After hearkening to the words of my younger brother Nephi, I can truly bear witness that what our father spoke of is true. It came to pass that our father, Lehi, called us to come unto him in the tent in which he did dwell while we lived in the Valley of Lemuel. Father spoke unto Nephi and I, telling us of the command that God gave for us to return to the land of Jerusalem to obtain a record from among our brethren the Jews. Because we had separated ourselves from them, our father, Lehi, distinguished us from our brethren back in the land of our inheritance, but had yet to form a proper name by which to call our small group.
My Father Lehi said unto us “Go, for the Lord hath commanded you to return to the city of the Jews in Jerusalem and retrieve plates of brass which contain the law of the Lord so that he can preserve the commandments of God. Your elder brethren have censured me for thus asking, but unto you, I pray you do not murmur like unto them.”
I bowed my head before my father Lehi. He knew that I, Sam, am not a man of many words and am not disposed to speaking much in gatherings. I am a scribe; and I enjoy my art and employ to my hurt that we have been led to the wilderness to protect the life of my father. I trust that my father Lehi is truly called as a witness of the destruction of the people and was commanded to leave the city and flee into the wilderness.
I have sought my own understanding of what my father Lehi has revealed unto us and have a conviction. My brother Nephi has also sought out the Lord and reveals that he has a great vision and was visited of the Lord to know the things of which father spoke are indeed true. I hearken to his words and respected that he was to have a great part in God’s plan.
Nephi spoke for us both when he told our father Lehi that he would go and do the things, which the Lord has commanded, that we should do. The Lord will give no commandment unto man that he has not also prepared a way for them to complete
the commandment that he gives.
So we brothers, Laman, Lemuel, Nephi, and I, Sam went about preparations to return to the city of Jerusalem. Since only we brothers were to return, it saved time in preparations and the journey towards the city. Laman and Lemuel, our elder brothers began to behave more strangely that usually on this journey back to the city of the Jews.
I spoke to Lemuel once and he chastised me for referring to the Jews as if we were not of that same family. I explained that I used the term out of respect to father and his revelations. He said nothing in response to my explanation and made a low hissing sound. I am sure that there was bitterness in his soul because never had father spoken to us as well as them when sending us on assignment. Also, he spoke to us separately as brothers on two sides of the issue of the commandments. Our father Lehi knew that Laman
and Lemuel were not in agreement with any of the things that he commanded us. Laman, out of respect, hid his displeasure from the family, or tried to do so. Lemuel was more careless and allowed all of his displeasure to show.
If it were not for Laman, I am of the thought that Lemuel would have abandoned the family and went unto the city of Jerusalem to become a beggar rather than journey with us in the wilderness. Lemuel truly hearkened only to Laman
as if he were the leader of the family and not our father.
Laman was the leader of us brothers, but I think that Lemuel hearkening to his words and me hearkening to the words of Nephi may have caused a rift to form dividing us as brothers. I felt as if I had to protect Nephi from the other, though Nephi did more to protect me his elder brother. Of the four of us brothers, I did not inherit the large stature that Nephi and Laman had or the intellect that Lemuel possessed. Father said that wisdom and skill were my blessings. He often referred to my ruddy looks and though I was fair to look upon, that was of small consequence.
I respected all my brothers because each had a gift that helped my family. Laman’s leadership, Lemuel’s intellect, Nephi’s bravery and conviction and my confidence. I did not doubt that the Lord could lead us. I did not doubt my mind when I came to a conclusion; and I obeyed Father.
On our trip to Jerusalem to speak unto Laban, things changed between us brothers permanently for me. After we journey we met outside the city to have conference to see who would go to the house of Laban and seek the plates. Lemuel suggested that we draw lots to see who would go. I thought that Laman should go, being the eldest; and the lot fell to him anyway.
While Laman went to seek the records, we returned onto the house of my father and asked for Saul, my father Lehi’s chief servant, to inform us of the news since we have been gone. What he revealed to us brought us great sadness and agitation.
“I knew that evil would come of us leaving,” Lemuel hissed to me while his face burned with color. Lemuel could hardly contain himself from tears it seemed. He only controlled himself when Laman was near. “The elders think that Father left the counsel and abandoned his house!”
Unfortunately, it was true, as Saul had reported. The members of the counsel constantly questioned Saul about the return of our father Lehi of which he could give no answers. If Father did not send word to them, he would lose his seat, be removed from the record and given over to the authorities, as were Jeremiah and the others called “strange ones.” I called them prophets.
We returned to our meeting place without the city walls to await Laman’s return. Lemuel went on speaking to himself about not being able to return to Jerusalem now that the family was shamed. Father had spoken to Laban some time ago about viewing the records in his custody and arranged to see them. Laban displayed them to a private party and Father expressed an interest to purchase them on several times in the past I know. I doubt this news from Saul of my father Lehi’s standing in the community being negative was very helpful to Laman as he went about to Laban’s home to get the plates.
