The Two-Part Pattern of Heavenly and Ritual Ascent

Book of Moses Essay #32

Moses 1

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

In a previous Essay,1  we discussed similarities and differences between heavenly ascent, an actual encounter with Deity within the heavenly temple,2  and ritual ascent, a figurative journey into the presence of God such as the one experienced in earthly temples.

In this Essay, we will introduce the general two-part narrative pattern of departure and return used in ancient and modern literature. We then illustrate how narratives of heavenly and ritual ascent often conform to a similar two-part structure of descent and ascent—a down-road followed by an up-road. Recognizing this pattern can help us better identify the intended narrative structure of the Book of Moses. In particular, it allows us to see Moses 2–8 as a sequence of illustrative stories that relate to ritual descent and ascent in the temple, and also to see analogous elements in Moses 1, which offers an account of literal heavenly descent and ascent.

The Two-Part Narrative Pattern of Departure and Return

The story of Adam and Eve’s departure from and return to the Garden of Eden parallels a common three-part pattern in ancient Near Eastern writings: departure from home, mission abroad, and happy homecoming.3  The pattern is at least as old as the Egyptian story of Sinuhe from 1800 BCE4  and can be seen again in scriptural accounts of Israel’s apostasy and return5 as well as in the lives of biblical characters such as Jacob.6  The theme appears in modern literature as often as it did in those times.7

To the ancients, however, it was more than a mere storytelling convention, since it reflected a sequence of events common in widespread ritual practices for priests and kings.8  More generally, it is the story of the plan of salvation in miniature, as seen from the personal perspective. This pattern can be found in the Savior’s parables of the Prodigal Son9  and the Good Samaritan.10  The life of Jesus Christ Himself also followed this two-part pattern perfectly, though, unlike ordinary mortals, He was without sin: “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.”11

No poem expresses the theme of mankind’s mortal passage and return to a celestial home more movingly than Eliza R. Snow’s O My Father.12  Latter-day Saints will also find resonance in an apocryphal account that is known today as The Hymn of the Pearl. John W. Welch and James Garrison aptly described the Hymn as “an ancient counterpart to ‘O My Father.’”13  It appears as part of a larger work of New Testament Apocrypha called the Acts of Thomas14  and was very popular among early Christians. Briefly, the story describes heavenly parents who send their son on a journey to recover a pearl. The pearl represents his soul. They clothe him with special clothing and give him special food. While on his journey (which represents earth life), he forgets his mission. They send a messenger who causes him to remember his mission, and he returns to receive heavenly glory and to live again with his divine parents.

Margaret Barker describes how the thinking of early Christians applied this pattern to the story of Adam and Eve, and how it may have reflected their own hopes for a return to the original faith, the authentic priesthood, and the true temple:

The Christian vision reverses the story in Genesis 1–3, and has humans restored to Eden. … Adam was remembered as the first high priest, and Jesus was described as the new Adam. The Christians remembered and hoped for the earlier Eden—the true temple—and saw themselves returning to the place and the priesthood from which they had been driven. This was their world view.15

The Two-Part Narrative Pattern of Ritual Descent and Ascent in the Temple

When seen in detail, the narrative pattern that accompanies ritual ascent is more complex than a simple, unbroken rise to glory. As it turns out, there are two main parts to the story: ritual ascent is preceded by ritual descent. For example, the Latter-day Saint temple endowment opens part one of the story with a recital of the events of Creation.16  Notably, the pattern of beginning with the beginning—an explicit telling of the Creation—is a near universal feature of temple rites throughout the ancient Near East.17

After a recital of the Creation, part 1 of the endowment continues with an account of the Fall of Adam and Eve and then, in part 2, concludes with the story of their upward journey back to the presence of the Father.18  This approach to teaching the plan of salvation emphasizes what Elder Bruce R. McConkie called the “three pillars” of eternity—the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It appears throughout modern scripture and in the temple.19

Figure 2. Adapted from Michael P. Lyon, 1952–: Sacred Topography of Eden and the Temple, 1994. The outbound journey of the Creation and the Fall at left is mirrored in the inbound journey of the temple at right.

Building on the “three pillars” outline of the plan of salvation, Latter-day Saint scholar Donald W. Parry has shown that the outbound journey of the Creation and the Fall is mirrored in the inbound journey of the temple.20  The Garden of Eden can be seen as a natural “temple,” where Adam and Eve lived in God’s presence for a time. Significantly, each major feature of Eden (e.g., the river, the cherubim, the Tree of Knowledge, the Tree of Life) corresponds to a similar symbol in the Israelite temple (e.g., the bronze laver, the cherubim, the veil,21  the menorah22).

Thus, the course taken by the Israelite high priest through the temple can be seen as symbolizing the journey of the Fall of Adam and Eve in reverse. In other words, just as the route of Adam and Eve’s departure from Eden led them eastward past the cherubim with the flaming swords and out of the sacred garden into the mortal world, so in ancient times the high priest would return westward from the mortal world, past the consuming fire, the cleansing water, the woven images of cherubim on the temple veils, and, finally, back into the presence of God.23  “Thus,” according to Parry, the high priest has returned “to the original point of creation, where he pours out the atoning blood of the sacrifice, reestablishing the covenant relationship with God.”24

About the journey made within the temple, Hugh Nibley explained:25

Properly speaking, one did not go “through” the temple—in one door and out another—for one enters and leaves by the same door, but by moving in opposite directions. … The Two Ways of Light and Darkness are but one way after all, as the wise Heraclitus said: “The up-road and the down-road are one”26 ; which one depends on the way we are facing.27

 

In remarkable consistency with this pattern, both the Book of Moses and the modern temple endowment relate how the posterity of Adam and Eve trace the footsteps of their first parents—initially, as they are sent away from Eden, and later, in their subsequent journey of return and reunion.28  Chapters 2–4 of the Book of Moses tell the story of the Creation and the “down-road” of the Fall, while chapters 5–8 follow the journey of Adam and Eve and the righteous branches of their posterity along the “up-road” enabled by the Atonement.29  In the Book of Moses, the “up-road” is called the “way of the Tree of Life”30 —signifying the path that leads to the presence of God and the sweet fruit held in reserve for the righteous in the day of resurrection.

Heavenly Descent and Ascent in Moses 1

Several of the individual episodes in Moses 1 are well known to students of the Book of Moses—Moses’ confrontation with Satan,31  his comprehensive vision of the earth and all its inhabitants,32  and God’s declaration about His “work and glory.”33  Yet how all these pieces join beautifully into a coherent whole has been generally underappreciated.

At first glance, some elements of the vision might appear to be repetitive. For example, at the beginning of his vision, Moses saw the “world … and all the children of men” (Moses 1:8). Then, near the end of the vision, he seems to have experienced the same thing again when he saw the “earth, and … the inhabitants thereof” (Moses 1:27–29). Why is this so?

Figure 3. The Two-Part Narrative Structure of Moses 1.

The answer to this question becomes apparent when one realizes that the two-part narrative pattern of descent followed by ascent is just as operative in the account of literal heavenly ascent in Moses 1 as it is in the account of ritual ascent in Moses 2–8 (see the figure above). The prophet’s experience in Moses 1 was a tutorial on the plan of salvation from a personal perspective, including his departure from God’s presence in the beginning and his glorious return to that presence in the end through his faithfulness. Thus, in verse 8, early on in the vision, it appears that Moses saw the premortal world and all the spirits that God had created (compare Abraham 3:22–23). Later, in verses 27–29, he seems to have experienced a view from heaven of the mortal earth and all its inhabitants.

Each element of the narrative structure of Moses 1, as informed by our understanding of the two-part structure of the narrative, is summarized below:34

Prologue (vv. 1–2).35  The opening verses to Moses 1 provide what Bible scholar Laurence Turner calls an “announcement of plot”36 —a brief summary of the most important events that will take place in the rest of the story. In this case, the prologue declares that Moses will be “caught up” to “an exceedingly high mountain” where he will receive the glory of God and, after conversing with Him face to face, will enter into His presence.37

Moses in the spirit world (vv. 3–8).38  Following the prologue, Moses was given a description of God’s attributes and a confirmation of Moses’ own foreordained calling and status as a “son” of God “in the similitude of [the] Only Begotten.”39  He was then shown the “world upon which he was created”—which appears to refer to the preexistent spirit realm40 —and “all the children of men which are, and which were created”41 —which appears to correspond to the view of premortal organized intelligences given in the Book of Moses’ vision of Enoch42  and in the Book of Abraham.43  Note that precedents for similar visions of “the children of men” in their premortal state are not confined to Latter-day Saint scripture, but are also attested in Jewish and Islamic tradition.

Moses falls to the earth (vv. 9–11).44  Having left the presence of God and no longer being clothed with His glory, Moses fell to the earth—meaning literally that he collapsed in weakness and figuratively that he descended again to the relative darkness of the telestial world. In this way, his experience recapitulated the journey of Adam and Eve as they left the Garden of Eden, “landing” on earth “as a natural man,” as Nibley put it.45  Moses was then left to himself to be tested in a dramatic encounter with Satan.46

Moses defeats Satan (vv. 12–23).47  Satan tempted Moses—now in a physically weakened state—to worship him. A context of priesthood ordinances is implied, as we will argue in more detail below. For example, having banished Satan by calling upon the name of the Only Begotten48  (a motif that precedes baptism in some ancient Christian sources49), Moses was immediately afterward “filled with the Holy Ghost.”50

Moses calls upon God and is answered by a voice from behind the heavenly veil (vv. 24–26).51  Having continued to press forward, Moses “call[ed] upon the name of God”52  in sacred prayer. Since the moment he “fell to the earth,” Moses could no longer speak face to face with the Lord, having been “shut out from his presence.”53  Following his prayer, however, Moses was answered by a voice from behind the heavenly veil enumerating specific blessings, including the promise that his commands would be obeyed “as if thou wert God.”54

At the heavenly veil, Moses sees the earth and all its inhabitants (vv. 27–29).55 While “the [divine] voice was still speaking,”56 Moses was permitted to pass through the heavenly veil and, from within, look downward and outward toward God’s handiwork. He beheld every particle of the earth, all of its inhabitants, and “many lands; … each … called earth.”57

Moses stands in the presence of the Lord (vv. 30–39).58  The culminating sequence of the ascension begins in verse 31 after Moses, having continued to inquire of the Lord,59  came to stand in His presence. God spoke with Moses face to face, describing His purposes for this earth and its inhabitants.60  Moses was then shown the events of the Creation, the Fall, and the manner by which the Plan of Redemption was given to Adam and Eve. From Moses 1:40, it appears that Moses was commanded to record an account something like, but arguably not identical to, what we have today as chapters 2–5 of the Book of Moses.

Epilogue (vv. 40–42).61  The epilogue in the final verses of Moses 1 describes the loss and restoration of the story of Moses 1, followed by language that retrospectively mirrors verse 1 and warns that the words of Moses’ vision should not be shown “unto any except them that believe.”62

In subsequent Essays,63  each element of the narrative structure outlined above will be discussed one by one in more detail. But first, in the next Essay, we will outline how Moses 1, in likeness to other ancient texts, functions as a “missing” prologue to Genesis.

 

This article is adapted and updated from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. “The LDS book of Enoch as the culminating story of a temple text.” BYU Studies 53, no. 1 (2014): 39–73. http://www.templethemes.net/publications/140224-a-Bradshaw.pdf, pp. 44-47. (accessed September 19, 2017).

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 36–39.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Temple Themes in the Book of Moses. 2014 update ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Publishing, 2014, pp. 17–22.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. “The LDS book of Enoch as the culminating story of a temple text.” BYU Studies 53, no. 1 (2014): 39–73. http://www.templethemes.net/publications/140224-a-Bradshaw.pdf, pp. 44-47. (accessed September 19, 2017).

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 18–19.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, pp. 193–194, 204.

References

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———. The Revelation of Jesus Christ: Which God Gave to Him to Show to His Servants What Must Soon Take Place (Revelation 1.1). Edinburgh, Scotland: T&T Clark, 2000.

———. Temple Theology. London, England: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), 2004.

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Beale, Gregory K. The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God. New Studies in Biblical Theology 1, ed. Donald A. Carson. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004.

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———. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. https://archive.org/details/140123IGIL12014ReadingS.

———. “The LDS book of Enoch as the culminating story of a temple text.” BYU Studies 53, no. 1 (2014): 39-73. https://byustudies.byu.edu/article/the-lds-story-of-enoch-as-the-culminating-episode-of-a-temple-text/ ; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjUToZa-e8U. (accessed November 29, 2020).

———. Temple Themes in the Book of Moses. 2014 update ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Publishing, 2014. https://archive.org/details/150904TempleThemesInTheBookOfMoses2014UpdatedEditionSReading ; http://www.templethemes.net/books/171219-SPA-TempleThemesInTheBookOfMoses.pdf.

———. Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. 2014 update ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. https://archive.org/details/151128TempleThemesInTheOathAndCovenantOfThePriesthood2014Update ; https://archive.org/details/140910TemasDelTemploEnElJuramentoYElConvenioDelSacerdocio2014UpdateSReading. (accessed November 29, 2020).

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Notes on Figures

Figure 1. Public domain, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/AshburnPenatuchtFolio076rMosesReceivingLaw.jpg. Bibliothèque Nationale, nouv. acq. lat., no. 2334, folio 76 recto.

Figure 2. Published in D. W. Parry, Garden, pp. 134–135. We have modified Lyon’s original drawing by moving the Tree of Life to the top of the mountain. It was originally placed slightly downhill. For the rationale for this modification, see J. M. Bradshaw, Tree of Knowledge.

Footnotes

 

1See Essay #31.

2See J. A. Parry et al., Temple in Heaven.

3A. Gileadi, Literary, p. 12.

4J. B. Pritchard, ANET, pp. 18-22.

5J. E. Coleson, Life Cycle; J. B. Pritchard, ANET; A. Gileadi, Decoded; S. D. Ricks, Prophetic.

6Genesis 27–33.

7N. Frye, Secular Scripture.

8See e.g., D. E. Callender, Adam, pp. 211-218. From a ritual perspective, these three parts correspond to van Gennep’s classic stages of separation (préliminaire), transition (liminaire), and reintegration (postliminaire) (A. van Gennep, Rites, pp. 11).

9Luke 15:11–32. See R. L. Millet, Lost; M. R. Linford, Parable.

10Luke 10:29–37. See J. W. Welch, Samaritan (1999); J. W. Welch, Samaritan (2007).

11John 16:28.

12Hymns (1985), Hymns (1985), #292.

13J. W. Welch et al., Pearl.

14E. Hennecke et al., Acts of Thomas. A readable summary of the account is given by Hugh Nibley (H. W. Nibley, Treasures, pp. 177–178. For his more detailed translation and summary, see H. W. Nibley, Message (2005), pp. 487–501). Nibley’s summary is also reprinted in J. M. Bradshaw, Moses Temple Themes (2014), pp. 20–22.

15M. Barker, Temple Theology, pp. 4, 7; see also M. Barker, Revelation, pp. 20, 327.

16See, e.g., J. E. Talmage, House of the Lord (1971), p. 83.

17See, e.g., J. H. Walton, Ancient, pp. 123–127; H. W. Nibley, Meanings and Functions, pp. 1460–1461. For more on the structure and function of the story of Creation found in Genesis 1 and arguably used in Israelite temple liturgy, see, e.g., J. H. Walton, Lost World of Genesis One; M. S. Smith, Priestly Vision. W. P. Brown, Seven Pillars, provides perspectives on other biblical accounts of creation. See J. H. Walton, Genesis 1, pp. 17–22, for a useful table that highlights similarities and differences among creation accounts in the ancient Near East. Cf. W. P. Brown, Seven Pillars, pp. 21–32.

18See, e.g., J. E. Talmage, House of the Lord (1971), p. 83.

19See, e.g., 2 Nephi 2:22–26; Alma 18:36, 39; 22:13; Mormon 9:12, Doctrine and Covenants 20:17–18, 20–25; Moses 6:54–59; Articles of Faith 1:1–3. This “Christ-centered” presentation of the plan of salvation, consistent with temple patterns of teaching, is a stark contrast to the “location-centered” diagram that is used widely in classroom settings to illustrate the sequence of events that chart the journey of individuals from premortality to the resurrection. As Nathan Richardson observed (N. Richardson, Two Views; N. Richardson, Three Pillars), something essential is missing in the latter approach: there is no mention of Jesus Christ and His role as Savior and Redeemer. This is a way of thinking about the Plan that, regrettably, leaves out its very heart. See J. M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Oath, pp. 7–10.

20D. W. Parry, Garden, p. 135. Cf. J. M. Lundquist, Reality; J. A. Parry et al., Temple in Heaven; T. Stordalen, Echoes, pp. 112-116, 308-309; T. D. Alexander, From Eden, pp. 20-23; G. K. Beale, Temple, pp. 66–80; G. J. Wenham, Sanctuary Symbolism; J. A. Parry et al., Temple in Heaven; R. N. Holzapfel et al., Father’s House, pp. 17–19; J. Morrow, Creation; D. R. Seely et al., Crown of Creation.

21For more on the correspondence between the symbolism of the Tree of Knowledge and the temple veil, see J. M. Bradshaw, Tree of Knowledge.

22In most depictions of Jewish temple architecture, the menorah is shown as being outside the veil—in contrast to the Tree of Life, which is at the holiest place in the Garden of Eden. However, Margaret Barker cites evidence that, in the first temple, a Tree of Life was symbolized within the Holy of Holies (e.g., M. Barker, Hidden, pp. 6–7; M. Barker, Christmas, pp. 85–86, 140; J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 366–367). Barker concludes that the Menorah (or perhaps a second, different, representation in arboreal form?) was both removed from the temple and diminished in stature in later Jewish literature as the result of a “very ancient feud” concerning its significance (M. Barker, Older, p. 221, see pp. 221–232). Mandaean scripture describes a Tree of Life within the heavenly sanctuary as follows: “They … lifted the great veil of safety upward before him, introduced him, and showed him that Vine,” meaning the Tree of Life (M. Lidzbarski, Ginza, GL 1:1, p. 429:3–20; cf. E. S. Drower, Prayerbook, 49, pp. 45–46).

23See D. W. Parry, Garden, p. 135.

24Ibid., p. 135.

25H. W. Nibley, Message (2005), pp. 442–443. See also J. M. Bradshaw, LDS Book of Enoch, pp. 44–47; J. M. Bradshaw, Moses Temple Themes (2014), pp. 17–22. Sometimes the pattern is analyzed as a structure of three parts rather than two.

26ὁδὸς ἄνω κάτω μία καὶ ὡυτή (Heraclitus, Fragments of Heraclitus, Fragment DK B60).

27For an excellent summary of the doctrine of Two Ways in the Book of Mormon as contrasted with elsewhere in the ancient world, see N. B. Reynolds, Ancient Doctrine of the Two Ways. David Calabro provides an insightful comparison between the Garden of Eden and Lehi’s dream of the Tree of Life (D. Calabro, Lehi’s Dream). See especially pp. 275ff. for a discussion of the “strait and narrow path” that leads, in both cases, to the Tree. Cf. N. B. Reynolds, Ancient Doctrine of the Two Ways, pp. 51–52.

28Cf. John 16:28.

29See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 328-351.

30Moses 4:31. See ibid., p. 282.

31Moses 1:12–23.

32Moses 1:27–29.

33Moses 1:39.

34For detailed commentaries on Moses 1, see J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 32–81; R. D. Draper et al., Commentary.

35See Essays #34 and #42.

36L. Turner, Announcements, pp. 13-14.

37Moses 1:31. Though God speaks to Moses near the beginning of the chapter, the parallel wording regarding Moses’ “face to face” experience does not appear until verse 31, strengthening the case that this is the event to which the prologue is pointing us.

38See Essay #34.

39Moses 1:3–7.

40We will outline our reasons for this conclusion in Essay #34.

41Moses 1:8.

42Moses 6:36. This vision of the premortal spirits, like the vision of Moses 1, preceded a second, separate vision of “all the inhabitants of the earth” (Moses 7:21).

43See Abraham 3:22–23.

44See Essay #35.

45H. W. Nibley, Assembly, p. 128.

46Moses 1:9–23.

47See Essay #36.

48Moses 1:21.

49See, e.g., J. M. Bradshaw et al., By the Blood Ye Are Sanctified, pp. 144–146.

50Moses 1:24.

51See Essays #37-39.

52Moses 1:25.

53Moses 5:4. Cf. Moses 1:9.

54Moses 1:25–26.

55See Essay #40.

56Moses 1:27.

57Moses 1: 27–29. Cf. Moses 7:21.

58See Essays #41-42.

59Moses 1:30.

60Moses 1:35–40.

61See Essay #42.

62Moses 1:42.

63Essays #34-41.

Enoch, the Prophet and Seer: The End of the Wicked and the Beginnings of Zion

Book of Moses Essay #24

Moses 7:12–18

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

This Essay relates the end of the end for the wicked, and the beginning of the beginning for the people of God who start to lay the foundation of Zion. Similar events are well-attested in the ancient Enoch literature.

“The Earth Trembled and the Mountains Fled”

The Book of Moses records that when Enoch had finished prophesying to the people, “the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, … and the rivers of water turned out of their course.” The pattern whereby the voice of warning is immediately followed by the voice of the elements is also described in Doctrine and Covenants 88:89–90:

For after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, … and also the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds.

