of myself, but through thine own grace; wherefore, I ask thee if thou wilt not come again on the earth. (Moses 7)


Enoch is not only asking when Christ will come again, he is also reminding God of His promises to mankind, and stating his understanding of man's divine inheritance through Christ's grace.

In response, God makes it abundantly clear to Enoch that all of His promises will be fulfilled:


60 And the Lord said unto Enoch: As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance, to fulfil the oath which I have made unto you concerning the children of Noah;


Interestingly, the answer that follows isn't a specific date and time, but rather a description of the conditions and events which will precede the second coming of Christ:


Conditions:

  • wickedness and vengeance (v. 60)
  • men's hearts failing them (v. 66)
  • the sea is troubled (v. 66)

 

Events:

  • gathering of the elect unto Zion (v. 62)
  • great tribulations among the wicked (v. 66)



Moses 7:62


To conclude, the Lord's promise to come again happens after a flood of a different type:


62 And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men; and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood ...



The purpose of this flood is very different, too.  Rather than destroying the wicked, this flood is sent to bring about the gathering:


...to gather out mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, an Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.


The next post will continue on this same theme.  As I've researched these verses, I've come across a wealth of references related to phrases and words in these verses. I plan to share this "web" of references in the next post.

Monday, January 24, 2022

Adam and adamah -- Part 2 ("the earth which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood")

Adamah as the mother of adam

When I write adam with lower case 'a' in the heading, it is in the meaning of mankind, not as a personal name. 

With so much focus on the earth (Hebr. adamah) in Genesis 2-4, it is an interesting exercise to read these chapters from the perspective of the earth instead of the perspective of man. Part 1 displayed the role that the earth/ground is playing in this story. It is portrayed as much more than a lifeless planet of rock and dirt. It is "the mother of men" (Moses 7:48). Even though we all have mothers who have given us birth individually, the earth is portrayed as the mother of mankind in general. Adam/mankind is formed from the dust of the earth and has an intimate connection to adamah as shown in part 1. In Job 1:21, we read

Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither

Obviously, Job does not think that he will return into his mother's womb, unless he considers earth itself to also be his mother. This is a reference to Genesis 3:19. But let's have a look at the larger passage for context

17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

The bold part is the allusion made by Job. It is also interesting to note that in the next verse, Adam calls his wife Eve because she is the mother of all living. As if there is a connection to the ground in the preceding verses. Eve brings forth life, just like mother earth.

Bloodshed and curse

In part 1 I noted that there are two curses in these chapters involving the ground. The passage from Genesis 3 quoted above, recounts the first curse that came as a consequence of Adam partaking of the fruit. A bit later in the story, in Genesis 4, Cain tills the ground and makes an offering of fruit. After God rejects it, he kills his brother, Abel, resulting in the second curse. So Abel also returns unto the ground, but in this particular case, the text focuses on his blood rather than his dead body made of dust. 

10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.

11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand; (Genesis 4:10-11)

This presents a vivid and somewhat strange image. The adamah, mother earth, opens her mouth to receive Abel's blood. I am not sure if I fully understand the symbolism here, but eating and drinking in the Bible often has cultural and symbolic meaning. I wrote here about the covenant meal. Eating together binds people together because they partake of the same substance. Whatever you eat and drink becomes part of you. This is powerful symbolism that applies to the sacrament, for instance. In this case with the ground drinking Abel's blood, there is a negative connotation. There are several examples of that in the scriptures too. In Numbers 5:23, an adulterer is made to drink bitter water. In Exodus 32:20, Moses grinds the golden calf to powder, mixes it with water and makes the Israelites drink it. This all as a way to show that you internalize the bitter consequences of your actions. 

But what did the ground do wrong? Nothing, I guess. The story just shows the close relationship between adam and adamah (and in this case also dam). Mother earth involuntarily and unjustly suffers the consequences of human iniquity. In the Pearl of Great Price the story goes on and we get details that we don't find in Genesis. As the "children of men" began to multiply and became "numerous upon all the face of the land", there was "wars and bloodshed" (see Moses 6:15). More of that in Moses 7

15 And the giants of the land, also, stood afar off; and there went forth a curse upon all people that fought against God;

16 And from that time forth there were wars and bloodshed among them; but the Lord came and dwelt with his people, and they dwelt in righteousness.

17 The fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord, which was upon his people. And the Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish.

Here is another curse because of bloodshed, but also a contrasted blessing upon the land. I will get more into that in the next post. Adamah suffers because of this bloodshed but has no other choice than to receive it. Here is how Mormon describes the bloodshed among his people.

