1 Nephi Chapter 2


thekabalist

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Here's chapter 2 of 1st Nephi. Please tell me if that's being useful. :)

1 For behold, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto my father, yea, even in a dream, and said unto him: Blessed art thou Lehi, because of the things which thou hast done; and because thou hast been faithful and declared unto this people the things which I commanded thee, behold, they seek to take away thy life.

2 And it came to pass that the Lord acommanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.

The biblical Hebrew for wilderness is the word מדבר (midbar) which can also be understood as "medaber" which means "I speak". The wilderness in Jewish tradition also represents a spiritual state of emptying oneself from the values of this world so as to learn the way of G-d. Thus, this marks the beginning of the spiritual journey of Lehi in which G-d would teach him His ways.

3 And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.

To hear and obey: There is a word-play here in Hebrew. The verb "שמה" (shemah) can either mean to hear or to obey. This is why the idea is that Lehi obeyed the word.

The word of the Lord: The account of Nephi is most certainly a targum (translation) much in the tradition of the scribes. In such translations it was often common to translate as "word of the Lord" the instances where G-d acted antropomorphically. An israelite reading Nephi's account could very well have understood it to mean that G-d appeared to Lehi as a man much like to Abraham.

4 And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.

This reinforces the idea that the call into the wilderness was a fresh start proposed by G-d to Lehi.

5 And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers, who were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.

Name etymology: Sariah most likely is a contracted form of יה שרה (sarah Yah) which means "princess of Yah".

Laman likely comes from "לאמן" (l'aman) which means "unto the master".

Lemuel (למואל) is a Hebrew name which means dedicated to G-d.

Sam could either be סם and mean 'perfume' or שם (Sham) and mean "this place".

The Sea: The Red Sea is called in Hebrew the סופ ים (Yam Suf). Two important pieces of information shed light into such a calling.

Firstly, in ancient Kabbalah the sea was understood as the "concealed world" which is a term referring to the spiritual reality. Just like in the sea there is life but it is concealed so is the spirit world. An approach towards the sea would mean that now that Lehi had emptied himself from the secular cares of his society and chosen to follow the voice of G-d, he was ready to be shown a greater spiritual reality.

The Zohar says: "Just as there is a physical sea, there is a higher, spiritual sea. Ships traverse that spiritual sea, rising and descending"

The End: The word סופ (Suf) can also be read "Sof" which means "ending". This represents that the passing unto a greater spiritual reality would mean for Lehi the end of his life as he knew it and the beginning of a new life since the waters also represent the beginning of life.

In ancient Kabbalah, the "Yam Suf" also represents the limits of this physical world. Lehi was therefore beginning his journey into the heavens.

6 And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water.

Spiritual maturity: The number three is no coincidence. In Judaism it is associated with the letter ג (gimel) which also means to wean or to ripen. Lehi was therefore being taken into a journey of spiritual maturity before he could reach G-d's destination.

Bearing fruit: The number 3 is also associated with being fruitful, as the fruit of the earth grew on the 3rd day of creation. It is equally not coincident that Lehi is called to bear fruit in the wilderness, a barren place. In ancient Judaism this would have been understood as a call to bear fruit in a generation where the fruits of G-d had been forgotten.

7 And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.

In Hebrew every word has a numeric value. The expression "altar of stones" in Hebrew is אבנים מזבח (mizbach avanim) has a numeric value of 160, which is the same numeric value as the word ץע (etz) which means tree. This continues the theme of bearing fruit displayed in the verse above. Lehi recognizes that G-d is the source that will make the barren land (represented by the stones) fruitful again.

8 And it came to pass that he called the name of the river, Laman, and it emptied into the Red Sea; and the valley was in the borders near the mouth thereof.

9 And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!

10 And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, afirm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!

It was very usual for the ancient israelite society to give blessings unto their children that would be metaphors of natural phenomena. The greatest example of this is in Gn. 49.

11 Now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did murmur in many things against their father, because he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness. And this they said he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart.

One may find it odd that Lehi tried to quiet down the resistence of Laman and Lemuel by blessing them, but this would have been perfectly normal in an ancient israelite society. It was believed that the words of a father would have a profound impact upon the lives of his sons. Therefore if they were afraid that they would not have prosperity now that they had fled Jerusalem, Lehi tried to assure them that the Lord would guide their ways.

