1 Ne 3:1-4:38
This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Discussion
- 2.1 First Nephi 3-4
- 2.2 1 Ne 3:1-8: The command to get the plates
- 2.3 1 Ne 3:9-14: First attempt by Laman
- 2.4 1 Ne 3:15-21: Nephi's exhortation to buy the plates
- 2.5 1 Ne 3:22-27: Second attempt by all brothers
- 2.6 1 Ne 3:28-4:3: Angel instructs the brothers to try again
- 2.7 1 Ne 4:4-38: Third attempt by Nephi
- 3 Unanswered questions
- 4 Prompts for life application
- 5 Prompts for further study
- 6 Resources
- 7 Notes
This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
Relationship to Chapters 3-7. The relationship of Chapter 3-4 to the rest of Chapters 3-7 is addressed at First Nephi 3-7.
Story. Chapter 3-4 is the story of Nephi and hiss brothers returning to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates from Laban. Three times they consider the instruction to obtain the plates, and three times they try. Chapter 3-4 can thus be outlined ed or encouraged to consists of six major sections in three pairs:
- Verses 3:1-8: Lehi instructs his sons to return to Jerusalem and obtain the plates
- Verses 3:9-14: Laman fails to obtain the plates from Laban
- Verses 3:15-21: Nephi persuades his brothers to purchase the plates
- Verses 3:22-27: the brothers fail to obtain the plates from Laban
- Verses 3:28-4:3: an angel instructs the brothers to make a third attempt
- Verses 4:4-38: Nephi succeeds in obtaining the plates
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 3-4 include:
This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
First Nephi 3-4
- 1 Ne 3-4: Identifying cohesive blocks of text / Outline. The story of retrieving the brass plates from Jerusalem can be understood as consisting of eight episodes. The story relates a series of three attempts to obtain the plates. Each attempt is preceded by a lengthy discussion about whether to comply, or to continue trying to comply, with this instruction. Breaking up the story into these six episodes yields five chunks of roughly similar size and a final climactic chunk that is roughly three times as long as any other. But this final chunk, in which Nephi returns alone into the city and finally succeeds in obtaining the plates, can be further divided into three smaller episodes in which Nephi has to figure out how to deal with drunk Laban, how to get the plates out of Laban's treasury, and how to deal with Zoram once he finally sees through Nephi's disguise. This yields eight chunks of roughly similar size.
- Since the story of retrieving the brass plates consists primarily of narrative action, it also makes sense to identify cohesive blocks of text by looking for chunks in which the narrative unities of time, place, character, and action remain fairly constant, and for the seams that separate these chunks where there are shifts in these narrative unities. The first chunk (3:1-8) consists of a conversation between Lehi and Nephi in which Lehi conveys the Lord's instruction to retrieve the brass plates. This chunk ends when the action shifts to Nephi and his three brothers as they begin traveling to Jerusalem. The second chunk (3:9-14) relates several activities in quick succession without any pause to evaluate until the statement in verse 3:14 that 'And we began to be exceedingly sorrowful, and my brethren were about to return unto my father in the wilderness.' The third chunk (3:15-21) consists of a single exhortation by Nephi to his three brothers back outside the city wall. Again, the action pauses only at the end of this chunk to evaluate in verse 3:21 what has occurred: 'And it came to pass that after this manner of language did I persuade my brethren, that they might be faithful in keeping the commandments of God.' In the fourth chunk (3.22-27) the brothers act on Nephi's exhortation and the action moves quickly through several activities back inside the city wall. In the fifth chunk (3:28-4:3) the action moves back outside the city wall and takes the brothers from a failed second attempt to a willingness to let Nephi make a third attempt. This chunk is less cohesive than the first and third chunks, however, since it consists of more than a single conversation or exhortation, instead relating how Laman and Lemuel smote Sam and Nephi with a rod, an angel appeared, and Nephi then continued to exhort his brothers. The sixth chunk (4:4-19) begins when the brothers return yet again to the city wall of Jerusalem. Most of this chunk relates Nephi's encounter with Laban, especially Nephi being persuaded three times to kill Laban. The seventh chunk (4:20-29) relates how Nephi and Zoram travel to Laban's treasury and then outside the city wall. The eighth and final chunk (4:30-38) begins when Nephi's brothers reappear on stage. Most of this chunk relates Nephi persuading Zoram three times to accompany the brothers to the wilderness. It is thus possible through this more detailed process of focusing on narrative unities to again arrive at the same eight chunks.
