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1 Nephi 7

Through the Wilderness to the Promised Land

     (1 Nephi )


1 Nephi 7:1 [Lehi’s] Sons Should Take Daughters to Wife:


     Fulfilling the Lord's command to "take daughters to wife" (1 Nephi 7:1) is explained in the Book of Mormon in a way culturally foreign to us. First of all, what man in his right mind would presume to speak for any of his daughters, let alone all of them? And second, how could a man ever hope to convince all of his family (even the married sons) to accompany him into the wilderness? A statement by apostle Erastus Snow helps shed some light on this problem:

           "Whoever has read the Book of Mormon carefully will have learned that the remnants of the house of Joseph dwelt upon the American continent; and that Lehi learned by searching the records of his fathers that were written upon the plates of brass, that he was of the lineage of Manasseh. The Prophet Joseph informed us that the record of Lehi was contained on the 116 pages that were first translated and subsequently stolen, and of which an abridgment is given us in the first Book of Nephi, which is the record of Nephi individually, he himself being of the lineage of Manasseh; but that Ishmael was of the lineage of Ephraim, and that his sons married into Lehi's family, and Lehi's sons married Ishmael's daughters, thus fulfilling the words of Jacob upon Ephraim and Manasseh in the 48th chapter of Genesis, which says, 'And let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the land.' thus these descendants of Manasseh and Ephraim grew together upon this American continent . . ." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 23, pp. 184-185).


     Cleon Skousen claims that Ishmael's two sons had already married (1 Nephi 7:6) and had families of their own prior to the time they joined this expedition. If these two sons had married daughters of Lehi as explained by Erastus Snow, then the relationship between these two families had been established as "in-laws" long before this time. Lehi and Ishmael were therefore not only entirely familiar with each other, but were probably the closest of friends. [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 1067]


1 Nephi 7:1 [Lehi's] sons should take [Ishmael's] daughters to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise (Illustration): Untitled. The daughters of Ishmael. Artist: Ted Henninger. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 44]


1 Nephi 7:1 The Lord Spake . . . That [Lehi's] Sons Should Take Daughters to Wife, That They Might Raise up Seed unto the Lord in the Land of Promise:


     In 1 Nephi 7:1 we find that the Lord spake unto Lehi, "saying that it was not meet for him, Lehi, that he should take his family into the wilderness alone; but that his sons should take daughters to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise." According to Donna Nielsen, a knowledge of the biblical marriage imagery can greatly enrich our understanding of how God relates to us through covenants. Jewish tradition and law dictated that marriage was not an option. Anciently the Jews believed that a man would not receive the highest blessings that life offered without a woman by his side. Accordingly, the word for "salvation" in Hebrew (jeshu-ah) is a feminine term.208 The Jews believed that marriage was an important element of salvation. Celibacy was not considered to be a virtue. There is not a word in biblical Hebrew for "bachelor." Even the modern Hebrew word for bachelor, ravak, comes from a root word meaning "empty." [Donna B. Nielsen, Beloved Bridegroom: Finding Christ in Ancient Jewish Marriage and Family Customs, pp. 2-3]


1 Nephi 7:1 That They Might Raise Up Seed unto the Lord in the Land of Promise:


     The Lord commanded Lehi that "his sons should take daughters to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise" (1 Nephi 7:1). According to Reynolds and Sjodahl, the first divine commandment to men created in God's image, was: "Be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it" (Genesis 1:28). In order to enable Adam to keep this divine law, God formed a woman of a "rib" taken from the side of Adam, wherefore he, on seeing this new, glorious creation, said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: She shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man." The Creator added to this: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh." (Genesis 2:22-24; 19:4-5) The commandment to replenish the earth has not been canceled; it will be in force until the entire earth is filled with the children of God. . . .

