Tag Archives: Nephi

Nephi re-purposing 2 Ne 1

It’s odd that when Lehi gives his last, fatherly blessings to his children, there isn’t one for his son Nephi. 2 Nephi 1 is addressed to his “sons” generally, but the majority seems clearly aimed at Laman and Lemuel. 2 Nephi 2 is for Jacob, 2 Nephi 3 is for Joseph, and the first part of 2 Nephi 4 is for Lehi’s grandchildren (Laman’s children, then Lemuel’s children). Even Zoram gets a few verses near the end of 2 Nephi 1. Perhaps there was a blessing for Nephi but Nephi didn’t record it (too sacred? too direct?), though it’s odd still that there isn’t even a summary. There is the mention that if Laman doesn’t keep on the right path that his “first blessing” will fall to Nephi (2 Ne 1:28-29), and in some other blessings others are told that they will dwell safely with Nephi and Nephi’s family (2 Ne 1:31). So there are hints of the blessings that fall to Nephi, but no recorded, quoted blessing for him as for the others in 2 Nephi 1-4.

In 2 Nephi 4:12, Nephi records Lehi’s death. A few verses later, he writes what is sometimes called “Nephi’s psalm.” It is vulnerable, pensive, and poetic. It has been used to write a song, set to the tune of “Be Still My Soul.” It also draws heavily from Lehi’s words to his sons in 2 Nephi 1, which may be Nephi’s way of mourning and working through his father’s passing. It could also be that, even though I naturally see 2 Nephi 1 as warning his brothers, Nephi took the words of 2 Nephi 1 as a warning for himself as well, and in some sense creates his own blessing out of Lehi’s words. Or, lastly, it could be that Nephi sees Lehi as his wise example, and wants to work through is own situation by following his father.

Whatever the reasons, there are some clear connections between 2 Nephi 1 and 2 Nephi 4. I don’t have time to find the exact quotations and verse numbers this morning unfortunately, and knowing me, I probably will forget to come back and add them. :/ But, here are the connections from my notes:

2 Ne 4 —- 2 Nephi 1

  • want to delight —- soul might have joy
  • sorrow because of my iniquities —- heart weighed down with sorrow
  • trusted, God has been my support
  • led, through afflictions, wilderness/deep —- God’s mercy even in rebellion upon waters, and also in warning to leave Jerusalem
  • heart weeps, soul lingers in valley of sorrow —- sleep of hell, chains
  • Awake my soul! —- Awake! Rise from the dust
  • Asks God to redeem, deliver —- Lord has redeemed my soul from hell
  • wilt thou encircle me in robe of righteousness —- I am encircled in the arms of his love
  • I will trust in God —- His righteous will be done forever


Alma 3:14-17 – Nephi’s promise of who will and won’t be called his seed

I was reading through Alma 1-3 this morning, and Alma 3:14-17 felt like it was something I’d never read before. It is a record of a communication between the Lord and Nephi! Stuck here in Alma 3! Here is the passage:

14 Thus the word of God is fulfilled, for these are the words which he said to Nephi: Behold, the Lamanites have I cursed, and I will set a mark on them that they and their seed may be separated from thee and thy seed, from this time henceforth and forever, except they repent of their wickedness and turn to me that I may have mercy upon them.

15 And again: I will set a mark upon him that mingleth his seed with thy brethren, that they may be cursed also.

16 And again: I will set a mark upon him that fighteth against thee and thy seed.

17 And again, I say he that departeth from thee shall no more be called thy seed; and I will bless thee, and whomsoever shall be called thy seed, henceforth and forever; and these were the promises of the Lord unto Nephi and to his seed.

I have no idea why this hasn’t sunk into my head long enough to remember it when I’m reading elsewhere in scripture. This is amazingly like God’s promises to Abraham. Why have I not remembered this passage? And how does Mormon have access to it? Why would this not have been contained on the small plates? What other holy communication to Nephi is on the large plates that is not on the small plates??

Here is the language in Abraham 2 (minus the parenthetical stuff):

10 And I will bless them through thy name; for as many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed, and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father;

11 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curse thee; and in thee and in thy seed, for I give unto thee a promise that this right shall continue in thee, and in thy seed after thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal.

The concept of being “accounted” as Abraham’s seed, or “called” Nephi’s seed, is fascinating to me. It preserves the idea that God can have a chosen lineage, and yet include anyone at all within it. 🙂 Israel is God’s chosen people, but that doesn’t exclude anyone because everyone who accepts the gospel is counted “as if” they had been born directly into Abraham’s (or here, Nephi’s) family.

