Source:Reexploring the Book of Mormon:Ch:18:1:Jacob and the ten commandments

Ten Commandments and Jacob

Ten Commandments and Jacob

In a lecture delivered at Brigham Young University in 1985, Professor William M. Brinner of the University of California at Berkeley analyzed two passages in the Qur'an that seem to contain Islamic versions of the "Ten Commandments." These are not copies of the biblical Decalogue, Brinner argued, although there are some resemblances that have led others to belittle the Qur'an as a poor copy of the Bible. Each religion, Brinner suggested, has its own summary of its most cherished principles, stated in terms relevant to its own cultural setting.

Similar observations might be made regarding ten statements made by Jacob in 2 Nephi 9:27-38. There Jacob summarizes ten essential principles and rules of Nephite religion. They may be paraphrased as follows:

  1. Wo unto them who have God's law and commandments, who transgress them because they are learned and think they are wise. They hearken not unto the counsel of God, supposing they know of themselves. Therefore, their wisdom is foolishness, and they shall perish (vv. 9:27-29).
  2. Wo unto the rich. Because they are rich, they despise the poor. Their treasure is their God, and their treasure shall perish with them (v. 9:30).
  3. Wo unto the deaf who will not hear, for they shall perish (v. 9:31).
  4. Wo unto the blind who will not see, for they shall perish also (v. 9:32).
  5. Wo unto the uncircumcised of heart, for a knowledge of their iniquities shall smite them at the last day (v. 9:33).
  6. Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell (v. 9:34).
  7. Wo unto the murderer who deliberately kills, for he shall die (v. 9:35).
  8. Wo unto them who commit whoredoms, for they shall be thrust down to hell (v. 9:36).
  9. Wo unto those who worship idols, for the devil of all devils delights in them (v. 9:37).
  10. Wo unto all those who die in their sins, for they shall return to God, behold his face, and remain in their sins (v. 9:38).
Jacob apparently had the Decalogue of Deuteronomy 5: or Exodus 20: in mind when he wrote these words. The prohibitions against worshiping images, committing murder or adultery, and bearing false witness (see Exodus 20:4-6,13-14,16) are clearly present in Jacob's sixth through ninth woes. Jacob's summary in these ten "woes" is much more than a thoughtless copy of the biblical ideals. Whereas the Decalogue gave the law, Jacob goes one step further by stressing the consequences of breaking the law.[1]


  1. John W. Welch, "Jacob's Ten Commandments," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), Chapter 18, references silently removed—consult original for citations.