     The word which in the story of the creation of man is translated "rib," (Hebrew zelah) occurs 38 times in the Old Testament. Nowhere, except in that account, is it rendered "rib." In a number of passages it is translated "side." (Exodus 25:12,14; 26:20; 27:7; 36:25,31; 37:35; 38:7) In 2 Samuel 16:13 it is rendered, "hillside." And in Ezekiel 41 it occurs ten times and is rendered, "side chambers." Why the translators of Genesis should have preferred "rib" to "side" is a mystery. "Chamber" would, in my [Reynolds' and Sjodahl's] opinion or judgment be preferable. The side chambers of the temple were used for sacred purposes. In some of them the sacred utensils and the vast treasures of the sanctuary were, no doubt, stored. But the body of Adam was a temple of God, with its side chambers, as well as main chambers, in which the main springs of life were stored. From these chambers it pleased God to draw his material for the second sacred structure, to be joined to the first. And so Adam, who was perfectly conscious of what the Lord had done during his sleep, exclaimed, as soon as he saw the new creation, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh." [George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, pp. 55,59]


1 Nephi 7:1 The Lord Spake . . . That [Lehi's] Sons Should Take Daughters to Wife, That They Might Raise up Seed unto the Lord:


     According to John Welch, Lehi was a real person, who lived in a real world. It is a testimony to him to see how aptly his words fit into the ancient legal setting as we understand it. An important power retained by the father in ancient Israel was controlling whom his sons and daughters would marry. The parents "very often chose a wife for their son, although sometimes the son himself contracted the marriage" (Falk 162, citing Gen. 26:34; 37:46; Judges 14:2, 7). It was the duty of each person to take and be taken in marriage, and it was the obligation of parents to see that their children were married (DJ 11:1049; Clark 128). The importance of this parental duty is reflected in the prophet Jeremiah's command to those leaving Jerusalem shortly after Lehi's departure to "take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands" (Jeremiah 29:6; emphasis added).

     Lehi acted in accordance with these general principles. He largely controlled whom his sons and daughters married. Through him came the commandments of the Lord that "his sons should take daughters to wife" and that they should return to Jerusalem to get Ishmael and his family for this very purpose (1 Nephi 7;1-2). As far as we know, no objections were raised by Lehi's sons, nor were their preferences consulted. Furthermore, it is said that by seeing his sons married, Lehi "fulfilled all of the commandments of the Lord which had been given unto him" (1 Nephi 16:8). Thus, Lehi's own obedience to the Lord included the duty of seeing that his sons were married. [John W. Welch, "Lehi's Last Will and Testament: A Legal Approach," in The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, The Doctrinal Structure, pp. 62, 66-67]


1 Nephi 7:1 His Sons Should Take Daughters to Wife:


     Richardson, Richardson and Bentley write that expressions in the Book of Mormon concerning marriage are similar to Hebrew expressions. For example, "his sons should take daughters to wife" (1 Nephi 7:1). In Hebrew, a man does not marry a woman; he takes "her to wife" or "she is given to him to wife." (see John McFadyen, Key to Introductory Hebrew Grammar, p. 13)209 (For biblical examples of such a phrase, see Genesis 24:37; 27:46; 28:2; 28:6; Judges 14:3. [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 189] [See Vol. 6, Appendix D]


Geographical Theory Map : 1 Nephi 7:1-4 Nephi Goes up for Ishmael & His Family (Year 001)


1 Nephi 7:2 The Lord Commanded That [We] Should Return Again unto the Land of Jerusalem, and Bring down Ishmael and His Family:


     Kelly Ogden queries, Could not the Lord have arranged somehow for Ishmael's family to accompany the others into the wilderness on one of the two prior journeys? We have to repeat also the answer: Yet another test!

     We might also wonder how another family, without direct revelation from the Lord, would be so willing to abandon their home and all they had known to join these refugees in the wilderness. We can only surmise from the record of Nephi that Ishmael believed the words of the Lord that Jerusalem would soon be destroyed by the enemy armies who already occupied the city. [D. Kelly Ogden, "Answering the Lord's Call," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 1, p. 30]

     Note* I would still ask the question, Why were three journeys into the wilderness required? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


1 Nephi 7:2 Ishmael:


     According to Hugh Nibley, the proverbial ancestor of the Arabs is Ishmael. His name is one of the few Old Testament names which is also at home in ancient Arabia. . . . [Thus] in Lehi's friend "Ishmael" (1 Nephi 7:2) we surely have a man of the desert. The interesting thing is that Nephi takes Ishmael (unlike Zoram) completely for granted, never explaining who he is or how he fits into the picture--the act of sending for him seems to be the most natural thing in the world, as does the marriage of his daughters with Lehi's sons. Since it has ever been the custom among the desert people for a man to marry the daughter of his paternal uncle (bint 'ammi), it is hard to avoid the impression that Lehi and Ishmael were related. There is a remarkable association between the names of Lehi and Ishmael which ties them both to the southern desert, where the legendary birthplace and central shrine of Ishmael was at a place called Be'er Lehai-ro'i. [Hugh Nibley, Lehi In The Desert, F.A.R.M.S., p. 40]

