“Precious Things”

Ed J. Pinegar, Richard J. Allen

From the record we know that Lehi is a man of means, having gold, silver, and precious things—at least in sufficient quantities to induce Laman and Lemuel to fret over the contrast between the comforts of their previous home life and the austere life in the wilderness. The word “inheritance” implies that the two older brothers covet the family property that would eventually have come into their possession. Being blind to the spiritual aspects of the family flight into the wilderness, they selfishly blame their father for the “foolish imaginations” (verse 11) that supposedly rob them of their worldly comforts.

Just how Lehi originally comes to be wealthy, we do not know. Some have supposed that he might have been a traveling tradesman or merchant with connections to Egypt (see, for example, Nibley, 32–33); to be sure, he seems to be familiar with caravan protocols and practices as he navigates the wilderness. From whatever source, his affluence provides ample framework for establishing, first, his trust in and loyalty to the Lord (having willingly given up all his worldly possessions for the cause of righteousness) and, second, the abundant record concerning the hard-heartedness, pride, and narrow-mindedness of Laman and Lemuel.

Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1