OT Lesson 1 Study Notes: Moses 1

TS_scrollAs the title of this post says, these are notes for studying the lesson rather than for teaching it, though presumably one who studies the lesson will have material from which to teach it.

The notes are mostly questions, thought questions rather than questions that have some specific answer.

Verses 1-2: A short prologue to Moses begins here. Where does it end? What does it tell us about this book? Of what significance are mountains in scripture? For example, why do revelations so often occur on mountains? Why is it important that we know Moses spoke with God face to face? What does it mean to say “the glory of God was upon Moses”? What is his glory?

In the Old Testament (e.g., Exodus 2:14), the Hebrew word translated glory comes from a root word meaning “heavy,” and it means, figuratively, honor or glory. Often it connotes beauty, and when referring to God it has a visible manifestation, usually overpowering.

What does verse 5 tell us about what we read in these two verses? How about verse 39? Do D&C 29:36 or 88:19 help us understand these verses?

Verse 3: Why does the Father tell Moses his name? He has many names, why does he here use this particular name, Endless? Why does he explain his name with a rhetorical question? What does that question tell us?

Verses 4-5: Why does the Father withhold the vision of some of his works from Moses? In what sense or senses are the works of God without end? In what sense or senses are his words without end? What is God teaching in these verses? How is that relevant to Moses? How is it relevant to us?

Verse 6: Why does the Father tell Moses that Moses is in the similitude of the Only Begotten? In what way or ways is he in that similitude? Is there any connection between Moses being in the similitude of the Only Begotten and the Only Begotten being the Savior? Why does the Father say that the Only Begotten “is and shall be the Savior” (italics added)? The Father tells Moses that the Only Begotten is and will be the Savior because he is full of grace and truth. Can you explain that? What does it mean to be full of grace and truth? Is “grace and truth” a pleonastic pair? (In other words, does it repeat the idea, using two words to mean the same thing?) Why does being full of them make him the Savior? Why does the Father add “but there is no God beside me” immediately after telling Moses of the Savior? What does it mean to say that all things are present to him? What does that have to do with the rest of the verse? In what ways can something be present? The last clause of the verse says that Father’s knowledge makes all things present to him. To say that knowledge makes things present is an unusual way to speak. What do you make of what this verse says? Does it suggest anything about how things are present before God? Are things ever present for us in that way?

Verse 7: What does the phrase “this one thing I show unto thee” suggest rhetorically? In other words, what might a person be implying who says something in that way? What is the “one thing” that the Father shows Moses? Why does he explain what he shows Moses by saying, “For thou art in the world”? What does that clause add to the meaning of the verse?

Verse 8: Moses sees not just the world but “the world on which he was created.” What does the writer (is it Moses or someone else?) put it that way? The word “end” can mean “final point” and it can also mean “purpose.” Which meaning do you think is used here when the scripture says that Moses beheld the ends of the world? Why does the people Moses sees cause him to wonder? Does verse 10 provide any clues?

Verse 9: What does it mean to say that Moses was left to himself?

Verse 10: Why add the phrase “like unto a man” to “natural strength”? What does the addition add to the meaning? Can you explain what Moses means when, having had this vision of the ends of the world and all the children of men, he says, “Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed”?

Verse 11: Does this verse help answer the question about verse 10? Does it help us understand what transfiguration (literally “changing the figure”) entails?

Verse 12: Why do you think Satan addresses Moses as “son of man”? (See this piece for more on “son of man.”) Under the circumstances, why does Satan even try to get Moses to worship him? After all, Moses has just seen a vision of the Father.

Verses 13-14: When Moses looks at Satan, what does he see? What did he see when he looked at God? Why does Moses say “I am a son of God”? When Moses asks “Where is thy glory?” what is he asking about? In other words, what is missing in his encounter with Satan? How has Moses understood Satan’s address of him as “son of man”? How is this related to what he learned in verse 10?

Verses 15-16: What is Moses doing when he says “Blessed be the name of my God”? Do we do anything like that? If we do, in what way? If not, why not? In vese 15 we could understand Moses to say “his Spirit has not completely withdrawn from me, in other words, where is your glory?” What does the fact that God’s Spirit hasn’t fully withdrawn from Moses have to do with his question about Satan’s glory? How does the fact that Moses is in the similitude of the Only Begotten help him deal with Satan in this encounter? Who else has said to Satan “Get thee hence”? Does this parallel tell us anything about what we are reading?

Verses 17-18: Why is it relevant to Moses’ encounter with Satan that God has commanded him to pray? Why is it relevant that he has been commanded to pray in the name of the Only Begotten? Why does Moses tell Satan that he has other things to ask of God? What standard does Moses use to distinguish between Satan and the Father? Can we apply the same standard if we have not had Moses’s experience?

Verse 19: Compare Moses 4:1 and Moses 5:13. What do we learn here about Satan’s methods?

