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First Nephi 16-18

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18

Subpages: Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18

Previous page: Chapter 15                      Next page: Chapter 16


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Summary[edit]

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Setting. The story resumes when ...

Relationship to First Nephi. The relationship of Chapters 16-18 to the rest of First Nephi is discussed at First Nephi.

Story. Chapters 16-18, the narrative portion in the second half of First Nephi, consists of three major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 16-18 include:

  • Brass and steel. Nephi juxtaposes a steel object (Nephi's bow) whose great military strength is unable to save them with another object made of soft brass (the Liahona) that does have the power to save but because it conveys the word of the Lord.
  • Increasing hardheartedness of Laman and Lemuel.

Discussion[edit]

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. →

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. →

Resources[edit]

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. →

Notes[edit]

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: Chapter 15                      Next page: Chapter 16


First Nephi 16

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 16 / Verses 16:9-17:6
Previous page: Chapters 16-18                      Next page: Chapter 17


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 16 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 16, the story of the land journey, consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 16 include:

  • Brass and steel. Nephi juxtaposes a steel object (Nephi's bow) whose great military strength is unable to save them with another object made of soft brass (the Liahona) that does have the power to save but because it conveys the word of the Lord.

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 16: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• the Liahona, leaving the Valley of Lemuel (16:9-16)
• Nephi's bow breaks (16:17-32)
• Ishmael dies (16:33-39)
• blessings in the wilderness and arrival in Bountiful (17:1-6)

1 Ne 16:9-16: Liahona and travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:10: Liahona and travel pattern. The Liahona could have been intended for Ishmael, his sons and daughters, and Zoram. They had not had visions or seen angels. The Liahona was an unexplainable physical God sent object that they could believe in. It proved Lehi was a prophet much like the Book of Mormon proves Joseph Smith Jr. was a prophet.
  • 1 Ne 16:15. No plan. No itinerary. Each day unsure where they would be, what would happen, who would be injured, who they would encounter, whether they would be successful in getting food or finding water. Talk about depending on the Lord.

1 Ne 16:17-32: Nephi's bow breaks[edit]

  • Nephi acts rather than than complaining and murmuring. Miracles often make up what we cannot do for ourselves rather than what we do not feel like doing for ourselves. Here Nephi showed faith that he would get food.
  • Here even Lehi murmurs, and Nephi shows his qualification to lead by being the one who brings the group back to reliance and faith upon the Lord. But still, Nephi does not usurp his father's place. He defers to his father's role as leader of the group by asking his father where he should go to find meat (16:23).

1 Ne 16:33-39: Death of Ishmael[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:35. Daughters of Ishmael had Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Laman and Lemuel to marry. So at least 3 of them were married to nonbelievers. Daughters of Lehi could have married Zoram or sons of Ishmael. When one doesn't believe in life after death one can be inconsolable. The sting of death would be ever present. Once started then they drawed upon every other thing that was making them miserable. Obviously they were adults. I do not see how they could be forced to follow the parents into wilderness. L&L could have stayed home and enjoyed their fathers riches he left behind. Well maybe not since Nephi killed Laban and his servants would attest to L&L's involvement. The fact they thought to go back to Jerusalem shows they didn't think it through very well.

1 Ne 17:1-6: Summary of eight years of travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:3: The Lord prepares a way. One of the most famous scriptures in the entire Book of Mormon is 1 Ne 3:7 where Nephi tells his father that "I will go and do what the Lord commands ..." Here in 1 Ne 17:3 Nephi as narrator directly addresses his audience "and thus wee see..." to again make that point that God "provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them." Significantly, this statement is made once in the first set of three stories in chapters 3-7 and once here in the second set of three stories in chapters 16-18, reinforcing the idea that the two sets of stories should be read as two halves of a single story, and that both halves illustrate this point.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:14. Lehi and his family were wealthy city dwellers. They had servants to get and prepare food. Now they are in a situation where that have to hunt for necessity not recreation. Our lives can likewise change in a one moment. We could be in a tent scrounging for food. Would I be ready?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Spiritual food. Are we as excited to receive spiritual food as these people were to receive physical food?

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:9: Why does the Lord wait until only the night before to tell Lehi when they will leave?
  • 1 Ne 16:10: Why does he deliver the Liahona is such an unusual way?
    • Do Latter-day Saints have anything comparable to Liahona today?
  • 1 Ne 16:11: Why might Laman and Lemuel not complain at this departure, especially given its suddenness?
  • 1 Ne 16:12: How did they cross the river if there was no wood available at this point in the journey for making rafts or boats?
  • 1 Ne 16:13: Where did Nephi learn to become this precise with his navigating and directions? No tents, slept under stars, no fires to cook, why the urgency? Try to remember a time when Lord had you be so uncomfortable and for what purpose. Why the need to name the place?
  • 1 Ne 16:14: Was it the food or the families that was located in the wilderness? Will we always find food along the path or will we sometimes have to follow paths whose fruit is only found at the end?
  • 1 Ne 16:16: Were they blazing new trails or following the paths of their predecessors? The Lord does not want them seen by anyone that could take the news back to Jerusalem. So I think blazing new trails or less traveled trails to avoid other travelers or marauders.
  • 1 Ne 16:17: If the food had been plentiful on the trail, so that they could obtain what they needed each day, was this an attempt to store up food for a journey of several days or had the food suddenly become more scarce? I doubt they would hunt each day. If so when would they travel? Probably had been many days since last hunted.
  • 1 Ne 16:18: Could Nephi have done anything to prevent the breaking of his bow? If Nephi had said "my bow broke" that would indicate it wasn't his fault. But "I broke my bow" indicates he caused it to break. My bow today would be my employment which is what helps me get food for my family. We can lose our jobs from external actions or our own actions. Bad things happen to good people. Interesting that Laman and Lemuel not mad at themselves for keeping their bows strung all that time to lose their tension.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Why couldn't they set traps to catch the game that their broken bows were unable to reach?
    • Suggested answer: This is no small group. There are a lot of people. I don't think traps for small game would be sufficient to feed them all.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Nephi uses "they did suffer" meaning he did not suffer for lack of food. Did God bless him to not be hungry?
    • Suggested Answer: This may an example of reading the text too closely and thus finding things that are not really there. It is probably not fair to rely on Nephi's failure to say that he suffered as evidence that in fact he did not. Here Nephi uses "we" to mean he and his "brethren," and "they" to refer to "our families." At this point Nephi only has three brothers over the age of eight, so the brothers who went hunting with him likely included at least two out of Laman, Lemuel, and Sam. So if this choice of words really did mean that Nephi did not suffer, then it would also mean that neither did the brothers who went hunting with him, probably including at least either Laman or Lemuel. But in verse 20 Nephi tells us positively that Laman and Lemuel did both complain at this time about their sufferings and afflictions. And in verse 21 Nephi says that he was afflicted just like his brothers. In the end it is probably best not to read too much into an author's choice of a particular word, but instead to just look for the fair sense of the main points that appear to have been important to the author. As a further example, see 1 Ne 19:7 where Nephi chooses his words so poorly that he feels a need to correct himself. We all use imprecise language that usually does manage to accurately convey our main points, but that rarely holds up to such close reading. Nephi was an exemplary person and was often blessed, but we do not have a very strong basis for concluding that those blessings included not feeling hunger on this occasion, especially not when he then tells us that he was afflicted on this occasion, and not when this passage is compared to the many occasions on which Nephi does positively tell us that he was blessed in a particular manner.
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael didn’t murmur when they departed quickly (v. 10-11), but they do murmur now. What does that difference tell us? What does Lehi’s murmuring suggest?
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Seems like L&L and sons of Ishmael 1st just complaining in general. This verse suggests Lehi was first to murmur against God. Is it okay to complain about what happens in life as long as don't blame God? I think Job complained.
  • 1 Ne 16:21: Was there something in the climate that caused all of the bows to break down at the same time?
  • 1 Ne 16:22: Did Nephi have encouraging or reprimanding words for his brothers?
  • 1 Ne 16:23: For what kinds of reasons might Nephi have asked his father where he should go to hunt? Why just one arrow? Time? Faith it would only take one arrow? His bow was broken not his arrows, why not use those? When bows didn't work why didn't they proceed with sling and stone if they used them also to hunt big game? Nephi has received a lot of revelation on his own, why ask his Father to ask Lord? Why not ask himself? Probably same reason we ask new or recently activated members to pray, give talks, or give blessings. They need the spiritual experiences to develop greater faith.
  • 1 Ne 16:24: Did Nephi lecture and humble his father as much as he did with his brothers? How did Nephi know what to say that would humble them? The soul is = Spirit + body. What is "energy of my soul." ? Testimony? Faith?
  • 1 Ne 16:25: Did Nephi ever chasten the members of his family, or did he usually leave that up to the Lord and angels? Did Lehi hear audible voice or just in his mind? What is chastened? Yelled at? Made to feel guilty? 2 kinds of sorrow. Sorrow for getting caught and godly sorrow that brings to repentance.
  • 1 Ne 16:26: Why was the Lord so quick to answer Lehi's prayers, given the lack of faith he had demonstrated? God not like us He doesn't hold a grudge. The moment we turn to God He turns to us. Already chastened so why have to read scary things on Liahona? The Liahona only works when one has faith. Wouldn't work until Lehi had prayed, confessed sin, had godly sorrow and been forgiven. The other purpose to look at Liahona was to get others who have not yet been humbled to be able to read words, be scared, and repent.
  • 1 Ne 16:27: What things did the Liahona communicate to Lehi and his family that caused them to "fear and tremble exceedingly?" Wish I had a "ball" to tell me how I am doing or what I should be doing. Wonder why Nephi didn't quote what the ball said?
  • 1 Ne 16:28: It is relatively simple to see the Liahona as a metaphor for other things in our spiritual lives that “work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we . . . give unto them.” What are some of those things? Why is our spiritual life like that?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Nephi himself draws a lesson from the Liahona: “by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” Why might the Lord choose to work by small means? What are some of the small means in your own life that have brought about great ends?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Why did they get a God made object to guide them? Why don't we have it today? Answers: The quote, "A Prophet is without honor in his own country". Well more so in own family. Lehi needed Liahona so non-members and nonbelieving family members would continue the journey. Lehi did not have church magazines and conferences to draw inspiration from. We have so many more avenues to be prompted by God than Lehi had.
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Is this the first time that Nephi has gotten into a mountain by his own effort?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Why was Nephi directed to go “up into the top of the mountain” to slay beasts? Was that just where the animals were, or is there something else going on?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Since mountaintops are holy places, actual natural temples, is there something else going on here related to killing beasts on mountains/temples?
  • 1 Ne 16:31: Why is there a footnote here to Gen 9:3? Is this to indicate that somehow Nephi killing beasts on the mount is related to the LORD's covenant with Noah after the flood that allowed Noah and his posterity to eat wild animals?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Why did Laman and Lemuel allow Nephi to become the new provider for the extended family, rather than asserting their own dominance over the party?
    • Suggested answer: having Nephi do the work was dominance over him. He was doing the work of a servant.
  • 1 Ne 16:33: How was Nephi able to catch and carry enough food for everyone in the party to survive off of for "many days" of travel? Camels. Pack a lot of meat on a camel.
  • 1 Ne 16:34: Why does Nephi decline to say who did the burying?
  • 1 Ne 16:35: Do you think that when Nephi tells us that the daughters mourned exceedingly he means that they mourned excessively? What might excessive rather than “normal” mourning be? Are there any indicators in these verses that they mourned excessively?
  • 1 Ne 16:36: How did they realistically plan to reach Jerusalem if they couldn't even catch the food they needed to survive?
  • 1 Ne 16:37: Notice the strangeness of these events: Ishmael dies and his daughters mourn exceedingly (v. 34-35). Presumably that includes Nephi’s wife. In response, the husband of one of those wives, Laman, urges the husband of another, Lemuel, that they should kill Lehi, their own father. What motivates Laman’s plan?
  • 1 Ne 16:38: Of what do Laman and Lemuel accuse Nephi? What evidence do they have for their accusation?
  • 1 Ne 16:39: Was the Lord trying to make it obvious to everyone there that only the righteous members of the group would be blessed with the ability to obtain food?
  • 1 Ne 17:1: How did members of the group perceive the purposes of these afflictions?
  • 1 Ne 17:2: Compare the perspective given here with the perspective given in verses 20-21. What things are included that are the same, and which things are different? What do these differences and similarities suggest?
  • 1 Ne 17:3: If the Lord can't help them until after they keep the commandments, and yet his assistance is specifically designed to help them accomplish the commandments, then how much commandment keeping did these people do on their own and how much was possible because of divine assistance?
  • 1 Ne 17:4: How did these urban people manage to become totally self-sufficient, with the apparent exception of food delivered by the Lord, while cut off civilization for eight years?
  • 1 Ne 17:5: If they had survived eight years in the wilderness, why were they suddenly on the verge of perishing when they arrived at Bountiful?
  • 1 Ne 17:6: Did the Lord bring this group out of the wilderness and into Bountiful because over the eight years they had become more righteous, or was it because the Lord needed them to set up a new society in the promised land before they became much older?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:3. Anthony D. Perkins, "‘The Great and Wonderful Love’," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 76–78. Elder Perkins counsels us to place our burdens on Jesus Christ. "When you feel overwhelmed by expectations and challenges, do not fight the battle alone."
  • 1 Ne 17:5: Irreantum. Paul Hoskisson explores a South Semitic etymology for this name, explaining why Nephi gives both the transliteration and meaning of this name. Paul Hoskisson, with Brian Hauglid and John Gee, "What's in a Name? Irreantum", Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 11 (2002), pp. 90-93.

Notes[edit]

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: Chapters 16-18                      Next page: Chapter 17

1 Ne 16:1-5

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 10-15 > Chapter 15 / Verses 15:1-16:8
Previous page: Chapters 13-14                      Next page: Chapters 16-18


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 10-15. The relationship of Chapter 10 to the rest of Chapters 10-15 is addressed at First Nephi 10-15.

Story. Chapter 15 consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 10-15 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 15:1-11: brothers do not understand prophecy because they do not ask in prayer or obey commandments[edit]

  • 1 Ne 15:1-3. Nephi here contrasts his own approach to his father's teachings with his brother's. Both were confused about the meaning of what he said. Nephi's reaction was to ask God for not only an interpretation but to see what his father had seen. His brother's in contrast, "dispute" the meaning. In this context dispute might mean any number of things, but it could be a reference to a competing hermeneutic approach that prioritizes dialectic to revelation. Notice that Nephi's approach treats his father's teachings as more than a receptacle of latent meaning to be extracted. Rather, it treats it as a portal through which one comes to experience God's revelation for one's self.
  • 1 Ne 15:2: Dispute. This word is consistently used with a negative connotation in the Book of Mormon. See especially 3 Ne 11:28. (Note that in the New Testament the word is used sometimes without the same negative overtones. See for example Acts 19:8.)
  • 1 Ne 15:3: Hard to be understood. A couple of intriguing cross-references for this phrase are Ezek 3:6 and 2 Pet 3:16 in the KJV, and Mosiah 13:32 and Alma 33:20 in the Book of Mormon. Although these passages may be interesting from a theological, translational, or linguistic perspective, a more relevant passage in terms of what may have had an effect on Nephi is Isa 6:9ff where it seems Isaiah is told to preach things that "were hard for many people to understand," as Nephi puts it in 2 Ne 25:1.
  • 1 Ne 15:4-5. Notice that Nephi here places himself within the cosmic story of history that he has just seen in vision. He is afflicted because of the "great wickedness of the children of men" and "the destruction of my people." Given that he seems to create an identity between himself and "his people" -- He is afflicted; they are destroyed -- it is possible that he also intends to identify his brothers with "the children of men" and their wickedness. Nesting himself and his brothers in the narrative of his father's teachings further emphasizes the approach taken in the previous three verses. There Nephi insisted on the recapitulation of the experience of the original prophet through personal revelation. Here he nests himself narratively rather than experientially within the story of the original revelation. The emphasis again is on the receiver of scripture not simply extracting meaning from it but experiencing it form themselves.
If Nephi is in fact silently comparing his brothers with "the wickedness of the children of men," inviting the reader to fill in the lacunae in his parallelism, it is possible that there is another incomplete parallelism that Nephi is inviting the reader to complete, namely the parallel between Nephi and Lehi as prophets and the parallel between Nephi and the reader as those that receive revelation. In other words, Nephi may be inviting the reader to seek revelation to understand his revelation and to see themselves as characters in the narrative that he is providing.

1 Ne 15:12-20: olive tree: scattering and gathering[edit]

1 Ne 15:21-36: tree of life: individual salvation and judgment[edit]

  • It is interesting that when Laman and Lemuel ask about the meaning of the tree, Nephi explained nothing more than to say that it is the Tree of Life (verses 21-22) before moving on to the next question. We know from 1 Ne 11:21-23 that Nephi knew more. There he explains to the angel in detail the meaning of the tree. The fact that he doesn't explain this to his brothers when asked about the tree may suggest that like Nephi, they already knew of its meaning. It seems likely that like Nephi, Laman and Lemuel were also taught in the learning of their father (1 Ne 1:1) and also knew of the manner of prophesying among the Jews (2 Ne 21:1).
  • It isn't immediately clear what "this thing" at the beginning of verse 31 refers to. The fact that Laman and Lemual are asking whether it refers to the torment of the body in the days of probation or after death suggests that "this thing" does not refer to God's justice spoken of in the previous verse. Instead it refers to the last thing they asked about--the river of water (verse 26) or in other words, as Nephi explains to them (verse 29), the awful hell that the angel told Nephi was prepared for the wicked (1 Ne 12:16). Nephi also makes it clear that they are talking about the river of dirty water, or hell, in verse 35.
  • Verses 32-36 are an explanation of what Nephi means by hell. We learn from these verse that Hell is the place prepared for those who cannot dwell in the kingdom of God.

1 Ne 16:1-8: brothers repent, marriages, blessing[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:6: Lehi dwelt in a tent. See the discussion at 1 Ne 2:15 regarding the phrase "My father dwelt in a tent" and the relation to the temple.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 15:1: Was Nephi looking for his father or his brethren?
  • 1 Ne 15:2: If they were debating something that was said five chapters earlier, how much time had already passed?
  • 1 Ne 15:3: Should modern-day readers find Lehi's words just as hard to understand?
  • 1 Ne 15:4: Why is it that the New Testament, but not the Old Testament, talks about "being grieved for the hardness of their hearts" (see Mark 3:5)?
  • 1 Ne 15:5: My people. Why does Nephi use the term "my people" rather than "my descendants"? Is he more concerned here about the preservation of his seed, which would persist as a "remnant" or in the preservation of his kingdom?
  • 1 Ne 15:6: Did Nephi go on without much hope?
  • 1 Ne 15:6: Did Nephi go and speak to his brethren while they were still disputing, or was his being overcome in Verse 15:5 something like fainting, and so when he got up again he went and sought them out after the fact? Why does Nephi add this detail about being overcome and receiving strength, does this contribute to the readers' understanding of the ensuing conversation?
  • 1 Ne 15:7: Were they sincere in their belief of impossibility?
  • 1 Ne 15:8: Why do various forms of the word "inquire" appear throughout the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, but not even once in the Bible?
  • 1 Ne 15:9: Had they sincerely tried to obtain an answer to prayer, or merely given up after their half-hearted efforts met with no response?
  • 1 Ne 15:10: Does Nephi sound fatalistic in this verse, or does he have some faith that his brothers can really turn their life around?
  • 1 Ne 15:11: Does asking the Lord in faith differ from asking the Lord believing that you shall receive? How might these be different? Why does Nephi mention each of these as part of the process of knowing the things of the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 15:12: Why is "olive tree" never hyphenated in the Bible and always hyphenated in the Book of Mormon?
  • 1 Ne 15:13: After seeing a vision about the fate of his seed versus the fate of the seed of his brethren, how did Nephi so quickly conclude that "our seed" had a common fate?
  • 1 Ne 15:14: Was Nephi confident that the indigenous peoples of the Americas would accept and embrace their identity as the descendants of Lehi?
  • 1 Ne 15:15: Was Nephi lumping the descendants of Lehi in with indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere, or was he oblivious to the fact that the former would be severely outnumbered by the latter?
  • 1 Ne 15:16: Will the members of the church in Latin America always remain a branch or will they at some point become the trunk?
  • 1 Ne 15:17: Is Nephi suggesting that the scattering of indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere by Euro-Americans was finished in the 1820s?
  • 1 Ne 15:18: Is Nephi saying that when American Mormons went across the ocean to preach the gospel to Non-Mormon Europeans during the 1830s and 1840s, that this was a case of Gentiles delivering the gospel to scattered Israel?
  • 1 Ne 15:19: What did Nephi believe would be restored to the Jews before the Second Coming of Christ?
  • 1 Ne 15:20: Was Nephi comparing or equating the restoration of the Jews to/with the restoration of the house of Israel?
  • 1 Ne 15:21: What was the antecedent to "this thing"?
  • 1 Ne 15:22: Did they know more about the tree of life than is presently recorded in our Old Testament?
  • 1 Ne 15:23: Why were Laman and Lemuel so willing to believe that Lehi actually saw a vision?
  • 1 Ne 15:24: What did it mean to "hold fast" to the scriptures for a people who had no concept of, or experience with, personal ownership of scriptures?
  • 1 Ne 15:25: If faculties are an aspect of the soul (see Jacob 3:11), then what was the difference between energies and faculties of the soul?
  • 1 Ne 15:26: Did they have good reason to be perplexed about what this river represented?
  • 1 Ne 15:27: What made Nephi immune from this swallowing up of the mind?
  • 1 Ne 15:28: Why was there no bridge to allow the penitent to cross the gulf and approach the tree?
  • 1 Ne 15:29: If the gulf represented hell, then why were the wicked outside, rather than inside, the gulf?
  • 1 Ne 15:30: If God is being just when separates the wicked from the righteous in the afterlife, then is he being unjust when he allows these two groups to live together during mortality?
  • 1 Ne 15:31: Why did Laman and Lemuel feel like a gulf separated them from others during their mortal probation?
  • 1 Ne 15:32: Is Nephi saying that the wicked will be tormented while in the flesh? If so, who is the tormentor that inflicts this upon the bodies of the wicked?
  • 1 Ne 15:33: Is Nephi connecting these points with his earlier statements and saying that Jews and Lamanites who procrastinate their repentance, and ultimately die in their sins, will at that point be cast out of the covenant?
  • 1 Ne 15:34: Is this evidence that the war in heaven did not take place in the kingdom of God?
  • 1 Ne 15:35: Has the devil prepared any place for eternal human habitation besides Outer Darkness?
  • 1 Ne 15:36: Who is the actor in this Verse 15:that rejects the wicked?
  • 1 Ne 16:1: Nephi’s brothers tell him that the things he has said are too hard to bear. What have they heard that has caused that response?
  • 1 Ne 16:2: In this verse, Nephi explains why they find the truth to be hard. Which meaning of “hard” is relevant, “difficult to understand” or “difficult to bear"? What does the fact that the wicked are cut to their center by the truth tell us about wickedness and truth?
  • 1 Ne 16:3: What is the difference between hearkening to the truth and giving heed unto it?
  • 1 Ne 16:4: Does the word "diligence" modify Nephi's manner of exhortation or the level of obedience to the commandments he expected of his brethren?
  • 1 Ne 16:5: Did Nephi never become cynical about the sincerity of his brothers' many changes of heart?
  • 1 Ne 16:6: Why doesn't Nephi say this was a place "we called Lemuel"?
  • 1 Ne 16:8: Is Nephi saying that Lehi had reached a stopping point, that there were no more commandments left for him to fulfill, or is this a rhetorical device to indicate a transition in his story?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 15:12-19. Russell M. Nelson, "The Gathering of Scattered Israel," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 79–82. :"While some aspects... have already been fulfilled, the Book of Mormon teaches that this Abrahamic covenant will be fulfilled only in these latter days! It also emphasizes that we are among the covenant people of the Lord (see 2 Ne 30:2). Ours is the privilege to participate personally in the fulfillment of these promises. What an exciting time to live!"

Notes[edit]

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: Chapters 13-14                      Next page: Chapters 16-18

1 Ne 16:6-10

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 10-15 > Chapter 15 / Verses 15:1-16:8
Previous page: Chapters 13-14                      Next page: Chapters 16-18


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 10-15. The relationship of Chapter 10 to the rest of Chapters 10-15 is addressed at First Nephi 10-15.

Story. Chapter 15 consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 10-15 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 15:1-11: brothers do not understand prophecy because they do not ask in prayer or obey commandments[edit]

  • 1 Ne 15:1-3. Nephi here contrasts his own approach to his father's teachings with his brother's. Both were confused about the meaning of what he said. Nephi's reaction was to ask God for not only an interpretation but to see what his father had seen. His brother's in contrast, "dispute" the meaning. In this context dispute might mean any number of things, but it could be a reference to a competing hermeneutic approach that prioritizes dialectic to revelation. Notice that Nephi's approach treats his father's teachings as more than a receptacle of latent meaning to be extracted. Rather, it treats it as a portal through which one comes to experience God's revelation for one's self.
  • 1 Ne 15:2: Dispute. This word is consistently used with a negative connotation in the Book of Mormon. See especially 3 Ne 11:28. (Note that in the New Testament the word is used sometimes without the same negative overtones. See for example Acts 19:8.)
  • 1 Ne 15:3: Hard to be understood. A couple of intriguing cross-references for this phrase are Ezek 3:6 and 2 Pet 3:16 in the KJV, and Mosiah 13:32 and Alma 33:20 in the Book of Mormon. Although these passages may be interesting from a theological, translational, or linguistic perspective, a more relevant passage in terms of what may have had an effect on Nephi is Isa 6:9ff where it seems Isaiah is told to preach things that "were hard for many people to understand," as Nephi puts it in 2 Ne 25:1.
  • 1 Ne 15:4-5. Notice that Nephi here places himself within the cosmic story of history that he has just seen in vision. He is afflicted because of the "great wickedness of the children of men" and "the destruction of my people." Given that he seems to create an identity between himself and "his people" -- He is afflicted; they are destroyed -- it is possible that he also intends to identify his brothers with "the children of men" and their wickedness. Nesting himself and his brothers in the narrative of his father's teachings further emphasizes the approach taken in the previous three verses. There Nephi insisted on the recapitulation of the experience of the original prophet through personal revelation. Here he nests himself narratively rather than experientially within the story of the original revelation. The emphasis again is on the receiver of scripture not simply extracting meaning from it but experiencing it form themselves.
If Nephi is in fact silently comparing his brothers with "the wickedness of the children of men," inviting the reader to fill in the lacunae in his parallelism, it is possible that there is another incomplete parallelism that Nephi is inviting the reader to complete, namely the parallel between Nephi and Lehi as prophets and the parallel between Nephi and the reader as those that receive revelation. In other words, Nephi may be inviting the reader to seek revelation to understand his revelation and to see themselves as characters in the narrative that he is providing.

1 Ne 15:12-20: olive tree: scattering and gathering[edit]

1 Ne 15:21-36: tree of life: individual salvation and judgment[edit]

  • It is interesting that when Laman and Lemuel ask about the meaning of the tree, Nephi explained nothing more than to say that it is the Tree of Life (verses 21-22) before moving on to the next question. We know from 1 Ne 11:21-23 that Nephi knew more. There he explains to the angel in detail the meaning of the tree. The fact that he doesn't explain this to his brothers when asked about the tree may suggest that like Nephi, they already knew of its meaning. It seems likely that like Nephi, Laman and Lemuel were also taught in the learning of their father (1 Ne 1:1) and also knew of the manner of prophesying among the Jews (2 Ne 21:1).
  • It isn't immediately clear what "this thing" at the beginning of verse 31 refers to. The fact that Laman and Lemual are asking whether it refers to the torment of the body in the days of probation or after death suggests that "this thing" does not refer to God's justice spoken of in the previous verse. Instead it refers to the last thing they asked about--the river of water (verse 26) or in other words, as Nephi explains to them (verse 29), the awful hell that the angel told Nephi was prepared for the wicked (1 Ne 12:16). Nephi also makes it clear that they are talking about the river of dirty water, or hell, in verse 35.
  • Verses 32-36 are an explanation of what Nephi means by hell. We learn from these verse that Hell is the place prepared for those who cannot dwell in the kingdom of God.

1 Ne 16:1-8: brothers repent, marriages, blessing[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:6: Lehi dwelt in a tent. See the discussion at 1 Ne 2:15 regarding the phrase "My father dwelt in a tent" and the relation to the temple.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 15:1: Was Nephi looking for his father or his brethren?
  • 1 Ne 15:2: If they were debating something that was said five chapters earlier, how much time had already passed?
  • 1 Ne 15:3: Should modern-day readers find Lehi's words just as hard to understand?
  • 1 Ne 15:4: Why is it that the New Testament, but not the Old Testament, talks about "being grieved for the hardness of their hearts" (see Mark 3:5)?
  • 1 Ne 15:5: My people. Why does Nephi use the term "my people" rather than "my descendants"? Is he more concerned here about the preservation of his seed, which would persist as a "remnant" or in the preservation of his kingdom?
  • 1 Ne 15:6: Did Nephi go on without much hope?
  • 1 Ne 15:6: Did Nephi go and speak to his brethren while they were still disputing, or was his being overcome in Verse 15:5 something like fainting, and so when he got up again he went and sought them out after the fact? Why does Nephi add this detail about being overcome and receiving strength, does this contribute to the readers' understanding of the ensuing conversation?
  • 1 Ne 15:7: Were they sincere in their belief of impossibility?
  • 1 Ne 15:8: Why do various forms of the word "inquire" appear throughout the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, but not even once in the Bible?
  • 1 Ne 15:9: Had they sincerely tried to obtain an answer to prayer, or merely given up after their half-hearted efforts met with no response?
  • 1 Ne 15:10: Does Nephi sound fatalistic in this verse, or does he have some faith that his brothers can really turn their life around?
  • 1 Ne 15:11: Does asking the Lord in faith differ from asking the Lord believing that you shall receive? How might these be different? Why does Nephi mention each of these as part of the process of knowing the things of the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 15:12: Why is "olive tree" never hyphenated in the Bible and always hyphenated in the Book of Mormon?
  • 1 Ne 15:13: After seeing a vision about the fate of his seed versus the fate of the seed of his brethren, how did Nephi so quickly conclude that "our seed" had a common fate?
  • 1 Ne 15:14: Was Nephi confident that the indigenous peoples of the Americas would accept and embrace their identity as the descendants of Lehi?
  • 1 Ne 15:15: Was Nephi lumping the descendants of Lehi in with indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere, or was he oblivious to the fact that the former would be severely outnumbered by the latter?
  • 1 Ne 15:16: Will the members of the church in Latin America always remain a branch or will they at some point become the trunk?
  • 1 Ne 15:17: Is Nephi suggesting that the scattering of indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere by Euro-Americans was finished in the 1820s?
  • 1 Ne 15:18: Is Nephi saying that when American Mormons went across the ocean to preach the gospel to Non-Mormon Europeans during the 1830s and 1840s, that this was a case of Gentiles delivering the gospel to scattered Israel?
  • 1 Ne 15:19: What did Nephi believe would be restored to the Jews before the Second Coming of Christ?
  • 1 Ne 15:20: Was Nephi comparing or equating the restoration of the Jews to/with the restoration of the house of Israel?
  • 1 Ne 15:21: What was the antecedent to "this thing"?
  • 1 Ne 15:22: Did they know more about the tree of life than is presently recorded in our Old Testament?
  • 1 Ne 15:23: Why were Laman and Lemuel so willing to believe that Lehi actually saw a vision?
  • 1 Ne 15:24: What did it mean to "hold fast" to the scriptures for a people who had no concept of, or experience with, personal ownership of scriptures?
  • 1 Ne 15:25: If faculties are an aspect of the soul (see Jacob 3:11), then what was the difference between energies and faculties of the soul?
  • 1 Ne 15:26: Did they have good reason to be perplexed about what this river represented?
  • 1 Ne 15:27: What made Nephi immune from this swallowing up of the mind?
  • 1 Ne 15:28: Why was there no bridge to allow the penitent to cross the gulf and approach the tree?
  • 1 Ne 15:29: If the gulf represented hell, then why were the wicked outside, rather than inside, the gulf?
  • 1 Ne 15:30: If God is being just when separates the wicked from the righteous in the afterlife, then is he being unjust when he allows these two groups to live together during mortality?
  • 1 Ne 15:31: Why did Laman and Lemuel feel like a gulf separated them from others during their mortal probation?
  • 1 Ne 15:32: Is Nephi saying that the wicked will be tormented while in the flesh? If so, who is the tormentor that inflicts this upon the bodies of the wicked?
  • 1 Ne 15:33: Is Nephi connecting these points with his earlier statements and saying that Jews and Lamanites who procrastinate their repentance, and ultimately die in their sins, will at that point be cast out of the covenant?
  • 1 Ne 15:34: Is this evidence that the war in heaven did not take place in the kingdom of God?
  • 1 Ne 15:35: Has the devil prepared any place for eternal human habitation besides Outer Darkness?
  • 1 Ne 15:36: Who is the actor in this Verse 15:that rejects the wicked?
  • 1 Ne 16:1: Nephi’s brothers tell him that the things he has said are too hard to bear. What have they heard that has caused that response?
  • 1 Ne 16:2: In this verse, Nephi explains why they find the truth to be hard. Which meaning of “hard” is relevant, “difficult to understand” or “difficult to bear"? What does the fact that the wicked are cut to their center by the truth tell us about wickedness and truth?
  • 1 Ne 16:3: What is the difference between hearkening to the truth and giving heed unto it?
  • 1 Ne 16:4: Does the word "diligence" modify Nephi's manner of exhortation or the level of obedience to the commandments he expected of his brethren?
  • 1 Ne 16:5: Did Nephi never become cynical about the sincerity of his brothers' many changes of heart?
  • 1 Ne 16:6: Why doesn't Nephi say this was a place "we called Lemuel"?
  • 1 Ne 16:8: Is Nephi saying that Lehi had reached a stopping point, that there were no more commandments left for him to fulfill, or is this a rhetorical device to indicate a transition in his story?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 15:12-19. Russell M. Nelson, "The Gathering of Scattered Israel," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 79–82. :"While some aspects... have already been fulfilled, the Book of Mormon teaches that this Abrahamic covenant will be fulfilled only in these latter days! It also emphasizes that we are among the covenant people of the Lord (see 2 Ne 30:2). Ours is the privilege to participate personally in the fulfillment of these promises. What an exciting time to live!"

Notes[edit]

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: Chapters 13-14                      Next page: Chapters 16-18

1 Ne 16:11-15

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 16 / Verses 16:9-17:6
Previous page: Chapters 16-18                      Next page: Chapter 17


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 16 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 16, the story of the land journey, consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 16 include:

  • Brass and steel. Nephi juxtaposes a steel object (Nephi's bow) whose great military strength is unable to save them with another object made of soft brass (the Liahona) that does have the power to save but because it conveys the word of the Lord.

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 16: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• the Liahona, leaving the Valley of Lemuel (16:9-16)
• Nephi's bow breaks (16:17-32)
• Ishmael dies (16:33-39)
• blessings in the wilderness and arrival in Bountiful (17:1-6)

1 Ne 16:9-16: Liahona and travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:10: Liahona and travel pattern. The Liahona could have been intended for Ishmael, his sons and daughters, and Zoram. They had not had visions or seen angels. The Liahona was an unexplainable physical God sent object that they could believe in. It proved Lehi was a prophet much like the Book of Mormon proves Joseph Smith Jr. was a prophet.
  • 1 Ne 16:15. No plan. No itinerary. Each day unsure where they would be, what would happen, who would be injured, who they would encounter, whether they would be successful in getting food or finding water. Talk about depending on the Lord.

1 Ne 16:17-32: Nephi's bow breaks[edit]

  • Nephi acts rather than than complaining and murmuring. Miracles often make up what we cannot do for ourselves rather than what we do not feel like doing for ourselves. Here Nephi showed faith that he would get food.
  • Here even Lehi murmurs, and Nephi shows his qualification to lead by being the one who brings the group back to reliance and faith upon the Lord. But still, Nephi does not usurp his father's place. He defers to his father's role as leader of the group by asking his father where he should go to find meat (16:23).

1 Ne 16:33-39: Death of Ishmael[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:35. Daughters of Ishmael had Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Laman and Lemuel to marry. So at least 3 of them were married to nonbelievers. Daughters of Lehi could have married Zoram or sons of Ishmael. When one doesn't believe in life after death one can be inconsolable. The sting of death would be ever present. Once started then they drawed upon every other thing that was making them miserable. Obviously they were adults. I do not see how they could be forced to follow the parents into wilderness. L&L could have stayed home and enjoyed their fathers riches he left behind. Well maybe not since Nephi killed Laban and his servants would attest to L&L's involvement. The fact they thought to go back to Jerusalem shows they didn't think it through very well.

1 Ne 17:1-6: Summary of eight years of travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:3: The Lord prepares a way. One of the most famous scriptures in the entire Book of Mormon is 1 Ne 3:7 where Nephi tells his father that "I will go and do what the Lord commands ..." Here in 1 Ne 17:3 Nephi as narrator directly addresses his audience "and thus wee see..." to again make that point that God "provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them." Significantly, this statement is made once in the first set of three stories in chapters 3-7 and once here in the second set of three stories in chapters 16-18, reinforcing the idea that the two sets of stories should be read as two halves of a single story, and that both halves illustrate this point.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:14. Lehi and his family were wealthy city dwellers. They had servants to get and prepare food. Now they are in a situation where that have to hunt for necessity not recreation. Our lives can likewise change in a one moment. We could be in a tent scrounging for food. Would I be ready?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Spiritual food. Are we as excited to receive spiritual food as these people were to receive physical food?

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:9: Why does the Lord wait until only the night before to tell Lehi when they will leave?
  • 1 Ne 16:10: Why does he deliver the Liahona is such an unusual way?
    • Do Latter-day Saints have anything comparable to Liahona today?
  • 1 Ne 16:11: Why might Laman and Lemuel not complain at this departure, especially given its suddenness?
  • 1 Ne 16:12: How did they cross the river if there was no wood available at this point in the journey for making rafts or boats?
  • 1 Ne 16:13: Where did Nephi learn to become this precise with his navigating and directions? No tents, slept under stars, no fires to cook, why the urgency? Try to remember a time when Lord had you be so uncomfortable and for what purpose. Why the need to name the place?
  • 1 Ne 16:14: Was it the food or the families that was located in the wilderness? Will we always find food along the path or will we sometimes have to follow paths whose fruit is only found at the end?
  • 1 Ne 16:16: Were they blazing new trails or following the paths of their predecessors? The Lord does not want them seen by anyone that could take the news back to Jerusalem. So I think blazing new trails or less traveled trails to avoid other travelers or marauders.
  • 1 Ne 16:17: If the food had been plentiful on the trail, so that they could obtain what they needed each day, was this an attempt to store up food for a journey of several days or had the food suddenly become more scarce? I doubt they would hunt each day. If so when would they travel? Probably had been many days since last hunted.
  • 1 Ne 16:18: Could Nephi have done anything to prevent the breaking of his bow? If Nephi had said "my bow broke" that would indicate it wasn't his fault. But "I broke my bow" indicates he caused it to break. My bow today would be my employment which is what helps me get food for my family. We can lose our jobs from external actions or our own actions. Bad things happen to good people. Interesting that Laman and Lemuel not mad at themselves for keeping their bows strung all that time to lose their tension.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Why couldn't they set traps to catch the game that their broken bows were unable to reach?
    • Suggested answer: This is no small group. There are a lot of people. I don't think traps for small game would be sufficient to feed them all.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Nephi uses "they did suffer" meaning he did not suffer for lack of food. Did God bless him to not be hungry?
    • Suggested Answer: This may an example of reading the text too closely and thus finding things that are not really there. It is probably not fair to rely on Nephi's failure to say that he suffered as evidence that in fact he did not. Here Nephi uses "we" to mean he and his "brethren," and "they" to refer to "our families." At this point Nephi only has three brothers over the age of eight, so the brothers who went hunting with him likely included at least two out of Laman, Lemuel, and Sam. So if this choice of words really did mean that Nephi did not suffer, then it would also mean that neither did the brothers who went hunting with him, probably including at least either Laman or Lemuel. But in verse 20 Nephi tells us positively that Laman and Lemuel did both complain at this time about their sufferings and afflictions. And in verse 21 Nephi says that he was afflicted just like his brothers. In the end it is probably best not to read too much into an author's choice of a particular word, but instead to just look for the fair sense of the main points that appear to have been important to the author. As a further example, see 1 Ne 19:7 where Nephi chooses his words so poorly that he feels a need to correct himself. We all use imprecise language that usually does manage to accurately convey our main points, but that rarely holds up to such close reading. Nephi was an exemplary person and was often blessed, but we do not have a very strong basis for concluding that those blessings included not feeling hunger on this occasion, especially not when he then tells us that he was afflicted on this occasion, and not when this passage is compared to the many occasions on which Nephi does positively tell us that he was blessed in a particular manner.
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael didn’t murmur when they departed quickly (v. 10-11), but they do murmur now. What does that difference tell us? What does Lehi’s murmuring suggest?
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Seems like L&L and sons of Ishmael 1st just complaining in general. This verse suggests Lehi was first to murmur against God. Is it okay to complain about what happens in life as long as don't blame God? I think Job complained.
  • 1 Ne 16:21: Was there something in the climate that caused all of the bows to break down at the same time?
  • 1 Ne 16:22: Did Nephi have encouraging or reprimanding words for his brothers?
  • 1 Ne 16:23: For what kinds of reasons might Nephi have asked his father where he should go to hunt? Why just one arrow? Time? Faith it would only take one arrow? His bow was broken not his arrows, why not use those? When bows didn't work why didn't they proceed with sling and stone if they used them also to hunt big game? Nephi has received a lot of revelation on his own, why ask his Father to ask Lord? Why not ask himself? Probably same reason we ask new or recently activated members to pray, give talks, or give blessings. They need the spiritual experiences to develop greater faith.
  • 1 Ne 16:24: Did Nephi lecture and humble his father as much as he did with his brothers? How did Nephi know what to say that would humble them? The soul is = Spirit + body. What is "energy of my soul." ? Testimony? Faith?
  • 1 Ne 16:25: Did Nephi ever chasten the members of his family, or did he usually leave that up to the Lord and angels? Did Lehi hear audible voice or just in his mind? What is chastened? Yelled at? Made to feel guilty? 2 kinds of sorrow. Sorrow for getting caught and godly sorrow that brings to repentance.
  • 1 Ne 16:26: Why was the Lord so quick to answer Lehi's prayers, given the lack of faith he had demonstrated? God not like us He doesn't hold a grudge. The moment we turn to God He turns to us. Already chastened so why have to read scary things on Liahona? The Liahona only works when one has faith. Wouldn't work until Lehi had prayed, confessed sin, had godly sorrow and been forgiven. The other purpose to look at Liahona was to get others who have not yet been humbled to be able to read words, be scared, and repent.
  • 1 Ne 16:27: What things did the Liahona communicate to Lehi and his family that caused them to "fear and tremble exceedingly?" Wish I had a "ball" to tell me how I am doing or what I should be doing. Wonder why Nephi didn't quote what the ball said?
  • 1 Ne 16:28: It is relatively simple to see the Liahona as a metaphor for other things in our spiritual lives that “work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we . . . give unto them.” What are some of those things? Why is our spiritual life like that?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Nephi himself draws a lesson from the Liahona: “by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” Why might the Lord choose to work by small means? What are some of the small means in your own life that have brought about great ends?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Why did they get a God made object to guide them? Why don't we have it today? Answers: The quote, "A Prophet is without honor in his own country". Well more so in own family. Lehi needed Liahona so non-members and nonbelieving family members would continue the journey. Lehi did not have church magazines and conferences to draw inspiration from. We have so many more avenues to be prompted by God than Lehi had.
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Is this the first time that Nephi has gotten into a mountain by his own effort?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Why was Nephi directed to go “up into the top of the mountain” to slay beasts? Was that just where the animals were, or is there something else going on?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Since mountaintops are holy places, actual natural temples, is there something else going on here related to killing beasts on mountains/temples?
  • 1 Ne 16:31: Why is there a footnote here to Gen 9:3? Is this to indicate that somehow Nephi killing beasts on the mount is related to the LORD's covenant with Noah after the flood that allowed Noah and his posterity to eat wild animals?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Why did Laman and Lemuel allow Nephi to become the new provider for the extended family, rather than asserting their own dominance over the party?
    • Suggested answer: having Nephi do the work was dominance over him. He was doing the work of a servant.
  • 1 Ne 16:33: How was Nephi able to catch and carry enough food for everyone in the party to survive off of for "many days" of travel? Camels. Pack a lot of meat on a camel.
  • 1 Ne 16:34: Why does Nephi decline to say who did the burying?
  • 1 Ne 16:35: Do you think that when Nephi tells us that the daughters mourned exceedingly he means that they mourned excessively? What might excessive rather than “normal” mourning be? Are there any indicators in these verses that they mourned excessively?
  • 1 Ne 16:36: How did they realistically plan to reach Jerusalem if they couldn't even catch the food they needed to survive?
  • 1 Ne 16:37: Notice the strangeness of these events: Ishmael dies and his daughters mourn exceedingly (v. 34-35). Presumably that includes Nephi’s wife. In response, the husband of one of those wives, Laman, urges the husband of another, Lemuel, that they should kill Lehi, their own father. What motivates Laman’s plan?
  • 1 Ne 16:38: Of what do Laman and Lemuel accuse Nephi? What evidence do they have for their accusation?
  • 1 Ne 16:39: Was the Lord trying to make it obvious to everyone there that only the righteous members of the group would be blessed with the ability to obtain food?
  • 1 Ne 17:1: How did members of the group perceive the purposes of these afflictions?
  • 1 Ne 17:2: Compare the perspective given here with the perspective given in verses 20-21. What things are included that are the same, and which things are different? What do these differences and similarities suggest?
  • 1 Ne 17:3: If the Lord can't help them until after they keep the commandments, and yet his assistance is specifically designed to help them accomplish the commandments, then how much commandment keeping did these people do on their own and how much was possible because of divine assistance?
  • 1 Ne 17:4: How did these urban people manage to become totally self-sufficient, with the apparent exception of food delivered by the Lord, while cut off civilization for eight years?
  • 1 Ne 17:5: If they had survived eight years in the wilderness, why were they suddenly on the verge of perishing when they arrived at Bountiful?
  • 1 Ne 17:6: Did the Lord bring this group out of the wilderness and into Bountiful because over the eight years they had become more righteous, or was it because the Lord needed them to set up a new society in the promised land before they became much older?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:3. Anthony D. Perkins, "‘The Great and Wonderful Love’," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 76–78. Elder Perkins counsels us to place our burdens on Jesus Christ. "When you feel overwhelmed by expectations and challenges, do not fight the battle alone."
  • 1 Ne 17:5: Irreantum. Paul Hoskisson explores a South Semitic etymology for this name, explaining why Nephi gives both the transliteration and meaning of this name. Paul Hoskisson, with Brian Hauglid and John Gee, "What's in a Name? Irreantum", Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 11 (2002), pp. 90-93.

Notes[edit]

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: Chapters 16-18                      Next page: Chapter 17

1 Ne 16:16-20

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 16 / Verses 16:9-17:6
Previous page: Chapters 16-18                      Next page: Chapter 17


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 16 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 16, the story of the land journey, consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 16 include:

  • Brass and steel. Nephi juxtaposes a steel object (Nephi's bow) whose great military strength is unable to save them with another object made of soft brass (the Liahona) that does have the power to save but because it conveys the word of the Lord.

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 16: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• the Liahona, leaving the Valley of Lemuel (16:9-16)
• Nephi's bow breaks (16:17-32)
• Ishmael dies (16:33-39)
• blessings in the wilderness and arrival in Bountiful (17:1-6)

1 Ne 16:9-16: Liahona and travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:10: Liahona and travel pattern. The Liahona could have been intended for Ishmael, his sons and daughters, and Zoram. They had not had visions or seen angels. The Liahona was an unexplainable physical God sent object that they could believe in. It proved Lehi was a prophet much like the Book of Mormon proves Joseph Smith Jr. was a prophet.
  • 1 Ne 16:15. No plan. No itinerary. Each day unsure where they would be, what would happen, who would be injured, who they would encounter, whether they would be successful in getting food or finding water. Talk about depending on the Lord.

1 Ne 16:17-32: Nephi's bow breaks[edit]

  • Nephi acts rather than than complaining and murmuring. Miracles often make up what we cannot do for ourselves rather than what we do not feel like doing for ourselves. Here Nephi showed faith that he would get food.
  • Here even Lehi murmurs, and Nephi shows his qualification to lead by being the one who brings the group back to reliance and faith upon the Lord. But still, Nephi does not usurp his father's place. He defers to his father's role as leader of the group by asking his father where he should go to find meat (16:23).

1 Ne 16:33-39: Death of Ishmael[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:35. Daughters of Ishmael had Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Laman and Lemuel to marry. So at least 3 of them were married to nonbelievers. Daughters of Lehi could have married Zoram or sons of Ishmael. When one doesn't believe in life after death one can be inconsolable. The sting of death would be ever present. Once started then they drawed upon every other thing that was making them miserable. Obviously they were adults. I do not see how they could be forced to follow the parents into wilderness. L&L could have stayed home and enjoyed their fathers riches he left behind. Well maybe not since Nephi killed Laban and his servants would attest to L&L's involvement. The fact they thought to go back to Jerusalem shows they didn't think it through very well.

1 Ne 17:1-6: Summary of eight years of travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:3: The Lord prepares a way. One of the most famous scriptures in the entire Book of Mormon is 1 Ne 3:7 where Nephi tells his father that "I will go and do what the Lord commands ..." Here in 1 Ne 17:3 Nephi as narrator directly addresses his audience "and thus wee see..." to again make that point that God "provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them." Significantly, this statement is made once in the first set of three stories in chapters 3-7 and once here in the second set of three stories in chapters 16-18, reinforcing the idea that the two sets of stories should be read as two halves of a single story, and that both halves illustrate this point.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:14. Lehi and his family were wealthy city dwellers. They had servants to get and prepare food. Now they are in a situation where that have to hunt for necessity not recreation. Our lives can likewise change in a one moment. We could be in a tent scrounging for food. Would I be ready?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Spiritual food. Are we as excited to receive spiritual food as these people were to receive physical food?

