“firstfruits unto God” 

2 Nephi 2:8-9, Revelation 14:4

Renewal, Restoration, Resurrection and a Springtime Temple Grain Offering Performed in the Northern Hemisphere

EliYahu ha-navi (Elijah the prophet) appeared in the Kirtland Temple on Sunday April 3rd, 1836, not so much because it was pagan/Catholic Easter (a common enough coincidence), but because it was the day of the רֵאשִׁית (firstfruits) wave offering that follows Pesah (Passover); and because it was also the last day of the Diaspora Seder; when door ways of Jewish homes were left open in traditional anticipation of the prophet’s visitation. [1]

Easter, on the other hand, is named after the pagan fertility goddess Eastre, a possible analogue to the goddess Asherah (possibly Astarte consort of Ba'al) whom EliYahu (Elijah) opposed. (1 Kings 18:19; see also LDS Bible Dictionary - Easter)

Chronologically, Easter is defined as the first Sunday following the first full moon on or after the Spring Equinox. YisraEl’s (Israel’s) paschal sacrifice occurred at the time of the full moon in the spring of the Northern Hemisphere. But there is an important distinction that is missed in the Catholic Easter celebration: the firstfruits wave offering to the Eternal (Jehovah), symbolic of seasonal renewal, restoration and yes, resurrection. Easter fails to deliberately connect with this symbolic priesthood ordinance, and therefore sometimes misses the commemoration altogether.

The LORD’s agrarian, solar-lunar calendar that he revealed to Mosheh (Moses) and Aharon (Aaron) takes into consideration the state of the barley in the fields of the covenant land. It’s not enough to have a Sunday following a springtime full moon. There must also be harvestable barley, “firstfruits” ready in the fields for the temple wave offering during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This seven-day feast followed the day of the Passover sacrifice. (Leviticus 23:4-14)

If the barley of the covenant land was not mature enough by the end of the twelfth lunar month (true moonth), then the children of Israel were to extend the year by an additional thirteenth lunar cycle. This assured that there would always be an acceptable “firstfruits” grain offering for the first day of the week (Gentiles consider Sunday) after the Passover sacrifice.

In Hebrew Gematria the name דוד = David (Beloved), is equivalent to door + nail + door = Sinai Daletvav, nailSinai Dalet = 4 + 6 + 4 = 14. (Ezekiel 37:24-25) The Passover sacrifice was to take place on the 14th day of the first month of the New Year. (Exodus 12:1-6, Isaiah 53:7) The blood of the Passover was to mark the doorposts of the dwellings of the covenant people in bondage. (Exodus 12:7)

The pagan/Catholic celebration of Easter, though popular in the western Christian world, is not focused on the “firstfruits” priesthood ordinance of Israel, and is therefore not a consistent, or sufficient commemoration of Messiah’s resurrection (Isaiah 26:19), or of Latter-day restoration of covenant priesthood keys sealing the children to their fathers (Malachi 4:4-6, LDS Doctrine and Covenants 98:16-17; 110:13-15).

To be more accurate, the LDS Bible Dictionary - Easter entry should probably be amended so that “Easter in the Christian world” reads “Easter in the western Christian world”; because the Eastern Orthodox celebrate the Resurrection on “Pascha” Sunday (Greek for Pesah) following the appointed time of the Passover sacrifice. Not all Christian traditions are irregular, or inconsistent with the first-fruits priesthood ordinance.

Latter-day Saints, on the other hand, generally follow the Roman Catholic timing of Easter (as a western tradition) without giving it much thought. You can be educated and called of God, and still think like a Gentile - largely owing to a lack of long-term devotion to daily scripture study. (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 84:54-59)

Compare Acts 12:4 (KJV) with what the Greek scripture actually says: Acts 12:4.

