3 “The parable of Zenos, recorded by Jacob in chapter five of his book, is one of the greatest parables ever recorded. This parable in and of itself stamps the Book of Mormon with convincing truth. No mortal man, without the inspiration of the Lord, could have written such a parable. It is a pity that too many of those who read the Book of Mormon pass over and slight the truths which it conveys in relation to the history, scattering, and final gathering of Israel. Such members of the Church unto whom attention has been called to the great significance of this parable have said they fail to comprehend it. It is simple and very clear to the minds of those who earnestly seek to know the truth” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:141).
5 Elements of Zenos’ Allegory Item Interpretation1. The vineyard The world2. Master of the vineyard 2. Jesus Christ3. The servant The Lord’s prophets4. Tame olive tree The house of Israel, the Lord’s covenant people5. Wild olive tree Gentiles, or non-Israel (later in the parable, wild branches are apostate Israel)6. Branches Groups of people7. The roots of the tame olive tree 7. The gospel covenant and promises made by God that constantly give life and sustenance to the tree
6 Elements of Zenos’ Allegory (continued) 8. Fruit of the tree 8. The lives or works of men 9. Digging, pruning, fertilizing 9. The Lord’s work with his children, which seeks to persuade them to be obedient and produce good fruit 10. Transplanting the branches 10. Scattering of groups throughout the world, or restoring them to their original position 11. Grafting 11. The process of spiritual rebirth wherein one is joined to the covenant 12. Decaying branches 12. Wickedness and apostasy 13.Casting the branches into 13. The judgment of God the fire
7 1st VisitJacob 5:4-14Early Israelite history (pre-600 BC-ish)
13 4th VisitJacob 5:61-77The Restoration and the Last Days (1820-?)
14 Interesting Verses 5:11, 18, 34-37, 48, 53-54—Roots 5:41, 47, 49—What could I have done more…?5:22—Counsel me not5:49-56—God’s relationship with his servants
15 Christ at the Center of the Allegory Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presented the principal theme of Zenos’s allegory: “This allegory as recounted by Jacob is from the outset intended to be about Christ “Even as the Lord of the vineyard and his workers strive to bolster, prune, purify, and otherwise make productive their trees in what amounts to a one-chapter historical sketch of the scattering and gathering of Israel, the deeper meaning of the Atonement undergirds and overarches their labors. In spite of cuttings and graftings and nourishings that mix and mingle trees in virtually all parts of the vineyard, it is bringing them back to their source that is the principal theme of this allegory. Returning, repenting, reuniting—at-one-ment—this is the message throughout. “. . . At least fifteen times the Lord of the vineyard expresses a desire to bring the vineyard and its harvest to his ‘own self,’ and he laments no less than eight times, ‘It grieveth me that I should lose this tree.’ One student of the allegory says it should take its place beside the parable of the prodigal son, inasmuch as both stories ‘make the Lord’s mercy so movingly memorable.’ “Clearly this at-one-ment is hard, demanding, and, at times, deeply painful work, as the work of redemption always is. There is digging and dunging. There is watering and nourishing and pruning. And there is always the endless approaches to grafting—all to one saving end, that the trees of the vineyard would ‘thrive exceedingly’ and become ‘one body; The fruits [being] equal,’ with the Lord of the vineyard having ‘preserved unto himself the fruit.’ From all the distant places of sin and alienation in which the children of the Father find themselves, it has always been the work of Christ (and his disciples) in every dispensation to gather them, heal them, and unite them with their Master” (Christ and the New Covenant , ).
16 Olive Tree InfoThere is further symbolic significance in the cultivation of an olive tree. If the green slip of an olive tree is merely planted and allowed to grow, it develops into the wild olive, a bush that grows without control into a tangle of limbs and branches producing only a small, worthless fruit (see HaroldN. and AlmaL. Moldenke, Plants of the Bible, p.159). To become the productive “tame” olive tree, the main stem of the wild tree must be cut back completely and a branch from a tame olive tree grafted into the stem of the wild one. With careful pruning and cultivating the tree will begin to produce its first fruit in about seven years, but it will not become fully productive for nearly fifteen years. In other words, the olive tree cannot become productive by itself; it requires grafting by the husbandman to bring it into production.Two other characteristics of the olive tree further illustrate how it is an appropriate symbol for Israel. First, though requiring nearly fifteen years to come into full production, an olive tree may produce fruit for centuries. Some trees now growing in the Holy Land have been producing fruit abundantly for at least four hundred years. The second amazing quality of the tree is that as it finally grows old and begins to die, the roots send up a number of new green shoots that, if grafted and pruned, will mature into full-grown olive trees. The root of the tree will also send up shoots after the tree is cut down. Thus, while the tree itself may produce fruit for centuries, the root of the tree may go on producing fruit and new trees for millennia. It is believed that some of the ancient olive trees located in Israel today have come from trees that were ancient during Christ’s mortal ministry.
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