Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2011, August 30

“Book of Mormon: ‘The Tent of My Father’ as Figurative Speech Meaning ‘Destination’ in 1 Nephi 3 – 1 Nephi 7 and Its Discontinuation of Use Afterward” by grego

Book of Mormon: ‘The Tent of My Father’ as Figurative Speech Meaning ‘Destination’ in 1 Nephi 3 – 1 Nephi 7 and Its Discontinuation of Use Afterward

grego
(c)2011

Hugh Nibley writes about how “my father dwelt in a tent” (1 Nephi 2:15) denotes a way of Bedouin desert life, etc., etc. I want to point out something different, that Nibley touches on once but no more:
“If Nephi seems to think of his father’s tent as the hub of everything, he is simply expressing the view of any normal Bedouin (Arabian tent dweller).” (Lehi in the Desert and The World of the Jaredites, pp. 57-8).

Note that where in English—like say, if Joseph Smith were writing the Book of Mormon—one would use the term “our camp”, “my parents”, “where we stayed”, “our destination”, “the valley of Lemuel” (the name of the place they were staying), etc.; but Nephi consistently uses “unto my father”/ “tent of my father” or some very similar term.

Here are the Book of Mormon references:
1 Nephi 3:14 But Laman fled out of his presence, and told the things which Laban had done, unto us. And we began to be exceedingly sorrowful, and my brethren were about to return *unto my father in the wilderness*.

1 Nephi 3:15 But behold I said unto them that: As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not *go down unto our father in the wilderness* until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us.

1 Nephi 4:34 And I also spake unto him, saying: Surely the Lord hath commanded us to do this thing; and shall we not be diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord? Therefore, if thou wilt *go down into the wilderness to my father thou shalt have place with us*.

1 Nephi 4:35 …Now Zoram was the name of the servant; and he promised that he would *go down into the wilderness unto our father*. Yea, and he also made an oath unto us that he would tarry with us from that time forth.

1 Nephi 4:38 And it came to pass that we took the plates of brass and the servant of Laban, and departed into the wilderness, and *journeyed unto the tent of our father*.

1 Nephi 5:1 And it came to pass that after we had *come down into the wilderness unto our father*, behold, he was filled with joy, and also my mother, Sariah, was exceedingly glad…

1 Nephi 5:7 And when *we had returned to the tent of my father*, behold their joy was full, and my mother was comforted.

1 Nephi 7:5 And it came to pass that the Lord did soften the heart of Ishmael, and also his household, insomuch that they took their journey with us *down into the wilderness to the tent of our father*.

1 Nephi 7:21 … And after they had done praying unto the Lord we did again travel on *our journey towards the tent of our father*.

1 Nephi 7:22 And it came to pass that we did come down unto the tent of our father. And after I and my brethren and all the house of Ishmael had *come down unto the tent of my father*, they did give thanks unto the Lord their God; and they did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto him.

Other verses that instead refer to Lehi’s tent, literally:

1 Nephi 2:6 And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water.

1 Nephi 2:15 And my father dwelt in a tent.

1 Nephi 3:1 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, returned from speaking with the Lord, to the tent of my father.

1 Nephi 9:1 And all these things did my father see, and hear, and speak, as he dwelt in a tent, in the valley of Lemuel, and also a great many more things, which cannot be written upon these plates.

1 Nephi 10:16 And all these things, of which I have spoken, were done as my father dwelt in a tent, in the valley of Lemuel.

1 Nephi 15:1 And it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had been carried away in the spirit, and seen all these things, I returned to the tent of my father. (Likely)

1 Nephi 16:6 Now, all these things were said and done as my father dwelt in a tent in the valley which he called Lemuel.

After Ishmael and his family join the group, however, Nephi stops referring to their camp as “tent of my father” and instead talks about “our tents”:

1 Nephi 16:12 And it came to pass that *we did take our tents* and depart into the wilderness, across the river Laman.

1 Nephi 16:13 And it came to pass that we traveled for the space of four days, nearly a south-southeast direction, and *we did pitch our tents* again; and we did call the name of the place Shazer.

1 Nephi 16:17 And after we had traveled for the space of many days, *we did pitch our tents* for the space of a time, that we might again rest ourselves and obtain food for our families.

1 Nephi 16:32 And it came to pass that *I did return to our tents*, bearing the beasts which I had slain…

1 Nephi 16:33 And it came to pass that we did again take our journey, traveling nearly the same course as in the beginning; and after we had traveled for the space of many days *we did pitch our tents again*, that we might tarry for the space of a time.

1 Nephi 17:6 And it came to pass that *we did pitch our tents* by the seashore…

1 Nephi 18:23 And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and *we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents*; and we did call it the promised land.

2 Nephi 5:7 And *we did take our tents* and whatsoever things were possible for us, and did journey in the wilderness for the space of many days. And after we had journeyed for the space of many days *we did pitch our tents*.

It could be because now:
1) it was no longer just their family;
2) maybe Ishmael was older than Lehi;
3) Nephi and his brothers were all married and had their own families.

Any Bedouin experts care to comment? :)

-=
Enos 1:20 And I bear record that the people of Nephi did seek diligently to restore the Lamanites unto the true faith in God. But our labors were vain; their hatred was fixed, and they were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven; and their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us.

Mosiah 2:5 And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every man according to his family, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons, and their daughters, from the eldest down to the youngest, every family being separate one from another.

Mosiah 2:6 And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple…

Mosiah 7:5 And when they had wandered forty days they came to a hill, which is north of the land of Shilom, and there they pitched their tents.

Mosiah 9:4 Nevertheless, after many days’ wandering in the wilderness we pitched our tents in the place where our brethren were slain, which was near to the land of our fathers.

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