1 Ne 7:1-8:1

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Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 3-7 > Chapter 7 / Verses 7:1-8:1
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Relationship to Chapters 3-7. Chapters 3-7 relate three stories in which the Lehites prepare at their base camp in the Valley of Lemuel before setting out across the wilderness. The relationship of chapter 7 to the rest of chapters 3-7 is addressed at First Nephi 3-7.

Story. Chapter 7 consists of three major sections:

  • 1 Ne 7:1-5: Returning to Jerusalem for Ishmael's family. Lehi instructs his sons to return again to Jerusalem, this time to persuade Ishmael and his family to join Lehi's family in the wilderness. This time there is no record of any hesitation, complaint, or difficulty.
  • 1 Ne 7:6-15: Debate over remaining in Jerusalem. Laman other members of the group returning to the wilderness rebel with the intention of returning back to Jerusalem. Nephi urges them to be faithful and avoid the impending destruction of Jerusalem, but they are not persuaded.
  • 1 Ne 7:16-8:1: Laman and Lemuel seek to kill Nephi. Laman and Lemuel are angry with Nephi and bind him with the intention of leaving him to be devoured by wild beasts. Their hearts are softened to the point of repentance and seeking forgiveness by the pleading of Ishmael's wife, one of her sons, and one of her daughters.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in chapter 7 include:


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1 Ne 7:1-5: Returning to Jerusalem for Ishmael's family[edit]

  • 1 Ne 7:2: Ishmael, the brother of Sariah. The source of the statement that Ishmael was the brother of Sariah, Lehi's wife, is a letter written by Joseph's mother Lucy Mack Smith on January 23, 1829, p. 7 or p. 461,[1] six months after Martin Harris lost the 116 page manuscript, but three months before Oliver Cowdery began assisting with the translation. It is thus likely that Lehi and Sariah's children were familiar with Ishmael and his family. And this time Nephi records no hesitation on the part of anyone to go back to Jerusalem, meet with Ishmael, and persuade him to join Lehi's faily in the wilderness. In contrast to the previous instruction to obtain the brass plates form Laban, this is apparently not perceived as "a hard thing."

1 Ne 7:6-15: Debate over remaining in Jerusalem[edit]

  • 1 Ne 7:6: Ishmael's family. We learn here that Ishmael's family consisted of Ishmael, his wife, two married sons and their wives, and five unmarried daughters. The five unmarried daughters evenly match the four unmarried sons of Lehi and Sariah plus Zoram.
  • 1 Ne 7:12: Two part test for divine assistance. Here Nephi tells his brothers that the Lord can do all things for the children of men under two conditions: (1) What would be done must be according to the Lord's will; and (2) the children of men for whom he would do all things must exercise faith in the Lord. This is a common theme of the scriptures: the Lord can do anything for us if it is good and we have faith. We typically think of faith in this context as believing that the Lord can do what he really can do. For Nephi's brothers, given the miracles they have already seen, they need simply to remember in order to believe (see verses 10 & 11). But Nephi also shows us here that having faith is not simply about holding a certain set of beliefs it is about being faithful, or in other words, being obedient to the Lord's commands. The Lord can work through us to bring about his purposes, if we demonstrate our complete trust in him. Nothing will be able to stop his work from going forward, if his people will translate their belief into action. We will become more effective servants in his hands as we focus our faith in him.
  • 1 Ne 7:13-15: Jerusalem ripe in iniquity. We have already been told in 1 Ne 2:1-2 that the Lord commanded Lehi to leave Jerusalem because the people sought to kill him for his preaching. We have also been told already that Jerusalem was about to be destroyed. (1 Ne 1:4, 13, 18; 1 Ne 3:17). Here Nephi connects these two facts, twice stating that Jerusalem will soon be destroyed, and in between justifying this statement with the fact that the people at Jerusalem had imprisoned Jeremiah and had sought sought kill Lehi, in both cases attempting to silence the prophets. For more on the concept of when the Lord destroys a wicked people, see the discussion of ripeness in iniquity at Hel 13:4.
  • 1 Ne 7:15: Constrain. To constrain means to impel forward. There is an important lesson in this word. We must be prepared for those times when the Spirit will send us an urgent message. There will be little to no time for delay. Immediate action is what will be called for, without hesitation and without second guessing.

1 Ne 7:16-8:1: Laman and Lemuel seek to kill Nephi[edit]

  • 1 Ne 7:16-8:1: Divine assistance and softened hearts. In verse 17 Nephi asks to be given strength to burst the bands that he is bound with but then in verse 18 we aren't told that Nephi burst them, but rather that they were loosed from off his hands and feet. It could be that someone else in the party loosed Nephi's bands but it seems more likely that if this was the case Nephi would have noted it. The fact that Nephi simply says they were loosed suggests that they were loosed without Nephi or anyone else loosening them. It may be that the Lord chose this way of releasing Nephi rather than the way Nephi asked in order to testify (again) to Nephi's brothers that he supported Nephi. Note that Laman and Lemuel do not repent directly after being called to repentance and warned against returning to Jerusalem (verses 8-15), instead they become angry and bind Nephi with cords (verse 16). They also do not repent when Nephi, apparently miraculously, is released from the cords they bound him with. They do however repent when Ishmael's wife and two children plead with them.
  • 1 Ne 7:16, 20: Parallels with Joseph in Egypt. Here Nephi's older brothers bind him with the intent of leaving him in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts. (1 Ne 7:16). This recalls the story of Joseph, the progenitor of their tribe, whose older brothers intended to kill him and report that he had been killed by wild beasts. (Gen 37:20). When the hearts of Nephi's brothers are softened, they bow down before Nephi and beg his forgiveness. (1 Ne 7:20). This recalls Joseph's dreams that his older brothers would bow down before him (Gen 37:7-10) and their statement, when asking Joseph's forgiveness, that they would be his servants. (Gen 50:16-18). For more on parallels between Nephi and Joseph, see the discussion of Nephi's claim to the birthright at First Nephi.

