Jacob 5–7

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 68–75


In Jacob 5, Jacob quotes Zenos’s allegory of the tame and wild olive trees, which deals with the scattering and gathering of Israel. One of Jacob’s purposes in telling the allegory was to show how the Jews who rejected Christ would eventually accept Him (see Jacob 4:15–18). In chapter 6 Jacob gives an explanation of the allegory.

The last chapter of Jacob records a confrontation between Jacob and Sherem, an anti-Christ. Watch for the ways Jacob responds to Sherem. We can use these same tactics to avoid being deceived in our own lives.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

  • The house of Israel has been scattered throughout the world. They will be gathered in preparation for a cleansing of the earth by fire and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (see Jacob 5–6).

  • Satan and his supporters oppose Christ, work diligently to overthrow His doctrine, and deceive the people (see Jacob 7:1–8).

  • The Lord has provided the scriptures, prophets, and the Holy Ghost to help us know the truth and not be deceived (see Jacob 7:9–12; see also 2 Nephi 32:2–5).

  • All prophets since the beginning have testified of Jesus Christ (see Jacob 7:11–12; see also 3 Nephi 20:24).

  • Those who choose not to keep the commandments will ultimately experience unhappiness and disappointment (see Jacob 7:15–20).

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 47–49.

Suggestions for Teaching

video iconBook of Mormon Video presentation 7, “The Olive Tree Allegory” (14:33), can be used in teaching Jacob 5–6 (see Book of Mormon Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

Jacob 5–6. The house of Israel has been scattered throughout the world. They will be gathered in preparation for a cleansing of the earth by fire and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. (40–50 minutes)

Show students a piece of bread and ask:

  • Who said, “I am the bread of life”? (John 6:35).

  • Why would Jesus compare Himself to bread? (Bread is a staple of life, and He is our staple of eternal life [see D&C 89:16–17; John 6:35]. He gave manna to nourish the starving people of Israel in the wilderness, and He nourishes us today [see John 6:49–51]. He used bread as a symbol of His broken body when he instituted the sacrament [see Luke 22:19].)

Share the following definition of symbolism:

To use something as a likeness or image of another thing. Symbolism in the scriptures uses a familiar object, event, or circumstance to represent a principle or teaching of the gospel.

Ask: How is Jesus’s calling Himself the bread of life symbolic? Point out that the Savior often used parables and other symbols to teach the people during His mortal ministry.

Invite students to read the chapter heading for Jacob 5 and find what kind of symbolic story is told in that chapter. (An allegory.) To help students understand who Zenos was, see the commentary for Jacob 5:1 in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122 (p. 47).

Explain that in his allegory Zenos uses the planting and grafting of tame and wild olive trees to symbolize the scattering and gathering of the house of Israel. The Lord showed Zenos that the descendants of Israel would be scattered among all nations (see 1 Nephi 22:3). Write on the board the elements of the allegory and their interpretation as found in the commentary for Jacob 5:4–77 in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122 (p. 48). Or list the elements and interpretations on a handout.

When students are familiar with the symbols and their meanings, share the following statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“In brief, [the allegory of Zenos] records the history of Israel down through the ages, the scattering of the tribes to all parts of the earth; their mingling with, or being grafted in, the wild olive trees, or in other words the mixing of the blood of Israel among the Gentiles by which the great blessings and promises of the Lord to Abraham are fulfilled. After Abraham had been proved even to the extent of being willing to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, the Lord blessed him with the greatest of blessings, and said to him:

“‘… By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:

“‘That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

“‘And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.’ [Genesis 22:16–18.]

“[Zenos’s] remarkable parable portrays how, as branches of the olive tree (Israelites) were carried to all parts of the earth (the Lord’s vineyard) and grafted into the wild olive trees (the Gentile nations). Thus they are fulfilling the promise that the Lord had made.

“Today Latter-day Saints are going to all parts of the world as servants in the vineyard to gather this fruit and lay it in store for the time of the coming of the Master. This parable is one of the most enlightening and interesting in the Book of Mormon. How can any person read it without feeling the inspiration of this ancient prophet?” (Answers to Gospel Questions, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 4:141–42).

Divide the class into four groups, and assign each group one of the following sets of verses:

Explain that each group will study verses that record a separate visit of the Lord to His vineyard. Write the following questions on the board and ask students to answer as many of them as they can while they read:

•Why was Israel scattered throughout the world?

•Which visit of the Lord are we living in today?

•What does the allegory teach us about the attitude of the Lord toward His children?

•Why do you think Jacob included the allegory in the Book of Mormon?