15 And it came to pass that there were ten more who did fall by the sword, with their ten thousand each; yea, even all my people, save it were those twenty and four who were with me, and also a few who had escaped into the south countries, and a few who had deserted over unto the Lamanites, had fallen; and their flesh, and bones, and blood lay upon the face of the earth, being left by the hands of those who slew them to molder upon the land, and to crumble and to return to their mother earth. (Mormon 6)

As a side note, there are two Hebrew words with similar meaning, adamah and erets. Erets is usually translated as "earth" or "land". But when "face of the land/earth" is used in the Old Testament, it is usually from the Hebrew adamah.

Bloodshed and sanctification

I quoted Moses 7:48 in part 1, when mother earth cries out in agony longing for sanctification. Verse 45 explains where the sanctification comes from

And it came to pass that Enoch looked; and from Noah, he beheld all the families of the earth; and he cried unto the Lord, saying: When shall the day of the Lord come? When shall the blood of the Righteous be shed, that all they that mourn may be sanctified and have eternal life?

...as does Moses 6:60

by the blood ye are sanctified

Bloodshed both curses and sanctifies. The bloodshed by wicked men corrupting the earth is contrasted by the bloodshed of "the Righteous" that sanctifies. The latter is fulfilled in Gethsemane

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)

Perhaps there is a symbolic parallel between the bitter cup that Jesus had to drink and the blood that the ground had to "drink". Hebrews 12:24 ties this event to the blood of Abel that cried from the ground.

And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

The blood that speaks

Why does the blood of Jesus speak better things that that of Abel? The speaking blood is an interesting aspect of the Cain and Abel story. Not only is adamah personified (that is, assigned attributes of adam), but also the dam is personified and cries unto God from the ground. This is unique in the Old Testament but alluded to about a dozen times in the Book of Mormon. Here is one example

22 And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not. (Ether 8)

Note that the name Cain comes from the Hebrew word for "get gain". Like the blood of Abel, the blood of the saints will cry from the ground for vengeance upon the modern Cains who seek to get gain. The blood of Abel and by extension, the blood of all righteous and innocent who are killed by the wicked, always cry for justice. The blood of Jesus, however, cries for mercy and sanctifies. This is probably why Paul says that it "speaketh better things".

Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—

Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;

Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life. (D&C 45)

"Stretch forth thine hand" -- Part 2 (Old Testament)

This post continues a series I began last Monday on the phrase "stretch out thine hand." In this post, we'll look at examples from the Old Testament, and we'll learn about the underlying Hebrew word shalach.

As demonstrated below, that word also appears twice in the creation account. This is only really evident when we look at the Hebrew.  I'll put in bold the words connected to Hebrew shalach in the verses below:


22 ¶ And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. (Genesis 3)



The word means 'to send' but when the thing being sent is a part of the body it is translated in English as "stretch forth" or "put forth" etc.

Here are several additional examples of this root showing up in more than one verse very close together.  I'm not certain what to make of it other than it reminds me of the usage in Genesis 3.


Noah


And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to and fro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth.

Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground;

But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.

10 And he stayed yet other seven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark;

11 And the dove came in to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.

12 And he stayed yet other seven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more. (Genesis 8)

In a prior post, I discussed these same verses in the context of receiver becoming giver. See the numbered items in the section titled "Replenish/fill". I believe this "send/put forth" pattern might touch on a similar pattern, which I'll discuss in the conclusion of this post (see below).


Abraham


10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.

12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. (Genesis 22)


Moses


The last example we'll look at is Moses.  As I mentioned in part 1, the phrase "stretch out thy hand" and similar phrases show up quite a bit in the story of Moses.  Here's a sampling, with words translated from 'shalach' in bold:


20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. (Exodus 3; shalach also appears five times in Exodus 3:10-15)


 

And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand:

That they may believe that the Lord God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.(Exodus 4; shalach appears eight times in Exodus 4)



And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness. (Exodus 5)



14 For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth.

15 For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. (Exodus 9)


Conclusion


A pattern is starting to take shape which I believe will become more clear as we move on to the Book of Mormon and Book of Moses. I can't help but connect these additional Old Testament examples to the group: 



Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. (Jeremiah 1)


 

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (Isaiah 6)


It seems to me that the stretching forth of the hand is a sign related to God showing forth His power to bring about His will. His servants (those He sends) are sometimes commanded to stretch forth their hands as a sign that they come from God.  I believe this pattern will become more clear in the next part as we look at the examples from the Book of Mormon.  We will then conclude this series by looking at the most unusual and significant interaction between Enoch and God from the Book of Moses.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Adam and adamah -- Part 1 (Introduction)

As I read the beginning of Genesis recently, I noticed the central role of the ground in chapters 2-4 in particular. The Hebrew word adamah means land, ground, earth, soil (listed in order of translation frequency in the Old Testament). Linguistically, it is closely related to Adam, the Hebrew word for man or mankind in addition to the personal name. But it can also mean "red". This is the exact same word in Hebrew, only spelled differently in English (adom or edom, written old Hebrew did not really have vowels anyway). Scholars are not unified on this issue, but many believe that both adamah and Adam come from the root meaning "red". Adamah could then be more literally translated “red ground,” and the name Adam could be said to mean “red man” or “man from the red dirt". Living in the cold and wet north, I would usually not consider the ground red, but this is probably more natural for people in the hot and dry Near East. 

