This second chapter of the Book of Mormon begins and ends with the Lord speaking.
The Lord speaks to Lehi in a dream commanding him to leave Jerusalem, where his
life is in danger. He obeys, and the family thanks the Lord for delivering them.
However, two brothers, Laman and Lemuel, do not join in this thanksgiving, but rather
complain about what they have lost, because they do not know the God who created
them. Their father Lehi, filled with the Spirit, chastises them. Nephi wants to
know the truth, so he prays to the Lord with faith, and God softens his heart to
believe. He shares what he has learned from the Lord with his brothers; Sam believes,
but Laman and Lemuel reject his testimony also. Nephi then prays for them; the Lord
answers Nephi's prayer with information, encouragement, and promises.
That God who had created them
the Lord • the Lord Our God
God • Holy Spirit • the Spirit
1 Nephi 2:1
Even in a Dream
The Book of Mormon teaches that God blesses those who obey His word
For behold, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto my father,
yea, even in a dream, and said unto him:
Blessed art thou Lehi, because of the things which thou hast done;
and because thou hast been faithful
and declared unto this people the things which I commanded thee,
behold, they seek to take away thy life.
This is Lehi’s 3rd recorded vision in the Book of Mormon, but there are indications
that there were others (Nephi didn’t write them all). This is the first recorded
dream vision. God first praises Lehi’s faithfulness, and compassionately recognizes
the difficulty he now faces as a result of that. He acknowledges that He had previously
given Lehi a commandment to speak to the people – it wasn’t only his own initiative.
1 Nephi 2:2
Even in a Dream Continued
The Book of Mormon teaches that
the Lord gives commandments in order to save His people
And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream,
that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.
The epic Book of Mormon story of Lehi’s family leaving Jerusalem was not his own
idea, either. He didn’t see all the problems around him and coming up and decide
to bug out. The Lord specifically told him to leave.
1 Nephi 2:3
He was Obedient
The Book of Mormon gives examples
of people who obey what the Lord tells them to do
And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord,
wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.
This is 2-way interaction: The Lord reveals and commands, and Lehi obeys. Lehi’s
first obedience proved his loyalty and dependability, so the Lord finalized his choice
of Lehi and gave the next commandment, which will prove difficult but better in the
Nephi will emphasize the value of obedience throughout his Book of Mormon narrative.
1 Nephi 2:7
The Lord Our God
The Book of Mormon shows that families worship God together
And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones,
and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.
Previously, Nephi has spoken about Lehi’s communication with “his God.” Now he says
Lehi raised an altar and gave thanks to the Lord OUR God. This has ceased to be
just Lehi’s experience. He has gathered his family to worship God with him.
Throughout the Book of Mormon the people live the Law of Moses, while at the same
time recognizing that its purpose is to point them to Christ.
1 Nephi 2:10
Firm and Steadfast
The Book of Mormon compares faithfulness to the Lord
with the firmness of a valley
And he also spake unto Lemuel:
O that thou mightest be like unto this valley,
firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!
The Lord has commandments. The best way to approach them is to be firm and steadfast
and immovable in keeping these commandments. If the commandments are like the river
flowing, and the valley is like a person, the person will be green and fertile if
he stays near the river. If he picks up and moves away, that is as nonsensical as
a valley getting up and leaving its founding river.
who do not know God are likely to murmur against Him
And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father.
And they did murmur
because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.
Nephi implies that we would have faith and not murmur if we could see the big picture
– if we thoroughly knew the dealings of God. (I don’t know if that’s true. Satan
seems to know – at least he heard the plan in the beginning, and seems not to have
lost his memory, not having received a physical body). Nephi points out that God
has been here all along in our development and our lives – “that God who had created
them.” We are most loyal to our own ideas and our own selves – we must trust God,
who made us.
1 Nephi 2:14
Filled with the Spirit
And it came to pass that my father did speak unto them
in the valley of Lemuel, with power, being filled with the Spirit,
until their frames did shake before him.
And he did confound them, that they durst not utter against him;
wherefore, they did as he commanded them.
