Handout #4 – Nature of Man, Plan of Salvation, Jewish baptism, Original Sin, early Church, early temples, Jewish view of Garden, Creation scenario, Ebla Tablets, Hebrew Tree of Life Jan 2014
The Book of Moses reveals that mankind is basically good. See Moses 6:54, D&C 93:38. We are born into a world of sin and as we mature, sin conceives in our hearts. Moses 6:55, Ether 3:2, D&C 93:38. We are free agents, knowing good and evil. Moses 6:56. We become carnal,sensual and devilish when we give heed to Satan. Moses 5:13, 6:49. Om a state of sin, we cannot gain salvation or inherit the Kingdom of God. Moses 6:57. We each have the spirit of Christ within us when we are born to save us.
Because of Adam’s fall, it was possible for a person to be born in a world where he could walk by faith. As man grows to the age of accountability, he is influenced by the evils of the world unaided. While Jesus’ atonement unconditionally redeems man from Adam’s fall (Moses 6:54), men and woman are redeemed from their own sins only on condition of repentance and keeping the commandments. That was their hope: Jesus Christ – Yeshua – is the only name whereby mankind can be saved (Moses 6:52). Through obedience to the Gospel, mankind will have eternal life with Heavenly Father. The Plan of redemption was in place before mankind was on the earth.
God made it very clear that we all need to follow the Plan to receive eternal glory (Moses 6:62) What are the fundamental steps?
Hearken to the Lord and exercise faith – believe in Christ and in his saving and cleansing power
Repent of all sin and continually keep mind, body and spirit clean
Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost
Become sanctified from sin through temple ordinances and continue to grow in the Gospel
Jewish baptism practice: As religious ablution signifying purification or consecration. The natural method of cleansing the body by washing and bathing in water was always customary in Israel. The washing of their clothes was an important means of sanctification enjoined on the Israelites before the tablets were given to Moses on Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19: 10). The rabbis connect with this the duty of bathing by complete immersion “ṭebilah,” and since sprinkling with blood was always accompanied by immersion, tradition connects with this immersion the blood lustration mentioned as having also taken place immediately before the Sinai experience (Ex. 24: 8), these three acts being the initiatory rites always performed upon proselytes to Judaism, “to bring them under the wings of the Shekinah – Holy Breath”. (Talmud). The only conception of baptism at variance with Jewish ideas is displayed in the declaration of John, that the one who would come after him would not baptize with water, but with the Holy Ghost (Mark 1: 8; John 1:27). Baptism was practiced in ancient (Ḥasidic or Essene) Judaism, first as a means of penitence, as is learned from the story of Adam and Eve, who, in order to atone for their sin, stood up to the neck in the water, fasting and doing penance—Adam in the Jordan for forty days, Eve in the Tigris for thirty-seven days. (Greek reference).
Jews, like Mormons, do not believe in the concept of Original Sin (Adam’s yielding to temptation in the Garden) or that one person can die as punishment committed by another. They teach no doctrine of “inherited sin”: we are born sin-free and untainted. Regarding Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the Garden because of their yielding to temptation to disobey Father’s mandate and become immortal, Jews realize mankind chooses to sin, bring suffering upon themselves, hence the essential need for repentance and forgiveness from God and from one another. Articles of Faith #1:2: We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.
As we study the O.T. and PGP, some will question the nature of the Lord’s church before the dispensation of the meridian of time. Language like: baptism unto repentance, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and gift of the Holy Ghost are missing from ancient scripture. But 1Ne 10:18, D&C 20:12 and Hebrews 13:8 remind us “God is the same yesterday, today and forever”. We have been counseled to study scripture as a whole to understand the Gospel message. Jacob 4:4-5 teaches that all holy prophets prior to his time knew and believed in Christ and worshipped the Father in his name. And Jesus in 3Ne 20:2-4 witnessed that truth. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the early inhabitants of this earth were as aware of the plan of salvation as those who have been instructed since the time of his coming. We must know that during several thousand years of being conquered vassal states under Egyptian, Assyrian, Islamic, Persian and Roman rule, through upheavals and adjustments, destruction of the Temples and more – Hebrews, Israelites and Jews endured it all with spiritual consequences: lost and destroyed scriptures, scribal omissions to texts, damaged documents, political maneuvering, the centuries-long antagonism between Christian sects and monotheism – it is a wonder the Five Books of Moses were saved! Judaism has failed to comprehend its spiritual roots, purpose and example, centering instead on religious expression.