12 And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had dcreated them.

The mention of Lemuel as the eldest seems at first to be out of place in the sentence. However when one understands that in an ancient israelite society the eldest son would have the greatest inheritance of his father this explains why Nephi was surprised. How could Lemuel having the rights to most of his fathers possessions still find a place in his heart to murmur? Or perhaps Nephi was describing that Lemuel having the most to lose was the first to complain.

13 Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets. And they were like unto the Jews who were at Jerusalem, who sought to take away the life of my father.

14 And it came to pass that my father did speak unto them in the valley of Lemuel, with power, being filled with the Spirit, until their frames did shake before him. And he did confound them, that they durst not utter against him; wherefore, they did as he commanded them.

15 And my father dwelt in a tent.

The sacrifice in the altar and Lehi dwelling in a tent suggests that he could have been celebrating the feast of tabernacles. This feast is also associated with bearing fruit - see Lv. 23:34-40. The main theme of this feast is that we give up our comfort and rely upon G-d for our sustenance. This matches the theme of the Hebrew in this chapter.

It is also important to notice that this feast happens in a period of time when it's fall in Jerusalem and is about the time when it starts to rain heavily.

Also consider the fact that this was a feast in which there were pilgrims coming to Jerusalem. Nobody would normally flee Jerusalem at this time. By leaving Jerusalem at this time Lehi was making a very bold statement that the Shehinah-Presence of G-d was no longer dwelling in the holy city.

This shows the boldness of Lehi: Fleeing Jerusalem right before the great feast and taking his odds in a journey during the pouring of heavy rains. This explains why those who had not been touched by the Spirit of G-d would have thought him to be out of his mind.

16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did delieve all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.

It is interesting to notice how Nephi's physical attributes match the etymology of his name. In Judaism it's believed that one's spiritual name has a profound impact upon their lives.

17 And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit. And it came to pass that he believed in my words.

18 But, behold, Laman and Lemuel would not hearken unto my words; and being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts I cried unto the Lord for them.

19 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.

Here we see a feature of Hebrew poetry called antithetic parallelism. Nephi was tall in stature but lowly in his heart.

20 And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.

21 And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee, they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.

22 And inasmuch as thou shalt keep my commandments, thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy brethren.

In Hebrew tradition, a ruler would be associated with kingship. A teacher would be associated with the priesthood. Could it be that Nephi was promised with some kind of spiritual royal-priesthood?

23 For behold, in that day that they shall rebel against me, I will curse them even with a sore curse, and they shall have no power over thy seed except they shall rebel against me also.

24 And if it so be that they rebel against me, they shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in the ways of remembrance.

There's a word-play here between the word seed זרע (zerah - seed) and the root זכר (zachar - remember).

Edited by thekabalist
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In Hebrew tradition, a ruler would be associated with kingship. A teacher would be associated with the priesthood. Could it be that Nephi was promised with some kind of spiritual royal-priesthood?

We do believe that Nephi was a Prophet of God. That he was promised great blessings for his faith in God and his willingness to follow Him.

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I find it interesting how you find the wordplays in hebrew in the English text. This is also something Dr. Shirts talks about. Ant our opponents say JS found them out and all the kiasms and every hebrew thing himself by just reading the Bible... a man whose wife complained, that he could not even write a deacant letter without help. And to my suprise he red the Bible so well, that he did not even know Jerusalem had walls... :P

Thank you, this information you give us is really interesting.

Your spiritual explanations are very understandable to us. I love that about wilderness. There are so many parables in these writtings and I dont think we understand them as well as a jew would understand.

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........

5 And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers, who were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.

........

8 And it came to pass that he called the name of the river, Laman, and it emptied into the Red Sea; and the valley was in the borders near the mouth thereof.

9 And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!

.......

One of my friends in travel is Arabic from the Persian Gulf area. He informed me that the particular use of the term borders is significant and an accurate description still used today to describe that area. Mountains lined up in a row are called an Arabic term, that translates into English as borders. The fact that Nephi’s reference is plural means that there is more than one row in the mountains. This fits the description of the area. Down in verse 9 there is reference to a river the flows into the Red Sea – I am told that there is only one place along the entire eastern shore line to the Red Sea where a river flows year round and that it does not always flow year round every year – during times of heavy drought the river can dry up. There are many critics that claim that the Book of Mormon is not historical or geographically accurate. These verses prove such criticism incorrect and inaccurate.

