Laman and Lemuel

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In the Book of Mormon, Laman and Lemuel (/ˈlmən ... ˈlɛmjl/)[1] are the two eldest sons[2] of Lehi and the older brothers of Sam, Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph. According to the text, they lived around 600 BC. They were notable for their rebellion against Lehi and Nephi, becoming the primary antagonists of the First and Second Books of Nephi. They and their descendants became known as the Lamanites, while the descendants of Nephi and their other brothers became the Nephites.

Laman was Lehi's first-born son. He rejected the teachings of his father (in particular Lehi's prophecy of the forthcoming destruction of Jerusalem in 600 BC). He and Lemuel persecuted and beat their brothers Sam and Nephi,[3] who supported Lehi. Because God chose Nephi to lead Lehi's descendants after his death, Laman maintained that he had been robbed of his birthright, resulting in constant wars between the two peoples for nearly 600 years.

God intervening[edit]

In the Book of Mormon there are incidences of Laman and Lemuel beating or binding up Nephi. On the first occurrence, when they were beating Nephi and Sam with a rod, it tells how an angel visited the brothers, and the angel rebuked Laman and Lemuel.[4] On other occasions, Laman and Lemuel were chastened by the voice of the Lord, or "shocked" by divine power.

River of Laman and Valley of Lemuel[edit]

In 1 Nephi 2:2–11, Lehi's party makes its way from Jerusalem towards the promised land. Verse 5 says that Lehi "came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea." The group traveled for three more days after they had reached "the borders near the shore of the Red Sea" before making camp. At this point, they make camp "in a valley by the side of a river of water." Verses 8-10 read:

And it came to pass that he called the name of the river, Laman, and it emptied into the Red Sea; and the valley was in the borders near the mouth thereof. And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness! And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!

Hugh Nibley, an LDS scholar and apologist, thought this area referred to as "the borders" was by Jabal al-Lawz.[5]


"Lemuel" (Hebrew:לְמוּאֵל) is the name of a Biblical king mentioned in Proverbs 31:1 and 4, but otherwise unknown.[6] In verse 4, it says, "Give not to kings, O Lemuel, give not wine to kings ..." The discourse, which is an exhortation to chastity and temperance, appears to end with verse 9, but might continue through the end of the chapter.

Hugh Nibley remarks Lemuel has a "good pure Arabic name, incidentally."[5]



Book of Mormon Movie[edit]

In The Book of Mormon Movie, Vol. 1: The Journey, adapted from First and Second Nephi, Laman was portrayed by Mark Gollaher and Lemuel by Cragun Foulger. The portrayals were highly influenced by Arnold Friberg paintings of the characters.

The film was widely panned by Mormon[7] and non-Mormon critics.[8]. The Austin Chronicle wrote of "sinister siblings Laman and Lemuel (Gollaher, Foulger) running rampant with Stone Age stilettos and waywardness like some Hebraic version of the Bowery BoysLeo Gorcey and Huntz Hall"


  1. ^ "Book of Mormon Pronunciation Guide" (retrieved 2012-02-25), IPA-ified from «lā´mun» and «lĕm´yūl»
  2. ^ "Book of Mormon, Introduction to the first book of Nephi".
  3. ^ "Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 3:28".
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Nibley, Hugh & Hummel, Sharman Bookwalter (ed.) Nibley's Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1 (2013), ASIN: B00GFY0GUO
  6. ^ PD-icon.svg Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Lemuel". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  7. ^ The Book of Mormon Movie, Deseret News
  8. ^ The Book of Mormon Movie, Volume 1: The Journey in the Austin Chronicle

Further reading[edit]