This is the second case of Book of Mormon father Lehi being filled with the Spirit.
The first time it supported him and overcame him so that he could see visions. This
time it does not specify that the Spirit touched Laman and Lemuel, but that because
of the Spirit they were overwhelmed and quenched in their murmuring.
1 Nephi 2:16
Great Desires to Know
The Book of Mormon shows us the good example
of a person who had great desires to know God
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young,
nevertheless being large in stature,
and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God,
wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me,
and did soften my heart
that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father;
wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.
Nephi “cried unto the Lord.” After listening to his father, Book of Mormon prophet
Lehi, Nephi also wanted to know the mysteries of God, as his father did.
The answer came immediately, though Nephi was not shown the mysteries yet. Instead,
the Spirit softened his heart so that he believed what his father had said. Sometimes
we get answers from the Spirit, and sometimes the Lord has already given that answer
to one of his messengers, so we must listen to them.
1 Nephi 2:17
He Believed in My Words
The Book of Mormon gives an example
of a faithful person who believes the testimony of another
And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him
the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit.
And it came to pass that he believed in my words.
Amazingly, there is a ripple effect. Apparently Sam didn’t pray about it, or necessarily
believe Lehi’s words, but he believed Nephi’s second-hand account.
This Book of Mormon incident is in agreement with Doctrine & Covenants 46:13,14:
“To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,
and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. To others it is given to believe
on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.”
We see repeatedly throughout the scriptures how much value God places on faith. Only
He can decide when to give a revelation – by the Spirit, by vision, by dream, etc.
– or when to expect the person to exercise faith and rely on the words of the witnesses.
1 Nephi 2:18
I Cried unto the Lord for Them
The Book of Mormon encourages us
to pray for unbelievers
But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words;
and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts
I cried unto the Lord for them.
Nephi “cried unto the Lord” for his brethren. After receiving such a favorable answer
himself, the peace and softening that came from the Spirit, he wanted that for his
(This is the 3rd recorded incidence of prayer in the Book of Mormon.)
1 Nephi 2:19
Thou Has Sought Me Diligently
The Book of Mormon teaches that people show faith
by humbly seeking the Lord diligently
And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying:
Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith,
for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.
The Lord spoke directly to Nephi, explaining that answering a prayer in behalf of
his rebellious brothers wasn’t going to be so simple. There would be continuing
consequences of Nephi’s attitude, for which he was blessed, and his brothers’ attitude,
which would be problematic.
The Lord reviews why Nephi was blessed:
a. He had faith
b. He sought the Lord diligently
c. He was lowly in heart. The Lord softened an already lowly heart.
Nephi can contrast these qualities with his brothers’ qualities to discern why they
do not receive the same blessing.
The answer to Nephi’s prayer is contained in verses 19-24, in which the Lord is directly
speaking. So, although each verse does not necessarily contain a name of God, since
it is He who is speaking, it is properly included in this Book of Mormon study.
1 Nephi 2:20
Choice Above All Other Lands
The Book of Mormon teaches that the American continent
is a land of promise, a choice land
And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments,
ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise;
yea, even a land which I have prepared for you;
yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.
The verb switches from “thou” to “ye,” the plural form. The whole group, including
the brothers, will receive this blessing (as will be narrated in the rest of the
Book of Mormon). They did, after all, spend some time keeping the commandments;
they just weren’t consistent or constant, so of course in the end they degraded.
The Lord speaks so highly of the land of promise, saying that He Himself prepared
it for them. He later states that no one will come to this land except He is allowed
to by God Himself. Surely He would like us to appreciate the blessing of living
in the promised land even today!
1 Nephi 2:21
They Shall Be Cut Off
The Book of Mormon teaches
that the rebellious shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord
And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee,
they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.
