“The Vapor of Darkness”

D. Kelly Ogden, Andrew C. Skinner

The greatest storm ever known arose, along with great and terrible tempests and whirlwinds, earth-shaking thunderings, sharp lightnings, submerging of cities, burning of cities, earthquakes, and other violent convulsions of nature—lasting for a total of three hours. 8

“The whole face of the land was changed” and “the face of the whole earth became deformed” suggest to some researchers that no one would ever be able to identify the specific location of any particular city or feature of the landscape in Book of Mormon lands. The prophet-historian Mormon, however, living in these same lands centuries after these disastrous cataclysms described in considerable detail the location of numerous cities and other geographical features—suggesting that perhaps the upheavals and displacements may not have been so wide-scale and extensive as some have supposed.

Verses 20–23 emphasize the fact that, at the crucifixion of Jesus on the other side of the world and the massive destruction on this side of the world, there was thick darkness everywhere—total darkness, because there was no light. The Light of the World had been extinguished, and until he came again—or at least until his voice was heard again—there would be much less light. It seems only natural that the earth should be in such tumult and turmoil after the death of Christ because it too is a living entity and was mourning the suffering of its Creator (Moses 7:39–40, 48). This was all foreseen much earlier (1 Nephi 12:4–5). Remember, Jesus is in all things and through all things (D&C 88:5–12).

Notice how the darkness is described as a “vapor of darkness” that could be felt. A similar kind of darkness prevailed in ancient Egypt during the plagues (Exodus 10:21).

Verse by Verse: The Book of Mormon: Vol. 2