The following are some notes that I made this week in association with my study of this Sunday’s Gospel Doctrine (Old Testament) Lesson 5.
The lesson covers Moses 5-7 and is titled: “If Thou Doest Well, Thou Shalt Be Accepted”
This title has to do with the Book of Moses narrative regarding Cain and Abel in which they both offer sacrifices to the Lord, but Cain’s offering is rejected. It seems that the reason Cain’s offering is rejected is because 1) it was Satan who commanded Cain to give this offering (Cain had no desire to obey or please God), and 2) the offering was of the wrong type (it should have been like Abel’s animal sacrifice, which is in the similitude of the sacrifice of the Son of God, as God had commanded (Moses 5:5, 20–23).
The Prophet Joseph Smith commented on this:
Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted, which was the firstlings of the flock. Cain offered of the fruit of the ground, and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith. … Shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man … was the plan of redemption; … and as the sacrifice was instituted for a type, by which man was to discern the great Sacrifice which God had prepared; to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised … ; consequently Cain could have no faith; and whatsoever is not of faith, is sin (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith , 58).
And that’s all I have to say about that….
Moses 6:5 — Adam’s Book of Remembrance
Moses 6:5 informs us: And a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration;
It is amazing to contemplate the possibility that Adam and Eve made a book recording their experiences, in their own language and writing (that itself is a awesome claim), that was preserved by their children (v. 8). What wouldn’t you give to have a copy of that book?!? Ancient Jews and Early Christians (and also Muslims) seemed to have been enamored with this idea, as can be seen from the works that I posted links to last week, which claim to be books written by Adam and Eve, including the last words of Adam, etc. Here are those links again:
The Apocalypse of Adam — Adam’s last words to his son Seth, including prophecies regarding future generation.
Moses 6:7 — Now this same priesthood which was in the beginning…
In Moses 6:7, we read: Now this same Priesthood, which was in the beginning, shall be in the end of the world also.
This line appears to be somewhat out of place, as if it were stuck in there as an afterthought, or to make a specific point, but it relationship to the surrounding verses is not readily apparent. However, it is a significant verse and emphasizes the notion that Adam had the Priesthood, that it was passed on to his descendants, and that the same authority would be had in the last days of the world’s history.
The idea that the early patriarchs were priests (i.e. that they held the priesthood) is suggested, although not explicitly, in the biblical text. Abel, Noah, Abraham, etc., are depicted as offering sacrifices, the quintessential priestly function. Therefore, the idea that Adam and other patriarchs were priests before Aaron is not foreign to the Bible, although some claim that before Sinai any Israelite could offer sacrifices. Even after the establishment of the Levitical Priesthood, many non-levites still offered sacrifice: Gideon, of the tribe of Manasseh, was commanded by Yahweh to build an altar and sacrifice a bull upon it (Judg 6:25–26); Manoah, of the tribe of Dan, father of Samson, offered a burnt and a cereal offering at the request of the angel of Yahweh (Judg 13:2, 16–19); Elkanah the Ephraimite, father of Samuel, offers sacrifice at Shiloh (1 Sam 1:1–3). Specific examples of non-Levitical priests are King David’s sons (2 Sam 8:18), Ira the Jairite (2 Sam 20:26), and the priests that Jeroboam appointed (1 Kgs 12:31).
The priestly community that made Qumran their home did not imagine that their priesthood originated with Aaron. They traced their priesthood much further back, believing that their priesthood came down from the patriarchs and that it had originated with the angels. In The Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice (found among the Dead Sea Scrolls), the participants in the cultic ritual depicted see themselves as part of the angelic priesthood.
Some traditions further indicate that all the biblical patriarchs, beginning with Adam, had this priesthood. Adam was the first prophet, high priest, and king, whose temple was the Garden of Eden. He was the image and original son of God (see Moses 6:22, 68).