Nephi has experienced the Spirit, so he knows that being cut off from the presence
of the Lord is the worst cursing. A new concept is introduced here in the Book of
Mormon: They must not only be faithful to the Lord, but they must not rebel against
Nephi. The Lord has announced to Nephi that he, the younger brother, is to be the
leader. The brothers aren’t expected to have much faith, or to seek diligently,
but if they will at least follow Nephi, they’ll be blessed. Now Nephi knows he has
a great role to play in the family, more than just praying for his brothers.
1 Nephi 2:22
A Ruler and a Teacher
The Book of Mormon teaches
that the Lord chooses the obedient to teach others
And inasmuch as thou shalt keep my commandments,
thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy brethren.
Nephi’s role is expanded – he will not only be their leader, but their teacher. He
must step up beside his father. He has already tried this in verses 17-18. Now
he knows he must continue. His further writings in the Book of Mormon will reflect
this new understanding.
1 Nephi 2:23
I will curse them
The Book of Mormon teaches that the rebellious lose power
For behold, in that day that they shall rebel against me,
I will curse them even with a sore curse,
and they shall have no power over thy seed
except they shall rebel against me also.
This must have been a dizzying statement to young, single Nephi: That his leadership
extends through his seed. It also gave him hope that his brothers would repent and
follow his leadership, and the problems would not come until later generations. But
additionally it introduced the unpleasant possibility that Nephi’s own posterity
Nephi recorded this statement, but we do not know how much he taught his own children
the things of the Lord. Apparently they learned from him leadership, for they were
the kings, but the Book of Mormon records that the prophetic role fell to his brother
What do your children see in your role that they may pick up on? What do you see
in the far future for your children’s relationship with the Lord?
1 Nephi 2:24
They shall be a scourge
The Book of Mormon teaches that
when bad things happen to good people, it may help them remember to be faithful
And if it so be that they rebel against me, they shall be a scourge unto thy seed,
to stir them up in the ways of remembrance.
The Lord’s final statement in this answer to prayer might have been satisfying to
Nephi, for it indicates that his brothers’ seed will be around for many generations.
So many Latter-day Saints, when reading about the rebellions of Laman and Lemuel,
think, “Why didn’t they just stay behind? Why didn’t they just fall overboard? Why
did they have to stay around and mess up the history of the Book of Mormon? Why couldn’t
they just have been obliterated?” Neither Nephi nor Lehi felt like dismissing them
for their rebellions, and the Lord didn’t, either. He thought it would be important
for the Nephites to have that constant opposition that they had to war against. So
the final answer is that even if they don’t soften their hearts, they will perform
an important function in the Lord’s over-all plan for this Book of Mormon family.
This answer to prayer section, 1 Nephi 2:19-24, is a blessing and admonition from
the Lord. It is reminiscent of God’s relationship with Abraham. He first proved
his faithfulness to God, and was called to leave a doomed land and travel to view
his promised land. In Genesis 12:1-3, 13:14-17, and 15:4,5,13-16 God outlines for
him blessings and promises, including a view of Abraham’s as-yet-unborn posterity
far into the future. Abraham had already shown loyalty to God, and these communications
solidified his commitment and the direction of his life.
This section is also reminiscent of patriarchal blessings. What does your patriarchal
blessing tell you in relation to your posterity? How is your life guided and directed
by your patriarchal blessing? How does it help you see yourself as God sees you,
and see His plans for you?
This blessing to Nephi seems to have created in him a firm commitment to be obedient
to the commandments of the Lord. He has already explained that the theme of his
writing in the Book of Mormon is to demonstrate the Lord’s deliverance. (1 Nephi
1:20) At the same time he is laying out evidences of deliverance by God, he is working
on the opposite party, and will emphasize repeatedly how important it is to be obedient
to the Lord’s commandments.
In 1 Nephi 2 of the Book of Mormon, Nephi has seen the amazing results of his father’s
prayer, and he himself had concerns that he prayed about. Again, God answered his
prayers immediately, both times in His own way, and not necessarily as Nephi might
have preferred. We see God as intimately responsive to the faithful young Nephi.
We also see Him compassionate toward Laman and Lemuel. They will have to suffer
the consequences of their rebellion, but His mercy and patience will be extended
through the generations.