Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, October 24

BOOK OF MORMON: IMAGERY OF THE CHIEF ZERAHEMNAH’S SCALP LIFTED UP ON THE SWORD by grego

BOOK OF MORMON: IMAGERY OF THE CHIEF ZERAHEMNAH’S SCALP LIFTED UP ON THE SWORD

grego
(c) 2009

I opened the Book of Mormon the other day, and something hit me.
I had written this before, about Captain Moroni and covenants:
“In fact, Mormon shows that Captain Moroni and his way of dealing with men is representative of God. There is an abrupt change from Alma’s spiritual treatise to his son regarding the justice and mercy of God towards sinners in Alma 42, to the episode of Zerahemnah’s attack and Moroni’s defense in Alma 43 and 44. However, the parallels are many. In Alma 42 we read of God’s plan of salvation; he is a just God that allows sinners to suffer the consequence of breaking the law, which is death; but he is also a merciful God in that sinners may be redeemed, but only by choosing to obey a covenant that God puts forth. Moroni treats the enemies of freedom the same way, according to their circumstances. When Zerahemnah and the Lamanites sin in attacking the Nephites, Moroni gives them two choices–die, which is your natural consequence of being an enemy; or take an oath to never come back and fight (Alma 44:6). Interestingly, Zerahemnah tries another trade-off (Alma 44:8)–one in which mercy robs justice; Moroni therefore necessarily refuses (see Alma 42:25)…. Just like God, Moroni gives men liberty to choose death or life (for example, see 2 Nephi 10:23, Helaman 14:30-31, 2 Nephi 2:27). (King Benjamin mentioned that the natural man is an enemy of God.) For Mormon, Moroni is the epitome of mortal man attaining godliness; the best representative of lion and lamb, of justice and mercy; the closest and clearest that a man has become Man (see 3 Nephi 11:8), other than Jesus Christ himself.

Now, I read Alma 44 again, and I connected something in a way I hadn’t before: the imagery and metaphor of putting the scalp on the sword and lifting it up, and the promise of similarity between that and what the Lamanites would suffer if they didn’t enter into the covenant of peace.
Here it is in Alma 44:
1 And it came to pass that they did stop and withdrew a pace from them. And Moroni said unto Zerahemnah: Behold, Zerahemnah, that we do not desire to be men of blood. Ye know that ye are in our hands, yet we do not desire to slay you.
5 And now, Zerahemnah, I command you, in the name of that all-powerful God…
6 …I command you by all the desires which ye have for life, that ye deliver up your weapons of war unto us, and we will seek not your blood, but we will spare your lives, if ye will go your way and come not again to war against us.
7 And now, if ye do not this, behold, ye are in our hands, and I will command my men that they shall fall upon you, and inflict the wounds of death in your bodies, that ye may become extinct…
8 And now it came to pass that when Zerahemnah had heard these sayings he came forth and delivered up his sword and his cimeter, and his bow into the hands of Moroni…
10 And now when Zerahemnah had made an end of speaking these words, Moroni returned the sword and the weapons of war, which he had received, unto Zerahemnah, saying: Behold, we will end the conflict.
11 Now I cannot recall the words which I have spoken, therefore as the Lord liveth, ye shall not depart except ye depart with an oath that ye will not return again against us to war. Now as ye are in our hands we will spill your blood upon the ground, or ye shall submit to the conditions which I have proposed.
12 And now when Moroni had said these words, Zerahemnah retained his sword, and he was angry with Moroni, and he rushed forward that he might slay Moroni; but as he raised his sword, behold, one of Moroni’s soldiers smote it even to the earth, and it broke by the hilt; and he also smote Zerahemnah that he took off his scalp and it fell to the earth. And Zerahemnah withdrew from before them into the midst of his soldiers.
13 And it came to pass that the soldier who stood by, who smote off the scalp of Zerahemnah, TOOK UP THE SCALP FROM OFF THE GROUND BY THE HAIR, AND LAID IT UPON THE POINT OF HIS SWORD, AND STRETCHED IT FORTH UNTO THEM, SAYING UNTO THEM WITH A LOUD VOICE:
14 EVEN AS THIS SCALP HAS FALLEN TO THE EARTH, WHICH IS THE SCALP OF YOUR CHIEF, SO SHALL YE FALL TO THE EARTH EXCEPT YE WILL DELIVER UP YOUR WEAPONS OF WAR AND DEPART WITH A COVENANT OF PEACE.
15 Now there were many, when they heard these words and saw the scalp which was upon the sword, that were struck with fear; and many came forth and threw down their weapons of war at the feet of Moroni, and entered into a covenant of peace. And as many as entered into a covenant they suffered to depart into the wilderness.

This reminded me of other scriptures:

1 Nephi 11:33 And I, Nephi, saw that HE (CHRIST) WAS LIFTED UP UPON THE CROSS AND SLAIN FOR THE SINS OF THE WORLD.

3 Nephi:14 And my Father sent me that I might be LIFTED UP UPON THE CROSS; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, TO BE JUDGED of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
15 And FOR THIS CAUSE HAVE I BEEN LIFTED UP; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
16 And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.
17 And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.
18 And this is the word which he hath given unto the children of men. And for this cause HE FULFILLETH THE WORDS WHICH HE HATH GIVEN, AND HE LIETH NOT, BUT FULFILLETH ALL HIS WORDS.

Doctrine and Covenants 19:1 I am Alpha and Omega, Christ the Lord; yea, even I am he, the beginning and the end, the Redeemer of the world.
2 I, having accomplished and finished the will of him whose I am, even the Father, concerning me—having done this THAT I MIGHT SUBDUE ALL THINGS UNTO MYSELF—
3 Retaining all power, EVEN TO THE DESTROYING OF SATAN AND HIS WORKS at the end of the world, and the last GREAT DAY OF JUDGMENT, WHICH I SHALL PASS UPON THE INHABITANTS THEREOF, judging every man according to his works and the deeds which he hath done.
4 And surely EVERY MAN MUST REPENT OR SUFFER, for I, God, am endless.
5 Wherefore, I REVOKE NOT THE JUDGMENTS WHICH I SHALL PASS, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand.
6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
13 Wherefore, I COMMAND YOU TO REPENT, AND KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS which you have received by the hand of my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., in my name;
14 And it is by my almighty power that you have received them;
15 Therefore I command you to repent–REPENT, LEST I SMITE YOU by the rod of my mouth, and by MY WRATH, and by MY ANGER, and YOUR SUFFERINGS BE SORE–
HOW SORE YOU KNOW NOT, HOW EXQUISITE YOU KNOW NOT, YEAH, HOW HARD TO BEAR YOU KNOW NOT.
16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But IF THEY WOULD NOT REPENT THEY MUST SUFFER EVEN AS I;
18 Which SUFFERING CAUSED MYSELF, EVEN GOD THE GREATEST OF ALL, TO TREMBLE BECAUSE OF PAIN, AND TO BLEED AT EVERY PORE, AND TO SUFFER BOTH BODY AND SPIRIT–AND WOULD THAT I MIGHT NOT DRINK THE BITTER CUP, AND SHRINK–
19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.
20 Wherefore, I command you again to REPENT, LEST I HUMBLE YOU WITH MY ALMIGHTY POWER; and that you confess your sins, LEST YOU SUFFER THESE PUNISHMENTS OF WHICH I HAVE SPOKEN, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit.

Even the end is nice:
16 Now it came to pass that Zerahemnah was exceedingly wroth, and he did STIR UP THE REMAINDER OF HIS SOLDIERS TO ANGER, to contend more powerfully against the Nephites.
17 And now Moroni was angry, because of the stubbornness of the Lamanites; therefore he commanded his people that they should fall upon them and slay them. And it came to pass that they began to slay them; yea, and the Lamanites did contend with their swords and their might.
18 But behold, their naked skins and their bare heads were exposed to the sharp swords of the Nephites; yea, behold they were pierced and smitten, yea, and did fall exceedingly fast before the swords of the Nephites; and they began to be swept down, even as the soldier of Moroni had prophesied.
19 Now Zerahemnah, when he saw that they were all about to be destroyed, cried mightily unto Moroni, promising that he would covenant and also his people with them, if they would spare the remainder of their lives, that they never would come to war again against them.
20 And it came to pass that Moroni CAUSED THAT THE WORK OF DEATH SHOULD CEASE again among the people. And he took the weapons of war from the Lamanites; and after they had entered into a covenant with him of peace they were suffered to depart into the wilderness.

These are like those who are stirred up by Satan and reject the gospel and suffer in their sins, STILL to receive a kingdom of glory…

Doctrine and Covenanats 76:85 These are they who shall not be redeemed from the devil until the last resurrection, until the Lord, even Christ the Lamb, shall have finished his work.

Doctrine and Covenants 76:106 These are they who are cast down to hell and suffer the wrath of Almighty God, until the fulness of times, when Christ shall have subdued all enemies under his feet, and shall have perfected his work;

Doctrine and Covenants 76:81 And again, we saw the glory of the telestial, which glory is that of the lesser, even as the glory of the stars differs from that of the glory of the moon in the firmament.
88 And also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation.
89 And thus we saw, in the heavenly vision, the glory of the telestial, which surpasses all understanding;

Doctrine and Covenants 88:24 And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.

Moroni 9:3 And now behold, my son, I fear lest the Lamanites shall destroy this people; for they do not repent, and SATAN STIRRETH THEM UP CONTINUALLY TO ANGER one with another.

Helaman 16:22 And many more things did the people imagine up in their hearts, which were foolish and vain; and they were much disturbed, for SATAN DID STIR THEM UP TO DO INIQUITY CONTINUALLY; yea, he did go about spreading rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that HE MIGHT HARDEN THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE AGAINST THAT WHICH WAS GOOD and AGAINST THAT WHICH SHOULD COME.
23 And notwithstanding the signs and the wonders which were wrought among the people of the Lord, and the many miracles which they did, SATAN DID GET GREAT HOLD UPON THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE upon all the face of the land.

3 Nephi 2:2 Imagining up some vain thing in their hearts, that it was wrought by men and by the power of the devil, to lead away and deceive the hearts of the people; and thus did SATAN GET POSSESSION OF THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE again, insomuch that he did BLIND THEIR EYES and LEAD THEM AWAY to believe that the doctrine of Christ was a foolish and a vain thing.

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2009, October 23

“Moroni the Man, Pahoran the Propagandist: A Hidden Lesson for Modern-Day Readers of the Book of Mormon” by grego

“Moroni the Man, Pahoran the Propagandist:
A Hidden Lesson for Modern-Day Readers of the Book of Mormon”

grego
(c)2006

Author’s note: Due to the sometimes intense reactions that this paper seems to produce, probably due to the church history of the topic and the article’s conclusion, I have included lots of Book of Mormon quotes in this article, to provide a very detailed reading and more complete picture, to show that it’s all in the text. For those who are already quite familiar with the Book of Mormon, it should be sufficient to read the bold print in the quotes, or perhaps even skip some. Just that even with the quotes, it’s difficult for some people to see or understand. For example, one author who has published many Book of Mormon articles–right after complaining that there were too many quotations in the article–told me, “I can’t see the text supporting your hypothesis in this article.” Of course, maybe leaving all the quotes still won’t help some people see it ( :-( ).

Please excuse some parts of my format, and especially the footnotes (all of which I got off the internet–I’m writing for fun, in a place with no library nearby (especially Church books), etc.)

MORONI THE MAN, PAHORAN THE PROPAGANDIST

Version 2.95
©2005-2009

by grego

INTRODUCTION

What is Said about Captain Moroni

In a review of literature and member’s thoughts (ranging from General Authorities to lay members) regarding the epistles written between Captain Moroni and Pahoran, the following is found about Moroni and his epistle:
“complaining, harsh language, accusing, unjustified, scolding (1); had it all wrong (2); scathing, angry, blistering (3); accused Pahoran of being iniquitous (4); mistakenly reproving (6); appears as a very tired commander, deplorable political blunder, seethes with … resentment, passing judgment with a peevish and quite unjustified charge of negligence, charged, serious (, but … worse to come), pent-up emotions, frustrated, piles one accusation on another, even goes so far …, worse still, grave charge of treason, scathingly sarcastic, flat accusation, fling a challenge, placing the blame (squarely on those to whom he is writing), bursting with pent-up emotions, goes all out, accused the wrong man, withering onslaught (7); very caustic; demanding (8); censure, complains, threatens (9); on his high horse, blows his top, very indiscreet, had it all wrong (10); very intense and very single-minded, nasty, didn’t apologize (11); [falsely accuses] (12); only thinks he was in the right (so, his anger was unrighteous anger) (13); speaks very harsh, (inappropriate) threats, harsh (14); underinformed (15); murmuring (16); really nasty, accuses him of treason (17); wrote stinging rebuke and threat (18); epistle of condemnation (19); unjustly accuse (20); mistakingly reproving (21); uses some rather harsh words, lengthy complaint (22); vulnerable to error, criticizing… harshly, accused, long letter criticizing, threatening, harsh judgment, unjustly criticized (23), accused, not at all politically correct, [un]tactful, went so far as to threaten the life of his commander and chief; accus[ing] (24); state of aggravation and frustration, questioned, threatened (25); subtly suggesting, blunt threat, written in passion, and without careful planning, harsh (and false) accusation, personal insult [to Pahoran] (26).” (see Sources in Appendix).

What is Said about Pahoran

On the other hand, these are some of the ways Pahoran’s reply is described:
“very patriotic, though censured, not angry; even praised [Moroni] (1); powerful example of self-control and meekness (2); without a trace of bitterness or defensiveness, devastating position, wrongly blamed, to his distinct credit; outstanding reply, impressive reply (3); not iniquitous (4); noble (5); wrongly accused, worthy; wise, temperate, constructive reply, didn’t get on his high horse, didn’t resent, understands perfectly, rejoices in Moroni’s greatness (7); noble and patriotic reply, conciliatory and lovely in spirit (9); [didn’t counter] with anger; healing, falsely accused (12); [tells] the truth (13); forgiving (14); sweet and generous response (15); touched; remarkable mildness; wrongly blamed (18); patriotic reply (19); nobility of soul not to condemn when he was very unjustly accused; served selflessly (20); wisdom and restraint, cordial and composed; remarkable example, some might say [he] would have been justified in responding harshly, love and respect, desire to understand, self-control, replaces anger with kindness, unjustly accused (22); restraint, understood, not offended, he understood and rejoiced in Moroni’s righteous intentions (23); must have bristled over Moroni’s accusation of disloyalty, the passions of righteous indignation must have boiled within him, shows no more than a hint of this emotion and it is a model for all who might be wrongfully accused (24); if ever one had cause to feel defensive for being falsely accused, it was Pahoran, a masterpiece of self-restraint and patience, rather than returning complaint for complaint, he calmly and kindly explained, patient response, surely…pleasing to Heavenly Father (25); designed to give Moroni immediate comfort for his grave concerns, explains the real conditions, quite well crafted (sic), well thought out (sic), took time to understand [Moroni’s epistle], very calm and conciliatory, careful not to demonstrate any personal hurt, skips over personal insult as if it did not matter, focuses on the important aspects (26).” (see Sources in Appendix).
Moroni’s epistle prompts Pahoran to write a noble and patriotic reply, conciliatory and lovely in spirit (Alma 61:2—21). Types of Literature in the Book of Mormon: Epistles, Psalms, Lamentations Sidney B. Sperry
Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: Volume – 4, Issue – 1, Pages: 69-80
Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 1995 http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=4&num=1&id=80
http://seminary.lds.org/manuals/Book-of-Mormon-seminary-teacher-Resource-Manual/bm-trm-07-al-7-4.asp

There is only one author who included something good about Moroni in his treatise; but then he seemed to turn right around and forget it later. Of the comments above, all of those which had been made by general authorities have appeared in the Ensign; most of the rest have been printed in other publications some church members might have seen (Deseret Book books, Mormon internet magazines, gospel CD’s, etc.); and a few seem to appear only on their own internet site. It is regularly taught in church, and I think it quite safe to say that the majority of church members believe the above descriptions to be accurate and truthful. We have the picture of an ungodly, anger-from-the-devil Moroni and a wronged pious, forgiving, valiant Pahoran. However, by following Mormon’s clues and hints, the Book of Mormon actually leads us to a very different conclusion, which teaches us a few lessons that are extremely pertinent for our days.

THE SITUATION PREVIOUS TO THE EPISTLES

What was the situation previous to Moroni’s epistle?
(For those of you familiar with it or in a rush, you may skip the first few paragraphs of this part. Basically, the Nephites were getting exhausted in many ways, and getting killed.)

From the start of the war till the writing of Moroni’s epistle is about five years. During all this time, not once is there mention of Nephite superiority, especially by number. (Of course, this never is the case.) In fact, it is quite the opposite. The Nephites never have enough men, supplies, or reinforcements. Battles are won by Nephite stratagem and Lamanite fear and surrender. It seems that the Lamanites win every single battle, up until meeting with Teancum. But here they are not defeated; only opposed and stopped in their progress. Though we don’t read of epistles requesting Pahoran and his men to send provisions and men, we see, scattered throughout the record, the circumstances that Moroni and the Nephite armies are in:
“…Amalickiah had gathered together a wonderfully great army, insomuch that he feared not to come down to the land of Zarahemla” (Alma 51:11).

“And it came to pass that the Nephites were not sufficiently strong in the city of Moroni; therefore Amalickiah did drive them, slaying many…” (Alma 51:23).

“And thus had the Lamanites obtained, by the cunning of Amalickiah, so many cities, by their numberless hosts…” (Alma 51:27).
“And it came to pass that they marched to the borders of the land Bountiful, driving the Nephites before them and slaying many” (Alma 51:28).

“And now, Teancum saw that the Lamanites were determined to maintain those cities which they had taken, and those parts of the land which they had obtained possession of; and also seeing the enormity of their number, Teancum thought it was not expedient that he should attempt to attack them in their forts” (Alma 52:5).

“And it came to pass that he kept thus preparing for war until Moroni had sent a large number of men to strengthen his army” (Alma 52:7).

“And [Moroni] also said unto [Teancum], I would come unto you, but behold, the Lamanites are upon us in the borders of the land by the west sea; and behold, I go against them, therefore I cannot come unto you” (Alma 52:11).

“And thus were the Nephites in those dangerous circumstances in the ending of the twenty and sixth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi” (Alma 52:14).

“… Now Moroni was compelled to cause the Lamanites to labor, because it was easy to guard them while at their labor; and he desired all his forces when he should make an attack upon the Lamanites” (Alma 53:5).

“And it came to pass that he did no more attempt a battle with the Lamanites in that year, but he did employ his men in preparing for war, yea, and in making fortifications to guard against the Lamanites, yea, and also delivering their women and their children from famine and affliction, and providing food for their armies” (Alma 53:7).

And speaking about the people of Ammon:
“But it came to pass that when they saw the danger, and the many afflictions and tribulations which the Nephites bore for them…” (Alma 53:13).

“…they (the two thousand stripling warriors) never had hitherto been a disadvantage to the Nephites, they became now at this period of time also a great support…” (Alma 53:19).

“And it came to pass that Moroni felt to rejoice exceedingly at this request [to exchange prisoners], for he desired the provisions which were imparted for the support of the Lamanite prisoners for the support of his own people; and he also desired his own people for the strengthening of his army” (Alma 54:2).

The Nephites win a major battle, and begin to be victorious (Alma 55:27, 28); yet the Lamanites do not falter:
“And [the Lamanites] were continually bringing new forces into that city, and also new supplies of provisions” (Alma 55:34).

“And I [Helaman] did join my two thousand sons…to the army of Antipus, in which strength Antipus did rejoice exceedingly; for behold, his army had been reduced by the Lamanites because their forces had slain a vast number of our men…” (Alma 56:10).

Helaman recounts the cities taken by the Lamanites, saying:
“…these are the cities of which the Lamanites have obtained possession by the shedding of the blood of so many of our valiant men…” (Alma 56:13).

Then he says that when he and his boys arrived at the city,
“…I found Antipus and his men toiling with their might to fortify the city.”
“Yea, and they were depressed in body as well as in spirit, for they had fought valiantly by day and toiled by night to maintain their cities; and thus they had suffered great afflictions of every kind.”
“And now they were determined to conquer in this place or die; therefore you may well suppose that this little force which I brought with me, yea, those sons of mine, gave them great hopes and much joy” (Alma 56:15-17).

Two thousand unproven boys becomes a “great support”? What conditions the Nephites must have really been in!
So, from all this we understand that the Lamanite armies were much bigger, and seemed to have all the provisions they needed, while the Nephites were continually short of both supplies and men.
Then, from Helaman, we learn that at the beginning of the 29th year, there were many provisions and 6,000 men sent to Helaman (Alma 57:6). This is a big help; in fact, Helaman now calls their troops a “strong force” (Alma 57:8). But, we read that the provisions were “not any more than sufficient” (Alma 57:15). And the Lamanites are also continually receiving provisions and reinforcements (Alma 57:17), and after just one battle–one serious battle that almost spelled defeat for the whole quarter–Helaman writes that they had “suffered great loss” (Alma 57:23)–at least one thousand men were killed (Alma 57:26). Now, Helaman’s “strong force” becomes “small bands” (Alma 58:1), and “[the Lamanites] were so much more numerous than was our army” (Alma 58:2). So, Helaman sends a epistle to Pahoran and asks for men and supplies (Alma 58:4). While waiting, he says that “the Lamanites were also receiving great strength from day to day, and also many provisions…” (Alma 58:5) He and his men wait in “difficult circumstances” for “many months”, without help, even until they are “about to perish for the want of food” (Alma 58:7). Not just a few weeks or a month or a few months, but many months. Then, finally, some food and 2,000 men arrive (Alma 58:8), hardly enough to provide strong support. In fact, Helaman talks about “embarassments” (Alma 58:8). And, somehow, the men who just arrived didn’t know the situation back home either, and why there weren’t more men and supplies (Alma 58:9). If it was, as Pahoran writes, because the freemen were so daunted by the king-men that they didn’t dare go (Alma 61:4), why did these men come, and how did they not know the situation? Helaman calls the Lamanite armies at this time as “innumerable” (Alma 58:8). Helaman doesn’t know the situation in Zarahemla (Alma 58:9, 34) and finally, Helaman suggests to Moroni that there is a faction in the government (Alma 58:36).

Then happens the event that pushes Moroni to write his epistle: the Lamanite recapture of the city of Nephihah. The city of Nephihah had been taken by the Lamanites early in the war (Alma 51:24, 26). However, it seems the Nephites have already retaken it by the time of Alma 56:25, for we read that the Lamanites “…durst (not) …march down against the city of Zarahemla; neither durst they cross the head of Sidon, over to the city of Nephihah.”

Helaman writes that the Lamanites have left that area of the land (Alma 58:30), and says: “…those cities which had been taken by the Lamanites, all of them are at this period of time in our possession…”
“But behold, our armies are small to maintain so great a number of cities and so great possessions.”
“But behold, we trust in our God who has given us victory over those lands, insomuch that we have obtained those cities and those lands, which were our own” (Alma 58:31-33).

So, the city is back in the hands of Helaman for sure at this time. Immediately after receiving Helaman’s epistle, Moroni sends a epistle to Pahoran and asks him to send help to Helaman. But, nothing happens. No help, no reply–nothing. The armies are left stranded and cut off in every way, and on all sides. In these circumstances, the city of Nephihah is taken by the Lamanites again, this time with an “exceedingly great slaughter”: “And thus being exceedingly numerous, yea, and receiving strength from day to day, by the command of Ammoron [the Lamanites] came forth against the people of Nephihah, and they did begin to slay them with an exceedingly great slaughter.”
“And their armies were so numerous that the remainder of the people of Nephihah were obliged to flee before them; and they came even and joined the army of Moroni.” (Alma 59:7-8).

Why was the city so unprotected, resulting in the deaths of so many?
“And now as Moroni had supposed that [the government] should (have sent men) to the city of Nephihah, to the assistance of the people to maintain that city…”
“Therefore he retained all his force to maintain those places which he had recovered.”
“And now, when Moroni saw that the city of Nephihah was lost he was exceedingly sorrowful, and began to doubt, because of the wickedness of the people, whether they should not fall into the hands of their brethren.”
“Now this was the case with all his chief captains. They doubted and marveled also because of the wickedness of the people, and this because of the success of the Lamanites over them.”
“And it came to pass that Moroni was angry with the government, because of their indifference concerning the freedom of their country” (Alma 59:9-13).

Right when there had been some progress, with the little forces and supplies that they had, a major city is lost again, with a great slaughter. The wounded, the suffering, the desolated families, those who could escape–with all their blood and cries–stagger into his area and, like a broken record, recount the tale of horror–one that, by now, has been going on for too long. Captain Moroni does not feel anger; he does not worry that the Lamanites showed him up; he is not on some high horse. He is exceedingly sorrowful. His people have just been killed. His people are losing their lives, but worse, they are losing their spiritual lives. Captain Moroni is not happy. Why was the city of Nephihah lost? Was it only the government’s fault? Note that even in such circumstances and anger, Moroni still does not jump right on the government and blame them for every Nephite problem, for every Nephite loss. Moroni and all his chief captains know the true, deeper answer: the Nephites, as a people, were wicked. This is the prophecy given to Nephi:
“For behold, in that day that they (the Lamanites) shall rebel against me, I will curse them even with a sore curse, and they shall have no power over thy seed except [thy seed] shall rebel against me also.”
“And if it so be that they rebel against me, [the Lamanites] shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in the ways of remembrance” (1 Nephi 2:23-24).
However, notwithstanding this fact, and knowing the importance of the government and the oath of the chief judge, Moroni had expected that the government would have sent men to support the armies. Pahoran had received a report from Helaman and Moroni both, probably requesting the similar things, yet nothing had been done. When Moroni finds out that Pahoran and the others hadn’t helped, he is angry, and writes his epistle. This is not a quick venting of anger, desperation, or frustration, nor a slow seething anger of hate; but, there had been too many problems, too much suffering by too many Nephites, too little help, too much being stranded, too little leadership from the government–from the beginning of the war up until the present time–a period of about five years–with only a few noted exceptions. The Nephites in the areas of the war were always outnumbered, always hungry, always working very hard, being injured and slain, etc.
Lastly, Mormon, our abridger, who also understands the situations and problems that can occur during war, and who has the more full records of the Nephites, writes that “Moroni was angry with the government, because of their indifference concerning the freedom of their country” (Alma 59:13). Notice, he does not write “their seeming indifference” or such, but “indifference.”

CAPTAIN MORONI’S EPISTLE

So, what does Moroni’s epistle say? Moroni directs the epistle to Pahoran, “and also to all those who have been chosen by this people to govern and manage the affairs of this war” (Alma 60:1). Throughout his entire epistle, Moroni writes to this same audience. In his epistle, Moroni has one main question: why? In addition, he:
1. reminds them of their duties that they had agreed to abide by;

2. explains the great sufferings of the soldiers and the peoples;

3. says none of them he is writing to has explained any reason to him;

4. reminded them that there is a real war going on, and real people dying;

5. rebukes them for neglect and lack of diligence in their duties;

6. tells them that actions are necessary to survive;

7. fears the Nephites will be destroyed, because of their wickedness, and the slothfulness of the government;

8. traces the origin of the problems, and the cause of some of the current problems, back to the king-men;

9. admits his lack of information about the current state of the government, and the possibility that they are traitors, or less;

10. reinforces the need for the government to act to save the people;

11. says that God will not hold them guiltless if they continue to fail in their duties;

12. explains that “except ye do repent of that which ye have done, and begin to be up and doing, and send forth food and men unto us, and also unto Helaman…behold it will be expedient that we contend no more with the Lamanites until we have first cleansed our inward vessel, yea, even the great head of our government” (Alma 60:24).

13. he continues: “And except ye grant mine epistle, and come out and show unto me a true spirit of freedom, and strive to strengthen and fortify our armies, and grant unto them food for their support, behold I will leave a part of my freemen…And I will come unto you, and if there be any among you that has a desire for freedom, yea, if there be even a spark of freedom remaining, behold I will stir up insurrections among you, even until those who have desires to usurp power and authority shall become extinct” (Alma 60:25). 13. then explains that “…it is because of your iniquity that we have suffered so much loss” (Alma 60:28).

14. then tells them what will be the result of their failure to repent: “Behold it is time, yea, the time is now at hand, that except ye do bestir yourselves in the defence of your country and your little ones, the sword of justice doth hang over you; yea, and it shall fall upon you and visit you even to your utter destruction” (Alma 60:29).

15. reminds them that if they can’t do the job, they shouldn’t be in the position:
“Behold, I wait for assistance from you; and, except ye do administer unto our relief, behold, I come unto you, even in the land of Zarahemla, and smite you with the sword, insomuch that ye can have no more power to impede the progress of this people in the cause of our freedom” (Alma 60:30).

16. prophesies that “…the Lord will not suffer that ye shall live and wax strong in your iniquities to destroy his righteous people” (Alma 60:31). Note Moroni’s language: “For behold, the Lord will not suffer that ye shall live and wax strong in your iniquities to destroy his righteous people.”
“Behold, can you suppose that the Lord will spare you and come out in judgment against the Lamanites, when it is the tradition of their fathers that has caused their hatred, yea, and it has been redoubled by those who have dissented from us, while your iniquity is for the cause of your love of glory and the vain things of the world?” (Alma 60:31-32).
Compare this to Alma’s, when Alma was preaching to the people of Ammonihah:
“But behold, I say unto you that if ye persist in your wickedness that your days shall not be prolonged in the land, for the Lamanites shall be sent upon you; and if ye repent not they shall come in a time when you know not, and ye shall be visited with utter destruction; and it shall be according to the fierce anger of the Lord” (Alma 9:18).
“For he will not suffer you that ye shall live in your iniquities, to destroy his people. I say unto you, Nay; he would rather suffer that the Lamanites might destroy all his people who are called the people of Nephi, if it were possible that they could fall into sins and transgressions, after having had so much light and so much knowledge given unto them of the Lord their God” (Alma 9:19);
Alma then explains what he means by “so much light and knowledge”, then says:
“And now behold I say unto you, that if this people, who have received so many blessings from the hand of the Lord, should transgress contrary to the light and knowledge which they do have, I say unto you that if this be the case, that if they should fall into transgression, it would be far more tolerable for the Lamanites than for them” (Alma 9:23).
“For behold, the promises of the Lord are extended to the Lamanites, but they are not unto you if ye transgress; for has not the Lord expressly promised and firmly decreed, that if ye will rebel against him that ye shall utterly be destroyed from off the face of the earth” (Alma 9:24)?
Note what follows, from Moroni and Alma, respectively:
“Ye know that ye do transgress the laws of God, and ye do know that ye do trample them under your feet. Behold, the Lord saith unto me: If those whom ye have appointed your governors do not repent of their sins and iniquities, ye shall go up to battle against them” (Alma 60:33).
“And now for this cause, that ye may not be destroyed, the Lord has sent his angel to visit many of his people, declaring unto them that they must go forth and cry mightily unto this people, saying: Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is nigh at hand…” (Alma 9:25).

17. at this point, says something that some might call unrighteous condemnation:
“…your iniquity is for the cause of your love of glory and the vain things of the world… (Alma 60:32). Ye know that ye do transgress the laws of God, and ye do know that ye do trample them under your feet…” (Alma 60:33).

18. then explains why he said this: “Behold, the Lord saith unto me: If those whom ye have appointed your governors do not repent of their sins and iniquities, ye shall go up to battle against them” (Alma 60:34).

19. explains what he will do and why: “And now behold, I, Moroni, am constrained, according to the covenant which I have made to keep the commandments of my God; therefore I would that ye should adhere to the word of God, and send speedily unto me of your provisions and of your men, and also to Helaman” (Alma 60:35).

20. explains that a lack of cooperation from the government will result in this:
“And behold, if ye will not do this I come unto you speedily; for behold, God will not suffer that we should perish with hunger; therefore he will give unto us of your food, even if it must be by the sword.

21. admonishes them, “Now see that ye fulfil the word of God” (Alma 60:36).

Captain Moroni knows that Pahoran received a report from Helaman, (Alma 58:4) in which no doubt the miraculous warriors’ stories were related. Moroni refers to the success of Helaman and his stripling warriors as a foil to Pahoran and the Nephites he rules over. Helaman led and commanded in righteousness and cared for his men, and they obeyed him exactly, and were all saved–not even one died. On the other hand, thousands of Pahoran’s people are lying dead all over, all around, and many more are going to be there very shortly. Pahoran and/ or the government leaders might think or say, “I am leading and upholding my end of my oath as leader, but they aren’t following, so that’s why they are dead”; but Moroni makes it clear that the main reason the slain are dead is not because they were wicked or disobedient to their righteous leaders; it is because their leaders failed to do their part.
The government’s main sins were slothfulness, neglect, and idleness, and possibly more. Moroni lets them know that if they were to continue like so, the war would, in a short moment, become very real for them, just as it has been very real for many people and the soldiers for a long time. How did Moroni know that they were guilty of any sins? Did he really know that? Why does he threaten them like that?

Mormon tell us, when praising Captain Moroni, that:
“And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger” (Alma 48:15),
“And also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves against their enemies, and by so doing, the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity” (Alma 48:16).

As Captain Moroni says, God has made it known to him, what he should do:
“Behold, THE LORD SAITH UNTO ME: If those whom ye have appointed your governors do not repent of their sins and iniquities, YE SHALL GO UP TO BATTLE AGAINST THEM” (Alma 60:34).
Alma 60:25 And except ye grant mine epistle, and come out and show unto me a true spirit of freedom, and strive to strengthen and fortify our armies, and grant unto them food for their support, behold I will leave a part of my freemen to maintain this part of our land, AND I WILL LEAVE THE STRENGTH AND THE BLESSINGS OF GOD UPON THEM, THAT NONE OTHER POWER CAN OPERATE AGAINST THEM–
Alma 60:29 Behold it is time, yea, the time is now at hand, that except ye do bestir yourselves in the defence of your country and your little ones, THE SWORD OF JUSTICE DOTH HANG OVER YOU; yea, and it shall fall upon you and visit you even to your utter destruction. (That phrase is used to mean divine judgment.)
Alma 60:30 Behold, I wait for assistance from you; and, except ye do administer unto our relief, behold, I come unto you, even in the land of Zarahemla, and smite you with the sword, insomuch that ye can have no more power to impede the progress of this people in the cause of our freedom.
Alma 60:31 For behold, THE LORD WILL NOT SUFFER THAT YE SHALL LIVE AND WAX STRONG IN YOUR INIQUITIES TO DESTROY HIS RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE.
Alma 60:34 And now behold, I, Moroni, am constrained, according to the covenant which I have made to keep the commandments of my God; therefore I WOULD THAT YE SHOULD ADHERE TO THE WORD OF GOD, AND SEND SPEEDILY UNTO ME OF YOUR PROVISIONS AND OF YOUR MEN, AND ALSO TO HELAMAN.
Alma 60:35 And behold, IF YE WILL NOT DO THIS I COME UNTO YOU SPEEDILY; FOR BEHOLD, GOD WILL NOT SUFFER THAT WE SHOULD PERISH WITH HUNGER; THEREFORE HE WILL GIVE UNTO US OF YOUR FOOD, EVEN IF IT MUST BE BY THE SWORD. NOW SEE THAT YE FULFIL THE WORD OF GOD.

The Nephite leaders have become the enemy. Moroni needs to cleanse the inner vessel–this was the way that the Lord would deliver them. Moroni uses a play on words–“cleanse the inner/ inward vessel”–to signify that both the figurative and literal interpretations are actually the same solution to the Nephites’ problem–“the inner vessel” meaning both the righteousness of the Nephites, and wicked Pahoran and his fellows who are safe from the Lamanites in the inner part of the land.
Moroni clearly speaks in the name of God. Would Moroni be so bold as to speak in God’s name untruthfully, committing blasphemy? So, either Moroni is a liar, or Pahoran is a liar.
Yet, why is it hard to accept that Moroni speaks by, or for, God? Only because of Pahoran’s letter and lack of direct editorial commentation.

PAHORAN’S REPLY

Suddenly, we now have communication from Pahoran! And why hadn’t Pahoran sent an epistle any time over the years before that, at least to explain the situation to the chief commander of the army? It’s not clear; he doesn’t say.
Pahoran has a great plan. Let’s take a look at it:
Alma 61:14 Therefore, (1) my beloved brother, Moroni, let us resist evil, and whatsoever evil we cannot resist with our words, yea, such as rebellions and dissensions, (2) let us resist them with our swords, that we may retain our freedom, that we may rejoice in the great privilege of our church, and in the cause of our Redeemer and our God.
Alma 61:15 Therefore, (3) come unto me speedily with a few of your men, and (4) leave the remainder in the charge of Lehi and Teancum; (5) give unto them power to conduct the war in that part of the land, according to the Spirit of God, which is also the (6) Spirit of freedom which is in them.
Alma 61:16 Behold (7) I have sent a few provisions unto them, that they may not perish until ye can come unto me.
Alma 16:17 (8) gather together whatsoever force ye can upon your march hither, and (9) we will go speedily against those dissenters, (10) in the strength of our God according to the faith which is in us.
Alma 61:18 And (11) we will take possession of the city of Zarahemla, that (12) we may obtain more food to send forth unto Lehi and Teancum; yea, we will go forth against them in the strength of the Lord, and (13) we will put an end to this great iniquity.

Alma 61:21 See that ye (14) strengthen Lehi and Teancum in the Lord; (15) tell them to fear not, for God will deliver them, yea, and also all those who stand fast in that liberty wherewith God hath made them free.

Hey, wait a moment–this all sounds familiar. Let’s stop and take another look at Moroni’s epistle:
Alma 60:10 And now, (1) my beloved brethren–for ye ought to be beloved…

Alma 60:16 …yea, if we had gone forth against them (10) in the strength of the Lord, we should have dispersed our enemies, for it would have been done, according to the fulfilling of his word.

Alma 60:25 And except ye grant mine epistle, and come out and show unto me a true (6) spirit of freedom, and strive to strengthen and fortify our armies, and (7, 12) grant unto them food for their support, behold (4, 14) I will leave a part of my freemen to maintain this part of our land, and (5, 15) I will leave the strength and the blessings of God upon them, that none other power can operate against them–
Alma 60:26 And this because of their (10) exceeding faith, and their patience in their tribulations–
Alma 60:27 And (3) I will come unto you, and (6, 8) if there be any among you that has a desire for freedom, yea, if there be even a spark of freedom remaining, behold (2, 8) I will stir up insurrections among you, even (9, 13) until those who have desires to usurp power and authority shall become extinct.

Alma 60:30 Behold, (7, 12 ) I wait for assistance from you; and, except ye do administer unto our relief, behold, (11) I come unto you, even in the land of Zarahemla, and (2) smite you with the sword, insomuch that ye can have no more power to impede the progress of this people in the cause of our freedom.

Alma 60:33 Ye know that ye do transgress the laws of God, and ye do know that ye do trample them under your feet. Behold, the Lord saith unto me: (9, 13) If those whom ye have appointed your governors do not repent of their sins and iniquities, ye shall go up to battle against them.
Alma 60:34 …therefore I would that ye should adhere to the word of God, and (7, 12) send speedily unto me of your provisions and of your men, and also to Helaman.
Alma 60:35 And behold, if ye will not do this (3) I come unto you speedily; for behold, God will not suffer that we should perish with hunger; (12) therefore he will give unto us of your food, even if it must be by the sword. Now see that ye fulfil the word of God.

Notice how nicely Pahoran’s epistle matches up to Moroni’s? His great “plan” is taken straight from Moroni’s epistle. If Pahoran’s purposes are only upright and outstanding ones, why does he use so much of the same or very similar wording, and plagiarize Moroni’s plan, as if it were his own, but just change the “bad” people in it from himself and other officials, to the king-men?

The most important thing about Pahoran’s response is something that is not there: a deep apology of serious regret and repentance–even if he had truly had nothing to be blamed for. Pahoran blames the king men for everything (Alma 61:3-4). Granted, at the very beginning, he does say: “I do not joy in your great afflictions, yea, it grieves my soul” (Alma 61:2). But then, he immediately goes straight to the king-men and the current situation. The past, along with all the governments’ sins and mistakes, is not just glossed over–it’s completely ignored! There is no answer, not even in the smallest part, to respond to Moroni’s many askings of “why?”.

While Moroni wants to know “why?” and talks about the moral and religious issues of death, responsibility, and repentance, Pahoran avoids these issues altogether. In fact, after just one verse of “so sorry” to assuage Moroni’s temper towards him, Pahoran jumps right into strongly goading Moroni into anger against the king-men, right away pointing all ten fingers of blame at the king-men (the scapegoats) with an urgency that makes others forget all other issues: “there are those who do joy in your afflictions” (Alma 61:3). And, in fact, Moroni and his men do seem to forget.

And notice the overfluousness of positive, gun-ho, religious synonyms and groupings: “freemen” (Alma 61:3), (others have been the cause of) great iniquity” (Alma 61:4), “in the defence of their country and their freedom”, and “to avenge our wrongs” (Alma 61:6), “rejoice in the greatness of your heart”, “do not seek for power, save only to retain my judgment-seat that I may preserve the rights and the liberty of my people”, “my soul standeth fast in that liberty in the which God hath made us free” (Alma 61:9); “resist wickedness” (61:10), “our trust in him”, and “he will deliver us” (Alma 61:13), “resist evil…that we may retain our freedom, that we may rejoice in the great privilege of our church, and in the cause of our Redeemer and our God” (Alma 61:14); “according to the Spirit of God, which is also the Spirit of freedom which is in them” (Alma 61:15); “in the strength of our God according to the faith which is in us” (61:17); “we will go forth against them in the strength of the Lord, and we will put an end to this great iniquity” (Alma 61:18); “God will deliver them, yea, and also all those who stand fast in that liberty wherewith God hath made them free” (Alma 61:21). Pahoran’s short epistle contains more of these types of references than Moroni’s; and yet, it seems to be missing any thing that might be called the power and authority of God and a testimony of the Spirit, or even a real purpose for having been put in the epistle. In other words, it is not just a very patriotic reply; it seems too patriotic, too overly patriotic. Such a positive, faith-promoting, emotionally-charged response, coming at the end of years of deathly silence, is quite drastic and suspicious.

There’s another word for this sort of thing: propaganda (27). Pahoran’s letter is full of propaganda–it uses tricky and deceitful ways to persuade Moroni to believe and act the way Pahoran wants him to. Some of the ways are this: Glittering Generality and Name-Calling (such as using words that deliver states of high positive emotion and blaming all the problems on those bad king-men), Transfer (using Moroni’s own plan and words, such as “beloved brother” and references to God and freedom), Testimonial (I am gathering a strong force of freedom fighters, so you just know I couldn’t have ever guilty of anything), Plain Folks (darn, I’ve got problems myself, just like you–never mind they pale in comparison–I just want to be a poor old chief judge, that’s all, but those bad king-men won’t let me), Fear (the rebels and the Lamanites, aren’t you worried and angry?, let’s get them like this, we can do it), and Band Wagon (God, Lehi, Teancum, freedom fighters, me, you, everyone you can gather on your way here). (Treating this subject of how Pahoran’s epistle constitutes propaganda would require another article; suffice it to say for our purposes, it clearly fits the bill.)

Is it possible that Pahoran also relied on or borrowed from Helaman’s epistle, to increase the propaganda power of Transfer and unity/ team-building between Helaman, Moroni, and himself? Though this proposition seems likely to be speculation, Helaman had written both to Moroni and Pahoran; one would assume the epistles were at least similar. Helaman writes:
“But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come” (Alma 58:40).

Pahoran writes:
“… I, Pahoran, do not seek for power, save only to retain my judgment-seat that I may preserve the rights and the liberty of my people. My soul standeth fast in that liberty in the which God hath made us free” (Alma 61:9).

See that ye strengthen Lehi and Teancum in the Lord; tell them to fear not, for God will deliver them, yea, and also all those who stand fast in that liberty wherewith God hath made them free. And now I close mine epistle to my beloved brother, Moroni” (Alma 61:21).
In only one other place in the Book of Mormon does this phrase occur–when Alma tells his people:
“And now as ye have been delivered by the power of God out of these bonds; yea, even out of the hands of king Noah and his people, and also from the bonds of iniquity, even so I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you.” (Mosiah 23:13).

Anything else, possibly? Helaman writes:
“But behold, we trust in our God who has given us victory over those lands…which were our own” (Alma 58:33).

Alma 58:37
“But, behold, it mattereth not–we trust God will deliver us, notwithstanding the weakness of our armies, yea, and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies.

Alma 56:47
Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.

Alma 56:8
But I would not suffer them that they should break this covenant which they had made, supposing that God would strengthen us, insomuch that we should not suffer more because of the fulfilling the oath which they had taken.

Alma 56:56
But behold, to my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war.

Alma 58:10
Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God, that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities, and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people.
Pahoran writes:
Alma 61:13
“But behold [God] doth not command us that we shall subject ourselves to our enemies, but that we should put our trust in him, and he will deliver us.”

Alma 61:21
“See that ye strengthen Lehi and Teancum in the Lord; tell them to fear not, for God will deliver them, yea, and also all those who stand fast in that liberty wherewith God hath made them free. And now I close mine epistle to my beloved brother, Moroni.”

Alma 61:17
Gather together whatsoever force ye can upon your march hither, and we will go speedily against those dissenters, in the strength of our God according to the faith which is in us.
Alma 61:18
And we will take possession of the city of Zarahemla, that we may obtain more food to send forth unto Lehi and Teancum; yea, we will go forth against them in the strength of the Lord, and we will put an end to this great iniquity.

So, some phrases are similar, though we don’t know if Pahoran actually used Helaman’s words.

Pahoran says, “… I, Pahoran, do not seek for power, save only to retain my judgment-seat that I may preserve the rights and the liberty of my people” (Alma 61:9). This sounds as if he was preserving the rights and the liberty of his people when he had been in the judgment-seat before; yet, though he had already had a few years to do so, the current problem was largely to blame on his not having done just that.

It is strange that Pahoran only worries about sending provisions to Moroni’s men–Lehi and Teancum–even though Pahoran had already long received three epistles from the military requesting aid for Helaman and his men: from Helaman himself (Alma 58:4), in Moroni’s first epistle of request for support for Helaman (Alma 59:3), and THREE times in Moroni’s main epistle (Alma 60:3, 24, and 34). So why does Pahoran tell Moroni (Alma 61:15-16) he has sent men and provisions to Lehi and Teancum, but not to Helaman? Does Pahoran fear he would be putting his own life in danger by not having enough protection, if he sent men to Helaman, even though Helaman and his men, and many other Nephites had been killed and were still in severe danger because they lacked this support? Yet, that he must send some things, not men, to Lehi and Teancum, to at least hopefully appease Moroni? Do fear and selfishness motivate him? But then, weren’t men, as he had written, flocking to him daily? And then why does Pahoran tell Moroni that “…we will take possession of the city of Zarahemla, that we may obtain more food to send forth unto Lehi and Teancum…” (Alma 61:18). Again, what about Helaman? Possibly to his credit, though, perhaps Helaman had written him and told him that he and his men trusted God would still deliver them; and Pahoran might have also interpreted the words of Moroni, that the most important matter was to take care of the government problem (Alma 60:23), as meaning to keep the men for the main problem first.

And how long has the rebellion Pahoran writes about been going on? How long has there been this major problem of a king in Zarahemla? This is also left unexplained. He starts by saying that the rebels are “exceedingly numerous” (Alma 61:3); but after getting kicked out of Zarahemla and fleeing to the land of Gideon, he has “…sent a proclamation throughout this part of the land; and behold, they are flocking to us daily, to their arms, in the defence of their country and their freedom, and to avenge our wrongs. And they have come unto us, insomuch that those who have risen up in rebellion against us are set at defiance, yea, insomuch that they do fear us and durst not come out against us to battle” (Alma 61:6-7). He tells Moroni to “Gather together whatsoever force ye can upon your march hither, and we will go speedily against those dissenters… (Alma 61:17). This sounds like all the freemen have already gathered to Pahoran, due to his diligence and hustle-bustle. But, had Pahoran been so outnumbered, and the gathering been going on slowly for a while, wouldn’t the rebels have attacked long ago, instead of waiting? It sounds like the fleeing and the gathering were so quick, the rebels hadn’t had time to react; if they were then set at defiance, wouldn’t all the continuing daily flocking over a long period of time give Pahoran a much superior force? Also, by what happens later–when Moroni raises the standard of liberty and gains thousands on his march to Gideon (Alma 62:5)–it seems as if this all-out rebellion and Pahoran’s call-to-arms has actually only been in existence for a week or two, at the most a month. So what about all the previous months? What about all the previous years? Yet Pahoran makes as if this had been the state of affairs for the whole time: “they have withheld our provisions, and have daunted our freemen that they have not come unto you” (Alma 61:4).

What was that? “Our provisions”? “Our freemen”? No, Pahoran! Moroni’s and the other soldiers’ provisions, and reinforcements–not yours. You never suffered from lack of provisions, and only lack of men after years.

