It’s easy to get distracted by the strange words and phrases in the Book of Mormon and thereby miss the even stranger messages that lurk therein. That’s what happened to me the first time I read chapter 13 of 1 Nephi. (And that's why I'm revising my original post for this chapter. I'm trying to deal with it a little more thoroughly than I did in my first blogging attempt.)
And chapter 13 has some strange phrases. There are eleven “And it came to passes", four “I, Nephis", three “exceedinglys" and one “dwindle in unbelief.” But there’s a lot more to it than that.
I must say, though, that I’d never have understood this chapter without the help of Mormon guides. Luckily I found several sources that reveal the meaning of the angel’s words. (I found this one particularly helpful.)
So I’m going to go through the chapter verse by verse, trying to figure it out as I go along. Let me know if I miss anything.
The angel begins by showing Nephi the "great and abominable church" (the Catholic church) and its founder, the devil.
And the angel said unto me: Behold the … most abominable above all other churches … And it came to pass that I beheld this great and abominable church; and I saw the devil that he was the founder of it. And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing; and I saw many harlots. 1 Nephi 13:5-7
Mormons don’t like to talk about this one. The anti-Catholic bigotry is too obvious; it seems more like something an American Protestant might say in the early 19th century that an angel in 600 BCE.
Next, the angel gives Nephi a geography lesson, showing him a Google Earth view of the Old and New Worlds and the “many waters” (Atlantic Ocean) between them. Nephi and his brethren will live on one side of the “many waters” and the “Gentiles” on the other.
I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren 1 Nephi 13:10
The angel told Nephi that “the wrath of God” is upon the seed of his brethren.
The angel said unto me: Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren.1 Nephi 13:11
But Nephi already knew this, since the angel told him in the last chapter that God would darken the skin of some of his brethren (those that became the Native Americans) and make them a dark, loathsome, filthy, idle, and abominable people.
The angel told Nephi that God would select one of the “Gentiles” and send him across the “many waters” to visit his brethren in the “promised land” (America). The Mormons say that the “Gentile” here is Christopher Columbus.
And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.1 Nephi 13:12
After Columbus other “Gentiles” will cross the "many waters" – which the Mormons say refers to the Pilgrims arriving at Plymouth Rock in 1620.
I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters. "1 Nephi 13:13
The angel said that many more Gentiles (Europeans) would cross the ocean to smite Nephi’s brethren (the Native Americans).
I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.1 Nephi 13:14
God would inspire the Europeans (who "were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful" just like Nephi's descendants before the evil, dark-skinned Lamanites killed them all) to slaughter the Native Americans.
So that’s what happened. God inspired the Europeans to slaughter the Native Americans. And “the Gentiles ... did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.”
The Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain. … The Gentiles ... did humble themselves before the Lord; and the power of the Lord was with them.1 Nephi 13:15-16
Later the “mother Gentiles” (the British) would cross the ocean to fight against the Gentiles that God favored in the American Revolutionary War.
Their mother Gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them1 Nephi 13:17
The power of God was, of course, with the American colonists and his wrath was on the British.
The power of God was with them, and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle.1 Nephi 13:18
And it has happened just like that in every war since then. God helped the USA win all of its wars. (Except maybe Vietnam.)
The Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations. 1 Nephi 13:19
Then the angel showed Nephi a book that "procedeth out of the mouth of a Jew" (the Bible, which was a lot like the brass plates). The good American white people that God liked so much carried this book around with them.
I beheld a book, and it was carried forth among them ... And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew ... like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass. 1 Nephi 13:20-23
The angel told Nephi that the "great and abominable church" (the Catholics) ruined the Bibe by deleting the "plan and most precious parts."
A great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. 1 Nephi 13:26
God favors the Americans above everyone else on earth and has made them the most powerful nation on earth, but he will not allow them to completely destroy Nephi's evil brethren (the Native Americans).
The Gentiles who have gone forth out of captivity, and have been lifted up by the power of God above all other nations, upon the face of the land which is choice above all other lands ... The Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance; wherefore ... God will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed.1 Nephi 13:30
The chapter finally ends with the angel explaining how the Book of Mormon and other Mormon scriptures will restore the “plain and precious things” in the Bible that were removed by Satan’s Catholic church. Only by believing in both (Bible and Mormon scriptures) can a person be saved.
These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved.1 Nephi 13:40
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