Annotated Book of Mormon
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1 Nephi Chapter 18

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Book of Mormon Annotations

Chapter 18


1 And it came to pass that they did worship the Lord, and did go forth with me; and we did work timbers of curious workmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship.


2 Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men.

Nephi is supposed to be engraving this on metal plates, but he states three times what could have been stated once with something like, “Therefore I did not build the ship after the manner of men.”
Using Occam’s razor, which is more likely, that this redundant and verbose verse was engraved on metal plates by an ancient Israelite using hand tools, or that it originated from a 19th century man dictating an account to a scribe?

“I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our words upon plates” (Jacob 4:1).

3 And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things.


4 And it came to pass that after I had finished the ship, according to the word of the Lord, my brethren beheld that it was good, and that the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine; wherefore, they did humble themselves again before the Lord.


5 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came unto my father, that we should arise and go down into the ship.


6 And it came to pass that on the morrow, after we had prepared all things, much fruits and meat from the wilderness, and honey in abundance, and provisions according to that which the Lord had commanded us, we did go down into the ship, with all our loading and our seeds, and whatsoever thing we had brought with us, every one according to his age; wherefore, we did all go down into the ship, with our wives and our children.


7 And now, my father had begat two sons in the wilderness; the elder was called Jacob and the younger Joseph.


8 And it came to pass after we had all gone down into the ship, and had taken with us our provisions and things which had been commanded us, we did put forth into the sea and were driven forth before the wind towards the promised land.


9 And after we had been driven forth before the wind for the space of many days, behold, my brethren and the sons of Ishmael and also their wives began to make themselves merry, insomuch that they began to dance, and to sing, and to speak with much rudeness, yea, even that they did forget by what power they had been brought thither; yea, they were lifted up unto exceeding rudeness.


10 And I, Nephi, began to fear exceedingly lest the Lord should be angry with us, and smite us because of our iniquity, that we should be swallowed up in the depths of the sea; wherefore, I, Nephi, began to speak to them with much soberness; but behold they were angry with me, saying: We will not that our younger brother shall be a ruler over us.


11 And it came to pass that Laman and Lemuel did take me and bind me with cords, and they did treat me with much harshness; nevertheless, the Lord did suffer it that he might show forth his power, unto the fulfilling of his word which he had spoken concerning the wicked.


12 And it came to pass that after they had bound me insomuch that I could not move, the compass, which had been prepared of the Lord, did cease to work.

Bullet items from “The compass, a brief history” (New World Encyclopedia)

  • Earliest records show a spoon shaped compass made of lodestone or magnetite ore, referred to as a “South-pointer” dating back to sometime during the Han Dynasty (2nd century B.C.E. to 2nd century CE), though not originally used for navigation.
  • An early form was invented in China in 271 C.E
  • The earliest reference to a magnetic device as a direction finder is recorded in a Song dynasty book dated to 1040-1044 C.E.
  • In the Arab world, the earliest reference comes in The Book of the Merchants’ Treasure, written by one Baylak al-Kibjaki in Cairo about 1282. Since the author describes having witnessed the use of a compass on a ship trip some forty years earlier, some scholars are inclined to antedate its first appearance accordingly. There is also a slightly earlier non-Mediterranean Muslim reference to an iron fish-like compass in a Persian talebook from 1232.

Richard Packham describes the problem like this:
“It would be analogous to the passage in Washington’s fraudulent journal, where he looks into the future in America, and says: ‘There will come a time when every man will possess a wonderful device somewhat like a typewriter, yet it will have a picture before it, and the words typed by the typewriter will appear in the picture, and can be sent around the world…’     How could Washington explain what a computer is by comparing it to a typewriter, when there was no such thing as a typewriter in his day, and therefore the word ‘typewriter’ did not exist?”

13 Wherefore, they knew not whither they should steer the ship, insomuch that there arose a great storm, yea, a great and terrible tempest, and we were driven back upon the waters for the space of three days; and they began to be frightened exceedingly lest they should be drowned in the sea; nevertheless they did not loose me.


14 And on the fourth day, which we had been driven back, the tempest began to be exceedingly sore.


15 And it came to pass that we were about to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea. And after we had been driven back upon the waters for the space of four days, my brethren began to see that the judgments of God were upon them, and that they must perish save that they should repent of their iniquities; wherefore, they came unto me, and loosed the bands which were upon my wrists, and behold they had swollen exceedingly; and also mine ankles were much swollen, and great was the soreness thereof.


16 Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions.


17 Now my father, Lehi, had said many things unto them, and also unto the sons of Ishmael; but, behold, they did breathe out much threatenings against anyone that should speak for me; and my parents being stricken in years, and having suffered much grief because of their children, they were brought down, yea, even upon their sick-beds.


18 Because of their grief and much sorrow, and the iniquity of my brethren, they were brought near even to be carried out of this time to meet their God; yea, their grey hairs were about to be brought down to lie low in the dust; yea, even they were near to be cast with sorrow into a watery grave.


19 And Jacob and Joseph also, being young, having need of much nourishment, were grieved because of the afflictions of their mother; and also my wife with her tears and prayers, and also my children, did not soften the hearts of my brethren that they would loose me.


20 And there was nothing save it were the power of God, which threatened them with destruction, could soften their hearts; wherefore, when they saw that they were about to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea they repented of the thing which they had done, insomuch that they loosed me.

To defend God regarding the problem of evil, apologists often explain that because of moral agency, God may not or does not intercede to protect the innocent. This verse is one of many examples rendering this defense indefensible.

21 And it came to pass after they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm.


22 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land.


23 And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land.


24 And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.


25 And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper.

With the exception of “wild goat” which could be interpreted as something like a mountain goat, these animals were not in the Americas until European colonization. That “goat” is contrasted with “wild goat” indicates that “goat” means a domesticated or farmed version of goat.

Regarding this verse, the current Book of Mormon Student Manual for Religion 121-122 copyrighted 2009 explains on page 40 that,
“There was controversy regarding horses in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus arrived. However, modern archaeological discoveries have shed new light on the subject.”
It then quotes from the New Americanized Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 3197 that:
“Fossil remains of true horses . . . are found abundantly in deposits of the most recent geological age, in almost every part of America. . . In that continent however, they became quite extinct, and no horses, either wild or domesticated, existed there at the time of the Spanish conquest.” And, then the article explains that this is a “curious but as yet unsolved problems in geographical distribution” (New Americanized Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 3197). There seem to be multiple editions of the New Americanized Encyclopedia, but they seem to be published in the early 1900s, maybe as late as 1903. Based only on this citation from more than 100 years ago, one could speculate that perhaps pre-Columbian American horses went extinct after the Book of Mormon timeline.


However, there is no recent controversy whether horses were in the Americas during the time reported in the Book of Mormon. Horses became extinct in the Americas by 8,000 years ago (Horses in the United States). That’s 4,000 years or more before the Book of Mormon Jaredites, and horses were not reintroduced in the Americas until Europeans brought them back more than 1,000 years after the destruction of the Nephites as reported in the Book of Mormon. (See also my If I Could Ask … Lesson 5 about horses in the Americas)

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