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:9: Why does the Lord wait until only the night before to tell Lehi when they will leave?
  • 1 Ne 16:10: Why does he deliver the Liahona is such an unusual way?
    • Do Latter-day Saints have anything comparable to Liahona today?
  • 1 Ne 16:11: Why might Laman and Lemuel not complain at this departure, especially given its suddenness?
  • 1 Ne 16:12: How did they cross the river if there was no wood available at this point in the journey for making rafts or boats?
  • 1 Ne 16:13: Where did Nephi learn to become this precise with his navigating and directions? No tents, slept under stars, no fires to cook, why the urgency? Try to remember a time when Lord had you be so uncomfortable and for what purpose. Why the need to name the place?
  • 1 Ne 16:14: Was it the food or the families that was located in the wilderness? Will we always find food along the path or will we sometimes have to follow paths whose fruit is only found at the end?
  • 1 Ne 16:16: Were they blazing new trails or following the paths of their predecessors? The Lord does not want them seen by anyone that could take the news back to Jerusalem. So I think blazing new trails or less traveled trails to avoid other travelers or marauders.
  • 1 Ne 16:17: If the food had been plentiful on the trail, so that they could obtain what they needed each day, was this an attempt to store up food for a journey of several days or had the food suddenly become more scarce? I doubt they would hunt each day. If so when would they travel? Probably had been many days since last hunted.
  • 1 Ne 16:18: Could Nephi have done anything to prevent the breaking of his bow? If Nephi had said "my bow broke" that would indicate it wasn't his fault. But "I broke my bow" indicates he caused it to break. My bow today would be my employment which is what helps me get food for my family. We can lose our jobs from external actions or our own actions. Bad things happen to good people. Interesting that Laman and Lemuel not mad at themselves for keeping their bows strung all that time to lose their tension.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Why couldn't they set traps to catch the game that their broken bows were unable to reach?
    • Suggested answer: This is no small group. There are a lot of people. I don't think traps for small game would be sufficient to feed them all.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Nephi uses "they did suffer" meaning he did not suffer for lack of food. Did God bless him to not be hungry?
    • Suggested Answer: This may an example of reading the text too closely and thus finding things that are not really there. It is probably not fair to rely on Nephi's failure to say that he suffered as evidence that in fact he did not. Here Nephi uses "we" to mean he and his "brethren," and "they" to refer to "our families." At this point Nephi only has three brothers over the age of eight, so the brothers who went hunting with him likely included at least two out of Laman, Lemuel, and Sam. So if this choice of words really did mean that Nephi did not suffer, then it would also mean that neither did the brothers who went hunting with him, probably including at least either Laman or Lemuel. But in verse 20 Nephi tells us positively that Laman and Lemuel did both complain at this time about their sufferings and afflictions. And in verse 21 Nephi says that he was afflicted just like his brothers. In the end it is probably best not to read too much into an author's choice of a particular word, but instead to just look for the fair sense of the main points that appear to have been important to the author. As a further example, see 1 Ne 19:7 where Nephi chooses his words so poorly that he feels a need to correct himself. We all use imprecise language that usually does manage to accurately convey our main points, but that rarely holds up to such close reading. Nephi was an exemplary person and was often blessed, but we do not have a very strong basis for concluding that those blessings included not feeling hunger on this occasion, especially not when he then tells us that he was afflicted on this occasion, and not when this passage is compared to the many occasions on which Nephi does positively tell us that he was blessed in a particular manner.
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael didn’t murmur when they departed quickly (v. 10-11), but they do murmur now. What does that difference tell us? What does Lehi’s murmuring suggest?
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Seems like L&L and sons of Ishmael 1st just complaining in general. This verse suggests Lehi was first to murmur against God. Is it okay to complain about what happens in life as long as don't blame God? I think Job complained.
  • 1 Ne 16:21: Was there something in the climate that caused all of the bows to break down at the same time?
  • 1 Ne 16:22: Did Nephi have encouraging or reprimanding words for his brothers?
  • 1 Ne 16:23: For what kinds of reasons might Nephi have asked his father where he should go to hunt? Why just one arrow? Time? Faith it would only take one arrow? His bow was broken not his arrows, why not use those? When bows didn't work why didn't they proceed with sling and stone if they used them also to hunt big game? Nephi has received a lot of revelation on his own, why ask his Father to ask Lord? Why not ask himself? Probably same reason we ask new or recently activated members to pray, give talks, or give blessings. They need the spiritual experiences to develop greater faith.
  • 1 Ne 16:24: Did Nephi lecture and humble his father as much as he did with his brothers? How did Nephi know what to say that would humble them? The soul is = Spirit + body. What is "energy of my soul." ? Testimony? Faith?
  • 1 Ne 16:25: Did Nephi ever chasten the members of his family, or did he usually leave that up to the Lord and angels? Did Lehi hear audible voice or just in his mind? What is chastened? Yelled at? Made to feel guilty? 2 kinds of sorrow. Sorrow for getting caught and godly sorrow that brings to repentance.
  • 1 Ne 16:26: Why was the Lord so quick to answer Lehi's prayers, given the lack of faith he had demonstrated? God not like us He doesn't hold a grudge. The moment we turn to God He turns to us. Already chastened so why have to read scary things on Liahona? The Liahona only works when one has faith. Wouldn't work until Lehi had prayed, confessed sin, had godly sorrow and been forgiven. The other purpose to look at Liahona was to get others who have not yet been humbled to be able to read words, be scared, and repent.
  • 1 Ne 16:27: What things did the Liahona communicate to Lehi and his family that caused them to "fear and tremble exceedingly?" Wish I had a "ball" to tell me how I am doing or what I should be doing. Wonder why Nephi didn't quote what the ball said?
  • 1 Ne 16:28: It is relatively simple to see the Liahona as a metaphor for other things in our spiritual lives that “work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we . . . give unto them.” What are some of those things? Why is our spiritual life like that?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Nephi himself draws a lesson from the Liahona: “by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” Why might the Lord choose to work by small means? What are some of the small means in your own life that have brought about great ends?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Why did they get a God made object to guide them? Why don't we have it today? Answers: The quote, "A Prophet is without honor in his own country". Well more so in own family. Lehi needed Liahona so non-members and nonbelieving family members would continue the journey. Lehi did not have church magazines and conferences to draw inspiration from. We have so many more avenues to be prompted by God than Lehi had.
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Is this the first time that Nephi has gotten into a mountain by his own effort?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Why was Nephi directed to go “up into the top of the mountain” to slay beasts? Was that just where the animals were, or is there something else going on?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Since mountaintops are holy places, actual natural temples, is there something else going on here related to killing beasts on mountains/temples?
  • 1 Ne 16:31: Why is there a footnote here to Gen 9:3? Is this to indicate that somehow Nephi killing beasts on the mount is related to the LORD's covenant with Noah after the flood that allowed Noah and his posterity to eat wild animals?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Why did Laman and Lemuel allow Nephi to become the new provider for the extended family, rather than asserting their own dominance over the party?
    • Suggested answer: having Nephi do the work was dominance over him. He was doing the work of a servant.
  • 1 Ne 16:33: How was Nephi able to catch and carry enough food for everyone in the party to survive off of for "many days" of travel? Camels. Pack a lot of meat on a camel.
  • 1 Ne 16:34: Why does Nephi decline to say who did the burying?
  • 1 Ne 16:35: Do you think that when Nephi tells us that the daughters mourned exceedingly he means that they mourned excessively? What might excessive rather than “normal” mourning be? Are there any indicators in these verses that they mourned excessively?
  • 1 Ne 16:36: How did they realistically plan to reach Jerusalem if they couldn't even catch the food they needed to survive?
  • 1 Ne 16:37: Notice the strangeness of these events: Ishmael dies and his daughters mourn exceedingly (v. 34-35). Presumably that includes Nephi’s wife. In response, the husband of one of those wives, Laman, urges the husband of another, Lemuel, that they should kill Lehi, their own father. What motivates Laman’s plan?
  • 1 Ne 16:38: Of what do Laman and Lemuel accuse Nephi? What evidence do they have for their accusation?
  • 1 Ne 16:39: Was the Lord trying to make it obvious to everyone there that only the righteous members of the group would be blessed with the ability to obtain food?
  • 1 Ne 17:1: How did members of the group perceive the purposes of these afflictions?
  • 1 Ne 17:2: Compare the perspective given here with the perspective given in verses 20-21. What things are included that are the same, and which things are different? What do these differences and similarities suggest?
  • 1 Ne 17:3: If the Lord can't help them until after they keep the commandments, and yet his assistance is specifically designed to help them accomplish the commandments, then how much commandment keeping did these people do on their own and how much was possible because of divine assistance?
  • 1 Ne 17:4: How did these urban people manage to become totally self-sufficient, with the apparent exception of food delivered by the Lord, while cut off civilization for eight years?
  • 1 Ne 17:5: If they had survived eight years in the wilderness, why were they suddenly on the verge of perishing when they arrived at Bountiful?
  • 1 Ne 17:6: Did the Lord bring this group out of the wilderness and into Bountiful because over the eight years they had become more righteous, or was it because the Lord needed them to set up a new society in the promised land before they became much older?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:3. Anthony D. Perkins, "‘The Great and Wonderful Love’," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 76–78. Elder Perkins counsels us to place our burdens on Jesus Christ. "When you feel overwhelmed by expectations and challenges, do not fight the battle alone."
  • 1 Ne 17:5: Irreantum. Paul Hoskisson explores a South Semitic etymology for this name, explaining why Nephi gives both the transliteration and meaning of this name. Paul Hoskisson, with Brian Hauglid and John Gee, "What's in a Name? Irreantum", Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 11 (2002), pp. 90-93.

Notes[edit]

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: Chapters 16-18                      Next page: Chapter 17

1 Ne 16:21-25

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 16 / Verses 16:9-17:6
Previous page: Chapters 16-18                      Next page: Chapter 17


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 16 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 16, the story of the land journey, consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 16 include:

  • Brass and steel. Nephi juxtaposes a steel object (Nephi's bow) whose great military strength is unable to save them with another object made of soft brass (the Liahona) that does have the power to save but because it conveys the word of the Lord.

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 16: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• the Liahona, leaving the Valley of Lemuel (16:9-16)
• Nephi's bow breaks (16:17-32)
• Ishmael dies (16:33-39)
• blessings in the wilderness and arrival in Bountiful (17:1-6)

1 Ne 16:9-16: Liahona and travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:10: Liahona and travel pattern. The Liahona could have been intended for Ishmael, his sons and daughters, and Zoram. They had not had visions or seen angels. The Liahona was an unexplainable physical God sent object that they could believe in. It proved Lehi was a prophet much like the Book of Mormon proves Joseph Smith Jr. was a prophet.
  • 1 Ne 16:15. No plan. No itinerary. Each day unsure where they would be, what would happen, who would be injured, who they would encounter, whether they would be successful in getting food or finding water. Talk about depending on the Lord.

1 Ne 16:17-32: Nephi's bow breaks[edit]

  • Nephi acts rather than than complaining and murmuring. Miracles often make up what we cannot do for ourselves rather than what we do not feel like doing for ourselves. Here Nephi showed faith that he would get food.
  • Here even Lehi murmurs, and Nephi shows his qualification to lead by being the one who brings the group back to reliance and faith upon the Lord. But still, Nephi does not usurp his father's place. He defers to his father's role as leader of the group by asking his father where he should go to find meat (16:23).

1 Ne 16:33-39: Death of Ishmael[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:35. Daughters of Ishmael had Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Laman and Lemuel to marry. So at least 3 of them were married to nonbelievers. Daughters of Lehi could have married Zoram or sons of Ishmael. When one doesn't believe in life after death one can be inconsolable. The sting of death would be ever present. Once started then they drawed upon every other thing that was making them miserable. Obviously they were adults. I do not see how they could be forced to follow the parents into wilderness. L&L could have stayed home and enjoyed their fathers riches he left behind. Well maybe not since Nephi killed Laban and his servants would attest to L&L's involvement. The fact they thought to go back to Jerusalem shows they didn't think it through very well.

1 Ne 17:1-6: Summary of eight years of travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:3: The Lord prepares a way. One of the most famous scriptures in the entire Book of Mormon is 1 Ne 3:7 where Nephi tells his father that "I will go and do what the Lord commands ..." Here in 1 Ne 17:3 Nephi as narrator directly addresses his audience "and thus wee see..." to again make that point that God "provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them." Significantly, this statement is made once in the first set of three stories in chapters 3-7 and once here in the second set of three stories in chapters 16-18, reinforcing the idea that the two sets of stories should be read as two halves of a single story, and that both halves illustrate this point.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:14. Lehi and his family were wealthy city dwellers. They had servants to get and prepare food. Now they are in a situation where that have to hunt for necessity not recreation. Our lives can likewise change in a one moment. We could be in a tent scrounging for food. Would I be ready?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Spiritual food. Are we as excited to receive spiritual food as these people were to receive physical food?

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:9: Why does the Lord wait until only the night before to tell Lehi when they will leave?
  • 1 Ne 16:10: Why does he deliver the Liahona is such an unusual way?
    • Do Latter-day Saints have anything comparable to Liahona today?
  • 1 Ne 16:11: Why might Laman and Lemuel not complain at this departure, especially given its suddenness?
  • 1 Ne 16:12: How did they cross the river if there was no wood available at this point in the journey for making rafts or boats?
  • 1 Ne 16:13: Where did Nephi learn to become this precise with his navigating and directions? No tents, slept under stars, no fires to cook, why the urgency? Try to remember a time when Lord had you be so uncomfortable and for what purpose. Why the need to name the place?
  • 1 Ne 16:14: Was it the food or the families that was located in the wilderness? Will we always find food along the path or will we sometimes have to follow paths whose fruit is only found at the end?
  • 1 Ne 16:16: Were they blazing new trails or following the paths of their predecessors? The Lord does not want them seen by anyone that could take the news back to Jerusalem. So I think blazing new trails or less traveled trails to avoid other travelers or marauders.
  • 1 Ne 16:17: If the food had been plentiful on the trail, so that they could obtain what they needed each day, was this an attempt to store up food for a journey of several days or had the food suddenly become more scarce? I doubt they would hunt each day. If so when would they travel? Probably had been many days since last hunted.
  • 1 Ne 16:18: Could Nephi have done anything to prevent the breaking of his bow? If Nephi had said "my bow broke" that would indicate it wasn't his fault. But "I broke my bow" indicates he caused it to break. My bow today would be my employment which is what helps me get food for my family. We can lose our jobs from external actions or our own actions. Bad things happen to good people. Interesting that Laman and Lemuel not mad at themselves for keeping their bows strung all that time to lose their tension.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Why couldn't they set traps to catch the game that their broken bows were unable to reach?
    • Suggested answer: This is no small group. There are a lot of people. I don't think traps for small game would be sufficient to feed them all.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Nephi uses "they did suffer" meaning he did not suffer for lack of food. Did God bless him to not be hungry?
    • Suggested Answer: This may an example of reading the text too closely and thus finding things that are not really there. It is probably not fair to rely on Nephi's failure to say that he suffered as evidence that in fact he did not. Here Nephi uses "we" to mean he and his "brethren," and "they" to refer to "our families." At this point Nephi only has three brothers over the age of eight, so the brothers who went hunting with him likely included at least two out of Laman, Lemuel, and Sam. So if this choice of words really did mean that Nephi did not suffer, then it would also mean that neither did the brothers who went hunting with him, probably including at least either Laman or Lemuel. But in verse 20 Nephi tells us positively that Laman and Lemuel did both complain at this time about their sufferings and afflictions. And in verse 21 Nephi says that he was afflicted just like his brothers. In the end it is probably best not to read too much into an author's choice of a particular word, but instead to just look for the fair sense of the main points that appear to have been important to the author. As a further example, see 1 Ne 19:7 where Nephi chooses his words so poorly that he feels a need to correct himself. We all use imprecise language that usually does manage to accurately convey our main points, but that rarely holds up to such close reading. Nephi was an exemplary person and was often blessed, but we do not have a very strong basis for concluding that those blessings included not feeling hunger on this occasion, especially not when he then tells us that he was afflicted on this occasion, and not when this passage is compared to the many occasions on which Nephi does positively tell us that he was blessed in a particular manner.
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael didn’t murmur when they departed quickly (v. 10-11), but they do murmur now. What does that difference tell us? What does Lehi’s murmuring suggest?
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Seems like L&L and sons of Ishmael 1st just complaining in general. This verse suggests Lehi was first to murmur against God. Is it okay to complain about what happens in life as long as don't blame God? I think Job complained.
  • 1 Ne 16:21: Was there something in the climate that caused all of the bows to break down at the same time?
  • 1 Ne 16:22: Did Nephi have encouraging or reprimanding words for his brothers?
  • 1 Ne 16:23: For what kinds of reasons might Nephi have asked his father where he should go to hunt? Why just one arrow? Time? Faith it would only take one arrow? His bow was broken not his arrows, why not use those? When bows didn't work why didn't they proceed with sling and stone if they used them also to hunt big game? Nephi has received a lot of revelation on his own, why ask his Father to ask Lord? Why not ask himself? Probably same reason we ask new or recently activated members to pray, give talks, or give blessings. They need the spiritual experiences to develop greater faith.
  • 1 Ne 16:24: Did Nephi lecture and humble his father as much as he did with his brothers? How did Nephi know what to say that would humble them? The soul is = Spirit + body. What is "energy of my soul." ? Testimony? Faith?
  • 1 Ne 16:25: Did Nephi ever chasten the members of his family, or did he usually leave that up to the Lord and angels? Did Lehi hear audible voice or just in his mind? What is chastened? Yelled at? Made to feel guilty? 2 kinds of sorrow. Sorrow for getting caught and godly sorrow that brings to repentance.
  • 1 Ne 16:26: Why was the Lord so quick to answer Lehi's prayers, given the lack of faith he had demonstrated? God not like us He doesn't hold a grudge. The moment we turn to God He turns to us. Already chastened so why have to read scary things on Liahona? The Liahona only works when one has faith. Wouldn't work until Lehi had prayed, confessed sin, had godly sorrow and been forgiven. The other purpose to look at Liahona was to get others who have not yet been humbled to be able to read words, be scared, and repent.
  • 1 Ne 16:27: What things did the Liahona communicate to Lehi and his family that caused them to "fear and tremble exceedingly?" Wish I had a "ball" to tell me how I am doing or what I should be doing. Wonder why Nephi didn't quote what the ball said?
  • 1 Ne 16:28: It is relatively simple to see the Liahona as a metaphor for other things in our spiritual lives that “work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we . . . give unto them.” What are some of those things? Why is our spiritual life like that?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Nephi himself draws a lesson from the Liahona: “by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” Why might the Lord choose to work by small means? What are some of the small means in your own life that have brought about great ends?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Why did they get a God made object to guide them? Why don't we have it today? Answers: The quote, "A Prophet is without honor in his own country". Well more so in own family. Lehi needed Liahona so non-members and nonbelieving family members would continue the journey. Lehi did not have church magazines and conferences to draw inspiration from. We have so many more avenues to be prompted by God than Lehi had.
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Is this the first time that Nephi has gotten into a mountain by his own effort?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Why was Nephi directed to go “up into the top of the mountain” to slay beasts? Was that just where the animals were, or is there something else going on?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Since mountaintops are holy places, actual natural temples, is there something else going on here related to killing beasts on mountains/temples?
  • 1 Ne 16:31: Why is there a footnote here to Gen 9:3? Is this to indicate that somehow Nephi killing beasts on the mount is related to the LORD's covenant with Noah after the flood that allowed Noah and his posterity to eat wild animals?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Why did Laman and Lemuel allow Nephi to become the new provider for the extended family, rather than asserting their own dominance over the party?
    • Suggested answer: having Nephi do the work was dominance over him. He was doing the work of a servant.
  • 1 Ne 16:33: How was Nephi able to catch and carry enough food for everyone in the party to survive off of for "many days" of travel? Camels. Pack a lot of meat on a camel.
  • 1 Ne 16:34: Why does Nephi decline to say who did the burying?
  • 1 Ne 16:35: Do you think that when Nephi tells us that the daughters mourned exceedingly he means that they mourned excessively? What might excessive rather than “normal” mourning be? Are there any indicators in these verses that they mourned excessively?
  • 1 Ne 16:36: How did they realistically plan to reach Jerusalem if they couldn't even catch the food they needed to survive?
  • 1 Ne 16:37: Notice the strangeness of these events: Ishmael dies and his daughters mourn exceedingly (v. 34-35). Presumably that includes Nephi’s wife. In response, the husband of one of those wives, Laman, urges the husband of another, Lemuel, that they should kill Lehi, their own father. What motivates Laman’s plan?
  • 1 Ne 16:38: Of what do Laman and Lemuel accuse Nephi? What evidence do they have for their accusation?
  • 1 Ne 16:39: Was the Lord trying to make it obvious to everyone there that only the righteous members of the group would be blessed with the ability to obtain food?
  • 1 Ne 17:1: How did members of the group perceive the purposes of these afflictions?
  • 1 Ne 17:2: Compare the perspective given here with the perspective given in verses 20-21. What things are included that are the same, and which things are different? What do these differences and similarities suggest?
  • 1 Ne 17:3: If the Lord can't help them until after they keep the commandments, and yet his assistance is specifically designed to help them accomplish the commandments, then how much commandment keeping did these people do on their own and how much was possible because of divine assistance?
  • 1 Ne 17:4: How did these urban people manage to become totally self-sufficient, with the apparent exception of food delivered by the Lord, while cut off civilization for eight years?
  • 1 Ne 17:5: If they had survived eight years in the wilderness, why were they suddenly on the verge of perishing when they arrived at Bountiful?
  • 1 Ne 17:6: Did the Lord bring this group out of the wilderness and into Bountiful because over the eight years they had become more righteous, or was it because the Lord needed them to set up a new society in the promised land before they became much older?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:3. Anthony D. Perkins, "‘The Great and Wonderful Love’," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 76–78. Elder Perkins counsels us to place our burdens on Jesus Christ. "When you feel overwhelmed by expectations and challenges, do not fight the battle alone."
  • 1 Ne 17:5: Irreantum. Paul Hoskisson explores a South Semitic etymology for this name, explaining why Nephi gives both the transliteration and meaning of this name. Paul Hoskisson, with Brian Hauglid and John Gee, "What's in a Name? Irreantum", Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 11 (2002), pp. 90-93.

Notes[edit]

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: Chapters 16-18                      Next page: Chapter 17

1 Ne 16:26-30

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 16 / Verses 16:9-17:6
Previous page: Chapters 16-18                      Next page: Chapter 17


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 16 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 16, the story of the land journey, consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 16 include:

  • Brass and steel. Nephi juxtaposes a steel object (Nephi's bow) whose great military strength is unable to save them with another object made of soft brass (the Liahona) that does have the power to save but because it conveys the word of the Lord.

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 16: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• the Liahona, leaving the Valley of Lemuel (16:9-16)
• Nephi's bow breaks (16:17-32)
• Ishmael dies (16:33-39)
• blessings in the wilderness and arrival in Bountiful (17:1-6)

1 Ne 16:9-16: Liahona and travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:10: Liahona and travel pattern. The Liahona could have been intended for Ishmael, his sons and daughters, and Zoram. They had not had visions or seen angels. The Liahona was an unexplainable physical God sent object that they could believe in. It proved Lehi was a prophet much like the Book of Mormon proves Joseph Smith Jr. was a prophet.
  • 1 Ne 16:15. No plan. No itinerary. Each day unsure where they would be, what would happen, who would be injured, who they would encounter, whether they would be successful in getting food or finding water. Talk about depending on the Lord.

1 Ne 16:17-32: Nephi's bow breaks[edit]

  • Nephi acts rather than than complaining and murmuring. Miracles often make up what we cannot do for ourselves rather than what we do not feel like doing for ourselves. Here Nephi showed faith that he would get food.
  • Here even Lehi murmurs, and Nephi shows his qualification to lead by being the one who brings the group back to reliance and faith upon the Lord. But still, Nephi does not usurp his father's place. He defers to his father's role as leader of the group by asking his father where he should go to find meat (16:23).

1 Ne 16:33-39: Death of Ishmael[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:35. Daughters of Ishmael had Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Laman and Lemuel to marry. So at least 3 of them were married to nonbelievers. Daughters of Lehi could have married Zoram or sons of Ishmael. When one doesn't believe in life after death one can be inconsolable. The sting of death would be ever present. Once started then they drawed upon every other thing that was making them miserable. Obviously they were adults. I do not see how they could be forced to follow the parents into wilderness. L&L could have stayed home and enjoyed their fathers riches he left behind. Well maybe not since Nephi killed Laban and his servants would attest to L&L's involvement. The fact they thought to go back to Jerusalem shows they didn't think it through very well.

1 Ne 17:1-6: Summary of eight years of travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:3: The Lord prepares a way. One of the most famous scriptures in the entire Book of Mormon is 1 Ne 3:7 where Nephi tells his father that "I will go and do what the Lord commands ..." Here in 1 Ne 17:3 Nephi as narrator directly addresses his audience "and thus wee see..." to again make that point that God "provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them." Significantly, this statement is made once in the first set of three stories in chapters 3-7 and once here in the second set of three stories in chapters 16-18, reinforcing the idea that the two sets of stories should be read as two halves of a single story, and that both halves illustrate this point.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:14. Lehi and his family were wealthy city dwellers. They had servants to get and prepare food. Now they are in a situation where that have to hunt for necessity not recreation. Our lives can likewise change in a one moment. We could be in a tent scrounging for food. Would I be ready?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Spiritual food. Are we as excited to receive spiritual food as these people were to receive physical food?

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:9: Why does the Lord wait until only the night before to tell Lehi when they will leave?
  • 1 Ne 16:10: Why does he deliver the Liahona is such an unusual way?
    • Do Latter-day Saints have anything comparable to Liahona today?
  • 1 Ne 16:11: Why might Laman and Lemuel not complain at this departure, especially given its suddenness?
  • 1 Ne 16:12: How did they cross the river if there was no wood available at this point in the journey for making rafts or boats?
  • 1 Ne 16:13: Where did Nephi learn to become this precise with his navigating and directions? No tents, slept under stars, no fires to cook, why the urgency? Try to remember a time when Lord had you be so uncomfortable and for what purpose. Why the need to name the place?
  • 1 Ne 16:14: Was it the food or the families that was located in the wilderness? Will we always find food along the path or will we sometimes have to follow paths whose fruit is only found at the end?
  • 1 Ne 16:16: Were they blazing new trails or following the paths of their predecessors? The Lord does not want them seen by anyone that could take the news back to Jerusalem. So I think blazing new trails or less traveled trails to avoid other travelers or marauders.
  • 1 Ne 16:17: If the food had been plentiful on the trail, so that they could obtain what they needed each day, was this an attempt to store up food for a journey of several days or had the food suddenly become more scarce? I doubt they would hunt each day. If so when would they travel? Probably had been many days since last hunted.
  • 1 Ne 16:18: Could Nephi have done anything to prevent the breaking of his bow? If Nephi had said "my bow broke" that would indicate it wasn't his fault. But "I broke my bow" indicates he caused it to break. My bow today would be my employment which is what helps me get food for my family. We can lose our jobs from external actions or our own actions. Bad things happen to good people. Interesting that Laman and Lemuel not mad at themselves for keeping their bows strung all that time to lose their tension.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Why couldn't they set traps to catch the game that their broken bows were unable to reach?
    • Suggested answer: This is no small group. There are a lot of people. I don't think traps for small game would be sufficient to feed them all.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Nephi uses "they did suffer" meaning he did not suffer for lack of food. Did God bless him to not be hungry?
    • Suggested Answer: This may an example of reading the text too closely and thus finding things that are not really there. It is probably not fair to rely on Nephi's failure to say that he suffered as evidence that in fact he did not. Here Nephi uses "we" to mean he and his "brethren," and "they" to refer to "our families." At this point Nephi only has three brothers over the age of eight, so the brothers who went hunting with him likely included at least two out of Laman, Lemuel, and Sam. So if this choice of words really did mean that Nephi did not suffer, then it would also mean that neither did the brothers who went hunting with him, probably including at least either Laman or Lemuel. But in verse 20 Nephi tells us positively that Laman and Lemuel did both complain at this time about their sufferings and afflictions. And in verse 21 Nephi says that he was afflicted just like his brothers. In the end it is probably best not to read too much into an author's choice of a particular word, but instead to just look for the fair sense of the main points that appear to have been important to the author. As a further example, see 1 Ne 19:7 where Nephi chooses his words so poorly that he feels a need to correct himself. We all use imprecise language that usually does manage to accurately convey our main points, but that rarely holds up to such close reading. Nephi was an exemplary person and was often blessed, but we do not have a very strong basis for concluding that those blessings included not feeling hunger on this occasion, especially not when he then tells us that he was afflicted on this occasion, and not when this passage is compared to the many occasions on which Nephi does positively tell us that he was blessed in a particular manner.
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael didn’t murmur when they departed quickly (v. 10-11), but they do murmur now. What does that difference tell us? What does Lehi’s murmuring suggest?
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Seems like L&L and sons of Ishmael 1st just complaining in general. This verse suggests Lehi was first to murmur against God. Is it okay to complain about what happens in life as long as don't blame God? I think Job complained.
  • 1 Ne 16:21: Was there something in the climate that caused all of the bows to break down at the same time?
  • 1 Ne 16:22: Did Nephi have encouraging or reprimanding words for his brothers?
  • 1 Ne 16:23: For what kinds of reasons might Nephi have asked his father where he should go to hunt? Why just one arrow? Time? Faith it would only take one arrow? His bow was broken not his arrows, why not use those? When bows didn't work why didn't they proceed with sling and stone if they used them also to hunt big game? Nephi has received a lot of revelation on his own, why ask his Father to ask Lord? Why not ask himself? Probably same reason we ask new or recently activated members to pray, give talks, or give blessings. They need the spiritual experiences to develop greater faith.
  • 1 Ne 16:24: Did Nephi lecture and humble his father as much as he did with his brothers? How did Nephi know what to say that would humble them? The soul is = Spirit + body. What is "energy of my soul." ? Testimony? Faith?
  • 1 Ne 16:25: Did Nephi ever chasten the members of his family, or did he usually leave that up to the Lord and angels? Did Lehi hear audible voice or just in his mind? What is chastened? Yelled at? Made to feel guilty? 2 kinds of sorrow. Sorrow for getting caught and godly sorrow that brings to repentance.
  • 1 Ne 16:26: Why was the Lord so quick to answer Lehi's prayers, given the lack of faith he had demonstrated? God not like us He doesn't hold a grudge. The moment we turn to God He turns to us. Already chastened so why have to read scary things on Liahona? The Liahona only works when one has faith. Wouldn't work until Lehi had prayed, confessed sin, had godly sorrow and been forgiven. The other purpose to look at Liahona was to get others who have not yet been humbled to be able to read words, be scared, and repent.
  • 1 Ne 16:27: What things did the Liahona communicate to Lehi and his family that caused them to "fear and tremble exceedingly?" Wish I had a "ball" to tell me how I am doing or what I should be doing. Wonder why Nephi didn't quote what the ball said?
  • 1 Ne 16:28: It is relatively simple to see the Liahona as a metaphor for other things in our spiritual lives that “work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we . . . give unto them.” What are some of those things? Why is our spiritual life like that?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Nephi himself draws a lesson from the Liahona: “by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” Why might the Lord choose to work by small means? What are some of the small means in your own life that have brought about great ends?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Why did they get a God made object to guide them? Why don't we have it today? Answers: The quote, "A Prophet is without honor in his own country". Well more so in own family. Lehi needed Liahona so non-members and nonbelieving family members would continue the journey. Lehi did not have church magazines and conferences to draw inspiration from. We have so many more avenues to be prompted by God than Lehi had.
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Is this the first time that Nephi has gotten into a mountain by his own effort?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Why was Nephi directed to go “up into the top of the mountain” to slay beasts? Was that just where the animals were, or is there something else going on?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Since mountaintops are holy places, actual natural temples, is there something else going on here related to killing beasts on mountains/temples?
  • 1 Ne 16:31: Why is there a footnote here to Gen 9:3? Is this to indicate that somehow Nephi killing beasts on the mount is related to the LORD's covenant with Noah after the flood that allowed Noah and his posterity to eat wild animals?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Why did Laman and Lemuel allow Nephi to become the new provider for the extended family, rather than asserting their own dominance over the party?
    • Suggested answer: having Nephi do the work was dominance over him. He was doing the work of a servant.
  • 1 Ne 16:33: How was Nephi able to catch and carry enough food for everyone in the party to survive off of for "many days" of travel? Camels. Pack a lot of meat on a camel.
  • 1 Ne 16:34: Why does Nephi decline to say who did the burying?
  • 1 Ne 16:35: Do you think that when Nephi tells us that the daughters mourned exceedingly he means that they mourned excessively? What might excessive rather than “normal” mourning be? Are there any indicators in these verses that they mourned excessively?
  • 1 Ne 16:36: How did they realistically plan to reach Jerusalem if they couldn't even catch the food they needed to survive?
  • 1 Ne 16:37: Notice the strangeness of these events: Ishmael dies and his daughters mourn exceedingly (v. 34-35). Presumably that includes Nephi’s wife. In response, the husband of one of those wives, Laman, urges the husband of another, Lemuel, that they should kill Lehi, their own father. What motivates Laman’s plan?
  • 1 Ne 16:38: Of what do Laman and Lemuel accuse Nephi? What evidence do they have for their accusation?
  • 1 Ne 16:39: Was the Lord trying to make it obvious to everyone there that only the righteous members of the group would be blessed with the ability to obtain food?
  • 1 Ne 17:1: How did members of the group perceive the purposes of these afflictions?
  • 1 Ne 17:2: Compare the perspective given here with the perspective given in verses 20-21. What things are included that are the same, and which things are different? What do these differences and similarities suggest?
  • 1 Ne 17:3: If the Lord can't help them until after they keep the commandments, and yet his assistance is specifically designed to help them accomplish the commandments, then how much commandment keeping did these people do on their own and how much was possible because of divine assistance?
  • 1 Ne 17:4: How did these urban people manage to become totally self-sufficient, with the apparent exception of food delivered by the Lord, while cut off civilization for eight years?
  • 1 Ne 17:5: If they had survived eight years in the wilderness, why were they suddenly on the verge of perishing when they arrived at Bountiful?
  • 1 Ne 17:6: Did the Lord bring this group out of the wilderness and into Bountiful because over the eight years they had become more righteous, or was it because the Lord needed them to set up a new society in the promised land before they became much older?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:3. Anthony D. Perkins, "‘The Great and Wonderful Love’," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 76–78. Elder Perkins counsels us to place our burdens on Jesus Christ. "When you feel overwhelmed by expectations and challenges, do not fight the battle alone."
  • 1 Ne 17:5: Irreantum. Paul Hoskisson explores a South Semitic etymology for this name, explaining why Nephi gives both the transliteration and meaning of this name. Paul Hoskisson, with Brian Hauglid and John Gee, "What's in a Name? Irreantum", Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 11 (2002), pp. 90-93.

Notes[edit]

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: Chapters 16-18                      Next page: Chapter 17

1 Ne 16:31-35

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 16 / Verses 16:9-17:6
Previous page: Chapters 16-18                      Next page: Chapter 17


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 16 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 16, the story of the land journey, consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 16 include:

  • Brass and steel. Nephi juxtaposes a steel object (Nephi's bow) whose great military strength is unable to save them with another object made of soft brass (the Liahona) that does have the power to save but because it conveys the word of the Lord.

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 16: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• the Liahona, leaving the Valley of Lemuel (16:9-16)
• Nephi's bow breaks (16:17-32)
• Ishmael dies (16:33-39)
• blessings in the wilderness and arrival in Bountiful (17:1-6)

1 Ne 16:9-16: Liahona and travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:10: Liahona and travel pattern. The Liahona could have been intended for Ishmael, his sons and daughters, and Zoram. They had not had visions or seen angels. The Liahona was an unexplainable physical God sent object that they could believe in. It proved Lehi was a prophet much like the Book of Mormon proves Joseph Smith Jr. was a prophet.
  • 1 Ne 16:15. No plan. No itinerary. Each day unsure where they would be, what would happen, who would be injured, who they would encounter, whether they would be successful in getting food or finding water. Talk about depending on the Lord.

1 Ne 16:17-32: Nephi's bow breaks[edit]

  • Nephi acts rather than than complaining and murmuring. Miracles often make up what we cannot do for ourselves rather than what we do not feel like doing for ourselves. Here Nephi showed faith that he would get food.
  • Here even Lehi murmurs, and Nephi shows his qualification to lead by being the one who brings the group back to reliance and faith upon the Lord. But still, Nephi does not usurp his father's place. He defers to his father's role as leader of the group by asking his father where he should go to find meat (16:23).

1 Ne 16:33-39: Death of Ishmael[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:35. Daughters of Ishmael had Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Laman and Lemuel to marry. So at least 3 of them were married to nonbelievers. Daughters of Lehi could have married Zoram or sons of Ishmael. When one doesn't believe in life after death one can be inconsolable. The sting of death would be ever present. Once started then they drawed upon every other thing that was making them miserable. Obviously they were adults. I do not see how they could be forced to follow the parents into wilderness. L&L could have stayed home and enjoyed their fathers riches he left behind. Well maybe not since Nephi killed Laban and his servants would attest to L&L's involvement. The fact they thought to go back to Jerusalem shows they didn't think it through very well.

1 Ne 17:1-6: Summary of eight years of travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:3: The Lord prepares a way. One of the most famous scriptures in the entire Book of Mormon is 1 Ne 3:7 where Nephi tells his father that "I will go and do what the Lord commands ..." Here in 1 Ne 17:3 Nephi as narrator directly addresses his audience "and thus wee see..." to again make that point that God "provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them." Significantly, this statement is made once in the first set of three stories in chapters 3-7 and once here in the second set of three stories in chapters 16-18, reinforcing the idea that the two sets of stories should be read as two halves of a single story, and that both halves illustrate this point.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:14. Lehi and his family were wealthy city dwellers. They had servants to get and prepare food. Now they are in a situation where that have to hunt for necessity not recreation. Our lives can likewise change in a one moment. We could be in a tent scrounging for food. Would I be ready?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Spiritual food. Are we as excited to receive spiritual food as these people were to receive physical food?

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:9: Why does the Lord wait until only the night before to tell Lehi when they will leave?
  • 1 Ne 16:10: Why does he deliver the Liahona is such an unusual way?
    • Do Latter-day Saints have anything comparable to Liahona today?
  • 1 Ne 16:11: Why might Laman and Lemuel not complain at this departure, especially given its suddenness?
  • 1 Ne 16:12: How did they cross the river if there was no wood available at this point in the journey for making rafts or boats?
  • 1 Ne 16:13: Where did Nephi learn to become this precise with his navigating and directions? No tents, slept under stars, no fires to cook, why the urgency? Try to remember a time when Lord had you be so uncomfortable and for what purpose. Why the need to name the place?
  • 1 Ne 16:14: Was it the food or the families that was located in the wilderness? Will we always find food along the path or will we sometimes have to follow paths whose fruit is only found at the end?
  • 1 Ne 16:16: Were they blazing new trails or following the paths of their predecessors? The Lord does not want them seen by anyone that could take the news back to Jerusalem. So I think blazing new trails or less traveled trails to avoid other travelers or marauders.
  • 1 Ne 16:17: If the food had been plentiful on the trail, so that they could obtain what they needed each day, was this an attempt to store up food for a journey of several days or had the food suddenly become more scarce? I doubt they would hunt each day. If so when would they travel? Probably had been many days since last hunted.
  • 1 Ne 16:18: Could Nephi have done anything to prevent the breaking of his bow? If Nephi had said "my bow broke" that would indicate it wasn't his fault. But "I broke my bow" indicates he caused it to break. My bow today would be my employment which is what helps me get food for my family. We can lose our jobs from external actions or our own actions. Bad things happen to good people. Interesting that Laman and Lemuel not mad at themselves for keeping their bows strung all that time to lose their tension.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Why couldn't they set traps to catch the game that their broken bows were unable to reach?
    • Suggested answer: This is no small group. There are a lot of people. I don't think traps for small game would be sufficient to feed them all.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Nephi uses "they did suffer" meaning he did not suffer for lack of food. Did God bless him to not be hungry?
    • Suggested Answer: This may an example of reading the text too closely and thus finding things that are not really there. It is probably not fair to rely on Nephi's failure to say that he suffered as evidence that in fact he did not. Here Nephi uses "we" to mean he and his "brethren," and "they" to refer to "our families." At this point Nephi only has three brothers over the age of eight, so the brothers who went hunting with him likely included at least two out of Laman, Lemuel, and Sam. So if this choice of words really did mean that Nephi did not suffer, then it would also mean that neither did the brothers who went hunting with him, probably including at least either Laman or Lemuel. But in verse 20 Nephi tells us positively that Laman and Lemuel did both complain at this time about their sufferings and afflictions. And in verse 21 Nephi says that he was afflicted just like his brothers. In the end it is probably best not to read too much into an author's choice of a particular word, but instead to just look for the fair sense of the main points that appear to have been important to the author. As a further example, see 1 Ne 19:7 where Nephi chooses his words so poorly that he feels a need to correct himself. We all use imprecise language that usually does manage to accurately convey our main points, but that rarely holds up to such close reading. Nephi was an exemplary person and was often blessed, but we do not have a very strong basis for concluding that those blessings included not feeling hunger on this occasion, especially not when he then tells us that he was afflicted on this occasion, and not when this passage is compared to the many occasions on which Nephi does positively tell us that he was blessed in a particular manner.
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael didn’t murmur when they departed quickly (v. 10-11), but they do murmur now. What does that difference tell us? What does Lehi’s murmuring suggest?
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Seems like L&L and sons of Ishmael 1st just complaining in general. This verse suggests Lehi was first to murmur against God. Is it okay to complain about what happens in life as long as don't blame God? I think Job complained.
  • 1 Ne 16:21: Was there something in the climate that caused all of the bows to break down at the same time?
  • 1 Ne 16:22: Did Nephi have encouraging or reprimanding words for his brothers?
  • 1 Ne 16:23: For what kinds of reasons might Nephi have asked his father where he should go to hunt? Why just one arrow? Time? Faith it would only take one arrow? His bow was broken not his arrows, why not use those? When bows didn't work why didn't they proceed with sling and stone if they used them also to hunt big game? Nephi has received a lot of revelation on his own, why ask his Father to ask Lord? Why not ask himself? Probably same reason we ask new or recently activated members to pray, give talks, or give blessings. They need the spiritual experiences to develop greater faith.
  • 1 Ne 16:24: Did Nephi lecture and humble his father as much as he did with his brothers? How did Nephi know what to say that would humble them? The soul is = Spirit + body. What is "energy of my soul." ? Testimony? Faith?
  • 1 Ne 16:25: Did Nephi ever chasten the members of his family, or did he usually leave that up to the Lord and angels? Did Lehi hear audible voice or just in his mind? What is chastened? Yelled at? Made to feel guilty? 2 kinds of sorrow. Sorrow for getting caught and godly sorrow that brings to repentance.
  • 1 Ne 16:26: Why was the Lord so quick to answer Lehi's prayers, given the lack of faith he had demonstrated? God not like us He doesn't hold a grudge. The moment we turn to God He turns to us. Already chastened so why have to read scary things on Liahona? The Liahona only works when one has faith. Wouldn't work until Lehi had prayed, confessed sin, had godly sorrow and been forgiven. The other purpose to look at Liahona was to get others who have not yet been humbled to be able to read words, be scared, and repent.
  • 1 Ne 16:27: What things did the Liahona communicate to Lehi and his family that caused them to "fear and tremble exceedingly?" Wish I had a "ball" to tell me how I am doing or what I should be doing. Wonder why Nephi didn't quote what the ball said?
  • 1 Ne 16:28: It is relatively simple to see the Liahona as a metaphor for other things in our spiritual lives that “work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we . . . give unto them.” What are some of those things? Why is our spiritual life like that?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Nephi himself draws a lesson from the Liahona: “by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” Why might the Lord choose to work by small means? What are some of the small means in your own life that have brought about great ends?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Why did they get a God made object to guide them? Why don't we have it today? Answers: The quote, "A Prophet is without honor in his own country". Well more so in own family. Lehi needed Liahona so non-members and nonbelieving family members would continue the journey. Lehi did not have church magazines and conferences to draw inspiration from. We have so many more avenues to be prompted by God than Lehi had.
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Is this the first time that Nephi has gotten into a mountain by his own effort?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Why was Nephi directed to go “up into the top of the mountain” to slay beasts? Was that just where the animals were, or is there something else going on?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Since mountaintops are holy places, actual natural temples, is there something else going on here related to killing beasts on mountains/temples?
  • 1 Ne 16:31: Why is there a footnote here to Gen 9:3? Is this to indicate that somehow Nephi killing beasts on the mount is related to the LORD's covenant with Noah after the flood that allowed Noah and his posterity to eat wild animals?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Why did Laman and Lemuel allow Nephi to become the new provider for the extended family, rather than asserting their own dominance over the party?
    • Suggested answer: having Nephi do the work was dominance over him. He was doing the work of a servant.
  • 1 Ne 16:33: How was Nephi able to catch and carry enough food for everyone in the party to survive off of for "many days" of travel? Camels. Pack a lot of meat on a camel.
  • 1 Ne 16:34: Why does Nephi decline to say who did the burying?
  • 1 Ne 16:35: Do you think that when Nephi tells us that the daughters mourned exceedingly he means that they mourned excessively? What might excessive rather than “normal” mourning be? Are there any indicators in these verses that they mourned excessively?
  • 1 Ne 16:36: How did they realistically plan to reach Jerusalem if they couldn't even catch the food they needed to survive?
  • 1 Ne 16:37: Notice the strangeness of these events: Ishmael dies and his daughters mourn exceedingly (v. 34-35). Presumably that includes Nephi’s wife. In response, the husband of one of those wives, Laman, urges the husband of another, Lemuel, that they should kill Lehi, their own father. What motivates Laman’s plan?
  • 1 Ne 16:38: Of what do Laman and Lemuel accuse Nephi? What evidence do they have for their accusation?
  • 1 Ne 16:39: Was the Lord trying to make it obvious to everyone there that only the righteous members of the group would be blessed with the ability to obtain food?
  • 1 Ne 17:1: How did members of the group perceive the purposes of these afflictions?
  • 1 Ne 17:2: Compare the perspective given here with the perspective given in verses 20-21. What things are included that are the same, and which things are different? What do these differences and similarities suggest?
  • 1 Ne 17:3: If the Lord can't help them until after they keep the commandments, and yet his assistance is specifically designed to help them accomplish the commandments, then how much commandment keeping did these people do on their own and how much was possible because of divine assistance?
  • 1 Ne 17:4: How did these urban people manage to become totally self-sufficient, with the apparent exception of food delivered by the Lord, while cut off civilization for eight years?
  • 1 Ne 17:5: If they had survived eight years in the wilderness, why were they suddenly on the verge of perishing when they arrived at Bountiful?
  • 1 Ne 17:6: Did the Lord bring this group out of the wilderness and into Bountiful because over the eight years they had become more righteous, or was it because the Lord needed them to set up a new society in the promised land before they became much older?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:3. Anthony D. Perkins, "‘The Great and Wonderful Love’," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 76–78. Elder Perkins counsels us to place our burdens on Jesus Christ. "When you feel overwhelmed by expectations and challenges, do not fight the battle alone."
  • 1 Ne 17:5: Irreantum. Paul Hoskisson explores a South Semitic etymology for this name, explaining why Nephi gives both the transliteration and meaning of this name. Paul Hoskisson, with Brian Hauglid and John Gee, "What's in a Name? Irreantum", Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 11 (2002), pp. 90-93.

Notes[edit]

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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1 Ne 16:36-39

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 16 / Verses 16:9-17:6
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This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 16 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 16, the story of the land journey, consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 16 include:

  • Brass and steel. Nephi juxtaposes a steel object (Nephi's bow) whose great military strength is unable to save them with another object made of soft brass (the Liahona) that does have the power to save but because it conveys the word of the Lord.

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 16: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• the Liahona, leaving the Valley of Lemuel (16:9-16)
• Nephi's bow breaks (16:17-32)
• Ishmael dies (16:33-39)
• blessings in the wilderness and arrival in Bountiful (17:1-6)

1 Ne 16:9-16: Liahona and travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:10: Liahona and travel pattern. The Liahona could have been intended for Ishmael, his sons and daughters, and Zoram. They had not had visions or seen angels. The Liahona was an unexplainable physical God sent object that they could believe in. It proved Lehi was a prophet much like the Book of Mormon proves Joseph Smith Jr. was a prophet.
  • 1 Ne 16:15. No plan. No itinerary. Each day unsure where they would be, what would happen, who would be injured, who they would encounter, whether they would be successful in getting food or finding water. Talk about depending on the Lord.

1 Ne 16:17-32: Nephi's bow breaks[edit]

  • Nephi acts rather than than complaining and murmuring. Miracles often make up what we cannot do for ourselves rather than what we do not feel like doing for ourselves. Here Nephi showed faith that he would get food.
  • Here even Lehi murmurs, and Nephi shows his qualification to lead by being the one who brings the group back to reliance and faith upon the Lord. But still, Nephi does not usurp his father's place. He defers to his father's role as leader of the group by asking his father where he should go to find meat (16:23).

1 Ne 16:33-39: Death of Ishmael[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:35. Daughters of Ishmael had Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Laman and Lemuel to marry. So at least 3 of them were married to nonbelievers. Daughters of Lehi could have married Zoram or sons of Ishmael. When one doesn't believe in life after death one can be inconsolable. The sting of death would be ever present. Once started then they drawed upon every other thing that was making them miserable. Obviously they were adults. I do not see how they could be forced to follow the parents into wilderness. L&L could have stayed home and enjoyed their fathers riches he left behind. Well maybe not since Nephi killed Laban and his servants would attest to L&L's involvement. The fact they thought to go back to Jerusalem shows they didn't think it through very well.

