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Jacob Chapter 5


StuddleyG

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Jacob 5 is considered by many Latter-Day saints to be the most boring chapter in the Book of Mormon, yet also considered by many to be one of the book's most profound evidences pointing to authenticity. The chapter contains many details about olive horiculture that Joseph Smith was certainly not familiar with. I've never heard a refutation for this one yet. Are there any books that Joseph would have been able to get his hands on to help him out with this one? If there was, it would be part of large a large library that would have been required to write the Book of Mormon. Any thoughts?

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Jacob 5 is considered by many Latter-Day saints to be the most boring chapter in the Book of Mormon, yet also considered by many to be one of the book's most profound evidences pointing to authenticity. The chapter contains many details about olive horiculture that Joseph Smith was certainly not familiar with. I've never heard a refutation for this one yet. Are there any books that Joseph would have been able to get his hands on to help him out with this one? If there was, it would be part of large a large library that would have been required to write the Book of Mormon. Any thoughts?

I vote for most boring. What specifics regarding olive horticulture are we talking about? There's lots of pruning and grafting going on, but that's hardly specific to olive trees, is it?

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I vote for most boring. What specifics regarding olive horticulture are we talking about? There's lots of pruning and grafting going on, but that's hardly specific to olive trees, is it?

Mod points, most insightful post of all time?

Glenn

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Mod points, most insightful post of all time?

Thanks! Not sure about the "of all time" but I have found that the most profound issues in the scriptures are questions, not answers: am I my brother's keeper, what is man, that thou art mindful of him, what is wisdom, ...

Still, mine was an honest question: what olive-specific horticultural knowledge can be found in this chapter? I can't stand all amazed unless I know what's supposed to be so amazing (I'm a bit of a sceptic that way).

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A couple of thoughts on this.

First, apples are a commonly grafted fruit that displays characteristics of the "wild olives" of the Jacob literature. Given the Smiths kept orchards as referenced many times by Lucy Mack Smith in her History of Joseph Smith I question that a library is required where the lessons of life fit the need?

I'm also curious if anyone would mind posting a link to information on pre-roman tree grafting that isn't about the Book of Mormon?

Edited to add - the book, "The Botany of Desire" came to mind immediately when reading this thread. It's worth reading.

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The chapter contains many details about olive horiculture that Joseph Smith was certainly not familiar with.

Such as...?

It's been a while since I read it, so I may have forgotten something. But other than pruning or grafting (skills which I assume were in use in upper-state New York in the early 19th Century), what is described about "olive horticulture"?

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Such as...

It's been a while since I read it, so I may have forgotten something. But other than pruning or grafting (skills which I assume were in use in upper-state New York in the early 19th Century), what is described about "olive horticulture"?
Examples of what the ancients and Zenos evidently knew were how to prune, dig about, dung, and nourish; how to graft tame to wild and wild to tame, and how to graft tame back into tame; how to balance tops and roots by pruning, and the reasons for doing this; how to save the roots of trees whose branches had decayed, and how to transplant branches to preserve the desired traits of good plants; how to preserve and store fruit and how to distinguish between good and bad fruit; how well plants grow on good and bad soil; how to care for trees to cause young and tender branches to shoot forth; that they could graft wild to tame to rejuvenate tame; that specific cultivars produced well in certain areas; . . . that they could burn an orchard to reestablish a new one; that plants grown from seeds would not have desirable characteristics; the importance of elimination of old wood and debris by burning, and how to deal with pests and pathogens; how to prevent heavy bearing one year and no bearing the next by proper pruning; the necessity to plant more than one cultivar for pollination; and how to propagate scions with the desirable genetic material.

John Gee and Daniel C. Peterson, "Graft and Corruption: On Olives and Olive Culture in the Pre-Modern Mediterranean," in The Allegory of the Olive Tree, pp. 186-247, taken from pages 223-224:

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Jacob 5 is considered by many Latter-Day saints to be the most boring chapter in the Book of Mormon...

Any thoughts?

