Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2010, May 10

“Book of Mormon: Switching from the Reign of the Judges to the Sign of Jesus’ Birth as a Way of Tracking Time” by grego

“Book of Mormon: Switching from the Reign of the Judges to the Sign of Jesus’ Birth as a Way of Tracking Time”

grego
(c)2010

I find something interesting about counting time in 3 Nephi: the switching from the reign of the judges to the sign of Christ’s birth.

Mormon does a wonderful job of coordinating the three Nephite time-tracking systems in the Book of Mormon:
1. from when Lehi left Jerusalem (3 Nephi 2:6),
2. the reign of the judges (3 Nephi 2:5), and
3. the sign of Jesus’ birth (3 Nephi 2:7).

The current time system—the reign of the judges—comes first; then the original method—the years since Lehi left Jerusalem; then the new one: the sign of Christ’s birth.

Though one could (mistakenly) infer from 3 Nephi 2:8 that the Nephites seem to have waited nine years before adopting the time system, I believe that other parts support the idea that they really did wait nine years.

Looking at 3 Nephi 1, you wil see that years are counted three times (3 Nephi 1:26, 27, 28; 2: ):
26 And thus the ninety and second year did pass away…
27 And it came to pass that the ninety and third year did also pass away in peace…
28 And it came to pass that in the ninety and fourth year…

Then, in 3 Nephi 2, we read six more times where the reign of the judges system is used to count years:
1 And it came to pass that thus passed away the *ninety and fifth year also…
4 And thus did pass away the ninety and sixth year; and also the ninety and seventh year; and also the ninety and eighth year; and also the ninety and ninth year;
5 And also an hundred years had passed away since the days of Mosiah, who was king over the people of the Nephites.
6 And *six hundred and nine years had passed away since Lehi left Jerusalem.
7 And nine years had passed away from the time when the sign was given, which was spoken of by the prophets, that Christ should come into the world.
8 Now the Nephites began to reckon their time from this period when the sign was given, or from the coming of Christ; therefore, nine years had passed away.
10 And it came to pass…and thus passed away the tenth year also; and the eleventh year also passed away in iniquity.
11 And it came to pass in the *thirteenth year…

Immediately after telling of the Nephite switch in counting methods in verse 8 (though not when), Mormon makes a complete switch to only using the sign of Christ’s birth system to count from the ninth year on.

It seems like the Nephites, at the completion of 100 years of the reign of the judges, switched over to a new calendar system of counting years—the Nephites might have decided the centennial anniversary to be an appropriate time.

If the sign of Jesus’ birth was at the new year—similar to the sign of Jesus’ death—there would be a very smooth switch.

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