“An Offering Unto the Lord”

Alan C. Miner

McConkie and Millet explain that throughout the generations following the death of Aaron and the translation of Moses, the sacrifices in ancient Israel were of various types, such as trespass or sin offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings (see Bible Dictionary, LDS Edition of King James Version of the Bible, pp. 765-67). The Book of Mormon writers made no attempt to elaborate upon the nature or types of their offerings (see 1 Nephi 2:7). The Aaronic Priesthood was the province of the tribe of Levi, and thus was not taken by the Nephites to America. It would appear, therefore, that the sacrifices performed by the Lehite colony were carried out under the direction of the higher priesthood, which comprehends all the duties and authorities of the lesser. [Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 31]

“He Built an Altar of Stones and Made an Offering Unto the Lord”

George Potter and Richard Wellington note that an altar must first be purified by an anointing (Exodus 40;10). Randolph Linehan suggests that when the temple in Jerusalem was rededicated, the altar was purified for sacrifices in a ceremony called the Naphthar or Nephi ceremony. He cites 2nd Maccabees of the Apocrypha 1:33-36. Given the importance that the altar ceremony was to Lehi, we perhaps have a clue as to the Hebrew origins of Nephi’s name. [George Potter & Richard Wellington, Discovering Nephi’s Trail, Chapter 3, p. 10, Unpublished] [See the commentary on the name Nephi in 1 Nephi 1:1]

1 Nephi 2:7 An altar of stones (Potter) [Illustration]: The location of the “altar of stones” (right hand side) provides a magnificent view of the valley of Wadi Tayyib al-Ism. [George Potter & Richard Wellington, Discovering Nephi’s Trail, Chapter 3, p. 10, Unpublished]

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