“Between the Heavens and the Earth”

Alan C. Miner

It says in Alma 1:15, "And it came to pass that they took him; and his name was Nehor, and they carried him upon the top of the hill Manti, and there he was caused, or rather did acknowledge, between the heavens and the earth that what he had taught to the people was contrary to the word of God; and there he suffered an ignominious death." According to Hugh Nibley, the phrase "between the heavens and the earth" has a ritual connection with an ancient literary legend--the legend of Harut and Marut. In the days of Enoch the Watchers came to the earth and started corrupting men. They started taking the sacred ordinances and claiming them, but perverting them. They claimed that they had the right gospel. They gave a false slant and a false teaching to it, and justified all sorts of immorality. Therefore, Harut and Marut [the Watchers] were hanged on a high hill because the earth would not accept them. They were the first to betray the law of God to men. There was plenty of wickedness and murder, etc., but they were doing it in the name of the gospel and the priesthood. They introduced the temple ordinances but falsified them. There is quite a story about the Watchers here. . . . They were hanged between heaven and earth because the earth wouldn't receive them, just as it wouldn't receive Cain. Remember, the earth refused her strength to Cain. And heaven wouldn't receive them. So what can you do? You can just leave them hanging there because neither would receive them. And they hang there until the Day of Judgment--that's the point. That's very widespread; everybody knows about the story of Harut and Marut suspended between heaven and earth because they were the first corrupters of the human race in the name of preaching religion. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 2, pp. 219-220]

Geographical Theory Map: Alma 1:15 Nehor Is Carried to the Hill Manti (1st Year)

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