Sometimes it can be helpful to put other people’s ideas into our own words. I know in my own experience it helps me make sense of things and primes the re-imagining pump, as it were. Of course, we want to avoid metatext and all its accompanying dangers so there is an inherent risk in an exercise like the one I’m about to present, but maybe if we go into it knowing this is just one way to read the text, it will neuter the metatext beast.
I’ll call this a “translation” only in the sense that I’m putting ideas expressed by Joseph Smith (from ideas he got from Nephi from ideas he got from an angel) into my own words. Meaning, if i were tasked with explaining what Nephi was saying, this is one way I could “translate” those ideas. I might read aloud what Joseph says Nephi said and interject with my own interpretation at times. That’s what you’ll see below
The following text comes from the Wilderness Vision of Nephi. This topic is treated heavily in CHBOM volume 5. I follow Daymon’s reading of it much of the time, but I struggle to make his reading fit completely so this is my own effort to make sense of what’s written.
And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!
And I looked and beheld many nations and kingdoms.
And the angel said unto me: What beholdest thou?
And I said: I behold many nations and kingdoms.
And he said unto me: These are the nations and kingdoms of the gentiles.
And it came to pass that I saw among the nations of the gentiles the foundation [not formation, more explained below] of a great church. And the angel said unto me:
Behold the foundation of a church which is most abominable
Above all other churches, which slayeth the saints of God,
Yea, and tortureth them and bindeth them down, and yoketh them
With a yoke of iron, and bringeth them down into captivity.
And it came to pass that I beheld this great and abominable church! And I saw the Devil that he was the founder of it. And I also saw gold, and silver, and silks, and scarlets, and fine-twined linen, and all manner of precious clothing. And I saw many harlots. And the angel spake unto me, saying:
Behold the gold, and the silver, and the silks, and the scarlets, and
The fine-twined linen, and the precious clothing, and the harlots,
Are the desires of this great and abominable church.
And also for the praise of the world do they destroy the saints
Of God, and bring them down into captivity.
[At this point we have this “church” or maybe better to think of it as an association or combination of some kind. The same way you might think of a corporation. It’s a group of beings with a mission statement that includes killing God’s saints. They’re all about getting gold and such for the “praise” of the world, or better said, as a tool to keep the world’s attention. Because what use does the devil really have for gold when it comes down to it? His goal isn’t to amass wealth but to bring the saints into captivity. What Nephi sees amongst all the nations of the gentiles is the “foundation” of this group, suggesting it has been around for awhile and even if it’s not up to its former glory, it’s still there and it’s still going about it’s business like it ever was.
I imagine this “church” was formed by Melkor to fight against the Valar apostles of the Lamb. It was pretty successful at slaying the saints (elves?) of God. How many saint-elves were killed or brought into captivity by Melkor and then Sauron? But even with them long gone, that church/association carries on the same work even in the latter day and it exists among all the gentile nations.]
And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters, and they divided the gentiles from the seed of my brethren. And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren! [Many waters I’m guessing means the ocean(s) between the gentiles and his brothers’ seed.”]
And I looked and beheld a man [let’s imagine this man is Thingol/John the Beloved and possibly also John the Baptist as well] among the gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters. And I beheld the spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man [Thingol] and he [Thingol] went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren who were in the promised land. And it came to pass that I beheld the spirit of God, that it wrought upon other gentiles. And they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters. [So Thingol goes from being among a group of Gentiles, upon the waters (let’s say the ocean) and TO the seed of Nephi’s brethren on the promised land. Then “other” Gentiles get the spirit. Presumably they are “other” in the sense that they are not the same Gentiles Thingol was among at the beginning of this paragraph. In fact, it seems to suggest that after Thingol comes to the promised land he interacts with some Gentiles who are also on the promised land, maybe giving them a book or something (like the BOM and later the Book of the Lamb). Regardless, these “other” Gentiles also get wrought upon by the spirit of God like Thingol did and are able to leave captivity upon the waters (ocean). But it doesn’t say which direction these Gentiles are going or where they land. It could be that they leave the promised land or somewhere else entirely and land somewhere else. We can dispense with the traditional Columbus reading, as Daymon points out in volume 5, for it can’t be Columbus because those Gentiles hadn’t escaped captivity as defined further down. Also, in my reading, these 3 sentences very likely cover a period of a few hundred years.]
