A Sample of Biblical Motifs in the Book of Mormon (Part II)

The following is a list of Biblical motifs and phrases found in the Book of Mormon.

  1. If you do not preach, the blood of the wicked will be on you (Jacob1:19)/(Ezekiel 3:18-20)
  2. Set a mark on their foreheads (Alma 3:18)/(Ezekiel 9:4)
  3. Genealogies written in books (1 Nephi 5:14)/(1 Chronicles 9:1)
  4. The tribe of Manasseh lives in Jerusalem (Alma 10:3)/(1 Chronicles 9:3)
  5. Make it after the pattern shown thee in the mount (1 Nephi 17:7-8)/(Exodus 25:40)/(Hebrews 8:5)
  6. White as snow (1 Nephi 11:8)/(Mark 9:3)/(Isaiah 1:18)
  7. True and living God (Alma 11:27)/(Jeremiah 10:10)
  8. They are the gods among us (Alma 18:4)/(Acts 14:11)
  9. 3 days of darkness/vapor of darkness (3 Nephi 8:20/10:10)/(Exodus 10:21-23)
  10. Land will be desolate (Alma 22:30)/(Jeremiah 6:8)
  11. Child of hell/devil (Alma 11:23)/(Acts 13:10)
  12. Seen and heard (Mormon 1:1)/(Acts 4:20)
  13. Spirit which giveth utterance (2 Nephi 28:4)/(Acts 2:4)
  14. Bond and free, male and female (Alma 11:44)/(Galatians 3:28)
  15. With our might (Mormon 2:4)/(Ecclesiastes 9:10)
  16. Taste of the goodness of the Lord (Mormon 1:15)/(Psalm 34:8)
  17. As dung on the face of the earth (Mormon 2:15)/(Jeremiah 8:2)
  18. Perverted the way (2 Nephi 28:15)/(Jeremiah 3:21)
  19. Burst their bands (1 Nephi 7:17)/(Jeremiah 2:20)
  20. 4th Generation (2 Nephi 26:9)/(Genesis 15:16)
  21. Built an altar to the Lord (1 Nephi 2:7)/(Genesis 8:20)
  22. My Spirit shall not always strive with man (2 Nephi 26:11)/(Genesis 6:3)
  23. Cursed is the land for your sakes (Mormon 1:17)/(Genesis 3:17)
  24. Be as gods, knowing good and evil (2 Nephi 2:18)/(Genesis 3:4)
  25. Stars in the firmament (1 Nephi 1:10)/(Genesis 3:4)
  26. Type and a shadow (Mosiah 13:10)/(Hebrews 8:5)
  27. No hair of the head will be lost (Alma 40:23)/(Acts 27:34)
  28. Swallowed up (2 Nephi 26:5)/(Lamentations 2:2)
  29. Blot out their name (Mosiah 5:11)/(Deuteronomy 9:14)
  30. Prophet given a book to read (1 Nephi 1:11-12)/(Ezekiel 2:8-9)
  31. Jerusalem, I have seen thy abominations (1 Nephi 1:13)/(Ezekiel 8:6)
  32. Left hand of God (Mosiah 5:10)/(Matthew 25:23)
  33. Same yesterday, today, and forever (2 Nephi 2:4)/(Hebrews 13:8)
  34. Sins which easily beset me (2 Nephi 4:18)/(Hebrews 12:1)
  35. Armor of righteousness (2 Nephi 1:23)/(II Corinthians 6:7)
  36. God cannot lie (Enos 1:6)/(Hebrews 6:18)
  37. Fight a good fight/warfare (Alma 1:1)/(I Timothy 6:12)
  38. Trump of God (Alma 29:1)/(I Thessalonians 4:16)
  39. Every knee shall bow (Mosiah 27:31)/(Philippians 2:10-11)
  40. Fiery darts (1 Nephi 15:24)/(Ephesians 6:16)
  41. Awake from deep sleep (2 Nephi 25:2)/(Ephesians 5:14)
  42. Ye were past feeling (1 Nephi 17:25)/(Ephesians 4:19)
  43. Works of darkness (2 Nephi 1:13)/(Ephesians 5:14)
  44. According to his will and pleasure (Jacob 5:14)/(Ephesians 1:5)
  45. Strength in weakness (Ether 12:26-27)/(II Corinthians 12:9-10)
  46. Whether they be good or evil (Mosiah 3:24)/(II Corinthians 5:10)
  47. Gone out of the way (2 Nephi 28:11)/(Hebrews 5:2)
  48. Writing on wall written by the finger of God (Alma 10:2)/(Daniel 5:5)
  49. Called with a holy calling (Alma 13:3)/(II Timothy 1:9)
  50. Water my couch/pillow with tears (2 Nephi 33:3)/(Psalm 6:6)
  51. Judgments and statutes of the law (2 Nephi 5:10)/(Deuteronomy 4:8)
  52. Trial of your faith (Ether 12:6)/(I Peter 1:7)
  53. Stir you up to remembrance (1 Nephi 2:24)/(II Peter 3:1)
  54. Pollutions (Mormon 8:31)/(Jeremiah 3:2)
  55. Elements will melt with fervent heat (Mormon 9:2)/(II Peter 3:12)
  56. Everlasting chains (2 Nephi 28:19)/(Jude 1:6)
  57. Fell as though he was dead (Alma 22:18)/(Revelation 1:17)
  58. As a scroll rolled together (Mormon 9:2)/(Revelation 6:14)
  59. Rocks and mountains fall on us to hide us from the Lord (Alma 12:14)/(Revelation 6:16)/(Hosea 10:8)
  60. The harvest is ripe (Alma 26:5)/(Revelation 14:15)
  61. Make my path straight before me (2 Nephi 4:33)/(Psalm 5:8)
  62. Bow of steel (1 Nephi 16:18)/(Psalm 18:34)
  63. Grievous to be borne (Mosiah 7:23)/(Matthew 23:4)
  64. The residue of men (Moroni 7:32)/(Acts 15:17)
  65. Lord will hide your sins from his face (3 Nephi 9:5)/(Psalm 51:9)
  66. Gates of righteousness (2 Nephi 4:32)/(Psalm 118:19)
  67. Fill up the garners (Alma 26:5)/(Psalm 144:13)
  68. Apply your heart to understanding; be wise (Mosiah 12:27)/(Proverbs 2:2)
  69. Cords of sin (2 Nephi 26:22)/(Proverbs 5:22)
  70. Ordained elders in the church (Alma 6:1)/(Acts 14:23)

