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Abinidi, Jacob, And The 2 Nets Of Belial?


J Green

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While listening to Kerryâ??s podcasts about Eisenmanâ??s material for the last few days, I was reminded of a pattern I looked at when I first read some of the texts that Eisenman references.

The pattern consists of charges of fornication and a love of riches leveled against a corrupt or improper priestly class. A third charge of polluting the second temple is also added but with less frequency. While other sins are certainly identified in these texts of Middle Judaism, the repeated emphasis on these two or three are recognized and discussed by Eisenman, Suter, Milik, Vermes, Boccaccini, Wise, and others. Belial or Beliar shows up as the evil villain in these texts, the one who entices the sons of men and priests into these evil practices. The wicked are told to repent or face destruction or be scattered by their enemies. In many cases, a promise is given that a remnant of the righteous will be saved. Most see the time of Ezekiel and the exile as the genesis of this fight against a corrupt priestly class, and Isaiah is used liberally as a proof text for their arguments.

One of the main texts, the Damascus Document (CD), focuses on the sins of fornication, riches, and pollution, calling them â??the three nets of Belialâ? (CD 4). The first net (fornication) refers to taking plural wives and concubines; the second (riches) to lusting after wealth; and the third (pollution) to priestly acts that do not follow proper separation, such as sleeping with women during their issue, marrying close family members (like nieces), incorrect sacrifices, etc. In JTBJ, Eisenman extends the â??Nets of Belialâ?? imagery to NT passages involving Belial and â??swallowing.â??

I believe this pattern is repeated frequently in the Book of Mormon. Abinidi (Mosiah 11â??17) and Jacob (Jacob 2) are very good examples, while you can see the same thoughts at work in the visions and sermons of Nephi (1 Ne 13, 2 Ne 28), Nephi son of Helaman (Hel 7), and Mormon (Mormon 8). While many sins are targeted in the BOM, the chapters mentioned include specific sermons where (usually in the temple) the priestly class is repeatedly charged with corruption and the twin sins of fornication, (whoredoms and plural wives and concubines) and searching after riches. The third 'net' (pollution of the temple through improper separation) is never directly addressed in these contexts, probably due to the fact that pollution of the second temple is specific to a time and place after Lehi had left Jerusalem. (Although, I do think that proper/improper separation is major literary theme in the BOM.)

Has anybody else noticed een a pattern like this?

Regards

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Maybe I'll just turn this into my own little blog . . .

Here's a look at one of the BOM patterns featuring Abinidi and the priests of King Noah. After his conversion, Alma the Elder tells his people about his previous sins:

Mosiah 23:9

9 But remember the iniquity of king Noah and his priests; and I myself was caught in a snare, and did many things which were abominable in the sight of the Lord, which caused me sore repentance;

By extension, Alma here refers to King Noahâ??s iniquity as a snare which is similar to the net or pit symbols used in these texts. What exactly this snare/net of King Noah?

1. He had â??many wives and concubinesâ? and committed many â??whoredoms and all manner of wickednessâ? (Mosiah 11:2).

2. Noah â??laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessedâ? (Mosiah 11:3) in order to â??support himself, and his wives and his concubinesâ? (Mosiah 11:4)

3. He put away the proper priests (Mosiah 11:5) and engaged in idolatry (Mosiah 11:6â??7).

The first two mentioned are re-emphasized several times. For example, the narrator tells us:

Mosiah 11:14

14 And it came to pass that he placed his heart upon his riches, and he spent his time in riotous living with his wives and his concubines; and so did also his priests spend their time with harlots.

Another time he is charged with the same thing by Abinidi (after accusing the priests of corruption in Mosiah 12:25â??28):

Mosiah 12:29

29 And again he said unto them: If ye teach the law of Moses why do ye not keep it? Why do ye set your hearts upon riches? Why do ye commit whoredoms and spend your strength with harlots, yea, and cause this people to commit sin, that the Lord has cause to send me to prophesy against this people, yea, even a great evil against this people?

Abinidi informs us that it is the Devil who entices us towards these sins (see 16:3 among others) and tells those of the corrupt priestly class that they will be scattered as a result of their wickedness:

Mosiah 17:17

17 Yea, and ye shall be smitten on every hand, and shall be driven and scattered to and fro, even as a wild flock is driven by wild and ferocious beasts.

This is a perfect instance of the pattern: A change of priesthood, a charge of corruption against the current priestly class, with the emphasis on sins of fornication (whoredoms and multiples wives) and lusting after riches. An evil adversary is accused as the enticer, and the corrupt priests are told that they will be scattered as a result of their evil.

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Another good example is Jacobâ??s sermon in the temple. Sometime after the death of Nephi, the Nephites begin to grow wicked. Jacob catalogs the main sins as taking plural wives and concubines and searching after riches:

Jacob 1:15â??16

15 And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son.

16 Yea, and they also began to search much gold and silver, and began to be lifted up somewhat in pride.

The next day, Jacob gives them a sermon in the temple that denounces these two very problems. While not explicitly mentioning pollution of the temple, Jacob does reference purity and being cleansed from blood in the temple (Jacob 2:2). In Jacob 2:12â??22 he denounces the sin of lusting after riches:

Jacob 2:12â??14

12 And now behold, my brethren, this is the word which I declare unto you, that many of you have begun to search for gold, and for silver, and for all manner of precious ores, in the which this land, which is a land of promise unto you and to your seed, doth abound most plentifully.

