1 Nephi 1-7

Why was the Book of Mormon written in Elizabethan, King James English? Have you ever wondered - How did so many New Testament phrases get into the Old Testament era of the Book of Mormon?

We are now ready to launch into the Book of Mormon.   Which you will notice from the get-go is written in the Elizabethan style of language used in the King James Bible.  There are a lot of “thee’s,” “thou’s,” and “ye’s” used throughout the Book of Mormon.  People did not speak in those terms in Joseph Smith’s day, and his own personal letters and sermons do not reflect such outmoded speech.  Besides, the language of the King James Bible was not the language of the ancient Hebrews or Egyptians, or Christ’s.  Nor is it ours!  Furthermore, neither God nor angels ever spoke in Shakespearian English. So, it leaves us to wonder if Joseph Smith used this form of writing to help the Book of Mormon sound more authoritative. Guess we’ll never know.

Let’s cover Chapter 1 of, 1st Nephi.  We begin with Verse 1, where Nephi complements his “goodly parents” for his upbringing.  He claims he had “great knowledge of the goodness and mysteries of God.”  Now, I need to point out from the beginning that we are going to see a lot of New Testament phrases in the Book of Mormon.  This is 600 years before Christ in the Book of Mormon, and we are reading phrases lifted from the New Testament that was written between 50 and 90 AD.  For example: in this first verse is the phrase “mysteries of God” which is also found in 1 Corinthians 4:1

1 Nephi 1:2 Nephi says, “Yea, I make a record in the language of my father which consists of the learning of the Jews, and the language of the Egyptians.”   This verse along with Mosiah 1:4 declare that the native language of the Hebrews between 600 BC and 130 BC was Egyptian.  However, Mormon 9:32 in 400 AD differs in saying that it was “Reformed Egyptian.”  Egyptian is a strange language for an Israelite to write in.  Jews hated Egyptians, and it therefore seems inconceivable that a true Jew would speak anything other than his mother tongue, which is Hebrew.  Hebrew people had not spoken any Egyptian since Moses led the Hebrews out of Egypt many centuries earlier.  And, Biblical experts in Semitic languages find no evidence of the existence of Reformed Egyptian.

1 Nephi 1:4 starts out with the phrase “For it came to pass…”  This is the first of the 1476 times that something comes to pass in the Book of Mormon.  Listen to what American writer and humorist Mark Twain had to say about this repetitive wording in his book, Roughing it, Chapter 16: “The author labored to give his words and phrases the quaint, old-fashioned sound and structure of our King James translation of the Scriptures,… Whenever he found his speech growing too modern – which was about every sentence or two – he ladled a few such Scriptural phrases as “exceedingly sore,” “and it came to pass,” etc., and made things satisfactory again.  “And it came to pass” was his pet.  If he had left that out, his Bible would have been only a pamphlet.”

1 Nephi 1:7-10 Lehi saw in a vision – God on His throne, surrounded by angels.  And he saw Jesus descending with twelve apostles.  This would have been a strange sight for a Jew who lived 600 years before Christ and knew nothing about Jesus.  

In Verse 11 Lehi was given a book by a man whom we assume was Jesus in this dream. 

And in Verses 12-15 Lehi reads from what appears to be from the book of Revelation, which wouldn’t be written for another 700 years.   

There are many Scriptural parallels between the Book of Mormon and the Bible.  In Verse 14 we see one of them.  It reads in part, “Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty!”  In Revelation 15:3 it has almost the identical wording, “Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty.”

1 Nephi 1:17 At this time, Nephi makes an abridgment of Lehi’s record, and then makes a, separate account of his own life.

1 Nephi 1:19 Lehi prophesied of the coming of a Messiah and the redemption of the world.  The term “Messiah” means “the anointed one” and only appears in the Old Testament in Daniel 9:25-26

We have another New Testament phrase in 1 Nephi 2:1 “because thou hast been faithful” also found in Luke 19:17. 

