First Nephi

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First Nephi is the abbreviated title of The First Book of Nephi His Reign and Ministry. It is the first published section of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The book contains a record of an ancient people during a three decade period from approximately 600 BC (BCE) to approximately 570 BC (BCE).


The book includes a record of two families or clans, one headed by a man named Lehi and the other headed by a man named Ishmael. In the beginning of the record, Lehi and Ishmael both live in or around Jerusalem. In approximately the year 600 BC[1], Lehi had a vision and was warned that Jerusalem would be destroyed if the people did not repent. He preached to the people and invited them to repent. The people of the city did not heed his words, and so the Lord commanded Lehi to flee the city into the wilderness with his family to save his life.[2] His sons were sent back to Jerusalem twice: first they returned to retrieve a scriptural record of the Jews engraved on metal plates of brass owned by a man named Laban[3]; secondly, they invited Ishmael's family/clan to join them on their journey.[4] During this time, Zoram, another resident of Jerusalem, joined the traveling party as well.[5]

The group, headed by Lehi, traveled across the Arabian Peninsula for approximately eight years.[6] God gave Lehi a device described as "a round ball of curious workmanship...of fine brass" called the Liahona, which would guide them to their eventual destination of "the promised land."[7][8]

During their travels, Lehi has a vision which he eagerly shares with his family. His wife Sariah and his youngest two sons Sam and Nephi respond favorably to these visions, and are generally obedient to God's commands. However, Lehi's eldest two sons—named Laman and Lemuel—are belligerent and resentful of the fact that they were forced to abandon their home and inheritance.[9]

Lehi and the others are led to the ocean, and they make camp along the shore. Nephi is instructed by the Lord to build a ship that ultimately carries the entire group across the ocean to arrive someplace in the modern-day Americas.[10]

During the family's journeys through the wilderness, it is revealed that Lehi and his wife Sariah bore two additional children, whom they name Jacob and Joseph.[11]

In addition to the history presented in the text, First Nephi contains writings of Messianic visions, sermons related to the scattering and gathering of Israel, and quotations from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.

Connections to the Israelites

The themes in First Nephi parallel closely the experience of the Israelites under Moses in their journey to the promised land in the Old Testament. The story of Moses is referenced a number of times during the narrative[12][13], and the aforementioned description of the Americas as the promised land is similar to verbiage used in the Old Testament.[14]

Additionally, just as the Israelites were saved from burdens of slavery and bondage, so too were Lehi and his family members rescued from a bleak fate. In the year 586 BC, much of Jerusalem was destroyed, acting as a testimony of the truthfulness of Lehi's prophecies.[15][16]

Doctrinal Topics

The Lord Prepares a Way: "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." (1 Nephi 3:7)[17]

The Iron Rod: "And I beheld a rod of iron, and it extended along the bank of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood. And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood; and it also led by the head of the fountain, unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world." (1 Nephi 8:19-20)[18]

The Same God, Forever: "For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him. For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round." (1 Nephi 10:18-19)[19]

The Son of God Slain: "And it came to pass that the angel spake unto me again, saying: Look! And I looked and beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the everlasting God was judged of the world; and I saw and bear record. And I, Nephi, saw that he was lifted up upon the cross and slain for the sins of the world." (1 Nephi 11:32-33)[20]

Two Churches: "And he said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth." (1 Nephi 14:10)[21]

I Could Do All Things: "And I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done. And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?" (1 Nephi 17:50-51)[22]

Book Sections

The chapters in the book can be grouped into sections as follows:

Chapters 1 through 7 describe the history of the family of Lehi, his prophetic calling, and the departure of his family into the wilderness. The Jews seek to kill Lehi because he calls them to repentance. He is warned in a dream to flee Jerusalem with his family for his life. His sons have difficulty believing their father's call for sacrificing their home to live a much-diminished lifestyle in the wilderness. Laman and Lemuel doubt and complain, while Nephi prays for assurance that his father is doing the Lord's will. Nephi receives a witness of his father's prophetic calling and conveys it to his brother Sam. Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi return to Jerusalem to obtain a scriptural record engraved on brass plates. After some intense trials, they obtain the record and return to their father in the wilderness. They discover that the retrieved record contains a genealogy of Lehi's family, plus valuable scriptures such as Isaiah. The brothers return to Jerusalem again to recruit Ishmael's family to leave with them. The two families embark into the wilderness.

Chapters 8 through 15 summarize and interpret visions experienced by Lehi and Nephi.

Chapters 16 through 18 return to the historical account detailing marriages among Lehi and Ishmael's families, their time spent on the coast of the Arabian peninsula, the construction of a ship, and their journey across the ocean to their promised land on the American continent.

Chapter 19 through 22 finish the record with some editorial comments, quotations from the book of Isaiah, and a millennial prophecy.


  1. 2 Nephi 25:19 [1]
  2. 1 Nephi 2:1-4 [2]
  3. 1 Nephi 3:2-3 [3]
  4. 1 Nephi 7:1-2 [4]
  5. 1 Nephi 4:35 [5]
  6. 1 Nephi 17:4 [6]
  7. 1 Nephi 16:10 [7]
  8. 1 Nephi 17:13 [8]
  9. 1 Nephi 17:21 [9]
  10. 1 Nephi 18:23 [10]
  11. 1 Nephi 18:7 [11]
  12. 1 Nephi 4:2 [12]
  13. 1 Nephi 17:23-31 [13]
  14. Exodus 12:25 [14]
  15. 2 Kings 24:10 [15]
  16. The Fall of Jerusalem [16]
  17. 1 Nephi 3:7 [17]
  18. 1 Nephi 8:19-20 [18]
  19. 1 Nephi 10:18-19 [19]
  20. 1 Nephi 11:32-33[20]
  21. 1 Nephi 14:10 [21]
  22. 1 Nephi 17:50-51 [22]