1 Nephi 18

1 Ne 18:3 I did pray oft

"Nephi was a man of prayer.  He instructed those of our generation to 'pray always,' and 'not [to] perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ' (2 Nephi 32:9).  It is also of interest that Nephi had a place of prayer, that being 'the mount' where he would make his ritual ascent to the divine presence.  As already noted, for Nephi the mount was like a temple, it being the place of prayer and revelation." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 140)

1 Ne 18:6 we did all go down into the ship, with our wives and our children

The party had probably grown considerably in the 8 years since leaving Jerusalem. Ishmael died along the way but Ishmael had two married sons and five daughters that married Lehi's sons and Zoram. All seven of these young families would have been in prime child bearing age. Even Sariah and Lehi had two more sons, Jacob and Joseph, on the way. Interestingly, Nephi doesn't talk about his own children. He may not have had any sons. This statement is based on the fact that when he handed down the plates he gave them to his brother Jacob. Also, when he was near death he appointed "a man" to be king. There is no discussion of any of Nephi's sons even being considered for the position. See Jacob 1:1-3,9.

1 Ne 18:12 the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work

So it is with us. When we begin to harbor unclean thoughts or exhibit a spirit of rebellion, the Holy Ghost, our personal Liahona, will leave us to ourselves.

The sin which brought this punishment to Lehi's family was the rebellious spirit and exceeding rudeness that they exhibited. This term, "exceeding rudeness," may be unusual to us but probably conveys a disrespect for God, a lewdness of speech and action, and a selfish, indulgent spirit. In this context, it could be used to accurately describe the tone and content of many recent  TV programs and movies-"exceeding rudeness," with respect to God. We must be careful, therefore, that we don't force the Spirit to leave us because of the things we watch in our homes. If we fill our minds with the "exceeding rudeness" of  today's entertainment, our spiritual compass will cease to work.

H. David Burton

"A loving stake presidency helped their youth have a better understanding of the pitfalls of being continually bombarded by the degrading lyrics of many of today's popular songs and the indecent images portrayed in some movies and videos. They were taught these mediums can produce much that is positive, inspiring, uplifting, and attractive; or they can also desensitize the mind and make what is wrong and evil look normal, exciting, and acceptable. Many of the young people hearkened to their stake presidency and courageously destroyed their tapes, discs, and videos which were not 'virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy' (A of F 1:13) Young people, please don't listen to music that promotes Satanism or other evil practices, encourages immorality, uses foul and offensive language, or drives away the Spirit" (For the Strength of Youth pamphlet as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.57)

1 Ne 18:13 there arose a great storm, yea, a great and terrible tempest

It is a bad idea to rebel against the Lord before or during ship travel. Jonah ended up as fish food after he rebelled from the Lord at the command to go preach to the city of Ninevah. He ran the other way on a ship headed for Tarshish. His experience on the ship is similar to what happened to Nephi and his brothers. The Lord sent a great storm to beat on the ship. Eventually, the crew determined that Jonah was probably responsible for the wrath of the storm. When they inquired after him, Jonah replied:

"I am an Hebrew; and I fear the LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry land. Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said unto him, Why hast thou done this? For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD, because he had told them. Then said they unto him, What shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous. And he said unto them, Take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you. Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land; but they could not: for the sea wrought, and was tempestuous against them. Wherefore they cried unto the LORD, and said, We beseech thee, O LORD, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man's life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O LORD, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. (Jonah 1:9-15)

The Apostle Paul also had bad luck on ships. In his case it was not because of wickedness. Paul reports that he suffered shipwreck on three separate occasions (2 Cor 11:25). The 27th chapter of Acts contains a record of Paul suffering a fourth shipwreck. During this episode, the Lord showed that the power of God was with Paul. Thus, we see that great storms on the seas can represent the wrath of God.

1 Ne 18:15 after...four days, my brethren began to see that the judgments of God were upon them

It is truly incredible that the eyes of Laman and Lemuel were so blind that it took them four days to figure out that the judgments of God were upon them. Nephi's previous statement, they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them (1 Ne 2:12), rings true again. They were so wicked that there was nothing save it were the power of God, which threatened them with destruction, [that] could soften their hearts (1 Ne 18:20).

1 Ne 18:16 I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.

Nephi's fortitude is amazing. He has the integrity of Job. Nephi understood that the Lord did suffer it that he might show forth his power (v. 11). Most of us would have been whining a long time before we were released from bondage. How could the Lord make his young prophet suffer such things? Where is His mercy? Etc. etc. etc.

1 Ne 18:24 we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds

The family had brought seeds with them from the Old World. They were amazed at how well everything grew in the soil of the promised land. This was important because the primary form of obtaining food for the Nephites was agriculture. The primary means for the Lamanites was to hunt and live off the beasts of the land discussed in the next verse.

1 Ne 18:25. Were there horses on the American continent before Columbus and other explorers brought them?

"If Joseph Smith had been writing the Book of Mormon instead of translating it from ancient records, he would have been very foolish to have included references to horses on the American continent in Book of Mormon times. (1 Nephi 18:25; Enos 1:21.) In 1830, nearly all the historians and scholars were convinced there had been no horses on the American continent before the coming of Columbus. After the Book of Mormon was published, however, archaeological discoveries were made that clearly indicate that horses were in the Americas before Columbus arrived. In the asphalt deposits of Rancho LaBrea in southern California, numerous fossil remains of horses have been found that antedate Book of Mormon times. Although these discoveries do not absolutely prove horses were in the Americas in the time period covered by the Book of Mormon (about 2600 B.C. to A.D. 421), they do prove horses were there before the coming of Columbus.

"Some scientists have now accepted the possibility that horses and men lived concurrently in the Americas before the coming of Columbus. Franklin S. Harris, Jr., quotes the zoologist Ivan T. Sanderson as saying: 'There is a body of evidence both from the mainland of Central America and even from rock drawings in Haiti itself tending to show that the horse may have been known to man in the Americas before the coming of the Spaniards.' (The Book of Mormon Message and Evidences [Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1953], pp. 88-89.)" (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p.117)