4  for behold, methought I saw in my dream, a dark and dreary wilderness.

5 And it came to pass that I saw a man, and he was dressed in a white robe; and he came and stood before me.

6 >And it came to pass that he spake unto me, and bade me follow him.

7 And it came to pass that as I followed him I beheld myself that I was in a dark and dreary waste.

And after I had traveled for the space of many hours in darkness, I began to pray unto the Lord that he would have mercy on me, according to the multitude of his tender mercies.

9 And it came to pass after I had prayed unto the Lord I beheld a large and spacious field.

10 And it came to pass that I beheld a tree, whose fruit was desirable to make one happy.

Lehi’s Dream

The angel’s dream explanation to Nephi starts with the tree.  Nephi does not ask about anything in his father’s dream before the tree.  Presumably in their shared cultural background, that part of the dream was just obvious.

It is not obvious to me.  I assume t he dark and dreary wilderness is supposed to represent life without God.  Our default mortal state, in other words.  Being born and not knowing who you are or where you are going.

Fine.  But then a man dressed in white appears and asks Lehi to follow him.  Where does the man lead Lehi?  Into “a dark and dreary waste.”  In other words, the same ol’ dark and dreary wilderness.  This goes on for hours.  Lehi only encounters the large and spacious field and the tree when he finally prays.

So what was the point of the man in the robe?

Elder Holland says the man in the white robe is a good angel.  Probably, but then we have to wonder why a good angel would apparently lead Lehi  nowhere.

President Lee seems to have thought that Lehi was simply some distance from the tree and had to be led there.  He doesn’t address the prayer at all.

The prophet Lehi was led by a heavenly messenger through a dark and dreary waste to a tree laden with delicious fruit which proved to be very satisfying to his soul.

I am open to suggestions.  I have thought a number of thoughts, but none of them have ripened into truths for me yet.

    • The man in white is a fallen angel.  He is a false guide.
    • The angel represents God’s effort to guide us even though we have not sought out the guide.  However, it is only when we have the desire ourselves that we can find the tree.
    • The journey through the wilderness was a necessary part of the soul’s growth.  Perhaps the angel is leading the soul through a process of experience, suffering, and imagination until it is able to form the desire and understand the need for Christ, joy, and the formal religious structures that the iron rod represents.
    • Reinterpreting the dream as about Lehi’s journey to the New World doesn’t help much.  It does explain why the angel would lead Lehi through the waste–because that is how one gets to the New World–but it doesn’t explain why their destination suddenly arrives when Lehi prays.  The Lehi-specific interpretation of the dream is interesting for Mormon apologetics, though, because it suggests the presence of a wealthy, wordly existing society in the New World that Laman and Lemuel would be attracted to.

Bottom line: it must be significant that the angel led Lehi into more waste and that Lehi followed the angel but did not ask for the angel.


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