- Identifying these eight chunks allows us to think about the main points of each episode and to think about how those episodes relate to each other. Some of the relationships between these eight episodes can be outlined as follows (also see the paragraphing [____ in this PDF document]):
- a. Lehi instructs his sons to return to Jerusalem and obtain the plates (3:1-8 • 244 words)
- c. Laman fails to obtain the plates from Laban (3:9-14 • 195 words)
- a. Nephi persuades his brothers to purchase the plates (3:15-21 • 246 words)
- c. the brothers fail to obtain the plates from Laban (3.22-27 • 195 words)
- a. an angel instructs the brothers to make a third attempt (3:28-4:3 • 346 words)
- a. Lehi instructs his sons to return to Jerusalem and obtain the plates (3:1-8 • 244 words)
- 1 Ne 3-4: The three exhortations. Exhortational (or hortatory) speech seeks to get someone to do something. The simplest type of exhortation is instructional speech, in which the hearer already has cooperative intent and merely needs to be told what to do. A good example is Lehi's instruction to Nephi to return to Jerusalem to retrieve the brass plates (3:2-6).
- In contrast, a classic exhortation must also persuade the hearer to cooperate and thus will often have three elements: (1) an exposition or description of an unacceptable condition, such as 'Your room is messy.' (2) an instruction or exhortation to change the situation, such as 'Clean your room right now.' and (3) a narrative prediction of good and bad consequences, or of carrots and sticks, to motivate the desired change, such as 'Otherwise you will be grounded.' Although only one of these three elements appears to be an exhortation, the three elements all work together as a larger unit of thought with a cohesive exhortational goal. An example of this is Nephi's exhortation to his brothers ___.
- 1 Ne 3-4: The three attempts.
- 1 Ne 3-4: Who was Laban. Laban was politically connected. On the night of his death he had been out with out with "the elders of the Jews." (1 Ne 4:22, 26-27). The statement that Laban "can commander fifty" is widely understood to mean that he held military rank. (1 Ne 3:31). And even though Laman and his brothers came from a wealthy family possessing a "land of inheritance, ... gold, silver, and all manner of riches" (1 Ne 3:16), Laban still thought he could get away with murdering Laman - even before he had the incentive of obtaining Lehi's wealth. (1 Ne 3:13).
- Laban was wealthy. Laban's sword was very expensive. "The hilt thereof was was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel." (1 Ne 4:9). He had armor. (1 Ne 4:19). He had servants. (1 Ne 3:25-27). He had a treasury with an overseer. (1 Ne 4:20). And in that treasury was a record on brass plates that Laban could afford to have someone educated keep current through the reign of the new king Zedekiah, on the assumption that Laban was not personally performing the tedious task of recording Jeremiah's recent prophecies on metal plates. (1 Ne 5:12-13).
- Laban was related to Lehi. The brass plates in Laban's possession had the genealogy of Lehi's fathers. (1 Ne 3:3; 1 Ne 5:14, 16). Even though Laman was young enough to still be unmarried, he was able to get an audience with Laban. (1 Ne 3:11). And even though that audience ended with Laban thrusting Laman out and threatening to kill him (1 Ne 3:13), Laman and his brothers were still able to get a second audience. (1 Ne 3:23-24). Young Nephi was also sufficiently familiar with Laban to manage a passable imitation, though this by itself does not establish a blood relation. (1 Ne 4:20, 23).
- The fact that Laban had the genealogical record of Lehi's fathers suggests, but does not necessarily establish, that Laban enjoyed some birthright privilege over Lehi. "Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the record." (1 Ne 5:16). Such a birthright advantage would likely bring with it social status and economic wealth.
