2 nephi 5:21 explained
The Creation: We're created to be tried and learn of the difference between right and wrong. Saying that any Amerindian has a black skin is incorrect even in modern skin color nomenclature. Since the mark/curse can be removed by simply traversing that boundary, I conclude that it is unlikely that the mark or curse had anything to do with pigmentation. The second is that Yahweh caused a skin of blackness to come upon them. The Nephite situation says nothing about inheritance rights, but only about avoiding the curse that was upon the Lamanites. Lamentations 4:7–8 (Revised English Version), ascribes metaphorical color to capture the before/after conditions of the Babylonian captivity: Obviously no pigmentation change occurred as the “white” faces of the princes became “blacker than soot.” Here are two other examples: The metaphor can also use “skin”: “When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness. 2 Nephi 30. The Nephites could not have survived without a wider range of marriage partners than the very small number of lineal Lehites who were in the city. Rodney Turner, LDS professor of religion, attributes this pigmentation change to God’s direct and miraculous action: Along with the assumption that the skin pigmentation was darkened as part of the curse, there were many who also believed that the conversion of dark-skinned “Lamanites” to the gospel would lead to a physically whiter skin. Nibley stands on the metaphorical side of the issue, though he still suggests that exposure to the sun could create the “blackness.” With this much disagreement on a single phrase in the text, how can we know how it should be read? That situation creates the need for a comparison, but since the Nephites cannot be “dark” the Lamanites by default become “whiter” than the Nephites. …and the Lamanites, which are not filthy like unto you, nevertheless they are cursed with a sore cursing, shall scourge you even unto destruction. 2 Nephi 28. Even something like the Fall of Adam and Eve, which appears to be a failure and… They were not, however, based on skin color as has been part of the more modern U.S. culture. It is not, however, an impossible task. Just as the white/black or fair/dark terms function along the insider/outsider boundary, so too does the delightsome/loathsome dichotomy describe social repercussions. Such unions were considered somewhat dangerous to tribal identity, and were frequently subject to either direct prohibitions or to regulations concerning inheritance. Alma 3:6 is the closest thing in the text to evidence for pigmentation change: “And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.” This verse clearly indicates that Lamanite skin was dark and that it “mark[ed]” them, thus denoting some visible indication. 2 Nephi 26. Because they have become Nephites, they therefore “became white like unto the Nephites.” This shift in skin of blackness to skin became white on the basis of a change from outsider to insider explains why the first appearance of the idea of the curse on the Lamanites has a different inception than this mention in 2 Nephi 5:21. “get around” - No one does that, excepting, perhaps the apologists to which Mr. Karanja is referring. Reading the Text or Reading into the Text: When 2 Nephi 5:21 says, “The Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them,” the phrase has been interpreted quite literally as a change in skin pigmentation. The purpose of the curse was to separate the two peoples. 2 Nephi 29:11-12 This is a good reminder that we should be open to revelation and truth from many geographic sources, since the Lord speaks to people in "all nations of the earth," but it seems to also be a very strong encouragement to us to write down our spiritual experiences. However, that prejudice always arises along the insider/outsider boundary, not the white/dark boundary. 2 Nephi 15. 2 Nephi 25. 11:35). We were meant to be happy. Why the discrepancy in time? But these are possessed by man, in his rudimental state, in a subordinate sense of the word. 2 Ne 5:14-15 The skills that Nephi lists here—smelting steel, various other metallurgies, building buildings, working all manner of wood—very impressive, but is it credible that anyone, let alone a person from such a well-to-do family, would have all these blue-collar skills? 2 Nephi 32:9 -- On Praying Always "But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul." The best explanation for needing an authentic Lamanite is that Moroni needed his language skills, not his skin color, for the ruse. In order to remove the possibility that our assumptions are coloring our reading of the text, it is important to find locations in the text where the action of the text would create circumstances where a difference in pigmentation would be obvious. The metaphorical use of color terms echoes that of the Bible. ☼ 2 Nephi 5:21–23, Jacob 3:3: And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. 