And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the gentiles upon the land of promise [let’s not assume these are the same Gentiles just mentioned above. We could be now speaking of Gentiles in general that have occupied (but not inherited) the land of promise and as yet are not out of captivity like the “other” Gentiles mentioned in the prior paragraph. These general Gentiles I’ll call the nothing-special Gentiles and the “other” Gentiles I’ll call the something-special Gentiles. As for timeline, I think Nephi is circling back now. The last 3 sentences were kind of a beginning-to-end summary whereas now he’s coming back around with more detail.] and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren. And they were scattered before the [something-special] gentiles and were smitten. And I beheld the spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the [something-special] gentiles. And they [the something-special Gentiles] did prosper and obtain the land of their inheritance. [Again, not all Gentiles, or even the Gentiles that live in America, but specifically those Gentiles who are wrought upon by the Spirit like Thingol was. They are the ones who obtain the land of promise for their inheritance, not the hordes of Gentiles who found their way here from Europe. The land of promise belongs specifically to the house of Israel and only some few Gentiles who become numbered among them. So far, we seem to have two types of Gentiles: the standard nothing-special Gentiles who just happen to be “upon” the land of promise, and the ones who are wrought upon, leave captivity upon waters, come (back?) and smite the seed of Nephi’s brethren, and then obtain the land of promise for an inheritance. As I read it, this smiting and inheriting is still a future event. The seed of Nephi’s brethren haven’t yet been “smitten”, which means there haven’t been any Gentiles that have been wrought upon, gone out of captivity upon waters, then (come back and?) scatter Nephi’s brethren, and get this land for an inheritance.] And I beheld that they [the something-special Gentiles] were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain. [I assume they become like elves/angels and it will be obvious to any onlooker that they are different from normal men. I imagine these Gentiles will have great power and knowledge and it will be impossible to ignore them. They won’t be like any humans we’ve seen.]
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that the [something-special] gentiles who had gone forth out of captivity did humble themselves before the Lord [despite their power and their beauty, they aren’t lifted up in pride], and the power of the Lord was with them. And I beheld that their [the something-special Gentiles] mother [them other] [nothing-special] gentiles were gathered together upon the waters, and upon the land also, to battle against them. [Here again we see two groups of Gentiles. In this case, the nothing-special Gentiles have probably been driven from the land of promise, or at least part of it, by these something-special Gentile angel-elves because this land is now theirs. The nothing-special Gentiles try to take it back by force. They are the “mother” Gentiles because the something-special Gentiles came from among the nothing-special Gentiles.] And I beheld that the power of God was with them [the something-special Gentiles], and also that the wrath of God was upon all those that were gathered together against them to battle. And I, Nephi, beheld that the [something-special] gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations [another piece of evidence that this is a future event because there are no Gentiles that have been delivered out of the hands of all other nations who also live in the promised land as their land of inheritance. Various countries and powers still control this land of promise]. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that they [the something-special Gentiles] did prosper in the land. And I beheld a book, and it was carried forth among them. And the angel said unto me: Knowest thou the meaning of the book? [Our first clue as to why the something-special Gentiles are the way they are, because they have a book that must be unique to all other books. As any reader familiar with Daymon will know, this book is not the Bible or even the Book of Mormon, but an as-yet-to-be-revealed Book of the Lamb of God (as we’ll see below).]
And I said unto him: I know not.
And he said: Behold! It proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew [let’s again assume this is Thingol/John the Beloved/Baptist].
And I, Nephi, beheld it. And he said unto me:
The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains
The covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the House of Israel.
And it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets.
And it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon
The Plates of Brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless,
They contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto
The House of Israel. Wherefore, they are of great worth unto the gentiles.
And the angel of the Lord said unto me:
Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth
Of a Jew [“A” Jew, not some unknown committee of writers across a couple millenia. Someone with quite powerful lore to share. Thingol certainly fits the bill here as his Lay is destined to change the course of history, which is why the 3 wraith brothers laid the trap that kept Thingol’s Lay under wraps until last summer.]; and when it [the book] proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew
It contained the plainness of the gospel of the Lamb, of whom
The twelve Apostles [the Valar — Manwe/Varda et al] bear record. And they [the Valar] bear record according to
The truth which is in the Lamb of God. Wherefore, these things [this refers to the testimony of the Valar Apostles, not specifically the book mentioned above, which will contain more than just the testimonies of the Valar] go forth
From the Jews [I can only assume from this that “Jews” refers to the Valar Apostles when they were enfleshed among the Jews and that their testimonies must have been recorded at that time. Those testimonies come forth from “a Jew” (Thingol) but they were given originally from multiple Jews, the Valar Apostles.] in purity unto the gentiles, according to the truth which is
In God. And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve Apostles
Of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the foundation
Of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable
Above all other churches, for behold, they have taken away from
The gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious.