- Laban was dangerous, and he apparently had that reputation. When the four boys arrived at Jerusalem, they did not all just show up together on Laban's doorstep. Rather, they cast lots to see which one would approach Laban. (1 Ne 3:10-11). Meanwhile, Lehi comforted Sariah by saying "I know that the Lord will deliver my sons out of the hands of Laban." (1 Ne 5:5). Laman and Lemuel described Laban as a "mighty man ... yea, even he can slay fifty." (1 Ne 3:31). Laban had a sword with a blade of fine steel. (1 Ne 4:9). When Laman went in to speak with Laban, Laban did not merely throw Laman out the door, he threatened to kill him. (1 Ne 3:13). When Laman returned a second time with his brothers, Laban instructed his servants to kill them all. (1 Ne 3:25-27).
- 1 Ne 3-4: Birthright and younger brother succeeding where older fails. In the Joseph cycle of Genesis, the oldest brother Reuben tries unsuccessfully to make events turn out well. His younger brother Judah, in contrast, is able to make things turn out well. The tribe of Judah then rules over the kingdom of Israel in David, Solomon, and Christ, while Reuben never rules. (see the discussion of Genesis 36-50). Here likewise he younger brother Nephi derives his legitimacy in part from his ability to succeed where his older brother failed. (see the discussion of First Nephi).
1 Ne 3:1-8: The command to get the plates
- The theme of these verses, that the Lord paves the way for his people to fulfill his commandments, is consistent with the Old Testament traditions that Nephi would have been very familiar with in which the Lord intervened in miraculous ways to aid his prophets, such as Abraham and Moses, to fulfill their missions. But contrast Nephi’s complete confidence that the Lord will help him fulfill the commandment to go and get the plates with 2 Ne 4:27 where Nephi laments his imperfections and seeming inability to finally conquer sin and temptation.
- There is an apparent inconsistency in the fact that Nephi in one circumstance has complete trust that the Lord will “prepare a way” to keep commandments and yet in another laments the fact that he does not seem able to overcome sin--which in one sense is simply the failure to keep the commandments. This inconsistency is likely resolved by looking more closely at the context of the two verses. In 1 Nephi 3, the commandment is a special mission, while in 2 Nephi 4 the theme relates to personal righteousness in the general sense. Accordingly, the conclusion could be drawn that while the Lord prepares the way for us to fulfill our personal callings, sin is something we cannot completely escape other than through later redemption.
- 1 Ne 3:5: A hard thing. It is not clear from these verses whether Laman and Lemuel's complaint that the assignment to obtain the brass plates from Laban is "a hard thing" is based on the trip, what they knew about Laban, or a combination of the two. But other verses in this story suggest that fear of Laban alone would have been sufficient to characterize this assignment as a hard thing. (See the discussion above regarding Who was Laban).
1 Ne 3:9-14: First attempt by Laman
- 1 Ne 3:11: Casting lots. Why cast lots? In ancient times people believed (as we still do!) that the Lord could make his will known through such a seemingly random process (see related link below). Note though that lots are not always cast to find out the will of the Lord at this time. For example in 1 Ne 16:24 Lehi could have cast lots to determine in what direction Nephi should look for food; but instead, he asked the Lord.
- Why use lots in this case? If we imagine Nephi encouraging his brothers to pray (versus casting lots) the advantages of casting lots become clear. First as a group the four were not all equally faithful. Laman and Lemuel show us a few chapters later how doubtful they are that they can receive direction from the Lord (see 1 Ne 15:8-9). They wouldn't want to pray for direction here. They may have believed that Nephi could receive direction from the Lord, but they show repeatedly that they do not want to look to him for direction. And even if Nephi prayed and received direction that Laman should go, and even if Laman agreed to this, when things went badly Laman would likely have blamed Nephi for having sent him.
