There are 23 thoughts on ““The Time is Past”: A Note on Samuel’s Five-Year Prophecy”.

  1. I was wondering about the ha’ab with what is described as a 365 day year. Could it be that the 365 days is simply a shorthand for a year actually measured as 365.24+ days (an actual complete solar year)? Was there perhaps some intercalation or some other adjustment? Why be that accurate with the solar year without being more precise?

  2. Charles,

    Spackman has a website where he has posted what you are looking for and much more than he has published, you might want to check it out at:
    Basically, the proposition that I have put forth building on Spackman and as evidenced in the Caractors Document is that one of the pre-exilic Hebrew calendar was an uncorrected lunar calendar (there is no Biblical indication of a corrective leap month). Spackman calls this the Common Lunar calendar. Spackman solves the the 600 year prophesy problem this way. I take it further and explain that the other 400 year prophecies that don’t ‘work’ actually do work exactly when you realize that the change in calendar after Christ was born was a solar year calendar, which Spackman calls the “Civil Year.” However, the lunar prophetic calendar continues to run and is used and that is what is used for the 400 year prophecies. Different from the BOM, the Caractors Document gives the date of Christ’s coming to the Nephites in the Common Lunar calendar count. There is also evidence in the numeric glyph at Christ’s coming that one reason that the count was changed to a solar year was because Christ was considered a god of light (the sun), aka the Sun of Righteousness (I haven’t published that yet). In an upcoming publication I will show that the Jubilee festival count followed the Common Lunar calendar as well and continued pretty much all the way through the Book of Mormon. Anyway, we should keep in touch, as there are very few people who are researching BOM chronologies. If you want to provide me your email address you can do it through comment on my website at

    • Thank you for the Spackman pointer. Also, I have some information that may be of interest to you and is obviously supportive of your view. The Sun of Righteousness plays a role in the calendar – you get it and that is exciting to me. I was wondering how I could get you my email address and I appreciate your invitation. I’m sure the moderator will be relieved that we can take this discussion off line. 🙂

  3. 3 Nephi 2:9 immediately follows the calendar change and i indicates that at that time Nephi2 still had “charge of the records” and “could nowhere be found in all the land.” We know that prior to leaving Nephi2 had provided all the sacred records and items to Nephi3 (3 Nephi 1:2). Given the discussion of the records that went with Nephi2 in light of the calendar discussion and that fact that he had already disposed of the sacred records and items, this is the basis for the understanding that Nephi2 possessed the calendrical records. This is indirectly indicated by the fact that 3 Nephi 8:1-2 seems to be in defense of the subsequent day keepers accuracy, which appears to be in doubt.
    As far as the indication that Nephi3 was the day keeper referred to in 3 Nephi 8:1-2 the argument there is based on a couple of items mainly 1) if Nephi2 was the day keeper then one would expect that Nephi3 his son would be trained and assumed to take on that mantle and 2) in 3 Nephi 8:1-2 Mormon indicates that the day keeper “truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus” and was “cleaned every whit from his iniquity.” The primary individual meeting that criteria at that time was Nephi3 as he performed miracles (3 Nephi 7:19-20) and he had seen angels and the voice of the Lord (3 Nephi 7:15). There were some unidentified individuals who performed “some miracles” (3 Nephi 7:23) but these were converts just prior to the 3rd Nephi destruction, so no one from this group would be considered to be righteous day keepers that were in place in the prior 33 years since Christ’s birth. Nephi3 is the only one that meets the requirement of a continuously righteous day keeper from Christ’s birth to the point of Christ coming to the Nephites.

    • This seems to be a Laurel/Yanni thing. For me 3 Nephi 1:2 says Nephi3 has been given all the records, everything sacred – that would include the calendar information that must have been on the brass plates. Nephi3 knew when to expect the birth of the Lord. As a curiosity maybe Nephi2 determined the prophetic date of the birth of Christ before he left. This is different than being a day keeper whose responsibilities would include tracking the equinoxes and moon phases. I find it curious also that Nephi2 seems to have planned a ten-year mission. There’s no point to this comment, only an observation.

      I see 2:7 as the discussion has moved on to the ninth year and then in 2:8 there is a by-the-way, we changed our liturgical calendar. Whether Nephi2 or Nephi3 is ultimately in charge of the records Nephi3 has all the records and is at least temporarily in charge of them. In 2:9 the text returns to the chronological order and reports that Nephi2 has gone missing in the ninth year. As for 8:1-2, this is Nephi3 as an eye-witness reporter. He bears his testimony of the day keeper’s capacity. If Nephi3 counted the days personally why didn’t he say so? I think you’re being too limiting on the number of just men. You see Nephi3 in defense of the subsequent day keeper’s accuracy, which appears to be in doubt. I see Nephi3 expressing confidence in this remarkable man.

