The second part of this verse indicates that, after the curse, another sign was placed upon the Lamanites that allowed for a separation between the Lamanites and Nephites. The logic of the passage relies upon the metaphorical use of the insider/outsider terminology to mean unrighteous/righteous. Likewise, Nephi utilizes the language of Isaiah 2:8 (= 2 Nephi 12:8) in his warning against making “flesh his arm” in 2 Nephi 28:31. It echoes the promises and prophecies of Jacob in Genesis 49 to his posterity. Therefore, the Nephites do not become black. We were meant to be happy. 11:35). In order to understand the purposes of the Lord in this regard, it is useful to examine a similar situation as found in the Old … Are these social functions metaphors or do they actually denote pigmentation? This was done so that the righteous would not intermarry with the wicked and thereby adopt their wicked ways. 2 Nephi 15. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house.”. This chapter explains the role of the Book of Mormon in the latter days. They are called “red.” It should be recognized, however, that they are not “red.” Those whose skin is called “white” are also not white. 36:5–9). Modern society prefers to see differences as individualized and therefore prejudicial when applied to a group. And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. 2 Nephi 29:11-12 This is a good reminder that we should be open to revelation and truth from many geographic sources, since the Lord speaks to people in "all nations of the earth," but it seems to also be a very strong encouragement to us to write down our spiritual experiences. 2 Nephi 5:21 reads: And he had caused the cursing to come upon [the Lamanites], yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. …and the Lamanites, which are not filthy like unto you, nevertheless they are cursed with a sore cursing, shall scourge you even unto destruction. Hence, Nephi’s record seems to follow the same pattern as the “plan of salvation,” namely the creation, the fall, the atonement, and then passing through the veil and into the presence of God. 2 Nephi 31 . To each of them a social value is attached, with white representing good and black representing bad (with good/bad being similar binary oppositions). It is as accurate when described in 2 Nephi as it is prophetically at the end of Nephite culture. Skin color designations are cultural descriptions, not scientific ones. The purpose of the curse was to separate the two peoples. 2 Nephi 9. Underlying these biblical and Book of Mormon metaphors are the assumptions of the collectivist social world. The first is the notion of a particular color associated with skin. There are some keys that we should use, and the very first is to remember the dangers of reading ourselves into a text in ways that the text did not intend. 2 Ne 5:14-15 The skills that Nephi lists here—smelting steel, various other metallurgies, building buildings, working all manner of wood—very impressive, but is it credible that anyone, let alone a person from such a well-to-do family, would have all these blue-collar skills? Israelites also shared this widespread prejudice against “others,” as Malina and Neyrey point out: “First-century members of the house of Israel felt concerning all other peoples the way the Greeks felt about barbarians.”. Such unions were considered somewhat dangerous to tribal identity, and were frequently subject to either direct prohibitions or to regulations concerning inheritance. According to this model, the Book of Mormon would predictably follow a model of a collective, excluded-middle, conception of others as “bad,” opposed to themselves as “good.” If it did not, it would not accurately represent the culture that produced it. 2 Nephi 19. The condition of darkness comes with dwindling in unbelief. After Lehi's sons obtained the brass plates and brought them to their father in the wilderness, Lehi searched them to understand their contents. This cultural background contrasts the ancient collectivist personality with the modern individualist personality. This comparison of white/whiteness also occurs in Nephi’s description of the tree: “I looked and beheld a tree; and it was like unto the tree which my father had seen; and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow” (1 Ne. Had he been “black” in contrast to the “white” of the Nephites, his identity should have been readily apparent. In order to remove the possibility that our assumptions are coloring our reading of the text, it is important to find locations in the text where the action of the text would create circumstances where a difference in pigmentation would be obvious. Rodney Turner, LDS professor of religion, attributes this pigmentation change to God’s direct and miraculous action: Along with the assumption that the skin pigmentation was darkened as part of the curse, there were many who also believed that the conversion of dark-skinned “Lamanites” to the gospel would lead to a physically whiter skin. 2 Nephi 8. Before studying this chapter, please review the introductory commentary for 2 Nephi 26. This is the origin of the term “barbarian,” which the Greeks frequently used as a generic term for anyone who was not Greek and who was, therefore, inferior. While the term “Lamanite” became a political designation for all non-Nephites (Jacob 1:13–4), it included lineal Lamanites and the specific location where they settled. This perceived difference was simply related to sun exposure, indicating whether the person was required to work outside for a living. Nephite prejudices were developed on distinctions more common to the ancient world and used reasons other