Nephi explains his purpose in writing this history.
-The family of Lehi is descended from Joseph
-These plates are filled with the things of God, not men
-His intent is to persuade men to come unto God
My thoughts: I like how Nephi says that the things that are pleasing to the world will not be found in these scriptures. How true that is! And then he commands his posterity to only occupy the plates with things that are of worth to the children of God. On top of that, we know that Mormon arranged and condensed everything into the gold plates, so he must have had to skip over so much. What's left is what he thought was the most important. I have had assignments in school where I had a bunch of material that I needed to condense and summarize into a few short paragraphs. It was very daunting. And yet these prophets did that so that we might learn from their histories and dealings with God. I am very grateful for them. Through these words, it's so amazing how we can feel a connection with these people who lived thousands of years ago.
Nephi and his brothers head back to Jerusalem to get Ishmael and his family. The brothers rebel again, tie Nephi up, and then he is freed by the power of the Lord. After he rebukes them, they beg his forgiveness.
I'm going to list thoughts I had along the way corresponding with the verses.
V.2-The Lord commands Nephi through his father-It is obvious to us that Nephi is a prophet of the Lord. But at this time, his father is the prophet and head of the family. He is the one who receives revelation for the whole family. Later we see with the Tree of Life vision that Nephi goes to the Lord and receives a witness of his father's revelations. This sets a precedence for us for line of authority--the father is the head of the house, the prophet is the head of the church, but we may receive our own confirming revelations.
V.4-6-They recruit Ishmael, and then L&L rebel again- I have always assumed that Lehi knew Ishmael, but this still had to take a lot of faith on the part of Ishmael. And it's not super clear how much of a relationship they had before. Also, Ishmael was obviously prepared for this years beforehand by the Lord--he had the perfect amount of daughters! One each for the four sons of Lehi and the oldest for Zoram.
V.8- Nephi calls his brothers' hearts hard and blind in their minds. That struck me with how they have no spiritual foresight. No vision. The Spirit really does help us have an eternal viewpoint that L&L were missing.
V.8-12-- They have 1. forgotten all the Lord has done for them, and 2. forgotten what the Lord is able to do. I think these go together. When we forget how the Lord has blessed us, we lose faith in his ability to bless us now or in the future.
V.17-18-Nephi asks for strength to burst his own bonds, and then the bonds are loosed- I like how Nephi asks for his own strength to be magnified, not for the Lord to get him out of the situation. I am guilty so many times of praying for my problems to go away, not for strength to get myself out of them. But then, it says that the bonds were loosed, not that he broke them. Maybe his own willingness to do his part resulted in the Lord blessing him by making the ropes fall off.
V.19-His brethren are mad but he is defended by one of the daughters of Ishmael, her mother, and her brother.-- I can't ever read this without getting a little giddy. By looking at the crossreferences in the footnotes, we assume that this is the same woman he married later on. Isn't that sweet? :]
V.21-Nephi forgives them- Sometimes, we have to just forgive people, even if we know by their patterns that they will likely do it again. This shows why Nephi is such a great man. I don't know if I could forgive someone over and over like he does. But that's what we have to strive to do.
V.22-They offer thanks and sacrifices- I know that sometimes after a trial where I have been praying for help a lot, when it's over, I am so relieved that I forget to thank the Lord. Then time will go by, and I think back, and wonder if I ever expressed my gratitude to the Lord. We should always try to have a thankful heart.
Lastly, this scripture really struck me: "12. Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men, if it so be that they exercise faith in him? Wherefore, let us be faithful to him."
So simple! To me this is the recurring theme in these chapters--have faith, and the Lord will provide the way.