1 Ne 2:1-5
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The relationship of Verses 1-5 to the rest of Chapters 1-2 is discussed at Chapter 1-2.
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- 1 Ne 2:1: Blessed art thou ... they seek to take away they life. The Lord tells Lehi that he is “blessed” for the things which he has done. And, the Lord tells him, because of what he has done “they seek to take away thy life.” The construction of the verse does not imply that the fact that people seek to take away his life is his blessing. Still the proximity in the verse reminds us of the Lord's words in the New Testament "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" Matt 5:10.
- 1 Ne 2:1: Which thou hast done. Lehi is told in this verse that he is being blessed for the “thing which [he] hast done.” Notice that it is for what he has done, not for what he thought or said.
- 1 Ne 2:1: Behold, they seek to take away they life. It may be that Lehi already knew they wanted to take away his life. Either way, this phrase places in context the need for Lehi and his family to leave the city.
- 1 Ne 2:1. Compare 1 Ne 7:14: the Jews “have sought to take away the life of my father, insomuch that they have driven him out of the land.”
- 1 Ne 2:1: Dreams. Here the Lord speaks to Lehi in a dream, just as he will later do with the tree of life vision (1 Ne. 8:2). We do not know how Lehi received the instruction to return to Jersalem for either the brass plates (1 Ne. 3:__) or for wives (1 Ne. 7:_). Nephi was wide awake for his vision of the tree of life (1 Ne. 11:__).
- 1 Ne 2:2: Even in a dream. This phrase appears in both this verse and the prior one. The word “even” adds extra emphasis, perhaps to persuade us that there was something special about this heavenly communication. Maybe Nephi thought some readers would doubt his father had dreams with divinity.
- 1 Ne 2:2: Who Received the Command to Leave? Readers find out from Nephi that “the Lord commanded my father” to “take his family and depart into the wilderness.” One way of reading this verse is that Lehi alone received this commandment. In other words, it sounds like the rest of the family was obligated, but not commanded, to leave Jerusalem. On the other hand, as Lehi received additional commandments concerning his family, Nephi declared: “Surely the Lord hath commanded us to do this thing; and shall we not be diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord?” (1 Ne 4:34). One of the footnotes to this verse complicates the question of who was commanded somewhat more. When her sons arrived home from Jerusalem, Sariah exclaimed: “Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons . . . and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them” (1 Ne 5:8). Readers could interpret this verse as saying that there were specific commands that Lehi received, which were different from the commands his sons received. The verses listed in footnote 2a seem to agree that Lehi received from the Lord the commandment to leave Jerusalem. The evidence is not as clear cut, however, as to who received the commandment to return to Jerusalem, unless it ends up being that both Lehi and his sons received the command. There may also be a pattern in these verses, regarding who received the commandments from the Lord. Perhaps the revelation came through whoever was presiding at that particular time and place. It would make sense, then, that Lehi received most of the commandments from the Lord for his family. In those instances where Lehi was absent and the sons were on their own, such as when they were in Jerusalem retrieving the plates, then it makes sense that the commandments had to come through Nephi and his brothers.
- 1 Ne 2:2: That. Some might wonder why this verse had to say “came to pass that the Lord commanded” rather than “came to pass the Lord commanded.” Some might think that "that" was a needless word that unnecessarily uses space. Others may find it natural that the phrase “it came to pass” was always immediately followed by the word “that.” The Book of Mormon contains only one or two exceptions to this pattern. It may be that in the Hebrew language the only way to express this thought is with the complete phrase, “it came to pass that.” Perhaps the rare exceptions to this pattern, which omit the word “that,” resulted from corrections that Joseph Smith tried to impose on the text, many years after the translation.
- 1 Ne 2:2: Take and depart. Readers might find it odd that both the verbs “take” and “depart” were used in this verse. It seems the first one would have sufficed. Instead of reading “that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness,” this verse could have stated “that he should take his family into the wilderness.” Maybe the word “depart” makes their exit from the city seem more permanent.
- 1 Ne 2:2: The Circumstances of Their Departure. In one of the verses cross-referenced to this one, the prophet Jacob makes an interesting observation: “we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance” (2 Ne 10:20). This expands Nephi’s comment about his father being driven out of Jerusalem (see 1 Ne 7:14) and applies it to the whole family. Readers might wonder if Jacob's statement is a misrepresentation of what really happened, since our usual interpretation is that Lehi and company slipped out of Jerusalem when not a soul was looking. Maybe Jacob's statement is partly true because of what happened when Nephi and his brothers tried to obtain the plates from Laban. At one point, Laban “sent his servants to slay” Nephi and his brethren, which caused them to “flee before the servants” (1 Ne 3:25-26). This event also fits with Jacob’s statement, because it started when Nephi and his brethren “went down to the land of our inheritance,” gathered together their gold and silver, presented it to Laban, ran away from his servants, sent Nephi to try out a new plan for obtaining the plates, convinced Zoram to accompany them, and presumably never returned to the land of their inheritance (notice that this is confirmed in 1 Ne 7:2-5). Perhaps this sequence of events is what Nephi and Jacob had in mind when they later made their above-cited statements. Still, Jacob seems a little presumptuous in using the pronoun “we,” since he was born several years after his family had left Jerusalem.
