In the journals and histories of the church we find that one of the techniques Joseph used in deception was disappearing treasure. He would gaze into his hat to locate the exact spot where loot was buried, which was guarded by a spiritual protector. He would then require the diggers to have absolute faith to seize the lucre from the spirit. As was always the case, their faith was not strong enough so the treasure would “slip” further underground, beyond their grip. Thus, an otherwise fruitful night would be spoiled by the lack of righteousness and was consequently ‘their fault.’
This deceptive thought process found its way into the Book of Mormon, and sheds light into the ultimate meaning of these verses…
“O that I had repented & had not killed the prophets & stoned them & cast them out yea in that day shall ye say O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day that he gave us our riches & then they would not have become slippery that we should lose them for behold our riches are gone from us behold we layeth a tool here & on the morrow it is gone & behold our swords are taken from us in the day we have sought them for battle yea we have
hhid adup our treasures & they have sliped away from us because of the curse of the land O that we had repented in the day that the word of the Lord came unto us for behold the land is cursed & all things are become slippery & we cannot hold them”
Helaman 13:33-36, The Handwritten Book of Mormon (West Valley City, UT: Dan Wees, September 2017), 554.