Had LDS Church leaders (e.g. educated Orson Pratt and others) better understood the significance of Israel’s “firstfruits” wave offering, as commanded in scripture, they might have had some reluctance in promoting their exaggerated hemispheric geographies for the Book of Mormon’s setting. See for example footnotes (later removed) to the 1879 LDS Edition of the Book of Mormon:

Omni, 1879 Ed. footnotes

Omni, 1879 LDS Edition footnotes

Alma 22, 1879 Ed. footnotes

Alma 22, 1879 LDS Edition footnotes

Mosiah 6, 1879 Ed. footnotes

Mosiah 6, 1879 LDS Edition footnotes

Spring in the Southern hemisphere is half a year out of phase with the Passover season established in the Northern Hemisphere. South America would not do for a pre-messianic covenant land where priesthood ordinances were to be faithfully observed according to Torah. Remember, Nephi killed a man so that future generations would have the Law of Moses to keep in the American land of promise. (1 Nephi 4:14-18)

Early LDS might have taken note that the great destruction that took place in Nephite America at the death of Messiah, occurred in the same lunar month that betokened Passover and the “firstfruits” wave offering in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) - “the first month”. (3 Nephi 8:5, 2; 14th day likely misreported as 4th day. Consider a similar transcription error in 2 Chronicles 36:9 compared to 2 Kings 24:8.) Thus Nephite civilization situated (as required by the Law of Moses) in the Northern Hemisphere. The Nephites could not have kept the Law of Moses “in all things” as they did (2 Nephi 5:10), if their civilization (pre-messianic age) had been based in South America. All Israel was commanded to keep the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread in the same season that they were delivered from Egyptian bondage. (Exodus 13:10, Leviticus 23:4, Deuteronomy 16:6) [2]

In summary, the “firstfruits” priesthood ordinance was so important to the Eternal (Jehovah), that if it was seen that the barley in the fields of covenant lands would not be harvestable in time for the wave offering (during the Feast of Unleavened Bread), God required his ancient covenant people to extend the year by an entire lunar cycle.

So some Hebrew years had 13 months. In other words, the occasional adding of a leap-month  assured that the first month of the year (Passover month) would always have harvestable barley in time for the “firstfruits” wave offering. (Exodus 12:1-2, 13:4, 10; 23:15; 34:18, Leviticus 23:4-14)

This is how God’s agricultural solar-lunar Promised Land calendar made sure the “firstfruits” for the priesthood wave offering; the ordinance performed on the first day of the week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread adjoining Passover. This day then became Resurrection Day, and the day of the restoration of heavenly sealing authority held by EliYahu. It is important to note that the symbolism of resurrection extended to wheat and other produce, but barley harvest came first each year.

So there is no need in YisraEl for a pagan/Catholic festival named after a fertility goddess. (Proverbs 4:7; 8:22, Luke 7:35, Deuteronomy 21:17) If you want to celebrate Easter with the western Christian world - fine! Just know that it has no scriptural place with the restored “good tidings” of ha-Mashiah (the Messiah).

4 Remember ye the law of Moses, my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord;

6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (3 Nephi 25:4-6; Compare LDS Doctrine and Covenants 2:1-3)

References:

[1] Stephen D. Ricks, “The Appearance of Elijah and Moses in the Kirtland Temple and the Jewish Passover”, BYU Studies (1983)

[2] W. Vincent Coon, CHOICE ABOVE ALL OTHER LANDS - Book of Mormon Covenant Lands According to the Best Sources, Ch. 4, “Joseph Smith’s American Israelite Setting”, 2008

 

Elias, Elijah, Messiah

אליה, אליהו, משיח

… John the Baptist … is Elias [Elijah], which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 11:12-15, KJV; 14, Greek)

Elijah” (OT) is “Elias” (NT). Nowhere in the authorized King James Old Testament (KJV OT) is there mention of a prophet or prophets named “Elias”. Nowhere in the King James New Testament (KJV NT) does the name “Elijah” appear. Why is that? Is it because Elijah is never mentioned in the New Testament? No! In the King James NT, Elijah goes by the name “Elias” (Ἠλίας). Similarly the name “Isaiah” (KJV OT) is “Esaias” in the KJV NT. “Elias” in the New Testament represents Greek versions of the prophet’s Hebrew name(s).

