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Lesson Plan for Enos - Words of Mormon



We have read through Nephi's profound chapters on the doctrine of Christ, through Jacob's own book and his profound theological prowess, an eternally inexhaustible parable in Jacob chapter 5, and Jacob's duel against the first Anti-Christ in the Book of Mormon since we last had any sort of Sunday School class. This week finished the small plates and covered a lot of history with little details given.

Enos was either the son of Jacob or the grandson of Jacob (Enos could have been Enos's Father's name, see verse 1 where Enos doesn't give the name of his Father). If the Enos who wrote the short book of Enos was Jacob's son, then there are interesting things to point out. There is an inordinately large portion of history that takes place from Jacob's life to the end of Enos's life. Some scholars estimate, given the text, that Enos was born to Jacob approximately around 520 BC, which means Jacob would have been around 75 years old at the time of Enos's birth (see chart above). If this Enos was in fact Jacob's son, this account we have of Enos going out to the woods to pray for forgiveness could have very well happened while he was still relatively young but after the passing of his father, Jacob. That might add some interesting context when we consider that Enos might have been going through a little bit of trial and loss when he finally found the courage as a young adult to really take his conversion more seriously. If you read the very last verse in Jacob chapter 7, this going out to the woods to pray for forgiveness might have occurred after a deathbed admonition by Jacob to his son, Enos. Enos is possibly feeling a new weight of responsibility. He probably wasn't overtly wicked, but, like many of us, it took the weight of responsibility to take his discipleship a little more seriously.

Jacob often said in his writings that he suffered from anxiety. Half of the use of the word anxiety in the Book of Mormon occurs in Jacob's writings. Is it possible that Jacob, as a righteous man, suffered from a form of scrupulosity? This means that he was obsessed with trying to do all of his religious duties correctly and to the best of his ability. Jacob, as the Nephite high priest, took his role very seriously. Jacob suffered much anxiety over the spiritual welfare of his people. I wonder, therefore, if Enos was overly scrupulous having been "nourished and admonished" by his father (see Enos 1:1). His father deemed him worthy to take these small plates and fill them with Enos's own prophecies, but Enos still saw a need to repent of his sins. I don't want to suggest that Enos didn't need to repent, but he might be an example of someone who healthily used a sense of scrupulosity.

A great 2019 Ensign article from a trained Psychologist seems to endorse Enos's behavior:

"So how can you work with your anxiety, even high anxiety, to function well and discern the “gentle feeling” of the Spirit? First, you must cultivate awareness. If you realize you’re feeling anxiety, label it. Then you can proactively respond by choosing soothing behaviors to help your body’s stress response relax. These types of behaviors may include deep breathing, giving yourself a hand or foot massage, going for a walk, listening to calming music, exercising, and so on... [When controlled] this type of anxiety can help you spiritually by motivating you to more conscientiously study gospel doctrine, seek peace, and invite the Spirit into your heart. At this level, despite the anxiety you feel, you may be able to discern easily the presence of the Spirit." (1)

Another thing to note is that Lehi's genealogy to Enos parallels Adam’s genealogy to his grandson Enos (see chart above). Enos in Hebrew means "man or men". One wonders if Jacob had Genesis 4:26 in mind when he named his son:

"And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD."

Just like in the Bible, Enos (the son of Seth and the son of Jacob) is the beginning of the genealogical line that worshipped Jehovah/Christ. It isn't a coincidence that he also understands this connection, so he begins his record with a story of him calling upon God in prayer. Enos does a lot more wordplay with his name as we read through this. I'll touch on that later.

Lastly, it is worth pointing out that Enos gets 7 different revelations or answers to prayer in this book. The number 7 means completeness or perfection in the ancient world. Given how Enos's record plays out, it should be a narrative that shows us how to live that complete and perfect life.



"2 And I will tell you of the wrestle which I had before God, before I received a remission of my sins.

3 Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.

4 And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.

5 And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.

6 And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away.

7 And I said: Lord, how is it done?

8 And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole."

President Spencer W. Kimball once wrote:

"Here is no casual prayer; no worn phrases; no momentary appeal by silent lips. All the day long, with seconds turning into minutes, and minutes into hours and hours. But when the sun had set, relief had still not come, for repentance is not a single act nor forgiveness an unearned gift. So precious to him was communication with and approval of his Redeemer that his determined soul pressed on without ceasing. (Faith Precedes the Miracle. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1972, p. 211)


What details of Enos's prayer stand out to you? How should we understand how Enos' effort played a role in his repentance? Why do you think President Kimball says it isn't an "unearned gift"?

"You can change anything you want to change, and you can do it very fast. That’s another satanic suckerpunch—that it takes years and years and eons of eternity to repent. It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say, “I’ll change”—and mean it... Do not misunderstand. Repentance is not easy or painless or convenient. It is a bitter cup from Hell. But only Satan, who dwells there, would have you think that a necessary and required acknowledgment is more distasteful than permanent residence." (2)


Not only is Enos a great example of repentance and conversion, but we can learn much from the language he uses to describe his prayers.

