From Angelic Ferret
Jacob quotes another fictional prophet, Zenos, and produces an analogy so ridiculously convoluted and nonsensical Mormons had to invent an equally convoluted explanation just to make sense of it.
Here begins the single longest, most uninteresting chapter in the entire Book of Mormon. Its nonsensical nature and inclusion during a section of text that overlaps material covered by the lost 116 pages makes it hard to escape the conclusion that this was included just as filler material. As far as I can tell this actually was written by Joseph Smith. Mostly. Joseph basically lifted Romans 11:17-24 and expanded and padded it out to fill 77 verses. Beyond that it's filled with bad 19th-century-pretending-to-be-16th-century prose and way too many it came to passes to be considered good literature. (31 total in a single chapter)
But despite the fact that this was thoughtlessly dictated to Joseph's scribe with little thought to meaning, Mormons still managed to invent an official interpretation. This actually isn't too surprising, but unfortunately their "official" interpretation does nothing to make this verbal diarrhea any less boring; so I will include my own interpretation along side it. Otherwise there isn't much to say about it since just in these introductory paragraphs I've clearly put more thought into this than Joseph Smith has.
1 Behold, my brethren, do ye not remember to have read the words of the prophet Zenos, which he spake unto the house of Israel, saying:
Zenos is clearly a prophet that Joseph Smith invented, but didn't provide us any writings. The implication is that he was in the Old Testament, but Nephi only had the books of Moses, which is just the first five books in the Old Testament; plus he said there was some genaeology in there. If Zenos was part of the records they brought with them then it was completely unmentioned until now. Of course retroactive continuity is a staple of bad fiction, so its inclusion here is no surprise.
2 Hearken, O ye house of Israel, and hear the words of me, a prophet of the Lord.
3 For behold, thus saith the Lord, I will liken thee, O house of Israel, like unto a tame olive-tree, which a man took and nourished in his vineyard; and it grew, and waxed old, and began to decay.
Traditionally olive branches were a symbol of peace. The few references to different components of olive plants in the bible seem to have this connotation. I should note that olive "trees" start out more like a bush, and only grow into a tree-like shape when forced to do so. They do look like trees, so it's fair to call them such.
Official interpretation: The olive tree represents the Lord's covenant people, the house of Israel. This sermon was supposedly delivered right after Solomon's death (the church source says this was around 1095 BCE, other sources place it as recently as 925 BCE), and the tree growing old represents the people growing wicked immedately following his passing.
My interpretation: Because Zenos is an anonymous prophet that could live in any time period, and both Nephi and Jacob already have a habit of quoting people that weren't even born yet (such as Isaiah or from the New Testament), we can safely assume that Zenos is invisible and lives in the 21st century. Mormons believe they are adopted into the house of Israel, and given that Zenos gave his imaginary sermon next Tuesday, the tree represents the general population in Utah. The tree growing old represents older generations with outdated views (such as homophobia, racism, etc) dying off so the world can progress to a better, less destructive and more peaceful state.
4 And it came to pass that the master of the vineyard went forth, and he saw that his olive-tree began to decay; and he said: I will prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it, that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not.
5 And it came to pass that he pruned it, and digged about it, and nourished it according to his word.
6 And it came to pass that after many days it began to put forth somewhat a little, young and tender branches; but behold, the main top thereof began to perish.
Official interpretation: We jump forward in time to around 721 BCE, where the northern kingdom is "completely wicked" and practicing idolatry. They had a long line of wicked kings, and these kings (the main top thereof) began to perish. The young tender branches are Judah who were less wicked, and spared, having been scattered.
Of course none of that detail is in the text, but the text is complete nonsense so whatever. It's going to be fun trying to top that on non-sequitur details. Let's try this:
My interpretation: The master of the vineyard represents our reader, who is laboring dilligently. Growing pot. He pruned it, digged about it and nourished it according to instructions on the Internet. The "main top thereof began to perish" represents the bits of leaf that the master of the vineyard is burning in order to get stoned. The House of Israel mentioned above therefore is used metaphorically and represents marijuana.
7 And it came to pass that the master of the vineyard saw it, and he said unto his servant: It grieveth me that I should lose this tree; wherefore, go and pluck the branches from a wild olive-tree, and bring them hither unto me; and we will pluck off those main branches which are beginning to wither away, and we will cast them into the fire that they may be burned.
