The Testament of Lehi
abridged by Nephi. composed ca. 569 bc
And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of teaching my brethren, our father, Lehi, also spake many things unto them, and rehearsed unto them, how great things the Lord had done for them in bringing them out of the land of Jerusalem. And he spake unto them concerning their rebellions upon the waters, and the mercies of God in sparing their lives, that they were not swallowed up in the sea. And he also spake unto them concerning the land of promise, which they had obtained — how merciful the Lord had been in warning us that we should flee out of the land of Jerusalem. For, behold, said he:
I have seen a vision, in which I know that Jerusalem is destroyed!
And had we remained in Jerusalem we should also have perished.
But, said he, Notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land
Of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands,
A land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for
The inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land
Unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be
Led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord!
Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit
Which is in me: That there shall none come into this land save they
Shall be brought by the hand of the Lord. Wherefore,
This land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring.
And if it so be that they shall serve him according
To the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty
Unto them. Wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity!
If so, it shall be because of iniquity, for if iniquity shall abound
Cursed shall be the land for their sakes!
But unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.
And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept
As yet from the knowledge of other nations, for behold, many nations
Would overrun the land, that there would be no place
For an inheritance. Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise,
That inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out
Of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper
Upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations,
That they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be
That they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed
Upon the face of this land, and there shall be none
To molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance.
And they shall dwell safely forever.
But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle
In unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand
Of the Lord having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men,
Knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation
Of the world. Having power given them to do all things by faith,
Having all the commandments from the beginning,
And having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land
Of promise, Behold! I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the
Holy One of Israel, the true messiah, their redeemer and their god, behold,
The judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them.
Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them
Power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions,
And he will cause them to be scattered and smitten.
Yea, as one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodsheds,
And great visitations among them. Wherefore, my sons,
I would that ye would remember! Yea, I would that ye would
Hearken unto my words. O that ye would awake! Awake!
From a deep sleep, Yea, even from the sleep of Hell, and shake off
The awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind
The children of men, that they are carried away captive
Down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe. Awake!
And arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent!
Whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave,
From whence no traveler can return.
A few more days and I go the way of all the earth.
But behold, the Lord hath redeemed my soul from Hell!
I have beheld his glory, and I am encircled about
eternally in the arms of his love.
And I desire that ye should remember to observe the statutes
And the judgments of the Lord. Behold, this hath been the anxiety
Of my soul from the beginning. My heart hath been weighed down
With sorrow from time to time, for I have feared, lest for
The hardness of your hearts the Lord your god should come out
In the fullness of his wrath upon you, that ye be cut off
And destroyed forever! Or, that a cursing should come upon you
For the space of many generations,
And ye are visited by sword, and by famine, and are hated, and are led
According to the will and captivity of the devil.
O my sons, that these things might not come upon you!
But that ye might be a choice and a favored people of the Lord.
But behold, his will be done. For his ways are righteousness forever.
And he hath said that inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments
Ye shall prosper in the land, but inasmuch as ye will not
Keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.
And now that my soul might have joy in you!
And that my heart might leave this world with gladness because of you!
That I might not be brought down with grief and sorrow to the grave,
Arise from the dust, my sons, and be men!
And be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things,
That ye may not come down into captivity.
That ye may not be cursed with a sore cursing.
And also, that ye may not incur the displeasure of a just god upon you,
Unto the destruction, yea, the eternal destruction of both soul and body.
Awake, my sons! Put on the armor of righteousness.
Shake off the chains with which ye are bound,
And come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.
Rebel no more against your brother, whose views have been glorious,
And who hath kept the commandments from the time that we left
Jerusalem; And who hath been an instrument in the hands of God,
In bringing us forth into the land of promise. For were it not for him,
We must have perished with hunger in the wilderness. Nevertheless,
Ye sought to take away his life! Yea, and he hath suffered much sorrow
Because of you. And I exceedingly fear and tremble because of you,
Lest he shall suffer again: for behold, ye have accused him
That he sought power and authority over you.
But I know that he hath not sought for power nor authority over you,
But he hath sought the glory of God, and your own eternal welfare.
And ye have murmured because he hath been plain unto you.
