3 Nephi 6-7
I went through this particular section last semester, but it’s a new story now. It’s not the same thing at all. A strange thing has happened, you see, very disturbing. Everything was going so well. They’d come through a terrible time; then everything was going too well. It all “came up roses”; everything was happy. Then we’re told in 3 Nephi 6:5 that things couldn’t be better. There was nothing to keep them from being completely happy. There were no economic, social, or any other kinds of problems except in themselves—that was the only trouble. And almost immediately things started going bad. It tells us the cause of it was what? We’ve already seen that. But in that case, what do you do? Isn’t that a remarkable parallel to things now? There’s no reason in the world, with our technology and resources, why things shouldn’t go very well from now on. But they’re not going well; they’re going to get worse and worse. Well, why should that be? Is that necessary? And what can stop it? See, we have these insoluble problems.
On Saturday someone came down to see me. He was a secretary to a U.S. Senator. “Do you have any ideas,” he said. “The men in the Senate are completely at a loss. They realize the drug war is lost; they haven’t got a chance. Is there anything we can possibly do? Does anybody have any ideas?” He came and asked me, of all people. That shows how desperate they are. He just wanted to ask some questions. But how do you solve these problems? Production versus pollution. We have to produce. We have to go on, but we can’t do it without polluting. What are you going to do there? See, the essence of tragedy is the incompatibility of two good things, not of bad things. It’s not the black hats and the white hats against each other at all. There’s no such thing in the Book of Mormon. In the Land of Promise the promise is what? The promise is a blessing and a curse, never mentioned apart. The curse always comes with the blessing. The fact that [the blessing] is peculiar to this land doesn’t mean we have it sewed up. We have our choice of being blessed or cursed. But the point is again, we have nationalism bursting out everywhere now as against one world. Natural boundaries are disappearing now in terms of pollution and things like that. There are no natural boundaries. Nationalism, as Brigham Young said, is the principal jewel of Satan’s crown. Well, nationalism has burst out anew, and yet against this we have one world. Remember Wendell Wilkie’s “one world”? They’re both good, but how can you get along together, as when things deadlock? The First Amendment is sacred, but what about pornography? Is there no limit at all to what a person can do and say and display? What are you going to do with the incompatibility of two good things here?
So this is what happens. What’s the solution? The essence of a Greek tragedy lies in the choice between two necessary things. The first Greek tragedy, The Suppliant Women, takes place in Arga, on the island just off Athens there. The king has to respect the claims of the fifty Egyptian maidens who are his relatives, who have been raised up in Egypt. They are claimed by Egyptian cousins, but they’re not supposed to marry them. So what’s he going to do? Can he yield to the Egyptian threat and recognize the rights of the Egyptians? Or can he yield to the old law of the family and recognize the rights of the girls not to marry outside the clan. And so it’s a tragedy. The king has the people all assembled there in the plaza, and he says, “Children, we’ve got to think this thing through. We have to do it.” And so it goes.
There’s the classic example of Orestes whose mother accomplished the murder of his father because he had another lover. Well, what’s he going to do? By the law of the vendetta of the family, he’s required to avenge the death of his father. But he’s also required not to murder his mother. So what can he do? Well, he solves it, as it should be solved, by going mad. He has no other solution, you see. So the court of the Areopagus votes on it—the twelve good men and true, the sacred prehistoric jury in the cave of the hill Areopagus. They vote on it and split six to six. They both have their rights, you see, so what do you do then? Well, the only thing that happens is revelation. The only thing that can break it in the end [is revelation]. Athena comes down personally and casts the deciding vote. And that’s the way we go along with these things. So, that’s what we have here, this tragic dilemma.
If any of you have a Bible here, just read the first chapter of Ecclesiastes. That’s the whole thing—it says we can’t win. The wisdom of Solomon tells us we’re in a no-win situation. He knew everything and was the wisest of men. What is the solution? Well, it’s in 3 Nephi 6:20. You’ve got to have angels come. That’s the only thing that will help you. It’s got to come from the outside. But it isn’t angels here. “And there began to be men inspired from heaven and sent forth.” And then the question is, were these angels? No, men can be inspired by heaven without even having direct revelation. They can be inspired by heaven and go forth, preaching boldly when they see how things are. Can we count on that solution? Well, the angel has already come for our particular crisis. Who was the angel? Well, we should be calling roll and asking questions. So I would say to solve our particular dilemma it took an angel, but the angel has already come. Brother Coon, who was the angel?
