Land of First Inheritance (Malay geography model)

Near the Lehites' original landing point

Land of First Inheritance (Malay geography model)

The Land of First Inheritance is a significant region in the Book of Mormon narrative, primarily because it is cited as the initial landing area of Lehi and his family (1 Nephi 18:23) after their departure from Jerusalem and arduous journey across the ocean. This land is identified as being located along the seashore, to the west of the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla, solidifying its geographic position as westward by the sea (Alma 22:28).

After the death of Lehi, contention arose among his sons, leading Nephi to relocate his followers away from this ancestral beachhead to establish what would become the land of Nephi, leaving behind the Lamanites in the Land of First Inheritance (2 Nephi 5:7). The term “Land of First Inheritance” is also used occasionally to reference the broader southern lands inclusive of the land of Nephi, illustrating its importance as a foundational territory not just for immediate inheritance but also as a cultural homeland from which various expansions and migrations originated in Nephite and Lamanite history.

As the Nephite and Lamanite populations grew, the Land of First Inheritance became a backdrop for continued conflict and narrative tension. On multiple occasions, the Nephite military leader Captain Moroni threatened to reclaim this land from the Lamanites, citing it as the land of their first inheritance—a land which they were prepared to defend and which had become a symbol of their heritage and right (Alma 54:12-13). These pronouncements underscore the Land of First Inheritance’s enduring significance as both a literal and symbolic site of origin and belonging for the Nephite people.

Laman and Lemuel’s gripes against their brother Nephi include a sense of being wronged while in the Land of First Inheritance (Mosiah 10:13), suggesting that the location not only played a role in the physical settling of the Lehite descendants but also in the psychological and social divisions that would have lasting impacts on their civilizations. Additionally, Zeniff, who later led a Nephite expedition to reclaim part of the Lamanite-occupied land of Nephi, had a cognizance of the Land of First Inheritance, highlighting the knowledge and memory of this land among the Nephites even generations after their separation from it (Mosiah 9:1).

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