10 things I never knew before in First Nephi

January 23, 2008    By: Matt W. @ 9:52 pm   Category: Sunday School Lessons

This year, my new years resolution was to read and seriously study the book of Mormon. Tonight I finished first Nephi, and thought I’d take a moment to share 10 things I learned that I didn’t know before. If it’s old hat to you, your name is probably Kevin Barney.

1. In the Millennium, Satan is not bound by God in the sense that he is banished and thrown in a dungeon, but per 1 Ne. 22:26, “He cannot be loosed for the space of many years for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness” The people’s righteousness binds Satan, just as Satan binds the people when they sin.

2.
A major theme in 1st Nephi is that Laman and Lemuel (and Isreal in the Isaiah Chapters (1 Nephi 21:14)) are not experiencing the love of the Lord or having personal revelation (1 Nephi 15:9). It is this “ignorance” of God’s dealings that leads them to sin. (1 Ne. 2:12)

3. The first year of King Zedekiah’s reign was also the first year of Babylonian rule in Judah, before that, Egypt had ruled Judah for 20 years (since King Josiah). This explains things like Byblos Syllabic inscriptions (reformed Egyptian)

4.
In 1 Nephi 1:1- Nephi notes he was highly favored of God, and had seen many afflictions. This is interesting in a text where a major them is prosperity coming obedience. Prospering thus does not mean a cessation of suffering.

5.
In 1st Nephi 4:3, Nephi foreshadows that God could destroy Laban, then when he sees Laban in vs 9, the first thing he does is draw Laban’s Sword. Only then, after saying Laban could be destroyed, and standing there holding an unsheathed sword, does he feel prompted to kill Laban. He thinks through the problem and justifies killing Laban at least 8 different ways before following through with it.

6. Brant Gardner makes a good point about 1 Nephi Chapter 8’s fruit. It is not enough that the Fruit of the Tree Exists, we have to partake of it. My wife makes a good point about this also, that we have all at least tasted this Fruit at least once in our lives. The scary thing about the vision is that many abandon the fruit after they’ve tasted it. One can do all the praxis of the church and still fail to stay with the tree.

7. 1 Nephi 10:12-14 correlates closely with Romans 11:17-24.

8. At the beginning of Nephi’s vision he is escorted by the spirit of the Lord, but in Early on in the vision, the Spirit of the Lord leaves, and the guide is then on an Angel.

9. Shazer, mentioned in 1 Ne. 16:13 is “a valley or area abounding in trees and shrubs” in Arabic, and would have been one of the only areas with trees large enough to make a wooden bow on Nephi’s Journey.

10.
Jesus is called the God of Isreal in 1 Nephi 19:7-10. This is at least one reason we consider Jehovah to be Christ, though early LDS church leaders used the names Jehovah and Elohim interchangeably.

12 Comments »

  1. Around Lehi’s time there were many prophets – how does that relate to our “same organization as the primitive church” mantra?

    1 Nephi 2 According to the bible maps there are between 150 and 180 miles between Jerusalem and river mouth emptying into the red sea yet they made that journey in 3 days (ok three days in the wilderness – but if there are only 3 days worth of wilderness were they sufficiently far enough away?)

    2 Nephi 11:22 Nephi, 600 years before Christ, understands “the cross”

    2 N 13:24 Bible originally contained the fullness of the Gospel.

    2 N 14:25 (BoM is a “second witness”), so why not let Nephi be a “second witness” to what John saw?

    Comment by ed42 — January 23, 2008 @ 10:25 pm

  2. ed42- my understanding of the three days in the wilderness is that they traveled to the area by the red sea, which is the wilderness, then they travelled for three days in the wilderness there to arive at the river/valley combo. At least that’s what the Book of Mormon says. There are a few competing ideas of where this could be. The most popular, as far as I know, are the ones put forth by George Potter and Jeffrey Chadwick (which are different, of course)

    There were many prophets (people receiving personal revelation for their stewards). Joseph Smith said (paraphrasing) “were that you all were prophets”. Lehi was not a membr of the primitive church of christ, but was pre-primitive church. The Church Hierarchy has changed over time.