Exactly. He’s already come; he’s given us the record here. He’s given it all to us; it’s all set out in black and white for us here. Now we recognize that it’s perfectly valid what’s said here. I mean it fits us like a glove. It never did when I was younger. The missionaries pushed the Book of Mormon as a romance that told us the story of the Indians, etc. Red man, why do you always roam? It was a romantic novel. They almost took it that way, you see. That was the appeal. It’s a very different story today.
So they were men inspired from heaven, it says. They were not angels and not direct [revelation], but they were inspired from heaven, inspired from above. And what was the reaction here? (We’ve had Moroni.) The next verse tells us: Many of the people were exceedingly angry and chiefly their chief judges who were high priests and lawyers. Sister Laver, why would they get angry? Not just angry, but absolutely red hot, exceedingly angry. Who were they and why would they be angry? Well, what was the reaction to Moroni? We said Moroni came. What were people mad at Joseph Smith for? And they were plenty mad at him, weren’t they? They gave him an awful time, from the time he was a kid, right from the beginning. But what were they mad at? They weren’t mad at him; they were mad at Moroni. If he hadn’t claimed to see an angel, he wouldn’t have been in any trouble at all. It was the idea of Moroni coming that really set them on their ear—telling them they were all wrong. What followed from that was devastating. They wouldn’t take it. Well, this has happened all the time. Do you remember some other people who were given a bad time by the clergy, the scribes and the Pharisees, the lawyers and the elders? Yes, Sister Laver.
Very good. We’ll give you a “good” for that one. No, we’re not marking this. That reminds me of the little kid who was in class and the teacher said, “What’s two and two, Johnny?”
Johnny said, “It’s four.”
She said, “That’s very good, Johnny.”
He said, “Good, nothing—it’s perfect!” So we go on here. Brother Terry Lee, why would this particular class of people be angry? Why would they be upset? Notice, it tells us what they were. They were the high priests and the lawyers. On the same question, besides Abinadi what other great prophet and teacher was given a bad time by the scribes, the Pharisees, and the elders of the Jews? Ten guesses.
Of course, it was Jesus. They were the people who were always plotting. The mob was stirred up by them, remember? It says the high priests and the elders came down and stirred the people up, and said, “Barabbas, Barabbas, Barabbas. Let Barabbas go!” They wouldn’t have done that. They wanted to let Jesus go, and so did Pilate. But the boys from the hill kept stirring things up, and they got what they wanted. This is the same sort of thing happening here, and we can sort of suspect it. What do you think is behind this? Why would they act like that?
“Because the prophets were being called again and preaching against them.”
What were they preaching against?
Well, iniquity is a very general thing. We’re all against iniquity. Calvin Coolidge’s wife asked him, “Where have you been?”
“I’ve been to church.”
“What did the minister talk about; what was the sermon on?”
“It was about sin.” This is typical Calvin Coolidge, you see.
“Well,” said Mrs. Coolidge, “what did he say about it?”
“He’s against it.” Just like that, you see. Well, everybody’s against sin, so that can’t be it. It’s something more particular, something closer to home, isn’t it? Yes?
“They were threatening the foundations of the things that they had established.”
Yes, their interests were being threatened, and their authority was being threatened. People don’t like that. That’s getting close to home when this sort of thing is going on. Are we open to that sort of thing today? Whew! Are we! Well, we won’t go into details there. What’s wrong, for example, with working for clean air? Well, it threatens interests—it threatens practices.
What arguments would the courts and the clergy raise here? What is the main argument against these prophets that come out boldly preaching? Notice, they’re preaching boldly, and that’s what the objection is. They could have objected here and there, but they come forth, speak up, and preach boldly. They [the lawyers and judges] are against that. What argument do you have against people going out and preaching? What is the usual thing we call such people? Troublemakers and nuisances. Egon Friedall, our greatest writer on cultural history, says you have your choice of being one thing or the other. Everybody must be one or the other. You must either be a nuisance, or you must be superfluous. You’re just there, just a potted plant, as they say. You’re nothing else unless you want to be a nuisance. You have your choice. So, as I say, these people are nuisances, and they think that’s quite adequate reason for getting rid of them because they testify boldly, a thing you mustn’t do.
We see in verse 22 they couldn’t do anything about it. They had a limit to their authority. What couldn’t they do here? What was the limit on their authority in verse 22, Brother Russell Lewis? (This is my way of calling roll, you see.) Well, Brother Madsen, what didn’t they have any control over?