Nephite relationship with Jews

Question: In the Book of Mormon, I know there are many places where “Jew” is used to mean any and all in the House of Israel. My question is are there places where Nephites don’t use the word that way, but rather in a way that allows them to distinguish themselves as Josephites?


1) The first place I went to look was when the people of Mosiah meet up with the people of Zarahemla. If they are from the tribe of Judah, then we already have a coming together of Judah and Joseph as mentioned in Isaiah, etc. Is this celebrated in the text?

I found these verses that talk about the ancestry of the people of Zarahemla, but none seem to celebrate a reconciliation of Judah and Joseph. Also, I doubled checked on the lineage of Mulek–>Zedekiah–>Josiah–>etc. Josiah was a descendant of Judah, and Zedekiah was a descendant of Josiah. So then these descendants of Mulek should indeed be Jews.

Omni 1:15 Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon.

Mosiah 25:2 Now there were not so many of the children of Nephi, or so many of those who were descendants of Nephi, as there were of the people of Zarahemla, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness.

Helaman 8:21 And now will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem?

2) I also looked at how Nephi talked about the record of the Jews (brass plates). By the time Nephi is telling the story of how they got the bras plates, Nephi knows that his family is from Joseph. He also says that Laban was from Joseph and therefore he had and kept the record. What else does Nephi say about the record in relation to Joseph and Judah?

I Nephi 3:3 For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass.

1 Nephi 5:16 And thus my father, Lehi, did discover the genealogy of his fathers. And Laban also was a descendant of Joseph, wherefore he and his fathers had kept the records.

3) What else does Nephi say about their relationship to Jerusalem, besides just that they lived there and left it?

1 Nephi 1:2 Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.

1 Nephi 1:4 For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.

2 Nephi 30:4 And then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us, how that we came out from Jerusalem, and that they are descendants of the Jews.


Another thought on 1 Nephi Chapter 18 (Looking for the Abrahamic Covenant)

It dawned on me this morning that if this were written in third person, it would probably be easier to see how it’s similar to Exodus. Or, vice versa, what if Moses’s story of wandering the wilderness with the children of Israel had been written in first person? (Presumably there was first-person account written originally…) but what if our account were written in first person? I see and understand the criticism that Nephi is glorifying his own righteousness over that of his brothers. But he does it so frankly and bluntly that it has a strange feel to it. It’s too matter-of-fact at points. So, I wonder, if what happens is that Nephi sees in their story a straightforward parallel to the children of Israel and Moses, and finds it almost crucial to point out those similarities so that his people can see themselves as covenant Israel — literally, really, covenant Israel — so he is willing to put into his very, very short narrative of their 8 years those moments that show their similarities such as rebellion and lack of faith, leadership calling to repentance, repentance and forgiveness, and then how God mercifully led them towards the promised land when they repented. If that’s Nephi’s goal, then he does a good job of it; but why does it sound awkward sometimes? I think it is because Moses’s story, as we have it, is third person. We read it and think, “Of course Moses is glorified in some ways by the story; he was Moses!” 🙂 It is easy to see the pettiness of the Israelites and we don’t assume Moses is embellishing the story. But with Nephi, we have an account written in first person, which means those moments were Nephi is the hero and his brothers are petty sound a bit suspicious. I don’t distrust Nephi myself, but I can see how the literary approach would lend itself to finding Nephi a bit self-serving. However, even there I think there is an awkwardness and frankness about the story that calls me to be suspicious about the suspicious reading. 🙂 He always shows when his brothers repent, he shows his father’s humbleness and prophetic power alongside his moment of murmuring, and he always attributes his power to God and not himself. Even the moment when he slays Laban, he shows how he was a weak person who didn’t want to listen. Imagine again all of this in third person — how would it sound? Very different.

Anyway, just a thought I hope was worth sharing/recording this morning. 🙂

Nephi’s answer to prayer in 1 Nephi 2:18-24

I suddenly feel a great interest in figuring out the logic of these verses.

Nephi is grieved because of the hardness of his brothers’ hearts and prays for them. Is he worried for their sakes, for their salvation, or is he worried that their family won’t really be able to do whatever it is God wants them to do because Laman and Lemuel will be holding their family back? Is he worried about his brothers as individuals or as members of their group?