In a previous Essay, we described ancient and modern witnesses to Enoch’s turning of rivers “out of their course.” In this section, we will describe similar ancient witnesses to the shattering seismic events that came “according to [the] command” of Enoch.

Whereas most of the prophecies of destruction in 1 Enoch describe events of the “latter days,” its Epistle of Enoch is also addressed to the “double audience” of Enoch’s living posterity, called his “sons.” Echoing the themes of Moses 6:46–47, Enoch reminds the sinners that their actions are recorded in a heavenly book of remembrance,” telling them that “from the angels inquiry will be made into your deeds in heaven.” Then, Enoch asks them:

When [the Most High] hurls against you the flood of the fire of your burning,
      where will you flee and be saved?
And when he utters his voice against you with a mighty sound,
      will you not be shaken and frightened?
The heavens and all the luminaries will be shaken with great fear;
      and all the earth will be shaken and will tremble and be thrown into confusion.
All the angels will fulfill what was commanded them;
      and all the sons of earth will seek to hide themselves from the presence of the Great Glory,
      and they will be shaken and tremble.
And you, sinners, will be cursed forever;
      You will have no peace.

Note that the passage from the Epistle cited above not only echoes the “trembling of the earth” in Moses 7:13 but also the shaking of the heavens in Moses 7:61. The shaking and trembling of the elements reverberates sympathetically to the shaking and trembling of the wicked, an ancient motif found in the Book of Moses that we have discussed in a previous Essay. The “curse upon all people that fought against God” in Moses 7:15 is consistent with the declaration in the Epistle that the sinners “will be cursed forever.”

Heavenly Ascent and Ritual Ascent

Book of Moses Essay #31

Moses 1

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

The Book of Moses as a Temple Text

Before delving directly into the text of Moses 1, we need to know more about what kind of a text we are dealing with. To set this chapter—as well as the remaining chapters in the Book of Moses—in their proper ancient and modern context, this Essay and the two that follow will treat these three topics:

·         Heavenly Ascent and Ritual Ascent

·         The Two-Part Pattern of Heavenly and Ritual Ascent

·         Moses 1 as a “Missing” Prologue to Genesis

By the end of this sequence of three Essays,1  we hope to establish that the Book of Moses is a “temple text” from start to finish.2 By “temple text” we mean, in the words of John W. Welch, a document that “contains the most sacred teachings of the plan of salvation that are not to be shared indiscriminately, and that ordains or otherwise conveys divine powers through ceremonial or symbolic means, together with commandments received by sacred oaths that allow the recipient to stand ritually in the presence of God.”3

Within the Latter-day Saint temple endowment, a narrative relating to selected events of the primeval history provides the context for the presentation of divine laws and the making of covenants that are designed to bring mankind back into the presence of God.4  Because the Book of Moses is the most detailed account of the first chapters of human history found in Latter-day Saint scripture, it is already obvious to endowed members of the Church that the Book of Moses is a temple text par excellence, containing a pattern that interweaves sacred history with covenant-making themes.

What may be new to them, however, is that the temple themes in the Book of Moses extend beyond the first part of this story, which presents the Creation and the fall of Adam and Eve. There is also a part two of the temple story, which ends with the translation of Enoch and his city and the destruction of the wicked in Noah’s flood. We will show how these stories constitute fitting culminating episodes to the Book of Moses as a temple text. Moses 1 meaningfully acts as a prologue to the temple narrative, providing an account of Moses’ heavenly ascent and setting the context for the presentation of temple themes in the rest of the book.

Below, we will describe the similarities and differences between heavenly and ritual ascent, the two primary ways in which people participate in “temple-related” experiences. We will then give examples of heavenly and ritual ascent from the Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Latter-day Saint traditions, demonstrating the widespread aspiration for such experiences across different religions and cultures throughout the ages.

Heavenly Ascent and Ritual Ascent

We begin this discussion with a statement about the central role that temple-related experiences have in God’s purposes for humankind—and, consequently, the reverence with which this subject must be approached. Scripture teaches that the greatest gift one can receive is that of eternal life:5  to be justified,6  sanctified,7  sealed,8  and raised to immortality with a resurrected celestial body to enter into the presence of God,9  knowing Him,10  receiving all that He has in connection with an eternal companion,11  having been bound with an eternal welding link to spouse, ancestors, and posterity through the authority and power of the priesthood,12  and becoming a son or daughter of our divine Father in the fullest sense of the word13 —all this made possible through “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.14

Individuals can enter the presence of God in one of two ways:

1.     Literally, through heavenly ascent. In heavenly ascent, individuals may be transfigured temporarily to experience a vision of eternity,15  participate in worship and song with the angels,16  and have certain blessings conferred upon them that are “made sure”17  by the voice of God Himself. They may also, as an initiated member of the divine council,18  be commissioned to carry out a specific task, as is outlined with specific reference to Moses 1 in Stephen O. Smoot’s helpful exploration of this topic.19  In addition to exceptional accounts of heavenly ascent experienced by prophets in mortal life, all disciples of Jesus Christ look forward to an ultimate consummation of their aspirations by coming into the presence of the Father after death, thereafter dwelling in His presence for eternity.20

2.     Ritually, through temple ordinances. As an example of one of these ordinances, which are administered under the authority of the Melchizedek priesthood, the Latter-day Saint endowment depicts a figurative journey that brings the worshipper step by step into the presence of God in His temple through narrative, symbolic actions, and covenant-making.21

The sequence of events described in accounts of heavenly ascent often resembles the same general pattern symbolized in temple ordinances, so that reading such accounts can help us make sense of temple rites. Conversely, temple rites help participants prepare for their own eventual entrance into the actual presence of God.22  No doubt the many scriptural allusions to temple-related symbols and ordinances in accounts of heavenly ascent serve as pearls of great price for attentive readers. In essence, heavenly ascent can be understood as the “completion or fulfillment” of the “types and images” of ritual ascent.23

President Russell M. Nelson has encouraged pondering and study of the rich symbolic teachings of the temple. Note that his suggestions for study encompass both passages where temple teachings are presented directly in discussions of fundamental doctrines and descriptions of ancient ritual ascent through temple worship as well as readings where temple teachings are described indirectly through the accounts of prophets such as Moses and Abraham who experienced heavenly ascent:

Spiritual preparation is enhanced by study. I like to recommend that members going to the temple for the first time read short explanatory paragraphs in the Bible Dictionary, listed under seven topics: “Anoint,” “Atonement,” “Christ,” “Covenant,” “Fall of Adam,” “Sacrifices,” and “Temple.”


One may also read in the Old Testament and the Books of Moses and Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. Such a review of ancient scripture is even more enlightening after one is familiar with the temple endowment. Those books underscore the antiquity of temple work.24

Heavenly and Ritual Ascent in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Tradition

Jewish tradition. Some of the clearest examples of heavenly ascent are found in Old Testament accounts of the divine commission of prophets such as Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.25  In addition, many ancient accounts from the Second Temple period not included in the Bible document the heavenly ascents of figures such as Enoch26  and Abraham.27  Within the Book of Moses, the remarkable accounts of the heavenly ascents of Moses (Moses 1)28  and Enoch (Moses 6–7)29  provide detailed examples of the same genre.

As an example of the contrast between heavenly and ritual ascent in ancient Jewish tradition, Amy Elizabeth Paulsen-Reed compares the Apocalypse of Abraham, “where a man is taken up to heaven,” to the twelfth Sabbath song at Qumran, where the religious community joins the angels in praising God through ritual “while staying firmly on earth.”30  Latter-day Saints may have difficulty in connecting the complex system of sacrifices and laws of purity in the Old Testament to their own temple experience. However, they should be aware that a more complete version of Israelite temple ordinances than those in which most of the children of Israel participated was received by some kings, priests, and prophets in ancient times. These ordinances were part of the “order of Melchizedek.”31

In addition, some Jewish worshippers in the Second Temple period seem to have tried to emulate the exceptional prophetic figures who experienced heavenly ascent through participating in various forms of ritual ascent. For example, such practices have been documented in the synagogue of Dura Europos32  and at Qumran.33  Confirming President Nelson’s teaching that “temple patterns are as old as human life on earth”34  are accounts of temple worship throughout the ancient Near East35 —and elsewhere in the world36 —wherein endowed Latter-day Saints will find recognizable elements.

Christian tradition. Perhaps the most important authentic accounts of heavenly ascent in early Christianity, apart from the ascents of Jesus Christ Himself, relate to the experiences of Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. In an underappreciated Nauvoo discourse by Joseph Smith that has been reconstructed and annotated in detail elsewhere,37  the Prophet explained the meaning of this event for the early apostles and its significance for modern Latter-day Saints.

Figure 2. Detail from a Greek Orthodox Icon Depicting the Ladder of Virtues

The early Christian theme of the “ladder of virtues,” a theme that builds on the symbolism of the experience of Jacob at Bethel and was expounded by Peter in connection with the events on the Mount of Transfiguration, describes a distinct progression of “stages in a Christian’s earthly experience.”38  The three stages that correlate to the temple-related attributes of faith, hope, and charity were described by Joseph Smith as the “three principal rounds”39  of a ladder of heavenly ascent. Each round marks a chief juncture in priesthood ordinances and on the pathway to eternal life. Among extant early Christian teachings on ritual ascent are the Lectures on the Ordinances (Mystagogikai Katecheseis) of Cyril,40  a fourth-century bishop in Jerusalem. According to Hugh Nibley, “these particular lectures contain ‘the fullest account extant’ of ordinances of the church at that crucial period.”41

Figure 3. Guardians Part the Veils, Take Muhammad by the Hand, and Allow Him to Approach the Throne of God

Islamic tradition. Accounts of heavenly and ritual ascent are also to be found in Islam. The most well-known story of heavenly ascent concerns Muhammad himself.42  Doubting Meccans had asked that he “confirm the authenticity of his prophethood by ascending to heaven and there receiving a holy book. … In this, he was to conform to a model illustrated by many still extant legends … regarding Enoch, Moses, Daniel, Mani, and many other messengers who had risen to heaven, met God, and received from his right hand a book of scripture containing the revelation they were to proclaim.”43

During his “night journey” (isra), the angel Gabriel mounted him on Buraq, a winged steed, that “took him to the horizon” and then, in an instant, to the temple mount in Jerusalem.44 At the Gate of the Guard, Ishmael “asks Muhammad’s name and inquires whether he is indeed a true messenger.”45  After having given a satisfactory answer, Muhammad was permitted to gradually ascend from the depths of hell to the highest of the seven heavens on a golden ladder (mi’raj).46  At the gates of the Celestial Temple, a guardian angel again “ask[ed] who he [was]. Gabriel introduce[d] Muhammad, who [was] then allowed to enter the gardens of Paradise.”47

In addition, the events that make up the pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca (hajj) can be seen as an example of ritual ascent.48  When the pilgrim successfully completes the final stage of his journey, “all veils are removed and he talks to the Lord without any veil between them.”49

Figure 4. Arnold Friberg (1913–2010): The Brother of Jared Sees the Finger of God, 1951.
Figure 5. Walter Rane (1949–): The Desires of My Heart, 2004.

Heavenly and Ritual Ascent among Latter-day Saints

By 1830, Joseph Smith would have been familiar with several accounts of those who had seen God. For example, as a child he would have probably heard in nightly family Bible readings that “the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.”50  In his First Vision, he experienced a personal visit of the Father and the Son while yet a boy.51  Years later, when translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith learned of other prophets who had seen the Lord, including the detailed account of how the heavenly veil was removed for the brother of Jared so that he could come to know the premortal Jesus Christ on intimate terms.52

From the point of view of temple ritual and doctrine, as opposed to heavenly ascent, the Book of Mormon provided an important formative influence on Joseph Smith.53  Besides the temple-related information available in the published Book of Mormon, extant evidence relating to the lost pages from Mormon’s abridgement, carefully gathered and analyzed by Don Bradley, suggests many important clues about Nephite temples.54  Significantly, “rather than being a Levitical priesthood ‘after the order of Aaron,’ Nephite priesthood [and temple activities appear to have been] modeled primarily on Israelite royal priesthood ‘after the order of Melchizedek.’”55

However, of at least equal importance was the early tutoring on the temple received by the Prophet in 1830 and 1831 when he translated the early chapters of Genesis.56  The Joseph Smith Translation makes significant additions to Genesis, shedding new light on the priesthood, temple doctrines, and temple ordinances. It is significant that the Book of Moses, the first portion of his Genesis translation, was revealed more than a decade before he administered the full temple endowment to others in Nauvoo. Taken as a whole, the Book of Moses is one of several indicators that the Prophet Joseph Smith’s extensive knowledge of temple matters was the result of early revelations, not late inventions.57

Having briefly explored in this article the nature of heavenly and ritual ascent, the next Essay58  will describe the distinctive two-part pattern that characterizes accounts of such ascents—both anciently and in the Book of Moses.

 

This article is adapted and updated from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. “What did Joseph Smith know about modern temple ordinances by 1836?” In The Temple: Ancient and Restored. Proceedings of the 2014 Temple on Mount Zion Symposium, edited by Stephen D. Ricks and Donald W. Parry. Temple on Mount Zion 3, 1–144. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2016, pp. 2–3.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Ronan J. Head. “The investiture panel at Mari and rituals of divine kingship in the ancient Near East.” Studies in the Bible and Antiquity 4 (2012): 1–42.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Temple Themes in the Book of Moses. 2014 update ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Publishing, 2014, pp. 23–29.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., David J. Larsen, and Stephen T. Whitlock. “Moses 1 and the Apocalypse of Abraham: Twin sons of different mothers?” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 38 (2020): 179-290.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 18–19.

Hamblin, William J. “Temple motifs in Jewish mysticism.” In Temples of the Ancient World, edited by Donald W. Parry, 440–476. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994.

Nelson, Russell M. Perfection Pending. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1998, pp. 3–11.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1975. The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 461–532.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, pp. 193–194, 204.

Parry, Jay A., and Donald W. Parry. “The temple in heaven: Its description and significance.” In Temples of the Ancient World, edited by Donald W. Parry, 515–532. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994.

Ricks, Stephen D., and John J. Sroka. “King, coronation, and temple: Enthronement ceremonies in history.” In Temples of the Ancient World, edited by Donald W. Parry, 236–271. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994.

References

Alexander, Philip S. “3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 223-315. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Andersen, F. I. “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 91-221. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Ashraf, Syed Ali. “The inner meaning of the Islamic rites: Prayer, pilgrimage, fasting, jihad.” In Islamic Spirituality 1: Foundations, edited by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, 111-30. New York City, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1987.

Barker, Margaret. “Isaiah.” In Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, edited by James D. G. Dunn and John W. Rogerson, 489-542. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2003.

———. Temple Theology. London, England: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK), 2004.

Bradley, Don. “Acquiring an All-Seeing Eye: Joseph Smith’s First Vision as Seer Initiation and Ritual Apotheosis, 19 July 2010, cited with permission.”

———. “Joseph Smith’s First Vision as Endowment and Epitome of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (or Why I Came Back to the Church).” Presented at the FairMormon Conference, August 7-9, 2019. https://www.fairmormon.org/conference/august-2019. (accessed August 19, 2019).

———. The Lost 116 Pages: Reconsructing the Book of Mormon’s Missing Stories. Draper, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2019.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. “The Ezekiel Mural at Dura Europos: A tangible witness of Philo’s Jewish mysteries?” BYU Studies 49, no. 1 (2010): 4-49. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/byusq/vol49/iss1/2/.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Ronan J. Head. “The investiture panel at Mari and rituals of divine kingship in the ancient Near East.” Studies in the Bible and Antiquity 4 (2012): 1-42. https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/sba/vol4/iss1/1/.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. https://archive.org/details/140123IGIL12014ReadingS.

———. “The LDS book of Enoch as the culminating story of a temple text.” BYU Studies 53, no. 1 (2014): 39-73. http://www.templethemes.net/publications/140224-a-Bradshaw.pdf. (accessed September 19, 2017).

———. Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. 2014 update ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. https://archive.org/details/151128TempleThemesInTheOathAndCovenantOfThePriesthood2014Update.

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———. “What did Joseph Smith know about modern temple ordinances by 1836?”.” In The Temple: Ancient and Restored. Proceedings of the 2014 Temple on Mount Zion Symposium, edited by Stephen D. Ricks and Donald W. Parry. Temple on Mount Zion 3, 1-144. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2016. http://www.jeffreymbradshaw.net/templethemes/publications/01-Bradshaw-TMZ%203.pdf.

———. “Faith, hope, and charity: The ‘three principal rounds’ of the ladder of heavenly ascent.” In “To Seek the Law of the Lord”: Essays in Honor of John W. Welch, edited by Paul Y. Hoskisson and Daniel C. Peterson, 59-112. Orem, UT: The Interpreter Foundation, 2017. https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/faith-hope-and-charity-the-three-principal-rounds-of-the-ladder-of-heavenly-ascent/.

———. 2018. How Might We Interpret the Dense Temple-Related Symbolism of the Prophet’s Heavenly Vision in Isaiah 6?  In Interpreter Foundation Old Testament KnoWhy JBOTL36A. https://interpreterfoundation.org/knowhy-otl36a-how-might-we-interpret-the-dense-temple-related-symbolism-of-the-prophet-s-heavenly-vision-in-isaiah-6/. (accessed November 23, 2018).

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Matthew L. Bowen. ““By the Blood Ye Are Sanctified”: The Symbolic, Salvific, Interrelated, Additive, Retrospective, and Anticipatory Nature of the Ordinances of Spiritual Rebirth in John 3 and Moses 6.” In Sacred Time, Sacred Space, and Sacred Meaning (Proceedings of the Third Interpreter Foundation Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference, 5 November 2016), edited by Stephen D. Ricks and Jeffrey M. Bradshaw. The Temple on Mount Zion 4, 43-237. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2020. http://www.templethemes.net/publications/Bradshaw%20and%20Bowen-By%20the%20Blood-from%20TMZ4%20(2016).pdf.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., David J. Larsen, and Stephen T. Whitlock. “Moses 1 and the Apocalypse of Abraham: Twin sons of different mothers?” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 36 (2020): 179-290. https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/moses-1-and-the-apocalypse-of-abraham-twin-sons-of-different-mothers/. (accessed July 29, 2020).

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Lundquist, John M. The Temple: Meeting Place of Heaven and Earth. London, England: Thames and Hudson, 1993.

Madsen, Truman G. 1978. “House of glory.” In Five Classics by Truman G. Madsen, 273-85. Salt Lake City, UT: Eagle Gate, 2001. Reprint, Madsen, Truman G. 1978. “House of glory.” In The Temple: Where Heaven Meets Earth, 1-14. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2008.

Magness, Jodi. “Heaven on earth: Helios and the zodiac cycle in ancient Palestinian synagogues.” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 59 (2005): 1-52.

McConkie, Bruce R. Mormon Doctrine. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966.

Nelson, Russell M. Perfection Pending. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1998.

———. Teachings of Russell M. Nelson. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2018.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1967. “Apocryphal writings and the teachings of the Dead Sea Scrolls.” In Temple and Cosmos: Beyond This Ignorant Present, edited by Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 12, 264-335. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1992.

———. 1975. The Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005.

Nickelsburg, George W. E., ed. 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1-36; 81-108. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001.

Nickelsburg, George W. E., and James C. VanderKam, eds. 1 Enoch 2: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 37-82. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2012.

Paulsen-Reed, Amy Elizabeth. The Origins of the Apocalypse of Abraham (Dissertation for the Degree of Doctor of Theology in the subject of the Hebrew Bible). Harvard Divinity School. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 2016. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:27194248. (accessed August 4, 2019).

Peterson, Daniel C. “Muhammad.” In The Rivers of Paradise: Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus, and Muhammad as Religious Founders, edited by David Noel Freedman and Michael J. McClymond, 457-612. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2001.

Ragavan, Deena, ed. Heaven on Earth: Temples, Ritual, and Cosmic Symbolism in the Ancient World. Papers from the Oriental Institute Seminar ‘Heaven on Earth’ held at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 2-3 March 2012. Oriental Institute Seminars 9. Chicago, IL: The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 2013.

Reeves, John C. Jewish Lore in Manichaean Cosmogony: Studies in the Book of Giants Traditions. Monographs of the Hebrew Union College 14. Cincinnati, OH: Hebrew Union College Press, 1992.

Reeves, John C., and Annette Yoshiko Reed. Sources from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 2 vols. Enoch from Antiquity to the Middle Ages 1. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Schimmel, Annemarie. 1981. And Muhammad Is His Messenger: The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety. English ed. Studies in Religion, ed. Charles H. Long. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1985.

Smith, Gerald E. Schooling the Prophet: How the Book of Mormon influenced Joseph Smith and the early Restoration. Provo, UT: Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, Brigham Young University, 2015.

Smith, Joseph Fielding, Jr. 1931. The Way to Perfection: Short Discourses on Gospel Themes Dedicated to All Who Are Interested in the Redemption of the Living and the Dead. 5th ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1945.

Smith, Joseph, Jr. 1938. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1969.

Smoot, Stephen O. 2012. ‘I am a son of God’: Moses’ ascension into the divine council.  In 2012 BYU Religious Education Student Symposium. https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/byu-religious-education-student-symposium-2012/i-am-son-god-moses-ascension-divine-council. (accessed September 29, 2018).

Stuckenbruck, Loren T. The Book of Giants from Qumran: Texts, Translation, and Commentary. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1997.

