Who Were Zenos and Zenock?

The authors of the Book of Mormon quoted a number of prophets who lived in Israel before Lehi’s family left Jerusalem (about 600 B.C.). Some of those prophets, like Moses and Isaiah, also appear in the Bible. But others do not. Two of these prophets are Zenos and Zenock.

Here’s what we know about them:

  • They both taught that God has mercy on us because of His Son (Alma 33:3-13, Alma 34:7).
  • They taught that the God of Israel would die (1 Nephi 19:10).
  • Zenos specifically taught that the death of the Savior would coincide with signs for those who are on “the isles of the sea:” earthquakes followed by three days of darkness. Both Nephi and Mormon believed that those prophecies related specifically to the descendants of Lehi (1 Nephi 19:10, 123 Nephi 10:16).
  • Lehi was a descendant of Zenos and of Zenock (3 Nephi 10:16).
  • Zenos spoke about the gathering of Israel (1 Nephi 19:16). He wrote an elaborate allegory, comparing the scattering and gathering of Israel to the branches of an olive tree (Jacob 5, Jacob 6:1). Samuel the Lamanite believed that this prophecy related specifically to the restoration of his people to a knowledge of the Savior (Helaman 15:11).
  • Both Zenos and Zenock were killed because of their testimony (Helaman 8:19, Alma 33:17).

Why aren’t Zenos’s and Zenock’s writings in the Bible? They were, after all, Israelite prophets who lived in Old Testament times. Perhaps their prophecies were too vivid, too specific for subsequent compilers to accept. Perhaps their testimonies of the Savior were among the “plain and precious things” subsequently excluded from the text (1 Nephi 13:28-29).

Regardless of the reason, I’m grateful for the references to these prophets in the Book of Mormon and for the glimpse we have of faithful prophets who testified of the Son of God many years before his birth

Today, I will be grateful for prophets like Zenos and Zenock, who testified of God’s mercy toward us. I will remember that His mercy comes through the Savior, and that God will patiently gather all of us who are willing to be gathered.

 

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