Sample Chapter

Jacob, the Brother of Nephi

(after 600 B.C.)

Jacob is one the most powerful doctrinal teachers in the Book of Mormon. As the fifth son of Lehi and Sariah, he was Nephi’s younger brother by about fifteen to twenty years. Jacob arrived on the scene somewhere during the eight years that Lehi and his family lived in the wilderness of the Arabian Peninsula—between 600 and 592 b.c. He spent his childhood as a nomad, traveling through the wilderness, over mountains, across desserts, and upon open oceans until finally arriving at the Promised Land sometime before his tenth year of life.

Born in the wilderness, Jacob never knew the world his older brothers experienced—the one of comfort, wealth, prosperity, commerce, and social status that his family had enjoyed back in Jerusalem. He never could have imagined the beautiful home they dwelt in, the fine linens and clothes they once wore, the crowded schools, busy temples, great feasts, the sights and sounds of a bustling marketplace filled with trinkets and curiosities brought by travelers from faraway lands.

The family had already fled Jerusalem by the time Jacob came along, leaving behind all of their many possessions. Carrying with them only the bare necessities, they wandered through hostile lands in secret, foraging for food and living in tents. References to the family’s struggle while Jacob was young include such words as “sorrowful,” (1 Nephi 16:20) “afflictions,”(1 Nephi 17:1) “wanderings,” (I Nephi 16:35) and “sufferings” (I Nephi 16:35).” Often near the brink of starvation, he watched his family “live upon raw meat” (1 Nephi 17:2) and “wade through much affliction . . . so much that we cannot write them all”(1 Nephi 17:1&6).

In his young life Jacob was exposed to the terrible power of Satan and witnessed that destructive force in his family. He observed the awful cruelty of Laman and Lemuel as they relentlessly taunted and mocked his father, Lehi. Then he watched helplessly as they tortured and tried to kill Nephi.

Of these events Lehi wrote, “And now, Jacob, I speak unto you. Thou art my first-born in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow, because of the rudeness of thy brethren. Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.

“Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fullness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men. And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever” (2 Nephi 2:1–4).

As prophesied by Lehi, Jacob did grow up in Nephi’s shadow to become a valiant and godly man. Rather than embitter him, the hardships of his life forged him into a man of great empathy and sensitivity. After Lehi’s death the travelers disbanded, forming two groups—the Nephites and the Lamanites. Jacob followed Nephi, continuing to honor and serve his beloved brother and his God. He witnessed many miracles, had many visions, and was administered to by angels. He even beheld the Lord Jesus Christ, as testified by Nephi: “And my brother, Jacob, also has seen him as I have seen him” (2 Nephi 11:3).

Nephi trusted Jacob so much that he charged him with safeguarding the brass plates brought from Jerusalem. Additionally, he passed to him the sacred responsibility of continuing the written record of Lehi’s descendents. This record he wrote on the small plates of Nephi.

After Nephi’s death, Jacob continued to teach and preach the word of God to the people, along with his younger brother, Joseph. His powerful, persuasive and tender messages convinced many to keep the commandments of God. Perhaps because he grew up with Laman and Lemuel and watched pride harden their hearts, he so strongly denounced the evil of pride and stiffneckedness and stressed the need for love and humility. Illustrating great sensitivity to the challenges that women face, he condemned the sins of fornication, lasciviousness, and unchastity:

“Wherefore I, Jacob, gave unto them these words as I taught them in the temple, having first obtained mine errand from the Lord. For I, Jacob, and my brother Joseph had been consecrated priests and teachers of this people, by the hand of Nephi. And we did magnify our office unto the Lord” (Jacob 1:17–19).

Jacob witnessed the division of his people, experienced the hatred of the Lamanites, and lived to see the horrific period in his people’s history when the Nephites became more wicked than the Lamanites. Yet all the days of his life he faithfully served the Lord, repeatedly bearing his testimony of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ: “For this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundreds of years before his coming” (Jacob 4:4).

In the prophet Jacob’s last words, we gain a sense of his frustration. But mostly we feel the tenderness of his spirit, the strength of his faith, and the eternal hope he had in the Savior.