“They didn’t have any control over killing them?”
The laws of capital punishment were under strict control. They had strict restrictions on capital punishment, the rule being that nobody could be executed without what? Without a warrant signed by the governor. Today, who can give pardons in our society?
The governor and the president are the only two—just the top men, so we accept that part of it. But others can pass judgment. Judges can condemn people to death now. Judges can, but they couldn’t then, you see. It had to be the governor, which is a more sensible way, probably. We could talk about that. This isn’t a political science class, but it’s very significant here, that this is the same thing we have as far as pardons go, reversing it. They didn’t like it, so what are they going to do about it? It sounds very, very familiar now. They’re going to carry on and make it legal. How are they going to get around the troublemakers here? Notice verse 23. They’re going to engage in covert operations. They have the power and the authority, but this does not give them the constitutional right. Well, sometimes it’s “necessary” to stretch the constitution. These people are a nuisance, you see. We’ll just get rid of them quietly, and then it will be announced when it’s over. Nobody will be the worse off; they can’t do anything about it. Well, this is the typical covert operation, a thing into which we’ve drifted quite a bit in this country. Again, you see, this is a [situation] where the Book of Mormon is very relevant here. This is how they get around it, getting rid of troublemakers. Sometimes, as the delectable Miss Fawn Hall said, it’s necessary to stretch the law, to go beyond the law. Well, is it?
Well, at any rate there was a call for a grand jury here, an investigation. Things are beginning to look serious. This sounds so modern, it’s almost laughable. There was nothing like this to match it in Joseph Smith’s day, so far as we know. But here they go. A complaint came, you see. There were complaints against the judges, and they were going to be indicted. They were going to be brought up and tried, and probably convicted. Verse 26: “They were taken and brought up before the judge, to be judged [so the trial was set for them to be tried; there was going to be big front-page news] of the crime which they had done.” Well, they weren’t going to put up with that, because it didn’t look good for them, it tells us here. They belonged to the establishment; this was standard procedure. But what about the judges that were going to judge them? They had connections with the judges who were going to judge them.
Does anybody know what the first rule of the law is? We seem to have forgotten it entirely in this country, but the first rule of Roman law or anything else is “nobody can be judge in his own case.” Of course, we do that all the time now. The executive now is a judge. How often you see this with stock market people or anyone else. A committee is appointed. The committee does a complete bungling, and they investigate and decide that the committee has done a fine job. Well, who said so? The committee said so. They should know—after all, they’re the experts. This is the way it goes all the time. We’re always getting these answers that are not an answer. They can put you off every time. And this is the sort of thing that’s happening [in 3 Nephi]. Notice how slick these people are. And there’s a great deal said about this in the Book of Mormon. They treat this sort of sly crookedness, this off-color sort of thing, very skillfully in the Book of Mormon, and very clearly.
The joke is that the judges themselves belong to the establishment. How are they connected? Well, family connections. Verse 27: “Almost all the lawyers and the high priests did gather themselves together.” What would you expect them to do in this case, Brother McNary? The judges are in on it. As soon as they say something like kindreds, and you say family, then what do you expect? It’s not going to be just a government investigation, is it? Because they know each other. They’re a closed group. They exchange with each other, you see. This is aristocracy. And how did these kindreds get to be associated? Well, of course, by intermarrying. You get all this pride and wealth, etc., and then what do you do? You don’t just go and marry anybody. You don’t go marry somebody on the wrong side of the tracks. You build up a community like this sort of thing. This is what happened, just like the Roman patris, so we have these kindreds. They’re more than casual. And there’s much of kindreds in the Book of Mormon, as you know. In our society kindreds play a minor role. We don’t have family organizations that way so much, unless you get into big corporations and things like that where the family [is influential]. E. G. White wrote a book called The Organization Man on that subject some years ago that caused quite a stir. You have to be upwardly mobile in a corporation. In many corporations you have to belong to the right church, belong to the right clubs, live in the right part of town, vote with the right party, and marry the right people. So you get this closed [unit], and this is what you have here with these kindreds.
