1 Nephi 18 tweet: On the ship 2 PL, rude boys tie up N. They R driven back 4 days. N loosed and they arrive at PL. Seeds planted; animals + Au, Ag, Cu found.

Back in my post on 1 Nephi 1, I outlined the fourfold structure that Joseph Spencer reads into 1 and 2 Nephi. By way of reminder:

  1. 1 Nephi 1–18, the story of the establishment of the Lehite people in the New World. CREATION
  2. 1 Nephi 19–2 Nephi 5, the story of the breaking up of that people into two rival factions. FALL
  3. 2 Nephi 6–30, the sermons, quotations, and prophecies that make up the sacred heart of the record, and in particular, how the Lamanites will be redeemed in the latter days. ATONEMENT
  4. 2 Nephi 31–33, a concluding word concerning the doctrine of Christ and how to approach the VEIL

Spencer goes on to suggest that we find evidence in the text of 1 Ne. 18 – the last verses of the creation subdivision – that shows that Nephi was quite consciously alluding to the creation story found in Genesis 1. He makes the following comparisons:1

1 Ne. 18:21–22: Nephi prays and the winds and storm cease and there is a great calm on the seas; cf. Gen 1:2–3: The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters

1 Ne. 18:23: After many days Lehi’s family arrive at the promised land; cf. Gen 1:9–10: God commands and dry land appears and He calls the land Earth

1 Ne. 18:24: Lehi’s family till the earth and plant seeds, which grow exceedingly; cf. Gen. 1:11–12: God commands and the earth brings forth grass and herbs and trees with seed after its kind

1 Ne. 18:25: Nephi notes all manner of wild animals in the promised land for the use of men; cf. Gen. 1:24–26: God commands and the earth brings forth an abundance of living creatures over which man has dominion

In addition to these comparisons, I would also note that in verse 4, speaking of the finished ship Nephi says how his brothers “beheld that it was good”. ‘It was good’ is a phrase that only occurs a few other times in scripture, most notably six times in Gen. 1 where after each day of creation God “saw that it was good”.

Do you see anything else in 1 Ne. 18 that compares with Gen. 1?

In this chapter, Nephi makes other allusions to the great foundational stories from Israel’s history (as he does throughout his writings). Grant Hardy notes:

The Exodus precedent is never far from Nephi’s mind, and he refers to Moses’ example or writings in nine different chapters in First and Second Nephi.2

In his seminal article, George Tate describes how the Exodus pattern is actually found throughout the Book of Mormon.3 Of 1 Ne. 18 in particular, Tate mentions how Nephi builds a ship not “after the manner of men; but … after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me” just as Moses had received the design for the tabernacle (compare 1 Ne. 18:1–3 with Ex. 26).

In addition to the Exodus pattern, 1 Ne. 18 is also notable for it being a culmination of Nephi likening himself to Joseph of Egypt. Grant Hardy notes how “like his biblical counterpart, Nephi is a teenager with older brothers who resent his apparent self-righteousness and favored status with their father. He receives a revelation promising that someday he will rule over them, and they respond by trying to kill him … Nephi, like Joseph, is miraculously delivered and eventually saves his entire family from starvation.”4 And like Joseph, Nephi’s brothers bow down before him. Regarding 1 Ne. 18, Hardy then says of one of the Book of Mormon’s more poignant verses:

And finally, there is a clear verbal echo when Lehi and Sariah when Lehi and Sariah lament the abuse that Nephi suffered at the hands of his brothers on the ship: “Yea, their grey hairs were about to be brought down to lie low in the dust / yea, even they were near to be cast with sorrow into a watery grave” (1 Ne. 18:18), reminding alert readers of the thrice-repeated description of Jacob’s fear that his son Benjamin would perish like Joseph: “Then shall ye bring my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave” (Gen 42:38, 44:29, 31).5     

As a reminder, we are nearing the end of what was chapter V in the original Book of Mormon. Chapter V ended at 1 Ne. 19:21. So next week I’ll look at those verses and review the overall structure and messages of chapter V (1 Ne. 16–1 Ne. 19:21).

Next week’s reading: 1 Nephi 19:1–21

  1. Joseph Spencer. An Other Testament, pp. 43–44
  2. Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon, pp. 42
  3. https://rsc.byu.edu/archived/literature-belief-sacred-scripture-and-religious-experience/13-typology-exodus-pattern-book
  4. Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon, pp. 42
  5. Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon, pp. 43