2 Ne 5:21 he had caused the cursing to come upon them...that they might not be enticing unto my people. (2 Nephi 2:25) Heavenly Father wants us to be happy. Nevertheless, “white” Nephites become even whiter. Before studying this chapter, please review the introductory commentary for 2 Nephi 26. (See commentary accompanying Jacob 3:3.). Reading the Text or Reading into the Text: When 2 Nephi 5:21 says, “The Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them,” the phrase has been interpreted quite literally as a change in skin pigmentation. 2 Nephi 19. Even though skin color has come to be associated with race, the value of relative skin color was social, not racial. In the Mediterranean world the understanding of personality through physical characteristics was called physiognomics. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. Even metaphorically, the skin and face were legitimate locations for the “display” of these spiritual characteristics. Hence, Nephi’s record seems to follow the same pattern as the “plan of salvation,” namely the creation, the fall, the atonement, and then passing through the veil and into the presence of God. The function of the mark is social separation, but it is the same insider/outsider barrier already discussed. This assumption fails to explain (or counter) other passages in the Book of Mormon that still make a connection with “iniquity” and skin color. 2 Nephi 9. One of the ways we can avoid being deceived by Satan can be found in 2 Nephi. Douglas Campbell, a professor of computer science at Brigham Young University, examined the textual uses of “white” in the Book of Mormon and concludes that the term is used metaphorically for purity and/or cleanliness. Humans tend to make binary-opposed sets, of which black and white form a classic set. 43–63 for an elaboration on these identifications, yielding the evidence justifying the “plan of salvation” model. )) 2 Nephi 14. This was done so that the righteous would not intermarry with the wicked and thereby adopt their wicked ways. The tree’s whiteness symbolizes righteousness or heavenliness. Textual Evidence for Actual Skin Pigmentation: Does the Book of Mormon text contain events where distinguishing race by skin color becomes important? “Fair and delightsome” contains no reference to either “skin” or “white.” It would be a mistake, however, to assume that their absence means they are not part of the oppositional pairing since they do appear in other contexts. For example, Nephi utilized Isaiah 3:15 (= 2 Nephi 13:15) and Isaiah 5:21 (= 2 Nephi 15:21) in his commentary on the pride of latter-day Gentiles in 2 Nephi 26:20. Possessing the mark cannot prove that the curse is skin color, because that would beg the very question that needs to be proved. Before beginning with the text itself, it is important to clarify some facts that will help us sort the textual usage from our modern assumptions. All human populations have variations in color, and there are pigmentation differences in all populations. Exogamy (marriage outside of the group) and the Lamanite Curse: There is not only a geographic division between the brothers and their families, but a moral and religious chasm as well. Or, in other words, these attributes are in embryo and are to be gradually developed. A color difference should have immediately been apparent to the guards, but they do not notice the discrepancy. Nibley observes: “This amazing coincidentia oppositorum is the clash of black and white. 25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy. 2. Nephite prejudices were developed on distinctions more common to the ancient world and used reasons other than pigmentation. The curse is a fulfillment of Lehi’s prophecy about the land: “If iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes” (2 Ne. William Smith, a Bible scholar, notes: Because marriage dictated the flow of rights and properties, the legal problems of exogamy included regulations designed to keep land and goods inside the group. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. Separation occurs with the label “Lamanite,” not because of skin color. 1:7). For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. Thus, Nephi can claim that the Lamanites are cursed because they fall under that foundational prophecy of the land which included both a blessing and a curse, according to righteousness. 2 Nephi 24. 2 Nephi 22. What is the “mark” in the Book of Mormon? 2 Nephi 27-30 Nephi prophesies of latter-day apostasy, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the restoration of the gospel. And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. 2 Nephi Chapter 27. Modern society prefers to see differences as individualized and therefore prejudicial when applied to a group. Israelites also shared this widespread prejudice against “others,” as Malina and Neyrey point out: “First-century members of the house of Israel felt concerning all other peoples the way the Greeks felt about barbarians.”