Jump to content

The Iron Rod


David Bokovoy

Recommended Posts

This is a subtopic from another thread that might interest readers and promote interesting discussion.

An important component in the great Tree of Life vision in the Book of Mormon includes the iron word. Lehi provides the original discussion of this symbol via the following words:

"And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood" (1 Nephi 8:19).

Understanding the symbolic value of rods in the ancient Near East enhances this great Book of Mormon emblem. The Book of Mormon uses the word

Link to comment

The Book of Mormon becomes a thing of beauty in your hands, David.

I remember about 12-years ago trying to challenge a Sunday school class about our modern conceptions of the rod of iron being a "banister" that led along the river such that it could be held at waist height while walking.

Although it had not occurred to me that it might be a "walking staff" dealing with the right to rule and lead, I did suggest that there was nothing to indicate that it was at waist height, and it could just as likely be laid on the ground.

I suggested that this would require those who grasped it to kneel on the ground as they made their way; and that those who stood up would lose their grip and be more likely to lose their way in the mist.

Without exception, everybody in the class thought I had gone bat caca.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

Link to comment

Consig, I absolutely agree with you about the ground thing. The less points of contact, the easier it is to get lost, plus, crawling can be discouraging.

David, there are countless of verses about rods, but one of them I like is Gen 38:17-18.

Tamar insists that Judah leave as his pledge precisely those items which indicate his power and position (or authority) as head of the household. Among them is his rod.

Link to comment

I like Rev 12:5 where the Heavenly Lady gives birth to a son who rules all nations with a rod of iron in the context of war with a heavenly adversary/dragon. John uses the LXX wording from Psalm 2:9, referring to the begotten son of god ruling with a rod of iron. Of course, Psalm 2 is a coronation psalm, where the mortal king becomes the divine shepherd.

I love this. If anyone wants to assemble a "rod" research team, I'd love to be on the "staff."

Link to comment

From Table IV of the Enuma Elish:

They rejoiced, and they did homage unto him, saying, "Marduk is King!"

They bestowed upon him the scepter, and the throne, and the ring.

They gave him an invincible weaponry which overwhelmeth the foe.

The scepter here is also one of the emblems of rule, indicating the King's mastery over livestock and men;

The ring is, if I remember aright, the mastery over agriculture, it being the "hoop" that measures the amount of grain within it for purposes of valuing both real estate and a crop on the ground [we still use hoops today -- the Forest Service counts blades of grass within a hoop thrown at random to determine whether an area is being overgrazed];

The throne is the seat of power on earth, as the g-d's throne is the seat of power in heaven; and

The weaponry is the power to conquer and subdue.

There's an old symbol in Mesopotamian iconography, with kings holding a rod and hoop together, as emblem of kingship, similar to the stylized rod and hoop, the ankh, in Egyptian iconography. British kings/queens hold the rod and orb, to the same effect.

My question: I've looked and cannot find accompanying hoop/orb imagery in the BoM, and I would expect to find it. Am I missing something, or is it not there? If not, how can we account for its absence if Nephi is deliberate in his employment of such imagery in his apology for his kingship?

Link to comment

My question: I've looked and cannot find accompanying hoop/orb imagery in the BoM, and I would expect to find it. Am I missing something, or is it not there? If not, how can we account for its absence if Nephi is deliberate in his employment of such imagery in his apology for his kingship?

Does the Liahona count?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

Link to comment

David I really like the idea of the rod being compared to a shepherds staff and the images that inspires, I can also see the link with the stick. So in my excitement I go and read more of this and I come across 1st Nephi 8:19; Which is the very image to me of a rod leading to the Tree of Life as in LDS art. I would like to know your thoughts on it. Thanks so much for your contributions they are great.

And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood.
Link to comment
Does the Liahona count?

Of course! What a numbskull I am.

I was trying to find it in the LittleBigManesque "circle of waters" a part of which is represented by Lehi's fountain, but wasn't getting anywhere.

