Engraving of the Words of Lehi
composed ca. 597 bc.2Nephi apparently engraved as scribe some early plates for his father, and began in fits and starts his own account, by imitation of his father’s effort. Purposing to derive material mostly from Lehi’s writings, presumably for inclusion with the Brass Plates (contemplated while wandering in Arabia), his ambition exceeds his ability, and the attempt ends before giving us Lehi’s record. Here “language” means something like “sayings” rather than the modern use of that term. “Egyptian” and “Jew” similarly do not align with our use.
I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father. And having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days. Yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.
Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians. And I know that the record which I make is true. And I make it with mine own hand and I make it according to my knowledge.
For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah — my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days — and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed. Wherefore it came to pass that my father, Lehi, as he went forth prayed unto the Lord, yea, even with all his heart, in behalf of his people. As he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him! And he saw and heard much, and because of the things which he saw and heard he did quake and tremble exceedingly.
And it came to pass that he returned to his own house at Jerusalem. And he cast himself upon his bed, being overcome with the spirit and the things which he had seen. And being thus overcome with the spirit, he was carried away in a vision, even that he saw the heavens open, and he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their god.
And it came to pass that he saw One descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day. And he also saw twelve others following him, and their brightness did exceed that of the stars in the firmament. And they came down and went forth upon the face of the earth; and the first came and stood before my father, and gave unto him a book, and bade him that he should read.3A vision of twelve Ainur descending into Ea with Eru, the One. These twelve will become Apostles of Eru, called later the Lamb of God. And it came to pass that as he read, he was filled with the Spirit of the Lord. And he read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations!
Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem: That it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof. Many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon. And it came to pass that when my father had read and seen many great and marvelous things, he did exclaim many things unto the Lord, such as:
Great and marvelous are thy works, O Lord God Almighty!
Thy throne is high in the heavens, and thy power, and
Goodness, and mercy are over all the inhabitants of the earth!
And, because thou art merciful, thou wilt not suffer
Those who come unto thee, that they shall perish!
And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his god. For his soul did rejoice, and his whole heart was filled, because of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shown unto him.