Note that a "wild" olive tree generally refers to an olive plant where the branches are allowed to grow every which way in a bush-like fashion. Pruning these trees will allow more nutrients to be spent on the remaining branches, and generally provide better fruit. Grafting in a wild branch would only be useful if that branch happens to be healthier, which can happen.
Official interpretation: Some people in the Kingdom of Israel were destroyed and people from other nations were brought in to replace them. Supposedly this happened when the Israelites were under siege by the Assyrians for three years.
My interpretation: As mentioned above, wild olive tree represents marijuana, and he's talking about burning branches from it. I'll leave the details as an exercise for the reader.
8 And behold, saith the Lord of the vineyard, I take away many of these young and tender branches, and I will graft them whithersoever I will; and it mattereth not that if it so be that the root of this tree will perish, I may preserve the fruit thereof unto myself; wherefore, I will take these young and tender branches, and I will graft them whithersoever I will.
9 Take thou the branches of the wild olive-tree, and graft them in, in the stead thereof; and these which I have plucked off I will cast into the fire and burn them, that they may not cumber the ground of my vineyard.
10 And it came to pass that the servant of the Lord of the vineyard did according to the word of the Lord of the vineyard, and grafted in the branches of the wild olive-tree.
11 And the Lord of the vineyard caused that it should be digged about, and pruned, and nourished, saying unto his servant: It grieveth me that I should lose this tree; wherefore, that perhaps I might preserve the roots thereof that they perish not, that I might preserve them unto myself, I have done this thing.
12 Wherefore, go thy way; watch the tree, and nourish it, according to my words.
13 And these will I place in the nethermost part of my vineyard, whithersoever I will, it mattereth not unto thee; and I do it that I may preserve unto myself the natural branches of the tree; and also, that I may lay up fruit thereof against the season, unto myself; for it grieveth me that I should lose this tree and the fruit thereof.
14 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard went his way, and hid the natural branches of the tame olive-tree in the nethermost parts of the vineyard, some in one and some in another, according to his will and pleasure.
15 And it came to pass that a long time passed away, and the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Come, let us go down into the vineyard, that we may labor in the vineyard.
Official interpretation: This is where God takes a step back to observe his people to see how they do.
My interpretation: Pot is illegal in most places in the US (which the Book of Mormon refers to as the "promised land") so the lord of the vineyard must leave his crop alone and let it grow under the radar of law enforcement for a bit.
16 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard, and also the servant, went down into the vineyard to labor. And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: Behold, look here; behold the tree.
17 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard looked and beheld the tree in the which the wild olive branches had been grafted; and it had sprung forth and begun to bear fruit. And he beheld that it was good; and the fruit thereof was like unto the natural fruit.
Official interpretation: This describes the early Christian era. The grafting in refers to the Christians getting adopted into the house of Israel.
My interpretation: Colorado legalizes pot. 'nuff said.
18 And he said unto the servant: Behold, the branches of the wild tree have taken hold of the moisture of the root thereof, that the root thereof hath brought forth much strength; and because of the much strength of the root thereof the wild branches have brought forth tame fruit. Now, if we had not grafted in these branches, the tree thereof would have perished. And now, behold, I shall lay up much fruit, which the tree thereof hath brought forth; and the fruit thereof I shall lay up against the season, unto mine own self.
19 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Come, let us go to the nethermost part of the vineyard, and behold if the natural branches of the tree have not brought forth much fruit also, that I may lay up of the fruit thereof against the season, unto mine own self.
My interpretation: The servant is looking for an excuse to go out back and get high.
20 And it came to pass that they went forth whither the master had hid the natural branches of the tree, and he said unto the servant: Behold these; and he beheld the first that it had brought forth much fruit; and he beheld also that it was good. And he said unto the servant: Take of the fruit thereof, and lay it up against the season, that I may preserve it unto mine own self; for behold, said he, this long time have I nourished it, and it hath brought forth much fruit.
21 And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: How comest thou hither to plant this tree, or this branch of the tree? For behold, it was the poorest spot in all the land of thy vineyard.
