2 Nephi 5

2 Ne 5:3 Our younger brother thinks to rule over us

This conflict has afflicted Nephi from the time they left Jerusalem. It is a common problem in royal families. Herod the Great (who built the temple of Herod in which Christ taught) was so wicked and paranoid that he had the following killed: the previous king, his brother-in-law, his brother Joseph, his wife Mariamne, many of his friends, several of his sons, and hundreds of others including all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under (See Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, books XV - XVII and Matt 2:16). Consider the destruction which came to the Jaredites because the royal family fought over power and dominion. The brother of Jared had warned them about establishing kings in the land, Surely this thing leadeth into captivity (Ether 6:23). Note some of the passages which followed:

  1. Corihor rebelled against his father
  2. Shule was angry with his brother...and gave battle unto his brother Corihor
  3. Noah rebelled against Shule...and gave battle unto Shule
  4. The sons of Shule crept into the house of Noah by night and slew him
  5. Jared rebelled against his father...and gave battle unto his father
  6. Esrom and Coriantumr...were exceedingly angry because of the doings of Jared their brother...And...they did give battle unto him by night (See Ether 7-8)

This great history of conflict among the Jaredites culminated in the destruction of the entire nation. The crisis with Nephi and his brothers is getting just as dangerous. Laman and Lemuel have sought Nephi's life, and were it not for the warning of the Lord (v. 5), Nephi may well have been murdered by his brothers.

2 Ne 5:6 Did Nephi have any sisters?

"This is the only specific reference in the Book of Mormon that Nephi had sisters as well as brothers. How many sisters there were, whether they were older or younger than Nephi, or what their names may have been are questions not answered in our present Book of Mormon. However, the following statement by Erastus Snow may provide information on some of the sisters of Nephi:

'The Prophet Joseph informed us that the record of Lehi, was contained on the 116 pages that were first translated and subsequently stolen, and of which an abridgment is given us in the first Book of Nephi, which is the record of Nephi individually, he himself being of the lineage of Manasseh; but that Ishmael was of the lineage of Ephraim, and that his sons married into Lehi's family, and Lehi's sons married Ishmael's daughters.... ' (Journal of Discourses, 23:184.)

"The words that Ishmael's sons 'married into Lehi's family' would seem to indicate that the two sons of Ishmael (see 1 Nephi 7:6) were married to Lehi's daughters (and thus to two of the sisters of Nephi). However, the sisters referred to in 2 Nephi 5:6 are evidently still other sisters, because the sisters mentioned here follow Nephi when the schism with Laman occurs, whereas the sisters of Nephi who were married to the sons of Ishmael evidently stayed with their husbands and joined with Laman. (See Alma 3:7 and 47:35.)" (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, pp. 131-2).

2 Ne 5:6 all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God

The division of the people at this time is as follows, the families of Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Jacob and Joseph go with Nephi. The families of Laman, Lemuel, and Ishmael's sons become the Lamanites. That the Ishmaelites became Lamanites is shown in Alma, the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women (Alma 3:7) Nephi takes anyone who will follow the Lord-the division is not only along family lines but was divided based on allegiance to the Lord (see also Mosiah 25:22-3).

2 Ne 5:10 we did observe to keep the judgments...and the commandments...according to the law of Moses

The Law of Moses was given as a lesser law, with a lesser priesthood, as Paul said, to be a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ (Gal 3:24). Every time the Lord reveals his will to a given people by giving them commandments, there is a group of indispensable components. The law is not given in isolation; it is given with associated covenants, priesthood, ordinances, temple services, blessings, cursings, and sacrifices. The author of the Book of Hebrews taught this beautifully in chapters 7-10:

   The days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

   Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt (Heb 8:8-9).

   For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law (Heb 7:12).

   High priests...offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he (Christ) did once, when he offered up himself (Heb 7:27).

   Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made (Heb 9:1-2)


1. The Law: the 10 Commandments, etc.

focusing on one's actions & the outward


1. The Law: the higher law, focusing on one's actions, thoughts, and desires and requiring the exercise of faith.

2. The Covenant: If the Israelites keep the

commandments, they are promised, I will

walk among you, and will be your God, and

ye shall be my people (Lev 26:12).

2. The Covenant: the new and everlasting

covenant. See also Heb 10:16-20

3. Blessings: see Deut 28:1-14

3. Blessings: all the blessings of the covenant

of Abraham and eternal life (DC 132)

4. Cursings: see Deut 28:15-68

4. Cursings: to be turned over to the buffetings

of Satan (DC 104:9). See also DC 84:41-42.