Ye say that he hath used sharpness;
Ye say that he hath been angry with you; but behold, his sharpness
Was the sharpness of the power of the word of God, which was in him;
And that which ye call anger was the truth, according to that
Which is in God, which he could not restrain, manifesting
Boldly concerning your iniquities. And it must needs be that the power
Of God must be with him, even unto his commanding you that ye
Must obey. But behold, it was not he, but it was the spirit
Of the Lord which was in him, which opened his mouth
To utterance that he could not shut it.
And now my son, Laman, and also Lemuel and Sam,
And also my sons who are the sons of Ishmael, behold!
If ye will hearken unto the voice of Nephi, ye shall not perish!
And if ye will hearken unto him, I leave unto you a blessing, yea, even
My first blessing. But if ye will not hearken unto him, I take away
My first blessing, Yea, even my blessing, and it shall rest upon him.
And now, Zoram, I speak unto you:
Behold, thou art the servant of Laban, nevertheless, thou hast been brought
Out of the land of Jerusalem, and I know that thou art
A true friend unto my son, Nephi, forever. Wherefore, because
Thou hast been faithful thy seed shall be blessed with his seed,
That they dwell in prosperity long upon the face of this land.
And nothing, save it shall be iniquity among them, shall harm
Or disturb their prosperity upon the face of this land forever.
Wherefore, if ye shall keep the commandments of the Lord,
The Lord hath consecrated this land for the security of thy seed
With the seed of my son.
And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my first-born
In the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold,
In thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow,
Because of the rudeness of thy brethren. Nevertheless, Jacob,
My first-born in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God!
And he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.
Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed!
And thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi.
And thy days shall be spent in the service of thy god.
Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed!
Because of the righteousness of thy redeemer.
For thou hast beheld that in the fullness of time he cometh to bring
Salvation unto men. And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory!
Wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister
In the flesh. For the spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.
And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil.
And the law is given unto men.
And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off.
Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off. And also, by the spiritual
Law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.
Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah
For he is full of grace and truth!
Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin to answer the ends of the law,
Unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit,
And unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.
Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known
Unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know
That there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence
Of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy,
And grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life
According to the flesh and taketh it again by the power of the spirit
That he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead,
Being the first that should rise. Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God!
Inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men,
And they that believe in him shall be saved.
And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God.
Wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him
According to the truth and holiness which is in him.
Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given,
Unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment
That is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed,
To answer the ends of the atonement.
For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.
If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be
Brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery,
Neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound
In one. Wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead,
Having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption,
Happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.
Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught!
Wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation.
Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and
His eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy,
And the justice of God. And if ye shall say there is no law,
Ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is no sin,
Ye shall also say there is no righteousness.
And if there be no righteousness, there be no happiness.
And if there be no righteousness nor happiness
There be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not
There is no god. And if there is no god, we are not,
Neither the earth; for there could have been no creation of things,
Neither to act nor to be acted upon. Wherefore, all things
Must have vanished away.
And now, my sons! I speak unto you these things for your
Profit and learning. For there is a god, and he hath created
All things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are!
Both things to act and things to be acted upon.
And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man,
After he had created our first parents, and the beasts
Of the field and the fowls of the air,
And in fine, all things which are created,
It must needs be that there was an opposition.
Even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the Tree of Life.
The one being sweet and the other bitter.
Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself.
Wherefore man could not act for himself save it should be
That he was enticed by the one or the other.
And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read,
must needs suppose that an angel of God, according
to that which is written,18Lehi admits that he is supposing this story from things he has read, without giving it the authority of being a direct quote from the Plates of Brass. That is to say, the tale of Adam and Eve may be no more than a tale, hence Lehi speaks of “wherefore” the Devil must have tempted Eve, and so on. Yet, he does give greater authority to the prolonging of the days of the children of men, and to the commandment to repent. All else in this passage may be mere tradition.
Had fallen from Heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having
Sought that which was evil before God! And because he had fallen
From Heaven, And had become miserable forever, he sought also the
Misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even
That old serpent, who is the Devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore
He said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die!
But ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil!
And after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit
They were driven out of the garden of Eden to till the earth.
And they have brought forth children, yea, even the family of all the earth.
And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to
The will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh.
Wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time
Was lengthened, according to the commandments
Which the Lord God gave unto the children of men.
For he gave commandment that all men must repent!
For he showed unto all men that they were lost, because
Of the transgression of their parents. And now, behold, if Adam had not
Transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained
In the Garden of Eden, and all things which were created
Must have remained in the same state in which they were after
They were created. And they must have remained forever, and had no end.