     John Tvedtnes comments on Nibley’s claim that the name Ishmael as well as the names Lehi, Lemuel, Alma and Sam are Arabic in origin (An Approach to the Book of Mormon 58-60; Lehi in the Desert 44-46). Tvedtnes contends that although Ishmael is indeed the name of the son of Abraham who settled that part of Arabia, Ishmael is also the name of a member of the royal family of Judah from the time of Lehi (Jeremiah 40). Thus the name of Ishmael might have been used by more than one people. [John Tvedtnes, "Was Lehi a Caravaneer?," F.A.R.M.S., p. 8]


1 Nephi 7:2 Ishmael:


     Bruce Sutton writes that the Prophet Joseph Smith said the following:

           You will recollect that when Lehi and his family had gone from Jerusalem out into the wilderness . . . he also brought out Ishmael and his family which were mostly daughters. This Ishmael and his family were of the lineage of Ephraim, and Lehi's sons took Ishmael's daughters for wives, and this is how they have grown together, a multitude of nations in the midst of the earth! If we had those 116 pages of manuscript which Martin Harris got away with, you would know all about it, for Ishmael's ancestry is made very plain therein . . . That is how it came about that Ishmael's lineage, as well as Lehi's was not given in the The Book of Mormon. (Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Salt Lake City, Genealogical Society, Vol. 23, p. 66)


     The main portion of the Book of Mormon was translated from the abridgment written by Mormon of the Large Plates of Nephi (Words of Mormon 1:1-9), which contained the more detailed history of the Nephites. (1 Nephi 9:2-4). According to Sutton and the above statement, the Large Plates apparently contained the genealogy of Lehi at least back to Manasseh (and Joseph) and also the genealogy of Ishmael at least back to Ephraim (and Joseph). The Bible contains the genealogy from Ephraim and Manasseh back to Adam. Thus when the genealogies of the Large Plates of Nephi and the Bible come together, we have the genealogy of Lehi and Ishmael back to father Adam. [Bruce S. Sutton, Lehi, Father of Polynesia: Polynesians Are Nephites, p. 159]


1 Nephi 7:5 The Lord Did Soften the Heart of Ishmael . . . That They Took Their Journey with Us:


     Hugh Nibley notes that after their hearts are softened, the family of Ishmael are not only willing but they are able to make the trip right then. They don't have to stay six weeks and get ready--settle their affairs, etc. Ishmael was ready to go . . . he was a desert man. . . . This would be out of the question, of course, if the family were a settled family and not used to travel or anything like that, but they had that tradition. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p. 167]


1 Nephi 7:6 Two of the Sons of Ishmael and Their Families:


     According to John L. Sorenson, both Ishmael's sons had "families" (1 Nephi 7:6) who accompanied them. The term "families" implies a wife and at least one child each, but there likely were more children. [John L. Sorenson, "The Composition of Lehi's Family," in By Study and Also by Faith, p. 188]


1 Nephi 7:7 They Were Desirous to Return unto the Land of Jerusalem:


     Hugh Nibley points out the line of argument used in 1 Nephi 7:7: "They were desirous to return unto the land of Jerusalem." Notice, the lands of their inheritance were not in the city of Jerusalem but far down where they went to get their property for Laban. The "land of Jerusalem" is a term that was used anciently. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p. 168]


1 Nephi 7:14 Jeremiah Have They Cast into Prison:


     According to the chronological theory of Randall Spackman, this passage may provide one of the most important clues for dating the time of Lehi's "total" departure from the land of Jerusalem. It seems that the actions taken against Jeremiah and the other prophets were connected with the threats on Lehi's life. Jeremiah 37:4 states that prior to the Egyptian invasion of Palestine to attack the Babylonian army (and thus prior to the five-month lifting of the siege of Jerusalem -- between August 588 B.C.E. and April 587 B.C.E.), "Jeremiah came in and went out among the people: for they had not put him in prison." This respite from the siege allowed Jerusalem to open its gates and augment its siege provisions During this time Jeremiah attempted to leave the city to go to the land of his inheritance at Anathoth, a village located a few miles north of the city. At the city gate, Jeremiah was seized and charged with deserting to the enemy. He denied the charge, but he was quickly brought before the princes, who beat and imprisoned him. He was placed in a cistern and left to die. Through the pleadings of a servant in Zedekiah’s household, Jeremiah was saved from the muddy cistern, but he was kept in prison until after the city was sacked by the Babylonians on July 12, 586 B.C.E. (Jeremiah 38-39).

