Source:Nibley:CW06:Ch10:4:The Case of Zoram

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The Case of Zoram

The Case of Zoram

An equally suggestive figure is Zoram, Laban's trusted servant whom Nephi met carrying the keys to the treasury as he approached the building. Zoram naturally thought the man in armor with the gruff voice was his master, who he knew had been out by night among the elders of the Jews (1 Nephi 4:22). Nephi, who could easily have been standing in the dark, ordered the man to go in and bring him the plates and follow after him, and Zoram naturally thought that a need for consulting the documents had arisen in the meeting, "supposing that I spake of the brethren of the church" (1 Nephi 4:26), in which case he would act with great dispatch in order not to keep the officials waiting. He hurried in, got the plates, and hastened after the waiting and impatient commander, but not, it must be admitted, "without another word"—for he talked and talked as he hurried after Nephi through the dark streets towards the gates. What did he talk about? "The elders of the Jews" (1 Nephi 4:27), about whose doings he evidently knew a good deal. For Zoram, as Laban's private secretary and keeper of the keys, was himself an important official, and no mere slave. Professor Albright has shown that the title "servant" by which Nephi designates him meant in Jerusalem at that time something like "official representative" and was an honorable rather than a menial title.8
That the sarim [elders of the Jews]..."were in permanent session in the Palace," were full of restless devices is implied not only in their strange hours of meeting but in the fact that Zoram seemed to think nothing strange of the direction or place where Nephi was taking him. But when he saw the brethren and heard Nephi's real voice he got the shock of his life and in a panic made a break for the city. In such a situation there was only one thing Nephi could possibly have done, both to spare Zoram and to avoid giving alarm—and no westerner could have guessed what it was. Nephi, a powerful fellow, held the terrified Zoram in a vice-like grip long enough to swear a solemn oath in his ear, "as the Lord liveth, and as I live" (1 Nephi 4:32), that he would not harm him if he would listen. Zoram immediately relaxed, and Nephi swore another oath to him that he would be a free man if he would join the party: "Therefore, if thou wilt go down into the wilderness to my father thou shalt have place with us" (1 Nephi 4:34).[1]


  1. Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition, (Vol. 6 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), Chapter 10, references silently removed—consult original for citations.