Never shying away from speculation, I have some observations that I would like to attempt here to tie together.
I have observed that there is a practice found among some older Hebrew writings where a person, but more specifically a prophet, equates a physical journey to his spiritual journey, and more specifically his ascension teaching and initiation. I am not sure that some of the stories as we receive them may not have even been adapted and adjusted to better demonstrate the points of the stories. This practice could be called a "Hebrewism."
In a prior post (click here) I described how Abraham considered going down to Egypt as going into a "deep [spiritual] pit." I described how he made that trip by holding to his "knot of faith" or a line going into the pit with knots that represented his covenants. He was not afraid to go into the pit because he was confident he could escape by pulling himself up grasping the knots. For Abraham this trip was a spiritual journey.
Jacob in his physical journeys stopped by a place called Beth-el and as he slept he dreamed a dream where he saw a ladder ascending up to God (see Gen. 28:12). Among LDS and Jewish thinkers it is understood that the rungs on the ladder represent the covenants, ordinances, or levels of ascension, that can also be applied to each of our lives (or the lack of such covenants). This is a temple/ascension motif (Gen 28:16-19) where Jacob called the place the "house of God" and poured oil upon a stone that created an altar. All true altars have a mystical connection to one of the three altars of the temple.
Moses meet God on the Mountain. Mountains anciently represented and physically presented ascension. Going back to Abraham we read in the Zohar:
"He [Abram] moved on from there (ha-harah), to the mountain. There he discovered (har he), Mountain of He. and all those rungs planted there." (The Zohar, Matt vol . II, pg 18 - Lekh Lekha)
Abraham climbed the physical mountain and built an altar, and the Lord added a "he" to Abrams name. The "he" represents the "Shekhinah" or divine presence resulting from covenants - it is a a sign of covenant. See THIS and THIS. Continuing on:
"He [Abraham] spread (ololoh), his tent, spelled with a (he) -spreading a spread, accepting the Kingdom of Heaven with all its linked rungs."(The Zohar, Matt vol . II, pg 18 - Lekh Lekha)
We see a couple concepts intertwined. When Abraham had the sign of the covenant (he) added to his name, he spread his tent. But the "tent" was spelled with a "he" instead of the normal "vav," indicating a tent of covenant or "the tent of Shekhinah."
From the above we see an association with covenants, temples, altars, and tents. A tent can be thought of as a "Tallit Gadol" reminiscent of the temple, with "tzitzit" tied at all four corners. The Zohar continues with Abraham:
"...Abram journeyed, continually journeying towards the Negev ... Continually journeying, rung upon rung until ascending to the South, where he was fittingly bound, ascending to his rung..." (The Zohar, Matt vol . II, pg 18 & 19 - Lekh Lekha)
It is a Hebrewism to connect like this the journey, the tent, the altar, the covenants, the ascension, and the temple.
My point has to do with 1 Nephi chapter 2. In a prior post I pointed out a few of my observations about 1 Nephi 2:6-9. See my post HERE. The points I tried to make there was that there was a Hebrewism pattern in the text. In 1 Nephi 2:6-9 here is what I see:
- Lehi and his family are on a journey. It is a real journey, but also a journey of ascension.
- They camp by the river. This is an association with other ascension - living water imageries.
- Lehi builds an altar - associating this with covenants, ordinances, and the temple, and the tree of life.
- Also of interest, but not of our present concern is the valley, the sea, and the fountain of all righteousness.
My point, in 1 Nephi 2:15 which reads:
"And my father dwelt in a tent"
Which critics have cited as being out of place in the text, and useless. I submit that it is very much in place with the preceding Hebrewisms.
I would bet a dollar that the Reformed Egyptian that conveyed the word "tent" contained a modifier that gave a meaning somewhere close to "a tent of covenant" or "a tent of Shekhinah." At the very least, the way in which "tent" was used would convey the idea to any readers of Lehi's day, but is not right on the surface in our translation.
That's the way I see it. What think ye?