(January 25, 2014)
I cannot fathom how difficult it must have been for Nephi to do the things which the Lord commanded in this chapter. First of all, it must have been difficult for him to leave in the first place. On the one hand, he was leaving to save his life and bring peace – so that was likely a huge relief. On the other hand, however, he must have known that by leaving he was also leaving his nieces and nephews to a life of idolatry and wickedness. Presumably that must have caused him some pause – wouldn’t that have been a difficult decision to have made? – and some pain.
The second half of that is even worse. Somewhere along the line the relationship between the people descended into outright bloodshed (presumably very early on – as soon as the Lamanites found the Nephites). Laman and Lemuel felt robbed, so when they found the Nephite encampment, you can expect that everyone was gathered together to go and take back what was theirs. There is very little said about this time, and I don’t think that is an accident. You can easily see the possibility that Nephi fought directly with Laman or Lemuel (after taking years of abuse from them), and perhaps killed one or both of them. You can also easily imagine Nephi fighting with a nephew that he favored when they were together, and being called upon in the situation that they were in to kill him in order to protect those who looked to him for their protection.
The silence of the record might fool you, but I imagine that things did not get any easier after he left Laman and Lemuel. I can understand the need to leave when it is a matter of life or death, but leaving the problem rarely solves the problem. When it is a matter of life and death, leaving is justified. But leaving brings with it another set of pains and difficulties that are as bad or worse than the ones you experience with staying.