Sariah, the wife of Book of Mormon prophet Lehi, followed him with her family out
of Jerusalem and into the wilderness. But when her sons delayed their return while
on their Brass Plates acquisition mission, she began to doubt her husband’s call
and the Lord’s protection.
The Book of Mormon records, “For she had supposed that we had perished in the wilderness;
and she also had complained against my father, telling him that he was a visionary
man; saying: Behold thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and
my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness.”
The Book of Mormon begins with an account of the family of Lehi, a prophet living
in Jerusalem during Zedekiah’s reign in 600 BC (1 Nephi 1:4). Lehi is commanded by
the Lord "that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness…wherefore,
he did as the Lord commanded him...And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance,
and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him,
save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness"
(1 Nephi 2:2-4).
During the family’s wilderness journey, Lehi dreams a dream in which he sees the
tree of life "whose fruit was desirable to make one happy" (1 Nephi 8:10). This
tree and its fruit represent the "love of God" (1 Nephi 11:22). In this dream, Lehi
partakes of the fruit and then invites his family (including his wife Sariah) to
partake of the fruit also, which they do (see 1 Nephi 8:13-16). Though but a simple
portrait, this image of Sariah is meant to portray the faith and hope of one who
has partaken of that fruit "which is most precious, which is sweet above all that
is sweet..." (Alma 32:42). Nephi tells us that Sariah’s "joy was full, and [she]
was comforted" (1 Nephi 8:7) during the wilderness journey. That peace and comfort
is seen in her face.
As mother to both the Nephite and Lamanite races, Sariah is a mother of nations.
The differences between the two races are symbolized by the stark contrast visible
in her face.
The Book of Mormon says that after the sons returned with the plates of brass, Lehi
gave thanks unto the Lord. “And after they had given thanks unto the God of Israel,
my father, Lehi, took the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, and
he did search them from the beginning.”
“Teichert imaginatively portrays a group of young women mentioned in the Book of
Mormon-the daughters of the prophet Ishmael. As recorded, they left their life in
Jerusalem to join Lehi’s family in the wilderness and marry his sons.”