Hello! Shalom! Aloha! Mabuhay!

If this is your first visit to Modern Apocrypha, I have only two recommendations for continuing on with minimal confusion:

1) Please begin with the first introductory post (found HERE) and work your way forward. Almost all the posts on this blog flow chronologically and will make more sense with the background and context of previous ones. Jumping in anywhere might be disorienting.

2) Please read along in the texts posted off to the right. I try not to summarize too much in the commentary and discussion, and being at least somewhat familiar with what we're discussing or I'm commenting on will be most beneficial and edifying for all involved. Plus, going along with the theme of this blog, any hidden truths to be brought to light will be found within the text itself and not necessarily within my ramblings.

Okay, fine, three recommendations:

3) Please read with an open heart, mind, and spirit. See what truths you can find in these works--ones which speak to you. Namaste : )

Thursday, July 28, 2016


All who desired to join their church, meaning their tribe, were adopted so they might be one family and unified in all things. I love that truth, that the church (with a lowercase "c", meaning the collective body of Christ's disciples) is a family--Christ's family--and should be unified in all things. That is the essence of Zion -- to live as a family in righteousness and peace, follow the Spirit at all times, and be unified and equal in all things (see Moses 7:18).

The children born into their tribe-church, whether born to Suran's descendants or those previously adopted, didn't need the rite of adoption. In LDS terms, they were "born in the covenant." However, children of parents who were unbelieving or less-than-faithful to the Law were adopted in so they could receive a portion of their inheritance. This process of adoption is the grafting of wild or broken branches into the covenant tree, using the favored analogy of the Lord and prophets throughout the ages.

Adoptions were performed by washing with water, referring to a baptism or other sort of ritual washing, and laying on of hands. After washing, the adoptee would be taken by a priest into the inner walled court where they would meet one of the patriarchs of Suran's tribe: Ahkman, Shurak, Kodal, or Gura's husband. Water taken from the temple basin was put into a "sado" and then sprinkled on the head of the adoptee and patriarch. (I'm not sure what a "sado" is, and it seems Elisha might not have either, since the original term isn't translated. It appears to be some sort of small container.) The priest then grasps the heads of both--the patriarch in his right, the adoptee in his left--with his thumb in the center of their foreheads (an interesting specification), and pronounces their union and binding (i.e., sealing) as father and child. One last thing that I just realized is that, physically speaking, it's much easier to place the thumbs correctly when the two being bound are kneeling or sitting facing each other. It's more awkward to contort the arms, hands, and thumbs into place with them facing the priest.

In the next post, we'll discuss how the early LDS Church performed similar ordinances of adoption by sealing individuals to "patriarchs" like Joseph Smith and others, which differed from the modern practice of sealing individuals to their lineal parents.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


The population of the people of Suran continues to expand, so they begin to build cities in all the region round about the temple. Ahkman lists these cities, but they seem to be in an odd order. The first ones are mentioned after the location of the temple, and the last are said to be close to Katagan on the north coast. So it appears these cities are listed in a rough hierarchy or order of distance from the temple, which is in the city of Suran at the far southwest of their land. The north "suburbs" are Set, Abrahama, and Zedek (note the Biblical names), and the east ones are Garal and Bori. The next rung is comprised of Lisayja to the northeast, Yapinyat to the north, and Srindam in the east. The final "outliers" near Katagan are Batas in the north and the city of the Tower in the east, which... has a big tower. Note that there are no cities to the south or west, probably due to geographical or political boundaries, such as mountains, ocean, tribal territories, etc. (My current thoughts are mountains to the west and other tribes to the south.)

Ahkman quickly mentions the seven primary rites they'd been commanded by the Lord in the records to perform at the temple, and all were required to comply so as to be obedient to God. (I wonder how they walked the line of requirement without falling into compulsion -- probably following the same principles laid out at the end of D&C 121.) These ordinances are Washing, Adoption, Sacrifices, the Teaching, Marriage, Ordination, and Healing. We'll delve into these specifically in the next few chapters, but each should be easily recognizable to LDS readers. (Remember. the modern endowment ceremony has been highly condensed down from the original several-hours-long ordinance full of teachings, lectures, and discussions. The ordinance of adoption, as practiced during Joseph Smith and Brigham Young's time, also has been discontinued.)


Ahkman rewinds a bit and recounts the construction of their temple, which followed blueprints found in the Great Scroll (and similar to those found in the Ezekiel selection). His people built it with the best materials they could acquire and decorated it with bamboo, narra ("Philippine mahogany", the national tree), gold, silver, and beautiful stones.

They started with the Most Holy Place and built the Holy Place east of it. On the doors between these two rooms were engraved two trees (similar to Solomon's temple), symbolizing the Edenic Trees of Life and the Knowledge of Good and Evil. There was also a gated antechamber east of the Most Holy Place (a liminal space between levels) protected by a sword-wielding guard (representing the cherubim guarding the Garden of Eden and Tree of Life). (From the description, it's not 100% clear if the guarded antechamber is between the two rooms or to the east of them both. It sounds like the guard was for the Most Holy Place, but Solomon's temple had a similar walled porch or court to the east of the Holy Place.) This entire complex, the House, was a single building.

To the east of the House was built two pillars (again similar to Solomon's temple), one of bronze, the other of brick on which were written the most important parts of the law. There's too much discussion by Jewish scholars on the significance and symbolism of Solomon's pillars to post here (you can Google it and explore for yourself ; ), but preserving the law in writing upon the pillars is intriguing. There are Jewish and Masonic traditions about antediluvian descendants of Adam's son, Seth, who, knowing the world would be destroyed by fire or water, recorded principles of their learning and knowledge on two pillars of brick and stone, hoping at least one would survive the catastrophe.

To the east of the House were two walled courts, one containing the bronze basin (or laver in KJV speak) for ritual washing, the other housed the altar of sacrifice made from unhewn stone in the ancient tradition. As with Solomon's temple, it's unclear their position relative to each other. Depictions of Solomon's temple have the altar and basin side by side on a N-S line, aligned E-W between the gate and the temple, or the altar centered along that E-W line and the basin offset.

Round about the House and two walled courts was the upper court, and around that was the lower court, which were finished in an identical manner. Within the walls of these two courts were two "pedestals", one each on the east and west ends. I'm not sure what these pedestals could be. Maybe they were to hold sacred objects, or they could simply be referring to stairways between the courts. There were also chambers along the north and south walls of the courts (we'll see uses of these later), and to the east of the lower court was a gated vestibule (another liminal space).

Using my exceptional Excel skills, here's one possible depiction of the plan of Ahkman's temple complex:
Ahkman approves the construction of their beautiful temple, and they take the sacred writings and artifacts from the Cave of Treasures and store them in the Most Holy Place. (Were there small storage rooms or shelves, or was it just a big stereotypical pile of hoarded treasure? ; ) They also keep the people's own treasures within the rooms along the courtyard walls. (Did this act like a bank or just a safe deposit system?)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


This post won't get into the validity of prayer circles, which are well attested anciently, or the ritual of "veritable prayer" as Ahkman calls it, though they are closely tied to the present subject. (Quinn's article on LDS prayer circles is a good place to start from an LDS perspective, or much of Nibley's work in ancient religion for that matter ; ) Those practices are perpetuated today within Mormonism (though to a lesser degree than in previous times), however, the family altar around which prayers are offered is not. It has become one of many ubiquitous early Mormon practices that have slowly fallen out of sight, and thus favor, via cultural evolution and extinction of collective knowledge. (A good portion of the following quotes were found at this By Common Consent post on family altars.)

