There are 8 thoughts on ““If Ye Will Hearken”: Lehi’s Rhetorical Wordplay on Ishmael in 2 Nephi 1:28–29 and Its Implications”.

  1. Matthew

    As always, your article was insightful. I would not have made that connection with Ishmael’s name.

  2. Do the conditionality of the blessings bestowed upon Laman, Lemuel and the posterity of Ishmael become part of the Nephites later justification for their political leadership? Do the Nephites later consider themselves exempt from spiritual obedience because of Lehi’s patriarchal blessings, or does their disobedience curse them as much as the others when they too backslide?

    • Hi Keith! Yes. It is not difficult to see a misreading of Nephi’s small plates (and the reasons that he gives therein for his right to rule) behind the Nephite exceptionalism of Mosiah II’s time and later (e.g., Nephi, son of Helaman’s/Samuel the Lamanite’s time). The prophets, of course, recognized that Nephite disobedience brought about a curse commensurate with blessings previously bestowed. Nephi “chosenness” seems to have been viewed by some Nephites as something akin to the apparently “unconditional” Davidic dynastic promise of 2 Samuel 7. Mormon and his predecessors, of course, viewed that “chosenness” very differently.


  3. Matthew, I find this really intriguing, the idea of obedience tied together with hearkening, and even hearing. As you noted: “Thus ‘obedience’ means to be in a state of ‘hearing’ or ‘hearkening.'” And it is our being in this state that is critical to our being in the presence of the Lord, and receiving of His rest.

    We often think of obedience to commandments as doing outward things that will gain us favor with the Lord, but being in a state of “hearing” may also be obedience. I love that. Occasionally it is taught that we should save a space in our prayer simply to hear, to listen, for God to speak to us. As you note, this might actually be more of a “feeling” than a voice (pre-linguistic). I think this finds a strong correlation with meditative and contemplative traditions in their practices of stilling the mind and developing heightened conscious awareness and mental observation and introspection in order to commune with God. Perhaps it is in this “hearing” state of mind and consciousness that we can come to know God.

    President David O. McKay once taught: “We pay too little attention to the value of meditation, a principle of devotion… Meditation is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: David O. McKay, 2011, 29–37.

    Perhaps we do too much talking and asking, and not enough hearing/hearkening (obeying) in our own spiritual and prayerful practices, today. Perhaps more hearing and listening, silence and stillness, would bring us closer to God’s presence and communion with Him, even into His peace and rest.

    • Thank you, Bryce! Well said. One of the most important texts in Judaism to this day is the “Shema” (“hear!”) — “Hear [šĕmaʿ], O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). The kind of “hearing” we are talking about is illustrated in 3 Nephi 11:3-7: “And it came to pass that while they were thus conversing one with another, they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn. And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not. And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came. And behold, the third time they did understand the voice which they heard; and it said unto them: Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name—hear ye him.” When the Lord commands us to “see” and “hear,” he wants us to do so in the truest sense.

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