LDS interpretations of Jacob 5


Jacob Chapter 5 in the Book of Mormon is a fairly long and complex one. Using the symbolism of the art world, one might even consider it the "Mona Lisa" masterpiece of the Book of Mormon.

Joseph Fielding Smith had such praise for this passage that he said:

"But we have something in the Book of Mormon that, if we did not have other truth expressed in it, would be sufficient evidence of the divinity of this book. I have reference to the fifth chapter of Jacob. I think that as many as ninety-nine out of every hundred who read the Book of Mormon, read this parable through without grasping the fullness and meaning of it. And I think this is one of the greatest passages in the Book of Mormon. No matter how many times you have read the Book of Mormon, take a few minutes at some convenient time and sit down and just read carefully every word in the fifth chapter of the Book of Jacob. No greater parable was ever recorded. I tell you, my brothers and sisters, Joseph Smith did not write it. That was written by the inspiration of the Almighty. When you read that chapter through if you cannot say in your soul, "this is absolutely a revelation from God," then there is something wrong with you.” (Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 4, p. 203-7 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 183-4).

In that parable the olive tree is the House of Israel. . . . In its native land it began to die. So the Lord took branches like the Nephites, like the lost tribes, and like others that the Lord led off that we do not know anything about, to other parts of the earth. He planted them all over his vineyard, which is the world” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 4:204).

Joseph Fielding Smith also said, "Now in that parable the olive tree is the House of Israel, as I have said. In its native land it began to die. So the Lord took branches like the Nephites, like the lost tribes, and like others that the Lord led off that we do not know anything about, to other parts of the earth. He planted them all over his vineyard, which is the world. No doubt he sent some of these branches into Japan, into Korea, into China. No question about it, because he sent them to all parts of the world" (Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 4, pp. 204-207 as taken from the Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981, p. 143).

After carefully analyzing this chapter in Jacob, it becomes clear that either this parable is not the creation of God Himself, or
that humans have been unable to decipher its secrets.

Is it really a "Mona Lisa" when we look under the paint? We'll leave it to the reader to decide for him or herself.

Here are some various interpretations that I have seen thus far, along with some analysis:

Brant Gardner                         -  Source   Local copy   In-depth Analysis
CES (Seminary Student Guide)          -  Source   Local copy   In-depth Analysis
Ensign, August 1988                   -  Source   Local copy   In-depth Analysis
Religion 121–122, BOM Student Manual  -  Source   Local copy   In-depth Analysis

The parable of the vineyard as written by Joseph Smith:

Before we begin, let me state a biblical truth - "For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant" (Isaiah 5:7).

As you'll discover, Joseph Smith's vineyard was not the nation of Israel nor the world. It was in the United States.

"Verily, verily I say unto you, that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., is the man to whom I likened the servant to whom the Lord of the vineyard spake in the parable which I have given unto you" (Doctrine and Covenants 103:21).

Let us examine the other parable of the vineyard given a few sections before in Doctrine and Covenants section 101.

44 - "A certain nobleman had a spot of land, very choice; and he said unto his servants: Go ye unto my vineyard, even upon his very choice piece of land, and plant twelve olive-trees;"

45 - "And set watchmen round about them, and build a tower, that one may overlook the land round about, to be a watchman upon the tower, that mine olive-trees may not be broken down when the enemy shall come to spoil and take upon themselves the fruit of my vineyard."

46 - "Now, the servants of the nobleman went and did as their lord commanded them, and planted the olive-trees, and built a hedge round about, and set watchmen, and began to build a tower."

47 - "And while they were yet laying the foundation thereof, they began to say among themselves: And what need hath my lord of this tower?"

48 - "And consulted for a long time, saying among themselves: What need hath my lord of this tower, seeing this is a time of peace?"

49 - "Might not this money be given to the exchangers? For there is no need of these things."

50 - "And while they were at variance one with another they became very slothful, and they hearkened not unto the commandments of their lord."

51 - "And the enemy came by night, and broke down the hedge; and the servants of the nobleman arose and were affrighted, and fled; and the enemy destroyed their works, and broke down the olive-trees."

52 - "Now, behold, the nobleman, the lord of the vineyard, called upon his servants, and said unto them, Why! what is the cause of this great evil?"

53 - "Ought ye not to have done even as I commanded you, and—after ye had planted the vineyard, and built the hedge round about, and set watchmen upon the walls thereof—built the tower also, and set a watchman upon the tower, and watched for my vineyard, and not have fallen asleep, lest the enemy should come upon you?"


54 - "And behold, the watchman upon the tower would have seen the enemy while he was yet afar off; and then ye could have made ready and kept the enemy from breaking down the hedge thereof, and saved my vineyard from the hands of the destroyer."

55 - "And the lord of the vineyard said unto one of his servants: Go and gather together the residue of my servants, and take all the strength of mine house, which are my warriors, my young men, and they that are of middle age also among all my servants, who are the strength of mine house, save those only whom I have appointed to tarry;"

56 - "And go ye straightway unto the land of my vineyard, and redeem my vineyard; for it is mine; I have bought it with money."

Notice that it is the servant and not the Lord of the vineyard which will redeem it.   Did the Lord really buy his vineyard with money?

57 - "Therefore, get ye straightway unto my land; break down the walls of mine enemies; throw down their tower, and scatter their watchmen."

58 - "And inasmuch as they gather together against you, avenge me of mine enemies, that by and by I may come with the residue of mine house and possess the land."