During and after the Nauvoo period, group prayer circles conducted in public and in private were common occurrences. In a talk at the Nauvoo temple site in 1845, George A. Smith recounted:
When we come together and unite our hearts and act as one mind, the Lord will hear us and will answer our prayers.... Whenever [we] could get an opportunity [we] retired to the wilderness or to an upper room, [we] did so and were always answered. It would be a good thing for us every day and pray to God in private circles.
When Brigham Young led the Saints west, he carried the practice forward where prayer circles were conducted in various buildings, including the Lion House, the Salt Lake Endowment House, and stake and ward buildings, to receive the Lord's will concerning various Church and family affairs. Members at this time were encouraged to have prayer circles in their homes if they, like other Church buildings, were dedicated by the priesthood to the Lord and possessed an altar for prayer. In 1855, Brigham Young preached on the importance of prayer in family circles:
Again, suppose a family wish to assemble for prayer, what would be orderly and proper? For the head of the family to call together his wife, or wives, and children, except the children who are too small to be kept quiet, and when he prays aloud, all present, who are old enough to understand, should mentally repeat the words as they fall from his lips; and why so? That all may be one.... There are times and places when all should vocally repeat the words spoken, but in our prayer meetings and in our family circles let every heart be united with the one who takes the lead by being mouth before the Lord, and let every person mentally repeat the prayers, and all unite in whatever is asked for, and the Lord will not withhold, but will give to such persons the things which they ask for and rightly need.
Wilford Woodruff recorded an 1858 visit to Brigham Young's home and his understanding of the family altar in such prayers:
I attended the prayer meeting in the evening. President Young said the family altar was the same as an altar in the prayer circle. It is for parents and children to join hands over the altar and pray.
Early on in 1846, Brigham Young recorded the dimensions of the Nauvoo temple altar, after which these early family altars were patterned:
The altar is about two and one-half feet high and two and one-half feet long and about one foot wide, rising from a platform about 8 or 9 inches high and extending out on all sides about a foot, forming a convenient place to kneel upon. The top of the altar and the platform for kneeling upon are covered with cushions of scarlet damask cloth; the sides of the upright part or body of the altar are covered with white linen.
Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, the central nature of the family altar in family prayer was consistently preached from the pulpit and in Church periodicals. In 1881, Joseph F. Smith taught:
It is absolutely necessary that the Latter-day Saints should come together in the family capacity, and kneeling around the family altar, call upon God for his blessings morning and evening.
Later that year, John H. Smith also references the family altar in teaching the importance of family prayer:
Now, I am sanguine that there are many who call themselves Latter-day Saints, who have neglected their duty in this respect, and many a son is permitted to grow to manhood, whose father has never asked him to bow with them at the family altar. This is a serious neglect upon the part of those who have named the name of Jesus, who have come up to these mountains to be taught in the ways of the Lord.
Sometimes, it seems, prayer at the family altar became very regimented among certain members. Men tended to usurp the prayer duties, leaving women and children out of the ritual. In 1899, George Q. Cannon spoke in general conference on the matter:
I will say here that we should give our wives and children the opportunity to pray in the family circle. There are men who think that unless they pray the Lord does not hear the prayer, and they are in the habit of doing all the praying in their families.... We should ask our wives and our daughters to pray. Let them do some of the praying in the family.... Brethren, do not get the idea that the Lord will not hear your wives and daughters. He does hear them, and He hears our little children. I would give them the opportunity as soon as they are old enough, to ask a blessing, and to pray around the family altar, and to ask for the things that are in their hearts.
In 1905, Hyrum M. Smith promoted the use of the family altar as a means of spiritual self sufficiency:
You should not feel to complain, even though one of the Twelve, or the First Council of Seventy, or even the First Presidency, find it impossible to be with you. You should read the word of the Lord from the books, and kneeling down around the family altar, you should commune with the Lord and ask Him for wisdom, judgment and enlightenment. You should depend more upon Him and less than some of us do upon those who constitute the authorities of the church.
It's not certain when altars began to wane in the Mormon home. The 1926 Improvement Era included instructions for Mutual Improvement Association Home Study that included reference to the family altar but noted that the kitchen table had become more prominent. In 1973, Hartman Rector, Jr. became the last to utter the phrase "family altar" in general conference as he described how "the temple became a 'heavenly family house,' the sealing room became a 'heavenly family room,' and the altar of the temple became a 'heavenly family altar'" as men and women are joined across it and "made 'one,' a family in the Lord."

The following chart depicts the relative frequency (not actual count) by decade of the phrase "family altar" in LDS general conference talks. This serves as a good proxy for its prominence within LDS communal knowledge and practice. (Data was taken from Corpus of LDS General Conference Talks, one of my favorite tools over the past couple years. Check it out! : )

There has never been official Church counsel against or authorized prohibition of prayer altars within Mormon homes. The practice seems to have just faded into oblivion and has now become associated with fundamentalists and apostates. The closest thing affecting the Church at a local level and tangentially related to family altars is a 1978 letter from the First Presidency to bishops and stake presidents discontinuing special ward or stake prayer circles previously held in temples or ward, stake, or other buildings. Designated rooms for those practices in local buildings were thereafter repurposed.

One final quote from the LDS Bible Dictionary: "Only the home can compare with the sacredness of the Temple." This seems to be echoed in Ahkman's instructions to his people.

Monday, July 25, 2016


Ahkman continues to teach the people about the various required sacrifices described in the Great Scroll and that they should now return to the temple to begin offering them. He also perpetuates the distinctions between the families that Suran established, with Ahkman as high priest, Shurak as king, and Kodal as prophet, and this division of labor would continue along these familial lines. Ahkman's family alone would now take on the responsibility of administering in the temple and church. Surely, just as Suran passed on his patriarchal priesthood, the children of Shurak, Kodal, and Gura had access to the conferral of the same, but only Ahkman's line was ordained to offices within the Order of God and given ecclesiastical authority to perform temple rites and minister in the church.

Ahkman also discusses baptism, saying that God has commanded all people to be baptized by immersion to signify they follow the example of Christ and as a type of His own baptism to fulfill all righteousness.

He then closes his discourse requesting each family build an altar in their home similar to that found within the temple. It is to be in a designated sacred place apart from the world around which they will gather in "veritable prayer" (i.e., true order) to God. The dimensions of this altar are ~40.5 x 18 x 40.5"  (L x W x H), and it sits on a ~76.5 x 54 x 22.5" block on which those praying kneel while facing the altar. This notion of prayer altars within the home should not be a novel idea nor come as a surprise to LDS readers. We'll see why in the next post.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016


aklatan sons of levi

Since the people of the Aklatan claim descent from Levi, built a temple wherein they performed sacrifices and other ordinances according to their scriptures, and prophesied of another temple built by their descendants before the third Jerusalem temple, I thought it would be interesting to visit the Lord's prophecies and other prophetic teachings concerning the "sons of Levi" and sacrifice in the last days.

Malachi prophesied:
And [the Lord] shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3; 3 Nephi 24:3; see also D&C 128:24)
John the Baptist told Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery:
Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness. (D&C 13:1; JSH 1:69)
Joseph Smith expanded on Malachi in a 21 March 1841 funeral sermon:
Yes brethren, the Lord will purify the sons of Levi, good or bad, for it is through them that blessings flow to Israel, and as Israel once was baptized in the cloud and in the sea, so shall God, as a refiner's fire and a fuller's soap, purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and as silver, and then, and not till then, shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord as in days of old and as in former years. (punctuation added)
The Lord taught Joseph Smith when He asked the Nauvoo temple to be built:
Therefore, verily I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places wherein you receive conversations,... are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name. (D&C 124:39)
Wilford Woodruff recorded on 18 Dec 1857 Brigham Young's plans for a room in the Salt Lake Temple to be used for animal sacrifices:
Under the pulpit in the west [Aaronic priesthood] end will be a place to offer sacrifices. There will be an altar prepared for that purpose so that when any sacrifices are to be offered, they should be offered there.
In Joseph Smith's only known written discourse on 5 Oct 1840, he taught:
Thus we behold the keys of this Priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah that He talked with [Noah] in a familiar and friendly manner, that He continued to him the keys, the covenants, the power and the glory, with which he blessed Adam at the beginning; and the offering of sacrifice, which also shall be continued at the last time; for all the ordinances and duties that ever have been required by the Priesthood, under the directions and commandments of the Almighty in any of the dispensations, shall all be had in the last dispensation, therefore all things had under the authority of the Priesthood at any former period, shall be had again, bringing to pass the restoration spoken of by the mouth of all the Holy Prophets; then shall the sons of Levi offer an acceptable offering to the Lord....
The offering of sacrifice has ever been connected and forms a part of the duties of the Priesthood. It began with the Priesthood, and will be continued until after the coming of Christ, from generation to generation. We frequently have mention made of the offering of sacrifice by the servants of the Most High in ancient days, prior to the law of Moses; which ordinances will be continued when the Priesthood is restored with all its authority, power and blessings.
Elijah was the last Prophet that held the keys of the Priesthood, and who will, before the last dispensation, restore the authority and deliver the keys of the Priesthood, in order that all the ordinances may be attended to in righteousness. It is true that the Savior had authority and power to bestow this blessing; but the sons of Levi were too prejudiced.... Why send Elijah? Because he holds the Keys of the Authority to administer in all the ordinances of the priesthood and without the authority as given, the ordinances could not be administered in righteousness.
These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the holy Prophets be brought to pass? It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the Prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses' day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued.
So what do we learn from these passages?
The Lord will purify Levi's latter-day descendants so they can participate in the final restoration of the Patriarchal priesthood, offer righteous sacrifices, bless the house of Israel, and redeem Judah and Jerusalem. The lesser or preparatory Aaronic priesthood will then be removed at that time, with only the higher priesthood remaining.

