The manner in which I’ll approach this particular subject comes from my background in Judaism. Having been raised in an observant home and then later of course, really converted to Mormonism. My birth father, being raised in an observant home. My mother being of a Sephardic lineage, we were able to get the best of both worlds. So, when I came into contact with Mormonism, it opened up a whole new world. It wasn’t the church that I first actually came in contact with as much as it was the Book of Mormon.
Ancient Paths and the Knowledge of the Fathers
When we talk about the knowledge of the fathers, what we’re talking about are the ancient paths. So just as Jeremiah said: stand by the roads and look, and ask for the ancient paths where the good way is and walk in it and find rest for your souls. The things we’re going to talk about today have to do with those ancient paths. When we refer to the knowledge of the fathers, we’re not talking about the knowledge that has been perpetrated by many, that we are evolved from a subspecies. In fact, in many ways, what we’ve seen today is an about face or an almost an upside-down view of our actual origins.
When we talk about the knowledge of the fathers we’re talking about the knowledge of Adam and the first civilization. The knowledge of the fathers and Adam himself is distinctly important to the house of Israel, because everything that the house of Israel is about is preserving and restoring those things that existed in that first civilization of Adam. It has to do with a worldwide civilization that was much more ancient than anything that we have seen today and less primitive than many of the things that we suspect. So, for example, when we talk about the ancient paths, Jeremiah is telling us to embrace these ancient paths, because in these ancient paths we find a key; a key to ourselves, to our history, to our origins and our future.
While many people attempt to demonstrate and portray mankind as evolving from an ape, the reality is we thought we evolved, or if you say perhaps we had de-evolved from a very advanced culture and world. And the goal of what Israel is, is to bring us back to those conditions in that ancient civilization before it fell. So, what are some of those conditions? In our world, we see ancient structures and monuments that even today our engineers find it very difficult or almost impossible to replicate. Done with almost laser point technology and yet laid out in a fashion to mirror both the Heavens and the Earth.
When we talk about the knowledge of the fathers, we’re talking about an ancient science from a first civilization. These things are encapsulated in Israel and what some have called Metatron’s cube or Unix cube, because that’s usually who it is attributed to. Sometimes we see things such as the flower of life which leads to the understanding of the Tree of Life. But Israel has been encapsulated in is what we call the Star of David – a very ancient symbol that predates Israel. It’s attributed to King David, but its symbolism is much more in depth than anything we’ve ever thought. It talks about the knowledge of a science, a knowledge of creation contained in that very first chapter of Genesis, written so a child could understand, but yet layered so that it contains ancient knowledge to help us to understand the foundation of all creation.
This contains the science of life; whether it be the cells or the development of a child, all the way to the creation of a planet and the organization of our source system, our galaxies and our universe. It contains a knowledge of us, of a Tree of Life and human beings as part of that tree. It contains an understanding of how we progress from one state of existence to another. How we become more refined, more purified, how we grow closer and bond and connect with God.
And so, in the beginning, we see some of these symbols such as Metatron’s cube, to just the Star of David. And then we see some of these ancient symbols of creation contained in the book of Genesis. Again, encapsulated layered form and of course the language of creation. Sacred geometry, some of the most original language itself, mathematics, yet all encapsulated in the Torah. The first five books of Moses. So, what does this mean? It means that we’re talking about a science, symbolized by an ancient tree and for Mormons, the Tree of Life should have very special significance because Lehi in his dream as well as Nephi in his vision, saw these particular symbols given to them to teach man a pathway of progression.
So, what are we talking about? We’re talking about the signs of the fathers. In Judaism and in an Israelite mind, the fathers are often referred to as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But when it comes to understand the science of the fathers in Abraham’s mind, the fathers were those patriarchs of Adam, Seth, Enoch and Noah and the environment, the civilization, the language, the science that they enjoyed and preserved, as well as their closer proximity to God.
