Editor’s Note: Tammy Uzelac Hall is the host of LDS Living’s newest podcast, “Sunday on Monday,” a weekly podcast focused on Come, Follow Me that dives into the hidden treasures of the gospel. Here are five questions readers might have in their studies of the Book of Mormon this week, accompanied by Hall's insights that add new meaning to the beloved verses.
Question: In Elder David A. Bednar’s talk “The Tender Mercies of the Lord,” he said that when it comes to tender mercies, we “Receive from, because of and through . . . Jesus Christ.” What is the distinction between the three?
Answer: All three wordings are used in the Book of Mormon to describe how we can receive blessings. Here’s a look at what makes each wording unique:
From Jesus Christ: All things come from Christ, the Father, and the Holy Ghost, which are One (see 2 Nephi 32:21). Jesus Christ is “the God of the whole earth” (3 Nephi 11:14) and is under the direction of an omnipotent Father who loves us. All that He does is for our eternal benefit to fulfill His work and His glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.1
Because of Jesus Christ: Because He condescended below all things and experienced mortality, He knows exactly what we need as mortals. He understands temptation, pain of body, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and afflictions of every kind (Mosiah 3:7, Alma 7:11). As a result, He will answer our pleadings with exactly the tender mercy we need—and they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence.2
Through Christ: When we pray to an omniscient, loving Father and end our prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, we are recognizing that it is only through the Savior’s atoning sacrifice that we are made worthy to receive any and all tender mercies. Even when we don’t quite “measure up,” it is through His omniscient grace that we are worthy of His blessings.
Answer: This is what is referred to as a Hebraism, and the Book of Mormon is filled with them. A Hebraism is a set of words or phrases that appear in English but with Hebrew-like construction. The most common example of this is called a “cognate-accusative,” or in other words, when you read a verb connected to a noun. For example: “divine divinations” (Ezekiel 13:23), “curse with a curse” (1 Nephi 2:23), “taxed with a tax” (Mosiah 7:15), and “dreamed a dream (1 Nephi 3:2).”3 While this sounds odd to us, and probably did to Joseph Smith as well, it is perfectly in line with Semitic languages.
Question: Lehi spent many hours in a dark and dreary wilderness before he received the tender mercy of relief and the vision of the Tree of Life (see 1 Nephi 8:4, 7-12). Why?
Answer: Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “Before great spiritual moments, there can come adversity, opposition, and darkness. Life has some of those moments for us, and occasionally they come just as we are approaching an important decision or a significant step in our life.”4 That is exactly what happened to Lehi. He prayed for help and after he prayed, he was shown the vision of the tree of life. This pattern for visions, dreams, and revelations was also true for Moses, Jacob, Daniel, Esther, and Joseph Smith.
It’s interesting to note that after his experience in the “dark and dreary wilderness,” Lehi then saw the tree and partook of the fruit first before inviting his family. President Harold B. Lee said, “You cannot lift another soul until you are standing on higher ground than he is. You must be sure, if you would rescue the man, that you yourself are setting the example of what you would have him be.”5
Question: Lehi’s dream was about his family members. What does his vision have to do with me?
Answer: Lehi’s dream and experience was not just for him and his family—it was ultimately for us. 1 Nephi 8:21-33 is referred to as the “Parable of the Path.” Similar to the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13), we are encouraged to read the verses while looking for four different groups of people and then decide which group we currently belong to. The path is a path of discipleship, and the odds are that at different times in our lives we will relate to each group.
President Boyd K. Packer said, “You may think that Lehi’s dream or vision has no special meaning for you, but it does. You are in it; all of us are in it.”6
Question: These plates. Other plates. These plates. Other plates. Is there a difference? What do these words in 1 Nephi 9 mean?
Answer: I recommend taking 1 Nephi 9 and highlighting every occurrence of “these plates” in one color and every occurrence of “other plates” in another color.
“These plates” are referring to the small plates of Nephi.
“Other plates” refer to the large plates of Nephi.
In 1 Nephi 9:6, Nephi says he doesn’t fully understand why the Lord would ask him to make and keep two separate records, but he acts in faith anyways, saying:
“But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen.”
Well, Nephi was right—the Lord did prepare a way to accomplish His work. After the 116 pages were lost in 1828, Joseph Smith was told to not retranslate but instead to translate from the small plates of Nephi. Interestingly enough, the small plates covered the same period of time as the 116 pages that Joseph Smith had previously translated. The Lord said that the small plates also “throw greater views upon my gospel” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:45). Elder Holland said, “We got back more than we lost. And it was known from the beginning that it would be so. It was for a wiser purpose.”7
Question: Messiah, Savior, Redeemer—What is the significance of these three names for Jesus in 1 Nephi 10:4-5?
What is so interesting about this is that we most often refer to Jesus as “the Christ.” Christ comes from the Greek word Christus, meaning “the anointed one.” Christus is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Meshiach, or Messiah, which also means “the anointed one.” It makes sense that Lehi would use the Hebrew term Messiah for “anointed one” since he was taught in the learning of the Jews (1 Nephi 1:2) and not the Greeks.
As our Savior and Redeemer, what exactly is He saving, delivering, and redeeming us from? In Acts 10:38 we read that Jesus was anointed by God with the Holy Ghost and with power to go about doing good and “healing all that were oppressed of the devil.” The word “oppressed” in Greek is katadunasteuo and means “overpowered, quell, treat harshly.” Those of us who have been “oppressed” by the devil know the importance of the Messiah.
The "Sunday on Monday" study group is a Deseret Bookshelf PLUS+ original presented by LDS Living. You can access the full study group discussion through the Bookshelf app. Listen to a segment of this week's episode below or you can listen to the full "Sunday on Monday" episode here.
1. Dallin H Oaks, “The Godhead and the Plan of Salvation,” Ensign, May 2017.
2. David A. Bednar, “The Tender Mercies of the Lord,” Ensign, May 2005.
3. John A. Tvedtnes, “Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon: A Preliminary Survey,” BYU Studies 1970, p. 7
4. Jeffrey R. Holland, “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence," BYU address, March 2, 1999.
5. Harold B. Lee, "Stand Ye in Holy Places," April General Conference, 1973.
6. Boyd K. Packer, “Finding Ourselves in Lehi’s Dream,” Ensign or Liahona, August 2010.
7. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “A Standard Unto my People”, Symposium on the Book of Mormon, August 1994.