Annotated Book of Mormon
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2 Nephi Chapter 5

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Book of Mormon Annotations

Chapter 5


1 Behold, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cry much unto the Lord my God, because of the anger of my brethren.


2 But behold, their anger did increase against me, insomuch that they did seek to take away my life.


3 Yea, they did murmur against me, saying: Our younger brother thinks to rule over us; and we have had much trial because of him; wherefore, now let us slay him, that we may not be afflicted more because of his words. For behold, we will not have him to be our ruler; for it belongs unto us, who are the elder brethren, to rule over this people.


4 Now I do not write upon these plates all the words which they murmured against me. But it sufficeth me to say, that they did seek to take away my life.

2 Ne 5:4-5


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. These verses are among many examples rendering this defense indefensible.

5 And it came to pass that the Lord did warn me, that I, Nephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness, and all those who would go with me.

Annotation for 2 Ne 5:4-5 above

6 Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words.


7 And we did take our tents and whatsoever things were possible for us, and did journey in the wilderness for the space of many days. And after we had journeyed for the space of many days we did pitch our tents.


8 And my people would that we should call the name of the place Nephi; wherefore, we did call it Nephi.


9 And all those who were with me did take upon them to call themselves the people of Nephi.


10 And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things, according to the law of Moses.


11 And the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly; for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance. And we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind.


12 And I, Nephi, had also brought the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass; and also the ball, or compass, which was prepared for my father by the hand of the Lord, according to that which is written.


13 And it came to pass that we began to prosper exceedingly, and to multiply in the land.


14 And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us; for I knew their hatred towards me and my children and those who were called my people.

2 Ne 5:14-15

The skills that Nephi lists here—smelting steel, various other metallurgies, building buildings, working all manner of wood—very impressive, but is it credible that anyone, let alone a person from such a well-to-do family, would have all these blue-collar skills?

15 And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.

Annotation for 2 Ne 5:14-15 above

16 And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.

In 1 Kings 5:13-16 we learn that Solomon had tens of thousands gather and prepare materials for the Jewish temple, and that it took seven years to build.  

Keep in mind that not more than 30 years had passed since the Lehites had left Jerusalem (2 Ne 5:28). The first 8 years after leaving Jerusalem they were traveling in the wilderness (1 Ne 17:4). Then in Bountiful they had to build a ship and store provisions, so it may have taken the first 9, 10, or more years to get to the Americas. So after that

  • They’re a relatively small band new to the land and have to establish a colony.
  • At some point Nephi and company split from their brothers making the group smaller, and essentially starting over in the wilderness.

How would such a small group in these circumstances build a temple where, “the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon/ and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine”?

17 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands.


18 And it came to pass that they would that I should be their king. But I, Nephi, was desirous that they should have no king; nevertheless, I did for them according to that which was in my power.


19 And behold, the words of the Lord had been fulfilled unto my brethren, which he spake concerning them, that I should be their ruler and their teacher. Wherefore, I had been their ruler and their teacher, according to the commandments of the Lord, until the time they sought to take away my life.


20 Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.


21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

2 Ne 5:21-22

Apologists often say that the curse is separate from the black skin, that the dark skin is just a sign of the curse.

Is it reasonable in this case to say the cursing was not darkened skin pigmentation? It says

  • God caused a curse to come upon them because of how bad they became
  • Wherefore, God caused them to have a skin of blackness.

Regardless, is it any less offensive to explain the dark skin as a sign of the curse instead of being the curse? Doesn’t it seem to reflect a 19th century cultural colonialism of white skin being delightsome and black skin being loathsome and not enticing unto the white skinned?

22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

Annotation for 2 Ne 5:21-22 above

23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.

In spite of the claim to believe that men will be punished for their own sins, doesn’t this verse teach that children are cursed because their parents mixed their seed with those cursed?

24 And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.

This could be seen as indicating the curse is something other than the black skin, but it’s not clear what it is from this verse. These problems seem to be the result of the curse, not the curse itself.

Doesn’t it seem to reflect a 19th century cultural colonialism that those cursed with the black skin (or given black skin as a sign of the curse) become idle, mischievous, subtle, and beast seekers?

Just how does it work that an “idle people . . . Did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey”? Hunting (even assuming steel bows—that didn’t exist at the time in the Americas) is no idle task, and they were going after “beasts of prey”? Bears, cougar, wolf, fox, etc. The larger of these are dangerous, even with steel bow, and predators are nowhere near as abundant as prey animals. How is that being idle? Inefficient? Yes. But, idle?

Just a side note:
If they sought beast of prey to eat, it would be contrary to the Law of Moses food restrictions.

25 And the Lord God said unto me: They shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction.


26 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did consecrate Jacob and Joseph, that they should be priests and teachers over the land of my people.


27 And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness.


28 And thirty years had passed away from the time we left Jerusalem.


29 And I, Nephi, had kept the records upon my plates, which I had made, of my people thus far.


30 And it came to pass that the Lord God said unto me: Make other plates; and thou shalt engraven many things upon them which are good in my sight, for the profit of thy people.


31 Wherefore, I, Nephi, to be obedient to the commandments of the Lord, went and made these plates upon which I have engraven these things.


32 And I engraved that which is pleasing unto God. And if my people are pleased with the things of God they will be pleased with mine engravings which are upon these plates.


33 And if my people desire to know the more particular part of the history of my people they must search mine other plates.


34 And it sufficeth me to say that forty years had passed away, and we had already had wars and contentions with our brethren.

There are families of Laman, Lemuel, Sam, Nephi, Jacob, Joseph, Ishmael. Let’s generously assume hypotheticals and see what this looks like. If they had an average of 4 sons in each of the 7 families, that’s potentially 28 sons and 7 fathers of fighting age. Some of the 28 sons may have had sons early on, so let’s assume another 56 men/boys of fighting age (average of two each for the 28 sons). That’s a total of 91 fighters, and since the group split into Lamanites versus Nephites, it’s an average of 46 (rounding up) fighters per side. How do you have wars with such low numbers? Not a single war, but wars. Keep in mind that these people were establishing new colonies in an unfamiliar land, so the above assumptions on growth seem highly unlikely. In addition, if they had been fighting and killing each other off during the 40 years, how many fighters would they be likely to have at that point?

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