I suppose when Nephi says, “I Nephi, having been…” it might be as if he is saying, “I am writing this because…”
I’ve heard some people suggest that goodly could have actually meant wealthy. I would disagree, since it sounds better to mean good parents, or righteous parents, but then I looked for the word throughout the scriptures:
Which goodly do they mean in each of these verses?
Matt 13:45 ¶ Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
Well, I have to admit, I don’t think it’s talking about nice righteous pearls. Maybe it does mean wealthy – that is to say, expensive.
Deut. 6:10 …the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,
Hmm… sound like rich here
Deut. 8:12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;
Uh… I guess rich again.
Gen 27: 15 And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son:
Okay, okay. So maybe they all mean rich.
D&C 103:20 But I say unto you: Mine angels shall go up before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land…
D&C 103:24 And inasmuch as mine enemies come against you to drive you from my goodly land, which I have consecrated…
Well, now, those two could mean either or, I suppose, so… but I guess since they could still mean rich, expensive, or abundant, I’ll just cancel those out.
Anyway, my point in all this was just to say that though I didn’t particularly prefer that definition, it’s not up to me, is it? So assuming that the scriptures are always using the same definition for the word goodly, I suppose we can draw from that that Lehi was rich – obviously he was good, too, but he was also rich. Not that it’s news, since we find out later that they had gold and silver to leave behind, and later to buy the plates with, but still…
Oh, great, now I’ll be one of those silly people that snicker in church for hearing people say things they don’t mean to imply. Someone’s going to stand up and say, “I, like Nephi, was born of goodly parents,” and I’ll be one of those obsessive compulsive folks that mentally lashes at them by thinking, “Oh, really? Your parents were rich?”
I’ll really try not to do that. Really.
But it does make me wonder why Nephi mentioned it in the first sentence of his book. It’s helpful to know later, but why at the very very beginning? Any ideas?