We are now introduced to Nephi’s Mother, “Sariah” in 1 Nephi 2:5.  She is the ONLY Nephite woman named in the Book of Mormon.  There are two other women originating from the Book of Mormon: “Abish” – a Lamanite convert, and “Isabel” – the harlot.  The only other women mentioned by name are taken directly from the Bible: “Sarah” – wife of Abraham, “Eve” – wife of Adam, and “Mary” – mother of Jesus.   The Book of Mormon has over 500 pages, covering a span of 1021 years of Nephite and Lamanite history.  Plus, another 2,000 years of Jaredite history.  And how many women are mentioned by name in the book?  A grand total of Six! (see Episodes 81 and 82)

1 Nephi 2:7 Speaking of Lehi, “And it came to pass that he (Lehi) built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.”  From the days of Moses until the coming of Christ, only the Levites held the Aaronic priesthood and administered the duties of the law of Moses.  For this reason, Lehi without having Levites among them could not rightfully officiate in the ordinances of the law of Moses.  Mormonism teaches that prophets like Lehi held the Melchizedek priesthood and could officiate in these obligations, but there is no Scriptural support for that claim.

In 1 Nephi 2:10 The phrase “steadfast, and immovable” is similar, to 1 Corinthians 15:58.

In 1 Nephi 2:18 “being grieved because of the hardness of their hearts” is almost identical to Mark 3:5.

1 Nephi 2:19-20 Nephi is told that God has prepared for him a land that is better than anywhere on earth – a land of promise in the Western Hemisphere.  The words “land of promise” are also found in Hebrews 11:9.

1 Nephi 2:23 God forewarns Nephi that He is going to eventually “curse them (the seed of Laman and Lemuel) with a sore curse.”  We see this play out in 2 Nephi 5:21-25 where the Lord tells Nephi, “wherefore as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”  He calls them “loathsome,” “idle,” “full of mischief and subtlety,” and “a scourge.”     

But before they can leave for this promised land – God tells Lehi in a dream that they forgot the Plates of Brass.  In 1 Nephi 3:3 we find out the plates of brass contain a record of the Jews and Lehi’s genealogy.  So, Nephi and his brothers have to make a round-trip journey of 400 miles from the Red Sea to Jerusalem and back again to retrieve these plates.  The obvious question in the mind of the reader is: Since the Lord knew that they would need the brass plates, why didn’t He tell Lehi before they left Jerusalem, instead of having the boys travel so far through dangerous wilderness?   The simple answer from the text is – because the Lord commanded it.  

1 Nephi 3:7 We now, run into one of the most famous verses in the Book of Mormon.  Nephi declares, “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

This verse is saying that God only gives commandments that people can keep.  What is the best a person can do?  Keep the commandments – all the commandments!  In Mormonism, there is a long list of commandments to keep.  And, Spencer W. Kimball said that “trying is not good enough.”  Giving it your best is not what is required.  Mormonism expects perfection in keeping ALL the commandments.  And that is why Nephi says, God will prepare a way for the LDS member to “accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”  Some people call this an “Impossible Gospel.”

1 Nephi 3:8 Here is another phrase from the New Testament, “he was exceedingly glad, for he” that is also in Luke 23:8.

In 1 Nephi 3:13 “and he would not that” is found in Mark 9:30.

In 1 Nephi 3:18 “it must needs be” is found in Matthew 18:7.

Here’s a familiar one, 1 Nephi 3:20 “which has been spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets…since the world began.” Also recorded in Acts 3:21.

When the boys arrived at Jerusalem, they offered Laban their gold, silver and property in exchange for the brass plates, but Laban got greedy.  He not only wanted all they had to offer, but he also wanted to keep the plates.  I guess he was into genealogy too! (joke)

Laban’s servants chased the boys off into the wilderness where they hid out in a cave.  Being angry with Nephi, his older brothers started to beat him with a rod – when an angel appeared and told them to knock it off.  The angel promised if they made just one more attempt to get the plates – the Lord would deliver Laban into their hands. 

Now, I guess being Book of Mormon characters, they were used to angels dropping by to deliver messages from God.  Because as soon as the angel departed, Laman and Lemuel started complaining about the danger and difficulty of the task.  I suppose that sort of thing gets old after a while. (joke)

In 1 Nephi Chapter 4, Nephi is ready to make another attempt at the brass plates.  While his brothers are hiding out, Nephi creeps into the city as it states in 1 Nephi 4:6 “and I was led by the Spirit.” Same phrase used in Luke 4:1.

Finding Laban drunk on his butt, 1 Nephi 4:8 “And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel.”  This description of the sword brings up a concern: Here we have a blade made, out of precious steel.  Experts maintain that swords of that caliber had not yet been manufactured in the Middle East before 600 BC.  