Talmage, James E. The House of the Lord. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1971.

Thomas, M. Catherine. “The Brother of Jared at the veil.” In Temples of the Ancient World, edited by Donald W. Parry, 388-98. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994.

Welch, John W. “The temple in the Book of Mormon: The temples at the cities of Nephi, Zarahemla, and Bountiful.” In Temples of the Ancient World, edited by Donald W. Parry, 297-387. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1994.

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. With permission from the artist. Published with the title of “Moses: Deliverer and Lawgiver” in Ensign, April 2006, http://lds.org/ensign/2006/04/moses-deliverer-and-law-giver?lang=eng.

Figure 2. Thessaloniki, Macedonia, Greece. Licensed from Alamy.com. Image ID: BM2KC6.

Figure 3. Bibliothèque Nationale de France. Detail of image published in W. J. Hamblin, et al., Temple, p. 136 figure 134.

Figure 4. http://www.deseretnews.com/top/704/1/The-Brother-of-Jared-Sees-the-Finger-of-the-Lord-Arnold-Fribergs-religious-paintings.html (accessed 21 June 2016).

Figure 5. http://www.walterraneprints.com/prints/the-desires-of-my-heart. By permission of the artist, with special thanks to Linda Rane.

Footnotes

 

1Essays #31–33.

2For a discussion of “temple theology” that highlights the similarities and differences of the Latter-day Saint position on the subject and describes how the Book of Moses functions as a “temple text,” see J. M. Bradshaw, LDS Book of Enoch, pp. 39–44. The term “temple theology” has its roots in the writings of Margaret Barker (see M. Barker, Temple Theology for a convenient summary of her voluminous writings on the subject). Over the course of decades, she has argued that Christianity arose not as a strange aberration of the Judaism of Jesus’ time but rather as a legitimate heir of the theology and ordinances of Solomon’s Temple. The loss of much of the original Jewish temple tradition would have been part of a deliberate program by later kings and religious leaders to undermine the earlier teachings. To accomplish these goals, some writings previously considered to be scripture are thought to have been suppressed and some of those that remained are thought to have been changed to be consistent with a different brand of orthodoxy. While scholars differ in their understanding of details about the nature and extent of these changes and how and when they might have taken place, most agree that essential light can be shed on questions about the origins and beliefs of Judaism and Christianity by focusing on the recovery of early temple teachings and on the extracanonical writings that, in some cases, seem to preserve them.

3J. W. Welch, Temple in the Book of Mormon, pp. 300–301.

4J. E. Talmage, House of the Lord (1971), pp. 83–84.

5See Doctrine and Covenants 14:7. President Russell M. Nelson has stressed (R. M. Nelson, Teachings, May 2001, p. 363):

Eternal life is more than immortality. Eternal life is exaltation in the highest heaven—the kind of life that God lives.

6See Doctrine and Covenants 20:30; Moses 6:60; J. M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Oath, p. 21; J. M. Bradshaw et al., By the Blood Ye Are Sanctified (TMZ 4), pp. 84–92.

7See Doctrine and Covenants 20:31; 84:33; Moses 6:60; J. M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Oath, pp. 21–32; J. M. Bradshaw et al., By the Blood Ye Are Sanctified (TMZ 4), pp. 84–103.

8See, e.g., Doctrine and Covenants 88:4; J. M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Oath, pp. 45–51, 58–65, 81–84, 97–98, 108–109, 114, 149, 158, 166, 172–176, 182–186, 189–194; J. M. Bradshaw et al., By the Blood Ye Are Sanctified (TMZ 4), pp. 56–57, 88, 95–96, 100, 195–197, 204–205, 211–212; J. M. Bradshaw, Now That We Have the Words.

9See, e.g., Doctrine and Covenants 76:64–70; 84:33; J. M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Oath, pp. 28–29.

10See, e.g., John 17:3; Doctrine and Covenants 84:47; 93:1; 132:24; ibid., pp. 78–79.

11See, e.g., Doctrine and Covenants 76:55, 59; 84:38; 131:1–4; ibid., pp. 109, 219.

12See Doctrine and Covenants 128:17–18. President Russell M. Nelson has said (R. M. Nelson, Teachings, 29 April 2006, 114):

There is spiritual safety in the circle of the family—the basic unit of society. The family is a sacred institution. The Gospel was restored to the earth and the Church exists to exalt the family. The earth was created that each premortal spirit child of God might have hits mortal experience, gain a physical body, choose a companion, form a family, and have that family sealed eternally in a temple of the Lord. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted. Scriptures stress that doctrine time and time again (see Doctrine and Covenants 2:3; 138:48).

13See, e.g., Doctrine and Covenants 76:58; J. M. Bradshaw et al., By the Blood Ye Are Sanctified (TMZ 4), pp. 56–57; 92, 99–103.

14See, e.g., Articles of Faith 1:3.

15E.g., P. S. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 1:9–12, pp. 256–257.

16E.g., ibid., 45, pp. 296–299.

172 Peter 1:10. See J. M. Bradshaw, Now That We Have the Words; J. M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Oath, pp. 59–65.

18See M. Barker, Isaiah, p. 504; J. M. Bradshaw, How Might We Interpret.

19See S. O. Smoot, I Am a Son of God for a discussion of the divine council in relation to Moses 1.

20President Nelson has taught (R. M. Nelson, Perfection Pending, pp. 6–7, 9):

Resurrection is requisite for eternal perfection. Thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ, our bodies, corruptible in mortality, will become incorruptible. Our physical frames, now subject to disease, death, and decay, will acquire immortal glory (see Alma 11:45; Doctrine and Covenants 76:64–70). Presently sustained by the blood of life (see Leviticus 17:11) and ever aging, our bodies will be sustained by spirit and become changeless and beyond the bounds of death (Latter-day Saint Bible Dictionary, Latter-day Saint Bible Dictionary, Resurrection, p. 761: “A resurrection means to become immortal, without blood, yet with a body of flesh and bone”).


Eternal perfection is reserved for those who overcome all things and inherit the fulness of the Father in His heavenly mansions. Perfection consists in gaining eternal life—the kind of life that God lives (see J. F. Smith, Jr., Way 1945, p 331; B. R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 237). …


Perfection is pending. It can come in full only after the Resurrection and only through the Lord. It awaits all who love Him and keep His commandments. It includes thrones, kingdoms, principalities, powers, and dominions (see Doctrine and Covenants 132:19). It is the end for which we are to endure (see Matthew 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13). It is the eternal perfection that God has in store for each of us.

21J. E. Talmage, House of the Lord (1971), pp. 159–161. Cf. the words of Oliver Cowdery, editor of The Evening and Morning Star, who wrote the following description in 1834 (see The Elders of the Church in Kirtland to Their Brethren Abroad, Evening and Morning Star, 2:17, February 1834, p. 135. This passage is sometimes mistakenly attributed to Joseph Smith [see A. F. Ehat, Who Shall Ascend, p. 62 n. 11]—see J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 22 January 1834, p. 51):

We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the more conspicuous are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, until he has overcome the evils of this life and lost every desire of sin; and like the ancients, arrives to that point of faith that he is wrapped in the glory and power of his Maker and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man has ever arrived in a moment: he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, till his mind was capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equity, and consistency of the same.

 

President David O. McKay made the following statement (as remembered in T. G. Madsen, House, p. 282):

I believe there are few, even temple workers, who comprehend the full meaning and power of the temple endowment. Seen for what it is, it is the step-by-step ascent into the Eternal Presence. If our young people could but glimpse it, it would be the most powerful spiritual motivation of their lives.

 

President Russell M. Nelson has said (R. M. Nelson, Teachings, 5 June 1997, pp. 371–372):

In [the] temple there is a symbolic pathway of progression. The baptismal font is located in the lowest part of the temple, symbolizing the fact that Jesus was baptized in the lowest body of fresh water on planet earth. There He descended below all things to rise above all things. In Solomon’s temple, the baptismal font was supported by twelve oxen that symbolized the twelve tribes of Israel. … From the baptismal font of the temple, we progress upward through the telestial and terrestrial realms to the room that represents the celestial home of God.

About the difference between coming into the presence of God through heavenly ascent and through temple ritual, Andrew F. Ehat writes (A. F. Ehat, Who Shall Ascend, pp. 53–54):

As Moses’ case demonstrates [see Moses 1], the actual endowment is not a mere representation but is the reality of coming into a heavenly presence and of being instructed in the things of eternity. In temples, we have a staged representation of the step-by-step ascent into the presence of the Eternal while we are yet alive. It is never suggested that we have died when we participate in these blessings. Rather, when we enter the celestial room, we pause to await the promptings and premonitions of the Comforter. And after a period of time, mostly of our own accord, we descend the stairs, and resume the clothing and walk of our earthly existence. But there should have been a change in us as there certainly was with Moses when he was caught up to celestial realms and saw and heard things unlawful to utter.

22See, e.g., J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 37ff; J. M. Bradshaw et al., Moses 1; J. M. Bradshaw et al., By the Blood Ye Are Sanctified (TMZ 4); J. M. Bradshaw, Faith, Hope, and Charity.

23H. W. Nibley, Apocryphal, p. 312; cf. pp. 310–311. See W. W. Isenberg, Philip, 85:14–16, p. 159.

24R. M. Nelson, Teachings, May 2001, p. 365.

25On the prophetic commission of Isaiah, see J. M. Bradshaw, How Might We Interpret.

26For example, see the accounts preserved in P. S. Alexander, 3 Enoch; F. I. Andersen, 2 Enoch; G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1; G. W. E. Nickelsburg et al., 1 Enoch 2; L. T. Stuckenbruck, Book of Giants; J. C. Reeves, Jewish Lore; J. C. Reeves et al., Enoch from Antiquity 1. For an overview of these various accounts, see Essay #5.

27See J. M. Bradshaw et al., Moses 1.

28See Essays #33-41.

29See Essays #1, 2, 22, 25–29.

30A. E. Paulsen-Reed, Origins, p. 102.

31Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6–10; 6:20; 7:1–28; Alma 13:1–19. See also clarifications given in JST Hebrews 7:3, 19–21, 25–26. See also J. M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Oath, pp. 53–58.

32J. M. Bradshaw, Ezekiel Mural.

33E.g., C. H. T. Fletcher-Louis, Glory. On the rise of temple terminology and forms in the synagogue and the expanded centrality of prayer during the Amoraic period, see J. Magness, Heaven.

34R. M. Nelson, Teachings, 22 June 2014, p. 365.

35For examples of relevant temple rites in the ancient Near East, see, e.g., J. M. Bradshaw et al., Investiture Panel; H. W. Nibley, Message (2005); M. B. Hundley, Gods in Dwellings.

36For overviews of practices of temple worship worldwide, see, e.g., J. M. Lundquist, Meeting Place; D. Ragavan, Heaven on Earth.

37J. M. Bradshaw, Now That We Have the Words.

38J. A. Fitzmyer, First Corinthians, p. 501 in connection with J. M. Bradshaw, Now That We Have the Words, p. 60 n. 8.

39J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 21 May 1843, 305. For a discussion of the authenticity of this controversial phrase, see J. M. Bradshaw, Now That We Have the Words, pp. 61–66; J. M. Bradshaw, Faith, Hope, and Charity, p. 75 n. 67.

40English translations can be found in H. W. Nibley, Message (2005), 1–5:23, pp. 515–524; Cyril of Jerusalem, Five.

41H. W. Nibley, Message (2005), p. 515.

42For a readable account of Muhammad’s night journey, see D. C. Peterson, Muhammad (2001), pp. 527–529. Similarities between the Jewish Merkabah literature and Islamic mi’raj accounts are described in A. Schimmel, Messenger, p. 298 n. 8.

43D. C. Peterson, Muhammad (2001), p. 527.

44Ibid., pp. 528–529.

45A. Schimmel, Messenger, p. 160.

46No relationship to the English word “mirage.” See W. J. Hamblin et al., Temple, p. 136; M. Ibn Ishaq ibn Yasar, Sirat Rasul.

47W. J. Hamblin et al., Temple, p. 136 n. 134.

48See S. A. Ashraf, Inner, pp. 119–125; J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, pp. 177–179, 219, 299 n. 4–7, 645–648; J. M. Bradshaw, What Did Joseph Smith Know, pp. 12–13.

49S. A. Ashraf, Inner, p. 125.

50Exodus 33:11.

51Joseph Smith—History 1:14–20. Don Bradley has argued that the First Vision was Joseph Smith’s initiation as a seer and constituted a kind of endowment (D. Bradley, Acquiring an All-Seeing Eye: Joseph Smith’s First Vision as Seer Initiation and Ritual Apotheosis, 19 July 2010, cited with permission. Cf. D. Bradley, Joseph Smith’s First Vision as Endowment)—though perhaps the term “heavenly ascent” may be more appropriate than “endowment” in this case. Acknowledging that the earliest extant account of the First Vision does not appear to modern readers to be anything like an endowment experience, Bradley writes:

Smith’s vision looks like a typical conversion vision of Jesus (insofar as a Christophany can be typical—that is, it shares a common pattern) when the account from his most “Protestant” phase is used and is set only in the context of revivalism. Yet there is no reason to limit analysis only to that account and that context. All accounts, and not only the earliest, provide evidence for the character of the original experience. Indeed, literary scholars Neal Lambert and Richard Cracroft (N. E. Lambert et al., Literary Form) have argued from their comparison of the respectively constrained and free-flowing styles of the 1832 and 1838 accounts that the former attempts to contain the new wine of Smith’s theophany in an old wineskin of narrative convention. While the 1838 telling, in which the experience is both a conversion and a prophetic calling, is straightforward and natural, the 1832 account seems formal and forced, as if young Smith’s experience was ready to burst the old wineskin or had been shoehorned into a revivalistic conversion narrative five sizes too small.

 

Noting that “latter-day revelation gives us the fuller account and meaning of what actually took place on the Mount” where Moses came into the presence of the Lord (Moses 1), Elder Alvin R. Dyer saw a similarity between the heavenly ascent of Moses and that of Joseph Smith in the First Vision (A. R. Dyer, Meaning, Meaning, p. 12).

52Ether 3:6–28. For a detailed analysis of this vision, including its allusions to temple themes, see M. C. Thomas, Brother of Jared.

53G. E. Smith, Schooling.

54See D. Bradley, Lost 116 Pages, especially pp. 193–208, 234–240, 252–258, 286–287.

55Ibid., p. 199.

56See J. M. Bradshaw, What Did Joseph Smith Know, especially pp. 2–11, 36.

57For more on Joseph Smith’s early knowledge of temple matters, see ibid.

58Essay #32.

God Receives Zion unto Himself

Book of Moses Essay #30

Moses 7:18-19, 68-69

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

Enoch succeeded in bringing a whole people to be sufficiently “pure in heart”1 to fully live the final celestial law of consecration.2  In Zion, the “City of Holiness,”3  the people “were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”4  In contrast to Genesis 5:24 where Enoch is said to have been translated by himself, we are told in the Book of Moses that Enoch’s “people walked with God” and that they were eventually taken into heaven with him:

68 And all the days of Zion, in the days of Enoch, were three hundred and sixty-five years.

69 And Enoch and all his people walked with God,

and he dwelt in the midst of Zion;

and it came to pass that Zion was not,

for God received it up into his own bosom;

and from thence went forth the saying,

Zion is Fled.5

“All the Days of Zion”

The word “Zion,” which probably predates the arrival of the Israelites, may be related to the root ṣwn (so Arabic ṣâna), which means “protect,” “preserve,” “defend.”6  This is consistent with its description in Doctrine and Covenants 45:66 as “a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God.”7

In contrast to typical biblical usage that associates “Zion” with the environs of Jerusalem, in Doctrine and Covenants 97:21 the Lord applies the name to a group of people: “for this is Zion—THE PURE IN HEART.” Draper et al. observe that in Moses 7:18 it was likewise the Lord “who conferred the name on His people, itself a sacred act.”8  The Lord called His people Zion because they kept the crowning covenant of consecration, “the law of the celestial kingdom.”9  In respecting this and all others of the Lord’s covenants, “they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.”10

In Isaiah 51:16 there is a precedent for the Lord’s definition of Zion as a people rather than a place. As part of a passage that evokes a new creation of heaven and earth,11  God reaffirms his unwavering love by declaring the covenant formula in Isaiah 51:16: “I … say unto Zion, Thou art my people.”12  To highlight the identification of Zion with a covenant-keeping people, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Manachem Mendel Schneerson, cited Isaiah 1:27: “Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts [i.e., the Jewish people] with [interpreted as “through”] righteousness.”13  Interpreting the term “Zion” creatively through the lens of the Hebrew word “tziun” (= distinguishing sign, mark, or indication), he taught that the people referred to in Isaiah 51:16 were called “Zion” because “they are distinguished … in their observance” of God’s law. Continuing his teaching, he observes that when “a physical object has a ‘sign,’ the sign enables it to be returned to its owners [should it be lost].”

Doctrine and Covenants 88:22 explains: “he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.”14  President George Q. Cannon taught:

As a people we are expecting the day to come when Jesus will descend in the clouds of Heaven; but before this day comes we must be prepared to receive him. The organization of society that exists in the heavens must exist on the earth; the same condition of society, so far as it is applicable to mortal beings, must exist here.15 16

“Zion Was Not”

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “when the world in general would not obey the commands of God, after walking with God, he translated Enoch and his church, and the Priesthood or government of heaven was taken away.”17  Analogues to the Book of Moses account where others besides Enoch ascended bodily with him appear in a Mandaean Enoch fragment18  and in late midrash.19

“God Received [Zion] Up into His Own Bosom”

The basic ideas behind the imagery of Abraham welcoming the righteous as shown in the figure above go back to at least Second Temple times.20  In the Bible, the English word “bosom” corresponds to the Hebrew terms heq and hoq, and to the Greek kolpos. The Hebrew terms take one of three basic meanings:21  (1) “Lower, outer front of the body where loved ones (infants and animals) are pressed closely; … [also] lap”;22 (2) “Fold of the garment, above the belt where hands were placed and property kept”;23  (3) the base of the temple altar.24  Craig Keener further explores occurrences of the expression in a religious context:

Holding an object to one’s bosom declared the specialness of that object, and the image could be used to depict God’s relation with Torah.25  … The image also represented a position of intimacy for people,26  thus Jesus elsewhere in the gospel tradition used being in Abraham’s bosom as an image of intimacy and fellowship with Abraham.27  Because the phrase often appears in man-woman or parent-child relations, and because the text [of John 1:18] speaks of “the Father,” the affectionate image may be that of a son on his father’s lap.28  This gospel itself clarifies the role of intimacy for that disciple “whom Jesus loved” in their table-fellowship in [John 13:25]; [it is possible that the Greek text] may further emphasize the intimacy of the Father and Son, stressing “that Father and Son are mutually directed toward each other, in the manner customary at an Eastern table where two would lie next to each other while eating.”29

In the Book of Moses, the term “bosom” is used six times in Moses 7,30  and nowhere else. Each time it alludes to the “bosom of the Father,”31 expressing the close intimacy between God and those who dwell in His presence. Of perhaps most relevance for the fact that Enoch and his people are caught up into Lord’s bosom is that the foundation stone of the temple, the place of greatest holiness,32  is said in rabbinic readings of Ezekiel 43:14 to be “set in the bosom of the earth.”33  Perhaps not unrelated to this temple imagery is the scriptural description of the bosom as a receptacle of the Holy Ghost that may “burn” to indicate that something is “right.”34

“Zion Is Fled”

Hebrews 6:18 speaks in similar terms of those who seek safety through entering into the veil of the heavenly temple, referring to those “who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us.” Philip Alexander writes that Enoch’s receiving the title of Metatron was meant to “express the idea that Enoch was a metator [Latin ‘forerunner’] for the other adepts, showing them how they could escape from the wilderness of this world into the promised land of heaven.”35  In similar fashion, Hebrews 6:19–20 presents Jesus as a “forerunner” who entered “into that within the veil” ahead of the rest of us.36

Conclusion: Learning from Enoch

In a discussion of Latter-day Saint beliefs, Stephen Webb37  concluded that Joseph Smith “knew more about theology and philosophy than it was reasonable for anyone in his position to know, as if he were dipping into the deep, collective unconsciousness of Christianity with a very long pen.” Specifically, in the case of Moses 6–7, the Prophet recovered an ancient account that manifests a deep understanding of what it means to become a “partaker of the divine nature”38  in the footsteps of Enoch and his people.

Joseph Smith yearned that Enoch’s vision of eternity might be experienced by all the Saints, so they might be prepared and strengthened as they re-live the story of Enoch. While we read in the Book of Moses that “Zion … fled,”39  the Prophet’s revelations instruct disciples of the latter days that they may still “flee unto Zion.”40  The essential prerequisite for an eventual acceptance into that divine society is that they be filled with the same “pure love of Christ”41  that animated the ancient seer:

Let every selfish feeling be not only buried, but annihilated; and let love to God and man predominate and reign triumphant in every mind, that their hearts may become like unto Enoch’s of old, so that they may comprehend all things present, past, and future, and “come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.”42 43

 

This article is adapted and expanded from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 116, 122–123, 143–144, 163–164, 459–464.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 116, 122–123, 143–144, 163–164, 459–464.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 120–121, 150–151.

Larsen, David J. “Enoch and the City of Zion: Can an entire community ascend to heaven?” BYU Studies 53, no. 1 (2014): 25–37.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986, pp. 80–82, 250–275.

