Thoughts on Gospel Doctrine Lesson 2

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1 NEPHI 1:2

What evidence of Egyptian influence is there in ancient America?
Two Egyptian statuettes were discovered on the Pacific coast of the border of El Salvador and Guatemala, three meters below the surface. They "clearly belong to a class of ancient Egyptian funerary statuettes known as ushabti. Both are incised with hieroglyphic Egyptian texts" (John W. Welch, ed., Reexploring the Book of Mormon, 18-20).
What is the "learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians"?
There were three basic writing systems for ancient Egyptian: (1) hieroglyphs that included nearly four hundred picture characters; (2) hieratic; and (3) demotic. Both the hieratic and demotic writing systems were used in Lehi's time and can properly be termed "reformed Egyptian." An example of this might include the papyrus writing of Psalm 20:2-6 written in demotic and discovered in Thebes. The letters were clearly Egyptian, but the words they formed did not make sense in Egyptian. In 1944 it was discovered that the script was Egyptian, but the words the letters spelled were Aramaic. In addition to this, a piece of pottery was found with writing on it dating back to the time of Lehi. The text was determined to be a combination of Egyptian hieratic and Hebrew characters. Scholars concluded that "the scribe who wrote the text knew both Hebrew and Egyptian writing systems and commingled them in a single text" (John W. Welch and Melvin J. Thorne, Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon, 241). See also Mormon 9:32- 33.
1 NEPHI 1:4

Why is the phrase "it came to pass" repeated so often in the Book of Mormon?
"Instead of punctuation, the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon divides up its phrases by introducing each by an 'and,' 'behold,' 'now,' or 'It came to pass. . . .' Simply outrageous—as English literature, but it is standard Egyptian practice. . . . In Egyptian these expressions were not merely adornments, . . . they are a grammatical necessity and may not be omitted" (Hugh Nibley, Collected Works, 7:150).
Who was Zedekiah?
"Zedekiah reigned between 597 and 586 B.C. . . . Zedekiah revolted [against Babylonian oppression]. Then, in 587 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar came and besieged Jerusalem. . . . Zedekiah was captured, as he fled toward Jericho. His sons, who fell into the hands of the Babylonians, were slain" (George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 1:7-8) except one, named Mulek, who was led by the Lord to the Americas. He founded the city of Zarahemla, and later his people joined with the Nephites between 279 and 130 B.C. See also Omni 1:19; Mosiah 25:2; Helaman 6:10; 8:21.
Who were the "many prophets" that testified with Lehi?
"Among the prophets testifying to Jerusalem were Jeremiah, Lehi, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Habakkuk" (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary, 1:19).
1 NEPHI 1:7

How does it feel to be "overcome with the Spirit" as Lehi was?
"The presence of God withdrew from Moses . . . as he was left unto himself, he fell unto the earth. . . . it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: . . . for this . . . I know that man is nothing . . . I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and . . . I was transfigured" (Moses 1:9-11).
Describing the reaction of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to the vision of the three degrees of glory, Philo Dibble said, "Joseph sat firmly and calmly all the time in the midst of a magnificent glory, but Sidney sat limp and pale, apparently as limber as a rag, observing which, Joseph remarked, smilingly, 'Sidney is not used to it as I am'" (Philo Dibble, "Recollections," Juvenile Instructor 27 [1892], 303). See also 1 Nephi 17:47; Moses 1:10; JS—H 1:20.
1 NEPHI 1:8

How is this verse textual evidence of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon?
In Alma 36:22 we read, "methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God." These words are a twenty- one word quote from 1 Nephi 1:8. The impressive thing about these verses is that they are separated by hundreds of pages and several weeks of translating time. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times, 58-59).
"Given the fact that Joseph dictated as he went, the record's consistency points to an inspired source for the translation's accuracy. After all, can you quote the twenty- one words of Lehi [after just having read them] . . . without looking?" (John W. Welch, ed., Reexploring the Book of Mormon, 23).
1 NEPHI 1:12

