Book of Mormon Lesson 11 (Jacob 1–4)
● Very early in Nephite history, after their separation from the Lamanites, Nephi built them a temple after the pattern of the temple of Solomon (2 Nephi 5:16), where they could perform their Mosaic ordinances. The temple was also a place of instruction, and it was at this temple that Jacob gave the sermon contained in this part of his record (Jacob 1:17).
● Jacob was a son of Lehi and Sariah and the brother of Nephi. He was born in the wilderness of Arabia and endured as a young child the rigors of that trip through the desert and the voyage across the sea to the new world. He clearly was righteous because he saw the Savior in his youth, and he was ordained to the priesthood (2 Nephi 2:4; 6:2; 11:3).
● Before Nephi passed away he gave the sacred records to Jacob and charged him with the spiritual welfare of the people of Nephi, making Jacob the new prophet for the people.
● Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet said: “Jacob was one of the great Apostles of the Book of Mormon. As a special witness he bore a perfect testimony: he entertained angels and was an eyewitness of the Redeemer. Even in his youth this son of Lehi knew the redeeming powers of his Savior and beheld the Lord’s glory. Tutored by his father and his prophet-brother Nephi, Jacob learned to feast upon the holy word from the days of his childhood and thereby gained a familiarity with that Spirit known only to the obedient and the serious student of scripture. In the role of a doctrinal teacher there were few greater. Jacob has left us a store of theological gems: only Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni contributed more to this volume of holy writ known as the Book of Mormon.”1
● Nephi instructed Jacob to record on the small plates only those things he considered “most precious” (Jacob 1:1–6). As a result, only a fraction of Nephite history is contained on the small plates (Jacob 3:12–14). Metal plates were used so their writing might be preserved for future generations (Jacob 4:1–4). The primary message of the plates was to testify concerning Christ.
● Jacob’s people “loved Nephi exceedingly” and began to be called “Nephites” in his honor (Jacob 1:9). Before Nephi died he appointed someone [probably a son] to be king. After his death, “the people [continued to love] Nephi exceedingly” and in his remembrance, called every king who succeeded him “second Nephi, third Nephi, and so forth.” regardless of their real names (Jacob 1:10–12).
● The descendants of Lehi were identified by their actual forefather—“Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites” (Jacob 1:13).
● Jacob chose not to distinguish them by these names, saying, “I shall call them Lamanites that seek to destroy the people of Nephi, and those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites (Jacob 1:14).” This tradition continued to the time of their destruction (4 Nephi 1:37) and even to the end of the Book of Mormon (Words of Mormon 1:1).
● Armed conflict between the Nephites and Lamanites had already arisen between the Nephites and Lamanites—a curse which would continually plague both nations for most of the next 1,000 years, except during a brief period of peace following the visit of the Savior to them following his resurrection (Jacob 1:10).
JACOB TEACHES AT THE TEMPLE
Jacob Magnifies His Calling
● Nephi gave his younger brothers, Jacob and Joseph, responsibility for the spiritual welfare of the Nephites (Jacob 1:17–19). Elder Delbert L. Stapley said: “To magnify is to intensify, to increase in significance, to enlarge upon, and to cause to be held in greater esteem or respect.”2
● Jacob diligently taught his people to believe in and follow Christ (Jacob 1:7–8). He taught his people to “suffer [the] cross” of Christ and to “bear the shame of the world” (v. 8).
● The sins of the Nephites were pride, unchastity, and love of wealth (Jacob 1:15–16).
● Jacob felt the weight of his calling (Jacob 2:1–5).
● Jacob knew he was addressing sensitive subjects, particularly in the presence of women and children with “tender and chaste” feelings (Jacob 2:5–11). He makes it clear here that he is speaking mainly to the men, and he regretted opening this wound in the presence of women and children.
● Nevertheless, Jacob’s prophetic calling demanded that he “admonish you according to your crimes” and “tell you concerning your wickedness and abominations, in the presence of the pure in heart, and the broken heart, and under the glance of the piercing eye of the Almighty God” (vv. 9–10).