———. 1973. “What is Zion? A distant view.” In Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 9, 25–62. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1989.

References

Alexander, Philip S. “3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 223-315. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

———. “From son of Adam to second God: Transformations of the biblical Enoch.” In Biblical Figures Outside the Bible, edited by Michael E. Stone and Theodore A. Bergren, 87-122. Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1998.

Allison, Dale C., ed. Testament of Abraham. Berlin, Germany: Walter de Gruyter, 2003.

Anderson, H. “4 Maccabees.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. Vol. 2, 531-64. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Barker, Margaret. “Isaiah.” In Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible, edited by James D. G. Dunn and John W. Rogerson, 489-542. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2003.

Barnard, Jody A. The Mysticism of Hebrews: Exploring the Role of Jewish Apocalyptic Mysticism in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Wissenschafliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament: 2. Reihe 331, ed. Jörg Frey. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2012.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M. Creation, Fall, and the Story of Adam and Eve. 2014 Updated ed. In God’s Image and Likeness 1. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. www.templethemes.net.

———. Temple Themes in the Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood. 2014 update ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Eborn Books, 2014. www.templethemes.net.

Braude, William G., and Israel J. Kapstein, eds. 1975. Pesikta De-Rab Kahana: R. Kahana’s Compilation of Discourses for Sabbaths and Festal Days. Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 2002.

Cannon, George Q. 1869. “The order of Enoch; socialistic experiments; the social problem (Discourse by Elder George Q. Cannon, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, April 6, 1869).” In Journal of Discourses. 26 vols. Vol. 13, 95-103. Liverpool and London, England: Latter-day Saints Book Depot, 1853-1886. Reprint, Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966.

Danker, Frederick William, Walter Bauer, William F. Arndt, and F. Wilbur Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BDAG). Third ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005.

Freedman, David Noel, Allen C. Myers, and Astrid B. Beck. Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2000.

Ginzberg, Louis, ed. The Legends of the Jews. 7 vols. Translated by Henrietta Szold and Paul Radin. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909-1938. Reprint, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

Givens, Terryl L., and Fiona Givens. The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life. Salt Lake City, UT: Ensign Peak, 2012.

Jellinek, Adolph, ed. Bet ha-Midrasch. Sammlung kleiner midraschim und vermischter Abhandlungen aus der ältern jüdischen Literatur. 6 vols. Vol. 4. Leipzig, Germany: C. W. Vollrath, 1857.

Keener, Craig S. The Gospel of John: A Commentary. 2 vols. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2003.

Larsen, David J. “Enoch and the City of Zion: Can an entire community ascend to heaven?” BYU Studies 53, no. 1 (2014): 25-37.

Lundquist, John M. The Temple: Meeting Place of Heaven and Earth. London, England: Thames and Hudson, 1993.

Migne, Jacques P. “Livre d’Adam.” In Dictionnaire des Apocryphes, ou, Collection de tous les livres Apocryphes relatifs a l’Ancien et au Nouveau Testament, pour la plupart, traduits en français, pour la première fois, sur les textes originaux, enrichie de préfaces, dissertations critiques, notes historiques, bibliographiques, géographiques et théologiques, edited by Jacques P. Migne. Migne, Jacques P. ed. 2 vols. Vol. 1. Troisième et Dernière Encyclopédie Théologique 23, 1-290. Paris, France: Migne, Jacques P., 1856. http://books.google.com/books?id=daUAAAAAMAAJ. (accessed October 17, 2012).

Nibley, Hugh W. 1973. “What is Zion? A distant view.” In Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 9, 25-62. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1989.

Noah, Mordecai M., ed. 1840. The Book of Jasher. Translated by Moses Samuel. Salt Lake City, UT: Joseph Hyrum Parry, 1887. Reprint, New York City, NY: Cosimo Classics, 2005.

Osiek, Carolyn, ed. Shepherd of Hermas: A Commentary. Hermeneia—A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1999.

Ostler, Blake T. Of God and Gods. Exploring Mormon Thought 3. Draper, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2008.

Ridderbos, Herman N. The Gospel According to John: A Theological Commentary. Translated by John Vriend. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1997.

Schneerson, Manachem Mendel. Kuntres Shabos Chazon, 5748 (Sefer HaMaamarim Meluket II, p. 317ff.). In Sichos in English: The Largest Repostitory of the Teachings of Chabad-Lubavitch in English. http://www.sichos-in-english.org/books/anticipating-redemption-1/02.htm. (accessed April 24, 2020).

Shakespeare, William. 1599. “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.” In The Riverside Shakespeare, edited by G. Blakemore Evans, 1100-34. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin Company, 1974.

———. 1605. “The Tragedy of King Lear.” In The Riverside Shakespeare, edited by G. Blakemore Evans, 1240-305. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin Company, 1974.

Smith, Joseph, Jr. The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith. 2nd ed. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2002.

———. 1938. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1969.

Starr, James. 2007. “Does 2 Peter 1:4 speak of deification?” In Partakers of the Divine Nature: The History and Development of Deification in the Christian Traditions, edited by Michael J. Christensen and Jeffery A. Wittung, 81-92. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008.

VanderKam, James C., ed. The Book of Jubilees. Translated by James C. VanderKam. Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 511, Scriptores Aethiopici 88, ed. Frederick McManus. Louvain, Belgium: E. Peeters, 1989.

Webb, Stephen H. Jesus Christ, Eternal God: Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Wintermute, O. S. “Apocalypse of Zehphaniah.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 497-515. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

———. “Jubilees.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. Vol. 2, 35-142. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Zinner, Samuel. “‘Zion’ and ‘Jerusalem’ as Lady Wisdom in Moses 7 and Nephi’s Tree of Life Vision: Reverberations of Enoch and Asherah in Nineteenth Century America.” In Textual and Comparative Explorations in 1 & 2 Enoch, edited by Samuel Zinner. Ancient Scripture and Texts 1, 239-73. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014. Reprint, Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 12 (2014): 281-323. http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/zion-and-jerusalem-as-lady-wisdom-in-moses-7-and-nephis-tree-of-life-vision/. (accessed December 2, 2017).

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Unterlinden-Chapiteau_(1).jpg (accessed April 24, 2020). Public domain. This capital originally sat over the double arch of the nave in the church of the Abbey of Alspach.

Footnotes

 

1Doctrine and Covenants 97:21.

2See J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Overview Moses 5, pp. 342–351.

3Moses 7:19.

4Moses 7:18. S. Zinner, Zion and Jerusalem, p. 257 notes that this verse recalls passages in the Shepherd of Hermas (C. Osiek, Shepherd, Parable 9, 17[94]:4, p. 239):

All the peoples living under heaven, when they heard and believed, were called by the name [of the Son] of God. When they received the seal, they took on one way of thinking and one mind, one faith and one love.

See also ibid., 18[95]:4, p. 239:

The church will be one body, one thinking, one mind, one faith, one love. Then the Son of God will be glad and rejoice in them, when he receives his cleansed people.

S. Zinner, Zion and Jerusalem, p. 257 n. 25 notes: “Although this is similar to language found in Ephesians [4:5], Hermas does not depend on Ephesians here, as is ably demonstrated by [several scholars].”

5Moses 7:69.

6Cf. 2 Samuel 5:7, the first mention of the term, where “David took the strong hold of Zion.”

7Cf. Doctrine and Covenants 115:6; 124:10, 36, 109. Additional suggestions include “a rock, … a dry place, or running water” (D. N. Freedman et al., Eerdmans, s. v. Zion, p. 1421).

8R. D. Draper et al., Commentary, p. 120.

9Doctrine and Covenants 88:22.

10Moses 7:18.

11See M. Barker, Isaiah, p. 533.

12Though this verse is unique in the Bible in specifically applying the name “Zion” to God’s people as a whole, analogous passages can be found in Isaiah 49:2; Hosea 1:8–11, 2:23. Sometimes the people of Jerusalem are referred to as “daughter” (e.g., Isaiah 1:8) or “sons” of Zion (e.g., Lamentations 4:2). Psalm 78:68 also identifies “Mount Zion” with the “tribe of Judah” in poetic parallelism.

13M. M. Schneerson, Kuntres Shabos Chazon, 5748.

14The conditions for such a society have been achieved only rarely, and with long, sustained effort. Terryl and Fiona Givens observe (T. L. Givens et al., God Who Weeps, p. 114): “All who have attempted to reenact Enoch’s enterprise have found the transition from worldly ways to celestial society a more taxing challenge than anticipated. The hard lesson has been, that ‘Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom’ (Doctrine and Covenants 105:5). Rome is not the only city that cannot be built in a day.”

15G. Q. Cannon, 6 April 1869, p. 99.

16When we look at modern Latter-day Saint definitions of Zion we can hardly go wrong with the extensive quotes from Brigham Young used by Hugh Nibley, of which the following is but a small sample (H. W. Nibley, What is Zion?, pp. 29–30):

“When we conclude to make a Zion,” said Brigham Young, “we will make it, and this work commences in the heart of each person.” Zion can come only to a place that is completely ready for it, which is to say Zion must already be there. When Zion descends to earth, it must be met by a Zion that is already here: “And they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks; … and there shall be mine abode, and it shall be Zion” (Moses 7:63–64). Hence, President Young must correct a misunderstanding among many of the Saints who “gather here with the spirit of Zion resting upon them, and expecting to find Zion in its glory, whereas their own doctrine should teach them that they are coming here to make Zion,” that is, to make it possible. “The elements are here to produce as good a Zion as was ever made in all the eternities of the Gods.” Note that Zion is an eternal and a universal type and that the local Zion, while made of the substances of this earth, “shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made” (Moses 7:64). “I have Zion in my view constantly,” said Brother Brigham, making it clear that Zion for this earth is still an unrealized ideal of perfection. “We are not going to wait for angels, or for Enoch and his company to come and build up Zion, but we are going to build it,” so that we will be ready. If we did not have a responsibility for bringing Zion, and if we did not work constantly with that aim in view, its coming could not profit us much—for all its awesome perfection and beauty, Zion is still our business and should be our constant concern.

17J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 15 July 1842, p. 251.

18J. J. P. Migne, Livre d’Adam, 21, p. 170, speaking of Enoch and those with him: “By fleeing and hiding the people on high have ascended higher than us. We have never known them. All the same, there they are, clothed with glory and splendors … And now they are sheltered from our blows.”

19More generally, see D. J. Larsen, Enoch and the City of Zion (2014). David Calabro kindly checked and updated the translation of Hugh Nibley of the account below from A. Jellinek, BHM 4, pp. 131–132. Jellinek’s account is almost identical to the one found in M. M. Noah, Jasher, 3:24–38, pp. 7–8. See also the summary in L. Ginzberg, Legends, 1:129–130. We include Jellenik’s version from BHM here, because it is more difficult to find in English translation:

It happened at that time, that as the children of men were sitting with Enoch he was speaking to them, that they lifted up their eyes and saw something like a great horse coming down from heaven, and the horse moving in the air [wind] to the ground, And they told Enoch what they had seen. And Enoch said to them, “It is on my account that that horse is descending to the earth; the time and the day have arrived when I must go away from you and no longer appear to you.”
And at that time that horse came down and stood before Enoch, and all the people who were with Enoch saw it. And then Enoch commanded, and there came a voice to him saying, “Who is the man who delights to know the ways of the Lord his God? Let him come this day to Enoch before he is taken from us.” And all the people gathered together and came to Enoch on that day .…
And after that he got up and rode on the horse, and he went forth, and all the children of men left and went after him to the number of 800,000 men. And they went with him for a day’s journey. Behold, on the second day he said to them, “Return back to your tents; why are you coming?” And some of them returned from him, and the remainder of them went with him six days’ journey, while Enoch was saying to them every day, “Return to your tents lest you die.” But they did not want to return and they went with him. And on the sixth day men still remained, and they stuck with him. And they said to him, “We will go with thee to the place where thou goest; as the Lord liveth, only death will separate us from thee!” And it came to pass that they took courage to go with him, and he no longer addressed them. And they went after him and did not turn away.
And as for those kings, when they returned, they made a count of all of them (who returned) to know the number of men who remained, who had gone after Enoch.
And it was on the seventh day, and Enoch went up in a tempest into heaven with horses of fire and chariots of fire. And on the eighth day all the kings who had been with Enoch sent to take the number of the men who had stayed behind with Enoch [when the kings left him] at the place from which he had mounted up into the sky.
And all the kings went to that place and found all the ground covered with snow in that place, and on top of the snow huge blocks of snow. And they said to each other, “Come, let us break into the snow here to see whether the people who were left with Enoch died under the lumps of snow.” And they hunted for Enoch and found him not because he had gone up into the sky.

20For example, in 4 Maccabees, a group of courageous brothers encourage each other in the face of their impending martyrdom with the thought that: “After our death in this fashion Abraham and Isaac and Jacob will receive us, and all our forefathers will praise us” (H. Anderson, 4 Maccabees, 13:17, p. 558). In the Apocalypse of Zephaniah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob await the righteous who successfully “have escaped the abyss and Hades” and intercede on behalf of those who remain in torment (O. S. Wintermute, Apocalypse of Zephaniah, 9:2, 4; 11:1–6, pp. 514, 515. Cf. P. S. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 44:7, p. 295). Whereas early Christian authors saw the “bosom of Abraham” as a temporary place of rest for the righteous who awaited resurrection, Western Christianity has come to use the term to describe heaven itself. The theology of orthodox Christians, however, preserves the distinction between the “bosom of Abraham” and heaven.


Since the notion of being in the “bosom of Abraham” is typically associated with a state of the afterlife, when Dale C. Allison, Jr. comments on Testament of Abraham 20:14, he is disturbed by the way the “happy conclusion” of the story of the death of Abraham is “marred” by the idea that Abraham has come to “the tents of my righteous ones and the lodgings of my saints Isaac and Jacob … in his [i.e., Abraham’s] bosom.” Allison complains: “The sentence implies what cannot be, namely, that Isaac and Jacob have already died and gone to paradise” (D. C. Allison, Testament, pp. 405–406).


However, the concept of the living residing in the divine bosom is not at all foreign to Joseph Smith’s story of Enoch, where Enoch and his people are taken to the bosom of God without having died first (see Moses 7:24, 31, 47, 69; D&C 38:4. Cf. D&C 137:5, Joseph Smith’s vision of the celestial kingdom that included living members of his family). Whether Enoch is directly in God’s physical presence or experiencing God’s intimate immanence at the far reaches of His stretched out curtains, he can always truly say: “thou art there, and thy bosom is there” (Moses 7:30). See also J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, Commentary, Moses 7:21-c, p. 138.

21F. W. Danker et al., Greek-English Lexicon, pp. 556–557 clarifies the basic meaning of the Greek term kolpos, writing that it has:

various meanings in general literary usage, frequently with suggestion of curvature and the hollow so formed, as of a person’s chest, folds in a garment or a bay of the sea; our literature contains no application of the term to anatomical parts uniquely female.

22Exodus 4:6–7; Numbers 11:12, 2 Samuel 12:3; 1 Kings 3:20, 17:19; Proverbs 16:33. Cf. D&C 122:6. The term can also be used figuratively to describe an intimate relationship, the spiritual or emotional heart of a person, an act of adoption, as in Genesis 16:5; Deuteronomy 28:56; Ruth 4:16; Psalm 35:13; Job 31:33; Isaiah 40:11. Hence also, W. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, 5:1:7, p. 1128: “I am in their bosoms”; W. Shakespeare, King Lear, 4:5:26, p. 1285: “I know you are of her bosom.”

23Proverbs 17:23; 26:15. Cf. D&C 38:38.

24Ezekiel 43:17.

25E.g., W. G. Braude et al., Kahana, Supplement 2:1, p. 615: “the Holy One will bring out a Scroll of Torah, hold it to His bosom.”

26E.g., O. S. Wintermute, Jubilees, 23:2, p. 99: “During all of this (time) Jacob was lying on [Abraham’s] bosom and did not know that Abraham, his grandfather, was dead.” Cf. J. C. VanderKam, Book of Jubilees, 23:2, p. 135.

27Luke 16:22.

28Cf. D&C 76:13, 25, 39; 109:4. “The long history of images of divine kings in deities’ bosoms … probably reflects a particular application of this broader image” (C. S. Keener, John, 1:425 n. 584). Further describing the Eastern custom of reclining at table, Hermann Ridderbos writes (H. N. Ridderbos, John, p. 469):

[John 13:23: “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.”] This description assumes the custom of the time of reclining at table on special occasions. Each guest leaned on his left arm with his elbow on a cushion so that his head would be near the chest of the person to his left. [“On Jesus’ bosom”] therefore means not only that this disciple was in the place of honor to the right of Jesus, the host, but also that he had opportunity to conduct the tête-à-tête with Jesus … without being overheard by the others at the table. Many interpreters see in [“on Jesus’ bosom”] an allusion to [John 1:18]: “As the Son is in the bosom of the Father, so this disciple is in the bosom of Jesus.”

29C. S. Keener, John, 1:424–425.

30Moses 7:24, 30, 31, 47, 63, 69.

31Moses 7:47. But see S. Zinner, Zion and Jerusalem, pp. 260–261, who also discusses feminine imagery of the concept of “bosom” in Jewish tradition.

32See, e.g., J. M. Lundquist, Meeting Place, p. 7.

33W. G. Braude et al., Kahana, 12:10, p. 66.

34Doctrine and Covenants 9:8.

35P. S. Alexander, From Son of Adam, p. 107 n. 31.

36See J. A. Barnard, Mysticism of Hebrews, p. 193. See also J. M. Bradshaw, Temple Themes in the Oath, pp. 61–62; J. M. Bradshaw, God’s Image 1, captions to figure 6–13 and 6–14, pp. 472–473.

37S. H. Webb, Jesus Christ, p. 253.

382 Peter 1:4. For more on the interpretation of this verse, J. Starr, Partakers and B. T. Ostler, God, pp. 392–395.

39Moses 7:69.

40Doctrine and Covenants 133:12.

41Moroni 7:47–48.

42To the Twelve, J. Smith, Jr., Writings 2002, 15 December 1840, p. 520. Reprinted in J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 15 December 1840 [mistakenly dated as 19 October 1840], pp. 178-179.

431 Corinthians 1:7.

The Earth Shall Rest

Book of Moses Essay #29

Moses 7:60-69

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

Having witnessed the abrupt end of the long-awaited coming of the Son of Man in His unexpected crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension; and having now understood that His presence on earth would not halt the wickedness of the world, Enoch again “wept and cried unto the Lord, saying? … Wilt thou not come again upon the earth?”1

In this Essay, we will see Enoch’s anguished hope fulfilled at last when the righteous would be gathered to a Holy City and God would make Zion His abode. As we will see, this prophetic expectation appears elsewhere in the ancient Enoch literature and Jewish tradition.

A provisional proposal for the structuring of Moses 7:60–69 into seven sections is given in the appendix.

1. The Lord Will Fulfill His Oath

In answer to Enoch’s question about whether God will come again upon the earth, the Lord declares that He will “fulfill the oath” He made to Enoch “concerning the children of Noah”2  —namely that He would “call upon”3 them. “In this light,” explain Draper, Brown, and Rhodes, “it becomes evident that the Second Coming will be the crowning moment among the Lord’s contacts with ‘the children of Noah.’”4 The Lord’s oath is made doubly sure by the use of His own name: “As I live, even so will I come in the last days, in the days of wickedness and vengeance.”5

Having sworn that He would return, the Lord at last addresses Enoch’s repeated, unanswered question with the solemn declaration that, indeed, the day would come when “the earth shall rest.”6

2. Great Tribulations Among the Children of Men and Preservation of the Lord’s People

Jarringly, the Lord immediately followed His welcome promise with a terrible warning of “great tribulations” that would take place “before that day.”7  The first and perhaps greatest tribulation is that “a veil of darkness [would] cover the earth.”8  This seems to indicate that communication between heaven and the “children of men” would be severed due to wickedness.9

As to the righteous, Elder Neal A. Maxwell comments:

God preserved and prepared Enoch’s people in the midst of awful and enveloping evil, and, reassuringly, he has promised His people in our own time that though “great tribulations shall be among the children of men, … my people will I preserve.”10 11

3. The Lord Will Gather the Righteous

The phrase: “And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of earth” recalls a similar phrase in Psalm 85:11. However, the sequence of the terms “truth” (‘emet) and “righteousness” (tsedaqah) is inverted, and, more importantly, different actions are indicated. In the Psalm, the personification of the divine traits is used to create a metaphor of peace and prosperity in the land, whereas in Moses 7:62, it depicts the coming forth of a united testimony from above and below of the Only Begotten—specifically of His resurrection and “the resurrection of all men.”

Moses 7:62

Psalm 85:11

And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men.

Truth shall spring out of the earth; and righteousness shall look down from heaven. Yea, the Lord shall give that which is good; and our land shall yield her increase.

