Phineas

Nephi’s bow.

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I always found this to be a very odd story to include in the Book of Mormon.  It’s so mundane.  Nephi’s bow breaks.  Everybody is upset.  Nephi makes another one.  Problem solved.  Maybe somebody can explain to me why I should care about this story.   
 

Also, on my recent reading of the story,  I noticed something even more strange.  Other people had bows too.  Nephi’s bow wasn’t the only one.  Why was it such a big deal that Nephi’s bow broke?
 

 

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There are lots of discussions, blogs, manuals etc. that discuss and theorize what we are supposed to learn from the story, but to me the moral of the story is clear.

The moral of the story is to quit complaining about trials that you can fix yourself by doing something.  The bow broke.  Everyone else complained.  Nephi made a new bow.  Problem solved.

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1 hour ago, Scott said:

There are lots of discussions, blogs, manuals etc. that discuss and theorize what we are supposed to learn from the story, but to me the moral of the story is clear.

The moral of the story is to quit complaining about trials that you can fix yourself by doing something.  The bow broke.  Everyone else complained.  Nephi made a new bow.  Problem solved.

Works for me.

Edited by Phineas

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6 hours ago, Phineas said:

 

Also, on my recent reading of the story,  I noticed something even more strange.  Other people had bows too.  Nephi’s bow wasn’t the only one.  Why was it such a big deal that Nephi’s bow broke?
 

 

The other bows had lost their springs.

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6 hours ago, Phineas said:

I always found this to be a very odd story to include in the Book of Mormon.  It’s so mundane.  Nephi’s bow breaks.  Everybody is upset.  Nephi makes another one.  Problem solved.  Maybe somebody can explain to me why I should care about this story.   

Also, on my recent reading of the story,  I noticed something even more strange.  Other people had bows too.  Nephi’s bow wasn’t the only one.  Why was it such a big deal that Nephi’s bow broke?

One idea of many: The bow is an ancient symbol of the covenant with God. If the those closest to Christ break their covenants, we have an apostasy. Then if they seek the Lord in faith, the covenant can be restored.

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6 hours ago, Scott said:

There are lots of discussions, blogs, manuals etc. that discuss and theorize what we are supposed to learn from the story, but to me the moral of the story is clear.

The moral of the story is to quit complaining about trials that you can fix yourself by doing something.  The bow broke.  Everyone else complained.  Nephi made a new bow.  Problem solved.

1) their bows had all lost their spring (1 Nephi 16:21)

2) A friend once told me their is some scriptural significance to breaking a steel bow. Not sure what it is though

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Nephi is writing this twenty years after the fact.  His people have fractured over the issue of whose right it is to rule.  Nephi’s record should to some degree be regarded as propaganda, intended to justify to later generations why he and not Laman or Lemuel was the rightful ruler.  Over and over again he chooses anecdotes wherein his brothers choke at the moments when they should have shown leadership, requiring himself (Nephi) to step up to the plate. (That doesn’t mean his narrative is false; just that his choice of what to include and what to omit relates back to the thesis he is trying to establish.)

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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10 hours ago, Phineas said:

I always found this to be a very odd story to include in the Book of Mormon.  It’s so mundane.  Nephi’s bow breaks.  Everybody is upset.  Nephi makes another one.  Problem solved.  Maybe somebody can explain to me why I should care about this story.   
......

Often in life we face problems well outside our wheelhouse.  Making an effective bow to support a rather large group is not a trivial task.  Without the particular skills many give up - or they pray for a solution that involves someone showing up to save the day.  Sometimes people will even get upset when no one (or not enough) shows up to solve their problem or fix whatever we think is wrong.  How often have I been in someone's home when a child looks at food provided and says they do not want to eat "that"  - so parents provide something else - teaching an entire  generation two things.  #1 a lack of thankfulness for blessings we have (aka Lamen and Lemule)  #2 learning to deal with our own issues rather than expecting someone to solve our problems.

 

The Traveler

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10 hours ago, Phineas said:

I always found this to be a very odd story to include in the Book of Mormon.  It’s so mundane.  Nephi’s bow breaks.  Everybody is upset.  Nephi makes another one.  Problem solved.  Maybe somebody can explain to me why I should care about this story. 

Also, on my recent reading of the story,  I noticed something even more strange.  Other people had bows too.  Nephi’s bow wasn’t the only one.  Why was it such a big deal that Nephi’s bow broke?