22 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto him: Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground; wherefore, I said unto thee, I have nourished it this long time, and thou beholdest that it hath brought forth much fruit.
Official interpretation: The branch here describes an unknown group of people, the records of whom were "lost." (right...)
23 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Look hither; behold I have planted another branch of the tree also; and thou knowest that this spot of ground was poorer than the first. But, behold the tree. I have nourished it this long time, and it hath brought forth much fruit; therefore, gather it, and lay it up against the season, that I may preserve it unto mine own self.
Official interpretation: This new branch represents yet another group of people who are unknown, other than that they are on a less fertile spot of ground.
My interpretation: Often, less fertile spots of ground can be easier to hide. So the lord of the vineyard is planting some of his crop there.
24 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said again unto his servant: Look hither, and behold another branch also, which I have planted; behold that I have nourished it also, and it hath brought forth fruit.
Official interpretation: Yet another branch representing yet another unknown group of people.
Given that they are trying to use this passage as a metaphor for a history of various peoples, and given the hypothesis that this entire chapter is made-up gobbledygook with little care for coherency, having people mentioned that are unknown and people who existed that were not mentioned is exactly what I would expect to see to support that hypothesis. I would have expected more of the latter than the former however, if only because you could throw any group of people or historical event in there to make it work. The fact that there are as many unknowns as there are suggests that the people who came up with the official interpretation did at least put effort into making it work, as a more blatantly dishonest attempt likely would have filled in all the gaps with irrelevant groups of people. Shame for them that Joseph didn't put forth the same effort.
25 And he said unto the servant: Look hither and behold the last. Behold, this have I planted in a good spot of ground; and I have nourished it this long time, and only a part of the tree hath brought forth tame fruit, and the other part of the tree hath brought forth wild fruit; behold, I have nourished this tree like unto the others.
Official interpretation: This branch represents the people of Lehi, and the part of the tree that produces tame fruit are the righteous Nephites.
My interpretation: Tame fruit represents hemp, which lacks THC and therefore will not make you stoned as marijuana will. Wild fruit represents actual marijuana which will make you high when smoked. Hence the servant wishes to burn the wild fruit but not the tame fruit.
26 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Pluck off the branches that have not brought forth good fruit, and cast them into the fire.
Official interpretation: The fruit which is not good and is cast into the fire is Lehi's descendants.
My interpretation: The Lord of the vineyard is basically giving his servant permission to go and smoke some weed.
27 But behold, the servant said unto him: Let us prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it a little longer, that perhaps it may bring forth good fruit unto thee, that thou canst lay it up against the season.
Official interpretation: The Lord considers destroying the Nephites, but the prophets (represented by the servant) plead on their behalf.
My interpretation: The servant decides that they can do better and decides to grow some more weed. He's clearly baked.
28 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard and the servant of the Lord of the vineyard did nourish all the fruit of the vineyard.
29 And it came to pass that a long time had passed away, and the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Come, let us go down into the vineyard, that we may labor again in the vineyard. For behold, the time draweth near, and the end soon cometh; wherefore, I must lay up fruit against the season, unto mine own self.
Official interpretation: God lets 1,500 years pass and finds that everything has gone awry. The people are being all wicked.
My interpretation: The growers return to their hidden crop and find that it's been raided.
30 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard and the servant went down into the vineyard; and they came to the tree whose natural branches had been broken off, and the wild branches had been grafted in; and behold all sorts of fruit did cumber the tree.
Official interpretation: The fruit is of all different kinds grafted in but none of it is any good. This is supposed to represent Christianity after "the apostasy." According to Mormon doctrine Christianity lost their way until Mormonism came along to fix it all.
My interpretation: Local pranksters at some point replaced the Lord of the vineyard's weed with tomatoes. Damn kids.
31 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard did taste of the fruit, every sort according to its number. And the Lord of the vineyard said: Behold, this long time have we nourished this tree, and I have laid up unto myself against the season much fruit.
32 But behold, this time it hath brought forth much fruit, and there is none of it which is good. And behold, there are all kinds of bad fruit; and it profiteth me nothing, notwithstanding all our labor; and now it grieveth me that I should lose this tree.
My interpretation: Those damn kids and their tomatoes.
33 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: What shall we do unto the tree, that I may preserve again good fruit thereof unto mine own self?
