Saturday, April 13, 2013

Jacob 3: Scumbag God

And So The Endless Role-Swapping Begins
As Jacob continues to censure his people about their wickedness, he makes the point that the Lamanites are more righteous because they don't practice polygamy or any other "whoredoms."  And so, less than one generation after arriving in the Americas, the Nephite/Lamanite civilizations experience their first of many role reversals.

In First and Second Nephi, Nephi and his friends were the good guys and Laman and his cohorts were the bad guys.  But while those who came over on the boats still lived, Nephi's descendants became inexplicably wicked and Laman's descendants have just as bafflingly turned righteous.  And they will continue to switch back and forth for the next thousand years or so in an absurd caricature of social dynamics.

God's Curses, Blessings and Inscrutable Motives
Back in Second Nephi chapter 5, God cursed the followers of Laman for their wickedness by giving them a "skin of blackness."  Now that the wicked generation is passing away and their children are comparatively more righteous than their Nephite counterparts, does God decide to lift the curse?  Of course not, that would be silly.

Instead, he has his prophet Jacob speak highly of their chastity and their strong marriages.  Then the prophet uses the whole skin color thing as a scare tactic:
O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.
Which pretty much means, "Look at how dark and gross these guys are on the outside—that's what your souls look like to God right now."

But Jacob also gives the "filthy" cursed race a little divine pat on the back:
And now, [the laws of chastity] they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.
Which pretty much means, "Hey, good job not taking multiple spouses.  God's not going to obliterate you, but he's going to leave your curse in place indefinitely, down through scores of generations that had nothing to do with the sins that caused it in the first place.  But don't worry, you guys will be blessed.  Eventually."

Why does God think this is a good plan?  What does he accomplish by trying to punish people for their ancestors' treachery?  And what is it that he has against the Lamanites that makes him promise them almost-unnattainable eventual blessings and continually favor the Nephites?

Not This Again...
In the last verse of the chapter, Jacob says:
These plates are called the plates of Jacob, and they were made by the hand of Nephi.  And I make an end of speaking these words.
Holy crap, it's hereditary. Jacob continues with Nephi's narcissistic, logic-defying naming convention by naming the plates after himself, despite the facts that
  1. He didn't make the plates himself, and
  2. He only contributed 7 chapters compared to Nephi's 55
  3. Nephi already decided to call them The Plates of Nephi
It's a bizarre little comment thrown in there at the end.  Truly Jacob has a dizzying intellect.

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