1 Nephi 6-9

Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Manual, (2004), 30–33


Introduction

Lehi’s and Nephi’s deep love and concern for their family permeates these chapters. Nephi notes briefly that they descended from Joseph of Egypt and states that his record is intended to “persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham … and be saved” (1 Nephi 6:4). He emphasizes their arduous physical journey back to Jerusalem for Ishmael’s family so they would have suitable marriage partners. He details his father’s dream of the beautiful tree of life, along with Lehi’s abiding hope that his “family should partake of it” (1 Nephi 8:12).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, pp. 8–11.

Suggestions for Teaching

video iconBook of Mormon Video presentation 2, “For a Wise Purpose” (11:30), can be used in teaching 1 Nephi 9 (see Book of Mormon Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

1 Nephi 6:3–6. A major purpose of the Book of Mormon is to bring souls to Christ. (15–20 minutes)

Note: The following object lesson is similar to one used in the teaching suggestion for the title page of the Book of Mormon (p. 17). Consider using it even if you taught it earlier, since the repetition can serve as an effective reminder.

Bring to class several appropriate books and movies popular with today’s youth. Ask students what they feel was the author’s or creator’s purpose for each of the books or movies. Hold up a copy of the Book of Mormon and ask students: What was the purpose of its writers and record keepers? Have students read 1 Nephi 6:3–4 looking for the answer to this question. Encourage students to write the reference 2 Nephi 25:26 in the margin, and then turn to this verse and read it. Ask if there is any doubt as to the purpose of this book. Have students write the reference 2 Nephi 33:10–11 in this margin, and then turn to the verse and read it. Ask: Whose words are we reading in the Book of Mormon?

Read 1 Nephi 6:5–6 and share the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:

“The Book of Mormon is the great standard we are to use in our missionary work. It shows that Joseph Smith was a prophet. It contains the words of Christ, and its great mission is to bring men to Christ. All other things are secondary. … It does not contain things which are ‘pleasing unto the world,’ and so the worldly are not interested in it. It is a great sieve” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 203).

1 Nephi 7:14–21. The Lord strengthens all those who diligently seek Him and follow His prophets, but He withdraws His Spirit from those who reject Him and seek wickedness. (20–30 minutes)

Ask students if they have ever played a game where they selected sides. Ask:

  • How do you think the person felt who was not selected or who was picked last?

  • What is the difference between the way people pick teams by “choosing sides” and how we decide “who is on the Lord’s side”?

Explain that the Savior wants all of us on His side, but we have the agency to accept or reject His invitation.

As part of Nephi’s exhortation to his brethren, he warns them of the consequences of rejecting the prophets. Read 1 Nephi 7:14, and ask what those consequences are. Read 1 Nephi 7:15. Invite a student to paraphrase Nephi’s warning to his brothers. Ask: Whose choice was it whether or not they perished with the wicked?

Have students read 1 Nephi 7:16. Ask:.

  • Why were Laman and Lemuel angry with Nephi?

  • How were their actions evidence of the choice they had made?

  • How can you tell which side people are on today?

  • How do our outward expressions show whether or not we are striving to follow the Lord?

  • From what you know of Nephi, whose side do you think he wanted to be on?

Read 1 Nephi 7:17–20 and ask:

  • How did the Lord sustain Nephi in these verses?

  • What are some advantages of being on the Lord’s side?

Invite students to consider whether they are on the Lord’s side. Ask: How do you show it?

Encourage students to choose the Lord’s side. Share with them the blessings that come from making that choice. Sing “Who’s on the Lord’s Side?” (Hymns, no. 260) or read the words aloud to the class.

weekly icon1 Nephi 8. All people are invited to come to the tree of life, but because of unbelief and the temptations of the world, many will not come. (40–50 minutes)

You might want to begin your discussion of Lehi’s dream with an activity called “thumbs.” Tell students that you will ask them questions about dreams. To answer yes, they should put their thumbs up. To answer no, they put them down. (Note: Your students may be quite interested in the topic of dreams. Be sure to keep the discussion focused on Lehi’s vision.) Ask:

  • Do you dream every night when you sleep?

  • Have you ever been frustrated because something woke you up in the middle of a dream?

  • Have you ever dreamed about something that actually happened later?

  • Have you ever had a dream that gave you an answer to a prayer?

  • Do you believe that revelations can come in the form of dreams?

  • Did you know that Lehi had a dream about a tree?

  • Do you think Lehi understood his dream?

Emphasize that Lehi’s dream or vision of the tree of life is one of the most important accounts in the Book of Mormon. Understanding the symbolism of this dream can help us understand other portions of the Book of Mormon. (Ideas for teaching the symbolism of the dream as Nephi experienced it can be found in the first teaching suggestion for 1 Nephi 10–14, p. 36.)

Ask for three volunteers and have them come to the board. (Or if available, provide them with large sketch pads and colored markers.) Have the other class members take turns reading the account of Lehi’s vision beginning with 1 Nephi 8:4. Each student should read two or three verses before you go to the next student. Stop at intervals and have the three volunteers draw their interpretation of the dream, adding to their drawing as additional information is given. (See the accompanying chart for suggestions.)

