Friday, February 15, 2008

A Lonesome and a Solemn People

Jacob, the brother of Nephi, gives a short summation of his life at the end of his epistle:
"Our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days" (Jacob 7:26).
Nephi was careful to never complain about leaving Jerusalem, the city of his nativity. But Jacob mourns the loss of a place he never knew, with so much pathos that it's hard to imagine they were related.
How can you miss a place you've never seen? Jacob's attitude toward Jerusalem makes me wonder what sort of stories were told around the campfire. Which older brother's stories and attitudes gave rise to his longing? Nephi calls the people of Jerusalem "murderers," and Laman and Lemuel say they were "righteous." Nephi focuses on the Lord's blessings along their journey, while Laman and Lemuel complain about their trials. Jacob was born in the wilderness, and crossed the ocean while still very young. One would think he would rejoice upon reaching the promised land.
Of course...then the fraternal squabbles (and wars) got worse. Jacob must have led a sad life, to watch his family torn apart as they were. I guess that would explain why he talks so much about the restoration of scattered Israel...it seems that he was looking forward to going back to his people.
"Next year in Jerusalem!"

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