Jacob 5

BoM 14--Jacob 5
6—Redeemer of Israel
Jacob 5—The Olive Tree
“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).
1st Visit
Jacob 5:4-14
Elements of Zenos’ Allegory
1. The vineyard
2. Master of the vineyard
3. The servant
4. Tame olive tree
5. Wild olive tree
6. Branches
7. The roots of the tame olive tree
1. The world
2. Jesus Christ
3. The Lord’s prophets
4. The house of Israel, the Lord’s
covenant people
5. Gentiles, or non-Israel (later in
the parable, wild branches are
apostate Israel)
6. Groups of people
7. The gospel covenant and
promises made by God that
constantly give life and
sustenance to the tree
Elements of Zenos’ Allegory
8. Fruit of the tree
9. Digging, pruning, fertilizing
8. The lives or works of men
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
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
1st Visit
Jacob 5:4-14
Early Israelite history
(pre-600 BC-ish)
2nd Visit
Jacob 5:15-28
2nd Visit
Jacob 5:15-28
Meridian of time 600
BC-100 AD-ish)
3rd Visit
Jacob 5:29-60 (29-32,
38-40, 43-46)
3rd Visit
Jacob 5:29-60
The apostasy (100
AD-1820 AD)
4th Visit
Jacob 5:61-77 (61-62,
4th Visit
Jacob 5:61-77
The Restoration and
the Last Days (1820?)
Interesting Verses
5:11, 18, 34-37, 48, 53-54—Roots
5:41, 47, 49—What could I have done
5:22—Counsel me not
5:49-56—God’s relationship with his
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
“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 [1997], 165-66).
Olive Tree Info
There 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
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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