     If Jeremiah 38-39 was the imprisonment referred to by Nephi, and if Nephi learned of this imprisonment on his trip to bring back Ishmael and his family, then Nephi's trip for Ishmael was probably during this lifting of the siege. In fact, given 5 months time and the freedom to come or go from Jerusalem, it is possible (although at this point not proven) that all four main events: (1) Lehi's departure, (2) the trip for Laban's plates, (3) Jeremiah's departure, seizure, and imprisonment, and (4) the trip for Ishmael's family, could have been made during this lifting of the siege.

     Thus, the knowledge of Lehi's sons concerning Jeremiah's imprisonment places at least the escape of Ishmael's family (and maybe also the escape of Lehi) during the lifting of the siege, or in other words, between August 588 B.C.E. and April 587 B.C.E. [Randall Spackman, "An Introduction to Book of Mormon Chronology," F.A.R.M.S., pp. 10-11] [See Appendix A]


1 Nephi 7:14 And Jeremiah Have They Cast into Prison:


     Nephi made note of Jeremiah's incarceration (see 1 Nephi 7:14). According to David and JoAnn Seely, these observations raise an important question of whether Lehi and his family departed early in the reign of King Zedekiah . . . or whether the party left Jerusalem just before the final Babylonian conquest of the city. Randall Spackman has brought forward reasons for the later dating that are based largely on Nephi's reference to the imprisonment of Jeremiah (see 1 Nephi 7:14) and the fact that, according to Jeremiah's book, he went to prison in the tenth year of Zedekiah's rule, only months before the Babylonians captured the city (see Jeremiah 32:1-12; 37:15-16,21; 38:6-13,28).210 The book of Jeremiah is silent about Jeremiah's activities during the first year of Zedekiah's reign. If Jeremiah was imprisoned at the time, as suggested by the Book of Mormon (see 1 Nephi 7:14), we would not expect to find a reference to this imprisonment in the Bible. But two passages in Jeremiah's book may refer to earlier imprisonments. In 605 B.C., Jeremiah declared "I am shut up," referring to the fact that he was restricted from going into the temple area (Jeremiah 36:5). The Hebrew word he used ('atsur) is ambiguous. It can mean "imprisoned" or "in custody." In fact, it is the word in Jeremiah 33:1 that refers to his imprisonment. Later, in 601 B.C., Jeremiah was punished by being put in "the stocks" (Jeremiah 20:1-6). The Hebrew word used here is also not clear; some translations take it as meaning "imprisoned." Hence, Jeremiah's celebrated imprisonment just before the city fell to the Babylonians in 587 B.C. was not the only instance in which the prophet had been officially restrained.211 [David Rolph and JoAnn H. Seely, "Lehi & Jeremiah: Prophets, Priests & Patriarchs," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, FARMS, Vol 8, Num 2, 1999, p. 28] [For more information on the possible relationship between Jeremiah and Zedekiah, see the commentary on Omni 1:18]


1 Nephi 7:15 If Ye Will Return unto Jerusalem Ye Shall Also Perish:


     In view of Nephi's warning to Laman and Lemuel that "if ye will return unto Jerusalem ye shall also perish" (1 Nephi 7:15), it seems probable that at this time (while Nephi is returning to the valley of Lemuel with the family of Ishmael) that the destruction of Jerusalem had not fully taken place yet. [See Appendix A]


1 Nephi 7:16 They Sought to Take Away My Life, That They Might Leave Me in the Wilderness:


     According to Brant Gardner, whether intentional, by coincidence, or irony the story of Nephi continues to have remarkable parallels to his ancestor Joseph the son of Jacob. Like Joseph he is younger than his brothers. Like Joseph, he becomes rather unpopular with his older brothers, who in this instance appear to have the same designs upon Nephi as Joseph's brothers did on him. In this case, however, the outcome is different. Nephi will end up ruling in a foreign country just like Joseph, and Laman and Lemuel will seek to do that which Joseph's brothers intended to do before selling him to the Midianites--"they sought to take away [his] life that they might leave [him] in the wilderness" (1 Nephi 7:16).

