Posted by: isaiahsfan | February 26, 2007

More Thoughts on 1 Nephi 1

Posted by Cheryljunegirl

Cheryl, for whatever reason I can’t seem to reply at the blog, so I am just e-mailing you my thoughts about Chapter 1.  will you please post for me.  I was also wondering if maybe we could extend the chapters to a two week period to give people a chance to ask questions and then receive responses from others.  I would love to hear from more of us about Chapter 1 before moving on to the next chapter.  What do you think?

My thoughts on Chapter 1:

After reading both the footnotes and the Bible Dictionary about the representation of the pillar of fire I think in this case it represents the the presence of God. (Remember the Shekina (sp.?) glory) The Bible Dictionary states that fire frequently is used to symbolize the presence of God, revealed either in mercy or in judgement.    I think in Lehi’s case it was both. Mercy to Lehi and the righteous, but the showing of the judgement to come upon Israel.  Although we never are told precisely what this vision was, we are given Lehi’s response which was that he did “quake and tremble exceedingly”. I found it most interesting that the footnote reference takes you to Isaiah’s call to prophecy.  The wording in Isaiah does not use the words “fear and trembling” like you might think from the footnote reference, but does speak of Isaiah’s feelings of unworthiness as he receives this call.  Why would this be the footnote reference?  It makes a case that even though we don’t know exactly what the vision was, that sometime during that vision came the call of Lehi to prophecy.  I think that I would “quake and tremble exceedingly”, also upon receiving that call. In verse 8 we learn that Lehi being overcome with the Spirit cast himself upon his bed and then while in the Spirit received the second vision.  We know that the Spirit can be so strong as to overcome our physical capacities, but I also wonder if Lehi was pondering the enormity of the call while being overcome with the Spirit and received the second vision.  I do think that the rock (along with the pillar of fire) and the bush that could not be consumed are analogous because they both proceeded a call and a plea for help from the Lord.  In Moses’ case the Lord was responding to the the cry and affliction of the people and in Lehi’s case the Lord was responding to the cry of Lehi in behalf of his people.  I would love hear your insights on this Cheryl.  I know they will lead to a process of thought that should be obvious, but I totally missed and then when I read what you say it will be an “aha” moment and I’ll think, “of course!”  Before I move on to the second vision I just want to comment on the whole process of studying the Book of Mormon.  As I was studying Chapter 1 this week, I found the following from “1 Nephi: Study of Book of Mormon” Reviewed by Larry K. Smith, Provo, UT:  Maxwell Institute.  It was under the FARMS studies.  It was pointed out that 1 Nephi 1:1-2 form the following Chiasmas:

           a. knowledge
                    b. record
                            c.  language
                                    d.  learning of the Jews
                            c.  language
                    b. record
             a. knowlege

This would suggest that as we make a study of the Book of Mormon that a key would be the learning of the Jews.  I think all those tools we used to help us with Isaiah will also come in handy as we study the Book of Mormon.  I think I found a thematic Chiasmas for Chapter 1.  Tell me what you think?

          a.  Nephi makes a RECORD (vs. 1-3)* the word RECORD is repeated in
              all three verses, so I think this shows just how important this record is to
              be.  Also it is repeated three times in verse 3 that Nephi is making the
              record so this also must be a very important point.

                    b.  prophets PROPHECY (vs. 4)

                            c.  Lehi prays with all his HEART (vs. 5)

                                  d.  Lehi’s VISIONS (vs. 6- 13)

                             c. Lehi praises the Lord and his whole HEART
                                 is filled (vs. 14-15)

                     b.  Lehi PROPHECIES (vs. 16- 20.5) *verse 17 is problematic, but it is almost as if Nephi is making an aside to again remind us that it is HIS, Nephi’s record, but yet the inclusion of the visions and response to the visions must be extremely important for Nephi to include in his own record.

      a. Nephi to show (through his RECORD) the tender mercies of the Lord.

With the center of the Chiasmas being the visions, we know that this is the heart of this chapter.
So what do we learn from the visions:

A.  Prophets are called
B.  Heavens are opened
C.  Ministering of Angels
D.  Authority of Christ and His Apostles
E.  Wicked will be destroyed, Righteous will prevail and the Lord is
merciful to the Righteous.

This goes right along with what m&m commented (is that Marilyn or Marcie, i’m guessing Marcie because of the double m?).  This is a pretty great way to start the scriptures that were written specifically for the Last Days.