The Lord's temples are places where all ordinances pertaining to the higher priesthood are to be performed. One of those higher ordinances requested by the Lord to be performed in the Nauvoo temple (or any of His temples) were sacrifices in memorial of those performed by the sons of Levi. (None ever were.) And Brigham Young planned for the performance of the same in the Salt Lake Temple. (None ever were there, either.) If sacrifice, then, is an ordinance that accompanies the fulness of the Priesthood, the complete priesthood as was had among the Patriarchs was not exercised in Nauvoo and is not currently exercised among the general body of any Judeo-Christian denomination.)

The Patriarchs obtained their priesthood keys directly from God by His declaration (see Nephi in Helaman 10), and all ordinances they performed will be restored (but haven't been yet) in the last days. Elijah was the last prophet to hold the priesthood keys necessary to administer all ordinances (Peter, didn't then?), and he will restore them before the final restoration so that all ordinances can again be performed. (Joseph used the future tense in this statement. Was he speaking generally, meaning that Elijah had already given him all the keys at the Kirtland temple before the final restoration? Or was he saying Elijah gave him what was then necessary and would return again and restore the rest?)

In any case, the sons of Levi will play a key and pivotal role in the last days in blessing scattered Israel, redeeming Judah and Jerusalem, and restoring the fulness of the Priesthood and its ordinances to the earth. Their sacrifices will be performed with authority from God in His holy temple.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Before continuing, Ahkman offers a little personal chronology, saying he's been a servant of the Lord for 21 years and high priest for 8. I take this to mean his conversion or baptism was 21 years prior, and that Suran died 8 years previous. While Ahkman was ordained to be high priest before his father's death, Suran served in that capacity through the end of his life.

As part of his teachings to the people, Ahkman reviews the ten commandments Moses received from the hand of God. There are some interesting tidbits and insights within his paraphrase of the commandments that are worth noting:

1) Don't worship any other gods than the Lord God. This was definitely pertinent to Suran's people who were converting from animistic, polytheistic, etc. belief systems.

2) Don't make any graven (i.e., carved) image or create any image of things in heaven, earth, or water, and don't bow down to worship them. While most followers of this commandment interpret this as a prohibition against creating idols to worship, even in Ahkman's reading, there is an opening for stricter alternative interpretations, like Islamic aniconism, which prohibit the depiction of any of God's creations.

3) Don't take upon you the name of the Lord in vain, for doing that which isn't of the Lord in His name is a lie and dishonors Him in the eyes of men, and those who do such won't be held guiltless. This is an interesting spin on this commandment. Most interpretations describe this as guiding one's language, esp. in oath-making or in keeping promises. However, here it alludes to one's covenant relationship with the Lord, esp. in taking the name of the Lord upon oneself in baptism and other sacred ordinances, and that un-Christlike behavior of disciples of Christ or performing acts without express consent and authority from God directly violates this commandment. It would seem to be a much more expansive and serious commandment than many realize.

4) Remember the Sabbath day, for we're given to labor six days, but on the seventh day, we take our rest and don't perform any work, for this day is given of the Lord to man that we might be relieved of the hardships we must endure. As Jesus said, "Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."

5) Honor your fathers and mothers, for when you bring honor to them, you bring honor to all generations of your people. I like this image of honoring generations of your ancestors along your family line, or chain, or tree. It strengthens familial bonds, requires us to explore our family history, and even helps us practice charity.

6) Don't kill, for it's not given to destroy things God created. This perspective also lends itself to the broader interpretation of not taking the life of any living thing, instead of being more narrowly focused on the murder of humans. While living beings procreate, they are not creators in the same way as God. And what has God created? Everything -- the earth and all living things. (And even the earth is a living thing according to LDS theology.) God has power of creation and destruction, over life and death; those are not man's to take unto himself.

7) Don't commit adultery, meaning sexual relations with someone who is given by God to another. (This process of being "given by God" will be discussed later in Ahkman 18 and beyond.) It is interesting that Ahkman distinguishes adultery from what is often termed fornication or premarital sex. It doesn't say how dealing with that transgression would be approached, or even how serious a sin it was perceived to be.

Another interesting note is that if a woman is anointed a Holy Woman she can be given to more than one man. Speculation on the interpretation of this phrase can run far and wide, and this brings up more questions than answers. This title, Holy Woman, is only mentioned again in Angulu 8 & 15. In the latter, the resurrected Jesus teaches of divorce and says that unless a divorce is the result of adultery/fornication or the wife is a Holy Woman, she and her next spouse will be guilty of adultery. So, one who is anointed as a Holy Woman can be lawfully married to more than one man. Is this simply describing serial monogamy, or does this leave the door open for polyandry, too? (Polygyny/polygamy will be instituted among Suran's people beginning in Ahkman 18.)

In Angulu 8, Holy Woman is also used as a title for Mary, the mother of Jesus, by the wise men, but the angel Gabriel also says she will be "anointed as a Holy Woman" to conceive and bear the Son of God. This seems to be more than just a title. This process, calling, ordinance, or whatever sanctioned and legitimized Mary to lawfully bear the Son of God while also being legally married to Joseph. Either way, interesting stuff.

8) Don't steal because it's not good to take the someone else's property. 'Nuff said.

9) Don't bear false witness against your neighbor. Simple enough.

10) Don't covet your neighbor's property, but be content with what the Lord has given you. I like the flipside of that coveting coin -- being content with what you have. Everything we have, even (or esp.) our very lives, comes from God. Everything we think we "possess" is God's, which He has lent to us. He blesses us beyond measure and often beyond what we deserve (see King Benjamin's speech and Jesus' Sermon on the Mount).

Ang Aklatan


Laws of God point to Christ
At the gathering of Suran's people at Katagan, Ahkman teaches them the history of their people, instructs them of the laws and covenants God made with their ancestors which were written in the Great Scroll, and explains their meaning. (This will serve as an expansion on what we discussed in Suran 8, HERE.) Now, their Levite ancestors had many laws that were complex and hard to obey. (The rabbinic tradition maintains the existence of 613 commandments in the Torah! And by the time of Christ, the Pharisees had accumulated thousands more regulations through oral tradition. Their focus on the law and holding it up as a light had become idolatry.) But the descendants of Ophir didn't have so many laws. Ahkman wondered how these disparate laws could both be given by God, so he goes to the source (as we always should) and prays to know more concerning this issue.

God tells him that both of those peoples were to be His chosen people because they were elect and special to Him, so He caused the two ancestral laws to come together. (Yes, God works with separate chosen people living different laws and following different trajectories toward Him.) He had offered the greater law to the children of Israel in the wilderness, but they had rejected it. So he gave them another lesser law to prepare them to eventually accept the greater one. However, the earlier inhabitants that God led to the islands didn't have the law of Moses. They were already following the greater law passed down from the Fathers (the patriarchal order) and didn't need those preparatory things. But, as we read in and discussed with Suran 8, when the two people came together on the islands, there was much contention because they refused to accept the laws of the other. So, in order to unify these separate but special people, God created a unified law that meshed both the Patriarchal and Mosaic orders, laws, commandments, and practices.

