Tree and it's Fruit
Why did Nephi make two sets of plates?
Will God reveal truth to me if I diligently seek it?
Highlighted text - Verses that are similar or exactly the same in the Bible
Before we begin, I want to mention something important in our study of the Book of Mormon. In our previous lesson covering 1 Nephi 1-7, I pointed out that we are going to see a lot of New Testament words and phrases in the Book of Mormon. This is approximately 600 years before Christ in the Book of Mormon, and we are reading words lifted from the King James New Testament that was written nearly 700 years later – between 50 and 90 AD. And NOW I realize that credit also, needs to be given to the King James Old Testament – as an original source for the Book of Mormon. So, I will be giving attention to the entire Bible from now on. I give tribute to the comprehensive work of Dan Wees in his exhaustive work “The Bible to Book of Mormon Comparative”.
Now, let’s get started. After Nephi and his brothers returned from their women-gathering mission in Jerusalem, it came to pass in 1 Nephi 8:2 that Lehi told his sons “Behold, I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision.” The phrase “Behold, I have dreamed a dream” is the same as in Genesis 37:9.
1 Nephi 8:3 The words “I have seen, I have” is the same as in Acts 7:34.
1 Nephi 8:4 The phrase “I saw in my dream” is the same as in Genesis 41:22.
1 Nephi 8:5 In this dream, Lehi saw “a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me.”
1 Nephi 8:6 The words “he spake unto me, and” is the same as in Ezekiel 2:2.
1 Nephi 8:7 The man told him to follow him into a “dark and dreary waste.”
1 Nephi 8:8 The word-string “on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies” is similar , to Psalm 69:16.eph 8:8 The word-string “on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies” is similar, to Psalm :16.
1 Nephi 8:9 After many hours of walking, Lehi “beheld a large and spacious field.”
1 Nephi 8:10 Then Lehi sees “a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.” The phrase “I beheld a tree” is similar, to Daniel 4:10.
I don’t know how he knew it was desirable, but he helped himself to the unidentified fruit and described it in 1 Nephi 8:11 as “most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted.” AND he describes its appearance “the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.” Now we will see in our study of the Book of Mormon that being “white” is the best thing that can happen. This fruit was not only white, but white to exceed all the whiteness that had ever been seen. The phrase “of the fruit thereof” is the same as in Genesis 3:6 and “above all that I” is the same as in 1 Chronicles 29:3.
The “tree” is the primary symbol in three significant sections in the Book of Mormon – showing the development of Nephite theology. There’s Lehi’s dream here in 1 Nephi 8; Zenos’ allegory in Jacob 5; and Alma’s discourses on righteousness in Alma 5 and 32.
1 Nephi 8:12 Lehi says, the fruit filled his soul “with exceeding great joy;” a similar phrase found in Matthew 2:10. He was so joyful that he wanted his family to eat from the tree.
1 Nephi 8:13 The phrases “cast my eyes round about” is similar, to Isaiah 60:4 and “the tree of which I” is the same in Genesis 3:17.
I Nephi 8:14 As Lehi looked around for his family, he saw a river of water and some members of his family “Sariah, and Sam and Nephi” standing a little way off. The words “at the head thereof” is the same as in Exodus 36:29.
1 Nephi 8:15 It says, he “beckoned unto them, and” same as in Luke 1:22, and told them to come eat of the joyful fruit – so they did.
1 Nephi 8:16 The phrase “And it came to pass that they” is similar, to Acts 27:44.
Then when Lehi saw Laman and Lemuel up the river, he invited them to come eat the fruit – but they refused. As a parent – that had to be disappointing!
1 Nephi 8:18 The phrase “them, but they would not” is the same in 2 Chronicles 24:19.
In Lehi’s dream, 1 Nephi 8:19 Lehi saw “a rod of Iron” as in Revelation 12:5 and Revelation 19:15, along the bank of the river and in 1 Nephi 8:20-22 a strait, and narrow path where “numberless concourses of people” were “pressing forward” to arrive at the tree. The phrase “that they might obtain” is the same in Hebrews 11:35.