As Abraham says: and finally there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me. I saw it for the blessings of the father, and the right where I should be ordained to administer the same. Having myself been a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness and to possess a greater knowledge. To be a father of many nations, a prince of peace. Desiring to receive instructions and to keep the commandments of God. I became a rightful heir, a high priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers. It was conferred upon me from the fathers. It came down from the fathers, from the beginning of time, yet even from the beginning, or from before the foundation of the Earth, the creation of the Earth, down to the present time, even the right of the first born or the first man who is Adam, or the first father, the fathers unto me.
So, what we’re talking about is a path, an ancient path. And with that ancient path, there’s actually an English one. It has to do with everything regarding Israel and in this ancient path that we’re trying to walk. The first thing it has to do with is a revelation of God and his name. In this case, as often referred to the name among Jews, we often refer to as HaShem or Adonai. However, most of those are traditional. The pronunciation of which, although very disputed usually will vary from some things such as Yahuwah, Yahweh, Yahoah. I tend to lean toward Jehovah, but however I’ll often refer to it as Adenah Rashan out of respect and reverence for the name.
We’re also talking about the calling of a deliverer or a prophet. Someone to restore those things which were lost. To Israel, Moses was served as that original restorer. This is where we get the foundation of the Torah from. It’s also the story of a people who come out of one world, a world that had been fallen, in Egypt and are ascending back into the presence of God. It talks about them coming up to a living embodiment, a tree if you will, an everlasting tree, and coming back into that society once enjoyed by the first civilization.
Unlocking the Book of Mormon
The first thing we need to understand when it comes to the Book of Mormon and comes to unlocking this book is that this is a distinctly Jewish book, and that sounds strange to a lot of Mormons because when I say the term Jewish, they may think specifically only the tribe of Judah. However, by the time of Lehi, the ten tribes of the North had already been carried off, and there were many remnants of those bodies, of those tribes who had fled to the southern kingdom, so that anybody, whether it be a descendant of Judah, Manasseh, Ephraim, Levy, would be all considered Jews because they were residents of the southern Kingdom of Judah or the Yehuda or Yahodim. But if we understand that these people were Jews, and they also lived and enjoyed the society of Jews and Judaism. And while many things have changed over time, the manner and learning of the Jews has been preserved in great extent throughout many centuries.
When we talk about it then, we’re talking about Jacob and the sons of Israel. We’re talking about the twelve tribes of Israel. And we’re talking about a land. As you can see it, by the time of Lehi, the northern kingdom had been taken away. And Lehi was a member of the southern kingdom, therefore he was a Jew by where he lived. So, the question being is if a Jew can be a descendant of Judah or they may also be a member of the house of Israel who settled in the southern kingdom.
For example, the Apostle Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin; Romans 11:1. And Matthew was a Levite, but they were both considered Jews as they were from the southern kingdom. And this same statement can also be demonstrated by Nephi’s comment in 2, Nephi, 33, verse 8, “I have charity for the Jew. I say Jew because I mean them, from whence I came.” So, the Book of Mormon is the story of a man or a Jew named Lehi, ‘Leggi’ and his family who were part of the southern Kingdom of Judah. While he was of the tribe of Manasseh, by lineage he would still be considered a Jew as he was a member of the southern kingdom.
Lehi and his family being Jews, would have been fully versed in Hebrew language, custom and the scriptures of the Jews. This is why the Book of Mormon and the plates that Nephi obtained were so important. The plates of Laban that Nephi was sent back for, contained the Torah – the first five books of Moses. The Torah, to an Israelite mind, gives us everything foundational to our culture. It gives us our language; it is our dictionary and our thesaurus. It is our history, it is our covenant document, it contains our laws. Everything which lends itself to a Godly society comes from those first five books. And that was the basis upon which Israel, as a nation was established. And ironically, it was also the foundation upon which this nation – the United States of America, was also established.
So, let’s think about what those brass plates contain. First, the first five books of Moses or the Torah, second, the record of the Jews in the southern kingdom. It also contained the writings of the prophets and the genealogy of Lehi. So, what is the Torah and why is it important?