God tells Ahkman that Suran's people will follow this selfsame unified law which was given to their ancestors. He will also reward their faithfulness since they have become a special and chosen people and have found favor with Him, and He promises to remember and bless them forever. I think this is a key to remember, too -- no matter their starting point, individuals and groups of people can become chosen of the Lord through their faithfulness.

Ang Aklatan

Monday, July 11, 2016


Ahkman and his brethren send their children throughout the northern land to teach the tribes the words of the Great Scroll, and many are converted to the Law of God and believe. After many years, Shurak (the king or political leader of Suran's people) sends a message to all the people requesting they gather to Katagan (Kabigan Falls), the "hidden sacred place" in the northern mountains where Ngameke taught Suran and Suran's family was baptized. Everyone gathers to the place and assembles themselves according to families around the pool there (as did King Benjamin's people in Mosiah 2:5).

Ahkman, the high priest over the temple, addresses them, explaining the importance of that place, its symbolism, and its connection to past people of God -- Adam, Moses, and Machir. (Adam and Moses we know, but Machir is a relatively unfamiliar character. The books of Numbers and Joshua say he was the firstborn of Manasseh who settled his people in Gilead after the Exodus. He's not mentioned anywhere else in the currently published Aklatan.)

Ahkman teaches that Katagan is a similitude of Mt Horeb (Sinai) and the garden of Eden. Just as Adam was cast out of God's presence, walked past the tree of life, the angel (and his flaming sword) who guarded the entrance to the garden, and the river that split in four directions, so too, to enter God's presence, Moses climbed the mountain of God past a spring of water and the burning bush, and conversed with God face to face.

Also, God had commanded Moses to construct a tabernacle after this pattern in front of which were placed an altar and basin of water, which the high priest would need to pass and be washed in to enter the Holy Place. Again, after entering the Holy Place, he would pass the candlestick to enter the Most Holy Place. In the same fashion, Ahkman teaches, Katagan has a pool of water, and the people must pass it and many trees that lead to the top of the mountain there--it's in the same pattern as other sacred places where God has spoken to His prophets.

Ahkman explains that all of this is a similitude of the journey of man, namely, that as we have all left the presence of God, to return we must pass through water and fire to converse with Him in His presence. The LDS endowment ceremony follows this same pattern -- a symbolic journey of man out of and back into the presence of God via baptism by water and fire, washings and anointings, covenant making and keeping, until one is found faithful, cleansed, purified, and sanctified to converse with the Lord and ultimately enter God's presence.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


At the end of this encounter, the Lord reiterates that Ahkman's desires are good and as long as he and his seed are righteous, they will receive the blessings offered them. But if they break their covenants with the Lord, those blessings will be withdrawn. He warns Ahkman that a time will indeed come when his descendants will fall away from God's covenants for many generations. However, the Lord will cause the covenant He made with His disciples in Jerusalem to come to Ahkman's descendants, and they will live by this covenant for a time. Yet, this covenant from Jerusalem will not be an end unto itself but will prepare them for a full restoration of their ancestral covenant with the Lord.

Even though the Spanish conquest of the Philippines was destructive and oppressive in many ways, the Lord had a hand in it because it brought Christianity and the knowledge of Christ and His Gospel again to the islands. For centuries, the Catholic flavor of Christianity prepared Ahkman's descendants to receive and accept the fullness of the Lord's covenants and blessings He has to offer them.

After they receive this fullness, they will prepare the way for the Lord's second coming. (Here also the Lord mentions in passing that He will visit Ahkman's people after His mortal ministry.) One of the primary ways they will accomplish this is by building a temple, which will precede the Lord's temple in Jerusalem and signify its near completion. This temple will be built according to the instructions provided in Ezekiel and the Aklatan.

Here are some interesting tidbits about this future temple provided by the official website:
- It will be built at the southern base of Mt Banahaw in southern Luzon (pictured above), and it and the land will be designed after Ezekiel's description. (LINK)
- The Great Scroll of Suran and the Book of Kilinga will be published after temple land is acquired and construction begun, respectively. (LINK)
- Donations toward building the temple and making items and clothing for use in it are posted (though haven't been updated in quite some time) HERE and accepted HERE and HERE.

In any case, Ahkman descends the mountain comforted in knowing God has blessings in store and a special place for him and his children.


Logo of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas
In Ahkman, we see a type of Abraham, and as part of Ahkman's Abrahamic covenant, he's also given a land of inheritance to be passed on through his generations. This land of inheritance is pretty much the same as described by Jesus in Visions 3 (and later in Buka 8), namely all of the Philippines, Taiwan, and the surrounding islands. But the Lord also promises to guide Ahkman's descendants to other lands of inheritance throughout the world.

Again, the Lord promises Ahkman that his seed will be numerous and spread abroad in the earth and mix with the seed of all nations. If we take Ahkman as a principal ancestor of modern Filipinos, we've definitely seen this promise come to pass. As of 2013, there were over 10 million Filipinos living overseas on every continent. Over 3.5 million of those live in the United States, where they represent the second largest Asian American group, with Tagalog the fifth most spoken language. Filipinos have been inhabiting areas that would become part of the United States since the late 16th century.

In the final portion of this Abrahamic covenant, the Lord also prophesies that Ahkman's seed will bless the people of the world with their wealth. As they spread throughout the world, they will gather riches and bring them to their land of inheritance. They will become powerful because of this worldly wealth, but they will use these riches to bless others. Unknowingly, they will heed the admonition of Jacob, son of Lehi (see also Jesus' words at the end of Matt 6):
But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good--to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and to administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.

Thursday, June 30, 2016


Sometime following his encounter with the angel, Ahkman again calls upon the Lord on a mountain top to pour out the desires of his heart, namely that the Lord will remain with him and his descendants for all generations. This desire and request is the same as all righteous patriarchs throughout history and is echoed in specific language at the end of the LDS endowment ceremony.

After two days of continual prayer (LDS readers can't not think of Enos, right?), God speaks to Ahkman, telling him he has been heard because he has come before the Lord in much sincerity and patience. Because of this act of faith, He makes a covenant with Ahkman, again the same as other righteous patriarchs throughout history (e.g., Abraham, Lehi, etc.). It's a powerful and overarchinig covenant, yet its requirements, blessings, and curses are laid out in the most basic of terms:
- If you remain righteous, God will remain with, protect, and bless you.
- But if you become wicked and forget God, you will lose that promise.
- Yet if you repent and turn to God, those blessings will return.

On an individual level, Ahkman is blessed as Abraham was, to be the righteous father of a blessed nation whose seed will become more numerous than the stars in the sky or sands on the seashore, and they will revere him as father and head.  This Abrahamic covenant made to Ahkman then will be passed on through his generations contingent upon their faithfulness with more specific language:
- If his descendants remain righteous, no enemy will prevail against them, nations will tremble before them, and they will have power over all who dare oppress them.
- But if they forget God, they will be cast asunder and trampled upon by all nations.

Learning about, remembering, and fulfilling these patriarchal covenants in the last days is part of what Malachi was prophesying at the end of his book. These covenant blessings were and are available to all -- Abraham's children, Nephites and Lamanites, scattered Israel -- and the Lord wishes all to receive them. Moroni quoted Malachi's words to Joseph Smith:
Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.
When the Lord appeared to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and accepted the Kirtland Temple and Moses, Elijah, and Elias verbally committed keys and dispensations, the purpose of the Lord's work in the latter days became clear -- to gather His children together and remind them of who they and their ancestors are so they can receive all of the covenant blessings rightfully belonging to them. The Lord is performing this work throughout the world, wherever the righteous hearken to His voice.

Thursday, June 9, 2016


What we have here in Ahkman 4 is a second, more-detailed, first-person account of Ahkman's conversion to Suran's teachings (see Suran 4)--Suran teaches his family; Shurak doubts, thinking Ngameke was strange and delusional; Ahkman prays about it and receives an answer. Ahkman's actions and what he learns about God are of instructional importance to any seeker of truth.