It was a huge deal, though it could not have been completely unexpected. Everyone who uses bows knows that they eventually wear out. Perhaps Nephi and the others believed that as long as they would remain faithful, God would suspend trials such as the results of metal fatigue. But God did not.

The Lehites were not eating fresh vegetables gathered at their latest overnight camping spot in the desert. They were not feasting on the quail that flocked around their camp. They didn't gather manna every morning. The Lehites ate meat, mostly raw, and that meat came from hunting. Their bows were by this time quite old and well-used, and the wooden bows would surely have begun losing their stiffness. Nephi apparently had a fine steel bow, in my mind because he had likely been apprenticed to a metalsmith. I expect it was only the limbs of the bow that were metal, with a wooden handle, but however that was, every time Nephi used the bow he introduced stress that strained the metal grain. Over many tens or hundreds of thousands of uses, this induced fine cracks of metal fatigue into the bow, until it finally failed.

Making a bow is no mean feat. Making a bow while you are in the middle of a desert is much harder still. Not a lot of yew wood lying about. Note also that the bow and arrow must be well-matched; a heavy bolt such as one might use with a metal bow, one with great killing power and high accuracy, will be useless when mated with a handmade bow of whatever wood you managed to find lying around in a dry wash. And remember, after you cobble together the materials and manage to produce a bow and an arrow, you have to successfully use them to kill animals, or your family dies.

Nephi's bow breakage was a very big deal. In retrospect, maybe Lehi could have sent his sons to buy a dozen high-quality bows before they left Jerusalem permanently. 20/20 hindsight.

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11 hours ago, Phineas said:

 Maybe somebody can explain to me why I should care about this story.  

The Book of Mormon writers often let us know how they would choose the best parts, the good parts, of their history that were pleasing unto God, not unto the world. Mormon who abridged the work says from "all" the records he read how he chose the parts that were also pleasing unto him and unto God.  He specifically mentions the prophecies, one of which being Nephi would rule over and teach his brethren. So, the Lord inspired Mormon to make sure this story was in the Book of Mormon.

Have you inquired of the Lord, studied, as to why the Lord wanted this chapter in the Book of Mormon?

I find this story to be one of the more remarkable stories of the Book of Mormon. There are many principles, teachings, prophecies fulfilled by this chapter.

Edited by Anddenex

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21 minutes ago, Vort said:

It was a huge deal, though it could not have been completely unexpected. Everyone who uses bows knows that they eventually wear out. Perhaps Nephi and the others believed that as long as they would remain faithful, God would suspend trials such as the results of metal fatigue. But God did not.

The Lehites were not eating fresh vegetables gathered at their latest overnight camping spot in the desert. They were not feasting on the quail that flocked around their camp. They didn't gather manna every morning. The Lehites ate meat, mostly raw, and that meat came from hunting. Their bows were by this time quite old and well-used, and the wooden bows would surely have begun losing their stiffness. Nephi apparently had a fine steel bow, in my mind because he had likely been apprenticed to a metalsmith. I expect it was only the limbs of the bow that were metal, with a wooden handle, but however that was, every time Nephi used the bow he introduced stress that strained the metal grain. Over many tens or hundreds of thousands of uses, this induced fine cracks of metal fatigue into the bow, until it finally failed.

Making a bow is no mean feat. Making a bow while you are in the middle of a desert is much harder still. Not a lot of yew wood lying about. Note also that the bow and arrow must be well-matched; a heavy bolt such as one might use with a metal bow, one with great killing power and high accuracy, will be useless when mated with a handmade bow of whatever wood you managed to find lying around in a dry wash. And remember, after you cobble together the materials and manage to produce a bow and an arrow, you have to successfully use them to kill animals, or your family dies.

Nephi's bow breakage was a very big deal. In retrospect, maybe Lehi could have sent his sons to buy a dozen high-quality bows before they left Jerusalem permanently. 20/20 hindsight.

I like your general insight - especially of spiritual note.  But perhaps I could add something.  The area that the Lehites were in at the time of the bow incident was called the "more fertile" part of the land.  The landscape was able to provide a hardwood capable of bow construction.  This would be a more forested than desert landscape and would be more conducive to hunting than gathering (as you sort of suggested).  There are not a lot of places in Saudi Arabia that can provide quality wood for bows - but there is such a place in the western mountains - which even today are called borders and "more fertile" part of that particular area.  Something that Joseph (or anyone in the Americas) could not have possibly known when he translated the Book of Mormon.