    The others are in second Nephi, so outside of the scope of this post. In a month or so when I finish second Nephi, I’ll look for and think about these points.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 24, 2008 @ 6:08 am

  3. Ed, I appreciate your questions, they are good ones, yet some of your questions/issues presuppose a fundamentalist type of world view for the “translation” of the Book of Mormon. You may find some value in investigating other assumptions about the translation process. See this article by Blake Ostler for a treatment on this topic.

    Comment by Kent — January 24, 2008 @ 9:07 am

  4. Around Lehi’s time there were many prophets – how does that relate to our “same organization as the primitive church” mantra?

    The ‘primitive church’ comment (from the Articles of Faith) refers to the early (1 century AD) Christian Church as set up by the Savior and, subsequently, the Apostles — not to the largely apostate Kingdom of Judah under the Law of Moses (7th/6th century BC). ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — January 24, 2008 @ 10:16 am

  5. This is cool. I will shamelessly admit to be often bored by First Nephi. It’s hard to see it with new eyes when I’ve reread this section more than any other.

    I absolutely hate the Laban episode.

    Comment by Johnna — January 24, 2008 @ 10:46 am

  6. I see where I misread the 3 days part (I was actually consulting my notes when I left a comment and should have re-read the passage from the scriptures).

    The other “2″s are actually in FIRST Nephi. This little comment box took the liberty of trying to make a list, so here goes again (all in FIRST Nephi)

    N 11:33 “And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross…” Were crosses common 600 BC?

    N 13:24 “… and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord”

    N 14:25 (BoM is a “second witness”), so why not let Nephi be a “second witness” to what John saw?

    Comment by ed42 — January 24, 2008 @ 4:26 pm

  7. Ed, sorry for not catching that the first time around.

    Crosses were around in 600 BC, with a quick search of the internet showing that they derived or evolved from Assyrian Impaling around 850ish BC and moved to Greece and Persia, with a reported 7th century BC mass crucifixion of pirates in Greece, and Darius being the first persian crucifier to be recorded, when he crucifed 3000 babylonians at once in the 6th century BC. Apparantly, this was written down because it was such a massive amount for one time. The Qu’ran says Moses and Joseph used terms like Crucify in speaking with Ancient Egyptians, and apparantly there is some arguement as to whether Egyptians used crucifixion or impaling.

    Anyway, whether through Egypt or Babylon, it is reasonable to say Nephi and Lehi could have known of the cross. It is also possible, of course, that this is just the word Joseph used in his vocabulary to express what he was undestanding in the translation.

    As for the other two, I dunno. Some members of the church would say that the Bible still contains the “fullness of the Gospel”. Personally, I guess it deoends on how you define that phrase.

    Comment by Matt W. — January 24, 2008 @ 6:34 pm

  8. Update to my own comment (#4): In the modern Church, we sustain typically 15 different men at any given time as “prophets, seers and revelators” (the 1st Presidency & the Twelve), plus recognize the gift of prophecy (within stewardship limits) on a more general basis (e.g,. Eliza R. Snow). ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — January 25, 2008 @ 12:19 am

  9. And in the spirit of the original post, I’ve put up something I wrote many years ago on what’s missing from the first few chapters of 2 Nephi: Nephi’s blessing from Lehi. ..bruce..

    Comment by bfwebster — January 25, 2008 @ 12:22 am

  10. “I absolutely hate the Laban episode. ”

    But completely necessary for Nephi to “make himself a king and a ruler over ” Laman and Lemuel. (1 Nephi 16:38)

    All good points in the original post.

    Comment by JM — January 25, 2008 @ 10:42 am

  11. There were many prophets (people receiving personal revelation for their stewards). Joseph Smith said (paraphrasing) “were that you all were prophets”. Lehi was not a membr of the primitive church of christ, but was pre-primitive church. The Church Hierarchy has changed over time.

    Comment by Mark — May 14, 2008 @ 1:16 pm

  12. Good stuff, Matt. Thanks.

    ~

    Comment by Thomas Parkin — May 14, 2008 @ 1:40 pm

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