Latter-day Saint interpreters understand the imagery of Moses 7:62 as referring to the restoration of the Gospel.12  Heavenly messengers (perhaps meant to include the Savior, “the Righteous” Himself13) are to be sent “down out of heaven” and “truth” (referring to the Book of Mormon and perhaps other “hidden” books14) is to be sent “forth out of the earth.”15  The personification of “righteousness” in the Book of Moses is apt in light of the use of divine virtues as the names of heavenly messengers in 1 Enoch 40:8–916.  Likewise, as George Mitton observes, the Book of Mormon as a testimony of the risen Lord is equally fitting since “the symbol of its coming forth from the earth is reminiscent of the Lord’s resurrection.”17

How well does the Book of Moses’ mention of resurrection of the “Only Begotten” and of “all men” fit into the ancient Enoch literature? In a previous Essay,18  we have already discussed the use of the term “Only Begotten” in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish tradition. Going further with respect to views at Qumran on the role of the Messiah (and perhaps, in addition Elijah and Ezekiel) as agents of the resurrection, we cite the Messianic Apocalypse, which closely parallels the Gospels’19  use of Isaiah 26 and 61 to describe the mission of Jesus. Among other things, the Messianic Apocalypse declares that “his Messiah … will heal the badly wounded and will make the dead live.”20  Benjamin Wold couples this passage with 4QPseudoEzekiel to argue that a personal, bodily resurrection in the last days is envisioned by the authors, not merely a temporary revivication or a symbolic restoration of Israel.21

Of course, in contrast to some other ancient religions, evidence for an early Israelite belief in a personal resurrection is controversial.22  Significantly, however, some of the earliest and most explicit of the extant descriptions of the resurrection in Jewish literature that do exist are found in the Enoch literature, in particular the Book of Parables which is so rich in its descriptions of the Son of Man:

And the righteous and the chosen will be saved on that day;

      and the faces of the sinners and the unrighteous they will henceforth not see.

And the Lord of Spirits will dwell over them,

      and with that Son of Man they will eat

      and lie down and rise up forever and ever.

And the righteous and chosen will have arisen from the earth,

      and have ceased to cast down their faces,

      and have put on the garment of glory.

And this will be your garment, the garment of life from the Lord of Spirits;

      and your garments will not wear out,

      and your glory will not fade in the presence of the Lord of Spirits.23

The description of the flood of righteousness and truth that will affect the gathering of the elect in the last days is in deliberate counterpoint to the account of the flood of water that brought about the destruction of the wicked in Noah’s day. Noah’s flood brought destruction, whereas this flood will bring salvation. The Prophet Joseph Smith explained:

Men and angels are to be co-workers in bringing to pass this great work, and Zion is to be prepared, even a new Jerusalem, for the elect that are to be gathered from the four quarters of the earth, and to be established an holy city, for the tabernacle of the Lord shall be with them.24

The Lord told Enoch that His people would be gathered “unto a place which I shall prepare.”25 Jewish tradition echoes these words. For example in 4 Ezra 13:35 we read:  “Zion will come and be made manifest to all people, prepared and built, as you saw the mountain carved out without hands.”26 Similarly, 2 Baruch 4:2–3 reads:  “[I]t is that [city] which will be revealed, with me, that was already prepared from the moment that I decided to create Paradise.”27

The nature of the gathering place of God’s elect as a “Holy City” is described in 1 Enoch’s Book of the Parables 45:5:  “And my chosen ones I shall make to dwell on it, but those who commit sin and error will not set foot on it.”28 Jewish tradition also describes a “New Jerusalem.”29 According to the Testament of Levi 10:5:  “For the house which the Lord shall choose shall be called Jerusalem, as the book of Enoch the Righteous maintains.”30 This account may be citing 1 Enoch 90:28–29, which tells of how the old house (i.e., the old city of Jerusalem) is removed and replaced with a new house (i.e., New Jerusalem).31  Moreover, in one version of 2 Enoch, the seer calls the place of his ascent “the highest Jerusalem.”32

4. The Lord and Enoch’s City will Receive the Righteous

N. T. Wright, the well-known Anglican bishop and New Testament scholar, described the uniting of heaven and earth as follows:

God made heaven and earth; at last he will remake both and join them together forever. And when we come to the picture of the actual end in Revelation 21–22, we find not ransomed souls making their way to a disembodied heaven but rather the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven to earth, uniting the two in a lasting embrace.33

Again, the ancient Enoch literature echoes the themes of the Book of Moses. In the Book of Parables 45:4–5 we read:  “On that day, I shall make my Chosen One dwell among them, and I shall transform heaven and make it a blessing and a light forever; and I shall transform the earth and make it a blessing. And my chosen ones I shall make to dwell on it.”34

For a second time in this passage, Moses 7:63 shares similar imagery with Psalm 85—and this time 1 Enoch does the same. However, as in the previous instance, there is an important difference. In Psalm 85 and 1 Enoch, two divine attributes meet and kiss, whereas in Moses 7:63 it is Enoch’s city and the Lord Himself that fall upon the necks of the righteous and kiss them, as they would a returning prodigal.35

Moses 7:63

Psalm 85:10

1 Enoch 11:2

And we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other.

Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

Truth and peace will be united together.36

Robert Alter, writing of Psalm 85, captures the commonality of spirit with Moses 7:63:  “This bold metaphor focuses the sense of an era of perfect loving harmony. Rashi imagines a landscape in which all Israelites will kiss one another.”37

5 and 6. The Earth Shall Rest, and Enoch Receives a Fulness of Joy

Differing with the Lord’s previous instruction to Enoch, He delivers His word as a monologue—there is no reply from Enoch this time, only an epilogue from the narrator. After having seen and heard “all things,” Enoch’s questions were answered and he “received a fulness of joy.”

In the next Essay, we will discuss ancient traditions that resonate with the Book of Moses account of how Enoch’s city was taken up “into [God’s] own bosom.”38

 

This article is adapted and expanded from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 102, 157–162.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 102, 157-162.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 145-150.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986, pp. 269-275.

Appendix: A Provisional Proposal for Structuring Moses 6:60-69

The text below generally follows the OT1 manuscript as originally dictated, with spelling, grammar, and punctuation modernized. Different colors indicate different speakers: blue for God and black for the narrator. We are grateful to Noel Reynolds for sharing his expertise in structuring scripture, though any resulting faults are ours.

1. The Lord Will Fulfill His Oath

60 And the Lord said unto Enoch:

As I live,

even so will I come in the last days,

in the days of wickedness and vengeance,

to fulfil the oath

which I have made unto you

concerning the children of Noah;

61 And the day shall come

that the earth shall rest,

                2. Great Tribulations Shall Be Among the Children of Men but the Lord’s People Will Be Preserved

but before that day

the heavens shall be darkened,

and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth;

and the heavens shall shake,

and also the earth

and great tribulations shall be among the children of men,

but my people will I preserve;

3. The Lord Will Gather the Righteous

62 And righteousness will I send down out of heaven;

and truth will I send forth out of the earth,

to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten;

his resurrection from the dead;

yea, and also the resurrection of all men;

and righteousness and truth will I cause

to sweep the earth as with the flood,

to gather out mine own elect

from the four quarters of the earth,

unto a place which I shall prepare,

an Holy City,

that my people may gird up their loins

and be looking forth for the time of my coming;

for there shall be my tabernacle,

and it shall be called Zion

a New Jerusalem.

4. The Lord and Enoch’s City Shall Receive the Righteous

63 And the Lord said unto Enoch:

Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there

 and we will receive them into our bosom,

and they shall see us;

and we will fall upon their necks,

and they shall fall upon our necks,

and we will kiss each other; 

5. The Lord Shall Abide in Zion and the Earth Shall Rest

64 And there shall be mine abode,

and it shall be Zion,

which shall come forth out of all the creations which I have made;,

and for the space of a thousand years

shall the earth  rest.

6. Enoch Saw All Things and Received a Fulness of Joy

65 And it came to pass that Enoch saw

the day of the coming of the Son of Man,

in the last days, to dwell on the earth

in righteousness for the space of a thousand years;

66 But before that day

he saw great tribulation among the wicked;

and he also saw the sea, that it was troubled,

and men’s hearts failing them,

looking forth with fear for the judgments of the Almighty God,

which should come upon the wicked.

67 And the Lord showed Enoch

all things, even unto the end of the world;

and he saw the day of the righteous,

the hour of their redemption,

and received a fulness of joy;

7. God Receives Zion Up Into His Own Bosom

68 And all the days of Zion, in the days of Enoch, were three hundred and sixty-five years.

69 And Enoch and all his people walked with God,

and he dwelt in the midst of Zion;

and it came to pass that Zion was not,

for God received it up into his own bosom;

and from thence went forth the saying,

Zion is Fled.

References

Alter, Robert, ed. The Hebrew Bible: A Translation with Commentary. New York City, NY: W. W. Norton, 2019.

Andersen, F. I. “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 91-221. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Benson, Ezra Taft. The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson. Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1988.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014. www.templethemes.net.

Charlesworth, James H. “Conclusion: The origin and development of resurrection beliefs.” In Resurrection: The Origin and Future of a Biblical Doctrine, edited by James H. Charlesworth. Faith and Scholarship Colloquies 3, 218-31. New York City, NY: T & T Clark, 2006.

———. “Where does the concept of resurrection appear and how do we know that?” In Resurrection: The Origin and Future of a Biblical Doctrine, edited by James H. Charlesworth. Faith and Scholarship Colloquies 3, 1-21. New York City, NY: T & T Clark, 2006.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005.

Elledge, C. D. “Resurrection of the dead: Exploring our earliest evidence today.” In Resurrection: The Origin and Future of a Biblical Doctrine, edited by James H. Charlesworth. Faith and Scholarship Colloquies 3, 22-52. New York City, NY: T & T Clark, 2006.

Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.

Givens, Terryl L., and Fiona Givens. The God Who Weeps: How Mormonism Makes Sense of Life. Salt Lake City, UT: Ensign Peak, 2012.

Kee, Howard C. “Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. Vol. 1, 775-828. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Klijn, A. F. J. “2 (Syriac Apocalypse of) Baruch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 615-52. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Martinez, Florentino Garcia. “4QMessianic Apocalypse (4Q521).” In The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English, edited by Florentino Garcia Martinez. 2nd ed. Translated by Wilfred G. E. Watson, 394-95. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1996.

Maxwell, Neal A. 1975. Of One Heart: The Glory of the City of Enoch. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1980.

Metzger, Bruce M. “The Fourth Book of Ezra.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 2, 517-59. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Mitton, George L. “The Book of Mormon as a resurrected book and a type of Christ.” In Remembrance and Return: Essays in Honor of Louis C. Midgley, edited by Ted Vaggalis and Daniel C. Peterson, 121-46. Orem and Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2020.

Nibley, Hugh W. The Prophetic Book of Mormon. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 8. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1989.

Nickelsburg, George W. E., ed. 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1-36; 81-108. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001.

Nickelsburg, George W. E., and James C. VanderKam, eds. 1 Enoch 2: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 37-82. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2012.

Paulien, Jon. “The resurrection and the Old Testament: A fresh look in light of recent research.” Journal of The Adventist Theological Society 24, no. 1 (2013): 3-24. http://archive.atsjats.org/Paulien_-__Resurrection.pdf. (accessed May 24, 2020).

Rashi. c. 1105. Rashi’s Commentary on Psalms. Translated by Mayer I. Gruber. The Brill Reference Library of Judaism 18. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 2007.

Reeves, John C., and Annette Yoshiko Reed. Sources from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 2 vols. Enoch from Antiquity to the Middle Ages 1. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Smith, Joseph, Jr. “To the Elders of the Church of the Latter Day Saints.” Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate 2:2, November, 1835, 209-12.

———. “To the Elders of the Church of the Latter Day Saints.” Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate 2:3, December, 1835, 225-30.

———. Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2007.

Smith, Joseph, Jr., Karen Lynn Davidson, David J. Whittaker, Mark Ashurst-McGee, and Richard L. Jensen. Joseph Smith Histories, 1832-1844. The Joseph Smith Papers, Histories 1, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin and Richard Lyman Bushman. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press, 2012.

Smith, Joseph, Jr. 1938. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1969.

Tvedtnes, John A. The Book of Mormon and Other Hidden Books. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University FARMS, 2000.

Wold, Benjamin. “Agency and raising the dead in 4QPseudo-Ezekiel and 4Q521 2 ii.” Zeitschrift für Neutestamentliche Wissenschafte und die Kunde der Älteren Kirche 103, no. 1 (2012): 1-19.

Wright, Nicholas Thomas. The Resurrection of the Son of God. Christian Origins and the Question of God 3. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003.

———. Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church. New York City, NY: HarperOne, 2008.

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. With kind permission of the artist.

Footnotes

 

1Moses 7:59, 60.

2Moses 7:60.

3Moses 7:51.

4R. D. Draper et al., Commentary, p. 145.

5Moses 7:60. Cf. Ibid., p. 145. God’s use of an oath with two immutable parts recalls the divine promise described in Hebrews 6:16–20.

6Moses 7:61.

7Moses 7:61.

8Moses 7:61.

9Moses 7:61. We make this interpretation of “veil of darkness” being spiritual in nature based on similar phrases elsewhere in scripture, e.g., Moses 7:56 (“the heavens were veiled”) and D&C 38:8 (“the veil of darkness shall soon be rent”), which imply that this veil will cut off direct communication from heaven. Cf. D&C 110:1: “The veil was taken from our minds.” See also a phrase added to the end of Genesis 9:26 in the JST: “and a veil of darkness shall cover him” (S. H. Faulring et al., Original Manuscripts, OT1, p. 118; OT2, p. 632. See also J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, Commentary Genesis 9:26, p. 323).

10N. A. Maxwell, One Heart, p. v.

11Moses 7:61.

12E. T. Benson, Teachings 1988, October 198.6, p. 105 quoted Moses 7:62 with specific reference to the Book of Mormon.

13R. D. Draper et al., Commentary, p. 146:

Because one of the titles for the Savior is “the Righteous” (Moses 7:45, 47), this prophesied event may well refer to the coming of the Savior in the latter days, perhaps to the youthful Joseph Smith, thereby anticipating the restoration of the Gospel. It seems also to refer to renewed revelation in the last days.

14For examples, see J. A. Tvedtnes, Hidden Books; H. W. Nibley, Prophetic, pp. 274ff; G. L. Mitton, Book of Mormon As a Resurrected Book.

15Moses 7:62. Cf. R. D. Draper et al., Commentary, p. 146. Joseph Smith himself wrote, commenting on the parable of the mustard seed (J. Smith, Jr., To the Elders, p. 227, emphasis added. Reprinted in J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, December 1835, p. 98; J. Smith, Jr., Teachings 2007, p. 301):

Let us now take the Book of Mormon, which a man took and hid in his field; securing it by his faith, to spring up in the last days, or in due time; let us behold it coming froth out of the ground, which is indeed accounted the least of all seeds, but behold it branching forth; yea, even towering, with lofty branches, and God-like majesty, until it becomes the greatest of all herbs; and it is truth, and it has sprouted and come forth out of the earth; and righteousness begins to look down from heaven; and God is sending down his powers, gifts and angels, to lodge in the branches thereof.

Later, referring to the publication of the Book of Mormon, the Prophet wrote (J. Smith, Jr. et al., Histories, 1832-1844, History Drafts, 1838–Circa 1841, Draft 2, p. 386, emphasis added):

It had now come to pass that, Truth had sprung out of the earth; and Righteousness had looked down from Heaven, so we feared not our opponents, knowing that we had both Truth and righteousness on our side.

16G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 40:8–9, p. 130. See Nickelsburg’s comments on p. 134 n. 9.

17G. L. Mitton, Book of Mormon As a Resurrected Book, p. 131.

18See Essay #15.

19Matthew 11:1–6; Luke 7:18–23.

20F. G. Martinez, 4QMessianic Apocalypse (4Q521), Fragment 2, column ii, p. 394. James Charlesworth calls this “an obvious reference to the resurrection of the dead” (J. H. Charlesworth, Concept of Resurrection, p. 15). Confirming that this is a permanent resurrection rather than a temporary revivification is a later fragment of the same text that refers to “the heavens welcoming the righteous, and the presence of angels” (C. D. Elledge, Earliest Evidence, p. 33. Cf. F. G. Martinez, 4QMessianic Apocalypse (4Q521), Fragment 5, column ii, p. 395).

21B. Wold, Agency and Raising the Dead.

22See, e.g., J. H. Charlesworth, Resurrection Beliefs, p. 223, who writes: “In the history of the theologies of Israel, resurrection belief is clearly found only in very late literature. The patriarchs and those in the monarchy, as well as those who lived in ancient Palestine before the sixth-century BCE Babylonian exile, did not imagine that the dead would be raised.”


However, N. T. Wright (N. T. Wright, Resurrection of the Son of God, pp. 85–128) and others (e.g., J. Paulien, Resurrection and the OT) see a much earlier idea of a personal resurrection present earlier in Hosea, Isaiah, and elsewhere.


An example of late Jewish legendry attesting to the idea of a personal resurrection and of interest here because of its parallels with the story of Enoch’s encounter with the Angel of Death is given in the “Tale of R. Joshua ben Levi.” We quote here from its account of a visit to the “fifth chamber opposite the fifth gate” in the post-mortal Garden of Eden (J. C. Reeves et al., Enoch from Antiquity 1, pp. 206-207):

Elijah of blessed memory would take the head of the Messiah and let it rest in his lap. He would say to him: “Be quiet! For the appointed time is close!” The ancestors of the world and of the tribes and Moses and Aaron and David and Solomon and each and every king of Israel and from the lineage of David would come to him every Monday, Thursday, Sabbath, and festival day and weep with him and encourage him and say to him: “Be quiet and rely on your Creator, for the appointed time is close!” And also Qorah and his congregation, and Dathan and Abiram, and Absalom would come to him every Wednesday and ask him: “How long until the appointed time for miraculous events? How long before you turn to resurrect us and you turn to bring us up from the depths of the earth?” He would say to them: “Go to your ancestors!” And when they would hear this, they would never ask the ancestors. When I entered before the Messiah b. David, he asked me and said to me: “How does Israel fare in the world from which you came?” I said to him: “They hope for you ( to come) every day, constantly.” He at once raised his voice in weeping.

23G. W. E. Nickelsburg et al., 1 Enoch 2, 62:13–16, pp. 254–255. George Nickelsburg and James VanderKam see this passage as a “compelling” reference to resurrection (ibid., p. 268).

24J. Smith, Jr., To the Elders, p. 209. Reprinted in J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, November 1835, p. 84.

25Moses 7:62.

26B. M. Metzger, 4 Ezra, 13:35, p. 552, emphasis added.

27A. F. J. Klijn, 2 Baruch, 4:2–3, p. 622, emphasis added.

28G. W. E. Nickelsburg et al., 1 Enoch 2, 45:5, p. 148.

29Moses 7:62. See Hebrews 11:16; 12:22–24; Revelation 3:12; 21:2; 3 Nephi 20:22; 21:23–24; Ether 13:2–10; D&C 42:67; 133:56.

30H. C. Kee, Testaments, Levi 10:5, p. 792.

31See G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 90:28–29, p. 402. See also pp. 404–405 n. 28–36. Cf. Hebrews 9:8.

32F. I. Andersen, 2 Enoch, 55:2 [J], p. 55.

33N. T. Wright, Surprised, p. 19.

34G. W. E. Nickelsburg et al., 1 Enoch 2, 45:4–5, p. 148.

35Terryl and Fiona Givens comment (T. L. Givens et al., God Who Weeps, p. 106):

The beauty and power of this image is in its concreteness. God and His people, the living and the departed, heaven and earth, embrace. The immense distance between the spiritual and the mundane collapses, and we find holiness in the ordinary. Luke’s tale of the prodigal son turns out to be not symbolic foreshadowing, but literal foretaste, of a greater reunion. As the evangelist told the story, when the son ‘was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him’ (Luke 15:20).”

36G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 11:2, p. 216.

37R. Alter, Hebrew Bible, Psalm 85:[12], justice and peace have kissed, 3:206. “Rashi construes biblical Hebrew ṣedeq ‘JUSTICE’ in the sense of Rabbinic Hebrew ṣĕdāqāh ‘charity’” (Rashi, Psalms, p. 554 n. 12), and comments (ibid., p. 553å):

The charity [haṣṣĕdāqāh] which Israel used to perform and the WELL-BEING from the Holy One Blessed be He will kiss each other, which is to say that the end result of charity is well-being [i.e., šālôm, translated in the KJB as “peace”].

38Moses 7:69.

The Weeping Voice of Enoch

Book of Moses Essay #28

Moses 7:28-43

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

The tradition of a weeping prophet is perhaps best exemplified by Jeremiah who cried out in sorrow:

Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!1

In another place, he wrote:

Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow.2

Less well-known is the ancient Jewish tradition of Enoch as a weeping prophet. In the pseudepigraphal book of 1 Enoch, his words are very near to those of Jeremiah:

O that my eyes were a [fountain]3  of water, that I might weep over you; I would pour out my tears as a cloud of water, and I would rest from the grief of my heart.4

We find the pseudepigraphal Enoch, like Enoch in the Book of Moses, weeping in response to visions of mankind’s wickedness. Following the second of these visions in 1 Enoch, he is recorded as saying:

And after that I wept bitterly, and my tears did not cease until I could no longer endure it, but they were running down because of what I had seen. … I wept because of it, and I was disturbed because I had seen the vision.5

In the Apocalypse of Paul, the apostle meets Enoch, “the scribe of righteousness”6  “within the gate of Paradise,” and, after having been cheerfully embraced and kissed,7 sees the prophet weep, and says to him, “‘Brother, why do you weep?’ And again sighing and lamenting he said, ‘We are hurt by men, and they grieve us greatly; for many are the good things which the Lord has prepared, and great is his promise, but many do not perceive them.’”8  A similar motif of Enoch weeping over the generations of mankind can be found in the pseudepigraphal book of 2 Enoch.9  “There is, to say the least,” writes Hugh Nibley “no gloating in heaven over the fate of the wicked world. [And it] is Enoch who leads the weeping.”10

It is surprising that so little has been done to compare modern revelation with ancient sources bearing on the weeping of Enoch.11  Mere coincidence is an insufficient explanation for Joseph Smith’s association of weeping with Enoch, as it is a motif that occurs nowhere in scripture or other sources where the Prophet might have seen it,12  and similar accounts of weeping are not associated with comparable figures in his translations and revelations.13

Besides Moses 7:41 and 49, we find two additional descriptions of Enoch’s weeping. The first instance is to be found in the words of a divinely-given song, recorded in Joseph Smith’s Revelation Book 2,  where Enoch is said to have “gazed upon nature and the corruption of man, and mourned their sad fate, and wept.”14 The second instance is in Old Testament Manuscript 2 of the Joseph Smith Translation, where the revelatory account was corrected to say that it was Enoch rather than God who wept.