Reading the word of the Lord fills us "with the Spirit of the Lord."
"I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns" (Spencer W. Kimball, Teachings, 135). See also 1 Nephi 5:10, 17; Alma 17:2.
1 NEPHI 1:13, 15, 18

Seers see the future; prophets tell about the future.
"A seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come" (Mosiah 8:17).
"God hath sent his holy prophets among all the children of men, to declare these things" (Mosiah 3:13).
1 NEPHI 1:20

Who are the Jews?
"The term Jew often refers to a descendant from the tribe of Judah. However, the Book of Mormon also uses the term Jew to refer to any Israelite from the land or kingdom of Judah. . . . In addition, the Book of Mormon uses the term Jew sometimes to refer to the entire house of Israel" (Thomas R. Valletta, ed., Book of Mormon for Latter- day Saint Families, 3).

1 NEPHI 2:1

Can a dream be considered a vision?
"An inspired dream is a vision given to a person while he sleeps. . . . All inspired dreams are visions" (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 208).
1 NEPHI 2:5- 6

Where did Lehi travel when he left Jerusalem?
"Lehi's colony first traveled south from Jerusalem until they met the Red Sea (1 Nephi 2:4-6), then south- southeast until after they had stayed at Shazer and Nahom (1 Nephi 16:9-14, 33-34), and then 'nearly eastward from that time forth' until they arrived at the sea (1 Nephi 17:1-6)" (Daniel H. Ludlow, Companion, 92).
1 NEPHI 2:7

How important is it to thank the Lord?
"It is clear to me . . . that to 'thank the Lord thy God in all things' (D&C 59:7) is more than a social courtesy; it is a binding commandment" (James E. Faust, Ensign, December 1996, 2).
"And I believe that one of the greatest sins of which the inhabitants of the earth are guilty today is the sin of ingratitude" (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 270). See also insights for Mosiah 24:21- 22.
1 NEPHI 2:16

Why did the Lord visit Nephi?
"Whenever spiritually significant things are under way, righteous desires are present" (Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, November 1996, 21). See also 1 Nephi 11:1.
1 NEPHI 2:20

Where is the "land which is choice above all other lands"?
"The Book of Mormon informs us that the whole of America, both North and South, is a choice land above all other lands, in other words—Zion" (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:73; emphasis in original). See also insights for 2 Nephi 1:7, 9-11, 16, 20, 31- 32.
1 NEPHI 2:21, 23

Laman and Lemuel were later "cursed" and cut off from the Lord's presence.
See insights for 2 Nephi 5:20- 21.
1 NEPHI 2:23- 24

Why didn't the Lord leave Laman and Lemuel in Jerusalem?
"And the Lord God said unto me: They [the Lamanites] shall be a scourge unto thy seed [the Nephites], to stir them up in remembrance of me" (2 Nephi 5:25).

1 NEPHI 3:5

"I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord."
"What I the Lord have spoken . . . shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same" (D&C 1:38).
1 NEPHI 3:7

"I will go and do."
"I made this my rule: When the Lord commands, do it." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 2:170; emphasis in original).
"Obedience is a powerful spiritual medicine. It comes close to being a cure- all" (Boyd K. Packer, "That All May Be Edified," 67).
"Obedience is the first law of heaven. . . . There is nothing in all eternity more important than to keep the commandments of God" (Bruce R. McConkie, Promised Messiah, 126).
The Lord will always prepare a way for us to keep his commandments.
"When my feeling of incompetence wholly overwhelmed me, I remembered the words of Nephi. . . . I rely upon that promise of the Lord that he will strengthen and empower me that I may be able to do this work to which I have been called" (Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, October 1943, 18). See also 1 Corinthians 10:13.
1 NEPHI 3:11

What was "casting lots"?
"Casting lots was a means used to settle disputed questions. . . . This ancient equivalent of 'flipping a coin' resolved the matter quickly and decisively. Though the means might appear arbitrary, participants fully believed God was involved. . . . God could certainly have directed the results of any such process. [He wouldn't] use a lottery to pick an apostle" (Quest Study Bible, 890).
1 NEPHI 3:15