1 Ne 17:1-6: Summary of eight years of travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:3: The Lord prepares a way. One of the most famous scriptures in the entire Book of Mormon is 1 Ne 3:7 where Nephi tells his father that "I will go and do what the Lord commands ..." Here in 1 Ne 17:3 Nephi as narrator directly addresses his audience "and thus wee see..." to again make that point that God "provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them." Significantly, this statement is made once in the first set of three stories in chapters 3-7 and once here in the second set of three stories in chapters 16-18, reinforcing the idea that the two sets of stories should be read as two halves of a single story, and that both halves illustrate this point.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:14. Lehi and his family were wealthy city dwellers. They had servants to get and prepare food. Now they are in a situation where that have to hunt for necessity not recreation. Our lives can likewise change in a one moment. We could be in a tent scrounging for food. Would I be ready?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Spiritual food. Are we as excited to receive spiritual food as these people were to receive physical food?

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:9: Why does the Lord wait until only the night before to tell Lehi when they will leave?
  • 1 Ne 16:10: Why does he deliver the Liahona is such an unusual way?
    • Do Latter-day Saints have anything comparable to Liahona today?
  • 1 Ne 16:11: Why might Laman and Lemuel not complain at this departure, especially given its suddenness?
  • 1 Ne 16:12: How did they cross the river if there was no wood available at this point in the journey for making rafts or boats?
  • 1 Ne 16:13: Where did Nephi learn to become this precise with his navigating and directions? No tents, slept under stars, no fires to cook, why the urgency? Try to remember a time when Lord had you be so uncomfortable and for what purpose. Why the need to name the place?
  • 1 Ne 16:14: Was it the food or the families that was located in the wilderness? Will we always find food along the path or will we sometimes have to follow paths whose fruit is only found at the end?
  • 1 Ne 16:16: Were they blazing new trails or following the paths of their predecessors? The Lord does not want them seen by anyone that could take the news back to Jerusalem. So I think blazing new trails or less traveled trails to avoid other travelers or marauders.
  • 1 Ne 16:17: If the food had been plentiful on the trail, so that they could obtain what they needed each day, was this an attempt to store up food for a journey of several days or had the food suddenly become more scarce? I doubt they would hunt each day. If so when would they travel? Probably had been many days since last hunted.
  • 1 Ne 16:18: Could Nephi have done anything to prevent the breaking of his bow? If Nephi had said "my bow broke" that would indicate it wasn't his fault. But "I broke my bow" indicates he caused it to break. My bow today would be my employment which is what helps me get food for my family. We can lose our jobs from external actions or our own actions. Bad things happen to good people. Interesting that Laman and Lemuel not mad at themselves for keeping their bows strung all that time to lose their tension.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Why couldn't they set traps to catch the game that their broken bows were unable to reach?
    • Suggested answer: This is no small group. There are a lot of people. I don't think traps for small game would be sufficient to feed them all.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Nephi uses "they did suffer" meaning he did not suffer for lack of food. Did God bless him to not be hungry?
    • Suggested Answer: This may an example of reading the text too closely and thus finding things that are not really there. It is probably not fair to rely on Nephi's failure to say that he suffered as evidence that in fact he did not. Here Nephi uses "we" to mean he and his "brethren," and "they" to refer to "our families." At this point Nephi only has three brothers over the age of eight, so the brothers who went hunting with him likely included at least two out of Laman, Lemuel, and Sam. So if this choice of words really did mean that Nephi did not suffer, then it would also mean that neither did the brothers who went hunting with him, probably including at least either Laman or Lemuel. But in verse 20 Nephi tells us positively that Laman and Lemuel did both complain at this time about their sufferings and afflictions. And in verse 21 Nephi says that he was afflicted just like his brothers. In the end it is probably best not to read too much into an author's choice of a particular word, but instead to just look for the fair sense of the main points that appear to have been important to the author. As a further example, see 1 Ne 19:7 where Nephi chooses his words so poorly that he feels a need to correct himself. We all use imprecise language that usually does manage to accurately convey our main points, but that rarely holds up to such close reading. Nephi was an exemplary person and was often blessed, but we do not have a very strong basis for concluding that those blessings included not feeling hunger on this occasion, especially not when he then tells us that he was afflicted on this occasion, and not when this passage is compared to the many occasions on which Nephi does positively tell us that he was blessed in a particular manner.
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael didn’t murmur when they departed quickly (v. 10-11), but they do murmur now. What does that difference tell us? What does Lehi’s murmuring suggest?
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Seems like L&L and sons of Ishmael 1st just complaining in general. This verse suggests Lehi was first to murmur against God. Is it okay to complain about what happens in life as long as don't blame God? I think Job complained.
  • 1 Ne 16:21: Was there something in the climate that caused all of the bows to break down at the same time?
  • 1 Ne 16:22: Did Nephi have encouraging or reprimanding words for his brothers?
  • 1 Ne 16:23: For what kinds of reasons might Nephi have asked his father where he should go to hunt? Why just one arrow? Time? Faith it would only take one arrow? His bow was broken not his arrows, why not use those? When bows didn't work why didn't they proceed with sling and stone if they used them also to hunt big game? Nephi has received a lot of revelation on his own, why ask his Father to ask Lord? Why not ask himself? Probably same reason we ask new or recently activated members to pray, give talks, or give blessings. They need the spiritual experiences to develop greater faith.
  • 1 Ne 16:24: Did Nephi lecture and humble his father as much as he did with his brothers? How did Nephi know what to say that would humble them? The soul is = Spirit + body. What is "energy of my soul." ? Testimony? Faith?
  • 1 Ne 16:25: Did Nephi ever chasten the members of his family, or did he usually leave that up to the Lord and angels? Did Lehi hear audible voice or just in his mind? What is chastened? Yelled at? Made to feel guilty? 2 kinds of sorrow. Sorrow for getting caught and godly sorrow that brings to repentance.
  • 1 Ne 16:26: Why was the Lord so quick to answer Lehi's prayers, given the lack of faith he had demonstrated? God not like us He doesn't hold a grudge. The moment we turn to God He turns to us. Already chastened so why have to read scary things on Liahona? The Liahona only works when one has faith. Wouldn't work until Lehi had prayed, confessed sin, had godly sorrow and been forgiven. The other purpose to look at Liahona was to get others who have not yet been humbled to be able to read words, be scared, and repent.
  • 1 Ne 16:27: What things did the Liahona communicate to Lehi and his family that caused them to "fear and tremble exceedingly?" Wish I had a "ball" to tell me how I am doing or what I should be doing. Wonder why Nephi didn't quote what the ball said?
  • 1 Ne 16:28: It is relatively simple to see the Liahona as a metaphor for other things in our spiritual lives that “work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we . . . give unto them.” What are some of those things? Why is our spiritual life like that?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Nephi himself draws a lesson from the Liahona: “by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” Why might the Lord choose to work by small means? What are some of the small means in your own life that have brought about great ends?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Why did they get a God made object to guide them? Why don't we have it today? Answers: The quote, "A Prophet is without honor in his own country". Well more so in own family. Lehi needed Liahona so non-members and nonbelieving family members would continue the journey. Lehi did not have church magazines and conferences to draw inspiration from. We have so many more avenues to be prompted by God than Lehi had.
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Is this the first time that Nephi has gotten into a mountain by his own effort?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Why was Nephi directed to go “up into the top of the mountain” to slay beasts? Was that just where the animals were, or is there something else going on?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Since mountaintops are holy places, actual natural temples, is there something else going on here related to killing beasts on mountains/temples?
  • 1 Ne 16:31: Why is there a footnote here to Gen 9:3? Is this to indicate that somehow Nephi killing beasts on the mount is related to the LORD's covenant with Noah after the flood that allowed Noah and his posterity to eat wild animals?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Why did Laman and Lemuel allow Nephi to become the new provider for the extended family, rather than asserting their own dominance over the party?
    • Suggested answer: having Nephi do the work was dominance over him. He was doing the work of a servant.
  • 1 Ne 16:33: How was Nephi able to catch and carry enough food for everyone in the party to survive off of for "many days" of travel? Camels. Pack a lot of meat on a camel.
  • 1 Ne 16:34: Why does Nephi decline to say who did the burying?
  • 1 Ne 16:35: Do you think that when Nephi tells us that the daughters mourned exceedingly he means that they mourned excessively? What might excessive rather than “normal” mourning be? Are there any indicators in these verses that they mourned excessively?
  • 1 Ne 16:36: How did they realistically plan to reach Jerusalem if they couldn't even catch the food they needed to survive?
  • 1 Ne 16:37: Notice the strangeness of these events: Ishmael dies and his daughters mourn exceedingly (v. 34-35). Presumably that includes Nephi’s wife. In response, the husband of one of those wives, Laman, urges the husband of another, Lemuel, that they should kill Lehi, their own father. What motivates Laman’s plan?
  • 1 Ne 16:38: Of what do Laman and Lemuel accuse Nephi? What evidence do they have for their accusation?
  • 1 Ne 16:39: Was the Lord trying to make it obvious to everyone there that only the righteous members of the group would be blessed with the ability to obtain food?
  • 1 Ne 17:1: How did members of the group perceive the purposes of these afflictions?
  • 1 Ne 17:2: Compare the perspective given here with the perspective given in verses 20-21. What things are included that are the same, and which things are different? What do these differences and similarities suggest?
  • 1 Ne 17:3: If the Lord can't help them until after they keep the commandments, and yet his assistance is specifically designed to help them accomplish the commandments, then how much commandment keeping did these people do on their own and how much was possible because of divine assistance?
  • 1 Ne 17:4: How did these urban people manage to become totally self-sufficient, with the apparent exception of food delivered by the Lord, while cut off civilization for eight years?
  • 1 Ne 17:5: If they had survived eight years in the wilderness, why were they suddenly on the verge of perishing when they arrived at Bountiful?
  • 1 Ne 17:6: Did the Lord bring this group out of the wilderness and into Bountiful because over the eight years they had become more righteous, or was it because the Lord needed them to set up a new society in the promised land before they became much older?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:3. Anthony D. Perkins, "‘The Great and Wonderful Love’," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 76–78. Elder Perkins counsels us to place our burdens on Jesus Christ. "When you feel overwhelmed by expectations and challenges, do not fight the battle alone."
  • 1 Ne 17:5: Irreantum. Paul Hoskisson explores a South Semitic etymology for this name, explaining why Nephi gives both the transliteration and meaning of this name. Paul Hoskisson, with Brian Hauglid and John Gee, "What's in a Name? Irreantum", Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 11 (2002), pp. 90-93.

Notes[edit]

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: Chapters 16-18                      Next page: Chapter 17


First Nephi 17

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 17 / Verses 17:7-18:4
Previous page: Chapter 16                      Next page: Chapter 18


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 17 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 17, the story of building the boat, consists of five major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 17 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 17: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• Nephi instructed to build a boat (17:7-16)
• brothers complain (17:17-22)
• Nephi's exhortation (17:23-47)
• brothers confounded (17:48-55)
• the boat is built (18:1-4)

1 Ne 17:7-16: Nephi instructed to build a boat[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:13-14: Recognizing the Lord's hand. The Lord stresses that Nephi will come to know that the Lord had led Nephi and his people to the promised land. It is interesting that the Lord seems to desire not just that his people be delivered but that they realize that it is by his hand that it happens. The Lord follows this pattern in other dealings with his people--such as in Exodus 3, where the Lord stresses the importance of letting Pharaoh and the other Israelites know that it is by his hand and authority that Moses comes to deliver them. Later, in Exodus 20:5 the Lord goes so far as to say he is a "jealous God." In modern times we are commanded to "confess his hand in all things" (D&C 59:21). It appears to be important doctrine to recognize the Lord's hand in good things that happen--and in turn the importance of doing good in the name of the Lord. Some Christian sects take this doctrine to the extreme of arguing that morality does not count unless done as an act of faith--in the name of the Lord (see, e.g., The Deadly Dangers of Moralism). Such a doctrine seems inconsistent with scriptural passages where the Lord indicates he will bless non-believing people for the commandments they do keep (see, e.g., Jacob 3:5-6). That said, it seems obvious that to take the next step beyond being just a moral people to being the Lord's covenant people requires an actual relationship with him. Such a relationship in turn requires knowledge of God and what he has done and will do for us.

1 Ne 17:17-22: Laman and Lemuel complain[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:21. Verse 21 shows what damage can happen from looking back. Luke 9:62 reminds us that we should not look back once we have made a righteous choice.
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. This term appears repeatedly in the Old Testament (see, e.g., Deut 4:1), where it is a translation of two words. Choq is the word translated as "statute." It means an ordinance, limit, boundary enactment, decree, ordinance specific decree law in general enactments, or civil enactments prescribed by God. It is derived from the word chaqaq, which means to carve, cut, or inscribe. Mishpat is the word translated as "judgment." It refers to the act of deciding a legal case, a court, litigation, a judicial decision or right and justice. It is derived from the word shaphat which is a verb meaning to govern or judge. The phrase "statutes and judgments" also appears elsewhere in the Book of Mormon (see, e.g., 2 Ne 1:16).
  • 1 Ne 17:22-24. These verses set up the extended discourse by Nephi that follows. In verse 22 Nephi's brothers insist that the people at Jerusalem were "a righteous people" because they "kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his comandments, according to the law of Moses." One way of looking at this confrontation and others between Nephi and his brothers is to see it as a contest between dueling approaches to reading the scriptures. Notice that Laman and Lemuel are not irreligious. They appeal to scripture, but do so in a particular way, adopting a self-consciously legal approach to them. They refer to Moses, but only as a lawgiver and their focus is on "the statutes and judgements" of that law. Nephi responds by also invoking Moses, but in a very different way, namely as a prophet who led his people from bondage to a promised land. Notice that Nephi's reading of the Moses story implicitly places himself and his brothers within the narrative. In doing so, he recapitulates an earlier confrontation over interpretation (see 1 Ne 15:5 ), but this time in a much more elaborate manner.
  • 1 Ne 17:22. This verse shows Laman's understanding of what it means to be righteous. He says, "And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people;". So, to him, to be righteous means to keep the statutes and judgments, and all the commandments of the Lord, according to the law of Moses. To Laman, keeping the behavioral laws passed down to them, like how many steps you can take on the Sabbath, was the definition of righteousness. "Keep the commandments" meant to be obedient to the past commandments of God, given to the prophets of old.
Nephi's definition of righteousness is in sharp contrast to Laman's. Everything Nephi says and does in this chapter reveals Nephi's 3-part definition -- a righteous person...
  • Is able to receive directives from God by revelation,
  • Believes that God will give them the power to bring them about whatever they are commanded, and
  • Is determined to act on God's here-and-now directives, no matter how far-fetched they seem.
Twice in this chapter Nephi provides an example of a righteous person, once in the front and once at the end, God commands Nephi personally to do something, and he does it. To Nephi, "keep the commandments" doesn't only mean obeying the commands of God given through past prophets (Laman's view), but extends beyond that to include the commandments God gives him personally in the present.

1 Ne 17:23-47: Nephi's exhortation[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:26-30. Notice that Nephi focuses in on three elements in this recounting of Moses's leading the children of Israel:
  • Crossing the Red Sea
  • Manna and water in the wilderness
  • Murmurring against the prophet
There seem to be clear analogs in the experience of the Lehite party. They now sit on the shore of a sea that the Lord has commanded them to cross. When Nephi broke his bow, the Lord provided the party with a way to get food in the wilderness. Laman and Lemuel have murmurred against Lehi. It is also possible that the reference to the pillar of fire that led the Children of Israel in the desert is also a reference to the pillar of fire that first appeared to Lehi ( 1 Ne 1:6 ) thus launching the family's exodus into the wilderness.
  • 1 Ne 17:30-42. Verses 37 & 38 appear to be the center of a thematic chiasm that looks like this:
30a - God leads his people to the promised land
31  - God's word
  30b - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
    35 - God favors/loves the righteous
    35 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
      36 - The Lord and the Earth
        37 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
        38 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
      39 - The Lord and the Earth
    40 - God favors/loves the righteous
    41 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
  42a - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
42b - God leads his people to the promised land
45+ - God's word
Nephi is trying here to get Laman to see the truth, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had become wicked and that the Lord was leading Lehi's family away because they were righteous. He emphasizes the ideas in 37 and 38 to try to persuade Laman that this is God's regular mode of operation - to lead out the righteous and then destroy the wicked. It will be interesting to see if this pattern is repeated in modern Israel's "Jerusalem" today.
  • 1 Ne 17:35: Ripe in iniquity. Nephi says here that the Israelites who entered the land of Canaan were favored over the previous inhabitants because those previous inhabitants were ripe in iniquity. This principle of the wicked being destroyed when they become ripe in iniquity, and the meaning of this term, are explored in the discussion of Hel 13:14.
  • It is important to note that Nephi did not tell his brethren that they "could not hear his words." Instead he was teaching them that spiritual messages most often come through feelings.
  • The Lord does not use an exotic method to send his children messages. He uses a medium that is already incredibly common to them. Because humans are creatures of emotion, the Lord's use of feelings to send messages to his children maximizes the number of people who will be equipped to receive these messages.
  • Because the Lord speaks to us through our feelings, we must ever be on guard to distinguish between our own emotions and feelings, one the one hand, and the feelings that carry the messages from our Heavenly Father on the other. These two things work through nearly the same channels and be easily mistaken for one another. The ability to figure out which feeling is which may be related to the gift of discernment. As we are obedient and perform the Lord's work here on earth, our capacity to distinguish between these two sources of feelings will be increased.
  • If we notice that the Lord seems to be sending us less messages, we should check ourselves and determine whether we have become the limiting factor. It may very well be that we have become too casual in our relationship with the Lord. To remedy this situation, we need to recommit to being obedient, loving, and serving.
  • Negativity in our thoughts, words, and actions can diminish the number of messages that we receive from the Lord. Dwelling on the negative in life can distort our natural feelings. We can find ourselves becoming cynical about situations, critical of others, and that everyone and everything falls short of our expectations. As we do so, we become emotionally crippled. We forget to find, or become unable to notice, the elements of good in everyone and everything. Once our feelings have become so one-sided, we shut ourselves out from the positive feelings that the Lord wants to send us. Should we be surprised to find it hard to communicate with a God who is the source of all goodness if we have convinced ourselves that his children and creation are full of faults?
  • In this verse, Nephi teaches that the Lord sends us messages made up of words as well as of feelings. Just like spiritual feelings are designed to be similar to our own emotions, these words from heaven are adapted to our own vocabulary. This means the Lord will send words to our minds that come from our own language. The words will be recognizable, in other words, because they are words with which we are already familiar.
  • Even though the Lord sends us words that we already know, it is the combination of those words that will be unique to the Lord. He will form the words he sends us into phrases and thoughts that we had not anticipated. Although he may bring things to our remembrance that we already knew, we will not have been thinking of these things at the time he sparked our memory. On other occasions, the Lord will reveal something new to us that is understandable because it is composed of words that we already know.
  • Elder B. H. Roberts used to say that the Spirit cannot draw upon an empty well. What this means is that the Spirit is limited in what it can reveal to us if we have a very small vocabulary and little schooling. As we gain an education and increase the number of words that we know, there is the potential that the Lord can send us more detailed messages. As our language and learning expand, the Lord can reveal to us a great number of connections between and patterns within the pieces of knowledge we have already obtained. Before we receive these revelations, however, these connections and patterns will not be obvious to us. It takes the influence of the Spirit to make us see what was always before our eyes or to understand what was comprehensible but never before comprehended.
  • The Lord likely wanted to send the same kinds of messages to Nephi and his brethren. They were, after all, in the same situation with needing to build a ship and to sail to the promised land. However, Nephi's ability to hearken to the Lord qualified him to receive more messages than his brethren. Like Nephi and his brethren, we may find ourselves in situations, like sacrament meetings, where just about everyone has the same ability to hear the same message with their physical ears. However, despite this common experience, there will likely be vast differences in the amount and types of spiritual impressions that each person in the congregation receives. Some of this revelation may be the same for most or all of the people in attendance, such as spiritual verification that what the speaker has said is true, but the rest of the revelation may be adapted to the needs and abilities of the individuals in the audience. Just as their were similarities and differences in the revelations received by Nephi and other members of his family, there can be unifying and personalized revelations received by us and the members of our wards.
  • Nephi teaches here that it is possible for people to reach the point where they are "past feeling" and can no longer detect the "still small voice." We should be aware of the things in our lives that dull our spiritual sensitivities and weaken our capacity to receives spiritual impressions through our feelings. In the world people talk about individuals who have suppressed, desensitized, or lost their conscience. This is an approximation of what Nephi is talking about. The result is that these individuals no longer feel a moral obligation to treat others with respect. The corollary is that love from another person may or may not touch the hearts of these individuals. It all depends on the extent to which these individuals have become "past feeling."
  • The Lord does not stop trying to talk to his children once they become "past feeling." He will, if necessary, use the language of physical force ("the voice of thunder") to get our attention. This switching on the Lord's part, from one mode of communication to another, is actually a demonstration of his mercy for his children. Rather than become offended that we have stopped listening to the still small voice, the Lord patiently and lovingly finds other channels through which to obtain our attention. He is slow to give up on us, even if we are quick to stop listening to him.
  • People are foolish and arrogant if they think their inability to hear and feel messages from the Lord is somehow proof that God no longer speaks to his children. These individuals are the ones who have broken the lines of communication. The Lord always stands ready to communicate to his children. In fact, the blame is entirely upon these individuals, rather than the Lord, because he has already made attempts to send messages to them, just like Laman and Lemuel received an angel, but they turned a deaf ear to these feelings and tuned out the Lord's voice to them.

1 Ne 17:48-55: Laman and Lemuel confounded[edit]

1 Ne 18:1-4: The boat is completed[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:7: What is the significance of prefacing, in the Old Testament way, this command with the word "Arise"?
  • 1 Ne 17:8: What precedents were there in scripture, that Nephi would have been familiar with, for building ships that were approved, let alone designed, by the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:9: In chapter 16, Nephi built a bow and asked his father where he should go to hunt. Here, he asks the Lord where he should go to find materials for the boat he is to build. Is that parallel instructive? What does this show us about Nephi? Does it suggest something for us?
  • 1 Ne 17:10: Was Nephi told, as well as shown, the exact location of the ore?
  • 1 Ne 17:11: Wouldn't Nephi have needed an oven or a catalyst, besides just blowing air, for super-hot fires that would make the ore molten?
  • 1 Ne 17:12: Were they allowed to build intense fires now that they were far removed from other societies who might notice their smoke?
  • 1 Ne 17:13: Was this a renewal or remaking of covenants?
  • 1 Ne 17:14: What does the Lord mean when he says “After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God"? Doesn’t Nephi already know that?
  • 1 Ne 17:15: Nephi begins this verse with “wherefore.” In other words, what follows is a consequence of what preceded: Nephi strove to keep the commandments because the Lord promised that after arriving in the promised land he would know that the Lord is God, that the Lord delivered them, and that he brought them out of Jerusalem. How does that promise motivate Nephi’s striving for obedience?
  • 1 Ne 17:16: Were these ordinary tools or were they, like the ship, divinely designed?
  • 1 Ne 17:17: Was Nephi reluctant to share his ship building plans with his brothers or did he hope they would come around to believing in the plan once they saw his progress?
  • 1 Ne 17:18: In what circumstances did Laman and Lemuel blame the Lord for their misfortunes, rather than members of their immediate family?
  • 1 Ne 17:20: Is the claim that Nephi is like his father the only truth embedded in this accusation, or did Laman and Lemuel accurately represent the feelings of at least some of the young mothers in this group?
  • 1 Ne 17:21: Were Laman and Lemuel so shallow as to think that their pursuit of materialism could provide all of the happiness they wanted and needed in life?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Nephi’s brothers say that they know that the people of Jerusalem were righteous because they kept the law of Moses. Were they wrong about that, or is their standard of righteousness the problem?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. Does anyone have any insight into the meaning of this phrase? Can you point me toward sources for a better sense of the meaning of "statutes and judgments" in the Old Testament? The definitions that I added here are from an online version of Strong's, but I suspect that there is more to this phrase than that. Are there any good online sources for this sort of thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:23: Nephi responds to their complaints by asking them to remember the Lord’s dealing with Moses and Israel. (Remembrance is a major theme in the Book of Mormon.) How will that remembrance answer their complaints?
  • 1 Ne 17:24: To what extent does Nephi see himself as a Moses for the group he is leading to the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 17:25: Nephi seems to be comparing the exodus of the Lehi party from Jerusalem with the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Does he mean to equate the experience of Lehi's family in Jerusalem with the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt? If so, in what way was Lehi's family in bondage in Jerusalem?
  • 1 Ne 17:26: Was Nephi saying they had been taught these stories or that they had a testimony of what happened back then?
  • 1 Ne 17:27: What is Nephi signaling to his brothers with his use of the word "but"?
  • 1 Ne 17:28: Would it be more accurate for Nephi to say "ye have heard"?
  • 1 Ne 17:30: Why is the word "Redeemer" absent from the writings of Moses?
  • 1 Ne 17:31: What does this verse mean by “there was not anything done save it was by his word"? What things is Nephi talking about, what the children of Israel did or what happened to them? What does “by his word” mean in this context?
  • 1 Ne 17:32: Was this the only version of the settlement of Canaan story that Nephi had ever heard?
  • 1 Ne 17:33: How can Nephi make such a sweeping and unfavorable judgment of the non-Jewish people who were in Canaan, when the Book of Mormon teaches that there must have been enough righteous individuals among the Canaanites for the Lord to deliver scripture to them and all other "nations of the earth" ([2 Ne 29:7)?
  • 1 Ne 17:34: Is Nephi hinting at the possibility that Jews did not have a monopoly on being the Lord's chosen people, that it was possible for righteous non-Jews to become "choice" in the eyes of the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:35: What does it mean to esteem (to value?) all flesh as one but to favor the righteous? How do esteem and favor differ?
  • 1 Ne 17:37: Does he wait longer to destroy wicked nations in this, the modern age, than he did in ancient times?
  • 1 Ne 17:38: Are some lands inherently more precious than others or is it the degree of righteousness or wickedness of the people living upon them that largely determines the worth of the land?
  • 1 Ne 17:39: What is the function of a footstool?
  • 1 Ne 17:40: How does Nephi explain Israel’s salvation? Is it because Israel was worthy of salvation? What does it mean to say that the Lord remembers his covenants? What does Nephi’s teaching in this verse suggest about us today? about our children?
  • 1 Ne 17:41: Are chastening and straitening the same thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:42: Why doesn't Nephi distinguish between generations who were wicked and those who were more righteous?
  • 1 Ne 17:43: What explanation would Nephi have given for the preservation of these few?
  • 1 Ne 17:45: Does this verse imply that the "still small voice" speaks without words, at least in the audible sense?
  • 1 Ne 17:46: Why does Nephi mix prophesied certainties with statements of capability?
  • 1 Ne 17:47: In the Old Testament, anguish is what sinners feel. After Christ comes, sorrow is what his disciples feel for the sins of the world. Is Nephi feeling both of these emotions?
  • 1 Ne 17:48: What does Nephi mean when he says the power of God is consuming his flesh? Is he echoing Old Testament passages that talk about sacrifices where divine fire consumes the flesh of the animal?
  • 1 Ne 17:49: Why is the word "labor"--which is found here and throughout the restoration scriptures--absent from the Bible?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Why doesn't Nephi say that whatever the Lord commands will "happen"?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Who or what is performing the action when Nephi says "it would be done"?
  • 1 Ne 17:51: What does vs. 51 tell us about God's willingness to instruct us in "mundane" tasks? Can we get similarly detailed instructions for the things God has commanded us to do?
  • 1 Ne 17:52: If Nephi's brothers were "past feeling," then what were they experiencing when the Spirit powerfully "wrought upon them"?
  • 1 Ne 17:53: Is the promise that Laman and Lemuel would "not wither" proof that they had suddenly started repenting?
  • 1 Ne 17:54: How should we interpret Nephi's use of physical force against his brothers in light of modern LDS instructions not to exercise dominion through compulsory means(D&C 121:37)?
  • 1 Ne 17:55: Why did Laman and Lemuel confess the hand of the Lord and then seemingly immediately attribute the divine intervention to their brother Nephi?
  • 1 Ne 18:1: Why didn't Nephi make a record of the ship building plans that he could refer back to as needed? Was the Lord providing feedback to Nephi's neophyte attempts at ship building?
  • 1 Ne 18:2: Was the boat designed to follow the laws of physics?
  • 1 Ne 18:3: Did these "great things" that Nephi beheld after mountain-top prayer pertain only to ship building? Or is it likely that Nephi's diligence was rewarded with even greater knowledge?
  • 1 Ne 18:4: What kinds of divinely-inspired workmanship in the world today can still inspire humility in the hearts of the children of men? To what degree is Alma's claim still applicable that all things upon the face of the earth are sufficient signs to turn people into believers (see Alma 30:44)?

Resources[edit]

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. →

Notes[edit]

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: Chapter 16                      Next page: Chapter 18

1 Ne 17:1-5

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 16 / Verses 16:9-17:6
Previous page: Chapters 16-18                      Next page: Chapter 17


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 16 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 16, the story of the land journey, consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 16 include:

  • Brass and steel. Nephi juxtaposes a steel object (Nephi's bow) whose great military strength is unable to save them with another object made of soft brass (the Liahona) that does have the power to save but because it conveys the word of the Lord.

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 16: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• the Liahona, leaving the Valley of Lemuel (16:9-16)
• Nephi's bow breaks (16:17-32)
• Ishmael dies (16:33-39)
• blessings in the wilderness and arrival in Bountiful (17:1-6)

1 Ne 16:9-16: Liahona and travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:10: Liahona and travel pattern. The Liahona could have been intended for Ishmael, his sons and daughters, and Zoram. They had not had visions or seen angels. The Liahona was an unexplainable physical God sent object that they could believe in. It proved Lehi was a prophet much like the Book of Mormon proves Joseph Smith Jr. was a prophet.
  • 1 Ne 16:15. No plan. No itinerary. Each day unsure where they would be, what would happen, who would be injured, who they would encounter, whether they would be successful in getting food or finding water. Talk about depending on the Lord.

1 Ne 16:17-32: Nephi's bow breaks[edit]

  • Nephi acts rather than than complaining and murmuring. Miracles often make up what we cannot do for ourselves rather than what we do not feel like doing for ourselves. Here Nephi showed faith that he would get food.
  • Here even Lehi murmurs, and Nephi shows his qualification to lead by being the one who brings the group back to reliance and faith upon the Lord. But still, Nephi does not usurp his father's place. He defers to his father's role as leader of the group by asking his father where he should go to find meat (16:23).

1 Ne 16:33-39: Death of Ishmael[edit]

  • 1 Ne 16:35. Daughters of Ishmael had Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Laman and Lemuel to marry. So at least 3 of them were married to nonbelievers. Daughters of Lehi could have married Zoram or sons of Ishmael. When one doesn't believe in life after death one can be inconsolable. The sting of death would be ever present. Once started then they drawed upon every other thing that was making them miserable. Obviously they were adults. I do not see how they could be forced to follow the parents into wilderness. L&L could have stayed home and enjoyed their fathers riches he left behind. Well maybe not since Nephi killed Laban and his servants would attest to L&L's involvement. The fact they thought to go back to Jerusalem shows they didn't think it through very well.

1 Ne 17:1-6: Summary of eight years of travel[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:3: The Lord prepares a way. One of the most famous scriptures in the entire Book of Mormon is 1 Ne 3:7 where Nephi tells his father that "I will go and do what the Lord commands ..." Here in 1 Ne 17:3 Nephi as narrator directly addresses his audience "and thus wee see..." to again make that point that God "provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them." Significantly, this statement is made once in the first set of three stories in chapters 3-7 and once here in the second set of three stories in chapters 16-18, reinforcing the idea that the two sets of stories should be read as two halves of a single story, and that both halves illustrate this point.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:14. Lehi and his family were wealthy city dwellers. They had servants to get and prepare food. Now they are in a situation where that have to hunt for necessity not recreation. Our lives can likewise change in a one moment. We could be in a tent scrounging for food. Would I be ready?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Spiritual food. Are we as excited to receive spiritual food as these people were to receive physical food?

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. →

  • 1 Ne 16:9: Why does the Lord wait until only the night before to tell Lehi when they will leave?
  • 1 Ne 16:10: Why does he deliver the Liahona is such an unusual way?
    • Do Latter-day Saints have anything comparable to Liahona today?
  • 1 Ne 16:11: Why might Laman and Lemuel not complain at this departure, especially given its suddenness?
  • 1 Ne 16:12: How did they cross the river if there was no wood available at this point in the journey for making rafts or boats?
  • 1 Ne 16:13: Where did Nephi learn to become this precise with his navigating and directions? No tents, slept under stars, no fires to cook, why the urgency? Try to remember a time when Lord had you be so uncomfortable and for what purpose. Why the need to name the place?
  • 1 Ne 16:14: Was it the food or the families that was located in the wilderness? Will we always find food along the path or will we sometimes have to follow paths whose fruit is only found at the end?
  • 1 Ne 16:16: Were they blazing new trails or following the paths of their predecessors? The Lord does not want them seen by anyone that could take the news back to Jerusalem. So I think blazing new trails or less traveled trails to avoid other travelers or marauders.
  • 1 Ne 16:17: If the food had been plentiful on the trail, so that they could obtain what they needed each day, was this an attempt to store up food for a journey of several days or had the food suddenly become more scarce? I doubt they would hunt each day. If so when would they travel? Probably had been many days since last hunted.
  • 1 Ne 16:18: Could Nephi have done anything to prevent the breaking of his bow? If Nephi had said "my bow broke" that would indicate it wasn't his fault. But "I broke my bow" indicates he caused it to break. My bow today would be my employment which is what helps me get food for my family. We can lose our jobs from external actions or our own actions. Bad things happen to good people. Interesting that Laman and Lemuel not mad at themselves for keeping their bows strung all that time to lose their tension.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Why couldn't they set traps to catch the game that their broken bows were unable to reach?
    • Suggested answer: This is no small group. There are a lot of people. I don't think traps for small game would be sufficient to feed them all.
  • 1 Ne 16:19: Nephi uses "they did suffer" meaning he did not suffer for lack of food. Did God bless him to not be hungry?
    • Suggested Answer: This may an example of reading the text too closely and thus finding things that are not really there. It is probably not fair to rely on Nephi's failure to say that he suffered as evidence that in fact he did not. Here Nephi uses "we" to mean he and his "brethren," and "they" to refer to "our families." At this point Nephi only has three brothers over the age of eight, so the brothers who went hunting with him likely included at least two out of Laman, Lemuel, and Sam. So if this choice of words really did mean that Nephi did not suffer, then it would also mean that neither did the brothers who went hunting with him, probably including at least either Laman or Lemuel. But in verse 20 Nephi tells us positively that Laman and Lemuel did both complain at this time about their sufferings and afflictions. And in verse 21 Nephi says that he was afflicted just like his brothers. In the end it is probably best not to read too much into an author's choice of a particular word, but instead to just look for the fair sense of the main points that appear to have been important to the author. As a further example, see 1 Ne 19:7 where Nephi chooses his words so poorly that he feels a need to correct himself. We all use imprecise language that usually does manage to accurately convey our main points, but that rarely holds up to such close reading. Nephi was an exemplary person and was often blessed, but we do not have a very strong basis for concluding that those blessings included not feeling hunger on this occasion, especially not when he then tells us that he was afflicted on this occasion, and not when this passage is compared to the many occasions on which Nephi does positively tell us that he was blessed in a particular manner.
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael didn’t murmur when they departed quickly (v. 10-11), but they do murmur now. What does that difference tell us? What does Lehi’s murmuring suggest?
  • 1 Ne 16:20: Seems like L&L and sons of Ishmael 1st just complaining in general. This verse suggests Lehi was first to murmur against God. Is it okay to complain about what happens in life as long as don't blame God? I think Job complained.
  • 1 Ne 16:21: Was there something in the climate that caused all of the bows to break down at the same time?
  • 1 Ne 16:22: Did Nephi have encouraging or reprimanding words for his brothers?
  • 1 Ne 16:23: For what kinds of reasons might Nephi have asked his father where he should go to hunt? Why just one arrow? Time? Faith it would only take one arrow? His bow was broken not his arrows, why not use those? When bows didn't work why didn't they proceed with sling and stone if they used them also to hunt big game? Nephi has received a lot of revelation on his own, why ask his Father to ask Lord? Why not ask himself? Probably same reason we ask new or recently activated members to pray, give talks, or give blessings. They need the spiritual experiences to develop greater faith.
  • 1 Ne 16:24: Did Nephi lecture and humble his father as much as he did with his brothers? How did Nephi know what to say that would humble them? The soul is = Spirit + body. What is "energy of my soul." ? Testimony? Faith?
  • 1 Ne 16:25: Did Nephi ever chasten the members of his family, or did he usually leave that up to the Lord and angels? Did Lehi hear audible voice or just in his mind? What is chastened? Yelled at? Made to feel guilty? 2 kinds of sorrow. Sorrow for getting caught and godly sorrow that brings to repentance.
  • 1 Ne 16:26: Why was the Lord so quick to answer Lehi's prayers, given the lack of faith he had demonstrated? God not like us He doesn't hold a grudge. The moment we turn to God He turns to us. Already chastened so why have to read scary things on Liahona? The Liahona only works when one has faith. Wouldn't work until Lehi had prayed, confessed sin, had godly sorrow and been forgiven. The other purpose to look at Liahona was to get others who have not yet been humbled to be able to read words, be scared, and repent.
  • 1 Ne 16:27: What things did the Liahona communicate to Lehi and his family that caused them to "fear and tremble exceedingly?" Wish I had a "ball" to tell me how I am doing or what I should be doing. Wonder why Nephi didn't quote what the ball said?
  • 1 Ne 16:28: It is relatively simple to see the Liahona as a metaphor for other things in our spiritual lives that “work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we . . . give unto them.” What are some of those things? Why is our spiritual life like that?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Nephi himself draws a lesson from the Liahona: “by small means the Lord can bring about great things.” Why might the Lord choose to work by small means? What are some of the small means in your own life that have brought about great ends?
  • 1 Ne 16:29: Why did they get a God made object to guide them? Why don't we have it today? Answers: The quote, "A Prophet is without honor in his own country". Well more so in own family. Lehi needed Liahona so non-members and nonbelieving family members would continue the journey. Lehi did not have church magazines and conferences to draw inspiration from. We have so many more avenues to be prompted by God than Lehi had.
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Is this the first time that Nephi has gotten into a mountain by his own effort?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Why was Nephi directed to go “up into the top of the mountain” to slay beasts? Was that just where the animals were, or is there something else going on?
  • 1 Ne 16:30: Since mountaintops are holy places, actual natural temples, is there something else going on here related to killing beasts on mountains/temples?
  • 1 Ne 16:31: Why is there a footnote here to Gen 9:3? Is this to indicate that somehow Nephi killing beasts on the mount is related to the LORD's covenant with Noah after the flood that allowed Noah and his posterity to eat wild animals?
  • 1 Ne 16:32: Why did Laman and Lemuel allow Nephi to become the new provider for the extended family, rather than asserting their own dominance over the party?
    • Suggested answer: having Nephi do the work was dominance over him. He was doing the work of a servant.
  • 1 Ne 16:33: How was Nephi able to catch and carry enough food for everyone in the party to survive off of for "many days" of travel? Camels. Pack a lot of meat on a camel.
  • 1 Ne 16:34: Why does Nephi decline to say who did the burying?
  • 1 Ne 16:35: Do you think that when Nephi tells us that the daughters mourned exceedingly he means that they mourned excessively? What might excessive rather than “normal” mourning be? Are there any indicators in these verses that they mourned excessively?
  • 1 Ne 16:36: How did they realistically plan to reach Jerusalem if they couldn't even catch the food they needed to survive?
  • 1 Ne 16:37: Notice the strangeness of these events: Ishmael dies and his daughters mourn exceedingly (v. 34-35). Presumably that includes Nephi’s wife. In response, the husband of one of those wives, Laman, urges the husband of another, Lemuel, that they should kill Lehi, their own father. What motivates Laman’s plan?
  • 1 Ne 16:38: Of what do Laman and Lemuel accuse Nephi? What evidence do they have for their accusation?
  • 1 Ne 16:39: Was the Lord trying to make it obvious to everyone there that only the righteous members of the group would be blessed with the ability to obtain food?
  • 1 Ne 17:1: How did members of the group perceive the purposes of these afflictions?
  • 1 Ne 17:2: Compare the perspective given here with the perspective given in verses 20-21. What things are included that are the same, and which things are different? What do these differences and similarities suggest?
  • 1 Ne 17:3: If the Lord can't help them until after they keep the commandments, and yet his assistance is specifically designed to help them accomplish the commandments, then how much commandment keeping did these people do on their own and how much was possible because of divine assistance?
  • 1 Ne 17:4: How did these urban people manage to become totally self-sufficient, with the apparent exception of food delivered by the Lord, while cut off civilization for eight years?
  • 1 Ne 17:5: If they had survived eight years in the wilderness, why were they suddenly on the verge of perishing when they arrived at Bountiful?
  • 1 Ne 17:6: Did the Lord bring this group out of the wilderness and into Bountiful because over the eight years they had become more righteous, or was it because the Lord needed them to set up a new society in the promised land before they became much older?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:3. Anthony D. Perkins, "‘The Great and Wonderful Love’," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 76–78. Elder Perkins counsels us to place our burdens on Jesus Christ. "When you feel overwhelmed by expectations and challenges, do not fight the battle alone."
  • 1 Ne 17:5: Irreantum. Paul Hoskisson explores a South Semitic etymology for this name, explaining why Nephi gives both the transliteration and meaning of this name. Paul Hoskisson, with Brian Hauglid and John Gee, "What's in a Name? Irreantum", Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 11 (2002), pp. 90-93.

Notes[edit]

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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1 Ne 17:6-10

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Summary[edit]

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Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 17 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 17, the story of building the boat, consists of five major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 17 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 17: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• Nephi instructed to build a boat (17:7-16)
• brothers complain (17:17-22)
• Nephi's exhortation (17:23-47)
• brothers confounded (17:48-55)
• the boat is built (18:1-4)

1 Ne 17:7-16: Nephi instructed to build a boat[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:13-14: Recognizing the Lord's hand. The Lord stresses that Nephi will come to know that the Lord had led Nephi and his people to the promised land. It is interesting that the Lord seems to desire not just that his people be delivered but that they realize that it is by his hand that it happens. The Lord follows this pattern in other dealings with his people--such as in Exodus 3, where the Lord stresses the importance of letting Pharaoh and the other Israelites know that it is by his hand and authority that Moses comes to deliver them. Later, in Exodus 20:5 the Lord goes so far as to say he is a "jealous God." In modern times we are commanded to "confess his hand in all things" (D&C 59:21). It appears to be important doctrine to recognize the Lord's hand in good things that happen--and in turn the importance of doing good in the name of the Lord. Some Christian sects take this doctrine to the extreme of arguing that morality does not count unless done as an act of faith--in the name of the Lord (see, e.g., The Deadly Dangers of Moralism). Such a doctrine seems inconsistent with scriptural passages where the Lord indicates he will bless non-believing people for the commandments they do keep (see, e.g., Jacob 3:5-6). That said, it seems obvious that to take the next step beyond being just a moral people to being the Lord's covenant people requires an actual relationship with him. Such a relationship in turn requires knowledge of God and what he has done and will do for us.

1 Ne 17:17-22: Laman and Lemuel complain[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:21. Verse 21 shows what damage can happen from looking back. Luke 9:62 reminds us that we should not look back once we have made a righteous choice.
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. This term appears repeatedly in the Old Testament (see, e.g., Deut 4:1), where it is a translation of two words. Choq is the word translated as "statute." It means an ordinance, limit, boundary enactment, decree, ordinance specific decree law in general enactments, or civil enactments prescribed by God. It is derived from the word chaqaq, which means to carve, cut, or inscribe. Mishpat is the word translated as "judgment." It refers to the act of deciding a legal case, a court, litigation, a judicial decision or right and justice. It is derived from the word shaphat which is a verb meaning to govern or judge. The phrase "statutes and judgments" also appears elsewhere in the Book of Mormon (see, e.g., 2 Ne 1:16).
  • 1 Ne 17:22-24. These verses set up the extended discourse by Nephi that follows. In verse 22 Nephi's brothers insist that the people at Jerusalem were "a righteous people" because they "kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his comandments, according to the law of Moses." One way of looking at this confrontation and others between Nephi and his brothers is to see it as a contest between dueling approaches to reading the scriptures. Notice that Laman and Lemuel are not irreligious. They appeal to scripture, but do so in a particular way, adopting a self-consciously legal approach to them. They refer to Moses, but only as a lawgiver and their focus is on "the statutes and judgements" of that law. Nephi responds by also invoking Moses, but in a very different way, namely as a prophet who led his people from bondage to a promised land. Notice that Nephi's reading of the Moses story implicitly places himself and his brothers within the narrative. In doing so, he recapitulates an earlier confrontation over interpretation (see 1 Ne 15:5 ), but this time in a much more elaborate manner.
  • 1 Ne 17:22. This verse shows Laman's understanding of what it means to be righteous. He says, "And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people;". So, to him, to be righteous means to keep the statutes and judgments, and all the commandments of the Lord, according to the law of Moses. To Laman, keeping the behavioral laws passed down to them, like how many steps you can take on the Sabbath, was the definition of righteousness. "Keep the commandments" meant to be obedient to the past commandments of God, given to the prophets of old.
Nephi's definition of righteousness is in sharp contrast to Laman's. Everything Nephi says and does in this chapter reveals Nephi's 3-part definition -- a righteous person...
  • Is able to receive directives from God by revelation,
  • Believes that God will give them the power to bring them about whatever they are commanded, and
  • Is determined to act on God's here-and-now directives, no matter how far-fetched they seem.
Twice in this chapter Nephi provides an example of a righteous person, once in the front and once at the end, God commands Nephi personally to do something, and he does it. To Nephi, "keep the commandments" doesn't only mean obeying the commands of God given through past prophets (Laman's view), but extends beyond that to include the commandments God gives him personally in the present.

1 Ne 17:23-47: Nephi's exhortation[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:26-30. Notice that Nephi focuses in on three elements in this recounting of Moses's leading the children of Israel:
  • Crossing the Red Sea
  • Manna and water in the wilderness
  • Murmurring against the prophet
There seem to be clear analogs in the experience of the Lehite party. They now sit on the shore of a sea that the Lord has commanded them to cross. When Nephi broke his bow, the Lord provided the party with a way to get food in the wilderness. Laman and Lemuel have murmurred against Lehi. It is also possible that the reference to the pillar of fire that led the Children of Israel in the desert is also a reference to the pillar of fire that first appeared to Lehi ( 1 Ne 1:6 ) thus launching the family's exodus into the wilderness.
  • 1 Ne 17:30-42. Verses 37 & 38 appear to be the center of a thematic chiasm that looks like this:
30a - God leads his people to the promised land
31  - God's word
  30b - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
    35 - God favors/loves the righteous
    35 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
      36 - The Lord and the Earth
        37 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
        38 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
      39 - The Lord and the Earth
    40 - God favors/loves the righteous
    41 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
  42a - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
42b - God leads his people to the promised land
45+ - God's word
Nephi is trying here to get Laman to see the truth, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had become wicked and that the Lord was leading Lehi's family away because they were righteous. He emphasizes the ideas in 37 and 38 to try to persuade Laman that this is God's regular mode of operation - to lead out the righteous and then destroy the wicked. It will be interesting to see if this pattern is repeated in modern Israel's "Jerusalem" today.
  • 1 Ne 17:35: Ripe in iniquity. Nephi says here that the Israelites who entered the land of Canaan were favored over the previous inhabitants because those previous inhabitants were ripe in iniquity. This principle of the wicked being destroyed when they become ripe in iniquity, and the meaning of this term, are explored in the discussion of Hel 13:14.
  • It is important to note that Nephi did not tell his brethren that they "could not hear his words." Instead he was teaching them that spiritual messages most often come through feelings.
  • The Lord does not use an exotic method to send his children messages. He uses a medium that is already incredibly common to them. Because humans are creatures of emotion, the Lord's use of feelings to send messages to his children maximizes the number of people who will be equipped to receive these messages.
  • Because the Lord speaks to us through our feelings, we must ever be on guard to distinguish between our own emotions and feelings, one the one hand, and the feelings that carry the messages from our Heavenly Father on the other. These two things work through nearly the same channels and be easily mistaken for one another. The ability to figure out which feeling is which may be related to the gift of discernment. As we are obedient and perform the Lord's work here on earth, our capacity to distinguish between these two sources of feelings will be increased.
  • If we notice that the Lord seems to be sending us less messages, we should check ourselves and determine whether we have become the limiting factor. It may very well be that we have become too casual in our relationship with the Lord. To remedy this situation, we need to recommit to being obedient, loving, and serving.
  • Negativity in our thoughts, words, and actions can diminish the number of messages that we receive from the Lord. Dwelling on the negative in life can distort our natural feelings. We can find ourselves becoming cynical about situations, critical of others, and that everyone and everything falls short of our expectations. As we do so, we become emotionally crippled. We forget to find, or become unable to notice, the elements of good in everyone and everything. Once our feelings have become so one-sided, we shut ourselves out from the positive feelings that the Lord wants to send us. Should we be surprised to find it hard to communicate with a God who is the source of all goodness if we have convinced ourselves that his children and creation are full of faults?
  • In this verse, Nephi teaches that the Lord sends us messages made up of words as well as of feelings. Just like spiritual feelings are designed to be similar to our own emotions, these words from heaven are adapted to our own vocabulary. This means the Lord will send words to our minds that come from our own language. The words will be recognizable, in other words, because they are words with which we are already familiar.
  • Even though the Lord sends us words that we already know, it is the combination of those words that will be unique to the Lord. He will form the words he sends us into phrases and thoughts that we had not anticipated. Although he may bring things to our remembrance that we already knew, we will not have been thinking of these things at the time he sparked our memory. On other occasions, the Lord will reveal something new to us that is understandable because it is composed of words that we already know.
  • Elder B. H. Roberts used to say that the Spirit cannot draw upon an empty well. What this means is that the Spirit is limited in what it can reveal to us if we have a very small vocabulary and little schooling. As we gain an education and increase the number of words that we know, there is the potential that the Lord can send us more detailed messages. As our language and learning expand, the Lord can reveal to us a great number of connections between and patterns within the pieces of knowledge we have already obtained. Before we receive these revelations, however, these connections and patterns will not be obvious to us. It takes the influence of the Spirit to make us see what was always before our eyes or to understand what was comprehensible but never before comprehended.
  • The Lord likely wanted to send the same kinds of messages to Nephi and his brethren. They were, after all, in the same situation with needing to build a ship and to sail to the promised land. However, Nephi's ability to hearken to the Lord qualified him to receive more messages than his brethren. Like Nephi and his brethren, we may find ourselves in situations, like sacrament meetings, where just about everyone has the same ability to hear the same message with their physical ears. However, despite this common experience, there will likely be vast differences in the amount and types of spiritual impressions that each person in the congregation receives. Some of this revelation may be the same for most or all of the people in attendance, such as spiritual verification that what the speaker has said is true, but the rest of the revelation may be adapted to the needs and abilities of the individuals in the audience. Just as their were similarities and differences in the revelations received by Nephi and other members of his family, there can be unifying and personalized revelations received by us and the members of our wards.
  • Nephi teaches here that it is possible for people to reach the point where they are "past feeling" and can no longer detect the "still small voice." We should be aware of the things in our lives that dull our spiritual sensitivities and weaken our capacity to receives spiritual impressions through our feelings. In the world people talk about individuals who have suppressed, desensitized, or lost their conscience. This is an approximation of what Nephi is talking about. The result is that these individuals no longer feel a moral obligation to treat others with respect. The corollary is that love from another person may or may not touch the hearts of these individuals. It all depends on the extent to which these individuals have become "past feeling."
  • The Lord does not stop trying to talk to his children once they become "past feeling." He will, if necessary, use the language of physical force ("the voice of thunder") to get our attention. This switching on the Lord's part, from one mode of communication to another, is actually a demonstration of his mercy for his children. Rather than become offended that we have stopped listening to the still small voice, the Lord patiently and lovingly finds other channels through which to obtain our attention. He is slow to give up on us, even if we are quick to stop listening to him.
  • People are foolish and arrogant if they think their inability to hear and feel messages from the Lord is somehow proof that God no longer speaks to his children. These individuals are the ones who have broken the lines of communication. The Lord always stands ready to communicate to his children. In fact, the blame is entirely upon these individuals, rather than the Lord, because he has already made attempts to send messages to them, just like Laman and Lemuel received an angel, but they turned a deaf ear to these feelings and tuned out the Lord's voice to them.