Another related word is blood, dam in Hebrew. I don't know if the word for blood and its color, red,  being so similar is coincidence or not. But there are definitely relations that are used as an integral part of the narrative and symbolism in the early chapters of Genesis. Identifying all the cases of "adamah" in chapters 2-4, we can summarize the following story of the ground:

·      Man is formed from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7) because there is nobody to cultivate it (Genesis 2:5)

·      Out of the ground God formed every tree (Genesis 2:9)

·      Out of the ground God formed every beast of the field and fowl of the air (Genesis 2:19)

·      After Adam’s transgression, God curses the ground for his sake (Genesis 3:17)

·      The fall brings about death so that Adam returns to the ground (Genesis 3:19)

·       Man is sent out of the garden to cultivate the ground (Genesis 3:23)

·       Cain, who was a tiller of the ground (Genesis 4:2) made an offering of fruit of the ground (Genesis 4:3)

·       After Cain murdered Abel, his brother’s blood was crying from the ground (Genesis 4:10) and the ground opened its mouth to receive it (Genesis 4:11)

·       As a result, Cain became cursed from the ground (Genesis 4:11) and future cultivation of the ground would no longer yield as before (Genesis 4:12)

Considering the fact that ground (adamah), man/Adam and blood (dam) are all very similar words in Hebrew, there are lots of puns in these chapters that are lost in translation. I am fascinated by the story of the ground in these chapters as summarized above. The ground gives and receives. It is heavily involved in the creation and the fall. We will also consider some later events that I think might tie back to these.

In Hebrew, the ground, adamah, is a feminine noun. There is nothing extraordinary about that. All Hebrew nouns are either masculine or feminine. However, the ground/earth is sometimes personified. Genesis 4:11 gives one example of that. Adamah opens her mouth to swallow the blood of Abel. Another is Moses 7:48
And it came to pass that Enoch looked upon the earth; and he heard a voice from the bowels thereof, saying: Wo, wo is me, the mother of men; I am pained, I am weary, because of the wickedness of my children. When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which is gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?

The earth is portrayed as a woman, even "the mother of men". This is consistent with Genesis 2, where man beast and tree was formed out of the ground, like a mother gives birth.

There is much to say about this but one thing is clear: The Old Testament teaches that there is an intimate relationship between man and the ground. Adam/man is formed from the ground, the ground is cursed for his sake, he is set to cultivate the ground and returns to the ground at his death. Is this relationship a good or a bad thing? I think both. When man is too bound to the ground, he becomes like the serpent who crawls on it and eats dust. On the other hand, the ground provides the means to grow a tree that rises above it and produces fruit that man can eat instead of dust. I have written on this symbolism before here and here.

This series builds on those previous posts. Reading about adamah in these chapters just gave me new understanding of the way from ground to tree, from the earthly and carnal to the heavenly and divine. This is a process in several steps, and is often referred to as "the way" or associated with "walk" in the scriptures. In President Nelson's terms, it is the covenant path and is intimately connected to the temple. In fact, the Garden of Eden may be considered the first temple, or in other words, the temple is referring to and in many ways representing the Garden of Eden. I am not going into details on that but this link provides a good explanation. The "walk" on the "covenant path" is an ascension. It is fallen man's journey back to the garden into God's presence. It is a reversal of what happened in these early chapters of Genesis when man fell and was cast out. Consequently, that was a stepwise descension. We can identify three levels:

  1. Garden of Eden. No cultivation needed because the ground brings forth "every tree" (Genesis 2:9)
  2. Cursed ground outside the Garden of Eden. Needs cultivation by man to bring forth fruit.
  3. Both ground and tiller of the ground (Cain) are cursed. The ground no longer yielding its strength.
I want to flesh out the symbolic journey that reverses these curses in future posts. It ties into several things that have been written on this blog before. For instance, Lord Wilmore has written a long series about what he calls the endowment narrative. This narrative is a reversal of the events listed above. It starts in the wilderness where the ground does not yield its strength. Through Christ's atoning blood and covenants we can make the wilderness blossom or reach the fertile promised land and finally partake of the tree of life. I will go into this in more detail in the next posts. This post is only meant as an introduction but the next post will discuss the possible symbolic significance of the blood of Abel swallowed by the ground. A third part will consider how this story of the ground relates to the Abrahamic covenant.  

"Zion ... shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made"

This post will focus on the final section of Moses 7, verses 58-69, which contains beautiful and powerful promises and prophecies related to...