1 Ne 3:1-4:38
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- 1 Summary
- 2 Discussion
- 2.1 Chapter 3-4
- 2.2 Verses 3:1-8: The command to get the plates
- 2.3 Verses 3:9-14: First attempt by Laman
- 2.4 Verses 3:15-21: Nephi's exhortation to buy the plates
- 2.5 Verses 3:22-27: Second attempt by all brothers
- 2.6 Verses 3:28-4:3: Angel instructs the brothers to try again
- 2.7 Verses 4:4-38: Third attempt by Nephi
- 2.8 Verses 4:4-19: Third attempt: Nephi persuaded to slay Laban
- 2.9 Verses 4:20-29: Third attempt: Brass plates retrieved
- 2.10 Verses 4:30-38: Third attempt: Zoram persuaded to leave Jerusalem
- 3 Unanswered questions
- 4 Prompts for life application
- 5 Prompts for further study
- 6 Resources
- 7 Notes
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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. →
- 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)
- 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 ___.
- The three attempts.
Verses 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.
Verses 3:9-14: First attempt by Laman
- Verse 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.
Verses 3:15-21: Nephi's exhortation to buy the plates
- Verse 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.
Verses 3:22-27: Second attempt by all brothers
- Verse 3:23. This verse suggests they had pack animals since they had come up with their tents and supplies.
Verses 3:28-4:3: Angel instructs the brothers to try again
- Verse 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).
- Verse 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.
Verses 4:4-38: Third attempt by Nephi
- Verses 4:4-38: Nephi's third attempt as a parable.
Verses 4:4-19: Third attempt: Nephi persuaded to slay Laban
- Verses 4:4-19. Right in the beginning of the Book of Mormon, we have the story of how Nephi obtained the brass plates from Laban. Because Nephi was commanded of the Spirit to slay Laban, this story has been troublesome for many. Nephi, however, goes into great lengths to explain how he and his brothers had tried to reason with Laban and offered to buy them from him. He also explained how Laban stole their property and tried to have them killed. Later, when Nephi had found Laban drunk on the ground, he had to be commanded three times by an angel to do the deed. With great reluctance, he complied.
- There must have been a reason that Nephi included this story when writing his record. He could have easily said they obtained the brass plates without going into any detail and thus sparing any controversy of how he obtained the plates. By looking further into the account, we may ascertain his reasons for including this incident.
- First of all, who was Laban? There is not much in the Book of Mormon that describes who he was, but there are some significant clues. We know that when Lehi commanded his sons to return to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates, Laman and Lemuel were fearful, saying, “it is a hard thing which I have required of them” [1 Nephi 3:5] and “how is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, and he can slay fifty…” [1 Nephi 4:31] Later Nephi said that the Lord was mighter than “Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands.” [1 Nephi 4:1]
- In light of their response, Laban must have been some sort of ruler or one in authority in Jerusalem. It seems that Laban had a guard of fifty at his immediate command and possibly he was the “commander in chief” over all the army. He wore, as part of his regalia, an expensive and rare sword of steel with a gold hilt. He also had a treasury with an overseer.
- Additionally, he may have been an ecclesiastical leader because he was in possession of the brass plates, not just a copy written on a scroll. If the Book of Mormon is any pattern of the tradition of the Jews, it was only the church leaders who possessed the spiritual record that was written upon plates or the “hard copy.” On the evening of his demise, he had been with the elders of the Jews, the “brethren of the church.” [1 Nephi 4:22, 26] In essence, it seems that Laban was a “king and a priest” over his people.
- Laban was a relative of Lehi, for they shared the same genealogy. [1 Nephi 3:3, 5:14]. We also know that Lehi’s family was familiar enough with Laban that Nephi could imitate Laban’s voice and mannerisms. [1 Nephi 4:20, 23] It also seems from the account that they had no trouble in obtaining appointments to meet with Laban, which probably would have been difficult for the average citizen. It is even possible that Laban could have been Lehi’s older brother or he could have been an older cousin to Nephi.
- Laban, by the Jewish standards, could have been the birthright son. We know that the rights of leadership, both temporal and spiritual, rests upon the firstborn son. The birthright can be nullified or transferred to another in line to receive it, if the firstborn dishonors his birthright through wickedness.