And they would have had no children.
Wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence,
Having no joy, for they knew no misery
Doing no good, for they knew no sin.
But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him
Who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be.
And men are, that they might have joy.
And the Messiah cometh in the fullness of time,
That he may redeem the children of men from the Fall.
And because that they are redeemed from the Fall they have become free
Forever, knowing good from evil,
To act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be
By the punishment of the law at the great and last day,
According to the commandments which God hath given.
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh.
And all things are given them which are expedient unto man.
And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through
The great mediation of all men, or to choose captivity
And death, according to the captivity and power of the Devil.
For he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great mediator!
And hearken unto his great commandments and be faithful unto
His words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his holy spirit,
And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh
And the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the Devil power
To captivate, to bring you down to Hell, that he may reign
Over you in his own kingdom.
I have spoken these few words unto you all, my sons,
In the last days of my probation, and I have chosen the good part,
According to the words of the prophet. And I have none other object
Save it be the everlasting welfare of your souls. Amen.
And now I speak unto you, Joseph, my last-born. Thou wast born
In the wilderness of mine afflictions, yea, in the days of my greatest sorrow
Did thy mother bear thee. And may the Lord consecrate also unto thee
This land, which is a most precious land, for thine inheritance
And the inheritance of thy seed with thy brethren, for thy security
Forever, if it so be that ye shall keep the commandments of
The Holy One of Israel.
And now, Joseph, my last-born, whom I have brought out
Of the wilderness of mine afflictions, may the Lord bless thee forever!
For thy seed shall not utterly be destroyed.
For behold, thou art the fruit of my loins; and I am a descendant of Joseph
Who was carried captive into Egypt. And great were the covenants
Of the Lord which he made unto Joseph. Wherefore, Joseph truly saw
Our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit
Of his loins the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch unto
The House of Israel; not the messiah, but a branch which was
To be broken off; nevertheless, to be remembered in the covenants
of the Lord: that the messiah should be
Made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power,
Unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light:
Yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom.19Here we find Joseph with a promise concerning a branch broken off, raised up to the House of Israel, suggesting that Joseph is not of that House. I now understand this branch to be his seven daughters, those raised up as if stars, as told in Words of the Faithful. A remnant here referred to as “them out of darkness,” moreover, are brought out of captivity by that broken branch, to whom the messiah was made manifest in the “latter days.” Indeed, those seven daughters of Asenath were among the host declaring to man the glad tidings of his birth.
For Joseph truly testified, saying:
A seer shall the Lord my god raise up,
Who shall be a choice seer unto the fruit of my loins.
Yea, Joseph truly said: Thus saith the Lord unto me:
A choice seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins;
And he shall be esteemed highly among the fruit of thy loins;
And unto him will I give commandment that he shall do
A work for the fruit of thy loins, his brethren, which shall be
Of great worth unto them, even to the bringing of them
To the knowledge of the covenants which I have made
With thy fathers. And I will give unto him
A commandment that he shall do none other work,
Save the work which I shall command him.
And I will make him great in mine eyes, for he shall do
My work. And he shall be great like unto Moses,
Whom I have said I would raise up unto you, to deliver
My people, O House of Israel. And Moses will I
Raise up, to deliver thy people out of the land of Egypt.
But a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins.
And unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto
The seed of thy loins — and not to the bringing forth
My word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them
Of my word which shall have already gone forth among them.
Wherefore, the fruit of my loins shall write!
And the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write!
And that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins
And also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins
Of Judah shall grow together, unto the confounding
Of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and
Establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing
Them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days.
And also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.
And out of weakness he shall be made strong, in that day
When my work shall commence among all my people, unto
The restoring thee, O House of Israel, saith the Lord.
And thus prophesied Joseph, saying:
Behold! that seer will the Lord bless! And they that seek
To destroy him shall be confounded. For this promise, which
I have obtained of the Lord, of the fruit of thy loins,
Shall be fulfilled.
Behold, I am sure of the fulfilling of this promise.
And his name shall be called after me!
And it shall be after the name of his father.
And he shall be like unto me.
For the thing which the Lord shall bring forth by his hand,
By the power of the Lord shall bring my people unto salvation.
Yea, thus prophesied Joseph. I am sure of this thing, even as I am sure
Of the promise of Moses, for the Lord hath said unto me, I will
Preserve thy seed forever. And the Lord hath said, I will raise up a Moses,
And I will give power unto him in a rod.
