“Behold, My Joy Is Great, Even Unto Fulness”

Brant Gardner

Verse 32 contrasts with verses 30 and 31.

• Jesus expresses joy for this generation where none are lost.

• Jesus expresses sorrow for the future generation where all are lost.

This generation has seen and believed in the Atoning Messiah. Their faith will continue to be strong. But after four generations, their descendants will go astray. That apostasy again alludes to Sermon at the Temple (3 Ne. 13:19). The Savior sorrowfully spells out the reason for their defection. It will be the same problem that has always plagued the Nephites—their desire for worldly status.

Culture: Verse 32’s “fourth generation” is an interesting translation. We know from the text that we are dealing with four hundred years. Our Western decimal system makes it easy to equate a symbolic “generation” with one hundred years, even though that would have been longer than the expected life span of most who lived on the planet at this time. Nevertheless, it was four hundred years. I have already noted the importance of the four-hundred-year time period. (See commentary accompanying Helaman 13:5.) This was a period named baktun in Maya. Perhaps “the fourth (baktun)” is the underlying text, with Joseph using the more familiar “generation” to provide the equivalent cultural time period.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 5