But in ancient or modern society in Western civilization, the family is important. In the sagas of course, every time you mention somebody, you have to say “the son of Thor, the son of Rochnar, the son of . . .”—and it goes down the list. You have to make a list of family a mile long every time you mention anybody. In Scandinavia we still have –sens and –sons. In Israel it’s always Ben someone—the b∂nê so-and-so—the sons of . . . The Bible is patriarchal and genealogical. We’re set with genealogy, you know. Of course in the north you have Mac—Macduff, Macbeth and all the Macs we have. That means a member of the crowd, the head. He’s actually head of a clan. So this is a clan organization, and Indian tribes have that completely. The basic organization of the Hopis is not the tribe at all but the seven clans—the bear clan, the eagle clan, the snake clan, the antelope clan, etc.
It’s the same thing in the Book of Mormon. You have the seven clans. They remain throughout, but they don’t remain the government. They remain subdued. They’re there and they’re the real basis of personal relationships. This is where decisions are made, etc. If you look at Jacob 1:13, you see right in the beginning that’s the way they organized. He tells us here, “Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites”—seven different tribes representing seven different types of family. Zoram probably wasn’t of Israel at all or he wouldn’t have been the servant to Laban. And Ishmael with that name [probably wasn’t]. Remember, Ishmael was the great rival of Isaac. Ishmael was a favorite Arab name. They had the Nephites and the Lamanites and the Jacobites and Josephites. These are all sorts of people that were mixed in, because when they joined up they had their family backgrounds, and they kept them. It’s the form of seven tribes—the very same thing that has been shown by a German [scholar]. He wrote a very good study on ancient tribes, but seven is the number of tribes to make it official for various reasons. We have seventy to represent the seventy nations of the earth and the seven presidents of Seventy. They represent the normal distribution of the human race in sevens.
Anyway, they have these tribes, and it’s not the tribe but the clan or phratry that really rules. Among the Hopis, for example, they’re ruled by women. You’d think that they were anything but, but they’re actually a matriarchy. The woman decides it. It’s Mina Lansa’s daughter who now holds the Hopi Stone and is the head of the clan. Because she’s the head of a clan, that makes her the most influential. The bear clan, I think it is.
We still try to revive it in industrial and landed dynasties. That’s what Wagner wrote about—all the troubles of families in The Ring of the Nibelung. You start out with Siegfried who doesn’t meet anybody who isn’t his aunt until he’s middle-aged. It’s all a family squabble, but it was represented very well. It has been reproduced in Germany recently as a nineteenth-century industrialist family. Well, there’s Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks, the great German novel of the family and the dynasty. We have dynasties and the rest of them. They were very popular on TV a while back. So this is the way it runs. But we have supplanted an aristocracy of birth by what? Ah hah, this is a good one. Brother McNary, you didn’t have much of a chance to answer. We’re very proud that we don’t have an aristocracy of birth any more, but what do we have an aristocracy of? This is what we have here in the Book of Mormon. Who were the kindreds, etc.? What united them? What do we have an aristocracy of in this country?
Do re mi! Sure. It’s the money. That’s exactly the whole thing. Don’t you read Forbes regularly? And that’s the thing in the Book of Mormon. That’s the way it started out here. Notice the pride and boasting because of their exceeding great riches. That was the basis of it. There was your merchant class and lawyers and officers. That’s exactly the setup that you would expect—very advanced for Joseph Smith’s day, but that’s the way they were doing it.
And so what are they going to do? Let’s see—I’m lost here.
The phratry rules. Incidentally, if I may continue to ask you, Brother McNary, which is the more pernicious? Which is the more insidious? An aristocracy of wealth—we say that frees us, that liberates us. You just get the money and then you’re free to be as rich as you want. But which one has more obligations? You’ve heard of noblesse oblige, etc. Mr. Forbes says the prime responsibility in our society is to get rich. That’s it, and anybody can do that, so we’re equal as far as that goes. But once you get it, you have no responsibility. You play around. He has how many hundred motorcycles, his balloons, his yachts, his many estates and castles all over the world, etc. He just plays around. He has a perfect right to do anything he wants with it. And that’s a Roman maxim, incidentally. But with aristocracy, you can’t do that. You have noblesse oblige. There are certain rules you must obey. There are certain things you must do. They don’t always do them. They can be perfectly awful people; nevertheless, there are restraints there—whereas there are no restraints on wealth, you see. You can have anything in this world for money.
So what did they do here in 3 Nephi 6:28? They entered into a covenant. This is very serious. A covenant means it’s going further than just being relations. What would the nature of a covenant be, Brother Myers? What is a covenant?
“To destroy the government, to take down the chief judge, to destroy the rights of the people, and set up a king.”