1 Ne 3:15-21: Nephi's exhortation to buy the plates
- 1 Ne 3:15. In often-quoted Verse 7 Nephi declares his faith that the Lord will help them accomplish what he has commanded them. But here, after the first setback, Nephi's faith shows its true strength when he continues to believe that God will help them. Oftentimes faith turns to questioning and doubting when the first real adversity sets in. Nephi's example of faith is a faith that endures setbacks.
1 Ne 3:22-27: Second attempt by all brothers
- 1 Ne 3:23. This verse suggests they had pack animals since they had come up with their tents and supplies.
1 Ne 3:28-4:3: Angel instructs the brothers to try again
- 1 Ne 3:28. Compare the explanation of Nephi's rule with the Lord's explanation to Nephi himself in 2:22. The Lord explains Nephi's rulership as being a result of Nephi's righteousness, whereas the angel explains his rulership to his brothers as a result specifically of their wickedness. Also, the Lord's promises are given conditionally, on Nephi's righteousness, but the angel puts Nephi's rulership in the past tense (i.e. it has already been granted, with no hint of a possible change). What is to be made of these differences? Also, the angel asks Laman and Lemuel "know ye not," which is a bit surprising, since it implies that Nephi has told them at some point between his revelation at the end of chapter two and their journey to obtain the plates about his revelation (it could make for an interesting conversation piece for the trip back to Jerusalem).
- 1 Ne 4:1. Nephi had a lot of faith and courage. His example can inspire us to trust in the Lord, even when the forces arrayed against us seem overwhelming. Nephi's example also offers us a glimpse of what it is like to prepare for a group effort but ultimately have to accomplish the task without the help of the group. We need to understand that there is a time and a season in the Lord's kingdom for both collective work and individual work, and the Lord is powerful enough to help us in either case. We need to reach the point where we have no fear about doing our callings because it is the Lord we are relying upon.
1 Ne 4:4-38: Third attempt by Nephi
- 1 Ne 4:4-38: Laban and Zoram as an allegory. In terms of literary structure, or the manner in which Nephi has organized his narrative, it is significant that Nephi is urged three times before he is persuaded to kill Laban, and that Nephi urges Zoram three times before Zoram is persuaded to join Lehi's family in the wilderness.
- Laban is a wicked leader of the Jewish people (a captain), and the Lord has Nephi destroy him by cutting off the head. Poor Zoram, in contrast, seems entirely incapable of distinguishing between Laban and Nephi; as long as someone looks like a leader, he blindly follows. He, like the shepherdless sheep of Israel, will be treated by the Lord with more mercy, being scattered buy not destroyed.
- In this context it is also interesting that at the midpoint between these two episodes, at the climax of the entire story when Nephi finally gets his hands on the brass plates, Nephi does not merely say that he will take the brass plates. He also says at this climactic point that Zoram should also come with him.
- 1 Ne 4:4-38: Symbolism of sword and plates. Nephi left Jerusalem with three things that had previously belonged to Laban: (1) Laban's armor and steel sword (1 Ne 4:19, 21); (2) the brass plates containing the words of the holy prophets (1 Ne 3:20; 1 Ne 4:14-17); and (3) Zoram, a follower bound by oath. (1 Ne 4:35-38).
- This is symbolically significant in the context of Nephi calling his record an account of his "reign and ministry." (First Nephi heading and discussion). The armor and steel sword represent the role of a king in defending his people. The Book of Mormon consistently treats the sword of Laban as a relic of political leadership, repeatedly referring to the Nephite king or chief judge wielding the sword of Laban in defense of his people. ([__]). The brass plates represent the role of a priest in teaching the word of God to the people. Thus these two items represent Nephi's twin roles as king and priest. Kings govern and defend others, while priests teach and administer ordinances to others. Nephi also left Jerusalem with another that he can protect and teach, namely Zoram.
- This story immediately follows the Covenant with Nephi in which Nephi is promised that he will be a ruler and a teacher over his older brothers Laman and Lemuel. (1 Ne 2:22; discussion). Now the oldest brother Laman fails to obtain the brass plates, and then Nephi obtains both the brass plates and the steel sword symbolizing his attainment of those two roles.