Verses 20-22: Why did Moses begin to fear? Why might fear cause him to see the bitterness of hell? What is the connection between Satan’s trembling and the shaking of the earth? What is the point of that connection? Did it require strength for Moses to rebuke Satan? Where did he get that strength? Why is it important to Moses that the Father is “the God of glory”? Does “glory” mean here the same thing it meant earlier in this account? How many times does Moses have to command Satan to depart? Why so many? How does Moses last command to Satan differ from the other two? What does that teach us?

Verse 23: Why / how would this record be withheld from humanity because of their wickedness? Does this explain why the Bible doesn’t contain some things that are revealed in the Joseph Smith revision? If so, can you explain that explanation?

Verses 24-25: First Moses was filled with the Holy Ghost. Then he called upon God. Then he beheld God’s glory again. Is that order of events significant? What does it mean to say that Moses was chosen by God? What might it have meant to Moses? What does it mean to us? Why is the blessing that he will be stronger than many waters important to Moses? Is “many waters” a metaphor for the ocean or something else? Is the reference to many waters a reference to the primal chaos over which God is said to have hovered in Moses 2:2 (Genesis 1:2) and which appears also to be the reference in places such as Psalms 18:16 and 29:3? How would you decide these questions?

Verse 26: What does the promise that God will be with Moses mean? Why are the two clauses of this verse connected by the word for? What does that connective tell us?

Verses 27-29: In verse 24 Moses lifted up his eyes to heaven. Now he turns them toward the earth. Does that detail tell us something? How does it help us understand the story we are reading? What does it mean to say that there wasn’t a particle of the earth that Moses did not behold? What does it mean to say that he beheld the earth “by the spirit of God”? Why is spirit uncapitalized at the end of verse 27 and capitalized in verse 28? Presumably because the two phrases refer to different things. To what might each refer?

Verse 30: When Moses asks “Why these things are so,” what is he asking? Why does Moses ask by what God has made them rather than how he has made them? Or are those the same?

Verse 31: Is this a new event, or is the writer going back to the event that opened the chapter, Moses’ encounter with God? When the Father says, “For mine own purpose have I made these things. Here is wisdom and it remaineth in me,” which of Moses’s questions is he answering? How would you put his answer in your own words? To what does the word “it” refer in “it remaineth in me”? to “wisdom” or to something else?

Verses 32-33: Why does the Father describe the Only Begotten as “the power of my word”? Notice that the phrase is not capitalized, so it isn’t another name for the Only Begotten. It is a description of him. How is Christ the power of God’s word? In both verse 31 and in verse 33, the Father says that he created the worlds for his own purposes. What do you think that means? Why does he tell us that he did so?

Verse 34: The name “Adam” is Hebrew for “man.” It is probably from a root meaning “red” (‘dm), and since the word for “earth, ground” is adama (which may also have ‘dm as its root), many believe that Adam’s name is a play on words: Adam :: human being :: earth. In some places (for example, Genesis 1:26-28) the word refers to human beings in general. In other places (such as in Genesis 5:3-5) it refers specifically to an individual; it is a name. In each case, however, the writer probably intends us to remember each of the meanings: the person Adam, made from the dust of the earth, represents all human beings. The word play of the Hebrew cannot be translated, but it is important to understanding the story. Given that word play, why does this verse end with the phrase “which is many”?

Verse 35: Why does the Father tell Moses about other worlds? According to a common Jewish understanding of the story of Creation, the purpose of that story is to teach us that the world and everything in it was created by the word and will of God rather than by some other being or by chance. How might this verse fit into such an understanding of the creation story? Why does the Father say “there are many words that have passed away by the word of my power” (italics added)? Is it significant that he says “there are many that now stand“? Does the verb stand tell us something that another verb might not?

Verse 36: Why does Moses ask the Father to be merciful to him? Is Moses showing fear? How would an answer to his question about the earth and its inhabitants be an act of mercy? Why does Moses feel compelled to ask this question? Why is it important to him?

Verses 37-38: This is essentially a repetition of verse 4. Why was that repetition necessary? We can see this pattern:

  • Verse 4: God tells Moses that his work is without end.
  • Verse 36: Moses prays that God will tell him about this world and its inhabitants.
  • Verses 37-38: The Lord says that his works are innumerable to human beings, but he knows them.

How does the third part of this patter answer Moses’ question in verse 36?

Verse 39: Given what was said in verses 37-38, why does this verse begin with “for behold”? In other words, how does this verse explain what was said in those verses? Does this verse equate the work and the glory of the Father? Does what the Father says here go further toward answering Moses’ question? Or is what he says in verses 37-39 a preamble to his answer? If the latter, why was that preamble necessary before he could answer Moses question?

Verse 40-41: Can we infer from these verses and the first part of verse 35 that the creation of this earth might have been different from the creation of other worlds? Why or why not? What do these verses tell us about the origin of the account that Moses writes? In what ways have people taken words from the Bible? We usually compare Brigham Young to Moses, but here the Father compares Joseph Smith to Moses? How was Joseph Smith like Moses?

Verse 42: To whom is this parenthetical phrase spoken? To Moses? To Joseph Smith? To someone else? Why is the name of the mountain kept secret? What does the commandment not to show these things to any but believers mean to us?

Responses to this post should be made at Feast Upon the Word.