Alma 17:1-3, LeGrand Baker. the sanctity of friendship.

Alma 17:1-3, LeGrand Baker. the sanctity of friendship.

1 And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti, behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla.
2 Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
3 But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God (Alma 17:1-3).

To me, this is one of the most moving stories in the scriptures because, like the story of David and Jonathan, it celebrates the sanctity of friendships.

My soul teaches me that friendships are eternal and that we come here under covenant to know each other when we meet— that we may support, and be supported by people whom we loved before we came here and whom we will always love. I believe that. Not only do my experiences teach me it is true, but my reason insists that it must be true. I cannot conceive of our Heavenly Father’s sending us into this world alone, to fulfill our seemingly impossible assignments, without also promising us that we would find mutual strength with the people we love.

“Friendship,” as much as any word in one’s personal language, is always defined within the confines of one’s own world-view. If that world-view begins at birth and ends with in the nothingness of the moldering grave, then friendship is a passing pleasure of unfinished value. If one’s world-view is a foggy notion of a pre-mortal existence and a hopeful projection into an ill-defined eternal hereafter, then friendship is a bonding that takes place here and a hoped-for forecast of pleasant things to come. However, if one’s world-view begins as an intelligence progresses through a premortal spirit world until we come to here, then, within that world-view one understands one’s Self and one’s friends is a continuum of timeless personalities engaged in mutual growth. Then “friendship” is understood as a necessary part of that continuum, and a friend is an integral part of one’s own immortal Self and an ever enriching part of the eternal progression of each other.

If it is true that beloved others are an integral part of our eternal Selves, then it is also true that there are parts of us that are empty unless filled by specific and precious family and friends. It is the filling of that emptiness that we recognize when we meet “for the first time” someone whom we immediately recognize as an eternal friend If those things are true, then it is also true that without an eternal association with family and friends whom we love, we cannot be wholly our Selves. Thus, not just a limited “eternal family” but an expansive circle of eternal friendships are necessary components of “eternal life.”

Just as friendships may not originate in this life, they are certainly not confined to it. Brigham Young observed,

“We have more friends behind the veil than on this side, and they will hail us more joyfully than you were ever welcomed by your parents and friends in this world; and you will rejoice more when you meet them than you ever rejoiced to see a friend in this life; and then we shall go on from step to step, from rejoicing to rejoicing, and from one intelligence and power to another, our happiness becoming more and more exquisite and sensible as we proceed to the words and powers of life.” (Journal of Discourses, 6: 349)

One of the reasons I like the Hymn of the Pearl so much is because it acknowledges that eternal relationship.

The Pearl is the story of a young prince who is given a seemingly impossible task. He must leave home to find a treasure (his true Self) and bring it to his Father. When he arrives at his destination, he meets another like himself (“an anointed one”) and they assist each other in preparing for the darkness to come. Though we do not hear about the “anointed” friend again, he is a central part of the story. It is true that the hero must fulfill his covenants alone, but it is also true that his loving Father will not let that aloneness be void of the help of treasured family and friends.

The Pearl was first translated and published by A. A. Bevan. In lines 24-28, the prince meets a young nobleman from his own country. The qualities of the friend cause them to confide it, and support each other. They warn each other against the temptations and the defilements of Egypt. Bevan’s translation reads,

23 And when I was single and alone,
A stranger to those with whom I dwelt,
24 One of my race, a free-born man,
From among the Easterns, I beheld there-
25 A youth fair and well favored ….
26 ….and he came and attached himself to me.
27 And I made him my intimate,
A comrade with whom I shared my merchandise.
28 I warned him against the Egyptians
And against consorting with the unclean
[The Hymn of the Soul (Cambridge, University Press, 1897), 12-31.]

The Pearl has been translated many times since then. Each translator has treated these lines differently. The differences are interesting, so I quote each of them here. There is apparently a problem in the original manuscript between lines 25 and 26 and that may account for part of the differences in translation. In many places throughout the poem, the other translated simply borrow words from Bevan. But here, as they try to capture the intimacy implied by those few line, all their translations are different from each other. I suspect, if one hopes to catch the full meaning of the friendship between these two boys, a combination of all of the translations would help one do that.

23 And when I was single and alone,
A stranger to those with whom I dwelt,
24 One of my race, a free-born man,
From among the Easterns, I beheld there-
25 A youth fair and well favoured,
[a son of great rulers.] –
26…and he came and attached himself to me.
27 And I made him my intimate,
A comrade with whom I shared my merchandise.
28 I warned him against the Egyptians
And against consorting with the unclean; (Grant, Gnosticism, 118.)

– – – – – – – – – – –

24 But there I saw a Cousin* of mine from the East-a free person,
25 Gracious, handsome, and young, a child of members of court:
26 Who came and kept me company,
27 And whom I made my friend and partner in my travels: had as a constant companion:
28 And exhorted to guard against the Egyptians and against intercourse with their impurities. (Layton, Gnostic Scriptures, 372.)

(* Layton’s footnote reads: “Probably not an indication of close blood relationship, but rather an Eastern title bestowed at royal court as a mark of honor.” note “d,” p. 372.)

– – – – – – – – – – –

23 And forasmuch as I was alone I made mine aspect strange, and appeared as an alien to my people.
24 And there I saw my kinsman from the East, the free-born
25 a lad of grace and beauty, a son of princes (or an anointed one).
26 He came unto me and dwelt with me,
27 and I had him for a companion, and made him my friend and partaker in my journey (OT merchandise).
28 And I charged him to beware of the Egyptians, and of partaking of those unclean things. (James, Apocryphal New Testament,412 .)