Next, we find a disturbing passage in 1 Nephi 4:10-17 where the Holy Spirit of all things, compels Nephi to kill a helpless Laban who is passed out drunk.  Verse 14 is another very famous quote from the Book of Mormon that is coincidently found almost word for word in John 11:50 “It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.”

Obeying the Spirit, Nephi says in Verse 18 that he “took Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his sword.”  Decapitating an, unconscious man was all perfectly justified according to the law of retribution as explained in modern- Mormonism found in Doctrine and Covenants 98:23-32.

After Nephi murders Laban, he puts on Laban’s blood-soaked clothes and enters Laban’s treasury in this disguise, where he meets the servant of Laban named Zoram.  Looking like Laban (obviously with a lot of fresh blood all over his garments) he spoke in the voice of Laban.  How did Nephi know how to do that?  Nephi gets the brass plates and tells Zoram to follow him outside the city walls. 

Nephi in Verse 26 speaks “of the brethren of the CHURCH.”  Wait a minute!  We have a glaring problem, here.  It would be anachronistic to use the term “church” at this time in the story.  An anachronism is defined as “Anything that is out of its proper time in history.”  The English term “church” comes from the Greek word “ekklesia” which means “a called-out assembly or congregation” – a gathering of people “called out” to follow Jesus.  The first time the word “church” is found in Scripture is in Matthew 16:18 during the translation of the New Testament into English in 1400 AD.  The term “church” or “ekklesia” would never have been used by a Hebrew in 600 BC. – who supposedly wrote in Egyptian – nevertheless. 

Back to the story 1 Nephi 4:33-34 – Once outside the city, Nephi and Zoram meet up with Laman and Lemuel.  A frightened Zoram is forcefully convinced by Nephi to enter into an oath with the brothers so, that he can join them as a free man in the wilderness.  Nephi didn’t give Zoram much of a choice – either do it or die.

They return to the shores of the Red Sea to their mother Sariah who had been worrying about their safety.  Lehi examines the plates only to discover that they contain the five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), a record of the Jews and prophecies of the holy prophets, many prophecies of Jeramiah, and last but, not least – a genealogy of Lehi’s fathers.  Mormons love their genealogies – especially the ancient Jewish Mormons.  (joke)

But we know that – after the Old Testament law and prophets were fulfilled, the New Covenant gospel of grace replaced it.  Paul taught clearly that it wasn’t about belonging to a blood line through, the nation of Israel that made you God’s people.  After the Atonement – All people were the same – both Greek and Gentile.  Genealogies and ordinances were no longer necessary.  In fact, Paul warned in 1 Timothy 1:4 “Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies.” And in Titus 3:9 “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies.”  Paul also taught in Colossians 2:14 that the Atonement was effective in “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross.” 

Lehi seemed surprised to learn from the brass plates that HE was a descendent of Joseph and Jacob. 

1 Nephi 5:18 Lehi prophesied that these brass plates should go forth unto all “nations, kindreds, tongues, and people.”  Language similar, to Revelation 11:9.

1 Nephi 6:4 Nephi’s intent was to write to persuade men to come to God and be saved.  That sounds biblical.  Also, in this verse the phrase “the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” is the same in Matthew 22:32.

In 1 Nephi 6:5 the phrase “those who are not of the world” is similar, to John 17:14.

1 Nephi 7:1 It then took the Lord to remind Lehi that he needed find some women for his boys.  Duh! The guys left town without any women!  What were they thinking? They would need wives to have sex with – in order to populate the land of promise. 

So, in 1 Nephi 7:3 Nephi and his brothers make ANOTHER 400-mile round trip to Jerusalem and back to find some women, who would be willing to leave their entire lives behind to join these men on their journey to the promise land. 

1 Nephi 7:4-5 They went to the house of Ishmael and convinced him and his family of five daughters to join them in the wilderness.  That must have been an interesting conversation!

1 Nephi 7:6 No time for dating!  Ishmael’s, name-less wife and daughters are now a part of the traveling party. 

In 1 Nephi 7:8 “being grieved for the hardness of their hearts” is word for word in Mark 3:5.  

Finally, 1 Nephi 7:16 “were exceedingly wroth and” is the same in Matthew 2:16.

This concludes our study for today.  Please subscribe, so you won’t miss our next episodes.  You can also catch us on YouTube, iTunes podcast, Spotify podcast, and Google podcast.  Or, you can go to our website at Talking to Mormons.com where you can download this script and learn much more.

Remember “Jesus Is Enough”!

And until next time, God Bless!

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