2 Nephi 1 tweet: Lh sees destruction of Jrsm. PL is inheritance for Lh seed. He tells L&L to wake up! Fix up, look sharp. He blesses L&L, S + Z.
In this post I’m just going to work through the chapter and make a few comments and raise a few questions:
v1: If this wasn’t the start of a new book, this verse would read as a natural run-on from the last verse of 1 Ne 22, i.e. Nephi finishes teaching his brothers about Isaiah 48–49 and then Lehi begins to speak to them. Therefore, it’s not clear to me why this marks the start of not just a new chapter but a new book. Why do you think Nephi breaks his record into two separate books and why do you think he starts 2 Nephi at this point?
v5: In the original manuscript, the second instance of covenanted read consecrated, i.e. “Yea, the Lord hath consecrated this land unto me”. Does this alter the meaning of the verse? What is the connection between covenants and consecration?
v7: In this verse, Lehi says that the land is consecrated and that it shall be a land of liberty. What is the connection between consecration (and covenants) and liberty?
v7: Lehi states that “if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes”. This is reminiscent of Gen 3:17 in which the Lord tells Adam that “cursed is the ground for thy sake”. Do you think Lehi is making a deliberate allusion to the verse in Genesis? If so, why? Perhaps he is implying that the promised land is a new Eden. In the rest of this chapter and the next Lehi will make some subtle (and some not-so-subtle) references to the Creation and Fall of Adam.
v9 & 20: Grant Hardy makes the following point about this promise:
The warning that “inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence” (2 Ne 1:20) is a constant refrain in the book, being repeated some twenty times (with variations). See 1 Ne 2:20–21, 4:14, 17:13; 2 Ne 1:9, 4:4, 5:20; Jarom 1:9; Omni 1:6; Mosiah 1:7, 2:22, 2:31; Alma 9:13–14, 36:1, 36:30, 37:13, 38:1, 48:15, 48:25, 50:20.1
v10: This verse reads like the blessings that come from temple worship. Consider the following:
- great blessings from the hand of the Lord
- knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men
- knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world
- power given them to do all things by faith
- having all the commandments from the beginning
- brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise
If this verse can be related to temple worship, what are the implications for the modern reader?
v10: At the start of this verse it says “when the time cometh”, but at the end it says “if the day shall come”. What do you make of this shift from when to if? Does it imply that the dwindling in unbelief was inevitable but the full rejection of Christ was not?
v13–15: In these verses, Lehi uses powerful symbols. Grant Hardy notes in these verses (and v21 and 23) the clear echoes of Isa 52:1–2:
Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.
Based on the similarity with these Isaiah verses, Hardy goes on to suggest:
Lehi seems to be holding out the possibility that just as Jerusalem can be restored, so also his family – perhaps in response to his death – could free themselves of old wounds and habits and awake to a fresh realization of their situation. He never abandoned the hope that a renewal, a return to more cooperative relationships, was still an option.2
As an aside, Joseph Smith provides an interpretation of these Isaiah verses in D&C 113.
Spencer W Kimball said:
[There] are Church members who are steeped in lethargy. They neither drink nor commit the sexual sins. They do not gamble nor rob nor kill. They are good citizens and splendid neighbors, but spiritually speaking they seem to be in a long, deep sleep. They are doing nothing seriously wrong except in their failures to do the right things… To such people as this, the words of Lehi might well apply…3
The following cross references may also add to our understanding of what Lehi was trying to convey in these verses:
Deep sleep: Isaiah 29:10 (“For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.”)
Chains: Alma 12:11 (“And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.”)
Moses 7:26 (“And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced.”)
v15: I think that being encircled eternally in the arms of his love is supposed to contrast sharply with being bound by the awful chains of hell.
v21: Does “arise from the dust” allude to the creation of Adam? Regarding this verse, Julie Smith says:
No mental health professional today would approve of what Lehi is doing here–namely, couching their righteousness as a condition of his happiness, or telling them to be righteous for his sake. This verse drips with guilt, particularly given its ‘deathbed’ setting. Do you approve of what Lehi is doing here? Is he doing the best possible thing here? (We often assume that ‘if a good guy in the scriptures does something, we should model it,’ but it is not clear to me that that is always the case.)4
v25–27: These verses regarding Nephi’s interactions with his brothers are an interesting case study of the principles outlined in D&C 121:34–46. How do you think Nephi measures up to that standard – both as described by Lehi in these verses and also from what you remember of past chapters?
Finally, at the end of this chapter Lehi pronounces blessings on his sons. Regarding these patriarchal blessings, Grant Hardy notes:
Nephi’s blessing is conspicuous for its absence, despite the admission that Lehi “had spoken to all his household” and precedents in the Hebrew Bible (Gen. 27, 49). Why doesn’t Nephi report what his father said to him? … I suspect that Lehi’s deathbed instructions to Nephi may have included a last, desperate plea for him to keep the family together (something that would have been awkward and painful for Nephi to record). It is clear from Lehi’s other speeches that family unity was a high priority, and he would have charged Nephi, as both the next leader and the focal point of conflict, with the responsibility to make sure they remained unified.5
Next week’s reading: 2 Nephi 2
- Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon, pp. 279–80, note 14
- Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon, pp. 52
- Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, pp. 149
- Grant Hardy, Understanding the Book of Mormon, pp. 51