How’d I Miss This One (V2)

One can hardly have anything to do with Mormonism and not find oneself regularly pondering polygamy, especially when it is the Sunday School topic du jour. As an aside, I skipped out. I’ve been thinking about this “lesson” for two weeks, and just can’t imagine listening to the “narrative.”

Nevertheless, as I was in Sacrament Meeting, I was pondering Jacob 2 and wondering why I could never make any sense of this even though others have indicated that it probably doesn’t mean what we have been taught that it means. Then it occurred to me (highlights, and change of punctuation, mine):

  • A: And now I make an end of speaking unto you concerning this pride and were it not that I must speak unto you concerning a grosser crime, my heart would rejoice exceedingly because of you, but the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes.
    • B: For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.
      • C: Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem by the power of mine arm
        • D: that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.
          • E: Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.
            • F: Wherefore, my brethren, hear me and hearken to the word of the Lord: for there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife and concubines he shall have none.
              • G: For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women and whoredoms are an abomination before me, thus saith the Lord of Hosts.
            • F’: Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts,
          • E’: or cursed be the land for their sakes.
        • D’: For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me,
      • C’: I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.
    • B’: For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands. And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts. For they shall not lead away captive the daughters of my people because of their tenderness save I shall visit them with a sore curse, even unto destruction; for they shall not commit whoredoms like unto them of old, saith the Lord of Hosts.
  • A’: And now behold, my brethren, ye know that these commandments were given to our father, Lehi. Wherefore, ye have known them before and ye have come unto great condemnation for ye have done these things which ye ought not to have done. Behold, ye have done greater iniquities than the Lamanites, our brethren. Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds. (Jacob 2:22–35)

Yep, there appears to be a chiasmus. In case you didn’t note, the red text represents the voice of the Lord and the black, Jacob.

All this strongly implies that the way the Lord of Hosts raises up a righteous seed is not only not polygamy [again, an abomination], but the opposite thereof — abandoning one’s nation, culture, people, family, etc. to escape it.

The problem text has always been C’-D’, but if we look back to D we see what raising up seed actually looks like, because it is specifically defined in C: “led this people forth….” We have seen this before. Lot being led out of Sodom. Abraham led out of Haran. Noah led out of…. Well, the list goes on.

Specific to this context, Jeremiah, Ezekiel (and others) strongly chastised Israel for their whoredoms, adulteries, fornication, and abominations (from other sources we would add to this list: polygamy). Also, in B and G the Lord makes it pretty darn clear that this multiple wives thing [polygamy linked through words whoredoms and abomination] is to Him an abomination. So, the Lord commanded Lehi to leave, and to raise up a righteous branch and/or seed unto the Lord. Said differently, Jacob is accusing his people (those whom the Lord “led out of Jerusalem”) of committing the very same crimes against God and nature that caused Lehi to be sent into the wilderness and abandon Jerusalem in the first place. This is really just a restatement of B’.

It is probably obvious, but worth noting, that E’ seems to have been pretty well established in the case of Nauvoo, IL. Now, here, some might think that the Lord led His people out of Nauvoo and into the wilderness to establish a righteous branch, or conversely that the Lord dispersed the wicked from Nauvoo to establish a righteous branch. The problem with the former is that given the above context, we would conclude that they took their abominations with them (e.g., they lost the promised/unfulfilled temple ordinances and otherwise seemed to have learned nothing). The problem with the latter is that they were not led away and what happened thereafter was no Garden of Eden — though one must admit that there is a certain association between remain and remnant (but there aren’t many examples of this usage in scripture and applying it here appears to be an overreach).

Finally, let’s look at the seemingly problematic text shown in italics in C’: otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.

In computer programming we have the oft used structure, If…, Then…, Else (or hereafter: If X, then Y, Else Z **). It is illogical and completely inappropriate to attempt to link Y and Z. More specifically, it is insane to imply that Y and Z are opposites (or that Y = NOT Z) simply because of the opposite conditions: X and NOT X. This scripture DOES NOT SAY: For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me (X), they shall not hearken unto these things (NOT Z); otherwise they shall hearken unto these things (Z).

Let’s use and example to show why such an association would be presumptuous. Mom says to junior: If there is cash in your lunch bag, then buy yourself a treat, otherwise, just eat what’s in the bag. Mom does not want junior to think this means, if there is cash in the bag, you don’t have to eat what’s in the bag. That may be what junior wants it to mean, but it doesn’t. Yes, Mom can substitute cash for food, but we shouldn’t presume that to be the case and junior most certainly shouldn’t throw away the food in order to force that outcome.

All this strongly implies that the way the Lord of Hosts raises up a righteous seed is not only not polygamy [again, an abomination], but the opposite thereof — abandoning one’s nation, culture, people, family, etc. to escape it.


** This is actually a means to optimize computer hardware cycles from the purely logical pairing: If X Then Y; AND If NOT X, Then Z.

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