To understand the Book of Mormon, we must understand that everything in the Book of Mormon has its foundation in the Torah. It is the source document upon which Nephi and Lehi and all the prophets of the Book of Mormon drew. They did not have the Book of Mormon. They had the books of the Torah as well as the prophets and the writings, what we would call our old testament. These consists of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. That right there shows you at least the first five books that make up the Torah.
The scripture is often referred to by an acronym called the Tanakh, the Torah, the Nevi’im, and the Ketuvim, consists of the first five books of Moses, the Prophets, the Nevi’im, or the Ketuvim, the writing such as Psalms or Proverbs. These are more historical writings. That is what Nephi was sent back for. That is why it was so imperative for him to get these things, because it was the foundation upon which a covenant society was established. So, to understand the Book of Mormon, means we have to understand the manner of the Jews. Nephi, while he did not necessarily teach his children after the works of the Jews or some of the talk of note of the Jews. What he did teach them, is their manner of prophecy.
Revelations of God are Layered
To understand the Israelite manner of prophecy, we need to understand that the revelations of God are layered. They’re layered to teach us the pattern of ascent, from this world, here below to the world where God exists. Although God exists in all worlds, the ideas are coming into his direct presence. So, the ascent through the four worlds or dimensions of revelation is taught to this day in Israel, through a system of interpretation called, Pardes.
Pardes is an acronym and it’s formed from the initials of the four levels or approaches to understanding the Revelations of God. The first; the P, ‘Pshat’, it’s the literal meaning, if you read the story where Nephi builds a ship or Lehi has a pillar of fire coming down before him, the literal reading is that those things literally occurred. So, you read it just as it says. The second; ‘Remez’, has to do with more of the metaphorical meaning of drawing upon one statement that draws upon another, in other words, the symbol here that may refer to a symbol someplace else. It’s the idea of something that has been will also be again, types and shadows.
The third; ‘Derush’, has to do with those teachings in Israel which are unique to Israel which many gentile nations do not have access to. They would be like writing such as, referring to a Prophet, one Prophet referring to another Prophet’s writings in particular. If I were to draw upon Isaiah, and I draw upon a specific teaching or a teaching from the sages of Israel, it would be called the Derush. I’m drawing upon a much more ancient understanding. The Book of Mormon also draws upon this, where Jacob uses the allegory of Zenos and the Olive Tree. In that parable he’s using that manner. He engages all layers of interpretation, but when he draws upon that ancient parable, he’s drawing upon Derush to communicate an ancient teaching to help us understand something that’s going on in the here and now.
Then the highest level is what we call the ‘Sod’ level. The Sod has to do with those things which refer to the Heavenly council, the things of the Heavens coming into the presence of God, the things that are unspeakable or great and marvelous. And why? Because we are pursuing a path of ascension – Aliya. Now, ascension in the world of that we hear today has been kind of taken over by a new age philosophy. But in reality, true ascension has to do with becoming one or in a state of that onement, or bondedness with God.
So, as we talked about the Pshat, the simple, literal meaning, Remez, the allegorical, metaphoric or symbolic meaning, Derush, a comparative meaning such as similar cycles or occurrences that will occur again, and Sod, those things which are esoteric, the mystical meaning, having to do with the Heavens. And the Book of Mormon contains these same layers.
It’s been said in theology, in our Doctrine and Covenants and your mind’s have been darkened because of unbelief and because you are treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation rests upon the children of Zion, even all, and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new Covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written. That say and do, hear and do, say and do. It refers back to the Shammah of Israel, Hero Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Shammah, not just hear, hear and do, or even to speak and do. That they may bring forth fruit and meat for their father’s kingdom, otherwise, there remains a scourge and a judgment to be poured out upon the Children of Zion.