1 Ne 17:48-55: Laman and Lemuel confounded[edit]

1 Ne 18:1-4: The boat is completed[edit]

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

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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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:7: What is the significance of prefacing, in the Old Testament way, this command with the word "Arise"?
  • 1 Ne 17:8: What precedents were there in scripture, that Nephi would have been familiar with, for building ships that were approved, let alone designed, by the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:9: In chapter 16, Nephi built a bow and asked his father where he should go to hunt. Here, he asks the Lord where he should go to find materials for the boat he is to build. Is that parallel instructive? What does this show us about Nephi? Does it suggest something for us?
  • 1 Ne 17:10: Was Nephi told, as well as shown, the exact location of the ore?
  • 1 Ne 17:11: Wouldn't Nephi have needed an oven or a catalyst, besides just blowing air, for super-hot fires that would make the ore molten?
  • 1 Ne 17:12: Were they allowed to build intense fires now that they were far removed from other societies who might notice their smoke?
  • 1 Ne 17:13: Was this a renewal or remaking of covenants?
  • 1 Ne 17:14: What does the Lord mean when he says “After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God"? Doesn’t Nephi already know that?
  • 1 Ne 17:15: Nephi begins this verse with “wherefore.” In other words, what follows is a consequence of what preceded: Nephi strove to keep the commandments because the Lord promised that after arriving in the promised land he would know that the Lord is God, that the Lord delivered them, and that he brought them out of Jerusalem. How does that promise motivate Nephi’s striving for obedience?
  • 1 Ne 17:16: Were these ordinary tools or were they, like the ship, divinely designed?
  • 1 Ne 17:17: Was Nephi reluctant to share his ship building plans with his brothers or did he hope they would come around to believing in the plan once they saw his progress?
  • 1 Ne 17:18: In what circumstances did Laman and Lemuel blame the Lord for their misfortunes, rather than members of their immediate family?
  • 1 Ne 17:20: Is the claim that Nephi is like his father the only truth embedded in this accusation, or did Laman and Lemuel accurately represent the feelings of at least some of the young mothers in this group?
  • 1 Ne 17:21: Were Laman and Lemuel so shallow as to think that their pursuit of materialism could provide all of the happiness they wanted and needed in life?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Nephi’s brothers say that they know that the people of Jerusalem were righteous because they kept the law of Moses. Were they wrong about that, or is their standard of righteousness the problem?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. Does anyone have any insight into the meaning of this phrase? Can you point me toward sources for a better sense of the meaning of "statutes and judgments" in the Old Testament? The definitions that I added here are from an online version of Strong's, but I suspect that there is more to this phrase than that. Are there any good online sources for this sort of thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:23: Nephi responds to their complaints by asking them to remember the Lord’s dealing with Moses and Israel. (Remembrance is a major theme in the Book of Mormon.) How will that remembrance answer their complaints?
  • 1 Ne 17:24: To what extent does Nephi see himself as a Moses for the group he is leading to the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 17:25: Nephi seems to be comparing the exodus of the Lehi party from Jerusalem with the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Does he mean to equate the experience of Lehi's family in Jerusalem with the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt? If so, in what way was Lehi's family in bondage in Jerusalem?
  • 1 Ne 17:26: Was Nephi saying they had been taught these stories or that they had a testimony of what happened back then?
  • 1 Ne 17:27: What is Nephi signaling to his brothers with his use of the word "but"?
  • 1 Ne 17:28: Would it be more accurate for Nephi to say "ye have heard"?
  • 1 Ne 17:30: Why is the word "Redeemer" absent from the writings of Moses?
  • 1 Ne 17:31: What does this verse mean by “there was not anything done save it was by his word"? What things is Nephi talking about, what the children of Israel did or what happened to them? What does “by his word” mean in this context?
  • 1 Ne 17:32: Was this the only version of the settlement of Canaan story that Nephi had ever heard?
  • 1 Ne 17:33: How can Nephi make such a sweeping and unfavorable judgment of the non-Jewish people who were in Canaan, when the Book of Mormon teaches that there must have been enough righteous individuals among the Canaanites for the Lord to deliver scripture to them and all other "nations of the earth" ([2 Ne 29:7)?
  • 1 Ne 17:34: Is Nephi hinting at the possibility that Jews did not have a monopoly on being the Lord's chosen people, that it was possible for righteous non-Jews to become "choice" in the eyes of the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:35: What does it mean to esteem (to value?) all flesh as one but to favor the righteous? How do esteem and favor differ?
  • 1 Ne 17:37: Does he wait longer to destroy wicked nations in this, the modern age, than he did in ancient times?
  • 1 Ne 17:38: Are some lands inherently more precious than others or is it the degree of righteousness or wickedness of the people living upon them that largely determines the worth of the land?
  • 1 Ne 17:39: What is the function of a footstool?
  • 1 Ne 17:40: How does Nephi explain Israel’s salvation? Is it because Israel was worthy of salvation? What does it mean to say that the Lord remembers his covenants? What does Nephi’s teaching in this verse suggest about us today? about our children?
  • 1 Ne 17:41: Are chastening and straitening the same thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:42: Why doesn't Nephi distinguish between generations who were wicked and those who were more righteous?
  • 1 Ne 17:43: What explanation would Nephi have given for the preservation of these few?
  • 1 Ne 17:45: Does this verse imply that the "still small voice" speaks without words, at least in the audible sense?
  • 1 Ne 17:46: Why does Nephi mix prophesied certainties with statements of capability?
  • 1 Ne 17:47: In the Old Testament, anguish is what sinners feel. After Christ comes, sorrow is what his disciples feel for the sins of the world. Is Nephi feeling both of these emotions?
  • 1 Ne 17:48: What does Nephi mean when he says the power of God is consuming his flesh? Is he echoing Old Testament passages that talk about sacrifices where divine fire consumes the flesh of the animal?
  • 1 Ne 17:49: Why is the word "labor"--which is found here and throughout the restoration scriptures--absent from the Bible?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Why doesn't Nephi say that whatever the Lord commands will "happen"?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Who or what is performing the action when Nephi says "it would be done"?
  • 1 Ne 17:51: What does vs. 51 tell us about God's willingness to instruct us in "mundane" tasks? Can we get similarly detailed instructions for the things God has commanded us to do?
  • 1 Ne 17:52: If Nephi's brothers were "past feeling," then what were they experiencing when the Spirit powerfully "wrought upon them"?
  • 1 Ne 17:53: Is the promise that Laman and Lemuel would "not wither" proof that they had suddenly started repenting?
  • 1 Ne 17:54: How should we interpret Nephi's use of physical force against his brothers in light of modern LDS instructions not to exercise dominion through compulsory means(D&C 121:37)?
  • 1 Ne 17:55: Why did Laman and Lemuel confess the hand of the Lord and then seemingly immediately attribute the divine intervention to their brother Nephi?
  • 1 Ne 18:1: Why didn't Nephi make a record of the ship building plans that he could refer back to as needed? Was the Lord providing feedback to Nephi's neophyte attempts at ship building?
  • 1 Ne 18:2: Was the boat designed to follow the laws of physics?
  • 1 Ne 18:3: Did these "great things" that Nephi beheld after mountain-top prayer pertain only to ship building? Or is it likely that Nephi's diligence was rewarded with even greater knowledge?
  • 1 Ne 18:4: What kinds of divinely-inspired workmanship in the world today can still inspire humility in the hearts of the children of men? To what degree is Alma's claim still applicable that all things upon the face of the earth are sufficient signs to turn people into believers (see Alma 30:44)?

Resources[edit]

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. →

Notes[edit]

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: Chapter 16                      Next page: Chapter 18

1 Ne 17:11-15

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 17 / Verses 17:7-18:4
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This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 17 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 17, the story of building the boat, consists of five major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 17 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 17: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• Nephi instructed to build a boat (17:7-16)
• brothers complain (17:17-22)
• Nephi's exhortation (17:23-47)
• brothers confounded (17:48-55)
• the boat is built (18:1-4)

1 Ne 17:7-16: Nephi instructed to build a boat[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:13-14: Recognizing the Lord's hand. The Lord stresses that Nephi will come to know that the Lord had led Nephi and his people to the promised land. It is interesting that the Lord seems to desire not just that his people be delivered but that they realize that it is by his hand that it happens. The Lord follows this pattern in other dealings with his people--such as in Exodus 3, where the Lord stresses the importance of letting Pharaoh and the other Israelites know that it is by his hand and authority that Moses comes to deliver them. Later, in Exodus 20:5 the Lord goes so far as to say he is a "jealous God." In modern times we are commanded to "confess his hand in all things" (D&C 59:21). It appears to be important doctrine to recognize the Lord's hand in good things that happen--and in turn the importance of doing good in the name of the Lord. Some Christian sects take this doctrine to the extreme of arguing that morality does not count unless done as an act of faith--in the name of the Lord (see, e.g., The Deadly Dangers of Moralism). Such a doctrine seems inconsistent with scriptural passages where the Lord indicates he will bless non-believing people for the commandments they do keep (see, e.g., Jacob 3:5-6). That said, it seems obvious that to take the next step beyond being just a moral people to being the Lord's covenant people requires an actual relationship with him. Such a relationship in turn requires knowledge of God and what he has done and will do for us.

1 Ne 17:17-22: Laman and Lemuel complain[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:21. Verse 21 shows what damage can happen from looking back. Luke 9:62 reminds us that we should not look back once we have made a righteous choice.
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. This term appears repeatedly in the Old Testament (see, e.g., Deut 4:1), where it is a translation of two words. Choq is the word translated as "statute." It means an ordinance, limit, boundary enactment, decree, ordinance specific decree law in general enactments, or civil enactments prescribed by God. It is derived from the word chaqaq, which means to carve, cut, or inscribe. Mishpat is the word translated as "judgment." It refers to the act of deciding a legal case, a court, litigation, a judicial decision or right and justice. It is derived from the word shaphat which is a verb meaning to govern or judge. The phrase "statutes and judgments" also appears elsewhere in the Book of Mormon (see, e.g., 2 Ne 1:16).
  • 1 Ne 17:22-24. These verses set up the extended discourse by Nephi that follows. In verse 22 Nephi's brothers insist that the people at Jerusalem were "a righteous people" because they "kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his comandments, according to the law of Moses." One way of looking at this confrontation and others between Nephi and his brothers is to see it as a contest between dueling approaches to reading the scriptures. Notice that Laman and Lemuel are not irreligious. They appeal to scripture, but do so in a particular way, adopting a self-consciously legal approach to them. They refer to Moses, but only as a lawgiver and their focus is on "the statutes and judgements" of that law. Nephi responds by also invoking Moses, but in a very different way, namely as a prophet who led his people from bondage to a promised land. Notice that Nephi's reading of the Moses story implicitly places himself and his brothers within the narrative. In doing so, he recapitulates an earlier confrontation over interpretation (see 1 Ne 15:5 ), but this time in a much more elaborate manner.
  • 1 Ne 17:22. This verse shows Laman's understanding of what it means to be righteous. He says, "And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people;". So, to him, to be righteous means to keep the statutes and judgments, and all the commandments of the Lord, according to the law of Moses. To Laman, keeping the behavioral laws passed down to them, like how many steps you can take on the Sabbath, was the definition of righteousness. "Keep the commandments" meant to be obedient to the past commandments of God, given to the prophets of old.
Nephi's definition of righteousness is in sharp contrast to Laman's. Everything Nephi says and does in this chapter reveals Nephi's 3-part definition -- a righteous person...
  • Is able to receive directives from God by revelation,
  • Believes that God will give them the power to bring them about whatever they are commanded, and
  • Is determined to act on God's here-and-now directives, no matter how far-fetched they seem.
Twice in this chapter Nephi provides an example of a righteous person, once in the front and once at the end, God commands Nephi personally to do something, and he does it. To Nephi, "keep the commandments" doesn't only mean obeying the commands of God given through past prophets (Laman's view), but extends beyond that to include the commandments God gives him personally in the present.

1 Ne 17:23-47: Nephi's exhortation[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:26-30. Notice that Nephi focuses in on three elements in this recounting of Moses's leading the children of Israel:
  • Crossing the Red Sea
  • Manna and water in the wilderness
  • Murmurring against the prophet
There seem to be clear analogs in the experience of the Lehite party. They now sit on the shore of a sea that the Lord has commanded them to cross. When Nephi broke his bow, the Lord provided the party with a way to get food in the wilderness. Laman and Lemuel have murmurred against Lehi. It is also possible that the reference to the pillar of fire that led the Children of Israel in the desert is also a reference to the pillar of fire that first appeared to Lehi ( 1 Ne 1:6 ) thus launching the family's exodus into the wilderness.
  • 1 Ne 17:30-42. Verses 37 & 38 appear to be the center of a thematic chiasm that looks like this:
30a - God leads his people to the promised land
31  - God's word
  30b - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
    35 - God favors/loves the righteous
    35 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
      36 - The Lord and the Earth
        37 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
        38 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
      39 - The Lord and the Earth
    40 - God favors/loves the righteous
    41 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
  42a - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
42b - God leads his people to the promised land
45+ - God's word
Nephi is trying here to get Laman to see the truth, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had become wicked and that the Lord was leading Lehi's family away because they were righteous. He emphasizes the ideas in 37 and 38 to try to persuade Laman that this is God's regular mode of operation - to lead out the righteous and then destroy the wicked. It will be interesting to see if this pattern is repeated in modern Israel's "Jerusalem" today.
  • 1 Ne 17:35: Ripe in iniquity. Nephi says here that the Israelites who entered the land of Canaan were favored over the previous inhabitants because those previous inhabitants were ripe in iniquity. This principle of the wicked being destroyed when they become ripe in iniquity, and the meaning of this term, are explored in the discussion of Hel 13:14.
  • It is important to note that Nephi did not tell his brethren that they "could not hear his words." Instead he was teaching them that spiritual messages most often come through feelings.
  • The Lord does not use an exotic method to send his children messages. He uses a medium that is already incredibly common to them. Because humans are creatures of emotion, the Lord's use of feelings to send messages to his children maximizes the number of people who will be equipped to receive these messages.
  • Because the Lord speaks to us through our feelings, we must ever be on guard to distinguish between our own emotions and feelings, one the one hand, and the feelings that carry the messages from our Heavenly Father on the other. These two things work through nearly the same channels and be easily mistaken for one another. The ability to figure out which feeling is which may be related to the gift of discernment. As we are obedient and perform the Lord's work here on earth, our capacity to distinguish between these two sources of feelings will be increased.
  • If we notice that the Lord seems to be sending us less messages, we should check ourselves and determine whether we have become the limiting factor. It may very well be that we have become too casual in our relationship with the Lord. To remedy this situation, we need to recommit to being obedient, loving, and serving.
  • Negativity in our thoughts, words, and actions can diminish the number of messages that we receive from the Lord. Dwelling on the negative in life can distort our natural feelings. We can find ourselves becoming cynical about situations, critical of others, and that everyone and everything falls short of our expectations. As we do so, we become emotionally crippled. We forget to find, or become unable to notice, the elements of good in everyone and everything. Once our feelings have become so one-sided, we shut ourselves out from the positive feelings that the Lord wants to send us. Should we be surprised to find it hard to communicate with a God who is the source of all goodness if we have convinced ourselves that his children and creation are full of faults?
  • In this verse, Nephi teaches that the Lord sends us messages made up of words as well as of feelings. Just like spiritual feelings are designed to be similar to our own emotions, these words from heaven are adapted to our own vocabulary. This means the Lord will send words to our minds that come from our own language. The words will be recognizable, in other words, because they are words with which we are already familiar.
  • Even though the Lord sends us words that we already know, it is the combination of those words that will be unique to the Lord. He will form the words he sends us into phrases and thoughts that we had not anticipated. Although he may bring things to our remembrance that we already knew, we will not have been thinking of these things at the time he sparked our memory. On other occasions, the Lord will reveal something new to us that is understandable because it is composed of words that we already know.
  • Elder B. H. Roberts used to say that the Spirit cannot draw upon an empty well. What this means is that the Spirit is limited in what it can reveal to us if we have a very small vocabulary and little schooling. As we gain an education and increase the number of words that we know, there is the potential that the Lord can send us more detailed messages. As our language and learning expand, the Lord can reveal to us a great number of connections between and patterns within the pieces of knowledge we have already obtained. Before we receive these revelations, however, these connections and patterns will not be obvious to us. It takes the influence of the Spirit to make us see what was always before our eyes or to understand what was comprehensible but never before comprehended.
  • The Lord likely wanted to send the same kinds of messages to Nephi and his brethren. They were, after all, in the same situation with needing to build a ship and to sail to the promised land. However, Nephi's ability to hearken to the Lord qualified him to receive more messages than his brethren. Like Nephi and his brethren, we may find ourselves in situations, like sacrament meetings, where just about everyone has the same ability to hear the same message with their physical ears. However, despite this common experience, there will likely be vast differences in the amount and types of spiritual impressions that each person in the congregation receives. Some of this revelation may be the same for most or all of the people in attendance, such as spiritual verification that what the speaker has said is true, but the rest of the revelation may be adapted to the needs and abilities of the individuals in the audience. Just as their were similarities and differences in the revelations received by Nephi and other members of his family, there can be unifying and personalized revelations received by us and the members of our wards.
  • Nephi teaches here that it is possible for people to reach the point where they are "past feeling" and can no longer detect the "still small voice." We should be aware of the things in our lives that dull our spiritual sensitivities and weaken our capacity to receives spiritual impressions through our feelings. In the world people talk about individuals who have suppressed, desensitized, or lost their conscience. This is an approximation of what Nephi is talking about. The result is that these individuals no longer feel a moral obligation to treat others with respect. The corollary is that love from another person may or may not touch the hearts of these individuals. It all depends on the extent to which these individuals have become "past feeling."
  • The Lord does not stop trying to talk to his children once they become "past feeling." He will, if necessary, use the language of physical force ("the voice of thunder") to get our attention. This switching on the Lord's part, from one mode of communication to another, is actually a demonstration of his mercy for his children. Rather than become offended that we have stopped listening to the still small voice, the Lord patiently and lovingly finds other channels through which to obtain our attention. He is slow to give up on us, even if we are quick to stop listening to him.
  • People are foolish and arrogant if they think their inability to hear and feel messages from the Lord is somehow proof that God no longer speaks to his children. These individuals are the ones who have broken the lines of communication. The Lord always stands ready to communicate to his children. In fact, the blame is entirely upon these individuals, rather than the Lord, because he has already made attempts to send messages to them, just like Laman and Lemuel received an angel, but they turned a deaf ear to these feelings and tuned out the Lord's voice to them.

1 Ne 17:48-55: Laman and Lemuel confounded[edit]

1 Ne 18:1-4: The boat is completed[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:7: What is the significance of prefacing, in the Old Testament way, this command with the word "Arise"?
  • 1 Ne 17:8: What precedents were there in scripture, that Nephi would have been familiar with, for building ships that were approved, let alone designed, by the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:9: In chapter 16, Nephi built a bow and asked his father where he should go to hunt. Here, he asks the Lord where he should go to find materials for the boat he is to build. Is that parallel instructive? What does this show us about Nephi? Does it suggest something for us?
  • 1 Ne 17:10: Was Nephi told, as well as shown, the exact location of the ore?
  • 1 Ne 17:11: Wouldn't Nephi have needed an oven or a catalyst, besides just blowing air, for super-hot fires that would make the ore molten?
  • 1 Ne 17:12: Were they allowed to build intense fires now that they were far removed from other societies who might notice their smoke?
  • 1 Ne 17:13: Was this a renewal or remaking of covenants?
  • 1 Ne 17:14: What does the Lord mean when he says “After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God"? Doesn’t Nephi already know that?
  • 1 Ne 17:15: Nephi begins this verse with “wherefore.” In other words, what follows is a consequence of what preceded: Nephi strove to keep the commandments because the Lord promised that after arriving in the promised land he would know that the Lord is God, that the Lord delivered them, and that he brought them out of Jerusalem. How does that promise motivate Nephi’s striving for obedience?
  • 1 Ne 17:16: Were these ordinary tools or were they, like the ship, divinely designed?
  • 1 Ne 17:17: Was Nephi reluctant to share his ship building plans with his brothers or did he hope they would come around to believing in the plan once they saw his progress?
  • 1 Ne 17:18: In what circumstances did Laman and Lemuel blame the Lord for their misfortunes, rather than members of their immediate family?
  • 1 Ne 17:20: Is the claim that Nephi is like his father the only truth embedded in this accusation, or did Laman and Lemuel accurately represent the feelings of at least some of the young mothers in this group?
  • 1 Ne 17:21: Were Laman and Lemuel so shallow as to think that their pursuit of materialism could provide all of the happiness they wanted and needed in life?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Nephi’s brothers say that they know that the people of Jerusalem were righteous because they kept the law of Moses. Were they wrong about that, or is their standard of righteousness the problem?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. Does anyone have any insight into the meaning of this phrase? Can you point me toward sources for a better sense of the meaning of "statutes and judgments" in the Old Testament? The definitions that I added here are from an online version of Strong's, but I suspect that there is more to this phrase than that. Are there any good online sources for this sort of thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:23: Nephi responds to their complaints by asking them to remember the Lord’s dealing with Moses and Israel. (Remembrance is a major theme in the Book of Mormon.) How will that remembrance answer their complaints?
  • 1 Ne 17:24: To what extent does Nephi see himself as a Moses for the group he is leading to the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 17:25: Nephi seems to be comparing the exodus of the Lehi party from Jerusalem with the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Does he mean to equate the experience of Lehi's family in Jerusalem with the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt? If so, in what way was Lehi's family in bondage in Jerusalem?
  • 1 Ne 17:26: Was Nephi saying they had been taught these stories or that they had a testimony of what happened back then?
  • 1 Ne 17:27: What is Nephi signaling to his brothers with his use of the word "but"?
  • 1 Ne 17:28: Would it be more accurate for Nephi to say "ye have heard"?
  • 1 Ne 17:30: Why is the word "Redeemer" absent from the writings of Moses?
  • 1 Ne 17:31: What does this verse mean by “there was not anything done save it was by his word"? What things is Nephi talking about, what the children of Israel did or what happened to them? What does “by his word” mean in this context?
  • 1 Ne 17:32: Was this the only version of the settlement of Canaan story that Nephi had ever heard?
  • 1 Ne 17:33: How can Nephi make such a sweeping and unfavorable judgment of the non-Jewish people who were in Canaan, when the Book of Mormon teaches that there must have been enough righteous individuals among the Canaanites for the Lord to deliver scripture to them and all other "nations of the earth" ([2 Ne 29:7)?
  • 1 Ne 17:34: Is Nephi hinting at the possibility that Jews did not have a monopoly on being the Lord's chosen people, that it was possible for righteous non-Jews to become "choice" in the eyes of the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:35: What does it mean to esteem (to value?) all flesh as one but to favor the righteous? How do esteem and favor differ?
  • 1 Ne 17:37: Does he wait longer to destroy wicked nations in this, the modern age, than he did in ancient times?
  • 1 Ne 17:38: Are some lands inherently more precious than others or is it the degree of righteousness or wickedness of the people living upon them that largely determines the worth of the land?
  • 1 Ne 17:39: What is the function of a footstool?
  • 1 Ne 17:40: How does Nephi explain Israel’s salvation? Is it because Israel was worthy of salvation? What does it mean to say that the Lord remembers his covenants? What does Nephi’s teaching in this verse suggest about us today? about our children?
  • 1 Ne 17:41: Are chastening and straitening the same thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:42: Why doesn't Nephi distinguish between generations who were wicked and those who were more righteous?
  • 1 Ne 17:43: What explanation would Nephi have given for the preservation of these few?
  • 1 Ne 17:45: Does this verse imply that the "still small voice" speaks without words, at least in the audible sense?
  • 1 Ne 17:46: Why does Nephi mix prophesied certainties with statements of capability?
  • 1 Ne 17:47: In the Old Testament, anguish is what sinners feel. After Christ comes, sorrow is what his disciples feel for the sins of the world. Is Nephi feeling both of these emotions?
  • 1 Ne 17:48: What does Nephi mean when he says the power of God is consuming his flesh? Is he echoing Old Testament passages that talk about sacrifices where divine fire consumes the flesh of the animal?
  • 1 Ne 17:49: Why is the word "labor"--which is found here and throughout the restoration scriptures--absent from the Bible?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Why doesn't Nephi say that whatever the Lord commands will "happen"?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Who or what is performing the action when Nephi says "it would be done"?
  • 1 Ne 17:51: What does vs. 51 tell us about God's willingness to instruct us in "mundane" tasks? Can we get similarly detailed instructions for the things God has commanded us to do?
  • 1 Ne 17:52: If Nephi's brothers were "past feeling," then what were they experiencing when the Spirit powerfully "wrought upon them"?
  • 1 Ne 17:53: Is the promise that Laman and Lemuel would "not wither" proof that they had suddenly started repenting?
  • 1 Ne 17:54: How should we interpret Nephi's use of physical force against his brothers in light of modern LDS instructions not to exercise dominion through compulsory means(D&C 121:37)?
  • 1 Ne 17:55: Why did Laman and Lemuel confess the hand of the Lord and then seemingly immediately attribute the divine intervention to their brother Nephi?
  • 1 Ne 18:1: Why didn't Nephi make a record of the ship building plans that he could refer back to as needed? Was the Lord providing feedback to Nephi's neophyte attempts at ship building?
  • 1 Ne 18:2: Was the boat designed to follow the laws of physics?
  • 1 Ne 18:3: Did these "great things" that Nephi beheld after mountain-top prayer pertain only to ship building? Or is it likely that Nephi's diligence was rewarded with even greater knowledge?
  • 1 Ne 18:4: What kinds of divinely-inspired workmanship in the world today can still inspire humility in the hearts of the children of men? To what degree is Alma's claim still applicable that all things upon the face of the earth are sufficient signs to turn people into believers (see Alma 30:44)?

Resources[edit]

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. →

Notes[edit]

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: Chapter 16                      Next page: Chapter 18

1 Ne 17:16-20

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 17 / Verses 17:7-18:4
Previous page: Chapter 16                      Next page: Chapter 18


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 17 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 17, the story of building the boat, consists of five major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 17 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 17: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• Nephi instructed to build a boat (17:7-16)
• brothers complain (17:17-22)
• Nephi's exhortation (17:23-47)
• brothers confounded (17:48-55)
• the boat is built (18:1-4)

1 Ne 17:7-16: Nephi instructed to build a boat[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:13-14: Recognizing the Lord's hand. The Lord stresses that Nephi will come to know that the Lord had led Nephi and his people to the promised land. It is interesting that the Lord seems to desire not just that his people be delivered but that they realize that it is by his hand that it happens. The Lord follows this pattern in other dealings with his people--such as in Exodus 3, where the Lord stresses the importance of letting Pharaoh and the other Israelites know that it is by his hand and authority that Moses comes to deliver them. Later, in Exodus 20:5 the Lord goes so far as to say he is a "jealous God." In modern times we are commanded to "confess his hand in all things" (D&C 59:21). It appears to be important doctrine to recognize the Lord's hand in good things that happen--and in turn the importance of doing good in the name of the Lord. Some Christian sects take this doctrine to the extreme of arguing that morality does not count unless done as an act of faith--in the name of the Lord (see, e.g., The Deadly Dangers of Moralism). Such a doctrine seems inconsistent with scriptural passages where the Lord indicates he will bless non-believing people for the commandments they do keep (see, e.g., Jacob 3:5-6). That said, it seems obvious that to take the next step beyond being just a moral people to being the Lord's covenant people requires an actual relationship with him. Such a relationship in turn requires knowledge of God and what he has done and will do for us.

1 Ne 17:17-22: Laman and Lemuel complain[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:21. Verse 21 shows what damage can happen from looking back. Luke 9:62 reminds us that we should not look back once we have made a righteous choice.
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. This term appears repeatedly in the Old Testament (see, e.g., Deut 4:1), where it is a translation of two words. Choq is the word translated as "statute." It means an ordinance, limit, boundary enactment, decree, ordinance specific decree law in general enactments, or civil enactments prescribed by God. It is derived from the word chaqaq, which means to carve, cut, or inscribe. Mishpat is the word translated as "judgment." It refers to the act of deciding a legal case, a court, litigation, a judicial decision or right and justice. It is derived from the word shaphat which is a verb meaning to govern or judge. The phrase "statutes and judgments" also appears elsewhere in the Book of Mormon (see, e.g., 2 Ne 1:16).
  • 1 Ne 17:22-24. These verses set up the extended discourse by Nephi that follows. In verse 22 Nephi's brothers insist that the people at Jerusalem were "a righteous people" because they "kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his comandments, according to the law of Moses." One way of looking at this confrontation and others between Nephi and his brothers is to see it as a contest between dueling approaches to reading the scriptures. Notice that Laman and Lemuel are not irreligious. They appeal to scripture, but do so in a particular way, adopting a self-consciously legal approach to them. They refer to Moses, but only as a lawgiver and their focus is on "the statutes and judgements" of that law. Nephi responds by also invoking Moses, but in a very different way, namely as a prophet who led his people from bondage to a promised land. Notice that Nephi's reading of the Moses story implicitly places himself and his brothers within the narrative. In doing so, he recapitulates an earlier confrontation over interpretation (see 1 Ne 15:5 ), but this time in a much more elaborate manner.
  • 1 Ne 17:22. This verse shows Laman's understanding of what it means to be righteous. He says, "And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people;". So, to him, to be righteous means to keep the statutes and judgments, and all the commandments of the Lord, according to the law of Moses. To Laman, keeping the behavioral laws passed down to them, like how many steps you can take on the Sabbath, was the definition of righteousness. "Keep the commandments" meant to be obedient to the past commandments of God, given to the prophets of old.
Nephi's definition of righteousness is in sharp contrast to Laman's. Everything Nephi says and does in this chapter reveals Nephi's 3-part definition -- a righteous person...
  • Is able to receive directives from God by revelation,
  • Believes that God will give them the power to bring them about whatever they are commanded, and
  • Is determined to act on God's here-and-now directives, no matter how far-fetched they seem.
Twice in this chapter Nephi provides an example of a righteous person, once in the front and once at the end, God commands Nephi personally to do something, and he does it. To Nephi, "keep the commandments" doesn't only mean obeying the commands of God given through past prophets (Laman's view), but extends beyond that to include the commandments God gives him personally in the present.

1 Ne 17:23-47: Nephi's exhortation[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:26-30. Notice that Nephi focuses in on three elements in this recounting of Moses's leading the children of Israel:
  • Crossing the Red Sea
  • Manna and water in the wilderness
  • Murmurring against the prophet
There seem to be clear analogs in the experience of the Lehite party. They now sit on the shore of a sea that the Lord has commanded them to cross. When Nephi broke his bow, the Lord provided the party with a way to get food in the wilderness. Laman and Lemuel have murmurred against Lehi. It is also possible that the reference to the pillar of fire that led the Children of Israel in the desert is also a reference to the pillar of fire that first appeared to Lehi ( 1 Ne 1:6 ) thus launching the family's exodus into the wilderness.
  • 1 Ne 17:30-42. Verses 37 & 38 appear to be the center of a thematic chiasm that looks like this:
30a - God leads his people to the promised land
31  - God's word
  30b - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
    35 - God favors/loves the righteous
    35 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
      36 - The Lord and the Earth
        37 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
        38 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
      39 - The Lord and the Earth
    40 - God favors/loves the righteous
    41 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
  42a - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
42b - God leads his people to the promised land
45+ - God's word
Nephi is trying here to get Laman to see the truth, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had become wicked and that the Lord was leading Lehi's family away because they were righteous. He emphasizes the ideas in 37 and 38 to try to persuade Laman that this is God's regular mode of operation - to lead out the righteous and then destroy the wicked. It will be interesting to see if this pattern is repeated in modern Israel's "Jerusalem" today.
  • 1 Ne 17:35: Ripe in iniquity. Nephi says here that the Israelites who entered the land of Canaan were favored over the previous inhabitants because those previous inhabitants were ripe in iniquity. This principle of the wicked being destroyed when they become ripe in iniquity, and the meaning of this term, are explored in the discussion of Hel 13:14.
  • It is important to note that Nephi did not tell his brethren that they "could not hear his words." Instead he was teaching them that spiritual messages most often come through feelings.
  • The Lord does not use an exotic method to send his children messages. He uses a medium that is already incredibly common to them. Because humans are creatures of emotion, the Lord's use of feelings to send messages to his children maximizes the number of people who will be equipped to receive these messages.
  • Because the Lord speaks to us through our feelings, we must ever be on guard to distinguish between our own emotions and feelings, one the one hand, and the feelings that carry the messages from our Heavenly Father on the other. These two things work through nearly the same channels and be easily mistaken for one another. The ability to figure out which feeling is which may be related to the gift of discernment. As we are obedient and perform the Lord's work here on earth, our capacity to distinguish between these two sources of feelings will be increased.
  • If we notice that the Lord seems to be sending us less messages, we should check ourselves and determine whether we have become the limiting factor. It may very well be that we have become too casual in our relationship with the Lord. To remedy this situation, we need to recommit to being obedient, loving, and serving.
  • Negativity in our thoughts, words, and actions can diminish the number of messages that we receive from the Lord. Dwelling on the negative in life can distort our natural feelings. We can find ourselves becoming cynical about situations, critical of others, and that everyone and everything falls short of our expectations. As we do so, we become emotionally crippled. We forget to find, or become unable to notice, the elements of good in everyone and everything. Once our feelings have become so one-sided, we shut ourselves out from the positive feelings that the Lord wants to send us. Should we be surprised to find it hard to communicate with a God who is the source of all goodness if we have convinced ourselves that his children and creation are full of faults?
  • In this verse, Nephi teaches that the Lord sends us messages made up of words as well as of feelings. Just like spiritual feelings are designed to be similar to our own emotions, these words from heaven are adapted to our own vocabulary. This means the Lord will send words to our minds that come from our own language. The words will be recognizable, in other words, because they are words with which we are already familiar.
  • Even though the Lord sends us words that we already know, it is the combination of those words that will be unique to the Lord. He will form the words he sends us into phrases and thoughts that we had not anticipated. Although he may bring things to our remembrance that we already knew, we will not have been thinking of these things at the time he sparked our memory. On other occasions, the Lord will reveal something new to us that is understandable because it is composed of words that we already know.
  • Elder B. H. Roberts used to say that the Spirit cannot draw upon an empty well. What this means is that the Spirit is limited in what it can reveal to us if we have a very small vocabulary and little schooling. As we gain an education and increase the number of words that we know, there is the potential that the Lord can send us more detailed messages. As our language and learning expand, the Lord can reveal to us a great number of connections between and patterns within the pieces of knowledge we have already obtained. Before we receive these revelations, however, these connections and patterns will not be obvious to us. It takes the influence of the Spirit to make us see what was always before our eyes or to understand what was comprehensible but never before comprehended.
  • The Lord likely wanted to send the same kinds of messages to Nephi and his brethren. They were, after all, in the same situation with needing to build a ship and to sail to the promised land. However, Nephi's ability to hearken to the Lord qualified him to receive more messages than his brethren. Like Nephi and his brethren, we may find ourselves in situations, like sacrament meetings, where just about everyone has the same ability to hear the same message with their physical ears. However, despite this common experience, there will likely be vast differences in the amount and types of spiritual impressions that each person in the congregation receives. Some of this revelation may be the same for most or all of the people in attendance, such as spiritual verification that what the speaker has said is true, but the rest of the revelation may be adapted to the needs and abilities of the individuals in the audience. Just as their were similarities and differences in the revelations received by Nephi and other members of his family, there can be unifying and personalized revelations received by us and the members of our wards.
  • Nephi teaches here that it is possible for people to reach the point where they are "past feeling" and can no longer detect the "still small voice." We should be aware of the things in our lives that dull our spiritual sensitivities and weaken our capacity to receives spiritual impressions through our feelings. In the world people talk about individuals who have suppressed, desensitized, or lost their conscience. This is an approximation of what Nephi is talking about. The result is that these individuals no longer feel a moral obligation to treat others with respect. The corollary is that love from another person may or may not touch the hearts of these individuals. It all depends on the extent to which these individuals have become "past feeling."
  • The Lord does not stop trying to talk to his children once they become "past feeling." He will, if necessary, use the language of physical force ("the voice of thunder") to get our attention. This switching on the Lord's part, from one mode of communication to another, is actually a demonstration of his mercy for his children. Rather than become offended that we have stopped listening to the still small voice, the Lord patiently and lovingly finds other channels through which to obtain our attention. He is slow to give up on us, even if we are quick to stop listening to him.
  • People are foolish and arrogant if they think their inability to hear and feel messages from the Lord is somehow proof that God no longer speaks to his children. These individuals are the ones who have broken the lines of communication. The Lord always stands ready to communicate to his children. In fact, the blame is entirely upon these individuals, rather than the Lord, because he has already made attempts to send messages to them, just like Laman and Lemuel received an angel, but they turned a deaf ear to these feelings and tuned out the Lord's voice to them.

1 Ne 17:48-55: Laman and Lemuel confounded[edit]

1 Ne 18:1-4: The boat is completed[edit]

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • 1 Ne 17:7: What is the significance of prefacing, in the Old Testament way, this command with the word "Arise"?
  • 1 Ne 17:8: What precedents were there in scripture, that Nephi would have been familiar with, for building ships that were approved, let alone designed, by the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:9: In chapter 16, Nephi built a bow and asked his father where he should go to hunt. Here, he asks the Lord where he should go to find materials for the boat he is to build. Is that parallel instructive? What does this show us about Nephi? Does it suggest something for us?
  • 1 Ne 17:10: Was Nephi told, as well as shown, the exact location of the ore?
  • 1 Ne 17:11: Wouldn't Nephi have needed an oven or a catalyst, besides just blowing air, for super-hot fires that would make the ore molten?
  • 1 Ne 17:12: Were they allowed to build intense fires now that they were far removed from other societies who might notice their smoke?
  • 1 Ne 17:13: Was this a renewal or remaking of covenants?
  • 1 Ne 17:14: What does the Lord mean when he says “After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God"? Doesn’t Nephi already know that?
  • 1 Ne 17:15: Nephi begins this verse with “wherefore.” In other words, what follows is a consequence of what preceded: Nephi strove to keep the commandments because the Lord promised that after arriving in the promised land he would know that the Lord is God, that the Lord delivered them, and that he brought them out of Jerusalem. How does that promise motivate Nephi’s striving for obedience?
  • 1 Ne 17:16: Were these ordinary tools or were they, like the ship, divinely designed?
  • 1 Ne 17:17: Was Nephi reluctant to share his ship building plans with his brothers or did he hope they would come around to believing in the plan once they saw his progress?
  • 1 Ne 17:18: In what circumstances did Laman and Lemuel blame the Lord for their misfortunes, rather than members of their immediate family?
  • 1 Ne 17:20: Is the claim that Nephi is like his father the only truth embedded in this accusation, or did Laman and Lemuel accurately represent the feelings of at least some of the young mothers in this group?
  • 1 Ne 17:21: Were Laman and Lemuel so shallow as to think that their pursuit of materialism could provide all of the happiness they wanted and needed in life?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Nephi’s brothers say that they know that the people of Jerusalem were righteous because they kept the law of Moses. Were they wrong about that, or is their standard of righteousness the problem?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. Does anyone have any insight into the meaning of this phrase? Can you point me toward sources for a better sense of the meaning of "statutes and judgments" in the Old Testament? The definitions that I added here are from an online version of Strong's, but I suspect that there is more to this phrase than that. Are there any good online sources for this sort of thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:23: Nephi responds to their complaints by asking them to remember the Lord’s dealing with Moses and Israel. (Remembrance is a major theme in the Book of Mormon.) How will that remembrance answer their complaints?
  • 1 Ne 17:24: To what extent does Nephi see himself as a Moses for the group he is leading to the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 17:25: Nephi seems to be comparing the exodus of the Lehi party from Jerusalem with the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Does he mean to equate the experience of Lehi's family in Jerusalem with the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt? If so, in what way was Lehi's family in bondage in Jerusalem?
  • 1 Ne 17:26: Was Nephi saying they had been taught these stories or that they had a testimony of what happened back then?
  • 1 Ne 17:27: What is Nephi signaling to his brothers with his use of the word "but"?
  • 1 Ne 17:28: Would it be more accurate for Nephi to say "ye have heard"?
  • 1 Ne 17:30: Why is the word "Redeemer" absent from the writings of Moses?
  • 1 Ne 17:31: What does this verse mean by “there was not anything done save it was by his word"? What things is Nephi talking about, what the children of Israel did or what happened to them? What does “by his word” mean in this context?
  • 1 Ne 17:32: Was this the only version of the settlement of Canaan story that Nephi had ever heard?
  • 1 Ne 17:33: How can Nephi make such a sweeping and unfavorable judgment of the non-Jewish people who were in Canaan, when the Book of Mormon teaches that there must have been enough righteous individuals among the Canaanites for the Lord to deliver scripture to them and all other "nations of the earth" ([2 Ne 29:7)?
  • 1 Ne 17:34: Is Nephi hinting at the possibility that Jews did not have a monopoly on being the Lord's chosen people, that it was possible for righteous non-Jews to become "choice" in the eyes of the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:35: What does it mean to esteem (to value?) all flesh as one but to favor the righteous? How do esteem and favor differ?
  • 1 Ne 17:37: Does he wait longer to destroy wicked nations in this, the modern age, than he did in ancient times?
  • 1 Ne 17:38: Are some lands inherently more precious than others or is it the degree of righteousness or wickedness of the people living upon them that largely determines the worth of the land?
  • 1 Ne 17:39: What is the function of a footstool?
  • 1 Ne 17:40: How does Nephi explain Israel’s salvation? Is it because Israel was worthy of salvation? What does it mean to say that the Lord remembers his covenants? What does Nephi’s teaching in this verse suggest about us today? about our children?
  • 1 Ne 17:41: Are chastening and straitening the same thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:42: Why doesn't Nephi distinguish between generations who were wicked and those who were more righteous?
  • 1 Ne 17:43: What explanation would Nephi have given for the preservation of these few?
  • 1 Ne 17:45: Does this verse imply that the "still small voice" speaks without words, at least in the audible sense?
  • 1 Ne 17:46: Why does Nephi mix prophesied certainties with statements of capability?
  • 1 Ne 17:47: In the Old Testament, anguish is what sinners feel. After Christ comes, sorrow is what his disciples feel for the sins of the world. Is Nephi feeling both of these emotions?
  • 1 Ne 17:48: What does Nephi mean when he says the power of God is consuming his flesh? Is he echoing Old Testament passages that talk about sacrifices where divine fire consumes the flesh of the animal?
  • 1 Ne 17:49: Why is the word "labor"--which is found here and throughout the restoration scriptures--absent from the Bible?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Why doesn't Nephi say that whatever the Lord commands will "happen"?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Who or what is performing the action when Nephi says "it would be done"?
  • 1 Ne 17:51: What does vs. 51 tell us about God's willingness to instruct us in "mundane" tasks? Can we get similarly detailed instructions for the things God has commanded us to do?
  • 1 Ne 17:52: If Nephi's brothers were "past feeling," then what were they experiencing when the Spirit powerfully "wrought upon them"?
  • 1 Ne 17:53: Is the promise that Laman and Lemuel would "not wither" proof that they had suddenly started repenting?
  • 1 Ne 17:54: How should we interpret Nephi's use of physical force against his brothers in light of modern LDS instructions not to exercise dominion through compulsory means(D&C 121:37)?
  • 1 Ne 17:55: Why did Laman and Lemuel confess the hand of the Lord and then seemingly immediately attribute the divine intervention to their brother Nephi?
  • 1 Ne 18:1: Why didn't Nephi make a record of the ship building plans that he could refer back to as needed? Was the Lord providing feedback to Nephi's neophyte attempts at ship building?
  • 1 Ne 18:2: Was the boat designed to follow the laws of physics?
  • 1 Ne 18:3: Did these "great things" that Nephi beheld after mountain-top prayer pertain only to ship building? Or is it likely that Nephi's diligence was rewarded with even greater knowledge?
  • 1 Ne 18:4: What kinds of divinely-inspired workmanship in the world today can still inspire humility in the hearts of the children of men? To what degree is Alma's claim still applicable that all things upon the face of the earth are sufficient signs to turn people into believers (see Alma 30:44)?

Resources[edit]

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Notes[edit]

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1 Ne 17:21-25

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Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 17 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 17, the story of building the boat, consists of five major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 17 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 17: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• Nephi instructed to build a boat (17:7-16)
• brothers complain (17:17-22)
• Nephi's exhortation (17:23-47)
• brothers confounded (17:48-55)
• the boat is built (18:1-4)

1 Ne 17:7-16: Nephi instructed to build a boat[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:13-14: Recognizing the Lord's hand. The Lord stresses that Nephi will come to know that the Lord had led Nephi and his people to the promised land. It is interesting that the Lord seems to desire not just that his people be delivered but that they realize that it is by his hand that it happens. The Lord follows this pattern in other dealings with his people--such as in Exodus 3, where the Lord stresses the importance of letting Pharaoh and the other Israelites know that it is by his hand and authority that Moses comes to deliver them. Later, in Exodus 20:5 the Lord goes so far as to say he is a "jealous God." In modern times we are commanded to "confess his hand in all things" (D&C 59:21). It appears to be important doctrine to recognize the Lord's hand in good things that happen--and in turn the importance of doing good in the name of the Lord. Some Christian sects take this doctrine to the extreme of arguing that morality does not count unless done as an act of faith--in the name of the Lord (see, e.g., The Deadly Dangers of Moralism). Such a doctrine seems inconsistent with scriptural passages where the Lord indicates he will bless non-believing people for the commandments they do keep (see, e.g., Jacob 3:5-6). That said, it seems obvious that to take the next step beyond being just a moral people to being the Lord's covenant people requires an actual relationship with him. Such a relationship in turn requires knowledge of God and what he has done and will do for us.

1 Ne 17:17-22: Laman and Lemuel complain[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:21. Verse 21 shows what damage can happen from looking back. Luke 9:62 reminds us that we should not look back once we have made a righteous choice.
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. This term appears repeatedly in the Old Testament (see, e.g., Deut 4:1), where it is a translation of two words. Choq is the word translated as "statute." It means an ordinance, limit, boundary enactment, decree, ordinance specific decree law in general enactments, or civil enactments prescribed by God. It is derived from the word chaqaq, which means to carve, cut, or inscribe. Mishpat is the word translated as "judgment." It refers to the act of deciding a legal case, a court, litigation, a judicial decision or right and justice. It is derived from the word shaphat which is a verb meaning to govern or judge. The phrase "statutes and judgments" also appears elsewhere in the Book of Mormon (see, e.g., 2 Ne 1:16).
  • 1 Ne 17:22-24. These verses set up the extended discourse by Nephi that follows. In verse 22 Nephi's brothers insist that the people at Jerusalem were "a righteous people" because they "kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his comandments, according to the law of Moses." One way of looking at this confrontation and others between Nephi and his brothers is to see it as a contest between dueling approaches to reading the scriptures. Notice that Laman and Lemuel are not irreligious. They appeal to scripture, but do so in a particular way, adopting a self-consciously legal approach to them. They refer to Moses, but only as a lawgiver and their focus is on "the statutes and judgements" of that law. Nephi responds by also invoking Moses, but in a very different way, namely as a prophet who led his people from bondage to a promised land. Notice that Nephi's reading of the Moses story implicitly places himself and his brothers within the narrative. In doing so, he recapitulates an earlier confrontation over interpretation (see 1 Ne 15:5 ), but this time in a much more elaborate manner.
  • 1 Ne 17:22. This verse shows Laman's understanding of what it means to be righteous. He says, "And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people;". So, to him, to be righteous means to keep the statutes and judgments, and all the commandments of the Lord, according to the law of Moses. To Laman, keeping the behavioral laws passed down to them, like how many steps you can take on the Sabbath, was the definition of righteousness. "Keep the commandments" meant to be obedient to the past commandments of God, given to the prophets of old.
Nephi's definition of righteousness is in sharp contrast to Laman's. Everything Nephi says and does in this chapter reveals Nephi's 3-part definition -- a righteous person...
  • Is able to receive directives from God by revelation,
  • Believes that God will give them the power to bring them about whatever they are commanded, and
  • Is determined to act on God's here-and-now directives, no matter how far-fetched they seem.
Twice in this chapter Nephi provides an example of a righteous person, once in the front and once at the end, God commands Nephi personally to do something, and he does it. To Nephi, "keep the commandments" doesn't only mean obeying the commands of God given through past prophets (Laman's view), but extends beyond that to include the commandments God gives him personally in the present.

