Thursday, March 22, 2012

1 Nephi 17: More Sibling Rivalry

God commands Nephi to build a boat so that his family can sail to America.  Nephi gets to work on it, his brothers make fun of him for it and whine some more about being stuck in the wilderness, and Nephi gets preachy on them again.  This all feels very familiar.

Bruce Banner Can Trace His Genealogy Back to Nephi
When Nephi's brothers get mad at him for telling them they'll probably go to hell (what an uppity prick), he pretty much hulks out by the power of God:
In the name of the Almighty God, I command you that ye touch me not, for I am filled with the power of God, even unto the consuming of my flesh; and whoso shall lay his hands upon me shall wither even as a dried reed; and he shall be as naught before the power of God, for God shall smite him.
Um, okay.  I've never heard of somebody being so overcome with righteousness that they become lethal to the touch.  I kind of half expect him to turn green or maybe burst into flames or suddenly develop the ability to fly.  It sounds about as absurd as a superhero story.

Why Do Laman and Lemuel Have to Help?
Nephi seems annoyed that Laman and Lemuel don't want to help him in his endeavor to construct a ship out of nothing but raw materials.  He mentions it twice.  I don't know why he's so annoyed.

God called him into the mountain and personally told him to build a boat.  God didn't tell him he had to make his brothers help.

God also didn't give Nephi a deadline.  It's not like there's any rush.

Laman and Lemuel aren't exactly trustworthy.  I'd worry that one of them was going to accidentally-on-purpose sabotage the boat.  Or maybe give it a flaw just bad enough that it springs a leak a few hundred yards out to sea and everybody has to swim back to shore and start all over again.

Nephi was probably better off building the damn thing himself, especially in his own eyes.  Since he's so awesome and righteous and a future king over his brethren and recently filled with the power of God unto the consuming of his flesh...he's pretty much the greatest person on the planet.  That guy needs no help.  He doesn't seem like the type to want any, either.

A Supposedly Omniscient God Fails To See Something Coming
Following Nephi's Touch Me Not speech, God decides to teach Laman and Lemuel a little lesson.  In verse 53 he tells Nephi:
Stretch forth thine hand again unto thy brethren, and they shall not wither before thee, but I will shock them, saith the Lord, and this will I do, that they may know that I am the Lord their God.
Not really an intelligent idea to begin with.  If a direct angelic messenger (see Living in Little Brother's Shadow) isn't going to convince them of the power of God, I don't think a little shock (or "[causing] to shake or tremble" as the footnote says) is going to do the trick.  At least with an angel it's pretty obvious that its origin is heavenly, but here it sounds like Laman and Lemuel are simply going to regret eating that extra bean burrito.  A little tremor isn't necessarily a sign from God.

But Nephi obediently stretches forth his hand and zaps Laman and Lemuel.  In a bizarre twist of events, they're totally convinced that Nephi has the power of God (because that makes sense).  And then they start to worship him.  And by "him" I mean "Nephi."

What did God say?  "That they may know that I am the Lord their God."

I don't think it worked.  Because they're worshiping the wrong guy.

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