34 And the servant said unto his master: Behold, because thou didst graft in the branches of the wild olive-tree they have nourished the roots, that they are alive and they have not perished; wherefore thou beholdest that they are yet good.
35 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: The tree profiteth me nothing, and the roots thereof profit me nothing so long as it shall bring forth evil fruit.
36 Nevertheless, I know that the roots are good, and for mine own purpose I have preserved them; and because of their much strength they have hitherto brought forth, from the wild branches, good fruit.
37 But behold, the wild branches have grown and have overrun the roots thereof; and because that the wild branches have overcome the roots thereof it hath brought forth much evil fruit; and because that it hath brought forth so much evil fruit thou beholdest that it beginneth to perish; and it will soon become ripened, that it may be cast into the fire, except we should do something for it to preserve it.
38 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Let us go down into the nethermost parts of the vineyard, and behold if the natural branches have also brought forth evil fruit.
Official interpretation: God decides that all his people are wicked. This includes the Nephites and three other unknown people.
My interpretation: Those kids haven't mastered the use of tomato cages.
39 And it came to pass that they went down into the nethermost parts of the vineyard. And it came to pass that they beheld that the fruit of the natural branches had become corrupt also; yea, the first and the second and also the last; and they had all become corrupt.
40 And the wild fruit of the last had overcome that part of the tree which brought forth good fruit, even that the branch had withered away and died.
Official interpretation: This refers to the battles that take place later in the Book of Mormon between the Lamanites and Nephites.
My interpretation: That pot is finally starting to overcome those tomatoes. Good job servant.
41 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept, and said unto the servant: What could I have done more for my vineyard?
This verse is often used as justification for things not always working out in a ward despite doing everything you could. Why didn't God help me? They have to justify his existence, so an excuse for non-intervention is required. This could just as easily be interpreted to show that God really doesn't care though. At least with non-existence there is no malice involved.
42 Behold, I knew that all the fruit of the vineyard, save it were these, had become corrupted. And now these which have once brought forth good fruit have also become corrupted; and now all the trees of my vineyard are good for nothing save it be to be hewn down and cast into the fire.
My interpretation: Lots of "corrupted" fruit to be cast into the fire. What a good harvest indeed!
"Therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." is from Matthew 3:10
43 And behold this last, whose branch hath withered away, I did plant in a good spot of ground; yea, even that which was choice unto me above all other parts of the land of my vineyard.
44 And thou beheldest that I also cut down that which cumbered this spot of ground, that I might plant this tree in the stead thereof.
45 And thou beheldest that a part thereof brought forth good fruit, and a part thereof brought forth wild fruit; and because I plucked not the branches thereof and cast them into the fire, behold, they have overcome the good branch that it hath withered away.
46 And now, behold, notwithstanding all the care which we have taken of my vineyard, the trees thereof have become corrupted, that they bring forth no good fruit; and these I had hoped to preserve, to have laid up fruit thereof against the season, unto mine own self. But, behold, they have become like unto the wild olive-tree, and they are of no worth but to be hewn down and cast into the fire; and it grieveth me that I should lose them.
Matthew 3:10 ripped off here again.
47 But what could I have done more in my vineyard? Have I slackened mine hand, that I have not nourished it, Nay, I have nourished it, and I have digged about it, and I have pruned it, and I have dunged it; and I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long, and the end draweth nigh. And it grieveth me that I should hew down all the trees of my vineyard, and cast them into the fire that they should be burned. Who is it that has corrupted my vineyard?
"What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?" is from Isaiah 5:4 and "I shall dig about it, and dung it." is from Luke 13:8
48 And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard -- have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good? And because the branches have overcome the roots thereof, behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves. Behold, I say, is not this the cause that the trees of thy vineyard have become corrupted?
Official interpretation: The "apostate" world was wicked enough to warrant God destroying them. (what a swell guy!) But the servant makes a plea for the peaple to give it another shot.
Does this mean that God's promise not to flood the earth again after Noah's flood is meaningless? Anyway...
