Cast His Eyes

Throughout the Book of Mormon, the phrase “cast his eyes,” or some derivative of those words are used to describe briefly looking in a direction. When Nephi looked for his family, he said that he “cast my eyes round about” trying to see where they were. (1 Ne. 8:13.) When Alma described healing that occurred by looking at the bronze serpent Moses fashioned, he asked if they wouldn’t “cast about their eyes” to be rescued. (Alma 33:21.) When Nephi and Lehi were liberated from prison by a great earthquake, and the Lamanites had fallen to the ground, they “cast their eyes about” to see what had happened and they saw Nephi and Lehi encircled by a pillar of fire. (Helman 5:43-44.) When God introduced His Son to the Nephites gathered in Bountiful with a still, small voice that the people could not understand, they “cast their eyes round about” to try to locate who was speaking. (3 Ne. 11:3.) When Christ had finished preaching to the group gathered in Bountiful, He “cast his eyes round about upon the multitude” and saw they had tear-filled eyes. (3 Ne. 17:5.)

In these and other examples, the phrase is used to convey the concept of glancing, looking at the general scenery, or quickly taking in a scene. It does not convey the idea of long, deliberate, careful and studied dissection of something over a lengthy period of time. It happened perfunctorily.

When Christ visited the Nephites He intended to correct their scriptures and then add other scriptures they had not been previously given. This is how that happened:

Behold, other scriptures I would that ye should write, that ye have not. And it came to pass that he said unto Nephi: Bring forth the record which ye have kept. And when Nephi had brought forth the records, and laid them before him, he cast his eyes upon them and said: Verily I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them. And he said unto them: Was it not so? (3 Ne. 17:6-9.)

The Nephite scriptures were on metal plates. They included records beginning with Lehi, more than 600 years prior to Christ’s visit with them. When the records were brought to Christ, He glanced at them and then made corrections and additions to them.

Christ did not need to study the records. Nor did He need to find the part of the record about Samuel to see what had been written and what had been omitted. He only “cast his eyes upon them and said” what needed to be added.

Christ could accomplish this with only a glance at the records. So this begs the questions:

Why did the plates/records need to be brought?

Couldn’t Christ have accomplished the same thing without the records?

If the records needed to be fetched, then why did Christ not need to spend some time reading and parsing through the record to be able to find the section about Samuel and then determine what had been omitted by reference to the writing?

Of course, this was because Christ possessed the gift and power to do such a thing and could discern the content of the record merely by “casting His eyes upon them.”

This incident reminds me of Joseph Smith translating the plates of the Book of Mormon, sometimes without opening the plates themselves. Sometimes his translation was done with the record in the same room, but the content was viewed and translated by the gift and power of God.