There are 3 thoughts on “The Brass Plates Version of Genesis”.

  1. Raymond, excellent observation on the likelihood that there are further allusions by Nephi to Moses and the Exodus that may relate to the Book of Moses. See, for example, “‘Arise from the Dust’: Insights from Dust-Related Themes in the Book of Mormon (Part 1: Tracks from the Book of Moses)” which was published here at Interpreter in 2016. It build upon this outstanding work of Noel Reynolds and offers some additional parallels.

    Here is an excerpt:

    Reynolds’ article was encountered while searching for material related to the role of the Pentateuch’s Exodus account in the Book of Mormon. This came in the course of responding to a skeptic who had argued that the Arabian Peninsula evidence for the Book of Mormon could be dismissed since the Book of Mormon uses Exodus themes from the Old Testament that allegedly come from a “Priestly” source written after the Exile, making it impossible for Nephi to have used such material. While allusions to the Exodus and the apparent Priestly material in the Book of Mormon can be justified by the possibility of much earlier dates for the sources of those portions of the Old Testament,8 something seemed odd about Nephi’s wording in one of the key verses pointed to by the skeptic:9 “Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red Sea and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea” (1 Nephi 4:2; emphasis added).

    Nephi seems to be making an allusion to a text or tradition about the strength of Moses that would be readily recognized by his brethren, but nothing from the Old Testament directly supported the use of that specific term for Moses.10 A search in the kjv for the words strength or[Page 190] strong associated with Moses shows that the Pharaoh was strong (would use a “strong hand” in Exodus 6:1), that Joshua was commissioned to be strong (Deuteronomy 31:7, 23; Joshua 1:6–7), that the sea was strong (Exodus 14:27) as well as the wind (Exodus 10:19) — but not Moses. In fact, Moses is getting on in years, and in Exodus 17 the aging man needs the physical support of two other men to hold his staff up in the air during a battle. It is difficult to picture him as physically strong as the Exodus begins, so where did Nephi come up with the concept of Moses being strong? Further searching at this point led to Reynolds’ article, which motivated a look in the Book of Moses as a possible source (or rather, a text that might have common material with the brass plates).

    Two references to Moses receiving strength from the Lord were found in Moses 1:20–21. Then came a surprise in Moses 1:25: “And calling upon the name of God, he beheld his glory again, for it was upon him; and he heard a voice, saying: Blessed art thou, Moses, for I, the Almighty, have chosen thee, and thou shalt be made stronger than many waters; for they shall obey thy command as if thou wert God” (emphasis added).

    Moses, who had received strength from the Lord, would later be made even stronger than the many waters that he would cross. If something like the Book of Moses were on the brass plates, here we may have a possible source for Nephi’s allusion to the strength of Moses. This may strengthen the case Reynolds made in his publication, which did not include any aspect of strength in the many parallels he discussed. If the strength of Moses was found on the brass plates and in the Book of Moses, might there be other connections?

  2. In 1 Nephi 11:1 Nephi says that “as I sat pondering in mine heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord , yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I had never before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.” What follows is the detailed vision of future sacred history, including the vision of Jesus Christ.

    In Moses 1:1 the account of Moses’ revelations is introduced with “The words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain,”

    For some unknown reason, while there are citations to scriptures mentioning “mountains” footnoting the word “mountain” in both verses, neither of these verses refers to the other, even though these appear to be the only two places in scripture where the exact phrase “caught away” or “caught up” “into an exceedingly high mountain” is used to describe visionary experiences of the two prophets. If Nephi was familiar with the Book of Moses as the introduction to Genesis in the Brass Plates, by the time later in life when Nephi was recounting his vision, he surely was consciously quoting the first verse in Moses’ record in the first verse of his own visionary account.

    But I wonder if the connection between these two prophets is not even richer than that. We know that in his preaching to his brothers, Nephi repeatedly cited Moses and his leading the Israelites to their own promised land as an example that the family of Lehi, including his brothers Laman and Lemuel, should be following. Lehi is clearly the leader most identifiable with the Moses archetype, including suffering because of the rebellion of many in the family of Israel, even including the temporary rebellions by Moses’ older siblings, Aaron and MIriam, it is also clear that Nephi also takes on the attributes of Moses, most explicitly in taking his family to safety across dangerous waters.

    But even more, I note that we learn from D&C 84:6 that Moses was ordained “to the Holy Priesthood which he received under the hand of his father-in-law, Jethro”. Exodus 3:1 tells us that “Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of MIdian . . . and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.” Genesis tells us that Moses has his first encounter with God at the mountain Horeb, in the land of Midian. Midian on our Bible maps is a land at the eastern shore of the Red Sea at the Gulf of Aqaba. It is NOT in the Sinai Peninsula.

    The first chapters of 1 Nephi tell us that Lehi’s family camped in the Valley of Lemuel next to a perpetual stream he named Laman that flowed into the Red Sea. This described a place in the region that is labeled as Midian on our LDS Bible maps. My recollection is that the LDS people who first identified a particular location in northwest Arabia, called in New Testament times Arabia Felix (because it was more verdant), as a candidate for the River of Laman, related that they were told by their guide that the source of the stream was a group of natural springs called “the springs of Moses” because legend said that this was where Moses brought Israel to Horeb to meet God after they escaped from Egypt across the Red Sea.

    Natural springs usually result when rainwater accumulates in underground aquifers as natural reservoirs, underlain with an impermeable layer of clay, and then flows out at a point where the soil formation containing the aquifer is exposed at lower altitude. The springs that form the mountain streams in the Wasatch Mountains are fed by aquifers storing snowmelt. Similarly, the natural springs that feed the fruit trees and vines in the oasis in Oman that matches the description of Bountiful in the Arabian Peninsula, are fed by water that is accumulated in aquifers during the two annual monsoon seasons along the Indian Ocean coast. Springs are a corollary to mountains that capture precipitation.

    It seems likely to me that Lehi and Nephi were well aware that they were camping during that preparatory part of their journey in the land of Midian, the same area where Moses had his first encounter with God, and to which Moses led Israel after leading the Israelites through the Red Sea. It is therefore possible that the “exceedingly high mountain” that Nephi described was at least a neighbor to the one that Moses described, if not the same one.

    Just as Moses was given a staff with special properties, which later was used by Moses to display the brass serpent that Jesus identified as symbolic of himself as having the power to heal Israel, it was in this same area that Lehi was given the brass instrument called the Liahona that was also associated with their journey to the Promised Land.

    Finally, as the Book of Moses gives explicit teachings about the future atonement that would be wrought by Jesus Christ, it, and its companion teachings by Israelite prophets like Zenos, is clearly the source of the Nephites’ understanding of the…

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