How did Joseph Smith manage to only speak of the Lord’s “arm(s)” of mercy?
David Calabro notes how the Book of Mormon includes multiple references to the Lord extending his arm(s) of mercy:
For notwithstanding I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts. (2 Nephi 28:32)
And while his arm of mercyis extended towards you in the light of the day, harden not your hearts. (Jacob 6:5)
For I say unto you, that if he had not extended his arm in the preservation of our fathers they must have fallen into the hands of the Lamanites, and become victims to their hatred. (Mosiah 1:14)
Having gone according to their own carnal wills and desires; having never called upon the Lord while the arms of mercy was extended towards them; for the arms of mercy was extended towards them, and they would not. (Mosiah 16:12, printer’s manuscript)
And thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him. (Mosiah 29:20)
Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy is extended towards them, and he saith: Repent, and I will receive you. Yea, he saith, Come unto me and ye shall partake of the fruit of the tree of life. (Alma 5:33–34, printer’s manuscript)
And thus the work of the Lord did commence among the Lamanites; thus the Lord did begin to pour out his Spirit upon them; and we see that his arm is extended to all people who will repent and believe on his name. (Alma 19:36)
And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me. (Alma 29:10)
Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me. (3 Nephi 9:14)
It is interesting how all the references are consistent in their use of “arms” rather than hands etc. How did Joseph maintain such consistency in this specific expression throughout the Book of Mormon? How did he manage to create such consistent imagery involving arms, embracing and encircling?
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