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Ancient Temple Worship in the BofM


David Bokovoy

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I think you guys are going to enjoy these ideas. They're really a lot of fun. I've posted a brief two-part series exploring the use of temple imagery in the opening chapters of the book of Jacob. I've been really struck as of late with how perfectly Jacob's comments in 3:1 reflect the theology and ritual performance of Israelite psalms of Individual Lament. If you look closely, there's also a clear literary allusion to the role of the divine council:

"But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your cafflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction."

So I'm really intrigued by this amazing verse and it provides part of the focus of this exploration.

Much love,

--DB

www.davidbokovoy.com

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David,

On the road and can't watch the presentations yet. Do you link these chapters to Psalm 24? Jacob mentions 'going up' to the temple several times. Then he concentrates on social piety and pride, pure heart, all centered around what appears to be the judgment/atonement ritual. Note also his Yahweh 'gatekeeper' terminology in 2 Ne 9. I have always seen a dependance on Ps 24 in Jacob's theology.

Cheers

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David,

On the road and can't watch the presentations yet. Do you link these chapters to Psalm 24? Jacob mentions 'going up' to the temple several times. Then he concentrates on social piety and pride, pure heart, all centered around what appears to be the judgment/atonement ritual. Note also his Yahweh 'gatekeeper' terminology in 2 Ne 9. I have always seen a dependance on Ps 24 in Jacob's theology.

Cheers

I don't, Joey. Not in this presentation. I certainly agree with you that there is a thematic link between Psalm 24 and Jacob's writings, but I didn't take it in that direction. I draw attention to the temple Sitz in Leben for Jacob 2-3 and the direct literary allusion to Psalm 95 which Gunkel and others have identified as a Temple Hymn performed by the Israelite community when gathered at the temple for holy festivals. It really is quite extraordinary therefore that Jacob uses this Psalm as an introduction to this sermon presented on a holy occasion when his people had gathered together at the temple.

Safe travels, Brother! I too am about ready to leave home. Going to Utah for a few days. It will be good to get out of this rain!

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I don't, Joey. Not in this presentation. I certainly agree with you that there is a thematic link between Psalm 24 and Jacob's writings, but I didn't take it in that direction. I draw attention to the temple Sitz in Leben for Jacob 2-3 and the direct literary allusion to Psalm 95 which Gunkel and others have identified as a Temple Hymn performed by the Israelite community when gathered at the temple for holy festivals. It really is quite extraordinary therefore that Jacob uses this Psalm as an introduction to this sermon presented on a holy occasion when his people had gathered together at the temple.

Safe travels, Brother! I too am about ready to leave home. Going to Utah for a few days. It will be good to get out of this rain!

It is quite extraordinary, indeed. One wonders, really, which way Occam's razor slices here. Did Joseph Smith get lucky in ascribing Psalms to Jacob's speech? Maybe Psalm 95 was also commonly read at 19th century revival meetings? Or, perhaps everyone, including the skeptics, can just admit that this is fairly remarkable? But I'm sure such a hope is too great.

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It is quite extraordinary, indeed. One wonders, really, which way Occam's razor slices here. Did Joseph Smith get lucky in ascribing Psalms to Jacob's speech? Maybe Psalm 95 was also commonly read at 19th century revival meetings? Or, perhaps everyone, including the skeptics, can just admit that this is fairly remarkable? But I'm sure such a hope is too great.

One of the interesting issues in dealing with Psalm 95 in Jacob 2 is the notion of "entering into God's rest" which doesn't follow the New Testament interpretation at all. This reading seems to me to be more than a little foreign to early 19th century American readings of Psalm 95.

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Ah, well ... I'm sure that when Bill Hamblin finishes his intellectual biography of The Prophet, Joseph Smith: The Cambridge Years, it all will become clear! :P

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I think you guys are going to enjoy these ideas. They're really a lot of fun. I've posted a brief two-part series exploring the use of temple imagery in the opening chapters of the book of Jacob. I've been really struck as of late with how perfectly Jacob's comments in 3:1 reflect the theology and ritual performance of Israelite psalms of Individual Lament. If you look closely, there's also a clear literary allusion to the role of the divine council:

"But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your cafflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction."

So I'm really intrigued by this amazing verse and it provides part of the focus of this exploration.

Much love,

--DB

www.davidbokovoy.com

Could Jacob officiate as a Levite given the fact that his family were not Levitical? Or were they operating under the Zadokite priesthood given through righteousness not bloodline?

