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Commentary on Moses 6
TitleCommentary on Moses 6
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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6:1–2 OT2 designates this the sixth chapter and describes it as “the genealogy from Adam to Enoch & plan of salvation &c.” Seth. The King James Version of Genesis 4:25 has Eve giving Seth his name and making this exclamation. The underlying Hebrew of this verse has Eve giving Seth his name but is somewhat ambiguous grammatically as to whether she or Adam made the exclamation (although contextually it seems to be Eve). Ancient versions (including the Septuagint and the Aramaic Targum Onkelos) clearly have Eve making the pronouncement. Interestingly, some apocryphal sources, such as the book of Jubilees, depict Adam as naming Seth and making the declaration. The name Seth (šēt) derives from the word “to set, appoint” (šît), as reflected in the pronouncement that God “appointed” Seth to be a replacement to Abel (compare Genesis 4:25).

6:5–9 Genesis 5:1 mentions a “book of the generations of Adam,” but here the text greatly expands on this concept and restores details not present in the biblical record. Most notably, the text mentions a pure language spoken by Adam in which he instructed his family and kept a book of remembrance. This Adamic language is mentioned elsewhere in the narrative (Moses 6:46, 57). Joseph Smith and other early Latter-day Saints showed interested in recovering this lost Adamic tongue. Spirit of inspiration. OT1 reads that those who called upon God could “write with the finger of inspiration.” This was initially followed by OT2 but subsequently revised to the current reading (notably replacing “finger” with “spirit”). Priesthood. This parenthetic comment about this “same priesthood” enduring to the end of the world (which was omitted in OT1 and added into OT2) is odd. It suggests some connection between priesthood and keeping records in the pure language of Adam but is left unexplained. It could be referring to those descendants whose names were recorded in the book as being sealed to Adam and Eve (as opposed to, say, the descendants of Cain). Read this way, 6:6 is a parenthetical elaboration about the book, and 6:7 is a reference to the patriarchal order of the priesthood. Adam spake. OT1 omits “by the Holy Ghost.”

6:10–25 The second genealogy of the text (5:42–51; 8:1–11) describes the righteous descendants of Adam and Eve in contrast to Cain’s wicked descendants described in the last chapter. The ages of these patriarchs were revised at multiple points by Oliver Cowdery in OT1, presumably at the direction of Joseph Smith. The ages of the patriarchs in the canonical text come from the readings preserved in OT2. Compare Doctrine and Covenants 107:41–52. The extraordinary ages of the patriarchs parallel Mesopotamian king lists, which likewise record extravagantly long ages and reigns for ancient kings. The intent in the Mesopotamian material appears to be to ascribe legendary, larger-than-life status to these kings, not to preserve straightforward chronological information. A similar interpretative approach might be reasonably employed here and in the Genesis account. (Note, for instance, that ages are not given for Cain and his descendants at Moses 5:42–56.) And Enos . . . Cainan. Inserted into OT2. The Cainan (qênān) mentioned in this verse and at 6:18–19 (and at Genesis 5:9) is not to be confused with the Canaan (kĕnāʿan) of Genesis 9:18 nor the Canaan of Moses 7:6–8, 12. Genealogy of the sons of Adam. In OT1 this is said to be the genealogy “of the Sons of God which was the sons of Adam,” a reading also reflected in OT2 but subsequently revised to the current reading.

6:26 This verse begins a new narrative unit about Enoch that greatly expands on the scant details about this figure preserved at Genesis 5:18–24. In addition to providing a lengthy narrative about the life and ministry of Enoch, Moses 6:26–7:69 restores important doctrinal teachings in the form of a series of discourses delivered and visions beheld by this patriarch. Latter-day Saint scholars have written extensively on the remarkable parallels between the Enoch material in the text and the body of ancient apocryphal sources about Enoch (see the bibliography for representative samples of this work).

6:26–36 Enoch’s prophetic call follows a pattern detected in the Bible and non-biblical texts. Elements in this pattern typically include a divine confrontation (here at 6:26), an introductory word and commission (6:27–30), an objection (6:31), a reassurance (6:32), and a final sign (6:33–36). By their oaths. Alluding to 5:26–31, 49–53. Enoch the lad. At this point in the narrative Enoch is already at least sixty-five years old (6:25). Relative to the age of the patriarchs as given in the text, this makes Enoch comparatively young at the time of his commission. This declaration finds striking parallel with apocryphal sources, which speak of Enoch being called a lad or youth at the time of his prophetic call and afterward, when it seems to have become a title for him. Slow of speech. Compare the similar objection given by Moses when required to speak forcefully to Pharaoh on behalf of his people (Exodus 6:12, 30). Brought upon themselves death. In OT1 the text says the people “have eaten unto themselves death” (OT2: “they have eat unto themselves”), a movingly poetic reference to Moses 4:12. The text was subsequently revised to the current reading in OT2. Choose ye this day. OT1 reads, “Choose ye this day a God who made you” (followed by OT2 and subsequently revised to the current reading). Enoch the seer. The depiction of Enoch as a seer who was granted supernatural visionary ability is frequent in extra-biblical sources. In most of these accounts Enoch is granted a visionary tour of the celestial world, whereas in others, as here, his eyes are opened to behold spiritual or heavenly beings. One notable difference with other scriptural depictions of seers is that Enoch is never explicitly given a seeric device or instrument to use in his ministry (compare Abraham 3:1; Joseph Smith—History 1:35; Mosiah 8:13, 15–17). Natural eyes. OT1 omits “to the natural eye.”