The most boring? :P

I think it's one of the most fascinating chapters. (And not because of horticulture apologetics.)

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A couple of thoughts on this.

First, apples are a commonly grafted fruit that displays characteristics of the "wild olives" of the Jacob literature. Given the Smiths kept orchards as referenced many times by Lucy Mack Smith in her History of Joseph Smith I question that a library is required where the lessons of life fit the need?

I'm also curious if anyone would mind posting a link to information on pre-roman tree grafting that isn't about the Book of Mormon?

Edited to add - the book, "The Botany of Desire" came to mind immediately when reading this thread. It's worth reading.

There is a precedent in Romans which speaks of grafting of wild olive branches into a good tree. That is possible source for the allegory of the olive tree culture in the Book of Mormon. However, noting that olives are always associated with trees in the scriptures and there is no mention of an vineyards associated with olive trees, would not one expect (believing that the Book of Mormon to be a product of the nineteenth century) that orchard would be used rather than vineyard following your lessons of life idea?

Glenn

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StuddleyG -

I'd ask again - Can it be shown from non-LDS sources that pre-Roman middle easterners were grafting olive trees? And how does this differ from apple grafting, which was a prominent food source in the frontier US at the time?

"The Botany of Desire" spends a good deal of time talking about apple tree evolution in the US and this seems to fit the need for grafting apples in the 1800's to ensure edible fruit.

But apples from seed were very common as well. It may be worth reading a bit on this before getting to enamored with the olive description in Jacob.

A nice overview - BBG

From the website -

"By 1686, the status of horticulture in Virginia was such that William Fitzhugh of Westmoreland County, describing his plantation in a letter, mentions "a large orchard of about 2,500 apple trees, most grafted, well fenced with a locust fence." And by the close of the century, there were few plantations in Virginia without an orchard

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There is a precedent in Romans which speaks of grafting of wild olive branches into a good tree. That is possible source for the allegory of the olive tree culture in the Book of Mormon. However, noting that olives are always associated with trees in the scriptures and there is no mention of an vineyards associated with olive trees, would not one expect (believing that the Book of Mormon to be a product of the nineteenth century) that orchard would be used rather than vineyard following your lessons of life idea?

Glenn

I'm curious now why JS would use the phrase vineyard rather than orchard myself. Is it common to do so in the middle east? Or was it more likely that JS used Isaiah to frame this narrative?

Isaiah 5:1, 3-5, 7

1 - Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:

3 - And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.

4 - What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?

5 - And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:

7 - For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

Or maybe Luke 13 where we see the use of "digging around" and "dunging" that got Dr.'s P and Gee all excited -

6

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Actually, your Isaiah reference speaks to 2 Nephi 15, part of the Isaiah chapters, naturally. It's not referencing Jacob 5.

2 Nephi 15:

1 And then will I sing to my well-beloved a song of my beloved, touching his vineyard. My well-beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill.

2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest avine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a wine-press therein; and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.

3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.

4 What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it? Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes it brought forth wild grapes.

5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard

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Hi Sevenbak, welcome back.

I'm not sure that this answered any questions, really. We know that 2 Nephi is supposed to be a direct quote of Isaiah as Nephi supposedly had it in the brass plates. The question is if Jacob 5 shows evidence of a middle eastern authorship that would have been beyond reasonable explanation for a 19th century person such as JS to have penned it.

Given the similar references in Isaiah and Luke, along with the very common knowledge of fruit tree production in the frontier American west of Joseph's day, I don't see it that way.

But the vineyard question is a good one. Did the middle eastern olive cultivators actually grown them in "vineyards"? or is this evidence of JS having used the vineyard references from Luke ( a fig tree) or Isaiah who used the more logical fruit for a vineyard, the grape? Personally, it looks like the author of Luke may have screwed up, too. But I don't know. I'm just waiting for the references to clarify this.

Oh, and one that documents that olives were grafted prior to the Roman period would be nice as well.