It might be worth dividing the classroom into groups and splitting verses 1-17 between them. They would be looking for words, phrases, or descriptions of Enos's prayers and communications with heaven. The list should look something like this:

  • Wrestle 
  • my soul hungered
  • kneeled down
  • cried unto him in mighty prayer
  • supplication (the act of begging)
  • all the day long did I cry
  • raised my voice high (speaking vocally and loudly)
  • Asks a question (verse 7)
  • pour out my whole soul
  • struggling in the spirit
  • faith began to be unshaken
  • many long strugglings
  • prayed and labored with all diligence
  • Makes another request (verse 13)
  • cried unto him continually
  • receives a promise and covenant that caused his soul to rest

What does Enos's language teach you about prayer?

Our Bible Dictionary teaches us the following:
"Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings." (3)
Sister Tamara W. Runia has taught:
"[Speaking of partaking of the fruit in Lehi's vision], the memory of eating the fruit is not enough; we need to partake again and again in ways that reposition our lens and connect us to the heavenly overview by opening up the scriptures, which are filled with light, to chase away the darkness, staying on our knees until our casual prayer turns mighty. This is when hearts soften, and we begin to see as God sees." (4)

President Jeffrey R. Holland has recently taught us that when we work at our prayers we are following the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ:

"When we don’t know how or exactly for what to pray, we should begin, and continue, until the Holy Spirit guides us into the prayer we should be offering. This approach may be the one we have to invoke when praying for our enemies and those who despitefully use us... Luke describes Jesus’s descent into His expiation as requiring Him to pray “more earnestly.” How does one who was perfect pray more earnestly? We assume that all of His prayers were earnest, yet in fulfilling His atoning sacrifice and through the pain that attended its universal reach, He felt to pray ever more pleadingly, with the weight of His offering finally bringing blood from every pore." (5)

A last thing to say about Enos is the potential abundance of wordplay he employs following Genesis chapters 32-33 in particular. Those chapters deal with the ancient Patriarch Jacob's wrestling with a divine being where his name is changed to Israel and Jacob's reconciliation with his estranged brother Esau. The following chart from Matthew Bowen summarizes much of the wordplay. (6)



Level 1 wordplay            

Level 2 wordplay        

Level 3 wordplay      


Yaʿăqōb (“May He [God] protect”)16

baʿăqēb (“on the heel,” Genesis 25:26) wayyaʿqĕbēnî (“he hath supplanted me,” Genesis 27:36)

wayyēʾābēq/ bĕhēʾābĕqô

(“and there wrestled”/“in his wrestling,” Genesis 32:24–25)

wayĕḥabbĕqēhû (“and embraced him,” Genesis 33:3–4; cf. 29:13 and 48:10)


Yiśrāʾēl (“El [God] struggles,” “El has power”)

śārîtâ (*śry/*śrr) (“struggle” or have power” with God, Genesis 32:28)

“struggling,” “strugglings” (Enos 1:10–11, 14)

Implicit pun: ʾîšrā’â ʾēl (“man has seen God”; Genesis 32:30) rā’â–“see” (Genesis 32:2, 20, 25, 30; 33:1, 5, 10; Enos 1:8, 19, 27)


Pĕnîēl (“[The] Face of El”

ʾĕlōhîm pānîm ʾel-pānîm (“God face-to-face,” Genesis 32:30); pĕnê ʾĕlōhîm (“face of God,” Genesis 33:10)

lipnê ʾĕlōhîm (“before God,” Enos 1:2) lipnê (“before” Enos 1:4)

The “atoned” or reconciled “face” seen (Genesis 32:20, 33:10; Enos 1:27)


ʾĔnôš(“man” [poetic])

“just man” (Enos 1:1)

echoingʾîš (“a man”) in Genesis 32:24

echoing ʾănāšîm (“men”) in Genesis 32:28

In layman's terms, these are the powerful things to keep in mind:
  1. The name Jacob is a pun on the Hebrew word for wrestle.
  2. Wrestle in Hebrew can also mean embrace.
  3. Jacob in Genesis 32:22 wrestles a man which in Hebrew is the word Enos.
  4. In Enos's struggling in prayer is an invoking of the name Israel which can mean One who struggles with God or Let God Prevail.
  5. Jacob’s wrestle at Jabbok/Peniel, in which he prevails with God, prepares the way for reconciliation with his brother Esau, and Enos’s wrestle before God prepares the way for the eventual reconciliation of his brethren the Nephites and Lamanites with each other and God through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
  6. In Enos 1:27 Enos adapts Jacob's words from the Jacob-Esau story when he says, "[I] shall stand before [God]; then shall I see his face with pleasure" (see Genesis 33:10).
Matthew Bowen gives the overall principle as found in Enos and within his choice of language:
"Enos insinuates through wordplay that he became “Israel,” one who “struggled” with God and prevailed, and a “man” who had “seen” God. The breathtaking beauty of Enos’s wordplay, however, cannot be appreciated until we recognize his allusions to Esau and Jacob’s conciliatory “embrace” and Jacob’s “seeing” the face of his brother, with mutual pleasure, as “the face of God.” Enos too became Yiśrāʾēl — a “man,” ʾîš or ʾĕnôš — who envisaged God and became like him through Jesus’s atonement and the resurrection that Jesus brought to pass." (7)

What a beautiful articulation of principles that President Nelson has taught us recently, to let God prevail in our lives! Enos saw the "faces" of his brethren the Lamanites and eventually received a covenantal embrace that he would also see their faces with pleasure. 


