While Lehi’s family was camped in the valley of Lemuel, the Lord commanded Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem to bring Ishmael and his family to the valley. After Ishmael’s family joined them, they waited for some time for further directions from the Lord. During this time Zoram and the sons of Lehi married the daughters of Ishmael.
One night the voice of the Lord spoke to Lehi, commanding him to begin their journey into the wilderness the next day. When Lehi arose in the morning, he found a strange object on the ground near his tent. It was “a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was [made] of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles.” One spindle pointed the way they should go in the wilderness. The ball, called the Liahona, was a special gift from the Lord.
Lehi, Zoram, and Ishmael and their families gathered everything they would need, including seeds of every kind, and started out. The Liahona guided them along the most fertile parts of the land, and they hunted for food with their bows and slings.
One day when Nephi was hunting for food, his steel bow broke. His brothers were angry with him because their bows had become weak and useless and they had depended on Nephi to furnish food for their hungry families. Even Lehi began to murmur against the Lord.
Instead of complaining, Nephi found some wood and carved a new bow. He made an arrow out of a straight stick. Then he went to his father and asked for his advice as to where he should hunt for food. Nephi loved Lehi and still respected him as patriarch of the family, even though Lehi’s faith had wavered.
Lehi was sorry he had murmured against the Lord. Humbly he prayed for guidance. “And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord said unto him: Look upon the ball, and behold the things which are written.”
Following the directions on the ball, Nephi went to the top of a mountain, where he killed wild beasts. He returned to camp with enough food for everyone. Humbled, they all gave thanks to the Lord.
While they traveled, the Liahona helped them in other ways. Teachings and instructions appeared on the ball and changed from time to time. But they only appeared if the travelers were faithful and obedient.
Lehi and his family were in the wilderness for eight years. Although these years were filled with much suffering and affliction, they were also filled with many blessings. When the people kept the commandments, the Lord strengthened them and made their journey easier. Nephi’s faith in the Lord never wavered. He was a continual help and support to his father, and he lived so righteously that the Lord spoke to him many times, choosing him to teach his brothers and to help lead them and all their families to the promised land.