Source:Rediscovering the Book of Mormon:Ch:5:5:Exodus motif: Lead kindly light

Exodus motif: Lead, Kindly Light

Exodus motif: Lead, Kindly Light

The Liahona was not the only help Lehi and his family received from the Lord. In describing this help, Nephi once again drew on the images, and apparently also the language, of Exodus:

I will also be your light in the wilderness; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led towards the promised land; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led. Yea, and the Lord said also that: After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God; and that I, the Lord, did deliver you from destruction; yea, and I did bring you out of the land of Jerusalem (1 Nephi 17:13-14).
The Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night (Exodus 13:21).
I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians (Exodus 6:7-8).

The similarity of the texts is interesting, but a difference is enlightening as well. In Exodus the concept of a people chosen by God is emphasized, while in the Book of Mormon the idea is reversed—a people choose God through obedience to his commandments. This idea is also a major theme in Nephi's sermon to his brothers (see 1 Nephi 17:23-43).

Clearly Nephi did not just copy the Exodus story; rather, he adapted it to his purpose, no doubt by inspiration. Perhaps he had seen how the perversion of the idea of being the "chosen people" had contributed to the Israelites' downfall by making them proud. He may also have worried that his brothers' belief that "the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people" (1 Nephi 17:22) was a sign that they were falling into the same error.[1]


  1. Terrence L. Szink, "Nephi and the Exodus," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, edited by John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co.; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), Chapter 5.