– – – – – – – – – – –

23 And since I was all alone
I was a stranger to my companions of my hostelry.
24 But one of my race I saw there,
A nobleman out of the East,
25 A youth fair and lovable,
26 An anointed one,
And he came and attached himself to me
27 And I made him my intimate friend,
My companion to whom I communicated my business.
I (He ?) warned him (me ?) against the Egyptians
And against consorting with the unclean.
(Hennecki, New Testament Apocrypha, 499.)

– – – – – – – – – – –

As I was alone, [I was a stranger
to my hosts who were my companions].
But there I saw one of my fellow countrymen
from the East, a free man, a youth gracious and favored,
a son of the mighty.
He came and joined me,
and I made him my bosom companion,
my friend, to whom I communicated.
I warned him to watch the Egyptians
and their unclean companionship.
(Cartlidge and Dungan, Documents for the Study, 47-48.)

– – – – – – – – – – –

Here are some scriptures that teach about the importance of friendships:

– – – – – – – – – – –

35 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon Jared; therefore he did not confound the language of Jared; and Jared and his brother were not confounded.
36 Then Jared said unto his brother: Cry again unto the Lord, and it may be that he will turn away his anger from them who are our friends, that he confound not their language.
37 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord, and the Lord had compassion upon their friends and their families also, that they were not confounded.
38 And it came to pass that Jared spake again unto his brother, saying: Go and inquire of the Lord whether he will drive us out of the land, and if he will drive us out of the land, cry unto him whither we shall go. And who knoweth but the Lord will carry us forth into a land which is choice above all the earth? And if it so be, let us be faithful unto the Lord, that we may receive it for our inheritance.
39 And it came to pass that the brother of Jared did cry unto the Lord according to that which had been spoken by the mouth of Jared.
40 And it came to pass that the Lord did hear the brother of Jared, and had compassion upon him, and said unto him:
41 Go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind; and also of the seed of the earth of every kind; and thy families; and also Jared thy brother and his family; and also thy friends and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families. (Ether 1:35-43)

7 My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment;
8 And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.
9 Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.
10 Thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job. (D&C 121:7-10)

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you…….
26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning (John 15:1-19, 26-27) .

1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick)
3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep……..
32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?(John 11:1-11, 32-37)

30 And now, Zoram, I speak unto you: Behold, thou art the servant of Laban; nevertheless, thou hast been brought out of the land of Jerusalem, and I know that thou art a true friend unto my son, Nephi, forever.
31 Wherefore, because thou hast been faithful thy seed shall be blessed with his seed, that they dwell in prosperity long upon the face of this land; and nothing, save it shall be iniquity among them, shall harm or disturb their prosperity upon the face of this land forever.
32 Wherefore, if ye shall keep the commandments of the Lord, the Lord hath consecrated this land for the security of thy seed with the seed of my son. (2 Nephi 1:30-32)

1 In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
2 For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known.
3 Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.
4 And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
5 But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:
9 But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.
10 And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.
11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
13 And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. (Luke 12:1-13)

62 Therefore, go ye into all the world; and unto whatsoever place ye cannot go ye shall send, that the testimony may go from you into all the world unto every creature.
63 And as I said unto mine apostles, even so I say unto you, for you are mine apostles, even God’s high priests; ye are they whom my Father hath given me; ye are my friends;
64 Therefore, as I said unto mine apostles I say unto you again, that every soul who believeth on your words, and is baptized by water for the remission of sins, shall receive the Holy Ghost…..
77 And again I say unto you, my friends, for from henceforth I shall call you friends, it is expedient that I give unto you this commandment, that ye become even as my friends in days when I was with them, traveling to preach the gospel in my power; (D&C 84:62-64,77)

1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you who have assembled yourselves together to receive his will concerning you:
2 Behold, this is pleasing unto your Lord, and the angels rejoice over you; the alms of your prayers have come up into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded in the book of the names of the sanctified, even them of the celestial world.
3 Wherefore, I now send upon you another Comforter, even upon you my friends, that it may abide in your hearts, even the Holy Spirit of promise; which other Comforter is the same that I promised unto my disciples, as is recorded in the testimony of John.
4 This Comforter is the promise which I give unto you of eternal life, even the glory of the celestial kingdom;
5 Which glory is that of the church of the Firstborn, even of God, the holiest of all, through Jesus Christ his Son—
6 He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;
7 Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made….
62 And again, verily I say unto you, my friends, I leave these sayings with you to ponder in your hearts, with this commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall call upon me while I am near—
63 Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you; seek me diligently and ye shall find me; ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
64 Whatsoever ye ask the Father in my name it shall be given unto you, that is expedient for you; (D&C 88:1-7, 62-64)

45 Verily, I say unto my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., or in other words, I will call you friends, for you are my friends, and ye shall have an inheritance with me—
46 I called you servants for the world’s sake, and ye are their servants for my sake— (D&C 93:45-6)

1 Verily I say unto you my friends, I speak unto you with my voice, even the voice of my Spirit, that I may show unto you my will concerning your brethren in the land of Zion, many of whom are truly humble and are seeking diligently to learn wisdom and to find truth.
2 Verily, verily I say unto you, blessed are such, for they shall obtain; for I, the Lord, show mercy unto all the meek, and upon all whomsoever I will, that I may be justified when I shall bring them unto judgment. (D&C 97:1-2)

1 Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;
2 Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted.
3 Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord. (D&C 98:1-3)

1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my friends Sidney and Joseph, your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power.
2 Therefore, follow me, and listen to the counsel which I shall give unto you. (D&C 100:1-2)

1 Verily I say unto you, my friends, behold, I will give unto you a revelation and commandment, that you may know how to act in the discharge of your duties concerning the salvation and redemption of your brethren, who have been scattered on the land of Zion; (D&C 103:1)

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