To let God prevail takes work that ends in an embrace. What principles do you see in Enos that can help us learn how to let God prevail?


We enter now into the record of Jarom where he keeps the commandment of his father but breaks away from what Nephi instructed the purpose of the small plates were for. Nephi had instructed to not touch upon history but only upon those prophecies that were considered most precious (see Jacob 1:2). Jarom does not do this but the opposite. He includes a genealogy or brief history within his writings. He has a period of righteousness in his day but it quickly disappears thereafter. One wonders if the lack of keeping Nephi's command was a reflection of what was to come? 

Towards the end of Jarom's life, the Nephite nation had been around for a long time. To give you a perspective, Jarom 1:13 gives you the detail that 238 years had passed away since Lehi and their family settled in the new world. If you do some math, 238 years ago from the current year, 2024, is the year 1786. That is about a decade from when the United States was founded. That gives you a perspective of the longevity of years these men were living and also how long the Nephite nation had existed to this point.

Jarom gives the plates to Omni who is "a wicked man" (see Omni 1:2). Omni passes the record to his son, Amaron. We get an astonishing detail from Amaron that "the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed" in his day (see Omni 1:5). He reiterates that "the Lord did visit them in great judgment; nevertheless, he did spare the righteous that they should not perish, but did deliver them out of the hands of their enemies." This is interesting because from what scholars have pieced together from what sources claim were in the lost 116 pages, the first half of Nephite history highly mirrored the second half of Nephite history. This destruction and contention lasts a few more generations with Chemish and Abinadom.

It is here the next in line, Amaleki, writes about the first King Mosiah. He, like Nephi of old, has to flee from the land of Nephi and come into the land of Zarahemla. It is here they discover the Mulekites and King Mosiah is made the king of the newly combined people. "The Biblical term mosiah, was probably a political designation; it is also an honorific title in Hebrew meaning “savior” or “rescuer”. Not bad for a bright but unschooled Joseph Smith." (Neal A. Maxwell, "The Children of Christ" in The Book of Mormon: Mosiah, Salvation Only Through Christ, p. 1-22)

This is when King Benjamin comes into the picture when Amaleki gives him, the son of King Mosiah the first, the small plates. Amaleki ends his record, other than telling of a lost party of men who tried to take back the land of Nephi, with this profound verse:

READ OMNI 1:25-26

"25 And it came to pass that I began to be old; and, having no seed, and knowing king Benjamin to be a just man before the Lord, wherefore, I shall deliver up these plates unto him, exhorting all men to come unto God, the Holy One of Israel, and believe in prophesying, and in revelations, and in the ministering of angels, and in the gift of speaking with tongues, and in the gift of interpreting languages, and in all things which are good; for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord: and that which is evil cometh from the devil.

26 And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved."


What principles or doctrines stand out to you in these verses at the close of the small plates? These would have been among some of the last verses, other than Mormon's insertion, that Joseph Smith translated into the Book of Mormon. What does " offering your whole souls as an offering unto [the Lord] mean?

This offering of your whole soul as an offering is an allusion to the burnt offerings of the Law of Moses. These were the only sacrifice in ancient Israel that was entirely consumed. 

Elder Neal A. Maxwell once articulated more fully what this "whole soul" offering looks like:

"... Real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the “sacrifice unto the Lord … of a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” (D&C 59:8), a prerequisite to taking up the cross, while giving “away all [our] sins” in order to “know God” (Alma 22:18) for the denial of self precedes the full acceptance of Him." (8)

The small plates end with Mormon picking them up hundreds of years later and speaking of a revelation he received to include these writings with the writings of the large plates. He does not know why but does so for a "wise purpose." Dating back to Nephi, they knew these small plates would come forth in the Lord's way and in the Lord's time. At least for Mormon, he didn't know that the first 450ish years of their history would be lost by Martin Harris over a millennia later.

What should we make of the writings of these small plates? The writings of Nephi, Jacob, Enos, and Isaiah specifically?

D&C 10:45 says these small plates "throw greater views upon my gospel." At the time, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland commented on how and why we should appreciate these small plates:

"... as readers of the Book of Mormon, we have Nephi, Jacob, and Isaiah to speak to us immediately as personal eye-witnesses of the premortal Savior. They are recipients of marvelous revelations regarding his life and ministry and of God’s covenant relationship with the House of Israel, ancient and modern. … I think it would be exciting if the 116 pages of manuscript turned up some day, but if they were delivered to my office tomorrow I would never trade them for the material in the small plates of Nephi, for the ‘greater views’ given through the great prophetic sentinels who stand at the gate of the book. So tell your students to stop complaining and get reading—including Isaiah” (“A Standard unto My People” [address to CES religious educators, Aug. 9, 1994], 7–9).


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