Figure 2. “the God of heaven wept” (Moses 7:28) as written by Emma Smith.
Figure 3. “Enoch … wept” (Moses 7:28) as written by John Whitmer and corrected by Sidney Rigdon.

Did God or Enoch Weep in Moses 7:28?

The Prophet’s first dictation of Moses 7:28 follows the description of Old Testament Manuscript 1 (OT1), where it is God who weeps:

the g God of heaven looked upon the residue of the peop[le a]nd he wept15

and a subsequent revision, correcting the text so it reads that Enoch wept:

the God of Heaven look=ed upon the residue of the people & wept16

The first dictation above is the one that has been retained in the current canonical version of the Book of Moses. In line with narrative considerations discussed in a previous Essay,17 we think that it makes more sense in the context of the overall passage to understand Enoch as having deferred his weeping until Moses 7:41, after God completes his speech. Thus, for this and other reasons outlined elsewhere,18  we take the OT1 version of Moses 7:28, where the text states that God wept, to be the best reading of the verse, unless and until better arguments for the OT2 reading come along.19

Within the theme of the weeping Enoch, there are several
specific sub-themes that are common in both the Book of Moses and in ancient
literature:

·         Weeping in similitude of God

·         Weeping because the Divine withdraws from the earth

·         Weeping because of the insulting words of the wicked

·         Weeping followed by heavenly vision

We will discuss each of these in turn.

Weeping in Similitude of God

In the Midrash Rabbah on Lamentations, Enoch is portrayed as weeping in likeness of God when the Israelite temple was destroyed:

At that time the Holy One, blessed be He, wept and said, “Woe is Me! What have I done? I caused my Shekhinah to dwell below on earth for the sake of Israel; but now that they have sinned, I have returned to My former habitation…” At that time Metatron [who is Enoch in his glorified state] came, fell upon his face, and spake before the Holy One, blessed be He: “Sovereign of the Universe, let me weep, but do Thou not weep.” He replied to him: “if thou lettest Me not weep now, I will repair to a place which thou hast not permission to enter, and will weep there,” as it is said, “But if ye will not hear it, My soul shall weep in secret for pride.”20 21

The dialogue between God and Enoch in this passage is reminiscent of the one in Moses 7:28–41:

28 And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?
29 And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity? …

Enoch, seeing God weep, was astonished at witnessing the emotional display of the holy, eternal God. In the Book of Moses account, God, in response, proceeds to show Enoch the wickedness of the people of the Earth and how much they will suffer in consequence. After seeing a vision of the misery that would come upon God’s children, Enoch will commiserate with God, weeping inconsolably.22

Speaking of prophets in general, Abraham Heschel explains that “what convulsed the prophet’s whole being was God. His condition was a state of suffering in sympathy with the divine pathos.”23  This view of prophets stands in stark contrast to the Philo of Alexandria’s parallel description of the relationship between the high priest and God in De Specialibus Legibus. In this passage, Philo is commenting upon the law in Leviticus 21:10–12 which prohibits the high priest from mourning for (or even approaching) the bodies of deceased parents, consistent with Greek philosophical conceptions.24

Philo’s view of a dispassionate, yet mediating high priest is not only at odds with the portrayal of Jesus as high priest presented in Hebrews 4:15 (“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities”),25  but also with Heschel’s perspective of mediating prophets as those who have entered into “a fellowship with the feelings of God.”26  As in the case of Enoch, a model of divine sympathy calls into question teachings regarding divine apathy.

This theme of shared sorrow between God and prophet is explored at length by theologian Terence Fretheim.27  According to Fretheim, “The prophet’s life was reflective of the divine life. This became increasingly apparent to Israel. God is seen to be present not only in what the prophet has to say, but in the word as embodied in the prophet’s life. To hear and see the prophet was to hear and see God, a God who was suffering on behalf of the people.”28 To a certain extent, so close was the association between God and prophet that the prophet’s very presence could serve as a sort of “ongoing theophany,”29  providing Israel with a very visible and tangible representation of God’s concern.30

Fretheim argues that the prophet’s “sympathy with the divine pathos” was not the result of contemplating the divine, but rather a result of the prophet’s participation in the divine council. He writes:

[T]he fact that the prophets are said to be a part of this council indicates something of the intimate relationship they had with God. The prophet was somehow drawn up into the very presence of God; even more, the prophet was in some sense admitted into the history of God. The prophet becomes a party to the divine story; the heart and mind of God pass over into that of the prophet to such an extent that the prophet becomes a veritable embodiment of God.31

In the case of Enoch, the prophet enters into the presence of God32  and witnesses the weeping of God and a heavenly host over the wickedness of humanity.33  As a result of this participation in the heavenly council, Enoch becomes divinely sensitized to the plight of the human race and begins to weep himself.34

Weeping Because the Divine Withdrawal from the Earth.

A full chorus of weeping that begins with the Messiah and expands to include the heavens and its angelic hosts is eloquently described in a Jewish mystical text called the Zohar:

Then the Messiah lifts up his voice and weeps, and the whole Garden of Eden quakes, and all the righteous and saints who are there break out in crying and lamentation with him. When the crying and weeping resound for the second time, the whole firmament above the Garden begins to shake, and the cry echoes from five hundred myriads of supernal hosts until it reaches the highest Throne.35

The reason for this weeping “of all the workmanship of [God’s] hands”36  is the loss of the temple—the withdrawal of the divine presence from the earth. In Jewish tradition, this withdrawal is portrayed as having occurred in a series of poignant stages. This is vividly illustrated in Ezekiel 9-11. Because of the priests’ wickedness within the temple precincts, the “glory of the God of Israel” moves from its resting place within the temple compound to the threshold of the temple,37  where it remains for a time. Finally, after surveying the extent of the wicked priests’ actions within the temple, Ezekiel sees the “glory of Yahweh” leave the temple, continue east through the city of Jerusalem, and finally come to rest upon the Mount of Olives.38

This departure of the God of Israel from the great city of Jerusalem was especially significant from the perspectives of the nations who surrounded Israel. According to the Hebrew Bible scholar Margaret Odell, “In ancient Near Eastern thought, a city could not be destroyed unless its god had abandoned it.”39  With the presence of God removed from the city, it now lay exposed and vulnerable to attack, a condition that was exploited by the Babylonians.

The withdrawal of the divine presence from the temple is a fitting analogue to the taking up of Enoch’s Zion from the earth. Whereas in the above passages, where God withdraws his presence, or his glory, due to the wickedness of the people, the Book of Moses40  has God removing the righteous city of Zion in its entirety from among the wicked nations that surround it.

The differences in the two pericopes may actually have more in common than is immediately apparent. In Jewish literature there is a significant correspondence between Zion and the Shekhinah (Divine Presence). Zion is often personified as the Bride of God.41  The word “Shekhinah” is a feminine noun in Hebrew, is often associated with the female personified Wisdom, and is likewise described in later Jewish writings as the Bride of God. The idea of Zion being taken up and the Shekhinah being withdrawn are parallel motifs.

Weeping Because of the Insulting Words of the Wicked

Pheme Perkins correctly argues that:

speech is much more carefully controlled and monitored in a traditional, hierarchical society than it is in modern democracies. We can hardly recapture the sense of horror at blasphemy that ancient society felt because for us words do not have the same power that they do in traditional societies. Words appear to have considerably less consequences than actions. In traditional societies, the word is a form of action.42

Consistent with this idea, a Manichaean text describes an Enoch who weeps because of the harsh words of the wicked:

I am Enoch the righteous. My sorrow was great, and a torrent of tears [streamed] from my eyes because I heard the insult which the wicked ones uttered.43

Elsewhere, Enoch is said to have prophesied a future judgment upon such “ungodly sinners” who have “uttered hard speeches… against [the Lord].”44

Rabbi Eliezer gives examples of such insults:

We don’t need Your drops of rain, neither do we need to walk in Your ways.45

Having been told by Noah that all mankind would be destroyed by the Flood if they did not repent, these same “sons of God” are said to have defiantly replied:

If this is the case, we will stop human reproduction and multiplying, and thus put an end to the lineage of the sons of men ourselves.46

Similarly, in Moses 8:21, we find these examples of truculent boasting in the mouths of the antediluvians:

Behold, we are the sons of God; have we not taken unto ourselves the daughters of men? And are we not eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage? And our wives bear unto us children, and the same are mighty men, which are like unto men of old, men of great renown.

An ancient exegetical tradition cited by John Reeves associates the speech of Job in 21:7–15 “to events transpiring during the final years of the antediluvian era”47  rather than to the time of Job. Likewise, in 3 Enoch these verses are directly linked, not to Job, but to Enoch himself.48  In defiance of the Lord’s entreaty to “love one another, and… choose me, their Father,”49  the wicked are depicted as “say[ing] unto God”:

14 … Depart from us: for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.
15 What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? And what profit should we have if we pray unto him?50

Reeves  characterizes these words as “a blasphemous rejection of divine governance and guidance… wherein the wicked members of the Flood generation verbally reject God.”51

Weeping Followed by Heavenly Vision

In the Cologne Mani Codex,  Enoch’s tearful sorrow was directly followed by an angelophany:

While the tears were still in my eyes and the prayer was yet on my lips, I beheld approaching me s[even] angels descending from heaven. [Upon seeing] them I was so moved by fear that my knees began knocking.52

 A description of a similar set of events is found in 2 Enoch:

… in the first month, on the assigned day of the first month, I was in my house alone, weeping and grieving with my eyes. When I had lain down on my bed, I fell asleep. And two huge men appeared to me, the like of which I had never seen on earth.53

The same sequence of events, Enoch’s weeping and grieving followed by a heavenly vision, can be found in modern revelation within the song of Revelation Book 2 mentioned earlier:

Enoch… gazed upon nature and the corruption of man, and mourned their sad fate, and wept, and cried out with a loud voice, and heaved forth his sighs: “Omnipotence! Omnipotence! O may I see Thee!” And with His finger He touched his eyes54 and he saw heaven. He gazed on eternity and sang an angelic song.55

Noting that this pattern is not confined to Enoch, Reeves56  writes: “Prayer coordinated with weeping that leads to an angelophany is also a sequence prominent in [other] apocalyptic traditions.”57

Conclusions

Ancient and modern Saints know that all mortal sorrow will be done away at the end time when God shall “gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth.”58  God said to Noah that in that day: “thy posterity shall embrace the truth, and look upward, then shall Zion look downward, and all the heavens shall shake with gladness, and the earth shall tremble with joy.”59  Describing the human dimension of the great at-one-ment of the heavenly and earthly Zion, when tears of joy shall replace tears of mourning, is the account of Enoch himself where we read, “Then shalt thou and all thy city meet them there, and we will receive them into our bosom, and they shall see us; and we will fall upon their necks, and they shall fall upon our necks, and we will kiss each other.”60

This article is adapted and expanded from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., Jacob Rennaker, and David J. Larsen. “Revisiting the forgotten voices of weeping in Moses 7: A comparison with ancient texts.” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 2 (2012): 41–71.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., Jacob Rennaker, and David J. Larsen. “Revisiting the forgotten voices of weeping in Moses 7: A comparison with ancient texts.” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 2 (2012): 41–71.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 110–115, 141–152.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 133, 134–136.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986, pp. 68–79.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, p. 284.

References

Alexander, Philip S. “3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 223-315. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Andersen, F. I. “2 (Slavonic Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 91-221. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Black, Jeremy A. “The new year ceremonies in ancient Babylon: ‘Taking Bel by the hand’ and a cultic picnic.” Religion 11, no. 1 (1981): 39-59. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WWN-4MMD1NR-5&_user=9634938&_coverDate=01%2F31%2F1981&_rdoc=5&_fmt=high&_orig=browse&_origin=browse&_zone=rslt_list_item&_srch=doc-info(%23toc%237135%231981%23999889998%23639866%23FLP%23display%23Volume)&_cdi=7135&_sort=d&_docanchor=&_ct=10&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&searchtype=a. (accessed September 16, 2010).

Bowen, Matthew L. E-mail message to Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, February 26, 2020.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., Jacob Rennaker, and David J. Larsen. “Revisiting the forgotten voices of weeping in Moses 7: A comparison with ancient texts.” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 2 (2012): 41-71. www.templethemes.net.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Ryan Dahle. “Textual criticism and the Book of Moses: A response to Colby Townsend’s “Returning to the sources”.” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship (2020): in press. www.templethemes.net.

Cameron, Ron, and Arthur J. Dewey, eds. The Cologne Mani Codex (P. Colon. inv. nr. 4780) ‘Concerning the Origin of His Body’. Texts and Translations 15, Early Christian Literature 3, ed. Birger A. Pearson. Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press, 1979.

Collins, John J. “Sibylline Oracles.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 2, 317-472. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Dahl, Larry E. “The vision of the glories.” In The Doctrine and Covenants, edited by Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson. Studies in Scripture 1, 279-308. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1989.

Elliott, J. K. “The Apocalypse of Paul (Visio Pauli).” In The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation, edited by J. K. Elliott, 616-44. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.

Faulring, Scott H., and Kent P. Jackson, eds. Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible Electronic Library (JSTEL) CD-ROM. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. Religious Studies Center, Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, 2011.

Freedman, H., and Maurice Simon, eds. 1939. Midrash Rabbah 3rd ed. 10 vols. London, England: Soncino Press, 1983.

Fretheim, Terence. The Suffering of God: An Old Testament Perspective. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1984.

Heschel, Abraham Joshua. 1962. The Prophets. Two Volumes in One ed. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007.

Klijn, A. F. J. “2 (Syriac Apocalypse of) Baruch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 615-52. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Lichtheim, Miriam, ed. 1973-1980. Ancient Egyptian Literature: A Book of Readings. 3 vols. Berkeley, CA: The University of California Press, 2006.

MacRae, George W., William R. Murdock, and Douglas M. Parrott. “The Apocalypse of Paul (V, 2).” In The Nag Hammadi Library, edited by James M. Robinson. 3rd, Completely Revised ed, 256-59. San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 1990.

Neusner, Jacob, ed. The Mishnah: A New Translation. London, England: Yale University Press, 1988.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986.

Nickelsburg, George W. E., ed. 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1-36; 81-108. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001.

Odell, Margaret. Ezekiel. Smyth and Helwys Bible Commenary. Macon, GA: Smyth and Helwys, 2005.

Ouaknin, Marc-Alain, and Éric Smilévitch, eds. 1983. Chapitres de Rabbi Éliézer (Pirqé de Rabbi Éliézer): Midrach sur Genèse, Exode, Nombres, Esther. Les Dix Paroles, ed. Charles Mopsik. Lagrasse, France: Éditions Verdier, 1992.

Perkins, Pheme. First and Second Peter, James, and Jude. Louisville, KY: John Knox, 1995.

Peterson, Daniel C. “On the motif of the weeping God in Moses 7.” In Reason, Revelation, and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, 285-317. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2002.

Philo. b. 20 BCE. “The special laws, 1 (De specialibus legibus, 1).” In The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, edited by C. D. Yonge. New Updated ed. Translated by C. D. Yonge, 534-67. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006.

Reeves, John C. Heralds of that Good Realm: Syro-Mesopotamian Gnosis and Jewish Traditions. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 41, ed. James M. Robinson and Hans-Joachim Klimkeit. Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1996.

Sanders, E. P. “Testament of Abraham.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. Vol. 1, 871-902. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Sharp, Daniel, and Matthew L. Bowen. “Scripture note — ‘For this cause did King Benjamin keep them’: King Benjamin or King Mosiah?” Religious Educator 18, no. 1 (2017): 81-87. https://rsc.byu.edu/sites/default/files/pub_content/pdf/Scripture_Note%E2%80%94For_This_Cause_Did_King_Benjam%E2%80%8Bin_Keep_Them_King_Benjamin_or_King_Mosiah.pdf. (accessed February 26, 2020).

Smith, Joseph, Jr., Robin Scott Jensen, Robert J. Woodford, and Steven C. Harper. Manuscript Revelation Books, Facsimile Edition. The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin and Richard Lyman Bushman. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press, 2009.

———. Manuscript Revelation Books. The Joseph Smith Papers, Revelations and Translations 1, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin and Richard Lyman Bushman. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press, 2011.

Sparks, Kenton L. Ancient Texts for the Study of the Hebrew Bible: A Guide to the Background Literature. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005.

Sperling, Harry, Maurice Simon, and Paul P. Levertoff, eds. The Zohar: An English Translation. 5 vols. London, England: The Soncino Press, 1984.

Tang, Alex. 2006. A meditation on Rembrandt’s Jeremiah.  In Random Musings from a Doctor’s Chair. http://draltang01.blogspot.com/2006/12/meditation-on-rembrandts-jeremiah.html. (accessed April 30, 2013).

Walker, Charles Lowell. Diary of Charles Lowell Walker. 2 vols, ed. A. Karl Larson and Katharine Miles Larson. Logan, UT: Utah State University Press, 1980.

Williams, Frederick Granger. “Singing the word of God: Five hymns by President Frederick G. Williams.” BYU Studies 48, no. 1 (2009): 57-88.

———. The Life of Dr. Frederick G. Williams, Counselor to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Provo, UT: BYU Studies, 2012.

Witherington, Ben, III. Letters and Homilies for Jewish Christians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Hebrews, James and Jude. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2007.

Notes on Figures

Figure 1.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremiah_Lamenting_the_Destruction_of_Jerusalem (accessed April 15, 2020). Public domain. Alex Tang describes the painting as follows (A. Tang, A meditation on Rembrandt’s Jeremiah):

This oil on panel painting is one of the finest works of Rembrandt’s Leiden period. For many years it was incorrectly identified but it certainly shows Jeremiah, who had prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (Jeremiah 32:28–35), lamenting over the destruction of the city. In the distance on the left a man at the top of the steps holds clenched fists to his eyes—this was the last king of Judah, Zedekiah, who was blinded by Nebuchadnezzar. The prominent burning domed building in the background is probably Solomon’s Temple.
Jeremiah’s pose, his head supported by his hand, is a traditional attitude of melancholy: his elbow rests on a large book which is inscribed ‘Bibel’ on the edge of the pages, probably a much later addition to the painting. The book is presumably meant to be his own book of Jeremiah or the book of Lamentations. Rembrandt is a master of light in art. The lighting of the figure is particularly effective with the foreground and the [left] side of the prophet’s face in shadow and his robe outlined against the rock. Jeremiah’s [gaze] rested on a few pieces of gold and silver vessels which he must have managed to salvage from the burning temple.

In Lamentations, we read of how Jeremiah’s sorrows were assuaged by hope: “For the Lord will not cast off for ever: But though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the multitude of his mercies” (Lamentations 3:31–32. See also Jeremiah 32:36–44; 33:4–26).

Figure 2. S. H. Faulring et al., JST Electronic Library, OT 1–16—Moses 7:10b-28a, Genesis 7:12b-35a. Copyright Community of Christ, 2011. All rights reserved. Cf. J. Smith, Jr., Old Testament 1, p. 16, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/old-testament-revision-1/18 (accessed February 19, 2020).

Figure 3.  Ibid., OT 2–21 — Moses 7:15b-29b, Genesis 7:19b-35b. Copyright Community of Christ, 2011. All rights reserved. Cf. J. Smith, Jr., Old Testament 2, p. 21, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/old-testament-revision-2/26 (accessed February 19, 2020).

Footnotes

 

1Jeremiah 9:1. Cf. Isaiah 22:4: “Therefore said I, Look away from me; I will weep bitterly, labour not to comfort me, because of the spoiling of the daughter of my people.”

2Jeremiah 14:17.

3The text reads dammana [cloud], which Nickelsburg takes to be a corruption in the Aramaic (ibid., pp. 463-464). Nibley takes the motif of the “weeping” of clouds in this verse to plausibly be a parallel to Moses 7:28 (H. W. Nibley, Enoch, p. 199). On the other hand, Nibley’s translation of 1 Enoch 100:11–13 as describing a weeping of the heavens is surely a misreading (ibid., p. 198; cf. (G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 100:11-13, pp. 503).

4G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 95:1, p. 460.

5G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 90:41-42, p. 402.