What does the word covenant come from? It comes from the Latin convenire. It means “to meet at a certain place.” Con means “to come together,” and venir means “to come.” You come together at a certain time and a certain place, you see. That’s an appointment, and there you make an agreement. So that’s what a covenant is. So they came together at a certain time and a certain place and agreed to set up a government within a government. The covenant would make them that—to covenant “to combine against all righteousness.” Well, righteousness is an abstract term. Who would ever want to combine against all righteousness? This is the way the editor reads it. But what is their program? What does it mean by that?
Verse 29: “Therefore they did . . . enter into a covenant to destroy them, and to deliver those who were guilty of murder from the grasp of justice.” Well, the whole thing was to liberate these justices, so they were to stop the trial in other words. They were going to have this very serious trial, and they were willing to wreck everything just to avoid standing trial. We’re not going to be tried by you people, they said. So, [they did it] in order to elude the grasp of justice, which was about to be administered to them according to the constitution. See, they were going to have to suffer the full force of the law, and they were going to use various ways of getting out of it. Well, we’ve seen the Iran-Contra [operation]. There are various ways by which people can get out of things. They try this, that, and the other; they stall and everything else. This was more violent and direct because they had great advantage here because they controlled most of the offices in the government. And their program was to get rid of the people of the Lord, while escaping the arm of the law, which nearly had them.
Oh, I missed Sister McNeely. Sister McNeely, in the next verse what happens then? They made a covenant, and what was their final solution? [answer inaudible].
To wipe them out, to destroy the government. It’s going to be a putsch. What else do we call it? We call it a coup. They’re going to take over the government. Has that ever happened? It happens very often, you see. This is typical; this is happening here. That’s what they’re going to do, it tells us. “They did covenant one with another to destroy the governor, and to establish a king over the land.” Well, [that’s what] they’d always wanted. Now we know that’s the final solution. There were precedents for this desperate measure, and it’s especially common in Third-World countries. We’ve seen it just happen in Panama. [It happened in the] imperial courts of Rome, not just the small countries. Rome, Egypt, Russia, and Austria were seething with plots and counterplots to overthrow the government. Well, before the French Revolution there was the Diamond Necklace Affair and all sorts of things, and the Fronde way back in the time of Richelieu there—these dangerous party intrigues to overthrow the government.
There’s the very famous story of Sinuhe that begins way back just before 2000 B.C. Actually, it’s about 1985 B.C. It’s the story [of a plot] to overthrow king Amenemhet, and his son heard about it when he was in an expedition in the desert. There was great intrigue that followed. Back there it was a palace intrigue by some priests and lawyers who wanted to overthrow the pharaoh and put their favorite on the throne. They wanted a king. So this is an old story, actually. What about the story of David and Solomon? Who did David have trouble with? Do you remember? David was a great king. Was anybody after his crown, his throne? He had lots of trouble. Who was his son?
“Absalom, Absalom, my son.” Yes, Absalom plotted against his father, and David had to put him to death. He didn’t want him put to death by the powerful and brutal general, but that’s what happened. Then the general went down and intrigued in Arabia and got in all sorts of trouble. As a result of that, Solomon had all sorts of intrigue. Well, you can imagine with 300 wives, he would have a lot of intrigue, and he did. Lots of it went on in Solomon’s court. He was embittered and disillusioned, and he wrote what we call Ecclesiastes in our Bible—it’s called “The Preacher” and other things—in which he’s completely disillusioned with the world. The whole thing is a mess. Ecclesiastes 1:2: “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity,” He begins that way, you know. There’s nothing to it! I’ve done everything; I’ve seen everything. [He was] like the Roman emperor Septimius Severus who was the principal author of the decline of the Roman Empire, as Gibbon tells us. He’d been a sergeant in the army and ended up being an emperor, among the most powerful of all the emperors. He said, “I’ve been everything, and nothing’s worth a damn.” This is the way it goes. So we get these intrigues. Why do people act like that? Well, they do. They lack the gospel. Boy, do we lack the gospel. We could use it, couldn’t we? There have been ambitious people in the Church. After all, they made Joseph Smith’s life a hell from the very beginning. Ten of the Twelve turned against him and denounced him, etc. Well, that’s another story, but it’s related to all this. So these plots, intrigues, and takeovers have been with us since the beginning of time. And we think of recent events, violent events. [There are] all sorts of things we do when going into [other countries]. Iran and Syria, things have happened everywhere. We won’t go into it. You don’t need to, because it’s all over the place today.
