Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Sukkot in the Book of Mormon

The New Testament mentions several Jewish Holidays but rarely gives any details about the contents or way of celebration. The Book of Mormon is the opposite for some reason. Jewish festivals are not mentioned by name but the celebration according to Old Testament practice is described several places. We had a look at elements of Passover in the Book of Mormon in this post. Now we will turn our attention to Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles.

The most well-known example is in Mosiah 2. This article describes the elements of this feast and how they are reflected in Mosiah 2. In addition to what the article says, it is interesting to note that going to the temple to hear their king and living in tents is what Israel did in 1 Kings 8 at the dedication of Solomon's temple. This happened during the Feast of Tabernacles, which is celebrated in the month, Ethanim (1 Kings 8:2).

There is also another lesser-known example. When the Book of Mormon translation had started, before the loss of the 116 pages, Joseph Smith Sr. had read the translated pages and stated in an interview that there was a "great feast" in Jerusalem at the time Lehi and his family left. Don Bradley argues that this was Passover because he identifies narrative echoes of the Exodus. He might be right but my preliminary conclusion is that I disagree. Not because I am an expert, but because two other people who are more familiar with Jewish customs independently arrive at the conclusion that Lehi left Jerusalem during Sukkot. I think their arguments are persuasive. One is given by Bradley J Kramer here. The other is scattered in several posts on a discussion forum by a Jewish rabbi reading the Book of Mormon. I created a summary of his reasoning here. I find these observations really fascinating. Another observation I have made is that the only time they offer "sacrifice and burnt offerings" in the Book of Mormon, except for Mosiah 2, is during Lehi's exodus.

In any case this is my personal view. We know there was a "great feast" during Lehi's exodus but there are two competing theories as to which one and the readers presented with the different arguments may form their own conclusion.

Mormon's references to Alma 5

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