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Commentary on Moses 2
TitleCommentary on Moses 2
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsSmoot, Stephen O.
Book TitleThe Pearl of Great Price: A Study Edition for Latter-day Saints
PublisherBook of Mormon Central
CitySpringville, UT

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2 This chapter commences the first of two Creation accounts found in the book of Moses that correspond to Genesis 1:1–2:3. OT1 and OT2 respectively begin this chapter by designating it as “chapter first” and “The Book of Genesis Chapter first,” which seems to indicate some intention behind its being the opening chapter of the Prophet’s inspired revision of Genesis. As mentioned previously, it is unclear if the preceding chapter describing Moses’s visionary experience on the mount is a standalone revelation or a prologue to the narrative that commences with this chapter. (Based on internal textual cues, the latter seems more likely.)

2:1 The Lord spake unto Moses. In a radical departure from the Genesis text, which features an anonymous third-person narrator throughout, this chapter opens at first with an anonymous third-person narrator (Moses?) but then immediately shifts to the Lord narrating the details of Creation directly to Moses in the first person. In this respect, the text bears striking resemblance to the apocryphal book of Jubilees, which also begins with Moses’s being summoned to a high mountain where the Lord (or the angel of the Lord) gives an account of the Creation and other events from early biblical history that Moses is commanded to record. This heaven and this earth. As at Moses 1:35–36, 40, the text makes it clear that the details of Creation being recounted to Moses pertain only to this world as a sort of singular narrative microcosm embedded within the larger scope of Creation. By mine Only Begotten. In another departure from the biblical text, the participation of God’s Only Begotten in the process of Creation is explicitly evoked. This will feature more prominently later (at 2:26) and is in harmony with the book of Abraham’s depiction of Creation, which also speaks of more than one divinity participating (Abraham 4:1).

2:2 The earth being without form and void (tôhû wā-bôhû), with “darkness” (ḥôšek) being upon the face of the “deep” (tĕhôm), all evokes a sense of the cosmos in its primordial, uninhabitable condition (compare Abraham 4:2).

2:3 My Spirit. The Hebrew word used in Genesis 1:2 for “spirit” (rûaḥ) can also mean “wind, breath.” Alongside the presence of God’s Only Begotten and Word (Moses 2:5), it is difficult not to read the text as describing the presence of each member of the Godhead in this scene.

2:4 OT1 has the definitive article “the” instead of the demonstrative “that” modifying “light.”

2:5 OT1 has “Word” capitalized. Although it cannot be demonstrated conclusively, it is not hard to imagine that this was deliberate given the appropriateness of describing the Only Begotten as the Word of God’s power (see also 1:32, 35).

2:6 This celestial firmament (raqiaʿ; compare Facsimile 1, fig. 12; Facsimile 2, fig. 4) was envisioned by the ancients as something of a solid dome that was stretched out overhead (compare Abraham 4:6–8).

2:14–19 See the commentary at Abraham 4:14–19.

2:21 The “great whales” (tannînim gĕdôlim) described in Genesis and elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible (See Job 7:12; Ezekiel 32:2; Isaiah 27:1; Psalm 74:13) are attested in other ancient Near Eastern sources as mythical sea serpents that personify evil and chaos. By listing them as part of God’s creations, the text domesticates them under God’s power.

2:26–27 Here God speaks directly to His Only Begotten, who is participating in the unfolding events of Creation, as They prepare to create humanity in Their image. At Abraham 4:26–27 an unspecified number of gods “counsel” together in this decision. Both texts thus evoke the presence of the divine council in this portion of the narrative. Image and likeness. Besides the obvious implications this language has for divine anthropomorphism and corporeality (compare Genesis 5:3; Ether 3:15–17), the language of humanity being in the image and likeness of God and His Only Begotten hearkens to the prevalent ancient Near Eastern practice of placing an image of a deity in a temple or shrine. Here God and His Son are enshrined, as it were, in Their newly formed terrestrial temple—the earth—through the creation of humanity. Furthermore, royalty in the ancient Near East was sometimes said to be in the image or likeness of a given patron deity, meaning the monarch had been endowed with a divine nature and was thus the mortal representative of the deity on earth. This concept is democratized in here, in the book of Abraham, and in Genesis to extend to all of humanity. Dominion over the earth. Humanity is given dominion (rādāh; “to rule, have dominion”) over the forms of animal life heretofore created, putting them in the role, essentially, of God’s viceroys on earth. Far from granting humanity license to exploit or abuse the earth’s ecology, humanity’s lordship over other forms of animal life places on it a responsibility to treat the earth’s natural resources with care and equity, as any monarch ideally would to its subjects. Wanton bloodshed, the needless taking of life, and failure to show respect and restraint toward Creation is portrayed elsewhere in the text as Satanic (see Moses 5:31–33, 49–57). Male and female. Members of both sexes are said to be made in the image of the God and His Only Begotten. This extends the divine nature of God to both men and women. Restoration teachings affirm the reality that all humans are the sons or daughters of divine heavenly parents. Although Her presence is not explicitly depicted either here or in the Genesis and Abraham accounts, it is reasonable to infer the attendance of Heavenly Mother in the scene in light of modern revelation and the dichotomous male/female pairing so described. (Compare Abraham 4:26–27, where an unspecified number of gods create man and woman after their likeness.)

2:28 Men and women are idealized as maintaining the natural order of Creation established by God through procreation. Their claim to dominion over the earth and all forms of animal life is contingent on their ability to establish a worldwide human dynasty, as it were, that will extend this dominion in perpetuity.

2:29–30 Vegetables, fruits, and animals are ordained as sustenance (“meat,” with the archaic meaning of simply “food”) for humanity. Modern revelation reaffirms that the ideal human diet consists of a balance between these types of food and also provides regulation on how each type should be used (see Doctrine and Covenants 89:10–17). 

Scripture Reference

Moses 2:1