And I will give judgment unto him in writing.
Yet I will not loose his tongue, that he shall speak much,
For I will not make him mighty in speaking.
But I will write unto him my law, by the finger
Of mine own hand. And I will make one a spokesman for him.
And the Lord said unto me also: I will raise up
one unto the fruit of thy loins.
And I will make for him a spokesman. And I, behold,
I will give unto him that he shall write the writing of
The fruit of thy loins, unto the fruit of thy loins,
And the spokesman of thy loins shall declare it.
And the words which he shall write shall be the words
Which are expedient in my wisdom should go forth unto
The fruit of thy loins. And it shall be as if
The fruit of thy loins had cried unto them from the dust,
For I know their faith. And they shall cry from the dust!
Yea, even repentance unto their brethren, even after
Many generations have gone by them. And it shall
Come to pass that their cry shall go, even according to
The simpleness of their words, because of their faith
Their words shall proceed forth out of my mouth unto
Their brethren who are the fruit of thy loins,
And the weakness of their words will I make
Strong in their faith, unto the remembering of my covenant
Which I made unto thy fathers.
And now, behold, my son Joseph, after this manner did my father
Of old prophesy. Wherefore, because of this covenant thou art blessed!
For thy seed shall not be destroyed, for they shall hearken unto the words
Of the book. And there shall rise up one mighty among them, who shall do
Much good, both in word and in deed, being
An instrument in the hands of God, with exceeding faith, to work
Mighty wonders, and do that thing which is great
In the sight of God, unto the bringing to pass much restoration unto
The House of Israel, and unto the seed of thy brethren. And now,
Blessed art thou, Joseph. Behold, thou art little;
Wherefore hearken unto the words of thy brother, Nephi, and it shall be
Done unto thee even according to the words which I have spoken.
Remember the words of thy dying father. Amen.
And now, I, Nephi, speak concerning the prophecies of which my father hath spoken, concerning Joseph, who was carried into Egypt. For behold, he truly prophesied concerning all his seed. And the prophecies which he wrote, there are not many greater. And he prophesied concerning us, and our future generations; and they are written upon the Plates of Brass.
Wherefore, after my father had made an end of speaking concerning the prophecies of Joseph, he called the children of Laman, his sons, and his daughters, and said unto them:
Behold my sons, and my daughters, who are the sons and the daughters
Of my first-born, I would that ye should give ear unto my words.
For the Lord God hath said that inasmuch as ye shall keep
My commandments, ye shall prosper in the land; and inasmuch as ye
Will not keep my commandments, ye shall be cut off from my presence.
But behold, my sons and my daughters, I cannot go down to my grave
Save I should leave a blessing upon you: for behold, I know that
If ye are brought up in the way ye should go, ye will not depart from it.
Wherefore, if ye are cursed, behold, I leave my blessing upon you:
That the cursing may be taken from you and be answered
Upon the heads of your parents! Wherefore, because of my blessing
The Lord God will not suffer that ye shall perish. Wherefore, he will
Be merciful unto you and unto your seed forever.
And it came to pass that after my father had made an end of speaking to the sons and daughters of Laman, he caused the sons and daughters of Lemuel to be brought before him. And he spake unto them, saying:
Behold, my sons and my daughters, who are the sons and
The daughters of my second son: Behold I leave unto you the same
Blessing which I left unto the sons and daughters of Laman, wherefore,
Thou shalt not utterly be destroyed.
But in the end thy seed shall be blessed.
And it came to pass that when my father had made an end of speaking unto them, behold, he spake unto the sons of Ishmael, yea, and even all his household. And after he had made an end of speaking unto them, he spake unto Sam, saying:
Blessed art thou, and thy seed! For thou shalt inherit the land
Like unto thy brother Nephi. And thy seed shall be numbered with
His seed and thou shalt be even like unto thy brother, and thy seed
Like unto his seed, and thou shalt be blessed in all thy days.
And it came to pass after my father, Lehi, had spoken unto all his household, according to the feelings of his heart and the Spirit of the Lord which was in him, he waxed old. And it came to pass that he died, and was buried.
And it came to pass that not many days after his death, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord. And I, Nephi, was constrained to speak unto them, according to his word: for I had spoken many things unto them, and also my father, before his death. Many of which sayings were written upon mine other plates1. For a more history part are written upon mine other plates1.