- Laban was a wicked man. [1 Nephi 4:13] This story can be viewed as the loss of Laban’s birthright because of his wickedness, and given to Nephi, possibly the next heir, by virtue of his righteousness, since Laman or Lemuel were not worthy to receive it. Previous to the command to go back to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates, the Lord had told Nephi that, as long as he kept the commandments, he would be a “ruler and a teacher” [king and a priest] over his older brethren. [1 Nephi 2:22] After losing their property to Laban, Laman and Lemuel were pretty upset with Nephi and began beating him up. An angel intervened and informed them that the Lord had chosen Nephi to be a ruler over them because of their iniquities. [1 Nephi 3:29]
- Nephi doesn’t simply writes that he kills Laban and obtains the plates, but details how he puts on the garments of Laban, “…I took the garments of Laban and put them upon mine own body; yea, even every whit; and I did gird on his armor about my loins.” [1 Nephi 4:19]
- In essence, Nephi has put on the authority of Laban, and becomes the rightful “king and priest” as he obtains the brass plates. Nephi exercised his role as a “king” as he ruled over his people in the promised land and “wielded the sword of Laban in their defense” [Jacob 1:10] and as a “priest” as he taught his people from the brass plates.
- This story also is a fulfillment of prophecy. 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]
- Perhaps Jeremiah directed this prophecy to Laban, since Laban was clearly a leader of the Jews. The prophecy was fulfilled literally in his case. 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]
- Jeremiah’s prophecy was literally fulfilled in Laban’s case. Laban was drunk and drunk people vomit. He had fallen and he did not rise again because he was killed with the sword.
- After arriving in the promised land, and prior to his death, Lehi gathered his posterity around him and said,
- “And now my son, Laman, and also Lemuel and Sam, and also my sons who are the sons of Ishmael, behold, if ye will hearken unto the voice of Nephi ye shall not perish. And if ye will hearken unto him I leave unto you a blessing, yea, even my first blessing. But if ye will not hearken unto him I take away my first blessing, yea, even my blessing, and it shall rest upon him.” --2 Nephi 1:28 – 29
- Laman and Lemuel did not hearken unto Nephi, so it is obvious that Lehi intended for Nephi to receive the rights and responsibilities of the firstborn. Laman and Lemuel, however, were not willing to relinquish the birthright. Laman and Lemuel were angry with Nephi because “Our younger brother thinks to rule over us; and we have had much trial because of him; wherefore, now let us slay him, that we may not be afflicted more because of his words. For behold, we will not have him to be our ruler; for it belongs to us, who are the elder brethren, to rule over this people” [2 Nephi 5:3]
- It is for this reason, I believe, Nephi included the detailed account with Laban: to show unto the posterity of Laman and Lemuel that he was the birthright son with the responsibility given to him of the Lord to be the ruler and teacher [king and priest] over the people and that right would continue with the Nephites. The Lamanites had for many generations felt that the Nephites had robbed them of their birthright, including the possession of the brass plates. In Mosiah 10:12 - 17, we read what Laman and Lemuel taught their posterity including:
- “And, again, they were wroth with him [Nephi] when they had arrived in the promised land, because they said that he had taken the ruling of the people out of their hands, and they sought to kill him.”
- “And they were wroth with him [Nephi] because…he took the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, for they said that he robbed them.”
- “And thus they taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them; therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi.”
- Several years later, the King of the Lamanites was angry with his son, Lamoni, for befriending Ammon, who was a Nephite. He said, “Lamoni, thou art going to deliver these Nephites, who are sons of a liar. Behold, he [Nephi] robbed our fathers; and now his children are also come amongst us that they may, by their cunnings and their lyings, deceive us, that they may again rob us…” [Alma 20:13]
- Likewise, many years later, Ammoron, the king of the Lamanites, said to Moroni, “For behold, your fathers did wrong their brethren, insomuch that they did rob them of their right to the government when it rightly belonged to them.” [[Alma 54:17]
- Nephi’s record was used to teach the Nephites and receptive Lamanites. King Benjamin testified that they used the written record of Nephi for he said unto his sons, “And behold, also the plates of Nephi, which contains the records and sayings of our fathers from the time they left Jerusalem until now, and they are true.” [Mosiah 1:5] It is likely that they were taught the story of how Nephi obtained the brass plates, along with the plan of salvation through Jesus Christ
- When the people of King Lamoni were converted unto the Lord, the king gathered the people together and said, “I thank my God, my beloved people, that our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach to us, and to convince us of the traditions of our wicked fathers.” [Alma 24:7] At their conversion, they realized that their fathers were not robbed of the birthright and that Nephi and his descendants were rightfully the recipients of the birthright. And, “thousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord, yea, thousands were brought to believe in the traditions of the Nephites; and they were taught the records and prophecies which were handed down even to the present time.” [Alma 23:5]
- In conclusion, I believe that Nephi left the detailed account of how he obtained the brass plates not only to show how the Lord directed him, but also to show the descendants of Lehi how he became the “birthright son”, and therefore had the right and responsibility to rule the people and possess the brass plates and that right continued with the Nephites. It also serves as a testimony of the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophesy.