Pahoran also writes, “I am not angry” (Alma 61:9). What?! Yeah, as the only way he could be angry would be if he were either completely NOT guilty of everything that Moroni accused him of, or completely guilty and not willing to repent, such as we see with Ammoron, in the case of his exchange of epistles with Moroni (see Alma 54:15).

Pahoran’s “Righteous” Excuse a Lie or Cowardly At Best

Towards the very end of his epistle, Pahoran finally, finally admits a hint of uncertainty and stalling (Alma 61:19)–just a tad bit of “perhaps a little of this is my fault”. His excuse for not having acted previously is this: “And now, Moroni, I do joy in receiving your epistle, for I was somewhat worried concerning what we should do, whether it should be just in us to go against our brethren” (Alma 61:19). (Wow! Pahoran has just gone from a magnimonious “not angry” (because of your epistle) to “joy” (for having received it).) This seems like a guy who doesn’t want to do wrong; who is very peace-loving. His excuse sounds good. Unfortunately for him, there had already been a few recent precedents–mostly very recent precedents–that he must have been aware of.

The first big test of the new form of government of judges–of which Pahoran was a receiver–and likely a main part of Nephite general knowledge history, was due to Nehor, in part, and Amlici–a Nephite who wanted to be king. He and his followers dissented and rebelled, chose a king for themselves, came to battle against the Nephites and lost once, united with the Lamanites, and then fought against the Nephites again. This time, Alma himself led the Nephites against them, killing Amlici personally, with the help of God (Alma 2).

The second time is when the Zoramites were rebel Nephites. They had been given chances, at least religiously, to change. But they continued their course of separation with the Nephites, and they “…became Lamanites; therefore, in the commencement of the eighteenth year the people of the Nephites saw that the Lamanites were coming upon them; therefore they made preparations for war; yea, they gathered together their armies in the land of Jershon” (Alma 43:4).

“And now, as the Amalekites were of a more wicked and murderous disposition than the Lamanites were, in and of themselves, therefore, Zerahemnah appointed chief captains over the Lamanites, and they were all Amalekites and Zoramites” (Alma 43:6).

So, here the Nephites fight against a mixture of very recent dissenter Nephites, other previous Nephite dissenters, and lineal Lamanites, whipped up by the Nephite dissenters; and in fact, all the leaders of the Lamanite forces had been previous Nephites. This happened about 12 years before Pahoran and his king-men problem, and seven years before he had become chief judge.

The third example is in Alma 46, we read about Amalickiah, the man who wanted to be king, and his followers who wanted him to be king. They rebel, and are about to leave the country, but Moroni intercepts them and captures most of them. Then we read that Moroni forces those captured to enter into a covenant of freedom or be put to death: “And it came to pass that whomsoever of the Amalickiahites that would not enter into a covenant to support the cause of freedom, that they might maintain a free government, he caused to be put to death; and there were but few who denied the covenant of freedom” (Alma 46:35). Nevertheless, those “few” were put to death. This happened about 10 years before Pahoran and his king-men problem, and five years before he had become chief judge.

And the fourth time is when “…the people of Morianton took up arms against their brethren, and they were determined by the sword to slay them” (Alma 50:26). Moroni found out that they had “intentions to flee into the land northward” (Alma 50:31). Then we read that “…the people who were in the land Bountiful, or rather Moroni, feared that they would hearken to the words of Morianton and unite with his people, and thus he would obtain possession of those parts of the land, which would lay a foundation for serious consequences among the people of Nephi, yea, which consequences would lead to the overthrow of their liberty” (Alma 50:32). So Moroni sends and army to stop them, and “…the army which was sent by Moroni, which was led by a man whose name was Teancum, did meet the people of Morianton; and so stubborn were the people of Morianton, (being inspired by his wickedness and his flattering words) that a battle commenced between them, in the which Teancum did slay Morianton and defeat his army, and took them prisoners, and returned to the camp of Moroni…” (Alma 50:35). This happened about six years before Pahoran and his king-men problem, and one year before he had become chief judge.
Then, for a fifth example, in Alma 51, we read about the most important precedent, where Pahoran was already chief judge and himself was involved in a previous king-men dispute. When the Lamanites come to attack the Nephites, the king-men refuse to take up arms to defend their country, but joy that the Lamanites might win; Moroni then desires power “to compel those dissenters to defend their country or to put them to death” (Alma 51:15). After getting it, he commands his army to go against the dissenters; the dissenters refuse to fight for the Nephites, so a fight with the Nephites ensues, and “four thousand of those dissenters … were hewn down by the sword; and those of their leaders who were not slain in battle were taken and cast into prison, for there was no time for their trials at this period” (Alma 51:19). Note that these dissenters did not openly commit to fight against or overthrow the Nephite government.

Not only had the rebels thrown Pahoran and the rightful government out, they had also made a treaty with the Lamanites. They clearly conspired with the Lamanites to overthrow the Nephite nation. Before, Moroni and Teancum had pursued other “rebels” because they feared that the “rebels” would later turn against the Nephites; but here, the rebels had already done it. An angel had earlier told Alma to preach to the Ammonihahites:
“…except they repent the Lord God will destroy them” (Alma 8:16).
“For behold, [the Ammonihahites] do study at this time that they may destroy the liberty of thy people, (for thus saith the Lord) which is contrary to the statutes, and judgments, and commandments which he has given unto his people” (Alma 8:17).
Alma does so, telling them:
“…he has commanded you to repent, or he will utterly destroy you from off the face of the earth…” (Alma 9:12).
“Behold, do ye not remember the words which he spake unto Lehi, saying that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land? And again it is said that: Inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord” (Alma 9:13).

“For he will not suffer you that ye shall live in your iniquities, to destroy his people. I say unto you, Nay; he would rather suffer that the Lamanites might destroy all his people who are called the people of Nephi, if it were possible that they could fall into sins and transgressions, after having had so much light and so much knowledge given unto them of the Lord their God” (Alma 9:19).
It seems clear what the Lord sets forth as the result for rebellious Nephites. The Lord also makes it clear that it should and would be worse for rebel Nephites than for Lamanites. If Pahoran felt fine fighting the Lamanites, who were also relatives to the Nephites, why not the rebel Nephites?

Perhaps Pahoran felt that it would be unjust to have a preemptive strike against the rebel Nephites? He might feel so because there had not been a battle yet, and the rebel Nephites had not invaded their territory from the outside; besides, these were their brethren. Yet, there had not been a battle yet between the people of Morianton, nor with the people of Amalickiah, when the Nephites went against them. Of course the Nephites first offered peace, but then when it was rejected, they fought. Also, they had not just gathered in an empty spot–they had gathered in Zarahemla, the capital city, and kicked the rightful government out; and had they the power to, they would have killed him.
When the Lamanites, ruled by Amalickiah, fight against the Nephites, we read that the Nephites fought back. In these verses we read about some of the principles of Nephite self-defense:
“Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary…” (Alma 48:14)

“…they were compelled reluctantly to contend with their brethren, the Lamanites ” (Alma 48:21).
“Now, they were sorry to take up arms against the Lamanites, because they did not delight in the shedding of blood; yea, and this was not all–they were sorry to be the means of sending so many of their brethren out of this world into an eternal world, unprepared to meet their God” (Alma 48:23).
“Nevertheless, they could not suffer to lay down their lives, that their wives and their children should be massacred by the barbarous cruelty of those who were once their brethren, yea, and had dissented from their church, and had left them and had gone to destroy them by joining the Lamanites” (Alma 48:24).
“Yea, they could not bear that their brethren should rejoice over the blood of the Nephites, so long as there were any who should keep the commandments of God, for the promise of the Lord was, if they should keep his commandments they should prosper in the land” (Alma 48:25).

Here, the principles for Nephite defense to the point of slaying, and to what degree, and why, are pretty clearly laid out; the rebel Nephites fit the bill completely. This is even in the face of great reluctance by the Nephites, because they did not delight in the shedding of blood, and they knew it wouldn’t help the Lamanites’ salvation much (Alma 48:23)–Pahoran’s main concerns with fighting in the rebels. One more interesting point is that the Nephites clearly consider the Lamanites their brethren, also. This happened about five years before Pahoran and his king-men problem, and after he had become chief judge.

So, what seems like a righteous excuse for Pahoran, reveals itself, at best, as either a very lame excuse, or a cowardly one. At worst, it is an out-and-out, bold-faced lie. Five times–four times just recently–death was the judgment for rebels of this sort or less–and just in harrowing circumstances, not during a war when the course of action, and call to action, were much clearer. In Pahoran’s case, it is not just refusal of some men to stay and support the government, or oppose it in a precarious situation, or fight against it at a bad time–but a full-blown rebellion, even with the choosing of a king!–during a time of war and instability that seriously endangered the entire country, and that caused great suffering and the deaths of thousands of loyal countrymen. How could Pahoran not have known if it would be pMatthew Roper to fight against them? And, had he nipped this problem in the bud, it would not be, as he himself admits, “the cause of sore affliction among us” (Alma 61:4).

Other Things

To top it all off, all the political leaders up to this point in the history of the Nephites, excepting probably Pahoran’s father Nephihah, were personally involved in leading their people into battle; however, Pahoran clearly sits this one out–in the middle of the land, surrounded by safety on all sides–until the king-men can’t be avoided, of course.

Near the end of his letter, Pahoran writes something that has a very interesting twist of words: “But ye have said, except they repent the Lord hath commanded you that ye should go against them” (Alma 61:20). No, Pahoran, that is not what Moroni said! The Lord was talking about you and your men, not the king-men (Alma 60:34).

Hypocritically, Pahoran tells Moroni that he sent a proclamation for the people to gather to “avenge our wrongs” (Alma 61:6). Well, the biggest wrongs I can see from this whole episode are those resulting from Pahoran and his men, not the king-men. And those wrongs were suffered by the fighters, not by Pahoran and his men. If there was any “avenging wrongs” to do, it would be done by Moroni and his men against Pahoran and his men! Woops–“avenge” is used by only four other humans in the Book of Mormon, and always by wicked men (Ammoron–Alma 54:16, 24; Giddianhi–3 Nephi 3:10; wicked Nephites–Mormon 3:9, 14; Shiz–Ether 14:24). Other than that, remember, vengeance is the Lord’s (Mormon 3:15, 8:41; Ether 8:22), not man’s.

Though Pahoran does say that he stands at the head of the freemen, and that he sides with Moroni and God and freedom, never does he present any evidence of this, nor does he answer any of Moroni’s charges against him and his men.

IF PAHORAN WERE A RIGHTEOUS MAN…

Think a moment, what letter would you really expect from Pahoran? Here’s something I imagine it might be like:

Dear Captain Moroni,

Your letter has truly pricked my heart, and caused me and my men to repent, to avoid further condemnation and death. I, along with most of my men, were lazy and slothful for quite a while, and busy thinking of our problems at home, which were many; but this is no excuse for neglecting our duties to our most valiant freemen. Your details of the suffering and deaths of our people, along with your threat on our lives, along with new forces of king-men driving us out of Zarahemla into Gideon, have awakened us to a sense of our duties. We are sending half of our provisions and food to all the soldiers on the front lines, and I have ordered my men to fast one meal a day for our success (it’s ok, we’re not fighting). If you feel this is not enough and want more, let me know, and we will send whatever you want. Your plan is a good one, and we are gathering a force right now to oppose the king-men. Please forgive us as you can. We failed to act when we could have, on numerous occasions, to bring peace and freedom to our land. We were scared, unsure who was true and who was a traitor, and how strongly; and we were afraid of not getting reelected. Come quickly, and we will be able to solve this problem once and for all, and end this war. Our sorrow and regret will never bring back our citizen’s lives or correct your sorrows and sufferings. In light of this, my men and I have all covenanted to be freemen, and have committed our lives to our country. We have all decided to either stand at the front of all battles now for as long as we live, or send our sons to the front of every battle, if they are willing to substitute for us; and, when the war is over–if we survive–we have all covenanted to step down from our positions and give up any retirement we might have coming to us. We are sorry, and are willing to do what we can now to help. We now desire to be even as King Benjamin, who spent his life in the service of his fellowman.

Your new friend,
Pahoran

A letter without guile or deceit, with acknowledgment of faults, shortcomings, and sins; with true sorrow, and repentance, with thankfulness for the call to repentance and the help, with a renewed spirit of commitment to life and a willingness to repair the damage done or at least try to do what is still possible to do right, serve, and love of God and country. Contrast what Pahoran wrote, for example, to the feelings expressed by: the citizens of King Benjamin (Mosiah 4:1-2, 5:2-5), Alma (Mosiah 17:2-4, 18:1-2, etc.), the sons of Mosiah (Mosiah 27:32-37, 28:2-4), the Anti-Nephi-Lehies (Alma 24:7), Alma the younger (Mosiah 27:23-37), Amulek (Alma 10:5-10, etc.), Zeezrom (Alma 14:6-7, 15:3-12), the dissenters that Nephi preached to (Helaman 5:17), and the Lamanites that Nephi and Lehi preached to (Helaman 5:50-52, 6:1)–some of the people clearly mentioned in the Book of Mormon who, after being called to repentance, repented and were similarly changed in many ways–unlike anything we see or hear of Pahoran.

AFTERWARDS

Moroni is happy at the arrival of Pahoran’s epistle because he learns that Pahoran IS not a traitor (Alma 62:1); this does not mean, nor have any connection to, whether Pahoran WAS a traitor or not in the past. Being a traitor was never an accusation by Moroni, though it was mentioned as a possibility. However, Moroni never says, and neither does Mormon nor Pahoran, that Pahoran and his men were guilty or not guilty of any of the other things that he was accused of by Moroni, including being a traitor.

Pahoran had written that the first reason to win was to get food for the armies: “And we will take possession of the city of Zarahemla, that we may obtain more food to send forth unto Lehi and Teancum…” (Alma 61:18). Yet, after the king-men rebellion is put down, and “Pahoran [is] restored to his judgment-seat” (Alma 62:8), it is not Pahoran–but Moroni–who immediately sends food and 12,000 men to the warfront (Alma 62:12)–though this is Pahoran’s job, and even though it was the reason Pahoran wanted to “take possession of the city of Zarahemla”. Also, Moroni does not send them to Lehi and Teancum first, but to Helaman and his area, as he had requested that Pahoran do in his epistles many times, but Pahoran had ignored.

After the battle with the king-men, Moroni does not let Pahoran off the hook so easily. It’s time for battle on the front line for him!–fighting the king-men was just a start (Alma 62:14, 26). No longer will Pahoran be allowed to sit on his throne in Zarahemla, surrounded by safety in the heart of the land. And here in battle, Pahoran probably learns more about the realities of war and how the government’s decisions directly control and influence many of them.

MORE ABOUT CAPTAIN MORONI

What else does Mormon say about Moroni?

Is Mormon Positively Biased towards Captain Moroni?

From the start, I realize that some may say that Mormon feels a strong bond linking himself with Moroni–two great warriors with similar strong feelings for their people. I have heard this more than once. I hope it is also possible that a righteous man with such a great sacred mission to write the defining scripture of the final dispensation, to write “the words of God”, would not let his personal views consistently affect the validity of his statements and abridgements over many chapters. Some “scholars” have, for example, argued along the lines that what the Nephite prophets wrote about the Lamanites was no doubt slanted because of the personal and cultural view that the Nephites held towards them; but such claims are completely unsupported and amount to hearsay (see my article on “Lamanite Bias”), not to mention the irony of such “scholars” imposing their own personal and cultural views upon the Nephite prophet writers. It must also be that there were many more good things about Captain Moroni on the Nephite records that Mormon doesn’t tell us, and that what he writes about Moroni is, like most of the record, abridged.

We learn that: “…it was the custom among all the Nephites to appoint for their chief captains, (save it were in their times of wickedness) some one (sic) that had the spirit of revelation and also prophecy…” (3 Nephi 3:19). This was undoubtedly the case with Moroni. In fact, while there were many leaders, and even military leaders in the Book of Mormon, Mormon writes particularly of Captain Moroni. The following is his summary:
“And thus [Moroni] was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Christians” (Alma 48:10).
“And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country, and his brethren from bondage and slavery” (Alma 48:11);
“Yea, a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people; a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of his people” (Alma 48:12).
“Yea, and he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood” (Alma 48:13).
“Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives” (Alma 48:14).

“…this was the faith of Moroni, and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good, in preserving his people, yea, in keeping the commandments of God, yea, and resisting iniquity” (Alma 48:16).
“Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men” (Alma 48:17).
“Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon, the son of Mosiah, yea, and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God” (Alma 48:18).

It just doesn’t seem right that Mormon would write that Moroni was this type of man, then later turn around and concentrate heavily and in detail on an episode that shows the opposite; that Captain Moroni, in fact:
sought to overthrow their liberty;
didn’t live unto the Lord his God;
was very unchristian-like;
was a man of very imperfect and unsound understanding, especially when angry;
delighted in shedding blood;
shaken by a trial;
seeking to overthrow the government;
ungrateful for the help the government had provided;
sought to destroy his own people;
sought to overthrow their liberty;
offended someone;
threatened to raise his sword against his friends, when their lives weren’t necessarily threatened;
gloried in doing evil;
gloried in destroying his people;
didn’t keep the commandments of God;
caused iniquity;
showed how the devil got to him through the manipulation of his emotions/ his anger;
and, acted unlike a man of God,
–all without making any editorial comment about it.

But Captain Moroni Can’t Be a Prophet!

Now, after all that–believe it or not, one Book of Mormon “scholar”–Brother X–wrote me and said that my thesis was wrong because “Moroni is a military man and is not portrayed as a prophet. He is righteous, but not prophetic. When he needs prophecy he goes to Alma.” (Does it help to say that Brother X had already published something very negative about Captain Moroni?) His point was, Moroni just plain wasn’t a prophet, and whenever he needed spiritual help or prophecy or revelation, he went to a “true” prophet; thus, Moroni couldn’t have had any revelations about Pahoran, etc. as he tells us that he did. If this were the case, Captain Moroni is in fact a liar–one more touché for Pahoran! Yes, we are aware of one time that Moroni went to Alma for prophecy. Quite a respectful act, don’t you think? When Nephi wanted to know where to go to get food, he went to Lehi (1 Nephi 16:23). However, this hardly therefore makes Nephi a non-prophet, nor does it forever deny him any possibility to receive revelation, whether Lehi was there or not. Hadn’t Nephi already, even at this point, experienced direct revelation, seen glorious visions and angels and the Holy Ghost, had faith to work mighty miracles of getting the brass plates and being freed from bonds, and had a patience that few of us will ever have?

Now, can a “military man” be a prophet also? The Book of Mormon shows us many prophet warriors such as Nephi, King Mosiah, King Benjamin, King Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, Mormon, and Moroni. And Gidgiddoni, of course, as in 3 Nephi 3:19: “Now it was the custom among all the Nephites to appoint for their chief captains, (save it were in their times of wickedness) some one that had the spirit of revelation and also prophecy; therefore, this Gidgiddoni was a great prophet among them, as also was the chief judge.”

We have already seen that Captain Moroni, when facing the kingmen, comes up with a plan, prays mightily for it, prophesies, extends a religious covenant for others, prophesies some more, and stirs people up to freedom (Alma 46:12-29). Those familiar with this should be able to accept that Moroni could have revelation.

Brother X then continued: “There is nothing detectable in Pahoran’s actions that suggest nefarious motives that Moroni discerned.” “Had Moroni been a prophet with insight into Pahoran’s dark soul…” And why is Brother X so sure of that? Was it necessary that Moroni “discerned” anything, in order that he might be called, or be, a prophet? It seems that Brother X is assuming that a prophet should have been able to discern and know the exact situation, from the beginning to the end. While that happens in the scriptures sometimes, we see that it seems to be the exception. If Moroni isn’t a prophet because he didn’t see it, what about Helaman? Was he “not a prophet” because he didn’t see it, notwithstanding all the scriptures that seem to indicate the contrary? This way of thinking leads to questions like, “Why didn’t the prophets know that the Hoffman forgeries were fake?” and “Why didn’t the Lord reveal that there would be a tornado in SLC?” Besides, how do we know that Moroni DIDN’T see it? Notwithstanding their words, do we know what the prophets (or anyone with the spirit) really see? Conclusion: nothing shows that neither Captain Moroni nor Mormon weren’t, nor couldn’t have been, prophets or men that received the revelations they said God gave them.

What about this verse in Alma 44?:
12 And now when Moroni had said these words, Zerahemnah retained his sword, and he was angry with Moroni, and he rushed forward that he might slay Moroni; but as he raised his sword, behold, one of Moroni’s soldiers smote it even to the earth, and it broke by the hilt; and he also smote Zerahemnah that he took off his scalp and it fell to the earth. And Zerahemnah withdrew from before them into the midst of his soldiers.
13 And it came to pass that the soldier who stood by, who smote off the scalp of Zerahemnah, took up the scalp from off the ground by the hair, and laid it upon the point of his sword, and stretched it forth unto them, saying unto them with a loud voice:
14 Even as this scalp has fallen to the earth, which is the scalp of your chief, so shall ye fall to the earth except ye will deliver up your weapons of war and depart with a covenant of peace…
18 But behold, their naked skins and their bare heads were exposed to the sharp swords of the Nephites; yea, behold they were pierced and smitten, yea, and did fall exceedingly fast before the swords of the Nephites; and they began to be swept down, EVEN AS THE SOLDIER OF MORONI HAD PROPHESIED.
So the soldier can prophesy, but not Moroni? Maybe the soldier is Moroni’s prophet, since Moroni can’t be a prophet? Maybe getting a little ridiculous, huh?

Captain Moroni’s Anger

From general gospel understanding, and from examples like Amalickiah and Morianton in the Book of Mormon, we know that anger can be a dangerous, out-of-control thing that results in regretted consequences. We might naturally assume that since Captain Moroni wrote the epistle to Pahoran in his anger, because he was angry with the government, it would cause him, or at least allow him, to write something unjust. However, earlier episodes that involve Moroni’s anger show that this is not a valid assumption; in fact, they show the complete opposite.

When Moroni hears about Nephite dissensions caused by Amalickiah, he “[is] angry” (Alma 46:11). And what does he do, in this state of anger? He writes the title of liberty, rallies his freedom-loving countrymen, establishes the covenant freemen, prophesies, and keeps the Nephite country from being overthrown–far from evil things.

In a previous dialogue between Captain Moroni and one enemy, Ammoron, Moroni calls him a “child of hell” (Alma 54:11)–among other things–and threatens him. Not very diplomatic, right? Yet, is there anything untrue or out-of-bounds with his letter? Nothing. Ammoron is a child of hell, isn’t he? Does Moroni make evil or unjust threats? No. Does he fulfill his word, given in this letter? Yes, he does. (You know, the arming of the women and children thing, for example.) Again, when Moroni reads Ammoron’s response, he “[is] more angry, because he knew that Ammoron had a perfect knowledge of his fraud; yea, he knew that Ammoron knew that it was not a just cause that had caused him to wage a war against the people of Nephi” (Alma 55:1). So he carries out a plan. He arms the numerous prisoners inside with weapons, and his army surrounds the city on the outside. We read “…this (slaying the drunk Lamanites) was not the desire of Moroni; he did not delight in murder or bloodshed, but he delighted in the saving of his people from destruction; and for this cause he might not bring upon him injustice, he would not fall upon the Lamanites (in their sleep) and destroy them in their drunkenness” (Alma 55:19). After the Lamanites wake up, they see their situation, and surrender, pleading for mercy (see Alma 55:23). We see that this “was the desire of Moroni”. He took them prisoners of war, and took possession of the city, and caused that all the prisoners should be liberated, who were Nephites; and they did join the army of Moroni, and were a great strength to his army” (Alma 55:24).

No doubt Captain Moroni was angry that people would want to fight the Nephites and do horrible things to them. Yet we read in many other places how Moroni could have killed many enemies in the course of battle, but instead he spared the lives of many thousands of them, always giving them ample opportunity to live, and trying to get them to surrender and leave in peace (and in one piece) (see Alma 43:53, 44:1, 6, 7, 11, 15, 19, 20; 55:19, 24; 62:15-17; 27-29).

In the matter of the king-men in Alma 51, though he is angry and might be morally right and justified in forcing dissenting Nephites to defend the Nephite nation, Captain Moroni waits for all the correct authority before acting to do so. At the end of fighting, the dissenters that surrender are allowed a trial–there is no “no surrender” possibility for Moroni until death.

Captain Moroni was a man who took his covenants and word seriously, as we see in another episode with his enemy Zerahemnah. He covenants with them, saying:
“…deliver up your weapons of war unto us, and we will seek not your blood, but we will spare your lives, if ye will go your way and come not again to war against us.” Otherwise, they would kill them. Zerahemnah gives up his weapons, but does not accept the other part; Moroni then returns Zerahemnah’s weapons and says, “…Behold, we will end the conflict…” (Alma 44:10).
“Now I cannot recall the words which I have spoken, therefore as the Lord liveth, ye shall not depart except ye depart with an oath that ye will not return again against us to war. Now as ye are in our hands we will spill your blood upon the ground, or ye shall submit to the conditions which I have proposed” (Alma 44:11).
Zerahemnah again refuses, and they continue the fight. At this point, “… Moroni was angry, because of the stubbornness of the Lamanites; therefore he commanded his people that they should fall upon them and slay them. And it came to pass that they began to slay them…” (Alma 44:17), until the Lamanites accept the covenant, at which point it’s peacefully over–once again, anger does not control him and make him do something rash. In fact, where Zerahemnah tried to treacherously kill Moroni, Moroni refuses to kill him when he has the chance–he mercifully lets him go along with the others.

Later, Moroni makes another covenant–to be a freeman. He covenants to maintain “their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them” (Alma 46:20). He covenants “[he] would not forsake the Lord their God; or, in other words, if [he] should transgress the commandments of God, or fall into transgression, and be ashamed to take upon [him] the name of Christ, the Lord should rend [him] even as [he] had rent [his] garments” (Alma 46:21). And, “We covenant with our God, that we shall be destroyed, even as our brethren in the land northward, if we shall fall into transgression; yea, he may cast us at the feet of our enemies, even as we have cast our garments at thy feet to be trodden under foot, if we shall fall into transgression” (Alma 46:23). This is the covenant he was referring to in his epistle to Pahoran. It would be hypocritical and very unlike Moroni to use unrighteous threats and means to fulfill a righteous covenant. We see this even in an example that most men would fail: in Alma 55:18-19, we read that “and for this cause he (Moroni) might not bring upon him injustice, he would not fall upon the Lamanites and destroy them in their drunkenness”. To Moroni, ends did in no way justify the means.

Captain Moroni was one of many righteous men in the Book of Mormon, including Nephi, Helaman, Alma the younger, Ammon, King Mosiah, etc. who righteously threatened with harsh words, or even killed, as moved by the Spirit, to further the work of God. Yet none except Moroni have come under any condemnation by church members in this dispensation for it. For example, Alma was very blunt in his preaching–telling people things like: “your hearts have been grossly hardened against the word of God,” and “ye are a lost and a fallen people” (Alma 9:30); calling people “stiffnecked” (Alma 9:31); telling people it is good that something bad happened to them: “that ye may be humble, and that ye may learn wisdom; for it is necessary that ye should learn wisdom; for it is because that ye are cast out, that ye are despised of your brethren because of your exceeding poverty, that ye are brought to a lowliness of heart; for ye are necessarily brought to be humble” (Alma 32:12); saying people were proud and unrepentant: “I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest” (Alma 13:13); etc. The result? Some repented, and some: “were desirous that they might destroy Alma and Amulek; for they were angry with Alma, because of the plainness of his words unto Zeezrom” (Alma 14:12); and, “they were angry because of the word, for it did destroy their craft; therefore they would not hearken unto the words” (Alma 35:3). Yet I have never found that Alma has been criticized for speaking. Why is Captain Moroni criticized, then? One might say, Alma was preaching to sinners, but Moroni was writing to Pahoran, and Pahoran wasn’t a sinner. But how do we know–why are we so sure–that Pahoran and his men were not sinners? The Book of Mormon contains many examples of repentant sinners, such as Zeezrom–a sinner who, after hearing the word of God, had his heart pricked, trembled, knew God, and repented. But if it were the case that Pahoran were a sinner, the Book of Mormon would say so, wouldn’t it? Why do we find it so hard to believe that Moroni could have inspiration and revelation to guide him what to say? Why do we create an impossible double standard for Moroni, that none of the others in the Book of Mormon have to held to, yet we let Pahoran off so easily, with no proof?

In fact, Mormon shows that Captain Moroni and his way of dealing with men is representative of God. There is an abrupt change from Alma’s spiritual treatise to his son regarding the justice and mercy of God towards sinners in Alma 42, to the episode of Zerahemnah’s attack and Moroni’s defense in Alma 43 and 44. However, the parallels are many. In Alma 42 we read of God’s plan of salvation; he is a just God that allows sinners to suffer the consequence of breaking the law, which is death; but he is also a merciful God in that sinners may be redeemed, but only by choosing to obey a covenant that God puts forth. Moroni treats the enemies of freedom the same way, according to their circumstances. When Zerahemnah and the Lamanites sin in attacking the Nephites, Moroni gives them two choices–die, which is your natural consequence of being an enemy; or take an oath to never come back and fight (Alma 44:6). Interestingly, Zerahemnah tries another trade-off (Alma 44:8)–one in which mercy robs justice; Moroni therefore necessarily refuses (see Alma 42:25). Later, in Alma 46, 51, and 62, Moroni does the same thing with the king men–choose to die, which is your natural consequence of rebellion and sedition; or choose to obey an oath to actively support freedom. Teancum uses this same method to deal with the people of Morianton in Alma 50:35-36, and the Nephites later use it to deal with the Gadianton robbers in 3 Nephi 5:4. Just like God, Moroni gives men liberty to choose death or life (for example, see 2 Nephi 10:23, Helaman 14:30-31, 2 Nephi 2:27). (King Benjamin mentioned that the natural man is an enemy of God.) For Mormon, Moroni is the epitome of mortal man attaining godliness; the best representative of lion and lamb, of justice and mercy; the closest and clearest that a man has become Man (see 3 Nephi 11:8), other than Jesus Christ himself.

MORE ABOUT PAHORAN

What else does Mormon say about Pahoran in the Book of Mormon?

Nothing Good Written of Pahoran

Of all the judges mentioned in the Book of Mormon, Pahoran seems to be the only “good” one that doesn’t have much good written about his reign. Much is written about Alma serving righteously as chief judge (Mosiah 29:43; see also Alma 1-4). We read that Nephihah, “the second chief judge, died, having filled the judgment-seat with perfect uprightness before God” (Alma 50:37), and that he had been chosen by Alma to take over the sacred things (Alma 50:38). After Pahoran, Pahoran II was quickly assassinated (and then his brother slain); after him, we read that “…Helaman did fill the judgment-seat with justice and equity; yea, he did observe to keep the statutes, and the judgments, and the commandments of God; and he did do that which was right in the sight of God continually; and he did walk after the ways of his father, insomuch that he did prosper in the land” (Helaman 3:20); and also “Helaman died, and his eldest son Nephi began to reign in his stead (as chief judge). And it came to pass that he did fill the judgment-seat with justice and equity; yea, he did keep the commandments of God, and did walk in the ways of his father” (Helaman 3:37). Though nothing is said about their reigns, Cezoram and his son are assassinated by Gadianton robbers (Helaman 6:15, 18-19). Also, if one considers that Nephi probably followed Alma’s precedent and yielded the judgment seat to a righteous man to allow himself to preach, this also helps establish Cezoram as a good man. A Gadianton robber is then mentioned as being chief judge (obviously not good). We then hear of Lachoneus, who is described as “a just man, and [who] could not be frightened by the demands and the threatenings of a robber; …he did cause that his people should cry unto the Lord for strength against the time that the robbers should come down against them” (3 Nephi 3:12). “…therefore, this Gidgiddoni was a great prophet among them, as also was the chief judge (Lachoneus)” (3 Nephi 3:19); “‘And now it was Gidgiddoni, and the judge, Lachoneus, and those who had been appointed leaders, who had established this great peace in the land” (3 Nephi 6:6). Lastly, Lachoneus II is chief judge, of whom is written little–yet from the situation we see that he was a judge who could be counted on to deliver justice (3 Nephi 6:19, 25, 26, 29, 30). Not once, however, does Mormon write anything minimally similar about Pahoran.

After the epistels, Mormon writes just this about Pahoran:
“And thus ended the thirtieth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi; Moroni and Pahoran having restored peace to the land of Zarahemla, among their own people, having inflicted death upon all those who were not true to the cause of freedom” (Alma 62:11).

“And Pahoran did return to his judgment-seat…” (Alma 62:44).

“For behold, Pahoran had died, and gone the way of all the earth…” (Helaman 1:2).

Oath of the Chief Judge

In mentioning all the chief judges in the Book of Mormon, there is also only one time that the oath of the chief judge is mentioned. That is when Pahoran takes office. The “oath and sacred ordinance” was “to judge righteously, and to keep the peace and the freedom of the people, and to grant unto them their sacred privileges to worship the Lord their God, yea, to support and maintain the cause of God all his days, and to bring the wicked to justice according to their crime” (Alma 50:39). It is possible that including the oath here, and only here, is intentional on Mormon’s part, to give us a larger background that clarifies Pahoran’s duties, shows that he neglected them, and holds him accountable for his actions.

Pahoran’s History

Right after being appointed chief judge, Pahoran is confronted with men who want to have kings instead of chief judges. Kudos that he didn’t accept a bribe to change the government in exchange for being the first king (Alma 51:3), or such, though such thinking might have had many reasons. A resolution comes before the people: choose a king government (and give up liberty) or maintain a chief-judge government (and keep liberty). These two sides are supported by king men and freemen, respectively. The people vote, and the current free form of government stands. There are two things about this situation that raise questions, though. We read that “the voice of the people came in favor of the freemen, and Pahoran retained the judgment-seat, which caused much rejoicing among the brethren of Pahoran and also many of the people of liberty…” (Alma 51:7). It might read better with a period after “freemen”, instead of a comma: “the voice of the people came in favor of the freemen. And Pahoran retained the judgment-seat, which caused much rejoicing among the brethren of Pahoran and also many of the people of liberty…” Although the freemen were happy that the current form of government was to remain, not “all” of them, nor even “most” of them–just “many” of them–were happy that Pahoran was its choice. One might say, yes, but it also says that “And those who were desirous that Pahoran should remain chief judge over the land took upon them the name of freemen;” yet, the statement following that says “and thus was the division among them, for the freemen had sworn or covenanted to maintain their rights and the privileges of their religion by a free government” (Alma 51:6)–which seems that they were not supporting Pahoran being chief judge, but Pahoran being chief judge.

Secondly, one wonders why the king-men were so bold as to ask for favors from Pahoran right after his taking office (Alma 50:40, 51:1-2). If he had been elected, appointed, sustained, etc. by the people in some way, is it that the king-men helped, perhaps with a plan to help the weakest or most corruptible judge win, or the one that they thought would most likely grant them this favor, or conspire with them? If this is the case, then one might conclude that Pahoran’s appointment was because of the king-men and “many” of the freemen, not because he was a clear better choice due to his superior goodness and superior abilities. This is not to condemn Pahoran of anything–just to understand the Nephite situation better and show other possibilities.

Poetic Justice for Pahoran and Helaman

It is perhaps poetic justice that one sees in the situation that occurs after Pahoran dies. The judgment seat becomes the bane of all three of his sons who aspire to it. Interestingly, it says that Pahoran had many sons, but only three aspired to the judgment seat (Helaman 1:3-4)—wow, sounds like none of his many sons suffered or were killed in the big war. How does a true freedom-loving leader do that—keep all his sons out of dangers way, while thousands around him are dying? Two of his sons fill the judgment seat very briefly, and are killed because of it–one by assassination and the other because of running away from it and his Lamanite enemies during war. The other is put to death for trying to lead others to rebel against his brother (this all occurs in Helaman 1).

There is more. Later, Helaman II, the son of Helaman–the religious leader who humbly became military leader and then suffered so much under the hand of Pahoran and the other political leaders–is made chief judge in their places (Helaman 2:2). Unlike Pahoran’s sons, however, he is saved from an assassination attempt (Helaman 2:9), and his son, Nephi, is later chosen to be chief judge after him (Helaman 3:37).

Also, it is interesting that Paanchi seems to have been a guy with very close connections to kingmen/ Gadianton robbers, and tries to do to his brother what his father claimed the kingmen did to him.

CONCLUSION

From his other letters and speeches, it is easy to understand that Captain Moroni was not a man gifted with persuasive political speech; he is very blunt and straightforward. Yet nowhere in the Book of Mormon does he speak irresponsibly or go beyond the correct limit of truth or fairness–i.e., he is never wrong. He is a man who does not delight in bloodshed, and tries to win battles and wars without the shedding of blood. Why do we apparently assume or understand, then, that what Captain Moroni wrote in his epistle to Pahoran was wrong? Yes, he was human; but where else in the Book of Mormon do we see a righteous man making any similar, “clear” mistake? If it were so, why does Mormon so “clearly” point it out in a long example, then not make even one comment about it? And if the plates were small, and the space and the time to write in it limited (Words of Mormon 1:5, 3 Nephi 5:8, 3 Nephi 26:6, Mormon 8:5, Mormon 9:33), why would Mormon go to such great lengths to show us that it is possible for a righteous man to have faults, make a mistake or a misjudgment, or to sin? The whole lesson could have been summed up and learned much more quickly, succinctly, and easily.

I believe it is true that Captain Moroni and others in the army could have done more to communicate and understand Pahoran and the situation. But, Pahoran and his men were in charge of the war; he was the “upper man”, so to say; the one responsible for initiating and continuing communications and informing Moroni of the Nephite situations, especially regarding war matters; and all communication attempts that Helaman and Moroni had sent to him, were unanswered in both word and action. Men, provisions, and food had been in short supply for a long time, resulting in thousands of deaths, great suffering, famine, capture (and whatever else), etc. for the armies and all the Nephite people who were in the war zone, including many women and children; yet after a long period of time, nothing about the situation had changed, even after communications about the necessity of getting them.

I believe that Moroni’s purpose in his epistle was to make it very clear to Pahoran and his men that it was time to stand up and forcefully take sides in the war, and that they would either fight with Moroni and his men, or against them; and quickly. There was no longer any time for hesitation. Does the tone seem harsh? What must be done to wake a deep sleeper, when thousands around him are dying, and the one sleeping is supposed to be their savior?

Let’s look back for a moment at what Lehi says to his sons about Nephi:
“And ye have murmured because he hath been plain unto you. Ye say that he hath used sharpness; ye say that he hath been angry with you; but behold, his sharpness was the sharpness of the power of the word of God, which was in him; and that which ye call anger was the truth, according to that which is in God, which he could not restrain, manifesting boldly concerning your iniquities” (2 Nephi 1:26).
“And it must needs be that the power of God must be with him, even unto his commanding you that ye must obey. But behold, it was not he, but it was the Spirit of the Lord which was in him, which opened his mouth to utterance that he could not shut it” (2 Nephi 1:27).
“And now my son[s]…if ye will hearken unto the voice of Nephi ye shall not perish…” (2 Nephi 1:28).

This seems to be pretty much the same circumstances as with Captain Moroni, and Pahoran and his men. So, then, why do we praise Nephi and curse his brothers, yet curse Moroni and praise Pahoran? Mostly because of Pahoran’s reply.

Moroni says, more than once, that his direction is from God. It was the word of God that told him these things; it was the Lord who made it clear that the governors had sins and iniquities, and that they needed to repent. References to God occur many times in his epistle in these conditions:
“And now, my beloved brethren–for ye ought to be beloved; yea, and ye ought to have stirred yourselves more diligently for the welfare and the freedom of this people; but behold, ye have neglected them insomuch that the blood of thousands shall come upon your heads for vengeance; yea, for known unto God were all their cries, and all their sufferings–” (Alma 60:10)

“Have ye forgotten the commandments of the Lord your God? Yea, have ye forgotten the captivity of our fathers? Have ye forgotten the many times we have been delivered out of the hands of our enemies?” (Alma 60:20).
“Or do ye suppose that the Lord will still deliver us, while we sit upon our thrones and do not make use of the means which the Lord has provided for us?” (Alma 60:21).

“Do ye suppose that God will look upon you as guiltless while ye sit still and behold these things? Behold I say unto you, Nay. Now I would that ye should remember that God has said that the inward vessel shall be cleansed first (the great head of our government, as found in Alma 60:24), and then shall the outer vessel be cleansed also” (Alma 60:23).

“And except ye grant mine epistle, and come out and show unto me a true spirit of freedom, and strive to strengthen and fortify our armies, and grant unto them food for their support, behold I will leave a part of my freemen to maintain this part of our land, and I will leave the strength and the blessings of God upon them, that none other power can operate against them–” (Alma 60:25)

“Yea, behold I do not fear your power nor your authority, but it is my God whom I fear; and it is according to his commandments that I do take my sword to defend the cause of my country, and it is because of your iniquity that we have suffered so much loss” (Alma 60:28).

“For behold, the Lord will not suffer that ye shall live and wax strong in your iniquities to destroy his righteous people” (Alma 60:31).
“Behold, can you suppose that the Lord will spare you and come out in judgment against the Lamanites…while your iniquity is for the cause of your love of glory and the vain things of the world?” (Alma 60:32).
“Ye know that ye do transgress the laws of God, and ye do know that ye do trample them under your feet. Behold, the Lord saith unto me: If those whom ye have appointed your governors do not repent of their sins and iniquities, ye shall go up to battle against them” (Alma 60:33).
“And now behold, I, Moroni, am constrained, according to the covenant which I have made to keep the commandments of my God; therefore I would that ye should adhere to the word of God, and send speedily unto me of your provisions and of your men, and also to Helaman” (Alma 60:34).
“And behold, if ye will not do this I come unto you speedily; for behold, God will not suffer that we should perish with hunger; therefore he will give unto us of your food, even if it must be by the sword. Now see that ye fulfil the word of God” (Alma 60:35).

Captain Moroni’s message is clear: repent or be destroyed. By openly communicating with Pahoran to tell him the will of God, and what he should do to save himself and his men–even though Pahoran seems to be, or is, unrighteous–Moroni once again displays his spirit of freedom and sacred honoring of life. Why does Moroni tell likely traitors and enemies what his plans will be unless they comply with his demands, which are only God’s demands? If Pahoran and other leaders and the people in Zarahemla and near parts of the land rebelled, along with all the king-men, wouldn’t that have been enough men to overcome Moroni’s army, or at least resist it, especially with the help of the Lamanites? So, it seems that Moroni really wants them to repent, and risks a lot–including his life–to give them the chance. Pahoran seems to understand this thrust of Moroni’s epistle, as he writes this in his epistle back to Moroni: “whatsoever evil we cannot resist with our words, yea, such as rebellions and dissensions, let us resist them with our swords, that we may retain our freedom” (Alma 61:14). And this is exactly the main intent of Moroni’s epistle, and what he had just done!–he had resisted evil with his words, and therefore avoided resisting evil with his sword, in order to retain his and all Nephite freedom. Thus, Captain Moroni succeeds in waking the sleeping savior, and because of it, Pahoran and his men quickly choose to follow Moroni and be true freemen–which saves the Nephite nation.

I believe we need to more fully understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and realize that certain situations require diligence and force in defense, and understand that many of Moroni’s virtues, such as faith, faithfulness, patience, and love, are clearly evident in his epistle to Pahoran, and stop criticizing what we might see as a lack of these virtues, and see that perhaps Pahoran did deserve and need that epistle, and that his response is propaganda and not a true and fitting reply.

Or, perhaps, it just is our great understanding of the Gospel that makes us feel very uneasy about this epistle, as we are reminded of our oaths and sacred covenants–like Pahoran’s when he took office–that place great weight of responsibility on us, and curse us when we fail to carry them out. How many of us haven’t cringed when we realize that we might be responsible for others’ sins and failures, through lack of fulfilling our sacred duties, such as home teaching, or parenting? If we feel loyal to Pahoran and not Moroni when we read their epistles and this account, perhaps we also need to repent.

It might have been the case that while Pahoran was true to liberty, many of the other officials were not. At the least, Pahoran should have communicated these problems of the state to Moroni and Helaman, as they had a direct impact on the Nephite armies and their safety and warring against the Lamanites for so long.

I hope that I have not tipped the balances of justice unjustly against Pahoran. My intent has not been to prove beyond doubt that he was a wicked man and a lying traitor–just to show that Moroni was absolutely, completely justified in writing the epistle he wrote, in the way he wrote it; and that Pahoran was very likely guilty on all accounts. I believe we rely too strongly on Pahoran’s epistle of strong propaganda, and just strongly assume he was righteous because Mormon doesn’t tell us he wasn’t, and we don’t rely enough on the upright report of Moroni’s character in almost every place he is mentioned in the Book of Mormon to understand that his epistle to Pahoran is not out of character for him–his righteous character–and that he was justified by God in writing it.

While Mormon wrote many great things about many great men, never do we hear words like those he wrote for Captain Moroni. Knowing he will likely be the next to the last generation of living Nephites, Mormon names his son Moroni. Why? so he’ll be a great warrior? Not as the main reason, as Mormon likely knows that his son will not even have the chance to be like Captain Moroni, but will maybe even be killed by the Lamanites. Captain Moroni is Mormon’s epitome not only of “the warrior,” but of a “righteous man,” the closest any of the Nephites had ever become to being a “Man”–like Jesus (see 3 Nephi 11:8). Yet, notwithstanding this, never have I known or seen readers of the Book of Mormon judge other “characters” in the way that they have judged Moroni. Perhaps the lesson we can learn is not that Moroni judged Pahoran harshly and unrighteously, but that because of our lack of diligence in reading and understanding, we will one day understand that it is we that have judged Moroni harshly and unrighteously.

In the Book of Mormon, we read some untruths spoken by anti-Christs, etc., and we see much dialogue between clearly defined “righteous men” and “sinners.” We clearly understand that we should believe what the righteous men say, and not believe all that the sinners say, though there might be some of it, however little, that might be true. But Mormon helps us know what is true and what is not; what to believe and what not to. It is pretty easy reading. Then we hit the epistles of Moroni and Pahoran. President Benson once said, “We should constantly ask ourselves, “Why did the Lord inspire Mormon…to include that in his record? What lesson can I learn from that to help me live in this day and age?” (“The Keystone of Our Religion,” by Ezra Taft Benson. Ensign, October 1986.) In this case of Moroni and Pahoran, we really need to ask this, because things don’t seem to make the best sense. Here Mormon plays a game and provides a great Socratic lesson. He doesn’t tell us clearly what we should think, but instead leaves us many clues, all over the book, that will help us to understand–if we are attentive to them. Unfortunately, it seems that because Mormon does not come out and clearly tell us, we seriously flounder.

NOW FOR THE BIG LESSON: WHAT PRINCIPLE IS MORMON TEACHING US?

If it is possible for us, as readers, to so misunderstand one situation, even when there are many little clues in one book to help us understand, how easy might it be for us to be led astray by other propaganda, where we might have fewer clues and less time and resources to understand them, right now, in our own times? A while ago, President Benson said: “We are going through … the greatest propaganda campaign of all time. We cannot believe all we read (or see or hear)” (“The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson,” p. 302. Bookcraft, 1988.). He was not speaking about this on the personal level, but on a much higher level.

As a modern-day principle correlation: if it were asked right now, in a poll to LDS, who the 3 greatest American presidents were, would it surprise anyone to hear: 1. “Washington” 2. “Lincoln” 3. “FDR”. Yet, what do we know about these men and their presidencies? (It has been clearly documented by Thomas DiLorenzo, James Ostrowski, etc.–see http://www.Mises.org, http://www.LewRockwell.com–that, in fact, Lincoln was an unbeliever who did more to destroy the Constitution than any other president. FDR was the president who we now know put us in war with an intentional massacre at Pearl Harbor, and implemented many socialist programs.)

If it were asked, who the worst man in the world was, would it surprise anyone to hear “Hitler”? Yet, what do we know about him and the war he was involved in? (Much heavily-documented revisionist work has let him off the hook for many of the atrocities he supposedly committed, and in fact put the blame on Allied leaders and others.) If it were asked who the most evil man in the past fifty years in the USA was, would it surprise anyone to hear “Charles Manson”? Yet, what do we know about him and what he really did, and what really happened? (Read the stunning book, “Manson in His Own Words” and read Salvador Astucia for a very different perspective of a Christ-like man in many ways.)

Who shot JFK? Who shot Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, Ronald Reagan? What happened at Columbine? What happened at Waco? What happened on 9-11? Why did we attack Iraq, and why are we still there? The answer to these questions is the same from the general public: “Oh come on, everybody knows!” And it’s true–we all DO know–because it’s what we’ve all been taught in school, on the news, in the papers, and especially from the government. (No doubt some of the teaching was deliberate, and most was unknowing.) Yet, especially in light of recent research and through the internet, it is certain that what we know, especially from the government, is not true in many instances. It is only what has been allowed to have been taught us–i.e., a high form of propaganda.

