© 2023 The Interpreter Foundation. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
All content by The Interpreter Foundation, unless otherwise specified, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available here.
Interpreter Foundation is not owned, controlled by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All research and opinions provided on this site are the sole responsibility of their respective authors, and should not be interpreted as the opinions of the Board, nor as official statements of LDS doctrine, belief or practice.
Hi Martin. I imagine that Jacob wrote many texts during his ministry that we do not have, and that toward the end of his ministry he chose those texts that most pleased him to be inscribed on the plates. So, his final chapter about Sherem could have been written as an afterthought, or perhaps better, a concluding thought. That means that the superscription to his book could have been written after chapter 1 was originally authored, but before it was inscribed on the plates.
I do recommend the book on Jacob by Deidre Nicole Green. She talks about how Sherem is a blessing that Jacob prayed for and that Sherem is Jacob’s equal. I was surprised to see you right that Sherem was cut-off. Jacob 7 has many themes consistent with the redemption of Israel. It is struck down, nursed etc… Sherem is honored with the last testimony in the book and all the Nephites have a spiritual experience. This is reminiscent of Nephi mentioning that perhaps all can be saved. I would say Sherem was the opposite of cut-off just as Saul was not cut-off.
Martin, thanks for your comment. I am familiar with Green’s work. In my opinion, the idea that the story of Sherem is one of redemption is merely wishful thinking. Jacob – the author and principle voice of the story – needs to be heard. His final word on the matter (verse 23), following Sherem’s death, was that the people “hearkened no more to the words of this wicked man.” If this were intended to be a story of Sherem’s redemption why would Jacob have finished his account by calling Sherem “this wicked man”? That would make no sense. If you are right, a more fitting closing would have been “hearkened no more to the words of this man who finally saw the error of his ways.”
Thank you for replying so graciously. Rereading your text and the chapter regarding “confess” being different than “know” is a great point. It is also very insightful to view Sherem as a Deuteronomist… I guess he is not as belligerent to ask for a sign as we tend to think. Although that brings into question his upbringing as supposedly the brass plates had an Elohist perspective. Thank you for the comparative analysis on “came among”.
I would bring up that because Jacob 6 seems to have an end Jacob 7 seems to be written as an afterthought or an update after several years. However that cannot be the case because Sherem is alluded to in the superscription before Jacob 1.
Jacob must have been writing his whole book all along intending to end with the story of Sherem. I presume then that earlier themes echo and resonate in the story of Sherem. I presume this is the point: Jacob shows us one way “peace and the love of God was restored again among the people.” However, I would be interested in any thoughts you have about if and how Jacob 7 ties into the rest of Jacob.
Thanks again. With Sherem saying that he feared his “case was awful” I thought he was a type of Israel who also may think they are cast off forever (but they are not). So I agree that the text suggests Sherem is still wicked I was being overly hopeful.
I wonder if Jacob 7 is presented as a case study to the question: “how is it possible that these, after having rejected the sure foundation, can ever build upon it, that it may become the head of their corner?” If it is, perhaps it is the Nephite people that are redeemed in this case (not Sherem).
I hope that makes sense and thank you for writing.
Nicely argued and informative. As the one who originally suggested that Sherem could be a Mulekite trader, a 2004 speculation influenced by Sorenson’s JBMS 1 essay (which covered a far wider range of insights than the one about Sherem and remains a useful and groundbreaking effort, though as always, not the final word on everything) I found the arguments insightful and helpful. Another part of my original thinking in this case was that “Sherem had a perfect knowlege of the language of the people.” (Jacob 7:4). One notable quirk of the index to the 1979 LDS edition of the Scriptures is that the entry for Language (page 202) only emphasizes those instances in which dialect (such as Hebrew or Egyptian) and not when “language” refers to the ideas and topics and attitudes people express orally and in print. I’ve since then before more sensitive to the implications and import of the second meaning.
Congratulations on your published article!
I very much appreciated the structural literary approach that you presented to support your ideas. I have been focusing on this approach for the last eight years.
I would like to include some of the proposals in your article in notes to my Covenant Record of Christ’s People.
I am posting updated volumes in January, but you can view what I have on my website: http://www.alancminer.com
I would very much like to communicate with you.
Have a nice day,
Thank you! I very much enjoyed the read. At first I was reluctant, saying to myself, not another one on Sherem! I don’t remember but there was one article that tried to make Jacob the bad guy. I could not accept that view point. Your approach to the relationship is refreshing.
This was a good read. The idea of Sherem having talked to Jacob in previous encounters gives a simplicity to the story that rings true.
Well researched, well reasoned, and convincing.