1 Nephi 8:4–6

The dark and dreary wilderness, a man in a white robe who invites Lehi to follow him

1 Nephi 8:7–9

The dark and dreary waste, the large and spacious field

1 Nephi 8:10–12

The tree with white and desirable fruit

1 Nephi 8:13–14

The river of water and Sariah, Sam, and Nephi

1 Nephi 8:15–16

The family partaking of the fruit

1 Nephi 8:17–18

Laman and Lemuel refusing to partake of the fruit

1 Nephi 8:19–20

The strait and narrow path, the rod of iron, the fountain

1 Nephi 8:21–23

Numberless concourses of people pressing forward, the great mist of darkness that causes some to lose their way

1 Nephi 8:24–25

Those who reach the tree but are ashamed after they partake

1 Nephi 8:26–28

The great and spacious building, people mocking, people falling away into forbidden paths

1 Nephi 8:29–30

Those who “came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree”

1 Nephi 8:31–33

Multitudes trying to reach the building, those who are “drowned in the depths of the fountain,” those who are “lost from his view, wandering in strange roads”

Have the volunteers explain their drawings, and use them as you discuss the vision as a class. (Note: Consider saving the drawings to use when you teach Nephi’s vision.)

Invite students to review 1 Nephi 8:6–9 looking for Lehi’s first concern. Ask: What did Lehi do to escape the darkness? Have students reread 1 Nephi 8:10–12, and ask some of the following questions:

  • What was Lehi’s first desire after he partook of the fruit? (see v. 12).

  • How did Lehi’s family react when he called them to the tree to partake? (see vv. 15–18).

  • Why do you think Laman and Lemuel did not partake of the fruit of the tree?

  • How would you feel if your family rejected something that brought you joy and happiness?

Have students read 1 Nephi 8:36–37 looking for how Lehi handled Laman and Lemuel’s rejection. Ask students to consider if their parents have ever spoken to them “with all the feeling of a tender parent,” pleading with them to listen and obey. (Allow them to respond if they desire.) Share your feelings about how parents want their children to believe and live the gospel. Help them understand that Heavenly Father loves each of us and also wants us to believe and obey.

Explain that Lehi saw many other people in his dream. Write the accompanying chart on the board. Divide the class into four groups. Have each group take one row of the chart and compare the accomplishments and failures of the people described in 1 Nephi 8 with those described in Matthew 13.

Have the groups write their findings in the “Comparison” column on the board, and discuss them as a class. Ask questions like the following:

  • To whom was the fruit of the tree available?

  • What prevented some from partaking of the fruit?

  • Did tasting the fruit guarantee joy and eternal life? Why or why not?

  • Why do you think some never got to the tree?

  • Why do you think some tasted the fruit but then fell away?

  • Why do you feel some were able to faithfully partake of the fruit of the tree?

Sing or read “The Iron Rod” (Hymns, no. 274).

1 Nephi 9. The Lord knows all things from the beginning, and He prepares a way to accomplish all His works. (25–35 minutes)

Show students a history book. Indicate what time period the book covers. Also show a personal history, diary, or journal that covers some of the same time period. If appropriate, read a spiritual experience from the journal. Ask some of the following questions:

  • What are the differences between the two texts?

  • Which text is most properly called a history? (One could make a good case for either.)

  • Which text is most valuable? (Each is valuable for a different reason.)

  • What is each text useful for?

  • How would each of these texts compare to the Book of Mormon?

Explain that the Book of Mormon records a thousand years’ worth of events among the Nephites and Lamanites and longer than that among the Jaredites. Ask: Is the Book of Mormon a history in the same sense as the history book? (No, it is primarily a religious record.) Have students read Jacob 3:13 and Words of Mormon 1:5 to find whether the Book of Mormon claims to be a complete history of the people it describes.

Have students read 1 Nephi 9:2. Explain that Nephi kept both a secular and a religious history. Have students mark the phrase “the plates upon which I make a full account of the history of my people” and write large plates in the margin next to the verse. Have them read 1 Nephi 9:3 and mark the phrase “an account engraven of the ministry of my people.” Invite them to write small plates in the margin by verse 3. Ask some of the following questions:

  • According to verse 3, why did Nephi make the small plates in addition to the large plates?

  • To which plates do the words “these plates” in verses 2–5 refer? (The small plates.)

  • When we read 1 Nephi, are we reading from the large plates or the small plates? (The small plates.)

  • What did the large plates of Nephi contain? (see v. 4^1 Ne 9:4^).

Have students read 1 Nephi 9:5–6. What reason does Nephi give in these verses for the Lord requiring him to make a second set of plates? Have students read Words of Mormon 1:3–7. What reasons does Mormon give for including the small plates with his abridgment of the large plates of Nephi?

Have a student read the following statement aloud for the class:

At least part of the Lord’s “wise purpose” (1 Nephi 9:5; Words of Mormon 1:7) for having Nephi keep two records became apparent when Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. Joseph originally translated Mormon’s abridgment of the large plates of Nephi. Martin Harris, who had been helping Joseph, wanted to show his wife and family the translation. Reluctantly, the Prophet allowed him to take the 116 pages of manuscript that had been completed up to that time. The pages were stolen, and the translation stopped.

After Joseph Smith went through a period of repentance, the Lord told him not to retranslate the lost portion. Instead He commanded him to translate the small plates, which covered the same period of time. He warned Joseph that those who had taken the 116 pages had changed them and planned to use them to discredit the work. But the Lord had foreseen this many hundreds of years earlier and had provided the second record to thwart Satan’s plan. (See History of the Church, 1:20–23; D&C 10:38–46.)

Read 1 Nephi 9:6 and ask how helpful it is to know that “the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning” (see also 2 Nephi 9:20; Words of Mormon 1:7). Read the following statement:

“Without the knowledge of all things God would not be able to save any portion of his creatures; for it is by reason of the knowledge which he has of all things, from the beginning to the end, that enables him to give that understanding to his creatures by which they are made partakers of eternal life; and if it were not for the idea existing in the minds of men that God had all knowledge it would be impossible for them to exercise faith in him” (Joseph Smith, comp., Lectures on Faith [1985], 51–52).

Close by bearing testimony that God knows all things.