A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon/Laman

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LAMAN. The eldest son of Lehi and Sariah. From the fact that his father dwelt in Jerusalem all his days, it is presumable that Laman was born in that famed city and during the reign of king Josiah. Laman was a stubborn, wilful, unbelieving and desperate man. He had no faith in the revelations given to his father, and was the leader in all the troubles and contentions in the wilderness, going so far as to propose the murder of his brother Nephi, and also of his father. Placing no credence in the prophecies that Jerusalem would be destroyed, he unwillingly left that city, and as unwillingly journeyed in the wilderness, every difficulty, every hardship encountered by the party being a fresh pretext for murmurs against God and his father, and for renewed assaults upon Nephi. Giving way to this spirit of rebellion and cruelty, he grew more hardened as he advanced in years. One of his great complaints was that Nephi had usurped the position properly belonging to his elder brothers, as the active leader of the company, though Lehi was recognized as their head as long as he lived, and the Lord appears to have so honored him. Laman and Lemuel were not unaware that God had chosen Nephi for the position he occupied; they well knew that the expedition under their guidance would be a failure, as their desires were continually to return to Judea, and that, therefore, they would be most unsuitable to carry the purposes of their father to a successful issue. Laman, with his brothers, returned twice to Jerusalem, the first time to obtain the plates of brass from Laban, the second time to bring Ishmael and his family.

Soon after their return this second time, Laman married one of the daughters of Ishmael, and from this marriage appears to have sprung the royal house of the Lamanites, and the leading spirits of that race, until the times when Nephite apostates gained the supremacy in the Lamanite nation and became the kings, rulers, commanders and teachers of that people. For details of the journey in the Arabian wilderness and across the ocean, see Nephi, Lehi. Laman lived to witness the death of his father, and no sooner had this occurred than he entered into a conspiracy with those who sympathized with him to kill Nephi and take charge of the colony. So embittered was their hate, so determined their purpose, that Nephi's friends deemed it advisable to separate; and this left Laman and his followers to the quiet possession of the first home of the race on the land of promise. Those who remained with Laman were his own family, Lemuel and his family, and the sons of Ishmael and their families. If there were any others they are not mentioned. No sooner had the division taken place than the Lamanites began to sink into barbarism. The nomadic habits which they had acquired in their wanderings in the wilderness remained with them and dominated their lives; they were shut out from the presence of God, as they were left without the priesthood when Nephi withdrew; the other party had also the possession of the records, which in itself was regarded as a great grievance by the children of Laman. In the next generation, when those who were familiar with the civilization of the Jews had passed away, their descent became more rapid, and we read of them as a cruel, degraded, dark-skinned race, living by the chase, feeding on raw meat, idle and ignorant and exceedingly loathsome in their habits.