As is alluded to in Gen 4, Adam passed his priesthood on to his sons, and the tradition held that there was an uninterrupted line of priesthood succession from Adam to Seth to Enoch to Noah down to Melchizedek (who was considered to be either the son of Noah, or of Noah’s brother Nir).1 It was Melchizedek who accepted tithes from and blessed Abraham. Melchizedek is said to have passed the priesthood on to Abraham, making him the connection between the patriarchal priesthood and the Israelite priesthood.2 As Adam, Seth, Enoch, and Noah had been before him, Melchizedek was both king and high priest.3 As stated, the book of Genesis presents him as both king and priest of the city of Salem, which several ancient sources identify with Jerusalem.
Moses 6:8–10, King as Son of God and Image of God
The previous discussion, especially the idea of Adam as the image of God, the son of God, and also prophet/priest/king, leads us to another interesting passage in Moses 6:8–10. We read:
8 Now this prophecy Adam spake, as he was moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and a genealogy was kept of the children of God. And this was the book of the generations of Adam, saying: In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him;
9 In the image of his own body, male and female, created he them, and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created and became living souls in the land upon the footstool of God.
10 And Adam lived one hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his own image, and called his name Seth.
There is so much that could be said about these lines, but I will stick to the emphasis I mentioned above. Adam was the son of God, begotten in his image (the image of his own body). Adam, as we discussed above, was given dominion over Eden (and the world) — which makes him the king. When Adam’s son, Seth (who would be the next king), was born, he was in the likeness and image of his father, the king.
This same pattern can be seen in the Egyptian ritual cycle “Birth of the Divine King,” which illustrates the procreation, birth and breeding of the crown prince as “son of God.” Unfortunately, I do not have the images that accompany it, but the sequence is as follows:
- The Goddess Hathor presents the crown prince, whom Amun acknowledges, declaring, “My son of my flesh, my shining image, coming out of me.”
- The next scene has Amun putting the crown prince on his knees, saying, “Welcome in peace my beloved son. You are the king.”
- Subsequently, the prince is presented to the public, is invested with royal regalia, and Amun declares, “My beloved son of my flesh, whom I have begotten as my image.”4
I note that in last week’s post there was the discussion of Adam as a “shining image” (wearing “garments of light” in Eden) in Jeffrey Bradshaw’s book, In God’s Image and Likeness (pp. 234-237). See here.
“I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my son, today I have begotten you. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.
Then, in lines from Psalm 89 which likely come from a similar royal setting:
He shall cry to me, `Thou art my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ 27 And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth (Ps. 89:26–27).
(see also Ps. 22)
This language addressed to the Davidic king is very reminiscent of the Egyptian kingship ideology. All of this goes back to the idea that the Primordial Man was the son of God and king over all the earth and its creatures. As many scholars have noted, the Israelite kings imitated Adam — in their clothing, in the temple setting, and religious rituals. The king, at his enthronement, was made a new Adam, as he was also a pre-figuring of the Second Adam.
For more parallels between Adam, Israelite kingship, and Moses 6:59, please see the comments at the bottom of this post. Please see also Moses 1:4, Moses 1:6, and Moses 1:13. Moses is called here “son of God” and we note that Moses also “regained” the shining image of Adam when he talked with God on Sinai and was considered to be a king (also prophet and priest) in later Jewish literature. This is a topic that I’d like to spend a lot more time on, but can’t at the moment.
Also note (out of curiosity), the similarity between the name Amun (Egyptian High God) and one of the names Joseph Smith gives God the Father: Ahman (see Journal of Discourse, vol. 2, p. 342; D&C 95;17; Rev. 3:14; Moses 6:57).
Some Comments on Enoch
The sections on Enoch in Moses 6 and Moses 7 are some of the most intriguing and valuable passages in all of Scripture. I could write several posts on these chapters. The fact that since the mid-1800s a number of ancient texts which feature Enoch as their hero have come to light makes the study of these exclusively LDS scriptures even more exciting. Unfortunately, I have insufficient time to do this topic justice.
