I've never thought about Nephi's killing of Laban like this before. This completely changed the way I understand Nephi and the beginning of the Book of Mormon!
Every time I start reading the Book of Mormon, I reach 1 Nephi 4 with the story of Nephi and Laban and I struggle with the same question, “Why did Nephi have to kill Laban?”
Nephi returns a third time to Laban’s house trusting the Lord to open a way to fulfill His mission. He finds Laban in a drunken stupor and is commanded to cut off his head with his own sword. He then finds Laban’s servant, retrieves the records and carries them to his brothers outside the city. When Zoram tries to flee back to his servitude, Nephi offers him freedom and a place with his father.
Laban was already drunk and unconscious. Why did Nephi have to kill him to accomplish his mission?
Rereading this story recently, I finally realized that perhaps Nephi included this event in such detail to answer even more important questions, eternal questions. How are we freed from Satan’s power? What is our relationship to Jesus Christ? How do we gain eternal life?
It is much more than an historical account; it is also an allegory—a symbolic story featuring the following characters:
- Nephi, representing Jesus Christ
- Laban, representing Satan
- Zoram, representing each of us
So why did Nephi have to kill Laban? I still don’t have a complete answer to that question, but that is not the essential question. With a shift of focus I have discovered a few answers to a question that really matters: What does this story teach me about the Savior?
Lead image from LDS NET.
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