In 1st Nephi we meet the family of Lehi, who is a prophet and who is inspired to lead his family out of Jerusalem to a promised land. By 2 Nephi they arrive in the promised land, but not long after Lehi recognizes that old age will soon overcome him. So he begins to offer his final words to his posterity and includes in the process a father’s blessing to each of his children. In chapter 1 of 2 Nephi he states:
28 And now my son, Laman, and also Lemuel and Sam, and also my sons who are the sons of Ishmael, behold, if ye will hearken unto the voice of Nephi ye shall not perish. And if ye will hearken unto him I leave unto you a blessing, yea, even my first blessing.
29 But if ye will not hearken unto him I take away my first blessing, yea, even my blessing, and it shall rest upon him.
30 And now, Zoram, I speak unto you: Behold, thou art the servant of Laban; nevertheless, thou hast been brought out of the land of Jerusalem, and I know that thou art a true friend unto my son, Nephi, forever.
31 Wherefore, because thou hast been faithful thy seed shall be blessed with his seed, that they dwell in prosperity long upon the face of this land; and nothing, save it shall be iniquity among them, shall harm or disturb their prosperity upon the face of this land forever.
In these 4 verses Lehi blesses his children, Laman, Lemuel, and Sam. He also blesses the sons of Ishmael and Zoram. I recall that the sons of Lehi were, Laman, Lemuel, Sam, Nephi, Jacob, Joseph. The others in the traveling party were Zoram (servant of Laban) and the children of Ishmael, since Ishmael died during the journey to the promised land.
All of chapter 2 of 2 Nephi is dedicated to blessing Jacob, it begins:
1 And now, Jacob, I speak unto you: Thou art my firstborn 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.
2 Nevertheless, Jacob, my firstborn in the wilderness, thou knowest the greatness of God; and he shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.
Chapter 2 is one of the great lessons in the Book of Mormon. It teaches the true reason for the fall, and that the purpose of life is to be happy. It covers agency and the atonement. The verses are a beautiful testament to Jesus Christ.
Finally the last blessing Lehi provides is to his son Joseph in chapter 3 of 2 Nephi. Interestingly in this blessing, Lehi teaches his son Joseph regarding a seer that the Lord will raise up with the same name as him. So Lehi is clearly prophesying of Joseph Smith. Speaking of Joseph Smith it states:
8 And I will give unto him a commandment that he shall do none other work, save the work which I shall command him. And I will make him great in mine eyes; for he shall do my work.
9 And he shall be great like unto Moses, whom I have said I would raise up unto you, to deliver my people, O house of Israel.
He continues with an interesting pair of verses near the end of the chapter:
22 And now, behold, my son Joseph, after this manner did my father of old prophesy.
23 Wherefore, because of this covenant thou art blessed; for thy seed shall not be destroyed, for they shall hearken unto the words of the book.
What I find fascinating about chapter 3 is that it is the last blessing that Lehi gives. Noticeably there is not chapter or blessing dedicated to Nephi. Nephi is clearly the next prophet as it is his duty to teach, exhort and write the words of God. Why does it seem like the blessing to Joseph was the blessing meant for Nephi? Why does Nephi follow this chapter with his own discussion where he states in chapter 4 vs 17: “O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.” Did Lehi not bless Nephi, and is chapter 4 his complaint about this oversight?
Considering the nature of the blessing to Joseph it appears that line of leadership would flow through Joseph, but through the remainder of the Book of Mormon, the prophets nearly always identify as being descendants of Nephi. Despite the fact that the next prophet is Jacob (instead of a son of Nephi) and after Jacob is Enos (a son of Jacob). In fact Joseph is effectively left out of the remainder of the Book of Mormon. Is Lehi’s prophesy that Joseph’s seed shall not be destroyed not fulfilled? Maybe he means that Joseph’s seed will hearken unto the words of the prophets for the next 800 years and therefore not be destroyed. I begin to question if the roles of Nephi and Joseph were mistakenly switched like Isaac with Jacob and Esau. Or is it possible that Nephi is just being humble about the blessing he did receive?