- Nephi does not suggest, however, as some readers have, that Nephi obtained any birthright previously held by Laban. Nephi does emphasize his descent from Israel's birthright son Joseph. Nephi also goes to great lengths, including in this story, to establish the legitimacy of his own birthright position over his older brother Laman. So the complete silence about any birthright held by Laban, or of any birthright passing from Laban to Nephi, strongly suggest that Nephi doe not claim any birthright through Laban.
- 1 Ne 4:4-19. Nephi's experience is a pattern for our own lives. We cannot expect the Spirit to explain everything in advance. The path we are to follow is revealed step by step so that we must continually exercise our faith. If it were not this way, we might be become too confident in our own abilities. Or else knowing the end from the beginning might make us more accountable than we can handle.
- 1 Ne 4:4-19: Possible fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy. The story of Nephi killing Laban can be read a a fulfillment of prophecy by Jeremiah. We know that Jeremiah was a contemporary prophet of Lehi. [1 Nephi 7:14].
- In Jeremiah chapter 25, the Lord tells Jeremiah to “take the wine cup” of His fury and “cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it.” [vs. 15] Jeremiah recorded, “Then I took the cup at the LORD’S hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the LORD had sent me: To wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof and the princes thereof.” [vs.18] Jeremiah prophesied to the unrepentant rulers, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Drink ye, and be drunken, and spue [vomit], and fall, and rise no more, because of the sword which I shall send among you.” [vs. 27]
- The story of Laban's death fit this description. He was a wicked leader of the Jews. Nephi described his encounter with Laban,
- "As I came near to the house of Laban I beheld a man, and he was fallen to the earth before me, for he was drunken with wine. And when I came to him I found that it was Laban” [1 Nephi 4:7-8]
- And again, I knew that the Lord had delivered Laban into my hands for this cause—that I might obtain the records according to his commandments. Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword.” [1 Nephi 4:17 –18]
- Laban was drunk, had fallen, and did not rise again because he was killed with the sword.
- 1 Ne 4:13.The Lord has gone to great lengths to preserve these records in their purity. They helped an ancient nation to keep the faith and they can do the same for us.
- 1 Ne 4:13.In our day, the scriptures are not in need of physical protection. However, we are still under sacred obligation to see that they are not forgotten or ignored. We will be under condemnation if we do not take seriously these records for which others lost or gave up their lives so that we could have them today.
- 1 Ne 4:13.In our own lives, we should never assume that the means justify the ends. Only the Lord is qualified to make that judgment call. In the meantime, we should follow the commandments he had laid down for us. Only if and when a divinely-authorized exception to this pattern comes along will we be justified in deviating from our established course.
- 1 Ne 4:13: Who is speaking.Though we could read verse 13 as either a continuation of what the Spirit says starting in verse 12 or the beginning of Nephi's reaction to those words, several things suggest it is the former. First the the words "behold the Lord" which begin the verse remind of us of the same beginning words the Spirit uses in verse 11. Further, verse 14 starts "And now when I Nephi had heard these words." This suggests that the words just prior were words he heard from the Spirit. Also, the memory in verse 14 which the Spirit's words bring to mind, Nephi ties (in verse 15-17) back to the idea of verse 13 (that a nation could dwindle in unbelief). The logic wouldn't work as well, if verse 13 were his own idea. These reasons suggest that verse 13 was spoken by the Spirit.
- 1 Ne 4:13: It is better that one man... The calculus here seems confusing when we compare it to Gen 18:23-32 where Abraham and the Lord discuss how many righteous people does it take to save a wicked city. In that case we are comparing killing the righteous (a bad thing) with killing the wicked (a good thing). But here we have killing a wicked person (presumably, a good thing) with saving a nation (a good thing). We might wonder then, what the dilemma is. The dilemma cannot be of the same type of calculus found in Abraham's and the Lord's discussion in Genesis. Instead the dilemma arises out of Nephi's reluctance to kill--a thing he has never done before and doesn't want to do (see v 10).
