Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, August 15

Book of Mormon | Signs and Times: Samuel the Lamanite’s Prophecy and Christ’s Birth

Book of Mormon | Signs and Times: Samuel the Lamanite’s Prophecy and Christ’s Birth
by grego
(c) 2009

We find a scenario in the Book of Mormon where there is a problem regarding timing. Samuel the Lamanite gives a sign of Christ’s birth that will come in five years:

Helaman 14:2 And behold, he said unto them: Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name.

Helaman 14:3 And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day.

Helaman 14:4 Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born.

Later, we find this problem:
3 Nephi 1:5 But there were some who began to say that the time was past for the words to be fulfilled, which were spoken by Samuel, the Lamanite.

3 Nephi 1:6 And they began to rejoice over their brethren, saying: Behold the time is past, and the words of Samuel are not fulfilled; therefore, your joy and your faith concerning this thing hath been vain.

3 Nephi 1:7 And it came to pass that they did make a great uproar throughout the land; and the people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.

3 Nephi 1:8 But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain.

3 Nephi 1:9 Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet.

How could they not know, based on Samuel’s prophecy of “five years”?

What seems like a simple thing on the surface is much deeper. I see a few reasons:

1. Wording, meaning, intention.
Five years–general or specific? That same day, five years later, or five years from that year (as in it’s 2009 now, so in 2014)? The first day of the year five years from now?
Samuel said, “Five more years cometh, and then cometh the Son of God…” Is that in the meaning of “in exactly five years, He will come” or more like “at least five more years, and shortly afterward, He will come”?

2. CalendarS.
Even if it were understood to have been “five years from the same date, exactly”, which calendar would be used to calculate it? Were the Nephites and Lamanites on the same calendar system? Were the Nephites as a people or the Lamanites as a people all even on just one system? (There are places even today where the general population/ government use different calendar systems than the old folks and farmers.) Different calendars based on different systems will have different number of days between two exact dates, five years apart, especially if there are special occurrences (such as a leap month (yes, month, not day) in the lunar calendar, which can *really* throw dates off).

1 Comment »

  1. Interesting. This website claims the star appeared (and the wise men) some time after Christ’s birth. That would explain the delay.

    There is also, I believe, an ancient tradition that a special event marking the coming of the King would happen on Dec. 25. (However, Christ would still be an infant by then).

    Comment by Paul McFate — 2012, December 15 @ 1:15 am

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