The Book of Laman
What occurred next is that I, Laman, took it upon me to consult with my brethren about this idea that Father had taken to go into the wilderness without Jerusalem. Of course I thought the entire idea was ludicrous, but I needed to keep my thoughts to myself first. I needed to know what the others thought of all that was happening. I wanted to know exactly what I was dealing with before I revealed what a genius was I. As the eldest, it is my responsibility to lead the others. I must know what they think in order to find out how best to lead them.
So, I let each of them speak their minds before I revealed my plan to them thanks to Ninsun, my patron goddess. As they spoke, I will not pretend that I listened closely. I had already determined the course of action. I desired to discover how laborious would my persuading need to be to bend the others to my thinking, I felt very pleased with what I had come up with–such a crafty way to indulge Father’s babblings so that we could still keep our inheritances.
Sam usually allies with Nephi on all matters to my advantage but did not agree with the lad this time! He took the belief that Father may be right to leave and take us into the wilderness! I could not believe my ears though I did not show Sam. By all the elements of creation and by my life, I fail to understand why Sam would suppose father in his right mind would leave all that we have built in Jerusalem. I would swear that father was a party to some religious cult! I see I would need to work on Sam. Lemuel of course started quoting scripture, which caused us all to be smitten in the head until he finished. I determined quickly Lemuel would hearken to my words easily. He has always followed my counsel, he and Nephi has. Sam, was not always so convinced.Though Nephi agreed with Lemuel and me, I could tell from his raised brow that this time, he also considered Sam’s words. I knew what I had to do to gain them now that I knew where they stood.
“I have known Father to never tell a lie,” Nephi stated correctly. “Why would he start lying now? He must have seen the visions he claims or he is mad.”
We all looked at him with agreement but for which opinion I am not sure. Is he mad? Is he sane? I am sure he was mad! I decided to give my brilliant plan to my brothers. I looked at Nephi who did so in return expectantly towards me. Nephi irritated me that he had such a confident look with his beardless face. He felt confident in me; yet, his trust bothered me. It was as if he expected something from me that I could not give him–I knew it, but he did not know it. It seemed as though he challenged my authority by supporting my authority! Nephi cheered my every whim as youngling brothers tend to do, but Nephi was near a man if not one–intellectually and physically. I distrust such childlike trust he has in me. I put it out of my mind.
“This is my plan brothers,” I started. “We go into the wilderness with enthusiasm. Once we are there, Father will have such a difficult time without his lounging seat and sacks of wine that he will long to return to the house where the servants will be waiting. Father is old and accustomed to easy living now. He will not want to remain in the wilderness. We will need to protect him and Mother from getting injured, but we will return in days if I am correct.”
“Cruel, but effective,” Lemuel admitted. He clicked his tongue and shook his head in agreement. I smiled within myself until I saw the look on Sam’s face–always this one! Nephi was shaking his head in agreement also until he saw Sam. Sam is of a sturdy spirit and will not act on foolishness, though I have hope that he will indulge my plan. I could see no foolishness in indulging father and supporting him in his endeavor knowing the flies and the heat will change his mind about what he supposed the Lord instructed him. With his even face and features, he reminded me of a leaf. The edges are even all around except at the stubborn stem! I needed all of their support to convince Father to return to Jerusalem after this foolishness of his in the Wilderness.
“Sam,” I pleaded. “We will not cause them discomfort. We will just allow them to know the difference between living in the wilderness and home. Years have passed since Mother or Father have left the comforts of the city.”
“Laman,” Sam responded lowering his head in submission. “I have always respected your counsel, but men in the city have threatened Father’s life, which is why he must flee. If he is truly in danger, we must leave to protect his life. We must make sure that he is safe for more than days in the wilderness. We may need to wait for much longer.”
“He will not teach Sam,” Lemuel argued. “If he does not teach that the city will be destroyed and that the Messiah should come people would not be angered by him.”
