I’ve started a daily study routine that I’ll post about on Mormon Life Hacker soon. Part of my system is to share 1 or 2 of the things I’ve learned or pondered, every Fri or Sat. So here’s from this weeks notes:
Mosiah 2:32–33 states:
32. But, O my people, beware lest there shall arise contentions among you, and ye list to obey the evil spirit, which was spoken of by my father Mosiah.
33. For behold, there is a wo pronounced upon him who listeth to obey that spirit; for if he listeth to obey him, and remaineth and dieth in his sins, the same drinketh damnation to his own soul; for he receiveth for his wages an everlasting punishment, having transgressed the law of God contrary to his own knowledge.
This word “list” or “listeth” confuses me. I think I’d always assumed it was related to “listen” as in listen-eth. But a quick search only says it’s the “Third-person singular simple present indicative form of list.” So what the heck does “list” mean in this context? Making a list makes no sense to me. http://www.wordsense.eu/list/ was the best source I could find. It suggests the meaning of “list” is words like hem, edge, strip, or border. This still doesn’t seem to fit. However further down there’s several additional definitions or usages. One is related to cunning. Another (verb) is “to listen” and Shakespeare used it that way. He also used it to mean “wish, like or desire.” Another possible meaning is the nautical sense: a ship that’s leaning hard to one side.
So what does all this mean? It could simply be “listens to obey that spirit.” That seems kinda redundant. You have to listen first, in order to obey. But it could also mean bordering on obeying that spirit, or leaning toward it. My favorite is probably the archaic “wish, like, or desire” which goes along with bordering or leaning. It would give deep meaning here: not just those who actually obey the evil spirit of contention, but even those who desire or wish to do so. Those are punished the same as those who act on it. That would make this much more “New Testament” theology. Christ teaching that lusting after a woman, for example, is committing adultery in our hearts. So maybe this is a powerful reminder that we need to purify our hearts and not wish for the things of the world and wickedness, but cultivate the desires of goodness, and Godliness.