1 Nephi 18:4-6 — LeGrand Baker — “we did go down into the ship”

1 Nephi 18:4-6 

4 And it came to pass that after I had finished the ship, according to the word of the Lord, my brethren beheld that it was good, and that the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine; wherefore, they did humble themselves again before the Lord.
5 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came unto my father, that we should arise and go down into the ship.
6 And it came to pass that on the morrow, after we had prepared all things, much fruits and meat from the wilderness, and honey in abundance, and provisions according to that which the Lord had commanded us, we did go down into the ship, with all our loading and our seeds, and whatsoever thing we had brought with us, every one according to his age; wherefore, we did all go down into the ship, with our wives and our children.

It is significant that Nephi, under whose direction the ship had been built, did not go aboard first and then welcome everyone else as they came on. Neither did each person just casually get on the ship when it was ready. Rather, as Eldin Ricks has pointed out, their going aboard the ship was a formal, even ceremonial event that not only gave honor to their parents but also acknowledged the older, wayward sons as having birthright superiority to Nephi and Sam. Ricks wrote:

It was a sacred moment and a breathlessly exciting one. After years of overland travel they were now actually going to brave the timeless challenge of the seas. It was their final great test of faith, and they were ready for the test. For reasons not apparent to one reared in a western tradition, they seem to have sought expression for the dignity and solemnity of the occasion by forming a ceremonial procession and filing aboard their ship according to the ancient patriarchal order. Nephi’s allusion to the detail marks the outcropping of a Hebrew custom at a point in the narrative where we least expected it.{1}


{1} Eldin Ricks, Book of Mormon Commentary, Volume 1, Comprising the Complete Text of The First Book of Nephi with Explanatory Notes (Salt Lake City, Deseret News Press, 1953), 217.

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