The Wilderness Vision of Lehi
composed ca. 570 bc8This event is said to occur while Lehi dwelt in a tent in the Valley of Lemuel. I believe the account was written decades after the events described (ca. 570 BC), after he had begun his ministry plates. His report aligns with Tolkien’s “Description of the Island of Numenor,” its sacred mountain and white tree, great tower populated by wicked noblemen, a stream, mists of darkness, and so on, as discussed in the introduction to Words of the Faithful.
And it came to pass that while my father tarried in the wilderness, he spake unto us, saying:
Behold, I have dreamed a dream. Or, in other words, I have seen
A vision. And behold! Because of the thing which I have seen,
I have reason to rejoice in the Lord because of Nephi
And also of Sam. For I have reason to suppose
That they, and also many of their seed will be saved!
But behold! Laman and Lemuel, I fear exceedingly
Because of you! For behold, methought I saw a dark and dreary
Wilderness. And it came to pass that I saw a man, and
He was dressed in a white robe. And he came and stood before me.
And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him!
And it came to pass that as I followed him I beheld myself
That I was in a dark and dreary waste. And after I had traveled
For the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray
Unto the Lord: That he would have mercy on me, according
To the multitude of his tender mercies.
And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld
A large and spacious field. And it came to pass that I beheld a tree,
Whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.
And it came to pass that I did go forth and partake of the fruit
Thereof; and I beheld that it was most sweet above
All that I ever before tasted!
Yea, and I beheld that the fruit thereof was white to exceed
All the whiteness that I had ever seen.
And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly
Great joy, wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family
Should partake of it also. For I knew that it was desirous above
All other fruit. And as I cast my eyes round about that
Perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a
River of water. And it ran along, and it was near the tree
Of which I was partaking the fruit. And I looked to
Behold from whence it came. And I saw the head thereof a little way
Off, and at the head thereof I beheld your mother
Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi. And they stood as if
They knew not whither they should go.
And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them.
And I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come
Unto me! And partake of the fruit, which was desirable above
All other fruit! And it came to pass that they did come unto me,
And partake of the fruit also. And it came to pass that I was
Desirous that Laman and Lemuel should come
And partake of the fruit also, wherefore, I cast mine eyes
Towards the head of the river, that perhaps I might see them.
And it came to pass that I saw them, but they would not come unto me.
And I beheld a rod of iron! And it extended along the bank
Of the river, and led to the tree by which I stood.
And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along
By the rod of iron, even to the tree by which I stood.
And it also led by the head of the fountain,
Unto a large and spacious field, as if it had been a world.
And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were
Pressing forward that they might obtain the path which led
Unto the tree by which I stood. And it came to pass that they did
Come forth, and commence in the path which led to the tree.
And it came to pass that there arose a mist of darkness!
Yea, even an exceedingly great mist of darkness,
Insomuch that they who had commenced in the path did lose
Their way, that they wandered off and were lost.
And it came to pass that I beheld others pressing
Forward, and they came forth and caught hold of the end
Of the rod of iron. And they did press forward through the mist
Of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did
Come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree.
And after they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did
Cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed.
And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld,
On the other side of the river of water, a great
And spacious building! And it stood as it were
In the air, high above the earth. And it was filled with people,
Both old and young, both male and female.
And their manner of dress was exceedingly fine,
And they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing
Their fingers towards those who had come at
And were partaking of the fruit.
And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed,
Because of those that were scoffing at them, and they fell
Away into forbidden paths and were lost.
And now I, Nephi, do not speak all the words of my father. But, to be short in writing, behold, he saw other multitudes pressing forward, and they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron. And they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree.
And he also saw other multitudes feeling their way towards that great and spacious building. And it came to pass that many were drowned in the depths of the fountain, and many were lost from his view, wandering in strange roads. And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also. But we heeded them not. These are the words of my father:
For as many as heeded them, had fallen away
And Laman and Lemuel partook not of the fruit,
Said my father. And it came to pass after my father had spoken all the words of his dream or vision, which were many, he said unto us, because of these things which he saw in a vision he exceedingly feared for Laman and Lemuel. Yea, he feared lest they should be cast off from the presence of the Lord. And he did exhort them then with all the feeling of a tender parent, that they would hearken to his words, that perhaps the Lord would be merciful to them, and not cast them off. Yea, my father did preach unto them. And after he had preached unto them, and also prophesied unto them of many things, he bade them to keep the commandments of the Lord. And he did cease speaking unto them. And all these things did my father see, and hear, and speak, as he dwelt in a tent, in the Valley of Lemuel. And also a great many more things which cannot be written upon these plates.
And now, as I have spoken concerning these plates: behold they are not the plates upon which I make a full account of the history of my people.
For the plates upon which I make a full account of my people I have given the name of Nephi: wherefore, they are called the Plates of Nephi, after mine own name. And these plates also are called the Plates of Nephi. Nevertheless, I have received a commandment of the Lord that I should make these plates, for the special purpose that there should be an account engraven of the ministry of my people.
Upon the other plates should be engraven an account of the reign of the kings, and the wars and contentions of my people.
Wherefore these plates are for the more part of the ministry.
And the other plates are for the more part of the reign of the kings and the wars and contentions of my people.
Wherefore, the Lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not. But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning. Wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men: for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen.9Remember that Nephi composes this account of Lehi’s vision long after it occurred. He mentions already two sets of plates, one for the history of the people now settled in the Americas, and the second for his own personal record. Later he will make additional “small” plates and designate this third set to be kept by the priesthood, after he apparently took up the kingship and turned over the priestly robes to his brother.