It has been said that “the ‘winners’ write history”; so what happens when the winners are sinners? Is it possible that all we know, we really can’t KNOW–because it’s not really true? And what we don’t know–what the “winners” hid or are hiding from us–might be hundreds of times worse than what we think we know? And what about right now? Can we believe everything we see on the TV news, or read in the newspapers, or hear on the radio? What is our government really doing? What are other organizations, industries, companies, and people really doing? How do we know for sure? Do all the little clues add up to their answers? Is it really that simple and easy? We now have, for example, a report from Representative Henry A. Waxman (Iraq on the Record Report) says that we were told 237–two hundred and thirty-seven!!–“misleading statements”–i.e., “lies”–by our leaders to get us to go to war with Iraq. How’s that for what we really know from listening to and reading about our leaders, on TV and in the papers?! President Ezra Taft Benson has also said: “Never before in the history of our country has there been a greater need for all of our people to take time to discover what is happening in the world.” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 662. Bookcraft, 1988.) He also said, “Our great need in America today is to be alerted and informed … There is safety in an informed public. There is real danger in a complacent, uninformed citizenry. This is our real danger today.” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 582. Bookcraft, 1988.)

By understanding the lesson of Captain Moroni and Pahoran, at the least, we can learn that not everything that someone “good”–especially the government–tells us, is necessarily true–EVEN IF IT SOUNDS GOOD AND RIGHTEOUS, AND REFERS TO SCIENCE OR GOD AS PROOF. Propaganda has many tools and techniques, and comes in many forms. We cannot rely on three TV stations and two newspapers to give us the complete, unadulterated truth. We must rely on and support other sources that can at least give us more of it. God help the Saints, and all of America, and the world, to understand this, and remember that truth–whatever its source, diligence, observation, love of liberty, and the Spirit are tools that can help us overcome propaganda that can blind, misguide, bind, and control us.

THE END

Footnotes:

(1) “Follow the Brethren,” by Elder Neal A. Maxwell. All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, Chapter 7. © Deseret Book.

(2) “Hidden Lessons in the Book of Mormon,” by John Bytheway, January 1, 1997.

(3) Heroes from the Book of Mormon, by Bookcraft, as enhanced by Infobases, Inc. 1995.

(4) Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins. Edited with an Introduction by Noel B. Reynolds (Volume Seven In The Religious Studies Monograph Series)

(5) Book of Mormon Compendium, p. 368

(6) “Message Of The First Presidency To The Church,” read by President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., at the final session of the 112th Annual Conference, Monday, April 6, 1942, in the Assembly Hall, Temple Square, Salt Lake City.

(7) “The Trouble with Pahoran,” by Hugh Nibley.

(8) “A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon”, by Daniel H. Ludlow.
A Secular History of the Book of Mormon Peoples.

(9) “Types of Literature in the Book of Mormon: Epistles, Psalms, Lamentations,” by Sidney B. Sperry. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1995. Pp. 69–80.

(10) “Warfare and the Book of Mormon,” by Hugh Nibley. Stephen D. Ricks and William J. Hamblin, eds., Warfare in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book) and FARMS, 1990), 127–45.

(11) http://www.nauvoo.com/vigor/issues/14.html Issue 14 / June 1997, by David Deitrick.

(12) “Things Are Not Always The Way They Appear To Be,” by Wendy L. Watson. Brigham Young University-Idaho Devotional, March 19, 2002.

(13) http://baronofdeseret.typepad.com/baronblog/movie/hulk.html, by a “29 year old BYU graduate working as a software engineer in Pleasant Grove, Utah.”

(14) “Book of Mormon Studies,” by Heather Martinson. http://ochomeschooling.com/bofm/37.html, © 2003.

(15) “Notwithstanding My Weakness,” by Neal A. Maxwell. Ensign, Nov. 1976, 12

(16) “Murmur Not”, by Neal Alma Maxwell. Ensign, Nov. 1989.

(17) http://organicbabyfarm.blogspot.com/2004_03_14_organicbabyfarm_archive.html

(18) “Moroni and His Captains: A Lesson in Warfare”, by Eugene England. January 09, 2002. Printed from Mormon Life (http://deseretbook.com/mormon-life).

(19) http://www.walden3d.com/nottingham_country_ward/ missionaries/nelson_hr_951001.html

(20) “No Less Serviceable,” by Howard W. Hunter. Ensign, Apr. 1992.

(21) “From the Valley of Despair to the Mountain Peaks of Hope,” by Harold B. Lee. New Era, Aug. 1971.

(22) “Slow to Anger,” by Elder Gordon T. Watts, Quorum of Seventy. Ensign, Feb. 2003.

(23) “That Ye Not Be Offended”, by Perry M. Christensen, Ensign, Mar. 1991.

(24) On the website http://www.cometozarahemla.com, by Richard G. Richard D. Grant.

(25) “Being Thankworthy,” by Geri Christensen. Ensign, Apr. 2005, 15

(26) http://frontpage2000.nmia.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Alma/Alma61.htm, by Brant Gardner.
Labels: Book of Mormon, Captain Moroni, freemen, kingmen, Mormon, Moroni, Pahoran, propaganda

-=-=-=-=
More material:

These two events in the life of the Prophet Joseph prepare us for one other scriptural example—the painful misunderstanding between Moroni and Pahoran in Alma 59 through 62. I wonder if this is where the Prophet Joseph gained his own understanding that conflicts are meaningful and we must learn from them.

Moroni is one of the great military leaders in all of scripture. At the early age of 25 he was made captain over all the Nephite armies. As you will recall, when the prophet Mormon abridged the records of Moroni’s military leadership, he called him “a man of a perfect understanding”11 and honored him with this remarkable endorsement:

If all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.

Behold, he was a man like unto Ammon . . . , and even the other sons of Mosiah, yea, and also Alma and his sons, for they were all men of God.12

It has always astonished me that this same Mormon included, as part of his abridged record, a vivid account of Moroni’s conflict with Pahoran, the chief judge and governor of the Nephites.

As we learn in Alma 59, Moroni’s army was caught in a dangerous situation. Lamanite armies were rapidly gaining ground against them. As chief military leader, Moroni wrote Pahoran for reinforcements. Receiving none, the scripture reports, “Moroni was angry with the government, because of their indifference concerning the freedom of their country.”13

When no help came from the government, Moroni wrote Pahoran again. He began with the facts: the suffering of his men, the slaughter of thousands of the Nephite people, and other atrocities of war. But Moroni didn’t realize that Pahoran had been driven from his throne by the king-men and forced to take refuge in Gideon, and Moroni wrongly accused Pahoran of being a traitor to his own country. Moroni concluded with these challenging words: “Behold, the Lord saith unto me: If those whom ye have appointed your governors do not repent of their sins and iniquities, ye shall go up to battle against them.”14

We are treading sacred ground here. Is there any question whether the Lord had inspired Moroni to know there were problems at the government level that called for military help? Not at all. However, in his abridgment, Mormon made it clear that Moroni mistakenly assumed Pahoran was part of the problem and threatened to remove him as head of the government.

I have puzzled many years why Mormon would include a detailed account of this uncharacteristic error by the great Captain Moroni. I expect it was for at least two reasons.

One would be to show us that none of us, not even the great Captain Moroni, is immune from presumption and rash judgment. What a comfort it is to me, and I hope to you, that we are in the best of company when we make errors of this kind. This is not to excuse them but to give us permission to admit our mistakes and to learn from them.

The second reason is to show us one of the best examples in all of scripture of how to respond to an unjust accusation. We know very little about Pahoran except that he was an upright ruler committed to standing “fast in that liberty in . . . which God . . . made us free.”15 In chapter 61, Mormon, as editor, gave us Pahoran’s entire response to Captain Moroni. I will quote only two of the 20 verses included in his answer:
I, Pahoran, who am the chief governor of this land, do send these words. . . . Behold, I say unto you, Moroni, that I do not joy in your great afflictions, yea, it grieves my soul. …
And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart.16

How did Pahoran do it? How could he respond in such humility and meekness before the Lord? He probably sat right down and wrote an angry reply, venting his injured feelings against Moroni. If so, when he was finished, he did what we all must do—he tore it up and threw it away. Then he must have spent long hours in supplication to the Lord to find the strength to overlook the unjust accusations and to reply with such compassion and love.

In Proverbs we read that “grievous words stir up anger” and “a soft answer turneth away wrath.”17 Pahoran’s soft answer is a beautiful example of what the Prophet Joseph said about “the necessity of humility and meekness before the Lord, that He might teach us of His ways.”18

Even in this misjudgment Moroni is also our model. When he learned of his error, he was not prideful. He immediately marched to the aid of Pahoran, and with their combined forces they overthrew the king-men and the Lamanites, and peace was restored in the land.

As you reflect on these examples, do they call to mind any other gospel principles? I’m thinking in particular of that favorite scripture, Ether 12:27

President Kimball taught this gospel principle in terms of mirrors. He said, “Our vision is completely obscured when we have no mirror to [show us] our own faults and [we] look only for the foibles of others.”19
http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=11240
Learning from Our Conflicts
GERALD R. WILLIAMS
27 June 2006.
-=-=
Moroni got very personal and nasty with Pahoran.

Pahoran’s response to Moroni was in the same spirit of faithful obedience as was Bishop Williams’. In the 61st chapter of Alma look at verse 2.
“I, Pahoran, who am the chief governor of this land, do send these words unto Moroni, the chief captain over the army. Behold, I say unto you, Moroni, that I do not joy in your great afflictions, yea, it grieves my soul.” (Alma 61:2)

He goes on to tell about how the king-men had rebelled and started a war against the government.

Now for the verse that impresses me the most in this whole account verse 9:
“And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart.” (Alma 61:9)

Brothers and sisters, if there was ever anyone who had a right to be offended, angry, and defensive it would be Pahoran at this time. Moroni had made some serious accusations and threats toward him. I would think that Pahoran would be justified in saying, “Moroni, you are such a jerk. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You are a judgmental, pious bully. I’m doing everything I can to hold the government together so you can have any support at all and all you can do is carp, complain, and criticize.”

But that was not his response. This great saint knew, as Bishop Williams knew, that he must continue to live the principles of the gospel, especially at this crucial time, no matter what.

I also find it interesting that Pahoran did not ignore Moroni’s verbal attack but recognized Moroni’s frustration and complemented him for his “greatness of heart.”

Remember Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s wonderful counsel at the last general conference when he commanded us to speak with the tongues of angles; to be positive and uplifting. Maybe Pahoran had read a scripture similar to …

Pahoran spoke with the tongue of an angle. And so should we.
Govern Ourselves by Correct Principles
Byron Webster
Brigham Young University–Idaho Devotional
April 24, 2007
http://www.byui.edu/Presentations/transcripts/devotionals/2007_04_24_webster.htm

2009, October 22

“Adam-God Theory” by grego

Adam-God Theory

grego
(c) 2006

Though this isn’t in the Book of Mormon much…

Many have spoken against it recently (relatively speaking), saying it’s not right. But few say why. I’ll share why it seems quite impossible to me.

First, you can’t father yourself:
Moses 6:22 “…the sons of Adam, who was the son of God…”
*Luke 3:38: “which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.”

Here in the scriptures we see that the Father, the Son, and Adam are three distinct persons:
*Moses 4:28: “And I, the Lord God, said unto mine Only Begotten: Behold, the man is become as one of us to know…”
*D&C 137:3, 5: “I (Joseph F. Smith) saw…the blazing throne of God, whereon was seated the Father and the Son.” “I saw Father Adam …”

Another problem is that it (Heavenly Father as Adam dying again) contradicts the standard works:
*Alma 11:45: Amulek talking about the resurrection: “…that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided…that they can see no more corruption.”
*Alma 12:18: Alma: “and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption.”
*D&C 63:49: “…they shall rise from the dead and shall not die after…”
*D&C 88:116: “…and they shall not any more see death.”
*(much later) D&C 138:17: “the spirit and the body to be united never again to be divided…”

Even if Adam were translated instead of dying, he would still have to die later.
But, we know that Adam did die:
*Moses 4:25: “until thou shalt return unto the ground—for thou shalt surely die…”
*Genesis 5:5: “…Adam…died.”

Adam had died and was still just a spirit when Christ was to be born; how was he to be the father? And if a spirit, why the need for the Holy Ghost to overshadow Mary?

Why don’t the scriptures say something about the reunion between Father and Son in the Spirit World at the Resurrection?

And why would God the Father have to go through this all again, having already gained his exaltation? Especially becoming subject to the will of the devil, to temptations, and sinning. So, the Father has the Son; the Father becomes his own son, or the Son’s son (whoops, no body, no do); then sins and falls, becomes subject to the devil (“Became subject to will of the devil”: D&C 29:40), then is saved by His Son.

Not to mention that the temple now seems to make it even more impossible to believe this theory.

Pres. Kimball also noted that the Adam-God doctrine is false.
posted by grego at 9:23 PM

8:03 PM
LifeOnaPlate said…
The biggest “evidence” for the Adam-God theory is in JoD 1:51. Elder Charles C. Rich, who was serving in the Council of the 12 at the time, stood on the stand and recorded notes as Pres. Young spoke. When he saw the written report he immediately corrected the statement, called it a complete misquotation, and noted it in the margin of his own copy of the JoD, which is now in the Church archives and was seen and attested of by Elder Mark E. Peterson, detailed in his book “Adam: Who Is He?” The quote should read, according to Elder Rich: “Jesus our Elder Brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character who talked with Adam in the Garden of Eden, and who is our Heavenly Father.” In that same sermon we see Young explicitly pointing to 3 individuals in the creation: Michael, Jehovah and Elohim.
Other times Pres. Young clearly taught they were separate beings:
JoD: 13:311
10:230-231
9:148
10:355
Discourses of BY pg. 105.
Don;t forget to check out my blog! Thanks.

2009, October 20

Book of Mormon: Interesting Literary Constructions in Alma 51, Helaman 5, Helaman 11 by grego

Book of Mormon: Interesting Literary Constructions in Alma 5, Helaman 5, Helaman 11

grego
(c) 2006-2009

I found this interesting–

Does anyone have any insight, perhaps in Hebrew, as to a structure that uses a word or phrase three times in very near proximity?:

Alma 50:1
AND now it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites; for he caused that his armies should COMMENCE in the COMMENCEMENT of the twentieth year of the reign of the judges, that they should COMMENCE in digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities, throughout all the land which was possessed by the Nephites.

-=-=-=-=-=

Helaman 5:23
And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi were ENCIRCLED ABOUT AS IF BY FIRE, even insomuch that they durst not lay their hands upon them for fear lest they should be BURNED. Nevertheless, Nephi and Lehi were not BURNED; and they were as standing IN THE MIDST OF FIRE and were not BURNED.

Helaman 5:24
And when they saw that they were ENCIRCLED ABOUT WITH A PILLAR OF FIRE, and that it BURNED them not, their hearts did take courage.

(I also like the opening with the fear of the Lamanites vs. the closing with the courage of Nephi and Lehi.)

posted by grego at 10:13 PM


2 Comments:
Anonymous said…
Grego,
This is my first time looking at your blog. It’s fascinating. You are a very close reader of the text, and I’ll be spending some quality time on here with your posts.
Don Bradley
8:44 AM

grego said…
Thanks. And, everything is open to discussion (gulp).
11:06 PM

-=-=-=
UPDATE: Helaman 11:5
And so it was done, according to the words of Nephi. And there was a great FAMINE upon the land, among all the people of Nephi. And thus in the seventy and fourth year the FAMINE did continue, and the work of destruction did cease by the sword but became sore by FAMINE.

Helaman 11:6
And this work of destruction did also continue in the seventy and fifth year. For the earth was SMITTEN that it was dry, and did not yield forth grain in the season of grain; and the whole earth was SMITTEN, even among the Lamanites as well as among the Nephites, so that they were SMITTEN that they did perish by thousands in the more wicked parts of the land.

**I also found one in the Bible:
Joshua 1:6,7,9–the “be strong and of a good courage” part.

-=-=-=
UPDATE:

Five times near each other!

3 Nephi 5:25
And as he hath COVENANTED with all the house of Jacob, even so shall the COVENANT wherewith he hath COVENANTED with the house of Jacob be fulfilled in his own due time, unto the restoring all the house of Jacob unto the knowledge of the COVENANT that he hath COVENANTED with them.

What Does the Book of Mormon Teach about Pre-emptive Strike? by grego

What Does the Book of Mormon Teach about Pre-emptive Strike?

grego
(c) 2006-2009

What does the Book of Mormon have to say about this type of warfare? Is it ok to go into another country and attack it, especially if they haven’t done anything yet? What if they have done something, and are retreating? What if they are harboring terrorists? What if they attacked you before, in the past?

I will give seven stories from the Book of Mormon that help with answers to those questions.

We start with the Nephites and the Lamanites defending themselves against the Gadianton robbers, who have already sent a clear letter of intent with a clear plan to attack:
3 Nephi 3:20-21–[The Nephites and Lamanites say, “Let’s] fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands. But Gidgiddoni saith unto them: The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands…but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands.”

3 Nephi 4:13–“…Gidgiddoni commanded that his armies should pursue them as far as the borders of the wilderness…” This was the border/ demarcation between the Gadianton robbers and the Nephites/ Lamanites.

3 Nephi 4:15–“…the armies of the Nephites did return again to the place of their security…” Also, there are still robbers–the Nephites did not chase them down in their own territories.

-=-=-=

Here’s Captain Moroni. Notice that he threatens the Lamanites that the Nephites will defend themselves, and then follow the Lamanites into their lands. However, remember that this is BECAUSE the land the Lamanites live in at this time originally was the land of the Nephites; notice the words “withdraw, return, your own lands, receive, retain, defend”:
Alma 54:6–“…except ye repent and withdraw your armies into your own lands, or the land of your possessions, which is the land of Nephi.
Alma 54:7–“…except ye repent and withdraw your murderous purposes, and return with your armies to your own lands.”

Alma 54:9–“…we are prepared to receive you…”
Alma 54:10–“…our armies shall come upon you except ye withdraw…for we will retain our cities and our lands.”

Alma 54:12–“…and I will come against you, and I will follow you even into your own land, which is the land of our first inheritance…”
Alma 54:13–“…ye have sought to murder us, and we have only sought to defend ourselves. But behold, if ye seek to destroy us more we will seek to destroy you; yea, and we will seek our land, the land of our first inheritance.”

Alma 62:38–“…Moroni did slay them with a great slaughter; and they did drive them out of the land…”

-=-=-=

Here’s what Mormon has to say about preemptive strike:
Mormon 3:6 And there we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands…
Mormon 3:7 …the Lamanites did come down …to battle against us; …we did beat them, insomuch that they did return to their own lands again.
Mormon 3:8 …they did come down again to battle…
Mormon 3:9 And now, because of this great thing which my people, the Nephites, had done, they began to boast in their own strength, and began to swear before the heavens that they would avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren who had been slain by their enemies.
10 And they did swear by the heavens, and also by the throne of God, that they would go up to battle against their enemies, and would cut them off from the face of the land.
11 And it came to pass that I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people, because of their wickedness and abomination…
14 And when they had sworn by all that had been forbidden them by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that they would go up unto their enemies to battle, and avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren, behold the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying:
15 Vengeance is mine, and I will repay…
Mormon 3:16–“And it came to pass that I utterly refused to go up against mine enemies; and I did even as the Lord had commanded me…”
Mormon 4:1 …the Nephites did go up with their armies to battle against the Lamanites…
Mormon 4:4 …And it was because the armies of the Nephites went up unto the Lamanites that they began to be smitten; for were it not for that, the Lamanites could have had no power over them.”

-=-=-=

Notice this story, too:
Helaman 2:5–“…therefore Kishkumen sought to destroy Helaman.”
Helaman 2:6–“…one of the servants of Helaman…having obtained…a knowledge of those plans which had been laid by this band to destroy Helaman–
Helaman 2:7–“Kishkumen made known unto him the object of his desire, desiring that he would conduct him to the judgment-seat that he might murder Helaman.”
Helaman 2:8–“And when the servant of Helaman had known all the heart of Kishkumen, and how that it was his object to murder, and also that it was the object of all those who belonged to his band to murder, and to rob, and to gain power, (and this was their secret plan, and their combination) the servant of Helaman said unto Kishkumen: Let us go forth unto the judgment-seat.
Helaman 2:9–“…the servant of Helaman, as they were going forth unto the judgment-seat, did stab Kishkumen even to the heart, that he fell dead without a groan. And he ran and told Helaman all the things which he had seen, and heard, and done.”
Helaman 2:10–“…Helaman did send forth to take this band of robbers and secret murderers, that they might be executed according to the law.”

So, there was absolute conviction of organizational and personal capital offense intent, in addition to previous capital offenses; when the servant started out to fulfill one more intent, and Kishkumen followed and was happy and prepared to commit it, he was killed; then, the chief judge wanted to take the rest of them alive to try them according to the law.

-=-=-=

The story of Alma and Amlici:
Alma 2:2 …Amlici had…drawn away much people after him…they began to endeavor to establish Amlici to be a king over the people.
Alma 2:3 Now this was alarming to the people of the church, and also to all those who had not been drawn away after the persuasions of Amlici; for they knew that according to their law that such things must be established by the voice of the people.
Alma 2:5 And it came to pass that the people assembled themselves together throughout all the land, every man according to his mind, whether it were for or against Amlici, in separate bodies, having much dispute and wonderful contentions one with another.
Alma 2:7 And it came to pass that the voice of the people came against Amlici, that he was not made king over the people.
Alma 2:10 Now when Amlici was made king over them he commanded them that they should take up arms against their brethren; and this he did that he might subject them to him.
Alma 2:12 Therefore the people of the Nephites were aware of the intent of the Amlicites, and therefore they did prepare to meet them…
Alma 2:13 And thus they were prepared to meet the Amlicites at the time of their coming.
Alma 2:15 And it came to pass that the Amlicites came upon the hill Amnihu, which was east of the river Sidon, which ran by the land of Zarahemla, and there they began to make war with the Nephites.
Alma 2:18 …the Nephites…slew the Amlicites with great slaughter, that they began to flee before them.
Alma 2:19 And it came to pass that the Nephites did pursue the Amlicites all that day, and did slay them with much slaughter…
Alma 2:20 And it came to pass that when Alma could pursue the Amlicites no longer…the Nephites did pitch their tents for the night.
Alma 2:21 And Alma sent spies to follow the remnant of the Amlicites, that he might know of their plans and their plots, whereby he might guard himself against them, that he might preserve his people from being destroyed.
Alma 2:24 …we saw a numerous host of the Lamanites; and behold, the Amlicites have joined them;
Alma 2:25 And they are upon our brethren in that land; and they are fleeing before them with their flocks, and their wives, and their children, towards our city; and except we make haste they obtain possession of our city, and our fathers, and our wives, and our children be slain.
Alma 2:35 And it came to pass that when they had all crossed the river Sidon that the Lamanites and the Amlicites began to flee before them…
Alma 2:36 And they fled before the Nephites towards the wilderness which was west and north, away beyond the borders of the land; and the Nephites did pursue them with their might, and did slay them.
Alma 2:37 Yea, they were met on every hand, and slain and driven, until they were scattered on the west, and on the north, until they had reached the wilderness, which was called Hermounts; and it was that part of the wilderness which was infested by wild and ravenous beasts.

So, Amlici wants to be king; the matter is settled by vote, after everyone’s voice is heard; he and his people are in the land of the Nephites when they rebel; nevertheless, the Nephites still wait for him to attack them; then they pursue and kill them, as they are still in the land; Alma sends spies to help defend against them; the Amlicites join the Lamanites and attack again; the Nephites defend and pursue and kill them because they are still in their land, or later in a neutral empty land–not back in their own land.

-=-=-=

Captain Moroni, the rebel Zoramites who are living in Nephite land, and the Lamanites:
Alma 43:4
“…the Zoramites became Lamanites; …the …Nephites saw that the Lamanites were coming upon them; therefore they made preparations for war; yea, they gathered together their armies in the land of Jershon.”
Alma 43:5 And it came to pass that the Lamanites came with their thousands; and they came into the land of Antionum, which is the land of the Zoramites…
Alma 43:15 And it came to pass as the armies of the Lamanites had gathered together in the land of Antionum (DS NOTE: this is Nephite land!), behold, the armies of the Nephites were prepared to meet them in the land of Jershon. (DS NOTE: they didn’t go attack them even when they had trespassed into Nephite land.)
Alma 43:18 And it came to pass that he met the Lamanites in the borders of Jershon…

-=-=-=–

The story of Captain Moroni and Amalickiah and his men, who had already rebelled while still in Nephite land:
Alma 46:28 And now it came to pass that when Moroni had said these words he went forth, and also sent forth in all the parts of the land where there were dissensions, and gathered together all the people who were desirous to maintain their liberty, to stand against Amalickiah and those who had dissented, who were called Amalickiahites.
Alma 46:29 …when Amalickiah saw that the people of Moroni were more numerous than the Amalickiahites–and he also saw that his people were doubtful concerning the justice of the cause in which they had undertaken–therefore, fearing that he should not gain the point, he took those of his people who would and departed into the land of Nephi…
Alma 46:30 …Moroni thought it was not expedient that the Lamanites should have any more strength; therefore he thought to cut off the people of Amalickiah, or to take them and bring them back, and put Amalickiah to death; yea, for he knew that he would stir up the Lamanites to anger against them, and cause them to come to battle against them; and this he knew that Amalickiah would do that he might obtain his purposes.
Alma 46:31 …he took his army and marched out with his tents into the wilderness, to cut off the course of Amalickiah in the wilderness.
Alma 46:33 And it came to pass that Amalickiah fled with a small number of his men, and the remainder were delivered up into the hands of Moroni and were taken back into the land of Zarahemla.
Alma 46:34 Now, Moroni being a man who was appointed by the chief judges and the voice of the people, therefore he had power according to his will with the armies of the Nephites, to establish and to exercise authority over them.
Alma 46:35 And it came to pass that whomsoever of the Amalickiahites that would not enter into a covenant to support the cause of freedom, that they might maintain a free government, he caused to be put to death; and there were but few who denied the covenant of freedom.
Alma 46:36 And it came to pass also, that he caused the title of liberty to be hoisted upon every tower which was in all the land, which was possessed by the Nephites; and thus Moroni planted the standard of liberty among the Nephites.

In verse 31, we see that Moroni wants to capture the rebel Nephite while he is still in Nephite land; once he crosses over into Lamanite land, however, Moroni does not pursue him, even though he knows Amalickiah’s evil intent. The captured Amalickiahite rebels need to make a covenenant of freedom or die; this is because they had cut themselves fully off by openly rebelling, and needed the covenant to come back, or else remain in their state of open rebellion. Then, the title of liberty is “hoisted upon every tower”

-=-=-=-

Another thing to see:
Doctrine and Covenants 93

-=-=-=—–

While I was able to find other similar examples, I was not able to find one example to the contrary. I believe that the above seven examples from the Book of Mormon support the conclusion that “pre-emptive strike”, especially in the enemy’s own land, is not of God.


1 Comments:
Anonymous said…
This is something that I thought at the time but the Israelities were commanded to kill everyone in the land the Lord had for them so there is an example. Nephi hadn’t killed anyone before but the Lord commanded him so potentially the Lord could command a righteous nation to attack another (even if we don’t have any/many scriptural references to it). Titch
3:29 AM

Titch, On the surface, it seems that way. And maybe, somehow, it is. Having scriptures to back that up would certainly be helpful.
However… Note that with the Israelites, there was still a process led by God. They did not declare war and enter and destroy, but they were attacked first.
Also, about Nephi’s legal defense in killing Laban, see my articles “Book of Mormon: More About the Brass Plates; Why Did Nephi Kill Laban?” https://bookofmormonnotes.wordpress.com/2008/01/21/more-about-the-brass-plates/ and “Book of Mormon: The Brass Plates, in Three Episodes” https://bookofmormonnotes.wordpress.com/2008/01/10/episode-of-the-brass-plates/.

2009, October 17

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 16: CONCLUSION by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 16: CONCLUSION

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 16: CONCLUSION

****I believe it has been shown that most evidence and “proofs” for “Others” that have been given up to this point, by all the authors covered, are actually much weaker than stronger. Unless someone can show strong evidence to the contrary in the Book of Mormon text with an interpretation that bears it out, I believe that this response justifies one in saying that the Book of Mormon still fails to mention others, though it does not prove that that possibility can’t exist, nor that it is excluded.

I agree completely with John L. Sorenson that “this is one more instance in which we see that much remains in that ancient record which we should try to elucidate by diligent analysis.” However, I hope that future articles on this topic by all will not “fail to observe what” ACTUALLY “is said about [others] in the Book of Mormon” instead of trying to prove from and in the Book of Mormon that what their science has already told them “is true”. I am saddened by the public lack of scholarship and honesty from those who work/ worked for the Church (literally and/ or figuratively), supposedly to bring new light to the scriptures. Too many times the interpretation is “A” and definitely not “B” when convenient, but then later “B” and definitely not “A” when convenient. This flip-flopping for convenience while trying to prove points makes for shaky argument. In addition, much of the language used in many places in the articles is outrageously overbearing (especially for research), illogical, and even (almost) blasphemous (like when saying what the Lord “should” do) when most of the time, at best, it is speculative. In too many instances in these articles, the answer or an other strong possibile answer to a point is found immediately in the preceding or following verse just quoted, or even in the same verse itself!

To use hypotheses, suppositions, possibilities, suggestions, beliefs, and even pure speculation, and yet write as if everything proposed in the line of argument is an absolute fact, and then drawing conclusions from these “facts” as if they followed completely necessarily and evidently, is so far out of line with writing an article on this subject with the information available in the Book of Mormon that I believe it is unapologetically unacceptable. This reeks of typical unethical and dishonest method of operation and sloppy work of anti-Mormon critics. Now we see it in FARMS–an official part of Brigham Young University, an official university of the Church; and in FAIR. Regrettable. What is more regrettable is that these articles are kept up on the internet and available for all to read; spread; and then, if possible, responses are muffled, updates are rare, corrections never occur, and I have yet to see any apology to anyone outside the group or even an acceptance of being wrong or merely too assuming. It makes me wonder if any form of peer-review or editing occurs with any of these articles.

It is unnecessary–completely–to our faith or credence to follow those methods (though some might want to). I do not claim to understand this agenda. If there is a proof, there is; if there isn’t, it isn’t. Possiblilities may exist, whether I am personally for it or not. (Though in the search for truth, I don’t understand how you can be for something or not.) What make this more frightening is that this is done on a topic that is doesn’t seem to be in response to any heavy anti-gospel, anti-Church propaganda. TRYING TO FORCE A PERSONAL FEELING OR FALSE AGENDA ON OTHERS, BY WRESTING THE SCRIPTURES TO FIT OUR PERSONAL INTERPRETATION AND BY HAVING DISHONEST DIALOGUE, IS A FORM OF PRIESTCRAFT OR LIKE NEHORISM.

Luckily, this is happening with a topic that doesn’t matter much for our salvation; otherwise, it would be extremely wise to heed a few exhortations from Alma: “…Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction” (Alma 13:20)… “And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the restoration of which has been spoken; for behold, some have wrested the scriptures, and have gone far astray because of this thing…” (Alma 41:1).

I invite FARMS and FAIR to open a discussion board on every article that they write and post, and every article/ book/ etc. that they criticize or make negative remarks about. Members of these two organizations continually claim that each organization is made up of individuals with unique thoughts and beliefs, and that there is disagreement among the members themselves; I think this would be a good opportunity for those with dissenting opinions to share also.

It seems quite unfair for a Church paid scholarly foundation to shoot others down and then hide behind a Church wall, allowing church members to read (and believe) only their scholarship, as if the LDS leaders supported it and stood behind it. That’s like shooting arrows from inside a church, while at the same time crying “Sanctuary!” How long will the people inside that they’re supposed to be protecting get the feeling that something is wrong? FARMS and FAIR, let your scholarship be openly proven, and it will no doubt be better for everyone.

I would very much like to hear anything else, from anyone, that is evidence for others in the land interacting with the Lehites.

The whole thrust of these arguments is seen clearly in this quote of Brant Gardner’s (from discussion board): “THE OTHER FACTOR IN THE PRESENCE OF “OTHERS” IN THE LAND IS SIMPLY KNOWN ARCHAEOLOGY. THERE IS NO PLACE IN THE NEW WORLD THAT LEHITES COULD REASONABLY LAND THAT WAS NOT INHABITED AND WHICH DID NOT ALREADY SUPOPRT VARIOUS POPULATIONS IN THE THOUSANDS. Coastal Guatemala had at least six communities in the coastal piedmont of a thousand or more, as I remember.

THE PROBLEM OF THE BOOK OF MORMON ISN’T THAT THERE WEREN’T OTHERS IN THE LAND. THERE WERE. THAT IS KNOWN. YOU MIGHT ASK WHY THEY WEREN’T MENTIONED, BUT TO SUGGEST THEY WERE NOT HERE IS TO DENY KNOWN DATA.”

It is one thing to know and LOOK FOR EVIDENCE and speculate and surmise; it is another to taint, twist, force, and manipulate so many things to fit your predetermined outcome, based on what you believe the science shows.

And that, folks, is the majority of what is done with these “evidences” for “Others” in the land.

Now, there are a few more points here about others I want to bring up:
Other points to consider about “Others”:
This author:
I think the best support for others in the land is found in Alma 50:29-32, especially verse 32: “Now behold, the people who were in the land Bountiful, or rather Moroni, feared that **THEY** would hearken to the words of Morianton and UNITE with HIS PEOPLE, and THUS HE WOULD OBTAIN POSSESSION OF THOSE PARTS OF THE LAND, which would lay a foundation for serious consequences among the people of Nephi, yea, which consequences would lead to the overthrow of their liberty.
It sounds like somebody’s up there, and this is before the migrations northward in Alma 63. Who is it? Who would Morianton and his people unite with?

Helaman 11:5, 6 says that there was a famine in the land, and that thousands perished. If there were others, and there was trade, this shouldn’t have been such a big problem–they could easily have gotten food, like Jacob’s family in the Old Testament who got food from Egypt during famine.
It is not to say that other peoples or races being there and there being intermingling, is impossible.

1 Nephi 7:1 And now I would that ye might know, that after my father, Lehi, had made an end of prophesying concerning his seed, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto him again, saying that IT WAS NOT MEET FOR HIM, LEHI, THAT HE SHOULD TAKE HIS FAMILY INTO THE WILDERNESS ALONE; but that HIS SONS SHOULD TAKE DAUGHTERS TO WIFE, THAT THEY MIGHT RAISE UP SEED UNTO THE LORD IN THE LAND OF PROMISE.
1 Nephi 7:2 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded him that I, Nephi, and my brethren, should again return unto the land of Jerusalem, and BRING DOWN ISHMAEL AND HIS FAMILY into the wilderness.
Maybe it was necessary for Ishmael’s familiy to join them for the wilderness journey. But if there were plenty of Others already in the promised land, and so many followed Nephi when he split from his brothers because they believed as he did, then why did Lehi’s sons have to go back to Jerusalem to get wives who would raise up seed to the Lord in the promised land? (Only native MEN converted??) Because of the long journey to get there? Ok, so they are a little late in child-bearing and marrying… And?

The two major things that I can find that might suggest this view of outside groups is that:
1. the Nephite prophets do an awful lot of preaching and baptizing for a group that’s supposedly already members, and
2. the Lamanites seem to have a great supply of warriors, even after suffering great losses.
However, we must remember what happened at the time of king Benjamin:
“Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.”
“They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ.”
“And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened.”
“And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the church. And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their carnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God.”
“And now in the reign of Mosiah they were not half so numerous as the people of God; but because of the dissensions among the brethren they became more numerous.”
“For it came to pass that they did deceive many with their flattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins; therefore it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be admonished by the church” (Mosiah 26:1-6).
MANY of the rising generation of Nephites at that time were nonmembers, and through dissension, and sin (and therefore excommunication), they numbered more than the Nephites. These people and their posterity could explain a lot of where the baptisms came from.
Also, there could have been many due to rebaptizings of at faithful members, such as in early modern church history; passages that don’t seem to support that, such as in Helaman 3, could be from rebaptizings of Nephite dissenters, excommunicated members, etc.
The strongest point is the population numbers, especially with all the population setbacks–that is, the Nephites continually move over to the Lamanite side, which helps answer the Lamanite population problem; but what about the Nephite side?

****King Benjamin, speaking to Mosiah, says:
“My son, I would that ye should make a proclamation THROUGHOUT ALL THIS LAND AMONG ALL THIS PEOPLE, OR THE PEOPLE OF ZARAHEMLA, AND THE PEOPLE OF MOSIAH WHO DWELL IN THE LAND (the people that his father Mosiah had led out of the land of Nephi), that thereby they may BE GATHERED TOGETHER; for ON THE MORROW I shall proclaim unto this my people out of mine own mouth that thou art a king and a ruler over this people, whom the Lord our God hath given us” (Mosiah 1:10).
This sounds like a small group of people–pass the message to everyone so they can be there the next day. However, in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, “morrow” means “The day next after the present”; “THE NEXT DAY SUBSEQUENT TO ANY DAY SPECIFIED”.
Thus, Mosiah 1:10 might possibly be read in a different way, like this:
“My son, I would that ye should make a proclamation throughout all this land among all this people, or the people of Zarahemla, and the people of Mosiah who dwell in the land (the people that his father Mosiah had led out of the land of Nephi), that thereby they may BE GATHERED TOGETHER; for ON THE NEXT DAY SUBSEQUENT TO THEIR GATHERING I shall proclaim unto this my people out of mine own mouth that thou art a king and a ruler over this people, whom the Lord our God hath given us” (Mosiah 1:10).

King Benjamin says:
“And moreover, I shall give this people a name, that thereby they may BE DISTINGUISHED ABOVE ALL THE PEOPLE WHICH THE LORD GOD HATH BROUGHT OUT OF THE LAND OF JERUSALEM…” (Mosiah 1:11). Does this just mean a name to distinguish them from the Lamanites? That would seem like big trouble to say when he could have said “Lamanites”.
In keeping to the text of Moses, the Exodus, the Lehite exodus and the “promised land” (1 Nephi 17:32-38), it is probable that other peoples had been cleared out to prepare the way for the Lehites, though this is what happened with the Jaredites.

Other races/ groups could easily have been on the continents. The Lord says that 1 Nephi 17:38: “And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands…”, and in 2 Nephi 10:22: “…the Lord God has led away from time to time from the house of Israel, according to his will and pleasure.” Also, 1 Nephi 22:3-4: “…house of Israel…will be scattered upon all the face of the earth, and also among all nations…there are many who are already lost from the knowledge of those who are at Jerusalem… and they are scattered to and fro upon the isles of the sea…” (And this was long before Hagoth.) And, Lehi, in 2 Nephi 1:5-7: “But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted THIS LAND unto me, and to my children forever, and ALSO ALL THOSE WHO SHOULD BE LED OUT OF OTHER COUNTRIES BY THE HAND OF THE LORD. Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord. Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring.”
Lehi clearly says that others will be led by the Lord to the promised land; and not just from Jerusalem/ Israel, but from other countries. Though there might have been other groups there, there is no need to say that they always interacted. For instance, look att the Nephites and the Mulekites. They were nearby for perhaps 300 years, yet didn’t know it.
Could Coriantumr have told the Mulekites about the Jaredites, or left them records, or taught them some of the language, or perhaps even had children with a Mulekite woman, and named them, even though he only lived with the Mulekites for nine moons? Possibly. Of course, there is the problem of language–I assume that they spoke, surely wrote very different ones. Was there a Jaredite influence? Yes. Remember the stone (and maybe more) that the Mulekites gave King Mosiah (the First)? Did perhaps Coriantumr provide a key to the Mulekites for his language? Or, were the records of earlier times much better in the Brass Plates, and in the records of the Jaredites? Isn’t it possible that there might be a reason other than having to have lots of leftover Jaredites?

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 15: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS AMONG THE JAREDITES by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.”
PART 15: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS AMONG THE JAREDITES

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 15: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS AMONG THE JAREDITES

John L. Sorenson:
“Others” among the Jaredites?
The major focus of this paper, as well as of the Book of Mormon, is the Nephites. A brief look at the Jaredite record is nevertheless worthwhile for what it seems to tell us about demographic processes comparable to those we have discovered in the Nephite record. Moroni’s summary of Ether’s sketch of Jaredite history is so concise that it is difficult to say much about their population history in relation to Jared’s original party, yet a few points stand out. It appears that for the earlier people, too, we must look to “other” groups to account plausibly for the indicated trends and numbers. Figuring the demographic growth of Jared’s party requires that we establish how many there were initially. Ether 6:16 indicates that the founding generation consisted of twenty-four males. The brother of Jared sired twenty-two sons and daughters, while Jared had twelve (see Ether 6:20). We can be confident that they had multiple wives.

****Maybe they didn’t have multiple wives, especially at the beginning. While it seems that plural marriage was alive and well, at least for some:
Ether 1:41: Go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind; and also of the seed of the earth of every kind; and THY FAMILIES; and also JARED THY BROTHER AND HIS FAMILY; and also thy friends and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families. *However*, presently, this is considered a printer’s error: the original reads “family”, not “families”.
Yet, here we read:
Ether 14:2: Wherefore every man did cleave unto that which was his own, with his hands, and would not borrow neither would he lend; and EVERY MAN kept the hilt of his sword in his right hand, in the defence of his property and HIS OWN LIFE and of HIS WIVES and children.
Unless that too is a printer’s error, or unless every man were considered plural.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Estimating on the basis of these numbers, the original party reasonably could have numbered on the order of eighty adults. Not many decades later, when Jared’s grandsons, Corihor and Kib, were vigorous political leaders, we read of a “city” in a land, “Nehor,” not previously mentioned (see Ether 7:9). This is the earliest “city” in the entire Book of Mormon record, yet no city is ever mentioned in the land of Moron, the capital “where the king [in Jared’s line] dwelt” (Ether 7:5).

****John L. Sorenson answers his own question here with this quote of his from above: “the writers did not want to waste space on their plates telling of things they considered obvious or insignificant. For example, they nowhere tell us that the Nephites made and used pottery. Any ancient historian would be considered eccentric if he had written, “And some of our women also made pottery.” To anyone of his time it would seem absurd to say so because ‘everybody knows that.’ The obvious is rarely recorded in historical documents because it seems pointless to do so.”

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Even if half the descendants from those of the eight barges had inexplicably settled in Nehor, the highest number we can imagine for them at this early date would be, say, a hundred people in the “city” and its land. That number could not have made any “city.” Then one generation later, “the people [as a whole] had become exceeding numerous” (Ether 7:11). The scale of population suggested by these statements calls for “other” groups to have been incorporated under Jaredite rule. Continued extraordinary population dynamics followed. In the next generation war resulted in destruction of “all the people of the kingdom … save it were thirty souls, and they who fled with the house of Omer” (Ether 9:12). Yet two kings later we read of the building of “many mighty cities” (Ether 9:23).

****Let’s take a look at what the Book of Mormon says:
Ether 6:16 And THE FRIENDS OF JARED AND HIS BROTHER were in number about TWENTY AND TWO SOULS; and THEY ALSO BEGAT SONS AND DAUGHTERS BEFORE THEY CAME TO THE PROMISED LAND; and therefore THEY BEGAN TO BE MANY.
Ether 6:18 And it came to pass that they BEGAN TO SPREAD upon the face of the land, and to MULTIPLY and to till the earth; and they DID WAX STRONG in the land.
Ether 6:19 And the brother of Jared began to be old, and saw that he must soon go down to the grave; wherefore he said unto Jared: Let us GATHER TOGETHER OUR PEOPLE THAT WE MAY NUMBER THEM, that we may know of them what they will desire of us before we go down to our graves.
Ether 6:20 And accordingly THE PEOPLE WERE GATHERED TOGETHER. Now the number of THE SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE BROTHER OF JARED WERE TWENTY AND TWO SOULS; and the number of SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF JARED WERE TWELVE, he having four sons.
Ether 6:21 And it came to pass that THEY DID NUMBER THEIR PEOPLE; and after that they had numbered them, they did desire of them the things which they would that they should do before they went down to their graves.
Ether 6:22 And it came to pass that the people desired of them that THEY SHOULD ANOINT ONE OF THEIR SONS TO BE A KING OVER THEM. (A direct conflict between John L. Sorenson’s argument here and Brant Gardner’s “Nephi can’t be a king over a small group of people” hypothesis.)
Ether 7:2 And [Orihah] BEGAT SONS AND DAUGHTERS; yea, he begat THIRTY AND ONE, among whom were twenty and three sons.
Ether 7:3 And it came to pass that he also begat Kib in his old age. And it came to pass that KIB REIGNED IN HIS STEAD; and KIB BEGAT CORIHOR.
Ether 7:4 And when CORIHOR WAS THIRTY AND TWO YEARS OLD he rebelled against his father, and went over and dwelt in the land of Nehor; and he begat sons and daughters, and they became exceedingly fair; wherefore Corihor drew away many people after him.
Ether 7:7 And it came to pass that KIB DWELT IN CAPTIVITY, AND HIS PEOPLE UNDER CORIHOR his son, until he became exceedingly old; nevertheless Kib begat Shule in his old age, while he was yet in captivity.

First, note that just when Jared and his brother were going to die, they gathered the people to number them. Remember Sorenson’s writing, “[A] hundred people in the “city” and its land”? If there are only 100 people, why would there be a need to gather them? Why a need to number them??
Well then, that must mean there were others, right? Well, let’s see what the Book of Mormon says… It seems that lifespans were longer, and the youngest son became king when his father the king died–which really stretches it out. Kings could easily have 60-80 years between them. We have the brother of Jared to Orihah (youngest son); Kib to Corihor (thirty-two); that’s possibly 60+60+60-32= 148 years!! Also, with people living longer, more people are alive at the same time, and propagating longer (especially if they have multiple wives). While women wouldn’t bear past a specific age, men would. When they’re having anywhere from 12-31 children each, and there were twenty four families to start out with (assuming twenty and two” means their male friends, not males and females counted separately), that’s a lot in that time. Here: 24 x 20= 480; 240 x 20= 4,800; 2,400 x20=48,000! That’s not counting what some might see as multiple wives, either.
Also, note in Ether 7:7 that these kings and armies did not try to destroy each other, as the Lamanites tried to do with the Nephites. The king and his people were captured and lived under the opposing king. The slate is not wiped half clean just because of a war!
However, much of this lies on assumptions about what a “city” means, and I have dealt with that earlier discussions on “Others”.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Before long, drought caused the death of the king Heth “and all his household” except Shez (Ether 10:1-2). Quickly they again built up “many cities … and the people began again to spread over all the face of the land” (Ether 10:4). Centuries later, two million “mighty men, and also their wives and their children” (Ether 15:2) were slain while further warring armies and civilian supporters yet remained. I find it not credible that these roller-coaster numbers could result strictly from the demographics of an original party of eighty adults. As with the peoples reported in the Nephites’ own record, a simpler and more compelling explanation is that groups not descended from the immigrant party were involved. If so, “the Jaredites” would have consisted of a combination of groups with cultures and languages beyond those descended from the settlers on the first barges. But the picture is left unclear because Ether, a direct descendant of Jared, gives us only his line’s history rather than an account of all the inhabitants of the land (consider, for example, Ether 10:30-31). Furthermore, we have access only to Moroni’s summary covering Ether’s necessarily short history of thousands of years. When all the considerations we have reviewed are weighed, I find it inescapable that there were substantial populations in the “promised land” throughout the period of the Nephite record, and probably in the Jaredite era also. The status and origin of these peoples is never made clear because the writers never set out to do any such thing; they had other purposes. Yet we cannot understand the demographic or cultural history of Lehi’s literal descendants without taking into account those other groups, too. Hereafter, readers will not be justified in saying that the record fails to mention “others” but only that we readers have hitherto failed to observe what is said and implied about such people in the Book of Mormon. This is one more instance in which we see that much remains in that ancient record which we should try to elucidate by diligent analysis.

****John L. Sorenson finds it “not credible”. Ok, but is it really? Is it impossible? No. Illogical? No.
All those records, and not one mention of “Others”… Either a pity, a temptation, a big frustration for Other proponents, or an exercise for some reason yet to be discovered. No doubt this has helped me to study the Book of Mormon better, might that be it?? ;)

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 14: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS AMONG THE LAMANITES by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 14: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS AMONG THE LAMANITES

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 14: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS AMONG THE LAMANITES

John L. Sorenson:
“Others” among the Lamanites
We have already seen that the initial Lamanite faction had an edge in numbers when the Nephites’ first split from them. We have also seen that the numbers of Nephites implied by statements and events in their early history was greater than natural births could have accounted for.