And also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. [So the Valar Apostles as Jews record some apparently fantastic things that are supposed to go to the Gentiles. But after those things are recorded, and presumably before they go forth, the “foundation”, not formation, of that devilish church is used to screw things up. They somehow know of whatever lore is about to be passed to the Gentiles. Perhaps bitter that the lore goes from Jews to Gentiles, they purposely engage in the following cover up. The church of the devil knows the power of that lore and that it will free at least some Gentiles from their dominion. I assume the beings behind the effort to corrupt the true lore are the 3 wraith brothers and perhaps other wicked spirits that they can marshal to their service. How do they do this and why? Read on…]
And all this have they done that they might pervert the right
Ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden
The hearts of the children of men. Wherefore, thou seest that
After the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great
And abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things
Taken away from the book, which is the Book of the Lamb of God. [the book mentioned above that the something-special Gentiles have is finally named. But the Gentiles don’t get this book initially. Instead they get a counterfeit that is designed to “pervert” what God intended. Isaiah perhaps speaks of those responsible when he says: “And wo unto them [the three wraiths] that seek deep to hide their counsel from the Lord! And their works are in the dark; and they say: Who seeth us, and who knoweth us? And they also say: Surely, your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay. [in other words, they see in their deceptions and traps a turning of the potter’s wheel that even Eru did not foresee or is able to undo. they think their plan is going to destroy the labors of Eru and his friends] But behold, I will show unto them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that I know all their works. [but fortunately their works are known and their potter’s clay is smashed maybe by a stone out of a mountain or something]”]
And after these plain and precious things were taken away it [not the book of the Lamb! the counterfeit!] goeth
Forth unto all the nations of the gentiles; and after it goeth forth
Unto all the nations of the gentiles, yea, even across the many waters
Which thou hast seen with the gentiles which have gone forth
Out of captivity [the angel isn’t saying the counterfeit book goes *with* the something-special Gentiles that Nephi has already seen come forth out of captivity. He’s merely using them as a reference point for the many waters, saying the book went across the same waters that those something-special Gentiles went across (or WILL YET go across since that is a future event for us today)], thou seest — because of the many plain
And precious things which have been taken out of the book,
Which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men,
According to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God — Because
Of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb,
An exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan
Hath great power over them. [as Daymon points out, it’s quite risky to read the counterfeit book of the Lamb. It was written for a specific purpose and it is a very good counterfeit that causes many to stumble.]
[the angel now moves forward in time. The counterfeit book (the Bible) has already gone forth and screwed up the lore God wanted to go to the Gentiles. That’s in the past of the vision and for us today. He’s now jumping forward to the something-special Gentiles coming out of captivity which is still a future event for us today.]
Nevertheless, thou beholdest that the [something-special] gentiles who have gone
Forth out of captivity, and have been lifted up
By the power of God above all other nations,
Upon the face of the land which is choice above all other lands,
Which is the land that the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father,
That his seed should have for the land of their inheritance, wherefore,
Thou seest that the Lord God will not suffer that the [something-special] gentiles will
Utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed, which are among thy brethren.
Neither will he suffer that the [something-special] gentiles shall destroy the seed
Of thy brethren. Neither will the Lord God suffer that the [nothing-special] gentiles shall
Forever remain in that state of awful woundedness which thou beholdest
They are in, because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel
Of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church,
Whose formation thou hast seen. Wherefore saith the Lamb of God:
I will be merciful unto the [nothing-special] gentiles unto the visiting
Of the remnant of the House of Israel in great judgment. [In two more paragraphs the angel explains how God will be merciful to these warmongering nothing-special Gentiles. In the 3-volume BOM, Daymon’s note here suggests this remnant house of Israel had something to do with the corruption of the Book of the Lamb. Indeed, in this reimagining it seems likely it was the 3 wraith sons who were instrumental in that effort, sons of Feanor, son of Finwe/Israel. As for the role the seed of Lehi played, I can’t speculate.]
