Sunday, November 13, 2011

1 Nephi 1-4


Attached please find the outline, so far, of our lesson arc on Book of Mormon legal cases.  I'll add to the same outline for future lessons and circulate again.

I read 1 Nephi 1-4 today.  I had a couple of thoughts I'd like to share, because they're new thoughts to me.

1) Nephi's first use of the odd phrase "my father Lehi dwelt in a tent" is in 2:15 and is bracketed with a reference to returning to his father's tent in 3:1.  What do we find in between?  Nephi again says he wants to know the mysteries (a "hot button" word), he cries unto the Lord, the Lord promises him a promised land, and to make him a ruler and a teacher, and makes promises about his seed.  Sam believes, but Laman & Lemuel don't.

What's going on here?  Remember that references to Lehi's tent Bracket both Lehi's vision (7:22 and 9:1) and Nephi's explanatory second vision (10:16 and 15:1), which are both temple visions.  I think this is a very subtle but plain reference to Nephi, somewhere in the borders of the Red Sea, taking out his endowments or having some similar temple-like covenant and visionary experience.  I increasingly think that the whole point of 1 Nephi 1:1-2 is that Nephi is telling us that his book is all about the temple.

2) It's interesting that in telling of his killing of Laban, Nephi uses juridical imagery -- in other words, like Jacob confronting Laban in Genesis 31, he describes his experience in language and imagery drawn from trials.  The suit commences with the verb of motion (he "came near" in 4:7); the action is at the "house" of Laban, one of the city's leaders, and his "treasury", both public buildings; the Spirit presses its case and Nephi resists (v. 10) but when the Spirit persists (vv. 11ff), Nephi "shuts up" -- he surrenders; interestingly, the arguments that Nephi makes to himself have to do with the need to know the law (vv. 14-17); the remedy is carried out immediately (v. 18); Zoram, interestingly, thinks that Nephi's references to his brothers refer to the elders of the Jews (i.e., leaders of the tribe of Judah, the royal tribe) (vv. 22-27), who of course should have been worthy judges for Nephi's cause, only they're apostate; since there are no worthy elders, Nephi makes Zoram the judge -- he grabs him, makes his case and swears an oath, and when Zoram makes a return oath, Nephi knows he has been vindicated (vv. 30-37).

Cool, huh?

I'll check in again tomorrow.

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