Jacob Condemns the Love of Riches and Pride
● The consequences of improper use of wealth: (Jacob 2:12–20).
— Pride and persecution increase (v. 13).
— Selfishness and greed increase (v. 17).
— The kingdom of God is put aside (vv. 18–19).
— One loses perspective about the worth of souls (v. 20).
— Dr. Hugh Nibley said: “Wealth is a jealous master who will not be served half-heartedly and will suffer no rival—not even God . . . The more important wealth is, the less important it is how one gets it.”3
● The Nephites were located in a land of great plenty, including many valuable deposits of precious metals. We can imagine people, in an effort to get rich, spending all of their time in the pursuit of silver and gold, neglecting their duties to their families and to God’s work.
● The love of money (not money itself) is evil, and it produces pride (1 Timothy 6: 3–10, 17–19). President Spencer W. Kimball taught: “The possession of riches does not necessarily constitute sin. But sin may arise in the acquisition and use of wealth . . . Book of Mormon history eloquently reveals the corrosive effect of the passion for wealth. . . . Had the people used their wealth for good purposes they could have enjoyed a continuing prosperity. But they seemed unable for a sustained period to be simultaneously wealthy and righteous.”4
● Being “proud in your hearts” leads to all kinds of abominable behavior (Jacob 2:20–22). Jacob called this attitude “abominable” and reminds them that in God’s eyes “one being is as precious . . . as the other. And all flesh is of the dust” (v. 21). It is ludicrous to compare ourselves with others in a manner that assumes we are somehow “better” than them.
● President Ezra Taft Benson said, “In the scriptures there is no such thing as righteous pride. It is always considered as a sin. We are not speaking of a wholesome view of self-worth, which is best established by a close relationship with God. But we are speaking of pride as the universal sin, as someone has described it . . . The Lord says in the Doctrine and Covenants, “Beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old” (D&C 38:39). Essentially, pride is a “my will” rather than “thy will” approach to life. The opposite of pride is humbleness, meekness, submissiveness, or teachableness.”5
Jacob Condemns Plural Marriage (Jacob 2)
● The Nephites justified their behavior because of the wives and concubines of David and Solomon (Jacob 2:22–24). Concubines were not immoral mistresses, but legal wives of lesser social standing.
● David and Solomon were unworthy examples, because (D&C 132:38–39). . . The Lord gave wives and concubines to David and Solomon. They sinned by marrying more wives outside of the covenant.
● The Lord forbade the Nephites to practice plural marriage (Jacob 2:25–29).
● It has also been prohibited in our own day (Official Declaration 1:17). Prophet Joseph Smith said: “I have constantly said no man shall have but [other than] one wife at a time, unless the Lord directs otherwise.”6 So, while it was commanded for a time among the Saints (probably as an Abrahamic test of their faith) it has since been commanded to cease.
● Those who reject the Lord’s prophet who revealed the Lord’s will in this matter stand condemned before the Lord and are just as guilty of “whoredoms” as were Jacob’s people. President Spencer W. Kimball said: “We warn you against the so-called polygamy cults which would lead you astray. Remember the Lord brought an end to this program many decades ago through a prophet who proclaimed the revelation to the world. People are abroad who will deceive you and bring you much sorrow and remorse. Have nothing to do with those who would lead you astray. It is wrong and sinful to ignore the Lord when he speaks. He has spoken—strongly and conclusively.”7
Jacob Condemns Unchastity
● The effect of their immorality on the Nephites’ wives and children (Jacob 2:31–34).
● The irrevocable moral standard of the Lord and his Church is and has been forever the same: total and complete chastity before marriage and unconditional fidelity after marriage.
● Jacob offered counsel and comfort to those hurt by the immorality of others (Jacob 3:1–2).
● “The Second Death”—Jacob spoke of the awful consequences of sin (Jacob 3:11–12).
Jacob Condemns Family Abuse
● Jacob also rebuked the Nephite men for their mistreatment of their wives and children (Jacob 2:9, 31–32, 35).
