Margaret Barker on the removal of Feminine symbols from the Temple during Lehi's lifetime:
"They had worshipped the Queen of Heaven by offering incense, libations, and special loaves to represent her. Now the Queen of Heaven is not mentioned in the account of Josiah's purge, but the major item removed from the temple was the Asherah, which was dragged out and burned. Later Jewish texts described the Asherah as a stylized tree..."
Heavenly Mother = "Asherah" (sounds like "happiness")
Heavenly Mother = "Wisdom"
Genesis 30:13 And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.
Some profound Wisdom scriptures in the Book of Proverbs:
21 She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying,
22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
23 Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
(Proverbs 3 references both Wisdom and Knowledge - Mother and Father)13 ¶Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
14 For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.
16 Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.
19 The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.
20 By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.
Proverbs 8 :
2 She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths.
3 She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors.
4 Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.
5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.
6 Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things.
7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
8 All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.
9 They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.
10 Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.
11 For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.
12 I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.
13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.
14 Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
15 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice.
16 By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.
17 I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.
18 Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.
19 My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than choice silver.
20 I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment:
21 That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures.
22 The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
30[*see below] Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
31 Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.
32 Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways.
33 Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not.
34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.
35 For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.
36 But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death.
- Alternate translation of Proverbs 8:30:
- 30 Then I was beside him, as [his] Faithful One [ʾāmôn] and I was his Beloved [šaʿǎšuʿîm], always rejoicing with him each day [yôm yôm] [of creation];
- Other translations:
- See also Jeremiah 10:12:
- He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.
Wisdom in the Book of Mormon:Mosiah 08:20 O how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them!
1 Nephi 08:10 And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
1 Nephi 08:11 And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted. Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen.
1 Nephi 11:8 And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me: Look! And I looked and beheld a tree; and it was like unto the tree which my father had seen; and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty; and the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow.
- When Nephi asks for an interpretation of the Tree, he is immediately shown a vision of Mary the mother of God:
1 Nephi 11:15 And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.
1 Nephi 11:16 And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?
1 Nephi 11:17 And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.
1 Nephi 11:18 And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.
- Here Nephi uses the same words to describe the Tree of Life and Mary. Then right after seeing her with the Christ child he suddenly understands the significance of the Tree of Life.
Margaret Barker on Lehi/Nephi's Tree of Life:
- The tree of life made one happy, according to the Book of Proverbs (Prov 3.18), but for detailed descriptions of the tree we have to rely on the non-canonical texts: Enoch described it as perfumed, with fruit like grapes (1 En.32.5), and a text discovered in Egypt in 1945 described the tree as beautiful, fiery, and with fruit like white grapes. I do not know of any other source which describes the fruit as white grapes. Imagine my surprise when I read the account of Lehi’s vision of the tree whose white fruit made one happy, and the interpretation, that the Virgin in Nazareth was the mother of the Son of God after the manner of the flesh. This is the Heavenly Mother, represented by the tree of life, and then Mary and her Son on earth. This revelation to Joseph Smith was the ancient Wisdom symbolism, intact, and almost certainly as it was known in 600BCE.
- Margaret Barker, “Response to Professor Terryl Givens” May 6, 2006.