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I think you guys are going to enjoy these ideas. They're really a lot of fun. I've posted a brief two-part series exploring the use of temple imagery in the opening chapters of the book of Jacob. I've been really struck as of late with how perfectly Jacob's comments in 3:1 reflect the theology and ritual performance of Israelite psalms of Individual Lament. If you look closely, there's also a clear literary allusion to the role of the divine council:

"But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your cafflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction."

So I'm really intrigued by this amazing verse and it provides part of the focus of this exploration.

Much love,

--DB

www.davidbokovoy.com

David,

I have a follow up question. Do you think that such lamentations as expressed in Psalms and by Jacob reflect the same ritual as mentioned in the Akkadian practice of suilla or hand-lifting?

sumerianprayerstatues.gif

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Could Jacob officiate as a Levite given the fact that his family were not Levitical? Or were they operating under the Zadokite priesthood given through righteousness not bloodline?

I vote for Melchizadek officiating in Aaronic priesthood ordinances.

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I would agree since there is precedent for this (or at least I think so).

This hand lifting thing is fascinating- I googled it without much in the way of results- do you have more info which is internet available?

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One of the interesting issues in dealing with Psalm 95 in Jacob 2 is the notion of "entering into God's rest" which doesn't follow the New Testament interpretation at all. This reading seems to me to be more than a little foreign to early 19th century American readings of Psalm 95.

Interesting point. I hadn't thought that far. I assume in referring to the NT you mean the way Psalm 95 is treated in Hebrews. How do you see the difference? Note, in this regard, that Jacob 6:6 quotes a related verse that is present in Hebrews but that is not part of Psalm 95 as we have it in the OT.

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This hand lifting thing is fascinating- I googled it without much in the way of results- do you have more info which is internet available?

There is a Harvard dissertation available, unfortunately for $45! The link is here... http://proquest.umi.com/pqdlink?did=1068214801&Fmt=14&VType=PQD&VInst=PROD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1268964796&clientId=79356

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Whenever I have read newer and (I'm assuming here) more accurate translations of Psalms 95, the eighth verse is given as:

"Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert."

The names "Meribah" and "Massah" are place-names from what I understand. I gather the translators of the KJV made the mistake of translating the names into the nouns, "provocation" and "temptation". Just as the river called "Jordan" doesn't get translated as the River Descender, these place-names should be left untranslated. Does it seem odd that Joseph would have made the same mistake when translating the Book of Mormon, or is this allowable even when considering the process was divinely inspired?

Theseus

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Interesting point. I hadn't thought that far. I assume in referring to the NT you mean the way Psalm 95 is treated in Hebrews. How do you see the difference? Note, in this regard, that Jacob 6:6 quotes a related verse that is present in Hebrews but that is not part of Psalm 95 as we have it in the OT.
First, the issue is about being in the wilderness. In Jacob's lifetime (at least from his perception), they never leave the wilderness. Entering into God's rest is entering into the promised land (like Israel entering Palestine). Jacob tells us at the end of his text that "the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days." For Jacob, on some level, the issues which he is addressing in his sermons represent that which keeps them in he wilderness - just as Israel was kept out of Palestine. This is not Paul's "For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his."

On the other note, Jacob 6:6 is in Psalm 95 -

Jacob 6:6

6 Yea, today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts; for why will ye die?

Psalm 95:7-8

7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,

8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

The "for why will ye die" seems much more closely related verbally to some passages in Ezekiel, although the Hebrews text implicitly recognizes the notion ("But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?")

If this isn't what you are referring to, let me know.

Ben M.

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Theseus, the text of the Book of Mormon tends to follow the King James language (generally speaking - there are some notable exceptions). I think that there are several very reasonably answers to the question of why this would happen. Part of the issue is that the Book of Mormon uses a copy of the Old Testament written in Egyptian (not Hebrew). Literally rendering this source text would have providing something that could have been quite different. Going back to the KJ language gave the readers (Joseph and those who believed his message) a text that they could read and understand without being distracted by language issues.

Ben M.

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the Nephites were working off an imperfect translation of the scriptures translated by someone else. The KJV is an imperfect translation of the scriptures translated by someone else. Seems a good cultural substitute to me...

I agree completely. It was an excellent and appropriate cultural substitute.

