Monday, November 3, 2008

Laban and the Law

From another conference:

Quoth Alan: Consider Nephi—he killed Laban, at God's command—and against the law.

Says Max: Are you certain that it
was against the law? As I recall the Old Testament, it's basically one big long story about the Israelites not keeping the Law of Moses, even though they said claimed to. In fact that's why Jerusalem was destroyed. See for example Exodus 21:2 (compare Jeremiah 34:8-17), Deuteronomy 27:19 (see Jeremiah 7:6 and Psalm 94), Exodus 20:8 (see Jeremiah 17:21-24—see also Lev 26:33-35 and 2 Chronicles 36:21), and Deuteronomy 21:18-21.

This last one is peculiarly appropriate, both to Laban's situation in particular and to the whole House of Israel (as well as the lesson that Nephi, as future leader, needed to learn). I will therefore quote it:

  18 ¶ If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:

  19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;

  20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.

  21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Laban was not only a drunkard (as well as were, apparently, the elders of the Jews with whom he had been partying that night, according to Zoram), he was also a robber and a murderer at heart. He was emblematic of the whole reason Jerusalem at that time needed to be destroyed. Read Ezekiel if you want more gory details about what was going on in Jerusalem at the time. So I therefore ask again: are you really sure that Nephi was breaking the law? Because it looks to me like he was executing a (legally-authorized) sentence.


P.S. Just in case I'm being unclear: the point is that putting family loyalty or affection ahead of righteousness brings iniquity and eventual destruction. You can't get to the point of treading on widows and orphans and murdering the poor if you're careful to cast out iniquity from among you (by stoning or exile, it doesn't matter, or by fasting and prayer if it's in yourself). "It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief."

"The presentation or 'gift' of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment." --Joseph F. Smith (manual, p. 69)

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

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