6Another instance of Enoch as a compassionate, “righteous scribe” appears in the Testament of Abraham. The archangel Michael opens to Abraham a vivid view of the heavenly judgment scene, whereupon Abraham asks (E. P. Sanders, Testament of Abraham, 11:1-10 [Recension B], p. 900):

“Lord, who is this judge? And who is the other one who brings the charges of sins?” And Michael said to Abraham, “Do you see the judge? This is Abel, who first bore witness, and God brought him here to judge. And the one who produces (the evidence) is the teacher of heaven and earth and the scribe of righteousness, Enoch. For the Lord sent them here in order that they might record the sins and the righteous deeds of each person.” And Abraham said, “And how can Enoch bear the weight of the souls, since he has not seen death? Or how can he give the sentence of all the souls?” And Michael said, “If he were to give sentence concerning them, it would not be accepted. But it is not Enoch’s business to give sentence; rather, the Lord is the one who gives sentence, and it is this one’s (Enoch’s) task only to write. For Enoch prayed to the Lord saying, ‘Lord, I do not want to give the sentence of the souls, lest I become oppressive to someone.’ And the Lord said to Enoch, ‘I shall command you to write the sins of a soul that makes atonement, and it will enter into life. And if the soul has not made atonement and repented, you will find its sins (already) written, and it will be cast into punishment.’”

Here, Abraham voices the concern that a relatively mortal Enoch (one who “has not seen death”) would not have the capacity to “bear the weight of the souls” who were being judged. However, Enoch exhibits his capacity for compassion and sympathy by taking into account the feelings of those being judged, fearing that he might “become oppressive to someone” should he judge amiss.

7Following this encounter and embrace, Paul is told by an angel (J. K. Elliott, Apocalypse of Paul, 20, p. 628): “‘Whatever I now show you here, and whatever you shall hear, tell no one on earth.’ And he led me and showed me; and there I heard words which it is not lawful for a man to speak [2 Corinthians 12:4].” In the version of the Apocalypse of Paul found at Nag Hammadi, Paul’s encounter at the entrance to the seventh heaven is told differently (G. W. MacRae et al., Paul, 22:23-23:30, p. 259). At that entrance, Paul is challenged with a series of questions from Enoch. In answer to Enoch’s final question, Paul is instructed: “‘Give him [the] sign that you have, and [he will] open for you.’ And then I gave [him] the sign.” Whereupon “the [seventh] heaven opened.”

8J. K. Elliott, Apocalypse of Paul, 20, p. 628.

9F. I. Andersen, 2 Enoch, 41:1 [J], p. 166: “[And] I saw all those from the age of my ancestors, with Adam and Eve. And I sighed and burst into tears.”

10H. W. Nibley, Enoch, p. 5.

11Ibid., pp. 5-7, 14, 68, 189, 192, 205 addresses this topic, citing a handful of ancient parallels. D. C. Peterson, Weeping God, p. 296 cites part of the passage from Midrash Rabbah included later in this article, but his focus is on the weeping of God rather than that of Enoch. The present article draws on a 2012 publication: J. M. Bradshaw et al., Revisiting.

12Richard Laurence first translated the book of Enoch into English in 1821, but it is very unlikely that Joseph Smith would have encountered this work. Revised editions were published in 1833, 1838, and 1842, but these appeared subsequent to the book of Moses account, which was received in 1830.

13An exception is, of course, Jesus Christ, who is recorded as having wept both in the New Testament (John 11:35) and in the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 17:21–22; cf. Jacob 5:41). In 2 Nephi 4:26, Nephi once asks “why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow… ?”

14J. Smith, Jr. et al., Manuscript Revelation Books, Facsimile Edition, Revelation Book 2, 48 [verso], 27 February 1833, pp. 508-509, spelling and punctuation modernized. The preface to the entry in the revelation book says that it was “sung by the gift of tongues and translated.” An expanded and versified version of this song that omits the weeping of Enoch was published in Evening and Morning Star, (Independence, MO and Kirtland, OH, 1832–1834; repr., Basel Switzerland: Eugene Wagner, 2 vols., 1969), 1:12, May 1833. It has been argued by a descendant of Frederick G. Williams that both the original and versified version of this song should be attributed to his ancestor and namesake. See F. G. Williams, Life, pp. 221-251; F. G. Williams, Singing, pp. 57–88. The editors of the relevant volume of the Joseph Smith Papers note: “An undated broadside of the hymn states that it was ‘sung in tongues’ by David W. Patten and ‘interpreted’ by Sidney Rigdon. (“Mysteries of God.” Church History Library.) This item was never canonized” J. Smith, Jr. et al., Manuscript Revelation Books, p. 377 n. 65.

15S. H. Faulring et al., Original Manuscripts, OT 1–16—Moses 7:10b-28a, OT 1–17—Moses 7:28b-7:43, p. 106.

16Ibid., OT2–21—Moses 7:15b-29a, OT2–22—Moses 7:29b-41a, p. 618.

17Essay #25.

18J. M. Bradshaw et al., Textual Criticism.

19Though we admit it may seem more logical to operate on the assumption that the latest revisions of Joseph Smith’s translations and revelations are always the “best” versions, we have found in our experience that the earliest readings sometimes seem to be superior. After extensive discussion of a relevant example in the Book of Mormon, Matthew Bowen concludes: “We see abundant evidence in ancient New Testament manuscripts of scribes, clerks, and editors attempting to correct what they think are mistakes in the text, only to make the text worse with their corrections.[Joseph Smith and his associates sometimes] did similar things with the Book of Mormon text and with his early revelations” (M. L. Bowen, February 26 2020). For a good example of this in the Book of Mormon, see D. Sharp et al., Scripture Note — “For This Cause” For a discussion of the relative merits of the OT1 and OT2 manuscripts of the Book of Moses, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., Textual Criticism.

20H. Freedman et al., Midrash, Lamentations 24, p. 41.

21Jeremiah 13:17.

22Cf. Noah’s expression of grief in J. J. Collins, Sibylline Oracles, 1:190-191, p. 339: “how much will I lament, how much will I weep in my wooden house, how many tears will I mingle with the waves?”

23A. J. Heschel, Prophets, 1:118, cf. 1:80–85, 91–92, 105–127; 2:101–103.

24Philo writes as follows (Philo, Specialibus 1, 1:113-116, pp. 165, 167, emphasis added):

[T]he high priest is precluded from all outward mourning and surely with good reason. For the services of the other priests can be performed by deputy, so that if some are in mourning none of the customary rites need suffer. But no one else is allowed to perform the functions of a high priest and therefore he must always continue undefiled, never coming in contact with a corpse, so that he may be ready to offer his prayers and sacrifices at the proper time without hinderance on behalf of the nation.
Further, since he is dedicated to God and has been made captain of the sacred regiment, he ought to be estranged from all the ties of birth and not be so overcome by affection to parents or children or brothers as to neglect or postpone any one of the religious duties which it were well to perform without any delay. He forbids him also either to rend his garments for his dead, even the nearest and dearest, or to take from his head the insignia of the priesthood, or on any account to leave the sacred precincts under the pretext of mourning. Thus, showing reverence both to the place and to the personal ornaments with which he is decked, he will have his feeling of pity under control and continue throughout free from sorrow.
For the law desires him to be endued with a nature higher than the merely human and to approximate to the Divine, on the border-line, we may truly say, between the two, that men may have a mediator through whom they may propitiate God and God a servitor to employ in extending the abundance of His boons to men.

25J. Neusner, Mishnah, 1:4-1:6, p. 266 describes weeping as part of the rituals of the high priest on Yom Kippur:

1:4 A.        All seven days they did not hold back food or drink from him.

B.         [But] on the eve of the Day of Atonement at dusk they did not let him eat much,

      C.        for food brings on sleep.

1:5 A.         The elders of the court handed him over to the elders of the priesthood,

      B.         who brought him up to the upper chamber of Abtinas.

      C.        And they imposed an oath on him and took their leave and went along.

D.        [This is what] they said to him, “My lord, high priest: We are agents of the court, and you are our agent and agent of the court.

E.         “We abjure you by Him who caused his name to rest upon this house, that you will not vary in any way from all which we have instructed you.”

      F.         He turns aside and weeps.

      G.        And they turn aside and weep.

1:6 A.         If he was a sage, he expounds [the relevant Scriptures].

      B.         And if not, disciples of sages expound for him.

K. L. Sparks, Ancient Texts, p. 167. has noted that certain aspects of the Israelite Day of Atonement rite “seem to mimic” events of the Mesopotamian akītu festival. The Babylonian king, as part of the ceremonies of the akītu festival, was required to submit to a royal ordeal involving an initial period of suffering and ritual death. Once this phase was complete, the king washed his hands and entered the temple for the rites of (re)investiture, as described in Black’s reconstruction of events. Note the importance of the weeping of the king at this juncture (J. A. Black, New Year, pp. 44-45):

The šešgallu, who is in the sanctuary, comes out and divests the king of his staff of office, ring, mace, and crown. These insignia he takes into the sanctuary and places on a seat. Coming out again, he strikes the king across the face. He now leads him into the sanctuary and pulling him by the ears, forces him to kneel before the god. The king utters the formula:
I have not sinned, Lord of the lands,
I have not been negligent of your godhead.
I have not destroyed Babylon,
I have not ordered her to be dispersed.
I have not made Esagil quake,
I have not forgotten its rites.
I have not struck the privileged citizens in the faces,
I have not humiliated them.
I have paid attention to Babylon,
I have not destroyed her walls…

He leaves the sanctuary. The šešgallu replies to this with an assurance of Bel’s favor and indulgence towards the king: “He will destroy your enemies, defeat your adversaries,” and the king regains the customary composure of his expression and is reinvested with his insignia, fetched by the šešgallu from within the sanctuary. Once more he strikes the king across the face, for an omen: if the king’s tears flow, Bel is favorably disposed; if not, he is angry.

26A. J. Heschel, Prophets, p. 31. More generally, this attitude opposes Alma’s description of the distinctive traits of any who are desirous to be called God’s covenant people in Mosiah 18:8–9 (“willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; … willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort”; cf. D&C 42:45). This covenantal sympathy turns out later to be a sort of imitatio dei, as God states, “I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions” (Mosiah 24:13–14, emphasis added). Note also the emphasis in both Mosiah 18:9 and 24:14 on standing “as witnesses” of God through this sympathetic interaction.

27See T. Fretheim, Suffering, especially chapter 10, “Prophet, Theophany, and the Suffering of God” (pp. 149–166).

28Ibid.., p. 149.

29Ibid., p. 151.

30Some of Israel’s neighbors also held this view. Humanity’s capacity to weep as the gods did is alluded to in the Middle Egyptian Coffin Text 1130. It reads, “I have created the gods from my sweat, and the people from the tears of my eye” (M. Lichtheim, Readings, p. 132). In making this association between the creation of humanity and the tears of the god, the author is playing on the Egyptian words for “people” (rmṯ) and “tears” (rmyt), suggesting a link between the two terms (cf. H. W. Nibley, Enoch, p. 43, citing Hornung). Nibley cites a very close association with our Book of Moses text in a manuscript, where, in a mention of the Ugaritic Enoch, it is asked: “Who is Krt that he should weep? Or shed tears, the Good one, the Lad of El?” (cited in ibid., p. 42). With respect to Enoch as a “lad,” see Essay #3.

31T. Fretheim, Suffering, p. 150.

32Moses 7:20.

33Moses 7:28-31, 37, 40.

34Moses 7:41, 44.

35H. Sperling et al., Zohar, Shemoth 8a, 3:22. See also the mention of the “two tears of the Holy One …, namely two measures of chastisement, which comes from both of those tears” (ibid., Shemoth 19b, 3:62).

36Moses 7:40.

37Ezekiel 9:3.

38Ezekiel 11:23.

39M. Odell, Ezekiel, p. 119.

40Moses 7:21, 23, 27, 31.

41Revelation 21:2.

42P. Perkins, First and Second, p. 154, cited in B. Witherington, III, Letters, Jude 14-16, p. 624.

43J. C. Reeves, Heralds, p. 183. Cf. R. Cameron et al., CMC, 58:6-20, p. 45.

44Jude 1:15, citing G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 1:9, p. 142. See also 1 Enoch 5:4, 27:2, 101:3. 2 Peter 2:5 labels this same generation as “ungodly.”

45M.-A. Ouaknin et al., Rabbi Éliézer, 22, p. 134.

46Ibid., 22, p. 136.

47J. C. Reeves, Heralds, p. 187. For a list of ancient sources, see ibid., p. 183, p. 200 n. 17.

48P. S. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 4:3, p. 258: “When the generation of the Flood sinned and turned to evil deeds, and said to God, ‘Go away! We do not choose to learn your ways’ [cf. Job 21:14], the Holy One, blessed be he, took me [Enoch] from their midst to be a witness against them in the heavenly height to all who should come into the world, so that they should not say, ‘The Merciful One is cruel! …’”

49Moses 7:33. Cf. Isaiah 1:2-3, where Isaiah “pleads with us to understand the plight of a father whom his children have abandoned” (A. J. Heschel, Prophets, 1:80). For more on this theme, see Essay #25.

50Job 21:14–15. Cf. Exodus 5:2, Malachi 3:13–15, Mosiah 11:27, Moses 5:16.

51J. C. Reeves, Heralds, p. 188.

52Ibid., p. 183.

53F. I. Andersen, 2 Enoch, A (short version), 1:2-4, pp. 105, 107.

54See also Moses 6:35–36, where Enoch is asked to anoint his eyes with clay prior to receiving a vision (cf. John 9:6–7). When the Lord spoke with Abraham face to face, He first put His hand upon the latter’s eyes to prepare him for his vision of the universe (see Abraham 3:11–12). Joseph Smith was reportedly so touched at the beginning of the First Vision, and perhaps prior to receiving D&C 76.
With respect to the First Vision, Charles Lowell Walker recorded the following (C. L. Walker, Diary, 2 February 1893, 2:755-756, punctuation and capitalization modernized):

Br. John Alger said while speaking of the Prophet Joseph, that when he, John, was a small boy he heard the Prophet Joseph relate his vision of seeing the Father and the Son. [He said t]hat God touched his eyes with his finger and said “Joseph, this is my beloved Son hear him.” As soon as the Lord had touched his eyes with his finger, he immediately saw the Savior. After meeting, a few of us questioned him about the matter and he told us at the bottom of the meeting house steps that he was in the house of Father Smith in Kirtland when Joseph made this declaration, and that Joseph while speaking of it put his finger to his right eye, suiting the action with the words so as to illustrate and at the same time impress the occurrence on the minds of those unto whom he was speaking. We enjoyed the conversation very much, as it was something that we had never seen in church history or heard of before.

Whether meant literally or figuratively, Joseph said that his eyes were also touched prior to his receiving the vision of the three degrees of glory:

… the Lord touched the eyes of our understandings, and they were opened, and the glory of the Lord shone round about.
And we beheld the glory of the Son, on the right hand of the Father, and received of his fulness. (see D&C 76:19-20.)

As in the First Vision, the initial result of the “touch” that opened Joseph Smith’s eyes was that he beheld the Savior in His glory. The statement that they “received of his fulness” is also remarkable. Here are the corresponding verses in the poetic rendition of D&C 76:

15. I marvel’d at these resurrections, indeed!
For it came unto me by the spirit direct:—
And while I did meditate what it all meant,
The Lord touch’d the eyes of my own intellect:—
16. Hosanna forever! they open’d anon,
And the glory of God shone around where I was;
And there was the Son, at the Father’s right hand,
In a fulness of glory, and holy applause.

See J. Smith, Jr. (or W. W. Phelps), A Vision, 1 February 1843, stanzas 15–16, p. 82, reprinted in L. E. Dahl, Vision, p. 297, emphasis added. Thanks to Bryce Haymond for pointing out this reference.

55J. Smith, Jr. et al., Manuscript Revelation Books, Facsimile Edition, Revelation Book 2, 48 [verso], 27 February 1833, pp. 508-509, spelling and punctuation modernized.

56J. C. Reeves, Heralds, p. 189, citing 4 Ezra 5:13, 20; 6:35; 2 Apoc. Bar. 6:2–8:3; 9:2–10:1; 3 Apoc. Bar. 1:1–3; and Daniel 10:2–5. He also observes that weeping is a component of ritual mourning (see Deuteronomy 21:13).

57The two accounts of Enoch mentioned previously can be profitably compared to the experience of Lehi who, “because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly,” and “he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the Spirit” (1 Nephi 1:6-7). Whereupon the heavens were the opened to him (see 1 Nephi 1:8). See also, e.g., Baruch’s weeping for the loss of the temple (A. F. J. Klijn, 2 Baruch, 35:2, p. 632, quoting Jeremiah 9:1), which was also followed by a vision.

58Ephesians 1:10.

59JST Genesis 9:22.

60Moses 7:6

The Weeping Voice of the Heavens

Book of Moses Essay #27

Moses 7:28-29, 40, 42-43

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

Describing the literal and figurative weeping of the heavens at the time of Enoch, Hugh Nibley writes:1

One of nature’s ironies is that not enough water usually leads to too much. Enoch’s world was plagued by flood as well as drought; we are regaled by the picture of lowering heavens ceaselessly dumping dismal avalanches of rain and snow upon the earth. The constant weeping of Enoch and all the saints is matched in the powerful imagery of the weeping heavens and the earth veiled in darkness under the blackest of skies: In the book of Enoch the same imagery is applied to the meridian and the fulness of times as well as the Adamic age.

In this Essay, we will survey examples of the weeping of the heavens from the time of Creation through the time of Noah.

The Weeping of the Heavens at the Time of Creation

Providing a plausible echo of the imagery of the weeping of the heavens in Enoch’s account is an ancient Jewish theme that is always associated with the second day of Creation, when the heavenly and earthly waters were separated by the firmament. According to David Lieber:2

The Midrash pictures the lower waters weeping at being separated from the upper waters, suggesting that there is something poignant in the creative process when things once united are separated.

So painful was the command of God for the waters to separate that they were seen as having actually rebelled.3  As Heschel recounts:4

On the second day of creation, the Holy and Blessed One said: “Let there be an expanse (raki’a) in the midst of the water, that it may separate water from water. God made the expanse, and it separated the water that was below the expanse from the water which was above the expanse.”5  God said to the waters: “Divide yourselves into two halves; one half shall go up, and the other half shall go down”; but the waters presumptuously all went upward. Said to them the Holy and Blessed One: “I told you that only half should go upward, and all of you went upward?” Said the waters: “We shall not descend!” Thus did they brazenly confront their Creator. … What did the Holy and Blessed One do? God extended His little finger, and they tore into two parts, and God took half of them down against their will. Thus it is written: “God said, ‘let there be an expanse’”6  (raki’a)—do not read “expanse” (raki’a) but “tear” (keri’a).”

Heschel makes it clear “that the waters rebelled against their Creator not out of competitiveness or jealousy but rather out of protest against the partition made by the Holy and Blessed One between the upper and lower realms.”7

Avivah Zornberg has the lower waters complaining:8  “We want to be in the presence of the King.” This statement is made meaningful in the understanding that the partition that divided the upper and lower divisions of the waters was an allusion to the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from other precincts in the temple. Because of their separation, the lower waters no longer enjoyed the glory of the direct presence of God.9

The Weeping of the Heavens at the Time of Enoch

Jewish tradition records that the weeping of the heavens at the time of Enoch included not only the figurative drenching of the world in rain, but also the literal weeping of God, the angels, and the patriarchs. For example, in 3 Enoch, Enoch is led on a tour of heaven where he sees the righteous who have ascended to heaven pray to the Holy One:10  “Lord of the Universe, how long will you sit upon your throne, as a mourner sits in the days of his mourning, with your right hand behind you, and not redeem your sons?” Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the rest of the righteous wonder when God will show his compassion and save his children, with the same “right hand” by which he created the heavens and the earth.

God answers the petitioners, explaining that He cannot save His people “in their sins”11 : “Since these wicked ones have sinned thus and thus, and have transgressed thus and thus before me, how can I deliver my sons from among the nations of the world, reveal my kingdom in the world before the eyes of the gentiles and deliver my great right hand which has been brought low by them?”12

Metatron (Enoch) then calls out for the book of remembrance to be read, in which the wicked deeds of the people were recorded, with every letter of the law having been violated from A to Z.13  “At once, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob began to weep. … [And] Michael, the Prince of Israel, cried out and lamented in a loud voice, saying: ‘Lord, why do you stand aside?’”14

Summing up the scene, Elder Neal A. Maxwell observed:15 “When Enoch saw the heavens weep, they reflected the same drenching and wrenching feelings of the Father.” Sadly, mankind was heedless and the suffering was needless.

The Weeping of the Heavens at the Time of Noah

Even though the heavens are usually conceived of as being far above the earth, Jewish sages knew them as being very near. In one story, Simeon ben Zoma is recorded as having said:16

I was pondering the creation of the universe and I have concluded that there was scarcely a handbreadth’s division between the upper and lower waters. For we read in Scripture, “The spirit of God hovered over the waters.”17 Now Scripture also says: “Like an eagle who rouses his nestlings, hovering over his young.”18 Just as an eagle, when it flies over its nest, barely touches the nest, so there is barely a handbreadth’s distance separating the upper and lower waters.”

