- 1 Ne. 5:2 - Sariah's complaint
Behold thou hast led us forth from the land of our inheritance, and my sons are no more, and we perish in the wilderness.This is presented as direct dialogue from Sariah. Sounds an awful lot like the complaints of Laman and Lemuel (see 2:11). But Sariah came around in 2:8 ("Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness," etc.), whereas Laman and Lemuel never did.
- 1 Ne. 5:4-5 - Lehi's defense
An artistic rendering of Lehi's vision at 1 Nephi 1:6
I know that I am a visionary man; for if I had not seen the things of God in a vision I should not have known the goodness of God, but had tarried at Jerusalem, and had perished with my brethren.
But behold, I have obtained a land of promise ...
As with Sariah's complaint, this response by Lehi, the visionary man, is presented as direct dialogue. There's something wrong with the tense here. The reference to perishing with his brethren (which I take to be a reference to his fellow Jews at Jerusalem) can't be to the first capture of Jerusalem in 597 BC, as Lehi's vision, also referred to in verse 4, came after that event. But if the reference is to Israelite brethren who might perish in the more destructive second capture of Jerusalem in 587 BC, then the sense of the verse as written, which makes it sound like those brethren had already perished, doesn't make sense either.
- 1 Ne. 5:9 - sacrifice and burnt offerings
And it came to pass that they did rejoice exceedingly, and did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel.This would seem to mark Lehi as a religious rebel and heretic -- burnt offerings and the offering of sacrifices were centralized at the Jerusalem temple and prohibited anywhere else, especially after the reforms of Josiah in the last third of the seventh century.
- 1 Ne. 5:11-13 - Lehi peruses the brass plates
And he beheld that they did contain the five books of Moses, which gave an account of the creation of the world, and also of Adam and Eve, who were our first parents;This passage raises some very interesting issues. First, the term "the five books of Moses" is an anachronism. A Jew like Lehi would call it "torah," not "the five books of Moses." [But see 1 Nephi 4:16: "And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass."] And these writings, to the extent they existed at this time, were on scrolls, not books (which didn't come into general use until the first century). Second, modern scholarship has esablished that torah as a collection of five authoritative scrolls didn't really take shape until it was assembled as a post-exilic body of writings. Ezra is traditionally viewed as the prophet/scribe who was instrumental in that effort, and Ezra worked a hundred years after Zedekiah reigned in Jerusalem.
And also a record of the Jews from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah;
And also the prophecies of the holy prophets, from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah; and also many prophecies which have been spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah.
The reference to Jeremiah in verse 13 emphasizes the truncated nature of the contents of the brass plates: "many prophecies which have been spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah." Necessarily, only some of what we now have as the Book of Jeremiah would have been on the brass plates since some of its contents were penned after 597. But Jeremiah underwent considerable revision for centuries afterwards -- the text of Jeremiah in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible which dates to the second century BC, omits approximately 12% of the material in our present-day Jeremiah (based on the Masoretic text).
The bottom line is that it is a mistake to think of our present text of the Old Testament as what would have been written on the brass plates. Whatever was written there would have been a much earlier and much shorter version of what Christians now know as the Old Testament.
- 1 Ne. 5:19 - the plates to be preserved
Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time.This is a remarkable passage. It implies that up until this time the brass plates were just natural metal objects with writing, albeit holy writing, apparently subject to change and decay, but that henceforth they would be supernatural objects and would "never perish." There is no hint of what ordinance, event, or process might have produced this change. There's a strange similarity here with the Evangelical view of the Bible as inerrant, which attributes a supernatural status to the words themselves. Here, the supernatural status is attributed to the medium on which the words were written.
- 1 Ne. 5:21 - a shout out for the Old Testament
And we had obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children.Subject to the caveat discussed above under verses 11-13 that the brass plates were an early and much truncated form of the Hebrew Bible compared with out present text, this verse is a ringing affirmation of the Old Testament as "desirable" and "of great worth." So stop complaining about how long Isaiah is (66 chapters) and how obscure some parts of the Pentateuch are. It is desirable and of great worth. Just buy a good reference or two to help you through the tough stuff. And while you are book shopping, buy a version of the Old Testament that puts prose passages in paragraphs and poetry in verse!