. 2 Nephi 7. It represents a particular culture with a distinctive worldview. Chapter 2. My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat” (Job 30:26–30). There are some keys that we should use, and the very first is to remember the dangers of reading ourselves into a text in ways that the text did not intend. That's the message I get from this verse. Because they would not accept such a gift from a Nephite, Moroni finds a Lamanite in his own troops, a former guard of the Lamanite king. The Book of Mormon is indeed prejudiced against the Lamanites. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon … Who gave these great doctrinal discourses? 2 Nephi 8. 2 Nephi 5:21-23; “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. 2 Nephi 10. Similarly, I conclude that the association between skin and white/black is metaphoric, not intended to indicate pigmentation. 2 Nephi 20. They are based on some visual perception, but coalesce into large categories that reflect the human tendency to categorize people. The question of marriage is an important one, because Yahweh has now excluded a number of the potential marriage partners who might be seen as more desirable than the native populations because they are both racially and culturally similar to the Old World peoples among the Nephites. 2 Nephi 2. . The association of the presence of skin color with race is purely descriptive. In normal reference, the Lamanites are “dark” and “filthy.” However, that “filthiness” is obviously a moral quality. Yahweh changed the Lamanites from what they had been to what they had become. Another example is the dark/white pairing from the 1830 first edition of 2 Nephi 30:6: “Their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and a delightsome people.” This verse parallels “fair and delightsome,” since “fair” and “white” are structural equivalents. How can Lamanites be whiter than the Nephites? Armand L. Mauss, professor emeritus of sociology at Washington State University, discusses this very issue: There are many ways in which color may be associated with a person. It echoes the promises and prophecies of Jacob in Genesis 49 to his posterity. Are these social functions metaphors or do they actually denote pigmentation? Racism in the Book of Mormon: The Book of Mormon is, in fact, racist, although not at all in the usual sense of the term. The first is the notion of a particular color associated with skin. CLICK HERE to read 2 Nephi 14.. As set forth in 2 Nephi 2 and 2 Nephi 9, discuss the three fundamental doctrines of the gospel, the creation, the fall, and the atonement. However, there were also provisions for marriage outside of the tribe. This is the origin of the term “barbarian,” which the Greeks frequently used as a generic term for anyone who was not Greek and who was, therefore, inferior. 36:5–9). Marking the forehead with paint appears to be sufficient to create an identifying “mark” that falls significantly short of altering body pigmentation. 2 Nephi 6. Book of Mormon Language about Skin Color: The curse is expressed in two antithetically parallel phrases: “as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Ne. Two things happen to the Lamanites as a result of their “harden[ing] their hearts against him.” The first is that they are cursed. Malina and Neyrey describe this mentality for the ancient Mediterranean cultures: “Human beings are distinctive in that they exhibit a considerable range of physical shapes, hues, and structures. E. A. Speiser, an archaeologist and Old Testament scholar, suggests that Cain’s mark was like other protective marks in the Old Testament, all of which were signs on the forehead. 2 Nephi 17. 5:21, 4 Ne. For example, 2 Nephi 5:21 still says: “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. What can we say about how the “skin of blackness” was perceived by those who wrote our Book of Mormon? 2 Nephi 1–5. Hence, both from proximity and from familiarity of customs, they might make attractive marriage partners except that their religion was not Yahweh’s. 2 The people (the house of Israel) that walked in darkness (spiritual darkness -- apostasy and captivity) have seen a great light (that is, they will see the Savior and hear his teachings); they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined (or upon them will the light shine). 2 Nephi 33. 11:8). This is a marvelous rhetorical device because the collectivist perspective of this ancient culture would consider such a condition unthinkable. About 588–570 B.C. 3 Nephi 19:24–25 records another similar white/whiter occurrence during Jesus’s visit to the New World: The disciples’ transforming spiritual experience makes them become “as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus.” This shade is not a natural skin color nor does anything in this passage encourage a “natural” interpretation. 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