There are evidences that even in patriarchal days, in the days of Adam there was the equivalent of temples, for the priesthood was held in its fulness, as far as the people needed it; and there is every reason to believe that from Adam to Noah, temple worship was in operation. After the Flood the Holy Priesthood was continued; and we have reason to believe, in sacred places, the ordinances of the temple were given to those entitled to receive them. The Book of Mormon indicates that from about 600 years B. C. until about 35 or 40 years A. D., temples, under the authority of the holy priesthood, were found on this continent. (JAWitdsoe, 1964 address)
The Jewish view of Gan Eden can be viewed as symbolic of man’s fortune in the world: Adam – all of mankind. Garden of Eden – world. Tree of Life – Torah. Serpent – evil inclination. Just as Adam/Eve are in Garden where Tree of Life stands, so man is placed in the world to observe commandments of Torah. Punishment=banishment from Divine approval. Physical death explained: Three partners in creation of a human: father and mother supply physical parts, God supplies the spirit. All Jewish sources explain that after death the soul (spirit, personality) continues to live. In Talmud- commentaries on Gan Eden: Refers to the life of the righteous in Heaven (Olam haba). Main characteristic: The pious who suffered privation on earth now come into their own. The Holy One, Blessed be He, will open the treasures of Gan Eden. Symbolized as a wondrous banquet but the chief joy will be living in the presence of God. “I will walk among you.” (Lev. 26:12) “I will be your God and you shall be my people” (Jer 30:22). “The Holy One, Blessed be He, sits in their midst and expounds the Torah to them” Talmud cite.
Creation scenario: Three scriptual accounts: Genesis 1-2, Moses 2-3, Abrarham 4-5.
Day 1: Earth was without form. God caused darkness in the watery deep. He asked for light and divided light from darkness.
Day 2: Expanse of sky in midst of water. Division of waters above and below the firmament, which was named Heaven. Evening, morning created
Day 3: Waters separated from dry land. Earth grows grass, herbs, fruit tree all after their own kind.
Day 4: Lights in heaven, sensitive to seasons. Created sun, moon and stars to divide light from darkness.
Day 5: Creation of animals, fowl, bugs, all beast of earth, on earth and in the seas and oceans. Animals given agency to multiply their own kind.
Day 6: Creation of mankind and womankind in image of God (and Heavenly Mother). Gave them dominion over all earth and all living things upon it and all clean herbs for health.
Day 7: The Sabbath rest. For comparison with Genesis, see Genesis 1:3-31, Abraham 4:1-31, D&C 101:32-34.
The prophet Joseph Smith taught: Moses was reared in an atmosphere of idolatry. There were numerous deities among the Egyptians. In commencing the work which the Lord said he had for Moses to do, it was necessary to center his mind and faith upon God the Eternal Father as the only Being to worship. (Verses 12-25). God the Eternal Father, stands supreme and alone, and it is in the name of the Only Begotten that we thus approach Him, as Christ taught always. “God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; He judgeth among the gods.” (Psalms 82:1.) Jesus quoted this and did not dispute it (John 10:34-6).
The Ebla Tablets: There were correspondences between peoples in the Middle East prior to the Bible’s codification. Some of the earliest were the Ebla Tablets found around 2250 b.c. in today’s Syria. Approximately 20,000 cuneiform plates found in a language not understood, and a sort-of dictionary that helped scholars decipher the Sumerian script. These contained the earliest written account of the Creation. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls a “Genesis Apocryphon” scroll was revealed, 20+ centuries old, containing references to the Creation. On the first of October, 1975, this remarkable discovery was made near an obscure village in northern Syria called Tell Mardikh, the site of the ancient city of Ebla. These clay tablets and fragments had lain undisturbed for 4500 years. A preliminary reading of batches of tablets established beyond question that this was the archive of the royal palace of ancient Ebla. It consisted mainly of the economic accounts (covering trade and tribute) of the rulers of the city-state during a period of perhaps a hundred to a hundred and fifty years in the middle of the third millennium B.C.