1 Ne 17:23-47: Nephi's exhortation[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:26-30. Notice that Nephi focuses in on three elements in this recounting of Moses's leading the children of Israel:
  • Crossing the Red Sea
  • Manna and water in the wilderness
  • Murmurring against the prophet
There seem to be clear analogs in the experience of the Lehite party. They now sit on the shore of a sea that the Lord has commanded them to cross. When Nephi broke his bow, the Lord provided the party with a way to get food in the wilderness. Laman and Lemuel have murmurred against Lehi. It is also possible that the reference to the pillar of fire that led the Children of Israel in the desert is also a reference to the pillar of fire that first appeared to Lehi ( 1 Ne 1:6 ) thus launching the family's exodus into the wilderness.
  • 1 Ne 17:30-42. Verses 37 & 38 appear to be the center of a thematic chiasm that looks like this:
30a - God leads his people to the promised land
31  - God's word
  30b - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
    35 - God favors/loves the righteous
    35 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
      36 - The Lord and the Earth
        37 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
        38 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
      39 - The Lord and the Earth
    40 - God favors/loves the righteous
    41 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
  42a - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
42b - God leads his people to the promised land
45+ - God's word
Nephi is trying here to get Laman to see the truth, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had become wicked and that the Lord was leading Lehi's family away because they were righteous. He emphasizes the ideas in 37 and 38 to try to persuade Laman that this is God's regular mode of operation - to lead out the righteous and then destroy the wicked. It will be interesting to see if this pattern is repeated in modern Israel's "Jerusalem" today.
  • 1 Ne 17:35: Ripe in iniquity. Nephi says here that the Israelites who entered the land of Canaan were favored over the previous inhabitants because those previous inhabitants were ripe in iniquity. This principle of the wicked being destroyed when they become ripe in iniquity, and the meaning of this term, are explored in the discussion of Hel 13:14.
  • It is important to note that Nephi did not tell his brethren that they "could not hear his words." Instead he was teaching them that spiritual messages most often come through feelings.
  • The Lord does not use an exotic method to send his children messages. He uses a medium that is already incredibly common to them. Because humans are creatures of emotion, the Lord's use of feelings to send messages to his children maximizes the number of people who will be equipped to receive these messages.
  • Because the Lord speaks to us through our feelings, we must ever be on guard to distinguish between our own emotions and feelings, one the one hand, and the feelings that carry the messages from our Heavenly Father on the other. These two things work through nearly the same channels and be easily mistaken for one another. The ability to figure out which feeling is which may be related to the gift of discernment. As we are obedient and perform the Lord's work here on earth, our capacity to distinguish between these two sources of feelings will be increased.
  • If we notice that the Lord seems to be sending us less messages, we should check ourselves and determine whether we have become the limiting factor. It may very well be that we have become too casual in our relationship with the Lord. To remedy this situation, we need to recommit to being obedient, loving, and serving.
  • Negativity in our thoughts, words, and actions can diminish the number of messages that we receive from the Lord. Dwelling on the negative in life can distort our natural feelings. We can find ourselves becoming cynical about situations, critical of others, and that everyone and everything falls short of our expectations. As we do so, we become emotionally crippled. We forget to find, or become unable to notice, the elements of good in everyone and everything. Once our feelings have become so one-sided, we shut ourselves out from the positive feelings that the Lord wants to send us. Should we be surprised to find it hard to communicate with a God who is the source of all goodness if we have convinced ourselves that his children and creation are full of faults?
  • In this verse, Nephi teaches that the Lord sends us messages made up of words as well as of feelings. Just like spiritual feelings are designed to be similar to our own emotions, these words from heaven are adapted to our own vocabulary. This means the Lord will send words to our minds that come from our own language. The words will be recognizable, in other words, because they are words with which we are already familiar.
  • Even though the Lord sends us words that we already know, it is the combination of those words that will be unique to the Lord. He will form the words he sends us into phrases and thoughts that we had not anticipated. Although he may bring things to our remembrance that we already knew, we will not have been thinking of these things at the time he sparked our memory. On other occasions, the Lord will reveal something new to us that is understandable because it is composed of words that we already know.
  • Elder B. H. Roberts used to say that the Spirit cannot draw upon an empty well. What this means is that the Spirit is limited in what it can reveal to us if we have a very small vocabulary and little schooling. As we gain an education and increase the number of words that we know, there is the potential that the Lord can send us more detailed messages. As our language and learning expand, the Lord can reveal to us a great number of connections between and patterns within the pieces of knowledge we have already obtained. Before we receive these revelations, however, these connections and patterns will not be obvious to us. It takes the influence of the Spirit to make us see what was always before our eyes or to understand what was comprehensible but never before comprehended.
  • The Lord likely wanted to send the same kinds of messages to Nephi and his brethren. They were, after all, in the same situation with needing to build a ship and to sail to the promised land. However, Nephi's ability to hearken to the Lord qualified him to receive more messages than his brethren. Like Nephi and his brethren, we may find ourselves in situations, like sacrament meetings, where just about everyone has the same ability to hear the same message with their physical ears. However, despite this common experience, there will likely be vast differences in the amount and types of spiritual impressions that each person in the congregation receives. Some of this revelation may be the same for most or all of the people in attendance, such as spiritual verification that what the speaker has said is true, but the rest of the revelation may be adapted to the needs and abilities of the individuals in the audience. Just as their were similarities and differences in the revelations received by Nephi and other members of his family, there can be unifying and personalized revelations received by us and the members of our wards.
  • Nephi teaches here that it is possible for people to reach the point where they are "past feeling" and can no longer detect the "still small voice." We should be aware of the things in our lives that dull our spiritual sensitivities and weaken our capacity to receives spiritual impressions through our feelings. In the world people talk about individuals who have suppressed, desensitized, or lost their conscience. This is an approximation of what Nephi is talking about. The result is that these individuals no longer feel a moral obligation to treat others with respect. The corollary is that love from another person may or may not touch the hearts of these individuals. It all depends on the extent to which these individuals have become "past feeling."
  • The Lord does not stop trying to talk to his children once they become "past feeling." He will, if necessary, use the language of physical force ("the voice of thunder") to get our attention. This switching on the Lord's part, from one mode of communication to another, is actually a demonstration of his mercy for his children. Rather than become offended that we have stopped listening to the still small voice, the Lord patiently and lovingly finds other channels through which to obtain our attention. He is slow to give up on us, even if we are quick to stop listening to him.
  • People are foolish and arrogant if they think their inability to hear and feel messages from the Lord is somehow proof that God no longer speaks to his children. These individuals are the ones who have broken the lines of communication. The Lord always stands ready to communicate to his children. In fact, the blame is entirely upon these individuals, rather than the Lord, because he has already made attempts to send messages to them, just like Laman and Lemuel received an angel, but they turned a deaf ear to these feelings and tuned out the Lord's voice to them.

1 Ne 17:48-55: Laman and Lemuel confounded[edit]

1 Ne 18:1-4: The boat is completed[edit]

Unanswered questions[edit]

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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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:7: What is the significance of prefacing, in the Old Testament way, this command with the word "Arise"?
  • 1 Ne 17:8: What precedents were there in scripture, that Nephi would have been familiar with, for building ships that were approved, let alone designed, by the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:9: In chapter 16, Nephi built a bow and asked his father where he should go to hunt. Here, he asks the Lord where he should go to find materials for the boat he is to build. Is that parallel instructive? What does this show us about Nephi? Does it suggest something for us?
  • 1 Ne 17:10: Was Nephi told, as well as shown, the exact location of the ore?
  • 1 Ne 17:11: Wouldn't Nephi have needed an oven or a catalyst, besides just blowing air, for super-hot fires that would make the ore molten?
  • 1 Ne 17:12: Were they allowed to build intense fires now that they were far removed from other societies who might notice their smoke?
  • 1 Ne 17:13: Was this a renewal or remaking of covenants?
  • 1 Ne 17:14: What does the Lord mean when he says “After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God"? Doesn’t Nephi already know that?
  • 1 Ne 17:15: Nephi begins this verse with “wherefore.” In other words, what follows is a consequence of what preceded: Nephi strove to keep the commandments because the Lord promised that after arriving in the promised land he would know that the Lord is God, that the Lord delivered them, and that he brought them out of Jerusalem. How does that promise motivate Nephi’s striving for obedience?
  • 1 Ne 17:16: Were these ordinary tools or were they, like the ship, divinely designed?
  • 1 Ne 17:17: Was Nephi reluctant to share his ship building plans with his brothers or did he hope they would come around to believing in the plan once they saw his progress?
  • 1 Ne 17:18: In what circumstances did Laman and Lemuel blame the Lord for their misfortunes, rather than members of their immediate family?
  • 1 Ne 17:20: Is the claim that Nephi is like his father the only truth embedded in this accusation, or did Laman and Lemuel accurately represent the feelings of at least some of the young mothers in this group?
  • 1 Ne 17:21: Were Laman and Lemuel so shallow as to think that their pursuit of materialism could provide all of the happiness they wanted and needed in life?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Nephi’s brothers say that they know that the people of Jerusalem were righteous because they kept the law of Moses. Were they wrong about that, or is their standard of righteousness the problem?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. Does anyone have any insight into the meaning of this phrase? Can you point me toward sources for a better sense of the meaning of "statutes and judgments" in the Old Testament? The definitions that I added here are from an online version of Strong's, but I suspect that there is more to this phrase than that. Are there any good online sources for this sort of thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:23: Nephi responds to their complaints by asking them to remember the Lord’s dealing with Moses and Israel. (Remembrance is a major theme in the Book of Mormon.) How will that remembrance answer their complaints?
  • 1 Ne 17:24: To what extent does Nephi see himself as a Moses for the group he is leading to the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 17:25: Nephi seems to be comparing the exodus of the Lehi party from Jerusalem with the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Does he mean to equate the experience of Lehi's family in Jerusalem with the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt? If so, in what way was Lehi's family in bondage in Jerusalem?
  • 1 Ne 17:26: Was Nephi saying they had been taught these stories or that they had a testimony of what happened back then?
  • 1 Ne 17:27: What is Nephi signaling to his brothers with his use of the word "but"?
  • 1 Ne 17:28: Would it be more accurate for Nephi to say "ye have heard"?
  • 1 Ne 17:30: Why is the word "Redeemer" absent from the writings of Moses?
  • 1 Ne 17:31: What does this verse mean by “there was not anything done save it was by his word"? What things is Nephi talking about, what the children of Israel did or what happened to them? What does “by his word” mean in this context?
  • 1 Ne 17:32: Was this the only version of the settlement of Canaan story that Nephi had ever heard?
  • 1 Ne 17:33: How can Nephi make such a sweeping and unfavorable judgment of the non-Jewish people who were in Canaan, when the Book of Mormon teaches that there must have been enough righteous individuals among the Canaanites for the Lord to deliver scripture to them and all other "nations of the earth" ([2 Ne 29:7)?
  • 1 Ne 17:34: Is Nephi hinting at the possibility that Jews did not have a monopoly on being the Lord's chosen people, that it was possible for righteous non-Jews to become "choice" in the eyes of the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:35: What does it mean to esteem (to value?) all flesh as one but to favor the righteous? How do esteem and favor differ?
  • 1 Ne 17:37: Does he wait longer to destroy wicked nations in this, the modern age, than he did in ancient times?
  • 1 Ne 17:38: Are some lands inherently more precious than others or is it the degree of righteousness or wickedness of the people living upon them that largely determines the worth of the land?
  • 1 Ne 17:39: What is the function of a footstool?
  • 1 Ne 17:40: How does Nephi explain Israel’s salvation? Is it because Israel was worthy of salvation? What does it mean to say that the Lord remembers his covenants? What does Nephi’s teaching in this verse suggest about us today? about our children?
  • 1 Ne 17:41: Are chastening and straitening the same thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:42: Why doesn't Nephi distinguish between generations who were wicked and those who were more righteous?
  • 1 Ne 17:43: What explanation would Nephi have given for the preservation of these few?
  • 1 Ne 17:45: Does this verse imply that the "still small voice" speaks without words, at least in the audible sense?
  • 1 Ne 17:46: Why does Nephi mix prophesied certainties with statements of capability?
  • 1 Ne 17:47: In the Old Testament, anguish is what sinners feel. After Christ comes, sorrow is what his disciples feel for the sins of the world. Is Nephi feeling both of these emotions?
  • 1 Ne 17:48: What does Nephi mean when he says the power of God is consuming his flesh? Is he echoing Old Testament passages that talk about sacrifices where divine fire consumes the flesh of the animal?
  • 1 Ne 17:49: Why is the word "labor"--which is found here and throughout the restoration scriptures--absent from the Bible?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Why doesn't Nephi say that whatever the Lord commands will "happen"?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Who or what is performing the action when Nephi says "it would be done"?
  • 1 Ne 17:51: What does vs. 51 tell us about God's willingness to instruct us in "mundane" tasks? Can we get similarly detailed instructions for the things God has commanded us to do?
  • 1 Ne 17:52: If Nephi's brothers were "past feeling," then what were they experiencing when the Spirit powerfully "wrought upon them"?
  • 1 Ne 17:53: Is the promise that Laman and Lemuel would "not wither" proof that they had suddenly started repenting?
  • 1 Ne 17:54: How should we interpret Nephi's use of physical force against his brothers in light of modern LDS instructions not to exercise dominion through compulsory means(D&C 121:37)?
  • 1 Ne 17:55: Why did Laman and Lemuel confess the hand of the Lord and then seemingly immediately attribute the divine intervention to their brother Nephi?
  • 1 Ne 18:1: Why didn't Nephi make a record of the ship building plans that he could refer back to as needed? Was the Lord providing feedback to Nephi's neophyte attempts at ship building?
  • 1 Ne 18:2: Was the boat designed to follow the laws of physics?
  • 1 Ne 18:3: Did these "great things" that Nephi beheld after mountain-top prayer pertain only to ship building? Or is it likely that Nephi's diligence was rewarded with even greater knowledge?
  • 1 Ne 18:4: What kinds of divinely-inspired workmanship in the world today can still inspire humility in the hearts of the children of men? To what degree is Alma's claim still applicable that all things upon the face of the earth are sufficient signs to turn people into believers (see Alma 30:44)?

Resources[edit]

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Notes[edit]

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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1 Ne 17:26-30

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 17 / Verses 17:7-18:4
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Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 17 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 17, the story of building the boat, consists of five major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 17 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 17: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• Nephi instructed to build a boat (17:7-16)
• brothers complain (17:17-22)
• Nephi's exhortation (17:23-47)
• brothers confounded (17:48-55)
• the boat is built (18:1-4)

1 Ne 17:7-16: Nephi instructed to build a boat[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:13-14: Recognizing the Lord's hand. The Lord stresses that Nephi will come to know that the Lord had led Nephi and his people to the promised land. It is interesting that the Lord seems to desire not just that his people be delivered but that they realize that it is by his hand that it happens. The Lord follows this pattern in other dealings with his people--such as in Exodus 3, where the Lord stresses the importance of letting Pharaoh and the other Israelites know that it is by his hand and authority that Moses comes to deliver them. Later, in Exodus 20:5 the Lord goes so far as to say he is a "jealous God." In modern times we are commanded to "confess his hand in all things" (D&C 59:21). It appears to be important doctrine to recognize the Lord's hand in good things that happen--and in turn the importance of doing good in the name of the Lord. Some Christian sects take this doctrine to the extreme of arguing that morality does not count unless done as an act of faith--in the name of the Lord (see, e.g., The Deadly Dangers of Moralism). Such a doctrine seems inconsistent with scriptural passages where the Lord indicates he will bless non-believing people for the commandments they do keep (see, e.g., Jacob 3:5-6). That said, it seems obvious that to take the next step beyond being just a moral people to being the Lord's covenant people requires an actual relationship with him. Such a relationship in turn requires knowledge of God and what he has done and will do for us.

1 Ne 17:17-22: Laman and Lemuel complain[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:21. Verse 21 shows what damage can happen from looking back. Luke 9:62 reminds us that we should not look back once we have made a righteous choice.
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. This term appears repeatedly in the Old Testament (see, e.g., Deut 4:1), where it is a translation of two words. Choq is the word translated as "statute." It means an ordinance, limit, boundary enactment, decree, ordinance specific decree law in general enactments, or civil enactments prescribed by God. It is derived from the word chaqaq, which means to carve, cut, or inscribe. Mishpat is the word translated as "judgment." It refers to the act of deciding a legal case, a court, litigation, a judicial decision or right and justice. It is derived from the word shaphat which is a verb meaning to govern or judge. The phrase "statutes and judgments" also appears elsewhere in the Book of Mormon (see, e.g., 2 Ne 1:16).
  • 1 Ne 17:22-24. These verses set up the extended discourse by Nephi that follows. In verse 22 Nephi's brothers insist that the people at Jerusalem were "a righteous people" because they "kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his comandments, according to the law of Moses." One way of looking at this confrontation and others between Nephi and his brothers is to see it as a contest between dueling approaches to reading the scriptures. Notice that Laman and Lemuel are not irreligious. They appeal to scripture, but do so in a particular way, adopting a self-consciously legal approach to them. They refer to Moses, but only as a lawgiver and their focus is on "the statutes and judgements" of that law. Nephi responds by also invoking Moses, but in a very different way, namely as a prophet who led his people from bondage to a promised land. Notice that Nephi's reading of the Moses story implicitly places himself and his brothers within the narrative. In doing so, he recapitulates an earlier confrontation over interpretation (see 1 Ne 15:5 ), but this time in a much more elaborate manner.
  • 1 Ne 17:22. This verse shows Laman's understanding of what it means to be righteous. He says, "And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people;". So, to him, to be righteous means to keep the statutes and judgments, and all the commandments of the Lord, according to the law of Moses. To Laman, keeping the behavioral laws passed down to them, like how many steps you can take on the Sabbath, was the definition of righteousness. "Keep the commandments" meant to be obedient to the past commandments of God, given to the prophets of old.
Nephi's definition of righteousness is in sharp contrast to Laman's. Everything Nephi says and does in this chapter reveals Nephi's 3-part definition -- a righteous person...
  • Is able to receive directives from God by revelation,
  • Believes that God will give them the power to bring them about whatever they are commanded, and
  • Is determined to act on God's here-and-now directives, no matter how far-fetched they seem.
Twice in this chapter Nephi provides an example of a righteous person, once in the front and once at the end, God commands Nephi personally to do something, and he does it. To Nephi, "keep the commandments" doesn't only mean obeying the commands of God given through past prophets (Laman's view), but extends beyond that to include the commandments God gives him personally in the present.

1 Ne 17:23-47: Nephi's exhortation[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:26-30. Notice that Nephi focuses in on three elements in this recounting of Moses's leading the children of Israel:
  • Crossing the Red Sea
  • Manna and water in the wilderness
  • Murmurring against the prophet
There seem to be clear analogs in the experience of the Lehite party. They now sit on the shore of a sea that the Lord has commanded them to cross. When Nephi broke his bow, the Lord provided the party with a way to get food in the wilderness. Laman and Lemuel have murmurred against Lehi. It is also possible that the reference to the pillar of fire that led the Children of Israel in the desert is also a reference to the pillar of fire that first appeared to Lehi ( 1 Ne 1:6 ) thus launching the family's exodus into the wilderness.
  • 1 Ne 17:30-42. Verses 37 & 38 appear to be the center of a thematic chiasm that looks like this:
30a - God leads his people to the promised land
31  - God's word
  30b - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
    35 - God favors/loves the righteous
    35 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
      36 - The Lord and the Earth
        37 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
        38 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
      39 - The Lord and the Earth
    40 - God favors/loves the righteous
    41 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
  42a - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
42b - God leads his people to the promised land
45+ - God's word
Nephi is trying here to get Laman to see the truth, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had become wicked and that the Lord was leading Lehi's family away because they were righteous. He emphasizes the ideas in 37 and 38 to try to persuade Laman that this is God's regular mode of operation - to lead out the righteous and then destroy the wicked. It will be interesting to see if this pattern is repeated in modern Israel's "Jerusalem" today.
  • 1 Ne 17:35: Ripe in iniquity. Nephi says here that the Israelites who entered the land of Canaan were favored over the previous inhabitants because those previous inhabitants were ripe in iniquity. This principle of the wicked being destroyed when they become ripe in iniquity, and the meaning of this term, are explored in the discussion of Hel 13:14.
  • It is important to note that Nephi did not tell his brethren that they "could not hear his words." Instead he was teaching them that spiritual messages most often come through feelings.
  • The Lord does not use an exotic method to send his children messages. He uses a medium that is already incredibly common to them. Because humans are creatures of emotion, the Lord's use of feelings to send messages to his children maximizes the number of people who will be equipped to receive these messages.
  • Because the Lord speaks to us through our feelings, we must ever be on guard to distinguish between our own emotions and feelings, one the one hand, and the feelings that carry the messages from our Heavenly Father on the other. These two things work through nearly the same channels and be easily mistaken for one another. The ability to figure out which feeling is which may be related to the gift of discernment. As we are obedient and perform the Lord's work here on earth, our capacity to distinguish between these two sources of feelings will be increased.
  • If we notice that the Lord seems to be sending us less messages, we should check ourselves and determine whether we have become the limiting factor. It may very well be that we have become too casual in our relationship with the Lord. To remedy this situation, we need to recommit to being obedient, loving, and serving.
  • Negativity in our thoughts, words, and actions can diminish the number of messages that we receive from the Lord. Dwelling on the negative in life can distort our natural feelings. We can find ourselves becoming cynical about situations, critical of others, and that everyone and everything falls short of our expectations. As we do so, we become emotionally crippled. We forget to find, or become unable to notice, the elements of good in everyone and everything. Once our feelings have become so one-sided, we shut ourselves out from the positive feelings that the Lord wants to send us. Should we be surprised to find it hard to communicate with a God who is the source of all goodness if we have convinced ourselves that his children and creation are full of faults?
  • In this verse, Nephi teaches that the Lord sends us messages made up of words as well as of feelings. Just like spiritual feelings are designed to be similar to our own emotions, these words from heaven are adapted to our own vocabulary. This means the Lord will send words to our minds that come from our own language. The words will be recognizable, in other words, because they are words with which we are already familiar.
  • Even though the Lord sends us words that we already know, it is the combination of those words that will be unique to the Lord. He will form the words he sends us into phrases and thoughts that we had not anticipated. Although he may bring things to our remembrance that we already knew, we will not have been thinking of these things at the time he sparked our memory. On other occasions, the Lord will reveal something new to us that is understandable because it is composed of words that we already know.
  • Elder B. H. Roberts used to say that the Spirit cannot draw upon an empty well. What this means is that the Spirit is limited in what it can reveal to us if we have a very small vocabulary and little schooling. As we gain an education and increase the number of words that we know, there is the potential that the Lord can send us more detailed messages. As our language and learning expand, the Lord can reveal to us a great number of connections between and patterns within the pieces of knowledge we have already obtained. Before we receive these revelations, however, these connections and patterns will not be obvious to us. It takes the influence of the Spirit to make us see what was always before our eyes or to understand what was comprehensible but never before comprehended.
  • The Lord likely wanted to send the same kinds of messages to Nephi and his brethren. They were, after all, in the same situation with needing to build a ship and to sail to the promised land. However, Nephi's ability to hearken to the Lord qualified him to receive more messages than his brethren. Like Nephi and his brethren, we may find ourselves in situations, like sacrament meetings, where just about everyone has the same ability to hear the same message with their physical ears. However, despite this common experience, there will likely be vast differences in the amount and types of spiritual impressions that each person in the congregation receives. Some of this revelation may be the same for most or all of the people in attendance, such as spiritual verification that what the speaker has said is true, but the rest of the revelation may be adapted to the needs and abilities of the individuals in the audience. Just as their were similarities and differences in the revelations received by Nephi and other members of his family, there can be unifying and personalized revelations received by us and the members of our wards.
  • Nephi teaches here that it is possible for people to reach the point where they are "past feeling" and can no longer detect the "still small voice." We should be aware of the things in our lives that dull our spiritual sensitivities and weaken our capacity to receives spiritual impressions through our feelings. In the world people talk about individuals who have suppressed, desensitized, or lost their conscience. This is an approximation of what Nephi is talking about. The result is that these individuals no longer feel a moral obligation to treat others with respect. The corollary is that love from another person may or may not touch the hearts of these individuals. It all depends on the extent to which these individuals have become "past feeling."
  • The Lord does not stop trying to talk to his children once they become "past feeling." He will, if necessary, use the language of physical force ("the voice of thunder") to get our attention. This switching on the Lord's part, from one mode of communication to another, is actually a demonstration of his mercy for his children. Rather than become offended that we have stopped listening to the still small voice, the Lord patiently and lovingly finds other channels through which to obtain our attention. He is slow to give up on us, even if we are quick to stop listening to him.
  • People are foolish and arrogant if they think their inability to hear and feel messages from the Lord is somehow proof that God no longer speaks to his children. These individuals are the ones who have broken the lines of communication. The Lord always stands ready to communicate to his children. In fact, the blame is entirely upon these individuals, rather than the Lord, because he has already made attempts to send messages to them, just like Laman and Lemuel received an angel, but they turned a deaf ear to these feelings and tuned out the Lord's voice to them.

1 Ne 17:48-55: Laman and Lemuel confounded[edit]

1 Ne 18:1-4: The boat is completed[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:7: What is the significance of prefacing, in the Old Testament way, this command with the word "Arise"?
  • 1 Ne 17:8: What precedents were there in scripture, that Nephi would have been familiar with, for building ships that were approved, let alone designed, by the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:9: In chapter 16, Nephi built a bow and asked his father where he should go to hunt. Here, he asks the Lord where he should go to find materials for the boat he is to build. Is that parallel instructive? What does this show us about Nephi? Does it suggest something for us?
  • 1 Ne 17:10: Was Nephi told, as well as shown, the exact location of the ore?
  • 1 Ne 17:11: Wouldn't Nephi have needed an oven or a catalyst, besides just blowing air, for super-hot fires that would make the ore molten?
  • 1 Ne 17:12: Were they allowed to build intense fires now that they were far removed from other societies who might notice their smoke?
  • 1 Ne 17:13: Was this a renewal or remaking of covenants?
  • 1 Ne 17:14: What does the Lord mean when he says “After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God"? Doesn’t Nephi already know that?
  • 1 Ne 17:15: Nephi begins this verse with “wherefore.” In other words, what follows is a consequence of what preceded: Nephi strove to keep the commandments because the Lord promised that after arriving in the promised land he would know that the Lord is God, that the Lord delivered them, and that he brought them out of Jerusalem. How does that promise motivate Nephi’s striving for obedience?
  • 1 Ne 17:16: Were these ordinary tools or were they, like the ship, divinely designed?
  • 1 Ne 17:17: Was Nephi reluctant to share his ship building plans with his brothers or did he hope they would come around to believing in the plan once they saw his progress?
  • 1 Ne 17:18: In what circumstances did Laman and Lemuel blame the Lord for their misfortunes, rather than members of their immediate family?
  • 1 Ne 17:20: Is the claim that Nephi is like his father the only truth embedded in this accusation, or did Laman and Lemuel accurately represent the feelings of at least some of the young mothers in this group?
  • 1 Ne 17:21: Were Laman and Lemuel so shallow as to think that their pursuit of materialism could provide all of the happiness they wanted and needed in life?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Nephi’s brothers say that they know that the people of Jerusalem were righteous because they kept the law of Moses. Were they wrong about that, or is their standard of righteousness the problem?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. Does anyone have any insight into the meaning of this phrase? Can you point me toward sources for a better sense of the meaning of "statutes and judgments" in the Old Testament? The definitions that I added here are from an online version of Strong's, but I suspect that there is more to this phrase than that. Are there any good online sources for this sort of thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:23: Nephi responds to their complaints by asking them to remember the Lord’s dealing with Moses and Israel. (Remembrance is a major theme in the Book of Mormon.) How will that remembrance answer their complaints?
  • 1 Ne 17:24: To what extent does Nephi see himself as a Moses for the group he is leading to the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 17:25: Nephi seems to be comparing the exodus of the Lehi party from Jerusalem with the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Does he mean to equate the experience of Lehi's family in Jerusalem with the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt? If so, in what way was Lehi's family in bondage in Jerusalem?
  • 1 Ne 17:26: Was Nephi saying they had been taught these stories or that they had a testimony of what happened back then?
  • 1 Ne 17:27: What is Nephi signaling to his brothers with his use of the word "but"?
  • 1 Ne 17:28: Would it be more accurate for Nephi to say "ye have heard"?
  • 1 Ne 17:30: Why is the word "Redeemer" absent from the writings of Moses?
  • 1 Ne 17:31: What does this verse mean by “there was not anything done save it was by his word"? What things is Nephi talking about, what the children of Israel did or what happened to them? What does “by his word” mean in this context?
  • 1 Ne 17:32: Was this the only version of the settlement of Canaan story that Nephi had ever heard?
  • 1 Ne 17:33: How can Nephi make such a sweeping and unfavorable judgment of the non-Jewish people who were in Canaan, when the Book of Mormon teaches that there must have been enough righteous individuals among the Canaanites for the Lord to deliver scripture to them and all other "nations of the earth" ([2 Ne 29:7)?
  • 1 Ne 17:34: Is Nephi hinting at the possibility that Jews did not have a monopoly on being the Lord's chosen people, that it was possible for righteous non-Jews to become "choice" in the eyes of the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:35: What does it mean to esteem (to value?) all flesh as one but to favor the righteous? How do esteem and favor differ?
  • 1 Ne 17:37: Does he wait longer to destroy wicked nations in this, the modern age, than he did in ancient times?
  • 1 Ne 17:38: Are some lands inherently more precious than others or is it the degree of righteousness or wickedness of the people living upon them that largely determines the worth of the land?
  • 1 Ne 17:39: What is the function of a footstool?
  • 1 Ne 17:40: How does Nephi explain Israel’s salvation? Is it because Israel was worthy of salvation? What does it mean to say that the Lord remembers his covenants? What does Nephi’s teaching in this verse suggest about us today? about our children?
  • 1 Ne 17:41: Are chastening and straitening the same thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:42: Why doesn't Nephi distinguish between generations who were wicked and those who were more righteous?
  • 1 Ne 17:43: What explanation would Nephi have given for the preservation of these few?
  • 1 Ne 17:45: Does this verse imply that the "still small voice" speaks without words, at least in the audible sense?
  • 1 Ne 17:46: Why does Nephi mix prophesied certainties with statements of capability?
  • 1 Ne 17:47: In the Old Testament, anguish is what sinners feel. After Christ comes, sorrow is what his disciples feel for the sins of the world. Is Nephi feeling both of these emotions?
  • 1 Ne 17:48: What does Nephi mean when he says the power of God is consuming his flesh? Is he echoing Old Testament passages that talk about sacrifices where divine fire consumes the flesh of the animal?
  • 1 Ne 17:49: Why is the word "labor"--which is found here and throughout the restoration scriptures--absent from the Bible?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Why doesn't Nephi say that whatever the Lord commands will "happen"?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Who or what is performing the action when Nephi says "it would be done"?
  • 1 Ne 17:51: What does vs. 51 tell us about God's willingness to instruct us in "mundane" tasks? Can we get similarly detailed instructions for the things God has commanded us to do?
  • 1 Ne 17:52: If Nephi's brothers were "past feeling," then what were they experiencing when the Spirit powerfully "wrought upon them"?
  • 1 Ne 17:53: Is the promise that Laman and Lemuel would "not wither" proof that they had suddenly started repenting?
  • 1 Ne 17:54: How should we interpret Nephi's use of physical force against his brothers in light of modern LDS instructions not to exercise dominion through compulsory means(D&C 121:37)?
  • 1 Ne 17:55: Why did Laman and Lemuel confess the hand of the Lord and then seemingly immediately attribute the divine intervention to their brother Nephi?
  • 1 Ne 18:1: Why didn't Nephi make a record of the ship building plans that he could refer back to as needed? Was the Lord providing feedback to Nephi's neophyte attempts at ship building?
  • 1 Ne 18:2: Was the boat designed to follow the laws of physics?
  • 1 Ne 18:3: Did these "great things" that Nephi beheld after mountain-top prayer pertain only to ship building? Or is it likely that Nephi's diligence was rewarded with even greater knowledge?
  • 1 Ne 18:4: What kinds of divinely-inspired workmanship in the world today can still inspire humility in the hearts of the children of men? To what degree is Alma's claim still applicable that all things upon the face of the earth are sufficient signs to turn people into believers (see Alma 30:44)?

Resources[edit]

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Notes[edit]

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1 Ne 17:31-35

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 17 / Verses 17:7-18:4
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Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 17 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 17, the story of building the boat, consists of five major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 17 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 17: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• Nephi instructed to build a boat (17:7-16)
• brothers complain (17:17-22)
• Nephi's exhortation (17:23-47)
• brothers confounded (17:48-55)
• the boat is built (18:1-4)

1 Ne 17:7-16: Nephi instructed to build a boat[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:13-14: Recognizing the Lord's hand. The Lord stresses that Nephi will come to know that the Lord had led Nephi and his people to the promised land. It is interesting that the Lord seems to desire not just that his people be delivered but that they realize that it is by his hand that it happens. The Lord follows this pattern in other dealings with his people--such as in Exodus 3, where the Lord stresses the importance of letting Pharaoh and the other Israelites know that it is by his hand and authority that Moses comes to deliver them. Later, in Exodus 20:5 the Lord goes so far as to say he is a "jealous God." In modern times we are commanded to "confess his hand in all things" (D&C 59:21). It appears to be important doctrine to recognize the Lord's hand in good things that happen--and in turn the importance of doing good in the name of the Lord. Some Christian sects take this doctrine to the extreme of arguing that morality does not count unless done as an act of faith--in the name of the Lord (see, e.g., The Deadly Dangers of Moralism). Such a doctrine seems inconsistent with scriptural passages where the Lord indicates he will bless non-believing people for the commandments they do keep (see, e.g., Jacob 3:5-6). That said, it seems obvious that to take the next step beyond being just a moral people to being the Lord's covenant people requires an actual relationship with him. Such a relationship in turn requires knowledge of God and what he has done and will do for us.

1 Ne 17:17-22: Laman and Lemuel complain[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:21. Verse 21 shows what damage can happen from looking back. Luke 9:62 reminds us that we should not look back once we have made a righteous choice.
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. This term appears repeatedly in the Old Testament (see, e.g., Deut 4:1), where it is a translation of two words. Choq is the word translated as "statute." It means an ordinance, limit, boundary enactment, decree, ordinance specific decree law in general enactments, or civil enactments prescribed by God. It is derived from the word chaqaq, which means to carve, cut, or inscribe. Mishpat is the word translated as "judgment." It refers to the act of deciding a legal case, a court, litigation, a judicial decision or right and justice. It is derived from the word shaphat which is a verb meaning to govern or judge. The phrase "statutes and judgments" also appears elsewhere in the Book of Mormon (see, e.g., 2 Ne 1:16).
  • 1 Ne 17:22-24. These verses set up the extended discourse by Nephi that follows. In verse 22 Nephi's brothers insist that the people at Jerusalem were "a righteous people" because they "kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his comandments, according to the law of Moses." One way of looking at this confrontation and others between Nephi and his brothers is to see it as a contest between dueling approaches to reading the scriptures. Notice that Laman and Lemuel are not irreligious. They appeal to scripture, but do so in a particular way, adopting a self-consciously legal approach to them. They refer to Moses, but only as a lawgiver and their focus is on "the statutes and judgements" of that law. Nephi responds by also invoking Moses, but in a very different way, namely as a prophet who led his people from bondage to a promised land. Notice that Nephi's reading of the Moses story implicitly places himself and his brothers within the narrative. In doing so, he recapitulates an earlier confrontation over interpretation (see 1 Ne 15:5 ), but this time in a much more elaborate manner.
  • 1 Ne 17:22. This verse shows Laman's understanding of what it means to be righteous. He says, "And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people;". So, to him, to be righteous means to keep the statutes and judgments, and all the commandments of the Lord, according to the law of Moses. To Laman, keeping the behavioral laws passed down to them, like how many steps you can take on the Sabbath, was the definition of righteousness. "Keep the commandments" meant to be obedient to the past commandments of God, given to the prophets of old.
Nephi's definition of righteousness is in sharp contrast to Laman's. Everything Nephi says and does in this chapter reveals Nephi's 3-part definition -- a righteous person...
  • Is able to receive directives from God by revelation,
  • Believes that God will give them the power to bring them about whatever they are commanded, and
  • Is determined to act on God's here-and-now directives, no matter how far-fetched they seem.
Twice in this chapter Nephi provides an example of a righteous person, once in the front and once at the end, God commands Nephi personally to do something, and he does it. To Nephi, "keep the commandments" doesn't only mean obeying the commands of God given through past prophets (Laman's view), but extends beyond that to include the commandments God gives him personally in the present.

1 Ne 17:23-47: Nephi's exhortation[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:26-30. Notice that Nephi focuses in on three elements in this recounting of Moses's leading the children of Israel:
  • Crossing the Red Sea
  • Manna and water in the wilderness
  • Murmurring against the prophet
There seem to be clear analogs in the experience of the Lehite party. They now sit on the shore of a sea that the Lord has commanded them to cross. When Nephi broke his bow, the Lord provided the party with a way to get food in the wilderness. Laman and Lemuel have murmurred against Lehi. It is also possible that the reference to the pillar of fire that led the Children of Israel in the desert is also a reference to the pillar of fire that first appeared to Lehi ( 1 Ne 1:6 ) thus launching the family's exodus into the wilderness.
  • 1 Ne 17:30-42. Verses 37 & 38 appear to be the center of a thematic chiasm that looks like this:
30a - God leads his people to the promised land
31  - God's word
  30b - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
    35 - God favors/loves the righteous
    35 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
      36 - The Lord and the Earth
        37 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
        38 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
      39 - The Lord and the Earth
    40 - God favors/loves the righteous
    41 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
  42a - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
42b - God leads his people to the promised land
45+ - God's word
Nephi is trying here to get Laman to see the truth, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had become wicked and that the Lord was leading Lehi's family away because they were righteous. He emphasizes the ideas in 37 and 38 to try to persuade Laman that this is God's regular mode of operation - to lead out the righteous and then destroy the wicked. It will be interesting to see if this pattern is repeated in modern Israel's "Jerusalem" today.
  • 1 Ne 17:35: Ripe in iniquity. Nephi says here that the Israelites who entered the land of Canaan were favored over the previous inhabitants because those previous inhabitants were ripe in iniquity. This principle of the wicked being destroyed when they become ripe in iniquity, and the meaning of this term, are explored in the discussion of Hel 13:14.
  • It is important to note that Nephi did not tell his brethren that they "could not hear his words." Instead he was teaching them that spiritual messages most often come through feelings.
  • The Lord does not use an exotic method to send his children messages. He uses a medium that is already incredibly common to them. Because humans are creatures of emotion, the Lord's use of feelings to send messages to his children maximizes the number of people who will be equipped to receive these messages.
  • Because the Lord speaks to us through our feelings, we must ever be on guard to distinguish between our own emotions and feelings, one the one hand, and the feelings that carry the messages from our Heavenly Father on the other. These two things work through nearly the same channels and be easily mistaken for one another. The ability to figure out which feeling is which may be related to the gift of discernment. As we are obedient and perform the Lord's work here on earth, our capacity to distinguish between these two sources of feelings will be increased.
  • If we notice that the Lord seems to be sending us less messages, we should check ourselves and determine whether we have become the limiting factor. It may very well be that we have become too casual in our relationship with the Lord. To remedy this situation, we need to recommit to being obedient, loving, and serving.
  • Negativity in our thoughts, words, and actions can diminish the number of messages that we receive from the Lord. Dwelling on the negative in life can distort our natural feelings. We can find ourselves becoming cynical about situations, critical of others, and that everyone and everything falls short of our expectations. As we do so, we become emotionally crippled. We forget to find, or become unable to notice, the elements of good in everyone and everything. Once our feelings have become so one-sided, we shut ourselves out from the positive feelings that the Lord wants to send us. Should we be surprised to find it hard to communicate with a God who is the source of all goodness if we have convinced ourselves that his children and creation are full of faults?
  • In this verse, Nephi teaches that the Lord sends us messages made up of words as well as of feelings. Just like spiritual feelings are designed to be similar to our own emotions, these words from heaven are adapted to our own vocabulary. This means the Lord will send words to our minds that come from our own language. The words will be recognizable, in other words, because they are words with which we are already familiar.
  • Even though the Lord sends us words that we already know, it is the combination of those words that will be unique to the Lord. He will form the words he sends us into phrases and thoughts that we had not anticipated. Although he may bring things to our remembrance that we already knew, we will not have been thinking of these things at the time he sparked our memory. On other occasions, the Lord will reveal something new to us that is understandable because it is composed of words that we already know.
  • Elder B. H. Roberts used to say that the Spirit cannot draw upon an empty well. What this means is that the Spirit is limited in what it can reveal to us if we have a very small vocabulary and little schooling. As we gain an education and increase the number of words that we know, there is the potential that the Lord can send us more detailed messages. As our language and learning expand, the Lord can reveal to us a great number of connections between and patterns within the pieces of knowledge we have already obtained. Before we receive these revelations, however, these connections and patterns will not be obvious to us. It takes the influence of the Spirit to make us see what was always before our eyes or to understand what was comprehensible but never before comprehended.
  • The Lord likely wanted to send the same kinds of messages to Nephi and his brethren. They were, after all, in the same situation with needing to build a ship and to sail to the promised land. However, Nephi's ability to hearken to the Lord qualified him to receive more messages than his brethren. Like Nephi and his brethren, we may find ourselves in situations, like sacrament meetings, where just about everyone has the same ability to hear the same message with their physical ears. However, despite this common experience, there will likely be vast differences in the amount and types of spiritual impressions that each person in the congregation receives. Some of this revelation may be the same for most or all of the people in attendance, such as spiritual verification that what the speaker has said is true, but the rest of the revelation may be adapted to the needs and abilities of the individuals in the audience. Just as their were similarities and differences in the revelations received by Nephi and other members of his family, there can be unifying and personalized revelations received by us and the members of our wards.
  • Nephi teaches here that it is possible for people to reach the point where they are "past feeling" and can no longer detect the "still small voice." We should be aware of the things in our lives that dull our spiritual sensitivities and weaken our capacity to receives spiritual impressions through our feelings. In the world people talk about individuals who have suppressed, desensitized, or lost their conscience. This is an approximation of what Nephi is talking about. The result is that these individuals no longer feel a moral obligation to treat others with respect. The corollary is that love from another person may or may not touch the hearts of these individuals. It all depends on the extent to which these individuals have become "past feeling."
  • The Lord does not stop trying to talk to his children once they become "past feeling." He will, if necessary, use the language of physical force ("the voice of thunder") to get our attention. This switching on the Lord's part, from one mode of communication to another, is actually a demonstration of his mercy for his children. Rather than become offended that we have stopped listening to the still small voice, the Lord patiently and lovingly finds other channels through which to obtain our attention. He is slow to give up on us, even if we are quick to stop listening to him.
  • People are foolish and arrogant if they think their inability to hear and feel messages from the Lord is somehow proof that God no longer speaks to his children. These individuals are the ones who have broken the lines of communication. The Lord always stands ready to communicate to his children. In fact, the blame is entirely upon these individuals, rather than the Lord, because he has already made attempts to send messages to them, just like Laman and Lemuel received an angel, but they turned a deaf ear to these feelings and tuned out the Lord's voice to them.

1 Ne 17:48-55: Laman and Lemuel confounded[edit]

1 Ne 18:1-4: The boat is completed[edit]

Unanswered questions[edit]

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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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:7: What is the significance of prefacing, in the Old Testament way, this command with the word "Arise"?
  • 1 Ne 17:8: What precedents were there in scripture, that Nephi would have been familiar with, for building ships that were approved, let alone designed, by the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:9: In chapter 16, Nephi built a bow and asked his father where he should go to hunt. Here, he asks the Lord where he should go to find materials for the boat he is to build. Is that parallel instructive? What does this show us about Nephi? Does it suggest something for us?
  • 1 Ne 17:10: Was Nephi told, as well as shown, the exact location of the ore?
  • 1 Ne 17:11: Wouldn't Nephi have needed an oven or a catalyst, besides just blowing air, for super-hot fires that would make the ore molten?
  • 1 Ne 17:12: Were they allowed to build intense fires now that they were far removed from other societies who might notice their smoke?
  • 1 Ne 17:13: Was this a renewal or remaking of covenants?
  • 1 Ne 17:14: What does the Lord mean when he says “After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God"? Doesn’t Nephi already know that?
  • 1 Ne 17:15: Nephi begins this verse with “wherefore.” In other words, what follows is a consequence of what preceded: Nephi strove to keep the commandments because the Lord promised that after arriving in the promised land he would know that the Lord is God, that the Lord delivered them, and that he brought them out of Jerusalem. How does that promise motivate Nephi’s striving for obedience?
  • 1 Ne 17:16: Were these ordinary tools or were they, like the ship, divinely designed?
  • 1 Ne 17:17: Was Nephi reluctant to share his ship building plans with his brothers or did he hope they would come around to believing in the plan once they saw his progress?
  • 1 Ne 17:18: In what circumstances did Laman and Lemuel blame the Lord for their misfortunes, rather than members of their immediate family?
  • 1 Ne 17:20: Is the claim that Nephi is like his father the only truth embedded in this accusation, or did Laman and Lemuel accurately represent the feelings of at least some of the young mothers in this group?
  • 1 Ne 17:21: Were Laman and Lemuel so shallow as to think that their pursuit of materialism could provide all of the happiness they wanted and needed in life?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Nephi’s brothers say that they know that the people of Jerusalem were righteous because they kept the law of Moses. Were they wrong about that, or is their standard of righteousness the problem?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. Does anyone have any insight into the meaning of this phrase? Can you point me toward sources for a better sense of the meaning of "statutes and judgments" in the Old Testament? The definitions that I added here are from an online version of Strong's, but I suspect that there is more to this phrase than that. Are there any good online sources for this sort of thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:23: Nephi responds to their complaints by asking them to remember the Lord’s dealing with Moses and Israel. (Remembrance is a major theme in the Book of Mormon.) How will that remembrance answer their complaints?
  • 1 Ne 17:24: To what extent does Nephi see himself as a Moses for the group he is leading to the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 17:25: Nephi seems to be comparing the exodus of the Lehi party from Jerusalem with the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Does he mean to equate the experience of Lehi's family in Jerusalem with the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt? If so, in what way was Lehi's family in bondage in Jerusalem?
  • 1 Ne 17:26: Was Nephi saying they had been taught these stories or that they had a testimony of what happened back then?
  • 1 Ne 17:27: What is Nephi signaling to his brothers with his use of the word "but"?
  • 1 Ne 17:28: Would it be more accurate for Nephi to say "ye have heard"?
  • 1 Ne 17:30: Why is the word "Redeemer" absent from the writings of Moses?
  • 1 Ne 17:31: What does this verse mean by “there was not anything done save it was by his word"? What things is Nephi talking about, what the children of Israel did or what happened to them? What does “by his word” mean in this context?
  • 1 Ne 17:32: Was this the only version of the settlement of Canaan story that Nephi had ever heard?
  • 1 Ne 17:33: How can Nephi make such a sweeping and unfavorable judgment of the non-Jewish people who were in Canaan, when the Book of Mormon teaches that there must have been enough righteous individuals among the Canaanites for the Lord to deliver scripture to them and all other "nations of the earth" ([2 Ne 29:7)?
  • 1 Ne 17:34: Is Nephi hinting at the possibility that Jews did not have a monopoly on being the Lord's chosen people, that it was possible for righteous non-Jews to become "choice" in the eyes of the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:35: What does it mean to esteem (to value?) all flesh as one but to favor the righteous? How do esteem and favor differ?
  • 1 Ne 17:37: Does he wait longer to destroy wicked nations in this, the modern age, than he did in ancient times?
  • 1 Ne 17:38: Are some lands inherently more precious than others or is it the degree of righteousness or wickedness of the people living upon them that largely determines the worth of the land?
  • 1 Ne 17:39: What is the function of a footstool?
  • 1 Ne 17:40: How does Nephi explain Israel’s salvation? Is it because Israel was worthy of salvation? What does it mean to say that the Lord remembers his covenants? What does Nephi’s teaching in this verse suggest about us today? about our children?
  • 1 Ne 17:41: Are chastening and straitening the same thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:42: Why doesn't Nephi distinguish between generations who were wicked and those who were more righteous?
  • 1 Ne 17:43: What explanation would Nephi have given for the preservation of these few?
  • 1 Ne 17:45: Does this verse imply that the "still small voice" speaks without words, at least in the audible sense?
  • 1 Ne 17:46: Why does Nephi mix prophesied certainties with statements of capability?
  • 1 Ne 17:47: In the Old Testament, anguish is what sinners feel. After Christ comes, sorrow is what his disciples feel for the sins of the world. Is Nephi feeling both of these emotions?
  • 1 Ne 17:48: What does Nephi mean when he says the power of God is consuming his flesh? Is he echoing Old Testament passages that talk about sacrifices where divine fire consumes the flesh of the animal?
  • 1 Ne 17:49: Why is the word "labor"--which is found here and throughout the restoration scriptures--absent from the Bible?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Why doesn't Nephi say that whatever the Lord commands will "happen"?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Who or what is performing the action when Nephi says "it would be done"?
  • 1 Ne 17:51: What does vs. 51 tell us about God's willingness to instruct us in "mundane" tasks? Can we get similarly detailed instructions for the things God has commanded us to do?
  • 1 Ne 17:52: If Nephi's brothers were "past feeling," then what were they experiencing when the Spirit powerfully "wrought upon them"?
  • 1 Ne 17:53: Is the promise that Laman and Lemuel would "not wither" proof that they had suddenly started repenting?
  • 1 Ne 17:54: How should we interpret Nephi's use of physical force against his brothers in light of modern LDS instructions not to exercise dominion through compulsory means(D&C 121:37)?
  • 1 Ne 17:55: Why did Laman and Lemuel confess the hand of the Lord and then seemingly immediately attribute the divine intervention to their brother Nephi?
  • 1 Ne 18:1: Why didn't Nephi make a record of the ship building plans that he could refer back to as needed? Was the Lord providing feedback to Nephi's neophyte attempts at ship building?
  • 1 Ne 18:2: Was the boat designed to follow the laws of physics?
  • 1 Ne 18:3: Did these "great things" that Nephi beheld after mountain-top prayer pertain only to ship building? Or is it likely that Nephi's diligence was rewarded with even greater knowledge?
  • 1 Ne 18:4: What kinds of divinely-inspired workmanship in the world today can still inspire humility in the hearts of the children of men? To what degree is Alma's claim still applicable that all things upon the face of the earth are sufficient signs to turn people into believers (see Alma 30:44)?

