Sunday, February 04, 2007

Obscure Book of Mormon References

I love the Book of Mormon. I know it's God's word and that it was written for me and for our day. I also love it because it's so varied in its stories and so rich in its detail. Having read the Book of Mormon cover to cover at least 20 times, I've repeatedly run across many interesting references to events, people, and other curious details that raise more questions than they answer. In some instances, these obscure references help testify of the divine role of our Savior and our need to have faith in him. In others, they just leave me scratching my head.

Mostly for the sake of entertainment, I list some of these obscure references here. I'm not looking for answers or trying to prove the Book of Mormon true. I do hope that these interesting tidbits will lead some individuals to read the Book of Mormon more, even if it's just to explore its dustier nooks and crannies.

The Brother of Jared Moved the Mountain Zerin by Faith

Ether 12:30:
30 For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith.

This seems like a rather significant event of “Biblical proportions” like that of Moses parting the Red Sea, yet its only mention in the Book of Mormon is this obscure reference.

Aminadi Interpreted the Writing on the Temple Wall and Written by the Finger of God

Alma 10:2-3:
2 I am Amulek; I am the son of Giddonah, who was the son of Ishmael, who was a descendant of Aminadi; and it was that same Aminadi who interpreted the writing which was upon the wall of the temple, which was written by the finger of God.
3 And Aminadi was a descendant of Nephi, who was the son of Lehi, who came out of the land of Jerusalem, who was a descendant of Manasseh, who was the son of Joseph who was sold into Egypt by the hands of his brethren.

With regards to the Brother of Jared moving a mountain, at least he was mentioned prominently elsewhere in the Book of Mormon. In this reference we have two obscure elements: the man and the event.

Cureloms and Cumoms

Ether 9:19:
"And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms."

Orson Pratt identified cureloms as mammoths, but we have no record of a Church leader explaining what a cumom may have been. According to the Wikipedia entry for cureloms, some Church members have speculated the cumoms may have been an alpaca, llama, or some other animal.


Ether 9:16, 21-22 (14-23):
16 And the Lord began again to take the curse from off the land, and the house of Emer did prosper exceedingly under the reign of Emer; and in the space of sixty and two years they had become exceedingly strong, insomuch that they became exceedingly rich—
21 And Emer did execute judgment in righteousness all his days, and he begat many sons and daughters; and he begat Coriantum, and he anointed Coriantum to reign in his stead.
22 And after he had anointed Coriantum to reign in his stead he lived four years, and he saw peace in the land; yea, and he even saw the Son of Righteousness, and did rejoice and glory in his day; and he died in peace.

Emer is probably the least known of all the Book of Mormon personalities who were privileged to see the Savior. Interestingly, another of our obscure references—the cureloms and cumoms—are mentioned during Emer's reign.

The Prophets Zenock, Neum, and Zenos

1 Nephi 19:10:
10 And the God of our fathers, who were led out of Egypt, out of bondage, and also were preserved in the wilderness by him, yea, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself, according to the words of the angel, as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos, which he spake concerning the three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel.

These prophets are quoted for their testimonies of Jesus Christ. Zenock and Zenos are quoted elsewhere in the Book of Mormon by other prophets (see Jacob 5:1, Jacob 6:1, Alma 33:15, Alma 34:7, Helaman 8:19-20, Helaman 15:11, 3 Nephi 10:16). Neum shows up only in this verse. Who were these men? The footnote for Zenock refers readers to the Bible Dictionary entry for “Lost Books.”


Mosiah 11:3:
3 And he laid a tax of one fifth part of all they possessed, a fifth part of their gold and of their silver, and a fifth part of their ziff, and of their copper, and of their brass and their iron; and a fifth part of their fatlings; and also a fifth part of all their grain.

The wicked King Noah laid a heavy tax on his people of one-fifth of their valuable metals including ziff. The footnote indicates “HEB related words: adjective, “shining” verb, “to overlay or plate with metal.”

Neas and Sheum

Mosiah 9:9:
9 And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits; and we did begin to multiply and prosper in the land.

After Zeniff a small group of Nephites to repossess the land of Lehi-Nephi, they planted many different fruits and grains including neas and sheum. The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) reports, “As it turns out sheum is a perfectly good Akkadian (ancient northern Mesopotamian) name for a grain dating to the third millennium B.C.” At a Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) symposium, one botany professor indicated neas and sheum were “perhaps grains but possibly tuber crops.” An archaeobotanist concluded that these foods “were most likely native crops new to Lehi's people.”


There isn't really a conclusion since this blog entry is more a fun diversion than it is a discussion on a serious gospel topic. However, it's safe to say that many of these obscure references are like other mysteries like the nature of the dinosaurs. We may have to wait until the Millennium to know the truth.


Rob Osborn said...

It is interesting that you mention dinosaurs. I have long felt that the curlums and cummoms were a type of dinosaur used for moving large weights and objects. In Joseph's day, there was not yet a term for the large beasts that we now call dinosaurs.

TylerD said...

Dinosaurs are as good a suggestion as any. Wouldn't that be interesting to find out that what they were!

Bill said...

Cureloms and cumoms could only be dinosaurs if you reject all scientific evidence that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago.

Rob Osborn said...


What evidence is that? Do scientists now have access to time machines?

Anonymous said...

Re: "Aminadi Interpreted the Writing on the Temple Wall and Written by the Finger of God" - if you correlate it to the Book of Daniel's similar event (which would not have been part of the Nephite scriptural record because it followed the departure of Lehi from Jerusalem), it lends to the idea that the message on the wall was one of impending invasion.

Approximating the time lapse in Amulek's genealogy, this would fit the time frame well for when Mosiah the First's party of Nephites departed out of the land of Nephi for Zarahemla as recorded in the Book of Omni and the remaining inhabitants were presumably slaughtered by the Lamanites.

Anonymous said...

maybe cummoms are camels? ;o)

Doughboy said...

to Rob Osborn...
The Mormon church does in fact accept the scientific principles of radio-isotope dating and uniformitarianism, and accepts that the earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. However, we don't have a good time frame for when exactly the events in Ether took place. For all we know, there could have been wooly mammoths, which could easily have been used as a beast of burden, much like elephants in many eastern countries. I personally think that cureloms and cummoms were wooly mammoths.

Courtney said...

Here is a site I came across recently. I don't know how viable the info is, but it is thought provoking.

look4rainbows said...

I think they were woolly mammoths too.