Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, January 21

“Book of Mormon: The Symbolism in Nephi Meeting Laban’s Sword; More About the Brass Plates; Why Did Nephi Kill Laban?; Reasons for the Nephites to Have the Brass Plates” by grego

Book of Mormon: More About the Brass Plates; Why Did Nephi Kill Laban?

Well, nevertheless, Val Larsen’s paper was great.  I don’t agree with it all, and I feel there are a few problems, but overall, it’s very high quality and extremely insightful.  That’s amazing praise from me.  Because it’s usually quite difficult to impress me; but this paper did. 


Symbolism–Nephi Meeting Laban’s Sword

I noticed also that Nephi assumes his leadership the same way he assumes the symbol of his leadership–Laban’s sword. 

He didn’t take it by force–it was just sitting there, and he reached out and took it, never intending or wanting to keep it; even when it was in his hands, he refused to use it in its proper way; until in the end, he had to take it and use it properly, as instructed by God. 


Val Larsen’s “sovereignty argument” is pretty nice. However, I don’t know that it’s even necessary, and I do find a few things about it that don’t seem really well-done.

And some ask, “Why wouldn’t Nephi complain to the authorities about Laban, and then let the authorities kill him? Why did he ‘take it upon himself’ to kill Laban, if he were truly a good, upright, outstanding citizen?”

1. There was already a state of unrest and wickedness in Jerusalem.

2. Laban WAS “the authorities”. Who would dare accuse him, much less find him guilty of capital punishment–the elders of the church, his drinking buddies?? Get real, folks. Law in a corrupted society only works for little people against little people in little arguments, or big people against little people. Laban was untouchable. Besides, he was in the military, which might have made it a different case altogether.

3. Lehi was already wanted dead by the Jews, and had he not fled, he would have already been killed. I speculate that Laban had something to do with that.
Lehi’s sons would have joined him in being wanted dead.
If there had been a trial for anything, Lehi and Sariah would have had to come back, making Lehi a dead man.

4. If there ever was a trial, I imagine it would have taken a long time, putting everything off schedule.

5. If there were a trial, I imagine it would come down to word against word, after which Lehi and his family would be taken out.

6. If there were a trial, and Laban had been found guilty–and especially put to death–how would they ever get the plates?
Remember, the main purpose was not to kill Laban, but to get the plates. Laban took part in all this because of his role with the plates.

7. Lehi (and his family), due to the authorities trying to illegally kill him in the first place, as they had done to his brothers (as he says so himself), were already de facto non-citizens. As Fang, Shi Yu might say–and of course this sounds so strange and horrible to “civilized” Westerners–some people aren’t happy with the foreign government that took over by force, didn’t vote for it, and don’t uphold it. Government is to protect its citizens and make life better for all; citizens agree to obey the laws of the government to that end; yet, the government here had intentionally and illegally taken over, and done the opposite for Lehi and his family.

Since I also imagine it was Laban in charge of this, it was righful that he should pay the price. In other words, not only was Laban personally responsible for trying to kill Laman, and then the sons all together, he was also responsible for trying to kill Lehi.

Let’s not forget Lehi’s brethren that were killed: 1 Nephi 5:4 says, “And it had come to pass that my father spake unto her, saying: I know that I am a visionary man; for if I had not seen the things of God in a vision I should not have known the goodness of God, but had tarried at Jerusalem, and had perished with my brethren.” Whether “my brethren” means literal brothers or prophet brothers, I don’t know… Note this statement occurs long before Jerusalem is destroyed.

Since Lehi and his family were outcasts, and there was no chance of appeal to the government for help, they were not responsible to the government for their part of the social contract, and could act in such a manner.

It’s like David and his men in the Bible–they were outcasts who had unjustices done to them and theirs, and though they lived in the area of the kingdom of Saul, they weren’t seen as members of the kingdom.


We sometimes give one or two reasons why Lehi/ Nephi needed the plates. Note that there are given different reasons at three different times for the need to get the plates before they get them:

1. 1 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.

2: 1 Nephi 3:19 And behold, it is wisdom in God that we should obtain these records, that we may preserve unto our children the language of our fathers;
1 Nephi 3:20 And also that we may preserve unto them the words which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, which have been delivered unto them by the Spirit and power of God, since the world began, even down unto this present time.

3: 1 Nephi 4:14 And now, when I, Nephi, had heard these words, I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise.
1 Nephi 4:15 Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law.
1 Nephi 4:16 And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass.

After getting the plates, Nephi says this: 1 Nephi 5:21 “And we had obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children.”

Now, why was it so important for Lehi to know that he was a descendant of Manasseh, and to know his genealogy??

I don’t know. Right now, though, I think it was mostly to understand the big purpose in their lives, to remember the big picture. Starting a society is not easy, especially when you leave because you’re going to be killed if you don’t. (Twice–by Jacob and by Ammon–references are made to being separated, wanderers, outcasts, etc.) So, knowing that he was a descendant of Joseph, and that the promises to Joseph’s seed were therefore extended to him, brought a lot of consolation in face of the hardships of the journey to and remaining in the promised land. Nephi writes:
1 Nephi 5:14 “And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine.”
1 Nephi 5:15 “And they were also led out of captivity and out of the land of Egypt, by that same God who had preserved them.”
This was the hope that Lehi had–that the Lord was directing them and leading them where there would be a great purpose in the Lord’s plan.

Also, there’s this:
As Lehi read about his ancestor, it also helped turn his heart and vision towards his descendants:
1 Nephi 5:17 And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy concerning his seed–
1 Nephi 5:18 That these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed.
1 Nephi 5:19 Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time. And he prophesied many things concerning his seed.

%d bloggers like this: