Meditations on 'The Book of Omni'
'The Book of Omni'
'The Book of Omni' is one of the books included in 'The Book of Mormon'. Some of this latter compilation of books was written in what has been called "Reformed Egyptian". 'The Book of Omni' is only composed of a single chapter with 30 verses. Thanks to the prophet Joseph Smith Jr., we now have an English translation of the work. A link will be provided below to the current rendition of the work, as maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Despite how short this book is, it is in the possession of five authors. The events within it happen from around 323 to 130 B.C.E.
Omni's Words on Genealogy
In the first verse, Omni mentions that he is writing on the plates ('The Book of Mormon' was originally written on plates instead of pages) "to preserve" something of his genealogy. Genealogy is a huge theme in 'The Bible' as well, and not to mention "Mormonism" as a whole. When a culture is expected, at some point at the least, to perform work for one's ancestors - then, good genealogy over long periods of time simply makes sense.
More About Omni
By the end of the second verse, we learn that Omni has served his people. He was apparently a war veteran. We also learn that his people are the Nephites. The Nephites and the Lamanites were not always friendly with one another. Omni also calls himself a "wicked man" in this verse. That's interesting, as he (in accordance to us "Mormons") is the author of scripture. The claims of wickedness are rather vague, and we should remember how relative such statements can be. Without complete context, this verse can be (in ways at the least) mysterious. Omni finishes his piece by the end of the third verse.
And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption.— from Omni 1:26
Within the fourth verse, we discover a new author to the book; that is, Amaron. He writes about how some of the "wicked" Nephites were "destroyed" in the following sentence. And, once we arrive at the ending of verse six - there is writing about prophesy. Amaron also writes how the Lord protected the righteous (verse seven). Amaron's final words in the book in verse eight show that the following author will be his own brother.This brother is Chemish.
The Author Chemish
Chemish only authors what was later organized as the ninth verse of the book. He recognizes himself as the author of this small section, and his brother authored before him. He mentions something that could be very important. He writes about how they keep the records. It would seem that something about the style is notable enough to write about. Perhaps this is his whole contribution - to remind the reader about his culture, which was a culture that had been, from time to time, influenced by the Lord. Now, it has become scripture for the last dispensation. Chemish concludes in what has been translated into only five words.
'The Book of Omni'
Abinadom Son of Chemish
Verse 10 is where Abinadom begins writing. His first sentence notes that he is Chemish's son. He was a war veteran, like Omni. He even writes about how he has killed in his life. The 11th verse makes mention that kings hold possession over at least some of his people's literature. Abinadom ends his part in the 11th verse.
Amaleki The Author
Amaleki begins his authorship in the 12th verse, where we find that he is Adinadom's son (just as Adinadom's was the son of Chemish). King Mosiah is brought into mind in the same verse. Revelation is written of as well. More important history is engraved on what is now considered the 13th verse of the book. The discovery of one people by another is brought to our attention in the 14th verse by the author Amaleki. Verse 14 is also where we see the Jews cited by name. One should remember that we "Mormons" preach that 'The Book of Mormon' is a collection of the histories of the Jews in the Americas. In verse 15, it is heavily implied that the newly found "people" are also Jewish.
... there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord...— from Omni 1:25
Verse 18 of 'The Book of Omni'
Verse 18 is very interesting. As in 'The Bible', we can find in 'The Book of Mormon' reference to works which may have been lost to time. Writings that are "not in these plates" are brought up by the end of the aforementioned verse. This always has fascinates me, because it sometimes seems a shame to lose any kind of record. It is also fascinating for the reason that such lost works are incredibly mysterious. The mysteries of the unknown make us think of the possibilities. Therefore, I am a bit in love with this section of 'The Book of Omni'.
Verse 20 of 'The Book of Omni'
Writing on tablets and stones was common in the ancient world. In verse 20, we read of a "stone" which is "brought. One should note that some of the more ancient known Hebraic writings are on stone. This stone is translated from one language to another "by the gift and power of God." This is incredibly intriguing, because the prophet Joseph Smith Jr. is also said to have translated 'The Book of Mormon' through the powers of God.
The Later Portions
It is likewise of interest, that in this work, a measurement of time by number of "moons" can be read about in the 21st verse. In the verse which follows, it is noted that the Lord is "just". Later, in verse 23, we can read of the change in kings - from Mosiah to Benjamin. The next verse makes mention again of war. Verse 26 is incredibly touching, and it is most certainly worth taking a moment to read. Amaleki finishes the book when he is close to his death. This is inspiring to the reader of 'The Book of Omni'.
Short and Sweet
'The Book of Omni' may be considerably short, but it is not unimportant. Like a prayer; sometimes shorter yet filled is better. There is a lot in a small area of space. This book can encourage readers, who perhaps do not normally enjoy reading, to thirst for more. This work is an invitation to continue our studies of 'The Book of Mormon', 'The Bible', and our savior - even Jesus Christ, amen.
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Alexander James Guckenberger