It’s worth noting that “Eliu” (Ἠλειοὺ) is the name of the prophet Elijah in most instances in the Septuagint (LXX, Greek translation of Hebrew/Aramaic Scripture - the so called “Old Testament”). “Eliu” (Ἠλειοὺ) appears to mostly correspond to the prevalent Hebrew spelling “EliYahu” (אליהו).

“Elias” (Ἠλίας) appears as an English translation of “Elian” (Ἠλίαν) in Malachias IV.5, LXX; pre NT Greek scripture. Here “Elian” (Ἠλίαν), rendered “Elias” in English, corresponds to the Hebrew spelling “EliYah” (אליה). “Elian” (Ἠλίαν) is also rendered “Elias” (KJV) in Matthew 16:14; 17:10; 27:47, Mark 8:28; 15:35.

So how could “Elias” (a more recent Gentile version of the prophet’s name, used to translate various Greek spellings of the prophet’s name) have appeared as a separate personage before the appearance of “Elijah” in the Kirtland Temple? (LDS Doctrine and Covenants 110:12-14) How can the Prophet Joseph Smith be justified is seeing “Elias” as distinct from “Elijah”? See The Words of Joseph Smith, compiled by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, pp. 140 n6, 303 n21, 336, 386 n10, 389 n9.

The Prophet Joseph Smith may have gotten the understanding that Elias, as a person, could be different than Elijah based on the words of the Savior in the New Testament; which teach that John the Baptist ministered in the spirit of Elias (Elijah) and was therefore in a spiritual sense an investiture of Elias (Elijah): Matthew 11:13-15; 17:10-13; Mark 9:3-5, 11-13; Luke 1:13-17, 17; see also LDS Doctrine and Covenants 133:55; and compare 2 Kings 1:8, Mark 1:6.

By revelation, the Prophet assigned Elias (from Greek) and Elijah (from Hebrew) as general titles of callings of messengers holding different degrees of priesthood authority: Elias was to  prepare the way; and Elijah to restore and make fast (seal). Indeed it may be that any messenger with divine authority whose God(s) (Elohim) is the Eternal (Jehovah) may be described in Hebrew as an “EliYah” or an “EliYahu”, meaning “my God is the Eternal”. (Moses 7:35)

So why differentiate callings and authorities by using the titles “Elias” and “Elijah” when both of these represent the name of the same ancient prophet? This seemingly contrived distinction in revealed LDS vocabulary could possibly relate to the two Hebrew spellings of the prophet’s name appearing in scripture: “EliYah” (אליה), and “EliYahu” (אליהו). The latter spelling having the sign of the nail (vav) attached at the end of the name (read right to left), more fully spells out the sacred name of the Eternal (Jehovah).

Thus the messenger who’s God(s) is the Eternal with authority to prepare the way, qualifies as an “EliYah” (אליה). This messenger has begun to be endowed with the divine name.

The messenger who’s Elohim is the Eternal, having authority to restore, seal, and bind together qualifies as “EliYahu” (אליהו), having in his title the sign of the nail (ו). This messenger more fully takes upon him, by ordinance, the divine Tetragrammaton.

Perhaps it was revealed to Joseph that the symbolic spelling “EliYah” (אליה) could be represented in English by the familiar goy title “Elias”.

“EliYahu” (אליהו), with the vav (ו) at the end, could then be represented in English by the familiar but anglicized “Elijah” common to the authorized OT translation.

Understanding the difference in the degree of authority represented by the two spellings of the name, helps remove an apparent contradiction between passages of scripture wherein the Savior clearly stated that John the Baptist was Elias, but John himself denied that he was Elias:

10 And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias [EliYah] must first come?

11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias [Elijah, EliYahu] truly shall first come, and restore all things.

12 But I say unto you, That Elias [EliYah] is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.

13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. (Matthew 17:10-13, KJV)

19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ [ha-Mashiah].

21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias [EliYahu]? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No. (ST John 1:19-21, KJV)

The distinction between “EliYah” and “EliYahu” in the Savior’s original utterances (for those who had ears to hear) could have easily been lost when his statements were written down and copied.

 

 

 

 

 

Vincent Coon וִינְסֶנט כּוּן Copyright 2024


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