Also interesting is that our friend thekabalist tells us that when the family of Lehi first arrives at a rainy season. This is interesting because the river is described as both a dangerous dirty torrent washing away the unwary into a watery grave and also a gentle source of pure water. During a season of heavy rain the river could be transformed. We experience this same kind of thing a couple of springs ago when the Virgin River flooded during heavy spring rain and washed away some houses that were more than a hundred feet away up a steep embankment.

The Traveler

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  • 3 weeks later...

My comments:

3. Interesting. Really interesting.. as a man…

There lies a great wisdom in it that the leaders of the Church are well doing people who have no “earthly problems” like how to feed the family next month…. I sometimes think that if you do not have those earthly problems you can be totally in Gods work and his tool. If I did not have my fear for future and where am I going to get my income from I could more fully do His work.

Really interesting and this opens so many interesting themes from Judaism.

I agree that it was a good time for Lehi to leave when no one would even think of coming after him because of the religious happening.

You sat that possibly Laman and Lemuel did not want their kids to be priests. I think that was an interesting point of view. I also wonder if Lehi and Nefi did already have the Melkesedic priesthood? They were not Levites so how could Laaman and Lemuel be priests unless it was Melkesedic priesthood? Just an interesting tought.

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15 And my father dwelt in a tent.

The sacrifice in the altar and Lehi dwelling in a tent suggests that he could have been celebrating the feast of tabernacles. This feast is also associated with bearing fruit - see Lv. 23:34-40. The main theme of this feast is that we give up our comfort and rely upon G-d for our sustenance. This matches the theme of the Hebrew in this chapter.

It is also important to notice that this feast happens in a period of time when it's fall in Jerusalem and is about the time when it starts to rain heavily.

Also consider the fact that this was a feast in which there were pilgrims coming to Jerusalem. Nobody would normally flee Jerusalem at this time. By leaving Jerusalem at this time Lehi was making a very bold statement that the Shehinah-Presence of G-d was no longer dwelling in the holy city.

This shows the boldness of Lehi: Fleeing Jerusalem right before the great feast and taking his odds in a journey during the pouring of heavy rains. This explains why those who had not been touched by the Spirit of G-d would have thought him to be out of his mind.

I thought this particular insight was very interesting. In your other commentaries, you find other evidences, in addition to this, that this was occurring during the feast of tabernacles.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with another Jew when I used to frequent a different discussion forum a few years ago. I think he was pretty much an atheist, and had a few harsh things to say about Judaism as well as Mormonism, so I don't put a lot of faith in his criticism from a "Jewish" perspective. However, one of the criticisms he had, was that there was not a lot of evidence in the BoM that the Lehites celebrated special occasions, like the feast of tabernacles. To him this was an indication that the text was a fraud. Granted, he really did not spend a lot of time objectively studying the BoM, but I think your commentary would interest him.

I also wonder if another occasion, later in the narrative, was also during the feast of tabernacles. I don't want to spoil the story, but the people of Nephi eventually build a temple in America, like the Temple of Solomon, and the king at that time called his people together. You will eventually get there, but here is what I am referring to:

1 And it came to pass that after Mosiah had done as his father had commanded him, and had made a proclamation throughout all the land, that the people gathered themselves together throughout all the land, that they might go up to the temple to hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them.

2 And there were a great number, even so many that they did not number them; for they had multiplied exceedingly and waxed great in the land.

3 And they also took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses;

4 And also that they might give thanks to the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, and who had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and had appointed just men to be their teachers, and also a just man to be their king, who had established peace in the land of Zarahemla, and who had taught them to keep the commandments of God, that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men.

5 And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every man according to his family, consisting of his wife, and his sons, and his daughters, and their sons, and their daughters, from the eldest down to the youngest, every family being separate one from another.

6 And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them; (Mosiah 2:1-6)

Do you see anything in that occurrence that might indicate that this was during the feast of tabernacles as well?

Regards,

Vanhin

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My comments:

3. Interesting. Really interesting.. as a man…

There lies a great wisdom in it that the leaders of the Church are well doing people who have no “earthly problems” like how to feed the family next month…. I sometimes think that if you do not have those earthly problems you can be totally in Gods work and his tool. If I did not have my fear for future and where am I going to get my income from I could more fully do His work.

Really interesting and this opens so many interesting themes from Judaism.

I agree that it was a good time for Lehi to leave when no one would even think of coming after him because of the religious happening.

You sat that possibly Laman and Lemuel did not want their kids to be priests. I think that was an interesting point of view. I also wonder if Lehi and Nefi did already have the Melkesedic priesthood? They were not Levites so how could Laaman and Lemuel be priests unless it was Melkesedic priesthood? Just an interesting tought.