Some “textual errors” in the Book of Mormon also found in the Bible

The Book of Mormon is often criticized as being full of grammatical errors that have been changed over the years. What is rarely acknowledged, however, is that many of the “errors” are also found in the King James version of the Bible. The following compares changes made from the first edition of the Book of Mormon to the 1981 edition.

  1. An extra “for” which was deleted in later editions of the Book of Mormon

a. “and their precious things, for to perish in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 2:11)

b. “the daughters of the Lamanites did gather themselves together for to sing” (Mosiah 20:1)

c. “And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come” (Matthew 11:14)

d. “he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read” (Luke 4:16)

e. “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him” (Luke 15:1)

f. “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31) (See also Acts 8:27/11:2/12:25/15:6/16:4/17:15/20:1/22:5/Romans 13:6/II Corinthians 2:9/Psalm 75:1)

2.  A superfluous “a” which was deleted 

a. “As I was a journeying to see a very near kindred” (Alma 10:7)

b. “and there he found Muloki a preaching the word unto them” (Alma 21:11)

c. “For he had only one daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying” (Luke 8:42)

d. “thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee” (Psalm 73:27)

e. “in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing” (I Peter 3:20)

3. A superfluous “that” which was deleted

a. “wherefore, after that I have abridged the record of my father” (1 Nephi 1:17)

b. “because that he was a visionary man” (1 Nephi 2:11)

c. “And after that the angel had spoken unto us, he departed.” (1 Nephi 3:31)

d. “Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments” (Acts 1:2)

e. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8)

f. “And Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak” (Acts 24:10)

4. Changing “exceeding” to “exceedingly”

a. “I, Nephi, being exceeding young” (1 Nephi 2:16)

b. “when Laban saw our property, and that it was exceeding great” (1 Nephi 3:25)

c. “and the workmanship thereof was exceeding fine” (1 Nephi 4:9)

d. “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth” (Matthew 2:16)

e. “And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow” (Mark 9:3)

f. “My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death” (Mark 14:34)

5. Switching past tense with present tense

a. “And I saith unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things” (1 Nephi 17:50)

b. “he was also wroth; and he saith: Who is Abinadi” (Mosiah 11:27)

c. “And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream” (Matthew 2:13)

d. “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city” (Matthew 4:5)

e. “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them” (Mark 2:17)

6. Changing “which” to “who” and “whom”

a. “pointing their fingers towards those which had come at and were partaking of the fruit” (1 Nephi 8:27)

b. “Behold the twelve disciples of the Lamb, which are chosen to minister unto thy seed” (1 Nephi 12:8)

c. “show unto them that fight against my word and against my people, which are of the house of Israel” (2 Nephi 29:14)

d. “even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)

e. “Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question” (Matthew 22:35)

e. “there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death” (Mark 9:1)

A Sampling of Motifs from the Bible in the Book of Mormon (Part I)

The following is a list of random motifs found in both the Book of Mormon and the Bible. This is meant to further help the reader grasp the complexity and magnitude of the Book of Mormon in its use of Biblical motifs.