Last Words


Jacob 4:1–13
Now behold, it came to pass that I, Jacob, having ministered much unto my people in word, (and I cannot write but a little of my words, because of the difficulty of engraving our words upon plates) and we know that the things which we write upon plates must remain; But whatsoever things we write upon anything save it be upon plates must perish and vanish away, but we can write a few words upon plates, which will give our children, and also our beloved brethren, a small degree of knowledge concerning us, or concerning their fathers.

Now in this thing we do rejoice, and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents.

For, for this intent have we written these things, that they may know that we knew of Christ, and we had a hope of his glory many hundred years before his coming, and not only we ourselves had a hope of his glory, but also all the holy prophets which were before us. Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him, and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.

Wherefore, we search the prophets, and we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy, and having all these witnesses we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea.

Nevertheless, the Lord God showed us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things. Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God. For behold, by the power of his word man came upon the face of the earth, which earth was created by the power of his word. Wherefore, if God being able to speak and the world was, and to speak and man was created, O then, why not able to command the earth, or the workmanship of his hands upon the face of it, according to his will and pleasure?

Wherefore, brethren, seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For behold, ye yourselves know that he counseleth in wisdom, and in justice, and in great mercy, over all his works. Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son, and ye may obtain a resurrection, according to the power of the resurrection which is in Christ, and be presented as the first-fruits of Christ unto God, having faith, and obtaining a good hope of glory in him before he manifesteth himself in the flesh.

And now, beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not speak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?

Behold, my brethren, he that prophesieth, let him prophesy to the understanding of men; for the Spirit speaketh the truth and lieth not. Wherefore, it speaketh of things as they really are, and of things as they really will be, wherefore, these things are manifested unto us plainly, for the salvation of our souls. But behold, we are not witnesses alone in these things; for God also spake them unto prophets of old.

Jacob 6:5–13
Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I beseech of you in words of soberness that ye would repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the light of the day, harden not your hearts. Yea, today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts; for why will ye die?

For behold, after ye have been nourished by the good word of God all the day long, will ye bring forth evil fruit, that ye must be hewn down and cast into the fire? Behold, will ye reject these words? Will ye reject the words of the prophets, and will ye reject the words which have been spoken concerning Christ, after so many have spoken concerning him; and deny the good work of Christ, and the power of God, and the gift of the Holy ghost, and quench the Holy Spirit, and make a mock of the great plan of redemption, which has been laid for you?

Know ye not that if ye will do these things, that the power of the redemption and the resurrection, which is in Christ, will bring you to stand with shame and awful guilt before the bar of God? And according to the power of justice, for justice cannot be denied, ye must go away into that lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever, which lake of fire and brimstone is endless torment.

Oh then, my beloved brethren, repent ye, and enter in at the strait gate, and continue in the way which is narrow, until ye shall obtain eternal life. Oh be wise; what can I say more? Finally, I bid you farewell, until I shall meet you before the pleasing bar of God, which bar striketh the wicked with awful dread and fear. Amen.

Jacob 7:26–27
I conclude this record, declaring that I have written according to the best of my knowledge, by saying that the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions, wherefore, we did mourn out our days.

And I Jacob, saw that I must soon go down to my grave; wherefore, I said unto my son Enos: Take these plates. And I told him the things which my brother Nephi had commanded me, and he promised obedience unto the commands. And I make an end of my writing upon these plates, which writing has been small, and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu.

About the Author

Kathleen Ryan - Author of Last Words for the Last DaysKathleen Ryan is an award-winning writer and public relations professional. Originally from Massachusetts, she moved to Florida where she resided for 25 years before relocating to rural Alabama.
Kathleen launched her writing career in 1980, and since then has written more than 1,200 articles for national and international magazines, newspapers and trade publications, in addition to editing, co-authoring, and ghost writing a variety of specialty books.

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, her life-long service has included: Area Media Specialist, Stake Relief Society President, Sunday School Teacher, and Church Educational System (CES) Instructor for both Seminary and Institute classes.

The inspiration behind the book...

... I knew God answers our prayers in His time when we're really ready to receive it, and I believed with all my heart that He would answer mine...(read the full story)

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