Source:Rediscovering the Book of Mormon:Ch:6:5:Jacob's themes

Jacob's themes

Jacob's themes

Jacob's writing is also consistently focused on several favorite themes. One of his favorites, probably because of his own experience living in exile, was scattered Israel's preservation. He seemed to take special comfort in the promises made to scattered Israel, identifying the Lehite colony with Israel on the isles of the sea: "My beloved brethren, . . . let us . . . not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea" (2 Nephi 10:20).

Note Jacob's typically poetic phrasing that translates the idea of sadness into something concrete ("hang down our heads") and that describes the sea voyage as "made the sea our path." Beyond the style, note the message of comfort and hope—the same message Jacob quoted from Isaiah (see 2 Nephi 7:1-2; 8:3-12). Few descriptions of God's love in all scripture rival Isaiah's in chapters 40-66. To these chapters was Jacob drawn, for he delighted in scriptural assurances that God would not abandon exiled Israel.

This, I believe, ought to provide us with a clue as to how Jacob read Zenos, an ancient prophet on the brass plates. We often pay so much attention to what Zenos has told us about the history of Israel that we miss the powerful message that likely drew Jacob to the allegory: namely, that God loves and looks after the house of Israel, no matter where its people are scattered. The allegory is more than a complex puzzle whose solution unlocks world history, as some of us read it. The allegory also dramatizes God's steadfast love and active concern. Zenos's allegory ought to take its place beside the parable of the prodigal son. Both stories make the Lord's mercy so movingly memorable.[1]


  1. John S. Tanner, "Jacob and His Descendents as Authors," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, edited by John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co.; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), Chapter 6.