“Once Father has made up his mind about something, he never relents,” Sam reminded us. “The threats to his life have been made and he is Master Lehi and elder of the counsel! He has angered some fierce men causing a stir among the people. I am confident that those dangers will not pass in a few days or weeks. It may take years!”
Sam is right. Ninsun may have not given me the stroke of genius I hoped for. Father would not abandon a commandment from his god if he thinks it is right. We would have to take him back to the city if he ever were to return—doing so against his will. I would not allow Father and Mother to suffer. I decided to oppose anyone who prevented me from taking Father back to the city. I would not have his death upon my hands to stain my inheritance!
I noted to myself that Father needed protection—protection that I could provide with Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi’s help if they followed me. If I had to stand alone, it would be problematic.
“As God is my witness and as I live, I will not allow Father to perish in the wilderness,” I swore to my brothers. “I have readied the supplies and all manner of provisions and charged the servants with keeping the house until our return. Father visited Ishmael and planned to leave with the sun before the city gate closes today.”
“We will humor him in this journey “Nephi said blankly. “What if Father can never return to his house. We would have to seek a new inheritance. Father and Mother are goodly parents and have taught us much in the languages of the people. We owe them protection brothers. We owe them help even if it is in another land.”
We nodded in silence making a vow to protect Mother and Father and to keep them in the wilderness until the rancor dissolves in Jerusalem about the strange ones. Never had I thought that Father would become one of those that went about the city.
“What of the treasure and precious things,” Nephi questioned with his annoying brow raised. I could see that this was to be a long trip. Nephi had a habit of pointing out the unpleasant things. And interrupting my thoughts!
“Leave that to me Nephi. I will convince Father to take some treasure just in case we need to barter for trade.”
It came to pass that at my Father’s house we took all that was set to journey in the wilderness. Mother and Father added provisions to those I supplied; several asses and goats a few camels and foul. We prepared fruit that was drying and strips of meat for weeks of wilderness life as if we would camp like the travelers, nomads. There was no room for the treasure.
My heart sank as I approached Father, for I knew that he had prepared a speech for me for he knew that I would insist on treasure. Father possessed an enormous amount of wealth in gold and jewels.
“Father,” I pleaded, “How will we pay for safe passage so that robbers will not attack us or thieves who steal in the night? How will we protect our women from them being alone in the wilderness and uncovered in the sun to shine upon us and scorch our skin?”
I spoke many words to Father and he listened with patience giving me hope that he would consider. Though I trust the servants to care for the home while we went on this wilderness retreat, I did not trust that the treasure, my birthright, would all be accounted for upon our return.
“God will protect us and guide our paths if we are obedient…” Father started to prattle and I could not believe what he said. He went on with his prattle about keeping commandments. I did not understand why he used his authority to speak words that he says came from his god. Adonai has provided all the laws we needed through Moses, yet Father found it good to add more.
Once he stopped speaking Lemuel joined as we called Father a visionary man with dreams that he believed came from God. His god did not make known such things to us, yet we are obligated to obey Father as our leader. I could not help but harass Father at every turn, going against my own plan to make it a happy leaving. I spoke to him about it until we approached the gate of the city. I could see my brothers had seen my plan collapse. If I forcefully opposed Father without a just means, I could lose my family!
I began to accept the fact that we are leaving. I told Father I would run back and check with the servants once more. As I ran, I decided to see how far Father would go with this plan of his, or the one he says “God” gave him.
I looked about things in the home and decided if I wanted to leave my special cloak so that it would be safe when I return. I decided to keep Ninsun safely protected in my cloak on my person and invited two servants to travel with me making us quite the group of travelers. If Father wanted to leave behind his wealth, I would hide most of it. I left charge with one servant, an older man who would not make the trip.
Lehi & Family Leaving Jerusalem
I do not take challenges well, when I know that I am correct. I could not help but grumble the entire journey, which Lemuel also began to do so. We would speak quietly to each other about the detestable backwards journey. Father could have misinterpreted. Jeremiah was cast into prison, not killed—and his life was threatened just like Father. We did our part traveling in the wilderness and looking after the animals and hunting for food. All I could think of was the gold we left.
