1 Ne 2:6-15
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The relationship of verses 6-15 to the rest of Chapters 1-2 is discussed at Chapters 1-2.
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- 1 Ne 2:6-15: Outine. The text of this section can be understood as a chiasm:
- • Lehi dwells in a tent (2:6-7)
- • Lehi exhorts Laman and Lemuel (2:8-10)
- • Laman and Lemuel reject Lehi's preaching (2:11-13)
- • Lehi confounds Laman and Lemuel (2:14)
- • Lehi exhorts Laman and Lemuel (2:8-10)
- • Lehi dwells in a tent (2:15)
Unity or cohesion of this section is by:
Verses 2:6-10 talk about religious observance. 2:14-15 about religious power.
2:6, 14-15 tent and Valley of Lemuel.
2:6,8-10 river and valley
2:11 Now this (pronoun) is because ... closely related to 2:9-10
- 1 Ne 2:7: Lehi gave thanks to God. Lehi is quick to give thanks to God. In this context, it seems relatively natural for Lehi to give thanks to God for being given the chance to escape destruction in Jerusalem with his family. This may be part of the motivation for his giving thanks in 1 Ne 1:14-15 also.
- 1 Ne 2:11-13: Deuteronomist reforms at Jerusalem. Some of Lehi's prophetic activities ran contrary to the religious reforms that then prevailed at Jerusalem. Thus some (though not all) of the opposition that Laman and Lemuel expressed to Lehi's prophetic activities can be understood in the context of supporting those reforms. This issue is explored in Rappleye, Neal. The Deuteronomist Reforms and Lehi’s Family Dynamics: A Social Context for the Rebellions of Laman and Lemuel. Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 16 (2015): p. 87-99.
- 1 Ne 2:14: Laman and Lemuel confounded. Notice that the pattern of speaking with such power that the murmurring listeners quake is repeated several times in 1 Nephi, however, in the rest of the stories it is Nephi who will speak and cause his brother's to quake. In a sense, in this verse Nephi provides a kind of ur-narrative into which he will insert himself, so that he in effect re-enacts his father's actions and the actions of other prophets, especially Moses.
- 1 Ne 2:15: Lehi dwelt in a tent. Students of the Book of Mormon have wondered why Nephi so often repeats that “my father dwelt in a tent.” The exact phrase is found four times in 1 Nephi: 1 Ne 2:15, 1 Ne 9:1, 1 Ne 10:16, and 1 Ne 16:6. Several theories have been advanced for why Nephi might find this fact so significant.
- The phrase is a literary ending point. The words are used to signal a culmination of one thought or story and the beginning of another.
- Since Lehi was a well-to-do man of some importance in the land of Jerusalem, Nephi was impressed by the fact that he would leave his riches and take nothing into the desert except his family, provisions, and tents. Living in a tent was a singular thing for a rich man to do.
- It is a note to indicate that they have adopted a nomadic style of life. This was not simply a temporary situation, but a commitment to leave their permanent home and travel into the unknown.
- It is an expression of the father’s tent as the hub of everything. It is the official center of all administration and authority, the center of their universe. 1 Ne 3:1; 1 Ne 4:38; 1 Ne 5:7; 1 Ne 7:5; 1 Ne 7:21-22; 1 Ne 15:1 and 1 Ne 16:10 speak of the tent as the headquarters for all activities, discussions, and decisions.
- Another possibility is that Lehi’s tent might be symbolic of the temple. (See also the link below to the BOM groupies post.) Lehi’s departure from the land of Jerusalem is a reenactment of the Exodus under Moses and symbolic of our journey through life and into the “promised land,” or the presence of God. When Lehi left the things of the world behind, he took with him three things: his family, provisions, and tents. In our own journey to eternal life, family associations are essential. In fact, we are told that we may not progress to the farthest level possible without them. Next, the necessity of fulfilling our basic needs is acknowledged. We cannot spiritually progress unless our vital physical needs are met. Lastly, there is the tent, which symbolizes the spiritual protection which is found in the temple.
- As we discuss this tent as symbolic of the temple, we should keep in mind the purposes of the Old Testament temple. The temple at the time of Moses’ exodus was the portable tabernacle. The tabernacle was the center place of Israel’s worship activities during the wanderings and until the building of the temple in Solomon’s day (see point #4 above). The LDS Bible Dictionary describes the tabernacle as following:
- "Over the tabernacle the tent was spread. Its length was 40 cubits, or 10 cubits longer than the tabernacle. The entrance toward the east was closed by a screen of blue, purple, and scarlet and fine twined linen. Over the tent came the covering of the tent, which consisted of two parts: an inner covering of ramskins dyed red; a covering of badger skins over all (Ex. 26: 14)."