- Verses 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.
- Verse 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.
- Verse 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.
- Verse 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.
- Verse 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.
- Verse 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).
Verses 4:20-29: Third attempt: Brass plates retrieved
Verses 4:30-38: Third attempt: Zoram persuaded to leave Jerusalem
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- Verse 3:1 Why is it an event, rather than a place, that Nephi is returning from?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 3:5 Was Lehi implying that Sam was one of the brothers who murmured?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 3:9 If Nephi and his brethren were not yet married, why did they need separate tents?
- Verse 3:10 Did the consulting happen while they were traveling, or only after they had arrived?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 3:12 Why did Lehi and his family think that they had a right to take the plates of brass from Laban?
- Verse 3:13 Why didn't Laban just deny that he had them? How hard was Laban trying to tell the truth?
- Verse 3:14 Why do Laman and Laban's names sound so similar? Was Laban named after Laman, at least in part?
- Verse 3:14 Why were Laman and Lemuel sad at this point, rather than mad?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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)?
- Verse 3:17 Was that the only reason why the Lord was going to destroy Jerusalem, or was it actually just the primary reason?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 3:19 Is Nephi primarily talking about literacy?
- Verse 3:19 Why does Nephi not have faith that the Lord could reveal scriptures anew for his people in the promised land?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 3:22 How did they plan to carry this treasure that was undoubtedly very heavy?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 3:26 Why doesn't Nephi say they were forced, or had little choice but, "to leave behind our property"?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 3:28 What had Sam done up to this point to merit the wrath of Laman and Lemuel?
- Verse 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)?
- Verse 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)?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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.
- Verse 4:8 Did Nephi immediately recognize that this was the method by which the Lord had just delivered Laban into his hands?
- Verse 4:9 Is it significant that Nephi pulled out the sword before he says he felt constrained to kill Laban?
- Verse 4:10 How can we tell the difference between a spiritual prompting and our own rationalizations?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 4:13 Why was there no other way that Nephi and his brethren could have acquired the plates? Why was Laban's death necessary?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 4:17 To what extent did Nephi persuade himself, out of repetition, to do this thing?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 4:20 Does this mean Nephi had the same amount of facial hair as Laban?
- Verse 4:21 Does this mean that, because of the darkness, Zoram could see Nephi's clothing but not his face?
- Verse 4:22 Did the elders usually get drunk at these meetings or was Laban the exception?
- Verse 4:23 Did Nephi receive some help from the Holy Ghost or was he just really good at imitating other people's voices?
- Verse 4:24 How truthful did the Lord want Nephi to be during this conversation with Zoram?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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).
- Verse 4:27 Why was Zoram apparently not at all concerned about going beyond the security of the city walls?
- Verse 4:28 Why was Sam just as frightened as Laman and Lemuel?
- Verse 4:29 Was it the things Nephi said, the manner in which he said them, or both, that caused his brethren to stop fleeing?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 4:32 Was Nephi really prepared to kill Zoram if he didn't go along with their plans?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 4:35 How was Zoram so quickly converted to the side of his former enemies?
- Verse 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?
- Verse 4:37 Had Zoram not already made an oath unto Laban to protect the plates?
- Verse 4:38 Why is Zoram referred to as "the servant of Laban" even after he has sworn an oath and granted his freedom?
- Verse 4:38 Did they attempt to cover up their tracks as they passed through the desert sands?
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- Verses 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.
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