So, the Torah is our dictionary. It is the source document for the Book of Mormon. We are at, because of our culture, to draw upon definitions that are relevant to us in our modern western American culture which has been primarily based in Protestant Christianity, and that culture. But the Book of Mormon, while it is a translated document, it’s drawing upon a source document that is much older and a very different culture. So, when we talk about the Torah being a source document or the first five books of Moses being a source document, if you want to understand the Book of Mormon or a word used in the Book of Mormon, it is important to go to the Torah as your dictionary and your Thesaurus, to make sure that you understand the meaning that an Israelite Prophet would use. Because all Israelite prophets are heavily schooled and disciplined in the manner and techniques of the Torah.
So, for example, covenant, covenant is the foundation of faith, but in the Hebraic concept, faith comes from the word and Aminah: faithfulness, the idea being not one of just a matter of mental ascent, but it has to do with the idea of the relationship of a husband to a wife. If I were to say, is my wife faithful to me, obviously saying that she’s obviously not having relations with another man that’s beside her husband. Well, it’s the same thing with God. When I talk about faith, I’m not talking about trying to hypnotize myself to make myself believe something. The idea for from an Israelite mindset is how am I more trusting and loyal to God. In other words, how can I be more trusting and loyal to him? I don’t know what to believe more means. How much more can I convince myself unless I hypnotize myself to believe something, or perhaps what they’re meaning is, is what the Israelites mean is, how can I have more faith or trusting loyalty to God? How do I become more loyal?
“Hope.” We think about hope, simple words that we think it’s almost like wishful thinking in our culture, but in the Hebrew culture, hope has to do with an expected outcome. It’s the expectation that is based upon a promise, for there to be hope to an Israelite mind, we need to know the promise that God gives, that we base our expectation upon.
And then of course, if we go to charity, ‘Tzedakah’. And we think of charity is pure love and it is, but that’s why even in the Book of Mormon, you don’t get an actual definition of charity. You get a description. Charity suffers long, and why, seek is not her own, it’s describing an action of love, in other words, it’s righteous doing and giving. This is why if you look in Moroni chapter 7, you’ll get a very Israelite definition of Tzedakah or charity, true love. And charity suffers long, and is kind and envies not, is not puffed up seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil, rejoices not in lawlessness, but rejoices in truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Wherefore my beloved brethren, if you have not Tzedakah or charity, you have nothing. You are nothing, for Tzedakah, charity never fails. Wherefore cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all. For all things must fail, but charity or Tzedakah is the pure love of Christ, and endureth forever and who so is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
So, notice it doesn’t say that charity is necessarily just love, it’s describing for you what true Tzedakah is, which is how we love. And that’s why Christ said unto to our fathers if you have faith you can do all things which are expedient or necessary unto me. If you have trusting loyalty to God, you can do all things which are expedient or necessary unto him. And now I speak unto all the ends of the earth – I guess that includes everybody here. That if the day comes that the power and the gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief and woe be unto the children of men, if this be the case, for there shall be none that do good among you, no not one, for if there be one among you that does good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God. And unto them that shall do these things away and die, for they die in their sins and they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. And I speak it according to the words of Christ, and I lie not. We read these words over and over again, but simple words have a lot of power. When we talk about that which is good, in a Hebrew mind, good is that which leads you to fulfill God’s commandments and evil or unbelief is that which leads you away from fulfilling God’s Commandments.
This is where we get the next concept of the veil of unbelief. Over the years we’ve heard many different lectures regarding what they believe, the idea of what is the veil of unbelief that is talked about in the book of Ether. But there’s actually an ancient understanding still preserved by some of the houses of Israel to this day. When Moses came down from the presence of God, his countenance was shining so bright, that the very people of Israel…not only could they not enter the presence of God, they could also not even stand in Moses presence. And so, to do that, he had to veil his face and it became a phrase that was used by Israelites when someone was walking in disobedience to the commandments of God, that they were walking in the veil of unbelief, or under the veil of unbelief. So, when it talks about wearing that awful veil of unbelief, it’s talking about returning to God and fulfilling his commandments, establishing them as our standard, establishing them as the basis of our culture. So, in many ways the veil of unbelief is a state of rebellion, and the Book of Mormon goes on to talk about that to us as well.
