Redaction: 2 Nephi chapters 1–4 (in post-1879 editions) are Lehi’s blessings upon his sons, fulfilling a long tradition of a father’s blessings that begin in the Old Testament with the earliest recorded blessing Isaac pronounced upon Jacob and Esau (Gen. 27). Obviously, Lehi planned his discourse carefully for maximum effect, yet Nephi summarizes its early portions and does not begin quoting Lehi until verse 4, well past the introductory statements.
Nephi first explains how Lehi began his important final discourse. Although he intends to speak about the future (the blessings), he begins with the past. His context is the family’s history, guided by Yahweh through their trials since leaving Jerusalem. It seems likely that this point was indeed Lehi’s emphasis, not just Nephi’s interpretation.
Although Nephi provides a transition that connects the first chapter in the new book and the final chapter of the previous book, they were probably not as continuous as they appear. Nephi is tying his two books together even as he separates them, informing his readers that they must be taken as a whole. However, a conceptual difference separates the second book from the first, even though they are intrinsically connected. (See2 Nephi, Part 1: Context,Chapter 2, “Overview of 2 Nephi” for an analysis of the reason for the separation of books.)
History: The biblical patriarch had tremendous moral authority and legal power. Not only did he dominate his wife and minor children, but he also maintained legal control over his married sons as if they lived within his family group. This cultural and legal power that Lehi exercised over his family was sufficiently strong to keep them together during his lifetime, even with only tradition to enforce it. But with Lehi’s death, his family unit splintered.