Laman and Lemuel, who seemed to be the leaders of the opposition, resorted to violence. They bound their brother with cords and treated him “harshly,”—with physical violence. But why did not the others interfere, meeting violence with violence? The answer to that question is given in the sentence beginning this paragraph. It was the conviction of Nephi and his friends, that, “The Lord did suffer it, that he might show forth his power.” To have met violence with violence would have been to interfere with God’s plan. Under the law of retaliation (lex talionis) they would have been justified in meeting force with force, as long as they did not exact any more than an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; but the object the Lord had in view was their conversion and not vengeance; hence his patience and long-suffering. Nephi understood this by the Spirit within him. (See v. 16.) Non-resistance was his duty at this time.
The Lord Showing His Power
First the “compass” ceased to work. They lost their course. (v. 12). Then a storm arose, which is characterized as a “great and terrible tempest.” (v. 13.) For three days the ship was driven about. tossed hither and thither, up and down, shipping waves, pounding, rolling, the wind whistling in the rigging, howling, roaring, and the clouds hanging like a dark pall from the sky, ready for the funeral. The persecutors now were cowed, but not sufficiently to repent of their evil deeds. They hoped for an abatement of the tempest. But the fourth day came without any change for the better. The tempest increased in violence (v. 14). Then they began to relent. They acknowledged the hand of God in the storm, and set Nephi free (v. 15).
During the storm, Lehi and Sariah, now well advanced in years, unable to endure the anguish caused by the wickedness of their sons, and the physical discomforts of the uncontrolled vessel, became sick and were apparently brought near to death’s door (vv. 17, 18). Jacob and Joseph, and, of course, the other children, were suffering a great deal during those four days, for in such weather on board a ship, little food is prepared: Little children are not attended to as usual. But the sickness of their parents and the tears of the children did not move the hearts of the rebels. It was the power of God to destroy that finally softened them (vv. 19, 20). As soon as Nephi had been set free, the storm abated, the compass worked, and the ship resumed its course (vv. 21, 22).
The “compass” (vv. 12 and 21) is the round ball of curious workmanship described in 2