1 Nephi 18:8-10 — LeGrand Baker — “ we did put forth into the sea”

1 Nephi 18:8-10  

8 And it came to pass after we had all gone down into the ship, and had taken with us our provisions and things which had been commanded us, we did put forth into the sea and were driven forth before the wind towards the promised land.
9 And after we had been driven forth before the wind for the space of many days, behold, my brethren and the sons of Ishmael and also their wives began to make themselves merry, insomuch that they began to dance, and to sing, and to speak with much rudeness, yea, even that they did forget by what power they had been brought thither; yea, they were lifted up unto exceeding rudeness.
10 And I, Nephi, began to fear exceedingly lest the Lord should be angry with us, and smite us because of our iniquity, that we should be swallowed up in the depths of the sea; wherefore, I, Nephi, began to speak to them with much soberness; but behold they were angry with me, saying: We will not that our younger brother shall be a ruler over us.

Singing and dancing were part of ancient ceremonial rejoicing rituals. While such activities may not have been a problem at first, they soon got out of hand. Nephi seems to be saying that it got progressively worse, as he reports, “and to speak with much rudeness…yea, they were lifted up unto exceeding rudeness.” Ricks quotes Sjodahl to suggest that at least some of the dancing may have been legitimate. He wrote,

There is a French translation by Brasseur de Bourbourg of a Mexican tradition that runs as follows: “Here is the beginning of the accounts of the arrival of the Mexicans from the place named Aztlan. It was through the midst of the water that they made their way to this locality, being four tribes. And in coming they were rowing in their ships.” Bourbourg, who records this tradition in his Ancient Monuments of Mexico, explains that the word in the original language that he translated “rowing” actually is the native word for “dancing.” But because he could make no sense out of “dancing” in reference to ships he had translated it “rowing.”{1}

However the dancing aboard ship may have begun, its eventual rudeness convinced Nephi that it had to be stopped, and he stepped in with his usual determination to stop it.

Ricks suggests that their anger was more than frustration over their younger brother’s trying to ruin their party. But it was a deepseated, pent up resentment and a reminder that the angel had once told them, “Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities?” (1 Nephi 3:29) Ricks wrote,

Nephi had meant no offense, but the more clearly Laman and Lemuel realized that they were really headed for a new land the more they resented any reminder of the prophecy that their younger brother would one day rule over them (See also 2:22; 3:29; 16:37.)”{2}

The brothers did not simply toss him into the water, but rather they tied him up and exercised complete dominance over him. Probably they taunted him as they made him watch the frolics of their rudeness.

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FOOTNOTES

{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), 218-19. His quote is from,
Janne M. Sjodahl, “Commentary on the First Book of Nephi” (unpublished manuscript), 430.
Italics in original.

{2} 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), 219.
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