Sunday, August 23, 2015

Amaron Misquoted Scripture

You may not remember who Amaron is, partly because he only contributed five short verses to the Book of Mormon. He is perhaps most famous for being Omni's son (who has a whole book named after him, even if he didn't write 86% of it). We don't know anything about him because he wrote so little, but he did manage to misquote a famous scripture.

There is a famous prophecy that appears several times in the Book of Mormon that reads:
"Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence."
In one form or another this same prophecy appears 19 times in the Book of Mormon, plus one final time when Mormon records the fulfillment of the prophecy. But in his brief contribution, Amaron managed to misquote the prophecy. He quoted it as:
"Inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall not prosper in the land." [Emphasis added]
All other versions give it as:
Keep commandments → Prosper
But Amaron gives it as a negative statement:
Don't keep commandments → Don't prosper
But if you look at the original prophecy, the promise is that if they did not keep the commandments then they would be cut off from the presence of the Lord. This is not necessarily the same as "not prospering". I have seen several modern saints who have made the same mistake, and it is an easy one to make. But we must be careful about the promises made by the Lord. They are very specific and they are phrased in a certain way for a reason. Sometimes we may be like Amaron and inadvertently misremember a scripture because we think it is functionally equivalent, but upon further reflection we realize that there is a very specific reason for the wording of certain prophecies and scriptures.

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