Laman and Lemuel are probably the most cited bad guys in the scriptures. They were stubborn, whiny, and eventually violent. Their behavior is interesting (and predictable). In the shown “Pyramid of Iniquity” (which admittedly sounds like the title of a new Indiana Jones movie) we can observe some things…
The most obvious thing is the amount of times they complained. No doubt the complained even more times that Nephi didn’t bother to mention. We see that their actions have a foundation. Complaining!! Are we building on that foundation? Look at the diagram. Everyone knows that physical assault is bad. Everyone knows that trying to kill your little brother is bad. But people don’t really put that in the same group as complaining. Now you know that they are connected. Are we supporting the modern prophet? Or do we complain? Be careful!
At minimum, the pyramid is a visual reminder that complaining was a major part of Laman and Lemuel’s personality. You have heard of “faith precedes the miracle”? Perhaps the theme of this pyramid is “complaint proceeds the evil.”
In case you haven’t learned this by now, the human body is pretty fragile. If someone wants to kill you, It’s not that difficult. (especially if they are within your own family). How is Nephi protected from this threat over and over again? He is righteous and is blessed by the Lord.
Laman and Lemuel complain, tie up Nephi, and try to kill him – More than once. Nephi loved his brothers and constantly forgave them. He’s a great example of forgiveness and patience.
You are welcome to download the pyramid as a full-size pdf here.
Also, if you prefer a table with lots more detail on Laman and Lemuel, go here.
Notes and Practical Use:
Some have viewed the pyramid as a literal progression of evil and been confused when murder isn’t on the top. Consider this, Nephi didn’t record all the times he was physically assaulted. (You really think Nephi was only assaulted 3 times?)
Also, this pyramid isn’t displaying a progression of evil. This is only displaying the actual times these items were recorded in the scriptures. The pyramid shape is shaped by the quantity. (small number on top, large number on bottom). Instead of a progression of evil, it is simply a way to structure the quantity of each item (in an easy to view way).
For instance, if you look at a “food pyramid”, the pyramid isn’t saying that eating vegetables LEADS to eating sugars at the top. (If that was the case people would stay away from fruit because it it’s a stepping stone to eating donuts.)
But the food pyramid isn’t like that. It is just reporting recommended quantities of each food. This Laman and Lemuel chart is the same as that. It is just displaying quantities of what Nephi reported.
If I was using this chart to teach a class, I would simply point out that Laman and Lemuel were bad dudes. Look how they hurt Nephi and tried to kill Nephi, I would say. Then I would point out how much they are complaining. Is complaining okay? When you rank complaining with other sins, do you consider it serious? Then I would suggest that complaining against a prophet of God is a major problem. And that it is a common characteristic of Laman and Lemuel. These guys complained, hurt Nephi, and tried to kill him. Those are their three main actions. Do we complain? Worse yet, do we complain against a prophet of God? Hopefully, the class would understand that we should never complain against the prophet, because if we do, we are exactly like Laman and Lemuel.
Have any more observations from this pyramid? I would be really interested to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below!