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Commentary on Moses 7
TitleCommentary on Moses 7
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsSmoot, Stephen O.
Book TitleThe Pearl of Great Price: A Study Edition for Latter-day Saints
Chapter1
Pagination37-44
PublisherBook of Mormon Central
CitySpringville, UT

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7:1 OT2 designates this chapter “Enochs prophecy &c.” Enoch’s discourse from the previous chapter concludes with this verse.

7:2 Enoch’s vision of the Lord parallels Moses’s own visionary experience narrated in chapter 1 on several points, including the vision’s taking place on a mountain (Moses 1:1; 7:2) and the visionary’s being transfigured (1:2, 25; 7:3), seeing the Lord “face to face” (1:2; 7:4), and being shown the world and its inhabitants (1:8; 7:4). Mahujah. The name Mahujah is clearly a variant of Mahijah from the previous chapter (6:40), but there is some uncertainty about whether to interpret this second instance of the name as a person or a place based on the manuscript history. See the commentary at 6:40.

7:6–8 Both OT1 and OT2 record the name in this range of verses as “Canaan.” It is tempting to consider this rendering of the name as a scribal mishearing of the previously encountered Cainan (6:17–19, 41–42), not only because the two names are homophonous but also because the biblical Canaan will not feature in the history of the early patriarchs until after the Flood at Genesis 9:18. This suggestion, however, must remain necessarily speculative. If “Canaan” was in fact intended, then it would seem that the text here preserves the only known mention of this pre-Flood people Enoch beheld in vision. Whatever relationship they might have had with the later biblical Canaan is not clear. The curse of Canaan. The text describes a curse of barrenness upon the land of the people of Canaan as well as a “blackness” covering the people. The curse applies only to the land, however, with no mention of a curse upon the pre-Flood Canaanites themselves. The “blackness” of the people of Canaan is never explicitly depicted in a racialized manner (that is, as speaking of skin color). Elsewhere in the text, “blackness” is used to describe the presence of Satan in contrast to the brilliant glory of God, suggesting that a spiritual or metaphorical reading of the “blackness” of the Canaanites and the descendants of Cain (Moses 7:22) is to be preferred. (See the commentary at 1:15.) Modern leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have officially rejected any racist interpretations of these and related passages of scripture that attempt to link personal worthiness and value in the eyes of God with skin color.

7:15 The identity of the “giants” mentioned here (and at 8:18) is not clarified in the text. In the biblical record, the “giants” of Genesis 6:4 (and elsewhere—for example, Numbers 13:33; Ezekiel 32:27) are the Nephilim (from the Hebrew nāpal; “to fall”), enigmatic beings depicted as ferocious and large and who since antiquity have been widely understood to be fallen angels. Alternatively, the giants here could be the Gibborim (from the Hebrew gābar; “to be mighty, strong”), renowned warriors of old also mentioned at Genesis 6:4 in connection with the Nephilim (and sometimes identified as such). The Nephilim and the Gibborim feature prominently as antagonists to God and His righteous people in ancient Enochic literature, a theme that is also captured in the text (see Moses 7:12–17).

7:18–22 The name Zion derives from the Hebrew ṣîôn and may denote “castle, fortress” among other potential meanings. The defining characteristic of Zion as depicted here is a place (and people) of holy unity and equity. Note that both the people and their city are afforded the name. In addition to being a city of holiness, Zion is also a refuge from the wicked descendants of Cain, who can claim no portion of Zion as their own.

7:23 Enoch’s vision of the weeping God is one of the most arresting in Restoration scripture. It is couched in the context of God’s abject sorrow (and later anger) at the inhabitants of the earth because of how firmly Satan has them in his power (7:26) despite the earnest ministry of angels to the descendants of Adam (7:27).

7:26 In OT1 the chain, rather than Satan, veils the earth by the text’s using the impersonal pronoun “it.” The change to “he” (making Satan the antecedent) was made in OT2.