Now we’ve got the seventh chapter here. Are things going to go happy there? What is the standard solution now preferred to the problem of taking over great power? How do they do it? Here it is, you see, “They did destroy upon the judgement-seat, yea, did murder the chief judge of the land.” What is the bottom line here? They say the average child, before he begins school, has seen 4,000 murders. It’s the solution here. Sister Meese, what is the final solution here? If you’re troubled with a guy, what do you do? You rub him out, don’t you. That’s what happens here. Over KBYU there was a very good report about the famous Mafioso yesterday. That’s the way they solve their problems. And that’s what they decide to do here. They “did murder the chief judge of the land. And the people were divided one against another.”
Notice what happens here, Sister Meese, after that. Incidentally, was the author of the Book of Mormon thinking of states’ rights or feuding over central versus local authority? They’re going to have this problem now; they’ve destroyed the central government. Well, was this a living issue in Joseph Smith’s day? Remember, Charleston in 1832? But it was nothing like this. It hadn’t come out. This is all written thirty years before the Civil War, is what I’m trying to say. Those weren’t issues then. Now the Book of Mormon has this breaking up. What are they going to do, now they don’t have the central government? Does it tell us here? How did they break up? Brother Morton, look at this second verse. What’s going to happen to them? They destroyed the government, but did they just scatter in all directions, every man for himself? No. They had an organization already in place. They had an infrastructure already that had been there all along. What was that structure?
It was the tribes. We saw that way back in Jacob; they really identified themselves by tribes. It doesn’t talk about those having any authority or government. It says they bore the names of their tribes, and you can be sure they bore them proudly. They were rivals and this sort of thing. They’ve had them all along, so they have something to fall back on, and it’s tribes.
Verse 2: “And thus they did destroy the government of the land.” This is the main thing here; they actually got rid of their central government. Well, they’re soon going to regret it bitterly, what they have done. What was their objection to it, incidentally? Well, we’ll get to that in a minute. Now the result wasn’t instant confusion, as we were just noting here, but immediately separating into tribes. That implies that they were already in place and going. The tribal system was the infrastructure, and that’s so with almost all American Indian tribes. They have clans and phratries. They’re the more important; they’re your family, you see. We read in the third verse that the tribes were already organized and appointed and had their chiefs already. They became independent tribes.
What would happen if this country broke up like that now, Brother Morton? What do we have to fall back on?
We already have fifty governments, don’t we?
Would you fall back on county governments? Would that be our last resort? What do we have set up already?
“Well, the family.”
I read in the paper this morning that Brother Lee is arguing in behalf of the big stores that want to combine. He doesn’t approve of monopoly or anything like that. It’s not the principal; it’s the legal technicality. He says the states have absolutely no right to forbid the big supermarkets from forming a monopoly. He says only the federal government can do it, but the states can’t do it. That’s his only argument, you see. He admits it will force up prices and be hard on the consumer. We have the state governments, but he doesn’t want to recognize their authority in regulating prices at all. He says only the federal government can do that. Well, that’s the big argument going on the Supreme Court now. So don’t phone over to President Lee; he won’t be there for a while.
But what about this business of the states? Would that be all right? Well, who had the idea that it would be a good thing for the states to be independent? We talk about the sovereign state of Utah, while we giggle. Yes?
“I think the states would probably be too big.”
Well, isn’t the federal government a lot bigger than the states? Who championed the cause of states’ governments that led to a great civil war? Ten guesses. They were just a confederacy of states. They weren’t a union; they were a confederacy of states, weren’t they? That’s what the Civil War was fought about—who was to have priority, the states or the federal government. Of course, the real issue was slavery. That’s what they fall back on here, but remember, this was written thirty years before the Civil War. He was not taking hints from newspapers or anything like that.
So every tribe appointed a leader here [in 3 Nephi 7]. It tells us there were no wars as yet. Well, why should there be wars among tribes? Would you think that a tribal organization would incline people to wars? Brother Oldham, what in a society divided into tribes would incline people to conflict?
“I think it’s like we see in Russia right now, in the Caucasus, the civil war between them.”
Exactly. They have different customs. They’re different families, in other words. Of course, the word tribus comes from the Roman word “for the three.” There were three main tribes that founded Rome to begin with. But each one keeps its language, its dress, its customs, etc. If they don’t have them originally, they develop them more and more. We do here, you see. Look, we’re only forty miles or so from the University of Utah, the same type of people doing the same sort of thing, but we’ve developed different tribal mores, colors, directions—a totally different atmosphere at either school. It’s a very interesting thing. Well, you can imagine [how it is] with tribes that intermarry. Why would tribes be more inclined to intermarry than to crossmarry? What’s the one thing that notes family solidarity? What is it that makes for family solidarity?
