Nephi makes a speech--They return to Jerusalem--Nephi's brothers hide while Nephi is led by the Spirit to Laban's house--The Spirit
leads Nathan to Laban who is passed out on the ground--The Spirit tells Nephi to kill Laban--Nephi cuts off Laban head with Laban's own
steel sword and steals the brass plates--Nephi puts on Laban's clothes and speaks with the Laban's voice--Nephi's disguise fools Laban's
servant (Zoram)--Nephi's brothers are also fooled by Nephi's disguise--Zoram decides to join up with Lehi's sons--They all walk back 400
km to Lephi's tent. (600-592 BCE)
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Better for one man to die than a whole nation dwindle in unbelief
1 And it came to pass that I spake unto my brethren, saying: Let us go up again
unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord; for behold he is mightier than all the
earth, then why not mightier than Laban and his fifty, yea, or even than his tens of thousands?
2 Therefore let us go up; let us be strong like unto Moses; for he truly spake unto the waters of the Red
Sea and they divided hither and thither, and our fathers came through, out of captivity, on dry ground, and the armies of
Pharaoh did follow and were drowned in the waters of the Red Sea.
3 Now behold ye know that this is
true; and ye also know that an angel hath spoken unto you; wherefore can ye doubt? Let us go up; the Lord is able to
deliver us, even as our fathers, and to destroy Laban, even as the Egyptians.
I said to my brothers, "Let's go back to Jerusalem."
4 Now when I had spoken
these words, they were yet wroth, and did still continue to murmur; nevertheless they did follow me up until we came
without the walls of Jerusalem.
"Okay," they said, though they still murmured a bit.
5 And it was by night; and I caused that they should hide themselves without the walls. And
after they had hid themselves, I, Nephi, crept into the city and went forth towards the house of Laban.
6 And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things
which I should do.
When we got to Jerusalem, my brothers hid outside the gates while I was led by the Spirit to Laban's house.
7 Nevertheless I went forth, and as I came near unto the house of Laban I beheld a
man, and he had fallen to the earth before me, for he was drunken with wine.
8 And when I came to him I found that it was Laban.
When I got there I found Laban, who had passed out from drinking too much wine.
9 And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure
gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of
the most precious steel.
He had a sword of the most precious steel, with a handle of pure gold.
10 And it came to pass that I was constrained
by the Spirit that I should kill Laban; but I said in my
heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man. And I shrunk and would that I might not slay him.
The Spirit tried to force me to kill Laban, but I didn't want to do it. 
11 And the Spirit said unto me again:
Behold the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands. Yea, and I also
knew that he had sought to take away mine own life; yea, and he would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord; and
he also had taken away our property.
The Spirit said to me,
The Lord has delivered him into your hands.
12 And it came to pass that
the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands;
13 Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his
righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should
dwindle and perish in unbelief.
14 And now, when I, Nephi, had heard these words, I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto
me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise.
It's better for one man to die than a whole nation dwindle in unbelief. 
15 Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of
the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law.
16 And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass.
17 And again, I knew that the Lord had delivered Laban into my hands for this cause -- that I might obtain
the records according to his commandments.
Then I realized why I had to kill Laban.
The law of Moses was written on the plates, and we wouldn't know the law if we didn't have them. 
18 Therefore I did obey the voice of the Spirit, and took
Laban by the hair of the head, and I smote off his head with his own sword.
So I obeyed the Spirit by grabbing Laban by the hair and chopping off his head with his own sword.
19 And after I had smitten off his head
with his own sword, I took the garments of Laban and put them upon
mine own body; yea, even every whit; and I did gird on his armor about my loins.
20 And after I had done this, I went forth unto the treasury of Laban. And as I went forth towards the
treasury of Laban, behold, I saw the servant of Laban who had the
keys of the treasury. And I commanded him in the voice of Laban, that he should go with me into the treasury.
Then I put on his clothes, "gird on his armor about my loins," went to the treasury of Laban and
commanded (with the voice of Laban) Laban's servant to follow me. 
21 And he supposed me to be his master, Laban, for he beheld the garments and also the sword girded about my loins.
22 And he spake unto me concerning the elders of the Jews, he knowing that his master, Laban, had been out
by night among them.