Given the creation setting of this motif, it is not surprising that the Book of Moses associates the weeping of the heavens with the story of the Flood, which, in essence, recounts the destruction and the re-creation of the earth.19

To appreciate the complex symbolism in the stories of the Creation and the Flood with respect to the separation and uniting of the waters, one must see the imagery of the Ark as it would have been seen through ancient eyes.20  Briefly, in the story of the Ark’s bird-like “hovering” motions upon the waters, we are made to understand that, figuratively speaking, the very sky has fallen. As a consequence, the “habitable and culture-orientated world lying between the heavens above and the underworld below, and separating them”21 by “a handbreadth’s distance,”22 has utterly disappeared.23

New life, of which the Ark was a portent, cannot come into being without some measure of pain and destruction, as Enoch’s account reminds us when it compares the elements of mortal birth to those involved in spiritual rebirth.24 Like human birth, the re-breaking of the waters when the earth was created anew involved pain—and the action of tearing:25 “The tear in the waters was necessary to create space in which life could develop, and the tear of birth is necessary for the baby to begin an independent life.” The weeping of the heavens witnessed by Enoch as a prelude to the Flood, and the rains that attended the Flood itself were inevitable accompaniments to the pain of the birthing of a new telestial earth, separated for a second time from heaven.

Figure 2. Boleslaw Parasion, 1950–: Noah’s Ark

The sculpture above is drawn from former mission president Walter Whipple’s large collection of Polish folk art. It “depicts a thoughtful God guiding the Ark with his hands.”26

Although the Bible does not mention explicitly God’s role during the Flood at the time of Noah, the scene shown in the sculpture is described in 1 Enoch 67:2:27  “I will put my hand upon [the Ark] and protect it.” George Nickelsburg conjectures that “God’s placing a protective hand on the Ark corresponds either to Genesis 7:16 (“and YHWH shut him in”), or to the covering of the Ark mentioned in Genesis 6:16; 8:13, or both.”28

However, we discover a better parallel to 1 Enoch than anything in Genesis in the Grand Vision of Enoch found in Moses 7:43: “Enoch saw that Noah built an ark; and that the Lord smiled upon it, and held it in his own hand.” The language of the Lord smiling upon the Ark is reminiscent of the priestly blessing of Numbers 6:25 (“The Lord make his face shine upon thee”) but the passage finds an even greater resonance in 3 Nephi 19:25 when Jesus visited his disciples and “his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them.”

In this connection, some ancient interpreters saw in the mention of a tsohar in the Ark an allusion to a shining stone that was said to have hung from its rafters in order to lighten the darkness within.29  Readers of the Book of Mormon will not miss the similarity to the story of the shining stones divinely provided to the brother of Jared to provide light for their barges.30

While the heavens wept for the destruction of the earth, the light of the Lord smiled upon the Ark as a portent of a new Creation. And not only can God hold the Ark “in his own hand,”31  He has already told Enoch that He can “stretch forth [his] hands and hold all the creations which [he has] made.”32  In passages resonating with this Book of Moses imagery, Jewish mystical tradition envisions Enoch as protectively holding the cosmos in his hands in a joint effort with God Himself.33

This article is adapted and expanded from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 108–110, 148 n. 37d, 149 n. 40a, 259.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 108–110, 148 n. 37d, 149 n. 40a, 259.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 128–129, 133, 134–137.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986, pp. 198–200.

Nibley, Hugh W. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, pp. 284–285.

References

Alexander, Philip S. “3 (Hebrew Apocalypse of) Enoch.” In The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, edited by James H. Charlesworth. 2 vols. Vol. 1, 223-315. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, 1983.

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014. www.templethemes.net.

Dant, Doris R. “Polish religious folk art: Gospel echoes from a disparate clime.” BYU Studies 37, no. 2 (1997-1998): 88-112.

Freedman, H., and Maurice Simon, eds. 1939. Midrash Rabbah 3rd ed. 10 vols. London, England: Soncino Press, 1983.

Gardner, Brant A. Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary of the Book of Mormon. 6 vols. Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2007.

Ginzberg, Louis, ed. The Legends of the Jews. 7 vols. Translated by Henrietta Szold and Paul Radin. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909-1938. Reprint, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

Heschel, Abraham Joshua. 1962, 1965, 1995. Heavenly Torah as Refracted Through the Generations. 3 in 1 vols. Translated by Gordon Tucker. New York City, NY: Continuum International, 2007.

Lieber, David L., ed. Etz Hayim: Torah and Commentary. New York City, NY: The Rabbinical Assembly of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, produced by The Jewish Publication Society, 2001.

Maxwell, Neal A. Moving in His Majesty and Power. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2004.

Neusner, Jacob, ed. Genesis Rabbah: The Judaic Commentary to the Book of Genesis, A New American Translation. 3 vols. Vol. 1: Parashiyyot One through Thirty-Three on Genesis 1:1 to 8:14. Brown Judaic Studies 104, ed. Jacob Neusner. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1985.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986.

———. “The Babylonian Background.” In Lehi in the Desert, The World of the Jaredites, There Were Jaredites, edited by John W. Welch, Darrell L. Matthews and Stephen R. Callister. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 5, 350-79. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1988.

———. 1957. An Approach to the Book of Mormon. 3rd ed. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 6. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1988.

———. 1989-1990. Teachings of the Book of Mormon. 4 vols. Provo, UT: FARMS, 2004.

Nickelsburg, George W. E., ed. 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1-36; 81-108. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001.

Orlov, Andrei A. “Adoil outside the cosmos: God before and after creation in the Enochic tradition.” In Histories of the Hidden God: Concealment and Revelation in Western Gnostic, Esoteric, and Mystical Traditions, edited by April D. DeConick and Grant Adamson. Gnostica: Tests and Interpretations, eds. Garry Trompf, Iaian Gardner and Jason BeDuhn, 30-57. Bristol, CT: Acumen, 2013.

Ouaknin, Marc-Alain, and Éric Smilévitch, eds. 1983. Chapitres de Rabbi Éliézer (Pirqé de Rabbi Éliézer): Midrach sur Genèse, Exode, Nombres, Esther. Les Dix Paroles, ed. Charles Mopsik. Lagrasse, France: Éditions Verdier, 1992.

Reeves, John C., and Annette Yoshiko Reed. Sources from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. 2 vols. Enoch from Antiquity to the Middle Ages 1. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2018.

Wolski, Nathan, ed. The Zohar, Pritzker Edition. Vol. 10. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016.

Wyatt, Nicolas. “The darkness of Genesis 1:2.” In The Mythic Mind: Essays on Cosmology and Religion in Ugaritic and Old Testament Literature, edited by Nicholas Wyatt, 92-101. London, England: Equinox, 2005.

Zornberg, Avivah Gottlieb. Genesis: The Beginning of Desire. Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 1995.

Notes on Figures

Figure 1. Moses 7:28. Image from https://wallpaperaccess.com/rain-cloud (accessed April 15, 2020). Photo ID: 701643. Public domain.

Figure 2. Item photographed is from the collection of Walter Whipple, with permission. With thanks to Jennifer Hurlbut and Marny Parkin of BYU Studies Quarterly.

Footnotes

 

1H. W. Nibley, Enoch, p. 198.

2D. L. Lieber, Etz Hayim, p. 5.

3N. Wolski, Zohar 10, pp. 54.55 recounts that the firmament was created so that the “waters flowing from Hell would [not] mingle with other waters, injuring [God’s] creatures.”

4A. J. Heschel, Heavenly Torah, p. 124, citing Midrash Konen, Otzar Midrashim, 254.

5Genesis 1:6–7.

6Genesis 1:6.

7A. J. Heschel, Heavenly Torah, p. 125.

8A. G. Zornberg, Genesis, pp. 5–6.

9Note Louis Ginzberg’s reconstruction of Jewish tradition about the days of Creation (L. Ginzberg, Legends, 1:51):

God told the angels: On the first day of Creation, I shall make the heavens and stretch them out; so will Israel raise up the Tabernacle as the dwelling place of my Glory (see Exodus 40:17–19). On the second day I shall put a division between the terrestrial waters and the heavenly waters, so will [Moses] hang up a veil in the Tabernacle to divide the Holy Place and the Most Holy (see Exodus 40:20–21).

10P. S. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 44:7, p. 295.

11See Alma 11:36–37. Some late Islamic Enoch accounts focus specifically on the deeds of the giants. For example, in Ṣaḥā’if Idrīs and Sunan Idrīs it is said that “they shed blood to the point that their deeds made the earth and the heavens weep”(J. C. Reeves et al., Enoch from Antiquity 1, pp. 327-328). By way of contrast, the Jewish Bereshit Rabbati reports that Shemḥazai, the father of prominent giants, also lamented. However, it was not for the wickedness of his sons but rather for the fact that his sons might starve if the world were destroyed: “for each of them would eat one thousand camels, one thousand horses, and one thoustand of every kind of cattle (daily)” (ibid., pp. 182-183).

12P. S. Alexander, 3 Enoch, 44:8, p. 295.

13Ibid., 44:9, pp. 295–296.

14Ibid., 44:10, p. 296.

15N. A. Maxwell, Moving, p. 17.

16A. J. Heschel, Heavenly Torah, p. 125, citing Tosefta Hagigah 2:6; PT Hagigah 2:1 (77a-b); BT Hagigah 15a; J. Neusner, Genesis Rabbah 1, 2:4, p. 25.

17Genesis 1:2.

18Deuteronomy 32:11.

19See J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, p. 277.

20See ibid., p. 256.

21N. Wyatt, Darkness, p. 93.

22A. J. Heschel, Heavenly Torah, p. 125, citing Tosefta Hagigah 2:6; PT Hagigah 2:1 (77a-b); BT Hagigah 15a; J. Neusner, Genesis Rabbah 1, 2:4, p. 25.

23 Cf. 2 Peter 3:6: “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.”

24Moses 6:59–60. See Essays #16 and #21.

25A. J. Heschel, Heavenly Torah, p. 124 n. 46.

26D. R. Dant, Polish, p. 91.

27G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 67:2, p. 273.

28Ibid., p. 288 n. 2a-c.

29See, e.g., H. Freedman et al., Midrash, 31:11, Genesis 6:16, 1:244; M.-A. Ouaknin et al., Rabbi Éliézer, 23, pp. 139-140. Cf. H. W. Nibley, Babylonian Background, pp. 359-364; H. W. Nibley, Approach, pp. 336-337, 343-348; H. W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, 4:288-289; B. A. Gardner, Second Witness, 6:195-199.

30Ether 3:1-6, 6:3.

31Moses 7:43.

32Moses 7:36, emphasis added.

33Thanks to Matthew L. Bowen for this suggestion. In A. A. Orlov, Adoil Outside the Cosmos, p. 45, we read:

It is intriguing that Enoch-Metatron’s governance of the wolrd includes not only administrative functions but also the duty of the physical sustenance of the world. Moshe Idel refers to the treatise The Seventy Names of Metatron where the angel and God seize the world in their hands. This motif of the Deity and his vice-regent grasping the universe in their cosmic hands invokes the conceptual developments found in the Shiur Qomah and Hekhalot materials, where Enoch-Metatron possesses a cosmic corporeality comparable to the physicque of the Deity and is depicted as the measurement of the divine Body.

The Complaining Voice of the Earth

Book of Moses Essay #26

Moses 7:48-49, 54, 61, 64

With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw

In a previous Essay,1  we observed that three distinct parties weep for the wickedness of mankind: God,2  the heavens,3  and Enoch himself.4  In addition, a fourth party, the earth, complains and mourns—though she doesn’t specifically “weep”—for her children.5  In the present article, we discuss affinities in the ancient Enoch literature and in the laments of Jeremiah to the complaint of the earth in Moses 7:48–49.

Valuable articles by Andrew Skinner6  and Daniel Peterson,7  following Hugh Nibley’s lead,8  discuss interesting parallels to these verses in ancient sources. Peterson follows J. J. M. Roberts in citing examples of Sumerian laments of the mother goddess and showing how a similar motif appears in Jeremiah in the guise of the personified city as the mother of her people9  by way of analogy to the role of the mourning earth as “the mother of men”10  in the Book of Moses. Roberts illustrates this by citing Jeremiah 10:19–21:11

Woe is me because my hurt!

My wound is grievous.

But I said, “Truly this is my punishment,

and I must bear it.

My tent is plundered and all my cords are broken;

my children have gone out from me, and they are no more;

there is no one to spread my tent again,

and to set up my curtains.

For the shepherds were stupid,

And did not inquire of Yahweh;

Therefore they did not prosper,

And all their flock is scattered.”

Emphasizing the appropriateness of a Sumerian-Akkadian milieu for this concept in Moses 7, Skinner12 cites S. H. Langdon as follows:13

The Sumerian Earth-mother is repeatedly referred to in Sumerian and Babylonian names as the mother of mankind … This mythological doctrine is thoroughly accepted in Babylonian religion. … In early Akkadian, this mythology is already firmly established among the Semites.

Although the motif of a complaining earth is not found anywhere in the Bible, it does turn up in 1 Enoch and in the Qumran Book of Giants.14 In 1 Enoch we find the following references:

·        1 Enoch 7:4–6; 8:4:15 And the giants began to kill men and to devour them. And they began to sin against the birds and beasts and creeping
things and the fish, and to devour one another’s flesh. And they drank the blood. Then the earth brought accusation against the lawless ones .… (And) as men were perishing, the cry went up to heaven.

·        1 Enoch 9:2, 10:16 And entering in, they said to one another, “The earth, devoid (of inhabitants), raises17 the voice of their cries to the gates of heaven … And now behold, the spirits of the souls of the men who have died make suit; and their groan has come up to the gates of heaven; and it does not cease to come forth from before the iniquities that
have come upon the earth.

·        1 Enoch 87:1:18 And again I saw them, and they began to gore one another and devour one another, and the earth began to cry out.

In the Book of the Giants 4Q203, Frag. 8:6–12 we read:19

6. ‘Let it be known to you th[at ] [

7. your activity and (that) of [your] wive[s ]

8. those (giants) [and their] son[s and] the [w]ives o[f ]

9. through your fornication on the earth, and it (the earth) has [risen up ag]ainst y[ou

and is crying out]

10. and raising accusation against you [and ag]ainst the activity of your sons[

11. the corruption which you have committed on it (the earth) vacat [

12. has reached Raphael. …

Consistent with other comparisons that have been made between the accounts of Enoch in the Book of Moses, the Qumran Book of Giants, and 1 Enoch, Skinner finds that resemblances to the Qumran Enoch text are more compelling than those found in 1 Enoch. First, he notes that the nature of the wickedness in the Book of Giants is described as “fornication,”20 which corresponds semantically to the term “filthiness” used in the Book of Moses.21 By way of contrast, the wickedness being complained of in 1 Enoch is the crimes of murder and violence.

Second, Skinner notes that in both the Qumran Book of Giants fragment and “Moses 7 the earth itself complains of and decries the wickedness of the people, while the [first two] 1 Enoch texts emphasize the cries of men ascending to heaven” 22 by means of the earth.23

Skinner also notes that in the Book of Giants and the Book of Moses, “the ultimate motivation behind the earth’s cry for redress against the intense wickedness on her surface” is a plea “for a cleansing of and sanctification from the pervasive wickedness by means of a heavenly personage and heavenly powers. In the Book of Moses the earth importunes,24  ‘When shall I rest, and be cleansed from the filthiness which has gone forth out of me? When will my Creator sanctify me, that I may rest, and righteousness for a season abide upon my face?’”25  Likewise, in the Book of Giants, the earth complains about how the wicked have corrupted it through licentiousness and anticipates a destruction that will cleanse it from wickedness.26

Conclusions

From a literary standpoint, the complaint of the earth is moving poetry. O. Glade Hunsaker gives two examples:27

Enoch hears and describes the personified soul of the earth alliteratively as the “mother of men” agonizing from the bowels of the earth28 that she is “weary” of “wickedness.” [When the earth began her speech, she commenced with “Wo, wo,” prefiguring the latter echo.] The tension of the drama resolves itself as the voice uses assonance in pleading for “righteousness” to “abide” for a season.

But it is more than poetry, of course. It is also history—and prophecy. Moses 7:61, 64 happily proclaim that “the day shall come that the earth shall rest … for the space of a thousand years” and then woefully inform us that before that relief finally is given, the earth will again suffer great filthiness just before the Lord returns:

The heavens shall be darkened, and a veil of darkness shall cover the earth;29  and the heavens shall shake, and also the earth; and great tribulations shall be among the children of men, but my people will I preserve.30

This article is adapted and expanded from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 107–108, 154, 157–158, 188–189.

Further Reading

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 107–108, 154, 157–158, 188–189.

Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 140–141, 144–146, 148–150.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986, pp. 11–12, 198–199.

Peterson, Daniel C. “On the motif of the weeping God in Moses 7.” In Reason, Revelation, and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, 285–317. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2002.

Skinner, Andrew C. “Joseph Smith vindicated again: Enoch, Moses 7:48, and apocryphal sources.” In Reason, Revelation, and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, 365–381. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2002.

References

Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014.

Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.

Hunsaker, O. Glade. “Pearl of Great Price, Literature.” In Encyclopedia of Mormonism, edited by Daniel H. Ludlow. 4 vols. Vol. 3, 1072. New York City, NY: Macmillan, 1992. http://www.lib.byu.edu/Macmillan/. (accessed November 26, 2007).

Langdon, Stephen H. “Semitic.” In The Mythology of All Races. Vol. 5, 12-13. New York City, NY: Cooper Square, 1964.

Maxwell, Neal A. 1975. Of One Heart: The Glory of the City of Enoch. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1980.

Mika’el, Bakhayla. ca. 1400. “The book of the mysteries of the heavens and the earth.” In The Book of the Mysteries of the Heavens and the Earth and Other Works of Bakhayla Mika’el (Zosimas), edited by E. A. Wallis Budge, 1-96. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1934. Reprint, Berwick, ME: Ibis Press, 2004.

Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986.

Nickelsburg, George W. E., ed. 1 Enoch 1: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Chapters 1-36; 81-108. Hermeneia: A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2001.

Parry, Donald W., and Emanuel Tov, eds. The Dead Sea Scrolls Reader Second ed. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2013.

Peterson, Daniel C. “On the motif of the weeping God in Moses 7.” In Reason, Revelation, and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, 285-317. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2002.

Roberts, J. J. M. 1992. “The motif of the weeping God in Jeremiah and its background in the lament tradition of the ancient Near East.” In The Bible and the Ancient Near East: Collected Essays, edited by J. J. M. Roberts, 132-42. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2002.

Skinner, Andrew C. “Joseph Smith vindicated again: Enoch, Moses 7:48, and apocryphal sources.” In Reason, Revelation, and Faith: Essays in Honor of Truman G. Madsen, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, 365-81. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2002.

Wise, Michael, Martin Abegg, Jr., and Edward Cook, eds. The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. New York City, NY: Harper-Collins, 1996.

Notes on Figures

Figure 1.  NASA / Goddard / MODIS Land Rapid Response, 28 December 2012. https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/80085/dust-over-the-arabian-sea. Public Domain.

Footnotes

 

1See Essay #25.

2Moses 7:28–29.

3Moses 7:28, 37, 40.

4Moses 7:41, 49.

5Moses 7:48–49.

6A. C. Skinner, Vindicated.

7D. C. Peterson, Weeping God.

8H. W. Nibley, Enoch, pp. 11–14, 74–75, 205–206.

9J. J. M. Roberts, Motif of the Weeping God, p. 133.

10Moses 7:48.

11J. J. M. Roberts, Motif of the Weeping God, p. 133.

12A. C. Skinner, Vindicated, p. 376.

13S. H. Langdon, Semitic.

14It also turns up in later texts, e.g., B. Mika’el, Mysteries, p. 29: “[e]ven the earth complained and uttered lamentations.”

15G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 7:4–6, 8:4, pp. 182, 188, emphasis added.

16Ibid., 9:2, 10, p. 202, emphasis added.

17Or, more literally, “cries the voice of their cries” (A. C. Skinner, Vindicated, p. 375).

18G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, 87:1, p. 364, emphasis added.

19D. W. Parry et al., DSSR (2013), p. 945.

20Or “licentiousness” in the translation of M. Wise et al., DSS, 4Q203 Frag. 8:9, p. 294. Aramaic znwtkwn.

21A. C. Skinner, Vindicated, p. 377 argues that “filthiness, immorality, and idolatry are closely associated with each other in Semitic-based biblical culture. See, for example, Ezra 6:21; 9:11; Ezekiel 16:36; 24:13; Revelation 17:4.”

22Ibid., p. 377.

23Nickelsburg relates this accusation to Genesis 4:10–11, and cites “an Aramaic technical term for bringing suit in court” (G. W. E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch 1, p. 187 n. 6), recalling the context of Isaiah 1 discussed in Essay #25.

24Moses 7:48.

25A. C. Skinner, Vindicated, pp. 377–378.

26Cf., e.g., Job 21:17, 30; Proverbs 10:29; Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:4.

27O. G. Hunsaker, Literature.

28Compare Jeremiah 4:19.

29Compare Moses 7:56 (“the heavens were veiled”) and D&C 38:8 (“the veil of darkness shall soon be rent”), which imply that this veil will cut off direct communication from heaven. Cf. D&C 110:1: “The veil was taken from our minds.” See also a phrase added to the end of Genesis 9:26 in the JST: “and a veil of darkness shall cover him” (S. H. Faulring et al., Original Manuscripts, pp. 118, 632. See also J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, Commentary Genesis 9:26, p. 323).

30Elder Neal A. Maxwell commented (N. A. Maxwell, One Heart, p. v): “God preserved and prepared Enoch’s people in the midst of awful and enveloping evil, and, reassuringly, he has promised his people in our own time that though ‘great tribulations shall be among the children of men, … my people will I preserve.’”