“I think it’s the frame of reference; everything’s familiar to you.”
It’s yours; it’s your pride—right or wrong, my country. See, that’s the whole thing. Yes, it’s the pride. Would it tend to flatten out and become diluted with time, and the tribes become less [influential]. Well, that’s happened with states because of certain considerations. But, on the other hand, then there are times when it comes right back just as bad as ever. There was a time of states’ rights in the fifties. Yes, the tribes are very [enduring] because of family pride. We must be a little better than you.
Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
Romeo and Juliet, act I, scene 1
That’s the beginning of what play, Brother Paul?
“I believe it’s All’s Well That Ends Well.”
No, the Capulets and the Montagues, you remember. So now you know what the play is.
“Romeo and Juliet.”
Right. You’ve got it right. Give that man a “cigar.” But notice what happens. Notice, “fair Verona, where we lay our scene,” is a very civil society. One of the most polished societies in the world was Verona. It was the queen of the Renaissance; I mean, it was a great place. Civil hands—the opposite of barbarism and tribalism is civility, a civil society. That means city, of course. So it’s “from ancient grudge.” This goes way back to the early days of their families—”from ancient grudge break to new mutiny [these things are always breaking out] where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.” They had no business killing each other just because they were different families, but they did. The play opens with this terrible brawl in the streets, and there’s a murder, etc. The boys fight all the time.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life.
That’s not the play today. At least today we can quote the closing lines of the play:
A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will now show his head:
Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;
Some shall be pardon’d and some punished:
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
This is the situation exactly—the families will have their pride. Do we have them? Oh boy, do we have some snobs in the Church. Whew! My land! I can tell you stories that would curl your hair. You wouldn’t imagine how snobbish some people can be, but we won’t go into that, needless to say.
So what’s going to happen here? Now we come to [an important] word. The key word to the whole thing is right here in verse 6. Do you spot it, Brother Shumway? There’s never a class without a Shumway. But Shumway hasn’t shown today. Sister Kira Smith? See, S‘s don’t like to come. Brother Mike Smith? See, what I told you. Ah now, Brother Smock, you see one word that really rings a bell there. What was the object of the whole thing?
Destruction of what? What’s the word there that just hits you in the eye?
“Of the government.”
In verse six, what is the cloven hoof, what is the evil, what do we object to in big government? It sounds terribly mod here, just as modern as it can be. Maybe that’s why we’ve overlooked it, I suppose. We expect it to be archaic. What’s the word? Regulations, of course! We’ve got to get rid of these government regulations. The Mafia hates government regulations. The big takeover artists hate government regulations. The monopolists hate them—the developers, the extractive industries, the polluters. They hate government regulations. They say, “Our purpose is to get rid of government.” Joseph Smith is as up to date as today’s newspaper—it says they finally got rid of them. “And the regulations of the government were destroyed [that was what they were after, you see], because of the secret combination.” They carried on their underground. Notice, we would call this privatization. They took it for themselves, and out went the regulations. So happy, happy day. What were they supposed to regulate? Notice, it tells us what they were supposed to regulate right here—the secret combinations and their friends and kindreds. Those were the very secret combinations which were not answerable to the government. They were therefore outlaws, so the class and family system enabled these deregulators to operate more effectively because of the secrecy, the closeness of family ties. They could keep things to themselves. As we said, tribal societies are exclusive. They lead to rivalry, hostility, family pride, great inbreeding.
You may read the terrible [Scottish] border ballads. What are some famous feuds in this country? The Jewkes and the Kalakachs, the Hatfields and the McCoys. They just ignore all government and everything else, completely concentrating on hatred of the other family, the other tribe. It’s consuming ’til they destroy each other. This happens, this mutual destruction. It’s destroying [the people] in the Book of Mormon. Remember the Jaredites? Remember the Nephites and the Lamanites? We’re going to have them destroying each other here. We have people getting rid of the regulations against insider trading or whatever it may be, and this makes it possible. We have the border ballads, and they’re nothing but bleak. They’re terrible, between the Douglas and the Percy [families] that Sir Walter Scott wrote about in Marmion and the like. Don’t get me reciting border ballads here. There are some pretty bleak ones.
