They the Lamanites Would Destroy Our Records

Alan C. Miner

Enos noted that the Lamanites wanted to destroy the records of the Nephites (Enos 1:14). Evidently this was because these records gave validity to various Nephite claims, including the right to possess the land that God had given them (see Enos 1:10). According to John Tvedtnes and Matthew Roper, some noncanonical Jewish texts reflect a similar tale of the dispute between the ancient patriarch Jacob and his brother Esau. Jasher 27:12-14 recounts Jacob's purchase of the birthright in exchange for the pottage and notes that "Jacob wrote the whole of this in a book, and he testified the same with witnesses, and he sealed it, and the book remained in the hands of Jacob." Later, after returning from Syria, Jacob wrote a "book of purchase" for the property agreement he struck with Esau after Isaac died. He put it with "the command and the statutes and the revealed book, and he placed them in an earthen vessel in order that they should remain for a long time, and he delivered them into the hands of his children" (Jasher 47:26-29). When Esau's family challenged the right of Jacob's sons to bury their father in the cave, the Israelites produced "all the records; the record of the purchase, the sealed record and the open record, and also all the first records in which all the transactions of the birthright are written" (Jasher 56:55-57).

The subtlety of Enos' allusion to his ancestor Jacob and the way he seems to compare the situation of the Nephites and Lamanites with that of Jacob and Esau suggests an acute awareness of the scriptural account. It may also reflect additional material found on the brass plates of Laban and represented in early Jewish tradition. Such subtlety would not be expected from an uneducated farm boy such as Joseph Smith, who dictated the entire Book of Mormon in approximately 60 days. Consequently, these allusions to the biblical account can be seen as further evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and another example of the complexity of this masterpiece of literature. [John A. Tvedtnes and Matthew Roper, "Jacob and Enos: Wrestling before God" in FARMS Update, No. 146, in Insights, FARMS, Vol. 21, 2001, pp. 2-3]

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