than pigmentation. Marking the forehead with paint appears to be sufficient to create an identifying “mark” that falls significantly short of altering body pigmentation. Lamentations 4:7–8 (Revised English Version), ascribes metaphorical color to capture the before/after conditions of the Babylonian captivity: Obviously no pigmentation change occurred as the “white” faces of the princes became “blacker than soot.” Here are two other examples: The metaphor can also use “skin”: “When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness. Exogamy (marriage outside of the group) and the Lamanite Curse: There is not only a geographic division between the brothers and their families, but a moral and religious chasm as well. Textual Evidence for Actual Skin Pigmentation: Does the Book of Mormon text contain events where distinguishing race by skin color becomes important? Before beginning with the text itself, it is important to clarify some facts that will help us sort the textual usage from our modern assumptions. Armand L. Mauss, professor emeritus of sociology at Washington State University, discusses this very issue: There are many ways in which color may be associated with a person. 5:21). 2 Nephi 32:2 Holy Ghost An intelligent being, in the image of God, possesses every organ, attribute, sense, sympathy, affection that is possessed by God himself. And thus saith the Lord God: “I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities. One is this establishment of rules concerning potential marriage partners, and the second is the nature of the skin of blackness. 2 Nephi 23. The patriarchal laws of inheritance preserved lands and goods. 2. “get around” - No one does that, excepting, perhaps the apologists to which Mr. Karanja is referring. Thus, someone may have a “black heart,” but this descriptor is of a quality, not a pigment. The full verse: "And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. 2 Nephi 7. Two things happen to the Lamanites as a result of their “harden[ing] their hearts against him.” The first is that they are cursed. The tree’s whiteness symbolizes righteousness or heavenliness. Accompanied by other Nephites, this soldier takes the wine to the guards, and Moroni1’s plan is successful. 2 Nephi 3. The question of marriage is an important one, because Yahweh has now excluded a number of the potential marriage partners who might be seen as more desirable than the native populations because they are both racially and culturally similar to the Old World peoples among the Nephites. A contrasting reading is that the changed skin color does not involve a physical change in the pigmentation. The opposite of “delightsome” is “loathsome.” The term “loathsome is paired with “dark” in 1 Nephi 12:23 and is the reason for the cursing in 2 Nephi 5:22. 2 Nephi 32:9 -- On Praying Always "But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul." All refer to identifying letters. Fair/white is paired with dark/black in the antithetical parallel. Or, in other words, these attributes are in embryo and are to be gradually developed. However, that prejudice always arises along the insider/outsider boundary, not the white/dark boundary. That's the message I get from this verse. They were not, however, based on skin color as has been part of the more modern U.S. culture. 2 Nephi 18:3-8 Immanuel Prophecy of 2 Nephi 17-18 is Dualistic in Nature The prophecy was a dual application, as shown by a close reading of Isaiah 7:10-16; 8:3-7; and Matthew 1:21. It is conclusively untrue in Alma where the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies discusses the many cities of the Lamanites (Alma 23:9–15). Chapter 2. I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls. (See commentary accompanying Jacob 3:3.). 2 Nephi 27 Isaiah 29. The function of the mark is social separation, but it is the same insider/outsider barrier already discussed. Similarly, I conclude that the association between skin and white/black is metaphoric, not intended to indicate pigmentation. William Smith, a Bible scholar, notes: Because marriage dictated the flow of rights and properties, the legal problems of exogamy included regulations designed to keep land and goods inside the group. In contrast, ancient society saw reality as communally related. The possibilities range from simple description to metaphorical value judgments. 2 Nephi 13. That cursing was pronounced upon the land, but the iniquity must come from people, not land. I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried in the congregation. John W. Welch Notes 2 Nephi 1 2 Nephi 1:1 — Lehi Gathers His Posterity to Teach and Bless Them. My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat” (Job 30:26–30). Its very point is the episode’s uniqueness. The Book of Mormon makes those associations, and the question is what the text means when it makes those associations. Furthermore, on his mission to the guards, Nephites accompany him. 2 Nephi 27-30 Nephi prophesies of latter-day apostasy, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the restoration of the gospel. Malina and Neyrey continue: “When considering a person, the ancients thought that there was really nothing inside that did not register on the outside.” In this conception of humanity, the skin or face would be the logical location for spiritual characteristics to register. 43–63 for an elaboration on these identifications, yielding the evidence justifying the “plan of salvation” model. )) For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon … Yahweh changed the Lamanites from what they had been to what they had become. It is human selfishness-the unbrotherhood of man to man....the cry which rises into his ears is the cry of stricken humanity-the cry of the poor and needy, the cry of the sad and weary...He hears God call him to lash the sins of the nation; but to him all the sins of the nation are forms of a single sin-selfishness....The burden of Isaiah is the burden of human compassion. 