“Of particular interest are the names of places and persons. We find an extensive area of overlap between the Ebla tablets and the biblical text (of Torah). Among the many personal names in both the Bible and the tablets are the following: Abram, David, Esau, Ishmael, Israel, Micaiah, Michael, and Saul. We have normalized the spelling of these names to conform to the biblical pattern, but the spelling in Eblaite is so close in all cases that there can be no question of the identity of the names. … Such occurrences point back to a common basis in language and culture for the ancestors of the Israelites and the people of Ebla.
… the Bible, while not mentioning Ebla, does point to this region as the fatherland of the Israelites. The patriarchs came to Canaan from Haran, where elements of their kinship group continued to live long after Abraham and his family had departed…Haran is not very far away from Ebla, and is often mentioned in the Ebla texts… Ebla draws from the common pool of terms, names, and traditions which was shared by the biblical people.
Place names are of great significance, especially since Ebla, being west of the Euphrates, was oriented mainly toward the west and south, and therefore its trade and other concerns overlapped heavily with the biblical territory. Many names of places in Syria and Palestine are the same as those mentioned in the Bible. Often the cities in the Ebla texts are mentioned as the receivers of shipments of goods from Ebla… One tablet that was found contained the names of the five cities of the plain… They are mentioned together as a five-city league in only one chapter in the Bible—Genesis 14. Now, from a mathematical point of view, to have the same five names in the same order is remarkable.” (That chapter details the capture of Lot in the battles of kings Sodom and Gomorrah, the great teacher Melchizedek administering sacrament and Abram paying tithes to Melchizedek.)
“It means there is some relationship yet to be defined between the list in Genesis 14 and the list on the Ebla tablet… The destruction of cities was a most common phenomenon in Ancient Near East… Cities that were most important to history of Israel and Judah, see 2 Kings 17.” David Noel Freedman, “The Ebla Tablets and the Abraham Tradition,” in Reflections on Mormonism: Judeo-Christian Parallels, ed. Truman G. Madsen (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1976. Also: http://www.icr.org/article/92/
The Hebrew Tree of Life – The Tree is mentioned ten times in scripture, beginning in Gen 2:9, 3:22-4, as the center of Paradise. In Proverbs it is a metaphor for the life of wisdom. Traditional Judaism identifies the study of the O.T. as the Tree of Life. The figure below is the layout of the processes by which, in Hebrew thought, our universe came into being: Limitless light, wisdom, understanding (a feminine energy), kindness (loving grace of service), severity (strength, judgment, awe of God), beauty (symmetry and balance), eternity, splendor (surrender sincerity), foundation (memory, coherent knowledge of all things), the Kingship=Messiah. These energy forces accomplish the Divine Plan of God. Proverbs 11:30: The fruit of righteousness is the tree of life. Book of Mormon: The Tree of Life represents God’s love- 1Ne 8:2, 10 as a symbol of spiritual nourishment and salvation. Has critical elements found in Old World cultures. (For deeper investigation in Hebrew symbol of the Tree, email Marlena) See: https://www.lds.org/ensign/1988/06/the-tree-of-life-in-ancient-cultures?lang=engWilfred Griggs: Book of Mormon.
By Marlena Tanya Muchnick-Baker: www. [email protected] Renton Stake, WA. May Creek ward. Please visit my blogs: http://judaicaworld.wordpress.com, http://mormonsandjews.net, http://judaicaworld.blogspot.com for more posts and articles.
Forward these posts to others to enjoy and give out at your Sunday school meetings. To request specific information on Judaism and/or research you would like done, email Marlena anytime. For firesides, classes other info: www.jewishconvert-lds.com.