9 And after we had been driven forth before the wind for the space of many days, behold, my brethren and the sons of Ishmael and also their wives began to make themselves merry, insomuch that they began to dance, and to sing, and to speak with much rudeness, yea, even that they did forget by what power they had been brought thither; yea, they were lifted up unto exceeding rudeness.
10 And I, Nephi, began to fear exceedingly lest the Lord should be angry with us, and smite us because of our iniquity, that we should be swallowed up in the depths of the sea; wherefore, I, Nephi, began to speak to them with much soberness; but behold they were angry with me, saying: We will not that our younger brother shall be a ruler over us.
First off, verse 9 is horribly, horribly depicted in that “Book of Mormon Movie” from a decade ago. (Yikes!) It isn’t that their dancing itself is bad or their singing (or their clothes, if you believe the movie), those all come after the word “inasmuch.” So, what’s going on here? Well, they first “make themselves merry.” I wonder if we could read this in the more British sense of the word: they are getting drunk. They drank “insomuch” that they began to be silly, to dance, to sing, and so forth. And there inhibitions were down, and they began to speak with much rudeness, meaning, I think, with much honesty. Whatever control over themselves they had to exercise to go along with Lehi and Nephi’s plans was left off and they spoke with rude frank honesty, “even that they did forget by what power they had been brought thither.” I don’t think it just a mental “forgot” that Nephi’s guessing at, I think they were verbally saying things against God, or at the least attributing God’s miracles to something else (their own strength?). I think this is why Nephi is so fearful and intervenes, and why in the end Laman and Lemuel have to be shown so drastically that God really is in charge! I like that Nephi describes himself as speaking with “soberness.” 🙂