Resources[edit]

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. →

Notes[edit]

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: Chapter 16                      Next page: Chapter 18

1 Ne 17:36-40

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 17 / Verses 17:7-18:4
Previous page: Chapter 16                      Next page: Chapter 18


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 17 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 17, the story of building the boat, consists of five major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 17 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 17: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• Nephi instructed to build a boat (17:7-16)
• brothers complain (17:17-22)
• Nephi's exhortation (17:23-47)
• brothers confounded (17:48-55)
• the boat is built (18:1-4)

1 Ne 17:7-16: Nephi instructed to build a boat[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:13-14: Recognizing the Lord's hand. The Lord stresses that Nephi will come to know that the Lord had led Nephi and his people to the promised land. It is interesting that the Lord seems to desire not just that his people be delivered but that they realize that it is by his hand that it happens. The Lord follows this pattern in other dealings with his people--such as in Exodus 3, where the Lord stresses the importance of letting Pharaoh and the other Israelites know that it is by his hand and authority that Moses comes to deliver them. Later, in Exodus 20:5 the Lord goes so far as to say he is a "jealous God." In modern times we are commanded to "confess his hand in all things" (D&C 59:21). It appears to be important doctrine to recognize the Lord's hand in good things that happen--and in turn the importance of doing good in the name of the Lord. Some Christian sects take this doctrine to the extreme of arguing that morality does not count unless done as an act of faith--in the name of the Lord (see, e.g., The Deadly Dangers of Moralism). Such a doctrine seems inconsistent with scriptural passages where the Lord indicates he will bless non-believing people for the commandments they do keep (see, e.g., Jacob 3:5-6). That said, it seems obvious that to take the next step beyond being just a moral people to being the Lord's covenant people requires an actual relationship with him. Such a relationship in turn requires knowledge of God and what he has done and will do for us.

1 Ne 17:17-22: Laman and Lemuel complain[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:21. Verse 21 shows what damage can happen from looking back. Luke 9:62 reminds us that we should not look back once we have made a righteous choice.
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. This term appears repeatedly in the Old Testament (see, e.g., Deut 4:1), where it is a translation of two words. Choq is the word translated as "statute." It means an ordinance, limit, boundary enactment, decree, ordinance specific decree law in general enactments, or civil enactments prescribed by God. It is derived from the word chaqaq, which means to carve, cut, or inscribe. Mishpat is the word translated as "judgment." It refers to the act of deciding a legal case, a court, litigation, a judicial decision or right and justice. It is derived from the word shaphat which is a verb meaning to govern or judge. The phrase "statutes and judgments" also appears elsewhere in the Book of Mormon (see, e.g., 2 Ne 1:16).
  • 1 Ne 17:22-24. These verses set up the extended discourse by Nephi that follows. In verse 22 Nephi's brothers insist that the people at Jerusalem were "a righteous people" because they "kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his comandments, according to the law of Moses." One way of looking at this confrontation and others between Nephi and his brothers is to see it as a contest between dueling approaches to reading the scriptures. Notice that Laman and Lemuel are not irreligious. They appeal to scripture, but do so in a particular way, adopting a self-consciously legal approach to them. They refer to Moses, but only as a lawgiver and their focus is on "the statutes and judgements" of that law. Nephi responds by also invoking Moses, but in a very different way, namely as a prophet who led his people from bondage to a promised land. Notice that Nephi's reading of the Moses story implicitly places himself and his brothers within the narrative. In doing so, he recapitulates an earlier confrontation over interpretation (see 1 Ne 15:5 ), but this time in a much more elaborate manner.
  • 1 Ne 17:22. This verse shows Laman's understanding of what it means to be righteous. He says, "And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people;". So, to him, to be righteous means to keep the statutes and judgments, and all the commandments of the Lord, according to the law of Moses. To Laman, keeping the behavioral laws passed down to them, like how many steps you can take on the Sabbath, was the definition of righteousness. "Keep the commandments" meant to be obedient to the past commandments of God, given to the prophets of old.
Nephi's definition of righteousness is in sharp contrast to Laman's. Everything Nephi says and does in this chapter reveals Nephi's 3-part definition -- a righteous person...
  • Is able to receive directives from God by revelation,
  • Believes that God will give them the power to bring them about whatever they are commanded, and
  • Is determined to act on God's here-and-now directives, no matter how far-fetched they seem.
Twice in this chapter Nephi provides an example of a righteous person, once in the front and once at the end, God commands Nephi personally to do something, and he does it. To Nephi, "keep the commandments" doesn't only mean obeying the commands of God given through past prophets (Laman's view), but extends beyond that to include the commandments God gives him personally in the present.

1 Ne 17:23-47: Nephi's exhortation[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:26-30. Notice that Nephi focuses in on three elements in this recounting of Moses's leading the children of Israel:
  • Crossing the Red Sea
  • Manna and water in the wilderness
  • Murmurring against the prophet
There seem to be clear analogs in the experience of the Lehite party. They now sit on the shore of a sea that the Lord has commanded them to cross. When Nephi broke his bow, the Lord provided the party with a way to get food in the wilderness. Laman and Lemuel have murmurred against Lehi. It is also possible that the reference to the pillar of fire that led the Children of Israel in the desert is also a reference to the pillar of fire that first appeared to Lehi ( 1 Ne 1:6 ) thus launching the family's exodus into the wilderness.
  • 1 Ne 17:30-42. Verses 37 & 38 appear to be the center of a thematic chiasm that looks like this:
30a - God leads his people to the promised land
31  - God's word
  30b - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
    35 - God favors/loves the righteous
    35 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
      36 - The Lord and the Earth
        37 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
        38 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
      39 - The Lord and the Earth
    40 - God favors/loves the righteous
    41 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
  42a - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
42b - God leads his people to the promised land
45+ - God's word
Nephi is trying here to get Laman to see the truth, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had become wicked and that the Lord was leading Lehi's family away because they were righteous. He emphasizes the ideas in 37 and 38 to try to persuade Laman that this is God's regular mode of operation - to lead out the righteous and then destroy the wicked. It will be interesting to see if this pattern is repeated in modern Israel's "Jerusalem" today.
  • 1 Ne 17:35: Ripe in iniquity. Nephi says here that the Israelites who entered the land of Canaan were favored over the previous inhabitants because those previous inhabitants were ripe in iniquity. This principle of the wicked being destroyed when they become ripe in iniquity, and the meaning of this term, are explored in the discussion of Hel 13:14.
  • It is important to note that Nephi did not tell his brethren that they "could not hear his words." Instead he was teaching them that spiritual messages most often come through feelings.
  • The Lord does not use an exotic method to send his children messages. He uses a medium that is already incredibly common to them. Because humans are creatures of emotion, the Lord's use of feelings to send messages to his children maximizes the number of people who will be equipped to receive these messages.
  • Because the Lord speaks to us through our feelings, we must ever be on guard to distinguish between our own emotions and feelings, one the one hand, and the feelings that carry the messages from our Heavenly Father on the other. These two things work through nearly the same channels and be easily mistaken for one another. The ability to figure out which feeling is which may be related to the gift of discernment. As we are obedient and perform the Lord's work here on earth, our capacity to distinguish between these two sources of feelings will be increased.
  • If we notice that the Lord seems to be sending us less messages, we should check ourselves and determine whether we have become the limiting factor. It may very well be that we have become too casual in our relationship with the Lord. To remedy this situation, we need to recommit to being obedient, loving, and serving.
  • Negativity in our thoughts, words, and actions can diminish the number of messages that we receive from the Lord. Dwelling on the negative in life can distort our natural feelings. We can find ourselves becoming cynical about situations, critical of others, and that everyone and everything falls short of our expectations. As we do so, we become emotionally crippled. We forget to find, or become unable to notice, the elements of good in everyone and everything. Once our feelings have become so one-sided, we shut ourselves out from the positive feelings that the Lord wants to send us. Should we be surprised to find it hard to communicate with a God who is the source of all goodness if we have convinced ourselves that his children and creation are full of faults?
  • In this verse, Nephi teaches that the Lord sends us messages made up of words as well as of feelings. Just like spiritual feelings are designed to be similar to our own emotions, these words from heaven are adapted to our own vocabulary. This means the Lord will send words to our minds that come from our own language. The words will be recognizable, in other words, because they are words with which we are already familiar.
  • Even though the Lord sends us words that we already know, it is the combination of those words that will be unique to the Lord. He will form the words he sends us into phrases and thoughts that we had not anticipated. Although he may bring things to our remembrance that we already knew, we will not have been thinking of these things at the time he sparked our memory. On other occasions, the Lord will reveal something new to us that is understandable because it is composed of words that we already know.
  • Elder B. H. Roberts used to say that the Spirit cannot draw upon an empty well. What this means is that the Spirit is limited in what it can reveal to us if we have a very small vocabulary and little schooling. As we gain an education and increase the number of words that we know, there is the potential that the Lord can send us more detailed messages. As our language and learning expand, the Lord can reveal to us a great number of connections between and patterns within the pieces of knowledge we have already obtained. Before we receive these revelations, however, these connections and patterns will not be obvious to us. It takes the influence of the Spirit to make us see what was always before our eyes or to understand what was comprehensible but never before comprehended.
  • The Lord likely wanted to send the same kinds of messages to Nephi and his brethren. They were, after all, in the same situation with needing to build a ship and to sail to the promised land. However, Nephi's ability to hearken to the Lord qualified him to receive more messages than his brethren. Like Nephi and his brethren, we may find ourselves in situations, like sacrament meetings, where just about everyone has the same ability to hear the same message with their physical ears. However, despite this common experience, there will likely be vast differences in the amount and types of spiritual impressions that each person in the congregation receives. Some of this revelation may be the same for most or all of the people in attendance, such as spiritual verification that what the speaker has said is true, but the rest of the revelation may be adapted to the needs and abilities of the individuals in the audience. Just as their were similarities and differences in the revelations received by Nephi and other members of his family, there can be unifying and personalized revelations received by us and the members of our wards.
  • Nephi teaches here that it is possible for people to reach the point where they are "past feeling" and can no longer detect the "still small voice." We should be aware of the things in our lives that dull our spiritual sensitivities and weaken our capacity to receives spiritual impressions through our feelings. In the world people talk about individuals who have suppressed, desensitized, or lost their conscience. This is an approximation of what Nephi is talking about. The result is that these individuals no longer feel a moral obligation to treat others with respect. The corollary is that love from another person may or may not touch the hearts of these individuals. It all depends on the extent to which these individuals have become "past feeling."
  • The Lord does not stop trying to talk to his children once they become "past feeling." He will, if necessary, use the language of physical force ("the voice of thunder") to get our attention. This switching on the Lord's part, from one mode of communication to another, is actually a demonstration of his mercy for his children. Rather than become offended that we have stopped listening to the still small voice, the Lord patiently and lovingly finds other channels through which to obtain our attention. He is slow to give up on us, even if we are quick to stop listening to him.
  • People are foolish and arrogant if they think their inability to hear and feel messages from the Lord is somehow proof that God no longer speaks to his children. These individuals are the ones who have broken the lines of communication. The Lord always stands ready to communicate to his children. In fact, the blame is entirely upon these individuals, rather than the Lord, because he has already made attempts to send messages to them, just like Laman and Lemuel received an angel, but they turned a deaf ear to these feelings and tuned out the Lord's voice to them.

1 Ne 17:48-55: Laman and Lemuel confounded[edit]

1 Ne 18:1-4: The boat is completed[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:7: What is the significance of prefacing, in the Old Testament way, this command with the word "Arise"?
  • 1 Ne 17:8: What precedents were there in scripture, that Nephi would have been familiar with, for building ships that were approved, let alone designed, by the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:9: In chapter 16, Nephi built a bow and asked his father where he should go to hunt. Here, he asks the Lord where he should go to find materials for the boat he is to build. Is that parallel instructive? What does this show us about Nephi? Does it suggest something for us?
  • 1 Ne 17:10: Was Nephi told, as well as shown, the exact location of the ore?
  • 1 Ne 17:11: Wouldn't Nephi have needed an oven or a catalyst, besides just blowing air, for super-hot fires that would make the ore molten?
  • 1 Ne 17:12: Were they allowed to build intense fires now that they were far removed from other societies who might notice their smoke?
  • 1 Ne 17:13: Was this a renewal or remaking of covenants?
  • 1 Ne 17:14: What does the Lord mean when he says “After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God"? Doesn’t Nephi already know that?
  • 1 Ne 17:15: Nephi begins this verse with “wherefore.” In other words, what follows is a consequence of what preceded: Nephi strove to keep the commandments because the Lord promised that after arriving in the promised land he would know that the Lord is God, that the Lord delivered them, and that he brought them out of Jerusalem. How does that promise motivate Nephi’s striving for obedience?
  • 1 Ne 17:16: Were these ordinary tools or were they, like the ship, divinely designed?
  • 1 Ne 17:17: Was Nephi reluctant to share his ship building plans with his brothers or did he hope they would come around to believing in the plan once they saw his progress?
  • 1 Ne 17:18: In what circumstances did Laman and Lemuel blame the Lord for their misfortunes, rather than members of their immediate family?
  • 1 Ne 17:20: Is the claim that Nephi is like his father the only truth embedded in this accusation, or did Laman and Lemuel accurately represent the feelings of at least some of the young mothers in this group?
  • 1 Ne 17:21: Were Laman and Lemuel so shallow as to think that their pursuit of materialism could provide all of the happiness they wanted and needed in life?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Nephi’s brothers say that they know that the people of Jerusalem were righteous because they kept the law of Moses. Were they wrong about that, or is their standard of righteousness the problem?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. Does anyone have any insight into the meaning of this phrase? Can you point me toward sources for a better sense of the meaning of "statutes and judgments" in the Old Testament? The definitions that I added here are from an online version of Strong's, but I suspect that there is more to this phrase than that. Are there any good online sources for this sort of thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:23: Nephi responds to their complaints by asking them to remember the Lord’s dealing with Moses and Israel. (Remembrance is a major theme in the Book of Mormon.) How will that remembrance answer their complaints?
  • 1 Ne 17:24: To what extent does Nephi see himself as a Moses for the group he is leading to the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 17:25: Nephi seems to be comparing the exodus of the Lehi party from Jerusalem with the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Does he mean to equate the experience of Lehi's family in Jerusalem with the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt? If so, in what way was Lehi's family in bondage in Jerusalem?
  • 1 Ne 17:26: Was Nephi saying they had been taught these stories or that they had a testimony of what happened back then?
  • 1 Ne 17:27: What is Nephi signaling to his brothers with his use of the word "but"?
  • 1 Ne 17:28: Would it be more accurate for Nephi to say "ye have heard"?
  • 1 Ne 17:30: Why is the word "Redeemer" absent from the writings of Moses?
  • 1 Ne 17:31: What does this verse mean by “there was not anything done save it was by his word"? What things is Nephi talking about, what the children of Israel did or what happened to them? What does “by his word” mean in this context?
  • 1 Ne 17:32: Was this the only version of the settlement of Canaan story that Nephi had ever heard?
  • 1 Ne 17:33: How can Nephi make such a sweeping and unfavorable judgment of the non-Jewish people who were in Canaan, when the Book of Mormon teaches that there must have been enough righteous individuals among the Canaanites for the Lord to deliver scripture to them and all other "nations of the earth" ([2 Ne 29:7)?
  • 1 Ne 17:34: Is Nephi hinting at the possibility that Jews did not have a monopoly on being the Lord's chosen people, that it was possible for righteous non-Jews to become "choice" in the eyes of the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:35: What does it mean to esteem (to value?) all flesh as one but to favor the righteous? How do esteem and favor differ?
  • 1 Ne 17:37: Does he wait longer to destroy wicked nations in this, the modern age, than he did in ancient times?
  • 1 Ne 17:38: Are some lands inherently more precious than others or is it the degree of righteousness or wickedness of the people living upon them that largely determines the worth of the land?
  • 1 Ne 17:39: What is the function of a footstool?
  • 1 Ne 17:40: How does Nephi explain Israel’s salvation? Is it because Israel was worthy of salvation? What does it mean to say that the Lord remembers his covenants? What does Nephi’s teaching in this verse suggest about us today? about our children?
  • 1 Ne 17:41: Are chastening and straitening the same thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:42: Why doesn't Nephi distinguish between generations who were wicked and those who were more righteous?
  • 1 Ne 17:43: What explanation would Nephi have given for the preservation of these few?
  • 1 Ne 17:45: Does this verse imply that the "still small voice" speaks without words, at least in the audible sense?
  • 1 Ne 17:46: Why does Nephi mix prophesied certainties with statements of capability?
  • 1 Ne 17:47: In the Old Testament, anguish is what sinners feel. After Christ comes, sorrow is what his disciples feel for the sins of the world. Is Nephi feeling both of these emotions?
  • 1 Ne 17:48: What does Nephi mean when he says the power of God is consuming his flesh? Is he echoing Old Testament passages that talk about sacrifices where divine fire consumes the flesh of the animal?
  • 1 Ne 17:49: Why is the word "labor"--which is found here and throughout the restoration scriptures--absent from the Bible?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Why doesn't Nephi say that whatever the Lord commands will "happen"?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Who or what is performing the action when Nephi says "it would be done"?
  • 1 Ne 17:51: What does vs. 51 tell us about God's willingness to instruct us in "mundane" tasks? Can we get similarly detailed instructions for the things God has commanded us to do?
  • 1 Ne 17:52: If Nephi's brothers were "past feeling," then what were they experiencing when the Spirit powerfully "wrought upon them"?
  • 1 Ne 17:53: Is the promise that Laman and Lemuel would "not wither" proof that they had suddenly started repenting?
  • 1 Ne 17:54: How should we interpret Nephi's use of physical force against his brothers in light of modern LDS instructions not to exercise dominion through compulsory means(D&C 121:37)?
  • 1 Ne 17:55: Why did Laman and Lemuel confess the hand of the Lord and then seemingly immediately attribute the divine intervention to their brother Nephi?
  • 1 Ne 18:1: Why didn't Nephi make a record of the ship building plans that he could refer back to as needed? Was the Lord providing feedback to Nephi's neophyte attempts at ship building?
  • 1 Ne 18:2: Was the boat designed to follow the laws of physics?
  • 1 Ne 18:3: Did these "great things" that Nephi beheld after mountain-top prayer pertain only to ship building? Or is it likely that Nephi's diligence was rewarded with even greater knowledge?
  • 1 Ne 18:4: What kinds of divinely-inspired workmanship in the world today can still inspire humility in the hearts of the children of men? To what degree is Alma's claim still applicable that all things upon the face of the earth are sufficient signs to turn people into believers (see Alma 30:44)?

Resources[edit]

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. →

Notes[edit]

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: Chapter 16                      Next page: Chapter 18

1 Ne 17:41-45

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 17 / Verses 17:7-18:4
Previous page: Chapter 16                      Next page: Chapter 18


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 17 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 17, the story of building the boat, consists of five major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 17 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 17: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• Nephi instructed to build a boat (17:7-16)
• brothers complain (17:17-22)
• Nephi's exhortation (17:23-47)
• brothers confounded (17:48-55)
• the boat is built (18:1-4)

1 Ne 17:7-16: Nephi instructed to build a boat[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:13-14: Recognizing the Lord's hand. The Lord stresses that Nephi will come to know that the Lord had led Nephi and his people to the promised land. It is interesting that the Lord seems to desire not just that his people be delivered but that they realize that it is by his hand that it happens. The Lord follows this pattern in other dealings with his people--such as in Exodus 3, where the Lord stresses the importance of letting Pharaoh and the other Israelites know that it is by his hand and authority that Moses comes to deliver them. Later, in Exodus 20:5 the Lord goes so far as to say he is a "jealous God." In modern times we are commanded to "confess his hand in all things" (D&C 59:21). It appears to be important doctrine to recognize the Lord's hand in good things that happen--and in turn the importance of doing good in the name of the Lord. Some Christian sects take this doctrine to the extreme of arguing that morality does not count unless done as an act of faith--in the name of the Lord (see, e.g., The Deadly Dangers of Moralism). Such a doctrine seems inconsistent with scriptural passages where the Lord indicates he will bless non-believing people for the commandments they do keep (see, e.g., Jacob 3:5-6). That said, it seems obvious that to take the next step beyond being just a moral people to being the Lord's covenant people requires an actual relationship with him. Such a relationship in turn requires knowledge of God and what he has done and will do for us.

1 Ne 17:17-22: Laman and Lemuel complain[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:21. Verse 21 shows what damage can happen from looking back. Luke 9:62 reminds us that we should not look back once we have made a righteous choice.
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. This term appears repeatedly in the Old Testament (see, e.g., Deut 4:1), where it is a translation of two words. Choq is the word translated as "statute." It means an ordinance, limit, boundary enactment, decree, ordinance specific decree law in general enactments, or civil enactments prescribed by God. It is derived from the word chaqaq, which means to carve, cut, or inscribe. Mishpat is the word translated as "judgment." It refers to the act of deciding a legal case, a court, litigation, a judicial decision or right and justice. It is derived from the word shaphat which is a verb meaning to govern or judge. The phrase "statutes and judgments" also appears elsewhere in the Book of Mormon (see, e.g., 2 Ne 1:16).
  • 1 Ne 17:22-24. These verses set up the extended discourse by Nephi that follows. In verse 22 Nephi's brothers insist that the people at Jerusalem were "a righteous people" because they "kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his comandments, according to the law of Moses." One way of looking at this confrontation and others between Nephi and his brothers is to see it as a contest between dueling approaches to reading the scriptures. Notice that Laman and Lemuel are not irreligious. They appeal to scripture, but do so in a particular way, adopting a self-consciously legal approach to them. They refer to Moses, but only as a lawgiver and their focus is on "the statutes and judgements" of that law. Nephi responds by also invoking Moses, but in a very different way, namely as a prophet who led his people from bondage to a promised land. Notice that Nephi's reading of the Moses story implicitly places himself and his brothers within the narrative. In doing so, he recapitulates an earlier confrontation over interpretation (see 1 Ne 15:5 ), but this time in a much more elaborate manner.
  • 1 Ne 17:22. This verse shows Laman's understanding of what it means to be righteous. He says, "And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people;". So, to him, to be righteous means to keep the statutes and judgments, and all the commandments of the Lord, according to the law of Moses. To Laman, keeping the behavioral laws passed down to them, like how many steps you can take on the Sabbath, was the definition of righteousness. "Keep the commandments" meant to be obedient to the past commandments of God, given to the prophets of old.
Nephi's definition of righteousness is in sharp contrast to Laman's. Everything Nephi says and does in this chapter reveals Nephi's 3-part definition -- a righteous person...
  • Is able to receive directives from God by revelation,
  • Believes that God will give them the power to bring them about whatever they are commanded, and
  • Is determined to act on God's here-and-now directives, no matter how far-fetched they seem.
Twice in this chapter Nephi provides an example of a righteous person, once in the front and once at the end, God commands Nephi personally to do something, and he does it. To Nephi, "keep the commandments" doesn't only mean obeying the commands of God given through past prophets (Laman's view), but extends beyond that to include the commandments God gives him personally in the present.

1 Ne 17:23-47: Nephi's exhortation[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:26-30. Notice that Nephi focuses in on three elements in this recounting of Moses's leading the children of Israel:
  • Crossing the Red Sea
  • Manna and water in the wilderness
  • Murmurring against the prophet
There seem to be clear analogs in the experience of the Lehite party. They now sit on the shore of a sea that the Lord has commanded them to cross. When Nephi broke his bow, the Lord provided the party with a way to get food in the wilderness. Laman and Lemuel have murmurred against Lehi. It is also possible that the reference to the pillar of fire that led the Children of Israel in the desert is also a reference to the pillar of fire that first appeared to Lehi ( 1 Ne 1:6 ) thus launching the family's exodus into the wilderness.
  • 1 Ne 17:30-42. Verses 37 & 38 appear to be the center of a thematic chiasm that looks like this:
30a - God leads his people to the promised land
31  - God's word
  30b - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
    35 - God favors/loves the righteous
    35 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
      36 - The Lord and the Earth
        37 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
        38 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
      39 - The Lord and the Earth
    40 - God favors/loves the righteous
    41 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
  42a - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
42b - God leads his people to the promised land
45+ - God's word
Nephi is trying here to get Laman to see the truth, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had become wicked and that the Lord was leading Lehi's family away because they were righteous. He emphasizes the ideas in 37 and 38 to try to persuade Laman that this is God's regular mode of operation - to lead out the righteous and then destroy the wicked. It will be interesting to see if this pattern is repeated in modern Israel's "Jerusalem" today.
  • 1 Ne 17:35: Ripe in iniquity. Nephi says here that the Israelites who entered the land of Canaan were favored over the previous inhabitants because those previous inhabitants were ripe in iniquity. This principle of the wicked being destroyed when they become ripe in iniquity, and the meaning of this term, are explored in the discussion of Hel 13:14.
  • It is important to note that Nephi did not tell his brethren that they "could not hear his words." Instead he was teaching them that spiritual messages most often come through feelings.
  • The Lord does not use an exotic method to send his children messages. He uses a medium that is already incredibly common to them. Because humans are creatures of emotion, the Lord's use of feelings to send messages to his children maximizes the number of people who will be equipped to receive these messages.
  • Because the Lord speaks to us through our feelings, we must ever be on guard to distinguish between our own emotions and feelings, one the one hand, and the feelings that carry the messages from our Heavenly Father on the other. These two things work through nearly the same channels and be easily mistaken for one another. The ability to figure out which feeling is which may be related to the gift of discernment. As we are obedient and perform the Lord's work here on earth, our capacity to distinguish between these two sources of feelings will be increased.
  • If we notice that the Lord seems to be sending us less messages, we should check ourselves and determine whether we have become the limiting factor. It may very well be that we have become too casual in our relationship with the Lord. To remedy this situation, we need to recommit to being obedient, loving, and serving.
  • Negativity in our thoughts, words, and actions can diminish the number of messages that we receive from the Lord. Dwelling on the negative in life can distort our natural feelings. We can find ourselves becoming cynical about situations, critical of others, and that everyone and everything falls short of our expectations. As we do so, we become emotionally crippled. We forget to find, or become unable to notice, the elements of good in everyone and everything. Once our feelings have become so one-sided, we shut ourselves out from the positive feelings that the Lord wants to send us. Should we be surprised to find it hard to communicate with a God who is the source of all goodness if we have convinced ourselves that his children and creation are full of faults?
  • In this verse, Nephi teaches that the Lord sends us messages made up of words as well as of feelings. Just like spiritual feelings are designed to be similar to our own emotions, these words from heaven are adapted to our own vocabulary. This means the Lord will send words to our minds that come from our own language. The words will be recognizable, in other words, because they are words with which we are already familiar.
  • Even though the Lord sends us words that we already know, it is the combination of those words that will be unique to the Lord. He will form the words he sends us into phrases and thoughts that we had not anticipated. Although he may bring things to our remembrance that we already knew, we will not have been thinking of these things at the time he sparked our memory. On other occasions, the Lord will reveal something new to us that is understandable because it is composed of words that we already know.
  • Elder B. H. Roberts used to say that the Spirit cannot draw upon an empty well. What this means is that the Spirit is limited in what it can reveal to us if we have a very small vocabulary and little schooling. As we gain an education and increase the number of words that we know, there is the potential that the Lord can send us more detailed messages. As our language and learning expand, the Lord can reveal to us a great number of connections between and patterns within the pieces of knowledge we have already obtained. Before we receive these revelations, however, these connections and patterns will not be obvious to us. It takes the influence of the Spirit to make us see what was always before our eyes or to understand what was comprehensible but never before comprehended.
  • The Lord likely wanted to send the same kinds of messages to Nephi and his brethren. They were, after all, in the same situation with needing to build a ship and to sail to the promised land. However, Nephi's ability to hearken to the Lord qualified him to receive more messages than his brethren. Like Nephi and his brethren, we may find ourselves in situations, like sacrament meetings, where just about everyone has the same ability to hear the same message with their physical ears. However, despite this common experience, there will likely be vast differences in the amount and types of spiritual impressions that each person in the congregation receives. Some of this revelation may be the same for most or all of the people in attendance, such as spiritual verification that what the speaker has said is true, but the rest of the revelation may be adapted to the needs and abilities of the individuals in the audience. Just as their were similarities and differences in the revelations received by Nephi and other members of his family, there can be unifying and personalized revelations received by us and the members of our wards.
  • Nephi teaches here that it is possible for people to reach the point where they are "past feeling" and can no longer detect the "still small voice." We should be aware of the things in our lives that dull our spiritual sensitivities and weaken our capacity to receives spiritual impressions through our feelings. In the world people talk about individuals who have suppressed, desensitized, or lost their conscience. This is an approximation of what Nephi is talking about. The result is that these individuals no longer feel a moral obligation to treat others with respect. The corollary is that love from another person may or may not touch the hearts of these individuals. It all depends on the extent to which these individuals have become "past feeling."
  • The Lord does not stop trying to talk to his children once they become "past feeling." He will, if necessary, use the language of physical force ("the voice of thunder") to get our attention. This switching on the Lord's part, from one mode of communication to another, is actually a demonstration of his mercy for his children. Rather than become offended that we have stopped listening to the still small voice, the Lord patiently and lovingly finds other channels through which to obtain our attention. He is slow to give up on us, even if we are quick to stop listening to him.
  • People are foolish and arrogant if they think their inability to hear and feel messages from the Lord is somehow proof that God no longer speaks to his children. These individuals are the ones who have broken the lines of communication. The Lord always stands ready to communicate to his children. In fact, the blame is entirely upon these individuals, rather than the Lord, because he has already made attempts to send messages to them, just like Laman and Lemuel received an angel, but they turned a deaf ear to these feelings and tuned out the Lord's voice to them.

1 Ne 17:48-55: Laman and Lemuel confounded[edit]

1 Ne 18:1-4: The boat is completed[edit]

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

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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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:7: What is the significance of prefacing, in the Old Testament way, this command with the word "Arise"?
  • 1 Ne 17:8: What precedents were there in scripture, that Nephi would have been familiar with, for building ships that were approved, let alone designed, by the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:9: In chapter 16, Nephi built a bow and asked his father where he should go to hunt. Here, he asks the Lord where he should go to find materials for the boat he is to build. Is that parallel instructive? What does this show us about Nephi? Does it suggest something for us?
  • 1 Ne 17:10: Was Nephi told, as well as shown, the exact location of the ore?
  • 1 Ne 17:11: Wouldn't Nephi have needed an oven or a catalyst, besides just blowing air, for super-hot fires that would make the ore molten?
  • 1 Ne 17:12: Were they allowed to build intense fires now that they were far removed from other societies who might notice their smoke?
  • 1 Ne 17:13: Was this a renewal or remaking of covenants?
  • 1 Ne 17:14: What does the Lord mean when he says “After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God"? Doesn’t Nephi already know that?
  • 1 Ne 17:15: Nephi begins this verse with “wherefore.” In other words, what follows is a consequence of what preceded: Nephi strove to keep the commandments because the Lord promised that after arriving in the promised land he would know that the Lord is God, that the Lord delivered them, and that he brought them out of Jerusalem. How does that promise motivate Nephi’s striving for obedience?
  • 1 Ne 17:16: Were these ordinary tools or were they, like the ship, divinely designed?
  • 1 Ne 17:17: Was Nephi reluctant to share his ship building plans with his brothers or did he hope they would come around to believing in the plan once they saw his progress?
  • 1 Ne 17:18: In what circumstances did Laman and Lemuel blame the Lord for their misfortunes, rather than members of their immediate family?
  • 1 Ne 17:20: Is the claim that Nephi is like his father the only truth embedded in this accusation, or did Laman and Lemuel accurately represent the feelings of at least some of the young mothers in this group?
  • 1 Ne 17:21: Were Laman and Lemuel so shallow as to think that their pursuit of materialism could provide all of the happiness they wanted and needed in life?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Nephi’s brothers say that they know that the people of Jerusalem were righteous because they kept the law of Moses. Were they wrong about that, or is their standard of righteousness the problem?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. Does anyone have any insight into the meaning of this phrase? Can you point me toward sources for a better sense of the meaning of "statutes and judgments" in the Old Testament? The definitions that I added here are from an online version of Strong's, but I suspect that there is more to this phrase than that. Are there any good online sources for this sort of thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:23: Nephi responds to their complaints by asking them to remember the Lord’s dealing with Moses and Israel. (Remembrance is a major theme in the Book of Mormon.) How will that remembrance answer their complaints?
  • 1 Ne 17:24: To what extent does Nephi see himself as a Moses for the group he is leading to the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 17:25: Nephi seems to be comparing the exodus of the Lehi party from Jerusalem with the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Does he mean to equate the experience of Lehi's family in Jerusalem with the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt? If so, in what way was Lehi's family in bondage in Jerusalem?
  • 1 Ne 17:26: Was Nephi saying they had been taught these stories or that they had a testimony of what happened back then?
  • 1 Ne 17:27: What is Nephi signaling to his brothers with his use of the word "but"?
  • 1 Ne 17:28: Would it be more accurate for Nephi to say "ye have heard"?
  • 1 Ne 17:30: Why is the word "Redeemer" absent from the writings of Moses?
  • 1 Ne 17:31: What does this verse mean by “there was not anything done save it was by his word"? What things is Nephi talking about, what the children of Israel did or what happened to them? What does “by his word” mean in this context?
  • 1 Ne 17:32: Was this the only version of the settlement of Canaan story that Nephi had ever heard?
  • 1 Ne 17:33: How can Nephi make such a sweeping and unfavorable judgment of the non-Jewish people who were in Canaan, when the Book of Mormon teaches that there must have been enough righteous individuals among the Canaanites for the Lord to deliver scripture to them and all other "nations of the earth" ([2 Ne 29:7)?
  • 1 Ne 17:34: Is Nephi hinting at the possibility that Jews did not have a monopoly on being the Lord's chosen people, that it was possible for righteous non-Jews to become "choice" in the eyes of the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:35: What does it mean to esteem (to value?) all flesh as one but to favor the righteous? How do esteem and favor differ?
  • 1 Ne 17:37: Does he wait longer to destroy wicked nations in this, the modern age, than he did in ancient times?
  • 1 Ne 17:38: Are some lands inherently more precious than others or is it the degree of righteousness or wickedness of the people living upon them that largely determines the worth of the land?
  • 1 Ne 17:39: What is the function of a footstool?
  • 1 Ne 17:40: How does Nephi explain Israel’s salvation? Is it because Israel was worthy of salvation? What does it mean to say that the Lord remembers his covenants? What does Nephi’s teaching in this verse suggest about us today? about our children?
  • 1 Ne 17:41: Are chastening and straitening the same thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:42: Why doesn't Nephi distinguish between generations who were wicked and those who were more righteous?
  • 1 Ne 17:43: What explanation would Nephi have given for the preservation of these few?
  • 1 Ne 17:45: Does this verse imply that the "still small voice" speaks without words, at least in the audible sense?
  • 1 Ne 17:46: Why does Nephi mix prophesied certainties with statements of capability?
  • 1 Ne 17:47: In the Old Testament, anguish is what sinners feel. After Christ comes, sorrow is what his disciples feel for the sins of the world. Is Nephi feeling both of these emotions?
  • 1 Ne 17:48: What does Nephi mean when he says the power of God is consuming his flesh? Is he echoing Old Testament passages that talk about sacrifices where divine fire consumes the flesh of the animal?
  • 1 Ne 17:49: Why is the word "labor"--which is found here and throughout the restoration scriptures--absent from the Bible?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Why doesn't Nephi say that whatever the Lord commands will "happen"?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Who or what is performing the action when Nephi says "it would be done"?
  • 1 Ne 17:51: What does vs. 51 tell us about God's willingness to instruct us in "mundane" tasks? Can we get similarly detailed instructions for the things God has commanded us to do?
  • 1 Ne 17:52: If Nephi's brothers were "past feeling," then what were they experiencing when the Spirit powerfully "wrought upon them"?
  • 1 Ne 17:53: Is the promise that Laman and Lemuel would "not wither" proof that they had suddenly started repenting?
  • 1 Ne 17:54: How should we interpret Nephi's use of physical force against his brothers in light of modern LDS instructions not to exercise dominion through compulsory means(D&C 121:37)?
  • 1 Ne 17:55: Why did Laman and Lemuel confess the hand of the Lord and then seemingly immediately attribute the divine intervention to their brother Nephi?
  • 1 Ne 18:1: Why didn't Nephi make a record of the ship building plans that he could refer back to as needed? Was the Lord providing feedback to Nephi's neophyte attempts at ship building?
  • 1 Ne 18:2: Was the boat designed to follow the laws of physics?
  • 1 Ne 18:3: Did these "great things" that Nephi beheld after mountain-top prayer pertain only to ship building? Or is it likely that Nephi's diligence was rewarded with even greater knowledge?
  • 1 Ne 18:4: What kinds of divinely-inspired workmanship in the world today can still inspire humility in the hearts of the children of men? To what degree is Alma's claim still applicable that all things upon the face of the earth are sufficient signs to turn people into believers (see Alma 30:44)?

Resources[edit]

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Notes[edit]

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1 Ne 17:46-50

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 17 / Verses 17:7-18:4
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Summary[edit]

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Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 17 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 17, the story of building the boat, consists of five major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 17 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 17: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• Nephi instructed to build a boat (17:7-16)
• brothers complain (17:17-22)
• Nephi's exhortation (17:23-47)
• brothers confounded (17:48-55)
• the boat is built (18:1-4)

1 Ne 17:7-16: Nephi instructed to build a boat[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:13-14: Recognizing the Lord's hand. The Lord stresses that Nephi will come to know that the Lord had led Nephi and his people to the promised land. It is interesting that the Lord seems to desire not just that his people be delivered but that they realize that it is by his hand that it happens. The Lord follows this pattern in other dealings with his people--such as in Exodus 3, where the Lord stresses the importance of letting Pharaoh and the other Israelites know that it is by his hand and authority that Moses comes to deliver them. Later, in Exodus 20:5 the Lord goes so far as to say he is a "jealous God." In modern times we are commanded to "confess his hand in all things" (D&C 59:21). It appears to be important doctrine to recognize the Lord's hand in good things that happen--and in turn the importance of doing good in the name of the Lord. Some Christian sects take this doctrine to the extreme of arguing that morality does not count unless done as an act of faith--in the name of the Lord (see, e.g., The Deadly Dangers of Moralism). Such a doctrine seems inconsistent with scriptural passages where the Lord indicates he will bless non-believing people for the commandments they do keep (see, e.g., Jacob 3:5-6). That said, it seems obvious that to take the next step beyond being just a moral people to being the Lord's covenant people requires an actual relationship with him. Such a relationship in turn requires knowledge of God and what he has done and will do for us.

1 Ne 17:17-22: Laman and Lemuel complain[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:21. Verse 21 shows what damage can happen from looking back. Luke 9:62 reminds us that we should not look back once we have made a righteous choice.
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. This term appears repeatedly in the Old Testament (see, e.g., Deut 4:1), where it is a translation of two words. Choq is the word translated as "statute." It means an ordinance, limit, boundary enactment, decree, ordinance specific decree law in general enactments, or civil enactments prescribed by God. It is derived from the word chaqaq, which means to carve, cut, or inscribe. Mishpat is the word translated as "judgment." It refers to the act of deciding a legal case, a court, litigation, a judicial decision or right and justice. It is derived from the word shaphat which is a verb meaning to govern or judge. The phrase "statutes and judgments" also appears elsewhere in the Book of Mormon (see, e.g., 2 Ne 1:16).
  • 1 Ne 17:22-24. These verses set up the extended discourse by Nephi that follows. In verse 22 Nephi's brothers insist that the people at Jerusalem were "a righteous people" because they "kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his comandments, according to the law of Moses." One way of looking at this confrontation and others between Nephi and his brothers is to see it as a contest between dueling approaches to reading the scriptures. Notice that Laman and Lemuel are not irreligious. They appeal to scripture, but do so in a particular way, adopting a self-consciously legal approach to them. They refer to Moses, but only as a lawgiver and their focus is on "the statutes and judgements" of that law. Nephi responds by also invoking Moses, but in a very different way, namely as a prophet who led his people from bondage to a promised land. Notice that Nephi's reading of the Moses story implicitly places himself and his brothers within the narrative. In doing so, he recapitulates an earlier confrontation over interpretation (see 1 Ne 15:5 ), but this time in a much more elaborate manner.
  • 1 Ne 17:22. This verse shows Laman's understanding of what it means to be righteous. He says, "And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people;". So, to him, to be righteous means to keep the statutes and judgments, and all the commandments of the Lord, according to the law of Moses. To Laman, keeping the behavioral laws passed down to them, like how many steps you can take on the Sabbath, was the definition of righteousness. "Keep the commandments" meant to be obedient to the past commandments of God, given to the prophets of old.
Nephi's definition of righteousness is in sharp contrast to Laman's. Everything Nephi says and does in this chapter reveals Nephi's 3-part definition -- a righteous person...
  • Is able to receive directives from God by revelation,
  • Believes that God will give them the power to bring them about whatever they are commanded, and
  • Is determined to act on God's here-and-now directives, no matter how far-fetched they seem.
Twice in this chapter Nephi provides an example of a righteous person, once in the front and once at the end, God commands Nephi personally to do something, and he does it. To Nephi, "keep the commandments" doesn't only mean obeying the commands of God given through past prophets (Laman's view), but extends beyond that to include the commandments God gives him personally in the present.

1 Ne 17:23-47: Nephi's exhortation[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:26-30. Notice that Nephi focuses in on three elements in this recounting of Moses's leading the children of Israel:
  • Crossing the Red Sea
  • Manna and water in the wilderness
  • Murmurring against the prophet
There seem to be clear analogs in the experience of the Lehite party. They now sit on the shore of a sea that the Lord has commanded them to cross. When Nephi broke his bow, the Lord provided the party with a way to get food in the wilderness. Laman and Lemuel have murmurred against Lehi. It is also possible that the reference to the pillar of fire that led the Children of Israel in the desert is also a reference to the pillar of fire that first appeared to Lehi ( 1 Ne 1:6 ) thus launching the family's exodus into the wilderness.
  • 1 Ne 17:30-42. Verses 37 & 38 appear to be the center of a thematic chiasm that looks like this:
30a - God leads his people to the promised land
31  - God's word
  30b - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
    35 - God favors/loves the righteous
    35 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
      36 - The Lord and the Earth
        37 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
        38 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
      39 - The Lord and the Earth
    40 - God favors/loves the righteous
    41 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
  42a - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
42b - God leads his people to the promised land
45+ - God's word
Nephi is trying here to get Laman to see the truth, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had become wicked and that the Lord was leading Lehi's family away because they were righteous. He emphasizes the ideas in 37 and 38 to try to persuade Laman that this is God's regular mode of operation - to lead out the righteous and then destroy the wicked. It will be interesting to see if this pattern is repeated in modern Israel's "Jerusalem" today.
  • 1 Ne 17:35: Ripe in iniquity. Nephi says here that the Israelites who entered the land of Canaan were favored over the previous inhabitants because those previous inhabitants were ripe in iniquity. This principle of the wicked being destroyed when they become ripe in iniquity, and the meaning of this term, are explored in the discussion of Hel 13:14.
  • It is important to note that Nephi did not tell his brethren that they "could not hear his words." Instead he was teaching them that spiritual messages most often come through feelings.
  • The Lord does not use an exotic method to send his children messages. He uses a medium that is already incredibly common to them. Because humans are creatures of emotion, the Lord's use of feelings to send messages to his children maximizes the number of people who will be equipped to receive these messages.
  • Because the Lord speaks to us through our feelings, we must ever be on guard to distinguish between our own emotions and feelings, one the one hand, and the feelings that carry the messages from our Heavenly Father on the other. These two things work through nearly the same channels and be easily mistaken for one another. The ability to figure out which feeling is which may be related to the gift of discernment. As we are obedient and perform the Lord's work here on earth, our capacity to distinguish between these two sources of feelings will be increased.
  • If we notice that the Lord seems to be sending us less messages, we should check ourselves and determine whether we have become the limiting factor. It may very well be that we have become too casual in our relationship with the Lord. To remedy this situation, we need to recommit to being obedient, loving, and serving.
  • Negativity in our thoughts, words, and actions can diminish the number of messages that we receive from the Lord. Dwelling on the negative in life can distort our natural feelings. We can find ourselves becoming cynical about situations, critical of others, and that everyone and everything falls short of our expectations. As we do so, we become emotionally crippled. We forget to find, or become unable to notice, the elements of good in everyone and everything. Once our feelings have become so one-sided, we shut ourselves out from the positive feelings that the Lord wants to send us. Should we be surprised to find it hard to communicate with a God who is the source of all goodness if we have convinced ourselves that his children and creation are full of faults?
  • In this verse, Nephi teaches that the Lord sends us messages made up of words as well as of feelings. Just like spiritual feelings are designed to be similar to our own emotions, these words from heaven are adapted to our own vocabulary. This means the Lord will send words to our minds that come from our own language. The words will be recognizable, in other words, because they are words with which we are already familiar.
  • Even though the Lord sends us words that we already know, it is the combination of those words that will be unique to the Lord. He will form the words he sends us into phrases and thoughts that we had not anticipated. Although he may bring things to our remembrance that we already knew, we will not have been thinking of these things at the time he sparked our memory. On other occasions, the Lord will reveal something new to us that is understandable because it is composed of words that we already know.
  • Elder B. H. Roberts used to say that the Spirit cannot draw upon an empty well. What this means is that the Spirit is limited in what it can reveal to us if we have a very small vocabulary and little schooling. As we gain an education and increase the number of words that we know, there is the potential that the Lord can send us more detailed messages. As our language and learning expand, the Lord can reveal to us a great number of connections between and patterns within the pieces of knowledge we have already obtained. Before we receive these revelations, however, these connections and patterns will not be obvious to us. It takes the influence of the Spirit to make us see what was always before our eyes or to understand what was comprehensible but never before comprehended.
  • The Lord likely wanted to send the same kinds of messages to Nephi and his brethren. They were, after all, in the same situation with needing to build a ship and to sail to the promised land. However, Nephi's ability to hearken to the Lord qualified him to receive more messages than his brethren. Like Nephi and his brethren, we may find ourselves in situations, like sacrament meetings, where just about everyone has the same ability to hear the same message with their physical ears. However, despite this common experience, there will likely be vast differences in the amount and types of spiritual impressions that each person in the congregation receives. Some of this revelation may be the same for most or all of the people in attendance, such as spiritual verification that what the speaker has said is true, but the rest of the revelation may be adapted to the needs and abilities of the individuals in the audience. Just as their were similarities and differences in the revelations received by Nephi and other members of his family, there can be unifying and personalized revelations received by us and the members of our wards.
  • Nephi teaches here that it is possible for people to reach the point where they are "past feeling" and can no longer detect the "still small voice." We should be aware of the things in our lives that dull our spiritual sensitivities and weaken our capacity to receives spiritual impressions through our feelings. In the world people talk about individuals who have suppressed, desensitized, or lost their conscience. This is an approximation of what Nephi is talking about. The result is that these individuals no longer feel a moral obligation to treat others with respect. The corollary is that love from another person may or may not touch the hearts of these individuals. It all depends on the extent to which these individuals have become "past feeling."
  • The Lord does not stop trying to talk to his children once they become "past feeling." He will, if necessary, use the language of physical force ("the voice of thunder") to get our attention. This switching on the Lord's part, from one mode of communication to another, is actually a demonstration of his mercy for his children. Rather than become offended that we have stopped listening to the still small voice, the Lord patiently and lovingly finds other channels through which to obtain our attention. He is slow to give up on us, even if we are quick to stop listening to him.
  • People are foolish and arrogant if they think their inability to hear and feel messages from the Lord is somehow proof that God no longer speaks to his children. These individuals are the ones who have broken the lines of communication. The Lord always stands ready to communicate to his children. In fact, the blame is entirely upon these individuals, rather than the Lord, because he has already made attempts to send messages to them, just like Laman and Lemuel received an angel, but they turned a deaf ear to these feelings and tuned out the Lord's voice to them.

