Helaman 13 to 16 – “Glad Tidings of Great Joy”

August 31, 2020 to September 6, 2020

The righteous people among the Nephites looked to Samuel, a Lamanite, as a prophet. This narrative reminds us to look to our prophet for instruction to be able to hear the voice of God.

“Samuel and His Nephite Sources,” John Hilton III, Sunny Hendry Hafen, and Jaron Hansen, BYU Studies Quarterly 56, no. 3.
Samuel the Lamanite used words from multiple Book of Mormon prophets extensively as he taught the Nephites: Nephi1, Jacob, Benjamin, Alma, Amulek, and Nephi2. The article focuses on two themes in Samuel’s preaching: Samuel’s use of Nephite prophecies to indict the Nephites of his day and his use of phrases regarding the house of Israel to refer to the Lamanites. The authors also identify certain potential questions regarding this intertextuality, such as how accurate the record of Samuel’s words, delivered from the city wall, might have been and how he could have been privy to conversations between the Nephites and Nephi2, recorded in Helaman 11.

“Samuel the Lamanite, Christ, and Zenos: A Study of Intertextuality,” Quinten Barney, in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture
During Christ’s mortal ministry at Jerusalem, his teachings often drew upon the writings of Isaiah, Moses, and other prophets with whom his audience was familiar. It is because of this apparent confinement to Old Testament sources that intertextual parallels between the words of Christ in Matthew 23–24 and the words of Samuel the Lamanite in Helaman 13–15 jump out as intriguing. This paper explores the intertextual relationship between these chapters in Helaman and Matthew and suggests that the parallels between these texts can be attributed to a common source available to both Samuel and Christ, the writings of the prophet Zenos.

“The Prophetic Laments of Samuel the Lamanite,” S. Kent Brown, in From Jerusalem to Zarahemla: Literary and Historical Studies of the Book of Mormon
The wide-ranging sermon of Samuel  the Lamanite, spoken from the city wall of Zarahemla, exhibits poetic features that recall laments found in the Bible, most notably in the Psalms. Like laments in the Bible, those in Samuel’s speech display traits at home in worship settings. But unlike biblical laments, the two poetic pieces in Samuel’s sermon unexpectedly contain prophecies, an element that appears elsewhere in the Thanksgiving Hymns of the Dead Sea Scrolls. These prophecies in Samuel’s poetry find fulfillment in later periods, including in the woeful days of Mormon, the compiler and editor of the Book of Mormon.

“The Time of Sin,” Joseph Spencer, in Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture
This essay provides a close theological reading of Helaman 13, the first part of the sermon of Samuel the Lamanite. Beginning from the insight that the chapter focuses intensely on time, it develops a theological case for how sin has its own temporality. Sin opens up a disastrous future, deliberately misremembers the past, and complicates the constitution of the present as the past of the future.

“‘Thus Saith the Lord’: Prophetic Language in Samuel’s Speech,” Donald W. Parry, in Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon: The FARMS Updates of the 1990s
Parry demonstrates that the Book of Mormon uses biblical patterns of prophetic speech by comparing the speech of Samuel the Lamanite with that of Old Testament prophets. Samuel, as well as Old Testament prophets, incorporate prophetic speech elements such as a messenger formula, proclamation formula, oath formula, woe oracle, announcement formula, and a revelation formula.

“Love vs. Hate: An Analysis of Helaman 15:1-4,” David E. Bokovoy, in Insights 22, no. 2
Bokovoy explains that in the Ancient Near East, the words “love” and “hate” connoted a covenant relationship being either intact or broken, rather than an emotional feeling. When Samuel declares that the Lord loved the Nephites, he may be conveying that the Nephites were in a covenant relationship with the Lord before they became wicked. See also the Book of Mormon Central KnoWhy on this topic, “Why Did Samuel Say the Lord ‘Hated’ the Lamanites?”

Chart 48: “Samuel the Lamanite’s Prophecies,” Charting the Book of Mormon
This chart lists Samuel’s prophecies of Christ’s birth and death and shows in what verses in 3 Nephi each prophecy was fulfilled.