All these things are a foundation. Whether it be the Torah, or the scriptures, or the Prophets and their writings and the teachings of Israel, they come together to form a covenant relationship. In our culture, in our American culture, we often refer to a covenant relationship as it were a contract, but in a Hebrew culture, it’s a much more intimate relationship and it’s actually likened to that of marriage. If you imagine for a moment, could you imagine yourself married to God in that type of spiritually intimate relationship, because that is the expressed or desired understanding of what intimacy is with God in a covenant relationship. And you wonder in our society that the adversary has gone to such great lengths to destroy the family and the place of the mother and father in the home as a married unit. Because if he could destroy that unit and our perception of it, then he can destroy our understanding and ability to enter and keep a covenant relationship with God.
So, what is a real covenant? It’s an intimate relationship like marriage. And strangely enough, both cultures, whether it be Jewish culture or even Mormon culture, share this one thing in common. Whether it be under a hoopa, which is a canopy that you see there, and you see this bride and groom under them, and that canopy represents the Tabernacle in the wilderness or temple, and what do we have is temple marriage. Two things, so closely aligned, we may use different things, different words to describe them but the principle is basically the same. God is teaching us, through our home, our marriages, our children, the foundation of what it means to have a covenant relationship with Him. And the Book of Mormon serves as what we call a Ketubah, a marriage contract or covenant document, and it teaches us those things which are our responsibility and also, they communicate those things which God promises as part of that spiritually or spiritual marriage relationship. And all Hebrew covenants are based upon five basic pillars.
The Five Basic Pillars
Now you will see many different covenant models and they all have application, but almost all covenant models in Israel fall back upon five basic pillars. These five pillars are exhibited by the books of the Torah, but they also exist in the Book of Mormon as well. And what are these five pillars? The first is the declaration of God, His sovereignty, the parties involved in His promises. So like in the Book of Genesis, when God says “let there be light and to establish his creation,” he’s telling you he is sovereign over all, these things all exist because of his word. He also describes the parties that he makes his covenant with: Adam, Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all the way down through Joseph. The 2nd column, has to do with hierarchy or the kingdom order. It has to do with mediation and atonement. The 3rd and most important, it’s that particular pillar which is pivotal for the covenant relationship to work, is the law. What law? It is the heart of the covenant. The 4th pillar has to do with sanctions, in other words, covenant blessings and cursing’s, and also how they affect us, whether it be for good or evil, our posterity. And of course, the 5th pillar, being continuity of the covenant, in other words, that pillar of information which helps us to maintain that covenant over generations.
So, what would these parts of the covenant be to us? Well, our genesis of the Book of Mormon is 1st Nephi through Omni. If we look at 1st Nephi, through Omni, it serves the same purpose of Genesis, God says, let there be light and then a pillar of fire comes down in the book of Nephi and presents itself to Lehi. There in the Book of Mormon, for Nephi, are recorded, the promises made to the Fathers or the Patriarchs of the Book of Mormon. From our exodus, our second pillar, would be from Mosiah to Helaman. In this, we see where our kingdom order is given, under King Benjamin speech at a feast of Tabernacles, we see him reiterating what God’s kingdom order should look like. Is it one of authoritarian or tyrannical kings and wicked priests like King Noah or is it one where we’re seeing a righteous king teaching his people God’s commandments and then teaching them how to live as brothers and sisters one to another.
Our Leviticus, which is strangely enough, considered the harder covenant, and I know there are many people who, when they hear that, they’re going, are you kidding, Leviticus, the harder the covenant and that’s also called the book of love? Well, yes, it’s our holiness code and 3 Nephi, serves as the heart of our Book of Mormon. In it, it contains not only the holiness code that the Messiah gives, but also the ability and the instructions to create sacred space both here and in the world around us.
