1 Nephi 16:36-37 — LeGrand Baker — “they were desirous to return again to Jerusalem”

1 Nephi 16:36-37

36 And thus they did murmur against my father, and also against me; and they were desirous to return again to Jerusalem.
37 And Laman said unto Lemuel and also unto the sons of Ishmael: Behold, let us slay our father, and also our brother Nephi, who has taken it upon him to be our ruler and our teacher, who are his elder brethren.

Laman’s motives may have been more complex than a simple desire to return to Jerusalem. He was the oldest son—his was the legal birthright. As long as his father lived, Laman had to obey him, and could not claim his rightful inheritance. His father listened to Nephi, and between them they had determined to go on this seemingly absurd journey. Ishmael was now dead, so his sons could also inherit if they were to return to the city and their estates. If Lehi and Nephi were dead, then Laman and the others could return and claim the wealth of which they had been deprived. The rationale seemed simple enough, and there were none to challenge either its execution or its intended outcome.

Laman’s argument took into account all the miraculous things they had experienced, but claimed they were performed by “cunning arts,” and therefore were of no real consequence. However, the Lord had promised Lehi and Nephi that they would have the power to fulfill their assignments, just as he made that promise to each of us.{1} Now, as Lehi’s sons and sons-in-law plot his assassination, the Lord himself asserted his power to fulfill his covenants with his prophets and to help them fulfill theirs.


{1} For a discussion of the “covenant of invulnerability” see Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, first edition, 285-89; second edition, 201-04.

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