And it worked perfectly! I looked and sounded just like Laban, so it completely fooled his servant.
23 And I spake unto him as if it had been Laban.
24 And I also spake unto him that I should carry the engravings, which were upon the plates of brass, to
my elder brethren, who were without the walls.
25 And I also bade him that he should follow me.
26 And he, supposing that I spake of the
brethren of the church, and that I was truly that Laban whom I had slain, wherefore he did follow me.
27 And he spake unto me many times concerning the elders of the Jews, as I went forth unto my brethren,
who were without the walls.
I chatted with him for a while, as though I were Laban.
Then I told him to take the brass plates to my brothers who were waiting outside the city gates.
28 And it came to pass that
when Laman saw me he was exceedingly frightened, and also Lemuel and
Sam. And they fled from before my presence; for they supposed it was Laban,
and that he had slain me and had sought to take away their lives also.
When my brothers saw us coming, they were frightened since they thought I was Laban, too!
29 And it came to pass that I called after them, and they did hear me;
wherefore they did cease to flee from my presence.
30 And it came to pass that when the servant of Laban beheld my brethren he began to tremble, and was about
to flee from before me and return to the city of Jerusalem.
31 And now I, Nephi, being a man large in stature, and also having received much strength of the Lord,
therefore I did seize upon the servant of Laban, and held him, that he should not flee.
32 And it came to pass that I spake with him, that if he would hearken unto my words, as the Lord liveth,
and as I live, even so that if he would hearken unto our words, we would spare his life.
33 And I spake unto him, even with an oath, that he need not fear; that he should be a free man like unto
us if he would go down in the wilderness with us.
34 And I also spake unto him, saying: Surely the Lord hath commanded us to do this thing; and shall we not
be diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord? Therefore, if thou wilt go down into the wilderness to my father
thou shalt have place with us.
35 And it came to pass that Zoram did take courage at the words which I spake. Now Zoram was the name of
the servant; and he promised that he would go down into the wilderness unto our father. Yea, and he also made an oath
unto us that he would tarry with us from that time forth.
36 Now we were desirous that he should tarry with us for this cause, that the Jews might not know
concerning our flight into the wilderness, lest they should pursue us and destroy us.
37 And it came to pass that when Zoram had made an oath unto us, our fears did cease concerning him.
But then they heard my voice and knew it was me.
38 And it came to pass that we took the plates of brass and the servant of Laban, and departed into the
wilderness, and journeyed unto the tent of our father.
I talked Laban's servant (Zoram) into joining us, and we packed up the brass plates and returned
to the wilderness and traveled back to my father's tent.
- I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban. (v.10)
The Spirit forces Nephi to murder Laban as he lay passed out on the ground.
It took him three tries to persuade Nephi, but he finally succeeded by reminding Nephi that God kills people too
(so it must be OK) and besides, it's better that one person die than a whole nation dwindle in unbelief.
- It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should
dwindle and perish in unbelief (v.13)
The angel used the same justification for killing Laban as Caiaphas did for Jesus.
(See John 11:50)
- They could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses,
save they should have the law. And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass. (vv.15-16)
So in order to keep the commandments, Laban had to break one of the Ten Commandments (Thou shalt not kill.
Exodus 20:13, Deuteronomy 5:17
- After I had smitten off his head with his own sword, I took the garments of Laban and put them upon
mine own body. (v.19)
You'd think that after cutting off Laban's head, Laban's clothes would be covered with blood. Wouldn't that mess up his
disguise a bit?
And it came to pass: 4:1, 10, 12, 28, 29,
30, 32, 35, 37, 38
Exceedingly: 4:9, 28
Behold: 4:1, 3, 11, 13, 20
Yea: 4:1, 11(2), 15, 19, 35
4:13 It is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people,
and that the whole nation perish not. John 11:50
- Dwindling in Unbelief
- 1 Neph Better for one man
to die than a whole nation dwindle in unbelief
- God's death toll in the Bible,
Book of Mormon, and Quran (1 Nephi 10-19)
- The Annotated Book of Mormon