Wednesday, February 25, 2009

1 Nephi 2:7 Lehi and Nephi Break Levitical Code and Establish Themselves as False Prophets

About 17 years ago some Mormon missionaries knocked on my door in California. They introduced themselves as elder so and so though they were about 2 years my elder if that. My parents were working at church, my dad being a pastor. But I decided I would chat with them for a while. They gave me a Book of Mormon and asked if I would read it. I told them I would.
I went back to my room opened it up and it hit me. I haven’t yet read the Bible. Maybe I ought to do that before I read this book. So I did. I ended up devoting the better part of my life now to studying the Bible. I have even taken Greek and Hebrew so as to read it in the original languages. But I never picked up the Book of Mormon again. Until this last week, that is.
I am now reading through it with a great deal of Biblical knowledge behind me and comparing what it says to what the Bible says. There are all sorts of curious oddities so far. I have only read 1 Nephi. But it is becoming quite obvious that Joseph Smith was not a Biblical Scholar, nor even a good historian. I plan to bring up these oddities and write about them as they come up. This will take a good amount of time.
Perhaps, though, the first great and serious problem I have found is the erection of an altar and making of sacrifices on it by Nephi’s Father, Lehi, in the second chapter. Offerings on this altar are mentioned in Chapter 2:7 and at the end of the seventh chapter. No pious Jew during the reign of Zedekiah would ever have done this. It was expressly forbidden in Leviticus:
And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, [2] "Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the people of Israel and say to them, This is the thing that the Lord has commanded. [3] If any one of the house of Israel kills an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or kills it outside the camp, [4] and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to offer it as a gift to the Lord in front of the tabernacle of the Lord, bloodguilt shall be imputed to that man. He has shed blood, and that man shall be cut off from among his people. [5] This is to the end that the people of Israel may bring their sacrifices that they sacrifice in the open field, that they may bring them to the Lord, to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace offerings to the Lord. [6] And the priest shall throw the blood on the altar of the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting and burn the fat for a pleasing aroma to the Lord. [7] So they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to goat demons, after whom they whore. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.
[8] "And you shall say to them, Any one of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice [9] and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting to offer it to the Lord, that man shall be cut off from his people.(Leviticus 17:1-9 (ESV)

Once the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle) had been made and dedicated there was no more room for other altars. If the Tent of Meeting was moved another altar might be made for it at its new location, but the other altars from where the Tabernacle had been would no longer be used. This is reiterarted in the 12th chapter of Deuteronomy: Deut. 12:1-7 (ESV)
"These are the statutes and rules that you shall be careful to do in the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. [2] You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. [3] You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place. [4] You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way. [5] But you shall seek the place that the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there. There you shall go, [6] and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. [7] And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.

Sacrifices had to be made at the Tent of Meeting, and they had to be performed by a Levite Priest, as they were the only ones consecrated to work in the Tent of Meeting. Later of course the Tent was replaced by the Temple that Solomon built, but the same rules applied. Never did the Jews ever worship God with sacrifices anywhere but the temple after it was made. They did without sacrifices for the entirety of the Babylonian Captivity when they were without a temple. Even the Essenes refused to make another altar when they separated themselves from the temple because of the priests they felt were corrupt. To this day Jews in Israel, or anywhere else for that matter, do not make sacrifices because they have no temple. They are not free like Abraham, or Job, or any of the patriarchs from before the creation of the Tent of Meeting to go and sacrifice wherever they please.
There is one incident recorded in Joshua where some of the Israelites build and altar as a memorial. Just the building of the altar almost sparked a civil war “And when they came to the region of the Jordan that is in the land of Canaan, the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh built there an altar by the Jordan, an altar of imposing size. [11] And the people of Israel heard it said, "Behold, the people of Reuben and the people of Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh have built the altar at the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region about the Jordan, on the side that belongs to the people of Israel." [12] And when the people of Israel heard of it, the whole assembly of the people of Israel gathered at Shiloh to make war against them. “ (Joshua 22:10-12 (ESV)
The conclusion of all this is, if I were to believe that there ever was a Lehi, and a Nephi who had built themselves an altar and sacrificed on it in the Sinai desert during the reign of Zedekiah, I would have to believe that they were worshiping a false god, and had committed a sin worthy of the death penalty according to the law of Moses. Lehi and Nephi have established in no uncertain terms that they are false prophets not to be believed or followed.


Steve Martin said...


Thanks very much! I learned quite a bit in your post.

No true prophet of God would build these altars.

Your case seems clear cut to me.

Steve Martin said...

How do you think a biblically learned Mormon would answer such a charge?

have you made these points to any LDS members?

Bror Erickson said...

I have no idea, I imagine though we'll find out how they answer soon enough.