You can take a look at some of the ancient Jewish and Christian Enochic literature that we now have available to us here:
A Few Odd Observations
Following the discussion above of the son of god kingship motif, we should note that Enoch was also considered, like the other patriarchs, to be prophet, priest, and king in ancient Jewish literature. Enoch was a very important figure to the Qumran community, as can be seen by the preservation of multiple copies of the Enochic writings. It is significant, then, that Enoch is called “son” by God in Moses 6:27. We can also perhaps understand from these chapters that Enoch was the king over the people of Zion.
Moses 6:35 — Note the fact that Enoch anointed his eyes with clay and could see the spiritual realm. It is interesting how this is similar to Jesus’ practice of instructing the blind to anoint their eyes with clay/mud in order to be able to see.
A feature of ancient apocalyptic is that when the visionary ascends to Heaven and speaks with God face to face, he is taught things by God, usually the “secrets of Creation.” He is given a vision of all of God’s creations and taught the secret words of the creative power. The result is that the visionary is then endowed with power over creation. Compare Moses 6:34 and following verses. Note that this is similar to Moses’ experience.
I also note the significance of Enoch calling himself a “lad” in Moses 6:31. I have often mentioned Andrei Orlov, my adviser for my MA program at Marquette University. Dr. Orlov is a renowned expert on the Enochic Literature (specifically 2 Enoch). The first time I met him, we began talking about Joseph Smith and the Enoch passages in the Pearl of Great Price, with which he was quite familiar. This conversation was quite unsolicited on my part. He told me that he that it was “very curious” that Joseph Smith had called Enoch a “lad” — a significant title for Enoch in the book of 2 (Slavonic) Enoch is “the Youth” — more than 60 years before 2 Enoch ever appeared in English. Very curious, indeed!
Finally, I refer you to a post that I wrote not too long ago regarding the sequence in Moses 7 where Enoch witnesses God weeping. This is a very moving passage (I used to share it often on my mission to show God’s compassion and love for his children). In the post I share a passage from an ancient Jewish text that is very similar to these lines in Moses 7. See here.
Again, there is sooo much more that could be said on these few chapters in the Book of Moses, but hopefully these few notes are helpful.
- See discussion of Sethian line of priesthood in Andrei Orlov, “Melchizedek Legend of 2 (Slavonic)Enoch,” in Journal for the Study of Judaism, vol. xxxi, no. 1 (Boston: Brill, 2000). Genesis mentions nothing of his background (he is not listed in any genealogies), but other “non-biblical” sources include him in the line of the Biblical patriarchs, either as a descendent of Noah or of Noah’s brother, Nir (2 Enoch 71:32-33). In the Nag Hammadi texts, he is placed in the line “of Adam [Abel], Enoch, [Noah] you, Melchizedek, [the Priest] of God [Most High],” Birger A. Pearson (ed.), Nag Hammadi Codices IX and X, p. 63. In the Targumic and Rabbinic materials, Melchizedek is often specifically named as Shem, the Great High Priest, the eldest son of Noah. See Tg. Neof. on Gen. 14:18 in M. McNamara (tr.), Targum Neofiti 1:Genesis (The Aramaic Bible, 1A; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992), 92; Tg. Ps.-J. in M. Maher (tr.), Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Genesis (The Aramaic Bible, 1B; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1992), 58. [↩]
- See arguments in Andrei Orlov, “The Heir of Righteousness and the King of Righteousness: The Priestly Noachic Polemics in 2 Enoch and the Epistle to the Hebrews,” in Journal of Theological Studies, NS, vol. 58, Pt 1, April 2007, 55-57. [↩]
- Orlov, “On the Polemical Nature of 2 (Slavonic) Enoch,” 282-283. [↩]
- Eckart Otto, “The Judean Legitimation of Royal Rulers in Its Ancient near Eastern Contexts,” in Psalms and Liturgy, ed. Dirk J. Human and Cas J.A. Vos, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series (London: T&T Clark International, 2004), 131-34. [↩]