     One might also pause to consider the parallels in Nephi's great covenant prayer and the resulting bursting of the bands: "O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound (1 Nephi 7:19). [Brant Gardner, "Brant Gardner's Page, Book of Mormon Commentary, http://www., pp. 7-9]

     Note* Many of the parallels between Nephi and Joseph of Old are implied in the patriarchal blessing of Nephi's brother Joseph (see the commentary on 2 Nephi 3). Readers should be aware that the patriarchal blessing of Nephi is missing. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


1 Nephi 7:16 They Sought to Take Away My Life, That They Might Leave Me in the Wilderness To Be Devoured by Wild Beasts:


     According to Hugh Nibley, Nephi's complaint, "they sought to take away my life, that they might leave me in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts" (1 Nephi 7:16) is ever in the mouth of the Arab poet, for to leave one's enemy lying in the desert to be devoured by wild beasts is standard and correct procedure when Arabs quarrel, and for all its popularity with the poets, no mere figure of speech. [Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, F.A.R.M.S., p. 46]


1 Nephi 7:16 They did bind me with cords (Illustration): "My brethren were angry with me . . . and they did bind me with cords, for they sought to take away my life, that they might leave me in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts," by A&OR. [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 1070]


1 Nephi 7:16 They sought to take away my life (Illustration): Brothers Try to Slay Nephi [Gary E. Smith, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 4]


1 Nephi 7:16 They Sought to Take Away My Life, That They Might Leave Me in the Wilderness to Be Devoured by Wild Beasts:


     George Potter notes that the Old English form of the word "wilderness" was wilddeoren, meaning "of wild beast." This is also descriptive of the region in which Nephi entered Arabia. This region was anciently called Midian. On their journey from Jerusalem to the valley of Lemuel with Ishmael and his family, Laman and Lemuel rebelled and turned upon their younger brother Nephi. The wounded and probably bleeding Nephi wrote, "they [my brethren] were angry with me. And it came to pass that they did lay their hands upon me, for behold, they were exceedingly wroth, and they did bind me with cords, for they sought to take away my life, that they might leave me in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts" (1 Nephi 7:16).

     The Greek Agatharkides of Cnidos wrote of the ancient land of Midian:

           There are many wild camels, many troops of stags and antelopes; also many flocks of sheep, and infinite herds of cattle and mules. Upon these gifts of fortune attends the nuisance that the earth breeds numbers of lions, wolves, and pards; and, that which makes the happiness of the land, causes unhappiness to its inhabitants."212


     Potter notes that the last lion in Arabia was killed in the region of Midian in 1926. [George Potter with Richard Wellington, Following the Words of Nephi: Part One: Discovering the Valley of Lemuel, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999, p. 14]


1 Nephi 7:16 That they might leave me in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts (Illustration): Inscriptions of palm trees, camels and lions (Mount Yatib, NW Arabia, Thamudic period first millennium BC). An Introduction to Saudi Arabian Antiquities, Dept. of Antiquities and Museums, Ministry of Education, 1975, p. 120). [George Potter with Richard Wellington, Following the Words of Nephi: Part One: Discovering the Valley of Lemuel, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999, p. 15]


1 Nephi 7:16 That They Might Leave Me in the Wilderness to Be Devoured by Wild Beasts:


     Cleon Skousen asserts that the three most ferocious types of desert animals during this early period were the lion, the leopard and the wolf. The lion was especially feared on the desert because these beasts came down out of the barren cliffs so hungry they would attack almost anything alive. The Arabs had such a fear of these predatory creatures that they had more than 400 words relating to the lion (Hastings Bible Dictionary under "lion"). [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 1071]


1 Nephi 7:19 One of the Daughters of Ishmael . . . Did Plead:


     As Hugh Nibley explains, all that saved Nephi's life while returning to the valley of Lemuel with Ishmael and his family was the pleading of a daughter of Ishmael (1 Nephi 7:19) and her mother -- another authentic touch, since the proud Semite may yield only to entreaties of a woman without losing face. [Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, F.A.R.M.S., p. 70]

