3 Nephi 2

3 Ne 2:1 the people...began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven

Dallin H. Oaks

"The viewing of signs or miracles is not a secure foundation for conversion. Scriptural history attests that people converted by signs and wonders soon forget them and again become susceptible to the lies and distortions of Satan and his servants. (Hel. 16:23; 3 Ne. 1:22, 2:1, 8:4.) 'How long will this people provoke me?' the Lord said to Moses, 'and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs that I have shewed among them?' (Num. 14:11.)

"Jesus made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem, but John records in sadness, 'Though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him.' (John 12:37.)

"In contrast to the witness of the Spirit, which can be renewed from time to time as needed by a worthy recipient, the viewing of a sign or the experiencing of a miracle is a one-time event that will fade in the memory of its witness and can dim in its impact upon him or her. For example, as President Kimball observed, 'Oliver Cowdery saw many signs. He handled the sacred plates; saw John the Baptist; received the higher priesthood from Peter, James, and John, and was the recipient of many great miracles, and yet they could not hold him to the faith.'" (The Lord's Way, p. 87)

Neal A. Maxwell

"How quickly [Satan] moves in even where people have had special spiritual experiences, seeking to get people who have seen signs 'To disbelieve all which they had heard and seen.' (3 Nephi 2:1-2.) The adversary has a better chance to persuade us that what we believe is foolish if we worry about looking foolish in front of our fellowmen. We read about the subtleties of the devil and that the adversary persuadeth not one man to do good. (Alma 12:4; Moroni 7:17.)" (Things As They Really Are, p. 41)

3 Ne 2:1 they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds

"Human nature was then as it is now, the slave of passion, the victim of corruption. In a few words that describes the Nephites of Samuel's time. They hated truth, and each walked in his own way. As a nation of much-favored people, they, however, were quick to forget, and slow to remember God's goodness. Heaven's greatest gift to mankind, the Savior of the world, was declared by them to be folly, and the idea of Christ was foolishness. Even when their eyes and ears, and even their hearts, told them of His reality, they sought ways to explain by a purely materialistic concept that they were deceived, and that Samuel and others of the prophets were peddlers of mischief." (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 7, p. 53)

Bruce R. McConkie

"Spiritual deafness describes the state of those who are lacking in spirituality, whose spirit ears are not attuned to the whisperings of the still small voice of the Spirit. Similarly, spiritual blindness is the identifying mark which singles out those who are unable to see the hand of God manifest in the affairs of men. Such have 'unbelief and blindness of heart' (D.& C. 58:15); they are 'hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds.' (3 Ne. 2:1.)" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 184)

3 Ne 2:2 thus did Satan get possession of the hearts of the people

Hugh Nibley

"If Satan claims you as his, there is indeed a horrible oneness; for he, too, can embrace you to get power over you: '[Do] not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.' (2 Ne. 2:29; cf. 2 Ne. 28:19; Alma 8:9.) He would hold you in his strong embrace, having a great hold over you. (See Alma 10:25; Alma 12:17; Alma 27:12; Hel. 16:23.)

"Joseph Smith felt that power, and it was not an imaginary power at all. It was a very real power many have felt since. (See JS-H 1:15-16.) He does indeed 'get possession' of you (3 Ne. 2:2), 'for Satan desireth to have you' (3 Ne. 18:18), just as the Lord does. While on the one hand, God 'inviteth and enticeth to do good' and to be one with him, so on the other hand Satan 'inviteth and enticeth to sin.' (Moro. 7:12-13.)" (Ensign, Sept. 1990, 22)

3 Ne 2:8 the Nephites began to reckon their time from...the coming of Christ

"The Nephites used three systems of reckoning time:

(1) The first method was to determine the number of years since father Lehi left Jerusalem; this system was used from 600 B.C. to 92 B.C. (Mosiah 29:44-47; Alma 1:1.)

(2) The second method was to calculate the number of years from the beginning of the reign of the judges; this system was used for about 100 years, from 91 B.C. to A.D. 9. (3 Nephi 2:5-7.)

 (3) The last method was to 'reckon their time from this period when the sign was given, or from the coming of Christ' (3 Nephi 2:7-8); this system was used for the remainder of their record." (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 254)

3 Ne 2:11 Gadianton robbers...did spread so much death and carnage throughout the land

"We cannot understand this period in Nephite history. It is a mystery. It may be likened to a night of horror. Its whole nature is but a composite of crime and cruelty. In the darkness thereof we are not surprised to find the plans of the evil one enmeshed with those of his servants...Its evil offspring were those of which we may imagine the devil and his servants were the legitimate parents." (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 7, p. 55)

3 Ne 2:15 their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white

While in our day, those born with white skin spend endless hours in the sun trying to darken their skin, the culture of the Nephites was different. At least among the righteous, white skin was preferred because of its symbolism. The curse of dark skin had come upon the Lamanites because of their wicked fathers (2 Ne 5:21), but by A.D. 13, it was miraculously removed-seemingly in just one year. Both parents and children actually had the color of their skin changed. Yet, many have applied this scripture incorrectly. They assume because this miracle happened in one generation of Lamanites that it should happen in every generation of Lamanites. The Book of Mormon does not support this universal application.

Consider the people of Ammon. They were incredibly righteous, none of them ever fell away, and they endured to the end. Yet never once does Mormon mention that their skin became white. He did say that the curse of God did no more follow them (Alma 23:18), but this meant that they were no longer cut off from the presence of God by their rebellion. The same is true of many other groups of righteous Lamanites. Speaking of the last days, when the Lamanites would turn again to the Lord, Nephi said, their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people (2 Ne 30:6, italics added). Nephi did not say that the darkness should be removed from their skin but from their eyes, as they were to be illuminated by the light of the gospel.

The Lord can bless any generation of Lamanites with whatever blessing he chooses. However, it seems evident that what happened in this particular year, to this particular group of Lamanites, was part of the many signs which were given to the people. The Lord was going to leave the wicked without excuse prior to their impending destruction. Accordingly, this miraculous change in skin color was given as a sign to the people, for there began to be greater signs and greater miracles wrought among the people (3 Ne 1:4).

Joseph Fielding Smith

"The dark skin was the sign of the curse. The curse was the withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord...The dark skin of those who have come into the Church is no longer to be considered a sign of the curse...these converts are delightsome and have the Spirit of the Lord." (Answers To Gospel Questions, vol 3, p. 122-3)