The first lines go right along with the confusion and different worldview conspicuous in 9. Having just stated the Lord’s intention for Nephi to focus on the spiritual as opposed to the secular and his own confusion over this point, Nephi launches in to tell us about his journey, his reign, and his ministry. It’s all the same to him. It’s all the workings of God. And I Nephi through the first part of II Nephi is in fact about showing that God was behind Nephi’s reign.
I wonder what’s behind this notion of a “land of inheritance.” It’s a large theme in scripture. Here, Nephi’s keen on establishing a new land of promise, which becomes a land of inheritance for his people. This plays large later in the Book of Mormon as overzealous nationalists insist on retaking the land of Nephi, which results in disaster. I wonder if it is a part of Nephi’s and later prophets’ focus on being grafted back in to the House of Israel. The prophecies of Lehi concerning the exile and then return of the Jews must have played large in their minds as they themselves distinguished and made sense of their own journey. It wasn’t an exile, it was divine guidance to new promised lands; but the idea of multiple promised lands was brand new, and they were keenly aware of being “broken off” from their people. How would contemporary scholars or prophets have characterized the meaning of a land of inheritance?
Finally, I can’t help but notice the conspicuous nature of Nephi’s consistent addendums to Lehi’s prophecies of a Messiah. Note that for Lehi this is a prophet, similar to the other prophet (John) who will come before. A prophet, prophesied by others (e.g., Isaiah) who will play the role of Anointed One. But Nephi never lets it stay there. Each mention of this Messiah brings about Nephi’s clarifying that this Messiah will be “in other words, a Savior of the world,” “or this Redeemer of the world.” This parallels Grant Hardy’s note that every time Nephi talks about Lehi’s divine dreams he adds “or in other words vision” or the like—obviously aware of Jeremiah’s disparaging remarks about dreams and seeking to elevate the dreams to the status of vision. Here too, it seems clear that as Nephi goes back to his father’s account of things, he doesn’t feel like his father went far enough in spelling out what this Messiah would be—and so he has to clarify. Particularly given the context of exile and return to lands of inheritance, one can’t help but wonder if Lehi’s view of the Messiah was not more in line with his contemporaries—a new David. This corroborates with Lehi’s dream/vision in I Nephi 1. Nephi’s Messiah on the other hand seems more in line with our own sense of a cosmic redeemer.
It’s an accepted view by scholars and devotional readers alike that we get the same, New Testament-style Jesus all the way through the Book of Mormon. But I do not think that Lehi and Nephi had the same understanding of a Messiah. As our Baptist brothers and sisters would put it, they didn’t worship the same Jesus.