Second Nephi 1-5

From Feast upon the Word ( Copyright, Feast upon the Word.
Jump to: navigation, search

Home > The Book of Mormon > Second Nephi > Chapters 1-5

Subpages: Chapter 1  •  2  •  3  •  4a  •  4b  •  5

Previous page: Second Nephi                      Next page: Chapter 1

This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Relationship to Second Nephi. The relationship of Chapters 1-5 to the rest of Second Nephi is discussed at Second Nephi.

Story. Chapters 1-5 consists of six major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 1-5 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. →

  • Lehi's blesing upon Nephi. Although Nephi records the blessings that Lehi left upon his other sons and even the sons of Ishmael, Nephi does not record anything from the blessing that Lehi left upon Nephi himself. Nephi goes to great lengths to establish his legitimacy as the heir to Lehi's birthright. (see the discussion of legitimacy at First Nephi). Nephi even includes statements that Lehi made in his last blessings to others that endorsed Nephi's claim to the birthright (upon condition that Laman and Lemuel failed to heed Nephi, which condition Laman and Lemuel fulfilled in 2 Ne 5:__). One would have expected Nephi to repeat part of Lehi's blessing upon Nephi to further support Nephi's claim, but the blessing is completely absent. (This is not the only time Nephi fails to include an expected congratulation from Lehi to Nephi, also see 1 Ne 5). The following structure of chapters 1-5 as a series of six episodes suggests two answers.
  • 2 Ne 1: Lehi's blessings on many
  • 2 Ne 2: Lehi's last blessing to Jacob
  • 2 Ne 3: Lehi's last blessing to Joseph
  • 2 Ne 4a: Lehi's blessings on many
  • 2 Ne 4b: Nephi's Psalm: Why does my heart get angry?
  • 2 Ne 5: Nephi's people and fulfillment of the Covenant with Nephi
This approach to the first major section of Second Nephi can be understood as a neatly organized account of Lehi blessing his posterity, but with his blessing upon Nephi missing from the expected position of central prominence (a frustrated chiasm), instead followed by two episodes that are tacked on to the end of the structure. These two episodes each suggest a different solution to the question of the missing blessing upon Nephi. While these two answers are different, they are not necessarily inconsistent.
It should be remembered that, except for these two episodes (2 Ne 4b, 2 Ne 5), Second Nephi outlines as a chiasm. Lehi's last blessings to his posterity in 2 Ne 1-4a are neatly balanced by Nephi's last words to his readers in 2 Ne 31-33. The remainder of Second Nephi is concerned with repeating and explaining Isaiah in 2 Ne 6-10, 11, 12-30. So the relationship of these two episodes in 2 Ne 4a and 2 Ne 5 to the rest of Second Nephi appears to depend on their relationship to the adjacent blessings of Lehi to his posterity in 2 Ne 1-4a, and not by relation as an independent unit to anything in the latter part of Second Nephi.
(1) Nephi's Psalm. The first of these two episodes, Nephi's Psalm, suggests that Nephi may have omitted the blessing because he did not like everything that Lehi said. Lehi gave unpopular counsel to Laman and Lemuel about maintaining family unity, and it is possible he did the same with Nephi. Laman and Lemuel repeatedly complained that Nephi spoke hard things." And now, rather than repeat the blessing from Lehi, Nephi instead reproaches his heart for getting angry with his brethren. The possibility is that Lehi, in his blessing to Nephi, counseled Nephi to be easier to get along with, and that Nephi did not include this counsel because it would undercut his claim of legitimacy to rule over his brothers. The text does not say that this is the case, but this possibility would explain both the absence of the blessing and the presence instead of Nephi's Psalm. This concept is explored at more length in Understanding the Book of Mormon, p. 55-57 by Grant Hardy.
(2) Covenant with Nephi. The second of these two episodes suggests that Nephi may have instead chosen to omit the blessing from Lehi because he had something much better than a father's blessing. Nephi ended the introductory portion of First Nephi, and the first short episode in which Nephi himself appears, with a covenant to him from the Lord himself. (1 Ne 2:19-24). In this Covenant with Nephi, the Lord promised Nephi that he would be a ruler and a teacher over his brothers. Now, in the very last narrative episode, Nephi relates facts that show the fulfillment of this covenant promise. The possibility is that Nephi chose not to include a confirmation of his claim to the birthright merely from his father Lehi, but to instead include an objectively verifiable confirmation of the birthright claim given to him by the Lord himself. Again, the text does not say that this is the case, but this possibility would explain both the absence of Lehi's last blessing upon Nephi and the presence instead, here in this same major section of Second Nephi, of the account in which Nephi flees his brothers, recounts the fulfillment of this covenant, and leads his people in living after the manner of happiness.

Unanswered questions[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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. →

  • Lehi's blessing upon Nephi? Why does Nephi not write any of the words Lehi spoke to him? Did Lehi say anything to Nephi during these final days before his death? If not, why not? Why does Nephi take pains to include everybody else in Lehi's addresses except himself? Why does Lehi reference Nephi in each of his parting addresses to his children (cf. 2 Ne 1:28, 1:30, 2:3, 3:25)? Does verse 4:14 function as a kind of explanation for the omission of any words to Nephi? Why would Lehi and Nephi's conversation constitute "a more history part" of Nephi's record, not worth including on the small plates?


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. →

  • Hardy, Grant. Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide. Oxford University Press, 2010. (ISBN).


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.

Previous page: Second Nephi                      Next page: Chapter 1