Unanswered questions[edit]

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  • 1 Ne 7:14: How many times was Jeremiah cast in prison? The one mentioned in the book of Jeremiah was immediately prior to the final siege, in about the ninth or tenth year of Zedekiah's reign.

Prompts for life application[edit]

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • 1 Ne 7:1: Why doesn't this Verse 7:say "his sons should each take a daughter to wife"?
  • 1 Ne 7:1: What does it mean to "raise up seed unto the Lord"?
  • 1 Ne 7:2: If it was only the women that were needed for reproduction, then what was the point of bringing the men in Ishmael's family down into the wilderness?
  • 1 Ne 7:2: Who was Ishmael and why would the LORD select him to be brought into the wilderness? Why couldn't the LORD have told Lehi to take Ishmael and his family in the first place?
  • 1 Ne 7:3: This Verse 7:doesn't anticipate that Nephi or his brethren will have any difficulty in returning to Jerusalem this time. In what ways is this request to return to Jerusalem different from that given previously in 1 Ne 3:4?
  • 1 Ne 7:4: Is Nephi saying that Laman and Lemuel had become effective mouthpieces for the Lord by this point?
  • 1 Ne 7:4: What "words of the LORD" did they speak to Ishmael? Just the command that they were to take him and his household into the wilderness? Or did this involve other teaching?
  • 1 Ne 7:4: Why does Nephi say that they did speak the words of the LORD to Ishmael after they gained favor in his sight?
  • 1 Ne 7:4: Would Ishmael and his family have heard of the death of Laban and the disappearance of his servant and the plates? If they knew that Nephi had killed Laban, might some of them have been concerned about the potential risks of crossing Nephi?
  • 1 Ne 7:5: Are the "household" in this Verse 7:and the "family" in Verse 7:2 the exact same thing?
  • 1 Ne 7:6: If Ishmael's sons already had their own families, then does that mean the prophecy earlier in this chapter about sons marrying daughters included both Ishmael's daughters and his granddaughters?
  • 1 Ne 7:7: Was this a resistance or a rebellion?
  • 1 Ne 7:8: Why didn't Nephi express his sorrow at this point, rather than comparing himself to them?
  • 1 Ne 7:8: Does this ancient example of a brother chastising older brothers provide a useful model of sibling interaction for modern readers?
  • 1 Ne 7:9: Haven't they partially hearkened, or why would they be on this trip in the first place?
  • 1 Ne 7:10: Have they really forgotten, or simply stopped remembering?
  • 1 Ne 7:11: Was this a permanent deliverance, meaning they did not have to worry about returning to Jerusalem and being apprehended?
  • 1 Ne 7:12: Faith. At the this verse, Nephi uses “exercise faith in him” and “be faithful to him” to mean the same thing. How does the second of these help us understand better what it means to have faith? How is the concept of "being faithful to" related the concept of "having faith in"?
  • 1 Ne 7:12: The scriptures often use the metaphor of betrothal or marriage to describe the relation of the faithful to Christ. Does that help us understand what it means to have faith in him?
  • 1 Ne 7:12: A husband and wife should be faithful to each other but what is meant by that isn't that one is obedient to the other. What is the relationship between obedience and faithfulness? Do these verses suggest a different way of thinking about obedience, a different way of thinking about faithfulness, or both?
  • 1 Ne 7:13: Were they really faithful enough to deserve the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 7:13: What constituted "knowing" at some future point that the city had been destroyed?
  • 1 Ne 7:14: Was Nephi not aware of the Mulekites who would soon be leaving Jerusalem and be lead by the Lord to the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 7:15: If ye have choice. Is Nephi questioning whether his brothers have agency?
  • 1 Ne 7:16: Why would Laman and Lemuel tie Nephi up after he told them they were free to go back to Jerusalem? (Verses 15-16)
  • 1 Ne 7:16: Could it be that they remembered how Nephi had dealt with Laban, and were afraid their younger brother might treat them in a similar fashion?
  • 1 Ne 7:17: What difference did it make that the sons of Lehi were outnumbered by the family of Ishmael?
  • 1 Ne 7:18: Was it obvious to everyone there that the bands were miraculously loosed?
  • 1 Ne 7:19: Why did Laman and Lemuel have respect for women?
  • 1 Ne 7:20: If it took so little to humble Laman and Lemuel, then how far had they descended into the depths of wickedness?
  • 1 Ne 7:21: Did Laman and Lemuel have a broken heart and a contrite spirit?
  • 1 Ne 7:22: Why doesn't Nephi say "we did give thanks unto the Lord our God"?
  • 1 Ne 8:1: Was Nephi's description in this verse affected by Old Testament verses such as 1 Chr 28:14?


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  • Smith, Lucy Mack. Letter to Mary Smith Pierce, 23 January 1829. Reprinted in Jessee, Dean C., ed. "Lucy Mack Smith's 1829 Letter to Mary Smith Pierce," p. 461. In Brigham Young University Studies (Autumn 1982) 22/4:455-65. Provo, Utah: 1959-present.


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  1. Smith, Lucy Mack. Letter to Mary Smith Pierce, 23 January 1829. Reprinted in Jessee, Dean C., ed. "Lucy Mack Smith's 1829 Letter to Mary Smith Pierce," p. 461. In Brigham Young University Studies (Autumn 1982) 22/4:455-65. Provo, Utah: 1959-present.

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