BOOK OF MORMON - LESSON 2
1 Nephi 1-7
"All Things According to His Will"
A study of this lesson will help us see, through the examples of Lehi and
Nephi, that safety and salvation come through obedience to the Lord.
Lehi leaves Jerusalem and takes his family into the wilderness.
Nephi and his brothers return to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass.
Nephi and his brothers bring the brass plates to their family.
Nephi and his brothers return to Jerusalem for Ishmael and his family.
||Twenty years prior to the Book of Mormon, the Kingdom of Judah was
experiencing its last period of greatness. Josiah lost his life at
the Battle of Megiddo in 609 B.C., leading his armies to stop the advance
of the Egyptians under Pharaoh Nechoh toward the Euphrates. Necho
gained control of Judah’s political life.
||Son of Josiah. Became king at his fathers death. Nechoh
took him away to Egypt and put his brother Eliakim on the throne.
His name was changed to Jehoiakim. He reigned 11 years.
||Jehoiakim was bound and carried away to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar along
with thousands of others.
||Jehoiakim’s son allowed to rule as a vassal king of the Babylonians.
He reigned only three months and then was summoned to Babylon along with
“ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths.”
||Jehoiachin’s uncle, Mattaniah began to reign in his stead. His
name was changed to Zedekiah. Book of Mormon history begins in the
first year of Zedekiah’s reign. According to Bible chronology, that
was in 598 or 597 B.C.
||Nephi wrote that “there came many prophets prophesying unto the people
that they must repent, or the great city of Jerusalem must be destroyed”
(1 Ne. 1:4). Lehi’s contemporaries included Jeremiah, Huldah, Zephaniah,
Habukkuk, Ezekiel, and Urijah of Kirjath-jearim.
||According to 1 Nephi 1:4 and 1:7, Lehi and his family were living at
Jerusalem. the preposition “at” in this case could mean on, in, within,
close by, or near. Lehi could have lived several miles away and still
be considered living at Jerusalem. Any satellite towns or villages
that surrounded larger population centers were regarded in ancient times
as belonging to those larger centers. That Lehi and his family lived
outside of Jerusalem proper is evidenced in the account of the sons’ attempt
to obtain the plates with their abandoned wealth: “We went down to
the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold, and our
silver, and our precious things. And after we gathered these things
together, we went up unto the house of Laban” (1 Nephi 3:22-23).
Into The Wilderness
1 Nephi 2:1-2: "For behold, it came to pass
that the Lord spake unto my father, yea, even in a dream, and said unto
him: Blessed art thou Lehi, because of the things which thou hast done;
and because thou hast been faithful and declared unto this people the things
which I commanded thee, behold, they seek to take away thy life.
"And it came to pass that
the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his
family and depart into the wilderness."
Lehi and his family traveled south from Jerusalem
about 200 miles to the Red Sea.
WHAT QUALIFIED LEHI TO LEAD A COLONY OF ISRAELITES
THROUGH THE WILDERNESS TO A NEW PROMISED LAND?
He was called by the Lord to do so (v2).
He had been faithful to the commandments of the Lord
Lehi was of the lineage of Joseph, and thus able
to fulfill the blessing of Jacob given in Genesis 49:22, 26.
Bruce R. McConkie: "As
to the house of Joseph, their inheritance is in the Americas, even as Father
Jacob promised in the blessing given to Joseph, that he should be 'a fruitful
bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall,'
and that the blessings of Joseph should prevail above those of all the
other tribes and extend 'unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills'
(Genesis 49:22, 26)." (Mortal Messiah,
The Lord picks individuals who are adapted to particular
tasks. I have recently been reading about Joseph Smith and Brigham
Young. Each were gifted with talents and skills necessary to carry
out their roles in the Kingdom. Through Joseph, essential keys were
restored. He truly was the Prophet, bridging the gap between heaven
and earth. Brigham was the man who came along with superb skills
of organization which were necessary to keep the Church intact after Joseph
died, for the trek west, and for setting up the kingdom in the Great Basin.
Though Lehi had contemporary prophets, it seems that Lehi might have been
more knowledgeable in the rigors of desert travel and survival:
It appears that he was wealthy.