We set up camp at the shores of the Red Sea. Father made a dramatic show of the waters that pour into the sea and compared me to them. I decided days ago that Father was old and probably close to death. The wilderness situation would be over, with him dying of dementia. I hoped not, but I thought so.
Father then proceeded to preach to us in the wilderness before we could finish setting up camp. Of course, we had not set up the camp well. The servants sat to listen along with Nephi, Sam, and my sisters. I am opposed to servants being treated like equals!
Father directed all of his preaching to Lemuel and me for some strange reason. I felt it a bad omen that he would do so, since I was the one holding the family together! Father spoke of God as if he was the one to secure the provisions and stock the shelter! I made provisions to order the servants! I deserved better than a lecture about faith! I am the rightful leader of the family—under the direction of Father.
After some time in the wilderness, Father approached Lemuel and me and told us “God” told him to tell us to go to the house of Laban and get some record. I could not believe his request! First, we hearkened to him going into the wilderness to protect his life making it seem as if we are all strange ones! Lehi, Father, wanted us to go to Jerusalem for records!
“In one of your visions, could you not have asked if there is anything important to bring,” Lemuel blurted out before I could check him. The fact that he spoke my thoughts help me hesitate to reprimand him for questioning Father so openly. That was my responsibility to counsel Father as the elder son.
“What he means Father;” I apologized with my tone, “is that if God wanted you to have the record why did he not say it while we were down the street? It is a hard thing to go all the way to this place. We will be taking resources away from the camp and man power that you need to protect you and the others. What if Laban was offended by your preaching in the city? Would he have faith in your claim on the record?”
“Sons,” Father pleaded. “I am not requiring this at your hands, but the Lord has requested it.”
Clearly, Father was not letting this delusion go. I accepted his command, but I am sure he knew I did not like it or agree with it because someone could follow us back to camp and actually kill Father! I became angry at the thought of it! If anyone attacked my family, I would kill them to protect my birthright and my Mother and Father. When Father dies, I expect to have the holy garments he wore. I will not disobey Father and jeopardize that. So saying did not mean I had to agree with foolish dreams and vain plans. We would fail. Laban is known to be unreasonable, and he is in the highest council of the elders over the city! He commands men. One did not casually approach such a man.
Father called Nephi and Sam to the tent. We had not discussed my plans in days and had almost forgotten about them we so busily went about setting up the camp and securing the area against bandits we could not pay off without gold and silver thanks to “God.” I must admit, I felt more alive when travelling. Home was too controlled. Out in the wilderness I could meditate and commune with the goddess of wisdom, Ninsun. I had become more attached to her and her special help now that I was in the wilderness. She did not speak, but she gave me ideas.
Before our journey to Jerusalem, Nephi took a hike to the near mountain. I never had known him to go off alone as such. When he returned, he claimed to have a vision! I cursed every god I ever knew. I repented later. I had not been studios enough in meeting with my brothers to encourage Father to keep an open mind about returning. We had made life so great in the wilderness for weeks that all had become too comfortable. Nephi claimed now to speak with God! I looked at Sam expecting him to make a claim of revelation before Nephi!. He only nodded in agreement. I knew he would fall for a delusion if his younger Nephi provided it–especially since Nephi apparently had changed his mind with my plan. I always liked Sam, but he indulges Nephi! Like Father, Nephi is so loud with his opinions! Now I would have it coming from him and Father. I looked at Lemuel and we decided to give up the moving back to Jerusalem plan. The delusion was spreading. Maybe a trip back to Jerusalem would change Nephi and Sam’s mind.
This story is based on people mentioned in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. For the actual history and book itself, click the link on the book’s title. It will take you to the site where you can read online.
This work does not attempt to mimic the 19th century English style writing into which The Book of Mormon was translated.
All rights Reserved, Rodric Johnson Copyright 2012