Jarom 1:1 I, Jarom, write...that our genealogy may be kept
"To keep proper and correct genealogies of all our forefathers is a vital part of the Gospel plan. Every Latter-day Saints knows that in this way we may extend to our ancestors the blessings of the Gospel and thus become saviors on Mt. Zion. The Lord has enjoined his people, in every dispensation, to keep adequate records so that his purposes, in the end, will be fulfilled. The Jews and all the other tribes of Israel were vigilant in keeping in their proper order, a record of the lineage through which they sprang. The Nephites were zealous in all efforts to do this. Lehi found upon the Plates of Brass, a genealogy of his fathers and his descendants and ever afterwards preserved this divine injunction. Jarom, therefore, that the line may not be broken, writes a 'few words' according to this commandment which he had received." (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 496)
Jarom 1:2 these plates are small
Jarom may just as well have written, "these are the small plates," because these are the plates that Nephi made as recorded in 2 Ne 5:30. Rather than making more gold plates and continuing in the tradition of Nephi in writing the spiritual things on the small plates and the secular history on the large plates, Jarom and his successors will remind us that they are running out of space. Accordingly, Jarom writes the smallest of all the books in the Book of Mormon. He reminds us that if we want a more thorough history, we can refer to the large plates (v. 14). This may be fine for the Nephites, but it doesn't help us a lot.
Jarom 1:2 For what could I write more than my fathers have written?
Truly, Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob had written incredibly clear doctrine on the plan of salvation and the Lord's covenants with the House of Israel. It may have been intimidating for Jarom to have to continue to write in this great tradition. However, if there really was no more to be said, we would not need the writings of king Benjamin, Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, Nephi, Mormon, and Moroni. Fortunately for us, those prophets did not feel as Jarom did. Jarom apparently feels like he cannot fill the footsteps of his predecessors. We often feel the same way when we feel we are not qualified for our callings. We sound like Jarom when we ask, "How could I ever do as good a job as the last Primary President, Elders Quorum President, etc.?" From the Church News, we read:
"Legion are the experiences of members who have grown in the gospel because the mantle of responsibility has been passed their way. Their abilities grow to meet the challenges and demands of the calling. Most members feel quite inadequate when they accept a new calling, but we are called not necessarily for what we are, but for what we can become. The Lord makes us equal to the task. President Thomas S. Monson has often said, 'Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.'
"And it matters little where we serve, but how!" (Church News, May 3, 1997, "Mantle of Responsibility")
Dallin H. Oaks
"There is something deficient about any service that is conscious of self. A few months after my calling to the Council of the Twelve, I expressed my feelings of inadequacy to one of the senior members of my quorum. He responded with this mild reproof and challenging insight: 'I suppose your feelings are understandable. But you should work for a condition where you will not be preoccupied with yourself and your own feelings and can give your entire concern to others, to the work of the Lord in all the world.'
"Whenever we focus on ourselves, even in our service to others, we fall short of the example of our Savior, who gave himself as a total and unqualified sacrifice for all mankind. Those who seek to follow his example must lose themselves in their service to others." (Pure in Heart, pp. 45-6)
Jarom 1:3 God...has not as yet swept them off from the face of the land
It is interesting that the prophets are fully aware of the prophecy that the Nephites will be wiped out for their wickedness. Jarom is already worried about it and comments on the Lord's great mercy in preserving them.
Jarom 1:4 have communion with the Holy Spirit
David O. McKay
"Let us make God the center of our lives. That was one of the first admonitions given when the gospel was first preached to man. To have communion with God, through his Holy Spirit, is one of the noblest aspirations of life. It is when the peace and love of God have entered the soul, when serving him becomes the motivating factor in one's life and existence, that we can touch the lives of others, quickening and inspiring them, even though no word be spoken." (Conference Reports, Apr. 1967, p. 133)
Jarom 1:5 keep...the Sabbath day holy unto the Lord
Under the Law of Moses, the Sabbath day was a sign of the covenant between the Lord and the children of Israel. Much of the Law of Moses is concerned with teaching the people the difference between clean and unclean, between holy and unholy. The Sabbath was part of that same theme. The Lord explained to the children of Israel that the significance of the Sabbath day (other than that it represents the pattern of the creation) is that it is to remind the unholy that the Lord is the one who sanctifies them, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you (Ex 31:13). At this time, the Lord was dealing with a very stubborn and spiritually immature people. Therefore, he applied what seems to be harsh punishments for disobedience. The punishment for violating the Sabbath day was to be put to death (Ex 31:14). We should be thankful that the Lord is more lenient with us today. But this punishment for violating the Sabbath demonstrates how important the principle is to the Lord.