This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
Prompts for life application
This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
Prompts for further study
This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
- 1 Ne 3:1 Why is it an event, rather than a place, that Nephi is returning from?
- 1 Ne 3:2 Is it a coincidence that Lehi and Nephi are talking about their revelation from the Lord at about the same time? Or did Lehi wait to share what he had received until after Nephi had his revelatory experience?
- 1 Ne 3:3 Why didn't Lehi say "Laban hath a record of the Jews"? To what extent was Lehi saying that Laban possessed the only record of the Jews? Is it possible that Lehi was not aware of any other records being kept by the Jews at that time?
- 1 Ne 3:4 With this vague explanation, did Lehi leave open the possibility that Nephi and his brothers could take the records without obtaining Laban's permission?
- 1 Ne 3:5 Why did Lehi tell Nephi's brothers about the trip back to Jerusalem before he told Nephi? Was it because Nephi was preoccupied with speaking with the Lord?
- 1 Ne 3:5 Was Lehi implying that Sam was one of the brothers who murmured?
- 1 Ne 3:6 Why was this blessing upon Nephi predicated upon his faithfulness over the course of this five-minute conversation with his father? Would it have been more accurate for Lehi to have said that Nephi would be favored as long as he did not murmur before and during the trip?
- 1 Ne 3:7 Compare verse 7 to D&C 124:49. Why does one say that the Lord will always prepare a way, while the other says the Lord will release his servants from certain commandments if their enemies make it impossible for them to fulfill those commandments?
- 1 Ne 3:8 This verse tells us that Lehi knew that Nephi had been blessed. The suggestion is that he knew because of what Nephi said in verse 7. How is Nephi’s statement in verse 7 evidence of having been blessed? How is what we see in these verses connected to 1 Ne 2:16?
- 1 Ne 3:9 If Nephi and his brethren were not yet married, why did they need separate tents?
- 1 Ne 3:10 Did the consulting happen while they were traveling, or only after they had arrived?
- 1 Ne 3:11 Why did they think it would be best to talk to Laban individually? Wouldn't they have felt safer going as a group?
- 1 Ne 3:12 Why did Lehi and his family think that they had a right to take the plates of brass from Laban?
- 1 Ne 3:13 Why didn't Laban just deny that he had them? How hard was Laban trying to tell the truth?
- 1 Ne 3:14 Why do Laman and Laban's names sound so similar? Was Laban named after Laman, at least in part?
- 1 Ne 3:14 Why were Laman and Lemuel sad at this point, rather than mad?
- 1 Ne 3:15 To what extent was it useful or dangerous for Laban to know that Lehi's family was alive but no longer living in their house?
- 1 Ne 3:16 What does it mean to be “faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord"? What does the word faithful or faithfully add that is important? Why not just say “keeping the commandments"? How is keeping the commandments faithfully connected to being chosen for deliverance because of faith (1 Ne 1:20)?
- 1 Ne 3:17 Was that the only reason why the Lord was going to destroy Jerusalem, or was it actually just the primary reason?
- 1 Ne 3:18 If it was dangerous for Lehi to step foot back in the city, then was it or was it not dangerous for his sons to reenter the city they had fled?
- 1 Ne 3:19 Is Nephi primarily talking about literacy?
- 1 Ne 3:19 Why does Nephi not have faith that the Lord could reveal scriptures anew for his people in the promised land?
- 1 Ne 3:20 If Joseph Smith could receive missing biblical scripture through revelation and without translating original texts, then why wasn't the same power available to Lehi and Nephi?
- 1 Ne 3:21 Why were Laman and Lemuel amenable to logic and reason in this situation, but only swayed by physical force and emotional intensity in other situations?
- 1 Ne 3:22 How did they plan to carry this treasure that was undoubtedly very heavy?
- 1 Ne 3:23 Given that they were able to carry these heavy items from their house to Laban's house, does that mean it is likely they were neighbors or at least lived in close proximity?