****Shown to be wrong.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Growth in population of the Lamanites is still harder to explain. Jarom 1:5-6 tells us that not long after 400 B.C. the Nephites had “waxed strong in the land,” yet the Lamanites “were exceeding more numerous than were … the Nephites.” Earlier, Enos 1:20 had characterized the Lamanites as wild, ferocious, blood-thirsty hunters, eating raw meat and wandering in the wilderness mostly unclothed. Jarom echoes that picture (see Jarom 1:6). I suggest that we should discount this dark portrait of the Lamanites on account of its clear measure of ethnic prejudice and its lack of first-hand observation on the part of the Nephite record keepers.

****What’s this–throw out from the Book of Mormon what doesn’t fit our thinking?
Was it true, or not? Why does this “dark portrait” definitely have to be the result of “ethnic prejudice” and “lack of first-hand observation”? It doesn’t, right? Perhaps the continual descriptions might clue us in that that’s really the way it was! It was obvious to the Nephites, as they had tried many times and ways to preach to the Lamanites, and ethnic prejudice hardly seems the case as we see these men pray for, plan for, and labor for the welfare of the Lamanites and their return to Christ.
I think the reason the author wants us to discount this view is that such a generalization makes it much harder to accept others/ outsiders.
Where is there a “lack of first-hand observation” shown in the Book of Mormon?
(I have written an article about “Lamanite Bias”, please use the search function and read if you desire to see how this argument is deflated.)

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
But regardless of qualifications, we are left with the fact that the Lamanites, who are said to have been supported by a hunting economy, greatly outnumbered the Nephites, who were cultivators. This situation is so contrary to the record of human history that it cannot be accepted at face value. Typically, hunting peoples do not capture enough food energy in the form of game, plus non-cultivated plant foods they gather, to feed as large or as dense a population as farmers can. Almost invariably, settled agriculturalists successfully support a population a number of times greater. It would be incredible for Lamanites living only under the economic regime reported by Enos to have supported the superior population he credits to them.

****(I have already explained more about this back at the beginning, when talking about the promised land.) Of course, if you have millions of deer, bison, tapirs, sheep, whatever, running all over, and especially if you can capture and raise them, then it’s very possible. For example, at least by the time of Ammon, King Lamoni and other Lamanites raised flocks.
Remember also, there were larger numbers at the start, and there were Nephite dissenters and well, probably pretty few Lamanite dissenters who became Nephites. I’m of the opinion that I doubt that many of the Nephite dissenters lived in tents in the wilderness, shaved their heads, only wore a loincloth, and ate raw meat…

-=-=-=–
John L. Sorenson:
How can we explain their numbers? Only one explanation is plausible.

****Once more, the typical limited thinking so prevalent in this article manifests…

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The early Lamanites had to have included, or to have dominated, other people who lived by cultivation. Their crops would have been essential to support the growth in overall “Lamanite” population. Such a situation is not uncommon in history; predatory hunter/warrior groups often enough have come to control passive agriculturalists off whose production they feed via taxation or tribute. Given the personal aggressiveness of Laman and Lemuel, it would be no surprise if they had immediately begun seizing power over localized populations of “other” farmers if they encountered any.

****If there were Others, I could accept the possibility of something like this!

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
After all, that is what the Lamanites later did to the Zeniffites, taking a “tax” of up to half their production (see Mosiah 7 and 9). But this scenario works only if a settled, non-Lehite population already existed in the land of promise when Lehi came. The text goes on to tell us that by the first century B.C. Lamanite expansion had spread “through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore, and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers’ first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28). Note that a phrase in this supports the picture of a Lamanite warrior element coexisting with settled people: “the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and dwelt in tents.”

****”…Lamanite warrior element coexisting with [Others]”?–or, this could mean “more idle part of the Lamanites vs. less idle part of the Lamanites, or even scattered small-group forest people vs. those living in villages/ towns”. I believe this is the more possible, yet again, the scriptures continually seem to limit the composition of both the Lamanites and the Nephites (already shown previously–search for “consist of”).
By the way, no need to picture little Boy Scout tents here–think large Middle East tents.
We also see here another possible source of sustenance: the sea. With seafood and kelp, that’s a lot of addition to the game in the wilderness.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Hence only part of the Lamanite population were hunters, while others were settled, presumably farming, people. The latter group would have been of relatively little concern to the Nephites and thus would not be further mentioned by them because it was the wild types who spearheaded the attacks on the Nephites.

****Yes, the farmers didn’t live in the wilderness, they lived in the cities; of course, that is where all farmers live…
However Sorenson’s belief might be, this is only an assumption. Who spearheaded the attacks– kings? Nephite dissenters? Rituals?
The first type is probably mentioned because they were the ones living nearest the Nephites, and the ones that the Nephites would have tried preaching to. How could the Nephites preach to the inner Lamanites, without getting past the outer Lamanites first?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Confirmation of the pattern of dominance of subject groups comes from the mention of cities and other evidences of a civilized way of life among the Lamanites. The brief Nephite record does not bother to tell how the transition from the early nomadic Lamanite pattern to settled life occurred, but the text assures us that change they did, at least some of them. By the time the sons of Mosiah reached the land of Nephi to preach, about 90 B.C., “the Lamanites and the Amalekites and the people of Amulon had built a great city, which was called Jerusalem” (Alma 21:2). However, the Amalekites and Amulonites are pictured as exploiters of others, not as basic builders of advanced culture. They could not have flourished had there not been an infrastructure of agricultural producers to support them. Other cities, too, are mentioned among the Lamanites–Nephi, Lemuel, Shimnilom by name, plus others unnamed (see Alma 23:4, 11-12).26 The Nephites kept on reporting the daunting scale of Lamanite military manpower (see Alma 2:24, 28; 49:6; 51:11; Helaman 1:19). This implies a base population from which the Lamanites could keep drawing an almost inexhaustible supply of sword fodder. Such a large population is even more difficult to account for by natural increase of the original Laman-Lemuel faction than in the case of Nephi’s group, for the eventual Lamanite absolute numbers are disproportionately high.
—-
****It is certain that Amulonites and Amalekites and Lamanites could have built a city, even if they were portrayed that way all the time (are they?). Whoops, did I answer my question there? The Lamanites might have been the laborers?
Sure, agriculture and inter-Lamanite trade could have provided a lot.
“Sword fodder”–would that be the infamous swords composed of… sticks and stones? How hard would it be to find “sword fodder”?
Here John L. Sorenson could add that the Lamanites held to marriage between one man and one woman only (Jacob 3:5-6), which would help his theory.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
None of this demographic picture makes sense unless “others” had become part of the Lamanite economy and polity. Beyond warfare, other unexpected developments among the Lamanites also demand explanation. Comparative study of ancient societies tells us that their system of rulership, where a great king dominated subordinate kings whom he had commissioned, as reported in Alma 20-22, would be unlikely except among a fairly populous farming people. Also, a “palace” was used by the Lamanite great king (see Alma 22:2; perhaps the same structure Noah had earlier built as reported in Mosiah 11:9), but no such building is indicated for the Nephites.

****I should check the footnote on that “comparative study”.
Two points: remember that this “land of Nephi” (see here: Alma 22:1: “…Aaron and his brethren [were] led by the Spirit to the land of Nephi, even to the house of the king which was over all the land save it were the land of Ishmael; and he was the father of Lamoni.”
Alma 22:2: And it came to pass that he went in unto him into the king’s palace…”)
was the previous land of the Nephites, and the seat of the Nephite kings. It would not surprise me if the Lamanites took over and used the buildings the Nephites had constructed. Why would the Nephites write “we had a palace” that on the plates?
Also, “palace” need not be much; in other words, it could be loosely used.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The institution of kingship was obviously highly developed among the Lamanites. Moreover, the logistics of Lamanite military campaigns, which they carried on at a great distance from home territory (see, for example, Alma 50:11-32), calls for considerable technological and sociocultural sophistication as well as a large noncombatant population. It is true that dissenters from among the Nephites provided certain knowledge to the Lamanites (compare Alma 47:36), but local human and natural resources on a large scale and a fairly long tradition of locally adaptive technology would have been required in order to bring the ambitions of the dissenters to realization. As we saw in the case of the crops passed down from earlier times, it is quite unthinkable that all this cultural apparatus was simply invented by the reportedly backward Lamanites within the span of a few centuries. Some, perhaps most, of the required cultural background derived from pre-Lehite peoples.

****What “considerable technological and sociocultural sophistication technology” would they need to get from others to be necessary for war? (Dry the meat; carry it; make a few weapons, especially stones and arrows (Alma 49:2), and learn to use them–which Laman & Lemuel already knew how to do (1 Nephi 15:16); run to carry messages; a king to tell them go fight our enemies (or die) (Alma 47:1-3); etc. Now, where’s that technology?)
It seems to be “unthinkable” to those that already think it unthinkable, before thinking.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
As we saw above, Lehi’s prophecy in 2 Nephi 2 called for “other nations” to be near at hand and influential upon the Lamanites after their rebellion against Nephi and the Lord became obvious.
The point is recalled here in connection with our discussion of the growth in Lamanite numbers. Despite the brevity of the text about Lamanite society there are specific statements and situations that alert us to the presence of “others” among them. Two key cases involve those identified as the Amulonites and the Amalekites. The Amulonites originated when the fugitive priests of Noah captured twenty-four Lamanite women as substitute wives (see Mosiah 20:4-5, 18, 23). From that small beginning, within fifty or sixty years their numbers rose to where they “were as numerous, nearly, as were the Nephites” (Alma 43:14). Since the Nephites commanded tens of thousands of soldiers at the time, the Amulonites would have had almost the same number.

****2 Nephi doesn’t call for that. Reference, please.
I don’t find “tens of thousands” in the Book of Mormon near this time for the Lamanites or Nephites. Help me, please.
The problem with Alma 43:14 appears to be a misreading.
Alma 43:13 And the people of Ammon did give unto the Nephites a large portion of their substance to support their armies; and thus the Nephites were compelled, alone, to withstand against the Lamanites, who were a compound of Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, and all those who had dissented from the Nephites, who were Amalekites and Zoramites, and the descendants of the priests of Noah.
Alma 43:14 Now those descendants were as numerous, nearly, as were the Nephites; and thus the Nephites were obliged to contend with their brethren, even unto bloodshed.
It would be better to read like this:
“…a compound of Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael; and all those who had dissented from the Nephites, who were Amalekites and Zoramites, and the descendants of the priests of Noah.”
“Now those descendants (of all the dissenters) were as numerous, nearly, as were the Nephites; and thus the Nephites were obliged to contend with their brethren, even unto bloodshed.”
It’s not talking about just the descendants of the priests of Noah. This is clear from what you bring up shortly, about Alma 25–most of the descendants of the priests of Noah had already been slain, and the rest were in hiding, and enemies to the Lamanites.
Also, the last sentence says that “thus the Nephites were obliged to contend with THEIR BRETHREN…” “Others” hardly seem to constitute brethren.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Using a common figure of one soldier for each five of the total population, this would put their entire group at 100,000 or more. But by natural increase the twenty-four priests and their wives could not have produced even a hundredth of that total in the time indicated. Moreover they had had their own demographic difficulties, for we learn from Alma 25:4 that at one point in time “almost all the seed of Amulon and his brethren, who were the priests of Noah,” had been “slain by the hands of the Nephites.” So who were left to constitute this large people? The only possible explanation for their dramatic growth in numbers is that they gained control over and incorporated “other” people.
—-
****About war numbers:
Remember that in the wars with Amalickiah, for the Nephites, getting only thousands to the addition of one quarter of the land was a huge boost in numbers to their army.
In Alma 2:19, it says that “…the Nephites did pursue the Amlicites all that day, and did slay them with much slaughter, insomuch that there were SLAIN OF THE AMLICITES TWELVE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY AND TWO SOULS; and there were SLAIN OF THE NEPHITES SIX THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED SIXTY AND TWO SOULS.”
It continues: “…having buried those who had been slain–now the number of the slain WERE NOT NUMBERED, because of the greatness of their number…(Alma 3:1)”.
So, in final, the number slain was more than the day previous. That’s a major war, and huge losses mostly on the part of the Amlicites, but for the Nephites and Lamanites, too. Still it’s not up in the high numbers.
With the Nephites always having wars, rebellions, and dissensions among themselves, their numbers would always be lessening; thus the population comparisons between them and the Lamanites need not always be ever-increasing numbers–like two steps forward in population growth, one step back.
After fighting and retreating, it says: Mormon 2:7: “And it came to pass that WE DID GATHER IN OUR PEOPLE AS FAST AS IT WERE POSSIBLE, THAT WE MIGHT GET THEM TOGETHER IN ONE BODY.
Mormon 2:8: But behold, the land was filled with robbers and with Lamanites; and notwithstanding the great destruction which hung over my people, they did not repent of their evil doings; therefore there was blood and carnage spread throughout all the face of the land, both on the part of the Nephites and also on the part of the Lamanites; and it was one complete revolution throughout all the face of the land.
Mormon 2:9: And now, the Lamanites had a king, and his name was Aaron; and he came against us with an army of FORTY AND FOUR THOUSAND. And behold, I withstood him with FORTY AND TWO THOUSAND. And it came to pass that I beat him with my army that he fled before me. And behold, all this was done, and three hundred and thirty years had passed away.
Mormon 2:15: “…for I saw THOUSANDS OF THEM (not tens of thousands) hewn down in open rebellion against their God, and heaped up as dung upon the face of the land. And thus three hundred and forty and four years had passed away…
Mormon 2:25: And it came to pass that we did contend with an ARMY OF THIRTY THOUSAND AGAINST AN ARMY OF FIFTY THOUSAND. And it came to pass that we did stand before them with such firmness that they did flee from before us.
Yet, still, Mormon says that “And now all these things had been done, and there had been THOUSANDS SLAIN ON BOTH SIDES, both the Nephites and the Lamanites. (Mormon 4:9).
Again, armies here never exceeded 50,000, and the slain were counted by Mormon in the thousands.
After thousands slain on both sides, the final battle was with at least 230,000 Nephites, which Mormon says was “…yea, even all my people, save it were those twenty and four who were with me, and also a few who had escaped into the south countries, and a few who had deserted over unto the Lamanites, had fallen.” (Mormon 6:15)
But these later examples are different because they occur after 3 Nephi and 4 Nephi (Nephites and Lamanites joined, wicked destroyed, years and years of righteousness, a lack of numbering on the split, etc.).

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
(These were not Lamanites per se, it appears from Alma 23:14 and 43:13.)

****No, they weren’t. But they weren’t others, either. We read in Alma 22:7:
“And Aaron answered him and said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God? And the king said: I know that the Amalekites say that there is a God, and I have granted unto them that they should build sanctuaries, that they may assemble themselves together to worship him… ”
Here we learn that dissenting Nephites who lived among the Lamanites could still maintain their separateness from the Lamanites, at least once had favors granted to them, and could possibly even have different rules.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
We see how this was done through a political pattern sketched in Alma 25:5. Amulonite survivors of their wars with the Nephites “having fled into the east wilderness … usurped the power and authority over the Lamanites [in Nephite terms]” dwelling in that area. They had already had a lesson in usurpation when they got control over Alma and his people in the land of Helam. “The king of the Lamanites had granted unto Amulon that he should be a king and a ruler over his [own Amulonite] people, who were in the land of Helam,” as well as over subject Alma and company (Mosiah 23:39). In the eyes of the rapacious priests and those who followed and modelled after them, political and economic exploitation of subject populations must have seemed a much superior way to “earn” a good living than the humdrum labor they had had to resort to in their original land, where they “had begun to till the ground” (Mosiah 23:31). We cannot say definitely what the origins of the subjects were who ended up under Amulonite control, but their startling numbers indicate that Lehi’s descendants alone cannot account for them.

**** Alma 25:5: “And the REMAINDER, HAVING FLED INTO THE EAST WILDERNESS, and having usurped the power and authority over the lamanites, caused that many of the Lamanites should perish by fire because of their belief–”
Alma 25:6: “For many of them, after having suffered much loss and so many afflictions, began to be stirred up in remembrance of the words which Aaron and his brethren had preached to them in their land; therefore they began to disbelieve the traditions of their fathers, and to believe in the Lord, and that he gave great power unto the Nephites; and thus there were many of them converted in the wilderness.”
Alma 25:7: “And it came to pass that those RULERS WHO WERE THE REMNANT OF THE CHILDREN OF AMULON caused that they should be put to death, yea, all those that believed in these things.”
Alma 25:8: “Now this martyrdom caused that many of their brethren should be stirred up to anger; and there began to be contention in the wilderness; and THE LAMANITES BEGAN TO HUNT THE SEED OF AMULON AND HIS BRETHREN AND BEGAN TO SLAY THEM; AND THEY FLED INTO THE EAST WILDERNESS.”
Alma 25:9: “And behold they are HUNTED AT THIS DAY BY THE LAMANITES… ”
It says they were over the Lamanites, not “Others”.
Also, the descendants of Amulon and the priests don’t seem to have lasted long at all–it sounds to me like we’re talking months at the most–not a lot of time to have lots of children (unless you had a different concubine every night or so). Remember also, this happened a long time before Alma 43, including the part about the seed of Amulon being hunted and slain. That they were able to mend their relationship, and come back and join the Lamanites, is excluded by Alma 25:9.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
More mysterious are the Amalekites. They are first mentioned at Alma 21:1-8 where a tiny window on their culture and location in part of the land of Nephi is opened for us. The time was approximately 90 B.C., but they were already powerful, being mentioned on a par with the Amulonites. Nothing is said about when or under what circumstances they originated. Alma 21:8 has an Amalekite speaker contrast “thy [Aaron’s, and thus Mosiah’s] fathers” from “our [Amalekite] fathers.” This seems to set their ancestry apart from that of the core Nephites in Zarahemla, but neither were they from the Lamanite side, for Alma 43:13 calls them dissenters from the Nephites. The Amalekite questioner further implies that his forebears included men who spoke prophetically. Could they have been of Mulek’s group, or of the Jaredites, or of still another people? At least the presence of the Amalekites assures us that the Book of Mormon text as we now have it does not include all the information it might have about peoples in the land of Nephi lumped together by the Nephite writers as “Lamanites.”
—-
****I believe this is one of the stronger evidences of Others in the Book of Mormon. I’ll put up what I can right now, and if I ever think of anything else, then I’ll come back.
First, this verse implies that Amalekites were not Lamanites:
Alma 24:29 Now, among those who joined the people of the Lord, there were none who were Amalekites or Amulonites, or who were of the order of Nehor, but they were actual descendants of Laman and Lemuel.
Actually, there is something said about where they originated, and John L. Sorenson mentioned it:
Alma 43:13: “And the people of Ammon did give unto the Nephites a large portion of their substance to support their armies; and thus the Nephites were compelled, ALONE, to withstand against the Lamanites, who were a compound of Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, AND ALL THOSE WHO HAD DISSENTED FROM THE NEPHITES, WHO WERE AMALEKITES and Zoramites, and the descendants of the priests of Noah.”
The Amalekites were Nephite dissenters; just that how, when, why, etc. seems not to be discussed in the Book of Mormon; though there is presently the belief that the Amalekites are the Amlicites, due to dictation/ spelling errors in the translation, which would explain more.

About the “your fathers” and “our fathers”:
Here is the verse:
Alma 21:8 And the man said unto him: We do not believe that thou knowest any such thing. We do not believe in these foolish traditions. We do not believe that thou knowest of things to come, neither do WE believe that THY FATHERS AND ALSO THAT OUR FATHERS did know concerning the things which THEY SPAKE, OF THAT WHICH IS TO COME.
Are the fathers in “thy fathers” and “our fathers” necessarily separate? It sounds like it, but maybe not.
Mulekites? That seems the best and easiest explanation–except that they didn’t believe in God when Mosiah discovered them. Unless the Amalekites are talking about their fathers the Mulekites after they had been converted…
Jaredites? Possibly (hey, at least John L. Sorenson allows for some righteous ones to have survived!), though I doubt it.
It could mean different fathers, though that could mean that the Amalekites could have been from the original party, just not one of the main tribes; they could have been from Zoram or someone else who had come along. Note this type of language:
Alma 54:23 I am Ammoron, and A DESCENDANT OF ZORAM, whom YOUR FATHERS pressed and brought out of Jerusalem.
Alma 54:24 And behold NOW, I AM A BOLD LAMANITES; behold, this war hath been waged to avenge their wrongs, and to maintain and to obtain their rights to the government; and I close my epistle to Moroni.
Interestingly, there is similar speech as the Amalekites as from the Zoramites–also Nephite dissenters:
Alma 31:16 Holy God, we believe that thou hast separated US FROM OUR BRETHREN; and we do not believe in THE TRADITION OF OUR BRETHREN, which was handed down to them by the childishness of THEIR FATHERS; but we believe that THOU HAST ELECTED US TO BE THY HOLY CHILDREN; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ.
I wonder if maybe there is something more than literal speech going on here. The Zoramites refer to “our brethren”, yet infer that they have different fathers.
Could “your fathers” and “our fathers” be a non-literal meaning, like “brethren”? Quick answer: Possibly, but it stil doesn’t work well because both fathers, it seems, believed in similar traditions based on prophecy (thought this is not absolutely certain). More about this: This occurs in the Book of Mormon more than once. It seems that when people dissent, they adopt different fathers along with beliefs; and when they come in to the Nephites, they join their fathers. Here are a few examples:
This happens with the Npehites and Lamanites. Though they have the same father–Lehi–they make the “our fathers” “your fathers” distinction. This could be what the Amalekites are doing, too, especially as they have dissented from the Nephites and become Lamanites.
This example is of the children of the priests of Noah:
Mosiah 25:12 And it came to pass that those who were the children of Amulon and his brethren, who had taken to wife the daughters of the Lamanites, were displeased with the conduct of their fathers, and they would NO LONGER BE CALLED BY THE NAMES OF THEIR FATHERS, therefore THEY TOOK UPON THEMSELVES THE NAME OF NEPHI, THAT THEY MIGHT BE CALLED THE CHILDREN OF NEPHI AND BE NUMBERED AMONG THOSE WHO WERE CALLED NEPHITES.
Alma preaches this to all the members of the church in Zarahemla, among which most likely were those who were not children of the original group of Alma that was delivered from the land of Helam:
(Alma 5:5 And behold, after that, they were brought into bondage by the hands of the Lamanites in the wilderness; yea, I say unto you, they were in captivity, and again the Lord did deliver them out of bondage by the power of his word; and we were brought into this land, and here we began to establish the church of God throughout this land also.)
Alma 5:6 And now behold, I say unto you, MY BRETHREN, YOU THAT BELONG TO THIS CHURCH, have you sufficiently retained in rememberance the captivity of YOUR FATHERS? Yea, and have you sufficiently retained in remembrance his mercy and long-suffering towards them? And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?
It’s like someone nowadays in the church speaking of “OUR pioneer forefathers”.

Still, once more, we see who the Lamanites consisted of–no mention of outside groups/ Others.
Also, we see nothing about who joined the Nephites to increase their numbers–in fact, “ALONE” implies there were none.
In fact, the Amalekites need not have anything that special about them–they could have ad a man named Amalek who led dissenters away from the Nephites, such as with Amlici, Zoram, or Amalickiah.

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John L. Sorenson:
Alma 24:29 raises the possibility of still another group being present. It says that among those converted by the Nephite missionaries, “there were none who were [1] Amalekites or [2] Amulonites or [3] who were of the order of Nehor, but they [the converts] were actual descendants of Laman and Lemuel.” This phrasing leaves unclear whether those “of the order of Nehor” were merely Amalekites or Amulonites who followed the Nehorite persuasion, or whether, as seems equally likely, the Nehorites constituted a group of their own. Nehor was, after all, a Jaredite personal name; that “order” may have been particularly oriented to Jaredite survivors.

****(I have posted another article or two about the order of Nehor on this website.) The order of Nehor was a religious group, not a lineal/ racial group.
We see this clearly enough in the verse right before the one quoted, in Alma 24:28: “Now the greatest number of those of the Lamanites who slew so many of their brethren were AMALEKITES AND AMULONITES, the GREATEST NUMBER OF WHOM WERE AFTER THE ORDER OF THE NEHORS.”
And in Alma 21:4: “And it came to pass that Aaron came to the city of Jerusalem, and first began to preach to the Amalekites. And he began to preach to them in their synagogues, for they had built synagogues after the order of the Nehors; for MANY OF THE AMALEKITES AND THE AMULONITES WERE AFTER THE ORDER OF THE NEHORS.”
It’s very believable that problems with the law/ freedom from law would cause Nephite dissenters of this order to flee to the Lamanites, unless it started there among them first.
Well, that is, if there were Jaredite survivors, which we have yet to see; and once more, the “wicked Jaredites survived” hypothesis…

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John L. Sorenson:
The expression “Lamanitish servants,” applied to certain of King Lamoni’s servants (Alma 17:26), invites our consideration in this connection. Why not merely “Lamanite servants?” What is the significance of the -ish suffix? The English dictionary sense that is most applicable would be “somewhat, approximate.” How might those servants have been only “somewhat” Lamanite?
The enigma arises again in a statement in Alma 3:7 referring to “Ishmaelitish women.” We are told there that “the Lord God set a mark upon … Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women.” Of course the wives of Nephi, Sam, and Zoram were all Ishmaelite women (see 1 Nephi 16:7). Does “Ishmaelitish women” mean something else here? If so, what, in terms of ethnicity and descent?

****Good questions. The answer could very well run along the lines of American, from the States, the USA, the US, (a Yankee,) etc. argument given much earlier–another way to say something that pretty much means the same, that’s all.
“Lamanitish servants” might signify main group Lamanites, subgroup Ishmaelites–of Ishmael by descent/ lineage, but included in the Lamanites.
The1913 Webster’s Dictionary says that “-ish” is “a suffix used to form adjectives from nouns and from adjectives. It denotes relation, resemblance, similarity…” That helps us–it is used to form an adjective (Ishmaelitish) from a noun (Ishmaelite). In the Wordsmyth Dictionary, the first definition for “-ish” is “belonging or pertaining to; of; from”; for example, “Turkish”; the second definition is “having the qualities of; typical of; similar to”; for example, “mannish”; the third is “given to; preoccupied with”; for example, “faddish”; the fourth is “somewhat; approximately”; for example, “a fortyish woman”. While the second, third, and fourth definitions cause muddiness, the first makes it very easy to explain.
Or perhaps, that they were not Nephite dissenters; in a sense, the Amulonites were, and Ammon was.

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John L. Sorenson:
In at least two other places in the text I see possible evidence of “others.” Mosiah 24:7 reports the Lamanites’ practicing “all manner of wickedness and plunder, except it were among their own brethren.” Now, given this verse’s context, those plundered do not appear to have been Nephites.

****Correct. See right below…

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Who is referred to? Possibly the statement means that the Lamanites considered it acceptable to plunder any community other than those involving immediate relatives or neighbors, but such a limited sense of “their own brethren” is without precedent in the text.

****Take a quick look at the example of Lamoni and the other Lamanites, and what it says, for the answer:
Alma 17:35 Therefore they (the Lamanites who stole Lamoni’s flocks) did not fear Ammon, for they supposed that one of their men could slay him according to their pleasure, for they knew not that the Lord had promised Mosiah that he would deliver his sons out of their hands; neither did they know anything concerning the Lord; therefore THEY DELIGHTED IN THE DESTRUCTION OF THEIR BRETHREN; and for this cause they stood to scatter the flocks of the king.

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John L. Sorenson:
Rather it seems to me that this expression tells us that certain portions of the Lamanites classified other segments of the population in their lands as being of different origin and thus subject to less protection. That is, Mosiah 24:7 could mean that Lamanites were plundering “Lamanites” not of that bloodline, and vice versa. Amulonites and Amalekites could have fallen into the target category as well as the Zeniffites, who certainly were “plundered” (see Mosiah 9:14). Yet it seems to me that plunderable “others,” of non-Lehite stock, may have been at odds with “the [real] Lamanites” and thus have come into conflict with them (compare Mormon 8:8).
—-
****Just speculation. To me, it seems to mean not all that.
Mormon 8:8: “And behold, it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it. And behold also, the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war.
Mormon 8:9: And now, behold, I say no more concerning them, for THERE ARE NONE SAVE IT BE THE LAMANITES AND ROBBERS THAT DO EXIST UPON THE FACE OF THE LAND.”
This happened at the end, when the Nephites were gone. To whom would all the spoils of war–the women, the buildings and houses, the gold and riches, etc., go? Also, it seems that towards the end the Lamanites increased in wickedness also. The Lamanites were fighting the Lamanites.

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John L. Sorenson:
That could explain Helaman 5:21, where there is mention of “an army of the Lamanites,” whose existence in their homeland is strange since no war against the Nephites was going on or threatened.

**** Helaman 5:20: And it came to pass that Nephi and Lehi did PROCEED FROM THENCE TO GO TO THE LAND OF NEPHI.
Helaman 5:21: And it came to pass that they were TAKEN BY AN ARMY OF THE LAMANITES and cast into prison; yea, even in that same prison in which Ammon and his brethren were cast by the servants of Limhi.

Helaman 5:49: And there were about THREE HUNDRED SOULS who saw and heard these things; and they were bidden to go forth and marvel not, neither should they doubt.
Ok, let’s examine this… An army of probably less than 300 men (probably other people had gone to the prison to see to Lehi and Nephi’s execution), stationed at/ near the border of the two lands, next to a prison: does that sound strange?
Most nations, even in times of peace and no threatenings, still have standing armies.
Also, were the Lamanites following an earlier pattern found in Alma 18:2, we see that each minor Lamanite kingdom had their own army, and at this time, there were probably righteous Lamanites, and others who weren’t so–just the fact that they arrested Nephi and Lehi and then were going to kill them, lends credibility to this army not being righteous and peaceful.
What if there was also the threat of Nephite Gadianton robbers?
Also, at this time there were Nephite dissenters living in the lands. Though they were with the Lamanites, I doubt that the Lamanites completely trusted them.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
When we consider the obvious question of what language was used among the Lamanites, we learn nothing useful about “others.” No indication is given of the use of translators or of problems in communication resulting from language difference. When Lamanites and Nephites are described as talking or writing to each other, nothing is said or hinted about what tongue they used. Their dialects that had diverged separately from the Hebrew which Nephi and Laman shared back in Jerusalem, if still spoken centuries later, might have been similar enough to permit everyday communication (although conversations about conceptual topics like religion would fare worse).

****Maybe.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Note, however, that “the language of Nephi” which Mosiah 24:4 and 6 report as beginning to be taught by Nephite dissenters “among all the people of the Lamanites” was a writing system, not a tongue as such, which 6 makes clear.

**** Here’s the related text:
Mosiah 24:4: “And he appointed teachers of the brethren of Amulon in every land which was possessed by his people; and thus THE LANGUAGE OF NEPHI BEGAN TO BE TAUGHT AMONG ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE LAMANITES.
Mosiah 24:5: And THEY WERE A PEOPLE FRIENDLY ONE WITH ANOTHER; nevertheless they knew not God; neither did the brethren of Amulon teach them anything concerning the Lord their God, neither the law of Moses; nor did they teach them the words of Abinadi;
Mosiah 24:6 But THEY TAUGHT THEM THAT THEY SHOULD KEEP THEIR RECORD, AND THAT THEY MIGHT WRITE ONE TO ANOTHER.
Mosiah 24:7 AND THUS THE LAMANITES BEGAN TO INCREASE IN RICHES, AND BEGAN TO TRADE ONE WITH ANOTHER and wax great, and began to be a cunning and a wise people, as to the wisdom of the world, yea, a very cunning people, DELIGHTING IN ALL MANNER OF WICKEDNESS AND PLUNDER, EXCEPT IT WERE AMONG THEIR OWN BRETHREN.
It might SEEM that that is the case because of Mosiah 24:4 and 24:6, but here’s another way of looking at it:
Mosiah 24:6 does not make it clear that it was just the writing system; it could have also been a language AND a writing system.
Also, it does not say that the Amulonites taught the Lamanites to write the Nephite language; just to “keep their record” and so they could write each other. Why would the Amulonites teach the Lamanites to write in Nephite language so the Lamanites could keep their own records and write to other Lamanites? That would be very odd…
So it seems the Amulonites taught a writing system for the Lamanite language (which might have been borrowed from the Nephite language)–which doesn’t seem to exist before that, and which Mosiah 24:7 seems to support. (It seems to be saying that they not only taught them the language, but also some other cultural things–something any EFL teacher can relate to.)

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Whether speakers of “other” languages were present or involved we simply cannot say on the basis of the brief record. The dark skin attributed to the Lamanites has been interpreted by some readers of the Book of Mormon as indicating that Laman, Lemuel, and those of Ishmael’s family had mixed with “others” bearing darker pigmentation. The problem with that view is that the first mention of it is by Nephi himself (2 Nephi 5:21) shortly after the initial split in Lehi’s group. The abruptness of the appearance of this “mark” upon the Lamanites cannot be reconciled with genetic mixing with a resident population for that would have required at least a generation to become evident in skin coloring. Again, near the time of Christ those Lamanites “who had united with the Nephites” had the curse “taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites” (3 Nephi 2:15). The idea that those changes had a genetic basis is not sustainable. It is indeed possible that “others” who, we have seen, must have been nearby, were more heavily pigmented than the Nephites and they may have mixed with the Lamanites, but we cannot confirm this from statements in the record.

****Or they might have been more light-skinned, too, but since that doesn’t fit the hypothesis, shall we ignore it? ;)
Let’s see what else the Book of Mormon says:
“And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to THE MARK WHICH WAS SET UPON THEIR FATHERS, WHICH WAS A CURSE UPON THEM BECAUSE OF THEIR TRANSGRESSION AND THEIR REBELLION AGAINST THEIR BRETHREN, WHO CONSISTED OF NEPHI, JACOB, AND JOSEPH, AND SAM, who were just and holy men” (Alma 3:6).
“And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God SET A MARK UPON THEM, YEA, UPON LAMAN AND LEMUEL, AND ALSO THE SONS OF ISHMAEL, AND ISHMAELITISH WOMEN” (Alma 3:7).
“And this was done that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their destruction” (Alma 3:8).
“And it came to pass that WHOSOEVER DID MINGLE HIS SEED WITH THAT OF THE LAMANITES DID BRING THE SAME CURSE UPON HIS SEED” (Alma 3:9).
I believe John L. Sorenson is correct here–genetics truly is not the cause here when defined as the mixing of races to produce a mark on the seed (though genetics might contribute in some way). The curse first came upon Laman, Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women. Then, this curse is strong enough that no matter who mixes with them, the curse carries over to all the children. While it happens that the children of mixed races can be born dark, it is not likely that all the children will be like this. That is why you sometimes see both dark and light children from the same parents. But this curse made ALL the offspring dark. So by that last sentence, I’m not sure what John L. Sorenson is trying to say here: first he says it’s not genetics, then it might be? Or that even if the others were dark, we wouldn’t be able to tell, because the Lamanites were already dark.

posted by grego at 3:14 PM
2 Comments:
Edward Ott said…
Let me thank you for your articles on the book of mormon i have found them very interesting.
grego said…
You’re welcome!

2009, October 15

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 13: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT THAT NEPHITE RECORDS SHOULD NOT MENTION OTHERS EXPLICITLY by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.”
PART 13: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT THAT NEPHITE RECORDS SHOULD NOT MENTION OTHERS EXPLICITLY

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 13: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT THAT NEPHITE RECORDS SHOULD NOT MENTION OTHERS EXPLICITLY

John L. Sorenson:
Why the Nephite Record Does Not Comment on “Others”
Why, given the points we have been examining, didn’t Nephite historians mention “other” people more explicitly in their record? Several reasons may be suggested. First, note that the record does clearly mention the people of Zarahemla and the descendants of others who arrived with Mulek and even tells us that they outnumbered the Nephites by descent (see Mosiah 25:1). Yet these writers remain uninterested in the “Mulekites” as a group, not even offering a name for them in their entirety. The entire body of information on them would hardly occupy a single page in our scripture.
—-
****The name is “people of Zarahemla”.
And yet, the people of Zarahemla are clearly mentioned.
Look at the quizzical looks from anyone who reads the “Ox argument”. “I’ll mention lots of animals, and even hint/ say they are domesticated, but I won’t mention that we met people here that were tending them!” How likely??

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
This lack of concern has to do with the fact that the focus of the record is the Nephites. To the Nephite record keepers, all others were insignificant except as they challenged Nephite rulership.

****Of course the focus of the record is the Nephites. To the Nephite record keepers, that might have been somewhat true. To the Book of Mormon writers, not. The Zeniffites and Alma’s group weren’t threats to Nephite rulership. Neither were the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. Nor the repentant Zoramites. Etc.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Apparently the “Mulekites” never did so as a group unified by their origin.

****Right, they joined together instead of fighting–amazing thought, eh? This has been discussed at least once already.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Probably no such challenge occurred because they never saw themselves as a single group.

****No, it occurred because they joined, not fought (already discussed).

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
A comparison might be made to the descendants of the early American colonizing ship, the Mayflower; there is minor prestige in being a descendant of someone on that ship, but there has never been a Mayflower movement in our country’s politics.

****Right, because most are Americans, not Mayflowerites apart and separate and contending with America.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Similarly, it appears that no powerful origin account or belief system united those on the ship that brought Mulek (as there was for Nephites and Lamanites). Instead they only constituted a residual category of interest to us in historical retrospect. When there was challenge to Nephite control, it is said to have come from “dissenters,” or “Amlicites,” or “king-men,” some or all of whom might have been of “Mulekite” descent, but that fact was evidently incidental. No doubt a majority of the “Mulekites” went right on peacefully accepting domination by Nephite overlords, as Mosiah 25:13 makes clear.
—-
****How does this fit in with all the previous talk about dissenters of Mulekite origin, with Jaredite names, etc.? It doesn’t. Much speculation here…
How’s this for a “powerful origin account or belief system”:
Omni 1:15 Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon.
Omni 1:16 And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth.
Mosiah 25:2 Now there were not so many of the children of Nephi, or so many of those who were descendants of Nephi, as there were of the people of Zarahemla, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness.
Helaman 6:10 Now the land south was called Lehi and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south.
Helaman 8:21 And now will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem? But behold, this is not all–
Not bad, huh? Much better than the powerful origin account of the Lamanites, built on lies, probably changing a few times at the beginning…

“Peacefully accepting domination by Nephite overlords, as Mosiah 25:13 makes clear”–where’s that? Mosiah the bad man king, the OVERLORD!! Yes, of course! What does Mosiah 25:13 say? Here:
Mosiah 25:13 And now all the people of Zarahemla were numbered with the Nephites, and this because the kingdom had been conferred upon none but those who were descendants of Nephi.
Now where is that part about “Nephite overlords”, “domination”, etc.?
What about anywhere else in the Book of Mormon? Can we find “Nephite overlords” or “domination” elsewhere? Let’s see…
Omni 1:12 …Mosiah, who was made king over the land of Zarahemla; for behold, he BEING WARNED OF THE LORD THAT HE SHOULD FLEE out of the land of Nephi, and as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord should also depart out of the land with him, into the wilderness–
Omni 1:13 And it came to pass that HE DID ACCORDING AS THE LORD HAD COMMANDED HIM. And they departed out of the land into the wilderness, as many as would HEARKEN UNTO THE VOICE OF THE LORD; and they were LED BY MANY PREACHINGS AND PROPHESYINGS. And they were ADMONISHED CONTINUALLY BY THE WORD OF GOD; and they were LED BY THE POWER OF HIS ARM, through the wilderness UNTIL THEY CAME DOWN INTO THE LAND WHICH IS CALLED THE LAND OF ZARAHEMLA.
Omni 1:14 And they discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla. Now, **THERE WAS GREAT REJOICING AMONG THE PEOPLE OF ZARAHEMLA; and also ZARAHEMLA DID REJOICE EXCEEDINGLY, BECAUSE THE LORD HAD SENT the people of Mosiah with the plates of brass which contained the record of the Jews.
Omni 1:19 And it came to pass that THE PEOPLE OF ZARAHEMLA, AND OF MOSIAH, did UNITE TOGETHER; and MOSIAH WAS APPOINTED TO BE THEIR KING.
Any hint of “domination by Nephite overlords”? I don’t see any.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
What view of the Lamanites did the Nephites have that sheds light on the question of “others”? We may see a clarifying parallel to the Nephite-Lamanite relationship in how Mormons viewed “the Indians” in western America during the nineteenth century. Pioneer historical materials mention “Indians” about the same proportion of the time as the Nephite record mentions the “Mulekites,” that is, rarely. This was not because the natives were a mystery. On the contrary, Latter-day Saint pioneers had an explanation for “the Indians” which they considered adequate–they were generic “Lamanites.” With a few exceptions at a local level, no more detailed labelling or description was ever considered needed. Overall, “Indians”/”Lamanites” were of only occasional concern, as long as they did not make trouble. When they were a problem, the attention they received was, again, normally local. Periodic attempts to convert the Indians rarely had much practical effect, and this positive concern for them tended to be overwhelmed by the “practical” aim to put the natives in their (dominated) place. Wouldn’t the Nephites have dealt with their “Lamanites” about like the Latter-day Saints with theirs? (Notice the mixed message–hope for converting the benighted ones but tough military measures, too–familiar in early Utah history, found in Enos 1:14, 20, and 24.)
-=-=-=–
****What?!?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Thus Nephites in a particular area might have noted differences between one group or subtribe of “Lamanites” and another, while people who talked about the situation only from what they heard in the capital city would have generalized, with little interest in details.
—-
****Of course–though maybe not the “with little interest in details” part.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
For example, it is only in the detailed account of Ammon’s missionary travels that we learn that Lamoni and his people were not simply “Lamanites” in general but tribally distinct Ishmaelites inhabiting a region of their own (see Alma 17:19, 21).

****At least, we learn more about them.
Lamoni, though descended from Ishmael, also had a father who was king over all the Lamanites, so I’m assuming the big Lamanite king was Ishmaelite, too; Lamoni, the king’s son, was given a kingdom to rule over, under his father, which follows the established pattern of Lamanite rule at that time; nevertheless, Lamoni could have ruled over a place that was mostly Ishmaelites. (See Alma 18:9, 22:1)

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
At the level of concern of the keepers of the overall Nephite account, nevertheless, one “Lamanite” must have seemed pretty much equivalent to any other “Lamanite,” as Jacob 1:14 assumes. The Nephites’ generic category of “Lamanite” could have lumped together a variety of groups differing in culture, ethnicity, language, and physical appearance without any useful purpose being served, in Nephite eyes, by distinguishing among them.

****Jacob assumes that? Of course he doesn’t. He does generalize, and give broad definitions that are simple yet effective for his purposes. Like with the Nephites.
Yet Jacob also CLEARLY DEFINES THE LAMANITES ACCORDING TO TRIBES, and there aren’t any “others” there.
The Lamanites ARE sometimes distinguished, when it helps clarify things for the record:
Alma 22:28 Now, THE MORE IDLE PART OF THE LAMANITES LIVED IN THE WILDERNESS, and dwelt in tents; and they were spread through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore, and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers’ first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore.
Helaman 6:18 And now behold, those murderers and plunderers were a band who had been formed by Kishkumen and Gadianton. And now it had come to pass that there were many, even among the Nephites, of Gadianton’s band. But behold, they were more numerous AMONG THE MORE WICKED PART OF THE LAMANITES. And they were called Gadianton’s robbers and murderers.

-=-=-=-
John L. Sorenson:
(Of course the original records may have gone into more detail, but all we have is Mormon’s edited version of those, plus the small plates of Nephi.) A final reason why the scripture lacks more explicit mention of “others” may be that the writers did not want to waste space on their plates telling of things they considered obvious or insignificant. For example, they nowhere tell us that the Nephites made and used pottery. Any ancient historian would be considered eccentric if he had written, “And some of our women also made pottery.” To anyone of his time it would seem absurd to say so because “everybody knows that.” The obvious is rarely recorded in historical documents because it seems pointless to do so.

****Slight difference between pottery and other PEOPLE.
Anyway, let’s see how true this is: look at these sections of the Book of Mormon:
1 Nephi 18:24-25;
2 Nephi 5:15;
Jarom 1:8;
Mosiah 9:9;
Mosiah 10:4-5;
Mosiah 11;
Alma 1:29;
Alma 62:29;
Helaman 3:14;
Helaman 6:11-13;
3 Nephi 3:22;
Ether 2:1-3;
Ether 10:23-27.
Is John L. Sorenson’s point here true?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
“The people of Zarahemla,” “the Lamanites,” “the Amalekites,” and the like get mentioned in the Book of Mormon, not because of who they were but because of particular things they did in relation to the Nephites. They were historically significant actors in some ways at certain moments from a Nephite point of view. But neither Mormon nor any other Nephite writer would waste time and precious space on the plates by adding pointlessly, “Incidentally, there were some other bunches of people hanging around too.”

****Ok, so let’s assume that no space in the Book of Mormon is wasted, How much space would it have taken to leave out one line and write (or perhaps even in the margin somewhere): “There were Others in the land with us”??
If there were Others, there must be other reasons.

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 12: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR JAREDITE “OTHERS” by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.”
PART 12: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR JAREDITE “OTHERS”

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 12: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR JAREDITE “OTHERS”

John L. Sorenson:
The Lingering Jaredites
There is conclusive evidence in the Book of Mormon text that Jaredite language affected the people of Zarahemla, the Nephites, and the Lamanites. Robert F. Smith has pointed out that the term “sheum,” applied by a Nephite historian to a crop for which there was no Nephite (or English) equivalent (see Mosiah 9:9), “is a precise match for Akkadian (i.e. Babylonian) , which means ‘barley’ (Old Assyrian, ‘wheat’), the most popular ancient Mesopotamian cereal name.” Its phonetic form appropriately fits the time period when the Jaredites departed from the Old World. This plant was being grown among the Zeniffites in the land of Nephi. We have already seen that the “corn” emphasized among the Zeniffites had to have passed down from pre-Lehite people. Still another crop, “neas,” bears an untranslated plant name and is mentioned with corn and sheum, so it must also be of non-Nephite origin.
—-
*** These names occur in Mosiah 9:9, a time that follows the discovery and translation of Jaredite records. Thus, there is another perfectly fine explanation.
Why “must [it] also be of non-Nephite origin” for that reason? Is the assumption that everything Nephite was translatable, so if it wasn’t translated, it had to be Jaredite? Is that a necessarily true assumption?
(Does that mean that the untranslated animals mentioned with the Jaredites were there in the land, before the Jaredites arrived?)
It’s possible the Nephites brought them over. (Maybe they even discovered something to eat in the eight years in the wilderness…?) Maybe the plants were native to the Book of Mormon lands, and the Nephites gave them names. It’s possible the plants grew wild and were discovered and used by the Nephites. Etc. Possible? Yes. Likely? Not really.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The two names and three crops may be presumed to be of Jaredite origin and likely came down to the Nephites and Lamanites via the people of Zarahemla if not some more exotic intermediary population. There is also evidence from personal names that [show that] influence from the Jaredites reached the Nephites. Nibley identifies some of these and notes, “Five out of the six whose names [in the Nephite record] are definitely Jaredite [Morianton, Coriantumr, Korihor, Nehor, Noah, and Shiblon] betray strong anti-Nephite leanings.

**** After a quick search, these names are used by both Jaredites and Nephites (list from Book of Mormon; may be incomplete):
-Shiblon (Ether 1:11; Alma 11:15, Alma 31:7)
-Morianton (Ether 1:22; Alma 50:25, 30)
-Shiblom (Ether 13:30; Mormon 6:14)
-Gilgal (Ether 13:30; Mormon 6:14)
-Nehor (Ether 7:4, 9; Alma 1:15)
-Noah (Ether 7:14; King Noah in Mosiah)
-Coriantumr (Ether 8:4, etc. Here, though, Coriantumr was known to the Mulekites, and no mention of this name occurs among the Nephites before that time.)
In addition: Bible names mentioned in Ether: Seth, Aaron, Levi, Noah. However, since Bible names would have been known to the Nephites through the Brass Plates, they don’t seem to count in this discussion, so I doubt Noah was a Jaredite source name.
Do ANY of the Jaredite names appear in the Book of Mormon BEFORE the discovery of the Jaredite records? No–not one!
Are there people today in the church named Alma, Ammon, Nephi, Moroni, Jordan, etc.? Yes, even though these names are completely out of connection with the society these members live in, and are hardly related. Are there any people named Jonah, even though this character is negative in the Bible? Are there any people named Jezebel, or Judas? Does the name necessarily fit each time? If your parent names you Magus, does that mean that you personally believe in and follow Simon or the gnostics?
The comment by Nibley means the people with these names were mostly very wicked men, in which case, it seems much more likely that they would take the “Jaredite name” upon themselves as a new name or nickname or such to denote their wickedness/ anti-Nephite leanings (look at gang member names or Chinese name changes for better fortune), not that they were given that name at birth and then cultivated to become a wicked person to fulfill their name.
Which brings us to another problem–it would seem that one must assume that all the remaining Jaredites (if there were) were all wicked–now how in the world did THAT happen? If the Lord were to have spared any Jaredites at all, surely they would have been righteous ones, right?
(See also the arguments about Jaredites earlier in this paper.)
Is it possible they came down from the Mulekites? Sure. Any Babylonians/ Assyrians (Akkadian speakers/ “sheum”) among the Phoenicians? Maybe? Any need to get them from the Jaredites? No. The Book of Mormon says the Nephites brought seeds; does it say the Jaredites brought over seeds? No.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Their anti-Nephite bias may well reflect a viewpoint held by some among the people of Zarahemla or other groups of related origin that one of them, not any descendant of Nephi, ought by rights to be king.

