February 17, 2008
2 Nephi 3-5
“Essentially every event or person in the Book of Mormon may well remind us of another event or person; the book is like a beautifully composed symphony with repeated themes and motifs.” —Richard Dilworth Rust, Feasting on the Word, The Literary Testimony of the Book of Mormon, p. 196
Who is Joseph, past, present & future–from Lehi’s perspective? Why did the Lord orchestrate this continuity between the dispensations? What can we learn from this thread pulled through time?
v. 1,25: How old do you think Joseph is? What does “in the wilderness of mine afflictions” mean (See v. 3, too)? Are you ever in such a place? Why do you think Lehi was in his greatest sorrow there?
v. 2-3: What can you assume about Joseph according to this verse? How is it in contrast to what Lehi tells Jacob and the other sons? What does “brought out” teach us about Lehi?
v. 4-5: What does “fruit of my loins” mean and why is it significant? See also v. 14; JST Gen. 50:24-38:31; D&C 132: 30. How does this imagery relate back to last week’s lesson to Adam & Eve (2 Ne. 2:9,18-20; see also Jacob 4:11; D&C 88:98). Is this a patriarcal blessing for Jacob? Were the other blessings to the other sons patriarcal in nature? What are the clues?
v. 8,13,17,18,21,24: What do we learn about stewardships, strengths and weaknesses here? What does this teach us about Joseph Smith and other church leaders?
v. 12: Why two sticks? What are their purposes? See 2 Ne. 29:6-9; Ezekiel 37:15-20.
v. 15: What are the similarities between the Josephs? What is the power of a name and why does the Lord care so much about names?
v. 19-21: Whose faith is mentioned here? What value is this faith? How does this apply to you? Who is actually the author of the Book of Mormon? (See also 3 Ne. 26:12; 2 Ne. 5:30-33.)
v. 5-9: Were Laman and Lemuel NOT brought up in the right way? Where is the truth of this statement? How can we envoke such a blessing upon our posterity?
v. 10,13: What did Lehi say to the son’s of Ishmael?
v. 13-14: What do you think Nephi said to them? Did Nephi think we’d have his other plates to read? What difference might it make to have these plates? Why might the Lord not want us to have these plates at this time?
v. 15: Why would Nephi spend his resources re-writing what was already written on the plates of brass?
v. 17-35: This is sometimes called “The Psalm of Nephi.” (A title made popular by Sydney B. Sparry.) In what ways is this writing different than others in the Book of Mormon? How is it the same? Do you find similar “prayers” elsewhere in the book? “…the repeated words and phrases appeal to our auditory delight in rhythm and repetition.” Note how Nephi says one thing in terms of another, using metaphores. ” My soul will rejoice in thee,” he says, “my God, and the rock of my salvation” (2 Ne. 4:30). “He continues with a series of metaphores that present concrete images relating to such experiences as being delivered, shaking, having one set of gates closed and another open, and walking in a narrow path. Why would Nephi employ this style of writing here? “Though we have the Boo kof Mormon in printed form, a number of evidences suggest that much of its content was originally transmitted orally. A ‘voice’ from the dust, the book records what various prophets heard and taught.” Try reading Nephi’s Psalm aloud and experience this prayer anew.
For a marvelous treatment of this as poetry see this BYU Studies article: “The Psalm of Nephi: A Lyric Reading,” by Steven P. Sondrup, PhD.
Why is Nephi having these conflicting feelings shortly after the death of his father?
Regarding literary style, impact and evidence of divine origin, the prevailing poetic feature of Nephi’s Psalm is parallelism. An idea is expressed in one line and then completed, intensified, comparred or reversed in following lines. How does this add to your understanding of Nephi’s message? How does this strengthen your testimony of the divinity of the record?
v. 1: Why does family division figure so prominently in the Book of Mormon?
v. 3: What afflictions do you think are being referenced? Why did those rebelling blame Nephi for their “afflictions?”
v. 6-11: List those who comprised the Nephites at this time. How do they qualify to be included in this group?
v. 14: What significance does the sword of Laban have to Nephi and his people? Why would it be hid up with the Gold Plates and shown to Joseph and the 3 witnesses? (See also 1 Ne. 4:9, 13; 2 Nephi 5:20; Jacob 1:10; Words of Mormon 1:13, 17; Mosiah 1:16; D&C 17:1; 2 Nephi 12:4; Isaiah 2:4.)
v. 7-19: What are the attributes of the Nephites? What is Nephi’s role (See 29-34)?
v. 21-25: What are the qualities of the Lamanites and how did they qualify to be named such? What is their purpose?
v. 26,28: How old do you think these brothers each are?
v. 27: What does it mean to “live after the manner of happiness?” See Alma 50:18-23.
v. 28 & 34: Why is so little written on these plates transpiring over 10 years?