6:40 Mahijah is the only other named character in the Enoch narrative. He appears practically out of nowhere to interrogate Enoch about his preaching. The name of this figure has been persuasively argued to find ancient attestation in the form of a certain Mahaway (or, variously, Mahawai, Mahway, Mahuy; from the Aramaic mhwy), who appears in a fragmentary copy of an Enoch text discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

6:41 Evidently a land named after Enoch’s great-grandfather Cainan (6:17–19), not the better-known land of Canaan.

6:46 Referring to Adam’s book of remembrance mentioned at 6:5.

6:48 Compare Lehi’s famous declaration at 2 Nephi 2:25.

6:51–53 This specific dialogue (as well as that preserved at Moses 6:55–68) is not present in the preceding chapters, but that Adam and Eve had a knowledge of the fundamental principles of the gospel is made clear at 5:58–59. The range of verses from 6:51–68 embeds a heretofore unmentioned revelation to Adam as recounted by Enoch in his discourse. The gift of the Holy Ghost. OT1 omits “receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (but added to OT2). OT1 inserts at the top of the manuscript page where 6:52 begins “The Plan of Salvation.”

6:55 OT1 and OT2 originally both read, “That Christ hath atoned.” This verse should not be mistaken as an affirmation of the Christian conception of “original sin.” Rather, it is an affirmation only that the posterity of Adam and Eve are subject to the deleterious conditions of the Fall.

6:57 OT1 reads fairly closely to the current text: “. . . in the language of Adam man of holyness is his name & the name of his only begotten is the Son of man even Jesus Christ a righteous Judge which shall come.” In OT2 this was revised to read: “. . . in the language of Adam, Man of Holiness is his name; & the name of his only begotten, is the son[,] a man[,] a righteous Judge who shall come in the meridean of time.” The reading of OT1 has been preferred in each edition of the Pearl of Great Price since the 1851 first edition. Curiously, nearly all of the titles mentioned in this verse are also mentioned, with reference to a single individual, in one ancient Enoch text. Man of Holiness. This title or name for God in the pure language of Adam has unmistakably potent anthropomorphic implications. The concept of holiness (qōdeš) anciently entailed a sense of separateness or apartness from what is profane or common—thereby sacredness. God, as affirmed here and elsewhere in scripture, is the supreme embodiment and personification of holiness in its maximal sense. Son of Man. See the commentary at Abraham 3:24–28.

6:58–59 These verses read in OT1: “I give unto you a commandment to teach these things freely unto your Children saying that in as much as they were born into the world by the fall which bringeth death by water & blood & the spirit which I have made & so became of dust a living soul even so ye must be born again of water & the spirit & cleansed by blood even the blood of mine only begotten into the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven.” OT2 initially followed OT1 with only slight variation but was subsequently revised to the current reading. The passage and the next verse (Moses 6:60) play on a linkage between water, spirit, and blood. Just as water (both amniotic fluid and drinkable water), spirit (both the begotten premortal spirit and breath in the lungs), and blood are necessary components for physical life, so too are water (baptism), spirit (the gift of the Holy Ghost), and blood (the atoning blood of Christ) necessary for eternal life.

6:60 Although the imagery evoked here applies to the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, the typology may also be richly applied to the temple phases of justification, sanctification, and exaltation (through not only Christ’s sacrifice but also the consecration of the disciple) reflected in the initiatory ordinance and later in the endowment and sealing ordinances.

6:62 Although Latter-day Saints today typically use the term “plan of salvation” to refer to the cosmic journey of God’s children from and back into His presence, here and in other Restoration scripture (for example, Alma 24:14; 42:5) it refers to the process of sanctification through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

6:64–65 One ancient apocryphal text depicts Adam and Eve as being immersed in the Jordan and Tigris rivers, respectively, as part of their penance after the Fall. Adam being baptized by water and the spirit serves as a gospel prototype for the need of all humanity to be cleansed by both water baptism and by the reception of the gift of the Holy Ghost.

6:66–68 The voice of the Lord ratifies Adam’s baptism by water and spirit and affirms that he is a priest after the order of the Son of God (compare Hebrews 7:3; Alma 13:7, 9; Doctrine and Covenants 78:16; 84:6–17). Not only the gospel but also the priesthood is thus projected by the text as reaching back into the earliest days of humanity.

Scripture Reference

Moses 6:1