Being wealthy he may well have been a trader and
was familiar with various routes leading from Jerusalem.
He might have been an experienced caravaneer and
knew what provisions to take.
An exemplary role model or hero.
Notice in 2:6 Nephi states that they camped in a
valley by "the side of a river of water".
Why didn't he just say "river".
Just another tidbit that points to the origins of
In the Middle East, most rivers are dry, called wadis:
an Arabic term meaning a valley or wash that contains water only in the
The ancient Hebrew people loved imagery and figures
of speech. They would name hills, rock outcroppings, wadis, and other
WHAT DID LEHI DO?
He named the river Laman and said: "O
that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the
fountain of all righteousness" (1 Nephi
He named the valley Lemuel and said: "O
that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable
in keeping the commandments of the Lord!"
(1 Nephi 2:10).
Another evidence: In our culture and country we usually
name the valley after the river through which it flows:
Ohio River Valley or the Mississippi River Valley.
In the Semitic culture it is common to name the river
and valley separately.
Laman & Lemuel murmur.
President Heber J. Grant: "I read the Book of
Mormon as a young man and fell in love with Nephi more than any other character
in profane or sacred history that I ever read, except the Savior of the
world. No other individual has made such a strong impression upon
me as did Nephi. He has been one of the guiding stars in my life."
(Gospel Standards, p357)
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT NEPHI?
Like President Grant, Nephi has always been one of my scriptural heroes.
Here is a man who did everything in his power to obey the Lord and yet
his humility was such that he exclaimed, "O wretched
man that I am" (2 Nephi 4:17). I love his optimistic attitude.
When the Lord asked Nephi to do something, Nephi leapt forward in absolute
belief that it could be done. When asked to build a boat, he didn't
complain. He didn't argue with the Lord and tell him that he had
never built a boat. He simply asked, "...whither
shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct
the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?" (1
Nephi 17:9). President Kimball once said that he had a little sign
in his home office that read, "Do it!" It Nephi were living today,
he would be wearing a T-shirt that says, "Do it!" And the shirt would
probably be soiled, a little sweaty, and untucked because Nephi would have
been doing it.
1 Nephi 2:19-20: "And it came to pass that the
Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith,
for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.
Laman and Lemuel “did murmur in many things against
their father, because he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the
land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold,
and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness”
Consider their situation - How would you do?
Leaving the comforts of home to dwell in the wilderness.
Might your children murmur about leaving behind blow dryers, refrigerators,
and stereos? Might we?
Might we murmur about leaving our hard earned home?
Leaving behind friends.
Apparently they were wealthy, most of which was left behind.
DO WE SOMETIMES MURMUR ABOUT THINGS WITHIN THE CHURCH?
Crying babies in sacrament meeting.
Brother or Sister Doe did something we didn’t like.
Why did the bishop ask me to do that?
NEPHI DIDN'T MURMUR. WHY?
I suspect that Nephi was no more excited about leaving the comforts of
home and friends than were his brothers.
1 Nephi 2:16: "And it came to pass
that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature,
and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore,
did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften
my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by
my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers."
ARE WE SEEKING THE LORD TO HAVE HIM SOFTEN OUR HEARTS?
"And inasmuch as ye shall
keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise;
yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice
above all other lands."
Here we find Nephi camping in the desert with the family. It would
seem that Nephi had gotten away from the camp and is communing with the
Lord. The Lord tells Nephi that if he keeps the commandments, he
will be blessed, prosper, and led to a land of promise.
DOES NEPHI ASK WHERE THIS LAND IS OR ANYTHING ABOUT IT?
There is no record of Nephi asking. He patiently keeps the commandments
of the Lord and waits.
DO WE GET CAUGHT UP IN THE DESIRE FOR IMMEDIATE ANSWERS OR GRATIFICATION?
I paid a full tithing last year. Why did the engine on my car quit?
OR, ARE WE LIKE NEPHI, LIVING UP TO THE TEST OF PATIENCE AND DILIGENCE?
The Brass Plates
Lehi and his family are in the wilderness, about two hundred miles from
The sons of Lehi packed some tents and returned to the land of Jerusalem.