     According to Nibley, this is a thing that no Arab under any circumstance can resist. If a mother or daughter from another tribe pleads, you are under obligation--even if it is your worst enemy. It's the chivalric oath. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p. 169]


1 Nephi 7:20 They Were Sorrowful . . . Insomuch That They Did Bow down before Me:


     In 1 Nephi 7:20 we find that after the brothers decided against leaving a bound Nephi in the wilderness, "they were sorrowful . . . insomuch that they did bow down before [Nephi]." Hugh Nibley asks, "Is this plausible?" They might well have given in after being mad and binding him up a little while before. But bowing down before him? According to [Arabic] custom, When you've done a serious wrong to someone, the only way to apologize is to bow down to them. Bowing down was an act of apology and not of submission. They were not bowing down in submission at all. They were still the older brothers, but they apologized for the wrong they had done. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p. 170]


1 Nephi 7:22 An Offering unto the Lord:


     We know that Lehi offered sacrifices in the valley of Lemuel ("an offering unto the Lord"--1 Nephi 2:7; "sacrifice and burnt offerings"--1 Nephi 8:9), but we are not told either what he sacrificed or where he obtained what he sacrificed. According to George Potter, the chances are very slim that he would have brought any clean animals with him into the wilderness, so if he did use animals for sacrifice he probably purchased them from local tribesmen, for these tribesmen certainly were there. Kent Brown notes that "in a desert clime all arable land and all water resources have claimants."213 How did Lehi acquire the right to camp in a valley that was controlled by a local tribe? We are not certain why the ruling tribe would have let Lehi camp in the valley, yet this was probably not a serious problem for Lehi. Lehi was a wealthy man, and though he left all his immovable gold and silver in Jerusalem or the land of his inheritance, he probably carried in his provision some form of currency. Since Lehi was not intending to be a long-term resident and had no flocks that would deplete the grazing lands, the tribute was moderate. It is even quite likely that Lehi's family could have on occasion exchanged their services to assist the local tribes. [George Potter with Richard Wellington, Following the Words of Nephi: Part One: Discovering the Valley of Lemuel, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999, p. 77]


1 Nephi 7:22 An offering unto the Lord (Altars) (Potter Theory) [Illustration]: Fig. 7.2 George Potter next to the altar that is lightly over waist high. Photograph taken by Bruce Santucci in Wadi Tayyib al-Ism (proposed Valley of Lemuel). [George Potter with Richard Wellington, Following the Words of Nephi: Part One: Discovering the Valley of Lemuel, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999, p. 137]


1 Nephi 7:22 An offering unto the Lord (Altars) (Potter Theory) [Illustration]: Fig 7.3 Altar position on the top of the hill immediately above the circle next to the east grove. (Bruce Santucci sitting next to the altar). Photograph taken by George Potter in Wadi Tayyib al-Ism (proposed Valley of Lemuel). [George Potter with Richard Wellington, Following the Words of Nephi: Part One: Discovering the Valley of Lemuel, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999, p. 137]


1 Nephi 7:22 An offering unto the Lord (Altars) (Potter Theory) [Illustration]: Second pile of stones atop a mountain that appears to have been an altar. Photo by George Potter in Wadi Tayyib al-Ism (proposed Valley of Lemuel). [George Potter with Richard Wellington, Following the Words of Nephi: Part One: Discovering the Valley of Lemuel, Unpublished Manuscript, 1999, p. 139]


1 Nephi 7:22 They Did Offer Sacrifice and Burnt Offerings:


     According to Kent Brown, when Lehi's family initially set up its base camp not far from the Red Sea (1 Nephi 2:5-6), Lehi "built an altar of stones" and thereafter "made an offering . . . and gave thanks unto the Lord (1 Nephi 2:7). On two subsequent occasions, Lehi's party not only gave "thanks unto . . . God," but offered "sacrifice and burnt offerings" (1 Nephi 5:9; 1 Nephi 7:22). Each set of offerings came after the return of Lehi's sons from extended trips back to Jerusalem. . . . One might wonder, why were burnt offerings made on the two later occasions and not at first? What was the difference?

     The difference is the presence of sin, real or perceived. In each of the three instances--the family's arriving at the base camp, the return of the sons with the brass plates, and their later return with Ishmael's family--the common factors are a safe journey and the subsequent giving of thanks. We then ask, How much do these observations tell us about the sacrifices? A lot.

