VIDEO: Nephi vs. Laman: Who was the rightful king? (Saints Unscripted)

VIDEO: Nephi vs. Laman: Who was the rightful king? (Saints Unscripted)


The Book of Mormon prophet, Nephi, had an important issue to grapple with among his people. Traditionally, it would have been Nephi’s oldest brother, Laman, who should have taken over leading the people after their father, Lehi, died. So Nephi faces the challenge of justifying and legitimizing his right to rule. This would be an issue between the Lamanite and Nephite civilizations for generations to come, and Nephi knew it would be. In this video, we’re just going to dip our toes into how Nephi addresses this issue in 1st and 2nd Nephi, in the Book of Mormon.


“The Political Dimension in Nephi’s Small Plates,” by Noel Reynolds (BYU Studies): 

“The Sword of Laban as a Symbol of Divine Authority and Kingship,” by Brett L. Holbrook (BYU Studies): 

“Why Did Nephi Write His Small Plates?” by Book of Mormon Central: 

“Nephi’s Political Testament,” by Noel Reynolds: (Also published in “Rediscovering the Book of Mormon,” edited by John Sorenson and Melvin Thorne, pg. 220).

Read the Book of Mormon here (downloadable PDF): 




— In 1 Nephi 7:20 Laman and Lemuel try to kill Nephi, but their hearts are softened and they end up bowing before Nephi. Something similar happens in 1 Nephi 17, where Laman and Lemuel actually attempt to worship Nephi.


— Also like Joseph of Egypt, Nephi provides food for his famished family. Interestingly, the bow (which Nephi uses to provide food) is a symbol associated with, you guessed it, Joseph, in Genesis 49:23–24.


— The question of future government was not lost on Laman. He fought hard to retain what he believed to be his birthright. 1 Nephi 16:37–38 reports, 


“And Laman said unto Lemuel and also unto the sons of Ishmael: Behold, let us slay our father, and also our brother Nephi, who has taken it upon him to be our ruler and our teacher, who are his elder brethren.


“Now, he says that the Lord has talked with him, and also that angels have ministered unto him. But behold, we know that he lies unto us; and he tells us these things, and he worketh many things by his cunning arts, that he may deceive our eyes, thinking, perhaps, that he may lead us away into some strange wilderness; and after he has led us away, he has thought to make himself a king and a ruler over us, that he may do with us according to his will and pleasure. And after this manner did my brother Laman stir up their hearts to anger.”

  1. Were you asking a rhetorical question about who was the rightful king or are you leaving it up to the individual to decide, since you did not make a choice yourself.
    If one accepts the Book of Mormon to be divinely inspired scripture and divinely translated, the book gives the answer pretty unequivocally. I do not look upon Nephi’s words as him trying to justify his ascension to the ruling status. From a faithful perspective, it comes across as an explanation of why God chose him to be the ruler.
    Surely, Nephi did see himself in similar circumstances as Moses and Joseph, each of whom were chosen by God also.


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