"There is so much more in the Book of Mormon than we have yet discovered. The book's divine architecture and rich furnishings will increasingly unfold to our view, further qualifying it as 'a marvelous work and a wonder' ...The Book of Mormon is like a vast mansion with gardens, towers, courtyards, and wings. All the rooms in this mansion need to be explored..."
-Neal A Maxwell

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Chiasmus: Helaman 6:7-13


Last Sunday, when I should have been paying attention in Elder's Quorum class, I noticed for only the first time what Jack Welch calls one of "the finest examples of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon and beyond." [1] It's found it Helaman 6:7-13, and chronicles a year that marked a significant turning point in Nephite-Lamanite relations: 


A And behold, there was peace in all the land, 

B (Opening of trade and travel in both lands) insomuch that the Nephites did go into whatsoever part of the land they would, whether among the Nephites or the Lamanites. And it came to pass that the Lamanites did also go whithersoever they would, whether it were among the Lamanites or among the Nephites; and thus they did have free intercourse one with another, to buy and to sell, and to get gain, according to their desire.

C And it came to pass that they became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites; 

D and they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north.

E Now the land south was called Lehi, 

F and the land north was called Mulek, 

G which was after the son of Zedekiah; 

G' for the Lord did bring 

F' Mulek into the land north, 

E' and Lehi into the land south.

D' And behold, there was all manner of gold in both these lands, and of silver, and of precious ore of every kind; and there were also curious workmen, who did work all kinds of ore and did refine it; 

C' and thus they did become rich.

B' (Economic prosperity in both lands) They did raise grain in abundance, both in the north and in the south; and they did flourish exceedingly, both in the north and in the south. And they did multiply and wax exceedingly strong in the land. And they did raise many flocks and herds, yea, many fatlings. Behold their women did toil and spin, and did make all manner of cloth, of fine-twined linen and cloth of every kind, to clothe their nakedness. 

A' And thus the sixty and fourth year did pass away in peace.


Now, look again at the "G" lines: 

G which was after the son of Zedekiah;  
G' for the Lord did bring 

Unlike most of the other flanks in this passage, this central pairing is not explicitly similar—at least, not at first blush. Actually, the name "Zedekiah" means "my righteousness is Yahweh," or "The Lord is righteousness." ("Yahweh" is usually translated from the Hebrew as "Lord" or "God" in the KJV Bible.) Pretty cool, huh? 

The "B" lines certainly demonstrate the "crescendo rule;" as any economics major will tell you, greater economic prosperity will almost always be the result when trade is opened between peoples. Lines G' thru E', when taken as a whole, are also more emphatic than their earlier counterparts, as they recount the Lord's hand in establishing those two nations, rather than their mere existence. 

I find the "D" lines particularly interesting: 

D and they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north. 
D' And behold, there was all manner of gold in both these lands, and of silver, and of precious ore of every kind; and there were also curious workmen, who did work all kinds of ore and did refine it;
I came to this passage in the first place via cross reference from Ether 10:23. (This is now the third time I've mentioned this verse, as I have a rather unhealthy obsession with it.) That verse (given again here for convenience, emphases added) is also written in chiastic form and also discusses metallurgy, using very similar language: 



a And they did work in all manner of ore

b and they did make gold, and silver, and iron, and brass, and all manner of metals

c and they did dig it out of the earth;

c' wherefore, they did cast up mighty heaps of earth 

b' to get ore, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper. 

a' And they did work all manner of fine work.


I'm not sure what to make of the chiasmus/metallurgy connection (or the significance of the Ether chiasmus itself), but find it quite interesting. 


[1]  Find his article online here; I'm too lazy to cite the reference today. 


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