Three attempts at securing the plates.
After returning from his communion with the Lord, Nephi says, "And
it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold I have dreamed a
dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren
shall return to Jerusalem.
"For behold, Laban hath
the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they
are engraven upon plates of brass.
"Wherefore, the Lord hath
commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban,
and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness."
(1 Nephi 3:2-4)
Side note on language usage: Nephi recorded his father as saying
"dreamed a dream" and "plates of brass". The is not normal English.
We would say "had a dream" or "brass plates". Apparently, this is
normal usage in Semitic languages. Little side evidences validating
the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.
Apparently, Lehi first told Laman and Lemuel of this commandment.
Like some children, these brothers complained or "murmured".
Lehi said to Nephi "thy brothers murmur, saying
it is a hard thing which I have required of them" (1 Nephi 3:5).
If Laman and Lemuel were living today, they might be questioning Lehi's
sanity. They would also wonder why their dad didn't think of getting
the brass plates before leaving town. That is a 400 mile round trip
and they didn't have Interstate highways.
WHAT WAS NEPHI'S RESPONSE TO THE LORD'S COMMANDMENT ABOUT THE PLATES?
1 Nephi 3:7: “I will go and do the things which
the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments
unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they
may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”
Was Nephi a man of faith? Is this our slogan?
Thank goodness Nephi kept a journal. This is a most inspiring scripture.
The Content and Importance of the Brass Plates.
The first attempt:
The brothers cast lots and Laman won or lost (depending on one's perspective).
One would surmise that none of the brothers were eager to go up to the
house of Laban to secure the plates, even Nephi. Otherwise, it would
seem, that one of them would have volunteered.
Laman went to the house of Laban and talked with him.
Laban accused Laman of being a robber and said that he would slay him.
Laman left in great haste and returned to his brothers.
After Laman had recited the incident, Nephi says that, "we
began to be exceedingly sorrowful, and my brethren were about to return
unto my father in the wilderness" (1 Nephi 3:14).
1 Nephi 3:15: "But behold I said unto them
that: As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our
father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the
Lord hath commanded us."
The second attempt:
The brothers went down to the land of their inheritance and gathered up
"our gold, and our silver, and our precious things"
They returned to the "house of Laban".
Again, notice the language usage. We would say that we gathered up
our gold, silver, and precious things. In Semitic languages it is
proper to use the "and"s between each item. Also, notice "house of
Laban", rather than Laban's house.
Laban did lust after their wealth, was not about to part with the brass
plates, and he sent his servants to slay the brothers.
After fleeing from Laban's servants, the four brother's had a strong discussion
over continuing this mission. Laman was angry, even to the point
of smiting Nephi and Sam with a rod (1 Nephi 3:28).
READ 3:29-31. Angel appears and says that Laban will
be delivered into their hands.
The third attempt:
"And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren,
saying: Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping
the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the earth,
then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens
of thousands?" (1 Nephi 4:1)
Nephi was not a quitter, even when the going got tough. One might
say that Nephi was an optimist, but his optimism came from his unshakable
faith in the Lord.
This time Nephi put himself in the hands of the Lord.
Nephi said, "I was led by the Spirit, not knowing
beforehand the things which I should do" (1 Nephi 4:6).
And then he adds: "Nevertheless I went forth"
This time Nephi was successful in obtaining the plates.
WHY DO YOU SUPPOSE THE BROTHERS DID NOT SUCCEED ON THE FIRST TWO ATTEMPTS
IF IT WAS SO IMPORTANT TO OBTAIN THE PLATE?
It may be that in the first two attempts they did not bother to call upon
the Lord for assistance.
Possibly, the plates were difficult to obtain, to emphasize to these men
and their posterity the great value of the plates.
Nephi later taught, "for I did liken all scriptures
unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning" (1 Nephi
19:23). As we discussed last week, the Book of Mormon was written
for us, in our time. The messages and stories need to be applied
to our time and our lives. One of the things we need to be doing
as we read, is to "liken" the writings "unto us" for our "profit and learning".
HOW CAN WE DO THAT WITH THIS STORY?