****It might. Or perhaps of someone else.
It just seems a little strange to me that, while the introduction is given to the situation, and many negative things result from it, this split is never mentioned as the cause or reason, not even in the face of the king-men situation; and goodness knows, we could use that in these latter days, if that’s who Mormon was writing for. Yet in the Book of Mormon, many of the other times there are problems, especially those discussed in detail, reasons are given for the problem. Still, there might be something there…

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Nibley also emphasizes that terms in the Nephite system of money and grain measures described in Alma 11 “bear Jaredite names,” obvious examples being “shiblon” and “shiblum.” Can we tell how these foreign words came into use among the Nephites? One possibility is that Coriantumr learned enough of the language of the “Mulekites” in the nine final months of his life which he spent among them to pass on a number of words. Another possibility is that the terms came from Mosiah’s translation of Ether’s plates (see Mosiah 28:11-13, 17). But Alma 11:4 makes clear that the names of weights and measures were in use among the Nephites long before Mosiah had read Ether’s record.

****Yeah, right. Nine months, older, lost everything, and on the top of his mind is teaching this people measurements and grains… Ok, maybe. And yes, even though nine months is a drop in the ocean, language would not be needed to learn the names of those measurements and grains.
Sorenson comes to some very… interesting… conclusions based on the text. Let’s take a look at what Alma 11:4 really says: “Now these are the names of the different pieces of their gold, and of their silver, according to their value. And THE NAMES ARE GIVEN BY THE NEPHITES, for they did not reckon after the manner of the Jews who were at Jerusalem; neither did they measure after the manner of the Jews; but THEY ALTERED THEIR RECKONING AND THEIR MEASURE, according to the minds and the circumstances of the people, in every generation, UNTIL THE REIGN OF THE JUDGES, THEY HAVING BEEN ESTABLISHED BY KING MOSIAH.” It was King Mosiah–who had the Jaredite plates and their translations–who established them. Now, were the names and the reckoning and the measure changed too? Continuing reading, it says, “Now the reckoning is thus–a senine of gold, a seon of gold, a shum of gold, and a limnah of gold” (Alma 11:5)…”A senum of silver was equal to a senine of gold, and either for a measure of barley, and also for a measure of every kind of grain” (Alma 11:7).
Then, “Now this is the value of the lesser numbers of their reckoning–” (Alma 11:14)
“A shiblon is half of a senum; therefore, a shiblon for half a measure of barley” (Alma 11:15). It seems that the name of the reckoning is included.
Well, if the reckoning changes, then when in his reign did he do this? It sounds like he set it up for the new ruling of the judges (“until the reign of the judges”)–which means long after the records of the Jaredites were translated. King Mosiah could have seen the wisdom of and used the Jaredite system, including the names–that he had read about in the records–to establish the Nephite system, and found it easier to call them by their original names.
ONCE MORE, FIRST the Jaredite records, THEN the Jaredite names/ things.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
And the crop plants themselves, and especially the methods of cultivating them, must have come through real people, not through the pages of any book. Moreover we would not expect that a decrepit Jaredite king whose mind was on the history of his ancestors would have known about or bothered with such mundane matters as seeds and the names of weight units.

****Where does “decrepit Jaredite king whose mind was on the history of his ancestors” come from? After thinking about the phrase for a while, I imagine that John L. Sorenson is assuming that Coriantumr couldn’t have told the Mulekites about seeds and weight units in those nine months, and therefore someone else had to have done it. Well, that sounds somewhat ridiculous–that’s saying a king doesn’t understand the basic things of his own people; how likely would that be for them? Perhaps Sorenson is thinking about European king sons of king fathers? Being a king, one SHOULD know all these matters. Remember, the Jaredites didn’t have one long, peaceful, unbroken line of kings–thus the support of the common man was necessary for a king (or rebel), and how would one relate to the common man if nothing about the common man was known and understood? Especially if the rebel kings grew up in a large family in bondage…
And if Coriantumr of Ether 12 is the same one as in Ether 8:4, then we see that he probably spent the first part of his life in captivity, with his father, who was in captivity. What did these men do in captivity? Just sit around? I imagine hardly that. Train to be kings? Heck no. So in captivity, they might have learned about and done a lot more mundane things than one might imagine, including manual labor–such as farming, etc.
Also, there are the records.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The people who passed on workaday items like those would have been commoners. And if they had time and opportunity to pass on agricultural and commercial complexes, surely they would have communicated other cultural features as well, probably including cultic (“idolatrous”) items. The idea that part of the Jaredite population lived beyond the battle at the hill Ramah to influence their successors, the people of Zarahemla and Lehi’s descendants, is by no means new. Generations ago both B. H. Roberts and J. M. Sjodahl, for example, supposed that significant Jaredite remnants survived.

****Once more, somehow the Jaredite surviving remnants are wicked… : (
“Surely”–why must that be?
“Calling on the ancients” is, unfortunately, not a logical argument–it just means that someone else thought about this idea–or possibly had the wrong idea–first.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
So far four lines of evidence of Jaredite influence on their successors have been mentioned–the Coriantumr encounter, Jaredite personal names among the later peoples, three crops plus the names of two of them, and the names of certain Nephite weights and measures. A fifth type of evidence is the nature and form of secret societies. The Nephite secret combination pattern is obviously very similar to what had been present among the Jaredites. Was there a historical connection? It is true that Alma instructed his son Helaman not to make known to their people any contents of Ether’s record that might give them operating procedures for duplicating the secret groups (see Alma 37:27-29). A later writer says that it was the devil who “put into the heart” of Gadianton certain information of that sort (see Helaman 6:26). Yet an efficient alternative explanation of how the later secret groups came to look so much like those of the Jaredites is direct transmission of the tradition through survivors of the Jaredites to the people of Zarahemla and thus to Gadianton. This process probably would have been unknown to Alma or other elite Nephite writers, who must have had little to do directly with the mass of “Mulekite” folk. Support for the idea comes from a statement by Giddianhi, one-time “governor” of the Gadianton organization. Their ways, he claimed, “are of ancient date and they have been handed down unto us” (3 Nephi 3:9).

****Let’s examine this. This does happen often with gangs, for example. However, it is hard to imagine, and not necessarily so, that every secret society is connected to every other one through direct relations.
Once more, John L. Sorenson assumes that the surviving Jaredites were wicked people–not just wicked, but the most wicked people. How likely is that, in light of 3 Nephi 8-10 and Ether 13-15? God destroyed the righteous, and saved the wicked! There was no promise extended to them like to the Lamanites; but they were told they would be destroyed; were they?
We could, of course, actually believe that “the later writer says that it was the devil who “put into the heart” of Gadianton certain information of that sort”… nah, let’s pretend that’s not true so we can have some more support for our remaining Jaredites hypothesis!
Isn’t it more likely that the Brass Plates contained records about Cain and his society, as in the books of Genesis and Enoch? In fact, didn’t the Jaredites themselves get this secret society from the records brought with them (Ether 8:9)?
Heck, CAIN could be the connection to them all, and could have handed them down to them himself, with the explanation of who he was and where they had come from. I like that much better than, and think it more likely, than the “surviving Jaredites” hypothesis.
Or, this could be one of their traditions/ myths/ legends regarding their society, similar to the Masons nowadays, for example–you know, the more ancient and mysterious, the better they must be. Besides, it’s best for marketing a product to either be an “ancient Chinese secret” or the newest, most advanced thing there is. It’s either “Since 1894” or “Under New Management”.
Moroni says that secret combinations are all over, and pretty much the same. And the serious ones seem to be. Surely, no doubt, it must be, John L. Sorenson believes that surviving Gadianton robbers have traveled all over the world since 400 AD promoting their society for this to be the case…?

-=-=-=-
John L. Sorenson:
Where the Jaredites lived gives us another clue that more of them than Coriantumr alone must have interacted with the later people of Zarahemla or Nephites. It is commonplace for students of the geography of Book of Mormon events to suppose that the Jaredites dwelt only in the land northward. True, at one point in time centuries before their destruction, during a period of expansion, the Jaredite King Lib constructed “a great city by the narrow neck of land” (Ether 10:20). At that time it was said that “they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game” (21), but it is unlikely such a pattern of exclusive reserve could continue. The fact is that it makes no sense to build a “great city” adjacent to pure wilderness. Rather, we can safely suppose that, in addition to whatever limited area was kept as a royal game preserve, routine settlers existed southward from the new city and that they provided a support population for it. At the least there would have been peoples further toward the south with whom the city would trade whether or not they were counted as Lib’s subjects.

****What? I clearly miss the logical thinking here. “More of them than Coriantumr alone MUST HAVE interacted…” Why is that?
Why does it “[make] no sense”? Why can one “safely suppose”? Why would “routine settlers” have to have existed “southward from the new city” and “[provide] a support poulation for it”? The amount of imagination and speculation here makes my head spin…

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
As population grew over the nearly thousand years of Jaredite history after Lib’s day, more local settlements in parts of the land southward could have developed due to normal population growth and spread. Not all of those peoples would have shown up at the final slaughter at Ramah. Likely some of the survivors in the land southward became mixed with descendants of Mulek’s group, thus accounting for part of their “exceedingly numerous” force and, of course, the presence of corn, sheum, and neas.

****Why wouldn’t they have shown up? Any evidence for this?
“Likely”? How likely? Any strong evidence for this? Nope. I mean, no doubt the old king couldn’t have done it, but the remnant not only could, but did do it; huh?
Let’s see what the text says:
Ether 14:1 And now there began to be a great curse upon all the land because of the iniquity of the people, in which, if a man should lay his tool or his sword upon his shelf, or upon the place whither he would keep it, behold, upon the morrow, he could not find it, so great was the curse upon the land…
Ether 14:17 Now the name of the brother of Lib was called Shiz. And it came to pass that Shiz pursued after Coriantumr, and he did overthrow many cities, and he did slay both women and children, and he did burn the cities.
Ether 14:18 And there went a fear of Shiz throughout all the land; yea, a cry went forth throughout the land–Who can stand before the army of Shiz? Behold, he sweepeth the earth before him!
Ether 14:19 And it came to pass that the people began to flock together in armies, throughout all the face of the land.
Ether 14:20 And they were divided; and a part of them fled to the army of Shiz, and a part of them fled to the army of Coriantumr…
Ether 15:12 And it came to pass that THEY DID GATHER TOGETHER ALL THE PEOPLE UPON ALL THE FACE OF THE LAND, WHO HAD NOT BEEN SLAIN, SAVE IT WAS ETHER.
Ether 15:13 And it came to pass that Ether did behold all the doings of the people; and he beheld that the people who were for Coriantumr were gathered together to the army of Coriantumr; and the people who were for Shiz were gathered together to the army of Shiz.
Ether 15:14 Wherefore, they were FOR THE SPACE OF FOUR YEARS GATHERING TOGETHER THE PEOPLE, THAT THEY MIGHT GET ALL WHO WERE UPON THE FACE OF THE LAND, that they might receive ALL THE STRENGTH WHICH IT WAS POSSIBLE THAT THEY COULD RECEIVE.
Ether 15:15 And it came to pass that when they were ALL GATHERED TOGETHER, EVERY ONE to the army which he would, WITH THEIR WIVES AND THEIR CHILDREN–both MEN, WOMEN, AND CHILDREN BEING ARMED WITH WEAPONS OF WAR…
Hmmm… I’m not sure, but it seems to me, there is no Jaredite remnant!

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
But aside from the likely presence of Jaredite descendants incorporated into Zarahemla’s group, entirely separate peoples could also have resided within interaction range. Archaeological, art, and linguistic materials make clear that ethnic variety is an old phenomenon everywhere in tropical America where the Book of Mormon groups might have been located (mainline archaeologists who have not examined the literature on this topic continue generally to ignore that variety). Even Joseph Smith recognized such a possibility. He once “quoted with approval from the pulpit reports of certain Toltec legends which would make it appear that those people had come [to Mexico] originally from the Near East in the time of Moses.” And why not, Nibley continued? “There is not a word in the Book of Mormon to prevent the coming to this hemisphere of any number of people from any part of the world at any time, provided only that they come with the direction of the Lord; and even this requirement must not be too strictly interpreted,” considering the condition of the “Mulekites” after their arrival. A particularly interesting case of such external evidence involves a scene on a monument located at an archaeological site that I consider to be the prime candidate for the city of Mulek. As explained elsewhere, the site of La Venta in southern Mexico qualifies remarkably well as the city of Mulek. It was one of the great centers of Olmec civilization, whose distribution and dates remind us of Jaredite society. Stela 3 at La Venta is a basalt slab fourteen feet high and weighing fifty tons.21 It is thought to date to about 600 B.C., or a little later, at or just after the late Olmec (Jaredite?) inhabitants abandoned the site. Carved on the stone is a scene in which a person of obvious high social status, whose facial features look like those shown in some earlier Olmec art, confronts a prominent man who appears to a number of (non-Mormon) art historians like a Jew. This scene has been interpreted by archaeologists as a formal encounter between leaders of different ethnic groups. For instance, the late expert on Mesoamerican art, Tatiana Proskouriakoff, considered that Stela 3 shows “two racially distinct groups of people” and that “the group of the [Jewish-looking] bearded stranger ultimately gained ascendency.” She concluded, thus, that “the culture of La Venta [thereafter] contained a strong foreign component.” Latter-day Saints may wonder whether Mulek or some other person in his party might even be represented on Stela 3, considering the date and the location at a site very suitable to have been the “city of Mulek.” At the least we see that ethnic and cultural variety existed in Mesoamerica where and when we would expect evidence of Mulek’s group to show up.

****It’s a possible idea, as far as I can tell.
I’m missing “the city of Mulek” in my Book of Mormon…?
Let’s take a look at the text:
Ether 11:20: “And in the days of Coriantor there also came many prophets, and prophesied of great and marvelous things, and cried repentance unto the people, and except they should repent the Lord God would EXECUTE JUDGMENT AGAINST THEM TO THEIR UTTER DESTRUCTION;
Ether 11:21: And that the Lord God would SEND OR BRING FORTH ANOTHER PEOPLE TO POSSESS THE LAND, BY HIS POWER, AFTER THE MANNER BY WHICH HE BROUGHT THEIR FATHERS.”
The Lehites. Nevertheless…

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 11: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR “OTHERS” BASED ON NEPHITE AND MULEKITE LANGUAGE by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.”
PART 11: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR “OTHERS” BASED ON NEPHITE AND MULEKITE LANGUAGE

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 11: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT FOR “OTHERS” BASED ON NEPHITE AND MULEKITE LANGUAGE

John L. Sorenson:
Evidence from Language
What Mosiah’s record tells us about the language used by the people of Zarahemla deserves attention in this connection. “Their language had become corrupted” (Omni 1:17), the Nephite account says. Certain historical linguists have done a great deal of work on rates of change of languages, written and unwritten, and in both civilized and simpler societies. What they have learned is that “basic vocabulary” changes at a more or less constant rate among all groups. Even though this general finding needs qualification when applied to specific cases, we can be sure that in the course of the three or four centuries of separation of the people of Zarahemla from Mosiah’s group, because they once spoke the same tongue in Jerusalem, their separate versions of Hebrew would have remained intelligible to each other. But the text at Omni 1:18 says that they could not communicate until Mosiah “caused that they should be taught in his language.” There are only two linguistically sound explanations why this difference should be: (1) the “Mulekite” group might have spoken more than one language and Zarahemla’s people had adopted something other than Hebrew; since we do not know the composition of the boat’s crew nor of the elite passengers, we cannot know what to think about this possibility; (2) but more likely, one or both peoples had adopted a different, non-Hebrew language learned from some “other” people after arrival.

Brant Gardner:
Another of John L. Sorenson’s indications of the presence of “others” relies on an understanding of language change; most readers of the Book of Mormon would be unaware of these issues. Our Sunday School lessons certainly point out that the Mulekites had lost their language, but what those lessons do not explain is that this would have been rather unlikely. Languages do change, but they are not “lost” without the outside influence of another language that becomes more dominant and replaces the lost language. John L. Sorenson does not miss this bit of information but indicates that the study of historical linguistics has revealed a basic rate of change for the same language that develops in two independent locations in which the two populations are unable to communicate (see p. 83). The rate of change from the time of the departure from the Old World for either the Mulekites or Nephites to the time of the arrival of Mosiah and his people in Zarahemla is insufficient to create mutually unintelligible languages, as is clearly the case in the Book of Mormon. Once again, we have a feature of the Book of Mormon that could not represent society accurately unless we understand that “others” were present and interacted with the Book of Mormon populations.

****”but more likely…”
Upon what solid reasoning is that choice “more likely”?
“We can be sure…” Well, I can be sure of one thing: John L. Sorenson is probably misleading the reader, again.
Once again, something that might be “unlikely”, is shown as “impossible”.
Where in the Book of Mormon does it say that “the Mulekites had lost their language”?
“Once again…” in addition to where else? Let’s see if that statement is true, about accurately respresenting society…
Let’s see what it says in Omni 1:17:
“And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and THEIR LANGUAGE HAD BECOME CORRUPTED; and THEY HAD BROUGHT NO RECORDS WITH THEM; and they denied the being of their Creator; and MOSIAH, NOR THE PEOPLE OF MOSIAH, COULD UNDERSTAND THEM.”
First, note that it does not say that they could not “communicate”–it says that the language had been corrupted, and that they could not be understood by the Nephites.
Let’s step back a second and think… We are unaware of the languages that might have come with Mulek/ been in Mulek’s group. John L. Sorenson touches on this, then drops it. Why? Because it is actually a strong explanation for what happened. Languages mix, and… voila! Especially if the people lived in small villages or groups, or if families were to speak different languages in the homes, this would have easily set up a corruption/ pidgin language system. This has been shown to happen in just one generation (a study done in Hawaii; see “A Language for All Our Children”). The record shows roughly about 330 years, maybe even up to around 470 years.
Or, they could have divided into family or language groups, and then had the “many wars and serious contentions” between the groups/ among themselves; who won, what language might have come out on top, what mixing might have occurred?
The people of Zarahemla (“Mulekites”) had no records with them. A big advantage of having records, a writing system, is to maintain a language, especially if oral tradition talent lacks (memorization and recitation of very long poems, etc.).

Here is what the Book of Mormon says about records:
1 Nephi 4:14 And now, when I, Nephi, had heard these words, I remembered the words of the Lord which he spake unto me in the wilderness, saying that: Inasmuch as thy seed shall keep my commandments, they shall prosper in the land of promise.
1 Nephi 4:15 Yea, and I also thought that they could not keep the commandments of the Lord according to the law of Moses, save they should have the law.
1 Nephi 4:16 And I also knew that the law was engraven upon the plates of brass.
Well, Lehi could have just written the important ones down, right? It seems not…
Here’s another part:
Mosiah 1:2 And it came to pass that he had three sons; and he called their names Mosiah, and Helorum, and Helaman. And he caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers, that thereby they might become men of understanding; and that they might know concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers, which were delivered them by the hand of the Lord.
Mosiah 1:3 And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, saying: MY SONS, I WOULD THAT YE SHOULD REMEMBER THAT WERE IT NOT FOR THESES PLATES, which contain these records and these commandments, WE MUST HAVE SUFFERED IN IGNORANCE, even at this present time, NOT KNOWING THE MYSTERIES OF GOD.
Mosiah 1:4 For IT WERE NOT POSSIBLE THAT OUR FATHER, LEHI, COULD HAVE REMEMBERED ALL THESE THINGS, TO HAVE TAUGHT THEM TO HIS CHIDLREN, EXCEPT IT WERE FOR THE HELPF OF THESE PLATES; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore HE COULD READ THESE ENGRAVINGS, AND TEACH THEM TO HIS CHILDREN, that thereby THEY COULD TEACH THEM TO THEIR CHILDREN, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time.
Mosiah 1:5 I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even OUR FATHERS WOULD HAVE DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.
And another part;
Mosiah 24:4 And he appointed teachers of the brethren of Amulon in every land which was possessed by his people; and thus THE LANGUAGE OF NEPHI BEGAN TO BE TAUGHT AMONG ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE LAMANITES.

Mosiah 24:6 But they TAUGHT THEM THAT THEY SHOULD KEEP THEIR RECORD, AND THAT THEY MIGHT WRITE ONE TO ANOTHER.
Mosiah 24:7 AND THUS THE LAMANITES BEGAN TO INCREASE IN RICHES, and began to trade one with another and wax great, and began to be a cunning and a wise people, as to the wisdom of the world…
It’s true that this all talks about the records and a knowledge of God; but, is that all?

It is very likely that the language of a small group, of probably mixed first (and possibly other) language, without writing, will become corrupted over 400 years. While the Nephites could not understand them, the Mulekites seem to have learned very quickly, which leads me to think that the language was not so badly corrupted. It’s possible that there was a situation where the Mulekite language understood the Nephite language better than vice-versa (I believe some related languages have a much easier time understanding another, than vice-versa: Bulgarian/ Russian, French/ Spanish, etc.). Especially if it was the pronunciation that had been corrupted, the language could be learned very quickly. (Hey, I couldn’t understand my mission president for a while just because of the way he pronounced two common words!) If the pronunciation of some basic syllables were the main change or corruption, that could well account for why the Nephites couldn’t understand them, yet the Mulekites could quickly learn the language.
It seems that the Nephite language doesn’t change much, over all that time. If Nephi’s group were so small, and there were many “Others” in the land that they mingled with, especially from the very beginning, how is it that Nephite language didn’t change, as the verses imply?
The language of the Lamanites changes, but they didn’t have any written records, and writing was lost (if ever had?) at least by the time of Amulon and the priests of Noah:
Mosiah 24:4 And he appointed teachers of the brethren of Amulon in every land which was possessed by his people; and thus THE LANGUAGE OF NEPHI BEGAN TO BE TAUGHT AMONG ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE LAMANITES…
Mosiah 24:6 But they TAUGHT THEM THAT THEY SHOULD KEEP THEIR RECORD, AND THAT THEY MIGHT WRITE ONE TO ANOTHER.
Mosiah 24:7 AND THUS THE LAMANITES BEGAN TO INCREASE IN RICHES…
Can anyone think of anything else, or any other reason or possible explanation? How much do unwritten languages change, compared to written ones, when there is no oral tradition or history or anything to memorize, and there were no learned ones to keep the standard? What happens to language when only two people raise a large family?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The people of Zarahemla are more likely to have made a change than the Nephites, yet both could have done so.

****Is there any logical reason behind why that would be?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The text does not clarify the point. Considering that the “Mulekites” were present in the land in time to encounter Coriantumr, perhaps some unmentioned Jaredite survivor groups were also discovered and were involved in linguistic change among the newcomers.

****And perhaps not…

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
If Mulek arrived via a single ship with only a tiny party, they would have been a minority in the midst of those with whom they associated and so became subject to losing their original speech to the larger host group even if they came to rule over the locals.

****At times it’s argued like this, and other times the Nephite ruling elite are separated from the commoners; which is it; just whatever is convenient for the argument? “Even if they came to rule” would actually help the purity of the language a lot more–their children wouldn’t likely be running around with other children.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Although the scripture does not tell us much about the languages used among the peoples it reports, the topic is significant if we attempt to make connection with languages known from modern scholarly sources. In whatever region in America we place Book of Mormon lands, we find that numerous tongues were being spoken when Columbus arrived. Probably on the order of 200 existed in Mesoamerica alone. As modern languages have been analyzed, comparisons made, and histories reconstructed, it has become clear that the ancient linguistic scene was also complex. The differences between those languages and their family groupings are so great that no plausible linguistic history can be formulated which relies on Book of Mormon-reported voyagers as a sole original source tongue. The mere presence of Hebrew speech in Mesoamerica has yet to be established to the satisfaction of linguistic scholars, although there is significant preliminary indication.

****Were the Nephites and Lamanites isolated, then their languages would have had no bearing or relationship to any of the languages spoken there–at all.
Why would Mulek’s tiny group have so drastically changed its language because of “Others”, yet Lehi’s tiny group, and after the split, with Nephi’s and Laman’s even tinier groups, wouldn’t?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
As with the dicultural or archaeological record, that from linguistics cannot accommodate the picture that the Book of Mormon gives us of its peoples without supposing that “others” were on the scene when Lehi’s group came ashore.

****This has been discussed above.
Or they were “on the scene” after, or in the lands around them but not having any connection with Lehi’s group, or if the land were separated from Mesoamerica, or… Where’s the direct and necessary connection between the Book of Mormon peoples and these peoples? Or does John L. Sorenson just assumes from the archeological record that is just had to be that way?

2009, October 14

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.” PART 10: CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT THAT THE AMLICITES WERE MULEKITE “OTHERS” by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael Ash, etc.”
PART 10: CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT THAT THE AMLICITES WERE MULEKITE “OTHERS”

by grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 10: CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT THAT THE AMLICITES WERE MULEKITE “OTHERS”

John L. Sorenson:
Further reason to see variety among the “Mulekites” is provided by the Amlicites (see Alma 2). In their rebellion against being ruled by the Nephites, they mustered a large rebel force, about the same size as the loyal Nephite army. They “came” from some distinct settlement locality of their own (surely from downriver) to challenge Alma’s army.

****Whoah, pardner! A man wants to be king. (I can’t find “surely from downriver” in my Book of Mormon; would Sorenson like to provide a reference?)
Let’s look at the story:
Alma 2:1: “And it came to pass in the commencement of the fifth year of their reign there began to be a contention AMONG THE PEOPLE; for a certain man, being called Amlici, he being a very cunning man, yea, a wise man as to the wisdom of the world, HE BEING AFTER THE ORDER OF THE MAN THAT SLEW GIDEON BY THE SWORD, who was executed according to the law–
Alma 2:2: Now this Amlici had, by his cunning, DRAWN AWAY MUCH PEOPLE AFTER HIM; even so much that they began to be very powerful; and THEY began to endeavor to establish Amlici to be a king over the people.
Alma 2:3: Now THIS WAS ALARMING TO THE PEOPLE OF THE CHURCH, and also to all those who HAD NOT BEEN DRAWN AWAY AFTER THE PERSUASIONS OF AMLICI; for they knew that according to their law that such things must be established by the voice of the people.
Alma 2:5: And it came to pass that THE PEOPLE ASSEMBLED THEMSELVES TOGETHER THROUGHOUT ALL THE LAND, EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS MIND, whether it were FOR OR AGAINST AMLICI, in separate bodies, HAVING MUCH DISPUTE AND WONDERFUL CONTENTIONS ONE WITH ANOTHER.
(If they were physically/ geographically separated by a long distance, how could they have “much dispute and wonderful contentions one with another”?)
Alma 2:8: …but Amlici did stir up those who were in his favor to anger against those who were not in his favor.
Alma 2:9: And it came to pass that THEY GATHERED THEMSELVES TOGETHER (now, at this time–not before, not already a group from “up the river” or wherever), and did consecrate Amlici to be their king.
Alma 2:10: Now when Amlici was made king over them he commanded them that they should take up arms AGAINST THEIR BRETHREN; and this he did that he might subject them to him.
Alma 2:11: Now the people of Amlici were distinguished by the name of Amlici, being called Amlicites; and the remainder were called Nephites, OR THE PEOPLE OF GOD. (Here the distinction is people of “God vs. rebels”, not ethnic groups, etc.)
ONCE MORE, John L. Soreson has manipulated or misread or misunderstood the scriptures to support his thinking; he says something, the scriptures say otherwise.

-=-=-=
John L. Soreson:
There can be little question, it seems to me, that they constituted a numerous population with their own history and cultural features whom the intruding Nephite elite ruled only with difficulty. These Amlicites may have been broadly categorized together with “the people of Zarahemla,” although residing at a distance from the city of Zarahemla and so never headed by the chief whom Mosiah encountered and coopted. The Amlicites, like Ammon and the Zeniffites, seem not to have traced any connection with Mulek but set themselves apart only under their current leader’s name, Amlici. Perhaps they were a local group or set of groups derived in part from Jaredite ancestry or perhaps from ancestors other than Mulek who arrived with his party.
The “king-men” of later days may have been composed of the same societal elements but without a leader equivalent to Amlici to confer on them a (his) distinctive name. The king-men, too, inhabited a distinct region, for when Moroni “commanded that his army should go against those king-men,” they were “hewn down” and compelled to fly the “title of liberty” standard “in their cities” (Alma 51:17-20). This language confirms that they, like the Amlicites, had a base territory of their own and that it was a significant distance from the city of Zarahemla. Again, quite surely, it lay downriver.

****Again, I can’t find any of this in the Book of Mormon: most all of these statements here are plain speculation.
When you rebel like this, you usually gather to fight. Did they start out all in the same spot, or gather? It seems clear that they had to gather when they rebelled.

-=-=-=
John L. Soreson:
Mulek’s party likely settled first at “the city of Mulek,” which was on the east coast very near the city Bountiful. During some period between the first landing of the Mulek party and Zarahemla’s day, the descendants of the immigrants became “exceedingly numerous”–enough to engage in “many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time” (Omni 1:17). The departure of Zarahemla’s faction upriver was plausibly a consequence of those wars. From the thumbnail sketch of their history in Omni we cannot tell much, but their becoming “exceedingly numerous” under such difficult pioneer circumstances sounds as unlikely on the grounds of natural increase alone as when the same expression was applied to the early Lamanites (see below). It is likely that they too incorporated “others” into their structure, probably seizing control, or trying to seize control, over relatively disorganized Jaredite remnants they encountered. Perhaps the wars in which they became involved stemmed initially from the militarized chaos they may have found reverberating among those remnants following the “final” battle between the armies of Shiz and Coriantumr.

****”City of Mulek”… hmm, can’t find that in my Book of Mormon, can anyone? There is no connection or need to first become “exceedingly numerous” in order to be “enough to engage in wars and contentions and die. And that isn’t what the Book of Mormon sets up as a connection, either.
There is no “departure of Zarahemla’s faction” in my Book of Mormon, either.
Once more, John L. Sorenson ignores the Book of Mormon text on the population situation.
“It is likely that they too incorporated “others” into their structure, probably seizing control, or trying to seize control, over relatively disorganized Jaredite remnants they encountered.” Wow, this is really getting out there in nowhere land… Also completely missing, and unsupported by the Book of Mormon text.

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” PART 9: CRITIQUE OF ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS BASED ON THE MULEKITES by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article ‘When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?’ by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.”

PART 9: CRITIQUE OF ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS BASED ON THE MULEKITES

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 9: CRITIQUE OF ARGUMENT FOR OTHERS BASED ON THE MULEKITES

John L. Soreson:
The People of Zarahemla
The people of Zarahemla keep turning up when we consider possible “others.” Characterizing them adequately is difficult because of the brevity of the Nephite-kept record, which is, of course, our only source about them. Elsewhere I have presented a rather comprehensive body of data and inference about them. But my special concern now is the question of unity or variety in the composition of this element within Nephite society. How uniform a group was that immigrating party? It is very likely that non-Jews were in the crew of the vessel that brought Zedekiah’s son Mulek to the New World (see Omni 1:15-16). A purely Israelite crew recruited in the Palestine homeland would have been possible during some periods, but at the time Mulek’s party left, all the Mediterranean ports of the kingdom of Judah were in Babylonian hands. Most likely the crew of the ship (there could have been more than one, of course) were “Phoenician,” itself a historical category that was by no means homogeneous. Significant cultural, linguistic, and biological variety could have been introduced into American Book of Mormon populations through such a mixed crew, about which, unfortunately, the text tells us nothing.

****”Unfortunately” seems to be tempting …
In fact, it’s very possible; but is this really “Others”?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Our cryptic record tells of only one segment, those descendants from that shipload who ended up centuries after the landing under one Zarahemla. When Mosiah, the leader of the Nephites who had come from the land of Nephi, reached Zarahemla’s city, he is not reported to have stood in the way of Mosiah’s becoming king over the combined people. He put up no claim to royal descent himself, nor was he ever called a king. The name “the people of Zarahemla” carries their political standing no farther back than this living man. The fact that no ancestral name was applied to their city except that of the current leader, Zarahemla, indicates that they had no long history as a political entity. Probably they had not arrived in the area of the city of Zarahemla long before Mosiah found them, or at least the place had been insignificant enough that no one earlier than Zarahemla had named it. (Later Nephite custom named settlements after “him who first possessed them”; Alma 8:7.)

****Naming occurs earlier in the Book of Mormon, though maybe in a different way: the land of Nephi (1 Nephi 5:8). Then in Alma 2:20, there’s this: “…in the valley of Gideon, THE VALLEY BEING CALLED AFTER THAT GIDEON WHO WAS SLAIN BY THE HAND OF NEHOR WITH THE SWORD…”, later confirmed in Alma 6:7: “…Alma…went over upon the east of the river sidon, into the valley of Gideon, there having been a city built, which was called THE CITY OF GIDEON, which was in the valley that was called Gideon, BEING CALLED AFTER THE MAN WHO WAS SLAIN BY THE HAND OF NEHOR WITH THE SWORD.”

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
They or their ancestors had come “up” the river to that spot from the eastern lowland area where they had earlier lived (see Alma 22:30-31). Furthermore, this area they now inhabited was small. When King Benjamin later called the assembly where he named his son as his successor, the call reached the entire area concerned in a single day (see Mosiah 1:10, 18). Zarahemla’s group could only have been one part of those descended from Mulek’s party. No single ethnic label is applied in the record to everybody from the original ship, one hint of their diversity or disunity.
—-
****If I’m not mistaken, “No single ethnic label” is clearly given to groups in the Book of Mormon. So what significance would this mean, or what hint would this be?
I also doubt “Zarahemla’s group could only have been one part of those descended form Mulek’s party”–why so?
Interesting thinking, in light of Omni 1:17 And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, THEY HAD BECOME EXCEEDINGLY NUMEROUS. Perhaps there’s another reason…

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Had all descendants of the immigrant party remained together as a single society, they would probably have been referred to by a single name, something like “Mulekites.” (Latter-day Saints use that term as equivalent to the people of Zarahemla although it never occurs in the text; I usually put it in quotation marks to make clear that it is not an ancient term.) The statement that there had been “many wars and serious contentions” among those descendants underlines the lack of a unified history for them which is evident from the lack of a single name.

****Speculation with nothing in the text or otherwise supporting this. Once more, this goes back to the “people of Nephi” false premise argument.
Why does the “statement that there had been ‘many wars and serious contentions’ among those descendants” underline “the lack of a unified history for them which is evident from the lack of a single name”? Are you assuming, incorrectly, that any nation that has many wars and serious contentions lacks a unified history? Goodness gracious, a FAMILY can have many wars and serious contentions, and they are just a family. A unified history, and a single name, DO NOT necessarily lead to unity, and vice-versa.
This is probably also why there aren’t as many as one would expect, as mentioned in the immediately previous section–not because they had all broken up into splinter groups.
Also, just because the word “Mulekites” doesn’t appear, doesn’t mean it wasn’t an ancient term.
(Out of curiosity, where did the term “Mulekites” come from?)

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Another statement in the record impinges on this matter. When Mosiah 25:2 speaks of the subjects ruled by Mosiah, it contrasts two categories of the population. The first is, of course, “the children of Nephi … who were descendants of Nephi,” that is, apparently, those who had arrived in the land of Zarahemla guided by the first King Mosiah. The second category is itself composite: “the people of Zarahemla, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness” (Omni 1:13-14). Two readings of this statement make equal sense. If the comma after “Mulek” was inserted correctly (initially by the printing crew, who did most of the punctuation for the first English edition), then the meaning would be that the “Mulekites” consisted of people whose ancestors included both Mulek and others, “those who came with him.” But an alternative reading would be possible if the comma after “Mulek” should be omitted; in that case, Zarahemla himself would be represented as descended from both Mulek and others of Mulek’s party. I take the former meaning and suppose that other groups than Zarahemla’s coexisted with them (though apparently not at the capital, the city of Zarahemla). This may be part of the reason the man Zarahemla is nowhere called king–because he had political authority only over one of those groups springing from the Mulek party and that one very localized. Consequently a lesser title–something like “chief”–would have fitted him better. But the Nephite kings proceeded to extend their rule over a greater area. At least by the day of Mosiah 2, the borders of the greater land of Zarahemla had been greatly expanded compared with Benjamin’s time. I consider it likely that the expansion of their domain over the territory between the city of Zarahemla and the original settlement spot of the “Mulekites,” probably the city of Mulek located near the east coast, came to incorporate additional settlements of “those who came with him into the wilderness” but who had had no political connection with chief Zarahemla.

****Most of this is all major speculations, unfounded on the text, and as such, not worth commenting much on. One may speculate as much as one wants, but one begins to wonder, when the previous many speculations were shown to have major problems with the text, what new thing will the new speculations in the same vein bring?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
More evidence that the people of Zarahemla were not a unified group who followed a single cultural tradition can be seen in Ammon’s encounter with Limhi. The Zeniffite king reported to Ammon that not long before, he had sent an exploring party to locate Zarahemla, but, it turned out, they reached the Jaredite final battleground instead. At the point when Limhi told about that expedition, Ammon was oddly silent on one related point. Since he was himself “a descendant of Zarahemla” (Mosiah 7:13), we might have anticipated that he would recall Coriantumr, the final Jaredite king as described for us in Omni 1:20-22. Why did Ammon not remember that chief Zarahemla’s ancestors had this dramatic tradition of an earlier people, the Jaredites, who occupied the land of Desolation and who became extinct except for this wounded alien ruler who lived among the Jewish newcomers for nine months?

****Who knew it would have been the same place? I’ll bet many people reading the Book of Mormon don’t put the two together for the first (or second or tenth) time.
And is that central to the story, or a minor tangent?
“King Zarahemla” could also just as well been used here in place of “chief Zarahemla”.
(What happened to the “many leftover Jaredites” theory here?)

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Surely he would immediately have related the twenty-four gold plates and the corroded artifacts to the tradition to which Limhi referred. Instead, Ammon seems as ignorant of Coriantumr as Limhi was. This suggests that different segments of the “Mulekite” population did not all share the same traditions.

****”Surely”? Nope. “Suggests”? Nope.
Once more, assumptions and speculations.
John L. Sorenson assumes that warrior/ scout/ group leader Ammon is intelligent, learned, and able to make connections, even when the pieces he is working with are very unclear, and in a new, exciting situation.

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” PART 8: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION OF THE NEPHITES DUE TO OTHERS by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.”

PART 8: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION OF THE NEPHITES DUE TO OTHERS

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 8: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION OF THE NEPHITES DUE TO OTHERS

John L. Sorenson:
The social, political, ethnic, and language relationships involved in this business are not straightforward, to say the least. An analysis of the terminology applied to peoples in the Book of Mormon could reveal useful information on this subject. This is not the place to do that fully, but the approach can be sketched and some of the results anticipated. References to the key people of the record vary: (1) “Nephite(s)” or “the Nephites” occurs 339 times; (2) “people of the Nephites,” 18 times; (3) “people of Nephi,” 4 times; (4) “children of Nephi,” twice, and (5) “descendants of Nephi,” twice. Usage of the second and third expressions gives us something to ponder about the composition of the people referred to. The meaning of the first expression is made clear early by Jacob when he says, “those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites.” Then he continues the definition in an interesting way: “… or the people of Nephi, according to the reigns of the kings” (Jacob 1:14). A few lines earlier Jacob had reported that when Nephi anticipated his own death, he had designated “a [successor] king and a ruler over his people … according to the reigns of the kings… . And whoso should reign in his stead were called by the people, second Nephi, third Nephi, and so forth, according to the reigns of the kings; and thus they were called by the people, let them be of whatever [personal] name they would” (Jacob 1:9, 11). Jacob here makes clear that his definition of “Nephites, or the people of Nephi” hinges on political allegiance to a king, a king who always bore the title “Nephi.” This definition does not depend at all on whether “Nephites” were or were not literal descendants from Nephi, nor whether they had Sam, Jacob, Joseph, or Zoram, the founding fathers of the group, among their ancestors. In fact Jacob’s terminology may refer to the original father Nephi only indirectly. What he says in 11, where the term “Nephites” is first used, is that those classified under that term were simply all who were ruled by the existing monarch, the current “Nephi.” No reason is evident to me to believe that in the 338 usages after Jacob begins the practice that “Nephite(s)” means anything else. It is essentially a sociopolitical, not an ethnic or linguistic, label. Cases where the text reports that political allegiance changed are consistent with this notion. Thus the children who had been fathered, then abandoned, by the renegade priests of Noah chose to “be numbered among those who were called Nephites” (Mosiah 25:12). That is, when they came under the sovereignty of the current head of the Nephite government, they both gave their allegiance to him and changed their group label to “Nephites.”

****”No reason is evident to me to believe that in the 338 usages after Jacob begins the practice that “Nephite(s)” means anything else.” Wow. Three hundred and thirty-eight times, and it all means the same exact thing? Was this checked, or assumed? I won’t check it, and I seriously doubt that anyone else checked it. However, Jacob 1:13–two verses later–seems to immediately show that this theory isn’t very strong. Then, for example, see 4 Nephi 1:36, 37; Mormon 1:8, 9. Once more, we see who makes up the “Nephites”. And all the other names mean something different? That was checked too? Nope (we’ll see later on).

It is interesting to note that King Mosiah, though king of the Nephites, was not named “Nephi”; neither his son Benjamin, nor Benjamin’s son Mosiah. And this was before the mixing with the people of Zarahemla.

Out of curiosity, how come “people of Laman” is not used in the Book of Mormon, when they at least had the Almaite slaves? Would the Almaite slaves have counted as the “people of Laman”?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
In a parallel case earlier, “all the people of Zarahemla were numbered with the Nephites, and this because the kingdom had been conferred upon none but those who were descendants of Nephi” (Mosiah 25:13). Conversely, when Amlici and his followers rebelled against Nephite rule and “did consecrate Amlici to be their king,” they took a unique group name to mark the political rebellion, “being called Amlicites” (Alma 2:9). Meanwhile “the remainder”–those loyal to Alma, the continuing official ruler–“were [still] called Nephites” (Mosiah 25:11). Again, when the Zoramites transferred allegiance from the Nephite government to the Lamanite side, they “became Lamanites” (Alma 43:4, 6). We see, then, that the Nephites constituted those governed by the ruling “Nephi,” who was always a direct descendant of the original Nephi. But the label does not of itself convey information about the ethnic, linguistic, or physical characteristics or origin of those called Nephites. It is true that the name “Nephites” sometimes connotes those who shared culture, religion, and ethnicity or biology. But every rule-of-thumb we construct that treats the Nephites as a thoroughly homogeneous unit ends up violated by details in the text. Variety shows through the common label, culturally (e.g., Mosiah 7:15; Alma 8:11-12), religiously (e.g., Mosiah 26:4-5 and 27:1; Alma 8:11), linguistically (e.g., Omni 1:17-18), and biologically (e.g., Alma 3:17, note the statement concerning Nephi’s seed “and whomsoever shall be called thy seed”; Alma 55:4). “Nephites” should then be read as the generic name designating the nation (see Alma 9:20) ideally unified in a political structure headed by one direct descendant of Nephi at a time. Even more indicative of social and cultural variation among the Nephites is the usage by their historians of the expression “people of the Nephites.” It connotes that there existed a social stratum called “the Nephites” while another category was “people” who were “of,” that is, subordinate to, those “Nephites,” even while they all were under the same central government and within the same broad society. Limhi was ready to accept such a second-class status for his people, the Zeniffites, and assumed that the dependent category still existed as it apparently had when his grandfather had left Zarahemla (see Mosiah 7:15).
The Amulonites operated a similar system in the land of Helam, where they held Alma’s group in effective serfdom (see Mosiah 23:36-39 and 24:8-15). (At the same time the privileges of the Amulonites themselves were at the sufferance of the Lamanite king, as shown in Mosiah 23:39; power in Lamanite society was also heavily stratified.)

****On the other hand, all this could be explained like this: I am American, from America, from the US, from the USA, from the States, one of the people of America, etc. Is anything usually meant by any one of those terms, to differentiate it from the others? No. So, must the writers have necessarily been differentiating anything? Are we looking too hard for something that doesn’t exist? Is the typical, general American a certain way? Maybe. Is every American that way? Of course not.

I would ask the reader to consider this passage in light of “Nephites” and “people of Nephi” definition proposals given above by John L. Sorenson, and see if it makes any sense whatsoever:
Mosiah 25:1 AND now king Mosiah caused that all the people should be gathered together.
Mosiah 25:2 Now there were not so many of THE CHILDREN OF NEPHI, OR SO MANY OF THOSE WHO WERE DESCENDANTS OF NEPHI, as there were of THE PEOPLE OF ZARAHEMLA, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness.
Mosiah 25:3 And there were not so many of THE PEOPLE OF NEPHI and of the people of Zarahemla as there were of THE LAMANITES; yea, they were not half so numerous.
Mosiah 25:4 And now all THE PEOPLE OF NEPHI were assembled together, and also all THE PEOPLE OF ZARAHEMLA, and THEY WERE GATHERED TOGETHER IN TWO BODIES.
Mosiah 25:5 And it came to pass that MOSIAH did read, and caused to be read, the records of Zeniff TO HIS PEOPLE; yea, he read the records of the people of Zeniff, from the time they left the land of Zarahemla until they returned again.
I think it’s clear that the proposed distinction is false–king Mosiah did not gather his people (wait–I thought they were “the people of Nephi”, not the people of Mosiah!?)–the lower class–together with the people of Zarahemla (whoops, not Zarahemlaites)–is this a special “lower class”/ people of Nephi/ people of Zarahemla meeting with the king, while the REAL members of society stayed home?–and read them the records. And there are other places in the Book of Mormon where the definitions don’t match up. THUS, IT’S SAFE TO ASSUME THAT THE MAJORITY OF THE FURTHER ARGUMENTS BASED ON THIS LINE OF THINKING ARE ALL INCORRECT. In logic, if you start with false premises, the result will also very likely be false/ incorrect.

“We see, then, that the Nephites constituted those governed by the ruling “Nephi,” who was always a direct descendant of the original Nephi.”
Um, John L. Sorenson just said that “‘the remainder’–those loyal to Alma, the continuing official ruler–‘were [still] called Nephites’ (Mosiah 25:11)”–did I miss that Alma’s name was Nephi?
Mosiah 25:13 “And now all the people of Zarahemla were numbered with the Nephites, and this because the kingdom had been conferred upon NONE BUT THOSE WHO WERE DESCENDANTS OF NEPHI.”
Where does the Book of Mormon say that “the ruling ‘Nephi'” “was always a DIRECT descendant of the original Nephi”?

“Violations” of the meaning are clearly noted; never, however, is a violation mentioned that is caused by “others”. This should make one think…

“It connotes that there existed a social stratum called “the Nephites” while another category was “people” who were “of,” that is, subordinate to, those “Nephites,” even while they all were under the same central government and within the same broad society.”
If this can be shown by the text, I am ready to listen. Where is evidence of and support in the Book of Mormon text for this statement of differentiation? (The Amulonites doesn’t count, really, huh?)
King Limhi says:
Mosiah 7:15 For behold, we are in bondage to the Lamanites, and are taxed with a tax which is grievous to be borne. And now, behold, our brethren will deliver us out of our bondage, or out of the hands of the Lamanites, and we will be their slaves; for it is better that we be slaves to the Nephites than to pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites.
I am missing any hint at all that king Limhi believes that such a system exists among the Nephites. Can you imagine that someone like Nephi and those that followed him had slaves? :( However, let’s say there were slaves, or bondsmen, or indentured servants, or people paying off debt or crimes, or something that could be termed “slave”; or that it was a contract among the less righteous Nephites. Would that be that ALL slaves were OTHERS who were the people of Nephi, and “NEPHITES” were “real” Nephites? In other words, only Others could be slaves, and none of the slaves were true Nephites? How possible is that? (Maybe the Nephites captured slaves when they attacked other peoples and won??)

We see that this system might have existed; we also read this:
Alma 27:8: And the king said unto him: yea, if the Lord saith unto us go, we will go down unto our brethren, and WE WILL BE THEIR SLAVES until we repair unto them the many murders and sins which we have committed against them.
Alma 27:9: But Ammon said unto him: IT IS AGAINST THE LAW OF OUR BRETHREN, WHICH WAS ESTABLISHED BY MY FATHER, THAT THERE SHOULD BE ANY SLAVES AMONG THEM; therefore let us go down and rely upon the mercies of OUR BRETHREN.