- 1 Ne 3:24 Did they actually ask Laban for the plates or did they only get to the point where they desired to ask? Did Laban assume this time that they were after the plates, which made it unnecessary for them to formally ask him for the plates?
- 1 Ne 3:25 Did Laban feel threatened by Nephi and his brothers? Why did he think it was necessary to kill them? Was he worried that they would somehow retaliate against him?
- 1 Ne 3:25 Why does Laban thrust them out then send servants out to kill them? Why not kill them while he has them right there in front of him?
- 1 Ne 3:26 Why doesn't Nephi say they were forced, or had little choice but, "to leave behind our property"?
- 1 Ne 3:27 Why did the servants of Laban not pursue them all the way to the rock? Did the servants only run to the boundary of the city and no further? Did Nephi and his brethren run faster than the servants?
- 1 Ne 3:28 What had Sam done up to this point to merit the wrath of Laman and Lemuel?
- 1 Ne 3:29 How were Laman and Lemuel supposed to know that Nephi had been set apart to be their ruler? Were Laman and Lemuel privy to the revelation that Nephi received about becoming a ruler (see 1 Ne 2:22)?
- 1 Ne 3:30 To whom exactly did the angel speak? Did he speak "unto them" (1 Ne 3:29) or "unto us" (1 Ne 3:30)?
- 1 Ne 3:31 Why did Laman and Lemuel automatically assume that Laban would resist them? Was there room to interpret the angel's words as saying that Laban would not resist the efforts of Lehi's sons to obtain the brass plates?
- 1 Ne 4:1 Was Nephi assuming at this point that there would be a showdown of some sort between the Lord's forces and Laban's forces? Or did he strategically adopt that language to make the Lord's promise and commandment more understandable to his brethren?
- 1 Ne 4:2 In verse 1, Nephi again exhorts his brothers to be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord. Then, in verse 2, he appeals to the experience of Moses, asking them to remember what the Lord did for Israel at the Red Sea. Book of Mormon sermons often begin in this way, by calling on the listeners to remember something from scriptural history or their own history and then preaching the Gospel based on that remembrance. Nephi is using a version of that pattern here. Why is remembering the Lord’s deeds in the past so important to keeping the commandments faithfully? How does the Book of Mormon call us to remember? What does it call us to remember?
- 1 Ne 4:3 When Nephi exhorts his brothers that the Lord is able "to destroy Laban," does he already have it in mind that this is what the Lord is going to do? Or might this foreshadowing have been added 30 years later when Nephi finally recorded the event in his record on the plates?
- 1 Ne 4:4 Were Laman and Lemuel mollified because Nephi gave them the impression that the Lord would fight their battles for them, rather than requiring them to physically participate in the combat against Laban?
- 1 Ne 4:5 What were they doing during all the previous attempts if they were not already hiding? Did Nephi move them to a new hiding spot? Was this done to ensure a quick getaway?
- 1 Ne 4:6 Why was this not immobilizing for Nephi? How much of a delay was there between each time that Nephi needed revelation, the arrival of the prompting, and Nephi's response to the Spirit's message?
- 1 Ne 4:7 Does Nephi use the word "nevertheless" to signal that even he, the recipient of the revelations, was somewhat baffled by its timing and method of operation? See Jeremiah 25:27 and discussion page about this incident.
- 1 Ne 4:8 Did Nephi immediately recognize that this was the method by which the Lord had just delivered Laban into his hands?
- 1 Ne 4:9 Is it significant that Nephi pulled out the sword before he says he felt constrained to kill Laban?
- 1 Ne 4:10 How can we tell the difference between a spiritual prompting and our own rationalizations?
- 1 Ne 4:11 How did Nephi know for certain that Laban "would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord"? At what point did Nephi and his brethren explain to Laban that they were on the Lord's errand?
- 1 Ne 4:12 Was this the first or the second time that the Spirit had confirmed to Nephi that the Lord had delivered Laban into his hands?
- 1 Ne 4:13 Why was there no other way that Nephi and his brethren could have acquired the plates? Why was Laban's death necessary?