My interpretation: The servant used too much miracle grow. And they got overrun by tomatoes. Damn those kids and their tomatoes and the loftiness of the vineyard. The servant wants to keep going and yield a bit more crop (as shown in the next few verses)
49 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Let us go to and hew down the trees of the vineyard and cast them into the fire, that they shall not cumber the ground of my vineyard, for I have done all. What could I have done more for my vineyard?
The Matthew 3:10 quote again, and "What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it?" is from Isaiah 5:4
50 But, behold, the servant said unto the Lord of the vineyard: Spare it a little longer.
51 And the Lord said: Yea, I will spare it a little longer, for it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard.
52 Wherefore, let us take of the branches of these which I have planted in the nethermost parts of my vineyard, and let us graft them into the tree from whence they came; and let us pluck from the tree those branches whose fruit is most bitter, and graft in the natural branches of the tree in the stead thereof.
53 And this will I do that the tree may not perish, that, perhaps, I may preserve unto myself the roots thereof for mine own purpose.
54 And, behold, the roots of the natural branches of the tree which I planted whithersoever I would are yet alive; wherefore, that I may preserve them also for mine own purpose, I will take of the branches of this tree, and I will graft them in unto them. Yea, I will graft in unto them the branches of their mother tree, that I may preserve the roots also unto mine own self, that when they shall be sufficiently strong perhaps they may bring forth good fruit unto me, and I may yet have glory in the fruit of my vineyard.
Official interpretation: God sees that the people have matured and have become corrupted, but recognizes that they have potential to be redeemed.
My interpretation: The Lord of the vineyard is getting frustrated with all those tomatoes. Who keeps planting these things anyway? But hey, they may fetch a few bucks on the local market.
55 And it came to pass that they took from the natural tree which had become wild, and grafted in unto the natural trees, which also had become wild.
Official interpretation: This represents the geographic scattering of the people of Israel.
My interpretation: The Lord of the vineyard is hoping that some of these tomato plants will magically turn into marijuana plants. He's not much of a biologist.
56 And they also took of the natural trees which had become wild, and grafted into their mother tree.
Official interpretation: The people of Israel will return to the land of their inheritance, or the "gathering of Israel"
57 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto the servant: Pluck not the wild branches from the trees, save it be those which are most bitter; and in them ye shall graft according to that which I have said.
Official interpretation: God will destroy the most wicked people in the "last days" which is generally interpreted as whatever time period the reader of this text is living in.
58 And we will nourish again the trees of the vineyard, and we will trim up the branches thereof; and we will pluck from the trees those branches which are ripened, that must perish, and cast them into the fire.
59 And this I do that, perhaps, the roots thereof may take strength because of their goodness; and because of the change of the branches, that the good may overcome the evil.
60 And because that I have preserved the natural branches and the roots thereof, and that I have grafted in the natural branches again into their mother tree, and have preserved the roots of their mother tree, that, perhaps, the trees of my vineyard may bring forth again good fruit; and that I may have joy again in the fruit of my vineyard, and, perhaps, that I may rejoice exceedingly that I have preserved the roots and the branches of the first fruit --
61 Wherefore, go to, and call servants, that we may labor diligently with our might in the vineyard, that we may prepare the way, that I may bring forth again the natural fruit, which natural fruit is good and the most precious above all other fruit.
Official interpretation: God will call his servants out in force. The implication is that the church will grow during this time.
My interpretation: Weed is legal in Colorado boys, start the commercial farming!
62 Wherefore, let us go to and labor with our might this last time, for behold the end draweth nigh, and this is for the last time that I shall prune my vineyard.
63 Graft in the branches; begin at the last that they may be first, and that the first may be last, and dig about the trees, both old and young, the first and the last; and the last and the first, that all may be nourished once again for the last time.
Official interpretation: The Lamanites will join the church. Supposedly the Lamanites are Native Americans. Just don't let that pesky DNA evidence convince you otherwise!
"But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." is from Matthew 19:30
64 Wherefore, dig about them, and prune them, and dung them once more, for the last time, for the end draweth nigh. And if it be so that these last grafts shall grow, and bring forth the natural fruit, then shall ye prepare the way for them, that they may grow.
65 And as they begin to grow ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard.
66 For it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard; wherefore ye shall clear away the bad according as the good shall grow, that the root and the top may be equal in strength, until the good shall overcome the bad, and the bad be hewn down and cast into the fire, that they cumber not the ground of my vineyard; and thus will I sweep away the bad out of my vineyard.