The servant is told to fight and capture the land to avenge God of his enemies.

59 -"And the servant said unto his lord: When shall these things be?"

60 - "And he said unto his servant: When I will; go ye straightway, and do all things whatsoever I have commanded you;"

61 - "And this shall be my seal and blessing upon you—a faithful and wise steward in the midst of mine house, a ruler in my kingdom."

62 - "And his servant went straightway, and did all things whatsoever his lord commanded him; and after many days all things were fulfilled."


Now let's turn back to Doctrine and Covenants section 103.

15 - "Behold, I say unto you, the redemption of Zion must needs come by power;"

16 - "Therefore, I will raise up unto my people a man, who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel."

17 - "For ye are the children of Israel, and of the seed of Abraham, and ye must needs be led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm."

18 - "And as your fathers were led at the first, even so shall the redemption of Zion be."

Who would be this Moses-like figure to lead the Latter-day Saints out of bondage (?) as Moses led out the children of Israel out of Egypt by power?

19 - "Therefore, let not your hearts faint, for I say not unto you as I said unto your fathers: Mine angel shall go up before you, but not my presence."

20 - "But I say unto you: Mine angels shall go up before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land."

21 - "Verily, verily I say unto you, that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., is the man to whom I likened the servant to whom the Lord of the vineyard spake in the parable which I have given unto you."

Joseph Smith is to gather and prepare the Latter-day Saints for battle.

22 - "Therefore let my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., say unto the strength of my house, my young men and the middle aged—Gather yourselves together unto the land of Zion, upon the land which I have bought with money that has been consecrated unto me."

Here again the Lord says he bought the land of Zion with money.  Do you recall the Lord ever buying Israel with money before or after the Israelites were led out of Egyptian bondage to the promised land?

23 - "And let all the churches send up wise men with their moneys, and purchase lands even as I have commanded them."

24 - "And inasmuch as mine enemies come against you to drive you from my goodly land, which I have consecrated to be the land of Zion, even from your own lands after these testimonies, which ye have brought before me against them, ye shall curse them;"

25 - "And whomsoever ye curse, I will curse, and ye shall avenge me of mine enemies."

26 - "And my presence shall be with you even in avenging me of mine enemies, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me."

27 - "Let no man be afraid to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again."

28 - "And whoso is not willing to lay down his life for my sake is not my disciple."

The warring Latter-day Saints would avenge God of his enemies through this battle.

Again we are told that Joseph Smith would call the troops to battle in Doctrine and Covenants section 105.

16 - "Behold, I have commanded my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., to say unto the strength of my house, even my warriors, my young men, and middle-aged, to gather together for the redemption of my people, and throw down the towers of mine enemies, and scatter their watchmen;"

27 - "And I will soften the hearts of the people, as I did the heart of Pharaoh, from time to time, until my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and mine elders, whom I have appointed, shall have time to gather up the strength of my house,"

28 - "And to have sent wise men, to fulfil that which I have commanded concerning the purchasing of all the lands in Jackson county that can be purchased, and in the adjoining counties round about."

29 - "For it is my will that these lands should be purchased; and after they are purchased that my saints should possess them according to the laws of consecration which I have given."

30 - "And after these lands are purchased, I will hold the armies of Israel guiltless in taking possession of their own lands, which they have previously purchased with their moneys, and of throwing down the towers of mine enemies that may be upon them, and scattering their watchmen, and avenging me of mine enemies unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me."

Once again the Latter-day Saints are instructed to take back their lands by force.

31 - "But first let my army become very great, and let it be sanctified before me, that it may become fair as the sun, and clear as the moon, and that her banners may be terrible unto all nations;"

32 - "That the kingdoms of this world may be constrained to acknowledge that the kingdom of Zion is in very deed the kingdom of our God and his Christ; therefore, let us become subject unto her laws."

Somehow this army of warriors would be so great as to startle the kingdoms (or nations) of this earth through the terribleness of her banners. The Latter-day Saints would then be asked to lift up an ensign of peace to the nations (as if they were at war with the nations of the earth).

38 - "And again I say unto you, sue for peace, not only to the people that have smitten you, but also to all people;"

39 - "And lift up an ensign of peace, and make a proclamation of peace unto the ends of the earth;"

According to Doctrine and Covenants (98:33-38), the law of God stated that they were to give the offering of peace a total of three times.  If all three were rejected, then they were justified in going to war.

33 - "And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them."

34 - "And if any nation, tongue, or people should proclaim war against them, they should first lift a standard of peace unto that people, nation, or tongue;"

35 - "And if that people did not accept the offering of peace, neither the second nor the third time, they should bring these testimonies before the Lord;"

36 - "Then I, the Lord, would give unto them a commandment, and justify them in going out to battle against that nation, tongue, or people."

37 - "And I, the Lord, would fight their battles, and their children’s battles, and their children’s children’s, until they had avenged themselves on all their enemies, to the third and fourth generation."

38 - "Behold, this is an ensample unto all people, saith the Lord your God, for justification before me."

Joseph Smith wrote that Jackson County, Missouri was the only place appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints (Doctrine and Covenants 57:1; 101:20).   Could those of Salt Lake City be thinking of an armed struggle to take back this former land with a resurrected Joseph Smith as their leader?  It would appear so according to his writings.

It may be time for one to consider where these revelations were coming from.

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