      • As far I know, I have never seen any evidence that the brass plates were being added to by tracking an ongoing calendar. Also in fact, I think there is some question as to whether Nephi3 did know precisely the day of Christ’s coming, that is why he had to go and pray to God to find out. Also, although conjecture, it is perhaps Nephi2’s absence that made the wicked able to assert that the proper day had passed without a credible defense from a respected day keeper.
        The Caractors Document is quite clear that the 9 year change was retroactive. Also I don’t think Nephi2 was taking a 10 year ‘vacation’, he probably left with some intent to return, after all, it just indicated that he was leaving the land of Zarahemla, not the Nephite polity, and everybody kept looking for him for nine years, so they were fully expecting him to return.
        Also as far as speaking in the first person, 3 Nephi is a recounting by Mormon (3 Nephi 26:8-12). Grant Hardy shows that Mormon’s construction of this portion of 3rd Nephi is done so as to characterize the events to mirror the recountings of Nephi1, Zenos, and Samuel (Understanding the Book of Mormon 188-190). Perhaps the reason that Mormon did not restate that Nephi3 was the day keeper was because this responsibility always passed from prophet to prophet, which is consistent with needing to track the specific prophetic calendar, which was likely different from the day to day calendar. Nowhere else is in the Book of Mormon is there any indication of a separate day keeper.
        I do think that there was an expression of confidence in a remarkable man, but it does seem to be discussed in a defensive tone. Anyway, I can see there are different interpretations here, but this is kind of my current point-of-view and the rationale for it. I’m not sure Neal Rappleye had any idea that the comment chain would get this far, but the exchange has been interesting, at least to me.

        • Sounds good. I’m pretty indifferent about the nine years unless someone wants to argue that this allowed an error to creep in to the birth of Christ calculations. We’ll have to agree to disagree about who the day keeper was – again not a big point. My claim remains that the 34th year and 4th day is a precise measurement of time based on an ancient Hebrew calendar and the day keeper got it right. I downloaded your Caractors Document book and may find time to read it. Presently I’m busy preparing a paper on the First Epistle of John and I’m in over my head scholastically (I’m a retired engineer – I read your bio). Perhaps we’ll run into each other at the FARMS symposium some time. Thanks for the discussion.

          • I’m not super passionate about the day keeper identity either tbh. I do agree with you about the dates being precise in line with a Hebrew calendar. I think that there may have been a prophecy we aren’t seeing or perhaps something significant about a Mesoamerican calendar date that caused Mormon to actually list such a precise date.

          • I just saw Randall Spackman’s dates for Christ’s birth and death in your book. I was amazed to see that Spackman was four days off from my birth calculations. He also has my year of death. I’m about 100% sure he wants Christ born on Passover. I say he was born on the day the lambs were set apart (4 days earlier). Isn’t it curious that he lived for 33 years and 4 days?He errs in the death date because the death date must be after the vernal equinox – he missed it by one lunar cycle. I tried to download Spackman’s paper from FARMS with no luck. Aargh! This place is like the Hotel California, I’ve checked out but I’m having trouble leaving.

  4. Jerry Grover – I think you are wrong regarding the daykeepers. Nephi2 and Nephi3 do not appear to be daykeepers. Nephi3 evidently has a daykeeper working for him in the man at 3 Nephi 8:1-3 and one supposes that his father would have had his own daykeeper. I don’t see any evidence in 3 Nephi 2:9 that the senior Nephi took the calendrical records with him.

  5. There is, in my opinion, at least one fatal flaw in this.
    Nephi3 calculated the day of Christ’s birth with only previous messianic prophecies and types available to him. Some of these prophecies we know were on the brass plates and they used a calendar that had no relation to the Mesoamerican calendars. Nephi’s daykeeper then calculated the day of the death of Christ precisely. That death aligned with the calendrical events in the Holy land. The tuns and haabs do not align. Based on this I claim that for religious purposes Nephi was using a calendar likely on the brass plates.
    Nephi is giving us a clue to the birth date of Christ by a Hebraic word play and Neal Rappleye caught part of it when he pointed out that the day to put to death the believers was ‘set apart’ by the unbelievers. This was intended as an ironic joke. That backfired on the unbelievers because Christ, the Lamb of God, was set apart (born) on that same day that lambs were set apart for the Passover in Jerusalem. That virtually demands that Samuel’s prophecy was based on a calendar available in Jerusalem.
    I hope someone here will engage with me on this argument.