So does the term “people of Nephi” occur AFTER king Mosiah II? If so, that would seem to really put the steam out of that argument. And yes, it does. Many, many times. So what, the freed slaves were still a lower class of others that never mixed in?

However, to assume that “Nephites” and “people of Nephi” means those things, is a big step with no evidence backing it. Once more, where in the text…?

What might have happened? The Mulekites (who joined with king Mosiah I) might have had slaves, NOT the Nephites themselves originally; yet, joining with the Nephites and being called Nephites, and the slaves not immediately freed, the Nephites (read “Mulekites who became Nephites”) would have had slaves, and then perhaps a few Nephites; later, king Mosiah II made slavery against the law.
The Zeniffites would have left from this time period when the Mulekites and Nephites were joined, but before Mosiah II had changed the law.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Generally, similar stratification is evident in the account of the Zoramites where the powerful segment succeeded in expelling those of the deprived poorer element who did not toe the line (see Alma 32:2-5; 35:3-7).
—-
****Why would the poor Zoramites want to join the Nephites, if they were only to join in as poor slaves? Just to be able to worship in sanctuaries? But hadn’t they just been taught by Alma and Amulek that true worship didn’t require sanctuaries?
Part of the problem with dissident/ segment groups was their changing of the Nephite laws, as we see in this example, as also with the people of Ammonihah. This is an example of it. These are not mainstream Nephites!

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The dominance of a powerful Nephite establishment over subordinate groups is shown dramatically in Mormon 2:4. There we read that Nephite armies under Mormon “did take possession of the city” of Angola, obviously against the resistance of the local, nominally “Nephite” inhabitants. Hence, some were more Nephite than others, in a sense.

****Why John L. Sorenson believes it is “obviously against the resistance of the local, nominally “Nephite” inhabitants”, based on the text, is a mystery to me. The text offers no evidence for that.
And yet, when talking about Amulek, John L. Sorenson did not explore this option.

It is true that “take possession” and “obtained possession” can mean a change in powers, and “took command” mean to switch leaders of the same team:
Alma 52:24 “…And while Teancum was thus leading away the Lamanites who were pursuing them in vain, behold, Moroni commanded that a part of his army who were with him should MARCH FORTH INTO THE CITY, AND TAKE POSSESSION OF IT.”
Alma 52:25 “And thus THEY DID, AND SLEW ALL THOSE [LAMANITES] who had been left to protect the city, yea, all those who would not yield up their weapons of war.”
Alma 52:26 “And thus Moroni had OBTAINED POSSESSION OF THE CITY MULEK WITH A PART OF HIS ARMY…”
Alma 53:2 “And MORONI WENT TO THE CITY OF MULEK WITH LEHI, AND TOOK COMMAND OF THE CITY AND GAVE IT UNTO LEHI…”
In the context of cities, Mosiah 23:29, Alma 43:22, 47:8, 51:23, 26, 30, 52:13, 55:24, 58:21, 28, 61:18, Helaman 1:20, Mormon 4:2, 7, 13, all support “take/ taking possession” meaning one side taking it from an opposing side.
Alma 2:25,
Alma 50:29 Therefore, Morianton put it into their hearts that they should flee to the land which was northward, which was covered with large bodies of water, and take possession of the land which was northward.
Alma 62:6 And thus, when Moroni had gathered together whatsoever men he could in all his march, he came to the land of Gideon; and uniting his forces with those of Pahoran they became exceedingly strong, even stronger than the men of Pachus, who was the king of those dissenters who had driven the freemen out of the land of Zarahemla and had taken possession of the land.
Alma 62:7 And it came to pass that Moroni and Pahoran went down with their armies into the land of Zarahemla, and went forth against the city, and did meet the men of Pachus, insomuch that they did come to battle.
Alma 62:8 And behold, Pachus was slain and his men were taken prisoners, and Pahoran was restored to his judgment-seat.
Alma 62:11 And thus ended the thirtieth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi; Moroni and Pahoran having restored peace to the land of Zarahemla, among their own people, having inflicted death upon all those who were not true to the cause of freedom.
3 Nephi 4:1 AND it came to pass that in the latter end of the eighteenth year those armies of robbers had prepared for battle, and began to come down and to sally forth from the hills, and out of the mountains, and the wilderness, and their strongholds, and their secret places, and began to take possession of the lands, both which were in the land south and which were in the land north, and began to take possession of all the lands which had been deserted by the Nephites, and the cities which had been left desolate.
Alma 27:26 And it came to pass that it did cause great joy among them. And they went down into the land of Jershon, and took possession of the land of Jershon; and they were called by the Nephites the people of Ammon; therefore they were distinguished by that name ever after.
In Helaman 1:33, we read that:
“…Moronihah TOOK POSSESSION of the city of Zarahemla AGAIN, and caused that the Lamanites who had been taken prisoners should depart out of the land in peace”.
Mormon 4:2
Mormon 4:8 And it came to pass that they were repulsed and driven back by the Nephites. And when the Nephites saw that they had driven the Lamanites they did again boast of their own strength; and they went forth in their own might, and took possession again of the city Desolation.
“Took possession” is not really clear here, because of the death of the chief judge, but fortunately the word “again” in the verse supports my answer.
Nephihah, the second chief judge, died, having filled the judgment-seat with perfect uprightness before God.
Alma 50:38 Nevertheless, he had refused Alma to take possession of those records and those things which were esteemed by Alma and his fathers to be most sacred; therefore Alma had conferred them upon his son, Helaman.
Alma 63:1 And it came to pass in the commencement of the thirty and sixth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, that Shiblon took possession of those sacred things which had been delivered unto Helaman by Alma.

So, here’s a little of what the Book of Mormon says in Mormon 2:
Mormon 2:4: And it came to pass that we did come to the city of Angola, and WE DID TAKE POSSESSION OF THE CITY, and make preparations to defend ourselves against the Lamanites. And it came to pass that WE DID FORTIFY THE CITY WITH OUR MIGHT; but notwithstanding all our fortifications THE LAMANITES did come upon us and did drive us out of the city.

“And it came to pass that we did gather in OUR PEOPLE as fast as it were possible, that we might get them together in one body” (Mormon 2:7).
“But behold, THE LAND WAS FILLED WITH ROBBERS AND WITH LAMANITES; and notwithstanding the great destruction which hung over my people, they did not repent of their evil doings; therefore there was BLOOD AND CARNAGE SPREAD THROUGHOUT ALL THE FACE OF THE LAND, BOTH on the part of THE NEPHITES and also on the part of THE LAMANITES; and it was ONE COMPLETE REVOLUTION THROUGHOUT ALL THE FACE OF THE LAND.” (Mormon 2:8).
It likely means just what it says: Moroni, fleeing to an area that was previously far from the battlefront and not prepared for war, took over the Nephite city–that is, put it under military command, and relieved the civil leader(s) of defense duties, and possibly civil duties (martial law) over the city. Had he had privileges or the voice of the people to do this (as the previous Moroni often had), this is completely fine. Why would righteous Mormon usurp authority from an “other” “lower” people (and then possibly kick them out of their own city,) who were already “Nephites”, then gather in “real” Nephites who were somehow all around in the same/ nearby area? Mormon plain wouldn’t have done it, especially if it were an non-warring city of stranger Nephites. Isn’t class distinction spoken about in the Book of Mormon? Isn’t this “Charity” Mormon?
Wait… wouldn’t these other people be Lamanites, as per the definition that all these Others authors promote: those not friendly to the Nephites, or something like that? Or did Mormon take possession of the city because the people gave it up to him so he could help them survive?

Does this theory–that Mormon 2:4 shows lesser Nephites–make sense? The only possible way it would make sense, is if another people had first taken it from the Nephites, and Mormon was just taking back what was lawfully theirs, or if this people were evil and God told him to do it/ etc. Which would make them not Nephites, but another people. So there is that possibility, but it seems pretty remote.

And when there were Nephites, Lamanites, and robbers all over the land in a state of extreme random violence, how did this lesser “people” survive? It’s hard to imagine that, at this time, a smaller, lesser group of people, especially one unfriendly to the Nephites, could have survived the robbers and the Lamanites, but then be overtaken by the Nephites.

When speaking about Amalickiah, it says:
Alma 47:31 “And it came to pass on the morrow HE ENTERED THE CITY NEPHI WITH HIS ARMIES, AND TOOK POSSESSION OF THE CITY.”
Alma 47:33 “Therefore, when the queen had received this message she sent unto Amalickiah, desiring him that he would spare the people of the city; and she also desired him that he should come in unto her; and she also desired him that he should bring witnesses with him to testify concerning the death of the king.”
Amalickiah, already on the Lamanite side and the leader of the Lamanite army, “took possession” of the Lamanite capital! How could that possibly be? Easy–he is not the civil ruler. I believe that this once more supports my view.

Also, this seems to be a pattern in this war of Mormon with the Lamanites.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
A socially complex society is also reflected in Alma’s expression, “all [God’s] people who are called the people of Nephi” (Alma 9:19).

****Well, this interpretation might be one possibility, though I find that a hard way to interpret it. That’s a very blurry reflection, at best. How about, “God has a lot of people, and the people of Nephi are some of them.” Wow, there you go! No “socially complex society” because of Others needed… Wait, where is the connection between a “socially complex society” and Others?
Let’s see about these verses, where Alma is speaking to the people of Ammonihah. The people of Ammonihah (at least some, though it seems like most or all is more like it) were
1. not of the church at that time (Alma 8:12);
2. studied to destroy the liberty of Alma’s people (geographic or religious?) (Alma 8:17), which was
3. unlawful, both civily and in the sight of God (Alma 8:17).
Yet, Alma, speaking to them, asks them to REMEMBER: “the tradition of your fathers” and “the commandments of God” (Alma 9:8); how God led “OUR FATHER, LEHI” out of Jerusalem and through the wilderness (Alma 9:9); how God had “delivered OUR FATHERS out of the hands of their enemies, and preserved them from being destroyed, even by the hands of THEIR OWN BRETHREN (Alma 9:10). Alma then continues to differentiate the Ammonihahites from the Lamanites, and instead group them with the Nephites (see Alma 9:18-24), linking them–once more–to the complete Nephite history in the process.
Let’s look at verses 18 and 19 again:
Alma 9:18 “But behold, I say unto you that if ye persist in your wickedness that your days shall not be prolonged in the land, for the Lamanites shall be sent upon you; and if ye repent not they shall come in a time when you know not, and ye shall be visited with utter destruction; and it shall be according to the fierce anger of the Lord.”
Alma 9:19 “For he will not suffer you that ye shall live in your iniquities, to destroy his people. I say unto you, Nay; he would rather suffer that the Lamanites might destroy ALL HIS PEOPLE WHO ARE CALLED THE PEOPLE OF NEPHI, if it were possible that they could fall into sins and transgressions, after having had so much light and so much knowledge given unto them of the Lord their God;”
So what else could this mean? God will not allow the Nephite apostates and seditionists to follow and fulfill their plan to destroy his people, but would rather leave that task to the Lamanites.
Though it might sound simplistic and strained, the Lord also has other people in other lands.
Alma could also have meant for the Ammonihahites to remember that they were Nephites, too, and that the prophecy still held to them, even though they had separated themselves from the Nephites; the prophecy wasn’t just for the “other” Nephites. Which “other” Nephites? The ones the people of Ammonihah were going to try to destroy.
And the Lamanites did destroy the people of Ammonihah.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
This subordination and potential variety within the society seem to me plainer in the expression “the people of the Nephites” than in the more usual “Nephites.” If we look closely, then, it seems that we can detect in the “nation” centered at Zarahemla an ability to incorporate social and ethnic variety greater than the title “Nephites” may suggest on surface reading. Also of interest is a statement by the judges in Zarahemla to Nephi when he prophesied the destruction of the Nephites because of wickedness. At Helaman 8:6 they reply, “we are powerful, and our cities great, therefore our enemies can have no power over us.” The surprising thing is that nominally the Nephites and Lamanites were at this time in an unprecedented condition of peace (see Helaman 6:34-37). So who were the “enemies” those Gadianton-linked judges had in mind?

****I think that the fact that they were at peace for so long led them to believe that the Lamanites didn’t attack because they feared them.
Helaman 3:17: And now I return again to mine account; therefore, what I have spoken had passed after there had been great CONTENTIONS, AND DISTURBANCES, AND WARS, AND DISSENSIONS, AMONG THE PEOPLE OF NEPHI.

Helaman 3:19: And it came to pass that there WAS STILL GREAT CONTENTION IN THE LAND, yea, even in the forty and seventh year, and also in the forty and eighth year.

Look at Italy in the late 1200’s/ early 1300’s.

These wicked judges might have easily called the Lamanites “enemies”–though converted, there were still two lands and a long history of war and hatred.

It is also possible that there was at least contention, if not war, with the people in the land northward, who at that time were wicked:
“And it came to pass that many of the Lamanites did go into the LAND NORTHWARD; and also Nephi and Lehi went into the land northward, TO PREACH UNTO THE PEOPLE. And thus ended the sixty and third year” (Helaman 6:6).
“For he had been forth among the people who were in THE LAND NORTHWARD and did preach the word of God unto them, and did prophesy many things unto them;” (Helaman 7:2)
“And they DID REJECT ALL HIS WORDS, insomuch that he could not stay among them, but returned again unto the land of his nativity” (Helaman 7:3).

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Could they have been non-Lamanites (rival secret groups?), some of whose descendants in the final period of Nephite history constituted a third, non-Lamanite force (see Mormon 2:10, 27)?

****There is nothing I see in Mormon 2:10, 27 that even implies this coming of the Gadianton robbers into the Nephite lands from a different place, if this is what is meant. All the references to the Gadianton robbers/ secret societies in the Book of Mormon (including Ether) relate them to the Nephites and Lamanites only.
Not only that, but Nephi was preaching against the Gadianton robbers, who had obtained sole management of the government and had many followers (Helaman 6:39; 7:4, 21, 25).
Additionally, when Nephi is rejected and then there is a war, it is among the Nephites, not the Nephites versus “others” (Helaman 10:18). We read a few verses later that it is really the Nephites versus the “secret band of robbers” (Helaman 11:1, 2)–the Gadianton robbers”, who were “amongst them” (Helaman 11:10).

2009, October 3

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” PART 7: A Critique of the Argument of Ammon’s Party to King Limhi in Mosiah 7 by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.”

PART 7: A Critique of the Argument of Ammon’s Party to King Limhi in Mosiah 7

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 7: A Critique of the Argument of Ammon’s Party to King Limhi in Mosiah 7

John L. Sorenson:
The incompleteness of our picture of social and population history is further shown in the story of the entry of Ammon’s party to Zeniffite King Limhi’s territory. The Nephite explorers stumbled upon the king outside the walls of his beleaguered city, Lehi-Nephi, and were rudely seized and thrown into prison. Only after two days did they get a chance to identify themselves and explain their presence. We might have supposed that their cultural status as Nephites and strangers, if not their protestations (was there a language problem?) would have alerted Limhi and his guards as to their identity–Nephites from Zarahemla. Had the initial encounter gone as we might have thought, Ammon’s belated explanation (see Mosiah 7:13) and Limhi’s surprise when Ammon finally got through to him (see Mosiah 7:14) would both have been short-circuited. Why were Ammon and company not recognized immediately as Nephites? Was their costume and tongue or accent so much different than what Limhi’s people expected of a Nephite that this put them off? Ammon was a “descendant of Zarahemla” (Mosiah 7:13), a point that he emphasized in his introduction to the king. Does this mean that he somehow looked different than a “typical” Nephite? Or had the Zeniffites had encounters with other non-Nephite types in their area which might have prompted Limhi’s cautious reception? And what personal relationship had Ammon to the Zeniffites, after all? As a person descended from Zarahemla, that is, a “Mulekite,” why did he refer to Zeniff’s presumably Nephite party as “our brethren” and show them so much concern that he would lead this arduous expedition to find out their fate?

****Let’s take a look at what the Book of Mormon says, perhaps once more instead of searching through the haystack, the answer is out in open sight:
Mosiah 21:19 And the KING HIMSELF DID NOT TRUST HIS PERSON WITHOUT THE WALLS OF THE CITY, unless he took his guards with him, FEARING THAT HE MIGHT BY SOME MEANS FALL INTO THE HANDS OF THE LAMANITES.
Mosiah 21:20: And he caused that his people should watch the land round about, that by some means they might TAKE THOSE PRIESTS THAT FLED INTO THE WILDERNESS…
Mosiah 21:21: For they were desirous to take them that they might punish them; for THEY HAD COME INTO THE LAND OF NEPHI by night, and carried off their grain and many of their precious things; THEREFORE THEY LAID WAIT FOR THEM.
Mosiah 21:23: AND THE KING HAVING BEEN WITHOUT THE GATES OF THE CITY WITH HIS GUARD, DISCOVERED AMMON AND HIS BRETHREN; and SUPPOSING THEM TO BE PRIESTS OF NOAH THEREFORE HE CAUSED THAT THEY SHOULD BE TAKEN, AND BOUND, AND CAST INTO PRISON…
Mosiah 21:24: But when he found that they were not, BUT THAT THEY WERE HIS BRETHREN, AND HAD COME FROM THE LAND OF ZARAHEMLA, he was filled with exceedingly great joy.
Mosiah 21:25: Now king Limhi had sent, previous to the coming of Ammon, a small number of men to search for the land of Zarahemla; but they could not find it, and they were lost in the wilderness.
Mosiah 21:26: Nevertheless, they did find a land which had been peopled; yea, a land which was COVERED WITH DRY BONES; yea, A LAND WHICH HAD BEEN PEOPLED AND WHICH HAD BEEN DESTROYED; and they, HAVING SUPPOSED IT TO BE THE LAND OF ZARAHEMLA, returned to the land of Nephi, HAVING ARRIVED IN THE BORDERS OF THE LAND NOT MANY DAYS BEFORE THE COMING OF AMMON.

So, the reason king Limhi was happy to see them: he had thought that Zarahemla had been destroyed, but found out that it, and his brethren, still existed. We also see that King Limhi thought that Ammon and his brethren were the priests of Noah; in other words, Ammon and his brethren were, in appearance, just like the priests of Noah–which is why he threw them in prison. Had there been a language problem, maybe king Limhi would have been alerted to their being non-priests.
Remember, not that much time had passed between the leaving of King Zeniff and this reunion.

Why did Ammon lead the party? Likely it was his job as a military leader. Or perhaps for pay:
Mosiah 7:1 And now, it came to pass that after KING MOSIAH had had continual peace for the space of three years, HE WAS DESIROUS TO KNOW concerning the people who went up to dwell in the land of Lehi-Nephi, or in the city of Lehi-Nephi; for HIS PEOPLE had heard nothing from them from the time they left the land of Zarahemla; therefore, THEY WEARIED HIM WITH THEIR TEASINGS.
Mosiah 7:2 And it came to pass that KING MOSIAH GRANTED THAT SIXTEEN OF THEIR STRONG MEN might go up to the land of Lehi-Nephi, to inquire concerning their brethren.
Mosiah 7:3 And it came to pass that on the morrow THEY STARTED to go up, having with them ONE AMMON, HE BEING A STRONG AND MIGHT MAN, and a descendant of Zarahemla; and HE WAS ALSO THEIR LEADER.
Also, the Zeniffites had been gone a while and no one had heard about them, and the first time Zeniff went to the Lamanite lands, there was an argument in the wilderness over what to do, and lots of blood was shed; perhaps his being a descendant of Zarahemla would help in some way with this.

2009, October 2

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” PART 6: A Critique of the Argument for Others: “I am a Nephite” in Alma 8:20 by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.”
PART 6: A Critique of the Argument for Others: “I am a Nephite” in Alma 8:20

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 6: A Critique of the Argument for Others: “I am a Nephite” in Alma 8:20

John L. Sorenson:
An odd bit of behavior involving the younger Alma on his teaching tour seems to alert us to the presence of “others” at the city of Ammonihah. At that time this was a rather remote part of the land of Zarahemla in the direction of the west sea and the narrow neck of land. At first discouraged at the hostile reception he received, Alma departed, only to be ordered back by an angel (see Alma 8:14-17). When he returned he asked food of a stranger. This proved to be Amulek, whose odd reply was, “I am a Nephite” (Alma 8:20). Why would he say that? Wasn’t it obvious? Clearly Amulek had recognized Alma as a Nephite, either by his speech, his appearance, or perhaps the way he had referred to God when he opened the conversation. But to what other social or ethnic category might Amulek have belonged? His abrupt statement makes sense only if most of the people of the place were not Nephites and also if Amulek’s characteristics did not make it already apparent to Alma that he was a Nephite.

****”I am a Nephite” (Alma 8:20):
First of all, the city of Ammonihah was a Nephite city–by rule. Everyone there was a Nephite/ under Nephite rule. If one were to only admit the use of “Nephite” as a political one, as sometimes seems to be the case while reading some articles, then there is a bigger problem here than originally thought.

Let’s take a look at the situation at Ammonihah: the people of Ammonihah (at least some, though it seems like most or all is more like it) were:
1. strongly under the spirit of Satan (and Alma seemed to have understood this before going there);
2. not of the church at that time (Alma 8:12);
3. studied to destroy the liberty of Alma’s people (political or religious?) (Alma 8:17), which was
4. unlawful, both civilly and in the sight of God (Alma 8:17).
They might have been under Nephite rule but very resentful of it, and thus the studying to get out from under it, or take over the rule, or whatever. Perhaps they were a group of semi-dissenters who had followed their leader, Ammonihah.

Is it possible that they were mainly Mulekites, or another people? It doesn’t seem so–while Alma, speaking to them, asks them to REMEMBER: “the tradition of your fathers” and “the commandments of God” (Alma 9:8), he then asks them to remember how God led “OUR FATHER, LEHI” out of Jerusalem and through the wilderness (Alma 9:9); how God had “delivered OUR FATHERS out of the hands of their enemies, and preserved them from being destroyed, even by the hands of THEIR OWN BRETHREN (Alma 9:10). Alma then continues to differentiate the Ammonihahites from the Lamanites, and instead group them with the Nephites (see Alma 9:18-24), linking them–once more–to the complete Nephite history in the process.

Let’s look at verses 18 and 19 again:
We see from Alma’s experiences there that they already didn’t fear to break the laws of the land–the local judge ordered people killed, especially for just believing the word of God, and it happened according to his word.
So, Amulek might have been stressing that one who hated Nephites, or a true dissenter, or one of those very involved in the study of overthrow, or, perhaps in the best words, one who was a “true Ammonihahite” would have thrown Alma out; but he, Amulek, was a “true Nephite”–one who wanted to be faithful to the traditions and commandments of his father, Nephi, and/ or one who put the Nephites above the Ammonihahites–that is, country over city. In particular, remember that Amulek’s reply was to this question of Alma:
“And as [Alma] entered the city he was an hungered, and he said to a [Amulek]: Will ye give to an humble servant of God something to eat?” (Alma 8:19)
Saying he was a Nephite in this context seems to say something about the spiritual side of life, not otherwise.
The following seems to support this, too:
Alma 10:2: I AM AMULEK; I am the son of Giddonah, who was the son of Ishmael, who was a descendant of Aminadi; and it was the same AMINADI who INTERPRETED THE WRITING which was upon the wall of the TEMPLE, which was WRITTEN BY THE FINGER OF GOD.
Alma 10:3: And AMINADI was a DESCENDANT OF NEPHI, WHO WAS THE SON OF LEHI, WHO CAME OUT OF THE LAND OF JERUSALEM, who was a descendant of MANASSEH, WHO WAS THE SON OF JOSEPH WHO WAS SOLD INTO EGYPT BY THE HANDS OF HIS BRETHREN.” In other words, Amulek was a straight and true descendant of Nephi–this was of lineage, not of the people of Nephi, nor political. It seems that by using this term, he implies that he is no stranger to the gospel and church, and therefore should know of spiritual things. (In Alma 10:6, Amulek says: “Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, FOR I WAS CALLED MANY TIMES AND I WOULD NOT HEAR; therefore I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God, in the wickedness of my heart…) Similarly, Mormon says this: “And I, Mormon, BEING A DESCENDANT OF NEPHI, (and my father’s name was Mormon) I remembered the things which Ammaron commanded me.” (Mormon 1:5) Mormon somehow relates being a descendant of Nephi with remembering Ammaron’s commands. Mormon also writes: “Behold, I make an end of speaking concerning this people. I am the son of Mormon, and MY FATHER WAS A DESCENDANT OF NEPHI.” (Mormon 8:13) These all seem to imply the same thing: that being a descendant of Nephi brought up memories of Nephi and who he was and who he stood for–God and his gospel.

What if a prophet went to a group of apostates in Utah, and he met a guy who said: “I am a Mormon.” Somewhat similar, I would imagine.

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” PART 5 by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.”
PART 5 Critique of the Argument: “Many of them are our brethren” in Alma 31:35
grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 5: Critique of the Argument: “Many of them are our brethren” in Alma 31:35

John L. Sorenson:
Internal Variety among the Nephites
We are not left only to supposition and inference in this matter. There are statements in the Nephite record that positively inform us that “others” were on the scene and further passages that hint at the same thing.

****We will see how “positively” we are informed in just a moment.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
One of these statements occurs during the visit by Alma and his seven companions to the Zoramites. “Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites” (Alma 31:8). As Alma prayed about this group, he said, “O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren” (Alma 31:35). We may wonder about those whom they considered not their “brethren.” Apparently he was speaking of those who were neither Nephites, Lamanites, nor “Mulekites.” People in all those three categories are referred to in the text by Nephites as “brethren” (see, for example, Mosiah 1:5 and 7:2, 13 and Alma 24:7-8).

****Here John L. Sorenson says that we must limit usage based on the text, yet in other circumstances when it’s not convenient, we needn’t do so. Unless the text seems pretty clear that one interpretation is to be held, by multiple usage in multiple circumstances, there is no need to be extrememly strict.
We must also see if there are other times when other definitions of “brethren” are used–and yes, there are!

It’s easy for me to see in this verse that “brethren” means they were church members/ former church members who had dissented and joined nonmembers to live as Zoramites. IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE.
We read in Alma 31:8 that “Now the Zoramites were dissenters from the Nephites; therefore THEY HAD HAD THE WORD OF GOD PREACHED UNTO THEM.” It’s quite reasonable, and likely, that the previous members who left the church and the major group of Nephites mixed with nonmembers and the two groups became the Zoramites; it’s difficult to imagine that every member of the Zoramites had been previous members of the church of Christ. Amulek, in Alma 34:2, says: “MY BRETHREN, I think that it is impossible that ye should be ignorant of the things which have been spoken concerning the coming of Christ, who is taught by us to be the Son of God; yea, I KNOW THAT THESE THINGS WERE TAUGHT UNTO YOU BOUNTIFULLY BEFORE YOUR DISSENSION FROM AMONG US.”

In another instance, with the people living in Ammonihah, we see that:
Alma 14:1: “And it came to pass after he had made an end of speaking unto the people many of them did believe on his words, and BEGAN TO REPENT, AND TO SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES.
Alma 14:8: And they brought their WIVES AND CHILDREN TOGETHER, AND WHOSOEVER BELIEVED OR HAD BEEN TAUGHT TO BELIEVE IN THE WORD OF GOD they caused that they should be cast into the fire; and THEY ALSO BROUGHT FORTH THEIR RECORDS WHICH CONTAINED THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, AND CAST THEM INTO THE FIRE ALSO, THAT THEY MIGHT BE BURNED AND DESTROYED BY FIRE.”
It sounds like many of them still had the scriptures with them.

In further support of this point of view, let’s look at Alma 48:
Alma 48:21 “But, as I have said, in the latter end of the nineteenth year, yea, notwithstanding their peace amongst themselves, they were compelled reluctantly to contend with THEIR BRETHREN, THE LAMANITES.”
Alma 48:24 “Nevertheless, they could not suffer to lay down their lives, that their wives and their children should be massacred by the barbarous cruelty of THOSE WHO WERE ONCE THEIR BRETHREN, yea, and HAD DISSENTED FROM THEIR CHURCH, and had LEFT THEM AND HAD GONE TO DESTROY THEM BY JOINING THE LAMANITES.”
Here, brethren is used in two ways. First, with the Lamanites, it is used with regards to lineage; then, in verse 24, it means “church brethren”.

Also, Alma, while preaching to the people in Ammonihah, says:
Alma 9:9: Do ye not remember that OUR FATHER, LEHI, was brought out of Jerusalem by the hand of God? Do ye not remember that they were all led by him through the wilderness?
Alma 9:10: And have ye forgotten so soon how many times he delivered OUR FATHERS out of the hands of their enemies, and preserved them from being destroyed, EVEN BY THE HANDS OF THEIR OWN BRETHREN?
Alma 9:11: Yea, and if it had not been for his matchless power, and his mercy, and his long-suffering TOWARDS US, WE should unavoidably have been cut off from the face of the earth long before this period of time, and perhaps been consigned to a state of endless misery and woe.
It sounds like Alma was preaching to related descendants, not strangers or outsiders.
Also, note that in Alma 9:10, it’s “by the hands of their own brethren…”–not others.

(Similar discourse follows:
Alma 9:19: For he will not suffer you that ye shall live in your iniquities, to destroy his people (DS NOTE: “his people–” does this mean the Nephite nation, or members of the Church?). I say unto you, Nay; he would rather suffer that the Lamanites might destroy all his people who are called the people of Nephi (every one of the Nephites?), if it were possible that they could fall into sins and transgressions, after having had so much light and so much knowledge given unto them of the Lord their God;
Alma 9:20: Yea, after having been such a highly favored people of the Lord; yea, after having been favored above every other nation, kindred, tongue, or people; after having had all things made known unto them, according to their desires, and their faith, and prayers, of that which has been, and which is, and which is to come;
Alma 9:21: Having been visited by the Spirit of God; having conversed with angels, and having been spoken unto by the voice of the Lord; and having the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and also many gifts, the gift of speaking with tongues, and the gift of preaching, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the gift of translation;
Alma 9:22: Yea, and after having been delivered of God out of the land of Jerusalem, by the hand of the Lord; having been saved from famine, and from sickness, and all manner of diseases of every kind; and they having waxed strong in battle, that they might not be destroyed; having been brought out of bondage time after time, and having been kept and preserved until now; and they have been prospered until they are rich in all manner of things–
Alma 9:23: And now behold I say unto you, that if this people, who have received so many blessings from the hand of the Lord, should transgress contrary to the light and knowledge which they do have, I say unto you that if this be the case, that if they should fall into transgression, it would be far more tolerable for the Lamanites than for them.
Alma 9:24: For behold, the promises of the Lord are extended to the Lamanites, but they are not unto you if ye transgress; for has not the Lord expressly promised and firmly decreed, that if ye will rebel against him that ye shall utterly be destroyed from off the face of the earth?”)

And, have you ever called a nonmember who is listening to your preaching, especially an investigator, “Brother” So-and-so?
Look at how Ammon uses it in Alma 17:30-31: “And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of THOSE WHOM HE TERMED TO BE HIS BRETHREN.”
“And it came to pass that he flattered them by his words, saying: MY BRETHREN…”
As these were nonmember Lamanites, this seems to be clearly by lineage.

Then, this use of “brethren”: Alma 27:8: “And the KING [OF THE CONVERTED LAMANITES] said unto him (Ammon): Yea, if the Lord saith unto us go, WE will go down unto OUR BRETHREN, and we will be their slaves until we repair unto them the many murders and sins which we have committed against them.”
These “brethren” were Nephites; thus, the meaning that seems most plausible is “church brothers/ brothers in Christ”. Or, here it could have also meant “relatives” from Lehi.

Here is another example of “brethren”: Alma 18:6: “For he had slain many of them because THEIR BRETHREN had scattered their flocks at the place of water; and thus, because they had had their flocks scattered they were slain.

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” PART 4

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” PART 4
grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 4: FOOD; ANIMALS; OTHERS IN THE LAND OF PROMISE; PROPHECIES OF ISAIAH

John L. Sorenson:
Cultural Adaptation and “Others”
The point about “war” opens up the larger issue of cultural learning and adaptation in the new land by both Nephites and Lamanites. A pair of telling passages in the book of Mosiah lets us know that some “native” New World people or other had to have provided at least one direct, crucial cultural input to the immigrants. Not long after 200 B.C., Zeniffite King Limhi reminded his people in the land of Nephi that “we at this time do pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites, to the amount of one half of our corn, and our barley, and even all our grain of every kind” (Mosiah 7:22). Note that Limhi mentions “corn” first in the list of tribute crops. In Mosiah 9:14 it is the only crop mentioned at all: “Lamanites … began to … take off … the corn of their fields.” Now, “corn” is clearly maize, the native American plant that was the mainstay of the diet of many native American peoples for thousands of years. There is no possibility that Lehi’s party brought this key American crop with them or that they discovered it wild upon their arrival. Maize is so totally domesticated a plant that it will not reproduce without human care. In other words, the Zeniffites or any other of Lehi’s descendants could only be growing corn/maize because people already familiar with the complex of techniques for its successful cultivation had passed on the knowledge, and the seed, to the newcomers. Notice too that these passages in Mosiah indicate that corn had become the grain of preference among the Lamanites, and perhaps among the Zeniffites. That is, they had apparently integrated it into their system of taste preferences and nutrition as a primary food, for which cooks and diners in turn would have had familiar recipes, utensils, and so on.

**** “Now, “corn” is clearly maize, the native American plant that was the mainstay of the diet of many native American peoples for thousands of years…” —I’m sorry, but why is this corn “clearly” maize? How was that clear connection made? I imagine Joseph Smith could have been very clear by saying “maize”, but he said “corn” instead. Result? It’s not “clearly” maize. Wait! I guess it could be said that it’s as clear as “horse” really meaning nothing but “horse”.

Interesting that some apologists, in explaining about corn and animals, for example, mention that these were probably names given to other things–yet here, corn is “clearly” maize. Looking at Mosiah 7:22 again–“we at this time do pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites, to the amount of one half of our corn, and our barley, and EVEN ALL OUR GRAIN OF EVERY KIND”–I wonder why corn seems to be listed as a grain, when it is not—it sounds as if it is listed as the first grain. In South America, there are many other kinds of grain that were most likely unknown to Joseph Smith. This “corn” could have been any of them (chia, anyone?), or even Indian corn. Following is a list of some other grains, or what might be considered grains, especially by someone who is not a grain scientist (such as me)–so this is not a scientific list, and might be missing a lot, or might even be redundant: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn (blue/ Hopi, popping), kamut, millet, oats, quinoa, rice (basmati, brown, wild, etc.), rye, sorghum, spelt, wheat (durum, red, white). There are also beans/ legumes/ lentils/ others, which might be included in some way: puy lentils, borlotti beans, cannellini beans, foulde medammes, gunga peas, broad beans, pinto beans, soy beans, pearl barley, black-eye beans, mung beans, aduki beans, flageolet beans, wheatgrass, buckwheat, green lentils, garbanzo beans, grean peas, yellow peas, sweet potato, black bean, etc. Perhaps a few of these were grown there, or even their hybrids (so as there really is no word for them to translate).

If it were really maize, here we have another problem of the chicken and the egg: where did these “people already familiar…” with corn, get it from? Do you mean to say that people remained in the Americas caring for corn from Adam on down, or from the flood on down, or what? Or, perhaps, from before Adam? Is maize absolutely only “indigenous” to the Americas? How did maize start, and be continually planted since the beginning of the world, if it “is so totally domesticated… it will not reproduce without human care”? Or did someone domesticate it? Do all corns require the same human care? Is it possible that maize was somewhere else, too, but that we still don’t know about it? Science is full of anomalies. Just some curious questions in this paragraph that should be answered before jumping to conclusions.

-=-=-=
John L. Soreson:
This situation reminds us of how crucial the natives of Massachusetts were in helping the Puritan settlers in the 1600s survive in the unfamiliar environment they found upon landing. The traditional American Thanksgiving cuisine of turkey, pumpkin, and corn dishes–all native to the New World–is an unconscious tribute to the gift of survival conferred by the Amerindians by sharing those local foods with the confused and hungry Europeans. Did an equivalent cultural exchange and unacknowledged thanksgiving process take place for Lehi’s descendants in the Book of Mormon land of first inheritance or land of Nephi? Since it is certain that “others” passed on knowledge about and a taste for corn to the Nephites and Lamanites, it becomes likely that other cultural features also came from them.

****”Sure, let’s talk about “Thanksgiving”. Quote: ” …turkey, pumpkin, and corn dishes–all native to the New World…” Note—that would be wild turkey and Indian corn. And while pumpkin was available, it has never been found mentioned as having been eaten by them at this meal. Also, the main reason for the “confused and hungry and (other negative adjectives) Europeans” had to do more with setting up around Christmas (after over a while of being there) in New England, poor shelter, a harsh winter and lack of supplies, bad drinking water, constant vigilance against and fear of Indian attack, and sickness–not because of lack of food from their summer harvest or… confusion? In fact, their very first harvest there was very bountiful.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The keeping of “flocks,” for example (Mosiah 9:14; cf. Enos 1:21), was not a pattern which Lehi’s folks are said to have brought with them; no animals are mentioned in Nephi’s Old World record (it is purely speculation that they utilized camels or any other animals in their trek from Jerusalem to Bountiful). Even if they started out with animals, these would not have survived the party’s famine-plagued journey through western Arabia (note, for example, 1 Nephi 16:18-32). Moreover, no hint is given that any were taken aboard Nephi’s boat (in specific contrast to the Jaredite case–see Ether 6:4). So how would they have obtained native American fowls or other animals to keep in “flocks,” or, more importantly, how would they have discovered techniques for successfully caring for them?

****This is interesting–while “camels” might be “[pure] speculation”, much of Sorenson’s content in this paper is “pure speculation”… Just that convenience seems to be the deciding factor as to whether it is pointed to as speculation or shored up as evidence.

Like many things in the Book of Mormon, ‘not said =/= not.’ On the other hand, let’s take a look at what Nephi actually says about seeds and flocks (which seem to be missing from the original article):
“1 Nephi 18:23: And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land.
1 Nephi 18:24: And it came to pass that we did BEGIN TO TILL THE EARTH, and we began to PLANT SEEDS; yea, WE DID PUT ALL OUR SEEDS INTO THE EARTH, WHICH WE HAD BROUGHT FROM THE LAND OF JERUSALEM. And it came to pass that they did GROW EXCEEDINGLY; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.
1 Nephi 18:25: And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were BEASTS IN THE FORESTS OF EVERY KIND, BOTH THE COW AND THE OX, AND THE ASS AND THE HORSE, AND THE GOAT AND THE WILD GOAT, AND ALL MANNER OF WILD ANIMALS, WHICH WERE FOR THE USE OF MEN. And we did find all manner of ORE, BOTH OF GOLD, AND OF SILVER, AND OF COPPER…
2 Nephi 5:11: AND THE LORD WAS WITH US; and we did prosper exceedingly; for WE DID SOW SEED, AND WE DID REAP AGAIN IN ABUNDANCE. And we began to RAISE FLOCKS, AND HERDS, AND ANIMALS OF EVERY KIND.
Enos 1:21: And it came to pass that the people of Nephi did TILL THE LAND, AND RAISE ALL MANNER OF GRAIN, AND OF FRUIT, AND FLOCKS OF HERDS, AND FLOCKS OF ALL MANNER OF CATTLE OF EVERY KIND, AND GOATS, AND WILD GOATS, AND ALSO MANY HORSES.
Now, we assume that neither Lehi nor anyone else was a farmer, or a herder. That also is speculation…

However, the Lehites had brought seeds with them, and planted them immediately, and knew how to care for and harvest them. “…they did GROW EXCEEDINGLY; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.” No big Thanksgiving dinner from the natives needed here!

Did they bring flocks with them, or animals? Could have, but that is not necessary. Why? Because Nephi says that they found all kinds of animals, including “wild animals, which were for the use of men.” In other words, right right after the Lehites landed, they discovered the animals, and Nephi knew about the uses of animals by man. It is not until 2 Nephi 5, however, that “we BEGAN to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind.” Later, in Enos, it says that they were raising them. No animals are mentioned in Enos that Nephi did not mention before in 1 Nephi 18.
Yes, it is possible that animals could have made it through the desert. And if not, wouldn’t it be possible to find some along the way, afterward?

Also, “flocks” seems to be connected with “herds” and animals (see Enos 1:21: “And it came to pass that the people of Nephi did…raise…flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats, and also many horses.” ).

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Discovery or invention of a major cultural feature like the domestication of animals is rare enough in human history that it is highly unlikely that these newcomers could simply have pulled themselves up culturally “by their bootstraps” in this way in a generation or two.
—-
****This is a surprising statement.

Unfortunately, your only other assumed possibility is that someone had to show them how to do it, right? Look at the American wild horse. Wild one day, domesticated the next. And, it seems very much that it is being assumed that domestication means complete domestication–chickens that don’t eat worms or bugs; goats that have to be rounded up every night, have their hooves trimmed, be completely taken care of, eat alfalfa or commercial feed, etc. This is far from the case for many types of animals–potbellied pigs, Soay sheep, etc. need very little work and outside help to prosper.

Speculation here–especially if the animals had lived on their own for a while, it would have insured a hardy stock to domesticate, which might have actually made it easier for them to survive and prosper.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
We will see below that significant, specific cultural features of obvious Jaredite origin appeared later among the Nephites without any explanation of how their transmission was accomplished down through time. It is a safe presumption, however, that some groups existing at the time when the Jaredite armies referred to in Ether 15 were destroyed simply refused to participate in the suicidal madness of Coriantumr and Shiz. They would have ensured their own survival by staying home and minding their meek business in this or that corner of the land.

Such minor peoples might hardly even have noted the distant slaughter of the Jaredite dynasts, so absorbed would they have been in their local affairs. The likelihood is that more than a few such groups continued past the time of the “final destruction” of the Jaredite armies at the hill Ramah, and some could well have been living in the land southward as Nephi and Laman built up their small colonies.

****How safe is that presumption? Let’s see what the Book of Mormon says about this:
Ether 11:12: “And it came to pass that in the days of Ethem there came many prophets, and prophesied again UNTO THE PEOPLE; yea, they did prophesy that the Lord would UTTERLY DESTROY THEM FROM OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH except they repented of their iniquities.”
Ether 11:20: And in the days of Coriantor there also came many prophets, and …cried repentance UNTO THE PEOPLE, and except they should repent the Lord God would execute judgment against them to their UTTER destruction…”

Ether 13:20: “And in the second year the word of the Lord came to Ether, that he should go and prophesy unto Coriantumr that, if he would repent, and all his household, the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people–
Ether 13:21: Otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; AND EVERY SOUL SHOULD BE DESTROYED SAVE IT WERE CORIANTUMR.”

Ether 15:12: “And it came to pass that they did gather together ALL THE PEOPLE upon ALL THE FACE OF THE LAND, WHO HAD NOT BEEN SLAIN, SAVE it was ETHER.”
Ether 15:14: “Wherefore, they were FOR THE SPACE OF FOUR YEARS GATHERING TOGETHER THE PEOPLE, THAT THEY MIGHT GET ALL WHO WERE UPON THE FACE OF THE LAND, and that they might receive all the strength which it was possible that they could receive.
Ether 15:15: And it came to pass that when they were ALL gathered together, EVERY ONE to the army which he would, WITH THEIR WIVES AND THEIR CHILDREN…”

Ether 15:33: “And the Lord spake unto Ether, and said unto him: Go forth. And he went forth, and beheld THAT THE WORDS OF THE LORD HAD ALL BEEN FULFILLED…” And what were those words? That the Jaredites had all been destroyed.

Those verses should make it very clear that Jaredites did not remain. This does not mean politically. In other words, it seems that according to the prophets, NOT ONE SINGLE Jaredite, other than Coriantumr and Ether, survived the final conflict. In fact, the last words that Ether wrote tell are: “Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God. Amen.” (Ether 15:34)

Now, if there were still people in the land, survivors, or remnants hiding because they were peaceful, etc., why didn’t Ether continue his work of preaching repentance? If he did, we don’t know of any of it.

But is this the correct interpretation of “utter”? Let’s see about some other places in the Book of Mormon where it’s used:
It is prophesied to the people of Ammonihah:
Alma 9:12: “…But behold, this is not all–he has commanded you to repent, or he will UTTERLY destroy you from off the face of the earth…
Alma 9:18: …if ye persist in your wickedness that your days shall not be prolonged in the land, for the Lamanites shall be sent upon you; and if ye repent not they shall come in a time when you know not, and ye shall be visited with UTTER destruction…
Alma 10:18: …pull down the wrath of God upon your heads, even to the UTTER destruction of this people.
Alma 10:22: …ye would even now be visited with UTTER destruction…”
Now, we know that the unrepentant people of Ammonihah were UTTERLY destroyed–every single one of them:
Alma 16:2: “…the armies of the Lamanites had come in upon the wilderness side, into the borders of the land, even into the city of Ammonihah, and began to slay the people and destroy the city.
Alma 16:3: …[the Lamanites] HAD DESTROYED THE PEOPLE WHO WERE IN THE CITY OF AMMONIHAH, and also some around the borders of Noah, and taken others captive into the wilderness.
Alma 16:9: And thus ended the eleventh year of the judges, the Lamanites having been driven out of the land, and the PEOPLE OF AMMONIHAH WERE DESTROYED; yea, EVERY LIVING SOUL OF THE AMMONIHAHITES WAS DESTROYED, and also their great city, which they said God could not destroy, because of its greatness.”
We see that the same interpretation holds–no survivors, no escapees, no hidden people on the fringe.
What about the Nephite’s utter destruction? Is it the same?
Alma 45:10: “… this very people, the Nephites, according to the spirit of revelation which is in me, in four hundred years from the time that Jesus Christ shall manifest himself unto them, shall dwindle in unbelief.
Alma 45:11: …then shall they see wars [, etc.] even until the people of Nephi shall become EXTINCT–
Alma 45:14: But WHOSOEVER REMAINETH, AND IS NOT DESTROYED IN THAT GREAT AND DREADFUL DAY, SHALL BE NUMBERED AMONG THE LAMANITES, AND SHALL BECOME LIKE UNTO THEM, ALL, SAVE IT BE A FEW WHO SHALL BE CALLED THE DISCIPLES OF THE LORD; AND THEM SHALL THE LAMANITES PURSUE EVEN UNTIL THEY SHALL BECOME EXTINCT…”
Helaman 13:10: Yea, I will visit them in my fierce anger, and there shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies, to behold your UTTER destruction; … and those of the fourth generation shall visit your destruction.
Helaman 15:17: …saith the Lord, concerning the people of the Nephites: …I will UTTERLY destroy them…
Moroni 9:22: But behold, my son, I recommend thee unto God, and I trust in Christ that thou wilt be saved; and I pray unto God that he will spare thy life, to witness the return of his people unto him, or their UTTER DESTRUCTION; for I know that they MUST PERISH….
Moroni 9:24: And if it so be that they PERISH, WE KNOW THAT MANY OF OUR BRETHREN HAVE DESERTED OVER UNTO THE LAMANITES, AND MANY MORE WILL ALSO DESERT OVER UNTO THEM…”

Yes, the Nephites were utterly destroyed, by definition as the faithful seed of Nephi. Here, the use of Nephite is different. One side of the conflict survived, and Nephites became Lamanites, and survived (though probably had little affect upon Lamanite society). With the Jaredites, however, both sides were destroyed, so there could be no deserters, from one side to the other.

What about other instances?
Helaman 6:37: “And it came to pass that the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was UTTERLY destroyed from among the Lamanites.”  In other words, NO robbers were left.

Another instance with the Gadianton robbers:
3 Nephi 2:13: And it came to pass that before this thirteenth year had passed away the Nephites were threatened with UTTER destruction because of this war, which had become exceedingly sore.

Can we summarize by saying that it meant every single Nephite? Yes, the Nephites were about to be wiped out, as per to the definition of religion, as noted above with the Lamanites.

Abinadi, prophesying of the people of King Noah, said:
Mosiah 12:8: “And it shall come to pass that except they repent I will UTTERLY destroy them from off the face of the earth; yet they shall leave a record behind them, and I will preserve them for other nations which shall possess the land; yea, even this will I do that I may discover the abominations of this people to other nations. And many things did Abinadi prophesy against this people.”
Many died, then they suffered, and then they repented, so there was no fulfillment. Later, they joined with the Nephites and ceased to exist; however, I don’t think this is the utter destruction the Lord was talking about for them.

What about the Lamanites?
“Yea, I say unto you, that in the latter times the promises of the Lord have been extended to our brethren, the Lamanites…; the Lord shall be merciful unto them” (Helaman 15:12).
“Therefore, saith the Lord: I will not UTTERLY destroy [the Lamanites]…” (Helaman 15:16).
Yes, the Lamanites dwindled/ lessened in number, by quite a bit; but they remained.

