Why try to kill Nephi?

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I am reading in 2 Nephi. I’m just finishing up the first chapter, and Lehi is talking to Laman and Lemeul, asking them to lay off Nephi. We know of course that they don’t.

But this got me thinking.

Why did they always try to hurt or kill (I guess killing is still hurting) Nephi?

I mean, they could have just stayed in Jerusalem. I don’t think anyone forced them to come along. They certainly had two more chances to just stay back.

For that matter, once they got to the promised land, why didn’t they just take off? Why not go sulk somewhere and take their families with them? If they didn’t like it, why not just leave?

Why try to kill Nephi?

14 thoughts on “Why try to kill Nephi?

  1. Because they thought they were going to be able to rule the people, and were overly disgruntled that they weren’t. You have to admit, it would be hard to continuously hear that your younger sibling is more righteous than you, and that he will be given the leadership, even if there is precedent.

    An easy way to end the debate? Kill the competition.

  2. A better question to ask is, Why didn’t they just go back to Jerusalem? Just up and leave the caravan. Sure they lost their riches, but you can always start over in the big city. I suspect Laman and/or Lemuel had bi-polar or some other mental disorder; and I suspect they really did believe their father all along.

  3. I don’t think they had riches left in Jerusalem, except prehaps the home. Laban stole all the goodies from them when they tried to bribe him with the gold/silver/stuff to get the plates.

    Another reason they couldn’t go back is that they (the 4 sons of Lehi) would have been the prime suspects in Laban’s murder, having asked for the plates, having tried to bribe for the plates, having their stuff stolen, having been chased by the servants of Laban who tried to kill them. And then, poof, the plates turn up missing, and at the same time Laban turns up dead, and Zoram is missing too. Hmmm, who would have motivation to kill Laban and take the brass plates, and possibly kill off one of Laban’s servants?

    I think one of the reasons that the Lord had in assigning Nephi to kill Laban was to make sure Laman and Lemuel couldn’t go back and resume their previous life.

    What puzzles me is that they did go back for Ishmael, but that may have been in secret, not publicly. Or Ishmael may have lived on the outskits of Jerusalem and they could have easily gotten to Ishmael’s house without being seen by others.

    1st Nephi is only a brief summary. We don’t have the whole story.

    Also, Laman and Lemuel pretty much had their arm twisted. First, they were berated by an angel. Second, they actually heard the voice of the Lord at some point (I just finished reading that in 2nd Nephi somewhere.) And third, Nephi was able to exert some kind of supernatural power over them (to cause them to shake or quake) in order to pretty much force them to labor to build the ship. Plus the Liahona ball/director also made things kind of obvious.

    So in their rebellions, L & L were pretty much “sinning against the light”. They were essentially reprobates.

    I’ve often asked myself why the Lord more or less forced them to go along, why not leave them in Jerusalem, to be conquered by the Babylonians? The answer is that the Lord needed the Lamanites, as a people, to scourge the Nephites and stir them up to remembrance, and to fulfill other latter-day prophecies/needs.

    Anyway, that’s my take.

  4. I don’t think they had riches left in Jerusalem, except prehaps the home. Laban stole all the goodies from them when they tried to bribe him with the gold/silver/stuff to get the plates.

    Those riches were what I was referring to. Had they gone back before Nephi went back for the plates, they could have used those riches.

    Another reason they couldn’t go back is that they (the 4 sons of Lehi) would have been the prime suspects in Laban’s murder

    Unless the went back before then.

    I’ve often asked myself why the Lord more or less forced them to go along, why not leave them in Jerusalem, to be conquered by the Babylonians?

    I don’t know that he did. He may have “forced” them to stay with everyone, but I don’t get the impression they were “forced” at the start.

    The answer is that the Lord needed the Lamanites, as a people, to scourge the Nephites and stir them up to remembrance

    He could have used the people who were already here.

  5. I think you’re perhaps underestimating the importance of family at the time. Not family in the “nuclear family” sense but in the “tribe or clan” sense. Theirs was leaving and for many emotional and practical reasons they had to go too. They didn’t have to like it but they did have to go.

  6. Whenever I wonder about Laman and Lemuel, I remember that we’ve only got Nephi’s side of the story. For instance, did they actually want to kill him or do they just make threats which Nephi took seriously?

    I really have to think that the two of them believed their father to some extent. Really, 1st and 2nd Nephi is much more of an interesting story about family dynamics than it is about righteousness and wickedness (mostly because there’s no gray to the tale as Nephi tells it).

  7. I second the thoughts of ProudDaughterofEve and alea:

    Misunderstanding of cultural practices regarding family, tribe, and individual autonomy of the time and people.

    Only having the recorded story from Nephi’s perspective.

  8. Why try to kill Nephi?

    Definitely wasn’t to make Dad happy. Though having a good looking, well spoken, opinionated, prophetic brother doesn’t seem like the recipe for murder, people have killed one another for less.

  9. Nikki, though I don’t dispute your main point, I’m not so sure we can concloude that Nephi was good-looking. As for well-spoken, I’d say the evidence is ambiguous. His writing seems eloquent to us sometimes, in the English translation (or whatever other language you’re reading translated from the English), but I’m not sure how eloquent he was in speaking to others back when the events were taking place (rather than much later in life, when he wrote a record of them).

    Just food for thought.

  10. I’ve just been reading the story of Joseph in Genesis. I can’t see any more justification for his brothers wanting to kill him. But I can see the very same motivations and sources of anger.

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