Ahkman heads off on his own to "consider the meaning" of what Suran taught, chooses a sacred, solitary place in the forest where his father would go to worship the ancestral gods, and begins to pray to those gods for knowledge. And as he prays (note, not after), an angel descends from heaven and speaks in a loud voice, which frightens Ahkman into falling backward (the ubiquitous human reaction to divine messengers : ) The angel tells him to not be afraid (the ubiquitous angelic response...) but that through his faith he's proven himself. The angel also testifies of the truth of Suran's words and of his foreordination and role as prophet to and father of a righteous people (the same thing the voice taught Suran in Suran 2).

Ahkman confesses he worships the gods of his family and has never heard of a Lord (I wonder if they're using the word Jehovah, here, but not writing it down, following the Hebrew biblical tradition), but to his credit, asks who the Lord is that he might worship him. Fortunately for Ahkman, his question, "Who is the Lord that I might worship him?" is asked in faith and acceptance, like the man born blind in John 9, rather than in doubt or rejection, as with Cain (Moses 5) or King Noah (Mosiah 11).

Because he's asked in faith, the angel teaches Ahkman that there's only one God, the Eternal Father, the master and ruler of everything, and that Ahkman's ancestors had been misled to follow after false gods. But the idolatry of Ahkman's ancestors is not counted against him because he knew no better, worshipped with full purpose of heart, and his heart was open to receive new truth. This is key--though children may suffer consequences from their parents' actions, they are not punished for their parents' sins but for their own desires and actions.

Even though he prayed to false gods, the True and Living God heard Ahkman's prayer. God knew the intent of his heart, that he didn't know any better, and that if he did, he would've prayed to Him. Even though Ahkman didn't know everything, he stepped into the dark, prayed in faith, and was blessed for his righteousness by gaining greater knowledge directly from the Lord. From Ahkman's experience with prayer, we learn that the intent of our heart is more important than where (though he finds a sacred, solitary place) or how we pray (though he prays in faith). As we pray and worship with full purpose of heart and are true and faithful to the light and knowledge given us, the Lord will visit us according to our faith and openness, softness, and brokenness of heart. As we act in faith in this way, He will reveal greater truth and a better way to worship and draw nearer to Him. Step by step, line upon line, rung by rung, we progress up the ladder from our fallen world into His celestial presence.

The angel departs, and Ahkman is left alone to ponder on this experience and the things the angel spoke. After taking some time to recover, he realizes he now knows his father's words are true and leaves the grove of idol worship to return home. What a deep and profound analogy to apply to ourselves that last sentence is. As we come to a realization of God's truth, we leave behind our idolatry, and make our way home.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


We're finally done with Suran! On to Ahkman, who now takes over as narrator and begins with describing who he is and where he comes from. This is a type of colophon (similar to what we see in 1 Nephi), a literary device used in ancient times where the author or scribe gives useful or relevant information about himself, often as a stamp of authenticity to their account. (Ruman does something similar in his introduction to Suran.)

Ahkman 1-3 lays out the generations of Suran, Ahkman's father, who had appointed him to administer the rites of the temple as its high priest. Ahkman states that his father was a direct descendant of both Semitic ("those... led out of captivity") and Levitic ("those who did journey to this land") lines as described earlier, and that he's recording this history for the benefit of future generations. (Also, I laughed at first when Ahkman said he was a direct descendant of his father, but then thought it would be important for him to state he was neither adopted nor illegitimate, and thus a rightful inheritor of his birthright.)

Suran had his children relatively late for a male within a hunter-gatherer or early agricultural society (Ahkman at 31, Shurak at 33, Kodal at 34, and Gura at 37), which usually marry young (and often, as marital laws and bonds are more relaxed and easily broken). Maybe their tribe had special norms or taboos. Here is the list of his 24 grandchildren:

Ahkman (5 children)
sons: Arakim, Laran, Subal
daughters: Seliam, Yaman

Shurak (4 children)
sons: Shuran, Shukar, Rakaal
daughter: Karila

Kodal+wife 1 (6 children)
sons: Telemek, Telakem, Barame, Kumalek
daughters: Terilan, Lorenu

Kodal+wife 2 (4 children)
son: Doronam
daughters: Dorima, Doruma, Rekel
(We'll get into Kodal's revelation and polygamy among Suran's people later in Ahkman 18-22.)

Gura (5 children)
sons: Kuman, Gavor, Rubak
daughters: Saram, Rabala

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


At the end of Suran's life, he calls all his family together to bless them, in the same vein as the Patriarchs. Now, Ngameke had initiated him into the Patriarchal Order of God and appointed him as prophet, priest, and king (in similitude of Christ), but here, Suran divides those appointments up equally among his sons. Ahkman is now high priest over the temple, Shurak king over the people, and Kodal prophet of the Lord. While all three sons were originally ordained to that same Order and seem to have been righteous enough to continue each as prophet, priest, and king in their own right, this seems to be more of a division of labor issue, with Suran's people growing larger every generation, rather than a breaking up and separation of the priesthood, as with Melchizedek, Aaronic, and Levitical orders. "And... after many days Suran died... and was buried in a place near the temple."


Let's take a break to talk about this "great abomination" for a moment. Here's what we know about it from Suran 11:
- It rises up sometime between the US Civil War and World War I.
- From context, it seems to begin in the US.
- The plural "they" is used when a pronoun replaces "abomination", meaning its comprised of several individuals or entities. (Nephi does this too in 1 Nephi 13 when describing the "great and abominable church".)
- Its purpose is to take power from the American people. (I think it's interesting the focus is on wresting power from the people. In a democratic republic like the US, that is ultimately where power resides.)
- It doesn't want to lose power over nations, so it causes the US to fight foreign wars and hate and kill foreigners.
- At the same time, it turns on and brings evil and destruction to the US in order to increase its power over the people through favorable legislation and manipulating public perception.
- After taking power, it ultimately brings about the destruction of the US.
- Through all this, the people remain oblivious (well, except for the conspiracy theorists ; )

In a Q&A session last year (discussed HERE), Elisha stated:
As I understand, the abomination is the secret corruption of powerful families that gained power in the United States. They gained power over the political, financial, and business landscape of America. Today, their influence is felt in all aspects of the United States and even around the world in other nations. This corruption will devour itself, taking with it any who remain associated. This corruption reaches into the Philippines, which is one reason the Kingdom of Maharlika must be established as quickly as possible.
So, tinfoil hat time. Suran and Elisha are saying there are kernels of truth to all the New World Order-type conspiracy theories surrounding secret societies of international elites (e.g., Bilderberg Group, Bohemian Club, Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, Skull and Bones, etc.) (even the Pentaverate ; ) But this shouldn't come as much of a surprise to readers of 1 Nephi and Revelation. The "great abomination" is simply a different perspective on the same "great and spacious building", "great and abominable church", and "great whore" motifs. Also, the Book of Mormon often equates abominations with secret combinations (see 3 Ne 3:11; 5:6; Ether 8:18).

In 1 Nephi 13-14, Nephi is shown the formation of a "great and abominable church" by the devil among the Gentile nations, which tortures, kills, and enslaves the Lord's people for the praise of the world and the gain of worldly things (the 4 Ps: power, profit, popularity, passion). They take away the plain and precious parts and covenants of the Gospel in order to pervert the right ways of God and blind the eyes and harden the hearts of mankind. Eventually, they gain dominion over all the earth, make all nations participate in their abominations, choke out the dominion of the few saints of God left, and gather multitudes upon all the earth among all the Gentile nations to fight against the Lamb. However, the great and abominable church falls as the wrath of God is poured out. They begin to war among themselves (see 1 Ne 22:13-14), are consumed by devouring fire (D&C 29:21) as tares (D&C 88:94), and fill the pit they dug for the saints.

John the Revelator also sees a vision of this corrupt confederacy in Revelation 17. Similar to Nephi, he sees this same "great whore" seated on many waters, representing her dominion over all nations and their leaders, whom she has made drunk with her abominations. The end of the chapter says she is the personification of the great city that rules over the leaders of the world. (If it was Rome in John's day, there's really only one, maybe two, candidates today.) John sees her dressed in the richest clothes and jewelry, drunk with the blood of the saints and witnesses of Christ, and seated on a 7-headed, 10-horned, scarlet beast.