Also, look at what was happening with the Jaredites during the final stage of destruction:
“Now the name of the brother of Lib was called Shiz. And it came to pass that Shiz pursued after Coriantumr, and he did overthrow many cities, and he did slay both women and children, and he did burn the cities.”
“And there went a fear of Shiz throughout all the land; yea, a cry went forth throughout the land–Who can stand before the army of Shiz? Behold, he sweepeth the earth before him!”
“And it came to pass that the people began to flock together in armies, throughout all the face of the land.”
“And they were divided; and a part of them fled to the army of Shiz, and a part of them fled to the army of Coriantumr” (Ether 14:17-20).

“And so terrible was the destruction among the armies of Shiz that the people began to be frightened, and began to flee before the armies of Coriantumr; and they fled to the land of Corihor, and SWEPT OFF THE INHABITANTS BEFORE THEM, ALL THEM THAT WOULD NOT JOIN THEM” (Ether 14:27).

“And it came to pass that they did gather TOGETHER ALL THE PEOPLE upon ALL THE FACE OF THE LAND, who had not been slain, SAVE IT WAS ETHER.”
“And it came to pass that Ether did behold all the doings of the people; and he beheld that the people who were for Coriantumr were gathered together to the army of Coriantumr; and the people who were for Shiz were gathered together to the army of Shiz.”
“Wherefore, they were for the space of FOUR YEARS GATHERING TOGETHER THE PEOPLE, that they might get ALL WHO WERE UPON THE FACE OF THE LAND, and that they might receive ALL THE STRENGTH WHICH IT WAS POSSIBLE THAT THEY COULD RECEIVE.”
“And it came to pass that when they were ALL GATHERED TOGETHER, EVERY ONE to the army which he would, with their WIVES AND THEIR CHILDREN–BOTH MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN…”  (Ether 15:12-15)

Everyone and every means of survival was being destroyed or gathered; and, there’s no third part—it was either Shiz or Coraintumr. Unless the Lord led a small righteous part out of the land… but then, that would cut the Jaredites from the rest of the Book of Mormon, too, so this theory of surviving Jaredites just doesn’t really seem to fit.

Does it talk anywhere else in the Book of Mormon about the Jaredite destruction?
We read that:
“And they gave an account of one CORIANTUMR, and THE SLAIN OF HIS PEOPLE. And Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons” (Omni 1:21).
One might say, well, “the slain of his people” could mean just that–just his people, and not all the others. Yes, I agree. But then, in the next verse, it says:
“It also spake a few words concerning his fathers. And his first parents came out from the tower, at the time the Lord CONFOUNDED THE LANGUAGE OF THE PEOPLE; and the severity of the Lord fell UPON THEM according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward” (Omni 1:22).
It seems to mean that “[Coriantumr’s] first parents” and theirs were all destroyed, not just Coriantumr’s people.
We also know the situation with the Gadianton Robbers:  join, or be completely destroyed.

Anyone left outside the walls in the area would have not lasted long, no matter how neutral or small they wanted to remain or be.

No groups could remain neutral here–it was for one side or the other, or be killed. Remaining physically neutral is not a one-sided, personal decision! As many sides have said in many conflicts, “if you’re not for us, you’re against us–” which means you join us or we kill you. I doubt that ANY Jaredites had the choice of “simply refus[ing] to participate in the suicidal madness” and “staying home and minding their meek business in this or that corner of the land.” (And goodness, if any were to have remained as proposed, they would surely have had to leave or run away, not just stay at home.)

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Lehi’s final prophecy to his children foreshadowed this happening. He said, It is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance. Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance … . But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord, … I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them. Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten. Yea, as one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodsheds, and great visitations among them. (2 Nephi 1:8-12)

**** No matter how true this might or might not be, I still fail to find a relation to “[foreshadowing] this happening.”

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John L. Sorenson:
How much time can we suppose elapsed between the time when Lehi’s descendants “dwindle[d] in unbelief” and when the Lord brought “other nations unto them”? How distant were those “other nations” at the time Lehi spoke? Latter-day Saints generally have supposed that the “other nations” were the Gentile (Christian) nations of Europe who began to reach the New World only 500 years ago. To believe so requires limited imagination.

**** Maybe a reason that many Latter-day Saints think that way is because of scriptures like Mormon 5:19: “And behold, the Lord hath reserved their blessings, which they might have received in the land, for the Gentiles who shall possess the land.”

Or perhaps 3 Nephi 16:4, which says “And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer.”

Beware the suppositions of man.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
As for the Lamanites, they dwindled in unbelief within a few years. Alma said that “the Lamanites have been cut off from his presence, from the beginning of their transgressions in the land” (Alma 9:14). How then could Lehi’s prophecy about “other nations” being brought in have been kept long in abeyance after that?

**** And what about the interpretation of “dwindle in unbelief”? Who would like to show that “dwindle/dwindled in unbelief” is equivalent to “cut off”?

****That wasn’t his prophecy. This was: 2 Nephi 1:9: “Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.
2 Nephi 1:10: But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord–having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise–behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them.
2 Nephi 1:11: Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten.
2 Nephi 1:12: Yea, as one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodsheds, and great visitations among them; wherefore, my sons, I would that ye would remember; yea, I would that ye would hearken unto my words.”

As the Lamanites remained in power until at least the destruction of the Nephites, this couldn’t include people before that time.

Also, it was the Nephites who dwindled in unbelief, as the Lamanites taught their children to not believe–resulting in a big immediate cutting off, not a dwindling.

Lehi probably knew that Laman and Lemuel would rebel and teach their children to rebel, so it wouldn’t mean them at the very beginning.

-=-=-=

Michael R. Ash:
Lehi’s sermon in 2 Nephi 1:6–11 seems to preclude non-Lehite inhabitants in the “land of promise.” Traditional, and perhaps erroneous, interpretations arise when we read Lehi’s remarks that “shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord” (v. 6), and that the promised land “should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (v. 8). Lehi told his children that if they remained righteous that they would prosper and “be kept from all other nations” so that they would “possess” the land “unto themselves” (v. 9).

On the surface, this seems to support the traditional interpretation that the Lehites were the primary progenitors for the American Indians. A closer look at 2 Nephi, however, is helpful. This chapter takes place some time shortly after the Lehites arrived in the New World (before Nephi and his brothers separated and before the first use of the terms Nephite and Lamanite). Lehi, who is nearing death, spoke to his posterity with counsel and warning. He said that the land of promise was offered by the Lord in covenant to Lehi, his children, and “all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord” (v. 5, emphasis added) and that none would come to the land except those brought by the hand of the Lord (and we can certainly presume that the Lord brought others into the promised land prior to, during, and after Lehi’s arrival).

****On what foundation we can “presume”, I have no idea. Perhaps the author would like to elaborate and enlighten.

-=-=-=—
John L. Sorenson:
Such statements do not preclude the possibility that others already lived in the land of promise. The Lord promised that other nations—which up till this point had referred to Old World nations—would not know about and overrun their land.

****I’m sorry, I don’t understand how the author understands that the Lord meant Old World nations. Perhaps the author would like to elaborate here, too.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
(Imagine the changes that may have happened had the New World been common knowledge among European and Old World nations of Lehi’s day!)

****It doesn’t, but that’s not what the author’s trying to prove–he’s trying to prove that they did exist.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The promise to keep the land secure has a caveat; as long as those brought from Jerusalem (Lehi and his family) remain righteous, they would prosper and be “kept from other nations” (v. 9). Lehi warned, however, that the time would come that they would “dwindle in unbelief” (v. 10) after which the Lord would allow “other nations” to take their possessions and cause them to be “scattered and smitten” (v. 11). While traditional LDS thought has supposed that this refers to the coming of the Spaniards (which may possibly account for a future and dual fulfillment of Lehi’s prophecy), Lehi immediately launched into an exhortation to his children telling them that as “one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodshed” (v. 12). This suggests that Lehi suspected the coming of “other nations” in the near future. The appearance of the “other nations” is directly linked to not only the wickedness of Lehi’s descendants, but also to a scattering and smiting of those who become wicked.

****Here we have a strong interpretation of scripture. Let’s look at 2 Nephi 1:9 again:
“Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as THOSE WHOM THE LORD GOD SHALL BRING OUT OF THE LAND OF JERUSALEM shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.”
To me this is not just Lehi and his family. We know, for example, about the “Mulekites”.

I also see no relationship or correlation between “one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodshed” and how “this suggests that Lehi suspected the coming of ‘other nations’ in the near future”.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Shortly thereafter (chapter 5) we find that Laman and Lemuel were so unrighteous that they wanted to kill Nephi. It is at this point that Nephi and his followers (now called “Nephites”) separate themselves from his brothers and their followers (now called “Lamanites”). According to Lehi’s prophecy, when his children became unrighteous the Lord would allow “other nations” to smite them (2 Nephi 1:11). This wouldn’t be possible unless there were already others present, or others arrived immediately after Laman and Lemuel fell back into their unrighteous habits.

****2 Nephi 1:11 reads:
“Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten.” And yet, there is nothing about the Lamanites fighting wars with anyone other than the Nephites, even after the destruction of the Nephites. Moroni says that:
“And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great has been their fall; yea, great and marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites” (Mormon 8:7).
“And behold, it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it. And behold also, the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war” (Mormon 8:8).
“And now, behold, I say no more concerning them, for there are none save it be the Lamanites and robbers that do exist upon the face of the land” (Mormon 8:9).
Where are the others that were to smite the Lamanites, and scatter them, and take the lands of their possessions? Nowhere there!

-=-=-=-
John L. Sorenson:
And in fulfillment of Lehi’s prophesy, when Nephi departed he took away the Liahona, the plates of brass, and the sword of Laban (the “possessions” important to the Lehites). In time we read how the Lamanites were “scattered and smitten.” Several centuries later, we find Alma exhorting his people to righteousness and recounting the story of Nephi’s wayward brothers as an example of the consequences of wickedness (Alma 9:13-14) . Now the Nephites were becoming wicked and were at risk for the same fate. We see the prophecies of Lehi—the promises and curses (which would include the invasion of “others”)—as having already been (or continuing to be) fulfilled.

****Sorry! This is just plain false. We don’t see anything in Alma 9, or elsewhere, about how the Lamanites are scattered and smitten, as the author says.

-=-=-=-
John L. Sorenson:
Accordingly, it seems that a possible scenario might be thus: When the Lehites arrived they would have found sparse communities of “others” (perhaps too small to be called “nations”) in their new land. The Lehites would have continued to peacefully coexist (perhaps even intermingling) with these “others,” pursuant to their righteousness. The wickedness of the Lamanites, however, might have brought aggressive “others” (“other nations”) into the Lehite colony who could have merged with the Lamanites and joined in their quest to destroy the Nephites (who may also have joined with peaceful “others”). When the Nephites separated from the Lamanites the promises and warnings of Lehi would have been realized (and like many prophecies in the Bible, may have seen multiple fulfillment).

****Here’s a more probable scenario:
“But behold, when the time cometh that THEY SHALL DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, AFTER THEY HAVE RECEIVED SO GREAT BLESSINGS FROM THE HAND OF THE LORD–having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, KNOWING THE GREAT AND MARVELOUS WORKS OF THE LORD from the creation of the world; HAVING POWER GIVEN THEM TO DO ALL THINGS BY FAITH; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise–behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them” (2 Nephi 1:10).
“Yea, he will BRING OTHER NATIONS UNTO THEM, and HE WILL GIVE UNTO THEM POWER, and he will TAKE AWAY FROM THEM THE LANDS OF THEIR POSSESSIONS, and he will CAUSE THEM TO BE SCATTERED AND SMITTEN” (2 Nephi 1:11).

First of all, we see that the Lamanites, for a long time, don’t fit the description given in verse 10; only the Nephites do. So, the author’s interpretation is already off.

Secondly, we see that the Lamanites DO fit the description of other nations given power to “take away” Nephite lands and cause the Nephites “to be scattered and smitten”–in fact, this is the direct promise given to Nephi about the Lamanites (1 Nephi 2:23-24): “For behold, in that day that [the Lamanites] shall rebel against me, I will curse them even with a sore curse, and they shall have no power over thy seed except they shall rebel against me also.”
“And if it so be that [the Lamanites] rebel against me, they shall be a scourge unto thy seed (the Nephites), to stir them up in the ways of remembrance.”
This is also the case of the nation of the Gadianton robbers, when it was a nation.

Third, we see that after the group dwindles after Christ’s visit, the prophecy is fulfilled for the remaining seed, such as with Moron.

Could there have been others who participated also? Once more, the Book of Mormon doesn’t show any did, continually defining the Lamanites and Nephites as seemingly not having outside groups. Though perhaps after Moroni, there were.

-=-=-=-
Matthew Roper:
Is there a distinction, for example, between “nations” and other social groups? Lehi would have been familiar with nations such as Babylon and Egypt that had well-organized armies capable of waging sophisticated warfare and extending their power over large distances. Lehi’s prophecy could allow for smaller societies that did not yet merit the description “nations.” For instance, John L. Sorenson’s model of Book of Mormon geography places the land of Nephi in highland Guatemala near the site of Kaminaljuyú. At the time Nephi and his people separated from Laman’s followers to found their own settlement in the early sixth century B.C., archaeological evidence shows that that region had only scattered, sparsely populated villages.57 Also, to “possess this land unto themselves” does not necessarily mean to be the only inhabitants but can also mean–as it often does in Book of Mormon contexts–that a group has the ability to control and exercise authority over the land and its resources (see, for example, Mosiah 19:15; 23:29; 24:2; Alma 27:22, 26).58

****I can agree with this meaning of “possess”.

-=-=-=-
Matthew Roper:
Significantly, however, even Lehi’s statement about “other nations” is conditional. Lehi indicates that the promised protection from threatening nations would be removed when his children dwindled in unbelief. John L. Sorenson has observed that the Lamanites, at least, dwindled in unbelief from the beginning.

****Did the Lamanites “DWINDLE”? See the part about “dwindling” above.

How possible is it that this “dwindling” refers to the Lamanites, from the beginning? The following verses in the Book of Mormon show how all the prophets, from Nephi to Moroni, interpreted this “DWINDLE” to mean from about 400 years after Christ, and on:
Nephi records:
“AND it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Look, and behold thy seed, and also the seed of thy brethren. And I looked and beheld the land of promise; and I beheld multitudes of people, yea, even as it were in number as many as the sand of the sea.”
“And it came to pass that I beheld multitudes gathered together to battle, one against the other; and I beheld wars, and rumors of wars, and great slaughters with the sword among my people.”
“And it came to pass that I beheld many generations pass away, after the manner of wars and contentions in the land; and I beheld many cities, yea, even that I did not number them.”
“And it came to pass that I saw a mist of darkness on the face of the land of promise; and I saw lightnings, and I heard thunderings, and earthquakes, and all manner of tumultuous noises; and I saw the earth and the rocks, that they rent; and I saw mountains tumbling into pieces; and I saw the plains of the earth, that they were broken up; and I saw many cities that they were sunk; and I saw many that they were burned with fire; and I saw many that did tumble to the earth, because of the quaking thereof” (1 Nephi 12:1-4)

“And while the angel spake these words, I beheld and saw that the seed of my brethren did contend against my seed, according to the word of the angel; and because of the pride of my seed, and the temptations of the devil, I beheld that the seed of my brethren did overpower the people of my seed.”
“And it came to pass that I beheld, and saw the people of the seed of my brethren that they had overcome my seed; and they went forth in multitudes upon the face of the land.”
“And I saw them gathered together in multitudes; and I saw wars and rumors of wars among them; and in wars and rumors of wars I saw many generations pass away.”
“And the angel said unto me: Behold these shall DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF.”
“And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations” (1 Nephi 12:19-23).

1 Nephi 13:35 “For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb.”

1 Nephi 15:13 “And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed–”

1 Nephi 15:18 Wherefore, our father hath not spoken of our seed alone, but also of all the house of Israel, pointing to the covenant which should be fulfilled in the latter days; which covenant the Lord made to our father Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

2 Nephi 26:15 After my seed and the seed of my brethren shall have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF, and shall have been smitten by the Gentiles; yea, after the Lord God shall have camped against them round about, and shall have laid siege against them with a mount, and raised forts against them; and after they shall have been brought down low in the dust, even that they are not, yet the words of the righteous shall be written, and the prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those who have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF shall not be forgotten.

2 Nephi 26:17 For thus saith the Lord God: They shall write the things which shall be done among them, and they shall be written and sealed up in a book, and those who have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF shall not have them, for they seek to destroy the things of God.

2 Nephi 26:19 And it shall come to pass, that those who have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF shall be smitten by the hand of the Gentiles.

Alma the younger says this:
“And these are the words: Behold, I perceive that this very people, the Nephites, according to the spirit of revelation which is in me, in four hundred years from the time that Jesus Christ shall manifest himself unto them, shall DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF.”
“Yea, and then shall they see wars and pestilences, yea, famines and bloodshed, even until the people of Nephi shall become extinct–”
“Yea, and this because they shall DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF and fall into the works of darkness, and lasciviousness, and all manner of iniquities; yea, I say unto you, that because they shall sin against so great light and knowledge, yea, I say unto you, that from that day, even the fourth generation shall not all pass away before this great iniquity shall come” (Alma 45:10-12).

Samuel the Lamanite says:
“Yea, even if they should DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF the Lord shall prolong their days, until the time shall come which hath been spoken of by our fathers, and also by the prophet Zenos, and many other prophets, concerning the restoration of our brethren, the Lamanites, again to the knowledge of the truth–”
“Yea, I say unto you, that in the latter times the promises of the Lord have been extended to our brethren, the Lamanites; and notwithstanding the many afflictions which they shall have, and notwithstanding they shall be driven to and fro upon the face of the earth, and be hunted, and shall be smitten and scattered abroad, having no place for refuge, the Lord shall be merciful unto them” (Helaman 15:11-12).

Helaman 15:15 “For behold, had the mighty works been shown unto them which have been shown unto you, yea, unto them who have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF because of the traditions of their fathers, ye can see of yourselves that they never would again have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF” (Helaman 15:15).

Jesus says:
3 Nephi 21:5 Therefore, when these works and the works which shall be wrought among you hereafter shall come forth from the Gentiles, unto your seed which shall DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF because of iniquity;

Mormon also says:
4 Nephi 1:34 Nevertheless, the people did harden their hearts, for they were led by many priests and false prophets to build up many churches, and to do all manner of iniquity. And they did smite upon the people of Jesus; but the people of Jesus did not smite again. And thus they did DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF and wickedness, from year to year, even until two hundred and thirty years had passed away.
4 Nephi 1:38 And it came to pass that they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites; and they did not DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, but they did wilfully rebel against the gospel of Christ; and they did teach their children that they should not believe, even as their fathers, from the beginning, did DWINDLE.
Mormon 9:35 And these things are written that we may rid our garments of the blood of our brethren, who have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF.
Ether 4:3 And now, after that, they have all DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF; and there is none save it be the Lamanites, and they have rejected the gospel of Christ; therefore I am commanded that I should hide them up again in the earth.

Mormon says:
Alma 50:22 And those who were faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord were delivered at all times, whilst thousands of their wicked brethren have been consigned to bondage, or to perish by the sword, or to DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, and mingle with the Lamanites.
Mosiah 10:17 And thus they have taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them; therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi.
Mosiah 1:5 I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Furthermore, the early Nephites generally did the same thing within a few centuries. Their wickedness and apostasy culminated in the escape of Mosiah and his group from the land of Nephi to the land of Zarahemla (see Omni 1:13-14). And if the Lord somehow did not at those times bring in “other nations,” then surely he would have done so after Cumorah, 1100 years prior to Columbus. Even if there were no massive armed invasions of strange groups to be reported, we need not be surprised if relatively small groups of strange peoples who were neither so numerous nor so organized as to be rivals for control of the land could have been scattered or infiltrated among both Nephites and Lamanites without their constituting the “other nations” in the threatening sense of Lehi’s prophecy. Thus in the terms of Lehi’s prophecy, “others” could and probably even should have been close at hand and available for the Lord to use as instruments against the straying covenant peoples any time after the arrival of Nephi’s boat.59

****I don’t feel very assured when I hear a mortal explain what the Lord “surely” “would have done”, and how other nations “could and probably even should” have been there to fulfill the prophecies according to a personal interpretation. I am more comfortable with something like “a possibility and even probability is that after Cumorah and before Columbus, “others” were brought into the land”.

-=-=-=-
Matthew Roper:
Scriptural Support for the Presence of Others, Prophecies about the Scattering
The scriptural evidence against the presence of others, then, is sparse and unimpressive. The scriptural evidence for the presence of others, however, is abundant. For instance, prophecies from the Old Testament would have led Lehi’s people to expect to be placed in a new land in the midst of other people. The prophets of ancient Israel had foretold that the tribes of Israel would be “scatter[ed] … among all people” (Deuteronomy 28:64) and “removed to all the kingdoms of the earth” (Jeremiah 29:18) and that they would become “wanderers among the nations” (Hosea 9:17). Further, Moses informed them, “The Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you” (Deuteronomy 4:27). These prophecies make plain that the whole house of Israel was subject to being scattered among non-Israelite peoples who would be more numerous than they.60 Lehi taught his children that they should consider themselves to be a part of this scattering: “Yea, even my father spake much concerning the Gentiles, and also concerning the house of Israel, that they should be compared like unto an olive-tree, whose branches should be broken off and should be scattered upon all the face of the earth. Wherefore, he said it must needs be that we should be led with one accord into the land of promise, unto the fulfilling of the word of the Lord, that we should be scattered” (1 Nephi 10:12-13).

The allegory of the olive tree, as recounted by Jacob, spells their fate out even more plainly. Branches broken off the tame tree, which represents historical Israel (Jacob 5:3), are to be grafted onto the roots of wild trees, meaning non-Israelite groups. In other words, there is to be a demographic union between two groups, with “young and tender branches” from the original tree, Israel, being grafted onto wild rootstock in various parts of the vineyard or the earth (Jacob 5:8; see also 14). Jacob 5:25 and 43 clearly identify Lehi’s people as such a broken-off branch. That branch is to be planted in the choicest spot of the vineyard. In that prime location, the Lord has already cut down “that which cumbered this spot of ground” (Jacob 5:44)–clearly a reference to the destruction of the Jaredites.61 In addition, the statement that one part of the new hybrid tree “brought forth good fruit,” while the other portion “brought forth wild fruit,” is an obvious reference to the Nephites and Lamanites respectively (Jacob 5:45).

So the Lehite “tree” of the allegory consists of a population geographically “transplanted” from the original Israelite promised land and “grafted” onto a wild root–or joined with non-Israelite people. Note that the Lord considers the new root to be “good” despite its being wild (Jacob 5:48). This allegorical description requires that a non-Israelite root–other peoples, in terms of this discussion–already be present on the scene where the “young and tender branch,” Lehi’s group, would be merged with them.

****A strong point. Of course, this depends on how far you want to carry the literalness of the allegory. For example, notice in the allegory that the branches are both the gentiles and the Israelites, not that the roots are gentiles and the branches are Israelites. The emphasis is on the branches, yet how can you have branches without roots? What or who are the roots?

-=-=-=–
Matthew Roper:
Open-ended Promises concerning the Land
Book of Mormon prophets describe for latter-day readers the responsibilities that rest upon those who inherit the land of promise. But these conditions did not begin with Lehi’s family or even with the Jaredites; this land has been one of promise from its beginning (Ether 13:2).62 Those conditions specify that the people and nations who inhabit the land are to be free from bondage, captivity, and “all other nations under heaven” if they will serve God (Ether 2:12). The reverse is also implicit in Moroni’s statement: those who do not serve God have no promised protection and may expect to be subjected to bondage, captivity, and affliction by other nations who will come to the land and exercise God’s judgment upon them. Some people, then, are brought to the land for their righteousness, and others are brought to scourge the inhabitants. Moroni also states that unrighteous nations or people may be swept off the face of the land, but “it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off” (Ether 2:10), suggesting that those peoples who do not reach a “fulness of iniquity” may yet remain in the land.

“And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked. And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands, and the wicked he destroyeth, and curseth the land unto them for their sakes” (1 Nephi 17:37-38). Nephi’s statement in the context of his own family’s journey to a New World land of promise suggests that their experience is not unique but indicative of the activities of other groups. Upon his family’s arrival, Lehi explained the nature of the covenant by which they would inherit the land. The Lord had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, “but, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord?” (2 Nephi 1:5). We know that the Mulekites were, like the Lehites, led out of the land of Jerusalem “by the hand of the Lord” (Omni 1:16). Lehi’s reference to “other countries” suggests countries other than the land of Jerusalem. Modern readers may correctly include in that category gentile peoples who migrated to this hemisphere during historic times, yet Lehi does not limit the application to post-Columbian gentile groups. Their identity is left open and unspecified.

“Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.” (2 Nephi 1:7)

Lehi’s words parallel similar promises in both the Book of Mormon and latter-day revelation:
“Cursed shall be the land, yea, this land, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, unto destruction, which do wickedly, when they are fully ripe.” (Alma 45:16)

“And thus the Lord did pour out his blessings upon this land, which was choice above all other lands; and he commanded that whoso should possess the land should possess it unto the Lord, or they should be destroyed when they were ripened in iniquity; for upon such, saith the Lord: I will pour out the fulness of my wrath.” (Ether 9:20)

“And I said unto them, that it should be granted unto them according to their faith in their prayers; yea, and this was their faith–that my gospel, which I gave unto them that they might preach in their days, might come unto their brethren the Lamanites, and also all that had become Lamanites because of their dissensions. Now, this is not all–their faith in their prayers was that this gospel should be made known also, if it were possible that other nations should possess this land; and thus they did leave a blessing upon this land in their prayers, that whosoever should believe in this gospel in this land might have eternal life; yea, that it might be free unto all of whatsoever nation, kindred, tongue, or people they may be.” (D&C 10:47-52)

In both the Book of Mormon and modern-day scripture, the language of the scriptural promises concerning the land is open-ended. It refers to “whoso should possess the land” (Ether 2:8), “whatsoever nation” (Ether 2:9, 12), “he that doth possess it” (Ether 2:10), “all men … who dwell upon the face thereof” (Ether 13:2), “whosoever should believe in this gospel in this land” (D&C 10:50), “all of whatsoever nation, kindred, tongue, or people they may be” (D&C 10:51). The covenant conditions under which blessings may be inherited are explained, while the identification of who may inherit them is left unspecified in terms of both identification and time. Whoever they are, whenever they come, whatever their origins, the Book of Mormon makes clear that “this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring” (2 Nephi 1:7).

****Yes, but these things should be interpreted according to the limits given by the Book of Mormon, and also remember that this openness does in no way prove others coexisting with and integrating with the Lehites at all.

-=-=-=
Matthew Roper:
Significantly, at this point in the text Nephi introduces the term people of Nephi for the first time in reference to his followers (2 Nephi 5:9), a term that may be suggestive of a larger society including more than his immediate family.

It is also at this point that the term Lamanite first appears. Nephi explains that he made preparations to defend his people “lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us; for I knew their hatred towards me and my children and those who were called my people” (2 Nephi 5:14). As demographer James Smith observes, “One reading of the latter phrase is that ‘Lamanites’ is a new name for the family and followers of Laman, Nephi’s brother-enemy from whom Nephi fled. Another possible reading is that some people not previously called ‘Lamanites’ were now so called, presumably because of Laman’s affiliation with them.”63

****I’m not sure what the great emphasis in many writers on talking about “Nephite”, “Lamanite”, “people of Nephi”, etc. is. Possible, yes, yet it would be hard to fit in with the Book of Mormon text. Another much easier, clearer, and more sensible possibility is that after the split they realized they were different peoples and named the groups. Note also that there is a failure to mention any other group by any name.

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Matthew Roper:
After explaining how he and his people separated themselves from Laman, Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael, and their people and having told how the people of Nephi became established in the land, Nephi quotes a prophecy of the Lord. “And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done” (2 Nephi 5:23). This prophecy anticipates future mixing and intermarriage with the Lamanites, but the immediacy of Nephi’s personal observation that “the Lord spake it, and it was done” suggests that the process was already underway at the time Nephi left or very shortly after the separation. That is, unidentified people had, at this early period, already joined with the Lamanites in their opposition to Nephi and his people and had become like them, and Nephi saw this event as a fulfillment of the Lord’s prophecy.

Since Nephite dissensions are not explicitly mentioned until several generations later,64 Nephi’s statement about unidentified peoples intermarrying with the Lamanites seems to indicate the presence of other non-Lehite peoples who had joined or were joining the Lamanites.

****I believe this to be an incorrect interpretation of the scripture. “And the Lord spake it, and it was done” reads better as a separate verse–it refers to the whole curse, not to that particular portion of the curse.
Also, remember that Alma 47:35 says, “…yea, he was acknowledged king throughout all the land, among all the people of the Lamanites, who were composed of the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites, and all the DISSENTERS OF THE NEPHITES, FROM THE REIGN OF NEPHI DOWN TO THE PRESENT TIME.” There were dissenters from the very beginning; therefore, any need for others to fulfill this prophecy/ curse is clearly dismissed by this verse.

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Matthew Roper:
In light of the possibility that additional non-Lehite peoples had united with both the Nephites and the Lamanites, the teachings of Nephi and Jacob relating to Isaiah take on greater significance. After explaining that “we had already had wars and contentions with” the Lamanites (2 Nephi 5:34), Nephi inserts a lengthy sermon delivered by his brother Jacob (2 Nephi 6-10). Jacob indicates that he has previously spoken about “many things” (2 Nephi 6:2) but that Nephi now wants him to preach from Isaiah. In fact, Jacob says that Nephi had even selected the scriptural passages he was to discuss: prophecies of Isaiah that concerned the relationship between scattered Israel and the Gentiles (2 Nephi 6:4). Further, Jacob asks his people to liken these passages from Isaiah to their present situation (2 Nephi 6:5) and suggests that the application of these teachings concerns “things which are” as well as things “which are to come” (2 Nephi 6:4). As Latter-day Saints, we quite appropriately focus on the latter, but what was the context that made likening Isaiah’s words to themselves meaningful to the Nephites?
Jacob prophesies that in the latter days some Jews will reject the Messiah and be destroyed, while others will believe and be saved (2 Nephi 6:14-15). Jacob also interprets Isaiah as referring to two distinct groups of Gentiles: those who nourish and unite with Israel (2 Nephi 6:12; 10:18-19), and those who fight against Zion (2 Nephi 6:13; 10:16). In the latter days, both groups of Gentiles will play an active role in the drama of Israel’s gathering and redemption. “Wherefore, he that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; for they are they who are the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me, saith our God” (2 Nephi 10:16). Certainly, Jacob’s sermon looks to the future, but I am persuaded that in likening Jacob’s teachings to themselves, Nephite contemporary listeners would have drawn the obvious parallel with their own situation. As a branch of scattered Israel in a new land of promise, they sought to establish Zion but were opposed, hated, and persecuted by their former brethren. Even when Jacob applies these prophecies to the latter days, his words have immediate relevance to his contemporary listeners, who would likely have seen their Lamanite persecutors as the “Jews” of Jacob’s prophecy and the “Gentiles” as those non-Lehite peoples who had joined with the Lamanites against the people of Nephi.

****More than likely, they were thinking of themselves as Israelites and the Lamanites (“both Jew and Gentile”) as those who “shall perish” for fighting against them (“fighteth against Zion”).

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Matthew Roper:
However, in his application of Isaiah to the Lehites, Jacob explains that not all Gentiles would oppose Zion and that some would be joint heirs with the people of Lehi in the blessings of the land: “But behold, this land, said God, shall be a land of thine inheritance, and the Gentiles shall be blessed upon the land” (2 Nephi 10:10). How would the Gentiles in the land be blessed? By being numbered among the children of Lehi.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, thus saith our God: I will afflict thy seed by the hand of the Gentiles; nevertheless, I will soften the hearts of the Gentiles, that they shall be like unto a father to them; wherefore, the Gentiles shall be blessed and numbered among the house of Israel. Wherefore, I will consecrate this land unto thy seed, and them who shall be numbered among thy seed, forever, for the land of their inheritance; for it is a choice land, saith God unto me, above all other lands, wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me, saith God.” (2 Nephi 10:18-19)

The Lord’s promise, delivered to the people of Nephi by Jacob, is a perpetual one, having application from their own time forward.

****So everyone living in the Americas will be Lehi’s seed? I don’t think that’s what the verses mean, but that is what I think is being unrealizingly said. I don’t see a necessary connection between “blessed and numbered among the house of Israel” and “them who shall be numbered among thy seed”.

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Matthew Roper:
In the context of its time, Jacob’s sermon can be read as addressing the immediate question of how Lehite Israel was to relate to and interact with non-Lehite peoples in the promised land. The answer was that they might, if they so chose, join with the people of God in seeking to build up Zion as joint inheritors of the land. Once they did so, they too became Israel and were numbered with Lehi’s seed. Some have wondered why, if other people were present in the land during Book of Mormon times, they were not mentioned more frequently in the record.
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****I would hesitate to use “more frequently”, as the latter implies that they are mentioned–yet I haven’t seen that they are.

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Matthew Roper:
The precedent of making no distinction between Lehi’s descendants and converts from the rest of the population, introduced by the Nephites’ first priest, would have been foundational to the unity of Nephite society, would have influenced the words of later Nephite prophets, and may have set the additional precedent of viewing all peoples in the land in polar terms, such as Zion/ Babylon or Nephite/ Lamanite. Previous cultural identity would have been swallowed up in this polarized frame of reference.

****Yet it isn’t, with the examples given in the Book of Mormon. We have record of the joining of the Mulekites, and of the conversion and joining of the people of Ammon, and other Lamanites later on; and even many of these authors in John L. Sorenson et.al. make it a point to try to prove that many of these groups remained separate and distinct, even many years after combining with the Lamanites. Seems wishy-washy to me.

And what influence do you see that this had on the “words of later Nephite prophets”?

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Matthew Roper:
An example of this process can be seen in the case of Nephi’s righteous brother Sam. When Lehi blesses Sam, he promises, “Blessed art thou, and thy seed; for thou shalt inherit the land like unto thy brother Nephi. And thy seed shall be numbered with his seed; and thou shalt be even like unto thy brother, and thy seed like unto his seed; and thou shalt be blessed in all thy days” (2 Nephi 4:11). Lehi blesses all his children, but only Sam is promised that his seed will be numbered with Nephi’s. Interestingly, when Lehite tribal designations are mentioned, there is no tribe of Sam (Jacob 1:13; 4 Nephi 1:35-38). Why? Apparently because when one is numbered with a people, one takes upon oneself the name and identity of that people. Similarly, Gentiles, once numbered with Israel or Lehi, are thereafter identified with their covenant fathers without respect to biological origin. From then on, they too are simply Israel.

****And Zoram is too, though he isn’t quite Lehi’s seed–then, of course, by the covenant he is, right? So, were Jacob and Joseph numbered with Nephi?

And yet, throughout the Book of Mormon, we read of many different “-ites”. Why were all the sons of Ishmael lumped together?

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Matthew Roper:
Nephi’s emphasis on the universal nature of God’s love is even more meaningful if written and taught to a people grappling with issues of ethnic and social diversity. “And he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (2 Nephi 26:33). Nephites would understand Jews to be those who came out from Jerusalem, yet the additional reference to Gentiles and heathen would only make sense to a Nephite if there were others in the land.

****And what about “black and white, bond and free”? Would that also “only” make sense to the Nephites if “there were others in the land”? So there were also blacks there, right? And slaves/ bondsmen? And they could hear the gospel and join in, right?

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Matthew Roper:
Likening Isaiah unto the Nephites
If there were others in the land, it would also help explain why many of Nephi’s people had difficulty understanding Isaiah, although not all of them did (2 Nephi 25:1-6). Converts who had never lived in the ancient Near East would have lacked the historical and cultural background that made the words of Isaiah “plain” to Nephi.

****True, it would–but not just for converts.

Just Isaiah makes understanding Isaiah difficult! However, Nephi says that it was in particular not knowing “concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews” (2 Nephi 25:1) that made it difficult, though surely not knowing the background would make it difficult, also. At the least, Nephi’s, Sam’s, and Zoram’s children; along with Jacob and Joseph; and maybe others, had never even seen Jerusalem, and Nephi didn’t teach them the things of the Jews (2 Nephi 25:6). So, while converts would have had problems understanding, so would anyone else in this circumstance. And why must those “others” living in the land be converts? If they were branches of the house of Israel, and they believed the words of Nephi, wouldn’t it be more likely that any “others” (this is a very hypothetical situation for me, yet I must ask it) were already believers, not “converts”?

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Matthew Roper:
It is also apparent that some Isaiah passages cited by Nephite prophets would make better sense to a Nephite if there were others in the land.

****Or, it would make sense if they knew (as they had already been told) that strangers would sometime join their posterity.

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Matthew Roper:
Here we will mention just three.

Strangers join the house of Israel. “For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land; and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob” (2 Nephi 24:1). Such prophecies may quite pMatthew Roperly be applied to latter-day readers of the Book of Mormon as we liken the scriptures to ourselves, but they need not refer to us exclusively. How would the Nephites have likened this scripture to their own situation, as their prophets invited them to do? They would no doubt recognize the great mercy of the Lord in bringing them out from Jerusalem and saving them from destruction, and they would also see the Lord’s hand in setting them in a new land of promise where they could establish Zion. Significantly, this prophecy would also suggest to the ancient audience that there were “strangers” in the land who had joined or would join with them in accepting the teachings of Nephi and could be numbered with the house of Jacob.

Temples and people. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (2 Nephi 12:2-3, quoting Isaiah 2:2-3). While there are several ways of reading this passage, the Nephites would likely have thought about their own temple, recently constructed at the direction of Nephi “after the manner of the temple of Solomon” (2 Nephi 5:16). This was the temple at which Jacob taught (Jacob 1:17; 2:11) and likely the one at which Nephi’s own teachings to his people and his quotations of Isaiah were presented. Isaiah’s reference to “many people” coming up to be taught would evoke the idea of people joining the Nephites and accepting their traditions and beliefs.

A confederacy against Zion. Nephi cites Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the alliance of Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, against Ahaz, king of Judah (2 Nephi 17-22, quoting Isaiah 7-12). Ephraim, Judah’s brother-tribe, has allied itself with a non-Isaelite nation (Syria), and they seek to depose Ahaz and replace him with someone of their choosing (2 Nephi 17:1-6, quoting Isaiah 7:1-6). Responding to the crisis and the fears of the king and the people of Judah, Isaiah prophesies that the conspiracy of their enemies “shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass” (2 Nephi 17:7, quoting Isaiah 7:7) and urges Ahaz simply to have faith and be faithful (2 Nephi 17:9, quoting Isaiah 7:9). The application to Nephi’s day is plain: In his ambition to gain power and assert his claims to rulership, Laman, leader of the brother-tribe of “the people who were now called Lamanites” (2 Nephi 5:14), has very possibly, like Pekah of Israel, acquired non-Israelite allies and made war on another ruler of Israelite descent, Nephi, and his people (2 Nephi 5:1-3, 14, 19, 34). Perhaps frightened by the superior numbers of their enemies, the people are counseled to trust in the Lord.

****It also makes sense that Nephi and Jacob don’t choose a few verses from here, then from there, etc. They take big sections out–that doesn’t mean that every little thing in each section is specifically and specially fitting to the Nephites at that current time.

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John L. Sorenson:
And if the Lord somehow did not at those times bring in “other nations,” then surely he would have done so after Cumorah, 1100 years prior to Columbus. Even if there were no massive armed invasions of strange groups to be reported, we need not be surprised if relatively small groups of strange peoples who were neither so numerous nor so organized as to be rivals for control of the land could have been scattered or infiltrated among both Nephites and Lamanites without their constituting the “other nations” in the threatening sense of Lehi’s prophecy. Thus in the terms of Lehi’s prophecy, “others” could and probably even should have been close at hand and available for the Lord to use as instruments against the straying covenant peoples any time after the arrival of Nephi’s boat. Archaeology, linguistics, and related areas of study have established beyond doubt that a variety of peoples inhabited virtually every place in the Western Hemisphere a long time ago (with the possible exception of limited regions which may have been more or less unpopulated for the period of a few generations at certain times). The presence of almost 1500 different languages belonging to dozens of major groupings which were found in the Americas when the Europeans arrived can be explained only by supposing that speakers of the ancestral tongues had been in America for thousands of years. The notion that “the Indians” constituted a single ethnic entity is a totally outdated one which neither scholars nor lay people can justifiably believe nowadays. Abundant facts are completely contrary to the idea. The most that is possible is that in some limited territory in a part of America Lehi’s people and those who came with Mulek had their chance to establish their own niches where they could control their own fate. But they were not given thousands of years of isolation to play with. (The Latter-day Saint pioneers in Deseret were allowed only a single generation, from 1847 until the railroad came in 1869, to do the same. After that, competing economic, social, political, and ideological systems directly challenged them, and nearly swallowed them up.) It seems unavoidable that other peoples were in the land, somewhere, when Nephi’s boat landed on the shore of the “west sea,” and quite certainly some of them were survivors from the Jaredite people, as indicated in the book of Ether.

****It doesn’t seem right to put personal limitations on prophecies. Let’s see, Joseph says a Moses will be raised up–and it takes 400 years. Isaiah says Jesus will be born–and that’s maybe 700 years. Daniel speaks about the last days–over 2,000 years. Etc., etc. And Lehi’s seed are still in the Americas, I imagine–I don’t see why we should set a time limit on his prophecies.
There is no immediate cause-effect relationship requirement or limitation shown in this prophecy.

The explanations in this whole section are very imaginative.

Let’s take another look at Lehi’s prophecy, and other similar prophecies:
“Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as THOSE WHOM THE LORD GOD SHALL BRING OUT OF THE LAND OF JERUSALEM shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and THEY SHALL BE KEPT FROM ALL OTHER NATIONS, that THEY MAY POSSESS THIS LAND UNTO THEMSELVES. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be NONE TO MOLEST THEM, NOR TO TAKE AWAY THE LAND OF THEIR INHERITANCE; and THEY SHALL DWELL SAFELY FOREVER.”
“But behold, when the time cometh that THEY shall DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord–having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise–behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them.”
“Yea, he will BRING OTHER NATIONS UNTO THEM, and he will give unto them power, and HE WILL TAKE AWAY FROM THEM THE LANDS OF THEIR POSSESSIONS, and he will cause them to BE SCATTERED AND SMITTEN.”
“Yea, AS ONE GENERATION PASSETH TO ANOTHER THERE SHALL BE BLOODSHEDS, and GREAT VISITATIONS among THEM; wherefore, my sons, I would that ye would remember; yea, I would that ye would hearken unto my words.” (2 Nephi 1:9-12)

It is interesting to me that Lehi does not say “my seed”, or “my seed (along with Zoram) and Ishmael’s seed” here, but “those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem.” It sounds like there might have been others. Of course, it could mean the Mulekites.

Also, Lehi does not say that others will or won’t be in the land–just that his righteous seed will be “kept” to “possess the land unto themselves”. If they keep the commandments, they will be able to keep control of their land in peace. In fact, it sounds like there will be others, but that any others will, at the least, be tolerant of them.

As a reminder, the mistaken explanation of the “dwindling” of the Lamanites has already been explained.

Before this record, we have that of Nephi:
“And it came to pass that I beheld, and saw the people of the seed of my brethren that they had overcome my seed; and they went forth in multitudes upon the face of the land” (1 Nephi 12:20).
“And I saw them gathered together in multitudes; and I saw WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS AMONG THEM; AND IN WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS I SAW MANY GENERATIONS PASS AWAY” (1 Nephi 12:21).
“And the angel said unto me: Behold THESE SHALL DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF” (1 Nephi 12:22).

“And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying: Behold, saith the Lamb of God, after I have visited the remnant of the house of Israel–and THIS REMNANT OF WHOM I SPEAK IS THE SEED OF THY FATHER–wherefore, after I HAVE VISITED THEM IN JUDGMENT, and SMITTEN THEM BY THE HAND OF THE GENTILES …” (1 Nephi 13:34).
“For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and AFTER THY SEED SHALL BE DESTROYED, AND DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, AND ALSO THE SEED OF THY BRETHREN, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb” (1 Nephi 13:35).

Now, here is Alma’s prophecy on this:
“And these are the words: Behold, I perceive that this very people, THE NEPHITES, according to the spirit of revelation which is in me, IN FOUR HUNDRED YEARS FROM THE TIME THAT JESUS CHRIST SHALL MANIFEST HIMSELF UNTO THEM, SHALL DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF” (Alma 45:10).
“Yea, and then shall they see WARS AND PESTILENCES, YEA, FAMINES AND BLOODSHED, even until the people of Nephi shall become extinct–” (Alma 45:11)
“Yea, and this because they shall DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF and fall into the works of darkness, and lasciviousness, and all manner of iniquities; yea, I say unto you, that because they shall sin against so great light and knowledge, yea, I say unto you, that from that day, even the fourth generation shall not all pass away before this great iniquity shall come” (Alma 45:12).
Here’s Mormon’s commentary, in Helaman 6:34:
“And thus we see that the Nephites did BEGIN TO DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, and grow in wickedness and abominations, while the Lamanites began to grow exceedingly in the knowledge of their God; yea, they did begin to keep his statutes and commandments, and to walk in truth and uprightness before him.”

Samuel the Lamanite, speaking about the Lamanites, says:
“Yea, even IF THEY SHOULD DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF the Lord shall prolong their days, until the time shall come which hath been spoken of by our fathers, and also by the prophet Zenos, and many other prophets, concerning the restoration of our brethren, the Lamanites, again to the knowledge of the truth–” (Helaman 15:11)

The Lord says:
“For it is wisdom in the Father that they (the Gentiles) should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth from them unto a remnant of your seed, that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled which he hath covenanted with his people, O house of Israel;”
“Therefore, when these works and the works which shall be wrought among you hereafter shall come forth from the Gentiles, UNTO YOUR SEED WHICH SHALL DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF BECAUSE OF INIQUITY;” (3 Nephi 21:4-5)

Later, we read:
“Nevertheless, the people did harden their hearts, for they were led by many priests and false prophets to build up many churches, and to do all manner of iniquity. And they did smite upon the people of Jesus; but the people of Jesus did not smite again. And thus they did DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF AND WICKEDNESS, from year to year, even until two hundred and thirty years had passed away” (4 Nephi 1:34)
“And it came to pass that THEY WHO REJECTED THE GOSPEL WERE CALLED LAMANITES, AND LEMUELITES, AND ISHMAELITES; and THEY DID NOT DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, BUT THEY DID WILFULLY REBEL AGAINST THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST; and they did teach their children that they should not believe, EVEN AS THEIR FATHERS, FROM THE BEGINNING, DID DWINDLE”. (4 Nephi 1:38)
“And it was because of the wickedness and abomination of their fathers, EVEN AS IT WAS IN THE BEGINNING. And THEY WERE TAUGHT TO HATE THE CHILDREN OF GOD, EVEN AS THE LAMANITES WERE TAUGHT TO HATE THE CHILDREN OF NEPHI FROM THE BEGINNING” (4 Nephi 1:39).

I think it is clear that these prophecies are all talking about the same time–the destruction of the Nephites and the dwindling in unbelief of the Lamanites, about 400 years after Christ—NOT almost 600 years before Christ—a thousand-year difference.

It also makes the point that the Lamanites probably did not “dwindle in unbelief” at the beginning—Laman, Lemuel, et. al. actively taught their children to reject God and do evil.
Also, this prophecy seems to mean that these things relating to other peoples will happen after the sum remainder of both sides dwindle in unbelief, not just one side, or both sides to some differing degrees.

It seems that everything that happened in the Book of Mormon, happened in a relatively small area; especially if it were mostly enclosed (by the sea on two sides, desolate wilderness, etc.); and, given the size of the American continents; it is not necessary that the peoples in the Book of Mormon ran into any other races or groups of people. There is one mention when Mosiah runs into the people of Zarahemla, who had also left the same area; the two might have both been near each other for over 300 years without knowing it.

The Book of Mormon says in Alma 43:13 that the “Lamanites…were a COMPOUND OF LAMAN AND LEMUEL, AND THE SONS OF ISHMAEL, AND ALL THOSE WHO HAD DISSENTED FROM THE NEPHITES, who were Amalekites and Zoramites, and the descendants of the priests of Noah.” There is no mention of any others.

Helaman 11:24 doesn’t seem to differ much, either: “And it came to pass that in the eightieth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, there were a certain number of the dissenters from the people of Nephi, who had some years before gone over unto the Lamanites, and taken upon themselves the name of Lamanites, and also a certain number who were real descendants of the Lamanites, being stirred up to anger by them, or by those dissenters, therefore they commenced a war with their brethren.”