    • I actually agree with you that the calendar here was the uncorrected Hebrew lunar calendar. The problem with trying to use Mesoamerican calendars for the year count is that it was continuously counted from the time the Lehites left Jerusalem. There was no indication that this calendar was modified until 9 years after Christ was born. There is no evidence that it was changed once they reached the New World.

      • I know that the people at Qumran were using a different calendar than John’s ‘Jews’ at the time of Christ. I suspect that the Jews called Jesus a Samaritan (John 8:48) because the Samaritans were using a different calendar than the Jews and Jesus may have been using their calendar. There is some evidence that John was using a different calendar than the Jews. So we may be dealing with two or three Hebrew calendar choices with John using one and the synoptics using another because they were targetting different audiences. John 8:48 is probably an example of Johannine irony (which John is known for).

  6. I don’t see why comparing and using different calendars is at all necessary.
    Samuel came in the 86th year. He is rejected and leaves. He is told that more teaching is required of him and commanded to return and teach more.
    This makes the scenario for the prophecy, seem to be in the latter half of the 86th year.
    Prefacing the prophecy Samuel states that 5 years more cometh and then cometh the Son of God. So Samuel is stating that 5 years are going to pass by, and then sometime after the passing of those 5 years, a sign will be given to signify that the Son of God has come to the earth.
    To me this plainly points to the fact that the sign can not come any sooner than after the completion of the 5th year and the sixth year from the date of the prophesy has begun.

  7. Another thought, if one subscribes to the 365 day haab as the Nephite calendar at that particular time (I actually don’t) than another explanation might be that the 52 year calendar cycle occurred in one of the years intervening between the prophecy and Christ’s birth, with a 13 day corrective subtraction to the haab calendar as some assert the Maya did. That would also provide a difference in time between the calendar year and the actual years that passed.

    • In a Mesoamerican setting, there is no reason to assume exclusive calendars. There could be different calendars used for different reasons. I suspect that was what Neal was alluding to. There were more ways than one to count years, and depending upon which was in use, there might be differences.

      As for the Nephite calendar, it seems logical that it began with the Jewish lunar year. However, there is no reason to believe that it persisted for a thousand years when all other peoples used different counts. Even among the Nephites, they reset their calendars to different start dates twice after the “from the time of departure” original resetting of the beginning. At the beginning of the reign of judges there was a new count, and again with the signs of Christ’s birth.

      There are quite a number of ways in which the ways years are used in the text strongly hint at a Mesoamerican influence (particularly in the use of base 20 significant numbers). Mormon often manipulated his text to fit desirable numbers–but those numbers were desirable from a Mesoamerican viewpoint, not a Jewish one.

      While there is certainly an ability to use Hebrew, the text say that while they could have written in Hebrew they did not. They might have counted in Hebrew lunar years, but that doesn’t mean that it had to be their main system after separating from others using that system for hundreds of years. The logical persistence of Old World culture is that it had to have diminished impact over time and influence from the larger populations. Arguments that require an explanation on the basis of Hebrew language or culture really require explanation rather than assumption.

      • You said – Arguments that require an explanation on the basis of Hebrew language or culture really require explanation rather than assumption.

        I agree that the calendar used prophetically was not the main system. That said, the Nephites claimed to practice the Law of Moses for more than 600 years after they left Jerusalem. They needed a liturgical calendar to do that. That the birth and death of Christ aligned with their expectations seems to be strong and likely unassailable evidence that the liturgical calendar was ancient Hebrew. We know that this calendar began in the Spring because Christ died four days after the adjusted New Year of this calendar. I believe that this calendar was different from the calendar used for their mundane world (which, if I recall correctly, you said began in the early winter – I’m good with that). I do not believe the reigns of the judges changed the New Year for the liturgical calendar. That only changed with the birth of Christ and only by a few days from the original liturgical calendar New Year.