- 1 Ne 2:2: Comparisons with Other Relocations Required by the Lord. The footnotes tell us that this is not the first time the Lord has commanded a branch of his people to uproot and move to a new place. “NOW the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee” (Gen 12:1). Like Abraham, Lehi was told to leave his relatives and friends behind. The parallel continued since the Lord kept both Abraham and Lehi in suspense as to where he was leading them. Another verse in Genesis appears in the footnotes for the verse under consideration: “And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place” (Gen 19:12). According to the JST, it was “holy men” who told Lot to bring his extended family “out of this place.” One difference between the stories of Lehi and Lot is that in the latter case it was messengers of the Lord, rather than the Lord himself, who told an Old Testament patriarch to leave the city where he was living. Another dissimilarity between the two accounts is the number of people each was supposed to take: Lot took his in-laws while Lehi took his immediate family. Then again, it could just be that Lot had less time to prepare for his relocation and thus had to take everyone all at once, while Lehi was allowed to send his sons back to Jerusalem to obtain prospective in-laws, since the destruction of Jerusalem was not immediately imminent. Another cross-reference to this verse presents further details for comparison: “And when thou hast done this thou shalt go at the head of them down into the valley which is northward. And there will I meet thee, and I will go before thee into a land which is choice above all the lands of the earth” (Ether 1:42). This verse from Ether contains additional details not found at this point in Lehi’s communication with the Lord. It promises the Lord’s presence to the brother of Jared and speaks at the outset of the destination being a promised land. After comparing Lehi’s experience with those of all these other men, the unique aspects for Lehi's relocation are the fact that his command from the Lord came through a dream and that he was told to go into the wilderness. This latter aspect may not be completely unique, since Moses may have been commanded to take the children of Israel into the wilderness.
- 1 Ne 2:2. It is interesting that the Lord told Lehi to depart into the wilderness but did not mention the "promised land" until later.
- 1 Ne 2:3: He was obedient unto the word of the Lord. This might be a peculiar phrase. It is certainly in keeping with a common phrase in LDS circles—“obey the commandments”—but what does the phrase mean? Readers may have the impression that we can only obey people or divine beings. Maybe this is a faulty assumption. Furthermore, readers may feel that obedience is an act of devotion and righteousness that could only be offered to a person whom they love —- and not in behalf of some abstract thing or concept. Perhaps this is a false dichotomy. It may be possible that every law was enacted by someone, that every law we obey is an act of loyalty and devotion to some person or community. If this is the case, then obeying the words of the Lord can be equated with obeying the Lord.
- 1 Ne 2:3. There is something miraculous about transforming a few words on a page of scriptures into a Christlike way of living. Add to that the multitude of cultures who have different life ways and values, and yet the scriptures can speak the same thing to each. Or maybe the magic comes from the fact that scripture and Spirit combined create a situation where the words on the page call forth deep meanings that lie within the souls of men. The Holy Ghost touches their heart and, almost instinctively, people from any place know what they must do to change their lives and become more like God. This harmony between intent and outcome is hinted at in this verse. Nephi received the Lord's words, did what he knew they required of him, and, in the end, there was no question but that he had done what the Lord wanted. Thus there was a perfect fit between between cause and effect.
- 1 Ne 2:1-4: Land of inheritance. Lands and gold represent wealth. But a land of inheritance could also represent social status. Hugh Nibley explained that possession of a family's ancestral home also represented one's position as presiding over the family. This may help to explain Zeniff's over-zealousness to retake the Land of Nephi, the ancestral land of the Nephites' first inheritance, about two generations after Mosiah I led the faithful Nephites north to Zarahenmla. This also suggests that Lehi, by not only leaving his lands, but the land of his inheritance, was also giving up whatever social station those lands may have conferred. Exactly how much status is impossible to know from just this phrase.
- 1 Ne 2:1-4: Lehi's Exodus.
- The Exodus pattern. The Book of Mormon begins with the exodus of Lehi and his family from Jerusalem. The first four elements of this exodus are captured in summary here: (1) Lehi’s life is threatened because he has performed his duty as a prophet. (2) He is commanded to depart into the wilderness (3) before Jerusalem is destroyed. (4) This exodus strongly parallels Israel's exodus chronicled in the Book of Exodus.
