Saturday, February 11, 2012

Aminadi interprets the writing on the wall

We learn of Aminadi from Amulek when Amulek begins his message to the rebellious Ammoniha-ites
2 I am Amulek; I am the son of Giddonah, who was the son of Ishmael, who was a descendant of Aminadi; and it was that same Aminadi who interpreted the writing which was upon the wall of the temple, which was written by the finger of God.
3 And Aminadi was a descendant of Nephi, who was the son of Lehi, who came out of the land of Jerusalem…(Alma 10:2-3)
That little bit about Aminadi interpreting the writing upon the walls of the temple which was written by the finger of God is so fascinating. It is one of those places where I just want to shake Mormon for not putting in more detail, but at the same time, I know that adding more detail would have disrupted Amulek’s narrative flow.

It is fascinating how briefly Amulek refers to the story of his ancestor Aminadi. It suggests that Aminadi’s interpretation was so widely known to the people that it was an important part of their historical narrative of faith and could be referred to in a much abbreviated form, much as we speak of Joseph Smith’s first vision.

The finger of God writing on the wall of the temple would have been a great story to include, and I can’t imagine that it wasn’t included in the abridgement of the large plates of Nephi. I think it may have been a casualty of the 116 pages being lost. Yet we have just enough details for it to evoke our knowledge of the story of Daniel interpreting the writing on the palace wall for the king of Babylon. We can sort of piece together the story of Aminadi based on the story of Daniel.

In the Bible, the finger of the Lord wrote the message for the Babylonian king, but because the king didn’t understand it, Daniel was the one to interpret the writing. So, I suppose that in the Americas, the Lord wrote the message for someone or some people, but because they didn’t understand it, Aminadi was called to interpret (or came forward to interpret) the writing on the temple wall.

That the writing is on the temple wall is very intriguing. In Daniel’s story, the writing was on the palace wall where the king was. In the Book of Mormon, the writing was on the temple wall, suggesting that the priests (or a priest-king) administering in the temple were being condemned for idolatry and abominations, and a view of the writing finger of God was needed to convince them of the existence, power, and authority of God.

I think it was probably the highest-ranking priest (or possibly priest-king, since at that time kings often held the top religious authority as well) that was getting the message from the finger of God. If it had just been lower ranking priests, then the higher-ranking one(s) could admonish them. But when it is the highest ranking doing the bad stuff and leading the people astray, that would definitely be grounds for direct admonishment from God.

The writing comes to the place and person(s) who need(s) it. That the writing needs interpretation indicates that the person(s) to whom it comes is so out of tune that they don’t understand it. The person needing the interpretation must find an interpreter, so both the writing (and the subsequent interpretation) will become very publicly known. It seems to me that this is the way the Lord rebukes a person in power who should have known better; He does it in order to make sure everyone else knows not to do those same sins.

Why does Amulek mention this story of his ancestor at the beginning of his talk to the Ammonihah-ites? I think he is setting some context for his message of repentance by locating himself as a fitting person to deliver the message. Just as Aminadi interpreted a message from God to the people of his day who were out of tune with the Lord, Amulek will be interpreting a warning message from God (along with Alma) to the people of his day who are very much out of tune with God. I think Amulek drew strength from the story of his ancestor as he delivered the difficult message.

How does this little story help us today? I think knowing the valiant and righteous choices of our ancestors can help us make valiant and righteous choices in our own lives. Hearing how our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents and more distant ancestors sacrificed for the truth can encourage us when we find ourselves called upon to do it too. As a small example, I know that when my mom told me about how she worked to dress modestly in the ‘60s even when she was made fun of at high school, it helped give me strength to follow her good example and dress modestly.

How have the stories of your ancestors inspired you? Have there been times when you have found yourself doing something good that was very similar to what one of your ancestors did? How did it make you feel? How are you working to transmit those stories to your family?


Catania said...

I have a few stories of my ancestors. However, I will share an example of my children.

I was divorced about 7 years ago, and I have two children from my first marriage. They were adopted by my current husband, but I have felt it important for them to keep up their relationship with their biological father (as much as he will). Anyways...without getting into a long story, I understand their situation - as I was adopted, too. It is important to know who we are.

