1) The announcement and implication of any 'curse' happens after the Nephites have already sent themselves into exile away from the newly-titled Lamanites. There's even possibly an implication that not only had Nephi been made King, but also time passed sufficiently to build the temple, and to establish a society before the 'curse' was made known. IE, There are no Nephite eyewitnesses to the initiation of the 'curse', and any associated 'marking', including King Nephi himself.
2) While Nephi states that the anouncement of the curse and marking comes from God, he does not quote the Lord giving the explanation of a skin of blackness - that appears to be an extrapolation and an interpretation of Nephi's own!
21 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.
22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that amixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.
24 And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.
25 And the Lord God said unto me: They shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to astir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction.
To recap: here is what Nephi reports the Lord actually said:
- Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.
- I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
- And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing [ie, cut off, and made loathsome].
- They shall be a scourge unto thy seed,
1) No Nephites, including Nephi, claim to be eyewitnesses to the initiation of the curse and associated marking that would make them 'not enticing'.
2) Nephi's reporting of the Lord's words do not specify any change in physical appearance, or even lightness/darkness.
Is it possible that down the road, an indigenous tribe with significantly darker skin tones encountered and battled the Nephite colony, and Nephi interpreted them as being the "loathsome" and "cut off" "scourge" who may have been connected with his brothers' people? Could an event like this have solidified a key interpretation of what it meant to be 'loathsome'? Could the interpretation be based on a practical episode rather than the direct revelation and understanding recieved? Could King Nephi have codified the misunderstanding as a ban against mixing with those of darker skin generally, rather than the actual injunction by the Lord to not mix with those who 'would not hearken unto' the Lord's principles, and not 'repent'?
With this in mind, I think it's significant that the modern explanatory header to Chapter 5 in the updated online edition of the Book of Mormon currently reads this:
The Nephites separate themselves from the Lamanites, keep the law of Moses, and build a temple—Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites are cut off from the presence of the Lord, are cursed, and become a scourge unto the Nephites.
When it used to read this:
The Nephites separate themselves from the Lamanites, keep the law of Moses, and build a temple—Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites are cursed, receive a skin of blackness, and become a scourge unto the Nephites.
Edited by David T, 05 April 2012 - 08:38 AM.