strtoupper('“T')he Jews Did Mock Him Because of the Things Which He Testified”

In 1 Nephi 1:19 it says that “the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified.” According to 1 Nephi 1:13, Lehi testified of three things to the people: (1) their “wickedness and abominations”; (2) what he ”saw and heard,“ which would be a vivid description of the destruction awaiting the people of Jerusalem; and (3) ”the coming of a Messiah.“ According to Cleon Skousen, the Jewish scriptures contain two completely different stories concerning the ”coming of a Messiah.“ One account indicates that the Messiah would come in great power and destroy all the enemies of the people at Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:1-9; Joel 3:14-21; Ezekiel 39:1-22). The Jews loved to hear this heroic account of future glory so we know it was not for this ”coming of a Messiah" that Lehi was mocked. However, there was another story of the coming of a Messiah which was completely abhorrent to the Jews. This was the prophecy that the Messiah would come among them and be slain by his own people. The Book of Mormon records that two prophets prior to Lehi had brought this message to the Jews and had been killed for teaching it. The two were Zenos (Helaman 8:19, 3 Nephi 10:15-16), and Zenock (3 Nephi 10:15-16, Alma 33:15-17). It will be noted that the prophetic writings of neither Zenos nor Zenock were preserved by the Jews. There are also the writings of two other prophets in the brass plates which refer to the first coming of Christ and his crucifixion but are not found among the existing records of the Jews. These are Neum (1 Nephi 19:10) and Ezias (Helaman 8:19-20). This would suggest that the Jewish priests and scribes deliberately tried to strip from their scriptures all references to the first coming of Christ. Fortunately, they missed a few passages such as Psalms 22 and Isaiah, chapter 53! The extent of this censorship is better appreciated when it is realized that originally the writings of practically all the prophets had included their testimony concerning the first coming of Christ (Mosiah 13:33-35). This background helps us better understand why there was such a violent reaction to Lehi’s message. He had dared to testify to them concerning a matter which their leaders had said was a myth! [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 1022]

“The Jews Did Mock Him Because of the Things Which He Testified”

According to Cleon Skousen, we know that Jeremiah‘s policy opposed Jehoiakim’s domestic and foreign strategy. The king favored idolatry (2 Kings 23:37), and the king‘s selfishness and vanity aggravated Judah’s misfortunes (Jeremiah 22:13-19). Jehoiakim had little respect for true prophets (see Jeremiah 26:20-23). Jeremiah reprimanded the king, the false prophets and the priests. Jeremiah was persecuted (Jeremiah 12:6, 15:15-18), plotted against (Jeremiah 11:18-23; 18:18), imprisoned (Jeremiah 20:2), declared worthy of death (Jeremiah 26:10-11, 24; 36:26). However, under Jehoiachin and during the first few years of Zedekiah’s reign, Jeremiah’s main political point at issue was the difference of opinion between him and the false prophets over the length of the captivity of the exiles. Jeremiah foretold an exile of 70 years (Jeremiah 29:10), while the false prophets argued that it would last only a few years (Jeremiah 28:1-4). In other words, Jehoiachin and his false prophets sought to not only hide the political weakness of Judah against the power of Babylon, but exonerate the wickedness over which they presided. Jeremiah was preaching politically contrary to these ideas and thus, both in Babylon and Judah, the false prophets of the Jews sought to rid themselves of Jeremiah.

Note* If Lehi not only repeated Jeremiah’s prophecies concerning the long length of the Babylonian exile, but also prophesied concerning the coming of a Messiah to a wicked Jewish nation and his rejection by them, we perhaps can gain some added insight into the words “and it came to pass that the Jews did mock [Lehi] because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations” (which would lead not only to a prolonged exile, but to the devastation of Jerusalem and an eventual rejection of the Messiah) “… and when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old … and they also sought his life, that they might take it away” (1 Nephi 1:19-20).

1 Nephi 1:19 The Jews did mock him [Lehi] because of the things which he testified of them ([Illustration] Lehi Prophesying to the People of Jerusalem. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Art, #300]

1 Nephi 1:19 The Jews did mock him [Lehi] because of the things which he testified of them ([Illustration] Lehi Preaching in Jerusalem. Artist: Del Parson. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 2]

Alan C. Miner -

Alan C. Miner

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary