Those who followed Nephi were the righteous. This is substantiated by their keeping the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses (v. 10). Why they kept the law of Moses is explained in 2 Nephi 25:24–30 and will be commented upon when those verses are discussed in a later chapter. Their taking the plates of brass and other sacred items with them (v. 12) is also evidence that those who followed Nephi had a desire to be righteous. These sacred items were kept intact, and handed down “from generation to generation” as commanded by the Lord (Jacob 1:3).
The Nephites prosperity in making swords for their defense and building and working in various metals (vv. 14–15) can be attributed to Nephi’s teaching them to be industrious (v. 17). In the law of the Church, revealed in our dispensation, the Lord expressed his desire for the people to follow the “work of their own hands” and “not be idle” (D&C 42:40, 42). When people follow the Lord’s counsel, they will be blessed and prosper. In contrast, the Lamanites “did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey (v. 25 quoted below).
The Nephites built a temple at their earliest convenience. This is an indication of their spirituality. Although other temples were built this is the first mention of a temple in the Book of Mormon (v. 16). Nephi’s desire that the Nephites have no king will be discussed in the next chapter. His character is again reflected in his willingness to do for them what was in his power (v. 18).