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Thanks. Found this:

{Botanical Aspects of Olive Culture Relevant to The Allegory of the Olive Tree, [Wilford M. Hess, Daniel J. Fairbanks, John W. Welch, and Jonathan K. Driggs F.A.R.M.S., pp. 552-554]

Even today, outside of olive-growing areas, professional horticulturalists may not fully appreciate some of the unique aspects of olive culture. Given the extensive detail about olive culture present in Jacob 5, we must give Zenos much credit for a high degree of horticultural knowledge, which many take for granted.

Examples of what the ancients and Zenos evidently knew were how to prune, dig about, dung, and nourish; how to graft tame to wild and wild to tame, and how to graft tame back into tame; how to balance tops and roots by pruning, and the reasons for doing this; how to save the roots of trees whose branches had decayed, and how to transplant branches to preserve the desired traits of good plants; how to preserve and store fruit and how to distinguish between good and bad fruit; how well plants grow on good and bad soil; how to care for trees to cause young and tender branches to shoot forth; that they could graft wild to tame to rejuvenate tame; that specific cultivars produced well in certain areas; how to remove the bitter glucosides from the fruit; that they could burn an orchard to reestablish a new one; that plants grown from seeds would not have desirable characteristics; the importance of elimination of old wood and debris by burning, and how to deal with pests and pathogens; how to prevent heavy bearing one year and no bearing the next by proper pruning; the necessity to plant more than one cultivar for pollination; and how to propagate scions with the desirable genetic material.

Interestingly, much of this sophisticated technology was probably lost in the Nephite civilization, for the olive is not mentioned again in the Book of Mormon after Jacob 5, an indication that the lands of the Book of Mormon may not have been suitable for growing olives ... The only regions on the American continents with Mediterranean climates where olive culture is economically feasible are the regions of California, Chile, and Argentina.

Joseph Smith probably knew how to prune, dig about, dung, and nourish local fruit trees; he probably knew a little about grafting, and he may have been familiar with some other horticultural principles, but not likely those peculiarly related to olive culture.

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Thanks Sevenbak.

I'm not sure that a pro-lds article really answers a lot of questions here given that nothing that I read today in the BoM account seems that unique from what JS would have either read in the biblical accounts provided (the digging and dunging, etc.) or from working in the apple orchard.

But I am seriously concerned that the reference to an olive tree being grafted prior to greek reference seems odd given that there is no evidence of this other than that limited to the Chinese. So how can one make the claim that JS shows such deep knowledge of something that we don't have other significant knowledge of, either?

Basically, even if the BoM is true, if we don't know about pre-exilic hebrew olive tree horticulture, what exactly are you saying?

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I would add here that I believe that winepress and olive press were interchangeable terms. They could serve both functions.

Plus, we know that Gethsemene means "olive press", however Christ says he has trodden the wine press alone. Sounds the same to me. I would surmise that vineyard is also interchangeable.

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Sorry, I don't know anything about "pre-exilic hebrew olive tree horticulture", so I can't help you alleviate your frustration.

But apparently the term is pretty common, among Italians at least. Google "olive vineyards".

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Thanks Sevenbak.

I'm not sure that a pro-lds article really answers a lot of questions here given that nothing that I read today in the BoM account seems that unique from what JS would have either read in the biblical accounts provided (the digging and dunging, etc.) or from working in the apple orchard.

But I am seriously concerned that the reference to an olive tree being grafted prior to greek reference seems odd given that there is no evidence of this other than that limited to the Chinese. So how can one make the claim that JS shows such deep knowledge of something that we don't have other significant knowledge of, either?

Basically, even if the BoM is true, if we don't know about pre-exilic hebrew olive tree horticulture, what exactly are you saying?

Information I found just by searching the internet from non-LDS sources. (And a minus ten points for intimating the old canard about LDS scholarship being suspect just because it advocates a position favorable to the LDS. That is much the same as saying that an article by an evolutionist advocate is suspect because it advocates a position favorable to evolution. Therefore, only articles by non-interested parties can be deemed reliable.)

