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Lehi Likes the Fruit, Nephi Likes the Tree

In Lehi’s vision, there are 18 references to the fruit of the tree of life with only 9 references to the tree itself. (1 Nephi 8)

In Nephi’s vision, there is a larger focus on the tree of life with 9 references to the tree and only 1 reference to the fruit. (1 Nephi 11) When Nephi is explaining the vision to his brothers, he mentions the tree 5 times and the fruit 2 times. (1 Nephi 15) That would make a total of 14 references to the tree and 3 references to the fruit by Nephi in the context of his vision.

Lehi > fruit: 18, tree: 9
Nephi > tree: 14, fruit: 3

Symbolism can convey numerous meanings depending on how the context shifts; herein lies its power.

The tree of life bears a white fruit that captured Lehi’s attention. Immediately following the vision of this tree bearing fruit is a virgin holding a child. The implication is that the tree is synonymous with the virgin, and the fruit is synonymous with the child, or in other words, the tree is Mary, and the fruit is Jesus.

Nephi’s vision tells us that the tree also represents the love of God, as does the fountain of living waters. On another level, however, I believe that Mary may potentially represent Jesus’ spiritual mother as well — our Heavenly Mother (more on that in the future).

What does this all mean? I’m not entirely sure yet; I just found this to be an interesting observation, and I’m certain that it is significant.

If the focus of Lehi and Nephi in these visions carries over to their teachings, it makes me wonder if there is more in Nephi’s writings that could lead to a greater understanding of our Heavenly Mother.

  • Marco Guerrero

    As you know; many have discussed this in so many ways. I can see why some might feel Mary is literally Heavenly Mother. One problem though. She had more children. Would this make her unclean before the Father?

    • oneclimbs

      I have given that some thought, but the idea of Mary as literally Heavenly Mother seems a bit problematic at least given the premises I am working under. I don’t know that her having more children would make her unclean. Gabriel told Joseph to marry Mary, if God wanted her to remain single it seems that he had every opportunity to make that clear.

      It still interests me that Joseph was told in a dream: “for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” Matt 1:20 and I think there is some very strong evidence (most of which I have not yet shared and am still compiling) that there is a strong correlation between the Holy Spirit and Heavenly Mother. I’m not saying that Heavenly Mother IS the Holy Spirit, but I do have some theories that strengthen this connection and seem to only raise other very interesting questions.

  • Richard J. Nobbe III

    Perhaps Lehi likes the fruit because he is a father, and on another level of symbolism, he is rejoicing in his posterity? Perhaps Nephi likes the tree because he is a son, and on that same level of symbolism, he is rejoicing in his own mother who gave him life? At the very least, maybe this is how the Spirit was able to reach both Lehi, and Nephi – connecting with them at their respective “point of view” in life or the whole idea of “Sitz im Leben” that we’ve talked about before.

    The Lord always speaks to me where I am and seeks to lift me up where He is.