 

The Traveler

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11 minutes ago, Anddenex said:

I do find it interesting also that Nephi was the one using the steel bow and not Laman.

One possibility is that Nephi was big and strong - perhaps much stronger that Laman and able to pull a steel bow.  I find it interesting that Laman was never willing to take on Nephi as an adult on his own - he would only do so with his posse of Lemual the sons of Ishmael.

 

The Traveler

Edited by Traveler

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7 minutes ago, Traveler said:

One possibility is that Nephi was big and strong - perhaps much stronger that Laman and able to pull a steel bow.  I find it interesting that Laman was never willing to take on Nephi as an adult on his own - he would only do so with his posse of Lemual the sons of Ishmael.

 

The Traveler

Interesting.  And one wonders if Nephi was familiar enough with Ishmael’s family go know that the sons would gravitate towards Laman’s penchant for rebellion. If so, then going back for Ishmael’s family may have been as much a test of Nephi’s faith, as going back for the plates turned out to be for Laman’s faith.

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17 minutes ago, Traveler said:

One possibility is that Nephi was big and strong - perhaps much stronger that Laman and able to pull a steel bow.  I find it interesting that Laman was never willing to take on Nephi as an adult on his own - he would only do so with his posse of Lemual the sons of Ishmael.

 

The Traveler

I just read something online that specified that a steel bow represented authority also. But I definitely understand a younger brother's strength. At one point my younger brother would wrestle both my older brother and myself and we more than not ended on the loosing side due to his strength in comparison to ours. At that time I would have never tried taking him on alone, but when we wrestled it usually ended up the two older brothers against the younger to even it out.

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I think we were being taught a different lesson.

 

1 Nephi 16:18-20

 

18  And it came to pass that as I, Nephi, went forth to slay food, behold, I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel; and after I did break my bow, behold, my brethren were angry with me because of the loss of my bow, for we did obtain no food.

 

19  And it came to pass that we did return without food to our families, and being much fatigued, because of their journeying, they did suffer much for the want of food.

 

20  And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael did begin to murmur exceedingly, because of their sufferings and afflictions in the wilderness; and also my father began to murmur against the Lord his God; yea, and they were all exceedingly sorrowful, even that they did murmur against the Lord.

 

1 Nephi 16: 23-25

 

23  And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make out of wood a bow, and out of a straight stick, an arrow; wherefore, I did arm myself with a bow and an arrow, with a sling and with stones. And I said unto my father: Whither shall I go to obtain food?

 

 24  And it came to pass that he did inquire of the Lord, for they had humbled themselves because of my words; for I did say many things unto them in the energy of my soul.

 

 25  And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came unto my father; and he was truly chastened because of his murmuring against the Lord, insomuch that he was brought down into the depths of sorrow.

 

The only time Lehi faltered as a prophet was when he was hungry.  Lehi was a prophet of God.  This man faltered only one time in his life: when he was hungry.  He was far more spiritual then we are, and if his hunger drove him to murmur against the Lord, then how do we think we will fare when the day of need arrives?  The Lord expects us to be prepared both spiritually and temporally.

 

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5 hours ago, Fether said:

1) their bows had all lost their spring (1 Nephi 16:21)

2) A friend once told me their is some scriptural significance to breaking a steel bow. Not sure what it is though

Oh thanks.  I missed that part.

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My family and I found a couple of interesting things in this story during our most recent reading that I hadn't really given much consideration to before.

For one, it shows us that Nephi believed it was important to obey the commandment to honor thy father and mother. It would have been very easy for him, after having made his new bow and arrow, to set out on his own to find food. But instead of going it alone he chose to defer to his father. Asking his father for guidance in this matter allowed him and his father to reconcile after having a difference in perspective on the issue (Nephi having kept a positive attitude while his father gave in to the temptation to "murmur against the Lord his God"). This reconciliation and deference on Nephi's part seems to have been a catalyst that prompted Lehi to repent of his pessimism and humble himself enough to inquire of the Lord as to where Nephi could find food.

The second thing we noticed, while closely related to the first, is still distinct enough to be acknowledged separately. In His dealings with His people, the Lord expects us to adhere to certain chains of command and authority. Though small in numbers, Lehi's family was the entirety of the Lord's people at this point in the Book of Mormon saga. Lehi, as patriarch and prophet was the leader of this small group and the mouthpiece of the Lord for them. Nephi seems to have clearly understood this principle and by deferring to his father on the matter of where to find food he demonstrated the importance of following and sustaining the Lord's chosen leaders.