Alma 24:29, similarly: “Now, among those who joined the people of the Lord, there were none who were Amalekites or Amulonites, or who were of the order of Nehor, but they were actual descendants of Laman and Lemuel.”
Alma 47:35 says, “…yea, he was acknowledged king throughout all the land, AMONG ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE LAMANITES, WHO WERE COMPOSED OF THE LAMANITES AND THE LEMUELITES AND THE ISHMAELITES, AND ALL THE DISSENTERS OF THE NEPHITES, FROM THE REIGN OF NEPHI DOWN TO THE PRESENT TIME.”
Mormon 1:8: “And it came to pass in this year there began to be a war between the NEPHITES, WHO CONSISTED OF THE NEPHITES AND THE JACOBITES AND THE JOSEPHITES AND THE ZORAMITES; and this war was between the Nephites, and the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites.
Mormon 1:9: NOW THE LAMANITES AND THE LEMUELITES AND THE ISHMAELITES WERE CALLED LAMANITES, AND THE TWO PARTIES WERE NEPHITES AND LAMANITES.”

Not other parties, even towards the end of the whole history.

D&C, similarly.

Once again, the language is interesting–“surely he would have done so,” “should have been close at hand,” “the most that is possible,” “unavoidable,” “quite certainly,” etc. Actually, I probably should have used the word “blasphemous” instead of “impolite,” “as indicated.”

“As indicated in the book of Ether”–where and how is that?

Very few prophecies are shown left unfulfilled in the Book of Mormon. Almost all are/ have been fulfilled, or pointed to a particular or further time. If there is one, I haven’t found it yet (outside of Isaiah), though there might be. In fact, the Lord chasitizes Nephi for not having written the fulfilling of the prophecy of Samuel that many would arise from the grave and appear to others. The promise made to Lehi about obeying and prospering is quoted multiple times in the Book of Mormon. Why, then, is the only time connected to this other of Lehi’s prophecy–based on a Lord’s promise, and its conditions–related to the far future? If it was fulfilled any time earlier, why isn’t it in this record, when Mormon writes many things that show that proving the words of the Lord through his prophets is one of its main purposes?

See, for example, the following verses from the Book of Mormon that contain the word “fulfilled”, and which are specifically about God’s words, prophets’ words, and God’s covenants being fulfilled: 1 Nephi 7:13, 15:18, 16:8, 17:4; 2 Nephi 3:14, 5:19-20, 9:17, 10:15, 25:7, 25:21, 24, 27, 30; Words of Mormon 1:4; Mosiah 20:21, 21:4; Alma 3:14, 5:57, 58; 7:11, 13:26, 25:15, 34:13, 37:17, 19, 24, 26, 45:9, 14; Helaman 11:8, 6:13-14; 3 Nephi 1:4- 6, 15, 25; 5:1, 14, 25; 9:16-17, 10:11, 12:18-19, 46; 15:4-6, 8; 16:17, 20:11-12, 46; 21:4, 23:10, 28:7, 29:1-2; Mormon 8:22, 33; Ether 12:3, 11; 15:3, 33; Moroni 10:31.

See also these verses that contain “words of the prophets” and are related to prophecies: 1 Nephi 2:13, 3:19, 2 Nephi 25:19, 26:8, Jacob 6:18, Mosiah 15:11, Helaman 16:13, 3 Nephi 1:16, 20; 5:2.
See also a search for “according to the/ his word(s)”, which deals with the same topics of prophecies being fulfilled; you will find angels, the Lord, and the many prophets’ names completing this phrase.

“Book of Mormon: A Critique of Kevin Christensen’s Proposal that Sherem Was a Mulekite” by grego

“Book of Mormon: A Critique of Kevin Christensen’s Proposal that Sherem Was a Mulekite”
grego
(c) 2009

In addition to the many arguments of Sherem being an outsider or a foreigner, Kevin Christensen has proposed that Sherem was a Mulekite trader (keep in mind, with regards to spelling and grammar, that this was typed quickly on a discussion board):

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“I’ve made the case in FR16:2, “The Deuteronomist De-christianizing of the Old Testament” that Sherem was a Mulekite trader. For me, such an identification resolves both the clear indicators of outsider status, and explains the specific conflicts that he has with Jacob. Jacob’s teachings are consistent with Margaret Barker’s description of 1st Temple teachings, and Sherem argues like a Deuteronomist reformer. That is, he preaches the Law of Moses, but denies Christ and dismisses revelations. Deuteronomy, as we have it, has no Day of Atonement in the sacred calendar, and expressly denies the need for vision and revelation. As one of Mulek’s party, still first generation, but perhaps a second generation with respect to Josiah’s reform, his conflicts with Jacob mirror those of a known historical context for Jerusalem in the 600 BCE period. He charges against Jacob are of “blasphemy,” as John Welch points out. I think that Brant is precisely correct in seeing Sherem as ‘hired gun” brought in to discredit Jacob because of Jacob’s resistance to trade. Brant [Gardner] has pointed out that the all of the social evils that Jacob preaches against in this book pre-suppose trade. (See his “A Social History of the Early Nephites”, for example.)

My presumption is that Mulek’s party had insinuated themselves as elites among another group of people. Brant [Gardner] has observed that: “The location of Zarahemla in the Grijalva River valley not only fits the geography and topography, but it links the major linguistic groups. The Nephites entered a Mayan-speaking area. The Mulekites entered a Mixe-Zoque speaking area. The movement of the Mulekites/Zarahemlaites up the Grijalva valley parallels the known movement of Zoque (a daughter language of Mixe-Zoque) up that valley. This explains why the Nephites and the Zarahemlaites spoke different languages when there was insufficient time for an unintelligible divergence from Hebrew to have occurred. (In only four hundred years some vocabulary would change, but the languages would still have been mutually intelligible.)

We are told that the Mulekites did not have written records, and the loss of someone like Sherem be a key factor in the loss in oral knowledge. The reuninion in Zarahemla comes after over 400 years of social disruption for the descendants of both groups. Both have migrated to escape conflicts. Both apparent had their own “dark ages”, as is apparent from the abbreviated records between Enos and Benjamin. Much had been forgotten.

It seems to me that Sherem story pulls together all of the themes of the Book of Jacob. Brant has shown in “The Social History of the Early Nephites” that the conflicts that Jacob preaches against presuppose trade, and the kinds of things that are going in presuppose that the Nephites had mixed with locals from the beginning. The Allegory of the Olive grove is about grafting and planting, the mixing of different peoples, and the alternate strengthening and corruption that goes with the process. In chapter 4, Jacob, starts talking about the Jews at Jerusalem who became “blind” and “looked beyond the mark.” Jacob had never been to Jerusalem, having been born just before the voyage from Bountiful. What does Jacob bring up that topic at all? It turns out that Sherem represents exactly the Deuteronomist group had removed the annointed high priest, and the visionary and atoning functions from the Temple during Lehi’s life time. Sherem as a Mulekite trader with Deuteronomist ideology explains Jacob’s need to comment on the specific nature of the blindness in Jerusalem. It explains Jacob’s themes in chapter 4, emphasizing exactly the themes of vision, wisdom, knowledge of the future, knowledge of the Christ as the Son of the Eternal father that the Deuteronomists had suppressed in Lehi’s day.”
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grego writes:

This proposition is more interesting, and works well, but for two major points: if this were true, then all the hoopla about Mosiah discovering the Mulekites doesn’t make much sense.

Also, there is too much at stake between the Lamanites and Nephites with regards to whether Jerusalem was destroyed or not. I’ll explain.

The state that Jerusalem was in and the prophecy of its coming destruction was a major point of contention for the two Lehite camps with Lehi and Nephi leading one side, and Laman and Lemuel leading the other. Pretty much from the beginning on, the Lehi-Nephite/ Lamanite split was already decided by who wanted to remain in Jerusalem versus who wanted to leave. Laman et. al. believed that the people in Jerusalem were righteous; they wanted to stay there; and that their leaving Jerusalem was basically a curse. Nephi et. al. believed that the people in Jerusalem were wicked and were going to be destroyed, and thus they were led away and saved by God.

I have listed many scriptures (at the end of this article) that show this; it is supported by the Book of Mormon numerous times.

I’ll note just a few things:
–the destruction of Jerusalem was prophesied to have already happened by Lehi, Nephi, and Jacob; however, there was no “evidence” or “proof”.
–the beliefs of Nephi and Laman—with a big part being their way of regarding Jerusalem—became the basis of traditions for the entire peoples down on through their history, and is a major point of contention between the Nephites and Lamanites.
–the destruction of Jerusalem in fulfillment of prophecy is “proof” that the Lord is God, God saves, and Lehi and Nephi were correct and prophets, and that Laman and Lemuel were incorrect.

Before the discovery of the Mulekites, there was no evidence that Jerusalem had been destroyed as prophesied; how could the Nephites or Lamanites have known otherwise, being so far away?

The discovery of the Mulekites was such a big event because finally there was evidence, if not proof to the Nephites, that Jerusalem *had* been destroyed—showing the fulfilling of the word of God and the prophecy to Lehi.

If Sherem had been a Mulekite, I believe there’s no way that Lamanites or Nephite dissidents would have used Sherem as an outside “hired gun”; this would have been a case of shooting themselves in the foot (actually somewhere vital would be more appropriate).

It would prove to everyone that Lehi, and Nephi, and his little brother Jacob—whom Nephi had taught and ordained—were correct about Jerusalem and its wickedness and destruction, which meant that God *was* leading *Lehi* and the *Nephites*, which means that all that talk about Jesus Christ, the Messiah, etc. was correct—which is exactly the argument that Sherem was trying to disprove.

It was akin to admitting that Sherem/ the Lamanites/ Nephite dissidents were all knowingly apostate.

For these same reasons, I find it hard to believe that if Sherem had been a Mulekite, Jacob wouldn’t have written it and linked it to the destruction of Jerusalem. Or even brought it up at the very beginning of the discussion.

I also disagree with parts of Brant Gardner’s quotes and methodology about the Mulekites, though I understand the possibilities; I also disagree with his trade argument.

Kevin Christensen’s Deuteronomist argument is still very valid, even if Sherem wasn’t a Mulekite. He could have been a Deuteronomist and a child/ grandchild of someone in the group (servant, desert dweller picked up on the way, etc.) who stayed with Laman and Lemuel, or a Nephite dissident.

It’s possible that Laman and Lemuel seem to have understood the Deuteronomist argument, and followed it somewhat.

If Sherem knew Zoram–especially if he were Zoram’s relative (son, grandson, son-in-law), he might have had a good understanding of the Deuteronomists. Suppose that Laban was meeting with the elders of the Jerusalem and drinking with them, and often related the content of the meetings to Zoram (as Zoram’s persistent asking of Nephi–masquerading as Laban–suggests to me; see 1 Nephi 4:22, 27). Were the Deuteronomists in charge of the “church” and military at that time (1 Nephi 4:36, 17:44, etc.)? At least this might give more understanding to the charge that Laban “would not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord” (1 Nephi 4:11), of which we don’t have a record of his clearly not doing.

And this “Deuteronmy-thing” would likely also have to do with Nephi detesting much of the ways of the Jews (2 Nephi 25:2).

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Scriptures regarding Jerusalem:

1 Nephi 1:13 And [Lehi] read, saying: Wo, wo, unto Jerusalem, for I have seen thine abominations! Yea, and many things did my father read concerning Jerusalem–that it should be destroyed, and the inhabitants thereof; many should perish by the sword, and many should be carried away captive into Babylon.

1 Nephi 1:18 Therefore, I would that ye should know, that after the Lord had shown so many marvelous things unto my father, Lehi, yea, concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, behold he went forth among the people, and began to prophesy and to declare unto them concerning the things which he had both seen and heard.
1 Nephi 1:19 And it came to pass that the Jews did mock him because of the things which he testified of them; for he truly testified of their wickedness and their abominations; and he testified that the things which he saw and heard, and also the things which he read in the book, manifested plainly of the coming of a Messiah, and also the redemption of the world.
1 Nephi 1:20 And when the Jews heard these things they were angry with him; yea, even as with the prophets of old, whom they had cast out, and stoned, and slain; and they also sought his life, that they might take it away. But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.
1 Nephi 2:1 For behold, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto my father, yea, even in a dream, and said unto him: Blessed art thou Lehi, because of the things which thou hast done; and because thou hast been faithful and declared unto this people the things which I commanded thee, behold, they seek to take away thy life.
1 Nephi 2:2 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.

1 Nephi 2:11 Now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did murmur in many things against their father, because he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness. And this they said he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart.
1 Nephi 2:13 Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets. And they were like unto the Jews who were at Jerusalem, who sought to take away the life of my father.

1 Nephi 7:6 And it came to pass that as we journeyed in the wilderness, behold Laman and Lemuel, and two of the daughters of Ishmael, and the two sons of Ishmael and their families, did rebel against us; yea, against me, Nephi, and Sam, and their father, Ishmael, and his wife, and his three other daughters.
1 Nephi 7:7 And it came to pass in the which rebellion, they were desirous to return unto the land of Jerusalem.

1 Nephi 7:13 And if it so be that we are faithful to him, we shall obtain the land of promise; and ye shall know at some future period that the word of the Lord shall be fulfilled concerning the destruction of Jerusalem; for all things which the Lord hath spoken concerning the destruction of Jerusalem must be fulfilled.
1 Nephi 7:14 For behold, the Spirit of the Lord ceaseth soon to strive with them; for behold, they have rejected the prophets, and Jeremiah have they cast into prison. And they have sought to take away the life of my father, insomuch that they have driven him out of the land.
1 Nephi 7:15 Now behold, I say unto you that if ye will return unto Jerusalem ye shall also perish with them. And now, if ye have choice, go up to the land, and remember the words which I speak unto you, that if ye go ye will also perish; for thus the Spirit of the Lord constraineth me that I should speak.
1 Nephi 7:16 And it came to pass that when I, Nephi, had spoken these words unto my brethren, they were angry with me. And it came to pass that they did lay their hands upon me, for behold, they were exceedingly wroth, and they did bind me with cords, for they sought to take away my life, that they might leave me in the wilderness to be devoured by wild beasts.

1 Nephi 10:2 For behold, it came to pass after my father had made an end of speaking the words of his dream, and also of exhorting them to all diligence, he spake unto them concerning the Jews–
1 Nephi 10:3 That after they should be destroyed, even that great city Jerusalem, and many be carried away captive into Babylon, according to the own due time of the Lord, they should return again, yea, even be brought back out of captivity; and after they should be brought back out of captivity they should possess again the land of their inheritance.

1 Nephi 16:35 And it came to pass that the daughters of Ishmael did mourn exceedingly, because of the loss of their father, and because of their afflictions in the wilderness; and they did murmur against my father, because he had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, saying: Our father is dead; yea, and we have wandered much in the wilderness, and we have suffered much affliction, hunger, thirst, and fatigue; and after all these sufferings we must perish in the wilderness with hunger.
1 Nephi 16:36 And thus they did murmur against my father, and also against me; and they were desirous to return again to Jerusalem.
1 Nephi 16:37 And Laman said unto Lemuel and also unto the sons of Ishmael: Behold, let us slay our father, and also our brother Nephi, who has taken it upon him to be our ruler and our teacher, who are his elder brethren.
1 Nephi 16:38 Now, he says that the Lord has talked with him, and also that angels have ministered unto him. But behold, we know that he lies unto us; and he tells us these things, and he worketh many things by his cunning arts, that he may deceive our eyes, thinking, perhaps, that he may lead us away into some strange wilderness; and after he has led us away, he has thought to make himself a king and a ruler over us, that he may do with us according to his will and pleasure. And after this manner did my brother Laman stir up their hearts to anger.

1 Nephi 17:14 Yea, and the Lord said also that: After ye have arrived in the promised land, ye shall know that I, the Lord, am God; and that I, the Lord, did deliver you from destruction; yea, that I did bring you out of the land of Jerusalem.

1 Nephi 17:20 And thou art like unto our father, led away by the foolish imaginations of his heart; yea, he hath led us out of the land of Jerusalem, and we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years; and our women have toiled, being big with child; and they have borne children in the wilderness and suffered all things, save it were death; and it would have been better that they had died before they came out of Jerusalem than to have suffered these afflictions.
1 Nephi 17:21 Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy.
1 Nephi 17:22 And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people; and our father hath judged them, and hath led us away because we would hearken unto his words; yea, and our brother is like unto him. And after this manner of language did my brethren murmur and complain against us.
1 Nephi 17:43 And now, after all these things, the time has come that they have become wicked, yea, nearly unto ripeness; and I know not but they are at this day about to be destroyed; for I know that the day must surely come that they must be destroyed, save a few only, who shall be led away into captivity.
1 Nephi 17:44 Wherefore, the Lord commanded my father that he should depart into the wilderness; and the Jews also sought to take away his life; yea, and ye also have sought to take away his life; wherefore, ye are murderers in your hearts and ye are like unto them.

1 Nephi 19:20 For behold, I have workings in the spirit, which doth weary me even that all my joints are weak, for those who are at Jerusalem; for had not the Lord been merciful, to show unto me concerning them, even as he had prophets of old, I should have perished also.

2 Nephi 1:1 AND now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had made an end of teaching my brethren, our father, Lehi, also spake many things unto them, and rehearsed unto them, how great things the Lord had done for them in bringing them out of the land of Jerusalem.
2 Nephi 1:2 And he spake unto them concerning their rebellions upon the waters, and the mercies of God in sparing their lives, that they were not swallowed up in the sea.
2 Nephi 1:3 And he also spake unto them concerning the land of promise, which they had obtained–how merciful the Lord had been in warning us that we should flee out of the land of Jerusalem.
2 Nephi 1:4 For, behold, said he, I have seen a vision, in which I know that Jerusalem is destroyed; and had we remained in Jerusalem we should also have perished.
2 Nephi 1:5 But, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord.
2 Nephi 1:9 Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.

2 Nephi 1:24 Rebel no more against your brother, whose views have been glorious, and who hath kept the commandments from the time that we left Jerusalem; and who hath been an instrument in the hands of God, in bringing us forth into the land of promise; for were it not for him, we must have perished with hunger in the wilderness; nevertheless, ye sought to take away his life; yea, and he hath suffered much sorrow because of you.

2 Nephi 6:8 And now I, Jacob, would speak somewhat concerning these words. For behold, the Lord has shown me that those who were at Jerusalem, from whence we came, have been slain and carried away captive.

2 Nephi 25:5 Yea, and my soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah, for I came out from Jerusalem, and mine eyes hath beheld the things of the Jews, and I know that the Jews do understand the things of the prophets, and there is none other people that understand the things which were spoken unto the Jews like unto them, save it be that they are taught after the manner of the things of the Jews.
2 Nephi 25:6 But behold, I, Nephi, have not taught my children after the manner of the Jews; but behold, I, of myself, have dwelt at Jerusalem, wherefore I know concerning the regions round about; and I have made mention unto my children concerning the judgments of God, which hath come to pass among the Jews, unto my children, according to all that which Isaiah hath spoken, and I do not write them.
2 Nephi 25:10 Wherefore, it hath been told them concerning the destruction which should come upon them, immediately after my father left Jerusalem; nevertheless, they hardened their hearts; and according to my prophecy they have been destroyed, save it be those which are carried away captive into Babylon.

Jacob 2:25 Wherefore, thus saith the Lord, I have led this people forth out of the land of Jerusalem, by the power of mine arm, that I might raise up unto me a righteous branch from the fruit of the loins of Joseph.
Jacob 2:31 For behold, I, the Lord, have seen the sorrow, and heard the mourning of the daughters of my people in the land of Jerusalem, yea, and in all the lands of my people, because of the wickedness and abominations of their husbands.
Jacob 2:32 And I will not suffer, saith the Lord of Hosts, that the cries of the fair daughters of this people, which I have led out of the land of Jerusalem, shall come up unto me against the men of my people, saith the Lord of Hosts.

Omni 1:15 Behold, it came to pass that Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon.

Mosiah 2:4 And also that they might give thanks to the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, and who had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies, and had appointed just men to be their teachers, and also a just man to be their king, who had established peace in the land of Zarahemla, and who had taught them to keep the commandments of God, that they might rejoice and be filled with love towards God and all men.

Mosiah 7:20 And again, that same God has brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem, and has kept and preserved his people even until now; and behold, it is because of our iniquities and abominations that he has brought us into bondage.

Mosiah 10:12 They were a wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, believing in the tradition of their fathers, which is this—Believing that they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem because of the iniquities of their fathers, and that they were wronged in the wilderness by their brethren, and they were also wronged while crossing the sea;
Mosiah 10:13 And again, that they were wronged while in the land of their first inheritance, after they had crossed the sea, and all this because that Nephi was more faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord—therefore he was favored of the Lord, for the Lord heard his prayers and answered them, and he took the lead of their journey in the wilderness.
Mosiah 10:14 And his brethren were wroth with him because they understood not the dealings of the Lord; they were also wroth with him upon the waters because they hardened their hearts against the Lord.
Mosiah 10:15 And again, they were wroth with him when they had arrived in the promised land, because they said that he had taken the ruling of the people out of their hands; and they sought to kill him.
Mosiah 10:16 And again, they were wroth with him because he departed into the wilderness as the Lord had commanded him, and took the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, for they said that he robbed them.
Mosiah 10:17 And thus they have taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them; therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi.

Alma 9:9 Do ye not remember that our father, Lehi, was brought out of Jerusalem by the hand of God? Do ye not remember that they were all led by him through the wilderness?
Alma 9:22 Yea, and after having been delivered of God out of the land of Jerusalem, by the hand of the Lord; having been saved from famine, and from sickness, and all manner of diseases of every kind; and they having waxed strong in battle, that they might not be destroyed; having been brought out of bondage time after time, and having been kept and preserved until now; and they have been prospered until they are rich in all manner of things–

Alma 18:36 Now when Ammon had said these words, he began at the creation of the world, and also the creation of Adam, and told him all the things concerning the fall of man, and rehearsed and laid before him the records and the holy scriptures of the people, which had been spoken by the prophets, even down to the time that their father, Lehi, left Jerusalem.
Alma 18:37 And he also rehearsed unto them (for it was unto the king and to his servants) all the journeyings of their fathers in the wilderness, and all their sufferings with hunger and thirst, and their travail, and so forth.
Alma 18:38 And he also rehearsed unto them concerning the rebellions of Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, yea, all their rebellions did he relate unto them; and he expounded unto them all the records and scriptures from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem down to the present time.

Alma 20:10 And he also said: Whither art thou going with this Nephite, who is one of the children of a liar?
Alma 20:13 And now when Lamoni had rehearsed unto him all these things, behold, to his astonishment, his father was angry with him, and said: Lamoni, thou art going to deliver these Nephites, who are sons of a liar. Behold, he robbed our fathers; and now his children are also come amongst us that they may, by their cunning and their lyings, deceive us, that they again may rob us of our property.

Alma 22:9 And the king said: Is God that Great Spirit that brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem?

Alma 23:3 And thus they might go forth and preach the word according to their desires, for the king had been converted unto the Lord, and all his household; therefore he sent his proclamation throughout the land unto his people, that the word of God might have no obstruction, but that it might go forth throughout all the land, that his people might be convinced concerning the wicked traditions of their fathers, and that they might be convinced that they were all brethren, and that they ought not to murder, nor to plunder, nor to steal, nor to commit adultery, nor to commit any manner of wickedness.

Alma 36:29 Yea, and he has also brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem; and he has also, by his everlasting power, delivered them out of bondage and captivity, from time to time even down to the present day; and I have always retained in remembrance their captivity; yea, and ye also ought to retain in remembrance, as I have done, their captivity.

Alma 54:23 I am Ammoron, and a descendant of Zoram, whom your fathers pressed and brought out of Jerusalem.

Helaman 8:20 And behold, also Zenock, and also Ezias, and also Isaiah, and Jeremiah, (Jeremiah being that same prophet who testified of the destruction of Jerusalem) and now we know that Jerusalem was destroyed according to the words of Jeremiah. O then why not the Son of God come, according to his prophecy?
Helaman 8:21 And now will you dispute that Jerusalem was destroyed? Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us, and they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem? But behold, this is not all–
Helaman 8:22 Our father Lehi was driven out of Jerusalem because he testified of these things. Nephi also testified of these things, and also almost all of our fathers, even down to this time; yea, they have testified of the coming of Christ, and have looked forward, and have rejoiced in his day which is to come.
Helaman 8:23 And behold, he is God, and he is with them, and he did manifest himself unto them, that they were redeemed by him; and they gave unto him glory, because of that which is to come.
Helaman 8:24 And now, seeing ye know these things and cannot deny them except ye shall lie, therefore in this ye have sinned, for ye have rejected all these things, notwithstanding so many evidences which ye have received; yea, even ye have received all things, both things in heaven, and all things which are in the earth, as a witness that they are true.

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” Part 3: SHEREM

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.”
grego
(c) 2004-2009

Part 3: SHEREM

I’ll first put some pertinent scriptures here first, as this story of Sherem is often used as one of the strong arguments for “Others” in the land.
Jacob 7:1 And now it came to pass after some years had passed away, there came a man among the people of Nephi, whose name was Sherem.
Jacob 7:2 And it came to pass that he began to preach among the people, and to declare unto them that there should be no Christ. And he preached many things which were flattering unto the people; and this he did that he might overthrow the doctrine of Christ.
Jacob 7:3 And he labored diligently that he might lead away the hearts of the people, insomuch that he did lead away many hearts; and he knowing that I, Jacob, had faith in Christ who should come, he sought much opportunity that he might come unto me.
Jacob 7:4 And he was learned, that he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore, he could use much flattery, and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil.
Jacob 7:5 And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken.
Jacob 7:6 And it came to pass that he came unto me, and on this wise did he speak unto me, saying: Brother Jacob, I have sought much opportunity that I might speak unto you; for I have heard and also know that thou goest about much, preaching that which ye call the gospel, or the doctrine of Christ.
Jacob 7:7 And ye have led away much of this people that they pervert the right way of God, and keep not the law of Moses which is the right way; and convert the law of Moses into the worship of a being which ye say shall come many hundred years hence. And now behold, I, Sherem, declare unto you that this is blasphemy; for no man knoweth of such things; for he cannot tell of things to come. And after this manner did Sherem contend against me.
Jacob 7:8 But behold, the Lord God poured in his Spirit into my soul, insomuch that I did confound him in all his words.
Jacob 7:10 And I said unto him: Believest thou the scriptures? And he said, Yea.
Jacob 7:11 And I said unto him: Then ye do not understand them; for they truly testify of Christ…
Jacob 7:13 And it came to pass that he said unto me: Show me a sign by this power of the Holy Ghost, in the which ye know so much.
Jacob 7:14 And I said unto him: What am I that I should tempt God to show unto thee a sign in the thing which thou knowest to be true?…
Also, the time reference given here is “[Between 544 and 421 B.C.]”. At the end of Enos, it is 420 B.C. (It is likely that this is much more towards the 544 end than the 421 end, as Jacob was born in the upper 590’s.)

John L. Sorenson:
The account of Sherem’s encounter with Jacob reiterates the question. “Some [ten more?] years had passed away,” and Jacob was now verging on “old” (cf. Jacob 7:1, 20-26). At that time “there came a man among the people of Nephi whose name was Sherem” (Jacob 7:1). Upon first meeting Jacob, he said, “Brother Jacob, I have sought much opportunity that I might speak unto you; for I have heard … that thou goest about much, preaching” (Jacob 7:6). Now, the population of adult males descended from the original group could not have exceeded fifty at that time. This would have been only enough to populate one modest-sized village. Thus Sherem’s is a strange statement. Jacob, as head priest and religious teacher, would routinely have been around the Nephite temple in the cultural center at least on all holy days (see Jacob 2:2). How then could Sherem never have seen him, and why would he have had to seek “much opportunity” to speak to him in such a tiny settlement? And where would Jacob have had to go on the preaching travels Sherem refers to, if only such a tiny group were involved. Moreover, from where was it that Sherem “came … among the people of Nephi” (Jacob 7:1)? The text and context of this incident would make little sense if the Nephite population had resulted only from natural demographic increase.

Brant Gardner:
With the clear enmity between lineal Nephites and Lamanites at this early period, it is unlikely that Sherem was a Lamanite born after the separation of the two colonies, yet that would be the only other possibility if we do not factor “others” into the equation.

****Actually, there are many other possibilities other than “others”.
Once more, it goes back to the question of initial population size, which I have treated. That there answers all that needs to be answered.
*It’s also possible, that with probably thousands of people in the Nephite population (as shown above) at this time, Sherem came from a village other than the one Jacob was in. Not hard to imagine. How many people do you know in the next village, especially if you didn’t have TV’s, newspapers, or telephones? How many people do you know on the next street over?
Let’s look at a few more, though:
*Or, Sherem, being a wise man, especially having seen evidence, knew that the Lamanites could only overcome the Nephites through the Nephites’ wickedness, and therefore had come over peacefully from the Lamanites to corrupt the Nephites, which would allow the Lamanites to overcome them, according to the blessings and the curses.
*Or, perhaps desiring to rise up and be the leader of the Nephites, without the Lamanites, he left the Lamanites to corrupt the Nephites, then wanted to politically overcome them later.
*Or, Sherem could have been from a group that split away from the Nephites earlier. Looking at the record, maybe even 50 years could have passed away since then. Somewhere in that time it would not have been improbable for a small group, especially if it were just a couple or family or two, to splinter away. There’s plenty of that happening in the Book of Mormon all the time. To those who say it would have been mentioned, remember the Amalekites–major players later on, yet not even their splintering off is mentioned.
*In Alma 47:35, we read: “And it came to pass that Amalickiah sought the favor of the queen, and took her unto him to wife; and thus by his fraud, and by the assistance of his cunning servants, he obtained the kingdom; yea, he was acknowledged king throughout all the land, among all the people of the Lamanites, who were composed of the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites, and all the dissenters of the Nephites, from the reign of Nephi down to the present time.”
*Sherem could have been a Lamanite. The Lamanites would still have spoken the same language. Clear enmity, yet the Nephites had a clear desire to preach to the Lamanites.
*Kevin Christensen proposed that Sherem was a Mulekite trader (keep in mind with regards to spelling and grammar that this was typed quickly on a discussion board):

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Brant Gardner, from posts:
However, the answer cannot be that he came from inside the Nephites because they were surprised that he spoke the language.

**** I’m sorry, I’m missing that part in my Book of Mormon about “they were surprised that he spoke the language”–which verse is that? Or, is that Brant Gardner’s personal interpretation of what Jacob REALLY meant?

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Brant Gardner, from post:
It is just as good a guess that he was a believer in the Mosaic scriptures because of contact with Lamanites – and more likely since both for language and ignorance of where to find Jacob he is painted as an outsider.

**** Can anyone find any evidence that Laman and Lemuel believed in and lived the Law of Moses? Did the Lamanites, then, really believe in it? Did they have any scriptures about it, or did Nephi have them? How then was Sherem “a believer in the Mosaic scriptures because of contact with Lamanites”?
And it’s clear that Sherem was not a believer in the Law of Moses:
Jacob 7:14 And I said unto him: What am I that I should tempt God to show unto thee a sign in the thing which THOU KNOWEST TO BE TRUE?…

He had “ignorance of where to find Jacob”? Where is that in the Book of Mormon text? Once more, an unsupported personal interpretation of sacred text…

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Brant Gardner, from post:
…the real question would be why Jacob would ever say that he had a “perfect knowledge of the language of the people” unless it were somehow unusual. I doubt anyone has every said of you, “why, you speak En[gli]sh so well.” The only time we point out such things is when they run contrary to expectations.

****If I were President Bush, I might take that as a compliment. But yes, many have said that, and in the USA, too–though to me that’s incidental.
“Unusual”– let’s see–do most people have a perfect knowledge of English? What was your SAT score? Near perfect? Now, can you argue with those words, are you fluent with them? How many words are in a language, and how many are commonly used? And can you use those idioms to express and uphold your point of view? Why did Jacob mention language in particular? What else does Jacob say about speech here? Let’s review the text:
Jacob 7:2 And HE (SHEREM) PREACHED MANY THINGS which were FLATTERING UNTO THE PEOPLE; and this he did that he might overthrow the doctrine of Christ.
Jacob 7:3 And he labored diligently that HE MIGHT LEAD AWAY THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE, insomuch that HE DID LEAD AWAY MANY HEARTS; and he knowing that I, Jacob, had faith in Christ who should come, he sought much opportunity that he might come unto me.
Jacob 7:4 And he was LEARNED, that he had a PERFECT KNOWLEDGE of the LANGUAGE OF THE PEOPLE; wherefore, HE COULD USE MUCH FLATTERY, and MUCH POWER OF SPEECH, ACCORDING TO THE POWER OF THE DEVIL.
Jacob 7:5 And HE HAD HOPE TO SHAKE ME FROM THE FAITH, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken.
Jacob 7:6 And it came to pass that HE CAME UNTO ME, and on this wise did he speak unto me, saying: BROTHER JACOB, I have sought much opportunity that I might speak unto you; for I have heard and also know that thou goest about much, PREACHING THAT WHICH YE CALL the gospel, or the doctrine of Christ.
Jacob 7:7 And YE HAVE LED AWAY MUCH OF THIS PEOPLE that THEY PERVERT THE RIGHT WAY OF GOD, and keep not the law of Moses which is the right way; and convert the law of Moses into the worship of a being which ye say shall come many hundred years hence. And now behold, I, Sherem, DECLARE UNTO YOU THAT THIS IS BLASPHEMY; for no man knoweth of such things; for he cannot tell of things to come. And after this manner did Sherem contend against me.

What do I see? Does all that mean that the outsider Sherem learned to speak good Nephitese? No. Jacob means that Sherem has the ability to use speech to flatter and persuade people; he breaks the rules of logic, but no one notices (no man can know of things to come, but somehow he can know Christ won’t come); he uses the scriptures to lead people away; he even tries to overthrow Jacob with his speaking ability, which Jacob points out is “according to the power of the devil”. The devil did not teach Sherem to learn a new language, but to speak the language of the PEOPLE (note: not the language of the Nephites…) to further the devil’s work, much like Zeezrom and Korihor. Note that Sherem goes straight for the jugular at the opening remark, just like Cicero does in his hailed oratorical attack on Cataline. Here is a quote from Cicero about this (and more): “I HAVE FREQUENTLY FORCED MY ANTAGONIST TO RELINQUISH THE FIELD. _Hortensius_, an eminent Speaker, once declined to answer me, though in defence of an intimate friend. _Cataline_, a most audacious traitor, being publicly accused by me in the Senate-house, was struck dumb with shame: and _Curio_, the father, when he attempted to reply to me in a weighty and important cause which concerned the honour of his family, sat suddenly down, and complained that I had _bewitched_ him out of his memory.” Does this sound like what Sherem tries to do in his meeting with Jacob? Jacob’s intent in writing “he had a perfect language of the people” is to show that Sherem was a great orator, not an outsider.
In fact, note that after this stinging sucker punch accusation, Jacob writes,
Jacob 7:8 BUT BEHOLD, the LORD GOD POURED IN HIS SPIRIT INTO MY SOUL, INSOMUCH THAT I DID CONFOUND HIM in all his words.
Jacob knew he was right, that the belief in Jesus Christ was true; yet he still seemed to need the Spirit’s help to not “relinquish the field” and “win the speech contest”.

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Brant Gardner, from post:
What of the idea that the language is sophistry? Of course it is. The text says so – but if it makes a point of declaring the sophistry, why declare also the specifics about the language? It is redundant. Certainly it could be all a reference to how well Sherem manipulates language, but there is still the surprise and the problem of Sherem at this late point in Jacob’s life showing up and gunning for him in a verbal shootout. If Sheremi is inside the community, he had to learn at someone’s feet, and Jacob had been appointed as one of the teachers. How did Sherem the student miss Jacob the teacher? Even assuming a two generation gap (which would make Sherem a little too young to be taken seriously) we have the problem of assuming some form of educational institution that would be able to teach a bright student a sophisticated knowledge of the scriptures – and Jacob not be inolved or know of it – and have the student be unaware of the man who for years was the prime interpreter of scripture for the community.

****(I’ll skip all the language comments here, as its’ clear Brant Gardner finally admits the text is talking about sophistry, and I’ve already shown that. But after admitting that, he goes on to say “but Jacob says it twice, so it’s redundant, so it has to have a special meaning that’s not obvious from the text…” Give it up, man!! ;) )

Jacob was appointed as one of the teachers, correct. What, a school teacher?? No! A teacher of the word of God. (In the twenty or so times the word “teacher” is used in the Book of Mormon, it’s used to mean that.) Sure, if one were to assume only a few children at this point, it’s possible one might mistakenly assume that Jacob and Joseph were the only two school teachers…

Where does it say in the Book of Mormon that “Sherem the student miss[ed] Jacob the teacher”?

Since Brant Gardner seems to be unaware of Mesoamerican schooling, we have a sudden lack of Book of Mormon “insight” for this section. Unless it is not possible to imagine some form of education other than receiving it straight from Jacob, there is no problem here.

Let’s assume that at least Jacob and Joseph and Zoram taught their children and others in the group the scriptures, and that those others taught others; there’s a gap right there easy enough for anyone to see.

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Brant Gardner, from post:
“When the whole situation and all of the evidence are added, the interpretation of the language is simply another indication to the reader that they should understand Sherem as a foreigner. To anyone of the time it would have been obvious from the clues given and hence not required to be stated openly.”

****This type of statement, in my opinion, would make one superior to Fawn Brodie in the ability to always just KNOW what those poor Book of Mormon writers and Joseph Smith were thinking and really wanted to say, but either couldn’t or didn’t.

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Brant Gardner:
One of the texts on the Book of Mormon that clearly depends upon friendly relations with peoples who are not specifically Nephites is the appearance of Sherem noted in the Book of Jacob. Jacob notes Sherem’s self-introduction: Jacob 7:6 “And it came to pass that he came unto me, and on this wise did he speak unto me, saying: Brother Jacob, I have sought much opportunity that I might speak unto you; for I have heard and also know that thou goest about much, preaching that which ye call the gospel, or the doctrine of Christ.”

Both from Sherem’s words and the way Jacob describes the encounter, we have the very clear impression that Sherem and Jacob had never met before. Given the probable size of the Nephite community at this point in time, it would have been impossible for Sherem to have been a member of the community and not have met Jacob prior to his adulthood. Sherem, of necessity, comes from outside the Nephite community.

****The “very clear impression” of Sherem and Jacob never having met is solely a matter of personal interpretation.

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Michael R. Ash:
Since Jacob was one of the original Lehites in the New World, the maximum adult population among the Lehites couldn’t have been more than a dozen people. Yet Sherem had come from another settlement and had never met Jacob, the chief Nephite priest.

****”And now it came to pass after some years had passed away, there came a man among the people of Nephi, whose name was Sherem.” I think that I’ll start with a little thinking, then do what Brant Gardner always espouses doing, but which he seems to have forgotten to do here: a word study. (Mine will be for the Book of Mormon only here, though I’m sure outside sources will just strengthen my argument.)
Think about this: were Sherem a stranger who literally/ physically came among them from the outside/ another place, how did he suddenly become able to have “a perfect knowledge of the language of the people” (Jacob 7:4)? (Wait, I’m having a flashback of Pocahontas and John Smith at the Grandma Tree… Ok, maybe I’m wrong… ;) )
Then, why would Jacob have asked him if he believed the scriptures (I’m assuming one would have to read before one could believe), and how could Sherem have told Jacob that he did (I assume that meant he had read the scriptures and understood them)? (Jacob 7:10: “And I said unto him: Believest thou the scriptures? And he said, Yea.”) If Sherem were from the outside, where did Sherem get the scriptures, and then how did he read them? Or did he come from the outside for a while, learn the language, read the scriptures, and think of a new religion to preach? And why would Jacob believe his answer about having read them?
Perhaps Jacob wrote this part to stress that he wasn’t a stranger to the Nephites.

This “came…among” in Jacob 7:1 could mean that he “rose up”. In Helaman 7:25, Nephi says: “Yea, wo be unto you because of that great abomination which has COME AMONG you; and ye have united yourselves unto it, yea, to that secret band which was established by Gadianton!” Well, it wasn’t a strange group of outsiders that “brought” the secret band of Gadianton to the Nephites, even though I believe that is what Brant Gardner believes. So, I’ll add some scriptures here that expound a little more on this, to strengthen the interpretation of “came among”:
Helaman 1:9 Now when THOSE PEOPLE who were DESIROUS THAT [PAANCHI] SHOULD BE THEIR GOVERNOR saw that he was condemned unto death, therefore THEY WERE ANGRY, and behold, THEY SENT FORTH one KISHKUMEN, even to the judgment-seat of Pahoran, and murdered Pahoran as he sat upon the judgment-seat.
Helaman 1:11 And HE WENT UNTO THOSE THAT SENT HIM, and THEY all entered into a covenant, yea, swearing by their everlasting Maker, that they would tell no man that Kishkumen had murdered Pahoran.
Helaman 2:3 But behold, Kishkumen, who had murdered Pahoran, did lay wait to destroy Helaman also; and he was UPHELD BY HIS BAND, who had entered into a covenant that no one should know his wickedness.
Helaman 2:4 For there was one GADIANTON, who was exceedingly expert in many words, and also in his craft, to carry on the secret work of murder and of robbery; therefore HE BECAME THE LEADER OF THE BAND OF KISHKUMEN.
Helaman 2:5 Therefore he did flatter them, and also Kishkumen, that if they would place him in the judgment-seat he would grant unto those who belonged to his band that they should be placed in power and authority among the people; therefore Kishkumen sought to destroy Helaman.
It’s clear that the band is comprised of people who had wanted Paanchi to be chief judge: Nephites.

This use is also supported by 2 Nephi 10:3, where Jacob writes: “Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ–for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name–should COME AMONG the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him–for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God.” Once again, Jesus didn’t “come among” the Jews from the outside, unless you want to stretch it and count coming back from Egypt; but he had originally been from them. Or, unless you want to count coming down from heaven; but in that case, everyone would be in the same sense.
Also, in Helaman 6:2, it says: “For behold, there were many of the Nephites who had become hardened and impenitent and grossly wicked, insomuch that they did reject the word of God and all the preaching and prophesying which did COME AMONG them.” Unless all the Nephite prophets were from “others” or even outside groups, I don’t believe the literal interpretation of “come among” holds here, either.
Samuel the Lamanite, in Helaman 13:26, “…if a prophet COME AMONG you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and CAST HIM OUT and seek all manner of ways to destroy him…” Some might say that Samuel was talking about himself only; that might, but also might not, be. I imagine if it were, he might have just said so. Let’s see the continuation of this in Helaman 13:27: “…if a man shall COME AMONG YOU and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth–and if a man shall COME AMONG you and say this, ye will RECEIVE HIM…” Though Samuel came among them from the lands of the Lamanites, I doubt he meant “come among”, “cast him out”, and “receive him” in literal, straightforward, one-way interpretations only–what, could no prophets and false prophets exist among the Nephites, but only come from outside the Nephites? Hardly so.
Also, in Mosiah 11:20, we read: “And it came to pass that there was a man AMONG them whose name was Abinadi; and he WENT FORTH AMONG them, and began to prophesy, saying: Behold, thus saith the Lord, and thus hath he commanded me, saying, GO FORTH, and say unto this people, thus saith the Lord–Wo be unto this people, for I have seen their abominations, and their wickedness, and their whoredoms; and except they repent I will visit them in mine anger”;
and then, in Mosiah 12:1: “And it came to pass that after the space of two years that Abinadi CAME AMONG them in disguise, that they knew him not, and began to prophesy among them, saying: Thus has the Lord commanded me, saying–Abinadi, GO and prophesy unto this my people, for they have hardened their hearts against my words; they have repented not of their evil doings; therefore, I will visit them in my anger, yea, in my fierce anger will I visit them in their iniquities and abominations.” Well, there was only one people for Abinadi at this time, and he was there among them already. If Abinadi were already there among them, how could he “[come] again and “go”? On the other hand, there are some uses of “come among” that are straightforward in the Book of Mormon, such as in Alma 7:8 and Alma 20:13.
In Alma 47:35, we read: “And it came to pass that Amalickiah sought the favor of the queen, and took her unto him to wife; and thus by his fraud, and by the assistance of his cunning servants, he obtained the kingdom; yea, he was acknowledged king throughout all the land, among all the people of the Lamanites, who were composed of the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites, and all the dissenters of the Nephites, from the reign of Nephi down to the present time.”
“All the dissenters of the Nephites, from the reign of Nephi down to the present time”–this phrase helps clear up a few things. First, it seems that the dissenters always fled to the Lamanites. Why not another group, nation, or “others”? Second, “from the reign of Nephi”–clearly, that’s long before Jacob (Sherem), and much earlier than the first mention of the Amalekites, the first large group of dissenters that we read about. (Note that to call EVERYONE who wasn’t a Nephite a Lamanite, makes no sense when the Book of Mormon talks about Nephites and Lamanites.)

It would do well to keep in mind that Sherem is a liar (see Jacob 7:14, 19). Would it be stable to construct an argument based on his words, or might one therefore proceed with caution, out of necessity? Was it possible that Sherem was practicing his preaching and debate skills, polishing his rhetoric, building his base of followers, and perfecting his doctrine before daring to argue with Jacob? There was, naturally, much riding on the line here. Of course Sherem could say that he had tried to speak with him, but just hadn’t been able to; is this just the familiar “I tried to call you, but I couldn’t reach you” argument?

If this is not the correct interpretation, perhaps it is this: Jacob himself writes that “…[Sherem] labored diligently that he might lead away the hearts of the people, insomuch that he did lead away many hearts; and he knowing that I, Jacob, had faith in Christ who should come, HE SOUGHT MUCH OPPORTUNITY that HE MIGHT COME UNTO ME” (Jacob 7:3). This sounds much more like Jacob was trying to avoid a head-to-head confrontation, not that there were so many people they never ran into each other.
Also, I imagine Sherem wanted to do debate with a large audience watching, not just see Jacob and debate him–it’s like trying to set up a debate, or a boxing match–it’s not just hey, two people see each other, go at it.
Also, none of this states or even implies that Jacob hadn’t known Sherem before this time, or that Sherem had been around preaching for years, contrary to what is inferred in the article: “How then could Sherem never have seen him, and why would he have had to seek “much opportunity” to speak to him in such a tiny settlement?” He might have known him and seen him often before Sherem started his preaching.

“…[T]hat thou goest about much, preaching”: being a priest and a teacher over the people of Nephi, especially if with only his brother Joseph to help, he would have had the responsibility of “home teaching”, etc.; in addition, he had to work for a living– probably farming and tending flocks–somewhat time-consuming. Understanding this context, the statement then makes more sense. However, with Jacob being old, I wonder how much running around he was doing… Perhaps Sherem is just flattering and buttering Jacob up?

“Thou goest about much” need not mean that Jacob traveled days on end to preach. So, if there were only a few adults, maximum, where was Jacob going? To visit and preach to others all the time? My wife goes about much every day–market, shopping, taking children all over, etc.; yet, it’s most all within a square mile of area. The missionaries “go about much”, yet sometimes it’s in just a few places in a small town. So, it’s an assumption that it must mean “many miles” and “many cities” of travel.
Anyway, it’s here that I’ll comment on the two-pronged approach to population. John L. Sorenson, Brant Gardner, et. al. try to show that either the population was exceedingly small, so there had to be others to fit the text (like in the above example); or the population was large, so there had to be others to fit the text. Neither is necessary!

Also, we read in Jacob 7:16, 17 that “And it came to pass that [Sherem] said unto the people: Gather together on the morrow, for I shall die; wherefore, I desire to speak unto THE PEOPLE before I shall die. And it came to pass that on the morrow the MULTITUDE WERE GATHERED together…”
It seems obvious that he had preached his doctrine to the people. How big was the population? Seemingly large enough the two might not have met in the chocolate shop, yet possibly small enough for the people to be spoken to and to be gathered “on the morrow”.
“And where would Jacob have had to go on the preaching travels Sherem refers to, if only such a tiny group were involved.” That’s correct–it’s not a tiny group, at this point the population is likely in the thousands. Nevertheless, when you get farms/ fields, and no high-rise apartment bujldings, it’s a bigger area. Heck, even the suburb I grew up in only had about a hundred homes, and I just stayed in a small area of that most of the time.
Also, if “on the morrow” means the next day, the people could be gathered without prior notice or preparation for the next day. I assume that unlike King Benjamin, there wasn’t a special holiday/s where the people were probably already preparing to go to the temple, or unlike Jesus, when it was…well, Jesus. (3 Nephi 19:2-4: here “on the morrow” is used to signify “tomorrow/ the next day”.) There is the factor, though, that this came after many days, and it’s possible many of Sherem’s followers might have been waiting nearby, who had been gathered to listen to his debate Jacob and were still hanging around to see what would happen to him.

Sherem was likely simply a great Nephite persuader who preached the Law of Moses.

Jacob writes: “…the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a LONESOME and a solemn people… (Jacob 7:26). “Lonesome” doesn’t sound like they were mingling and mixing with lots of other peoples, especially those who believed in the same religion. It’s possible to be lonesome surrounded by others, but it’s much harder to be lonesome surrounded by others of the same religion and country.

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