Our book of numbers or the fourth pillar, which has to do with blessings and cursing’s, we find in 4th Nephi, Ether and Mormon. In 4th Nephi, we see people who have obtained the blessings of heaven and they live in unity and oneness and peace. In Ether, we see a people destroyed by the hand of Jehovah and in Mormon, you see a people destroyed also by the hand of Yahuwah, because of their wickedness. And what is also interesting is that it takes two covenant witnesses to bind a covenant lawsuit.
And in the Book of Ether, we have God’s covenant lawsuit against the Jaredites who are considered gentiles, or non-Israelites. They’re still a covenant people, but at the same time, while they were a covenant people, they were considered non-Israelites because the brother of Jarrod in the Jaredites predated Israel and Mormon, who was an Israelite. And if you think about the two people that exist on this land, whether it be those of the nations or those of the House of Israel, it brings us all under blessing or condemnation, depending upon which path we choose to follow. If we choose to follow a path of light and the blessings of the gospel follow, and the blessings of the brother Jared, are also produced and peace and oneness. But if we choose to follow the path of darkness and non-covenantal obedience, then those covenant curses come about, which ended up in the destruction of both peoples, whether it be Jaredites or the Nephites.
Then, of course, we have the book of Deuteronomy and in the book of Deuteronomy, that is our fifth pillar. And that fifth pillar is represented also to us in the Book of Mormon by Moroni. In it we find how priests and teachers are called, those ordinances by which sacrament is performed, those outward works which help us to maintain our covenant over generations. Those things that did not change, they help us to maintain continuity. And so, all these things have to do with declaring God’s transcendence and sovereignty, and obtaining his covenant promises.
These are things that have to do with declaring God’s transcendence. He is the creator. He is the boss. In other words, as one person said, there is a God and I know I’m not him, and that’s the case in point. God is God. We’re not. He makes the rules. We have a choice to either follow them or walk away in disobedience. That pillar though also contains the promises of God, it contains kingdom hierarchy, and strangely enough, as I said, we see these things given over and over again in a Hebrew fashion throughout the Book of Mormon.
But in all these things, this should give us the ability to really sit down and begin to approach the Book of Mormon as truly an Israelite document, in its design, in its manner in which it expresses itself. If follows the covenant pattern of the Torah. It also draws upon those things from the Torah which open up layered and even sealed mysteries. Things that we read every day in front of our very eyes and yet, because we do not have the keys of knowledge to unlock them, we read right over them.
This is very similar to a child who reads the rhyme “Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow.” Now as a child, when you read that, or hear that, it’s a nice little rhyme, and there’s a popular woman named Mary who has a nice garden, but for those of us who are a little older and have a key of knowledge of what that rhyme comes from, it has to do with Mary, Queen of Scots and the things that occurred there. It’s no different with Israelites scriptures. A plain story, written so easily that a child can understand and yet layered in such a fashion to communicate the most important and optimal information that a mortal mind can understand and embrace.
For example, if we were to talk about Nephi building, working timbers of curious workmanship, what does that mean? Of course, in our literal lines it will obviously mean that he built the ship of very fine timbers, but if we go back to the Torah and we look at the concept of curious, we find that its first used in context with the Ephod and the Tabernacle. Is it possible there’s a relationship between the Nephi’s ship and going to the promised land and the Tabernacle and its function and entering into the presence of God. Is it possible that in what we read over as simple instructions of Nephi obtaining the plates from Laban is Nephi as a mighty one, obtaining the record of heaven, and his instructions on teaching us how to obtain that record of heaven. Many layered meanings, starting off with a simple child story, yet with the understanding and learning of the Jews, these simple stories begin to unlock and to teach us eternal lessons on how to have a relationship with God, how to attain the Ruach Elohim, the Holy Spirit of the Holy Ghost.
All of these things are important, and it takes time, but once we begin to embrace and understand these particular keys, we find that the Book of Mormon is much more than a story of Jesus coming to native Americans and wigwams. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It’s the Messiah of Israel coming to a restored branch of Israel. It should be a preserved branch of the house of Israel and bringing them into his presence and giving them or helping them develop a society of what we seek, which is also called Zion.