  1. Mist of darkness (1 Nephi 8:22)/(II Peter 2:17)/(Revelation 9:2)
  2. caught away…into an exceedingly high mountain (1 Nephi 11:1)/(Revelation 21:10)
  3. I looked…and I saw him not (1 Nephi 11:12)/(Revelation 1:12)
  4. a tree, whose fruit was desirable (1 Nephi 8:10/11:22)/(Revelation 2:7)
  5. abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it (1 Nephi 13:6)/(Revelation 2:9/3:9)
  6. a rod of iron (1 Nephi 8:19/11:24-25)/(Revelation 2:26-27/19:3)/(Psalm 23:4)
  7. holding fast to the rod of iron (1 Nephi 8:30)/(Revelation 3:3)
  8. the fall thereof was exceedingly great (1 Nephi 11:36)/(Matthew 7:27)
  9. waters which run continually (1 Nephi 2:9)/(Psalm 58:7)
  10. eye of the Lord (2 Nephi 9:44)/(Psalm 33:18)
  11. great lights in heaven (Helaman 14:3)/(Psalm 136:7)
  12. not be afraid of ten thousands of people (1 Nephi 4:1)/(Psalm 3:6)
  13. What seest thou? (Jeremiah 1:11-13)/(1 Nephi 11:2,10,14)/(Jeremiah 24:3)
  14. Never hath man dwelt (Jeremiah 2:6)/(Ether 2:5)
  15. Fountain of living waters (Jeremiah 2:13)/(1 Nephi 11:25)
  16. Imagination of the heart (Jeremiah 3:17/7:24/9:14)/(1 Nephi 2:11)
  17. captain of fifty (Isaiah 3:3)/(1 Nephi 3:31)
  18. Cursed who trust in the arm of flesh (Jeremiah 17:5)/(2 Nephi 3:34)
  19. Tree planted by water (Jeremiah 17:8)/(1 Nephi 8:20)
  20. east wind (Jeremiah 18:17)/(Mosiah 7:31)
  21. Tree planted by river of water (1 Nephi 8:13/Psalm 1:3/Jeremiah 17:8)
  22. Tree of life (1 Nephi 15:22/Revelation 2:7/Proverbs 3:13-18)
  23. Church of Satan (1 Nephi 13:6/Revelation 2:9/3:9)
  24. Fountain of Living Waters (1 Nephi 11:25/Revelation 7:17/Psalm 36:9/Jeremiah 2:13/17:13)
  25. Pit of Hell (1 Nephi 14:3/Revelation 9:2/Psalm 7:15-16)
  26. Whore of the earth (1 Nephi 14:10-11/Revelation 17:1)
  27. Drown in waters (1 Nephi 8:32/1 Timothy 6:9/Psalm 124:3-5)
  28. Dreamed a dream (1 Nephi 8:2/Daniel 2:3)
  29. Multitude of tender mercies (1 Nephi 8:8/Psalm 51:1)
  30. Love of God shed abroad in our hearts (1 Nephi 11:22/Romans 5:5)
  31. Yoke of iron (1 Nephi 13:5/Jeremiah 28:14)
  32. A marvelous work (1 Nephi 14:7/Isaiah 29:14)
  33. A great gulf diving wicked and righteous (1 Nephi 12:18/Luke 16:26)
  34. By the mouth of his holy prophets (2 Nephi 9:2/Acts 3:21)
  35. From generation to generation (2 Nephi 9:2/Isaiah 13:20)
  36. Fold of God (2 Nephi 9:2/Jeremiah 23:3)
  37. Lift up your heads (2 Nephi 9:3/Psalm 24:7)
  38. Searched diligently for salvation to come (2 Nephi 9:4/1 Peter 1:10)
  39. In our flesh we will see God (2 Nephi 9:4/Job 19:26)
  40. We are subject unto Christ (2 Nephi 9:5/Hebrews 2:8)
  41. Corruption must put on incorruption (2 Nephi 9:7/1 Corinthians 15:53)
  42. An angel fell from heaven (2 Nephi 9:8/Isaiah 14:12)
  43. Satan can transform into angel of light (2 Nephi 9:9/II Corinthians 11:14)
  44. How great is the goodness of God (2 Nephi 9:10/Psalm 31:19)
  45. Death and Hell (2 Nephi 9:10/Revelation 6:8)
  46. Robe of righteousness (2 Nephi 9:14/Isaiah 61:10)
  47. Judgment seat of Christ (2 Nephi 9:15/Romans 14:10)
  48. God’s word will not pass away (2 Nephi 9:16/Mark 13:31)
  49. Righteous will be righteous still; filthy will be filthy still (2 Nephi 9:16/Revelation 22:11)
  50. Lake of fire and brimstone (2 Nephi 9:16/Revelation 19:20)
  51. Flame/smoke ascends forever (2 Nephi 9:16/Revelation 14:11)
  52. Endure the cross and despise the shame of it (2 Nephi 9:18/Hebrews 12:2)
  53. Inherit the kingdom of God prepared from the foundation of the world (2 Nephi 9:18/Matthew 25:34)
  54. Joy may be full (2 Nephi 9:18/John 1:4)
  55. Uncircumcised of heart (2 Nephi 9:33/Jeremiah 9:26)
  56. Carnally minded is death (2 Nephi 9:39/Romans 8:6)
  57. Speak hard things (2 Nephi 9:40/Psalm 60:3)
  58. Path of righteousness (2 Nephi 9:41/Psalm 23:3)
  59. Fools before God (2 Nephi 9:42/1 Corinthians 3:18)
  60. The wise and the prudent (2 Nephi 9:43/1 Corinthians 1:19)
  61. Shake my garments to rid myself of you blood (2 Nephi 9:44/Acts 18:6)
  62. Stand with brightness (2 Nephi 9:44/Ezekiel 28:7,17)
  63. Rock of my salvation (2 Nephi 9:45/Psalm 62:2)
  64. Chains of hell (2 Nephi 9:45/2 Peter 2:4/Jude 1:6)
  65. Plainness of speech (2 Nephi 9:47/II Corinthians 3:12)
  66. Stone which builders rejected (Jacob 4:15-16/Psalm 118:22/Matthew 21:42)
  67. Vineyard of the Lord (Jacob 5:3/Isaiah 5:7/Matt 20:1)
  68. The house of Israel is an olive tree (Jacob 5:3/Romans 11:24/Jeremiah 11:16-17)
  69. Pruning, digging, nourishing (Jacob 5:4,64/Luke 13:8/Isaiah 5:6)
  70. Young and tender (Jacob 5:4,6/Ezekiel 17:22/1 Chronicles 22:1)
  71. Wild olive tree (Jacob 5:7,9/Romans 11:17,24)
  72. Not cumber the ground (Jacob 5:9/Luke 13:7)
  73. Corrupt trees bring evil fruit (Jacob 5:38-39/Matt 7:17,19)
  74. Let good and bad grow together (Jacob 5:65/Matt 13:30)
  75. Moses’ prophecy of Christ’s coming (1 Nephi 22:20/Acts 3:22-23)
  76. Cut to the heart (Mosiah 113:7/Acts 5:33)
  77. Scales fell from his eyes (2 Nephi 30:6/Acts 9:18)
  78. Now I know of a surety (1 Nephi 5:8/Acts 13:11)
  79. Who shall declare his generation? (Mosiah 14:7-8/Isaiah 53/Acts 8:32-33)
  80. The Lord’s wings (2 Nephi 4:25/Psalm 17:8)
  81. Run a race, win the prize (Mosiah 4:27/1 Corinthians 9:24)
  82. Bands of death (Alma 4:14/Psalm 73:4)
  83. The provocation (Alma 12:36/Hebrews 3:8/Psalm 78:40)
  84. Grind to powder (2 Nephi 26:5/Matthew 21:44)
  85. Trample under foot (1 Nephi 19:7/Matthew 7:6)
  86. Mysteries of God (Matthew 13:11/1 Nephi 1:1)
  87. Finger of God (2 Nephi 3:17/Luke 11:20)
  88. They would have repented if they saw your miracles (2 Nephi 10:3/Matthew 11:21)
  89. Two or three witnesses (2 Nephi 11:3/Matthew 18:16)
  90. Cleanse the inward vessel (Alma 60:23-24/Matthew 23:26-27/Luke 11:39)
  91. The heavens opened (1 Nephi 11:14,27,30/ Mark 1:10)
  92. Give half of my kingdom (Alma 20:23/Mark 6:23)
  93. Pondered in my heart (1 Nephi 11:1/Luke 2:19)
  94. If ye are brought up in the gospel ye will not depart from it (2 Nephi 4:5/Proverbs 22:6)
  95. Seal you his (Mosiah 5:15/II Corinthians 1:22)
  96. O wretched man that I am (2 Nephi 4:17/Romans 4:15)
  97. Vengeance is mine; I will repay (Mormon 3:15/Romans 12:19)
  98. Let things be done in order (Mosiah 4:27/1 Corinthians 14:40)
  99. Be steadfast and immovable (1 Nephi 2:10/1 Corinthians 15:58)
  100. The true vine (1 Nephi 15:15/John 15:1)
  101. Death swallowed in victory (Mosiah 16:8/Isaiah 25:8)
  102. Armor of righteousness (2 Nephi 1:23/Isaiah 59:17/Ephesians 6:14)
  103. The serpent beguiled (2 Nephi 9:9/Genesis 3:13)
  104. Blood cries from the ground (2 Nephi 28:10/Genesis 4:10)
  105. Greater than I can bear (1 Nephi 16:1/Genesis 4:13/1 Corinthians 3:2)
  106. Nimrod the mighty hunter (Ether 2:1/Genesis 10:8-9)
  107. Enter into his rest (Jacob 1:7/Hebrews 3:11)
  108. Hedge up the way (Mosiah 7:29/Hosea 2:6)
  109. Fiery indignation (Alma 40:14/Hebrews 10:27)
  110. Dregs of a bitter cup (Alma 40:26/Psalm 75:8)
  111. Great and terrible (1 Nephi 12:18/Deuteronomy 1:19)
  112. Who can stand before his armies? (Ether 14:18/Deuteronomy 9:2)
  113. Turn aside out of the way (1 Nephi 19:13-15/Deuteronomy 9:12)
  114. They seek my life, to take it away (1 Nephi 1:20/1 Kings 19:10)
  115. Break the rocks into pieces (Helaman 14:21/1 Kings 19:11)