And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying:
Behold, saith the Lamb of God: after I have visited the remnant of
The House of Israel and this remnant of whom I speak is the seed
Of thy father — Wherefore, after I have visited them in judgment,
And smitten them [Smiting them could be merely calling them to repent from unbelief and showing them the Book of the Lamb as a means to bring that repentance about.] by the hand of the [something-special] gentiles, and after
The [nothing-special] gentiles do stumble exceedingly because of the most plain and precious
Parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back
By that abominable church which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb
I will be merciful unto the [nothing-special] gentiles in that day, saith the Lamb
Insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power,
Much of my gospel, [Daymon says this is the Book of Mormon but I struggle to make that fit with this reading. The angel is pretty adamant that the “much of my gospel” comes AFTER the something-special Gentiles get the Book of the Lamb, come out of captivity, smite the remnant, etc. So the only way this could be referring to the BOM is if those events had already happened in the past (for us today), which I can’t see as a valid reading. No, instead I think this must refer to the Book of the Lamb coming to the nothing-special Gentiles after the something-special Gentiles take it to the remnant and smite them. Remember that the nothing-special Gentiles come to battle against the something-special Gentiles. God is merciful to these hard-hearted Gentiles and the something-special Gentiles respond to their threat with the Book of the Lamb as their weapon of choice. Does the Book of the Lamb just contain “much” of the gospel? Well, it obviously doesn’t have everything because a little later we hear of yet “other books” that will apparently have even more success convincing various groups to believe the records of the Valar Apostles. Up above we read that the Book of the Lamb contains their witnesses so the later books convince even more people to believe their words. As such, the Book of the Lamb contains “much” of the Lamb’s gospel but not all.] which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb.
For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy [Nephi’s] seed,
That they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them,
Which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed,
And dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold,
These things [And NOW I think we’re talking about the BOM. Nephi’s seed will write some plain and precious things that will be hid up and brought forth to the nothing-special Gentiles.] shall be hid up! To come forth unto the [nothing-special] gentiles by the gift
And power of the Lamb. And in them shall be written my gospel,
Saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation. [this last sentence gives me pause because I don’t know what is meant by rock and salvation. But I don’t think it’s a stretch to say this part of the vision refers to the BOM. Daymon says the next bit refers to the early Mormons, who, though cursed and rejected as a church, are blessed because at least they were trying. I don’t have a problem with that reading.]
And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion
At that day: For they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost.
And if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day,
And shall be saved, in the everlasting Kingdom of the Lamb.
And whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful
Upon the mountains shall they be!
And it came to pass that I beheld the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Book of the Lamb of God, which had proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew [Thingol], that it came forth from the [something-special] gentiles unto the remnant of the seed of my brethren. And after it had come forth unto them [the remnant] I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the [something-special] gentiles unto them [the remnant], unto the convincing of the [nothing-special] gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb are true. [Here we see these other books mentioned. Daymon suggests the brass plates and the sealed portion of the BOM as likely candidates.]
And the angel spake unto me, saying:
These last records, which thou hast seen among the [all Gentiles, at this point] Gentiles, shall establish
The truth of the first [the first book mentioned — the Book of the Lamb], which are of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb,
And shall make known the plain and precious things which have been
Taken away from them [the Gentiles]; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues,
And people, that the Lamb of God is the eternal Father, and
The savior of the world. And that all man must come unto him, or
They cannot be saved. And they must come according to the words
Which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words
Of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed [BOM], as well
As in the records of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb.
Wherefore they both [the words of the Lamb in both books] shall be established in one! For there is one
God and one shepherd over all the earth. And the time cometh
That he shall manifest himself unto all nations, both unto the Jews
And also unto the gentiles; and after he has manifested himself unto
The Jews and also unto the gentiles, then he shall manifest himself unto
The gentiles and also unto the Jews, And the last shall be first,
And the first shall be last. And it shall come to pass,
That if the gentiles shall hearken unto the Lamb of God in that day that
He shall manifest himself unto them in word, and also in power,
In very deed unto the taking away of their stumbling blocks,
And harden not their hearts against the Lamb of God, they shall
Be numbered among the seed of thy father!
Yea, they shall be numbered among the House of Israel,
And they shall be a blessed people upon the promised land forever!
They shall be no more brought down into captivity.
And the House of Israel shall no more be confounded.
And that great pit, which hath been digged
For them by that great and abominable church, which was founded
By the Devil and his children, [we come back to that abominable church, or combination, created by Morgoth to ensnare the house of Finwe and lock them in a hellish pit, just as he had done on Endar.] that he might lead away the souls of men
Down to Hell — yea, that great pit which hath been digged for
The destruction of men, shall be filled by those who digged it,
Unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God.
Not the destruction of the soul, [I don’t know what to say about this. I hate to think of any soul literally being destroyed but I can’t imagine a way for the soul of Morgoth to be redeemed so part of me laments that he and his children carry on, even if they are trapped in their own pit prison. I can only assume they exist to cause mischief forevermore, but perhaps that’s a lack of estel on my part. Perhaps Eru has a way to save even them.] save it be
The casting of it into that Hell which hath no end. For behold, this
Is according to the captivity of the Devil, and also according
To the justice of God, upon
All those who will work wickedness and abomination before him.
That’s probably a good stopping point. I may continue in another post but I really wanted to unravel these various Gentile groups, the various books, etc. Comments, corrections, and conflicting thoughts are welcome! This “translation” is a work in progress.