Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2011, September 24

“Book of Mormon: Jacob, ‘[His] Son Enos’, and 179 Years” by grego

Book of Mormon: Jacob, ‘[His] Son Enos’, and 179 Years


There seems to be a problem where Jacob says he gives the plates to “my (his) son Enos”, who shortly before dying says it has been 179 years since the leaving of Jerusalem. Since Jacob was born within at least 7 years from that time, that would make 171 years for two generations–pretty impossible. Did Joseph Smith mess up, or is there—like most of the other times there are problems in the Book of Mormon—a solution?

Here are the pertinent verses:

Jacob 7:27 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 told him the things which my brother Nephi had commanded me, and he promised obedience unto the commands. 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.

Enos 1:1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it—
2 And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.
3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

9 Now, it came to pass that when I had heard these words I began to feel a desire for the welfare of my brethren, the Nephites; wherefore, I did pour out my whole soul unto God for them.
10 And while I was thus struggling in the spirit, 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.

14 For at the present our strugglings were vain in restoring them to the true faith. And they swore in their wrath that, if it were possible, they would destroy our records and us, and also all the traditions of our fathers.

18 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.
20 And I bear record that the people of Nephi did seek diligently to restore the Lamanites unto the true faith in God. But our labors were vain; their hatred was fixed, and they were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty 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; and 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.

24 And I saw wars between the Nephites and Lamanites in the course of my days.
25 And it came to pass that I began to be old, and *an HUNDRED AND SEVENTY AND NINE YEARS had passed away from the time that our father Lehi left Jerusalem*.
26 And I saw that I must soon go down to my grave, having been wrought upon by the power of God that I must preach and prophesy unto this people, and declare the word according to the truth which is in Christ. And I have declared it in all my days, and have rejoiced in it above that of the world.

(179 years – 5 years? [Jacob born in wilderness] ) / 2 = x; 174/2 = 87 years each

It seems that Enos got the plates when he was young. If that is the case, then if both of them lived to be 87 years old, and Enos got them from Jacob when he was born, that is 174 years. But that’s hard to imagine happening. I imagine Enos has to be at least (and probably more) than 10 years old, so Jacob living to 95+ years is really pushing limits.

I see two other possibilities right now:
1. It is possible that Jacob gave the plates to his son, Enos, who then gave them to his son, Enos. (It’s not necessary that Alma was the first to name his son after him. ;) ). However, everyone wrote something; but we learn that they wrote it at the end of their lives, so there might have been an accidental death or something… Still…

2. It’s also possible that Jacob gave the plates to his grandson, Enos. If Jacob were 87 years old when he gave them to an 18-year old grandson, who lived also to be 87 years old… Strethcing it, but plausible. Why would Jacob give them to his grandson? Other places in the Book of Mormon show that it’s not always son-to-son; even the first passing was from Nephi to Jacob, his brother.

But to call his grandson a “son”… isn’t that fishy? And Enos seems to refer to Jacob as his father. Well, let’s see… does this happen anywhere else in the Book of Mormon?

In fact, it does—in strong and clear precedents:
2 Nephi 3:22 And now, behold, my (Lehi’s) son Joseph, after this manner did *my father of old* (Joseph of Egypt) prophesy.

2 Nephi 4:3 …*[Lehi] called the children of Laman, his sons, and his daughters*, and said unto them: Behold, *my sons, and my daughters*, *who are the sons and the daughters of my first-born*, I would that ye should give ear unto my words.
5 But behold, *my sons and my daughters*, I cannot go down to my grave save I should leave a blessing upon you; for behold, I know that if ye are brought up in the way ye should go ye will not depart from it.
6 Wherefore, if ye are cursed, behold, I leave my blessing upon you, that the cursing may be taken from you and be answered upon *the heads of your parents*…
8 And it came to pass that after my father had made an end of speaking to the sons and daughters of Laman, he caused *the sons and daughters of Lemuel* to be brought before him.
9 And he spake unto them, saying: Behold, *my sons and my daughters, who are the sons and the daughters of my second son*; behold I leave unto you the same blessing which I left unto the sons and daughters of Laman…


  1. I noticed the same 179 period you did, but I came to a different conclusion. I decided it would probably be foolish for me to doubt that the Lord could prolong a prophet’s life longer than normal.

    Comment by Michaela Walker Stephens — 2011, September 24 @ 10:58 pm

  2. The preface to the book of Helaman says: “…according to the record of Helaman and his SONS, EVEN DOWN TO THE COMING OF CHRIST, which is called the book of Helaman, and so forth.”

    Who kept the record? Nephi, his son; then, Nephi, his grandson.

    Comment by grego — 2021, June 20 @ 8:07 pm

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