Source:Rediscovering the Book of Mormon:Ch:5:7:Exodus motif: Nephi's powerful sermon

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Exodus motif: Nephi's Powerful Sermon

Exodus motif: Nephi's Powerful Sermon

When Nephi's brothers saw that he had begun to build a ship, they began to mock him and complain, refusing to help him. Nephi responded by retelling the history of the Exodus, touching on many of the ideas he would later use in writing the story of their own wilderness journey. Near the end, Nephi draws a clear parallel between the two wilderness experiences, directly comparing his brothers to the murmuring children of Israel: "[The Lord] did bring them out of the land of Egypt. And he did straiten them [gave them hardships] in the wilderness with his rod; for they hardened their hearts, even as ye have; and the Lord straitened them because of their iniquity" (1 Nephi 17:40-41).

If his brothers were so much like the children of Israel, then do we not see Nephi in a similar position as Moses? For example, Nephi proclaimed the power that the Lord had given him in a way that brings to mind Moses' power over the Red Sea:

I said unto them: If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth: and if I should say it, it would be done (1 Nephi 17:50).
But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea (Exodus 14:16:{{{4}}}).
This sermon, with its references to Moses and the Exodus, is the most direct evidence we have that Nephi was conscious of the similarity of the two situations. At the conclusion of this sermon, Nephi reported that his brothers were so humbled by his speech and fearful that they "durst [not] . . . lay their hands upon [him] nor touch [him] with their fingers, even for the space of many days" (1 Nephi 17:52). This situation recalls the return of Moses from speaking to the Lord on Sinai: "When Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him" (Exodus 34:29-30:{{{4}}}).[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.