      • At some future point I would like to publish an extensive evaluation of the Book of Mormon chronologies as it requires one to go into a lot of detail to lay out all the possibilities. According to what I believe is currently indicated, and somewhat supported by Spackman is the following religious and political calendars and their measurement:
        Primarily religious Lehi departure calendar — uncorrected lunar calendar (600 years from departure to Christ’s birth)
        Political reign of the kings calendar — uncorrected lunar calendar (55 years after departure to 509 years after departure). The reign of the kings calendar had a subperiod of Nephi kings that officially ended after arrival in Zarahemla, 399 years after departure. Then began the next subperiod, called the Seven Tribes subperiod, which ended with king Benjamin at 475 years after departure.
        Political reign of judges calendar — uncorrected lunar calendar which runs from 509 after departure to the ascension of Christ.
        Overall religious 1000 year prophetic calendar – uncorrected lunar calendar which includes the Lehi departure calendar, the 5 and 400 year prophecy calendar count by Samuel the Lamanite, the 400 year Alma prophecy count, and the Jubilee festival calendar.
        Coming of Christ political calendar – solar year calendar that runs from Christ’s birth to the end of the Book of Mormon.
        There is a Fourth Generation prophecy but does not appear to be a calendar count.
        Just like we find the Jubilee festival calendar embedded in the Book of Mormon text but not overtly identified there, I think with some further analysis, we may be able to find traces of cultural Mesoamerican calendar cycles (52 year, 19 year, katun, tuns, etc.). As Brant Gardner indicates the presence of Mesoamerican elements, even within the Nephite calendar which maintains the original lunar calendar count are found Mesoamerican elements such as the 5 year and two 400 year prophecies.
        In an upcoming publication I will be demonstrating the influence of Mesoamerican and Hebrew sacred numbers embedded in the Nephite number system and even some of the BOM year count patterns.

  8. In Jerry Grover’s translation of the caractor document, it describes that “Sixty and one half months (prior to the Coming of Christ) — Samuel the Lamanite came to the Nephites and
    the Lamanites”. Unfortunately, it’s not clear how long these months are as used by the Nephites.

    However, Mr. Grover adds the following commentary:

    The 5-year prophecy to Christ’s birth made by Samuel the Lamanite is reflected by a time period of 60 and ½
    months according to the Caractors document, indicating 12 months per year under the Common Lunar Calendar as
    Spackman surmised. This is not necessarily something new, since there are no months listed in the Book of
    Mormon above the eleventh, but it had not been verified calendrically that it was in fact a 12-month year using
    month counts. The extra half month noted in the Caractors document could also help explain (along with the
    passage of the 600-year period) the argument that occurred just prior to Christ’s birth that the day that was
    prophesied had already passed (3 Nephi 1:5-7):
    5 But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were
    spoken by Samuel, the Lamanite.
    6 And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are
    not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain.
    7 And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed
    began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.
    In addition, the Caractors document provides clear evidence that the calendar that was followed during this time
    period was the Common Lunar Calendar with no attempted corrections to the solar year. A corrected (intercalated)
    calendar was used by the ancient Hebrews that involved an additional month being added to the year every two or
    three years to keep it in sync with the solar calendar. As mentioned, the 12-moon lunar calendar has about
    354.367 days, whereas the solar year has 365.242 days per year, meaning the calendar difference is 10.875 days
    between the two different year measurements. If there were corrections being made by adding an additional
    month to correct the calendar, the 5-year prophecy made by Samuel the Lamanite would require that an additional
    54.36 days be added, which under the most minimal scenario would have required at least one additional month to
    be added making a total of 61 months. Since there is no addition of a corrective month, we know that approach
    was not used.

    Things to ponder.

  9. I very much appreciate Neal Rappleye’s excellent essay, which is clearly in the tradition of the efforts to understand the contents of the Book of Mormon that drove the remarkable efforts of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (aka FARMS) before the hostile takeover by those determined to move in a different direction.

  10. Interesting and well thought out analysis. I think the text seems to indicate that the prophecy was made at the very end of the 86th year and could even be interpreted that it occurred overlapping into the 87th year. It says he initially “came into the land” sometime in the 86th year, he then preached “many days,” he was then cast out, and then he returned again and got up onto the wall and prophecied. There was no intervening events before it states “And thus ended” the 86th year (Helaman 16:9). Also, throughout the Book of Mormon, when noting a year change, it does not generally significantly interrupt the specific story, episode or event being recounted by Mormon. Since it is not expected that every story, event, and episode would fit nicely between each new year’s day, with many overlapping, the term “and thus ended,” does not seem to imply a hard cut-off of the episode recounted just before that statement, it just seems to indicate the story or episode being recounted started in the previous year. In fact, the perceived defugalty of the 92nd year may instead be further evidence of this textual feature.
    Another thought to consider is the fact that the Nephites seemed to perhaps be in a calendrical panic as their daykeeper Nephi disappeared in the 91st year, and while leaving the sacred records and things, took the calendrical records with him (3 Nephi 2:9) as they were still looking for Nephi. This did seem to be a problem as they were still looking for him and the records nine years later. It seems that his son Nephi, the new daykeeper, caused some doubt in the accuracy of the record (3 Nephi 8:1-2).
    Anyway, just some thoughts of some different possible interpretations of the text.

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