The Book of Laman
I, Laman, took it upon myself to reclaim Father after I heard the strange things that he spoke and wrote in a scroll. Father, Lehi, began to take tools to write for him! As the chief translator and scribe of the estate, he left the bulk of the scribing to Lemuel and Sam, which greatly hindered the process once he started recording his dreams.
Father did not write the scripts for our associates from Babylon proper! I had given them an oath that they would have their records before they left to travel before the rainy season.
I had to act, for only Father could give the best translation of their tongue. I had charged them an excessive sum, for I knew that no other scribe society but ours had learned their tongue since many sided with Egypt in the political tension. I told Father to remain neutral, though he supported Egypt personally.
Father gave the record to Lemuel, and he began to translate and order the scrolls. It was slow work for my brother, however. He was a genius, but I needed Father to have his mind on work and not some strange visions he began to have.
Mother, Sariah, was too strained with Anna, the wife of Ishmael to help Father scribe, as was her usual task. Mother and Anna planned weddings for our brides to join our families. I was of age and worried little knowing that I had choice among the daughters of Ishmael.
“Father,” I pled. “The men from Babylon do await the scrolls from whom I took a small fortune. These men seek to have their dialect translated into Hebrew for records of the churches of Babylon to be preserved before the rainy season and Lemuel will not finish without your help.”
I spoke to him as he gazed as if I was not there. The more I obtained business for Father, it seemed he became more absent in his mind and distant from me. I needed to concentrate on building the business, not scribbing!
“Father,” I spoke more loudly as he sat in his place on the pillow I bartered for him atop his mat for prayer. He looked into my eyes and I saw distance there that brought me trouble. Then he spoke rapidly—disregarding my plea to help Lemuel.
I do not recall all he spoke, but it was of a vision with fire and a book of strange words that he must eat. He spoke on and on about having to tend to the needs of Jerusalem and go before the people. I thought this strange as he prattled on. He was a member of the council, yes, and a highly respected member. Why though would he speak to the people? That was for the prophets! Did he feel our god spoke to him to take up a role with the prophet?
I muttered a quick prayer to Adonai and the goddess of clarity and wisdom Ninsun. I personally made an image of her that I carried in my cloak for brilliance, and she has yet to fail me.
“We have taken of these children of Judah from Babylon. They are Elders in their quorum and seek our honest work. I have made an oath to them Father to have their work before the rainy season approaches.” I made sure I did not speak with any hint of anger, just urgency. I respect the old law to honor Mother and Father —though I fear Father had become ailing in his old age in the mind—talking of visions. It troubled me that I saw the time approaching were I would have to retire Father and take on the leadership of the family. I would need a wife first.
As I thought upon these things, I heard him say what I thought was some trick for me not listening to all of his prattle.
Said Father, “I must warn the people that Jerusalem will be destroyed”
My mind grew dark and angry. I thought upon what Nephi said that Father spoke only good of Jerusalem not evil like Jeremiah. How could Father say this—being that I am to marry? Mother is at the house of Ishmael arranging to join the two families with Mother Anna!
“Father, our lives are here. I am to run the society here!” I staggered in my speech, earnestly bowing my head to force my anger down and hide my scornful eyes. I could not replace my ailing Father until I marry and he is talking of preaching with those strange ones! It will ruin the business interests I have built for the last two years!
Father spoke with such conviction that I knew the matter was not to be discussed further in opposition. As the eldest son, I had to obey and speak for Father’s decision. I did so to my sisters, but to my brothers I spoke my heart. We all agreed that Father was behaving out of character and needed protection.
Five days did Father preach before business started to suffer. Lemuel frantically worked to complete the records of the men from Babylon before they left for home. Sam worked on other records as I helped Lemuel. People called for their records to be delivered when they saw Father telling them all the evil that will follow them into Babylon! I was shaken and afraid for Father’s welfare! Nephi was there to guard Father each day and told me of the terrible predictions!
We laughed at some, but mourned because of the business loss. I thought it humorous that Father thought Jerusalem could be destroyed. It was large and under the protection of Egypt. The people pay homage to Adonai, the god of the city. He would not let it fall!
I begged mother to speak with Father , but she only raised her hands to Adonai as she faced the temple and said, “I trust Lehi is a prophet. He feels to say these things and I feel to honor him.”
I did not show my true feelings to Mother’s claim to Father being a prophet. I could not imagine it and thought Mother mad! If Father’s madness was catching, I prayed to Ninsun to help me find the cure!
Laman and Lemuel
That night, Father awoke Lemuel and me. He told me that God instructed him to go into the wilderness! I lost my composure and in the loudest whisper, I asked him if he had gone mad! Lemuel quoted scripture and called him a visionary man with such venom that it had to be in derision though he cast his eyes down before Father in respect. Father stared at us with those troubling eyes that seem to pierce me.
“You will prepare the equipment and settle our affairs here as we prepare to go down in the wilderness Laman,” Father commanded in his rumbling voice. I could feel the finality in my chest of his words and dared not show disapproval. I did ask to speak freely of this and question him and he so allowed me with Lemuel’s audience.
He did not hesitate to allow my right, knowing that I have been nothing but loyal and obedient—as far as he knew. I told him that I did not understand his sudden change and it caused me to question his judgment.
“As the first son, I take issue with this new change and I need an explanation if I am to bear this news off to the family Father,” I closed with after bearing my heart.
He tried to explain, and I was almost convinced until he said we must only take provision with us to live—no treasures. I touched my cloak, hoping Ninsun would guide my next words, but she only left me with, “I will obey Father.”
Lemuel repeated my lead, but I could see when I dared to glance up that Father did not believe we were sincere. We were not.
None of us approved! Sam did not protest, but I could see in his eyes he disapproved when I announced it to the family at breaking. My sisters cast their eyes down knowing that they might not marry if we are shamed for abandoning our house after the commotion Father made with his preaching. My heart filled with rage and I understood why some wanted to kill Father. He was so stubborn!
Nephi was not quiet about his disagreement when I spoke to him singularly, but he wanted to please Father. I understood the boy wanting to honor Father. I had to smite him for verbally expressing his disagreement with Father to me. I was Father’s word to the family. He understood and rubbed his shoulder.
“Laman, I can tell that you do not agree with Father as we speak. You might smite my arm again, but I am no fool. What will you do?”
“As usual, Nephi, you are too quick to speak your mind. Father is meditating today. Gather Sam and Lemuel. We will trade before the temple the writings we have finished and have a meeting of brothers away from home. We will honor Father Nephi.”
He bowed his head a little in agreement with worried apologetic eyes and went about as he was told. Ninsun had given me a plan to make this work for our benefit. The wilderness is the best place for Father to go.
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