1. Olive horticulture was practiced in the Palestinian area as far back the seventh century BC.

2. Olive trees growing in the wild produce a smaller fruit containing much less oil and with a bitter taste compared to the cultivated variety. (In contrast wild apple trees can and do produce good tasty fruit, although they do need pruning to continue to do so.)

3. A shoot from a wild olive tree grafted onto a cultivated trunk will produce good fruit.

4. Grafting is assumed to have been the norm in producing the cultivated stock. I read no references where that practice was questioned. It is speculated that the original cultivation began by selective grafting and pruning to obtain the desired characteristics.

5. Olive trees require constant, often severe pruning to remain fruitful, especially at the top.

That information should be enough to indicate that the information provided by the "pro-LDS" article is essentially accurate.

As for your concern that we have a dearth of references to grafting prior the Greeks I would ask if we have very many detailed references to any other industries that flourished in prior to the Greco-Roman eras?

Glenn

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Information I found just by searching the internet from non-LDS sources.

Glenn

Glenn,

Thanks for your nice google search results. Could you be so kind as to actually post links to sources?

(And a minus ten points for intimating the old canard about LDS scholarship being suspect just because it advocates a position favorable to the LDS. That is much the same as saying that an article by an evolutionist advocate is suspect because it advocates a position favorable to evolution. Therefore, only articles by non-interested parties can be deemed reliable.)

The point was that it wasn't a source that actually said anything specific other than the two professor's points of view. I'm sure their work contained a few footnotes and cross-references. Or maybe even direct finds, perhaps. What was posted, however, was basically no different than if you had copied Sevenbak's post and claimed it as authoritative. That isn't what a valid reference should consist of, typically. If it is archaeological based, it should describe the findings that support the conclusion they came to. Or it could describe the results of some experiment. A wiki link is nice for suggesting information, but if it doesn't link to results or findings, it's just speculation. So far, that is what is being presented here - wiki's.

The issue with linking to a pro-source as was done above is that it fell into a bias "blind-spot". It is all too easy for any of us to see a source that is written by someone who we know likely shares our view, see that there are some sort of answers out there, but fail to hold them to up to critical scrutiny. It benefits all of us to have better sources than were listed.

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Glenn,

Thanks for your nice google search results. Could you be so kind as to actually post links to sources?

The reason I did not post any links is that there are too many to include in a coherent manner. Maybe reading the article(s) in question and seeking confirmation or refutation from other sources would have blunted the concerns that you expressed.

I do appreciate the fact that you are calm and measured in your approach to the debates.

I am going to reference a few links to some of the articles.

Here

Here

There are many others out there also.

Glenn

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There is a precedent in Romans which speaks of grafting of wild olive branches into a good tree. That is possible source for the allegory of the olive tree culture in the Book of Mormon. However, noting that olives are always associated with trees in the scriptures and there is no mention of an vineyards associated with olive trees, would not one expect (believing that the Book of Mormon to be a product of the nineteenth century) that orchard would be used rather than vineyard following your lessons of life idea?

Glenn

Let's not make the mistake of not taking seriously a 19th century origin with its roots partially in the New Testament:

http://scriptures.ld...rom/11/16-24#16

16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.

20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.

24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?

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Let's also not make the mistake of assuming the NT prophets didn't have the words of Zenos. They certainly made references to other lost books that aren't know today.

Truth is eternal. Prophets and their writings on both continents didn't exist in a vacuum. They all had the ultimate correlation committee. God. :P

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I would add here that I believe that winepress and olive press were interchangeable terms. They could serve both functions.

Plus, we know that Gethsemene means "olive press", however Christ says he has trodden the wine press alone. Sounds the same to me. I would surmise that vineyard is also interchangeable.

Contrary to popular knowledge, it is highly improbable that Gethsemane means "olive press". You see a gath (winepress) and a beith bad (olivepress) are not at all interchangeable. You can't tread olives, and to use a press on grapes is to produce impossibly bitter wine, not to mention that oily wine and grape-flavoured olive oil aren't very good.

Far more likely that it meant the olive escarpment.

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