Context and General Information
- Shortly before Lehi’s death, he blesses his grandchildren a final time.
- Lehi passes away.
Lehi—A Goodly Parent
Well, we’ve been studying the Book of Mormon for a while now. I have spent months with Lehi, Sariah, and the rest of their family. And now, in 2 Nephi 4:12, Lehi passes away. As I read of his death, I am reminded the opening of the Book of Mormon:
“I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father;…” – 1 Nephi 1:1
Nephi was born of “goodly” parents. As we have been studying the life of Lehi and Nephi and their family, we can see that this was true.
I did a quick search and found that goodly basically means what we think it means. During archaic times this word was especially used to mean attractive, excellent, or admirable. I feel that this is probably what Nephi meant.
So – for today, I think that I will ponder some of the points that made Lehi a goodly parent. Also, I’m going to lump Sariah into these points. Cultures and practices were different anciently. I don’t know why women weren’t as included, but it just didn’t happen. Perhaps it was because people were more sexist back in olden times (or at least what we would perceive to be). But perhaps it isn’t that simple. Maybe in ancient times, especially in a culture like Nephi’s, they considered the whole unit – husband and wife – as one unit. Perhaps marriage partners weren’t as individualistic as today’s are (especially in the U.S.)? Most likely, the lack of female inclusion is a combination of many different things.
I don’t know.
But, for myself, I’m going to consider Lehi and Sariah as a package. Lehi wouldn’t have been who he was without her. And Sariah wouldn’t have been who she was without him. Not only do partners shape their marriage, but the marriage shapes them. So, as I write about Lehi, remember that I consider Sariah to be at his side. I consider them companions.
One – Lehi and Sariah were Disciples of Jehovah
When the Book of Mormon opens, we read of a deeply spiritual experience of Lehi’s. His conversion to the Lord increases, and he is called to be a prophet.
Lehi is righteous and is willing to keep the commandments of God.
Additionally, we can infer that Sariah was also righteously devoted to the Lord. She let her husband preach! This was a dangerous and difficult time to be preaching as he did, but he was supported in it.
Two – Lehi and Sariah Faithfully Protected Their Family
Lehi’s willingness to keep the commandments of God and preach to the people of Jerusalem ends up putting him and his entire family in danger. The people of Jerusalem want to kill him.
I believe that the threat to Lehi’s life was immediate. In other words, had Lehi stayed in Jerusalem, I am not sure that he would have lived to see it destroyed. I think that he would have been killed beforehand. Perhaps his entire family would have been targeted.
God warns Lehi in a dream to flee, and he does.
One interesting note: this method of “protection” may not seem all that intuitive or conventional. Lehi protects his family by taking them into the dangerous wilderness! The thing to keep in mind is that Lehi trusts the Lord, and this is the best protection any parent can offer to their children.
Additionally, it is good to note that Sariah also aided in this protection. Lehi didn’t pack the camels, family, and provisions himself. He had the help of his wife. She didn’t receive the revelation, but she supported him, and in this way she also protected the family.
Three – Lehi Provided for His Family
In 1 Nephi, we read:
“…And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.” – 1 Nephi 2:4
Additionally, when Nephi and his brothers travel back to Jerusalem to get the plates from Laban, we read that they gathered up their old treasures to buy them:
“Wherefore, let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; therefore let us go down to the land of our father’s inheritance, for behold he left gold and silver, and all manner of riches. And all this he hath done because of the commandments of the Lord.
And it came to pass that we went down to the land of our inheritance, and we did gather together our gold, and our silver, and our precious things.” – 1 Nephi 3:16, 22
Lehi had amassed some kind of wealth during his life in Jerusalem. I’m not sure how he did it, but we know that he did provide for his family.
Again, it may have seemed counterintuitive for a man who was a good provider to leave everything behind and go into the wilderness. But his choice to listen to the Lord and take his family to a promised land would soon provide and protect his family better than anything he could have come up with on his own.
One more, Sariah must also be remembered here. She provided for her family as well. We don’t know the details, but I would imagine that she helped procure the beautiful and precious things that they enjoyed. She would have also helped to maintain the house and tents – providing an environment that would nurture faith.
Four – Lehi Teaches His Children
Over and over again, we read of the ways that Lehi taught his children. He gathered them in his tent while they lived in the wilderness. He testified to them. He told them his dreams. He expounded scripture to them. He warned them. When he sinned, he repented. He blessed them. Even to his dying day he exhorted them to come unto Christ.
As far as Sariah is concerned – this is an actual example that we have in the scriptures. She taught her children and then testified to them:
“Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them. And after this manner of language did she speak.” – 1 Nephi 5:8
Five – Lehi and Sariah Loved One Another
For the most part, we have to infer and read between the lines when it comes to Sariah. But as a woman and a wife I have to believe that she was Lehi’s companion, love, and number one support. I understand what it is to be in a marriage, and I understand what it is to support and love a husband. I understand what it is to have a husband that also supports and loves me.
In 1 Nephi, we read of one of Sariah’s “bad” days. This “bad” day of hers wasn’t because she was selfish or bratty. It’s because she loved her sons and was worried about them! She complained to her husband.
Lehi, instead of getting frustrated, comforts Sariah.
Even though we have this one interaction, we can assume that this type of behavior was often extended one to another – between Lehi and Sariah. Lehi’s actions, in such stressful circumstances, reflect a loving relationship. If Sariah and Lehi had a toxic relationship, there is no way that this would have worked! Lehi and Sariah wouldn’t have been able to have peace while waiting for their sons to return to the wilderness with the plates.
And actually, that’s only the small part. Lehi and Sariah needed to have companionship, love, and devotion in order to be able to lead their group through the wilderness to the promised land. Can you imagine this undertaking!?! Can you imagine the stress it would have put on Lehi and Sariah? Can you imagine the way that it would have tested their relationship?
The only way that the journey to the promised land would have worked is if both Lehi and Sariah were equally yoked, humble, and devoted to the Lord.
This post is kind of all over the place, and I make a lot of assumptions in it. But I hope it is helpful. Truly, Nephi was born of goodly parents.
And now, we read in 2 Nephi:
“And it came to pass after my father, Lehi, had spoken unto all his household, according to the feelings of his heart and the Spirit of the Lord which was in him, he waxed old. And it came to pass that he died, and was buried.” – 2 Nephi 4:12
Father Lehi led his family to the promised land. He taught them, protected them, provided for them. He loved them and given them an example of what a “goodly parent” ought to do. And now, as we read, he has died. It is the end of an era and we are moving on to new things in the Book of Mormon.
I’m so grateful for Lehi’s and Sariah’s examples. I hope that I can also be a “goodly parent.”