     For a safe journey, according to Psalm 107, a person was to "sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving" (Psalm 107:22) for safety in travel, whether through the desert or on water (Psalm 107:4-6, 19-30). What were those "sacrifices of thanksgiving"? They consisted of peace offerings, known from Leviticus 3. . . . The sacrifice itself was to be an animal--either "male or female" in this case--from the flock or herd (Leviticus 3:1,6,12), accompanied by unleavened baked goods (Leviticus 7:12-13). Peace offerings were "the most common type of sacrifice," an offering accompanied by a "covenant meal" in which worshipers enjoyed "fellowship with one another and their God." Truly such occasions were to be a time of rejoicing. . . .

     We now turn to the need for the burnt offerings. Why, one may ask, did Lehi offer this other kind of sacrifice? In response we note that according to Leviticus 1, a burnt offering was made for atonement--and more specifically, purging--after one had committed sin. . . . In the ceremony of the burnt offering, before slaughtering the sacrificial animal, the petitioner placed a "hand upon the head of the burnt offering" (Leviticus 1:4), thus transferring guilt to the animal.214 . . .

     In the trip of Lehi's sons back to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass, one does not need to look far to find sin. . . . While some of these sinful occurrences may seem mild, involving complaints and a family scuffle, another one was not, for it involved what some might have considered a homicide. Nephi killed Laban (1 Nephi 4:4-18), creating a need for sacrifice. . . . Although the Lord clearly placed Laban among "the wicked" (1 Nephi 4:13) and although Nephi knew Laban's failings because "he had sought to take away [Nephi's] life" and "also had taken away our property" (1 Nephi 4:11), Nephi "shrunk and would that I might not slay" Laban (1 Nephi 4:10). In the end, however, Nephi "did obey the voice of the Spirit, and . . . I smote off [Laban's] head with his own sword" (1 Nephi 4:18), thus creating the deepest need for Lehi to "offer . . . burnt offerings unto the Lord" to purge any vestiges of uncleanness that might have clung to Nephi (1 Nephi 5:9). It might be noted here that even though laws existed that would protect Nephi until he received a fair hearing, as Reynolds points out,215 the killing of Laban potentially brought sin within Lehi's camp.

     The second time that Lehi sacrificed burnt offerings came after the return of his sons with the family of Ishmael (1 Nephi 7:3-22). Where was the sin? . . . Nephi, not shy in expressing his feelings about his brothers' "rebellion," became embroiled in a heated exchange of words that eventually provoked his angry brothers into tying him up "with cords" so "that they might leave [him] in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts" (1 Nephi 7:7,16). . . . Even though Nephi "did frankly forgive them all that they had done" (1 Nephi 7:21), there still remained the necessity to purge their sin from themselves. . . As a result, after the party reached the camp Lehi found it necessary to "offer . . . burnt offerings" to the Lord (1 Nephi 7:22).

     Thus, the three recorded occasions of Lehi offering sacrifices, when measured against sacrificial law in the Bible, become immediately understandable in light of the family's situation. When Lehi "made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks" (1 Nephi 2:7; 1 Nephi 5:9; 1 Nephi 7:22), he was sacrificing a peace offering which served as a thanksgiving for safety in travel, whether for oneself or for others. In each instance, members of the family had safely completed a long journey. When he offered "burnt offerings unto the Lord" (1 Nephi 5;9; 1 Nephi 7:22), Lehi was bringing to the altar sacrifices that would atone for sin, sin that would stain the camp and those within it. And in each case, one can readily detect sin in the prior behavior of family members, whether it took the form of complaining, family jousts, or the taking of human life. Here, Lehi sought to free his extended family from the taint of unworthiness so that he and they would be able to carry out the purposes of the Lord. [S. Kent Brown, "What Were Those Sacrifices Offered by Lehi?" in From Jerusalem to Zarahemla: Literary and Historical Studies of the Book of Mormon, pp. 1-8]


1 Nephi 7:22 They Did Offer Sacrifice and [Offer] Burnt Offerings:


     The word "offer" was omitted on the Printers Manuscript in the process of copying from the Original Manuscript and has never been printed in any edition. Restoring this word provides another example of the Hebrew cognate accusative form ("offer an offering"). [Zarahemla Research Foundation, Study Book of Mormon, p. 16]