Link to comment
I suspect the ring is a signet ring, also known as a seal.

Official documents and anything needing a stamp of aproval would be marked by it.

True enough, and maybe even it's likely that the "hoop" portion of the royal symbol is emblematic of the signet ring [the power to seal on earth as in heaven], but I wonder.

Consider Gilgamesh. The pukku (and) mikku, which the g-ddess Inanna made for Gilgamesh out of wood, and with which he abuses the folks in Uruk (causing Enkidu to be recruited to bring him down) were, if memory serves, a ball or hoop, and a stick, respectively. Emblems of kingship, plainly, and maybe the ring represents the "workday" version of the ball/hoop, while the bigger one is for ceremonial occasions.

The more I think about it, the Liahona, the ball with pointers, accomplishes both symbolic purposes, being both ball/hoop and rod(s). It represents Lehi's kingship, however. Can't remember as Nephi had anything to do with it other than remind Dear old Dad to use the silly thing.

Link to comment

Hey Anijen,

David I really like the idea of the rod being compared to a shepherds staff and the images that inspires, I can also see the link with the stick. So in my excitement I go and read more of this and I come across 1st Nephi 8:19; Which is the very image to me of a rod leading to the Tree of Life as in LDS art. I would like to know your thoughts on it. Thanks so much for your contributions they are great.

I view the rod/staff running along the bank of the river which is presumably much straighter than the river itself. Moreover, I'm not aware of any textual reason to assume that even the river itself was full of major twists and turns.

Best,

--DB

Link to comment

From Table IV of the Enuma Elish:

The scepter here is also one of the emblems of rule, indicating the King's mastery over livestock and men;

The ring is, if I remember aright, the mastery over agriculture, it being the "hoop" that measures the amount of grain within it for purposes of valuing both real estate and a crop on the ground [we still use hoops today -- the Forest Service counts blades of grass within a hoop thrown at random to determine whether an area is being overgrazed];

The throne is the seat of power on earth, as the g-d's throne is the seat of power in heaven; and

The weaponry is the power to conquer and subdue.

There's an old symbol in Mesopotamian iconography, with kings holding a rod and hoop together, as emblem of kingship, similar to the stylized rod and hoop, the ankh, in Egyptian iconography. British kings/queens hold the rod and orb, to the same effect.

My question: I've looked and cannot find accompanying hoop/orb imagery in the BoM, and I would expect to find it. Am I missing something, or is it not there? If not, how can we account for its absence if Nephi is deliberate in his employment of such imagery in his apology for his kingship?

As a Semiticist, I can't speak with any degree of authority on Egyptian iconography. The "orb" in Mesopotamian iconography is actually a nose ring, like the ring one would place in the nostrils of an ox to lead and direct the animal.

Hammurabi_Code.jpg

Note that Hammurabi receives from Shamash, the god of justice, the rod and the ring to lead his people as a shepherd.

Link to comment
As a Semiticist, I can't speak with any degree of authority on Egyptian iconography. The "orb" in Mesopotamian iconography is actually a nose ring, like the ring one would place in the nostrils of an ox to lead and direct the animal.

Hammurabi_Code.jpg

Note that Hammurabi receives from Shamash, the god of justice, the rod and the ring to lead his people as a shepherd.

Can't remember where I read about the hoop's agricultural significance. I am delighted to be led straight by DB, leading me by the nose where I should go, right into animal husbandry.

Link to comment
And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood.

Intriguingly, we are not told how it extends, how long it extends (the entire length of river bank?), or how it leads. We have typically assumed that it acts as a railing that goes for a long ways. When we get into the Hebrew Bible, based on an underlying word like natah, we see many instances of Moses' or Aaron's rod or hand being extended in conjunction with the miraculous and a ruling/guiding function. In the BoM, the imagery of the Savior's arm being extended out to us to lead us to him is pervasive. In the Tree of Life vision, I view the rod of iron being extended exactly in this sense, and not in the more modern sense of a railing that "runs" the length of a river bank necessarily. I've been wrong before, and I could certainly be wrong here, but that is how I've thought of the rod.

