Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2010, November 1

“Book of Mormon: Use of the Word ‘Repent (of)’ to Mean ‘Sorrow for’ in Mormon 2” by grego

“Book of Mormon: Use of the Word ‘Repent (of)’ to Mean ‘Sorrow for’ in Mormon 2”


10 And it came to pass that the Nephites began to *repent of* their iniquity, and began to cry even as had been prophesied by Samuel the prophet; for behold no man could keep that which was his own…
11 Thus there began to be a mourning and a lamentation in all the land because of these things, and more especially among the people of Nephi.
12 And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people.
13 But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.
14 And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.

So why does it say that the Nephites repented, when they really didn’t?

Another definition of repentance is being used here. It is definition #2 (and likely some #1, too) in Webster’s 1828 dictionary:
1. Sorrow for any thing done or said; the pain or grief which a person experiences in consequence of the injury or inconvenience produced by his own conduct.
2. In theology, the pain, regret or affliction which a person feels on account of his past conduct, because it exposes him to punishment. *This sorrow proceeding merely from the fear of punishment*, is called legal repentance, as being excited by the terrors of legal penalties, and it may exist without an amendment of life.
3. Real penitence; sorrow or deep contrition for sin, as an offense and dishonor to God, a violation of his holy law, and the basest ingratitude towards a Being of infinite benevolence. This is called evangelical repentance, and is accompanied and followed by amendment of life.

There are other places in the scriptures (mainly the Old Testament) where “repent” means other things than “godly sorrow”. Here are just a few examples:

Genesis 6:6 And it *repented* the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
Here, “repent” is related to the Hebrew root which means “to be sorry”, “moved to pity,” “have compassion.’
It is the same in:
Judges 2:18 And when the Lord raised them up judges, then the Lord was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it *repented* the Lord because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.

Here, it basically means to “regret” leaving Egypt:
Exodus 13: 17 And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people *repent* when they see war, and they return to Egypt:

Here, it basically means “changed His mind”:
Exodus 32:14 And the Lord *repented* of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
Jeremiah 18:8 If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.

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