13 And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they.

14 And now, my brethren, do ye suppose that God justifieth you in this thing? Behold, I say unto you, Nay. But he condemneth you, and if ye persist in these things his judgments must speedily come unto you.

Then in Jacob 2:23â??35 he transitions to their grosser crimes of plural marriage, calling it a â??whoredomâ??:

Jacob 2:23â??24

23 But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son.

24 Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.

A difference here is that while the CD mentions David in the context of multiple wives (5:1), it seeks to excuse him. Notice that while the women and children are present, Jacob appears to be only addressing the men. (Are these men part of a priestly class or is he addressing the whole believing male population?) He goes on to say that those who choose sin will be cursed and destroyed by their enemies (2:33; 3:3) and asks them to repent (3:8, 11).

Comments anyone?

Bueller? Bueller?

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DANG DUDE! This is most stimulating........... THANKS for sharing........ Me thinks you are the only ding-a-ling to waste yer time on listening to my podcasts........ :P

Much obliged, your royal podcastness.

By the way, I wanted to recommend Gabriele Boccaccini to your attention. I've just finished "Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of the Ways Between Qumran and Enochic Judaism" and "Roots of Rabbinic Judaism." I believe his command of the sources is better than most, and he creates a credible argument for an Enochic priestly tradition that would later give rise to christianity. Much better than Eisenman, FWIW.

Regards

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These charges stem largely from langauge drawn from Deuteronomy where we have the kingship codes and the priestly codes - some of the earliest material in the Book of Deuteronomy - portions of which are quoted in the Book of Mormon. This is carried over, for example, into Moroni's interpretation of the Jaredite material in the Book of Ether, where the quintessential evil king of the Jaredites is described in Old Testament terms.

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J Green:

By the way, I wanted to recommend Gabriele Boccaccini to your attention. I've just finished "Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of the Ways Between Qumran and Enochic Judaism" and "Roots of Rabbinic Judaism." I believe his command of the sources is better than most, and he creates a credible argument for an Enochic priestly tradition that would later give rise to christianity. Much better than Eisenman, FWIW.

Better than Eisenamn? GASP! Really? Then I am interested. What year did his book come out and who is this chap anyways?

Yours,

The Great Podcastness in the Sky (It's Eyederhoe really, but lets keep that secret shall we?)

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These charges stem largely from langauge drawn from Deuteronomy where we have the kingship codes and the priestly codes - some of the earliest material in the Book of Deuteronomy - portions of which are quoted in the Book of Mormon. This is carried over, for example, into Moroni's interpretation of the Jaredite material in the Book of Ether, where the quintessential evil king of the Jaredites is described in Old Testament terms.

You're right, Ben. And Deuteronomic influence seems heavy in the post-exilic world of Middle Judaism as well. Many DSS scholars look to Deut 23 for the types of stricures that produced the laws of the camp at Qumran, etc. And I can see a correlation between these and the 'nets' that are mentioned. The proscription against multiple wives obviously comes from Deut 17. I also think that because it is evident to trace the influence of this work through both the divergent groups after the exile and in the BOM text as well, it is easier to picture the book at the center of the Josiahn reforms/upheavals that Barker and others key on.

As an aside, it is interesting that the Damascus Document gives David a pass on his multiple wives by claiming that Deut wasn't available to him:

. . . shall be caught in fornication twice by taking a second wife while the first is alive, whereas the principle of creation is, Male and female created He them (Gen. i, 27) V Also, those who entered the Ark went in two by two. And concerning the prince it is written, He shall not multiply wives to himself (Deut xvii, 17); but David had not read the sealed book of the Law which was in the ark (of the Covenant), for it was not opened in Israel from the death of Eleazar and Joshua, and the elders who worshipped Ashtoreth. It was hidden adn (was not) revealed until the coming of Zadok. (CD 4:20-5:4)

Thanks for your comments.

Regards

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J Green:

Better than Eisenamn? GASP! Really? Then I am interested. What year did his book come out and who is this chap anyways?

Kerry,

Boccaccini's "Beyond the Essene Hyptothesis" was published by Erdmans in 98. I purchased a never-read used copy on Alibris for just $13 ( a steal). Boccaccinini surveys the major texts in the Qumran library and posists the presence of an Enochian priestly class in opposition to the Zaddokite class. By contrasting the Jewish sources such as Philo and Josephus with the non-Jewish sources (Pliny and Dio) and the texts themselves, he posits that the Essenes were a large group that carried the banner of the Enoch priestly tradition after the Exile but that they remained in but not of the Jewish communites. The were one of the many sects that banded together to support the Maccabean revoluiton, assuming that they would gain control of the priesthood afterward. When that doesn't happen, you see a tension in the community and the CD urging for an even greater separation and isolation. The Qumran community becomes an extremist branch of the Essenes that becomes more dualistic and less free-will oriented than the mother community that develops the Enoch literature further without the Qumran sectaries (which those sectaries don't include in their library). The rise of Christianity is tied to this Enochian literature/priestly tradition, but Boccaccini would argue with Eisenman that it doesn't come from the Qumran extremists but from the main branch of the Essene river itself.

I like the theory and his use of the texts. I believe it also provides a real tangible context for the material fo the Intellectual Enochites (like Barker for example) who have created an Enoch world view without creating a real taxonomy of corpus or priesthood.

Anyway, worth a look.

Regards

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