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Sword of Laban

Sword of Laban

Laban, a Book of Mormon contemporary of Nephi1 in Jerusalem (c. 600 B.C.), possessed a unique sword. “The hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and . . . the blade thereof was of the most precious steel” (1 Ne. 4:9). Nephi was “constrained by the Spirit” to kill Laban (1 Ne. 4:10). Among other things he had opposed the Lord’s imperative to relinquish the plates and had “sought to take away” Nephi’s life (1 Ne. 4:11). Using Laban’s “own sword,” Nephi slew him (1 Ne. 4:18), retained the sword, and brought it to the Western Hemisphere.

Nephi made many swords “after the manner” of the sword of Laban (2 Ne. 5:14) and used the sword in “defence” of his people (Jacob 1:10), as did King Benjamin (W of M 1:13). Benjamin later delivered the sword to his son Mosiah2 (Mosiah 1:16). The sword of Laban seems to have been preserved as a sacred object among the Nephites, as was Goliath’s sword in ancient Israel (1 Sam. 21:9).

In June 1829 the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon plates were promised a view of the sword (D&C 17:1). According to David Whitmer’s report, that promise was fulfilled “in the latter part of the month” (Andrew Jenson, Historical Record, nos. 3—5, May 1882, Vol. VI, Salt Lake City, p. 208).

President Brigham Young also reported that the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery saw the sword of Laban when they entered a cave in the hill cumorah with a large room containing many plates. “The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: ‘This sword will never be sheathed again until The Kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our God and his Christ'” (JD 19:38).


Millard, Alan R. “King Og’s Bed.” Bible Review, VI, no. 2 (Apr. 1990): 19. Contains a description of a sword or dagger discovered in Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922 that is remarkably similar to the sword of Laban.

Additional Sources

Holbrook, Brett L. “The Sword of Laban as a Symbol of Divine Authority and Kingship.” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (Spring 1993): 39—72. Rolph, Daniel N. “Prophets, Kings, and Swords: The Sword of Laban and Its Possible Pre-Laban Origin.” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (Spring 1993): 73—79.

Reed A. Benson