67 And the branches of the natural tree will I graft in again into the natural tree;
68 And the branches of the natural tree will I graft into the natural branches of the tree; and thus will I bring them together again, that they shall bring forth the natural fruit, and they shall be one.
Official interpretation: Once people start joining the church they'll never get separated or scattered again.
My interpretation: Once weed is legal it'll stay that way. God should send us a sign of this promise. Like a rainbow or something.
69 And the bad shall be cast away, yea, even out of all the land of my vineyard; for behold, only this once will I prune my vineyard.
70 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few.
71 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come.
Official interpretation: God will reward his servants by making them happy.
My interpretation: God will reward his servants by making them happy. (with pot)
72 And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things.
73 And there began to be the natural fruit again in the vineyard; and the natural branches began to grow and thrive exceedingly; and the wild branches began to be plucked off and to be cast away; and they did keep the root and the top thereof equal, according to the strength thereof.
74 And thus they labored, with all diligence, according to the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard, even until the bad had been cast away out of the vineyard, and the Lord had preserved unto himself that the trees had become again the natural fruit; and they became like unto one body; and the fruits were equal; and the Lord of the vineyard had preserved unto himself the natural fruit, which was most precious unto him from the beginning.
Official interpretation: This refers to the final destruction of the "wicked" prior to the Millenium. (in Mormon doctrine, after Jesus comes again there will be 1,000 years where there is no sin and everyone is focused on temple work. This time period is referred to as the Millenium.)
My interpretation: Everyone gets stoned.
75 And it came to pass that when the Lord of the vineyard saw that his fruit was good, and that his vineyard was no more corrupt, he called up his servants, and said unto them: Behold, for this last time have we nourished my vineyard; and thou beholdest that I have done according to my will; and I have preserved the natural fruit, that it is good, even like as it was in the beginning. And blessed art thou; for because ye have been diligent in laboring with me in my vineyard, and have kept my commandments, and have brought unto me again the natural fruit, that my vineyard is no more corrupted, and the bad is cast away, behold ye shall have joy with me because of the fruit of my vineyard.
Official interpretation: The faithful servant is rewarded with joy.
My interpretation: The faithful servant is rewarded with joy. (from pot)
76 For behold, for a long time will I lay up of the fruit of my vineyard unto mine own self against the season, which speedily cometh; and for the last time have I nourished my vineyard, and pruned it, and dug about it, and dunged it; wherefore I will lay up unto mine own self of the fruit, for a long time, according to that which I have spoken.
Official interpretation: This "long time" refers to the millenium mentioned above.
77 And when the time cometh that evil fruit shall again come into my vineyard, then will I cause the good and the bad to be gathered; and the good will I preserve unto myself, and the bad will I cast away into its own place. And then cometh the season and the end; and my vineyard will I cause to be burned with fire.
Official interpretation: The earth will exist in a "terrestrial state" and Satan is finally cast out.
My interpretation: Everyone gets stoned. And lived happily ever after.
The utility of useless scripture
I could have easily made my interpretation of this text be anything I wanted. The justification the church uses for making this an allegory about history is the line early on about how Jacob (or Zenos?) is comparing Israel to a vineyard. As soon as the interpretation allowed there to be unknowns, such as people referred to in the text that are unknown, or allowing major and significant pieces of history with the relevant groups that is not referred to at all, then we can use the above text for any time period or people we want. We could make it about the rise and fall of the Roman empire and there would have been an abundance of events and turning points that we could plug into the appropriate place in the text above.
And why couldn't this refer to Rome? There's no more evidence that Native Americans are descended ancient Jews then there are for Itailians.
But once you get past that, the interpretations for this entire thing are pulled out of thin air. Beyond the fact that Israelites were actually mentioned at the start of the chapter—and I can say that anything is metaphorical just as easily as they can—there really is nothing else here that demonstrates that the official interpretation is related to the text any more than mine is. Both interpretations ignore parts of the text, both ignore significant details, both pull conclusions out of thin air and both are patently ridiculous.
But at least I put effort into making mine entertaining. That's gotta be worth something.
Given the above, it's hard to escape the conclusion that this entire chapter was intended as filler.
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