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1 hour ago, TIM0THY said:

The second thing we noticed, while closely related to the first, is still distinct enough to be acknowledged separately. In His dealings with His people, the Lord expects us to adhere to certain chains of command and authority. Though small in numbers, Lehi's family was the entirety of the Lord's people at this point in the Book of Mormon saga. Lehi, as patriarch and prophet was the leader of this small group and the mouthpiece of the Lord for them. Nephi seems to have clearly understood this principle and by deferring to his father on the matter of where to find food he demonstrated the importance of following and sustaining the Lord's chosen leaders.

Related to this second idea... Is how do you sustain a leader that you know to be in error and doing the wrong thing?  I think this is a question we all have to ask ourselves at some point because our leaders are human and flawed.  Too many people demand perfection from our leaders and at the first sign of weakness use it to excuse themselves... Or maybe they decided to take the authority on themselves.   This story shows us the answer to this question.  The sin of the leader is not acceptable... but it does not excuse us from following the commands of the Lord the best we can

 

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1 hour ago, estradling75 said:

how do you sustain a leader that you know to be in error and doing the wrong thing?

I actually find that this has a simple fix.

If the decision the bishop or other leader has made is simply foolish and they won’t take any counsel on it from anyone else, Go with it and either be surprised or watch it all go down in flames. In either case, don’t get emotionally involved, make the best out of everything. The real problem is not the failing Christmas party, but the complaints of the other leaders of the ward.

If the leader is making a decision that goes explicitly against higher leadership or is frankly sinful, speak up and don’t go with the decision and don't sustain the actions.

Edited by Fether

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Perhaps it might be interesting to read this account as just one of many different accounts of the many different ways God has responded, or not, to the hunger of his people. Off the top of my head, some other accounts that come to mind are:

Moses and the Israelites being fed manna and the quail falling from the sky

Elijah and widow and the cruse of oil

Christ feeding the multitudes on several occasions

The account in Helaman 11 when the wicked Nephites were about to perish as a result of the famine and the finally decided to call on Nephi to ask him to ask God to end the famine

Alma asking Amulek for something to eat in Alma 8

Christ cursing the fig tree when He found that it had no fruit

Noah, Lehi and Jared, all making preparations for a long sea voyage

 Moroni's army in Alma 60, about to perish for want of food

No doubt there are many more examples than this of how God has chosen to respond to the desire of His people for food.

Now I’m wondering, if we gather enough examples, and then analyse all of them, and the numerous variables involved, would we start to get close to some sort of tentative conclusion or general rule, that would have some predictive power, of how God, in a given set of circumstances, is likely to respond to the desire of His people for food? if the answer is no, we might be left with the conclusions that either a) God is totally random in His actions, or b) we can never figure out why God does what He does. I find both of these possibilities to be unsatisfactory and somewhat unlikely. 

Edited by askandanswer

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10 hours ago, askandanswer said:

Perhaps it might be interesting to read this account as just one of many different accounts of the many different ways God has responded, or not, to the hunger of his people. Off the top of my head, some other accounts that come to mind are:

Moses and the Israelites being fed manna and the quail falling from the sky

Elijah and widow and the cruse of oil

Christ feeding the multitudes on several occasions

The account in Helaman 11 when the wicked Nephites were about to perish as a result of the famine and the finally decided to call on Nephi to ask him to ask God to end the famine

Alma asking Amulek for something to eat in Alma 8

Christ cursing the fig tree when He found that it had no fruit

Noah, Lehi and Jared, all making preparations for a long sea voyage

 Moroni's army in Alma 60, about to perish for want of food

Thanks for this list!  I'm focusing on symbols this year so repeating themes like this are particularly interesting to me.

Since likely none of us know more hunger that a monthly fast, perhaps the true value of theae passages is seeing the many ways the Lord might respond to our spiritual hunger, perhaps other yearnings and needs as well.  I'll be pondering on this, thanks again for the list, its wonderful!

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, LiterateParakeet said:

Since likely none of us know more hunger that a monthly fast

I believe there are many in the Church who fast much more than once per month, and probably for more than 24 hours at a time. Such people don't profane their fast by bragging about it or even mentioning it much. Don't take that to mean that the fasting isn't taking place, though.

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