There are 10 thoughts on ““I Kneeled Down Before My Maker”: Allusions to Esau in the Book of Enos”.

  1. Very interesting paper, Matt. I think your argument of wordplay on the names of Jacob by Enos is strengthened by the fact that forms of ‘wrestle’ only appear twice in the Book of Mormon–once for Enos’s ‘wrestle…before God’ and once when Alma is later ‘wrestling with God.’ Similarly, forms of ‘struggle’ only appear 10 times in the Book of Mormon–3 of which are in Enos. These are not commonly used words.

    • Thank you, Stan! That is a great point. I think it is also interesting that Enos never specifies the one with whom he wrestles. The Genesis 32 narrative says that a “man” (ʾîš) wrestled with Jacob and that he “struggled” with God [or gods] and men (ʾănāšîm, “Enoses”) and prevailed. The “man” that Enos wrestled with, appropriately, was himself (ʾĕnôš = man), but he learned that his Maker would remake him into something like himself (cf. Esau, “made” – “make”). It is interesting that as we “wrestle” and “struggle” to become reconciled to our enemies (“embrace” them), we become more like God and Christ who have perfect love even for those who hate and curse them. The transformation of Jacob and Esau evident in Genesis 33 always touches me.

  2. Great article. I will never read the Book of Enos the same way again. Since the Brass Plates would have been among the few, if it were not the only book the Nephites possessed, the Old Testament narratives in that book (with their endemic allusions and word play) surely shaped Enos’s view of the world. We should expect to find him inscribing himself into Old Testament narratives as he recounts his own life. They were his only literary model. And the story of Isaac, Esau, and Jacob would have seemed especially relevant to Enos.

    A detail pertinent to the analysis in this article is the fact that Jacob was very, very old when Enos was born. Enos says, 1: 24, that by the end of his life, 179 years had passed since Lehi left Jerusalem. Jacob was born, at the latest, 8 years after Lehi’s departure. Jacob and Enos overlap, probably by at least 5 and more likely 8 or 10 years. Thus, a conservative estimate makes Jacob well in excess of 80 years old and possibly 90 or more when Enos was born. So the Genesis description of aged Isaac would have fit Jacob very well when Enos knew him and would have increase the perceived relevance of the story to the life of Enos.

    The 179 years make it a near certainty that Jacob had passed away when Enos went to the forest to hunt and, there, awakened spiritually. So Enos could not literally claim his birthright under Jacob’s hand because Jacob had passed away. But he could do so symbolically by echoing biblical passages in which the aged Isaac laid hands upon the head of his two sons. The divide between the biblical Esau and Jacob reflects a divide in the soul of Enos (and all of us) between the natural and spiritual man. As the many leveled analysis in the article suggests, we are charged to receive (and Enos does receive) the birthright blessing that he inherits from Abraham, Isaac, and both Jacobs, but still more from Elohim and Jehovah.

    • “And I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son Enos: Take these plates. And I told him the things which my brother Nephi had commanded me, and he promised obedience unto the commands.” (Jacob 7:27)

      Although the “birthright” is not specifically mentioned, it is implied in the passing of the spiritual and physical baton from Jacob to Enos.

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think there is another structural element in Enos. If I have it correctly, the OT divided mankinds’ covenant obligation into three basic parts.
    (1) Duty to God, “Torah Brit:” “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might and with all thy strength.”
    (2) Duty to fellow believers, “Brit Chesed:” “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
    (3) Duty to unbelievers, “Tikkun Olam:” “do good to them which dispitfully use thee.” Be an example to the world.
    It looks like Enos hits all three of these. First he prays for the welfare of his own soul, then for his fellow Nephites, and then for the Lamanites.

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