Lehi tells Nephi that him, Laman and Lemuel need to go back to Jerusalem to get a record (engraved on brass plates) of the history of the Jews and of his family. He was commanded to get them so the information would be available to learn from, and teach their children.
I’m pretty sure Laman and Lemuel didn’t do much complaining about this part of the trip. It meant they got to take a bit of a vacation from the wilderness living, and go back home, even if it was just for a few days.
7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I awill go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no bcommandments unto the children of men, save he shall cprepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. 1 Nephi 3:7
I post this quote because of what it teaches us all about God and the commandments… as well as about ourselves.
No matter what God asks of us, no matter what life puts us through, no matter what we put ourselves through, God has already prepared a way for us to overcome it. It didn’t say He makes it easy, or that the way He’s prepared for us is the way we’d want it done. But it great knows that there are answers and solutions to all our situations… if we just have the faith to ask, and follow through.
Laman and Lemuel may not have complained much about getting to go back to Jerusalam, but when it seems they weren’t so excited about completing the primary goal of the trip. Apparently even Nephi wasn’t willing to jump into it voluntarily.
They “cast lots” to decide who should approach Laban, which ended up being Laman and Lemuel.
They found Laban at home, and simply asked him for them. Laban didn’t respond too favorably about these two sons of Lehi coming to his home to beg for property that he wasn’t willing to give up. Instead of graciously handing the plates over, he accused them of attempting to steal them from him and threatened to kill them.
They escaped Laban’s home… a feat they somehow didn’t see as a miracle, even though (as you will later read) he had a pretty good sized staff who would have undoubtedly been all too willing to carry out Laban’s orders.
When they made it back outside the city, they told Nephi and Sam about the ordeal. It was enough to make his brothers want to head back to the wilderness (where they didn’t want to be in the first place).
Of course, Nephi would have none of that. He was commanded to get the brass plates and that was the only outcome he was willing to accept. Besides, remember the passage about God preparing a way? Apparently Laman, Lemuel and Sam forgot.
He convinced them that there had to be a way to accomplish this task, even if it seemed harder now that Laban wasn’t going to be cooperative.
A new plan was devised. Instead of counting on Laban’s good nature in simply asking for the plates, maybe they could appeal to his more capitalistic nature.
Remember all the gold, silver and other precious things that were left behind when the family left in the first place? The brothers went back to their home and collected up all those things. Then they went to Laban’s home to negotiate a trade for the plates.
Laban was impressed, but not with their negotiating skills. After originally accusing Laman and Lemuel of being thieves, we learn who the real thief was. Laban ordered his servants to seize the brothers, so he could have all their stuff, and keep the plates for himself.
And again… the brothers were successful at getting out of there alive, even though they had to face the servants of Laban in their home turf.
Of course, now Laman and Lemuel were really mad at Nephi. It was bad enough that they had to leave all their worldly possessions behind, but now they really were flat broke. And of course, it was ALL NEPHI’S FAULT! They decided to take all their frustrations out on Nephi, by beating the ever living snot out of him… and since one good beating deserves another, they didn’t spare the rod with Sam.
During the beating, an angel appeared, asking Laman and Lemuel why they’re smacking their brothers around like that. The angel reminded them that this was just the kind of behavior that lead the Lord to appoint Nephi over them (his older brothers). The angel then promised that if they went back to Jerusalem, the Lord would take care of everything.
Of course, being the hard headed types, Laman and Lemuel didn’t seem impressed by the fact that they just saw an angel. All they did was question how the Lord could possibly outwit the great and powerful Laban. Of course he must be pretty great and powerful, since he outwitted Laban and Lemuel TWICE!
31 And after the angel had departed, Laman and Lemuel again began to amurmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands? Behold, he is a mighty man, and he can command fifty, yea, even he can slay fifty; then why not us? 1 Nephi 3:31
It's easy to look at Laman and Lemuel and wonder how they could see angels and experience miracles, yet still choose to be rebelious... but how often have we been shown miracles, and continue to make the same stupid choices as if they never happened?
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