My daughters were working on their family history, and I felt prompted to make sure that they were doing the family history research of their biologically paternal side (in addition to their adopted father). I was able to see their pride, as they learned that they are descendants of the Waldensians (immigrants from Italy - through Lorenzo Snow). Coincidentally (well not really), my husband (their adopted father) served in Northern Italy, including 7 months where Lorenzo Snow taught those early saints. He has been able to tell the stories of their ancestors to them! The Lord works in mysterious ways.

As we were learning the stories of their ancestors, I could see that my children were feeling a stronger sense of their own identity through finding out more about their ancestors. It is amazing how when we lose ourselves in family history work, we find ourselves.

I like that you made this observation in connection with the story of Aminadi. The mention of this prophet has always intrigued me, and I have also figured that it must have been included in the 116 pages...

prwynn said...

The fact that Amulek claims to be descended from Aminadi, who interpreted the writing on the wall of the temple, is no reason to assume he is a descendant of Daniel. The interpretation on the wall at the King's party happened roughly 60 years after Lehi left Jerusalem. This makes the genealogy an impossibility. Secondly, we know that father Lehi spoke of seeing in vision the destruction of Jerusalem, (II Nephi 1:4) hence there was no need to publish it on the wall of the temple. Moreover: The translation as given to Belshazzar was that..."Thy Kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians". This message would have no relevance to temple patrons on this continent.
Why not consider the obvious, that the Book of Mormon is merely an abridgement of the brass plates containing writings from the days of Adam. We are privileged to have received that which we have, but at the same time must recall that Nephi was given things to great for man, and was therefore constrained from writing them. Nephi's father was the Prophet, Nephi set forth the example of receiving revelations by pondering the scriptures, then praying to Receive greater understanding. By so doing he received further light and knowledge that what was told by Lehi. We should always heed the Prophet, ponder his message, then pray to find out further more specific knowledge pertaining to our own individual lives. We cannot be saved in ignorance. The whole church is under condemnation to this day and will be..."until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written, that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father's kingdom". DC 84:55-58. The mission of the Church was revealed to the prophet Zenos and quoted by Jacob as the allegory of the olive tree in the Book of Mormon, Jacob chapter 5. The mission to the Lamanites as recorded in DC 28:11-16 has never been completed. The servants of the Lord are bringing about their own destruction Because of the "loftiness of the vineyard" Jacob 5:48, wherein the branches have taken strength unto themselves and overcome the roots of the tree. For this reason they have looked beyond the mark and sought their own righteousness and salvation, while forgetting the original calling to restore the book to the Lamanite and Jew.
Just food for thought. I am Paul Wynn. (Northern Indian Mission 67-69)

Michaela Stephens said...

I never said anything about Amulek being a descendent of Daniel. (Sheesh! That would CERTAINLY be going out on a limb!) Rather, my post is an attempt to tease out how Aminadi's story may have played out using the story of Daniel as a reference.

I ask myself the questions of both Daniel's story and Aminadi's story, "Why show the Lord's finger? Who is seeing it? Why communicate in this way? Who is interpretting it, and is this the same as the person who saw it? If not the same person, why the difference? What is the Lord trying to teach and how do the methods of communication underline the message?"

Of course, I know that my supposition is not necessarily how things really happened, but with so little detail, there is little means of verifying either way.

Thanks for stopping by.

Brownie Points Blog! said...

Wow! What an interesting connection to Daniel and his interpreting the writing on the wall! My husband asked me who Aminadi was and about his story and I didn't know, so I looked on the internet and found your explanation. Thanks for sharing it! It sure makes sense!

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this insight! I was reading this and got a very good feeling inside.

... I also got the feeling that this Aminadi lived during the time of one of the authors in the book of Omni, when there is very little detail given other than the fact that they were wicked or that the Nephites had been really wicked. Surely this preceded or was in conjunction with a time when the Nephites had to be chastened by the Lord sending in the Lamanites. That priest-king would probably have made some reform because of the interpretation (or just have been killed off, if that was what the interpretation said, like Babylon's king was), but I have a feeling that, just like in Babylon, it didn't result in the general public becoming really righteous.

Lenny Mandala said...

Hi. So the writings on the temple wall can not have been in the Americas, could they? Because Ishmael was a decendant of the interpreter, Aminadi?

Michaela Stephens said...

Lenny, if you'll notice from Alma 10:3, Amulek says that Aminadi was a descendent of Nephi, son of Lehi who came out of Jerusalem. So, the writings on the temple wall would have to be in the Americas. I hope that helps clarify things. Thanks for stopping by.