First Nephi 3-7
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Relationship to First Nephi. The relationship of Chapters 3-7 to the rest of First Nephi is discussed at First Nephi.
Story. Chapters 3-7 consist of three major sections:
- 1 Ne 3-4: Returning to Jerusalem for the brass plates. The four brothers return to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates from Laban. Laman fails to obtain the plates, the four brothers fail to obtain the plates, and finally Nephi succeeds through his faithfulness and his trust in the Lord.
- 1 Ne 5-6: The value of the brass plates. Sariah is understandably worried about the fate of her sons and herself, but obtains a testimony of Lehi's revelations upon the safe return of her sons. Lehi reads the brass plates, finds that they contain the commandments of the Lord, and learns that he is a descendant of Joseph of Egypt.
- 1 Ne 7: Returning to Jerusalem for wives.The four brothers return a second time to Jerusalem to obtain the company of Ishmael's family, including his unmarried daughters. On the return trip out to the wilderness,
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 3-7 include:
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- 1 Ne 3-7: Further preparations. When Lehi left Jerusalem for the wilderness, he left behind his (a) land of inheritance, (b) riches, and (c) house, "and took nothing with him, save it were [a] his family, and [b] provisions, and [c] tents." (1 Ne 2:4). Chapters 3-7 tell three stories in which the Lehites obtain additional things they will need before leaving their initial camp in the Valley of Lemuel to really set out across the wilderness. (1 Ne 16:9). These additional items can be thought of as scriptures, witness, and covenant posterity.
- 1. Scriptures. The stated reason for the adventure of Lehi's sons returning to Jerusalem in chapters 3-4 is to obtain a copy of the scriptures in the form of the brass plates. Nephi's exhortation that his brothers make a second attempt to obtain the plates from Laban emphasizes the importance of preserving the words of the prophets to their posterity. (1 Ne 3:19-20). Nephi is finally persuaded to kill Laban when he remembers that the scriptures are of great worth in preserving the commandments of the Lord to his posterity (1 Ne 4:14-17), something that is necessary in order for his posterity to enjoy the promises previously made in the Lord's Covenant with Nephi. (1 Ne 2:19-24). In chapters 5-6, Lehi reads the scriptures that have been recorded on the brass plates and finds that they are of great worth because, again, they preserve the commandments of the Lord to his posterity. (1 Ne 5:21).
- 2. Witness of the Lord's hand. The other thing that comes out of the trip to retrieve the brass plates is a witness of the hand of the Lord. Nephi states in his thesis sentence at the end of chapter 1 that "I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." (1 Ne 1:20b). Prior to the experience of obtaining the plates, Lehi and Nephi had both received divine communications (Lehi: 1 Ne 1:6; 1:8-15; 2:1; Nephi: 1 Ne 2:19-24), and Sam was persuaded to believe. (1 Ne 2:17). But during this experience all four brothers are visited by an angel. (1 Ne 3:19-21). And upon the safe return of the four brothers to their parents' camp in the Valley of Lemuel, Sariah expresses her new-found trust that the Lord's hand is guiding the group: "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 delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them." (1 Ne 5:8). After this experience Lehi has seen visions, Sariah has seen a sufficient miracle in the safe return of her sons, and all four sons have seen an angel. Thus all six members of the original party have now received a clear witness that their course is directed by the Lord.
- 3. Covenant posterity. By the end of chapter 6, Lehi has discovered that he is a descendant of Joseph. (1 Ne 5:14-16). Lehi has also prophesied regarding his posterity (1 Ne 5:17-19), and Nephi has been promised a posterity. (1 Ne 2:24; 1 Ne 4:14-15). But at this point the entire party consists of Lehi, Sariah, their four unmarried sons, and Zoram, another male bachelor. So in chapter 7 the Lehites obtain wives from within the Abrahamic Covenant so that there will be a covenant posterity to represent the Tribe of Joseph and enjoy the additional blessings promised in the Lord's Covenant with Nephi.
- Lehi's party is not yet ready to set out across the wilderness even by the end of chapter 7. Further preparations will continue through 1 Ne 16:9. But here in chapters 3-7 these three items (scriptures, witness, posterity) are grouped together in these three stories.
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- LDS Institute Book of Mormon Student Manual (PDF version): Chapter 2/56: 1 Nephi 1-5 • Chapter 3/56: 1 Nephi 6-11. Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2009.
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