Source:Nibley:CW06:Ch21:1

Eloquence and persuasion

Eloquence and persuasion

On one occasion Nephi returned to the tent of his father to find his brothers hotly disputing there "concerning the things which my father had spoken unto them" (1 Nephi 15:1-2). Nephi, who had just before been conversing with the Lord, entered into the discussion, and "did exhort them with all the energies of my soul, and with all the faculty which I possessed" (1 Nephi 15:25), until finally "they did humble themselves" (1 Nephi 16:5), even against their nature. Wonderful is the power of speech among the desert people. Against the proud and touchy Bedouins, eloquence is the only weapon the sheikh possesses, and Lehi had it in great abundance. A good part of Nephi's account is taken up with his powerful words, of which, we are told, only a tiny part are given. The true leader, says an ancient Arab poetess, "was not one to keep silent when the contest of words began." When the men assemble in the chief's tent to take counsel together, the leader "address[es] the whole assembly with a succession of wise counsels intermingled with opportune proverbs," exactly in the manner of Lehi with his endless parables. "People of any other country hearing them speak," says our informant, "would simply suppose them filled with a supernatural gift."1 Poetical exclamations . . . rose all round me," Burton recalls, "showing how deeply tinged with imagination becomes the language of the Arab under the influence of strong passion or religious enthusiasm."2[1]

Notes

  1. ↑ Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition, (Vol. 6 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), Chapter 21, references silently removed—consult original for citations.