1 Nephi 8:23 There was a great “mist of darkness” as in 2 Peter 2:17 that caused those people to “lose their way, that they wander off and were lost.” The phrase “And it came to pass that there arose” is similar, to 1 Chronicles 29:4.
Some people managed to find the tree by hanging on to the rod of iron. But almost immediately, they became ashamed for some reason. The words in 1 Nephi 8:24 “the end of the rod” is the same in 1 Samuel 14:43.
1 Nephi 8:25 The phrase “of the fruit of the tree” is the same as Genesis 3:3.
1 Nephi 8:26-28 Then Lehi looked around and saw “a great and spacious building” (picture of LDS Conference Center) floating in the air. The words “high above the earth” is the same in Psalm 103:11. It was filled with people in fine dress who were “mocking and pointing their fingers” at those eating the joyful fruit. The words “both old and young” is the same in Genesis 19:4. And those who were ashamed because of the scoffing, “fell away into the forbidden paths and were lost.” Guess they couldn’t handle the negative social pressure. The words “ashamed because of” is the same in Hosea 4:19.
1 Nephi 8:30 But, Lehi saw other crowds of people who grabbed hold of the rod and held on – until they reached the tree and could eat the delicious fruit.
1 Nephi 8:31-32 Some of the ashamed fruit-eaters made their way to the great and spacious building. But many either drowned or “wandered in strange roads.” The phrase “were drowned in the depths of the” is similar, to Matthew 18:6.
1 Nephi 8:33 Those that made it into the big building in the sky, began pointing the fingers of scorn at the joyful fruit eaters below. The words “and great was the” is the same in Matthew 7:27.
1 Nephi 8:36 The phrase “he saw in a vision” is the same in Acts 10:3.
1 Nephi 8:37 The words “not cast them off” is the same in Zechariah 10:6.
1 Nephi 8:38 The phrase “To keep the commandments of the Lord” is the same in Deuteronomy 10:13.
When the dream ended, Laman and Lemuel had not eaten the fruit. As a concerned parent, Lehi feared for Laman and Lemuel “lest they should be cast off from the presence of the Lord.”
Nephi’s father in 600 BC and Joseph Smith’s father 2400 years later – are both reported to have had many dreams. One of the dreams Joseph Smith, Sr. had in 1811 – 16 years before young Joseph got the gold plates – was recorded by Joseph’s mother, Lucy Mack Smith in her Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith pages 58-59. There is strong similarity between Joseph Smith Sr.’s dream and that of Lehi’s dream recorded in 1 Nephi 8. Both state they were traveling. Both mention a field. Both compare the field to a world. Both have a guide. Both mention a broad road. Both mention a narrow path. Both mention a stream of water. Both mention something like a rod or rope extending along the banks of the stream. Both mention a tree. Both mention the beauty of the tree. Both trees bore fruit. Both compared the whiteness of the fruit to snow. Both ate of the fruit. Both found it to be very delicious. Both wanted their families to partake of the fruit. Both families came and partook of the fruit. After eating the fruit both experienced great, joy. Both mention a spacious building that reached high into the air. Both buildings were filled with people, who were finely dressed pointing the finger of scorn at those partaking of the fruit. Both state they ignored the people in the building. Both state the meaning of the fruit is the pure love of God. Both state two members of the family are not present. Both mention the fall of the building. Both imply that pride was, connected with the building or its inhabitants.
This is the same story in almost every detail. Were these dreams – revelations? Were they – inspiration? Were they – simply coincidental? Or, is there an intent for Joseph Smith to tell his father’s dream in the narrative of the Book of Mormon? You’ll have to decide.
In 1941, this “Stela 5” stone carving was found in the temple courtyard at the ancient ruin city called “Izapa” in the South Western corner of Mexico near the Guatemalan border. As a slab of volcanic stone, it measures about 8 feet high, 5 feet wide, and 2 feet thick. Archaeologists have dated it between 300 BC to 100 AD. Some Mormon scholars saw resemblances in the carving of the stone that prominently depicted a tree – which they interpreted to be the “Tree of Life” in Lehi’s dream. It is easy to speculate about it, but no LDS prophet has come out and said members of the church need to treat it with anything more than a curiosity. Today, it is considered by most Archaeologist and scholars to most likely be a representation of a creation myth.