- 1 Ne 4:14 Is Nephi here expanding the Lord's personal covenant with him in 1 Ne 2:20 and apply it to all of his future descendants, or is Nephi referring to a separate promise given to him in the wilderness?
- 1 Ne 4:15 Were the Jaredites exempt from this provision? Were some of the Jaredites able to keep the commandments, even though they did not bring scriptures with them to the promised land? Were the Jaredites able to get by without the Old Testament because their prophets were inspired to create new scriptures?
- 1 Ne 4:16 Would the plates have really been that useful if they had only contained the law of Moses? Weren't they primarily valuable to Lehites because they contained teachings about Christ that would soon be stripped from the Hebrew Bible?
- 1 Ne 4:17 To what extent did Nephi persuade himself, out of repetition, to do this thing?
- 1 Ne 4:18 Why were the followers of Laban less likely to kill Nephi and his brethren if their leader was killed and more likely to hunt them down if their leader lived but the plates were stolen? Why wasn't it the other way around? Wasn't Laban's life worth avenging?
- 1 Ne 4:20 Does this mean Nephi had the same amount of facial hair as Laban?
- 1 Ne 4:21 Does this mean that, because of the darkness, Zoram could see Nephi's clothing but not his face?
- 1 Ne 4:22 Did the elders usually get drunk at these meetings or was Laban the exception?
- 1 Ne 4:23 Did Nephi receive some help from the Holy Ghost or was he just really good at imitating other people's voices?
- 1 Ne 4:24 How truthful did the Lord want Nephi to be during this conversation with Zoram?
- 1 Ne 4:25 What was Nephi more afraid of: having the guards discover that Laban was dead or having Zoram realize that the plates had been stolen when Nephi did not return with them?
- 1 Ne 4:26 Is there any parallel with Zoram's experience in this verse and the New Testament verse about Christ's appearance to two disciples on the Emmaus road, which says "their eyes were holden that they should not know him" (Luke 24:16).
- 1 Ne 4:27 Why was Zoram apparently not at all concerned about going beyond the security of the city walls?
- 1 Ne 4:28 Why was Sam just as frightened as Laman and Lemuel?
- 1 Ne 4:29 Was it the things Nephi said, the manner in which he said them, or both, that caused his brethren to stop fleeing?
- 1 Ne 4:30 What was Zoram more afraid of: his sudden realization that he was betraying his master or the fact that he was now outnumbered by 4 to 1?
- 1 Ne 4:31 Why is this the first point in the chapter that Nephi says he has received strength, as opposed to promptings, from the Lord?
- 1 Ne 4:32 Was Nephi really prepared to kill Zoram if he didn't go along with their plans?
- 1 Ne 4:34 How presumptive is it for Nephi to invite Zoram to his father's camp and essentially promise him that he will be entitled to part of his father's inheritance?
- 1 Ne 4:34 "Surely the Lord hath commanded us to do this thing..." Nephi just killed and impersonated a man, and tricked his servant into leading him to his property to steal it. Does Zoram really believe that surely the Lord had a part in all of it?
- 1 Ne 4:35 How was Zoram so quickly converted to the side of his former enemies?
- 1 Ne 4:36 Given that Nephi and his brethren wanted the plates, Laban showed up dead, the plates went missing, and Nephi and his brethren were no longer coming by Laban's house, why wasn't it already obvious to Laban's guards that Nephi and his brethren were their number one suspects?
- 1 Ne 4:37 Had Zoram not already made an oath unto Laban to protect the plates?
- 1 Ne 4:38 Why is Zoram referred to as "the servant of Laban" even after he has sworn an oath and granted his freedom?
- 1 Ne 4:38 Did they attempt to cover up their tracks as they passed through the desert sands?
This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →
- LDS Institute Book of Mormon Student Manual (PDF version): Chapter 2/56: 1 Nephi 1-5. Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2009.
- 1 Ne 4:4-19. See "Why Nephi Killed Laban: Reflections on the Truth of the Book of Mormon" by Eugene England, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought v. 22(3), Fall 1989 pp. 32-51.
Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.