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Whenever I have read newer and (I'm assuming here) more accurate translations of Psalms 95, the eighth verse is given as:

"Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on the day of Massah in the desert."

The names "Meribah" and "Massah" are place-names from what I understand. I gather the translators of the KJV made the mistake of translating the names into the nouns, "provocation" and "temptation". Just as the river called "Jordan" doesn't get translated as the River Descender, these place-names should be left untranslated. Does it seem odd that Joseph would have made the same mistake when translating the Book of Mormon, or is this allowable even when considering the process was divinely inspired?

Theseus

Hello Theseus,

Thanks for raising an interesting question.

There's no doubt that the Hebrew words Meribah and Massah refer to place names in Psalm 95. The tradition of Israel's mistake occurring at Massah is described in Deuteronomic tradition via Deut 6,16; 9,22, while the Priestly writers seem to prefer the proper noun Meribah as a reference to the event (Num 20,13.24; 27,14). Psalm 95 combines these traditions by incorporating both names.

The noun Meribah derives from the tri-literal root ryb meaning "to strive" or "to contend," so the place name literally means "the place of contention." The noun Massah actually derives from the root nsh meaning "to test," "to try," or "to tempt" (the letter nun is assimilated, but appears reflected in the noun via a dagesh). So the place name means "temptation."

Notwithstanding these technical issues, as Ben states in this thread, the Book of Mormon intentionally follows the King James translation of the Bible so that readers can perform the types of cross scriptural exegetical analysis that provides part of the focus of this thread.

BTW, beginning in the second half of verse 7, Psalm 95 features an abrupt thematic and grammatical change. This observation has led some scholars to conclude that vv. 1-7a represent the words of men in the form of an extended

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David,

I have a follow up question. Do you think that such lamentations as expressed in Psalms and by Jacob reflect the same ritual as mentioned in the Akkadian practice of suilla or hand-lifting?

sumerianprayerstatues.gif

Absolutely. There has been quite a bit of work on this topic showing the connections.

Best,

--DB

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Theseus, the text of the Book of Mormon tends to follow the King James language (generally speaking - there are some notable exceptions). I think that there are several very reasonably answers to the question of why this would happen. Part of the issue is that the Book of Mormon uses a copy of the Old Testament written in Egyptian (not Hebrew). Literally rendering this source text would have providing something that could have been quite different. Going back to the KJ language gave the readers (Joseph and those who believed his message) a text that they could read and understand without being distracted by language issues.

Ben M.

Thanks for your response. I have heard this explanation for the prevalence of KJV language in the BoM but have never found it very satisfying. I was hoping there would maybe be a better explanation. Even if the brass plates were recorded in the foreign tongue of the Egyptians, I still don't see why a place-name would not have been preserved instead of being translated as a noun. Other names, even Greek names, seem to have made it through the translation from reformed Egyptian to English. Why not the names Meribah and Massah? What makes them any different from any other name recorded in the Book of Mormon?

Theseus

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Thanks for your response. I have heard this explanation for the prevalence of KJV language in the BoM but have never found it very satisfying.

Why? I find the response perfectly satisfying. Whether one believes in a supernatural or purely humanistic origin for the Book of Mormon, it is a fact that the text intentionally follows the KJ translation of the Bible. Believers maintain that it does so via inspiration, while critics argue that the King Jamesisms reflect its humanistic origins.

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the Nephites were working off an imperfect translation of the scriptures translated by someone else. The KJV is an imperfect translation of the scriptures translated by someone else. Seems a good cultural substitute to me...

I see your point. I agree that imperfect translations and cultural influences would have an effect on the outcome. But what specifically piques my interest is that the two translational paths, if you will, came to the same conclusion. This is kind of how I'm thinking about it right now:

In the case of the KJV

Hebrew word for the place "Meribah" ----> Masoretic Hebrew Text-----> 17th Century Hebrew Scholars-----> noun "provocation"

In the case of the Book of Mormon

Hebrew word for the place "Meribah" ----> Egyptian ----> Reformed Egyptian ---> translation by power of God ---> noun "provocation"

The same goes for Massah. What is striking is that both translational paths arrived at the same (I would argue inaccurate) conclusion. I can't help but think that Jacob 3 is relying on Psalms (or Epistle to the Hebrews). And I have to ask the question, if Joseph is translating off the plates, why does he, for this phrase, go to the KJV translation of Psalms to render his translation?

Theseus

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