1 Nephi 1:10:
Lehi saw twelve other beings following the One. Why twelve?And he also saw atwelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament.
In the Bible, twelve is used on nearly countless occasions. At biblestudy.org, so many of them are listed and explained. (Oh, and did you know you can now get a Bible Degree online?:) I really enjoy the very beginning of their discussion, where it reads:
"Twelve is a perfect number, signifying perfection of government, or of governmental perfection. It is found as a multiple in all that has to do with rule. The sun which "rules" the day, and the moon and stars which "govern" the night, do so by their passage through the twelve signs of the Zodiac which completes the great circle of the heavens of 360 (12 x 30) degrees or divisions, and thus govern the year." (ibid.)I've never given much credence to Zodiac signs, but it's interesting to find a website which co-mingles the two. I like the interpretation of how this number relates to government. It is as if in this tenth verse in the Book of Mormon, we are perhaps learning about the structure of how things run in the heavenly realm. One descends, and twelve others follow him. They follow him literally, physically, and spiritually. Yet if we presume these are the twelve apostles in their premortal existence, we can assume a few things. They must have done something noteworthy to be worthy of being distinguished from the heavenly host. Perhaps they were created sooner? Perhaps they had gained this position from noble actions. They were clearly chosen to play the part they would play, and from what we read in the bible, their lives were not necessarily easy. They were not only followers, but teachers. They carried on the ministry, after Jesus was crucified. Their roles were critical, important, and not taken lightly.
Interesting question: Did these twelve whom Lehi saw include Judas Iscariot?
Their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament. In the previous verse we learned that the One's brightness did exceed that of the sun at noon-day. Now we see the twelve's brightness compared to that of the stars, yet brighter.
In Mormon culture, typically those who give much attention to the sky and symbolism in the stars are somewhat mocked. Why do we do this? Do we confuse soothsaying with symbolism, and judge matter in the universe as hokey? Here, as one of the primary verses in this book, Jesus and the twelve are likened to these things. Perhaps we should pay more attention to matter in the heavens? Have a class on astronomy? Or a whole class devoted to paying attention to such things? Surely God knows where the planets and stars are, why they are there, and if they have any symbolic meaning.
We also see that the brightness of these twelve exceeded the brightness of those stars. They were brighter! Yet these stars are so bright that we see their light through our atmosphere and light years away. Traveling at the speed of light, it would take years for us to reach these stars, yet their brightness still shines to us. And these twelve shone more brightly to Lehi than that.
It's amazing his eyes worked, when all was said and done.