5. Priesthood: Aaronic

5. Priesthood: Melchizedek

6. Temple: Tabernacle of Moses, and the

Temple of Solomon

6. Temple: Latter-day Temples with saving

ordinances for the living and the dead

7. Sacrifice: animal sacrifice of the firstborn

shall make an atonement for...his sin, and it

shall be forgiven him (Lev 4:26)

7. Sacrifice: The offering of Christ's perfect

sacrifice requires of us a broken heart and a

contrite spirit (3 Ne 9:19-20)

The Nephites lived according to the Law of Moses even to the point of building their own temples (v. 16 and 3 Ne 11:1). However, they had the benefit of understanding the symbolism of the Law as Nephi explained, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled. For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and were are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments (2 Ne 25:24-5).

2 Ne 5:16 I, Nephi, did build a temple

This temple was fashioned, as Nephi says, after the temple of Solomon. It is fair to conclude that they practiced the same forms of animal sacrifice that were performed in the temple in Jerusalem. The only difference between the administration of the temple of Solomon and Nephi's temple is that the Nephites were not of the tribe of Levi, and therefore the priesthood they held was the Melchizedek priesthood (2 Ne 6:2). As Melchizedek priesthood holders, they could administer all the temple ordinances which were done according to the Levitical order.

2 Ne 5:17 I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands

Gordon B. Hinkley

"There is no substitute under the heavens for productive labor....Most of us are inherently lazy. We would rather loaf than work....But it is work that spells the difference in the life of a man or woman." (Ensign, Aug. 1992, p. 4 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 102)

F. David Stanley

"Cutting trees is more important than thinking about cutting trees or planning to cut trees. We are becoming the world experts in meeting, thinking, planning, and organizing about working the work, but we need to do it. We need to work. While many are sitting and saying and even shouting great swelling words of marginal effectiveness, hard-working Latter-day Saints will always be found diligently doing and delivering potatoes to their neighbors. Contrary to the belief of many, 'Say' and 'Sit' will never replace 'Diligently Do.'...My young friends of the Aaronic Priesthood, say less and do more. Get it done." (Ensign, May 1993, p. 45 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 103)

Some insightful quotes on the dilemma faced by the individual who will not work are as follows:

"Doing nothing is one of the hardest of all jobs. When you get tired, you can't rest! You are in bondage when you refuse to work." Henry Taylor

"Dodging work is the hardest work of all and yields the poorest results." Author Unknown (James H. Patterson Quote Book #20, p. 53)

2 Ne 5:21 he had caused the cursing to come upon them...that they might not be enticing unto my people

The purpose of the curse was to separate the two peoples. This was done so that the righteous would not intermarry with the wicked and thereby adopt their wicked ways. In order to understand the purposes of the Lord in this regard, it is useful to examine a similar situation as found in the Old Testament. The Lord commanded the children of Israel not to intermarry with the non-Israelites in Canaan:

   if ye do in any wise go back, and cleave unto the remnant of these nations, even these that remain among you, and shall make marriages with them, and go in unto them, and they to you:

   Know for a certainty that the LORD your God will no more drive out any of these nations from before you; but they shall be snares and traps unto you, and scourges in your sides, and thorns in your eyes, until ye perish from off this good land which the LORD your God hath given you. (Josh 23:12-3)

Just as the Lamanites were to become a scourge to the Nephites (v. 25), the Canaanites were to become a scourge to the Israelites. The peoples which inhabited the land of Canaan while the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness were very wicked. They practiced homosexuality and beastiality:

   Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

   Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

   Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you:

   And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.

   Ye shall therefore keep my statutes...

   That the land spue not you out also (Lev 18:22-28).

The people were so wicked that the Lord brought judgment upon them via the armies of the children of Israel. The children of Israel were instructed to kill everyone, even women and children. This was the only way to cleanse the land of iniquity and keep the Israelites from learning of their wickedness:

   But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:

   But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee:

   That they teach you not to do after all their abominations (Deut 20:16-8).

The Lord understands the great influence a wicked and idolatrous spouse can have on a righteous individual. With all the wisdom Solomon had, he was not wise enough to stay faithful to the Lord when his many idolatrous wives began to influence him, when Solomon was old...his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God (1 Kings 11:4).

The other reason to separate the Lamanites and Nephites was that the Lord had promised that all those who were living on the land of promise that would not keep the commandments would be cut off from his presence. This is what happened when the prophets of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph left with their families to start a new life. The Lamanites then had no one to teach them the things of the Lord. See verse 20.

