“May the Lord Preserve His People in Righteousness and in Holiness”

Alan C. Miner

According to an article by Donald Parry, prophetic symbolic curses are well attested in the Bible. The people of the Book of Mormon demonstrate this Old World tradition of performing symbolic actions that revealed a prophetic curse. For example, according to the Bible, Ezekiel cut off the hair of his beard and his head, and divided it into three portions. One third Ezekiel burned, one third he scattered into the wind, and one third he smote with a knife. This was a prophetic curse, demonstrating the three ways in which Israel would perish -- by fire, by scattering, and by the sword of war (see Ezekiel 5:1-17). A prophetic symbolic action accompanied by a curse is found in the hanging of Zemnarihah on the top of a tree. After his death the Nephites felled the tree and called out in unison, "May the Lord preserve his people in righteousness and in holiness of heart, that they may cause to be felled to the earth all who shall seek to slay them because of power and secret combinations, even as this man hath been felled to the earth" (3 Nephi 4:29). This act predicated the way the wicked would be slain if they continued their attempts to murder the righteous. [Donald W. Parry, "Symbolic Action as Prophetic Curse," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, pp. 206-207] [See also Mark J. Morrise, "Simile Curses in the Ancient Near East, Old Testament, and Book of Mormon," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Spring 1993, pp. 124-138]

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