Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

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 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

(c) 2004-2009


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.

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…

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.

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.

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.

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).


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 24:7 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 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).
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
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!

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