"As the Lord liveth, and as we live . . ."
See insights for 1 Nephi 4:32- 37.
1 NEPHI 3:19- 20

Why did the Lord want Nephi and his brothers to obtain the plates of brass?
To "preserve . . . the[ir] language" (1 Nephi 3:20)
To "preserve . . . the words . . . of all the holy prophets" [to have scripture] (1 Nephi 3:20)
To keep a nation from dwindling in unbelief (see 1 Nephi 4:13)
To perhaps save the plates from being destroyed along with the rest of Jerusalem
1 NEPHI 3:25

"Laban saw our property . . . [and] did lust after it."
"Cain said he was 'tempted because of [his] brother's flocks.' After killing Abel, he declared, 'I am free,' realizing that his brother's flocks were now his. Coveting preceded murdering" (Neal A. Maxwell, Wonderful Flood of Light, 101).
1 NEPHI 3:29- 31

Do miracles, such as seeing an angel as Laman and Lemuel did, bring testimony or conversion?
"Many men say: 'If I could only see an angel, if I could only hear an angel proclaim something, that would cause me to be faithful all the days of my life!' It had no effect upon these men [Laman and Lemuel] that were not serving the Lord, and it would have no effect today" (Heber J. Grant, in Conference Report, April 1924, 159). See also Luke 16:30- 31.

1 NEPHI 4:1-3, 15

How did Nephi's knowledge of scriptures assist him and his brothers in making the right choice?
There is a power in the book [of Mormon] which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path" (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, November 1986, 7).
1 NEPHI 4:6

Are we sometimes expected to accomplish things without knowing how?
Giving counsel to Elder Boyd K. Packer on one occasion, Elder Harold B. Lee said that one problem we often have is that we want to see the end from the beginning. He then counseled: "You must learn to walk to the edge of the light, and perhaps a few steps into the darkness, and you will find that the light will appear and move ahead of you" (Boyd K. Packer, Holy Temple, 184). See also D&C 100:6.
1 NEPHI 4:10, 18

Are commandments ever given that run contrary to existing commandments?
"That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. . . . Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is" (Joseph Smith, Teachings, 256).
"When there is to be anything different from that which the Lord has told us already, He will reveal it to His prophet and no one else" (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, 159).
1 NEPHI 4:11- 12

Was there legal justification to kill Laban?
The penalty in the Law of Moses for attempted murder was death (see 1 Nephi 3:25-26; Exodus 21:14).
The penalty in the Law of Moses for stealing could be death (see 1 Nephi 3:13; Exodus 22:2; Deuteronomy 24:7).
After four offenses against a person, the "Law of Retaliation" (see D&C 98:23-32) was justified. In 1 Nephi 3:13 Laban had (1) tried to "slay" Laman. In 1 Nephi 4:11 he had (2) "sought to" kill Nephi. (3) "He would not hearken unto the . . . Lord"; and (4) he "had taken away our property." Therefore, "the Lord ha[d] delivered him into" the hands of Nephi (1 Nephi 4:12; D&C 98:29).
1 NEPHI 4:13- 15

How valuable are the scriptures to a nation?
"People as well as nations perish without scriptures. The scriptures are spiritual food for our spirit, which is just as important as physical food for our body. It was so important for Lehi to have the scriptures and records which were engraven on the brass plates that the Lord commanded Nephi to slay Laban in order to obtain them" (L. Lionel Kendrick, Ensign, May 1993, 14).
1 NEPHI 4:20

Can the Lord change a person's voice to suit his purposes?
"As Brigham Young rose in that assembly, his face was that of Joseph Smith—the mantle of Joseph had fallen upon him, the power of God that was upon Joseph Smith was upon him, he had the voice of Joseph. . . . There was a reason for this in the mind of God; it convinced the people" (Wilford Woodruff, Discourses, 92-93).
1 NEPHI 4:22