Verse 7: “And they did cause great contention in the land, insomuch that the more righteous part of the people had nearly all become wicked.” Nonexistent, as far as that goes—wicked. They were no longer righteous. What happens to a righteous person who becomes wicked? He disappears. I suppose it’s like an electron that collides with a proton. What you get out of it is they both disappear. You get a couple of photons or something like that. This great contention was inevitable. Was it between the righteous and the wicked? This is the point. No, there weren’t any righteous people around. They had gone—they were hiding under the rock. There were hardly any; it was an extinct species, it tells us here. Notice, “the more righteous part of the people had nearly all become wicked; yea, there were but few righteous among them.” They were not going to be heard; they didn’t have a chance. Well, things were in a desperate situation now, you see. We’re building up to something—you can see that. Incidentally, are the righteous a threatened species today? Well, how do we know? Who determines whether they are or not? It’s going to be a very interesting problem. We think we’re terribly righteous, as far as that goes. We heard Ernest Wilkinson saying, “We’re holding the line in righteousness.”
Then Mormon marvels at it: “And thus six years had not passed away [see, he’s as surprised as we are] since the more part of the people had turned from their righteousness.” Then he quotes the Old Testament pattern. They do that, because that’s the nature of a dog and that’s the nature of a sow, to wallow in the mire. Now, the secret combination—this is an interesting thing here. The secret combinations were not the same as the tribes, you notice. They were those who were opposed to the government before they broke into tribes, before the putsch. They were the old king-men who had turned up. We won’t have to review that. A large part of the Book of Mormon has been taken up with these king-men with their pride and their nobility. Moroni said his purpose in life was to pull down the pride, nobility, and wealth of these king-men. They were the aristocratic, rich, extreme right, etc. (if it looks like an elephant, call it an elephant). These were the hard-core king people, but they turned out to be a minority. They weren’t the ones who overthrew the government. They were a minority against the tribes with their own leaders. And after it was too late, the rest of the people regretted what had happened. This is a terrible thing.
Verse 11: “They were not so strong in number as the tribes of the people, who were united together.” What united the people together, Brother Sowa? What would bring these tribes together more than anything else?
No, not as tribes. That would keep them apart. It tells us in this verse what it is. What united them? Notice the bottom of the verse there. They were united in . . .
They had a common hatred. They hated the king-men more than they hated each other, so that was their unity. That was their sacred bond. So “they were united in the hatred of those who had entered into a covenant to destroy the government.” They regretted it now. They said those rascals are responsible for it. They [the king-men] wrecked the central government and they hated them. They started making things pretty hot for them so they would have to get out. They missed the central government, and they hated each other worse than that. We get an interesting setup here. As usual, the king-men were joined by a steady influx of dissenters when they went out. This was the system that always happened. You find these dissenters all the way through the Book of Mormon have an important aspect regarding race.
Well, I see the time is up now. Maybe I have time for one more question. What about verse 13, about where the king-men went? Brother Steele, what’s significant in [verse 13] on a very basic question of the Book of Mormon? “And so speedy was their march that it could not be impeded until they had gone forth out of the reach of the people.” They went a long way, it tells us here. They went out by themselves, out of reach, “And thus ended the thirtieth year.” Here you have a large group going out, going far and fast so they can’t be reached again. Now what’s happening there? It’s like a transplant of some sort, isn’t it? What would happen when they went out there? This casts a significant light on the race question in the Book of Mormon; it’s the sort of thing that was going on. They had this big country to go out in, and they would go out and settle there. That’s what they did, and then they would meet up with others, etc. This thing had been going on from the beginning. The result is you get a very complicated race picture, racial and ethnic mix, in the Book of Mormon. Why is that significant as far as evidence is concerned?
What argument does that answer that’s always been brought against the Book of Mormon? They say, “Look, everybody’s a Nephite or a Lamanite.” Do we believe that? Does the Book of Mormon preach that Lehi’s people were the only people that ever came here? No. It gives us a very complicated ethnic mix, and that’s what we’re getting here. And there’s a great deal about that in the Book of Mormon which we overlook. These things are going on, these connections. How long does it take to make another race? Well, chapters 7 and 8 are good. What we’re looking for now we’ve never looked for before. It’s the parallels to the day we’re living in now—not only the events, but the atmosphere of it. You feel that it’s coming home to you. This is dismally familiar. This is where I came in. I wish it wasn’t like this. It didn’t used to be like this, but it is now. So watch sharp.