It came to pass that after some time of Lemuel ranting to himself almost to the point of calmness, Laman bolted towards us with instructions for us to flee into the outer wall of the city and converse.
We conversed for hours as Laman kept looking up and around to see if the guards of Laban had followed him. I thought it odd but not surprising that Laban called him a robber. I had never seen my eldest brother so terrified in my years of life! Seeing such fear in his eyes made me doubt and fear knowing that God commanded us to go and get the plates. I would not return to my father without the plates. I did not know how to communicate that to the others, but I knew that God had commanded my father to send us here.
Nephi did not participate in the discussion other than to listen as Laman debated with himself verbally on what the next step to take would be. Lemuel offered no help other than trying to figure out ways to control the damage our trip into the wilderness caused the image of our father.
“When he fled,” Lemuel reasoned, “the elders counsel and quorum thought he did so out of shame for having spoken against the city and the people–calling them to repent before the city is laid to waste and its people carried away into Babylon! I would be angry also if he called me a sinner.”
“Lemuel,” Laman chastised, “You remember of whom it is that you speak. I am the elder brother. I speak for Father and I speak about him. It is my right.” Laman sat down after he spoke thinking of what to do next. Lemuel stood stung by Laman’s words waiting patiently I suppose for a manner to exercise the same authority over Nephi and me.
“This is it,” cried Laman. “By Ninsun
this is it.”
“Who or what is Ninsun,” I questioned. Laman’s face blanched and he grabbed a notched place in his cloak.
“Sam, it is a pagan reference I picked up in my travels.”
“It sounds like a foreign god I have heard of from among the Babylonians brother,” I said. I knew that I made an accusation then, but I am no coward when it comes to defending my God. I had known for some time that the pagan gods of the nationals we did trade with may have affected Laman, but not to this extent and I would have him reckon with me this day on it. I had no intention to follow or consort an apostate to the Lord God.
“Sam,” Laman said with anger in his voice as he stood to confront me. I stood before him awaiting him to explain. He looked down upon me as if expecting me to bow out in respect as at times before because I honor his command as the one chosen of Father. I could and would not until he explained himself.
“Why are you angry brother,” I asked. Laman’s eyes burned and I knew that he would strike me if he had found a valid reason to do so.
“Sam,” he said again. “I have just been threatened by the guards of Laban to take away my life and my own brother would rise up against me because of a misplaced word.”
“I am sorry brother,” I admitted once I realized how quickly I had forgotten why we are in this place. I bowed my head and asked him to pardon me, which he did quickly and put his arms around me exhaling deeply as if releasing all of his anger, which I know he did. He held me too tightly and long because I perceived his thoughts as it were almost.
I did not fear my brother, but he was a strong man and large in stature. I felt that he wanted to attack me for questioning him, a feeling I had never felt before. I suppose that having fled for his life and being challenged by me, Sam, when I should have been comforting him cause him to have a bad moment.
“Laman,” I said as we embrace and his body lost its tautness as he lost anger. “I did not think to offend you brother when I spoke those words. I should know that you have just fled for your life and are trying to keep Fathers commands.”
I gather he thought to hide the anger in his eyes by embracing me before I perceived it. It was his custom to embrace us often when he was angered. I suppose it allowed him to release the emotion without harming us. I could perceive this in people. Nephi and Laman shared this trait with one another, though Nephi had control over his anger and rarely experienced such emotions. Nephi and Laman were the same in speech and manner and likeness. I could tell that Nephi adored Laman, but Laman did not share that same feeling for Nephi yet I knew they love one another.
Laman began again to explain what his thought was. He said that we could return to our father Lehi in the wilderness and explain that Laban would not give us the record and tried to have Laman killed. Laman explained that we could convince Father to return to Jerusalem, clear up the issue, and clear his name of the ill spoken of it. I did not like this plan but it made logical sense to me. I could find no reason to disagree.
After Saul had spoken to us about the threats from those who sought to kill Father because of his words, I thought it a good idea to see if it is what the Lord would command. I did not think so, but I knew that if Father said it to Laman he would listen. I allowed my desire to show my support to cloud my mind to the vow I made not return without the plates.
As I opened my mouth to say I would not go down to our father without the plates, Nephi opened his and in a very sure voice made an oath using the same words I had used to make my vow that we would not go down to Father without the records. I saw in him then a leader and a rival to Laman.
“As I was about to say Nephi,” I said as we walked to one another and embraced.
“How do you suppose we get them,” Lemuel asked with a look of astonishment on his face, no doubt because Nephi disagreed with Laman.
“I have a plan if Laman will allow it,” he acquiesced to Laman just in time to prevent another “I am the eldest brother” speech from Laman.
“Our father has much gold…” Nephi started to explain. I could see Laman’s eyes brighten, for he understood gold very well and quickly agreed that Laban would trade some of Father’s wealth for the records.
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 2013