1 Now behold, I, Jarom, write a few words according to the commandment of my father, Enos, that our genealogy may be kept….
15 And I deliver these plates into the hands of my son Omni, that they may be kept according to the commandments of my fathers.
(Jarom 1:1, 15)
I’ll admit that I’ve never been very impressed by Jarom. Maybe it’s the fact that he has to follow three impressive authors: Nephi, Jacob, and Enos. He even seems self-conscious about that fact: “What could I write more than my fathers have written? For have not they revealed the plan of salvation? I say unto you, Yea; and this sufficeth me” (Jarom 1:2). Or maybe it’s the fact that he seems to gloss over really important things: “And there are many among us who have many revelations, for they are not all stiffnecked” (Jarom 1:4), but no mention of what those revelations are. Of course, Jarom gives us an explanation–there were a finite number of plates in this collection, and they were running out of space (Jarom 1:14).
However, this time through, I’ve been impressed by two things. First, his book is carefully structured. Second, he was clearly committed to obey the commandments of his father.
Jarom’s one-chapter book follows a chiastic structure, in which the main contents are introduced, and then repeated (with some variation) in reverse:
A. “I, Jarom, write a few words according to the commandment of my father, Enos” (Jarom 1:1).
B. “As these plates are small…it must needs be that I write a little” (Jarom 1:2).
C. “It is expedient that much should be done among this people, because of the hardness of their hearts” (Jarom 1:3).
D. “They observed to keep the law of Moses and the sabbath day holy unto the Lord…. And the laws of the land were exceedingly strict.” (Jarom 1:5).
E. “Our kings and our leaders were mighty men in the faith of the Lord; and they taught the people the ways of the Lord; wherefore, we withstood the Lamanites” (Jarom 1:7).
F. “We multiplied exceedingly, and spread upon the face of the land, and became exceedingly rich” (Jarom 1:8)
F’. “The word of the Lord was verified, which he spake unto our fathers, saying that: Inasmuch as ye will keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land” (Jarom 1:9)
E’. “The prophets of the Lord did threaten the people of Nephi…that if they did not keep the commandments…they should be destroyed from off the face of the land” (Jarom 1:10).
D’. “The prophets, and the priests, and the teachers, did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given” (Jarom 1:11).
C’. “For they did prick their hearts with the word, continually stirring them up unto repentance.” (Jarom 1:12).
B’. “I, Jarom, do not write more, for the plates are small” (Jarom 1:14).
A’. “I deliver these plates into the hands of my son Omni, that they may be kept according to the commandments of my fathers” (Jarom 1:15).
Jarom’s emphasis on obedience to commandments is clear throughout the chapter. He is writing specifically because his father commanded him to do so. The people are slow to obey, but they have strong leaders who “prick their hearts” and convince them to obey the law of Moses. As they do so, the Lord keeps His promise and they prosper in the land. As I think about Jarom today, I see a reliable and a worthy disciple, determined to do his duty and committed to carry on the work begun by his ancestors.
Today, when I am tempted to discount the contributions of others, particularly when they may be uncertain about their own contributions, I will remember my experience with Jarom. I will remember the value of a reliable contributor with a strong sense of duty. I will remember the importance of simply doing our duty and the blessings that come from simply obeying the commandments of the Lord.