The Vision of the Tree of Life (Part II): Biblical Comparisons

The following is a comparison of Nephi’s/Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life to several other scriptures in the Bible. This portion of the Book of Mormon uses motifs from multiple sources in the Bible, and makes changes to reflect the circumstances of Lehi’s family rather than blatantly copying from such sources. This further illustrates the complexity of the Book of Mormon and supports the notion that it is not simply a regurgitation of memorized scriptures. The vision of the tree of life comprises 1 Nephi 8 and 1 Nephi 11-14 respectively.

  1. STRUCTURE OF THE VISION OF LEHI AND NEPHI = The vision presented to Nephi and Lehi follow similar patterns of visions given to John the Revelator as well as other Old Testament Prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

a) I WAS TAKEN TO A HIGH MOUNTAIN= Multiple prophets refer to being carried away in a vision. They are taken to different locations, such as high mountains.

  • “For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in my heart I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot” (1 Nephi 11:1)
  • “And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials…And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:9-10)” (Revelation 21:10)
  • “Afterwards the spirit took me up, and brought me in a vision by the Spirit of God into Chaldea” (Ezekiel 11:24)

b) I TURNED TO LOOK= Both John and Nephi turn to see the voice that is speaking to them, but they turn and no longer see the person speaking, but rather continue to see the vision unfold.

  • “he said unto me: Look! And I looked as if to look upon him, and I saw him not; for he had gone from before my presence” (1 Nephi 11:12)
  • “And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks” (Revelation 1:12)

c) WHAT SEEST THOU? = The Spirit who guides the visions asks those who see the vision to identify what they are seeing.