The beast, heads, and horns are separate entities but tied to and outgrowths of one another. The scarlet beast is full of blasphemy, both by speaking against God and demanding worship. John says it once existed, then didn't, and it would soon come up from the underworld but ultimately go into destruction/perdition, meaning this is a revival of an ancient fallen empire or system (e.g., secret combination). Rev 13 describes this beast in further detail and says it has received power from the devil (dragon) and that a second beast makes the world worship this first beast.

The seven heads represent leaders and locations/dominions--five past, one present, and one future--the reign of the final one being brief. The beast itself is an 8th leader and dominion connected to and associated with the other seven. The 10 horns represent 10 leaders without any dominion, who receive power to reign with the beast. This coalition of beast, heads, and horns makes war against the Lamb, but the Lamb overpowers them. Instead, they turn on and destroy the great whore whom they hate (maybe because she's using them and taking their glory), stripping her naked, consuming her flesh, and burning her with fire. The wicked destroy the wicked.

Sunday, June 5, 2016


Suran 11 comprises a vision of the future of the United States, "the nation of the eagle." Again, the interpretation of the various segments of the vision seems pretty self-evident, but there hasn't been any confirmation from Elisha regarding it, aside from a quick explanation of "the great abomination". What is written here are my opinion and conclusions.

Suran begins by seeing America centuries in the future ("a great nation in a distant land") and the American Revolution against Great Britain ("children rebell[ing] against the mother") whereby the United States gains its independence ("gain[ed] much liberty from their fight") and becomes "the nation of the eagle." (The bald eagle was adopted as the national bird and symbol of the US toward the end of the Revolutionary War.)

He then sees "three great wars" during the lifetime of the US. The first is the Civil War, which divides the nation and pits "brother... against brother." Following this war, "a great abomination rise[s] up" and "take[s] power away from the people." We'll talk more about this "great abomination" in the next post, but in Book of Mormon speak, it's a large, worldwide secret combination and the equivalent of Nephi's "great and abominable church".

The second great war is World War I, in which the US fights in and aids Europe ("a distant land"). This flows right into the third great war, World War II, when Hitler ("the son of the second great war") rises up to "do great evils." But it's the abomination which is pulling the strings and pushes the US into the war (e.g., Pearl Harbor, etc.) because it doesn't want "to lose power in that nation" (whether Germany or the US or both).

Skipping forward a few decades, Suran now sees the abomination "caus[ing] much evil to come against the [American] people," beginning with the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. He sees planes ("great and lesser birds") crashing into ("attacking") the Twin Towers ("mountains") of New York City's World Trade Center, the Pentagon ("large house") in Washington, DC, and the ground in southern Pennsylvania. It's interesting to note, too, that Suran correctly observes the seemingly insignificant detail of only two towers being attacked directly but three falling (Towers 1, 2, & 7).

Now, the great abomination does this to subjugate and gain more power over the American people by taking liberties away from them and putting new laws into place (e.g., Patriot Act) that give greater freedom to the abomination. A major catalyst in this process is George W. Bush ("leader of the nation of the eagle") and his administration declaring war on Iraq ("another nation") due to its alleged store of "weapons of mass destruction", which then causes the American people to believe that the people of Iraq (and Muslims at large), are their enemy and should be killed. But the abomination causes these things to be believed so they can gain power over the US. And in the end, the US falls because of the abomination, which had sought power over it only to destroy it. Sobering thoughts for anyone, not just Americans.


Suran 10 comprises a vision of the future of Suran's descendants. The interpretation of the various segments of the vision seems pretty self-evident, but there hasn't been any confirmation from Elisha regarding it. What is written here are my opinion and conclusions.

The first segment describes events surrounding Ferdinand Magellan's (a white-skinned man "from a far away land") 1521 arrival in the Philippines on his voyage to circumnavigate the earth. Within a month, he has allied with several datu (chiefs of the Visayas and Mindanao regions) and converted them to Catholicism. However, Lapu-Lapu ("descendant... of Ahkman"), datu of Mactan island off of Cebu, who is not on the best of terms with the other datu, rejects conversion and the authority of the other datu, thus becoming a target of military attack in what is known as the Battle of Mactan. The battle is a complete failure for the superior Spanish weaponry and armor, and Magellan and several of his crew are killed. (You can check out the details HERE.)

However, as the text states, "this victory [is] not enough to stay the power" of Spain, which will rule the Philippines (named after Philip II of Spain) for the next 350 years (though not peacefully--see HERE, for example). Suran sees that the Spanish will "destroy much of the history of [his] people," which echoes the destruction of records and artifacts by Spanish conquistadors all throughout the Americas.

In 1898, conflict between Spain and the United States ("land of freedom") in the Caribbean escalated into the Spanish-American War, which spilled over into the Philippines. The US navy destroyed the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay and took Manila. However, the US didn't recognize the Philippines declaration of independence on 12 June 1898, and "many [rose] up against these new conquerors" in a three-year--and much more costly--Philippine-American War. The result is the Philippines becoming a US territory, then a commonwealth in 1934, and finally gaining independence in 1946.

Now, I'm not a scholar of modern Filipino history, and these last two segments are kind of tricky. Again, what follows is my current understanding of which historical facts fit the textual evidence. I think the next segment describes the Marcos regime from 1965-1986. After being elected then declaring martial law, Ferdinand Marcos "gather[ed] the treasures of [the] people" through kleptocracy and "deliver[ed] them to a woman," his wife, Imelda. Ferdinand accumulated over $10 billion during his presidency, while earning an annual salary equivalent to $13,500. I also remember hearing about Imelda's extravagant lifestyle on TV and in the news when I was younger. She, in turn, "deliver[ed] them up unto her children," who have become powerful politicians and businessmen themselves.

This last one is the most vague and difficult for me, but I think it might depict the presidency of Joseph Estrada. He was elected in 1998 due to overwhelming support from poor Filipinos. The text says "he shall gain much power through his armies." This could mean his army of poor supporters, but it might also reference his popular military opposition and eventual defeat of militant Islamic terrorists. Also, in 2001, Estrada was the first Filipino president to face impeachment due to allegations of corruption. But the text says he is "cast down" because of "many lies... spread by his enemies" and "people who are yellow." While the protests and trials that caused Estrada to leave office are viewed in a generally positive light, the whole situation was not beyond criticism and suspicion. The protests were coordinated by political, business, military, and church elites displeased with Estrada's policies; there were questions surrounding the constitutionality and impartiality of the trials; etc. The mention of "yellow" participants, seems to insinuate that other interested Asian parties (i.e., Chinese) were involved, as well. Finally, Suran sees that his people will remain subjugated until they unite and "cast out the evil among them."

Friday, June 3, 2016


Before he died, Ngameke also taught Suran a very basic, but standardized, system of measurement based on body parts that is similar to those found worldwide. A "taka" is equivalent to a cubit, or the distance from elbow to fingertips. A "butar" is equivalent to a span, or the width of a hand. The modern standard cubit is 18 in, with a span half of that. There are some differences, however, in how a span is measured, whether from thumb-tip to pinky-tip or simply across the palm, and Suran doesn't specify.

With this system of measurement in place, Suran, his family, and those from their tribe who wish to help begin gathering necessary items to build a temple and associated sacred articles according to the ancient records. They weave and dye cloth (the Old Testament speaks of purple, blue, and scarlet dyes), cut trees for timber, trade for a bunch of gold, etc. It's interesting, though, that Ruman says they're building this temple after that of the Order of Shem/Enoch and not after Solomon's temple. There's no real description anywhere that I could find of a "patriarchal temple".

Ruman notes that Suran's family didn't need to heed every part of the Law of Moses that was given to the children of Israel after coming out of captivity in Kemet (again, Egypt) and preserved through the Levitic line. The descendants of Ophir were not bound by that law, only that which was given to their fathers through Shem, since their ancestors hadn't sinned like the children of Israel. However, because of this distinction, the descendants of Ophir were considered Gentiles to the Levites when they first came together on the islands, which caused much contention.

