“Took Nothing with Him”

Socio-cultural information: Lehi's social status: Many of the inferences about Lehi's position in society come from this passage. When Lehi leaves his "land of inheritance" he is leaving lands which are his due. It is therefore likely that Lehi's family has lived in that approximate area for generations. Secondly, Lehi was apparently a wealthy man. A man of wealth would be well known in Lehi's "land of inheritance." The final presumption which might be made as to what Lehi's occupation might have been, which would have allowed for the accumulation of his wealth. Nibley suggests that Lehi was a caravaneer, a merchant. "There is ample evidence in the Book of Mormon that Lehi was an expert on caravan travel, as one might expect.... While he took absolutely nothing but the most necessary provisions with him, he knew exactly what those provisions should be, and when he had to send back to the city to supply unanticipated wants, it was for records that he sent and not for any necessaries for the journey. This argues for a high degree of preparation and knowledge in the man, as does the masterly way in which he established a base camp in order to gather his forces for the great trek... (Nibley, Hugh. _Lehi in the Desert_ Deseret Book 1952, p. 38).

A competing idea of Lehi's profession is that he was a metalworker (John A. Tvedtnes "Was Lehi a Caravaneer? FARMS reprint 1984). Certainly some knowledge of metalworking is indicated. Perhaps we have in the family abilities in both fields. Notice, however, that Lehi takes "nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents. In spite of the fact that Lehi had a stable dwelling place in the land of his inheritance, and was apparently wealthy, yet Lehi *had* provisions and tents. It does not indicate that he went to any trouble to get the required provisions. This may be an argument based on very little evidence, but Nephi does discuss other details of the trip. Were this the very first time Lehi had ventured into the desert, it is likely that he would have had even more argument from his family than he did. Thus, whatever metalworking skills they had were clearly augmented by a knowledge of traveling in the desert.

Brant Gardner -

Brant Gardner

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon

References