This people

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While reading last night in the Book of Mormon, I came across two interesting verses.

“For behold, we will not have him to be our ruler; for it belongs unto us, who are the elder brethren, to rule over this people.” (2 Ne 5:3)

“I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me.” (2 Ne 5:6)

Does it seem odd to anyone else that Laman and Lemuel would refer to their family, which amounted to fewer than 20 adults and a handful of children, as “this people”? Why would Nephi add “and all those who would go with me” when he had already listed everyone we would have thought would go with him.

11 thoughts on “This people

  1. Good point. And I’ve also always found it surprising that a few families could increase so quickly. I don’t have the reference on hand, but in the second book of Nephi I think it refers to wars, and also industriousness in building communities and such. I’ve always wondered if by “wars and contentions” they mean 30 people fighting each other, or if it was more than that.

  2. Another good point. War would be an odd thing to call it. Even when Enos was around, it would still be odd to call them wars if we are talking just about the Lehitic people.

  3. My mother – not in a pejorative or rude way – would always refer to members of the church as “your people”. For instance, if one of them called me, she would say “one of your people called you”. She lumped us all together into a “people” even though there weren’t very many LDS in the Lower Mainland at that time. (She used that term to denote other “groups” as well, whether ethnic or religios.) Maybe it’s a way of denoting separate or special? And from what we know of Laman and Lemuel they definitely wanted to be known as separate from Nephi and his crew. Just a thought.

  4. Just curious as to how you came up with the number of “fewer than 20 adults and a handful of children”?

    1. Laman, Lemuel, Nephi, Sam, and their wives (8)
    2. 2 of Ishamel’s sons and their wives (4)
    3. Zoram and his wife (2)
    4. Jacob and Joseph (2)

    That comes to 16.

  5. In 2 Nephi 5:6, Nephi refers to those you indicate above, but we are told nothing about the 5 daughters of Ishmael and their families. We are also not told about any other families or servants that were included with the household of Ishmael.

    Regarding the 2 sons of Ishmael, my reading of 1 Nephi 7:6 makes me think they may have been patriarchs with adult children themselves. When Nephi lists those who rebelled against him in the wilderness, he lists the adults: Laman, Lemuel, 2 of the daughters of Ishmael; then he lists “the two sons of Ishmael and their families.” It seems as if “their families” indicates the adult children of the 2 sons of Ishmael. Otherwise, why would he mention children rebelling against Nephi?

    Nephi indicates further, “and also my sisters,” an unkown quantity as they are never named or numbered, but it would add to the total of adults, as well as “all those who would go with me.” I’ve always assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that this referred to a significant number of the household of Ishmael who went with Nephi. It likely added a significant amount to the number of those who followed him or he wouldn’t have mentioned it. If it referred to just the children of the adults listed, then I would accuse Nephi of puffery, and the rest of his record doesn’t bear out that was much of a pufferer.

    I think your point about Laman and Lemuel’s comment about “this people” is valid. It shows that they believed the Lord’s provision of a choice land for Lehi and his family insofar as they could rule over them. Great topic to think about, though.

  6. I was under the impression Lehi’s sons and Zoram married the 5 daughters.

    I do agree the sons of Ishmael were likely already married. I don’t know their children were adults though.

    I have heard some interpretations suggest that the “my sisters” refers to sisters-in-law. This of course corresponds to the lack of any mention in Nephi’s preface of 1 Nephi regarding daughters for Lehi and Sarai.

    I think your point about Laman and Lemuel’s comment about “this people” is valid

    I don’t think I made a point.

  7. ?

    I thought your point was that it was “odd … that Laman and Lemuel would refer to their family, which amounted to fewer than 20 adults and a handful of children, as ‘this people’.”

    Or, were you using “Does it seem odd to anyone else …” as a rhetorical tool to get other’s thoughts/opinions, not necessarily reflective of your viewpoint?

    Either way, it’s interesting to think about.

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