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N.B. The text presented here has not yet been reviewed and therefore may not be an accurate reflection of the 1830 edition. Not all significant text changes in this chapter have been marked yet.
< 2 | Contents | 4 > 1 But behold, I, Jacob, would speak unto you that are pure in heart. Look unto God with firmness of mind, and pray unto him with exceeding faith, and he will console you in your afflictions, and he will plead your cause, and send down justice upon those who seek your destruction.
3 But, wo, wo, unto you that are not pure in heart; that are filthy this day before God; for except ye shall repent, the land is cursed for your sakes; and the Lamanites, which are not filthy like unto you, (nevertheless, they are cursed with a sore cursing) shall scourge you even unto destruction.
5: This passage makes it clear that the Book of Mormon narrative intended the curse put on the Lamanites to have an effect on their skin. Some apologists try to minimize the racist elements present in the Book of Mormon by arguing that the curse of darkness was more symbolic than actual. This verse makes it clear that the Lamanites had a visible marking on their skin that the Nephites could identify as a result of the curse. See verses 8–9 below and the article on Racism.
5 Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate, because of their filthiness and the cursings which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you: for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our fathers, that they should have, save it were one wife; and concubines they should have none; and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.
6 And now this commandment they observe to keep it; wherefore, because of this observance in keeping this commandment. the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.
7 Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands, and their husbands and their wives love their children; and their unbelief and their hatred towards you, is because of the iniquity of their fathers; wherefore, how much better are you than they, in the sight of your Great Creator?
8–9: In case verse 5 left any doubt about whether the “cursings” on the Lamanites’ skins were somehow figurative, this passage leaves no doubt. The whiteness of the Nephites’ skins is contrasted with the darkness of the Lamanites’ skins.
It must be acknowledged that the Book of Mormon is here teaching that skin color isn’t correlated to moral behavior. It teaches that skin color is only a temporary sign of cursedness that can be lifted by living a good life. This doctrine is somewhat commendable.
However, this passage still implies that a dark skin is a symbol of sinfulness and of cursedness and that sinful Nephites will have their skins darkened and righteous Lamanites will have their skins lightened. Skin color in the Book of Mormon is a sign of a person’s status with God which may be out of sync temporarily.
9 Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them, because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.
10 Wherefore, ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts, because of the example that ye have set before them; and also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day.
11 O my brethren, hearken unto my word; arouse the faculties of your soul; shake yourselves, that ye may awake from the slumber of death; and loose yourselves from the pains of hell, that ye may not become the Angels to the Devil, to be cast into that lake of fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
13 and a hundredth part of the proceedings of this people, which now began to be numerous, cannot be written upon these plates; but many of their proceedings are written upon the larger plates, and their wars, and their contentions, and the reigns of their kings.
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