What We Know About the Sword of Laban

This Book of Mormon Sacred Relic Still Exists!

Two Edged Sword on Bible Open to Book of Hebrews
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Religious relics play only a small part in the lives of LDS members. We have been commanded to not worship idols. Religious relics can sometimes figure into idol worship.

In addition, we put our faith in spiritual things, not tangible, physical items. As a result, we have few items in our faith that can be termed religious relics. However, there are a few:

The Urim and Thummim should be familiar to Bible readers. The others stem from the Book of Mormon.

What Is the Sword of Laban?

The sword of Laban figures prominently in the Book of Mormon and later in Church history. In short, the sword initially belonged to a man called Laban. Nephi was commanded by the Spirit to slay Laban in the early chapters of the Book of Mormon.

Reluctantly, Nephi did so. He cut off Laban's head with his own sword. This enabled Nephi to obtain the Brass Plates which contained scripture and a genealogy of the Jews. Nephi and his family had been commanded by Heavenly Father to obtain the Brass Plates and take them with them to a new, promised land. This land turned out to be the Americas.

What the Sword of Laban Looks Like

We do not know what the sword of Laban looked like. We only have Nephi's description of it. This description is found in 1 Nephi 4:9:

And I beheld his sword, and I drew it forth from the sheath thereof; and the hilt thereof was of pure gold, and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine, and I saw that the blade thereof was of the most precious steel.

Admittedly, this is not much of a description. However, some artists have attempted to represent it such as Walter Rane did in his painting and as Scott Edward Jackson and Suzanne Gerhart did in their sculptures.

The Sword of Laban Has an Extensive History in the Book of Mormon

Nephi's younger brother, Jacob, relates that Nephi wielded the sword of Laban in the defense of the Nephite people many times. We are also told that Nephi used Laban's sword as a model to construct other swords.

Later in the Book of Mormon, we are told that King Benjamin, a Nephite ruler, used the sword to help defend his people against their enemies.

King Benjamin later gave the sword of Laban, the Brass Plates, and the Liahona to his son Mosiah. Mosiah ruled as king after his father.

Besides being handed down by the Nephites through the generations, the sword of Laban, as well as other items, were buried by Moroni with the gold plates. Joseph Smith saw them when a resurrected Angel Moroni led him to their location.

Laban's Sword Figures into Church History

John Nielsen, an early church member, and pioneer reflected on how the sword of Laban resulted in curiosity when going through Indian territory:

Every morning the company sang a song and had prayer. The morning the Indians were there they came over when they heard the singing and joined the prayer circle. One of the Indians had a great long sword. Afterward one of the women in the company having read of the sword of Laban and the Laminites [sic], was wondering if that was the sword of Laban which he had.

Unfortunately, at least the idea of the sword played a part in church history where some strange practices crept in among early church members via new converts.

In the Doctrine and Covenants, the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon (Whitmer, Cowdery, and Harris) are promised that they would be privileged to see the sword of Laban along with some other records and relics.

David Whitmer states that he and another of the three witnesses, Olivery Cowdery were with Joseph Smith when they were shown the sword of Laban, as well as other items and records. Apparently, Joseph Smith and Martin Harris had a similar experience a short time afterward.

Whitmer's account was also published in the Times and Seasons, an early church news publication.

Brigham Young Account of the Sword of Laban

George F. Gibbs reported on a discourse of President Brigham Young given in a special conference in Farmington, Utah, U.S.A. It was held on June 17, 1877, during a stake organization.

Young said that Oliver Cowdery had accompanied Joseph Smith to a cave that contained many records as well as the sword of Laban. The Journal of Discourses (JD 19:38) is the only source for this story:

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.”

Care should be taken in sharing this particular story because the Journal of Discourses is not an entirely reliable source of truth or even accuracy.

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Cook, Krista. "What We Know About the Sword of Laban." Learn Religions, Aug. 26, 2020, learnreligions.com/sword-of-laban-3892333. Cook, Krista. (2020, August 26). What We Know About the Sword of Laban. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/sword-of-laban-3892333 Cook, Krista. "What We Know About the Sword of Laban." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/sword-of-laban-3892333 (accessed June 5, 2023).