● Lucy Walker Kimball said: “[Joseph Smith] often referred to the feelings that should exist between husbands and wives. . . . He said men must beware how they treat their wives. . . . He also said many would awake in the morning of the resurrection sadly disappointed; for they, by transgression, would have neither wives nor children, for they surely would be taken from them, and given to those who should prove themselves worthy. Again he said, a woman would have her choice [of an eternal companion]; this was a privilege that could not be denied her.”8
● Definition of abuse: “Treating or speaking to someone in a way that is demeaning or that causes injury or serious offense”
— Child abuse occurs when someone who is in a position of trust or control threatens or causes physical or emotional harm to a child. Child abuse can take several forms:
— Emotional abuse consists of name calling, demeaning statements, unrighteous control or compulsion, threats, isolation, intimidation, or manipulation.
— Physical abuse includes withholding necessities and using physical violence such as pushing, choking, scratching, pinching, restraining, or hitting.
— Sexual abuse may be either emotional or physical and includes sexual harassment, the inflicting of pain, and the use of force or intimidation.
— Spouse abuse may also be physical, emotional, or sexual.
● Latter-day Church leaders have also given strong warnings against abuse of any kind: “Individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God.”9
● President Gordon B. Hinckley has spoken out concerning child abuse: “May I again mention a matter with which I have dealt at length in the past. I speak of the evil and despicable sin of child abuse. We cannot tolerate it. We will not tolerate it. Anyone who abuses a child may expect Church discipline as well as possible legal action. Child abuse is an affront toward God. Jesus spoke of the beauty and innocence of children. To anyone who has an inclination that could lead to the abuse of children, I say in the strongest language of which I am capable, discipline yourself. Seek help before you do injury to a child and bring ruin upon yourself.”10
Jacob Condemns Prejudice
● The Lamanites were blessed for being chaste and loving their families (Jacob 3:5–10). Yet, the Nephites looked down on the Lamanites (v. 7). Jacob reminded the Nephites that it was they who were filthy before God (v. 9).
— President Ezra Taft Benson said: “The restored gospel is a message of divine love for all people everywhere, based upon the conviction that all humans are children of the same God . . . The validity, the power of our faith is not bound by history, nationality, or culture. It is not the peculiar property of any one people or any one age.”11
— President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “No man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church. Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.”12
Jacob Teaches Repentance
● Through repentance we can obtain the hope of exaltation through Christ (Jacob 4:10–11).
● The Jews looked “beyond the mark” (Jacob 4:14–18).
—They delighted in expounding difficult texts of scripture.
—But without faith and the Holy Ghost they could not understand them.
—They despised the “words of plainness” in the scriptures.
—They looked for salvation in some way other than through Christ.
— We see the same spirit today in those who are so sure of the correctness of their sectarian views that they “look beyond the mark” and reject God’s prophets and any new light that comes to them. Like the pharisees of old, they reject the prophets of God and despise the Saints. They do this because of the pride of their hearts.
— Another group, which can be found all too frequently throughout modern academia, rejects “words of plainness” and delights in “expounding difficult texts.” Intellectualizing is pleasing to the carnal mind, and is also connected to pride.
1. George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4 vols. [1987– 1992], 2:1–92.
2. In Conference Report, August 1972, 64.
3. Since Cumorah, 2nd ed. , 393.
4. The Miracle of Forgiveness, 47–48.
5. In Conference Report, April 1986, Ensign, May 1986, 6–7.
6. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith , 324.
7. In Conference Report, Oct. 974, 5; or Ensign, Nov. 1974, 5.
8. Walker and Stevenson, comps., Ancestry and Descendants of John Walker, 3, in Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus, comps., They Knew the Prophet , 140.
9. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.
10. “To Men of the priesthood,” Liahona, Nov 2002, 56–59.
11. In Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 23–24; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 19.
12. “Church condemns past racism ‘inside and outside the Church,” in Deseret News, March 29, 2012.