Joseph B. Wirthlin
"The Lord said: 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy' (Ex. 20:8) and made Sabbath day observance a sign between Him and the people to indicate their obedience. (See Ex. 31:13-17). That commandment and sign have never been rescinded. In our day, standards for keeping the Sabbath day holy are lowered a little at a time by some individuals until practically anything seems to become acceptable. The sign between the Lord and His covenant peoples is trampled underfoot as Church members skip Sunday meetings to seek recreation at lakes and beaches, in the mountains, at sports arenas, and at theaters. Parking lots at supermarkets and discount stores often are full on Sundays. Many store owners feel compelled to open their doors on Sundays because of the demand for the merchandise and services. The people who misuse the Sabbath lose the blessings of spiritual food and growth promised to those who keep this commandment." (Ensign, Mar. 1993, p. 71 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, pp. 194-5)
Jarom 1:5 they profaned not; neither did they blaspheme
The most sublime words written on this topic were penned by the apostle James, who wrote:
'If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body....
Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!...
But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison....
Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?' (James 3:2-11)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"I say this to the boys. I say it also to any of you older men. . . . I do so with love...I know that the Lord is pleased when we use clean and virtuous language, for He has set an example for us. His revelations are couched in words that are affirmative, that are uplifting, that encourage us to do what is right and to go forward in truth and goodness.
"Don't swear. Don't profane. Avoid so-called dirty jokes. Stay away from conversation that is sprinkled with foul and filthy words. You will be happier if you do so, and your example will give strength to others." (Church News, Mar. 23, 1996, "A Thought From the Scriptures.")
"Many of our boys who [play] in the streets and use profane language, know not what they are doing, but there are old men, members of the High Priests' Quorum, and of the High Council, who, when they get into a difficulty in the [canyon] and are perplexed, will get angry and swear at, and curse everything around them. I will insure that I can find High Priests who conduct in this manner. But on their way home their feelings become mollified, and they wish to plead with the Lord to forgive them. Could you place yourselves in some of our [canyons], or in some other difficult places, out of sight but within hearing, and hear some of the brethren curse and swear at their cattle and horses, you would not have the least idea that they had ever known anything about 'Mormonism,' but follow them home and you may find them pleading with the Lord for pardon. There are just such characters in our midst." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 275)
Jarom 1:8 became exceedingly rich...fine workmanship of wood in buildings and in machinery
It is important to recognize that we are now talking about 399 BC. 200 years have transpired since Lehi left Jerusalem. The amount of population growth possible in that length of time is remarkable. Apparently, the only thing that was checking an uninhibited population explosion was the unending conflict with the Lamanites. The phrase multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land gives us just a hint at how large the population could have been at this time.
Also, because of their relative righteousness, the people have become rich. Their society is complex, their buildings and machinery of fine workmanship. Some sense of these accomplishments can be realized with the archeological ruins left in Central and South America. The society had become complex.
Jarom 1:11 believe in him to come as though he already was
The Nephites looked to the atonement of Jesus Christ as though it had already been accomplished. The best example of this is Jarom's father. Enos received a remission for his sins because of his faith in Christ. The atonement had taken away his guilt even before Christ had suffered in Gesthemane and died on the cross. This remarkable truth sheds some light on the interaction between the Lord and his Father while in Gesthemane. When Christ prays that the cup be taken from him, if it be the will of the Father, there is probably nothing else that the Father would more have wished to do. But because men like Enos, and a multitude of others, had already received a remission of their sins, hundreds and thousands of years earlier, there could be no other way. There would be no way to reconcile these to God without the atoning sacrifice of the Savior. Therefore, the Father, by virtue of his magnificent love for us, allowed his son to suffer. Yet, he did not make him suffer alone, but there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him (Lu 22:43).