Nephi listened to the murmurings of his brothers, Laman and Lemuel. They complained because their father, Lehi, was leaving Jerusalem. He had tried to tell them this great city would be destroyed, but they did not believe such a thing could be.

Nephi was younger than Laman and Lemuel. He had listened to his father; then he had gone to the Lord in prayer because he had wanted to understand. And the Lord had visited Nephi and softened his heart so he believed all the words that had been spoken by his father. Nephi told his younger brother, Sam, all that he had seen and heard, and Sam believed too. Laman and Lemuel would not seek the Lord for themselves, nor would they believe the words of Lehi or of Nephi.

Then Lehi told his sons that the Lord had commanded that they return to Jerusalem to the house of Laban, who had engraved on plates of brass the record of the Jews and the genealogy of their people. He instructed them to go to Laban’s house and bring the records back into the wilderness.

When Laman and Lemuel heard this, they grumbled again and complained that their father was asking them to do a hard thing. Lehi replied that he had not asked them to do this, but it was a commandment of the Lord. Then, turning to Nephi, Lehi said, “Because you have not murmured, you will be favored of the Lord and he will help you.”

Nephi answered, “I will go, for I know the Lord would not ask me to do anything without helping me to do it.”

Nephi and his brothers returned to Jerusalem and went to Laban’s house.

Laman was chosen to go in to talk to Laban, but when he did, Laban became angry and thrust him out of the house. Laman and Lemuel wanted to go back to Lehi’s tent, but Nephi suggested that they go instead to their old home in Jerusalem and get the gold and silver and precious things that had been left there and offer these things to Laban in exchange for the records. Laban kept the riches as well as the records, and he sent his servants to kill the brothers, who hid in a hole in a large rock.

Laman and Lemuel were so angry that they began to beat Nephi and Sam with a rod. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and said, “Go up to Jerusalem again and the Lord will deliver Laban into your hands.”

In disbelief Laman and Lemuel said, “Why, Laban is a mighty man and has fifty servants.” Nephi answered, “Let’s go up again into Jerusalem, for the Lord is mightier than all the earth and stronger than all of Laban’s men.”

When it became night, the brothers went again to hide outside the city walls. Nephi went into Jerusalem and to Laban’s house. He cautiously crept into the garden and saw Laban there, fallen on the ground, quite drunk with wine.

Nephi was told by the Spirit to take Laban’s sword and kill him. Nephi said in his heart, “Never at any time have I shed the blood of a man.” Then the Spirit said, “The Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.”

Nephi took the sword and cut off Laban’s head. Then he dressed himself in Laban’s fine clothes, put Laban’s sword and armor on, and went into the house.

He commanded a servant to get the sacred records and carry them to his brothers, who waited outside the walls. The servant was named Zoram, and he went willingly because he thought that Nephi was Laban. Nephi later promised him freedom if he would go with them to the land of promise.

So Nephi and his brothers took the plates of brass and the servant of Laban and returned safely to the tent of their father, Lehi, in the wilderness.

[illustration] Illustrated by Gary Kapp