This is quite an understatement, especially knowing what we do about the Mosaic prohibitions and taboos concerning Gentiles and the later Pharisaic amendments present during Jesus' time. It's amazing these two groups joined together at all. It's also interesting, and a little disheartening, that these Israelites still couldn't let go of their lesser law and traditions even when a greater, purer (and actually probably simpler) system of worshiping Jehovah that preceded their own is right in front of them. Hopefully, we can learn something from this when it comes to letting go of our lesser, more complicated traditions for something greater, purer, and simpler.

After two years, the temple is completed, and Suran takes his sons and son-in-law to purify them to serve as priests in the temple. This is done by cleansing them with water, putting priestly garments on them, and sacrificing a young water buffalo. As per the records, the sacrificial blood is painted on the horns of the altar and poured out by the altar, and the various parts of the sacrifice are burned on the altar. Once this purification ritual is complete, Suran and his sons return to the repository at Mt Genas to retrieve the sacred articles, records, and treasures for safekeeping in the temple.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


With Suran learning of his genealogy, Ruman (remember, the final compiler, editor, and sometime narrator) decides this would be a good place to insert Suran's paternal lineage. Working backward, it looks like this:


David, a Levite through Libni, escaped into the wilderness sometime during the First Temple Period, but probably later around the time of the final Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem. The primary piece of evidence pointing to this conclusion is the fact that writings of Isaiah are already included in their Record of the Ancients, so the escape would have to be sometime after Isaiah's ministry. Secondarily, the noble and priestly classes were singled out by the Babylonian conquerors as prime candidates for execution or deportation, so Levites would've been on high alert. There's no detailed account yet published of David's travels, but his group made their way from Israel to the Philippines comparatively quickly, and his son, Yosef, was his firstborn on the islands.

Ruman also mentions that an account of the travels of Shem's descendants is given elsewhere (in the History of the Ophir) but gives a quick synopsis here. Basically, two brothers, Ophir and Havilah, a few generations removed from Shem, leave their homeland (probably somewhere in the Middle East) for a new place of residence and desiring to discover where their distant relatives have been dispersed. They travel many years until they come to the land of Kemet, which is one of the primary names of ancient Egypt in their own language. It literally means "Black Land" due to the black fertile soil of the Nile Valley in contrast to the barren, desert "Red Land" (Deshret) on either side. Here is Kemet depicted in Middle Egyptian hieroglyphs:

km + m + t + city/inhabited land determinative

After spending many years in Egypt, this group makes their way west across northern Africa to the Atlantic Ocean, which they decide to cross (because Morocco wasn't good enough for them or something ; ) And after crossing the Atlantic and coming to another land (America), they wish they would've stayed in Morocco because they're captured, enslaved, and forced to "labor much under the yoke of [a population of] large men." There are a lot of fun Native American traditions and folktales of ancient giants (as there are in pretty much every culture), but there could be a seed of truth here. Also, this fits the Book of Mormon time frame of the Jaredite empire across the Land Northward. Contemporaries of Joseph Smith say the breastplate, which accompanied the interpreters that had been passed down from the brother of Jared, was too large and cumbersome for a 6'2" 200-pound Joseph to wear comfortably.

After many years in captivity, the Lord finally leads them out of the land and across the "great deep" to the west (Pacific) to the islands, which they name after themselves--Lekas, Ofir, Tarsis, Mindan, etc.--like any good explorer or colonizer. (Remember, we discussed the names and significance of these islands in Suran 1, aside from Mindan, which equates to Mindanao.) Over time, they eventually mix with the indigenous inhabitants of the islands.

Again, Ruman mentions that he's only paraphrasing the story here in order to establish the genealogy of Suran, "the father of [his] people". During this incredibly long, multi-generational journey, Ophir's son Seldam is born in the land west of Kemet, Seldam's son Yursal is born in captivity among the large men, and Yursal's son Enos is born on the voyage to the islands. They are all Suran's ancestors as well because Yosef of the Levitic line marries a descendant of Enos of the Semitic line. Their son Josu-a, then, becomes the literal merging of these two lines and two distinct priesthood Orders. Josu-a is the first in the islands authorized to administer the rites of both Orders, and thus Suran also is authorized by lineage to continue administering the requirements of both Laws and Orders as contained in the records he has found. (We'll talk more about the distinction between these two Laws and Orders in Suran 8.)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Suran next searches for the other records Ngameke had spoken of which were hidden there at the waterfall and finds many that contain the genealogy of their ancestors and stories of the Lord leading them out of captivity to these islands. (More on that later.)

There is also a mysterious inscription on a piece of bamboo that describes the location of a repository containing many sacred items and great riches. They recognize the location as being far from home, and Suran speaks with his family to see if they should journey to investigate this repository. He confesses to his wife, Tinal, that he really wants to find this repository to "prove" to himself that this is all real and finally put his mind at ease. (Again, this depiction of Suran seems very authentic. Even after all that he's experienced, there's still that sliver of uncertainty that's eating at him.) Tinal faithfully and lovingly supports her husband by testifying that the things he has taught are true and that the Lord will guide them in recovering these sacred artifacts, and she encourages him to do the will of the Lord. What a wonderful example of a faithful, believing woman--and loving, humoring wife. (Though, I think it would've been nice if this turned into a family road trip : )

So Suran and his three sons journey southeast into the mountains and, after many days, come to the foot of the mountain called Genas, as indicated by the inscription. As they are looking around, Ahkman sees a large stone with engravings matching those on the bamboo and begins removing stones from the side of the mountain, revealing a cave. (An echo of Elisha in Visions 2.)

Suran sees this and tells his sons to go gather wood to build a fire so they can see into the cave. They see it goes back farther than the light can reach, so they each take a torch and journey into the cave. (This begins an amazing parable of walking by faith into the dark.) After a while, Kodal's torch is extinguished, but they press forward into the depth of the cave. Soon all their fires go out, and they're left in perfect darkness to ponder which way to go. Kodal sees a faint light shining ahead of them (maybe his eyes adjusted faster than the others' to the darkness), and they make their way toward it. As they reach the light, they realize just how truly bright it is, and that it is coming from a room whose walls are lined with luminescent stones. The light from these stones is brighter than fire, and they are able to see the interior of the cave as if it were day. (Immediately, LDS readers will think of the brother of Jared lighting his group's barges with God-touched stones, but there are also older traditions hinting that Noah's ark was lit by such items, too. It's possible Jared's brother was simply following an earlier pattern.)

The room itself contains a great treasure of gold and silver objects, ancient records, bronze artifacts, and fine swords and weapons that seem to have been there for years and years. Suran instructs his sons to take what they can carry and hurry home so they can construct a temple as described in the records in which to place the relics and treasure and offer sacrifice in the way instructed by the Lord. The sons only take what is needful (noteworthy), seal up the mouth of the cave, and return home.

Now back to the parable of walking by faith. How often is our life, or portions of it, like walking into an unknown cave with only the light of our little fiery sticks to guide us--our previous knowledge, understanding, beliefs, preconceived notions, even whole worldviews and paradigms. In the grand scheme of spiritual things, those possessions of our own creation and experience can only get us so far before their usefulness is extinguished or snuffed out (or even sometimes they become detrimental to progression). When (not if) that happens, we are left alone in complete darkness to ponder our path. The engulfing, overwhelming, claustrophobic blackness of a cave is a perfect metaphor for those times of doubt, despair, emptiness, loss, abandonment, loneliness, betrayal, etc. that we all endure. This dark night seems like a world-shattering crisis while we're in it, but ends up becoming an essential step toward illumination and union with God. Either we can retreat to the comfort of our former life and self, or we can realize and recognize that the end goal--the whole reason we entered the cave in the first place--can only be achieved by laying aside everything we brought with us, giving ourselves over to God, and relying on Him to guide our path. It is within that utter darkness, that wretched state, that we can then see the faint glimmer of God's immense, beautiful, pure, and self-luminescent light in the distance that had been previously upstaged by our small, dancing, flickering, and easily extinguished flame. At the end of that journey into and through the darkness is God's gifts and treasures, whatever they may be--enlightenment, knowledge, love, peace, joy, life, etc.

