2 Ne 5:1-34

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Home > The Book of Mormon > Second Nephi > Chapters 1-5 > Chapter 5
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Relationship to Chapters 1-5. The relationship of Chapter 5 to the rest of Chapters 1-5 is discussed at Second Nephi 1-5.

Story. Chapter 5 consists of ____ major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 5 include:


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  • 2 Ne 5:1-7: Contrast v. 1 with 2 Nephi 4:27-29. Following the pattern of Moses and Israel that Nephi has referred to on several occasions, Nephi leaves Laman and Lemuel, taking his family and those who would follow him into the wilderness. The Doctrine and Covenants uses a related imagery when it commands us to leave Babylon, (See, for example, D&C 133:5, 7, and 14). What kinds of meanings can this type have for us today? How can we leave “Babylon” and go into the wilderness? Where is the wilderness today?
  • 2 Ne 5:6: Does the phrase "also my sisters" suggest that all Nephi's sisters went with him?
  • Verse 5:18: Nephi states that he did not want his people to have a king, but he doesn't explain why or what other options he considered before giving in to their request. Was Nephi thinking of 1 Samuel 8, when Samuel was faced with a similar challenge? How might Nephi's aversion to monarchy be connected with political developments in the last years of the Southern Kingdom?
  • 2 Ne 5:19: When Nephi says he became his people’s ruler and teacher, is he using these two words to say the same thing (as Gen 1:1 does when it says that the world was “without form and void” in the beginning, or when an angry sister tells her brother to “shut up and be quiet"), or is he saying he was two things, that he was a ruler and he was a teacher? If we think of “ruler and teacher” as two ways of saying the same thing, what might that tell us about being a ruler? A father or mother? Does it say anything about contemporary politics? If we think of “ruler and teacher” as different things here, what does that tell us about Nephi’s relation to his people?
  • 2 Ne 5:20-25: Reading these verses in the post Civil Rights era is uncomfortable for many. What options for interpretation are available here? What is the curse that came upon those who followed Laman and Lemuel? Was it the darkened color of their skin or something else? If it was the darkness of their skin, how does that explain their idleness and mischief? If it was something else, what was it? What is the relationship between the curse and the idleness?
  • 2 Ne 5:20-25: These verses seem problematic to many. At first glance it appears that God is cursing the Lamanites for their lack of obedience by giving them black skin. If God gives black skin as a punishment (or curse), that seems to suggest that those with black skin are inferior in the eyes of God. But this is not what we want to believe of God, because it suggests an imperfection in him who has no imperfection. On the other hand, modifying our views on the equality of different races is an unacceptable way of resolving the tension. What is the best way to read these verses in order to resolve the tension? What is a faithful, yet less disturbing, reading of this verse?
  • Is it reasonable to interpret the nature of the cursing as being cut off from the present of the Lord (see v.20)? What does it mean to be cut off from the presence of the Lord? No more angels for Laman and Lemuel? No more working Liahona? No more Holy Ghost? No more contemporary prophet? In what way do the Nephites enjoy the presence of the Lord that the Lamanites do not?
  • What do these verses about being cut off from the presence of the Lord suggest about his nature? Many members find comfort in the view that we move away from the Lord rather than him moving away from us. But in these verses, the Lamanites are "cut off" from the Lord's presence (see v.20). He "causes" the curse to come on them (v. 21) and he "causes" the skin of blackness to come on them (v.21). He "causes" that they become loathsome (v.22). In other words, when Laman and Lemuel are cut off from the presence of the Lord, this isn't simply something that do to themselves, but something that the Lord has done to them.
  • What other scriptures can we look to for evidence that God doesn't value his children according to the color of their skin?
  • 2 Ne 5:22: In verse 22, the Lord tells Nephi that he will cause the Lamanites to be loathsome to the Nephites.
  • What does loathsome mean? Are the Lamanites loathsome to the Nephites because they have black skin? Are they loathsome because they are idle (see v. 24)? Are they loathsome because of some other aspect of the curse? Are they loathsome as a result of their iniquities and failure to hearken or are they loathsome as a result of the curse the Lord causes because of the Lamanites' iniquities and failure to hearken? Verse 22 suggests that if the Lamanites were to change their ways then they would not be loathsome. Is this because they would no longer have black skins (no need for the Lord to worry about whether they are enticing to the Nephites if they are on the strait and narrow), or is it because the Nephites would have thought of being separated from the presence of the Lord as loathsome?
  • Why does the Lord make the Lamanites loathsome to the Nephites?
  • When the sons of Mosiah went to preach to the Lamanites did they see them as loathsome? More broadly, did the people of King Mosiah continue to see the Lamanites as loathsome during this time period?
  • 2 Ne 5:23: In verse 23, we are told that those who mix with the Lamanites will be cursed with the same cursing. A natural way to intepret this is to suppose that the Lamanites are given the curse of black skin and anyone who mixes with them gets black skin. But what if we interpret the curse to mean being cut off from the presence of the Lord? Can verse 23 reasonably be read this way? Those who mix with the Lamanites will be cut off from the presence of the Lord just as the Lamanites were--a sore cursing indeed.
  • 2 Ne 5:24: How does the cursing that the Lamanites receive cause them to become idle?
  • 2 Ne 5:27: Nephi says that he and his people “lived after the manner of happiness.” What does that phrase say that “we lived happily” doesn’t say? What is “the manner [or ‘way’] of happiness"?


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  • 2 Ne 5:18. Here is an article by Noel Reynolds about Nephi's relationship to kingship quite broadly.


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.

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