- Nephi mentions specifically that his father (Lehi) dwelt in a tent. The only person who was designated to go into the most sacred places of the Old Testament temple was the High Priest. Since Lehi and his people had committed to leave the Old World, they would no longer be under the jurisdiction of the priesthood at the Temple in Jerusalem. As a group of the covenant people being led away by the Lord, they would need a Prophet and High Priest to guide them. We will see that after their arrival in the Promised Land they set about building a temple. Perhaps Lehi’s call as prophet in 1 Nephi 1 included an ordination as High Priest and even an endowment of sorts.
- The passages in which we find the phrase “my father dwelt in a tent” lend themselves to temple symbolism. 1 Nephi 16 is especially interesting. Verse 16:6 reads, “Now all these things were said and done as my father dwelt in a tent in the valley which he called Lemuel.” Following this verse are four significant things which are reminiscent of temple imagery. First in verse 16:8, Lehi fulfills with exactness and honor all the commandments of the Lord which are given unto him. Next, in verse 16:10, the Liahona is found, a ball which points out the course that they should go into the wilderness. Following this in verses 16:14-21, we are reminded of their need for constant nourishment as we read the story of obtaining food in the wilderness with bows and arrows, stones and slings. Finally, those who murmur are chastened and humbled in verse 16:24 and Lehi bows his knee before the Lord and inquires of him once more. At this time, there appears in the Liahona “a new writing … which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord.”
- In addition, see comments o/n Abraham dwelling in his tent in Abr 2:16. This comparison likewise links tent and temple, and may also relate Lehi to Abraham as a founding patriarch of a covenant lineage.
- However, in 1 Ne 2:7, Lehi builds an altar and offers a sacrifice. Generally sacrifices are associated with the temple, but in First and Second Nephi they tend to be associated with stone altars rather than with Lehi's tent per se.
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- 1 Ne 2:6: Three days. Why were three days sufficient? Is this symbolic of the three days Christ spent without his body?
- 1 Ne 2:7: Animal sacrifice. Did Lehi ever participate in animal sacrifice? Or was he spared from that responsibility because he held the Melchizedek priesthood? Did his descendants likewise not practice this aspect of the law of Moses, because none of them were descendants of Aaron?
- 1 Ne 2:8: Names of river and valley. Why did the river and valley not already have names? Or did Lehi ignore these names, because it was more important to give them new names? How permanent were these new names if none of the permanent residents in the area ever heard or remembered them?
- 1 Ne 2:9: Running into the fountain of righteousness. What does it mean to continually run into the fountain or source of righteousness? Does it mean seeking after that which is good without ceasing, or something more? Does running into something convey a violent image of collision?
- 1 Ne 2:11: Attitude of Laman and Lemuel. How long did Laman and Lemuel feel this way? Did they formulate this theory as soon as they heard from their father that it was time to leave? If so, why did they go with Lehi if they doubted from the beginning?
- 1 Ne 2:11: Being the eldest. What does "being the eldest" have to do with Laman and Lemuel's murmuring? Is Nephi saying his older brethren were more likely to murmur because they stood to lose the most from their father's inheritance when the family left Jerusalem?
- 1 Ne 2:13: Like unto the Jews at Jerusalem. What is Nephi's basis for claiming that Laman and Lemuel "were like unto the Jews who were at Jerusalem"? Was Nephi overlooking the fact that Laman and Lemuel left Jerusalem, as the prophet requested, while the Jews at Jerusalem stayed behind?
- 1 Ne 2:14: Confounded. Is this an example of someone fulfilling the Lord's command to "confound your enemies" (D&C 71:7)?
- 1 Ne 2:15: Lehi dwelt in a tent. Why does Nephi repeatedly mention that his father "dwelt in a tent"? (See also [1 Ne 9:1;[1 Ne 10:16; [1 Ne 16:6) Is it significant that each mention seems to come after some preaching or teaching by Lehi or Nephi?
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References cited on this page.
- Rappleye, Neal. The Deuteronomist Reforms and Lehi’s Family Dynamics: A Social Context for the Rebellions of Laman and Lemuel. Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 16 (2015): p. 87-99.
- 1 Ne 2:7. Joseph Smith taught that "all the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 180-81." Cited in Robert Millet, “The Holy Order of God”, in “Alma, the Testimony of the Word", ed. by Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate.)
- 1 Ne 2:13: The Jews who were at Jerusalem. See this thread at the Feast blog for discussion of who the Jews were. Note in particular Joe's comment #13 where the wording of this verse is taken as an indication of multiple types of Jews (that is, the qualification "who were at Jerusalem" seems to suggest that there are other types of Jews too).
- 1 Ne 2:8-14: Deuteronomistic reforms. For more information on the Deuteronomistic reforms during the time of Lehi, see article by Kevin Christensen here
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