In Chapter 9, Nephi makes two sets of records – each is called the plates of Nephi. The larger plates contained a secular history – the smaller plates dealt primarily with sacred things. In Verse 5 God told Nephi to make both sets of plates “for a wise purpose.” But Nephi had no idea what that purpose was. Of course, Joseph Smith knew the purpose, because he needed to have a way out of a predicament, he found himself in. His early scribe, Martin Harris had lost the first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscripts which consisted of the book of Lehi. Without a back-up copy, Joseph was challenged to reproduce them since he did claim to have the plates. No problem, right? Except, when Joseph was once again permitted to translate, he was told by God not to go back and retranslate from the same plates. Rather, than re-translate from the Large Plates of Nephi – Joseph was instructed to use the Small Plates of Nephi.
Can you imagine how much extra work it would have taken young Nephi to find ore – in the Arabian desert, no less – smelting it to get the metal out – carefully pound the metal into thin enough sheets to enable engraving – and then painstakingly engrave this separate record of plates? So, at the end of Chapter 8, Nephi has now finished his basic summary or abridgment of his father’s record. And Chapter 9 is a transition between that abridgment and the beginning of Nephi’s account of his own life and proceedings which he engraved also on the Small Plates. Got all of that?!
Good, now we are going to look at Chapter 10. And my friends – there is a great deal to say about it. Lehi is going to prophesy about the Jews in a big way. Once again, I will point out as we read these verses that there are many parallel phrases between the Book of Mormon and the King James Old and New Testaments.
1 Nephi 10:2 The words “exhorting them to” is the same in Acts 14:22.
1 Nephi 10:3 Jerusalem is about to be destroyed and “many carried away captive into Babylon.” Babylon was a powerful enemy nation about 500 miles east of Jerusalem – located in today’s country of Iraq. After their exile, the Jews will be brought back to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. The phrase “carried away captive unto Babylon” is similar, to Jeremiah 40:1.
1 Nephi 10:4 Then, 600 years from the time of Lehi – referring to Jesus, “a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews – even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world.” The phrase “Savior of the world” is also found in John 4:42 and 1 John 4:14.
1 Nephi 10:5 Lehi says there were a great number of other prophets who testified of this Messiah, or this Redeemer of the world. However, Jews never believed in such things – because neither did their prophets who wrote the Tanakh, or Old Testament – in the first place. It would be completely impossible for Jews to believe in a Messiah who would be the Redeemer of the world. The words “spake concerning the” is same in 2 Kings 10:10.
1 Nephi 10:7 Lehi also spoke about a prophet who would come before the Messiah, to prepare the way of the Lord.
1 Nephi 10:8 Lehi even quotes this prophet – referring to John the Baptist – who will “cry in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight;” the same wording as in Matthew 3:3. “for there standeth one among you whom ye know not;” the same as John 1:26 “and he is mightier than I,” same as Luke 3:17 “whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose” same as John 1:27.
1 Nephi 10:9 Lehi said that he will baptize “in Bethabara, beyond Jordan” the same as John 1:28, and that he should “baptize with water” same as in John 1:26.
1 Nephi 10:10 “the Lamb of God, who should take away the sins of the world” the same wording as John 1:29. The phrase “Lamb of God” is unique to John 1:29, 36. However, it is used 33 times throughout the Book of Mormon as early as 600 BC.
1 Nephi 10:11 After the Jews kill the Messiah, “he should rise from the dead” as in John 20:9. And “make himself manifest, by the Holy Ghost, unto the Gentiles.” The phrase “after that they had slain” is the same in 2 Chronicles 23:21.
1 Nephi 10:12 The phrases “The house of Israel, that they” is the same in Ezekiel 43:10 and “be broken off and” is the same in Romans 11:17.