The answer to the problem (whichever it is) comes in two parts:

1) Inasmuch as they rebel against Nephi, they will be cut off from the presence of the Lord

2) In the day that they rebel against God, they will be cursed and have no power over Nephi’s seed

The logic attached to the first part is really kind of cool: inasmuch as they rebel against Nephi (who is being blessed, prospered, and led, according to v.19-20), they will be cut off from the Lord (that is, they will not be blessed, prospered, and led.) But, if this happens, God will make Nephi a ruler and a teacher over them. At first this sounds like a position of power granted as some prize for being more righteous that someone else. But I think the move is pretty clearly an answer to help Laman and Lemuel: if they are cut off from God’s presence, then Nephi is given the authority to be a teacher (that is, to be in God’s presence for them, to receive instruction for them, and so forth). In the grander scheme of history, the Nephites’ record becomes this teacher for the Lamanites’s descendants.

It’s all a bit complicated though. If they rebel against Nephi, then Nephi has authority to rule over them. You would think it would have to go the other way around, that he would have to have authority first for them to even rebel against Nephi. In fact, the other parts seem backwards too: they are cut off from the presence of the Lord and then rebel against God. Wouldn’t it make more sense the other way around? It would instead go like this: If they rebel against God, then they are cut off from his presence. If that happens, Nephi is set up as a teacher and a ruler. If they rebel against Nephi, then they are cursed and have no power over him. That would be logic I would set up myself! So why is the logic otherwise? I don’t have any great ideas, myself! Anyone out there (who might actually find and read this) have any thoughts?

Joe’s post on Nephi at Feast (on 12/27/11)

I am really, really enjoying Joe’s posts at Feast. I just finished his post on “Getting Ready for Book of Mormon Lessons 2-11: Some Preliminaries on Nephi.” These were some of my favorite parts:

It seems clear to me that Nephi’s vision early in his wilderness travels gave him a set of themes to study: first and foremost (1) the role of the covenant in the history of Israel and (2) the role to be played in that covenantal history of a book that would be written, sealed up, and then brought forth. When Nephi began to read Isaiah (note that the first mention of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon comes in Nephi’s explanation of his vision/his father’s dream to his brothers in 1 Nephi 15!), he found that it was the clearest resource for thinking about the stakes of his apocalyptic vision. The larger structure of Nephi’s record, it seems to me, works to introduce Isaiah slowly to its readers, culminating in the massive quotation of Isaiah 2-14 in 2 Nephi 12-24, which paves the way for Nephi’s final exposition of his vision—an exposition that works as a weaving together of Nephi’s vision and the text of Isaiah 29. In his final reflections, Nephi brings the two trajectories of his record together with real force: his visionary experience with its themes and his obsession with Isaiah’s writings and their themes. These two foci give Nephi’s record its power and orientation.

This seems to me to be one of the clearest, most straightforward readings of why Nephi includes Isaiah. I love it! I noticed the other day that Nephi says, ” I will send their words [Jacob and Isaiah] forth unto my children to prove unto them that my words are true.” (See 2 Ne 11:3.) He feels like he needs them in order for his children to believe the vision he had. Fascinating!

Isaiah is in the temple when he suddenly has a vision of the Lord on the throne. Shocked and prepared to be obliterated, he is shown mercy when a seraph presses a burning coal to his lips, cleansing his language and allowing him to join the heavenly throngs surrounding God’s throne. This initiation of sorts marks the unmistakable turning point of the Isaiah chapters Nephi quotes at such length (the shift from prophecies of destruction to prophecies of restoration).

I had never thought about Isaiah’s experience as a symbol for Israel! He “deserves” to be destroyed (in his case, not because of some malicious act, but simply because of the rules), but God shows him mercy and instead gives him work to do – to go teach and save everyone else. That is just like Israel. At some point, Israel will be restored and given a work to do – to go teach the world and save everyone else. It is a very nice parallel. And, as Joe points out, Isaiah 6 is placed, both in Isaiah and Nephi, in certain order on purpose to draw out this parallel. Nice!

Where is the “Millennium” in Book of Mormon?

Joe has pointed out to me before that the Book of Mormon doesn’t talk about the millennium or the Second Coming. Today I noticed that Nephi actually points out that he has much to say, but has been commanded to leave it out. The Book of Mormon is quiet on this topic, on purpose.

Continue reading