In 2013 the list of Scripture Mastery scriptures for LDS youth to memorize was finally changed. As part of exploring the Scripture Mastery of the Hebrew Bible (commonly called by most Christians the "Old Testament") I figured it would be fun and interesting to look over scriptures that were *removed* from the lists before I embarked on the new standard list for the Hebrew Bible in my Context series.
Hebrew:כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבֹותַי מַחְשְׁבֹותֵיכֶם וְלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם דְּרָכָי נְאֻם יְהוָה כִּי־גָבְהוְּ שָׁמַיִם מֵאָרֶץ כֵּן גָּבְהוְּ דְרָכַי מִדַּרְכֵיכֶם וְּמַחְשְׁבֹתַי מִמַּחְשְׁבֹתֵיכֶם
NJPSV: 8 For My plans are not your plans, Nor are My ways your ways —declares [Yahweh]. 9 But as the heavens are high above the earth, so are My ways high above your ways and my plans above your plans.
KJV: 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith [Yahweh]. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Why Was This Verse Removed?
I really do not know why this one was removed. In a scientific world where evidence and logic are so important to people, perhaps the Church Education System felt that emphasizing a scripture that, in effect, denies the supremacy of human thought and discovery in the face of what Yahweh says was a poor choice. Isaiah's intent, however, was to show the power and majesty of his god, and to respond to his opponents who perhaps argued that Isaiah's prophecies of the destruction of the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah were without merit. However, this is all just my own thoughts on the matter. Let me know what you think.
Hebrew:הִנְנִי שֹׁלֵחַ לְדַוֳּגִים רַבִּים נְאֻמ־יְהוָה וְדִיגוְּם וְאַחֲרֵי־כֵן אֶשְׁלַח לְרַבִּים צַיָּדִים וְצָדוְּם מֵעַל כָּל־הַר וְּמֵעַל כָּל־גִּבְעָה וְּמִנְּקִיקֵי הַסְּלָעִים
NJPSV: Lo, I am sending for many fishermen—declares [Yahweh]—and they shall haul them out; and after that I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them out of every mountain and out of every hill and out of the clefts of the rocks.
KJV: Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith [Yahweh], and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.
Why Was This Verse Removed?
This one is easy. This verse was removed because it is obviously, horribly, and laughably incorrect and torn from its context.
This one seems to have gained its last bit of popularity from the support of Elder LeGrand Richards, where it is mentioned in his popular book A Marvelous Work and a Wonder. Wonder was so popular that for over two decades it was included as part of the Missionary Gospel Study Library, a collection of books that missionaries throughout the world were allowed and encouraged to read and study from. Wonder is full of colorful anecdotes, allegories, and scriptural explorations that attempt to show not only the truthfulness of the LDS Church. The Church, unfortunately, has moved on both culturally and doctrinally since its publication and I sadly see this book disappearing from the collective attention of Mormons over the next few years. An exploration of A Marvelous Work and a Wonder is necessary if anyone wants to understand the energetic and excited viewpoint of late 1980s Mormonism before the rise of the New Mormon History and the Internet.
LeGrand Richards argues that this verse from Jeremiah, which is in the middle of a rather negative chapter about the upcoming destruction of the Kingdom of Judah, represents the mercy of God as he will eventually send missionaries that will recover scattered Israel again.
However, when read in context it's obvious that the "hunters" and "fishers" Yahweh is sending represent soldiers and warriors that will find anyone who attempts to hide from the coming destruction. Yahweh has decreed total destruction upon Israel and they're not going to escape. The transformation of Babylonian soldiers intent on death and destruction into an army of modern, clean-cut young women and men intent on happily knocking doors across the world is one that is simply too sudden and jarring to be acceptable.
It turns out that while this verse has been removed as a Scripture Mastery verse for the youth, it is still part of the focus of one of the Sunday School lessons for the Old Testament being studied in 2014, completely with the horribly incorrect comparison of the hunters and fishers to LDS missionaries. Wow!
Aramaic:44 וְּבְיֹומֵיהֹון דִּי מַלְכַיָּא אִנּוְּן יְקִים אֱלָהּ שְׁמַיָּא מַלְכוְּ דִּי לְעָלְמִין לָא תִתְחַבַּל וְּמַלְכוְּתָה לְעַם אָחֳרָן לָא תִשְׁתְּבִק תַּדִּק וְתָסֵיף כָּל־אִלֵּין מַלְכְוָתָא וְהִיא תְּקוְּם לְעָלְמַיָּא 45 כָּל־קֳבֵל דִּי־חֲזַיְתָ דִּי מִטּוְּרָא אִתְגְּזֶרֶת אֶבֶן דִּי־לָא בִידַיִן וְהַדֶּקֶת פַּרְזְלָא נְחָשָׁא חַסְפָּא כַּסְפָּא וְדַהֲבָא אֱלָהּ רַב הֹודַע לְמַלְכָּא מָה דִּי לֶהֱוֵא אַחֲרֵי דְנָה וְיַצִּיב חֶלְמָא וְּמְהֵימַן פִּשְׁרֵהּ
NJPSV: 44 And in the time of those kings, the God of Heaven will establish a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, a kingdom that shall not be transferred to another people. It will crush and wipe out all these kingdoms, but shall itself last forever— 45 just as you saw how a stone was hewn from the mountain, not by hands, and crushed the iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great [Elóah] has made known to the king what will happen in the future. The dream is sure and its interpretation reliable.
KJV: 44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. 45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great [Elóah] hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.
I'm sad to see this one go, but it also makes sense to me that it's gone. Like Jeremiah 16:16, this scripture has already seen its day in the sun come and go and its popularity has waned considerably.
It used to be that references to the LDS Church as the "stone cut out of the mountain without hands" could be easily found within the Church in common discussions, in writings, and even in official Church media (I remember a video produced for LDS Visitor's Centers at historical sites that was centered on this image as the Church as the rock, complete with horrible early computer animation, growing to eventually fill the world). As the membership of the Church ballooned during the second half of the twentieth century it was common to assume that this growth would continue until the LDS Church became one of the great world religions. Extrapolations of growth rates led many members to extrapolate numbers in the hundreds of millions before the middle of the twenty-first century. Quotations of Joseph Smith's prophecy that this Church will "grow to fill North and South America; it will grow to fill the whole world" often accompanied this scripture.
However, the growth rate, while still positive, is decelerating. Recent surveys have illustrated just how important the distinction is between members "of record" and members who self-identify as Mormons. For example, while US membership has increased between 2000 and 2010, the number of people who would identify themselves as Mormon in the United States has remained constant during the same period.
Instead, though, it is far more common nowadays to talk about how small the Church will be in the last days in terms of numbers. The rock going forth to crush the kingdoms of the earth is not the LDS Church but rather is the kingdom of God which will establish itself after the Second Coming. Until then, the wheat and the tares will grow up together, the leaven will leaven the bread, and the numerical size of the LDS Church will remain small. Se why would we want to focus on this scripture which has been historically used for the purpose of celebrating growth and potential?
From a translation and higher criticism point of view, I'm sad that this scripture isn't covered anymore. You'll notice that the original language behind this scripture is Aramaic and not Hebrew. The Book of Daniel (and other similar books like Ezra and Nehemiah) are extremely interesting windows into a period of time when they were written, which was long after the events depicted within them occurred. A time during or possibly even after the Greek occupation of Israel/Judah. But we'll not be covering that in detail for now and we'll have to set it aside for another time.
Why Was This Verse Removed?
Because it's a relic of the previous few decades celebration of membership growth, but membership growth, while still growing, is quickly slowing down. The message has changed from one celebrating quantity to one celebrating quality.