  • “and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou? And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair…” (1 Nephi 11:14-15)
  • “Then said the Lord unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good and the evil, very evil…” (Jeremiah 24:3)

2. SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES OF MOTIFS

a) THE ROD OF IRON = (See “The Vision of the Tree of Life: Part I”)

b) TREE OF LIFE= The tree of life is a motif used in both the Old Testament and New Testament. On many occasions, the Bible refers to trees that are planted near rivers of water. While this may be a minor consistency, it is nevertheless important to note that the Tree of Life in Nephi’s/Lehi’s vision is placed near a river of water and a tree planted near a river of water is a common metaphor used in the Old Testament. Proverbs 3:13-18 also combines the emotion of happiness to the tree of life.

  • “I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking of the fruit” (1 Nephi 8:13)
  • “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season” (Psalm 1:3)
  • “For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river” (Jeremiah 17:8)
  • “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Revelation 2:7)
  • “And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy” (1 Nephi 8:10)
  • Happy is the man that findeth wisdom…she is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is everyone that retaineth her” (Proverbs 3:13-18)

c) CHURCH OF SATAN = There is a subtle difference between the revelations of Nephi and John. John, who has witnessed the persecution of the saints by the Jews, has identified them as being members of the “synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9/3:9). Nephi, on the other hand, identifies a church among the Gentiles that is founded by the devil. Both are similar motifs used to describe different circumstances.

  • “Which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9)
  • “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which they say are Jews” (Revelation 3:9)
  • “I beheld this great and abominable church, and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it” (1 Nephi 13:6)

d) FOUNTAIN OF LIFE = In addition to this being a Biblical motif, it is interesting that Nephi uses “fountain of living waters” and “the tree of life” interchangeably. As far as I know there are no examples in the Bible of these two motifs combined in such a manner. It is also important to note that John (Revelation 7:17) states that Jesus Christ will lead the righteous to the fountain of life. Similarly, Nephi’s and Lehi’s vision show a rod of iron, interpreted as the “word of God,” leading to the fountain of living waters (Jesus Christ is sometimes referred to as “the Word” (John 1:14))

  • “And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life, which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God” (1 Nephi 11:25)
  • “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters…” (Revelation 7:17)
  • “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:9)
  • “they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 2:13/17:13)

e) PIT OF HELL = This motif seems to be a synthesis of the “bottomless pit” described in the book of Revelation and the pits described by David as being digged by the wicked to ensnare him, only for them to fall in their own pits. Nephi’s vision combines these two motifs.

  • “And that great pit, which hath been digged for them by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children…that great pit which hath been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it” (1 Nehpi 14:3)
  • “And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke out of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit” (Revelation 9:2)
  • “The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken” (Psalm 9:15)
  • “They have prepared a net for my steps; my soul is bowed down: they have digged a pit before me, into the midst whereof they are fallen themselves. Selah” (Psalm 57:6)
  • He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate” (Psalm 7:15-16)

f) THE WHORE OF THE EARTH = This motif is also founded in the book of Revelation and other scriptures in the Old and New Testaments, but the motif is used somewhat differently in the Book of Mormon. John uses Bablyon as a metaphor of wickedness, whereas the vision presented to Nephi and Lehi excludes the great city of Bablyon, and substitutes the metaphor with a “great and spacious building.” This may be due to the fact that Lehi and his family left before the Jews were taken captive by Babylon. While Lehi and his descendants knew that Babylon and destroyed Jerusalem, the metaphor would not have been as significant for them since they had been in the wilderness for many years before the Babylonian captivity.

  • “belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth…and she sat upon many waters” (1 Nephi 14:10-11)
  • “I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters” (Revelation 17:1)
  • “And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18)

g) BABYLON HAS FALLEN = This further expands upon the metaphor described previously, but combines language similar to Matthew 7:27. Once again, Nephi’s vision replaces the city of Babylon with the great and spacious building.

  • “the great and spacious building was the pride of the world; and it fell, and the fall thereof was exceedingly great” (1 Nephi 11:36)
  • “And he cried mightily, with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils…” (Revelation 18:2)
  • “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:27)

h) RICHES ARE THE DESIRES OF BABYLON/THE GREAT CHURCH 

 “And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls!” (Revelation 18:16)

“Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots, are the desires of this great and abominable church” (1 Nephi 13:8)

i) DROWNING IN THE RIVER = On several occasions in the Bible, the wicked are described as being drowned in iniquity or overcome by water. This motif is reflected in the vision of the tree of life, where those who stray from the rod of iron are drowned in the filthy water of the river.

“And it came to pass that many were drowned in the depths of the fountain; and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads” (1 Nephi 8:32)

“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9)

“Then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul. Then the proud waters had gone over our soul” (Psalm 124:3-5)

j) MISTS OF DARKNESS = Take note of Proverbs 2:12-16, which describes wicked people who leave the path of righteousness to walk in darkness after the temptations of a harlot. This imagery is very similar to the harlot described in the book of Revelation and the Book of Mormon, where the mother of harlots draws the wicked to her to fight against the Lamb of God. The mist of darkness seems absent from the Book of Revelation, other than a reference to the land being darkened by smoke coming from the bottomless pit.