1 Ne 17:48-55: Laman and Lemuel confounded[edit]

1 Ne 18:1-4: The boat is completed[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:7: What is the significance of prefacing, in the Old Testament way, this command with the word "Arise"?
  • 1 Ne 17:8: What precedents were there in scripture, that Nephi would have been familiar with, for building ships that were approved, let alone designed, by the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:9: In chapter 16, Nephi built a bow and asked his father where he should go to hunt. Here, he asks the Lord where he should go to find materials for the boat he is to build. Is that parallel instructive? What does this show us about Nephi? Does it suggest something for us?
  • 1 Ne 17:10: Was Nephi told, as well as shown, the exact location of the ore?
  • 1 Ne 17:11: Wouldn't Nephi have needed an oven or a catalyst, besides just blowing air, for super-hot fires that would make the ore molten?
  • 1 Ne 17:12: Were they allowed to build intense fires now that they were far removed from other societies who might notice their smoke?
  • 1 Ne 17:13: Was this a renewal or remaking of covenants?
  • 1 Ne 17:14: What does the Lord mean when he says “After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God"? Doesn’t Nephi already know that?
  • 1 Ne 17:15: Nephi begins this verse with “wherefore.” In other words, what follows is a consequence of what preceded: Nephi strove to keep the commandments because the Lord promised that after arriving in the promised land he would know that the Lord is God, that the Lord delivered them, and that he brought them out of Jerusalem. How does that promise motivate Nephi’s striving for obedience?
  • 1 Ne 17:16: Were these ordinary tools or were they, like the ship, divinely designed?
  • 1 Ne 17:17: Was Nephi reluctant to share his ship building plans with his brothers or did he hope they would come around to believing in the plan once they saw his progress?
  • 1 Ne 17:18: In what circumstances did Laman and Lemuel blame the Lord for their misfortunes, rather than members of their immediate family?
  • 1 Ne 17:20: Is the claim that Nephi is like his father the only truth embedded in this accusation, or did Laman and Lemuel accurately represent the feelings of at least some of the young mothers in this group?
  • 1 Ne 17:21: Were Laman and Lemuel so shallow as to think that their pursuit of materialism could provide all of the happiness they wanted and needed in life?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Nephi’s brothers say that they know that the people of Jerusalem were righteous because they kept the law of Moses. Were they wrong about that, or is their standard of righteousness the problem?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. Does anyone have any insight into the meaning of this phrase? Can you point me toward sources for a better sense of the meaning of "statutes and judgments" in the Old Testament? The definitions that I added here are from an online version of Strong's, but I suspect that there is more to this phrase than that. Are there any good online sources for this sort of thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:23: Nephi responds to their complaints by asking them to remember the Lord’s dealing with Moses and Israel. (Remembrance is a major theme in the Book of Mormon.) How will that remembrance answer their complaints?
  • 1 Ne 17:24: To what extent does Nephi see himself as a Moses for the group he is leading to the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 17:25: Nephi seems to be comparing the exodus of the Lehi party from Jerusalem with the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Does he mean to equate the experience of Lehi's family in Jerusalem with the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt? If so, in what way was Lehi's family in bondage in Jerusalem?
  • 1 Ne 17:26: Was Nephi saying they had been taught these stories or that they had a testimony of what happened back then?
  • 1 Ne 17:27: What is Nephi signaling to his brothers with his use of the word "but"?
  • 1 Ne 17:28: Would it be more accurate for Nephi to say "ye have heard"?
  • 1 Ne 17:30: Why is the word "Redeemer" absent from the writings of Moses?
  • 1 Ne 17:31: What does this verse mean by “there was not anything done save it was by his word"? What things is Nephi talking about, what the children of Israel did or what happened to them? What does “by his word” mean in this context?
  • 1 Ne 17:32: Was this the only version of the settlement of Canaan story that Nephi had ever heard?
  • 1 Ne 17:33: How can Nephi make such a sweeping and unfavorable judgment of the non-Jewish people who were in Canaan, when the Book of Mormon teaches that there must have been enough righteous individuals among the Canaanites for the Lord to deliver scripture to them and all other "nations of the earth" ([2 Ne 29:7)?
  • 1 Ne 17:34: Is Nephi hinting at the possibility that Jews did not have a monopoly on being the Lord's chosen people, that it was possible for righteous non-Jews to become "choice" in the eyes of the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:35: What does it mean to esteem (to value?) all flesh as one but to favor the righteous? How do esteem and favor differ?
  • 1 Ne 17:37: Does he wait longer to destroy wicked nations in this, the modern age, than he did in ancient times?
  • 1 Ne 17:38: Are some lands inherently more precious than others or is it the degree of righteousness or wickedness of the people living upon them that largely determines the worth of the land?
  • 1 Ne 17:39: What is the function of a footstool?
  • 1 Ne 17:40: How does Nephi explain Israel’s salvation? Is it because Israel was worthy of salvation? What does it mean to say that the Lord remembers his covenants? What does Nephi’s teaching in this verse suggest about us today? about our children?
  • 1 Ne 17:41: Are chastening and straitening the same thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:42: Why doesn't Nephi distinguish between generations who were wicked and those who were more righteous?
  • 1 Ne 17:43: What explanation would Nephi have given for the preservation of these few?
  • 1 Ne 17:45: Does this verse imply that the "still small voice" speaks without words, at least in the audible sense?
  • 1 Ne 17:46: Why does Nephi mix prophesied certainties with statements of capability?
  • 1 Ne 17:47: In the Old Testament, anguish is what sinners feel. After Christ comes, sorrow is what his disciples feel for the sins of the world. Is Nephi feeling both of these emotions?
  • 1 Ne 17:48: What does Nephi mean when he says the power of God is consuming his flesh? Is he echoing Old Testament passages that talk about sacrifices where divine fire consumes the flesh of the animal?
  • 1 Ne 17:49: Why is the word "labor"--which is found here and throughout the restoration scriptures--absent from the Bible?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Why doesn't Nephi say that whatever the Lord commands will "happen"?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Who or what is performing the action when Nephi says "it would be done"?
  • 1 Ne 17:51: What does vs. 51 tell us about God's willingness to instruct us in "mundane" tasks? Can we get similarly detailed instructions for the things God has commanded us to do?
  • 1 Ne 17:52: If Nephi's brothers were "past feeling," then what were they experiencing when the Spirit powerfully "wrought upon them"?
  • 1 Ne 17:53: Is the promise that Laman and Lemuel would "not wither" proof that they had suddenly started repenting?
  • 1 Ne 17:54: How should we interpret Nephi's use of physical force against his brothers in light of modern LDS instructions not to exercise dominion through compulsory means(D&C 121:37)?
  • 1 Ne 17:55: Why did Laman and Lemuel confess the hand of the Lord and then seemingly immediately attribute the divine intervention to their brother Nephi?
  • 1 Ne 18:1: Why didn't Nephi make a record of the ship building plans that he could refer back to as needed? Was the Lord providing feedback to Nephi's neophyte attempts at ship building?
  • 1 Ne 18:2: Was the boat designed to follow the laws of physics?
  • 1 Ne 18:3: Did these "great things" that Nephi beheld after mountain-top prayer pertain only to ship building? Or is it likely that Nephi's diligence was rewarded with even greater knowledge?
  • 1 Ne 18:4: What kinds of divinely-inspired workmanship in the world today can still inspire humility in the hearts of the children of men? To what degree is Alma's claim still applicable that all things upon the face of the earth are sufficient signs to turn people into believers (see Alma 30:44)?

Resources[edit]

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Notes[edit]

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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1 Ne 17:51-55

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 17 / Verses 17:7-18:4
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Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 17 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 17, the story of building the boat, consists of five major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 17 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 17: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• Nephi instructed to build a boat (17:7-16)
• brothers complain (17:17-22)
• Nephi's exhortation (17:23-47)
• brothers confounded (17:48-55)
• the boat is built (18:1-4)

1 Ne 17:7-16: Nephi instructed to build a boat[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:13-14: Recognizing the Lord's hand. The Lord stresses that Nephi will come to know that the Lord had led Nephi and his people to the promised land. It is interesting that the Lord seems to desire not just that his people be delivered but that they realize that it is by his hand that it happens. The Lord follows this pattern in other dealings with his people--such as in Exodus 3, where the Lord stresses the importance of letting Pharaoh and the other Israelites know that it is by his hand and authority that Moses comes to deliver them. Later, in Exodus 20:5 the Lord goes so far as to say he is a "jealous God." In modern times we are commanded to "confess his hand in all things" (D&C 59:21). It appears to be important doctrine to recognize the Lord's hand in good things that happen--and in turn the importance of doing good in the name of the Lord. Some Christian sects take this doctrine to the extreme of arguing that morality does not count unless done as an act of faith--in the name of the Lord (see, e.g., The Deadly Dangers of Moralism). Such a doctrine seems inconsistent with scriptural passages where the Lord indicates he will bless non-believing people for the commandments they do keep (see, e.g., Jacob 3:5-6). That said, it seems obvious that to take the next step beyond being just a moral people to being the Lord's covenant people requires an actual relationship with him. Such a relationship in turn requires knowledge of God and what he has done and will do for us.

1 Ne 17:17-22: Laman and Lemuel complain[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:21. Verse 21 shows what damage can happen from looking back. Luke 9:62 reminds us that we should not look back once we have made a righteous choice.
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. This term appears repeatedly in the Old Testament (see, e.g., Deut 4:1), where it is a translation of two words. Choq is the word translated as "statute." It means an ordinance, limit, boundary enactment, decree, ordinance specific decree law in general enactments, or civil enactments prescribed by God. It is derived from the word chaqaq, which means to carve, cut, or inscribe. Mishpat is the word translated as "judgment." It refers to the act of deciding a legal case, a court, litigation, a judicial decision or right and justice. It is derived from the word shaphat which is a verb meaning to govern or judge. The phrase "statutes and judgments" also appears elsewhere in the Book of Mormon (see, e.g., 2 Ne 1:16).
  • 1 Ne 17:22-24. These verses set up the extended discourse by Nephi that follows. In verse 22 Nephi's brothers insist that the people at Jerusalem were "a righteous people" because they "kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his comandments, according to the law of Moses." One way of looking at this confrontation and others between Nephi and his brothers is to see it as a contest between dueling approaches to reading the scriptures. Notice that Laman and Lemuel are not irreligious. They appeal to scripture, but do so in a particular way, adopting a self-consciously legal approach to them. They refer to Moses, but only as a lawgiver and their focus is on "the statutes and judgements" of that law. Nephi responds by also invoking Moses, but in a very different way, namely as a prophet who led his people from bondage to a promised land. Notice that Nephi's reading of the Moses story implicitly places himself and his brothers within the narrative. In doing so, he recapitulates an earlier confrontation over interpretation (see 1 Ne 15:5 ), but this time in a much more elaborate manner.
  • 1 Ne 17:22. This verse shows Laman's understanding of what it means to be righteous. He says, "And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people;". So, to him, to be righteous means to keep the statutes and judgments, and all the commandments of the Lord, according to the law of Moses. To Laman, keeping the behavioral laws passed down to them, like how many steps you can take on the Sabbath, was the definition of righteousness. "Keep the commandments" meant to be obedient to the past commandments of God, given to the prophets of old.
Nephi's definition of righteousness is in sharp contrast to Laman's. Everything Nephi says and does in this chapter reveals Nephi's 3-part definition -- a righteous person...
  • Is able to receive directives from God by revelation,
  • Believes that God will give them the power to bring them about whatever they are commanded, and
  • Is determined to act on God's here-and-now directives, no matter how far-fetched they seem.
Twice in this chapter Nephi provides an example of a righteous person, once in the front and once at the end, God commands Nephi personally to do something, and he does it. To Nephi, "keep the commandments" doesn't only mean obeying the commands of God given through past prophets (Laman's view), but extends beyond that to include the commandments God gives him personally in the present.

1 Ne 17:23-47: Nephi's exhortation[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:26-30. Notice that Nephi focuses in on three elements in this recounting of Moses's leading the children of Israel:
  • Crossing the Red Sea
  • Manna and water in the wilderness
  • Murmurring against the prophet
There seem to be clear analogs in the experience of the Lehite party. They now sit on the shore of a sea that the Lord has commanded them to cross. When Nephi broke his bow, the Lord provided the party with a way to get food in the wilderness. Laman and Lemuel have murmurred against Lehi. It is also possible that the reference to the pillar of fire that led the Children of Israel in the desert is also a reference to the pillar of fire that first appeared to Lehi ( 1 Ne 1:6 ) thus launching the family's exodus into the wilderness.
  • 1 Ne 17:30-42. Verses 37 & 38 appear to be the center of a thematic chiasm that looks like this:
30a - God leads his people to the promised land
31  - God's word
  30b - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
    35 - God favors/loves the righteous
    35 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
      36 - The Lord and the Earth
        37 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
        38 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
      39 - The Lord and the Earth
    40 - God favors/loves the righteous
    41 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
  42a - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
42b - God leads his people to the promised land
45+ - God's word
Nephi is trying here to get Laman to see the truth, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had become wicked and that the Lord was leading Lehi's family away because they were righteous. He emphasizes the ideas in 37 and 38 to try to persuade Laman that this is God's regular mode of operation - to lead out the righteous and then destroy the wicked. It will be interesting to see if this pattern is repeated in modern Israel's "Jerusalem" today.
  • 1 Ne 17:35: Ripe in iniquity. Nephi says here that the Israelites who entered the land of Canaan were favored over the previous inhabitants because those previous inhabitants were ripe in iniquity. This principle of the wicked being destroyed when they become ripe in iniquity, and the meaning of this term, are explored in the discussion of Hel 13:14.
  • It is important to note that Nephi did not tell his brethren that they "could not hear his words." Instead he was teaching them that spiritual messages most often come through feelings.
  • The Lord does not use an exotic method to send his children messages. He uses a medium that is already incredibly common to them. Because humans are creatures of emotion, the Lord's use of feelings to send messages to his children maximizes the number of people who will be equipped to receive these messages.
  • Because the Lord speaks to us through our feelings, we must ever be on guard to distinguish between our own emotions and feelings, one the one hand, and the feelings that carry the messages from our Heavenly Father on the other. These two things work through nearly the same channels and be easily mistaken for one another. The ability to figure out which feeling is which may be related to the gift of discernment. As we are obedient and perform the Lord's work here on earth, our capacity to distinguish between these two sources of feelings will be increased.
  • If we notice that the Lord seems to be sending us less messages, we should check ourselves and determine whether we have become the limiting factor. It may very well be that we have become too casual in our relationship with the Lord. To remedy this situation, we need to recommit to being obedient, loving, and serving.
  • Negativity in our thoughts, words, and actions can diminish the number of messages that we receive from the Lord. Dwelling on the negative in life can distort our natural feelings. We can find ourselves becoming cynical about situations, critical of others, and that everyone and everything falls short of our expectations. As we do so, we become emotionally crippled. We forget to find, or become unable to notice, the elements of good in everyone and everything. Once our feelings have become so one-sided, we shut ourselves out from the positive feelings that the Lord wants to send us. Should we be surprised to find it hard to communicate with a God who is the source of all goodness if we have convinced ourselves that his children and creation are full of faults?
  • In this verse, Nephi teaches that the Lord sends us messages made up of words as well as of feelings. Just like spiritual feelings are designed to be similar to our own emotions, these words from heaven are adapted to our own vocabulary. This means the Lord will send words to our minds that come from our own language. The words will be recognizable, in other words, because they are words with which we are already familiar.
  • Even though the Lord sends us words that we already know, it is the combination of those words that will be unique to the Lord. He will form the words he sends us into phrases and thoughts that we had not anticipated. Although he may bring things to our remembrance that we already knew, we will not have been thinking of these things at the time he sparked our memory. On other occasions, the Lord will reveal something new to us that is understandable because it is composed of words that we already know.
  • Elder B. H. Roberts used to say that the Spirit cannot draw upon an empty well. What this means is that the Spirit is limited in what it can reveal to us if we have a very small vocabulary and little schooling. As we gain an education and increase the number of words that we know, there is the potential that the Lord can send us more detailed messages. As our language and learning expand, the Lord can reveal to us a great number of connections between and patterns within the pieces of knowledge we have already obtained. Before we receive these revelations, however, these connections and patterns will not be obvious to us. It takes the influence of the Spirit to make us see what was always before our eyes or to understand what was comprehensible but never before comprehended.
  • The Lord likely wanted to send the same kinds of messages to Nephi and his brethren. They were, after all, in the same situation with needing to build a ship and to sail to the promised land. However, Nephi's ability to hearken to the Lord qualified him to receive more messages than his brethren. Like Nephi and his brethren, we may find ourselves in situations, like sacrament meetings, where just about everyone has the same ability to hear the same message with their physical ears. However, despite this common experience, there will likely be vast differences in the amount and types of spiritual impressions that each person in the congregation receives. Some of this revelation may be the same for most or all of the people in attendance, such as spiritual verification that what the speaker has said is true, but the rest of the revelation may be adapted to the needs and abilities of the individuals in the audience. Just as their were similarities and differences in the revelations received by Nephi and other members of his family, there can be unifying and personalized revelations received by us and the members of our wards.
  • Nephi teaches here that it is possible for people to reach the point where they are "past feeling" and can no longer detect the "still small voice." We should be aware of the things in our lives that dull our spiritual sensitivities and weaken our capacity to receives spiritual impressions through our feelings. In the world people talk about individuals who have suppressed, desensitized, or lost their conscience. This is an approximation of what Nephi is talking about. The result is that these individuals no longer feel a moral obligation to treat others with respect. The corollary is that love from another person may or may not touch the hearts of these individuals. It all depends on the extent to which these individuals have become "past feeling."
  • The Lord does not stop trying to talk to his children once they become "past feeling." He will, if necessary, use the language of physical force ("the voice of thunder") to get our attention. This switching on the Lord's part, from one mode of communication to another, is actually a demonstration of his mercy for his children. Rather than become offended that we have stopped listening to the still small voice, the Lord patiently and lovingly finds other channels through which to obtain our attention. He is slow to give up on us, even if we are quick to stop listening to him.
  • People are foolish and arrogant if they think their inability to hear and feel messages from the Lord is somehow proof that God no longer speaks to his children. These individuals are the ones who have broken the lines of communication. The Lord always stands ready to communicate to his children. In fact, the blame is entirely upon these individuals, rather than the Lord, because he has already made attempts to send messages to them, just like Laman and Lemuel received an angel, but they turned a deaf ear to these feelings and tuned out the Lord's voice to them.

1 Ne 17:48-55: Laman and Lemuel confounded[edit]

1 Ne 18:1-4: The boat is completed[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:7: What is the significance of prefacing, in the Old Testament way, this command with the word "Arise"?
  • 1 Ne 17:8: What precedents were there in scripture, that Nephi would have been familiar with, for building ships that were approved, let alone designed, by the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:9: In chapter 16, Nephi built a bow and asked his father where he should go to hunt. Here, he asks the Lord where he should go to find materials for the boat he is to build. Is that parallel instructive? What does this show us about Nephi? Does it suggest something for us?
  • 1 Ne 17:10: Was Nephi told, as well as shown, the exact location of the ore?
  • 1 Ne 17:11: Wouldn't Nephi have needed an oven or a catalyst, besides just blowing air, for super-hot fires that would make the ore molten?
  • 1 Ne 17:12: Were they allowed to build intense fires now that they were far removed from other societies who might notice their smoke?
  • 1 Ne 17:13: Was this a renewal or remaking of covenants?
  • 1 Ne 17:14: What does the Lord mean when he says “After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God"? Doesn’t Nephi already know that?
  • 1 Ne 17:15: Nephi begins this verse with “wherefore.” In other words, what follows is a consequence of what preceded: Nephi strove to keep the commandments because the Lord promised that after arriving in the promised land he would know that the Lord is God, that the Lord delivered them, and that he brought them out of Jerusalem. How does that promise motivate Nephi’s striving for obedience?
  • 1 Ne 17:16: Were these ordinary tools or were they, like the ship, divinely designed?
  • 1 Ne 17:17: Was Nephi reluctant to share his ship building plans with his brothers or did he hope they would come around to believing in the plan once they saw his progress?
  • 1 Ne 17:18: In what circumstances did Laman and Lemuel blame the Lord for their misfortunes, rather than members of their immediate family?
  • 1 Ne 17:20: Is the claim that Nephi is like his father the only truth embedded in this accusation, or did Laman and Lemuel accurately represent the feelings of at least some of the young mothers in this group?
  • 1 Ne 17:21: Were Laman and Lemuel so shallow as to think that their pursuit of materialism could provide all of the happiness they wanted and needed in life?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Nephi’s brothers say that they know that the people of Jerusalem were righteous because they kept the law of Moses. Were they wrong about that, or is their standard of righteousness the problem?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. Does anyone have any insight into the meaning of this phrase? Can you point me toward sources for a better sense of the meaning of "statutes and judgments" in the Old Testament? The definitions that I added here are from an online version of Strong's, but I suspect that there is more to this phrase than that. Are there any good online sources for this sort of thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:23: Nephi responds to their complaints by asking them to remember the Lord’s dealing with Moses and Israel. (Remembrance is a major theme in the Book of Mormon.) How will that remembrance answer their complaints?
  • 1 Ne 17:24: To what extent does Nephi see himself as a Moses for the group he is leading to the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 17:25: Nephi seems to be comparing the exodus of the Lehi party from Jerusalem with the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Does he mean to equate the experience of Lehi's family in Jerusalem with the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt? If so, in what way was Lehi's family in bondage in Jerusalem?
  • 1 Ne 17:26: Was Nephi saying they had been taught these stories or that they had a testimony of what happened back then?
  • 1 Ne 17:27: What is Nephi signaling to his brothers with his use of the word "but"?
  • 1 Ne 17:28: Would it be more accurate for Nephi to say "ye have heard"?
  • 1 Ne 17:30: Why is the word "Redeemer" absent from the writings of Moses?
  • 1 Ne 17:31: What does this verse mean by “there was not anything done save it was by his word"? What things is Nephi talking about, what the children of Israel did or what happened to them? What does “by his word” mean in this context?
  • 1 Ne 17:32: Was this the only version of the settlement of Canaan story that Nephi had ever heard?
  • 1 Ne 17:33: How can Nephi make such a sweeping and unfavorable judgment of the non-Jewish people who were in Canaan, when the Book of Mormon teaches that there must have been enough righteous individuals among the Canaanites for the Lord to deliver scripture to them and all other "nations of the earth" ([2 Ne 29:7)?
  • 1 Ne 17:34: Is Nephi hinting at the possibility that Jews did not have a monopoly on being the Lord's chosen people, that it was possible for righteous non-Jews to become "choice" in the eyes of the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:35: What does it mean to esteem (to value?) all flesh as one but to favor the righteous? How do esteem and favor differ?
  • 1 Ne 17:37: Does he wait longer to destroy wicked nations in this, the modern age, than he did in ancient times?
  • 1 Ne 17:38: Are some lands inherently more precious than others or is it the degree of righteousness or wickedness of the people living upon them that largely determines the worth of the land?
  • 1 Ne 17:39: What is the function of a footstool?
  • 1 Ne 17:40: How does Nephi explain Israel’s salvation? Is it because Israel was worthy of salvation? What does it mean to say that the Lord remembers his covenants? What does Nephi’s teaching in this verse suggest about us today? about our children?
  • 1 Ne 17:41: Are chastening and straitening the same thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:42: Why doesn't Nephi distinguish between generations who were wicked and those who were more righteous?
  • 1 Ne 17:43: What explanation would Nephi have given for the preservation of these few?
  • 1 Ne 17:45: Does this verse imply that the "still small voice" speaks without words, at least in the audible sense?
  • 1 Ne 17:46: Why does Nephi mix prophesied certainties with statements of capability?
  • 1 Ne 17:47: In the Old Testament, anguish is what sinners feel. After Christ comes, sorrow is what his disciples feel for the sins of the world. Is Nephi feeling both of these emotions?
  • 1 Ne 17:48: What does Nephi mean when he says the power of God is consuming his flesh? Is he echoing Old Testament passages that talk about sacrifices where divine fire consumes the flesh of the animal?
  • 1 Ne 17:49: Why is the word "labor"--which is found here and throughout the restoration scriptures--absent from the Bible?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Why doesn't Nephi say that whatever the Lord commands will "happen"?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Who or what is performing the action when Nephi says "it would be done"?
  • 1 Ne 17:51: What does vs. 51 tell us about God's willingness to instruct us in "mundane" tasks? Can we get similarly detailed instructions for the things God has commanded us to do?
  • 1 Ne 17:52: If Nephi's brothers were "past feeling," then what were they experiencing when the Spirit powerfully "wrought upon them"?
  • 1 Ne 17:53: Is the promise that Laman and Lemuel would "not wither" proof that they had suddenly started repenting?
  • 1 Ne 17:54: How should we interpret Nephi's use of physical force against his brothers in light of modern LDS instructions not to exercise dominion through compulsory means(D&C 121:37)?
  • 1 Ne 17:55: Why did Laman and Lemuel confess the hand of the Lord and then seemingly immediately attribute the divine intervention to their brother Nephi?
  • 1 Ne 18:1: Why didn't Nephi make a record of the ship building plans that he could refer back to as needed? Was the Lord providing feedback to Nephi's neophyte attempts at ship building?
  • 1 Ne 18:2: Was the boat designed to follow the laws of physics?
  • 1 Ne 18:3: Did these "great things" that Nephi beheld after mountain-top prayer pertain only to ship building? Or is it likely that Nephi's diligence was rewarded with even greater knowledge?
  • 1 Ne 18:4: What kinds of divinely-inspired workmanship in the world today can still inspire humility in the hearts of the children of men? To what degree is Alma's claim still applicable that all things upon the face of the earth are sufficient signs to turn people into believers (see Alma 30:44)?

Resources[edit]

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. →

Notes[edit]

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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First Nephi 18

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 18 / Verses 18:5-25
Previous page: Chapter 17                      Next page: Chapters 19-22


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 18 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 18, the story of the water journey, consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 18 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 18: The water journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• departing in the boat (18:5-8)
• brothers bind Nephi until threatened by storm (18:9-16)
• brothers ignore parents until threatened by storm (18:17-21)
• arriving at the promised land (18:22-25)

1 Ne 18:5-8: Departing in the boat[edit]

1 Ne 18:9-16: Brothers bind Nephi[edit]

1 Ne 18:17-21: Brothers ignore parents[edit]

1 Ne 18:22-25: Arriving at the promised land[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 18:5: How well did Lehi and Nephi handle the Lord's decision to switch off on sending messages to each of them?
  • 1 Ne 18:6: What does the phrase "every one according to his age" mean in this context? Does it mean the carrying capacity of each individual was proportional to their age? Or is this a reference to seniority and social hierarchy?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 18:15-16. Edwards, Keith R. "That They Might Know Thee," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 99–101. Elder Edwards states: "There is throughout the scriptures a line of men and women who always seemed to keep their focus on Christ—people who, no matter what injury or injustice life dealt them, remained faithful and willing to endure. Particularly notable to me is Nephi's endurance... Remember, though, that it was Nephi who recorded: 'They scourge him, and he suffereth it...' [see 1 Ne 19:9] Nephi understood."

Notes[edit]

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: Chapter 17                      Next page: Chapters 19-22

1 Ne 18:1-5

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 17 / Verses 17:7-18:4
Previous page: Chapter 16                      Next page: Chapter 18


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 17 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 17, the story of building the boat, consists of five major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 17 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 17: The land journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• Nephi instructed to build a boat (17:7-16)
• brothers complain (17:17-22)
• Nephi's exhortation (17:23-47)
• brothers confounded (17:48-55)
• the boat is built (18:1-4)

1 Ne 17:7-16: Nephi instructed to build a boat[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:13-14: Recognizing the Lord's hand. The Lord stresses that Nephi will come to know that the Lord had led Nephi and his people to the promised land. It is interesting that the Lord seems to desire not just that his people be delivered but that they realize that it is by his hand that it happens. The Lord follows this pattern in other dealings with his people--such as in Exodus 3, where the Lord stresses the importance of letting Pharaoh and the other Israelites know that it is by his hand and authority that Moses comes to deliver them. Later, in Exodus 20:5 the Lord goes so far as to say he is a "jealous God." In modern times we are commanded to "confess his hand in all things" (D&C 59:21). It appears to be important doctrine to recognize the Lord's hand in good things that happen--and in turn the importance of doing good in the name of the Lord. Some Christian sects take this doctrine to the extreme of arguing that morality does not count unless done as an act of faith--in the name of the Lord (see, e.g., The Deadly Dangers of Moralism). Such a doctrine seems inconsistent with scriptural passages where the Lord indicates he will bless non-believing people for the commandments they do keep (see, e.g., Jacob 3:5-6). That said, it seems obvious that to take the next step beyond being just a moral people to being the Lord's covenant people requires an actual relationship with him. Such a relationship in turn requires knowledge of God and what he has done and will do for us.

1 Ne 17:17-22: Laman and Lemuel complain[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:21. Verse 21 shows what damage can happen from looking back. Luke 9:62 reminds us that we should not look back once we have made a righteous choice.
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. This term appears repeatedly in the Old Testament (see, e.g., Deut 4:1), where it is a translation of two words. Choq is the word translated as "statute." It means an ordinance, limit, boundary enactment, decree, ordinance specific decree law in general enactments, or civil enactments prescribed by God. It is derived from the word chaqaq, which means to carve, cut, or inscribe. Mishpat is the word translated as "judgment." It refers to the act of deciding a legal case, a court, litigation, a judicial decision or right and justice. It is derived from the word shaphat which is a verb meaning to govern or judge. The phrase "statutes and judgments" also appears elsewhere in the Book of Mormon (see, e.g., 2 Ne 1:16).
  • 1 Ne 17:22-24. These verses set up the extended discourse by Nephi that follows. In verse 22 Nephi's brothers insist that the people at Jerusalem were "a righteous people" because they "kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his comandments, according to the law of Moses." One way of looking at this confrontation and others between Nephi and his brothers is to see it as a contest between dueling approaches to reading the scriptures. Notice that Laman and Lemuel are not irreligious. They appeal to scripture, but do so in a particular way, adopting a self-consciously legal approach to them. They refer to Moses, but only as a lawgiver and their focus is on "the statutes and judgements" of that law. Nephi responds by also invoking Moses, but in a very different way, namely as a prophet who led his people from bondage to a promised land. Notice that Nephi's reading of the Moses story implicitly places himself and his brothers within the narrative. In doing so, he recapitulates an earlier confrontation over interpretation (see 1 Ne 15:5 ), but this time in a much more elaborate manner.
  • 1 Ne 17:22. This verse shows Laman's understanding of what it means to be righteous. He says, "And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people;". So, to him, to be righteous means to keep the statutes and judgments, and all the commandments of the Lord, according to the law of Moses. To Laman, keeping the behavioral laws passed down to them, like how many steps you can take on the Sabbath, was the definition of righteousness. "Keep the commandments" meant to be obedient to the past commandments of God, given to the prophets of old.
Nephi's definition of righteousness is in sharp contrast to Laman's. Everything Nephi says and does in this chapter reveals Nephi's 3-part definition -- a righteous person...
  • Is able to receive directives from God by revelation,
  • Believes that God will give them the power to bring them about whatever they are commanded, and
  • Is determined to act on God's here-and-now directives, no matter how far-fetched they seem.
Twice in this chapter Nephi provides an example of a righteous person, once in the front and once at the end, God commands Nephi personally to do something, and he does it. To Nephi, "keep the commandments" doesn't only mean obeying the commands of God given through past prophets (Laman's view), but extends beyond that to include the commandments God gives him personally in the present.

1 Ne 17:23-47: Nephi's exhortation[edit]

  • 1 Ne 17:26-30. Notice that Nephi focuses in on three elements in this recounting of Moses's leading the children of Israel:
  • Crossing the Red Sea
  • Manna and water in the wilderness
  • Murmurring against the prophet
There seem to be clear analogs in the experience of the Lehite party. They now sit on the shore of a sea that the Lord has commanded them to cross. When Nephi broke his bow, the Lord provided the party with a way to get food in the wilderness. Laman and Lemuel have murmurred against Lehi. It is also possible that the reference to the pillar of fire that led the Children of Israel in the desert is also a reference to the pillar of fire that first appeared to Lehi ( 1 Ne 1:6 ) thus launching the family's exodus into the wilderness.
  • 1 Ne 17:30-42. Verses 37 & 38 appear to be the center of a thematic chiasm that looks like this:
30a - God leads his people to the promised land
31  - God's word
  30b - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
    35 - God favors/loves the righteous
    35 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
      36 - The Lord and the Earth
        37 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
        38 - The Lord, the Righteous and the Wicked
      39 - The Lord and the Earth
    40 - God favors/loves the righteous
    41 - Lord cleanses His people of iniquity
  42a - His people harden their hearts and revile against His prophet
42b - God leads his people to the promised land
45+ - God's word
Nephi is trying here to get Laman to see the truth, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem had become wicked and that the Lord was leading Lehi's family away because they were righteous. He emphasizes the ideas in 37 and 38 to try to persuade Laman that this is God's regular mode of operation - to lead out the righteous and then destroy the wicked. It will be interesting to see if this pattern is repeated in modern Israel's "Jerusalem" today.
  • 1 Ne 17:35: Ripe in iniquity. Nephi says here that the Israelites who entered the land of Canaan were favored over the previous inhabitants because those previous inhabitants were ripe in iniquity. This principle of the wicked being destroyed when they become ripe in iniquity, and the meaning of this term, are explored in the discussion of Hel 13:14.
  • It is important to note that Nephi did not tell his brethren that they "could not hear his words." Instead he was teaching them that spiritual messages most often come through feelings.
  • The Lord does not use an exotic method to send his children messages. He uses a medium that is already incredibly common to them. Because humans are creatures of emotion, the Lord's use of feelings to send messages to his children maximizes the number of people who will be equipped to receive these messages.
  • Because the Lord speaks to us through our feelings, we must ever be on guard to distinguish between our own emotions and feelings, one the one hand, and the feelings that carry the messages from our Heavenly Father on the other. These two things work through nearly the same channels and be easily mistaken for one another. The ability to figure out which feeling is which may be related to the gift of discernment. As we are obedient and perform the Lord's work here on earth, our capacity to distinguish between these two sources of feelings will be increased.
  • If we notice that the Lord seems to be sending us less messages, we should check ourselves and determine whether we have become the limiting factor. It may very well be that we have become too casual in our relationship with the Lord. To remedy this situation, we need to recommit to being obedient, loving, and serving.
  • Negativity in our thoughts, words, and actions can diminish the number of messages that we receive from the Lord. Dwelling on the negative in life can distort our natural feelings. We can find ourselves becoming cynical about situations, critical of others, and that everyone and everything falls short of our expectations. As we do so, we become emotionally crippled. We forget to find, or become unable to notice, the elements of good in everyone and everything. Once our feelings have become so one-sided, we shut ourselves out from the positive feelings that the Lord wants to send us. Should we be surprised to find it hard to communicate with a God who is the source of all goodness if we have convinced ourselves that his children and creation are full of faults?
  • In this verse, Nephi teaches that the Lord sends us messages made up of words as well as of feelings. Just like spiritual feelings are designed to be similar to our own emotions, these words from heaven are adapted to our own vocabulary. This means the Lord will send words to our minds that come from our own language. The words will be recognizable, in other words, because they are words with which we are already familiar.
  • Even though the Lord sends us words that we already know, it is the combination of those words that will be unique to the Lord. He will form the words he sends us into phrases and thoughts that we had not anticipated. Although he may bring things to our remembrance that we already knew, we will not have been thinking of these things at the time he sparked our memory. On other occasions, the Lord will reveal something new to us that is understandable because it is composed of words that we already know.
  • Elder B. H. Roberts used to say that the Spirit cannot draw upon an empty well. What this means is that the Spirit is limited in what it can reveal to us if we have a very small vocabulary and little schooling. As we gain an education and increase the number of words that we know, there is the potential that the Lord can send us more detailed messages. As our language and learning expand, the Lord can reveal to us a great number of connections between and patterns within the pieces of knowledge we have already obtained. Before we receive these revelations, however, these connections and patterns will not be obvious to us. It takes the influence of the Spirit to make us see what was always before our eyes or to understand what was comprehensible but never before comprehended.
  • The Lord likely wanted to send the same kinds of messages to Nephi and his brethren. They were, after all, in the same situation with needing to build a ship and to sail to the promised land. However, Nephi's ability to hearken to the Lord qualified him to receive more messages than his brethren. Like Nephi and his brethren, we may find ourselves in situations, like sacrament meetings, where just about everyone has the same ability to hear the same message with their physical ears. However, despite this common experience, there will likely be vast differences in the amount and types of spiritual impressions that each person in the congregation receives. Some of this revelation may be the same for most or all of the people in attendance, such as spiritual verification that what the speaker has said is true, but the rest of the revelation may be adapted to the needs and abilities of the individuals in the audience. Just as their were similarities and differences in the revelations received by Nephi and other members of his family, there can be unifying and personalized revelations received by us and the members of our wards.
  • Nephi teaches here that it is possible for people to reach the point where they are "past feeling" and can no longer detect the "still small voice." We should be aware of the things in our lives that dull our spiritual sensitivities and weaken our capacity to receives spiritual impressions through our feelings. In the world people talk about individuals who have suppressed, desensitized, or lost their conscience. This is an approximation of what Nephi is talking about. The result is that these individuals no longer feel a moral obligation to treat others with respect. The corollary is that love from another person may or may not touch the hearts of these individuals. It all depends on the extent to which these individuals have become "past feeling."
  • The Lord does not stop trying to talk to his children once they become "past feeling." He will, if necessary, use the language of physical force ("the voice of thunder") to get our attention. This switching on the Lord's part, from one mode of communication to another, is actually a demonstration of his mercy for his children. Rather than become offended that we have stopped listening to the still small voice, the Lord patiently and lovingly finds other channels through which to obtain our attention. He is slow to give up on us, even if we are quick to stop listening to him.
  • People are foolish and arrogant if they think their inability to hear and feel messages from the Lord is somehow proof that God no longer speaks to his children. These individuals are the ones who have broken the lines of communication. The Lord always stands ready to communicate to his children. In fact, the blame is entirely upon these individuals, rather than the Lord, because he has already made attempts to send messages to them, just like Laman and Lemuel received an angel, but they turned a deaf ear to these feelings and tuned out the Lord's voice to them.

1 Ne 17:48-55: Laman and Lemuel confounded[edit]

1 Ne 18:1-4: The boat is completed[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 17:7: What is the significance of prefacing, in the Old Testament way, this command with the word "Arise"?
  • 1 Ne 17:8: What precedents were there in scripture, that Nephi would have been familiar with, for building ships that were approved, let alone designed, by the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:9: In chapter 16, Nephi built a bow and asked his father where he should go to hunt. Here, he asks the Lord where he should go to find materials for the boat he is to build. Is that parallel instructive? What does this show us about Nephi? Does it suggest something for us?
  • 1 Ne 17:10: Was Nephi told, as well as shown, the exact location of the ore?
  • 1 Ne 17:11: Wouldn't Nephi have needed an oven or a catalyst, besides just blowing air, for super-hot fires that would make the ore molten?
  • 1 Ne 17:12: Were they allowed to build intense fires now that they were far removed from other societies who might notice their smoke?
  • 1 Ne 17:13: Was this a renewal or remaking of covenants?
  • 1 Ne 17:14: What does the Lord mean when he says “After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God"? Doesn’t Nephi already know that?
  • 1 Ne 17:15: Nephi begins this verse with “wherefore.” In other words, what follows is a consequence of what preceded: Nephi strove to keep the commandments because the Lord promised that after arriving in the promised land he would know that the Lord is God, that the Lord delivered them, and that he brought them out of Jerusalem. How does that promise motivate Nephi’s striving for obedience?
  • 1 Ne 17:16: Were these ordinary tools or were they, like the ship, divinely designed?
  • 1 Ne 17:17: Was Nephi reluctant to share his ship building plans with his brothers or did he hope they would come around to believing in the plan once they saw his progress?
  • 1 Ne 17:18: In what circumstances did Laman and Lemuel blame the Lord for their misfortunes, rather than members of their immediate family?
  • 1 Ne 17:20: Is the claim that Nephi is like his father the only truth embedded in this accusation, or did Laman and Lemuel accurately represent the feelings of at least some of the young mothers in this group?
  • 1 Ne 17:21: Were Laman and Lemuel so shallow as to think that their pursuit of materialism could provide all of the happiness they wanted and needed in life?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Nephi’s brothers say that they know that the people of Jerusalem were righteous because they kept the law of Moses. Were they wrong about that, or is their standard of righteousness the problem?
  • 1 Ne 17:22: Statutes and Judgments. Does anyone have any insight into the meaning of this phrase? Can you point me toward sources for a better sense of the meaning of "statutes and judgments" in the Old Testament? The definitions that I added here are from an online version of Strong's, but I suspect that there is more to this phrase than that. Are there any good online sources for this sort of thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:23: Nephi responds to their complaints by asking them to remember the Lord’s dealing with Moses and Israel. (Remembrance is a major theme in the Book of Mormon.) How will that remembrance answer their complaints?
  • 1 Ne 17:24: To what extent does Nephi see himself as a Moses for the group he is leading to the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 17:25: Nephi seems to be comparing the exodus of the Lehi party from Jerusalem with the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt. Does he mean to equate the experience of Lehi's family in Jerusalem with the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt? If so, in what way was Lehi's family in bondage in Jerusalem?
  • 1 Ne 17:26: Was Nephi saying they had been taught these stories or that they had a testimony of what happened back then?
  • 1 Ne 17:27: What is Nephi signaling to his brothers with his use of the word "but"?
  • 1 Ne 17:28: Would it be more accurate for Nephi to say "ye have heard"?
  • 1 Ne 17:30: Why is the word "Redeemer" absent from the writings of Moses?
  • 1 Ne 17:31: What does this verse mean by “there was not anything done save it was by his word"? What things is Nephi talking about, what the children of Israel did or what happened to them? What does “by his word” mean in this context?
  • 1 Ne 17:32: Was this the only version of the settlement of Canaan story that Nephi had ever heard?
  • 1 Ne 17:33: How can Nephi make such a sweeping and unfavorable judgment of the non-Jewish people who were in Canaan, when the Book of Mormon teaches that there must have been enough righteous individuals among the Canaanites for the Lord to deliver scripture to them and all other "nations of the earth" ([2 Ne 29:7)?
  • 1 Ne 17:34: Is Nephi hinting at the possibility that Jews did not have a monopoly on being the Lord's chosen people, that it was possible for righteous non-Jews to become "choice" in the eyes of the Lord?
  • 1 Ne 17:35: What does it mean to esteem (to value?) all flesh as one but to favor the righteous? How do esteem and favor differ?
  • 1 Ne 17:37: Does he wait longer to destroy wicked nations in this, the modern age, than he did in ancient times?
  • 1 Ne 17:38: Are some lands inherently more precious than others or is it the degree of righteousness or wickedness of the people living upon them that largely determines the worth of the land?
  • 1 Ne 17:39: What is the function of a footstool?
  • 1 Ne 17:40: How does Nephi explain Israel’s salvation? Is it because Israel was worthy of salvation? What does it mean to say that the Lord remembers his covenants? What does Nephi’s teaching in this verse suggest about us today? about our children?
  • 1 Ne 17:41: Are chastening and straitening the same thing?
  • 1 Ne 17:42: Why doesn't Nephi distinguish between generations who were wicked and those who were more righteous?
  • 1 Ne 17:43: What explanation would Nephi have given for the preservation of these few?
  • 1 Ne 17:45: Does this verse imply that the "still small voice" speaks without words, at least in the audible sense?
  • 1 Ne 17:46: Why does Nephi mix prophesied certainties with statements of capability?
  • 1 Ne 17:47: In the Old Testament, anguish is what sinners feel. After Christ comes, sorrow is what his disciples feel for the sins of the world. Is Nephi feeling both of these emotions?
  • 1 Ne 17:48: What does Nephi mean when he says the power of God is consuming his flesh? Is he echoing Old Testament passages that talk about sacrifices where divine fire consumes the flesh of the animal?
  • 1 Ne 17:49: Why is the word "labor"--which is found here and throughout the restoration scriptures--absent from the Bible?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Why doesn't Nephi say that whatever the Lord commands will "happen"?
  • 1 Ne 17:50: Who or what is performing the action when Nephi says "it would be done"?
  • 1 Ne 17:51: What does vs. 51 tell us about God's willingness to instruct us in "mundane" tasks? Can we get similarly detailed instructions for the things God has commanded us to do?
  • 1 Ne 17:52: If Nephi's brothers were "past feeling," then what were they experiencing when the Spirit powerfully "wrought upon them"?
  • 1 Ne 17:53: Is the promise that Laman and Lemuel would "not wither" proof that they had suddenly started repenting?
  • 1 Ne 17:54: How should we interpret Nephi's use of physical force against his brothers in light of modern LDS instructions not to exercise dominion through compulsory means(D&C 121:37)?
  • 1 Ne 17:55: Why did Laman and Lemuel confess the hand of the Lord and then seemingly immediately attribute the divine intervention to their brother Nephi?
  • 1 Ne 18:1: Why didn't Nephi make a record of the ship building plans that he could refer back to as needed? Was the Lord providing feedback to Nephi's neophyte attempts at ship building?
  • 1 Ne 18:2: Was the boat designed to follow the laws of physics?
  • 1 Ne 18:3: Did these "great things" that Nephi beheld after mountain-top prayer pertain only to ship building? Or is it likely that Nephi's diligence was rewarded with even greater knowledge?
  • 1 Ne 18:4: What kinds of divinely-inspired workmanship in the world today can still inspire humility in the hearts of the children of men? To what degree is Alma's claim still applicable that all things upon the face of the earth are sufficient signs to turn people into believers (see Alma 30:44)?

Resources[edit]

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. →

Notes[edit]

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: Chapter 16                      Next page: Chapter 18

1 Ne 18:6-10

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 18 / Verses 18:5-25
Previous page: Chapter 17                      Next page: Chapters 19-22


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 18 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 18, the story of the water journey, consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 18 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 18: The water journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• departing in the boat (18:5-8)
• brothers bind Nephi until threatened by storm (18:9-16)
• brothers ignore parents until threatened by storm (18:17-21)
• arriving at the promised land (18:22-25)

1 Ne 18:5-8: Departing in the boat[edit]

1 Ne 18:9-16: Brothers bind Nephi[edit]

1 Ne 18:17-21: Brothers ignore parents[edit]

1 Ne 18:22-25: Arriving at the promised land[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 18:5: How well did Lehi and Nephi handle the Lord's decision to switch off on sending messages to each of them?
  • 1 Ne 18:6: What does the phrase "every one according to his age" mean in this context? Does it mean the carrying capacity of each individual was proportional to their age? Or is this a reference to seniority and social hierarchy?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 18:15-16. Edwards, Keith R. "That They Might Know Thee," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 99–101. Elder Edwards states: "There is throughout the scriptures a line of men and women who always seemed to keep their focus on Christ—people who, no matter what injury or injustice life dealt them, remained faithful and willing to endure. Particularly notable to me is Nephi's endurance... Remember, though, that it was Nephi who recorded: 'They scourge him, and he suffereth it...' [see 1 Ne 19:9] Nephi understood."

Notes[edit]

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: Chapter 17                      Next page: Chapters 19-22

1 Ne 18:11-15

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 18 / Verses 18:5-25
Previous page: Chapter 17                      Next page: Chapters 19-22


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 18 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 18, the story of the water journey, consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 18 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 18: The water journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• departing in the boat (18:5-8)
• brothers bind Nephi until threatened by storm (18:9-16)
• brothers ignore parents until threatened by storm (18:17-21)
• arriving at the promised land (18:22-25)

1 Ne 18:5-8: Departing in the boat[edit]

1 Ne 18:9-16: Brothers bind Nephi[edit]

1 Ne 18:17-21: Brothers ignore parents[edit]

1 Ne 18:22-25: Arriving at the promised land[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 18:5: How well did Lehi and Nephi handle the Lord's decision to switch off on sending messages to each of them?
  • 1 Ne 18:6: What does the phrase "every one according to his age" mean in this context? Does it mean the carrying capacity of each individual was proportional to their age? Or is this a reference to seniority and social hierarchy?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 18:15-16. Edwards, Keith R. "That They Might Know Thee," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 99–101. Elder Edwards states: "There is throughout the scriptures a line of men and women who always seemed to keep their focus on Christ—people who, no matter what injury or injustice life dealt them, remained faithful and willing to endure. Particularly notable to me is Nephi's endurance... Remember, though, that it was Nephi who recorded: 'They scourge him, and he suffereth it...' [see 1 Ne 19:9] Nephi understood."

Notes[edit]

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: Chapter 17                      Next page: Chapters 19-22

1 Ne 18:16-20

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 18 / Verses 18:5-25
Previous page: Chapter 17                      Next page: Chapters 19-22


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 18 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 18, the story of the water journey, consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 18 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 18: The water journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• departing in the boat (18:5-8)
• brothers bind Nephi until threatened by storm (18:9-16)
• brothers ignore parents until threatened by storm (18:17-21)
• arriving at the promised land (18:22-25)

1 Ne 18:5-8: Departing in the boat[edit]

1 Ne 18:9-16: Brothers bind Nephi[edit]

1 Ne 18:17-21: Brothers ignore parents[edit]

1 Ne 18:22-25: Arriving at the promised land[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 18:5: How well did Lehi and Nephi handle the Lord's decision to switch off on sending messages to each of them?
  • 1 Ne 18:6: What does the phrase "every one according to his age" mean in this context? Does it mean the carrying capacity of each individual was proportional to their age? Or is this a reference to seniority and social hierarchy?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 18:15-16. Edwards, Keith R. "That They Might Know Thee," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 99–101. Elder Edwards states: "There is throughout the scriptures a line of men and women who always seemed to keep their focus on Christ—people who, no matter what injury or injustice life dealt them, remained faithful and willing to endure. Particularly notable to me is Nephi's endurance... Remember, though, that it was Nephi who recorded: 'They scourge him, and he suffereth it...' [see 1 Ne 19:9] Nephi understood."

Notes[edit]

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: Chapter 17                      Next page: Chapters 19-22

1 Ne 18:21-25

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 16-18 > Chapter 18 / Verses 18:5-25
Previous page: Chapter 17                      Next page: Chapters 19-22


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Chapters 16-18. The relationship of Chapter 18 to the rest of Chapters 16-18 is discussed at First Nephi 16-18.

Story. Chapter 18, the story of the water journey, consists of four major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 18 include:

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 18: The water journey[edit]

  • Chapter breaks. The natural breaks do not follow the chapter breaks chosen by Orson Pratt.
  • Outline as a chiasm.
• departing in the boat (18:5-8)
• brothers bind Nephi until threatened by storm (18:9-16)
• brothers ignore parents until threatened by storm (18:17-21)
• arriving at the promised land (18:22-25)

1 Ne 18:5-8: Departing in the boat[edit]

1 Ne 18:9-16: Brothers bind Nephi[edit]

1 Ne 18:17-21: Brothers ignore parents[edit]

1 Ne 18:22-25: Arriving at the promised land[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 18:5: How well did Lehi and Nephi handle the Lord's decision to switch off on sending messages to each of them?
  • 1 Ne 18:6: What does the phrase "every one according to his age" mean in this context? Does it mean the carrying capacity of each individual was proportional to their age? Or is this a reference to seniority and social hierarchy?

Resources[edit]

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. →

  • 1 Ne 18:15-16. Edwards, Keith R. "That They Might Know Thee," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 99–101. Elder Edwards states: "There is throughout the scriptures a line of men and women who always seemed to keep their focus on Christ—people who, no matter what injury or injustice life dealt them, remained faithful and willing to endure. Particularly notable to me is Nephi's endurance... Remember, though, that it was Nephi who recorded: 'They scourge him, and he suffereth it...' [see 1 Ne 19:9] Nephi understood."