•What does the allegory teach about when the gathering of Israel would occur?

Have the groups share their findings.

As a review, give students a copy of the chart “Zenos’ Allegory of the Tame and Wild Olive Trees, Jacob 5” found in Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122 (p. 162). Go through the chart together and summarize the Lord’s activities during each visit to His vineyard. Note: Do not try to link every part of the allegory to a specific event or period. Use the allegory to provide an overview of history.

Explain that Jacob 6 records Jacob’s explanation of the allegory. Invite students to read Jacob 6:2–12 and find Jacob’s answers to the following questions:

  • Will the gathering of Israel happen before or after the Second Coming? (see v. 2).

  • What will happen to those who are not gathered? (see v. 3).

  • How did Jacob describe those who would not be gathered? (see vv. 4, 6–8).

  • What can we do to be gathered? (see vv. 5, 11–12).

  • What will ultimately happen to those who are not gathered? (see vv. 9–10).

If desired, conclude by singing or reading the words to “Israel, Israel, God Is Calling” (Hymns, no. 7).

Jacob 7:1–8. Satan and his supporters oppose Christ, work diligently to overthrow His doctrine, and deceive the people. (5–10 minutes)

Ask for a volunteer to come to the front of the room. Put a single piece of candy in one bowl and several pieces of candy in a second bowl. Tell the volunteer, “You can choose whichever bowl you want, but you have to choose without looking.” Blindfold the student and mix up the bowls. Instruct half the class to try to persuade the student to choose one bowl and the other half to try to persuade the student to choose the other. (The student should not know which half of the class has been assigned which bowl.) After the student chooses, remove the blindfold and ask: Were you influenced in your choice by what others said? If so, who influenced you the most and why? Ask the class: In what ways do others influence us in our lives?

Invite students to read Jacob 7:1–8 and answer the following questions. (These could be written on the board before class.)

  • Who wanted to influence the people? (see vv. 1–2).

  • What did he teach or proclaim? (see vv. 2, 6–7).

  • What was his goal? (see v. 2).

  • How successful was he in accomplishing his goal? (see v. 3).

  • What great prophet did he think he could influence? (see v. 3).

  • How did Sherem use his learning to influence others? (see v. 4).

  • What did the Lord do to assist Jacob? (see vv. 5, 8).

Ask students:

  • What quality of Sherem’s do some people have today that allows them to have a strong negative influence on others?

  • How are people who are deceived today like the student with the blindfold?

  • What must we do to see clearly, avoid being deceived, and keep our testimonies from being shaken?

  • What had Jacob experienced that helped him avoid being deceived by Sherem? (see vv. 5, 8).

  • Who are some examples of people in the world today who seem to have a good influence on others?

  • What can we do to be a good influence on others?

Jacob 7:9–12. The Lord has provided the scriptures, prophets, and the Holy Ghost to help us know the truth of all things. (25–30 minutes)

Bring three pencils or small sticks and a rubber band to class. Stand one pencil on its end to demonstrate how easily it falls over. Put the rubber band around one end of two pencils. Spread the other ends apart and try to stand them up. Then put the rubber band around one end of three pencils. Spread the other ends to form a tripod and stand them up (see the accompanying diagram). Explain that three points are required to form a sure foundation. (This might also be illustrated by discussing a unicycle, a bicycle, and a tricycle.)

pencils bound with rubber band
Invite students to read 2 Corinthians 13:1 and find how the message of this verse applies to the three pencils standing together. Read Jacob 7:8–12 and look for what three witnesses the Lord has given us (the scriptures, prophets, and the Holy Ghost). Read and cross-reference 2 Nephi 32:2–5. Share the following statement by Elder Ezra Taft Benson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“May I suggest three short tests to avoid being deceived. …

“1. What do the standard works have to say about it? …

“2. The second guide is: what do the latter-day Presidents of the Church have to say on the subject—particularly the living President? …

“3. The third and final test is the Holy Ghost. … This test can only be fully effective if one’s channels of communication with God are clean and virtuous and uncluttered with sin” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1963, 16–17).

Write Scriptures, Prophets, and Holy Ghost on the board. Explain that Jacob used these three witnesses to convince Sherem of certain truths. Have students look again at Jacob 7:8–12 to find what truths Jacob taught using these three witnesses (the reality of Jesus Christ and His Atonement). Use the following activity to help students understand how to use these same three witnesses.