Now to address Cheryl’s question about the book given to Lehi.  I do think it was a specific book, but not necessarily a book that we have as part of our scripture.  I think it was probably the same book that was given to both Ezekiel and John the Revelator.  The response of both Ezekiel and John was that the book was sweet to the mouth.  Lehi does not specifically say this, but he does praise the Lord after reading it and seeing the vision.  In Revelations, John’s response to the book was also that it was bitter to the belly.  I’m sure seeing the destruction of even the wicked, who you would have hoped that at some point would have turned to righteousness would be a “bitter pill to swallow”.  Just a thought.  Anxious to hear all of yours. 

Sorry for the novel, but I have really been enjoying this and can’t wait to
hear everyone else’s insights!



  1. M&M is Michelle, otherwise known as “Mulling & Musing,” a friend I met on line. I invited her to come on over and see what we were doing! Thanks for your comments, M&M.

  2. These are great thoughts…thanks! (And thanks again for letting me know about this blog.)

    Just a passing thought…I have wondered sometimes if the book might be symbolic, too….after all, it was a vision, and visions aren’t always literal, right? Maybe symbolic of the prophetic mantle and connection with the Savior? (I don’t have a problem with it being potentially a literal book, but I think it’s interesting to consider that it might be symbolic, especially given the context in which it was given.)

    Do you ever wonder about the different ways prophets can receive instruction?

  3. I’m with M&M–I see the book Lehi was given as being very symbolic. I think the book represents a prophetic calling and the things which are taught to each prophet to prepare him for his calling, and things which he must impart to the people he ministers to. I’ve been reading the accounts that go along with the “Heavenly Book Motif” and noticing the similarities with Lehi’s account.

    John the Revelator obtained a “little book” from an angel, (a heavenly source) and was told to eat it (read and absorb its teachings). It was sweet to the taste, but made his belly bitter. I agree with Cheryl that it must have been bitter to see the way his message would be rejected, and the destruction of the wicked in the last days. An interesting variation in this account is that John asked for the book.

    Ezekiel heard the voice of a man on a throne who called him to preach to the rebellious nation of Israel. He was told to open his mouth and a hand (heavenly source) gave him a “roll of a book” to eat (read and absorb). Ezekiel said that within were lamentations, mourning, and woe, but that when he ate the book, it was like honey for sweetness.

    Moses was called up into Mount Horeb by the voice of the Lord. While there, he was given instructions on how to build a temple and administer therein. Following these instructions, he was given “two tables of testimony, tables of stone,” written with the finger of God (heavenly source). I wonder if the children of Israel were meant to receive a commission at that time to bring the gospel to all the world. The tablets would have given them revelation and instruction that they did not receive because of their sin. Instead, Moses ground up the golden calf into powder, which he strewed upon the water and made them drink it. So instead of consuming the word of God, they consumed the results of their apostasy.

    Isaiah’s prophetic call is very similar to the others. He saw the Lord on a throne, and received a commission, but in this case instead of eating a book, an angel (seraphim) touched his mouth with a live coal. It is quite possible that this live coal from the altar represents the same thing the book does. If so, we learn one more aspect of receiving this call, for when the coal touched Isaiah’s lips, his iniquity was taken away, and his sin purged.

    I just loved what Kelly said about being given a “little book” of our own! If I liken these prophets’ experiences to my own, I can see that I am given a book in the form of scriptures, teachings of the prophets, or perhaps other personal revelation, that I must eat and absorb in order to learn what the Lord would have me know to go forth and fulfill whatever commission he gives me. Really consuming what is given to me from a heavenly source might cause some bitterness to my belly, but it will be sweet to taste, and able to purge my sin and make me worthy to be his servant.

    More thoughts later!

  4. I can see that I am given a book in the form of scriptures, teachings of the prophets, or perhaps other personal revelation,

    +patriarchal blessing…

  5. It is rather overwhelming to read other folks’ comments who actually “get it” on this blog. Teaching Seminary makes you study the scriptures more because you have to know it well enough to teach it. The teacher always learns more. Sometimes those Seminary teachers can be intimidating. We read the scriptures every day now, not sporadically like we used to do, but just reading isn’t enough. I liked the analogy of “eating the book”. To study the scriptures is to bite into them hard (read with interest as if never having seen them before), chew them up slowly (ponder and pray about what is read) and not let one crump escape (look up cross references), then allow them to digest completely (flood the mind with the symbolism and personal application of what is read), and feel the satiety of a good meal (the Spirit confirms the truth of the scriptures). That’s how it should be done, but that’s not what actually happens unfortunately. It is rather daunting when you are at the “sniff and lick” stage and others are in devouring mode!

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