7:28–31 The motif of the weeping God in the text is significant in two ways: first, it is in harmony with other ancient motifs captured in both biblical and non-biblical texts, and second, it speaks profoundly of God as a passible being who is responsive to humanity and is moved to genuine emotion. Enoch’s reaction. Enoch’s incredulous reaction to witnessing God and the heavens weep underscores the profundity and significance of what is being depicted in this passage. On a narrative level, readers are meant to be likewise amazed at what they are encountering. God vs. Enoch weeping. In OT1 it is both God who weeps upon seeing the wickedness of the earth (“. . . and it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the peop[le] [a]nd he wept and Enoch bore record of it”) as well as the heavens that weep (“. . . how is it the heavens weep and Shed fourth her tears as the rain upon the Mountains and Enoch said unto the heavens how is it that thou canst weep seeing thou art holy”). In OT2 this was revised to depict Enoch as weeping (“. . . And it came to pass, that the God of Heaven <Enock> looked upon the residue of the people & wept”) along with the heavens (“. . . <he beheld and lo! The heavens wept also> and shed forth her <their> tears”). The reason for this revision is unknown, but it is not too difficult to image that, much like Enoch, the Prophet Joseph Smith or his scribes working on the text were astonished at what they were reading and so revised the text. Each edition of the Pearl of Great Price since the 1851 first edition has followed the reading of OT1. Even the change from God to Enoch weeping in OT2 does not take away too dramatically from the image of God weeping for a few reasons: in both recensions, Enoch acknowledges this is what he’s seeing at 7:29–30, at 7:31 it is clear he is speaking to (and of) God, and at 7:32 it is the Lord who answers Enoch’s questions. It should also be noted that in other ancient Enoch texts, both God and Enoch (as well as the heavens and earth) are variously depicted as weeping.

7:32 OT2 substitutes “intelligence” for “knowledge” and indicates that humankind “had” their agency, not that it was given to them.

7:33 OT2 reads that humanity should “serve me as their God.”

7:34 God’s emotions swing from sorrow to anger as He later pronounces judgement in the form of the coming Flood (7:38).

7:35 OT1 and OT2 both read “man of council” rather than “counsel,” thus capturing the presence of God’s divine council in the text (see also the commentary at Moses 1:4, 18; 2:26–27; 4:28–29; Abraham 3:22–23).

7:37 OT2 reads that Satan is their “master” rather than “father.”

7:41–47 Enoch’s vision of the coming Flood finds parallel with one ancient apocryphal Enoch text that depicts the prophet as being forewarned of the Flood in a dream. Enoch’s heart swelled. In OT1 “and his heart swelled” was inserted interlineally. In OT2 the phrase was deleted and substituted with “and he beheld.” This movingly poetic depiction of Enoch parallels the earlier depiction of God weeping, and indeed Enoch weeps at 7:44. Enoch’s soul rejoiced. OT1 and OT2 originally read, “And he saw and rejoiced.”

7:48–52 Like God and Enoch, the personified earth also mourns over the condition of fallen humanity, which causes the prophet, once again, to weep (7:49). The text vividly portrays even nature itself as reacting negatively to the consequences of the Fall. Covenant with Enoch. OT1 reads that God covenanted with Noah. This was revised in OT2 to describe a covenant with Enoch.

7:54–59 On the significance of the title Son of Man, see the commentary at Abraham 3:24–28. Spirits in prison. Compare 1 Peter 3:18–20; Doctrine and Covenants 76:71–77; 88:96–99.

7:62–64 The imagery of righteousness sweeping the earth as a flood in preparation for the restoration of Zion and the coming of the Son of Man appropriates the imagery of the Flood already mentioned (at Moses 7:34, 41–47) and forthcoming in the story of Noah (at 8:17, 24). Righteousness coming “down out of heaven” juxtaposed with truth coming “out of the earth” also prefigures the conjoining of the heavenly and earthly Zion (7:63). Truth coming out of the earth may additionally allude to the Book of Mormon, the coming forth of which (from its burial location in the earth) would be a sign of the gathering in the last days (3 Nephi 21:1–2) New Jerusalem. On the conceptual linkage of Zion with the New Jerusalem and the dwelling place of God, see Ether 13:3–6, 9–10; Doctrine and Covenants 84:1–5; 133:56.

7:65–67 Enoch is shown an apocalypse (a revelation or “uncovering”; from the Greek apokalypsis) of the end of the world and final judgment of humanity. The apocalyptic worldview strongly pervades the Enochic tradition of antiquity.

7:68–69 The culmination of Enoch’s faith and ministry is the translation of the city and people of Zion into heaven. The example of Enoch and his righteous city serves as a scriptural archetype that has strongly influenced Restoration theology on the concept of Zion and the Second Coming.

Scripture Reference

Moses 7:1

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