“And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness; yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness, insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose their way, that they wandered off and were lost.” (1 Nephi 8:23)

“And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.” (1 Nephi 8:28)

“And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil” (1 Nephi 12:17)

“These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.”   (II Peter 2:17)

“and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit” (Revelation 9:2)

“To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things; who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness; who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the frowardness of the wicked; whose ways are crooked, and they froward in their paths; to deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her wordsNone that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life” (Proverbs 2:12-16, 19)

3. RANDOM BIBLICAL REFERENCES FOUND IN THE VISION OF THE TREE OF LIFE

a) DREAMED A DREAM

  • “I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision” (1 Nephi 8:2) 
  • “And the king said unto them, I have dreamed a dream” (Daniel 2:3)

b) MULTITUDE OF HIS TENDER MERCIES

  • “I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies” (1 Nephi 8:8)
  • Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51:1)

c) THE LOVE OF GOD SHED ABROAD

  • “And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things” (1 Nephi 11:22)
  • “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5)

d) A YOKE OF IRON

  • “yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them with a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity” (1 Nephi 13:5)
  • I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon” (Jeremiah 28:14)

e) A MARVELOUS WORK

  • “For the time cometh, saith the Lamb of God, that I will work a great and a marvelous work among the children of men” (1 Nephi 14:7)
  • “I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder” (Isaiah 29:14)

f) A TERRIBLE GULF DIVIDETH THEM

  • “And the large and spacious building, which thy father saw, is vain imaginations and the pride of the children of men. And a great and a terrible gulf divideth them; yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God” (1 Nephi 12:18)
  • “And beside all this between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Luke 16:26)

g) THOSE WHO PUBLISH PEACE; HOW BEAUTIFUL UPON THE MOUNTAINS THEY WILL BE

  • “and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be” (1 Nephi 13:37)
  • How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation” (Isaiah 52:7)

Scriptural References to Events of the Allegory of the Olive Tree

The following is a list of metaphorical and linguistic references in the Bible that can be compared to Chapter 5 of the Book of Jacob (The Book of Mormon), commonly referred to as the “Allegory of the Olive Tree.” This list is meant to illustrate to the reader the vastness of the allegory and how it is deeply rooted in Old Testament and New Testament prophecies.

  1. The Jews Will Reject the Cornerstone
  • Jacob 4:15-16 = “by the stumbling of the Jews they will reject the stone upon which they might build and have safe foundation. But behold, according to the scriptures, this stone shall become the great, and the last, and the only sure foundation, upon which the Jews can build.”
  • Matthew 21:42 = “Did ye never read the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?”
  • Psalm 118:22 = “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes”

2. The Vineyard of the Lord

  • Jacob 5:3 = “I will liken thee, O house of Israel, like unto a tame olive tree, which a man took and nourished in his vineyard; and it grew, and waxed old, and began to decay.”
  • Isaiah 5:7 = “For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant”
  • Jeremiah 12:10 = “Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot…”
  • Matt 20:1 = “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard
  • Luke 20:9 = “Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time”

3. The House of Israel is an Olive Tree

  • Jacob 5:3 = “For behold, thus saith the Lord, I will liken thee, O house of Israel, like unto a tame olive tree
  • Romans 11:24 = “For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree…”
  • Psalm 52:8 = “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God”
  • Jeremiah 11:16-17 = “The Lord called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken. For the Lord of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee”

4. Pruning, Digging, and Nourishing

  • Jacob 5:4,64 = “he saw that his olive tree began to decay; and he said: I will prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it, that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not…dig about them, and prune them, and dung them once more”
  • Luke 13:8 = “And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it
  • Isaiah 5:6 = “And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns”

5. Shoot Forth Branches

  • Jacob 5:4 = “that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not.”
  • Luke 21:29-30 = “Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand”
  • Ezekiel 17:6 = “so it became a vine, and brought forth branches, and shot forth sprigs
  • Ezekiel 36:8 = “But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come”
  • Isaiah 27:6,8 = “Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit…In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind”

6. Young and Tender Branches

  • Jacob 5:4,6 = “that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not…And it came to pass that after many days it began to put forth somewhat a little, young and tender branches”
  • Matt 24:32 = “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh”
  • Ezekiel 17:3-4 = “and took the highest branch of the cedar: He cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffick”
  • Ezekiel 17:22 = “Thus saith the Lord God; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent”
  • 1 Chronicles 29:1 = “Solomon my son, whom alone God hath chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great…”
  • 1 Chronicles 22:1 = “Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the Lord must be exceeding magnifical…”

7. Wild Olive Branches Grafted into the Tame Olive Tree

  • Jacob 5:7,9 = “It grieveth me that I should lose this tree; wherefore, go and pluck the branches from a wild olive tree, and bring them hither unto me…Take thou the branches of the wild olive tree, and graft them in, in the stead thereof”
  • Matt 21:43 = “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof”
  • Romans 11:17,24 = “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree…For thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree”

8. The Main Top Begins to Perish and Will be Destroyed

  • Jacob 5:6-7 = “it began to put forth somewhat a little, young and tender branches; but behold, the main top thereof began to perish…we will pluck off those main branches which are beginning to wither away, and we will cast them into the fire that they may be burned
  • Jeremiah 2:21 = “Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?
  • Jeremiah 19:15/20:4 = “I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words…and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword

9. Cumber the Ground of the Vineyard

  • Jacob 5:9 = “these which I have plucked off I will cast into the fire and burn them, that they may not cumber the ground of my vineyard.
  • Luke 13:7 = “Behold these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

10. Corrupt Trees Bring Evil Fruit

  • Jacob 5:38-39 = “Let us go down into the nethermost parts of the vineyard, and behold if the natural branches have also brought forth evil fruit the fruit of the natural branches had become corrupt also; yea, the first and the second and also the last; and they had all become corrupt.
  • “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit…Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matt 7:17,19)

