When we last left Lehi and his family, they were camping out on the shore of the Red Sea next to the River Laman. The Lord had just visited Nephi and told him about his plan to lead Nephi to a new land that the Lord had prepared just for him, "a land which is choice above all other lands."
And then his dad had another dream.
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, returned from speaking with the Lord, to the tent of my father. And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold I have dreamed a dream . . . 1 Nephi 3:1-2a
This wasn't just any old dream, either. It was a Book of Mormon dream.
. . . in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem. 1 Nephi 3:2b
So Nephi and his brothers had to go back to Jerusalem. Why? Did they forget to lock the house? Leave the coffee pot on? What?
No, it's much more serious than that. They forgot their danged brass plates!
For behold, Laban hath the record of the Jews and also a genealogy of my forefathers, and they are engraven upon plates of brass. 1 Nephi 3:3
It had Lehi's whole genealogy on it, and Mormons love their genealogies (especially the ancient Jewish Mormons).
But it wasn't just Lehi that insisted on the 800+ kilometer round trip; it was God. (God is a Mormon and he's into genealogy, too.)
Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brothers should go unto the house of Laban, and seek the records, and bring them down hither into the wilderness. 1 Nephi 3:4
So God commanded Nephi and his brothers to return to Jerusalem, get the brass plates from a guy named Laban, and return "hither into the wilderness."
And after three more and-it-came-to-passes and one exceedingly, the four brothers were back in Jerusalem.
And it came to pass that when we had gone up to the land of Jerusalem, I and my brethren did consult one with another. 1 Nephi 3:10
Now they just needed to decide how to get the brass plates back from Laban.
Luckily, though, they had all read the Bible so they knew the proper way of deciding such things. They cast lots.
And we cast lots -- who of us should go in unto the house of Laban. 1 Nephi 3:11a
And the lot fell upon Laman, so he went in to talk to Laban about the plates.
And it came to pass that the lot fell upon Laman; and Laman went in unto the house of Laban, and he talked with him as he sat in his house. And he desired of Laban the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, which contained the genealogy of my father. 1 Nephi 3:11b-12
But Laban refused to give him the plates, accused him of trying to rob him, and threatened to kill him.
And behold, it came to pass that Laban was angry, and thrust him out from his presence; and he would not that he should have the records. Wherefore, he said unto him: Behold thou art a robber, and I will slay thee. 1 Nephi 3:13
After that, Laman, Lemuel, and Sam wanted to give up on the plates and return "to the wilderness."
But Laman fled out of his presence, and told the things which Laban had done, unto us. And we began to be exceedingly sorrowful, and my brethren were about to return unto my father in the wilderness. 1 Nephi 3:14
But Nephi talked them out of it in a long, boring speech.
But behold I said unto them that: As the Lord liveth, and as we live, we will not go down unto our father in the wilderness until we have accomplished the thing which the Lord hath commanded us.
blah, blah, blah
And it came to pass that after this manner of language did I persuade my brethren, that they might be faithful in keeping the commandments of God. 1 Nephi 3:15-21
So Nephi and his brothers go get their father's gold, silver, and precious things (that were left behind on their wilderness trip), brought them to Laban, and offered to trade it all for the plates.
And it came to pass that we went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold, and our silver, and our precious things. And after we had gathered these things together, we went up again unto the house of Laban. And it came to pass that we went in unto Laban, and desired him that he would give unto us the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass, for which we would give unto him our gold, and our silver, and all our precious things. 1 Nephi 3:22-24
Laban wanted their gold and whatnot but he also wanted to keep the plates. (He was into genealogy, too.) So he decided to kill them and take their stuff.
And it came to pass that when Laban saw our property, and that it was exceedingly great, he did lust after it, insomuch that he thrust us out, and sent his servants to slay us, that he might obtain our property. 1 Nephi 3:25
Nephi and his brothers escaped to the wilderness and hid in "the cavity of a rock."
And it came to pass that we did flee before the servants of Laban, and we were obliged to leave behind our property, and it fell into the hands of Laban. And it came to pass that we fled into the wilderness, and the servants of Laban did not overtake us, and we hid ourselves in the cavity of a rock. 1 Nephi 3:26-27
By this time, Laman and Lemuel had had enough. They "did speak many hard words" to Nephi and started beating him with a rod.
And it came to pass that Laman was angry with me, and also with my father; and also was Lemuel, for he hearkened unto the words of Laman. Wherefore Laman and Lemuel did speak many hard words unto us, their younger brothers, and they did smite us even with a rod. 1 Nephi 3:28
Then an angel showed up and told them to stop beating Nephi; that God has chosen Nephi to rule over them; that they should go back to Jerusalem; and that God would deliver Laban into their hands.
And it came to pass as they smote us with a rod, behold, an angel of the Lord came and stood before them, and he spake unto them, saying: Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod? Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities? Behold ye shall go up to Jerusalem again, and the Lord will deliver Laban into your hands. 1 Nephi 3:29
But Laman and Lemuel weren't convinced by the angel.
And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us?1 Nephi 3:31
Since they were Book of Mormon characters, they were used to angels dropping by to deliver messages from God. I suppose that sort of thing gets old after a while.
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