Invite students to use the Topical Guide to find scriptural witnesses of Jesus’s life and mission. (Possible topics to look under include “Jesus Christ, Redeemer” [253] and “Jesus Christ, Resurrection” [254]. References might include Job 19:25; Matthew 16:15–16; and 2 Nephi 31:20–21.) Invite students to share the scriptures they found. Write the references on the board under the heading Scriptures.

Ask students if they remember any modern prophets or apostles testifying of Jesus Christ. Play a recent audio or video recording of general conference that includes such a witness, or have a student read the following testimony of President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency:

“This is the great basic purpose of the restoration of the gospel in this, the dispensation of the fulness of times—to declare the living reality of God the Eternal Father and of His Beloved Son, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. To know them, to love them, to obey them is to have life eternal. It is our mission to declare with words of soberness and truth that God is our Eternal Father, the God of the universe, the Almighty One; and that Jesus Christ is his firstborn, the Only Begotten in the flesh, who condescended to come to earth; who was born in a stable in Bethlehem of Judea, lived the perfect life, and taught the way of salvation; who offered Himself a sacrifice for all, enduring pain and death on the cross; and who then came forth in a glorious resurrection, the firstfruits of them that slept. (See 1 Corinthians 15:20.) Through Him, and by Him, and of Him, all are assured salvation from death and are offered the opportunity of eternal life” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1986, 62–63; or Ensign, May 1986, 47).

Write Gordon B. Hinckley (or the name of the prophet or apostle whose recording you played) on the board under the heading Prophets. Read Doctrine and Covenants 76:22–24 as another example of a modern prophet’s testimony of Jesus Christ. Add Joseph Smith to the list on the board.

Share your testimony of Jesus Christ and how the Holy Ghost has borne witness of Him to you. Invite any students who would like to share their testimonies to do so. Invite them to describe the feelings they have had from the Holy Ghost that testify that Jesus is the Christ. List the feelings mentioned by you and the students on the board under the heading Holy Ghost. (These might include peace, confidence, a burning in the bosom.)

Encourage students to test the truth of what they learn by what the scriptures, the prophets, and the Holy Ghost say about it.

Jacob 7:11–12. All prophets since the beginning have testified of Jesus Christ. (10–15 minutes)

Write on the board What are some of the most important elements in raising crops? and ask students to respond. (Answers could include water, sunlight, fertile soil, and time.) Ask:

  • If every farmer agreed, how might that convince you that they were the most important?

  • Why would it be important for a farmer to understand these elements?

Refer back to the question on the board. Erase the words raising crops and replace them with the gospel. Ask: If you could list only one element, what would it be? After some discussion, ask: If every prophet focused on one doctrine, how would that help us answer the question? Read Jacob 7:11 looking for what every prophet has taught. Read and cross-reference 3 Nephi 20:24. Ask questions such as the following to help students understand how many aspects of the gospel point to Jesus Christ:

  • What covenants do we make when we take the sacrament? (see Moroni 4:3).

  • What place does Jesus Christ have in these covenants? (We witness that we are willing to take upon us His name, keep His commandments, and always remember Him.)

  • What are the New Testament, the Old Testament, and the Book of Mormon all testaments of?

  • If Jesus Christ is the central figure in the gospel, what place should He have in our lives?

Read John 17:3 and look for the benefit that comes to those who know Jesus Christ. Invite students to take a few minutes to write in their notebooks ways they could make Jesus Christ the center of their lives. Encourage them to continually strive to become more like the Savior.

Jacob 7:15–20. Those who choose not to keep the commandments will ultimately experience unhappiness and disappointment. (5–10 minutes)

If available, show students a container of antifreeze (with the safety cap attached). Explain that antifreeze is placed in vehicles to keep the engine from freezing in cold weather. It is essential to the operation of a car in cold climates. It is extremely toxic, but animals are attracted to its sweet taste, and many dogs, cats, and other animals have died from drinking it. Point out the irony that the animal temporarily enjoys that which kills it.

Invite students to read Jacob 7:15–20 and compare Sherem’s life with the example above. Read Matthew 16:26 and ask students how it applies to Sherem.

Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said of the prodigal son in the Lord’s parable:

“He had exchanged the priceless inheritance of great lasting value for a temporary satisfaction of physical desire, the future for the present, eternity for time, spiritual blessings for physical meat” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 311; see Luke 15:11–32).


  • In what ways are people deceived into trading lasting happiness for temporary pleasure?

  • What can we do to avoid making that kind of trade in our own lives? (Answers could be listed on the board.)

Explain that trading eternal blessings for temporary pleasure is like trading a seven-course meal later for a piece of candy now. Encourage students to avoid making this kind of trade in their lives.