Maya,

I wouldn't call this the Melchizedek priesthood as this is a concept that is not very present in Judaism. But if you look at the Torah you will see that the firstborns were destined to be priests even before Levi. We believe that this was the case of the Patriarchs. I can see a scenario in which you would return to status quo in that situation if needed.

b'shalom!

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6 And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them; (Mosiah 2:1-6)

Do you see anything in that occurrence that might indicate that this was during the feast of tabernacles as well?

Regards,

Vanhin

Vanhin,

Yes by all means yes. This is exactly what would happen around Jerusalem during the feast of tabernacles. Not only that but the feast of tabernacles is also known as the feast of dedication of the Temple. See 1st Kings 8.

b'shalom!

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Maya,

I wouldn't call this the Melchizedek priesthood as this is a concept that is not very present in Judaism. But if you look at the Torah you will see that the firstborns were destined to be priests even before Levi. We believe that this was the case of the Patriarchs. I can see a scenario in which you would return to status quo in that situation if needed.

b'shalom!

Thanks.. I did not know that... sounds reasonabe.

Btw.. I preorder the book :D

This is not just reading this is a spiritual journey...

Edited by Maya
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Maya,

I wouldn't call this the Melchizedek priesthood as this is a concept that is not very present in Judaism. But if you look at the Torah you will see that the firstborns were destined to be priests even before Levi. We believe that this was the case of the Patriarchs. I can see a scenario in which you would return to status quo in that situation if needed.

b'shalom!

That is quite interesting. In Mormonism, the priesthood of the patriarchs was the same as the priesthood of Melchizedek, and the Church also recognizes the Levitical order. However, before the days of Melchizedek, it was known, as the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.

1 THERE are, in the church, two priesthoods, namely, the Melchizedek and Aaronic, including the Levitical Priesthood.

2 Why the first is called the Melchizedek Priesthood is because Melchizedek was such a great high priest.

3 Before his day it was called the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.

4 But out of respect or reverence to the name of the Supreme Being, to avoid the too frequent repetition of his name, they, the church, in ancient days, called that priesthood after Melchizedek, or the Melchizedek Priesthood.

5 All other authorities or offices in the church are appendages to this priesthood. (D&C 107:1-5)

We believe the patriarchs and prophets, including Moses, held this priesthood. For more on this topic from an LDS perspective, see Guide to the Scriptures: Melchizedek Priesthood.

Regards,

Vanhin

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  • 1 month later...

TheKabalist:

The End: The word סופ (Suf) can also be read "Sof" which means "ending". This represents that the passing unto a greater spiritual reality would mean for Lehi the end of his life as he knew it and the beginning of a new life since the waters also represent the beginning of life.

In ancient Kabbalah, the "Yam Suf" also represents the limits of this physical world. Lehi was therefore beginning his journey into the heavens.

6 And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water.

Spiritual maturity: The number three is no coincidence. In Judaism it is associated with the letter ג (gimel) which also means to wean or to ripen. Lehi was therefore being taken into a journey of spiritual maturity before he could reach G-d's destination.

Bearing fruit: The number 3 is also associated with being fruitful, as the fruit of the earth grew on the 3rd day of creation. It is equally not coincident that Lehi is called to bear fruit in the wilderness, a barren place. In ancient Judaism this would have been understood as a call to bear fruit in a generation where the fruits of G-d had been forgotten.

7 And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.

In Hebrew every word has a numeric value. The expression "altar of stones" in Hebrew is אבנים מזבח (mizbach avanim) has a numeric value of 160, which is the same numeric value as the word ץע (etz) which means tree. This continues the theme of bearing fruit displayed in the verse above. Lehi recognizes that G-d is the source that will make the barren land (represented by the stones) fruitful again.

Kerry:

I like this very much! Great insights......... For whatever reason, gematria has fascinated me for years. I am enjoying your ideas, please do keep sharing. We have LOTS to talk about. We may not always agree, and I don't want you to take it personally, but we have lots to learn together.

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Hey Kabalist.....I also found that another Hebrew word for a rock, or stone (samech, lamed, ayin) is 160. Isn't it interesting that the Hebrew word Tzelem also = 160.... anyway, I shall look more into this as well. Give us more gematria man, this is incredibly fun to see and read.

:huh: ok what ever you guys say... I need to find out about gematria... this is going WAY over my head... :rolleyes: Anyone else needing some gematria lessons?

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