(What's kinda cool, too, is there's an apocryphal text from the 4th century AD called "The Cave of Treasures" that talks about Adam and Eve living in a special cave after their banishment from Paradise. There are many Jewish and Christian traditions and folklore depicting sacred caves serving as burial places and/or containing records and treasure.)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016


With his family all on board, Suran takes them to the place where Ngameke taught him, many days travel to the north. Once there, the Spirit of God "causes" them to be baptized in the pool as a sign of their faith in God. Now, this isn't the Spirit forcing them to participate in an ordinance or enter a covenant. Rather, they are so full of the Spirit and inspired by the things they have learned, they can't not be baptized. Again, I like the various descriptions of baptism in the Aklatan. Here it is simply spoken of as "a sign of their faith in God." Ultimately, that is the essence of baptism--showing God we're washing away our old self and starting anew in faith. Suran's family felt the Spirit and followed its promptings.

In the way he learned from Ngameke, Suran then appoints his three sons to the three Orders of the Levitical Priesthood--Ahkman to that of Gers(h)on, Shurak to Kohath, and Kodal to Merari. The names of these three orders are taken from the three sons of Levi. During Mosaic times, these three orders assisted the priests of Aaron in taking care of and performing different duties within the tabernacle and later temple. Ngameke taught Suran that a remnant of these orders had been preserved on their islands. Suran, on the other hand, was appointed to the Holy Order of Shem--the same Order given to Adam--the Holy Order of God. Again, this appears to be the Patriarchal Order which was passed on through the generations from Adam down to Melchizedek and Abraham. (And remember that the Aklatan follows the tradition that Shem and Melchizedek are one in the same.) The Levitical Orders, then, act under and are preparatory to the Holy Order, with Suran now serving as high priest and patriarch.

They name this special place Katagan because it was a "hidden sacred place". Elisha has said it was revealed to him that this is Kabigan Falls on the northernmost coast of Luzon.


After Suran finishes teaching his family everything he's learned, his second son, Shurak, isn't convinced. He rationalizes these things away as "nothing" but "ramblings" "manufactured" by a "strange" and "delusional man" and that no one can know the future. It is interesting though, that he also says these ideas will lead their hearts away from their tribal gods. So, while Shurak is still religious or superstitious, he fears abandoning the traditional worship. 

But, in Shurak's words, Mormons will no doubt hear the echoes of Book of Mormon characters who also struggled to believe in and accept the Gospel of Christ when presented to them. From Laman & Lemuel, to the Antichrists, to the apostates and dissenters, we hear similar phrases such as "visionary", "foolish traditions", "derangement", "effect of a frenzied mind", "no man can know of anything that is to come."

However, in this case, there is hope for Shurak. Ahkman, his older brother, does what any of us should be doing when presented with new spiritual ideas -- he heads out to be alone, ponders on what their father had taught them, and prays mightily to know the truth. An angel appears to him and confirms that everything Suran taught is true. Ahkman, then, is a second witness to Suran's teachings, and Shurak believes. Though it is interesting that Shurak only testifies that this God must be the most powerful of all the gods, and therefore, should be hearkened to and worshipped. (Ahkman will give a more detailed, first hand account of this in Ahkman 4.)

All the rest of Suran's family--his wife, youngest son, and daughter--believe, as well, and he is amazed at their faith because he, himself, still can't yet fully wrap his mind around what is going on. But in spite of this uncertainty, they begin to worship God and obey His commandments. I think this is such an amazing example of faith for each and every one of us. None of us have a full comprehension of what exactly the Lord has in store for us. Each of us are left with some degree of uncertainty within which we can act in faith and exercise wise use of our agency. Not fully knowing or understanding a spiritual principle or request from the Lord should never preclude our diligence in doing our part and magnifying our calling to the best of our ability, continually seeking for and being empowered by His grace.


(This a second attempt at this post. A nearly complete first version was eaten by Blogger, which was a catalyst for the year-long hiatus. #NotTheHappiestCamper)

The Record of the Ancients ≈ The Brass Plates
Between Suran 3's two Isaiah quotations, there is a Messianic passage not found in the Bible... It's from the Book of Mormon--1 Nephi 19 to be precise. However, like the Isaiah verses, Suran 3 isn't an exact copy of 1 Nephi 19. Here's a side-by-side comparison (differences in bold-italics):

1 Nephi 19 Suran 3
 9 And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men. And the world, because of their wickedness, shall judge him to be nothing; wherefore they scourge him, and he endureth it; and they smite him, and he endureth it. Even they spit upon him, and he endureth it, and all this because of his loving kindness and his long suffering towards the children of men.
 10 And the God of our fathers, who were led out of Egypt, out of bondage, and also were preserved in the wilderness by him, yea, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, yieldeth himself, according to the words of the angel, as a man, into the hands of wicked men, to be lifted up, according to the words of Zenock, and to be crucified, according to the words of Neum, and to be buried in a sepulchre, according to the words of Zenos, which he spake concerning the three days of darkness, which should be a sign given of his death unto those who should inhabit the isles of the sea, more especially given unto those who are of the house of Israel. And even the God of our fathers, who were led out of captivity from Egypt, and also were preserved in the wilderness through Him, even, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he giveth himself, as a man, into the hands of evil men, to be lifted up, according to the words of an angel. Wherefore he shall be lifted up even upon a cross to be crucified and he shall be entombed in a sepulchre. And there shall be three days of darkness which shall overcome the land and these things shall be a sign of his death even unto us who are among the children of Israel.
 11 For thus spake the prophet: The Lord God surely shall visit all the house of Israel at that day, some with his voice, because of their righteousness, unto their great joy and salvation, and others with the thunderings and the lightnings of his power, by tempest, by fire, and by smoke, and vapor of darkness, and by the opening of the earth, and by mountains which shall be carried up. The Lord our God shall come unto all those who are of the house of Israel at that day.
 12 And all these things must surely come, saith the prophet Zenos. And the rocks of the earth must rend; and because of the groanings of the earth, many of the kings of the isles of the sea shall be wrought upon by the Spirit of God, to exclaim: The God of nature suffers. (not included)
 13 And as for those who are at Jerusalem, saith the prophet, they shall be scourged by all people, because they crucify the God of Israel, and turn their hearts aside, rejecting signs and wonders, and the power and glory of the God of Israel. Even those people who do reside in a distant land, even Jerusalem, they shall be punished because they have crucified their God. And they have rejected the signs and wonders and power and glory which doth accompany the God of Israel.
 14 And because they turn their hearts aside, saith the prophet, and have despised the Holy One of Israel, they shall wander in the flesh, and perish, and become a hiss and a byword, and be hated among all nations. And because of their pride they shall be hated among many nations.
 15 Nevertheless, when that day cometh, saith the prophet, that they no more turn aside their hearts against the Holy One of Israel, then will he remember the covenants which he made to their fathers. But when they shall turn again unto Him and remember the Holy One of Israel, He shall fulfill those promises which were made unto them through their fathers.
 16 Yea, then will he remember the isles of the sea; yea, and all the people who are of the house of Israel, will I gather in, saith the Lord, according to the words of the prophet Zenos, from the four quarters of the earth. (not included)
 17 Yea, and all the earth shall see the salvation of the Lord, saith the prophet; every nation, kindred, tongue and people shall be blessed. And all the earth shall see Him and they shall all be blessed.

We don't have time to compare and contrast all the intriguing differences and similarities (e.g., Suran omits verses speaking directly of "the isles of the sea"); however, it's clear that Suran 3 is not copying directly from 1 Nephi 19 (as we see from time to time with the Book of Mormon and KJV). Rather, there is enough evidence to suggest they are variations on a single source. Now this is interesting because in these verses, Nephi is quoting a compilation of Messianic prophecies by the extra-Biblical Zenock, Zenos, and Neum, and Suran follows the same verse order, which would indicate these prophecies were packaged together within the record they're citing--in Nephi's case, the Brass Plates, and the Record of the Ancients for Suran. Meaning, the Record of the Ancients could represent a rough equivalent of the Brass Plates. (As a tangential aside, brass in Shakespearean and King James speak really means any bronze alloy or even just copper, rather than our modern alloy of brass.) Unfortunately, the Record of the Ancients will not be published until after the Kingdom of Maharlika has been established.