11. Roots of the Tree

  • Jacob 5:11,34 = “It grieveth me that I should lose this tree; wherefore, that perhaps I might preserve the roots thereof that they perish not, that I might preserve them unto myself, I have done this thing… I know that the roots are good, and for mine own purpose I have preserved them; and because of their much strength they have hitherto brought forth, from the wild branches, good fruit.”
  • Romans 11:16-18 = “and if the root be holy, so are the branches…and thou…wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree…but if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee

12. Let the Good and the Bad Grow Together

  • Jacob 5:65 = “And as they begin to grow ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard.”
  • Matt 13:30 = “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn”

13. What More Could I Have Done for my Vineyard?

  • Jacob 5:40-41 = “And the wild fruit of the last had overcome that part of the tree which brought forth good fruit, even that the branch had withered away and died. And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept, and said unto the servant: What could I have done more for my vineyard?
  • Isaiah 5:3-4 = “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?”

14. Stretched forth my hand all the day long

  • Jacob 5:47 = “Have I slackened mine hand, that I have not nourished it? Nay, I have nourished it, and I have digged about it, and I have pruned it, and I have dunged it; and I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long, and the end draweth nigh.”
  • Isaiah 65:2 = “I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts.”
  • Romans 10:20-21 = “But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people

15. Laborers are Few

  • Jacob 5:70 = “And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few.”
  • Matt 9:37 = “Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his vineyard

16. Graft the First Last, and the Last First

  • Jacob 5:63 = “Graft in the branches; begin at the last that they may be first, and that the first may be last, and dig about the trees, both old and young, the first and the last; and the last and the first, that all may be nourished once again for the last time.”
  • Matt 20:8 = “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (see also Matt 19:30/Mark 10:31/Luke 13:30)

17. Planted in Good Soil

  • Jacob 5:43 = “And behold this last, whose branch hath withered away, I did plant in a good spot of ground; yea, even that which was choice unto me above all other parts of the land of my vineyard.”
  • Ezekiel 17:8 = “It was planted in a good soil by great waters, that it might bring forth branches, and that it might bear fruit, that it might be a goodly vine”

18. Spare it a Little Longer

  • Jacob 5:49-51 =  “Let us go to and hew down the trees of the vineyard and cast them into the fire, that they shall not cumber the ground of my vineyard, for I have done all. What could I have done more for my vineyard? But, behold, the servant said unto the Lord of the vineyard: Spare it a little longer. And the Lord said: Yea, I will spare it a little longer, for it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard.”
  • Psalm 106:23 = “Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them
  • Luke 13:7-9 = “I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down

19. Who has corrupted my vineyard?

  • Jacob 5:47 = “And it grieveth me that I should hew down all the trees of my vineyard, and cast them into the fire that they should be burned. Who is it that has corrupted my vineyard?
  • Matt 13:24-26,28 = “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also…He said unto them, An enemy hath done this

20. Loftiness of the Trees

  • Jacob 5:48 = “Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard—have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good? And because the branches have overcome the roots thereof, behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves. Behold, I say, is not this the cause that the trees of thy vineyard have become corrupted?”
  • Isaiah 2:12,17 = “For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low…And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low”
  • Ezekiel 31:10-11 = (Note: This is a prophecy referring to the fall of Egypt. However, the metaphor is similar to that in Jacob 5) “Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height, and he hath shot up his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height; I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness”

21. The Lord Will Gather His People Again

  • Jacob 5:67-68 = “And the branches of the natural tree will I graft in again into the natural tree; And the branches of the natural tree will I graft into the natural branches of the tree; and thus will I bring them together again, that they shall bring forth the natural fruit, and they shall be one.”
  • Isaiah 11:11-12 = “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people…and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth”

22. Satan Will Be Bound But Will Return for a Short Time

  • Jacob 5:76-7 = “For behold, for a long time will I lay up of the fruit of my vineyard unto mine own self against the season, which speedily cometh…And when the time cometh that evil fruit shall again come into my vineyard, then will I cause the good and the bad to be gathered…and my vineyard will I cause to be burned with fire.”
  • Revelation 20:2-3 = “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled; and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Revelation 20:2-3)

23. Good and Evil Will Be Separated in the Last Days

  • Jacob 5:77 = “then will I cause the good and the bad to be gathered; and the good will I preserve unto myself, and the bad will I cast away into its own place. And then cometh the season and the end”
  • Matt 25:32 = “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats

The Vision of the Tree of Life: Comparing the Bible and Koran (Part 1)

PART I:  THE IRON ROD

The image of the iron rod is found in several passages of the Bible. It has been described as a rod used to discipline and punish the wicked, as well as a shepherd’s rod to guide a flock. Though it is used in a variety of contexts in the Bible, it’s use in Lehi’s and Nephi’s vision of the Tree of Life is mostly unique, and yet consistent with Biblical metaphors. In addition, the Lehi’s and Nephi’s vision bears a striking similarity to a specific passage of the Koran. The following commentary and references are meant to reveal the complexity, uniqueness, and consistency of the vision of the Tree of Life, which can be found in 1 Nephi 8 and 1 Nephi 11-14.

In the Book of Mormon, both Nephi and Lehi are given a vision in which they see a tree that bears fruit, and a rod of iron that leads along a straight path toward the tree. A mist of darkness covers the land and the only way to reach the tree and eat its fruit is to cling to the rod of iron. Those who do not hold to the rod of iron, are lost and drowned in a river. Lehi states “And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood. And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world. And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree by which I stood” (1 Nephi 8:20-21).