2 The people (the house of Israel) that walked in darkness (spiritual darkness -- apostasy and captivity) have seen a great light (that is, they will see the Savior and hear his teachings); they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined (or upon them will the light shine). 2 Nephi 30. He Had Caused the Cursing to Come Upon Them that They Might Not Be Enticing Unto My People, “The Lord God Did Cause a Skin of Blackness to Come Upon Them”, “Lord God Did Cause a Skin of Blackness to Come Upon Them”, “They Shall Be Loathsome Unto Thy People”, Cursed Shall Be the Seed of Him That Mixeth with Their the Lamanite Seed, “Nevertheless They Are Cursed with a Sore Cursing”, “The Lamanites shall Scourge You Even Unto Destruction”. Humans have certainly placed values on the color of one’s skin, but for most of history the value is social. This barrier is very clearly a religio-political one, because it specifically forbids intermarriage. 2 Nephi 33. The cursing follows the people who work iniquity. Even though skin color has come to be associated with race, the value of relative skin color was social, not racial. 2 Nephi 1–5. 2 Nephi 24. 2 Nephi 31:4-7 If the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water! Who gave these great doctrinal discourses? Thus, Nephi can claim that the Lamanites are cursed because they fall under that foundational prophecy of the land which included both a blessing and a curse, according to righteousness. 2 Nephi 11. 2 Nephi 2. Nevertheless, in terms of righteousness, the Lamanites would be whiter. It is not intended to be a physical description. It would be seen as a prevention of apostasy, exactly like the prohibition against marrying Canaanites in the Old World. The most typical reading is that there was some type of dramatic change that turned white skin into black skin. However, there were also provisions for marriage outside of the tribe. Modern readers may be uncomfortable with Nephite racial prejudices, but they existed. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. The Nephites could not have survived without a wider range of marriage partners than the very small number of lineal Lehites who were in the city. He provides no explanation for how this alteration occurs, other than to note that it comes through God. Enos. Therefore, we should see this prohibition as similar to that against the Canaanites. They are based on some visual perception, but coalesce into large categories that reflect the human tendency to categorize people. Separation occurs with the label “Lamanite,” not because of skin color. About 588–570 B.C. When that occurs, darkness falls—on their hearts and metaphorically on their skins. It prohibited a particular city or land, based on the location of the other descendants of Lehi. Racism in the Book of Mormon: The Book of Mormon is, in fact, racist, although not at all in the usual sense of the term. Why should metaphorical righteousness/unrighteousness be manifest in a “color” of skin? One of the ways we can avoid being deceived by Satan can be found in 2 Nephi. Indeed, it is much easier to compile a list of writers who take the phrase literally than of those who suggest an alternate reading. Armand Mauss, a professor emeritus of sociology and religion at Washington State University, discusses the assumption of those who are critical of the Book of Mormon: The “skin of blackness” was certainly intended to be a pejorative term, but it was not a physical description. E. A. Speiser, an archaeologist and Old Testament scholar, suggests that Cain’s mark was like other protective marks in the Old Testament, all of which were signs on the forehead. The two “colors” are considered to be opposites of each other. 2 Nephi 6. “When asked if she understood the scripture, Sebrina confidently said she did. This is the same type of prohibition we see with the Lamanites. According to Speiser, this mark is the letter taw, and none of the examples he cites refer to skin color. This referential gulf between intent and interpretation explains our tendency to read “skin of blackness” with modern racial overtones. 2 Nephi 26. 2 Nephi 12. 2 Nephi 25. This happened in 70 A.D. when the Roman Army invaded and destroyed Jerusalem. Douglas Campbell, a professor of computer science at Brigham Young University, examined the textual uses of “white” in the Book of Mormon and concludes that the term is used metaphorically for purity and/or cleanliness. In prophecy, Nephi places the darkness of the Lamanites over 1,000 years later than we find it in 2 Nephi 5:21. The second is that Yahweh caused a skin of blackness to come upon them. 2 Nephi 5. It is not a physical change and therefore does not have a specific point of inception. ☼ 2 Nephi 5:21–23, Jacob 3:3: And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For example, Nephi utilized Isaiah 3:15 (= 2 Nephi 13:15) and Isaiah 5:21 (= 2 Nephi 15:21) in his commentary on the pride of latter-day Gentiles in 2 Nephi 26:20. The covenant prophecies which Joseph of Egypt uttered appear in 2 Nephi 3:5-21 and in outline are as follows: Joseph of Egypt's seed would not be completely destroyed, but would be delivered through another of his descendants, Joseph Smith (verse 7-15) by means of the Book of Mormon, which would manifest the Messiah and his covenants with their forefathers, as well as this Israelite branches's true … What is the “mark” in the Book of Mormon? Reading the Text or Reading into the Text: When 2 Nephi 5:21 says, “The Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them,” the phrase has been interpreted quite literally as a change in skin pigmentation. In Elizabethan England and in earlier Roman culture, the dark skin was the sign of a common laborer, and the lighter, whiter skin the sign of nobility. Colors also have social meanings that are quite separate from describing the eye’s perception of light waves. 