Intriguingly, Lehi must have witnessed the beginnings of the revisionist effort during Josiah’s reform. Lehi himself begins his own ministry in Jerusalem by prophesying of “a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world” (1 Nephi 1:19). This clearly points to the anointed and to the Day of Atonement and puts Lehi in direct opposition to the reformers. Later, Lehi’s son Jacob describes Jews at Jerusalem who “look[ed] beyond the mark,” and “despised the words of plainness” (Jacob 4:14). The mark in question must be the same as that referred to by Ezekiel, another temple priest and an exact contemporary. Barker explains what Ezekiel saw in a vision of the angels of destruction summoned to the temple:
An angel was sent to mark the faithful: “Go through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark upon the foreheads of the men who groan and sigh over all the abominations that are committed in it” (Ezek. 9.4). The Lord then spoke to the other six angels: “pass through the city after him and smite . . . but touch no one upon whom is the mark . . .” (Ezek. 9.5â€“6). The mark on the forehead was protection against the wrath.“Mark,” however conceals what that mark was. The Hebrew says that the angel marked the foreheads with the letter tau, the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In the ancient Hebrew script that Ezekiel would have used, this letter was a diagonal cross, and the significance of this becomes apparent from the much later tradition about the high priests. The rabbis remembered that the oil for anointing the high priest had been lost when the first temple was destroyed and that the high priests of the second temple were only “priests of many garments,” a reference to the eight garments worn on the Day of Atonement. The rabbis also remember that the anointed high priests of the first temple had been anointed on the forehead with the sign of a diagonal cross. This diagonal cross was the sign of the Name on their foreheads, the mark which Ezekiel described as the letter tau.
This must be the meaning of Jacob’s mark; therefore, it quite literally meant for Book of Mormon peoples to take upon themselves the name of Christ that is, the name of the anointed.
For more information about Margaret Barker and her work check out Kevin Christensen’s related essays here. Perhaps Christensen’s most important work on Margaret Barker is Paradigms Regained. Margaret Barker’s website is here.
David Larson has a fantastic blog in which he has been providing insights from Barker’s work as well. You can find his blog called “Heavenly Ascents” over on the right side of this page in my list of links.