A few chapters later, Nephi desires to see the same vision. His account gives additional information in the form of visions of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. Nephi’s father, Lehi, does not give his children the exact meaning of the symbolism in his vision, but Nephi is able to ascertain the meaning of Lehi’s dream with his additional visions. Nephi identifies the meaning of the rod of iron after seeing a vision of Jesus Christ on the earth:

I beheld the Son of God going forth among the children of men; and I saw many fall down at his feet and worship him. And it came to pass that I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters…” (1 Nephi 11:24-25).

Interestingly, Nephi is able to understand that the rod of iron represents the word of God after seeing the Savior’s ministry. The source of Nephi’s understanding can be found in various passages of the Bible. For example, when the Book of Mormon quotes Isaiah’s messianic prophecies, he states:

a) “And the Lord is near, and he justifieth me. Who will contend with me? Let us stand together. Who is mine adversary? Let him come near me, and I will smite him with the strength of my mouth.” (2 Nephi 7:8)

b) “And with righteousness shall the Lord God judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth. And he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked” (2 Nephi 30:9)

Since Nephi knew the revelations of Isaiah very well, upon seeing the Savior in his vision, he immediately knew that Christ was synonymous with the Word of God, which would proceed out of his mouth. This metaphor is further solidified by John when he stated:

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Other metaphorical allusions to the rod of iron can be found in the Old and New Testaments. Conjuring similar imagery to Lehi’s vision, Psalm 23:3-4 uses the metaphor of the Lord guiding his people along righteous paths with his rod:

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:3-4)

It is most likely that in this context the rod refers to a rod used by a shepherd to guide his flock, as suggested in the following passage:

O God, why hast thou cast us off for ever? Why doth thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture? Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt” (Psalm 74:1-2)

These passages from Psalms are similar to the vision given to Lehi and Nephi, but is greatly expanded. It is important to reiterate once again that even though the same metaphor is being employed, its presentation in the vision of the tree of life and other references in the Bible is entirely unique. In addition to Biblical references in the vision of the tree of life, it may be enlightening to look at other middle-eastern religious texts for possible cultural origins of the vision. For example, the Koran describes Islam as being a “cord” that the followers must hold on to, as found in the following passage:

And hold ye fast by the cord of God, all of you, and break not loose from it; and remember God’s goodness towards you, how that when ye were enemies, He united your hearts, and by his favour ye became brethren.” (Sura 3:98)

In describing the meaning of their father’s vision to his brothers, Nephi similarly states:

And they said unto me: What meaneth the rod of iron which our father saw, that led to the tree? And I said unto them that it was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.” (1 Nephi 15:23-24)

Commentary on the Koran in the 1838 edition of the book “The Koran: Commonly Called the Alcoran of Mohommed” states:

Literally, Hold fast by the cord of God. That is, secure yourselves by adhering to Islam, which is here metaphorically expressed by a cord, because it is as sure a means of saving those who profess it from perishing hereafter, as holding by a rope is to prevent one’s falling into a well, or other like place. It is said that Mohammed used, for the same reason, to call the Koran Habl Allah al Matin, i. e. The sure cord of God.” (p. 44)

In the Book of Mormon vision of the tree of life we have a synthesis of two separate metaphors. Jesus Christ, who is the word of God and whose words are likened to a rod of iron, and the “cord of God” of the Koran, which is seen as saving those who hold on to it. Those in Lehi’s vision, who do not grasp to the rod of iron, much like the “cord” described in the commentary of the Koran, are drowned in a river of water.

Biblical Support for LDS doctrine of “Deification”

I have often heard from critics that the doctrine of “deification,” or the idea that faithful followers of Christ will become like God, is blasphemous and the invention of prideful zealots. For many Christians, this is one of the biggest points of contention with the LDS faith. I would like to appeal to the Bible to argue that this doctrine is not unbelievable or blasphemous. The following argument is not meant to provide irrefutable proof of LDS doctrine, but to show that the Bible is often unclear about humankind’s potential, and that the LDS doctrine of deification is not an impossible interpretation of the Bible. Critics and members of the LDS faith have very different understandings of deification. Critics tend to interpret the doctrine of deification as blasphemy against God (because there is only one God, the greatest of all) and that it shows that prideful members of the LDS faith lust for God-like power in the afterlife. LDS members, however, believe than an all-loving God wants us to become like Him, bless us with all that He has, and allow us to experience the joy He experiences. While I agree that the Bible does not clearly or explicitly state that mortal men and women can achieve god-like status (otherwise there would be no debate), I would like to present the following argument based on New Testament scriptures from the KJV Bible to support this LDS doctrine. I will not argue that the Bible says that “we will become gods,” (an oversimplified phrase often used by critics), but that the Bible suggests that we can be like God if we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.

  1. We must obey all of the commandments of God the Father and Jesus Christ

a) “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” –               Matthew 5:19

b) “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” –John 14:15

2.  Jesus commanded that we must be perfect

a) “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” –Matthew 5:48

3.   We can be made perfect through Jesus Christ

a) “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ        Jesus.” –Colossians 1:28

b) “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” -1 John 3:3

4.   Those who are perfect will be like the master

a) “The disciple is not above his master; but every one that is perfect shall be as his master” –Luke 6:40

b) “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” -1 John 3:2-3

We must obey the commandments. One of these commandments is to be perfect like God. All can be made perfect through Christ. Those who are perfect shall be as God.

Therefore, we can be like God.