Regards

Link to comment

I would assume that it extends from at least where Nephi was looking at to the tree, or at least very close to it, but I have no problem with that, this was a vision, objects can have unnatural proportions in visions.

You are right though, we aren't told details.

Link to comment

Consig, I absolutely agree with you about the ground thing. The less points of contact, the easier it is to get lost, plus, crawling can be discouraging.

David, there are countless of verses about rods, but one of them I like is Gen 38:17-18.

Tamar insists that Judah leave as his pledge precisely those items which indicate his power and position (or authority) as head of the household. Among them is his rod.

People crawling by a giant metal stick might give others in a certain building more reason to laugh and mock too.

Link to comment

I now consider the rod of iron to be the word of God, in the sense that it is his assurance, or his pledge of faith, that something is as he says it is.

Just as a man can give his "word" to someone as a token that what he is saying is true, and worthy of trust, except that the word of a man is not as reliable as the word of God because God has so much more wisdom and intelligence and foresight so that there is no margin of error.

Many people coorelate the word of God with a book, or a collection of books, and I did at one time too, but now I think of those books as records of his word that he has given to other people who are then sharing them with others who read them, but at that point those words are only the words of men who are stating they are speaking for God while sharing what God has told them.

Anyway, I hope you know what I mean, even though my words may not be clear enough to convey all of my meaning to you.

If I don't receive the word of God directly from God to me, I generally consider what someone claims is the word of God to be only the word of that man who is claiming it is the word of God, so to be of any value to me I must obtain the word of God directly from God to know that it is his word.

The staff, as mentioned in Psalms 23, is what I think of as something God uses to protect his followers from the "wolves" who are trying to get at them, just as a shepherd would use his staff to keep the wolves at bay or away from the sheep who stay near the shepherd for their protection.

And that, to me, is the actual power of God, which is represented through his priesthood, but again I must find out for myself that it is the actual power of God, otherwise I would only be relying on the word of some man wno claims to be speaking for God while he also claims to have the actual power of God.

Link to comment

I've just noticed an astounding connection. The noun 'rod' and the verb 'to extend' share the same root.

Case closed, Zerinus's objections notwithstanding.

Brilliant! You smart guy! Impressive catch on the true root for MTH "rod" as NTH "to stretch out" (you guys really are going to have to teach me how to post with Hebrew characters). That's awesome. I missed it, in part, because I was thinking of "rod" as shevet. Note this is the form used for "iron rod" in Psalm 2:9, which I think has to be taken into consideration before we declare official victory.

Link to comment

If the rod required the follower to be on his knees close to the ground, that creates an interesting juxtaposition with the "great and spacious building" which "stood as it were in the air, high above the earth" (1 Nephi 8:26).

However, the fact that 1 Nephi 8:30 states that those following the rod of iron "came forth and fell down and partook of the tree of life" seems to suggest a different image.

Link to comment
If I don't receive the word of God directly from God to me, I generally consider what someone claims is the word of God to be only the word of that man who is claiming it is the word of God, so to be of any value to me I must obtain the word of God directly from God to know that it is his word.

Hence the Holy Ghost which reveals all truth.

Link to comment

Brilliant! You smart guy! Impressive catch on the true root for MTH "rod" as NTH "to stretch out" (you guys really are going to have to teach me how to post with Hebrew characters). That's awesome. I missed it, in part, because I was thinking of "rod" as shevet.

I think both words have something in favour of them. Up to the individual translator, I guess.

Note this is the form used for "iron rod" in Psalm 2:9, which I think has to be taken into consideration before we declare official victory.

I didn't think of ps 2 until I posted, however, when Laman and Lemuel beat their brothers, it was almost certainly with a shevet.

Link to comment

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...