26 October 2012

You've done an awesome job, Enos!

Guess what words the Book of Enos starts with.

I'll give you a hint. It's he same phrase that the previous two books of the Book of Mormon  (2 Nephi and Jacob) started with, and it is used (by my count anyway) 1424 times in the Book of Mormon.

That's right. It came to pass.
Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man -- for he taught me in his language.  Enos 1
So now we know that the little book of Enos was written by Enos ("I, Enos") in the language of his father, Jacob.

As I'm sure you'll recall, at the end of the last book (the Book of Jacob) Jacob ("I, Jacob") "began to be old" and gave his plates to his son Enos, before bidding us all "adieu."
And it came to pass that I, Jacob, began to be old. ... And I, Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son Enos: Take these plates. ... And I make an end of my writing upon these plates, which writing has been small; and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu. Jacob 7:26-27
Now you might get the impression from Jacob's use of the word "adieu" that Jacob spoke French, but he didn't. He spoke good, old-fashioned Reformed Egyptian like all other native Americans in 500 BCE. He just threw in the word "adieu" (which originated in late 14th century Europe) to impress you.

But back to the story (translated by Joseph Smith into 17th century English from the Reformed Egyptian).

One day Enos went out to hunt beasts in the forest when a voice in his head started talking to him.
Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests .. And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos.... Enos 1-5
Enos has a long conversation with the voice in his head that he believes to be God. The voice tells him that he is forgiven through his faith in Jesus. And that whatever he asks "in the name of Christ," he will receive (as a reward for believing in someone who wouldn't exist for another 500 years). God also "covenanted" with Enos, saying he'd preserve his plates with the Lamanites.

And I said: Lord, how is it done? And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh. Enos 5-8
Behold, the voice of the Lord came into my mind again, saying: I will visit thy brethren according to their diligence in keeping my commandments. I have given unto them this land, and it is a holy land; and I curse it not save it be for the cause of iniquity; wherefore, I will visit thy brethren according as I have said; and their transgressions will I bring down with sorrow upon their own heads. 10
The Lord said unto me: I will grant unto thee according to thy desires, because of thy faith. 12
The Lord God ... said unto me: Whatsoever thing ye shall ask in faith, believing that ye shall receive in the name of Christ, ye shall receive it. 15
I did cry unto God that he would preserve the records; and he covenanted with me that he would bring them forth unto the Lamanites in his own due time. 16
And the Lord said unto me: Thy fathers have also required of me this thing; and it shall be done unto them according to their faith; for their faith was like unto thine. 18
After the voice in his head quieted down, Enos went prophesying to the Nephites about the evil, wild, ferocious, bloodthirsty, and filthy Lamanites  (Native Americans).
And now it came to pass that I, Enos, went about among the people of Nephi, prophesying. 19
And I bear record that ... the Lamanites ... were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a bloodthirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven. 20a
Enos tells us a remarkable fact about the Lamanites. They were especially skilled in using the cimeter. [A Cimeter (or scimitar) is a curved sword with the sharp edge on the convex side. This type of sword did not exist at the time Enos was supposedly written (ca. 500 BCE). Indeed there is no evidence that swords of any kind existed in pre-Columbian America.] And that they only ate raw meat.
Their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us. 20b
The Nephites, on the other hand, were civilized people. They cooked their food and grew "all manner of grain" and had "all manner of cattle ... and also many horses."  (Cattle, horses, and European grains were absent in pre-Columbian North America.)
The people of Nephi did till the land, and raise all manner of grain, and of fruit, and flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats, and also many horses. 21
It wasn't easy for Enos, though, to prophesy among the Nephites because there were exceedingly many other Nephite prophets. But he did his best, speaking with exceeding harshness.
There were exceedingly many prophets among us ... And there was nothing save it was exceeding harshness, preaching and prophesying of wars, and contentions, and destructions, and continually reminding them of death, and the duration of eternity. 23a
Luckily he had read his dad's book so he knew how to talk with "exceedingly great plainness of speech," as you've no doubt already noticed.
Nothing short of ... exceedingly great plainness of speech would keep them from going down speedily to destruction. And after this manner do I write concerning them. 23b
Nephi ends his little booklet with this:
And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen. 27
Which reminds me of this verse from "You and me (but mostly me)" from my all-time favorite musical.
I've always had the hope,
That on the day I go to heaven.
Heavenly Father will shake my hand and say,
"You've done an awesome job, Kevin!"

The Book of Mormon is so danged inspiring!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"...by Elvis Presley's younger brother Enos!"

"Enos!? What kind of a name is that? How do you spell that?"

"E-N-O-S. Enos and Aaron. They're both biblical names."

"Man, if my folks called me Enos, I'd change my name!"

"What did he know? He grew up with it. He didn't care... well, at least, not until they started calling his brother 'Elvis the Pelvis'."

-- From the P.D.Q. Bach album WTWP: Classical Talkity Talk Radio