Who were the elders Nephi and Zoram spoke of?
"The word 'elders' has been understood to mean the heads of the most influential families of a city" (Hugh Nibley, Collected Works, 6:96).
1 NEPHI 4:32- 37

How serious is an oath, or our word of honor?
"A young man came to me not long ago and said, 'I made an agreement with a man that requires me to make certain payments each year. I am in arrears, and I can't make those payments, for if I do, it is going to cause me to lose my home. What shall I do?'
"I looked at him and said, 'Keep your agreement.'
"'Even if it costs me my home?'
"I said, 'I am not talking about your home. I am talking about your agreement; and I think your wife would rather have a husband who would keep his word, meet his obligations, keep his pledges or his covenants, and have to rent a home than to have a home with a husband who will not keep his covenants and his pledges'" (N. Eldon Tanner, in Conference Report, October 1966, 99). See also Alma 44:8, 11, 15, 19-20; 53:11, 13- 16.

1 NEPHI 5:1- 4

How can we best resolve our differences in marriage without complaining?
"Don't be too critical of each other's faults. Recognize that none of us is perfect. . . .
". . . We don't need frequent reminders. Few people have ever changed for the better as a result of constant criticism or nagging. . . .
"When differences do arise, being able to discuss and resolve them is important, but there are instances when it is best to take a time- out. . . . Even letting the sun go down on your wrath can help bring you back to the problem in the morning more rested, calm, and with a better chance for resolution. . . .
". . . Any intelligent couple will have differences of opinion" (Joe J. Christensen, Ensign, May 1995, 64-65).
1 NEPHI 5:2-3, 8

We never see Sariah complain against Lehi again.
"With the return of her sons, she knew of a certainty that the Lord had commanded her husband to flee into the wilderness. . . . Their circumstances did not change; they still slept in tents. But she had joy and comfort in the knowledge that the Lord was guiding them" (Barbara B. Smith, Ensign, November 1982, 85). See also 1 Nephi 16:20.
1 NEPHI 5:7, 9- 10

Why is it important to give thanks to the Lord?
"Because he knows an absence of appreciation on the part of anyone causes personal stagnation" (Marvin J. Ashton, What Is Your Destination? 99). See also Alma 24:7-10; Ether 6:9, 12.
1 NEPHI 5:10- 14

What did the "plates of brass" contain?
"An account of the creation of the world" (v. 11)
An account of "Adam and Eve" (v. 11)
"A record of the Jews . . . to . . . Zedekiah" (v. 12)
Prophecies of the "holy prophets" down to Jeremiah (v. 13)
A "genealogy of [Lehi's] fathers" (v. 14)
1 NEPHI 5:17- 18

Who used the plates of brass?
"From prophet to prophet and generation to generation the Brass Plates were handed down and preserved by the Nephites" (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 103). See also Mosiah 1:16; 28:20; 3 Nephi 1:2.
"The Indians, at a period long antecedent to the arrival of the Spaniards in America, were acquainted with a portion at least of the Old Testament" (B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, 2:473).
1 NEPHI 5:18

Who else will have the plates of brass?
"At some future date the Lord has promised to bring them forth, . . . and the scriptural accounts recorded on them are to 'go forth unto every nation'" (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 103).

1 NEPHI 6:3- 6

One purpose of the Book of Mormon is to "persuade men to come unto" Christ.
"Let us turn again to the Book of Mormon, . . . to learn some principles about coming unto Christ, being committed to Him, centered in Him, and consumed in Him" (Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, November 1987, 84). See also Jacob 1:7; Moroni 10:30.