- Oppression (Ex 2:23-25; 1 Ne 1-2)
- A Prophet Leader is Called (Ex 3; 1 Ne 1)
- A Flight into the Wilderness (Ex 12-14; 1 Ne 2:1-4)
- Destruction of Enemies (Ex 12:29-30; Ex 14:27-28; 1 Ne 4:10-18)
- Wandering in the Wilderness (Ex 13-17; 1 Ne 16-18)
- Divine Guidance in the Wilderness (Ex 13:21; 1 Ne 16:9-10; 1 Ne 17:13)
- Crossing Water (Ex 14; 1 Ne 18)
- Murmurings (Ex 15:24; 16:2; Ex 17:2; 1 Ne 2:12; 1 Ne 3:29-31; 1 Ne 17:17)
- Manna Provided (Ex 16; 1 Ne 17:2-3)
- Entrance into the Promised Land (Josh 3; 1 Ne 18:23)
- Other parallels. Besides this basic pattern, there is an extended list of parallels between the experiences of the Israelites and those of Lehi’s family. Moses’ and Lehi’s prophetic calls were both accompanied by fire (Ex 3:2–4; 1 Ne 1:6); aid was requested from both oppressors Pharoah and Laban (Ex 10:3]; 1 Ne 3:12-13); signs and wonders were manifest (Ex 7-10; 1 Ne 4:20); the despoiling of the Egyptians and the taking of Laban’s possessions (Ex 12:35–36; 1 Ne 4:38; 2 Ne 5:12, 14); a new law that was to govern the Lord’s people (Ex 20:2–17; 1 Ne 2:20–24); transfiguration (Ex 34:30; 1 Ne 17:52); burial in the desert (Josh 24:32; 1 Ne 16:34); and others.
- Nephite awareness of the reenactment. Lehi and Nephi probably understood Israelite history well enough to recognize the parallels between their exodus and the Israelite exodus from Egypt. For example it seems Nephi would have recognized that this promise to Nephi (in verse 19) echoes promises given to Moses: "Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart. 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." (1 Ne 2:19-20)
- Given how parallel the experiences are as Nephi writes them, it seems that even if Nephi didn't recognize the parallels during this exodus, he clearly understood them as he was writing his history in First and Second Nephi.
- Continuing Exodus in the Book of Mormon. There is a continuing pattern of Exodus throughout the pages of the Book of Mormon. In fact, there are six accounts of a Lehi-type exodus during the following thousand-year history. In each, the Lord directs prophets to take their people and depart into the wilderness. Nephi’s exodus is found quite soon after the arrival in the Promised Land. (2 Ne 5:1-5). The other exodus accounts are found in Omni 1:13; Mosiah 18:34; Mosiah 22:11; and Alma 27:11-14. Another took place in 2,200 BC (Ether 1:39-42).
- A metaphor for journey through mortality to eternal life. Because of their Israelite heritage and the records they brought with them (Brass Plates), the Nephites understood the biblical exodus. They knew that it was a type and shadow of their own wanderings as well as the spiritual condition of humanity. We are all wanderers seeking for an inheritance in an eternal Land of Promise. Applying our spiritual situation to this same pattern of exodus can be instructive as we read through this second chapter of First Nephi.
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- 1 Ne 2:1: The Lord spake unto my father. Is it significant that Nephi uses the word unto rather than with in this case?
- 1 Ne 2:2: Of all the prophets and others warning that Jerusalem was to be destroyed (cf 1 Ne 1:3), why was Lehi alone commanded to take his family and flee? Or were others perhaps also warned, but did not heed the call? Or did leave Jerusalem but without leaving any record that we have access to?
- 1 Ne 2:3: Are obeying the word and doing what the commandments say two separate and distinct things?
- 1 Ne 2:3: Why doesn't Nephi say "we departed into the wilderness"?
- 1 Ne 2:4: Social relations. Did Lehi have neighbors? Did he have relatives that visited his home frequently? How long did Lehi expect it would take before people discovered that his house had been abandoned? What did the laws of Jerusalem say about inheriting a home and land that was abandoned by its owner?
- 1 Ne 2:5: Daughters. Were Nephi's sisters born before or after this point in time?
- 1 Ne 2:5: Path in the wilderness. Did Lehi and his family take trails that followed the borders of the land or did they intentionally avoid trails and stay close to the shoreline?
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- Concerning other groups leaving Jerusalem by mandate, as they claim, from the Lord, see Margaret Barker's article "What Did Josiah Reform" (a speech she, a Methodist scholar, gave at a BYU forum) in Glimpses of Lehi's Jerusalem, 2004. (For a response to this view, see Terrence L. Szink's review published by FARMS; some LDS scholars, notably Kevin Christensen, favor Barker's view.)
- On Lehi's departure into the wilderness related to the Biblical Exodus, see the following:
- Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon by S. Kent Brown
- The Exodus of Lehi Revisited by Mark J. Johnson
-  Moses Typology in Lehi's Farewell Address, by Noel B. Reynolds
- Wanderers in the Promised Land: A Study of the Exodus Motif in the Book of Mormon and Holy Bible by Bruce J. Boehm
- George S. Tate, "The Typology of the Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon," in Literature of Belief: Sacred Scripture and Religious Experiences, ed. Neal E. Lambert (Provo: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1981), 245–62.
- Terrence L. Szink, "To a Land of Promise (1 Nephi 16–18)," in Studies in Scripture: Volume Seven, 1 Nephi to Alma 29, ed. Kent P. Jackson (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1987), 60–72
- A Discussion of Lehi and the Exodus at the Book of Mormon Groupies blog
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