“I Will Bless Thee”

Alan C. Miner

According to Verneil Simmons, close examination of 2 Nephi 5:21-25 and Alma 3:6-17 reveals that Alma is quoting from a prophetic statement by Nephi, which is the original basis of the curse. Because Alma's statement is repetitive, Mormon deletes any further quoting with an etc. [The reader should note that in the first edition of the Book of Mormon, there was an "etc." which followed directly after the words "and I will bless thee" in what is now Alma 3:17 (First Edition, p. 229). This "etc." has been deleted from our present editions.] Mormon was assuming that the reader was acquainted with the original reference. The deletion of part of the quote must occur because Mormon knew the full quote had already been inscribed on his abridgment. He could not know about the 116 pages of the lost manuscript which would deprive us of that account.

It is evident that the quoted material in Alma is more complete than that which Nephi inscribed in his account on the small plates. The words Alma is quoting from 2 Nephi 5 refer to a mark set upon the Lamanite rather than a change of color of skin or race. While we notice that 1 Nephi 2:23 and 2 Nephi 5:21-25 are the same prophecy there is no reference to a mark. We obviously do not have the prophecy in full. Neither prophet quotes the Lord's words in the matter of the "blackness"; rather, the case hangs on Nephi's comment that the Lord "did cause" a "skin of blackness" to come upon the ones who were "cut off from his presence." Alma says they placed a mark upon themselves, thus fulfilling the curse.

Verneil Simmons subscribes to Alma's interpretation of the curse because he had access to the full prophetic statement, and he knew those things which distinguished Nephites from Lamanites better than anyone today. Alma identifies the red mark on the foreheads of the Amlicites as a fulfillment of the curse. He goes on to affirm the principle that each person puts the curse upon himself, by his own choice. While every child inherits his race, and no one can self-induce racial transformation, anyone can consent to adopt marks applied to the skin or the body which have cultural significance.

The text states that the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon them. Alma observes that the curse was a product of the incorrect and improper traditions of the Lamanites which were handed down from generation to generation because they refused to believe in the Nephite scripture.

Note should be taken of 2 Nephi 30:2-8. Nephi prophesies that when the "scales of darkness" begin to fall from the Lamanites' eyes in a few generations they shall become a "white and delightsome people." The same promise is spoken concerning the Jews. Belief in Christ brings about the condition of a "white and delightsome people" whether Lamanite or Jew. That particular phrase is used to denote people under covenant. Those not under covenant come under the "curse." Mormon writes that when the Lord remembers his covenant with the house of Israel, no longer shall any "hiss, nor spurn, nor make game of the Jews" (3 Nephi 29:8). They too are under the curse until they accept the covenant with Christ; the color of their skin is not a factor. In biblical phraseology dark, loathsome, and filthy are equated with unrighteousness; white, fair, and delightsome are equated with righteousness. [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places, and Prophecies, pp. 278-279] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 5:21]

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