1 NEPHI 7:1- 5

Why did the Lord command that Nephi and his brothers return for this particular family?
"God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18). See also 1 Nephi 16:7.
Lehi refers to Ishmael's sons as his sons or sons- in- law: "My sons who are the sons of Ishmael" (2 Nephi 1:1, 28).
"Lehi learned by searching the records of his fathers . . . that he was of the lineage of Manasseh. The Prophet Joseph informed us that
The following excerpt is from the Book of Mormon Reference Companion, a new reference book with more than 900 entries addressing 1500 Book of Mormon topics.
Plates of brass
The standard works or the basic scriptures of the Nephites. The plates of brass were like the Old Testament but more extensive (1 Ne. 13:23). They contained the Law (the five books of Moses), a history of God's dealings with ancient Israel, and the prophecies of many of the prophets, down to and including many prophecies of Jeremiah1 (1 Ne. 5:10-14). The Nephites made repeated reference to Old World peoples and events, many of which they would have known through their study of the brass plates.
Sometime after leaving Jerusalem, Nephi1 and his brothers were commanded to return to the city to obtain the brass plates from Laban, a descendant of Joseph of old (1 Ne. 5:14-16). The family of Lehi1 were commanded to take the brass plates with them to America to maintain both scriptural and intellectual literacy (1 Ne. 3:2-4, 19-20; 4:13-16; cf. Omni 1:17; Mosiah 1:3).
It is uncertain how the brass plates came into Laban's possession. The discovery of a scriptural text in the days of king Josiah (ca. 620 B.C.), the excitement with which that discovery was received, and the reforms in society that resulted from Josiah's search of the holy word (2 Kgs. 22-23), suggest that scriptural records were not accessible to all people at the time of Lehi and Laban. Prior to the Assyrian captivity in 722 B.C., the brass plates may have been kept by the northern tribes, from whom Lehi and Laban descended (Millet, 208-9). Perhaps the records were carried by Lehi and Laban's ancestors who escaped the Assyrian deportation and settled in Jerusalem.
When and by whom the writing on the brass plates was begun is not stated in the Book of Mormon. The record does state, however, that they were written in Egyptian (Mosiah 1:4), perhaps attesting to the influence of such notable prophets as Joseph and Moses, both of whom had spent many years in Egypt.
Some of the prophets from the brass plates who are quoted or cited (in addition to ones known already, such as Isaiah) include Zenos, Zenock, Neum, and Ezias. Their oracles are gospel- centered and Christ- centered, straight forward and specific as to the sufferings, death, and atoning work of the Messiah, as well as the separate and distinct natures of God the Father and his beloved Son (1 Ne. 19:7-12; Alma 33:3-17; Hel. 8:18-20; 3 Ne. 10:15-16). Because the Nephite prophets sought earnestly to point their people toward the coming of the Redeemer and the destiny of the house of Israel, they quoted extensively from the writings of Isaiah and Zenos, as contained on the brass plates, and offered prophetic commentary upon those writings (1 Ne. 19:23; 2 Ne. 11-25; Jacob 5-6). The brass plates also contained insights unknown to the readers of the present Bible, including prophecies of Joseph of old, of which there are not many greater (2 Ne. 3; 4:1-2). Perhaps the best source for understanding the doctrines and central teachings of the brass plates, other than the Book of Mormon itself, is Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible. By revelation the Prophet Joseph Smith restored plain and precious truths that were once part of the biblical record, many of which were also contained in that ancient collection known as the brass plates.
The brass plates served to enlarge the memory of a people, convince many of their errors, and lead them to the Father unto the salvation of their souls (Alma 37:8). Lehi and Alma2 rejoiced in the timeless teachings of the brass plates. They prophesied of a time when these records would "go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon" (Alma 37:4; 1 Ne. 5:18). To some degree, of course, this prophecy is fulfilled as missionaries flood the earth with the Book of Mormon. Further, Elder Bruce R. McConkie suggested that in a future day "the Lord will raise up a prophet, who will also be a seer and a translator, to whom he will give the brass plates that they may be translated for the benefit and blessing of those in all nations" (16).

McConkie, Bruce R. "The Doctrinal Restoration." The Joseph Smith Translation: The Restoration of Plain and Precious Things. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1985.
Millet, Robert L. "The Influence of the Brass Plates on the Teachings of Nephi." The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, the Doctrinal Structure. Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1989.
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