1 Nephi 10:13 The phrases “with one accord into the” is the same in Acts 19:29 and “the word of the Lord, that we” is the same in 1 Thessalonians 4:15.
Lehi says the house of Israel should be scattered – and that’s why they were being led to the promise land. But eventually they would be gathered again – “after the Gentiles had received the fulness of the Gospel.” Then “the natural branches of the olive-tree…should be grafted in” similar, to Romans 11:24. Lehi spoke these things by “the power of the Holy Ghost” same as Romans 15:13.
Hold on! 1 Nephi 10:14 says, “the Gentiles had received the fulness of the Gospel”? But it wasn’t until Paul taught in Ephesians Chapter 1, about the “mystery of his (God’s) will”, that the house of Israel – the Jews – knew that the fulness of the gospel was going to include the Gentiles. Paul reveals for the first time ever, the knowledge that had been kept a mystery all throughout the Old Testament. That in the dispensation of the fulness of times – after Jesus came to fulfill the law and the prophets – God would gather, together in one all things – meaning the Jew and the Gentile nations – in Christ. This mystery was unfolded to those first century Christians then, and not anachronistically in 600 BC by Lehi. The phrases “should be gathered together” is the same in Genesis 29:7 and “the natural branches…should be grafted in” is similar, to Romans 11:24.
1 Nephi 10:15 The phrases “for I have written” is the same in Hebrews 13:22 and “expedient for me” is the same in 2 Corinthians 12:1.
1 Nephi 10:17 Nephi says he desires to have a vision where he can see the same things as his father by the power of the Holy Ghost unto all who “diligently seek him” which is the same in Hebrews 11:6. Nephi will be granted that vision in our next lesson. The phrases “saw in a vision, and” is the same in Daniel 8:2 and “by the power of the Holy Ghost” is similar, to Romans 15:13.
1 Nephi 10:18 “For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever” is similar to Hebrews 13:8. “Prepared for all men, from the foundation of the world” is th e same in Matthew 25:34.
1 Nephi 10:19 “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them.” The Phrases “he that diligently seeketh” is the same in Proverbs 11:27 and “the Holy Ghost, as well” is the same as in Acts 10:47 and “in times of old” is the same in Psalm 44:1. The phrase “mysteries of God” is used twice by Paul and once by John in the New Testament. However, the Book of Mormon uses this phrase 8 times, as early as 600 BC.
Then, Nephi ends this chapter by cautioning the reader that there is no second chance for Salvation. Verses 20-21 “Therefore remember, O man, for all thy doings thou shalt be brought into judgment. Wherefore, if ye have sought to do wickedly in the days of your probation, then ye are found unclean before the judgment-seat of God; and no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.” Alma 34:32-35 also strongly warns that “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God.” However, modern-Mormonism teaches that those who have not heard and received the gospel while in mortality will have an opportunity to do so in the life hereafter. That is contrary to what the Book of Mormon teaches.
The Come Follow Me manual makes the statement that “Ancient prophets knew about Jesus Christ’s mission and testified of Him.” The title of “Christ” is from the Greek word “Khristos”, which is the translation of the Hebrew word “Messias” which means “anointed one.” The word “Christ” never appears in the Hebrew Old Testament, and we only see “Messias” used twice in the Greek New Testament. “Messias” is only mentioned twice in the entire Old Testament (Daniel 9:25-26). Yet, it is used 26 times in the Book of Mormon during the Old Testament era. The Greek term “Christ” is never used in the Old Testament. Yet, it is used 186 times in the Book of Mormon during the Old Testament era. In one instance, the name and title “Jesus Christ” is used two thousand years before He is ever born.
Linguistic anachronisms are a glaring issue in the Book of Mormon. So, we will have to get used to recognizing them throughout our study.
And this concludes our study for today. Please subscribe so you won’t miss any of our future episodes. You can catch us on YouTube, iTunes podcast, Spotify podcast, and Google podcast. Or, you can go to our website at Talking to Mormons.com where you can download this script and learn much more.
Remember – Jesus is all you need!
Until next time, God Bless!