Paul A. Douglas
11. The Dearth of Jewish Customs in the Book of Mormon
Recognizing that we are talking about devout Jews coming to the Americas, would it not be reasonable to expect that these immigrants would continue to live according to their customs and traditions?
Yet the Book of Mormon gives only a few superficial mentions of the intricate and rich religious heritage enjoyed by the Jews since the days of Moses.
The most common biblical terms used to describe Jewish customs or laws, holy days, feasts, the concept of clean/unclean, observances, dietary restrictions, religious ceremonies as well as Old Testament priesthood are entirely missing from the Book of Mormon.
Here is a list of nine examples of important Jewish biblical terms with their relative frequencies, which never appeared even once in the Book of Mormon:
“Passover” (59 times in Bible)
“ark of the covenant” (48 times in Bible)
“mercy seat” (23 in Bible)
“burnt offerings” (39 times in Bible)
“circumcision” (96 times in Bible)
“incense” (121 times in Bible)
“alters” (17 times in Bible)
“sons of Aaron” (97 times in Bible)
“day of atonement” (21 times in Bible)
“feast of tabernacles” (17 times in Bible)
“house of the LORD” (627 in Bible)
The word Passover was used fifty-nine times in the Bible. In the Book of Mormon, however, not once. Is it not amazing that a book supposedly written by ancient Israelites would never refer to the Passover the most important holy day in all Judaism?
While the Israelites were in bondage in Egypt, Moses told the people to wipe the blood of a lamb to their side posts and lintel, “For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.” (Exodus 12:21-23)
The Egyptians did not do this, and consequently lost all their “firstborn.” This convinced Pharaoh that he should let God’s people go.
The significance of the Passover to the Jews cannot be overstated. Since the Nephites were supposed to have been Jews who possessed “the five books of Moses” (1 Nephi 5:11), they should have observed and celebrated Passover hundreds of times after they arrived in the Americas.
The Book of Mormon also makes scant mention of the “Sabbath day.” It is only mentioned five times as compared to the 171 times it is mentioned in the Bible.
How odd, how incredible that the Book of Mormon, supposedly written by Jewish people, would virtually ignore the day which was held so sacred by the Jews.
There is no mention of circumcision or any evidence it was ever practiced, except for one verse in Moroni 8, in which Jesus declares that “circumcision is done away in me.”
Christ tells the Nephites that their “sacrifices and burnt offerings shall be done away” in 3 Nephi, but ironically there is no mention of burnt offerings after they arrive in the Americas. The only exception is found in Mosiah 2:3. Here it is explained that “they also took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses.”
Ceremonial Cleanliness and Unclean Foods
No mention other than one reference found in the largely plagiarized portion of Isaiah. Most significantly, there is no mention of Kosher eating.
Below are the counts of the times that some of the various feasts are explicitly mentioned:
Chronicles Book of Mormon
Passover 2 0
Tabernacles 1 0
Unleavened Bread 3 0
Weeks 1 0
Likewise in the Book of Mormon, there is no explicit mention of any regular Jewish sacrifice or offering. Again, here are the counts of some regular Jewish sacrifices in both books:
Chronicles Book of Mormon
New Moon 3 0
Evening & Morning 4 0
Drink Offerings 1 0
As well, there is no mention of temple items in the Book of Mormon. The Jewish temple had several parts which were all important, such as the altar, incense, the shewbread the court and the Holy of Holies.
Nephi claims that his temple was built after the manner of Solomon’s temple (II Nephi 5:16), but none of these items are ever mentioned in the Book of Mormon,
Chronicles Book of Mormon
Temple Court 6 0
Temple Altar 20+ 1*
Holy Place 6 0
Shewbread 7 0
Incense 8 0
(* Alma 15:17. The context is unclear.)
Curt van den Heuvel also comments that the relationship between the priests and the temple is obscured. In the Old Testament, the priestly system and the temple could not be separated. Exodus 27:21 In contrast, The Book of Mormon records that the Nephites built a temple, and had a priestly class, but the two are never associated with each other.
The above, as well as the absence of any mention of the scores of Jewish dietary laws, leads van den Heuvel to question if, “The Book of Mormon is not an ancient history but was rather made up by someone who had a good imagination, but very little understanding of ancient Jewish culture.”
Curt van hen Heuvel, www.2think.org/hundredsheep
FairMormon’s Comment on the Scant Mention of Jewish Customs and Laws
Response to claim: “the Book of Mormon claims to be the story of religious Jews, yet there is scant or no mention of Jewish customs or laws”
The portions of the Book of Mormon that describe Lehi’s family in the Old World do reflect Jewish customs or laws.
There is strong evidence of a Year of Jubilee in the King Benjamin address.
There is the covenant emphasis from King Benjamin that is evidence of Hebrew influence.
The Book of Mormon was edited and compiled by people living post-Christ.
The Book of Mormon lists sins which are consistent with the Ten Commandments.
The above qualifies as scant, so let’s go with that!
The Book of Mormon gives a few superficial mentions of the intricate and rich religious heritage enjoyed by the Jewish people since the days of Moses.
I also understand what FairMormon is suggesting when it says, “The Book of Mormon was edited and compiled by people living post-Christ.” Are they suggesting the editors striped out Jewish references?
The most common biblical terms used to describe Jewish customs or laws, holy days, feasts, the concept of clean/unclean, observances, dietary restrictions, religious ceremonies as well as Old Testament priesthood are entirely missing from the Book of Mormon. I have listed in my letter nine examples of important Jewish biblical terms with their relative frequencies, which simply never appear once in the Book of Mormon as well as how often they appear in the Bible as well as a list of other significant Jewish features that one would expect to see in an authentic Jewish history.
Perhaps the Mormon apologist at FairMormon who wrote this critique should get out and actually meet a jew.