2 Nephi 31:13 Follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no … Ezekiel 9:4–6 describes literally marking the forehead as a protection: “And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. She noticed the elders’ countenances change and sadness come over them. For this reason, it was much less of a problem for men to marry “outsider” women than for women to marry outsider men. That is a not a simple task as we don’t have a wealth of information. \"What is that special form of sin which Isaiah sees? There is only one clear example. Even though it was written for a future audience, it was written in a time and manner that reflected the social constructions of the authors, not those of modern readers. Note how Jacob uses the “filthy” label that accompanies “dark” in 1 Nephi 12:23 Mormon 5:15: “But, wo, wo, unto you that are not pure in heart, that are filthy this day before God; for except ye repent the land is cursed for your sakes; and the Lamanites, which are not filthy like unto you, nevertheless they are cursed with a sore cursing, shall scourge you even unto destruction” (Jacob 3:3). 2 Nephi 18. We must understand how the text sees those statements. All human populations have variations in color, and there are pigmentation differences in all populations. In 1 Nephi 12:23, Nephi prophesies: “And I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people.” This is a reference to the Lamanites who survive the wars that destroy the Nephites (1 Ne. When the curse is operating and the Lamanites are outsiders, they are “loathsome” (the opposite of “delightsome”)—not desirable marriage partners. Once they are Nephites, they are fully and wholly Nephites, incorporating all of the “good” qualities of Nephites. The association of the presence of skin color with race is purely descriptive. 2 Nephi 5:21 "And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. Malina and Neyrey describe this mentality for the ancient Mediterranean cultures: “Human beings are distinctive in that they exhibit a considerable range of physical shapes, hues, and structures. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.”. Their prejudices ran deeper and broader, as Malina and Neyrey explain: “In their assessment of their fellow human beings, elite ancients utilized a set of fixed categories, each with a limited range of descriptive, distinct features.… It is important to note that these categories were regularly presented. This is a marvelous rhetorical device because the collectivist perspective of this ancient culture would consider such a condition unthinkable. Even metaphorically, the skin and face were legitimate locations for the “display” of these spiritual characteristics. Because they would not accept such a gift from a Nephite, Moroni finds a Lamanite in his own troops, a former guard of the Lamanite king. 11:8). It represents a particular culture with a distinctive worldview. As a result, "he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy" (1 Nephi 5:17). Furthermore, these descriptions of the Lamanites as the opposite of the Nephites vanish as soon as the Lamanites cross the outsider/insider boundary. [2 Nephi 5:21] . The ancient world was actually quite prejudiced but did not necessarily base such prejudices upon skin color. John L. Sorenson suggested: Where Rodney Turner clearly believes that the change is not metaphorical, Sorenson just as clearly declares it to be precisely metaphorical. Just as the white/black or fair/dark terms function along the insider/outsider boundary, so too does the delightsome/loathsome dichotomy describe social repercussions. Humans tend to make binary-opposed sets, of which black and white form a classic set. The Nephite situation says nothing about inheritance rights, but only about avoiding the curse that was upon the Lamanites. Reading the Text or Reading into the Text: When 2 Nephi 5:21 says, “The Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them,” the phrase has been interpreted quite literally as a change in skin pigmentation. My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me. 2 Nephi 27. 2 Nephi 29. The use of “mark” quotes Genesis 4:15, stating that God set a mark on Cain. 12:19–20). Here is the verse from the LDS 2 Nephi 5:21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. Jacob. Obviously, the writer is not describing their skin color, but their spiritual state. 2 Nephi 28. 2 Nephi 6:11 The phrases “driven to and fro ” is also in Job 13:25 and, “come to the knowledge of” is the same in 2 Timothy 3:7. As… Scripture Mastery. The group was the meaning, and individuals who did not conform were considered deviant. What can we say about how the “skin of blackness” was perceived by those who wrote our Book of Mormon? The use of that skin color to make cultural assumptions about race is social. With the Arabs, to be white of countenance is to be blessed and to be black of countenance is to be cursed; there are parallel expressions in Hebrew and Egyptian.”, Why should a metaphor of color describe the skin or face if it does not refer to pigmentation? This chapter compares to Isaiah 4.. 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