2 Ne 5:26 I, Nephi, did consecrate Jacob and Joseph, that they should be priests and teachers

The subject of Priesthood among the Nephites is an interesting one. At first glance, it would appear that Jacob and Joseph were ordained to be priests and teachers in the Aaronic Priesthood. However, there was no Aaronic Priesthood prior to Christ among the Nephites. During Mosaic times, only descendants of the tribe of Levi held the Levitical or Aaronic Priesthood. Since the Nephites and Ismaelites were descendants of Manasseh and Ephraim, respectively, they were not heirs to the Levitical Priesthood. Therefore, Nephi, Jacob and Joseph held the Melchizedek Priesthood. Joseph Fielding Smith said:

"The Nephites were descendants of Joseph. Lehi discovered this when reading the brass plates. He was a descendant of Manasseh, and Ishmael, who accompanied him with his family, was of the tribe of Ephraim. Therefore there were no Levites who accompanied Lehi to the Western Hemisphere. Under these conditions the Nephites officiated by virtue of the Melchizedek Priesthood from the days of Lehi to the days of the appearance of our Savior among them." (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 1: 124.)

While some have argued that the term "priests and teachers" referred not to offices of the priesthood but rather to callings in the church, the scriptural evidence in the Book of Mormon does not support this contention (see Jarom 1:11, Mosiah 23:17; 25:19, Alma 4:7; 6:1; 15:13; 23:4; 45:23, Moro 3:1). Can a priest be a priest without priesthood? Of course not. Among the Nephites, the offices of priest and teacher were ordained offices of the Melchizedek Priesthood. This is what Alma taught, 'I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people' (Alma 13:1, italics added, see also DC 76:57, and commentary for Moroni 3:1)

"Jacob reminds us that he and his brother Joseph had been appointed priests and teachers among the people under the hands of Nephi (see 2 Nephi 5:26). These callings are descriptive of their labors in the Melchizedek Priesthood, rather than offices in the Aaronic Priesthood as we know them. So far as we know, there was no Aaronic Priesthood among the Nephites, until, possibly, the coming of Christ to America. (See Promised Messiah, p. 412; New Witness, P. 348.)" (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987-1992], 2: 9.)

2 Ne 5:27 we did live after the manner of happiness

Richard J. Maynes

The world in which we live is putting great pressure on good people everywhere to lower or even abandon their standards of righteous living. However, despite the evils and temptations that surround us each day, we can and will find true joy today in living a Christ-centered life.

Centering our lives in Jesus Christ and His gospel will bring stability and happiness to our lives…

While living in Bountiful, Nephi was charged by the Lord with the responsibility to build the ship which would take them across the sea to the promised land. After they arrived in the promised land, great conflicts continued to arise between the people who centered their lives in Christ and the nonbelievers, who followed the examples of Laman and Lemuel. Ultimately, the risk of violence between the two groups was so great that Nephi and those who followed the teachings of the Lord separated themselves and fled into the wilderness for safety. At this point in time, some 30 years after Lehi and his family left Jerusalem, Nephi makes a well-documented and somewhat surprising statement, especially after recording in the scriptures the many afflictions and tribulations they had faced for so long. These are his words: “And it came to pass that we [did live] after the manner of happiness.” Despite their hardships, they were able to live after the manner of happiness because they were centered in Christ and His gospel. (Ensign, Nov. 2015, 27-30)

2 Ne 5:30 the Lord God said unto me: Make other plates

What are these other plates? They are the small plates of Nephi which constitute 1st and 2nd Nephi. See the explanation of the different plates of the Book of Mormon as found just before the table of contents. It is important to understand that Nephi does not begin the record we have been reading until 30 years after his family left Jerusalem (v. 28). Therefore, Nephi is writing his history more as his memoirs than as his daily journal. This is useful because it allows him to leave out the unnecessary details of the journey through the wilderness and focus, as he does, on the plain and precious truths of the Spirit.

2 Ne 5:32 if my people are pleased with the things of God they will be pleased with mine engravings

If one understands the things of the Lord, one can discern whether or not something has come from God. The Book of Mormon gives us a key to make such discernments, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God (Moroni 7:13). Nephi concludes his record along these same lines-if the people of the latter days really believe in Christ, they will recognize the writings of Nephi as the words of Christ, if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ...And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye-for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words at the last day (2 Ne 33:10-1).