We need to remember what we might call Nephi's Motto: “I
will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that
the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall
prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth
President Hinckley has been a wonderful example of
this motto. Here is a man, nearly 90 years old who displays more
energy than many men 30 or 40 years younger. He embarks on an unprecedented
temple building program and is succeeding.
WHY WERE THESE PLATES SO IMPORTANT?
A 400 mile round trip journey was made to obtain
The brothers risked their lives.
Laban's life was taken.
In an essay by D. Kelly Ogden he stated: "The
brass plates were preserved for the Nephites just as the Book of Mormon
was preserved for us." (Studies In Scripture,
READ 5:18-19. The plates
of brass to go to all of his seed.
RECALL: When the Spirit "constrained" Nephi to slay
Laban, Nephi shrunk from the thought of breaking this great commandment.
WHAT DID THE SPIRIT SAY TO NEPHI?
"Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth
his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than
that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief"
(1 Nephi 4:13).
In the next few verses Nephi goes on the consider
in his mind the importance of having possession of the words of the Lord
and his commandments.
RECALL: Consider the condition of the people of Zarahemla
when they were discovered by the Nephites.
Omni 1:15-17: “Behold,
it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came
out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried
away captive into Babylon.
“And they journeyed in
the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great
waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt
there from that time forth.
“And at the time that Mosiah
discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless,
they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword
from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had
brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator;
and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them.”
Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "At
some future date the Lord has promised to bring them forth, undimmed by
time and retaining their original brightness, and the scriptural accounts
on them are to 'go forth unto ever nation, kindred, tongue, and people."
(Mormon Doctrine, p103)
WHAT WAS THE CONTENT OF THESE PLATES? (see Nephi
Contained the 5 books of Moses. Probably the
same 5 books we have in our Bible, Genesis to Deuteronomy.
Contained a record of the Jews and the prophecies
of the holy prophets from the beginning down to the reign of Zedekiah.
Including prophecies by Jeremiah, a contemporary
A genealogy of their fathers.
Lehi finds that he was a descendant of Joseph, son
A Second Journey To Jerusalem
The sons of Lehi and Zoram return to the wilderness
to join their parents.
Chapter 5 (v1-3) indicates that Sariah complained
to Lehi about the possible loss of her sons. This was not an easy
thing for the family of Lehi. Great sacrifices were involved.
As you recall, Nephi brought Laban’s servant to assist
him with the plates.
Zoram was about to flee back to Jerusalem when he
discovered the brethren of Nephi, when Nephi seized him and issued an invitation
to go with them (4:32-33).
They were afraid that Zoram would alert the Jews
back in Jerusalem of their flight into the wilderness.
1 Nephi 4:37: “And
it came to pass that when Zoram had made an oath unto us, our fears did
cease concerning him.”
An interesting characteristic of this people.
We see this kind of integrity throughout the Book of Mormon.
In Chapter 7 the sons of Lehi are once again commanded
to return to Jerusalem. WHY?
She was comforted by the return of her sons (5:7-8).
Nephi lays down the criteria for that which should
be written in this record.
"...it came to pass that the Lord spake unto him
again, saying that it was not meet for him, Lehi, that he should take his
family into the wilderness alone; but that his sons should take daughters
to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise.
"And it came to pass that the Lord commanded
him that I, Nephi, and my brethren, should again return unto the land of
Jerusalem, and bring down Ishmael and his family into the wilderness."
Notice that there was no complaint this time until
the return trip.
And yet it was the same 400 mile round-trip.
WHY DO SUPPOSE LAMAN AND LEMUEL MADE THIS TRIP WITHOUT
As you recall, on the return trip, Laman, Lemuel,
two of the daughters of Ishmael, and the two sons of Ishmael and their
families rebelled against Nephi and the rest of the party.
Nephi admonished them not to return to Jerusalem
and they bound Nephi in cords.
READ 1 NEPHI 7:17-21. Nephi
prays for release.
Nephi is a tremendous role model for us and our children.
READ 1 NEPHI 6:2-6.
Nephi's intent is that he "may persuade men to come
Lesson 3: 1 Nephi 8-11; 12:16-18; 15
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