Notes[edit]

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: Chapter 17                      Next page: Chapters 19-22


First Nephi 19-22

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 19-22
Previous page: Chapter 18                      This is the last page for First Nephi


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


Summary[edit]

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

Scope of page. First Nephi 20-21 contains Nephi's quotation of Isaiah 48-49. This wiki page is not intended, however, to address Isaiah. This page is intended only to address Nephi's use of Isaiah. Readers may want to consult the wiki pages that address Isaiah 48-49 before reading the portion of this wiki page that addresses First Nephi 20-21. Contributors are likewise asked to respect this distinction. The idea is that discussion of a passage should be concentrated in a single place, and that the best place for a discussion of Isaiah is on the wiki pages that directly address Isaiah.

Relationship to First Nephi. The relationship of Chapters 19-22 to the rest of First Nephi is discussed at First Nephi.

Story. Chapters 19-22 consists of four major sections:

  • Verses 19:1-6: Nephi explains the small plates: Nephi explained in chapter 5 that the brass plates contained four types of information. Here Nephi relates the commandment he received to make the small plates and then explains that, like the brass plates, these small plates do contain prophecies.
  • Verses 19:7-24: Nephi quotes Zenos: Nephi quotes his own vision and the testimonies of several Old Testament prophets, especially Zenos, regarding the forthcoming ministry of Christ.
  • Verses 20:1-21:26: Nephi quotes Isaiah: Nephi also quotes at length from Isaiah 48-49 regarding the Lord's covenant to Israel of scattering and gathering.
  • Verses 22:1-31: Nephi explains Isaiah: Nephi explains that Israel will be scattered and then restored.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 19-22 include:

  • Christ's mission.
  • Scattering and gathering.

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 19-22: Two witnesses of Christ[edit]

1 Ne 19:1-6: Nephi explains the small plates[edit]

  • 1 Ne 19:1-6: The small plates of Nephi. In chapter 5 Nephi told us that the Brass Plates contain two types of information: more secular matters such as histories (1 Ne. 5:11-12) and genealogies (1 Ne. 5:14-16), and matters relating to a more spiritual ministry such as prophecies (1 Ne. 5:13) and commandments (1 Ne. 5:21-22). Throughout the course of First Nephi he then tells us that his large plates also contain histories and genealogies (1 Ne. 19:2, 4), while his small plates do not (1 Ne. 6:1-2; 9:2, 4), because the small plates are limited to matters of his ministry (1 Ne. 6:3-5; 9:3-4; 19:3) specifically including prophecies (1 Ne. 19:3).
  • 1 Ne 19:5. Nephi here states explicitly his own outline for his text. Stating that he will only later give an account of his actual physical production of the "small plates" (an account that begins in 2 Ne. 5:29), he then goes on to say that it is only after that account ("and then") that he will "proceed according to that which I have written." This last phrase apparently has reference to verse 3, the "commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these [the small] plates." In other words, the "sacred" writings Nephi is commanded to record on the "small plates" only begin with the opening of 2 Ne. 6:1. According to Nephi's textual outline, the record divides itself into two parts: 1 Nephi 1 to 2 Nephi 5, and 2 Nephi 6-33. Why this does not follow the division between 1 Nephi and 2 Nephi remains a puzzle. Regardless, Nephi's words here are certainly clear.
Naturally, the question arises in the face of what Nephi says here why it is that Nephi records anything besides the "sacred" portion of his record that begins in 2 Nephi 6. Verses 5 and 6 together respond to just that question. In verse 5, Nephi explains that the deferral of the sacred portion until a relatively late point in his record is done so "that the more sacred things may be kept for the knowledge of my people." This may be read in a number of ways, but it is at least clear that Nephi believes his sacred writings will be better preserved if they are contextualized by the "less sacred" (?) history recorded in 1 Nephi 1-2 Nephi 5. Verse 6 goes on to flesh this idea out at greater length.
  • 1 Ne 19:6-7: If I do err. The clause "if I do err" (v 6) seems to mean something like, if some of what I wrote isn't sacred. The rest of verse 6 suggests that Nephi takes this possibility seriously. He has tried to do the best he can but he recognizes that he isn't infallible; he excuses himself "because of the weakness which is in me, according to the flesh." At the same time he compares himself to those "of old." It seems he is referring to the writers of earlier scriptures. Nephi was likely purposefully trying to write something with the same character as the scriptures he knew.
Where verse 6 takes the possibility that some of what Nephi wrote is not in fact sacred, verse 7 suggests another alternative. The example Nephi gives is that some people will trample even God under their feet--they do not not hearken to His voice. By comparison, the implication is that it may be that some people reject what Nephi is saying not because Nephi is in fact wrong, but because they aren't treating as sacred that which they should.

1 Ne 19:7-24 Nephi quotes Zenos[edit]

1 Ne 20:1-21:26: Nephi quotes Isaiah[edit]

  • 1 Ne 20-21: Scope of discussion. In chapters 20-21 Nephi quotes Isaiah 48-49. A discussion of Isaiah 48-49 is found at Isaiah 48-49. As atated above, the discussion on this page is intended only to address Nephi's use of Isaiah.
  • 1 Ne 20-21: Covenant of scattering and gathering in Isaiah 48-49. The narrative story of First Nephi is of Lehi's family leaving Jerusalem and arriving in a new land to establish a new covenant community. In connection with the establishment of this new community, the Lord reveals to Nephi how this community fits into the larger historical context. That context is the covenant of scattering and gathering prophesied by Isaiah (discussed at this link). The two chapters that Nephi quotes here, Isaiah 48-49, discuss the scattering and eventual gathering of Israel, and Nephi addresses his reading of this passage to his brothers, 'ye who are a remnant of the house of Israel, a branch who have been broken off' as part of this scattering (1 Ne. 19:24; 22:3-4).

1 Ne 22:1-31: Nephi explains Isaiah[edit]

  • 1 Ne 22: Understanding Isaiah. In chapter 22 Nephi explains Isaiah's message for us. See the discussion at 2 Ne. 25:1-8 regarding Nephi's explanation of how to understand Isaiah for oneself.
  • 1 Ne 22:2. The direct response to Laman and Lemuel's question comes at the beginning of verse 3, so verse 2 can be read as a sort of explanatory preface to that answer. In this explanatory preface, Nephi basically says two things, the first is a specific assertion about the manner in which Isaiah's writings were received, by the voice of the Spirit. Nephi then goes on to make what appears to be a universal formula about a relation between prophets and the Spirit to qualify the earlier assertion, saying that all the things which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh come by the Spirit. So in this formula Nephi is actually breaking down the very structure of Laman and Lemuel's question. They asked "are they to be understood according to things which are spiritual, which shall come to pass according to the spirit and not the flesh?" Their understanding is that there are things of the spirit and things of the flesh, and the two don't mix. Nephi's formula about prophetic writing by the Spirit concerning things of the flesh weaves the two together in a sort of unity, where you cannot have things of the spirit without things of the flesh, at the very least accompanying them, if not being understood to be the same things as the things of the spirit.
  • 1 Ne 22:3. How does Nephi's formula about the Spirit and prophets come to bear on his actual response to the question in verse 3? He says "Wherefore, the things of which I have read are things pertaining to things both temporal and spiritual." Here we have two different types of things going on. There are "things both temporal and spiritual," and the "things pertaining to" those things. One reading of what these two types of things may be (and the only reading this writer currently has) would be that the first type are the actual writings of Isaiah, the words written on the page, and the things they pertain to are the voice of the Spirit mentioned in verse 2. So another way of saying Nephi's answer could be something like "Wherefore, the things which I have read are writings pertaining to the voice of the Spirit which Isaiah, as a prophet heard, which voice is both spiritual and temporal."
In other words, Nephi may simply be trying to explain that the record of Isaiah is only a record that is the result of Isaiah's struggling with the voice of the Spirit, and therefore, per the formula developed in verse 2, is wholly temporal and spiritual at the same time.
  • 1 Ne 22:11-15. These verses seem to imply that the wicked, who may wish to fight against Zion, will end up destroying themselves through warfare--bringing bloodshed upon themselves and falling victim to the same kinds of attacks that they may have hoped to spring on the righteous. The destruction mentioned in these verses also seems to be connected to the fall of the great and spacious building suggesting that perhaps these woes that will come upon the "great and abominable church" may be spiritual(the pride of the world) as well as physical in nature.
  • 1 Ne 22:16. This verse refers to a time when the fulness of the wrath of God will be poured out on the children of men. From the previous verse (15) it seems that this is the same time as when Satan will no more have power over the children of men and all the wicked will be burned. All of this sounds very similar to language used elsewhere in the scriptures to describe the 2nd coming (or the time right before it). If Nephi is talking about the time of the second coming in veres 16, it is interesting that he begins the verse by saying "the time soon cometh." We aren't told here how soon, soon is. But, given that it is now about 2400 years after the time Nephi wrote this scripture and the 2nd coming hasn't yet come, it is clear that what is meant by "soon" in this context doesn't mean right away.
  • 1 Ne 22:19: Righteous shall not perish. This statement at the very end of First Nephi echoes the thesis statement at the end of the introductory chapter 1 (1 Ne. 1:20, also see 1:1; 1:14) where Nephi says he will show us in the rest of his writing "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 22:19: Not suffer the wicked to destroy the righteous. See the discussion of Hel. 13:14 suggesting that when the wicked seek to kill or "cast out" the righteous, or in other words seek to deprive people of their moral agency to choose righteousness, that the wicked are then "ripe in iniquity" or "ripe for destruction," and that this is when the Lord destroys the wicked.
  • 1 Ne 22:19: The wicked shall be cut off. The statement that in the last days the wicked shall be cut off is a reference to Deut. 18:15-19. See the discussion of Deut. 18:15-19 suggesting that this is one of the more important passages in all of the scriptures.
  • 1 Ne 22:26: Because of righteousness, Satan has no power.
    This verse may hold a significant clue to understanding the Millennium. We are told that the Millennium will be a time of righteousness and peace (D&C 29:11; Ms. 7:64). Mormon tells us that if all people would be like unto Captain Moroni, then the very powers of hell would be shaken forever and Satan would have no more power over the hearts of mankind (Alma 48:17). Here we are told that the reason Satan will have no power and cannot be loosed during the Millennium is because of the righteousness of the people (1 Ne. 22:26). We are also told, however, that at the end of the Millennium Satan will again be loosed for a little season (D&C 43:30-31; D&C 88:110-14). This can be explained by the information that, at the end of the Millennium, men will again begin to deny their God, or to be unrighteous (D&C 29:22), thus ending the condition that at the beginning of the Millennium causes Satan to be bound (1 Ne. 22:26). (Also see D&C 121:45-46 and the discussion at D&C 29:36) which describes power as something given by the consent of the governed, and Ms. 1:18-22 (discussion) where Moses dismisses Satan by calling upon the name of Christ.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 22:26: Because of righteousness, Satan has no power. Nephi tells us in 1 Ne. 22:26 that Satan will have no power during the Millennium because of the righteousness of the people. How, and to what extent, do we give Satan power through unrighteous thoughts, desires, and actions? Also see Ms. 1:18-22 ( discussion) where Moses dismisses Satan by calling upon the name of Christ.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 19:1: Did Nephi imagine much difference between the prophecies received by his father and those which he received? Did he expect all prophecies to be in agreement, since they came from the same source and were about the same future? Or did he expect that Lehi's prophecies would be mostly about the old world and his prophecies would be mostly about the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 19:2: Why would anyone doubt Nephi's assertion that events which occurred before the production of the second plates would only be available on the first plates? Why does Nephi feel the need to assure us that he is telling us "a truth"?
  • 1 Ne 19:3: Why were the prophecies in Nephi's account more "plain" than the history?
  • 1 Ne 19:6: Nephi tells us that he has only written sacred things on the plates. Does this mean that the material of 1 Ne 16:12-13, where we learn that they took seeds with them and that they went south-southeast and called one of their stopping points "Shazer," is sacred? If this is sacred what does it mean that he only wrote that which was sacred?
  • 1 Ne 19:7: At the end of the verse Nephi says that some people set the Lord "at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels." Is he using parallelism to explain what he means by "setting the Lord at naught"? Why do the scriptures so often use verbs of hearing, such as "hearken" to talk about obedience?
  • 1 Ne 19:9: What is "loving kindness"? What kinds of kindness are not loving? Why is this term used only once in the Book of Mormon, but the term "lovingkindness" is throughout the Old Testament?
  • 1 Ne 19:14: When this verse says the Jews will become a byword, does that mean their story became an example to other people of what not to do? What is the difference between a Jewish hiss and the Lord's hiss (see 2 Ne 15:26)? Why do hiss and byword appear separately several times in the Bible, but never together?
  • 1 Ne 19:15: Here Nephi uses a different metaphor, turning away from God. How is this metaphor related to that of v. 7? Could we paraphrase this verse to say, “When Israel remembers its covenant with the Lord, then he will remember his covenant with them"? If so, of what covenant is Nephi speaking? How does Israel remember its covenant? How does the Lord remember his?
  • 1 Ne 19:18: Compare this verse to 1 Ne 1:20 and 1 Ne 6:4. Nephi describes his purposes in writing in three different ways. How are those ways related to each other?
  • 1 Ne 19:21: Did any ancient prophets testified about the Nephites?
  • 1 Ne 19:22: When Nephi refers to "the doings of the Lord in other lands, among people of old" is he refering to just the lands and peoples of Israel and Judah, or did the Brass Plates contain sacred writings from other peoples?
  • 1 Ne 19:23: How is it possible to liken all scriptures to our modern lives and situations without resorting to forced comparisons?
  • 1 Ne 19:24: Nephi introduces his readings from Isaiah by telling them to hear those words and to “liken them” to themselves. Given what Nephi has just been talking about, how are Isaiah’s writings relevant to Nephi’s people? How are the particular chapters that Nephi chooses relevant?
  • 1 Ne 20:3-4: Do these verses help us understand why Nephi is reading from Isaiah?
  • 1 Ne 21:1: How does this verse explain the scattering of Israel, including the scattering of Lehi’s family? Who were the pastors (shepherds) of the Israelites? (Compare Ezekiel 34:1-10.)
  • 1 Ne 21:23-23: What is promised here? To whom? What is the role of the Gentiles? How does this promise compare to the prophecy in Lehi and Nephi’s vision, for example the last part of chapter 13? Are there other parallels between their vision and these parts of Isaiah’s writings?
  • 1 Ne 22:1: Note that the question Laman and Lemuel ask about Nephi's prophecies here--should we understand these as speaking of things spiritual or temporal (according to the flesh)--is essentially the same question Laman and Lemuel ask in 1 Ne 15:31, after Nephi tells them about hell. Laman and Lemuel don't ask a lot of questions. Why would they be particularly interested in knowing whether the prophecies apply to things spiritually or things in the flesh?
  • 1 Ne 22:1-3: In v. 1, the brothers ask Nephi whether what he has read has spiritual meaning rather than meaning that pertains to the flesh. He responds to their question in v. 2, but v. 2 isn’t an answer to their question. Why not? He answers the question in verse 3, but why does he interject the material of v. 2 before he does? Why is it important for Lehi’s people to know that Jerusalem is shortly to fall?
  • 1 Ne 22:3: What does it mean for "the house of Israel" to "be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations"? Does this mean that at some point everyone will have the blood of Israel, or just that there will be some with the blood of Israel among all people?
  • 1 Ne 22:3: In Nephi's response to Laman and Lemuel's question, is he saying that some of the things he read are temporal, and some are spiritual, or that everything he read is both temporal and spiritual? What are Laman and Lemuel's understanding of temporal and spiritual things? What is Nephi's understanding?
  • 1 Ne 22:4: Is there something significant about "many" being "lost from the knowledge of those who are at Jerusalem"? Does it matter if those at Jerusalem know or don't know about these people?
  • 1 Ne 22:4: Why would it be important to understand that "the more part of all the tribes" of Israel are no longer in their promised homeland?
  • 1 Ne 22:4: Is there a Divine purpose to this scattering of Israel, or is it just a historical fact?
  • 1 Ne 22:4: These lost tribes "have been led away". What does that mean? Who led them?
  • 1 Ne 22:5: What is the relationship between having hearts hardened and being scattered? How does Lehi's family leaving Jerusalem differ from the scattering of the rest of the tribes?
  • 1 Ne 22:5: What evidence do we have that scattered Israel is "hated of all men"?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: What does it mean for scattered Israel to "be nursed by the Gentiles"?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: Who are the Gentiles referred to here?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: What does it mean for the Lord to "lift up his hand upon the Gentiles"?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: How are the Gentiles "set...up for a standard"?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: How are the children of Israel carried in the arms of the Gentiles?
  • 1 Ne 22:7: When is the fulfillment of this prophecy to take place?
  • 1 Ne 22:7: What is the "mighty nation among the Gentiles" referred to here? Is it the United States or some other nation?
  • 1 Ne 22:7: What is "this land" referred to? Does it mean the immediate area where Lehi and his family are dwelling after landing in the Americas, or does it mean a more wide area? How does our understanding of "this land" influence our interpretation of how this prophecy is fulfilled?
  • 1 Ne 22:7: What does it mean for the descendants of Lehi to be scattered?
  • 1 Ne 22:8 By using the term "after", Nephi seems to be giving a temporal timeline here. When was the scattering and when was the nourishing and carrying mentioned here?
  • 1 Ne 22:9: Where does the Lord reveal the Abrahamic covenant to modern LDS worshipers?
  • 1 Ne 22:9: Why does Nephi quote the Father as saying "kindreds of the earth" when throughout Genesis it repeatedly says that all the nations of the earth shall be blessed? What is the difference between a nation and a kindred?
  • 1 Ne 22:10: In the scriptures, what does it mean for a man to make his arm bare, i.e., to reveal his arm? How does restoring his covenants make his arm bare?
  • 1 Ne 22:11-15: What does it mean for the Lord to "make bare his arm"? Where do modern LDS worshippers get to see the bare arm of the Lord revealed and how is it "bringing about his covenants and his gospel" (verse 11)?
  • 1 Ne 22:11-15: How will gathered Israel "know that the Lord is their Savior" (verse 12)--see D&C 45:51-52? Where do modern LDS worshippers get to similarly "know that the Lord is their Savior"?
  • 1 Ne 22:11-15: In what ways can those who dig a pit to ensnare the people of the Lord fall into their own pit (verse 14)?
  • 1 Ne 22:15: Is it ordinarily just the hearts of people that Satan has power over? To what extent can his ability to introduce thoughts into the minds of people be described as a power?
  • 1 Ne 22:15: "for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned." Is Nephi quoting Malachi in this verse? Historically, this is anachronistic, but where did Nephi learn about this idea, as the only Old Testament precedent for such a statement is found in Malachi? It is rather lengthy, and quoted practically word for word, what is going on here? (Nephi quotes the same passage again in 2 Ne. 26:4). Who is the prophet referred to at the beginning of the verse?
  • 1 Ne 22:19: KJV Acts 3:23 reads 'destroyed from among the people', whereas the English BoM wording (again, here and in 3 Ne 20:23) reads 'cut off from among the people'. Any significance?
  • 1 Ne 22:19: Minor differences exist among various printings of the KJV. Is 'cut off' as opposed to 'destroyed' attested in any of them?
  • 1 Ne 22:26: What will bind Satan, prevent him from working, during the millennium? Does that suggest anything about our own relation to him? Is James 1:13-15 relevant?

Resources[edit]

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Notes[edit]

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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1 Ne 19:1-6

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 19-22
Previous page: Chapter 18                      This is the last page for First Nephi


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


Summary[edit]

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

Scope of page. First Nephi 20-21 contains Nephi's quotation of Isaiah 48-49. This wiki page is not intended, however, to address Isaiah. This page is intended only to address Nephi's use of Isaiah. Readers may want to consult the wiki pages that address Isaiah 48-49 before reading the portion of this wiki page that addresses First Nephi 20-21. Contributors are likewise asked to respect this distinction. The idea is that discussion of a passage should be concentrated in a single place, and that the best place for a discussion of Isaiah is on the wiki pages that directly address Isaiah.

Relationship to First Nephi. The relationship of Chapters 19-22 to the rest of First Nephi is discussed at First Nephi.

Story. Chapters 19-22 consists of four major sections:

  • Verses 19:1-6: Nephi explains the small plates: Nephi explained in chapter 5 that the brass plates contained four types of information. Here Nephi relates the commandment he received to make the small plates and then explains that, like the brass plates, these small plates do contain prophecies.
  • Verses 19:7-24: Nephi quotes Zenos: Nephi quotes his own vision and the testimonies of several Old Testament prophets, especially Zenos, regarding the forthcoming ministry of Christ.
  • Verses 20:1-21:26: Nephi quotes Isaiah: Nephi also quotes at length from Isaiah 48-49 regarding the Lord's covenant to Israel of scattering and gathering.
  • Verses 22:1-31: Nephi explains Isaiah: Nephi explains that Israel will be scattered and then restored.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 19-22 include:

  • Christ's mission.
  • Scattering and gathering.

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 19-22: Two witnesses of Christ[edit]

1 Ne 19:1-6: Nephi explains the small plates[edit]

  • 1 Ne 19:1-6: The small plates of Nephi. In chapter 5 Nephi told us that the Brass Plates contain two types of information: more secular matters such as histories (1 Ne. 5:11-12) and genealogies (1 Ne. 5:14-16), and matters relating to a more spiritual ministry such as prophecies (1 Ne. 5:13) and commandments (1 Ne. 5:21-22). Throughout the course of First Nephi he then tells us that his large plates also contain histories and genealogies (1 Ne. 19:2, 4), while his small plates do not (1 Ne. 6:1-2; 9:2, 4), because the small plates are limited to matters of his ministry (1 Ne. 6:3-5; 9:3-4; 19:3) specifically including prophecies (1 Ne. 19:3).
  • 1 Ne 19:5. Nephi here states explicitly his own outline for his text. Stating that he will only later give an account of his actual physical production of the "small plates" (an account that begins in 2 Ne. 5:29), he then goes on to say that it is only after that account ("and then") that he will "proceed according to that which I have written." This last phrase apparently has reference to verse 3, the "commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these [the small] plates." In other words, the "sacred" writings Nephi is commanded to record on the "small plates" only begin with the opening of 2 Ne. 6:1. According to Nephi's textual outline, the record divides itself into two parts: 1 Nephi 1 to 2 Nephi 5, and 2 Nephi 6-33. Why this does not follow the division between 1 Nephi and 2 Nephi remains a puzzle. Regardless, Nephi's words here are certainly clear.
Naturally, the question arises in the face of what Nephi says here why it is that Nephi records anything besides the "sacred" portion of his record that begins in 2 Nephi 6. Verses 5 and 6 together respond to just that question. In verse 5, Nephi explains that the deferral of the sacred portion until a relatively late point in his record is done so "that the more sacred things may be kept for the knowledge of my people." This may be read in a number of ways, but it is at least clear that Nephi believes his sacred writings will be better preserved if they are contextualized by the "less sacred" (?) history recorded in 1 Nephi 1-2 Nephi 5. Verse 6 goes on to flesh this idea out at greater length.
  • 1 Ne 19:6-7: If I do err. The clause "if I do err" (v 6) seems to mean something like, if some of what I wrote isn't sacred. The rest of verse 6 suggests that Nephi takes this possibility seriously. He has tried to do the best he can but he recognizes that he isn't infallible; he excuses himself "because of the weakness which is in me, according to the flesh." At the same time he compares himself to those "of old." It seems he is referring to the writers of earlier scriptures. Nephi was likely purposefully trying to write something with the same character as the scriptures he knew.
Where verse 6 takes the possibility that some of what Nephi wrote is not in fact sacred, verse 7 suggests another alternative. The example Nephi gives is that some people will trample even God under their feet--they do not not hearken to His voice. By comparison, the implication is that it may be that some people reject what Nephi is saying not because Nephi is in fact wrong, but because they aren't treating as sacred that which they should.

1 Ne 19:7-24 Nephi quotes Zenos[edit]

1 Ne 20:1-21:26: Nephi quotes Isaiah[edit]

  • 1 Ne 20-21: Scope of discussion. In chapters 20-21 Nephi quotes Isaiah 48-49. A discussion of Isaiah 48-49 is found at Isaiah 48-49. As atated above, the discussion on this page is intended only to address Nephi's use of Isaiah.
  • 1 Ne 20-21: Covenant of scattering and gathering in Isaiah 48-49. The narrative story of First Nephi is of Lehi's family leaving Jerusalem and arriving in a new land to establish a new covenant community. In connection with the establishment of this new community, the Lord reveals to Nephi how this community fits into the larger historical context. That context is the covenant of scattering and gathering prophesied by Isaiah (discussed at this link). The two chapters that Nephi quotes here, Isaiah 48-49, discuss the scattering and eventual gathering of Israel, and Nephi addresses his reading of this passage to his brothers, 'ye who are a remnant of the house of Israel, a branch who have been broken off' as part of this scattering (1 Ne. 19:24; 22:3-4).

1 Ne 22:1-31: Nephi explains Isaiah[edit]

  • 1 Ne 22: Understanding Isaiah. In chapter 22 Nephi explains Isaiah's message for us. See the discussion at 2 Ne. 25:1-8 regarding Nephi's explanation of how to understand Isaiah for oneself.
  • 1 Ne 22:2. The direct response to Laman and Lemuel's question comes at the beginning of verse 3, so verse 2 can be read as a sort of explanatory preface to that answer. In this explanatory preface, Nephi basically says two things, the first is a specific assertion about the manner in which Isaiah's writings were received, by the voice of the Spirit. Nephi then goes on to make what appears to be a universal formula about a relation between prophets and the Spirit to qualify the earlier assertion, saying that all the things which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh come by the Spirit. So in this formula Nephi is actually breaking down the very structure of Laman and Lemuel's question. They asked "are they to be understood according to things which are spiritual, which shall come to pass according to the spirit and not the flesh?" Their understanding is that there are things of the spirit and things of the flesh, and the two don't mix. Nephi's formula about prophetic writing by the Spirit concerning things of the flesh weaves the two together in a sort of unity, where you cannot have things of the spirit without things of the flesh, at the very least accompanying them, if not being understood to be the same things as the things of the spirit.
  • 1 Ne 22:3. How does Nephi's formula about the Spirit and prophets come to bear on his actual response to the question in verse 3? He says "Wherefore, the things of which I have read are things pertaining to things both temporal and spiritual." Here we have two different types of things going on. There are "things both temporal and spiritual," and the "things pertaining to" those things. One reading of what these two types of things may be (and the only reading this writer currently has) would be that the first type are the actual writings of Isaiah, the words written on the page, and the things they pertain to are the voice of the Spirit mentioned in verse 2. So another way of saying Nephi's answer could be something like "Wherefore, the things which I have read are writings pertaining to the voice of the Spirit which Isaiah, as a prophet heard, which voice is both spiritual and temporal."
In other words, Nephi may simply be trying to explain that the record of Isaiah is only a record that is the result of Isaiah's struggling with the voice of the Spirit, and therefore, per the formula developed in verse 2, is wholly temporal and spiritual at the same time.
  • 1 Ne 22:11-15. These verses seem to imply that the wicked, who may wish to fight against Zion, will end up destroying themselves through warfare--bringing bloodshed upon themselves and falling victim to the same kinds of attacks that they may have hoped to spring on the righteous. The destruction mentioned in these verses also seems to be connected to the fall of the great and spacious building suggesting that perhaps these woes that will come upon the "great and abominable church" may be spiritual(the pride of the world) as well as physical in nature.
  • 1 Ne 22:16. This verse refers to a time when the fulness of the wrath of God will be poured out on the children of men. From the previous verse (15) it seems that this is the same time as when Satan will no more have power over the children of men and all the wicked will be burned. All of this sounds very similar to language used elsewhere in the scriptures to describe the 2nd coming (or the time right before it). If Nephi is talking about the time of the second coming in veres 16, it is interesting that he begins the verse by saying "the time soon cometh." We aren't told here how soon, soon is. But, given that it is now about 2400 years after the time Nephi wrote this scripture and the 2nd coming hasn't yet come, it is clear that what is meant by "soon" in this context doesn't mean right away.
  • 1 Ne 22:19: Righteous shall not perish. This statement at the very end of First Nephi echoes the thesis statement at the end of the introductory chapter 1 (1 Ne. 1:20, also see 1:1; 1:14) where Nephi says he will show us in the rest of his writing "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 22:19: Not suffer the wicked to destroy the righteous. See the discussion of Hel. 13:14 suggesting that when the wicked seek to kill or "cast out" the righteous, or in other words seek to deprive people of their moral agency to choose righteousness, that the wicked are then "ripe in iniquity" or "ripe for destruction," and that this is when the Lord destroys the wicked.
  • 1 Ne 22:19: The wicked shall be cut off. The statement that in the last days the wicked shall be cut off is a reference to Deut. 18:15-19. See the discussion of Deut. 18:15-19 suggesting that this is one of the more important passages in all of the scriptures.
  • 1 Ne 22:26: Because of righteousness, Satan has no power.
    This verse may hold a significant clue to understanding the Millennium. We are told that the Millennium will be a time of righteousness and peace (D&C 29:11; Ms. 7:64). Mormon tells us that if all people would be like unto Captain Moroni, then the very powers of hell would be shaken forever and Satan would have no more power over the hearts of mankind (Alma 48:17). Here we are told that the reason Satan will have no power and cannot be loosed during the Millennium is because of the righteousness of the people (1 Ne. 22:26). We are also told, however, that at the end of the Millennium Satan will again be loosed for a little season (D&C 43:30-31; D&C 88:110-14). This can be explained by the information that, at the end of the Millennium, men will again begin to deny their God, or to be unrighteous (D&C 29:22), thus ending the condition that at the beginning of the Millennium causes Satan to be bound (1 Ne. 22:26). (Also see D&C 121:45-46 and the discussion at D&C 29:36) which describes power as something given by the consent of the governed, and Ms. 1:18-22 (discussion) where Moses dismisses Satan by calling upon the name of Christ.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 22:26: Because of righteousness, Satan has no power. Nephi tells us in 1 Ne. 22:26 that Satan will have no power during the Millennium because of the righteousness of the people. How, and to what extent, do we give Satan power through unrighteous thoughts, desires, and actions? Also see Ms. 1:18-22 ( discussion) where Moses dismisses Satan by calling upon the name of Christ.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 19:1: Did Nephi imagine much difference between the prophecies received by his father and those which he received? Did he expect all prophecies to be in agreement, since they came from the same source and were about the same future? Or did he expect that Lehi's prophecies would be mostly about the old world and his prophecies would be mostly about the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 19:2: Why would anyone doubt Nephi's assertion that events which occurred before the production of the second plates would only be available on the first plates? Why does Nephi feel the need to assure us that he is telling us "a truth"?
  • 1 Ne 19:3: Why were the prophecies in Nephi's account more "plain" than the history?
  • 1 Ne 19:6: Nephi tells us that he has only written sacred things on the plates. Does this mean that the material of 1 Ne 16:12-13, where we learn that they took seeds with them and that they went south-southeast and called one of their stopping points "Shazer," is sacred? If this is sacred what does it mean that he only wrote that which was sacred?
  • 1 Ne 19:7: At the end of the verse Nephi says that some people set the Lord "at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels." Is he using parallelism to explain what he means by "setting the Lord at naught"? Why do the scriptures so often use verbs of hearing, such as "hearken" to talk about obedience?
  • 1 Ne 19:9: What is "loving kindness"? What kinds of kindness are not loving? Why is this term used only once in the Book of Mormon, but the term "lovingkindness" is throughout the Old Testament?
  • 1 Ne 19:14: When this verse says the Jews will become a byword, does that mean their story became an example to other people of what not to do? What is the difference between a Jewish hiss and the Lord's hiss (see 2 Ne 15:26)? Why do hiss and byword appear separately several times in the Bible, but never together?
  • 1 Ne 19:15: Here Nephi uses a different metaphor, turning away from God. How is this metaphor related to that of v. 7? Could we paraphrase this verse to say, “When Israel remembers its covenant with the Lord, then he will remember his covenant with them"? If so, of what covenant is Nephi speaking? How does Israel remember its covenant? How does the Lord remember his?
  • 1 Ne 19:18: Compare this verse to 1 Ne 1:20 and 1 Ne 6:4. Nephi describes his purposes in writing in three different ways. How are those ways related to each other?
  • 1 Ne 19:21: Did any ancient prophets testified about the Nephites?
  • 1 Ne 19:22: When Nephi refers to "the doings of the Lord in other lands, among people of old" is he refering to just the lands and peoples of Israel and Judah, or did the Brass Plates contain sacred writings from other peoples?
  • 1 Ne 19:23: How is it possible to liken all scriptures to our modern lives and situations without resorting to forced comparisons?
  • 1 Ne 19:24: Nephi introduces his readings from Isaiah by telling them to hear those words and to “liken them” to themselves. Given what Nephi has just been talking about, how are Isaiah’s writings relevant to Nephi’s people? How are the particular chapters that Nephi chooses relevant?
  • 1 Ne 20:3-4: Do these verses help us understand why Nephi is reading from Isaiah?
  • 1 Ne 21:1: How does this verse explain the scattering of Israel, including the scattering of Lehi’s family? Who were the pastors (shepherds) of the Israelites? (Compare Ezekiel 34:1-10.)
  • 1 Ne 21:23-23: What is promised here? To whom? What is the role of the Gentiles? How does this promise compare to the prophecy in Lehi and Nephi’s vision, for example the last part of chapter 13? Are there other parallels between their vision and these parts of Isaiah’s writings?
  • 1 Ne 22:1: Note that the question Laman and Lemuel ask about Nephi's prophecies here--should we understand these as speaking of things spiritual or temporal (according to the flesh)--is essentially the same question Laman and Lemuel ask in 1 Ne 15:31, after Nephi tells them about hell. Laman and Lemuel don't ask a lot of questions. Why would they be particularly interested in knowing whether the prophecies apply to things spiritually or things in the flesh?
  • 1 Ne 22:1-3: In v. 1, the brothers ask Nephi whether what he has read has spiritual meaning rather than meaning that pertains to the flesh. He responds to their question in v. 2, but v. 2 isn’t an answer to their question. Why not? He answers the question in verse 3, but why does he interject the material of v. 2 before he does? Why is it important for Lehi’s people to know that Jerusalem is shortly to fall?
  • 1 Ne 22:3: What does it mean for "the house of Israel" to "be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations"? Does this mean that at some point everyone will have the blood of Israel, or just that there will be some with the blood of Israel among all people?
  • 1 Ne 22:3: In Nephi's response to Laman and Lemuel's question, is he saying that some of the things he read are temporal, and some are spiritual, or that everything he read is both temporal and spiritual? What are Laman and Lemuel's understanding of temporal and spiritual things? What is Nephi's understanding?
  • 1 Ne 22:4: Is there something significant about "many" being "lost from the knowledge of those who are at Jerusalem"? Does it matter if those at Jerusalem know or don't know about these people?
  • 1 Ne 22:4: Why would it be important to understand that "the more part of all the tribes" of Israel are no longer in their promised homeland?
  • 1 Ne 22:4: Is there a Divine purpose to this scattering of Israel, or is it just a historical fact?
  • 1 Ne 22:4: These lost tribes "have been led away". What does that mean? Who led them?
  • 1 Ne 22:5: What is the relationship between having hearts hardened and being scattered? How does Lehi's family leaving Jerusalem differ from the scattering of the rest of the tribes?
  • 1 Ne 22:5: What evidence do we have that scattered Israel is "hated of all men"?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: What does it mean for scattered Israel to "be nursed by the Gentiles"?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: Who are the Gentiles referred to here?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: What does it mean for the Lord to "lift up his hand upon the Gentiles"?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: How are the Gentiles "set...up for a standard"?
  • 1 Ne 22:6: How are the children of Israel carried in the arms of the Gentiles?
  • 1 Ne 22:7: When is the fulfillment of this prophecy to take place?
  • 1 Ne 22:7: What is the "mighty nation among the Gentiles" referred to here? Is it the United States or some other nation?
  • 1 Ne 22:7: What is "this land" referred to? Does it mean the immediate area where Lehi and his family are dwelling after landing in the Americas, or does it mean a more wide area? How does our understanding of "this land" influence our interpretation of how this prophecy is fulfilled?
  • 1 Ne 22:7: What does it mean for the descendants of Lehi to be scattered?
  • 1 Ne 22:8 By using the term "after", Nephi seems to be giving a temporal timeline here. When was the scattering and when was the nourishing and carrying mentioned here?
  • 1 Ne 22:9: Where does the Lord reveal the Abrahamic covenant to modern LDS worshipers?
  • 1 Ne 22:9: Why does Nephi quote the Father as saying "kindreds of the earth" when throughout Genesis it repeatedly says that all the nations of the earth shall be blessed? What is the difference between a nation and a kindred?
  • 1 Ne 22:10: In the scriptures, what does it mean for a man to make his arm bare, i.e., to reveal his arm? How does restoring his covenants make his arm bare?
  • 1 Ne 22:11-15: What does it mean for the Lord to "make bare his arm"? Where do modern LDS worshippers get to see the bare arm of the Lord revealed and how is it "bringing about his covenants and his gospel" (verse 11)?
  • 1 Ne 22:11-15: How will gathered Israel "know that the Lord is their Savior" (verse 12)--see D&C 45:51-52? Where do modern LDS worshippers get to similarly "know that the Lord is their Savior"?
  • 1 Ne 22:11-15: In what ways can those who dig a pit to ensnare the people of the Lord fall into their own pit (verse 14)?
  • 1 Ne 22:15: Is it ordinarily just the hearts of people that Satan has power over? To what extent can his ability to introduce thoughts into the minds of people be described as a power?
  • 1 Ne 22:15: "for the day soon cometh that all the proud and they who do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day cometh that they must be burned." Is Nephi quoting Malachi in this verse? Historically, this is anachronistic, but where did Nephi learn about this idea, as the only Old Testament precedent for such a statement is found in Malachi? It is rather lengthy, and quoted practically word for word, what is going on here? (Nephi quotes the same passage again in 2 Ne. 26:4). Who is the prophet referred to at the beginning of the verse?
  • 1 Ne 22:19: KJV Acts 3:23 reads 'destroyed from among the people', whereas the English BoM wording (again, here and in 3 Ne 20:23) reads 'cut off from among the people'. Any significance?
  • 1 Ne 22:19: Minor differences exist among various printings of the KJV. Is 'cut off' as opposed to 'destroyed' attested in any of them?
  • 1 Ne 22:26: What will bind Satan, prevent him from working, during the millennium? Does that suggest anything about our own relation to him? Is James 1:13-15 relevant?

Resources[edit]

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Notes[edit]

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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1 Ne 19:7-24

Home > The Book of Mormon > First Nephi > Chapters 19-22
Previous page: Chapter 18                      This is the last page for First Nephi


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


Summary[edit]

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

Scope of page. First Nephi 20-21 contains Nephi's quotation of Isaiah 48-49. This wiki page is not intended, however, to address Isaiah. This page is intended only to address Nephi's use of Isaiah. Readers may want to consult the wiki pages that address Isaiah 48-49 before reading the portion of this wiki page that addresses First Nephi 20-21. Contributors are likewise asked to respect this distinction. The idea is that discussion of a passage should be concentrated in a single place, and that the best place for a discussion of Isaiah is on the wiki pages that directly address Isaiah.

Relationship to First Nephi. The relationship of Chapters 19-22 to the rest of First Nephi is discussed at First Nephi.

Story. Chapters 19-22 consists of four major sections:

  • Verses 19:1-6: Nephi explains the small plates: Nephi explained in chapter 5 that the brass plates contained four types of information. Here Nephi relates the commandment he received to make the small plates and then explains that, like the brass plates, these small plates do contain prophecies.
  • Verses 19:7-24: Nephi quotes Zenos: Nephi quotes his own vision and the testimonies of several Old Testament prophets, especially Zenos, regarding the forthcoming ministry of Christ.
  • Verses 20:1-21:26: Nephi quotes Isaiah: Nephi also quotes at length from Isaiah 48-49 regarding the Lord's covenant to Israel of scattering and gathering.
  • Verses 22:1-31: Nephi explains Isaiah: Nephi explains that Israel will be scattered and then restored.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 19-22 include:

  • Christ's mission.
  • Scattering and gathering.

Discussion[edit]

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. →

1 Ne 19-22: Two witnesses of Christ[edit]

1 Ne 19:1-6: Nephi explains the small plates[edit]

  • 1 Ne 19:1-6: The small plates of Nephi. In chapter 5 Nephi told us that the Brass Plates contain two types of information: more secular matters such as histories (1 Ne. 5:11-12) and genealogies (1 Ne. 5:14-16), and matters relating to a more spiritual ministry such as prophecies (1 Ne. 5:13) and commandments (1 Ne. 5:21-22). Throughout the course of First Nephi he then tells us that his large plates also contain histories and genealogies (1 Ne. 19:2, 4), while his small plates do not (1 Ne. 6:1-2; 9:2, 4), because the small plates are limited to matters of his ministry (1 Ne. 6:3-5; 9:3-4; 19:3) specifically including prophecies (1 Ne. 19:3).
  • 1 Ne 19:5. Nephi here states explicitly his own outline for his text. Stating that he will only later give an account of his actual physical production of the "small plates" (an account that begins in 2 Ne. 5:29), he then goes on to say that it is only after that account ("and then") that he will "proceed according to that which I have written." This last phrase apparently has reference to verse 3, the "commandment that the ministry and the prophecies, the more plain and precious parts of them, should be written upon these [the small] plates." In other words, the "sacred" writings Nephi is commanded to record on the "small plates" only begin with the opening of 2 Ne. 6:1. According to Nephi's textual outline, the record divides itself into two parts: 1 Nephi 1 to 2 Nephi 5, and 2 Nephi 6-33. Why this does not follow the division between 1 Nephi and 2 Nephi remains a puzzle. Regardless, Nephi's words here are certainly clear.
Naturally, the question arises in the face of what Nephi says here why it is that Nephi records anything besides the "sacred" portion of his record that begins in 2 Nephi 6. Verses 5 and 6 together respond to just that question. In verse 5, Nephi explains that the deferral of the sacred portion until a relatively late point in his record is done so "that the more sacred things may be kept for the knowledge of my people." This may be read in a number of ways, but it is at least clear that Nephi believes his sacred writings will be better preserved if they are contextualized by the "less sacred" (?) history recorded in 1 Nephi 1-2 Nephi 5. Verse 6 goes on to flesh this idea out at greater length.
  • 1 Ne 19:6-7: If I do err. The clause "if I do err" (v 6) seems to mean something like, if some of what I wrote isn't sacred. The rest of verse 6 suggests that Nephi takes this possibility seriously. He has tried to do the best he can but he recognizes that he isn't infallible; he excuses himself "because of the weakness which is in me, according to the flesh." At the same time he compares himself to those "of old." It seems he is referring to the writers of earlier scriptures. Nephi was likely purposefully trying to write something with the same character as the scriptures he knew.
Where verse 6 takes the possibility that some of what Nephi wrote is not in fact sacred, verse 7 suggests another alternative. The example Nephi gives is that some people will trample even God under their feet--they do not not hearken to His voice. By comparison, the implication is that it may be that some people reject what Nephi is saying not because Nephi is in fact wrong, but because they aren't treating as sacred that which they should.

1 Ne 19:7-24 Nephi quotes Zenos[edit]

1 Ne 20:1-21:26: Nephi quotes Isaiah[edit]

  • 1 Ne 20-21: Scope of discussion. In chapters 20-21 Nephi quotes Isaiah 48-49. A discussion of Isaiah 48-49 is found at Isaiah 48-49. As atated above, the discussion on this page is intended only to address Nephi's use of Isaiah.
  • 1 Ne 20-21: Covenant of scattering and gathering in Isaiah 48-49. The narrative story of First Nephi is of Lehi's family leaving Jerusalem and arriving in a new land to establish a new covenant community. In connection with the establishment of this new community, the Lord reveals to Nephi how this community fits into the larger historical context. That context is the covenant of scattering and gathering prophesied by Isaiah (discussed at this link). The two chapters that Nephi quotes here, Isaiah 48-49, discuss the scattering and eventual gathering of Israel, and Nephi addresses his reading of this passage to his brothers, 'ye who are a remnant of the house of Israel, a branch who have been broken off' as part of this scattering (1 Ne. 19:24; 22:3-4).

1 Ne 22:1-31: Nephi explains Isaiah[edit]

  • 1 Ne 22: Understanding Isaiah. In chapter 22 Nephi explains Isaiah's message for us. See the discussion at 2 Ne. 25:1-8 regarding Nephi's explanation of how to understand Isaiah for oneself.
  • 1 Ne 22:2. The direct response to Laman and Lemuel's question comes at the beginning of verse 3, so verse 2 can be read as a sort of explanatory preface to that answer. In this explanatory preface, Nephi basically says two things, the first is a specific assertion about the manner in which Isaiah's writings were received, by the voice of the Spirit. Nephi then goes on to make what appears to be a universal formula about a relation between prophets and the Spirit to qualify the earlier assertion, saying that all the things which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh come by the Spirit. So in this formula Nephi is actually breaking down the very structure of Laman and Lemuel's question. They asked "are they to be understood according to things which are spiritual, which shall come to pass according to the spirit and not the flesh?" Their understanding is that there are things of the spirit and things of the flesh, and the two don't mix. Nephi's formula about prophetic writing by the Spirit concerning things of the flesh weaves the two together in a sort of unity, where you cannot have things of the spirit without things of the flesh, at the very least accompanying them, if not being understood to be the same things as the things of the spirit.
  • 1 Ne 22:3. How does Nephi's formula about the Spirit and prophets come to bear on his actual response to the question in verse 3? He says "Wherefore, the things of which I have read are things pertaining to things both temporal and spiritual." Here we have two different types of things going on. There are "things both temporal and spiritual," and the "things pertaining to" those things. One reading of what these two types of things may be (and the only reading this writer currently has) would be that the first type are the actual writings of Isaiah, the words written on the page, and the things they pertain to are the voice of the Spirit mentioned in verse 2. So another way of saying Nephi's answer could be something like "Wherefore, the things which I have read are writings pertaining to the voice of the Spirit which Isaiah, as a prophet heard, which voice is both spiritual and temporal."
In other words, Nephi may simply be trying to explain that the record of Isaiah is only a record that is the result of Isaiah's struggling with the voice of the Spirit, and therefore, per the formula developed in verse 2, is wholly temporal and spiritual at the same time.
  • 1 Ne 22:11-15. These verses seem to imply that the wicked, who may wish to fight against Zion, will end up destroying themselves through warfare--bringing bloodshed upon themselves and falling victim to the same kinds of attacks that they may have hoped to spring on the righteous. The destruction mentioned in these verses also seems to be connected to the fall of the great and spacious building suggesting that perhaps these woes that will come upon the "great and abominable church" may be spiritual(the pride of the world) as well as physical in nature.
  • 1 Ne 22:16. This verse refers to a time when the fulness of the wrath of God will be poured out on the children of men. From the previous verse (15) it seems that this is the same time as when Satan will no more have power over the children of men and all the wicked will be burned. All of this sounds very similar to language used elsewhere in the scriptures to describe the 2nd coming (or the time right before it). If Nephi is talking about the time of the second coming in veres 16, it is interesting that he begins the verse by saying "the time soon cometh." We aren't told here how soon, soon is. But, given that it is now about 2400 years after the time Nephi wrote this scripture and the 2nd coming hasn't yet come, it is clear that what is meant by "soon" in this context doesn't mean right away.
  • 1 Ne 22:19: Righteous shall not perish. This statement at the very end of First Nephi echoes the thesis statement at the end of the introductory chapter 1 (1 Ne. 1:20, also see 1:1; 1:14) where Nephi says he will show us in the rest of his writing "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 22:19: Not suffer the wicked to destroy the righteous. See the discussion of Hel. 13:14 suggesting that when the wicked seek to kill or "cast out" the righteous, or in other words seek to deprive people of their moral agency to choose righteousness, that the wicked are then "ripe in iniquity" or "ripe for destruction," and that this is when the Lord destroys the wicked.
  • 1 Ne 22:19: The wicked shall be cut off. The statement that in the last days the wicked shall be cut off is a reference to Deut. 18:15-19. See the discussion of Deut. 18:15-19 suggesting that this is one of the more important passages in all of the scriptures.
  • 1 Ne 22:26: Because of righteousness, Satan has no power.
    This verse may hold a significant clue to understanding the Millennium. We are told that the Millennium will be a time of righteousness and peace (D&C 29:11; Ms. 7:64). Mormon tells us that if all people would be like unto Captain Moroni, then the very powers of hell would be shaken forever and Satan would have no more power over the hearts of mankind (Alma 48:17). Here we are told that the reason Satan will have no power and cannot be loosed during the Millennium is because of the righteousness of the people (1 Ne. 22:26). We are also told, however, that at the end of the Millennium Satan will again be loosed for a little season (D&C 43:30-31; D&C 88:110-14). This can be explained by the information that, at the end of the Millennium, men will again begin to deny their God, or to be unrighteous (D&C 29:22), thus ending the condition that at the beginning of the Millennium causes Satan to be bound (1 Ne. 22:26). (Also see D&C 121:45-46 and the discussion at D&C 29:36) which describes power as something given by the consent of the governed, and Ms. 1:18-22 (discussion) where Moses dismisses Satan by calling upon the name of Christ.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 22:26: Because of righteousness, Satan has no power. Nephi tells us in 1 Ne. 22:26 that Satan will have no power during the Millennium because of the righteousness of the people. How, and to what extent, do we give Satan power through unrighteous thoughts, desires, and actions? Also see Ms. 1:18-22 ( discussion) where Moses dismisses Satan by calling upon the name of Christ.

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. →

  • 1 Ne 19:1: Did Nephi imagine much difference between the prophecies received by his father and those which he received? Did he expect all prophecies to be in agreement, since they came from the same source and were about the same future? Or did he expect that Lehi's prophecies would be mostly about the old world and his prophecies would be mostly about the promised land?
  • 1 Ne 19:2: Why would anyone doubt Nephi's assertion that events which occurred before the production of the second plates would only be available on the first plates? Why does Nephi feel the need to assure us that he is telling us "a truth"?
  • 1 Ne 19:3: Why were the prophecies in Nephi's account more "plain" than the history?
  • 1 Ne 19:6: Nephi tells us that he has only written sacred things on the plates. Does this mean that the material of 1 Ne 16:12-13, where we learn that they took seeds with them and that they went south-southeast and called one of their stopping points "Shazer," is sacred? If this is sacred what does it mean that he only wrote that which was sacred?
  • 1 Ne 19:7: At the end of the verse Nephi says that some people set the Lord "at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels." Is he using parallelism to explain what he means by "setting the Lord at naught"? Why do the scriptures so often